What if Woong (Ahn Bo-hyun) had communicated more, been less set in his ways, and put down his pride when it came to Yumi (Kim Go-eun)? These alternate scenarios playing out in his subconscious come to an abrupt end when coworker Louis (Joo Jong-hyuk) shakes him awake. Realising he’s still at the office, a startled Woong stares blankly at his work computer and takes a while to come to his senses. Louis then makes the executive decision for both of them to knock off for the day.
On the way home, Woong stops by a convenience store and buys himself a steamed bun for 700 won (~70 cents). Outside the store, his logical self comes across a money-saving opportunity: two bags of 20 buns for 11,000 won (~$11), which would save him much more in the long run. The catch? He needs to invest in a steamer, which doesn’t come cheap. Per Louis’ advice that “steaming buns in an electric rice cooker is the best”, Woong’s Reason Cell (voiced by Um Sang-hyun) eventually decides to use his 100,000 won emergency fund (~$100) to buy a second-hand one.
Woong comes across an online marketplace listing for an unopened electric rice cooker, and makes an enquiry with the seller. He attempts to use the ‘poor student’ card to get a discount, but the seller rejects it on the grounds of their unemployment. Based on Woong’s logic, “A negotiation with an unemployed person is a fight that can’t be won.”. However, Woong becomes fixated on acquiring the rice cooker, by hook or by crook. Finally, the seller concedes and offers a 5,000 won (~$5) discount if Woong picks up the rice cooker himself. Woong swings into action and heads to meet the seller – on Christmas Eve.
At the designated meet-up spot, Woong puts on his wireless earbuds as snow falls around him. Feeling a tap on his shoulder, he turns around – and comes face to face with Yumi. In Woong’s mind, they would have made small talk, complimented each other’s new hairdos, and eventually have a pleasant catch-up over coffee. The reality, however, is rather different: Yumi wastes no time in handing the rice cooker to Woong, and even makes sure they complete the transaction as agreed, before rushing off. Left alone with his new second-hand rice cooker, a disheartened Woong trudges back to the office in a daze. Reason reasons that it was fair for Yumi to act cold towards him, as he had done the same to her; though it doesn’t make Woon feel any less disappointed.
It turns out that Yumi’s Reason Cell (voiced by Shim Gyu-huyk) was the one to determine her reaction towards Woong, based on his motto: keep it short. While Reason cheered on Yumi’s rational and direct approach, the other cells appeared concerned, with Anxiety (voiced by Sa Moon-young) pointing out how gaunt Woong had become, and how he looked “like someone whose life isn’t working out well”.
Yumi’s mind begins to wander while waiting for the bus, and she thinks back to the ‘Bow Wow Time’ game poster she’d sent to Woong that had gotten returned. A few online searches later, and she discovers that his company closed down a week after their breakup, despite Woong telling her that he had clinched a huge outsourcing contract. Even as Detective Cell (voiced by Jung Jae-hyun) consults Love (voiced by Ahn So-yi) – the only cell that knows Woong inside out – Emotion (voiced by Park Ji-yoon) laments at how “nothing would change even if [he found] out anything”. “We did our best,” Emotion bemoans, “What is there that Yumi didn’t do?” Yumi, however, comes to the realisation that she wasn’t there when Woong needed her the most.
Over at his apartment, Bobby (Park Jin-young of GOT7) is in the midst of preparing Christmas Eve dinner – his first with Yumi. Realising that she was taking some time to reach his place, Bobby calls her, and finds out that she’s already in the area. Despite Yumi’s outwardly-cheerful tone, her inner world had turned gloomy after the encounter with Woong. This was mostly due to Emotion falling back on her feels, though she’d earlier insisted that everyone should “stop caring”.
At his office, Woong eventually pulls himself together and packs up to leave for the night. He runs into college friend Sae-yi (Park Ji-hyun), who invites him to her place for wine, adding how her boyfriend “really wants to meet” him. Woong turns her down, claiming to have “plans”. Stepping out under the falling snow, Woong finds a text message from Yumi wishing him a merry Christmas, and that she was unable to say goodbye properly earlier as “[meeting him] was so unexpected”.
With Pride as his prime cell, Woong made decisions that brought him more grief than joy. His Love Cell (voiced by Jung Jae-hyun) decides that enough is enough, and chooses to take action; and thus, on Christmas Eve, Woong finally puts his pride aside.
While prepping the pizza for their dinner, Yumi receives a text message, which she gets Bobby to check on since her hands were full (of dough). Bobby announces that it was a message from ‘Patdol’ (Woong’s username), which takes her by surprise. Later, as Yumi agonises over how to reply Woong – who had asked to meet up with her – Bobby thinks back to how he had run into Woong while at his office for a meeting. He finds out from Woong himself about his company’s bankruptcy, and how he was now a programmer at his current workplace, also a game development company. As Bobby takes his leave, Woong asks after Yumi, but Bobby doesn’t have the heart to tell Woong that Yumi is now dating him; neither does he tell Yumi about this coincidental meeting, or about Woong’s situation.
Yumi eventually decides to meet Woong, and tells Bobby that she has to head out for a while. Even as Bobby’s Reason and Emotion cells protest, it is Love (voiced by Lee Sang-ho) that decides to let her go. As he wisely puts it, “If the boyfriend’s trust in the girlfriend is strong, the ex-boyfriend doesn’t hold any power; there’s nothing Goo Woong can do.”
Woong is pleasantly surprised when Yumi turns up at their meeting spot, but just as he begins to tell her how he feels, she breaks the news that she already has a boyfriend. She adds that she had just come to pass him his ‘Bow Wow Time’ poster, which she’d held on to, thinking that it was something important to him. Though the meet-up wasn’t exactly what Woong had expected, both of them were able to share their honest sentiments with each other, even if a little late. They then go their separate ways, with Yumi finally getting to enjoy her Christmas Eve dinner with Bobby, while Woong savours his steamed buns alone in his rented room, freshly warmed by Yumi’s rice cooker.
Even as Yumi and Bobby continue dating in secret, Bobby’s regular lunchtime excuses of meeting ‘a friend’ begin to arouse his colleague’s suspicions. This even reaches the ears of Ruby (Lee Yoo-bi), who claims to have a ‘lookout radar’ of all the dating couples within Daehan Noodles. Over a quick coffee catch-up one day with Yumi and Yi-da (Mi-ram), Ruby lets on that Bobby might be seeing his ex-girlfriend again. This is vehemently dismissed by Yumi, much to her friends’ surprise.
Since leaving the company, Yumi continues to find contentment in doing what she enjoys: attending writing classes, catching up with her favourite people, and reading. But there are moments when anxiety sets in, such as worrying about the lack of income and the possibility of not winning the writing competition. Seeing her friends rise through the corporate ranks is one thing, but having a schoolmate (cameo by Park Jin-joo) doggedly question her choice of quitting her job to pursue writing makes Yumi even more anxious. This is alleviated temporarily when Yumi realises that she doesn’t have to deal with Monday blues, unlike her working friends.
On the day the writing competition results are announced, Yumi wakes up after having a dream of holding a pig. Unfortunately, she does not make the cut. After some momentary moping, she picks herself up and decides to press on, thanks to the inspirational quotes Writer Cell brings to mind. Bobby comes over later in the evening with bento boxes in hand (stir-fried spicy pork and rice, hence her porcine dream), but they get relegated as a side dish as he and Yumi get wrapped up in the main course: each other.
Just as the lights go off, Yumi hears a knock at the door and a familiar voice – that of her visiting father (Sung Ji-ru). He cheerfully enters her apartment, his hands full with boxes of fresh seafood and kimchi, courtesy of her grandmother. That chirpy demeanour diminishes upon seeing Bobby together in the room with Yumi, and especially after learning that his daughter now has a boyfriend. Yumi’s father applies the ‘handshake of fury’ to subtly communicate his displeasure, and Bobby does his best to persevere through it with a smile. Thankfully, Yumi’s mother (Yun Yoo-sun) breaks her husband’s grip before he breaks the young man’s hand.
Mild awkwardness ensues as Bobby tries to read the room (and Yumi’s father’s mood), agreeing to stay for dinner one moment, then politely turning it down. Eventually, he’s made to stay on, leading his worried cells to wonder if he would survive the night. Despite Yumi’s father making every attempt to pick on him, Bobby responds sincerely and with grace, which charms Yumi’s mother. The night ends on a painful note, however, as Yumi’s handyman father ends up falling from a stool while debating over who should fix a shaky shelf. As Bobby piggybacks him to his car to get his back checked, the older man finally softens up and decides to accept him as Yumi’s boyfriend.
After her parents make it home, Yumi gets a call from her mother, who can’t stop raving about Bobby. She asks Yumi to find out a little more about Bobby’s background, aside from what he’d told her about his father owning a “small business”. With Bobby’s air of elegance and class, her mother deduces that he could be from a well-to-do family.
Yumi’s curiosity is piqued when she overhears a phone conversation between Bobby and his older sister, in which she hears the word ‘heir’ being mentioned. The cells wonder if Bobby could actually be one, and Hunger suggests carrying out the ‘yoghurt test’ to find out – if he throws the lid away instead of licking it, then he’s definitely the heir of a rich family. After seeing Bobby throwing the lid away, Yumi asks about what she’d overheard, which he confirms: his father had picked him to take over his business, but they don’t get along. This revelation gets Yumi’s inspiration churning, and the cells start formulating a drama scenario in her head.
Bobby steps out to pick up supper, and returns with tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) from ‘Bobby’s Snack Shop’. Seeing how worried Yumi is, he finally tells her that the snack shop is his family’s business, which he’s been primed to take over, but has no interest in. This other revelation makes Yumi feel incredibly relieved, and she gives Bobby a big hug.
Yumi and Bobby once again pick up where they’d left off on the couch, their exploration of each other deepening with every passing moment. The cells, in the meantime, are ecstatic when Yumi’s right hand reaches new ground, marked as “a great day in the history of her relationship with Bobby”. The next morning, as Yumi wakes up next to Bobby, she tries to release herself from his embrace to freshen up. Her still-sleepy boyfriend, on the other hand, pulls her closer to him, and they fall back asleep, wrapped in each other’s arms.
What We Liked
- The opening dream sequence of what could have been would certainly make the Yumi/Woong shippers feel a sense of wistfulness.
- The wise words of Bobby’s Love Cell (“If the boyfriend’s trust in the girlfriend is strong, the ex-boyfriend doesn’t hold any power”) shows his sense of security – both in himself, and in his relationship with Yumi.
- There’s certainly no time like the present, especially when it comes to finding closure. Yumi and Woong’s final conversation was what they both needed to finally close the chapter of their relationship, and to move forward in their new life chapters.
- Yumi’s pig dream – holding a pig in one’s dream is said to “suggest a windfall”.
- The dial is a good visualisation of how one (in this case, Yumi) would switch to different modes depending on their situation, e.g. daughter/son mode, girlfriend/boyfriend mode, friend mode, company employee mode, etc.
- How the Right Hand’s expedition to ‘Planet H2’ (or in layman terms, Bobby’s left butt cheek) was such an event – one for the history books, at that – in Yumi’s world.
Two new episodes of ‘Yumi’s Cells 2’ will be released on South Korean streaming platform TVING every Friday at 4pm KST.