After valiantly appearing at the hotel lobby as her knight in shining armour “boyfriend”, Tae-moo (Ahn Hyo-seop) continues to fawn over Ha-ri (Gugudan’s Kim Se-jong) over dinner with her college friends. His wealth-flaunting gestures and sweet yet clingy ways appear to turn the ladies green with envy, including Yoo-ra (Bae Woo-hee). As the ladies pry further about the duo’s relationship, Ha-ri is surprised at how naturally Tae-moo’s responses roll off his tongue; from articulating what he likes about her to when he first fell for her. She’s even more flustered, however, when he eventually reveals to the ladies that they both work in the same company – and him being the president, no less.
The surprises continue as Tae-moo informs the ladies that he and Ha-ri would be spending the night at the hotel. Already feeling uneasy that her boss was acting as her boyfriend, Ha-ri is even more uncomfortable at having to share a room with him. With her in the suite bedroom and him on the couch, the proximity of being that much closer to each other keeps them both up for most of the night. In the meantime, Yoo-ra – ticked off that Ha-ri was able to net herself such a “perfect guy” – spills the beans about Ha-ri’s new beau to Min-woo (Song Won-seok).
The next morning, Tae-moo continues to go above and beyond: sending Ha-ri a selection of fresh clothes to their room and adjusting his schedule to stay on with her in Sokcho. He even takes her and her friends, including Min-woo, out on his grandfather’s fishing yacht for the day – hoping to see dolphins, which is on Ha-ri’s bucket list. Some tension brews on the boat when Min-woo confronts Tae-moo on the side about him dating Ha-ri, out of concern for his long-time friend. This offends the young president, who warns the chef against “judging his girlfriend”. It eventually escalates into an intense fishing competition, with neither of the men noticing that Ha-ri is unwell until she’s close to fainting. Once back on land, a worried Tae-moo quickly sends her to the nearest hospital.
Back in Seoul, Young-seo (Seol In-a) emerges from her drunken stupor and realises that she isn’t in her own apartment. Vaguely recalling the steamy night she had with Sung-hoon (Kim Min-gue), she goes off her rocker and gets dressed in a hurry, but jabs her heel on his rocking chair just as he returns home with hangover soup in hand. Even after their shared intimacy, Young-seo continues to draw the line between them, asking Sung-hoon to “pretend the night never happened”, much to his disappointment. He drowns his sorrows at his favourite eatery, frustrated at Young-seo’s actions despite knowing how she feels. Sung-hoon thinks back to their first encounter outside the convenience store and how he fell in love with Young-seo at first sight – just as she did with him.
Upon their return to the city, Ha-ri apologises to Tae-moo for all the time and effort he’d wasted in keeping up “boyfriend” appearances. His reply is simple: “I did it because I wanted to”. Tae-moo finally plucks up the courage to confess his feelings for Ha-ri, and chooses to be considerate by giving her time to think things through. His impatience eventually gets the better of him, however, thinking out loud the next day that he “should have given her a deadline” to respond. Tae-moo tells Sung-hoon of his confession, but in the latter’s books, Ha-ri’s radio silence is already considered a rejection.
Over a tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) lunch, besties Ha-ri and Young-seo get each other up to speed on their respective weekends. Young-seo admits that she remembers nothing of her night with Sung-hoon, which was why she’d told him to do the same. Though Ha-ri doesn’t let on about hers at first, Young-seo finds out when she sees a picture of both her and Tae-moo on Ha-ri’s phone. Ha-ri has more weighing on her mind and heart after that lunch, particularly after hearing about how Tae-moo had helped with the peeping tom case, and even thinking back to the earnest, sincere look in his eyes from the night before.
When Sung-hoon runs into Young-seo at their apartment complex’s car park, he coldly informs her that he would forget the night just as she wished, adding that she shouldn’t disregard his sincerity towards her. Following him to his apartment (right next door, of course), Young-seo tries to explain herself as she affirms her feelings for him, while admitting that she just couldn’t remember what happened that night. In response, Sung-hoon renders his earlier comments “null and void”, and sweeps her in for a kiss.
A week goes by after the confession, and both Ha-ri and Tae-moo continue to be on edge as they wait on each other to make a move. Tae-moo finally sees her at a studio when she films a cooking segment with Min-woo, their easy on-screen chemistry irking him to no end. They eventually come face to face along a corridor, and end up making a dash to avoid an angry Chairman Kang (Lee Deok-hwa), still upset that his grandson had broken up with dear “Geum-hee”. As they hide in a corner of a showroom, Ha-ri takes the opportunity to turn down Tae-moo, who responds by telling her that he would never give up till she likes him back. In the heat of the moment, Ha-ri reaches out and kisses a surprised Tae-moo, but backtracks after that and brands it as a “mistake”.
Tae-moo arranges to meet Ha-ri the next evening to talk about “the kiss”. She terms it a “fender bender” because of their inevitably close proximity, to which Tae-moo curtly counters: “Are my lips some kind of column for you to crash into?” He requests that Ha-ri makes up for what happened by buying him dinner, as his own sly way of wrangling another date with her. They head to one of his regular culinary haunts, where Ha-ri baulks at the meal’s expensive price tag. Tae-moo eventually settles the bill, stating that he “wants something bigger” than just a meal, while Ha-ri leaves with two strong impressions: of him deftly playing the piano at the restaurant, and of his luscious lips as he savoured a chocolate dessert.
Young-seo surprises Sung-hoon with a home-cooked meal at her apartment, which, despite her best efforts, doesn’t exactly yield the most palatable results. She presses him for “honest” feedback, which he eventually gives – and doesn’t hold back. This leads Young-seo to complain to Ha-ri over late-night drinks, and even of how Tae-moo had called Sung-hoon while they were on a movie date.
The next day, Sung-hoon takes a reluctant Young-seo hiking and they end up bickering halfway through the climb. Annoyed by the multiple fact bombs from her logical boyfriend, and him not being on her side, she storms off on her own, but goes off-trail and gets lost. Sung-hoon catches up with her, and ends up piggybacking her down the trail after she sprains her ankle. His actions make Young-seo’s heart melt for him all over again, and makes him hurry home instead of going to the hospital, in anticipation of another “steamy night” together.
Tae-moo asks to meet Ha-ri at an amusement park, saying how spending the day with him would be “payback for that kiss”. The duo have fun going on various rides and top it off with a corndog snack, which Ha-ri insists on buying. Tae-moo reminisces about a fond childhood memory of him eating it with his parents, and expresses his appreciation towards Ha-ri for giving him space to relive it briefly. The moment gets interrupted when she receives a call from her brother Ha-min (VICTON’s Choi Byung-chan), updating that both their parents were at the hospital – her father (Kim Kwang-kyu) for acute appendicitis, and her mother (Jung Young-joo) for light burns on her arms. They get upgraded to a VIP room, thanks to Tae-moo, who’s made to introduce himself as “Mr Gye” from the Food Product Development Team.
While helping out Ha-min at the fried chicken restaurant, Min-woo accidentally breaks a glass and cuts himself. When searching for a plaster in Ha-ri’s room, he unintentionally spots her relationship contract in a drawer. Later, as he comes across Ha-ri and Tae-moo at a park near the restaurant, Min-woo strides over and punches Tae-moo out of anger. In order to protect Tae-moo from any potential backlash, Ha-ri drags Min-woo away. At a cafe, Min-woo shows Ha-ri the contract he’d found, upset that she had never told him about it. In turn, Ha-ri tells him that this is not something he should be privy to, and asks him to formally apologise to Tae-moo.
The new week starts off with the Food Product Development Teams heading out on their field day, pitting themselves against each other in dodgeball. The stakes are raised for all participants when it’s announced that the event’s MVP would go on a one-on-one dinner with the president. Despite spraining her wrist in a previous match, Ha-ri bounces back big time and clinches the highly-coveted MVP award – and the dinner. However, Ha-ri’s celebratory mood dissipates when she finds out from (the real) Mr Gye that Tae-moo had gone on a blind date. Unknown to Ha-ri, his date is Jo Yoo-jung (Seo Hye-won), Young-seo’s not-so-favourite cousin.
Ha-ri finds herself upset about Tae-moo actually going on the blind date, and going back on his word of how he’d keep trying with her till she accepts him. Though acknowledging that she has “no right” after hiding her own feelings, Ha-ri decides to go to Tae-moo. She finally confesses her feelings for him over the phone, and pleads with him not to go on the date. Tae-moo, on the other hand, turns out to be waiting for Ha-ri at her house, to ask her out again. They both get stuck in traffic trying to get to each other, but eventually leave their respective vehicles and find middle ground at a pedestrian overpass. “If you come any closer, I’m never going to let you go again,” Tae-moo tells Ha-ri, who takes confident steps forward, and pays him back – with a kiss.
- Tae-moo’s major flexes to Ha-ri across both episodes: “Do you know what my love for you and this credit card have in common? Both have no limit” (episode seven) and “Then let me take care of you for the rest of your life, as a man to a woman”. (episode 8)
- And even after all the “flexes”, Tae-moo sharing the childhood memory with Ha-ri was him at his most genuine. Let’s hope we get to see more of this in the coming episodes.
- “I don’t say what I don’t mean” – a line that pretty much sums Sung-hoon up in a nutshell, and especially so when he told Young-seo that he’ll ensure she “doesn’t forget” the intimate moments with him from now on.
- That not-so-subtle bus stop poster promoting the book Me and You? A Book For Those Hiding Your Feelings – certainly one that Ha-ri doesn’t need any more.
‘A Business Proposal’ airs every Monday and Tuesday on SBS at 10:00pm in South Korea, and is also available on Netflix globally