Welcome back to Kimchi Family. In episode three we meet the final two cast regulars and important characters of the over arching arc of the story. More characters come and go like the daily specials of Heaven, Earth and Man but these two have special significance to the Lee family. I forgot to show last week’s recipe, Japanese Apricot Kimchi so here it is:
That looks so beautiful and tasty! We here in the United States tend to think of cabbage kimchi as ‘kimchi’ and don’t realize there is a huge array of varieties. It’s like thinking that all sandwiches are ham and cheese because that is the only kind of sandwich you’ve had.
First we find that Woo Joo is dragging Kang San with her to check on Eun Bi. Woo Joo has noticed that Eun Bi was eating instant ramen and her restaurateur’s heart is outraged. They arrive at the dingy building only to discover Ho Tae has also arrived and is lurking outdoors. Ho Tae can not admit to being worried about the child, but neither sister is fooled. Woo Joo, whose kind heart and simplicity of nature moves her forward into the unlocked apartment door, and finds an unconscious and unresponsive Eun Bi.
When I first watched this show, I was VERY worried for Eun Bi even though she was in the credits as a regular cast member. I had just watched my first ever K Drama, where in they killed a child, and I did not trust anyone to ever live in any K drama.
Ho Tae and the sisters rush her to the hospital, where the doctor, mistaking Ho Tae for the Eun Bi’s negligent father scold him for neglect. As the doctor chides Ho Tae for Eun Bi’s malnurishment you can see each word as a hammer blow into Ho Tae, spurring a deep seated hurt and rage.
Eun Bi returns with Ho Tae and the sisters to Heaven, Earth and Man and Woo Joo declares her intention to keep and care for Eun Bi. Do Sik is the one to put Eun Bi to bed in the sister’s room. His tenderness in doing so belying his impassive face. Kang San is worried that they will be prosecuting for kidnapping .
The next morning the sisters are consternated as Eun Bi refuses to eat. They sit and try to comfort and coax her to no avail. Ho Tae, just outside the room, seethes and fidgets until he can no longer contain himself and barrels into the room yelling, “Do you think crying will make her come back?! You have to learn to live on!” As the sisters sit horrified, Ho Tae’s own hard learned truths come spilling out from him. He leaves and to the astonishment of the Lee sisters Eun Bi begins eating. Recognizing the truth in Ho Tae’s words does more than all the best intended comfort.
Ho Tae tracks down Eun Bi’s father. He discovers that he is a woman beating, gambling addict who does not care if Eun Bi goes to an orphanage. Further, we discover that Eun Bi’s mother was a hostess bar woman. Clearly Eun Bi has no advocate other than the denizens of Heaven, Earth and Man. Already we see the beginnings of Ho Tae’s reformation. Although he dearly would love to beat Eun Bi’s father, he restrains himself on the off chance that Eun Bi might be unhappy over it later in life.
Ho Tae discovers that Eun Bi has been pretending her mom is around to keep from going to the orphanage. She discovers that Ho Tae is also an orphan, and a bond is formed between them. Ho Tae tells Eun Bi that she will live with the Lee Sisters.
Kang San corners Ho Tae about Eun Bi’s absent father. As Do Sik quietly listens in the kitchen, Ho Tae tells Kang San and Woo Joo about the man’s lack of character and his promise to Eun Bi. Although Kang San is worried about finding Eun Bi’s extended family, neither is she willing to ship Eun Bi to an orphanage.
Kang San sits by her mother’s grave and sing the Wine Song. She begins to understand that a child’s happiness is paid for by a parent’s weariness and worry. As she is considering, Woo Joo calls her. Their father has sent a shipment of seaweed to the restaurant.
We discover that as Mr. Lee has been gone he has become roaming the countryside trying to trace the boy we know as Ho Tae. As he does he serves others by cooking for them. As he provides them a meal he is relieving them of their burdens for a short while. The small kindnesses having an outsize effect upon their lives, the interventions a ribbon of goodness. Mr. Lee has started a new diary, letters to his late wife, chronicling his journey to find “the Boy”.
Back at Heaven, Earth and Man. Kang San understands that the seaweed is a message, homework of a sort. As if the work “homework” conjures her, at the restaurant arrives Eun Bi’s homeroom teacher.
Eun Bi’s homeroom teacher is there to collect Eun Bi and take her to the orphanage. Before they could even enter the house, a man arrives asking for Mr. Lee. Informed that Mr. Lee is gone, the man asks for whomever is in charge of Heaven, Earth and Man. Ho Tae responds by asking who he is. The man ignores Ho Tae, increasingly demanding request before snapping out, “Who are you?”
Ho Tae’s thin skinned response to a perceived deficit in manners, sets the tone of rivalry with the new man and does nothing to smooth the ruffled feathers of the teacher. The new man is a chef who heard there was an opening. Kang San upbraids both men for their childishness and Do Sik brings and end to the squabbling with a short authoritative word. He bades the chef to wait as the teacher is brought down to the house to settle the business of Eun Bi.
The family learns that no one meets the qualifications to officially adopt Eun Bi, none of them married and experienced with children – even when Do Sik speaks up to volunteer. Furthermore, they do not have any explicit or implicit permission from a parent to keep her. Eun Bi’s father not listed on Eun Bi’s birth certificate. As usual, even though Kang San expresses reservations within the family about the wisdom of keeping Eun Bi, she is united in front of strangers to the family consensus that Eun Bi must live at Heaven, Earth and Man. When Eun Bi pitifully comes out to stop the escalation of voices by offering to go to the orphanage, the teacher relents that Eun Bi may stay the weekend.
The chef, Oh Hae Joon, creates a sample meal for them.
He studied at CIA in New York and says he wishes to practice more traditional Korean food. Kang San is suspicious. Woo Joo is welcoming. Do Sik says they need more hands, but the sisters should still prepare the kimchi and set the menus.
Kang San confides privately to Do Sik that she is not ready to take on Heaven, Earth and Man. Kang San understands that that Heaven, Earth and Man is more than just a restaurant, it is a ministry to people. Like anyone asked to assume a mantle of import, Kang San knows that it will become her life’s work and she is afraid to assume it. Do Sik tells her to not worry, to follow her heart and the kitchen will be waiting for her to take it when she is ready.
Kang San also finds time to sit with Eun Bi, telling her that she should run and play and not only work hard. Eun Bi says that she has to work hard because she has been abandoned. Kang San tells her that the abandonment was a mistake her mother will regret. She tells Eun Bi that she should forgive her mother, as Eun Bi is forgiven for making mistakes. She promises Eun Bi that she can stay with the Lees again, that they will find a way. Kang San has continued the relationship begun by her father, already beginning to do the work he did from the kitchen of Heaven, Earth and Man.
Mr. Lee asks at an orphanage if they remember seeing the child, holding a photo of Ho Tae. The orphanage workers deny knowing him, but one runs to make a frantic phone call in private.
During the dinner rush, Woo Joo walks over to the teacher’s apartment with a bundle of food. While not entirely guileless, Woo Joo hopes to change the teacher’s mind about Eun Bi, Woo Joo’s main aim is to show caring to the teacher and draw her into the circle of community that Heaven, Earth and Man fosters.
As Eun Bi and the sisters set the table for the evening meal Ho Tae tries to remember more about the day he lost his father. As he searches his memory he remembers a yellow truck and someone telling him to forget it all.