Romance is a Bonus Book Episode 1
7 years ago…Past…
Cha Eun Ho (Lee Jong Suk) arrives at a wedding ceremony. He goes to see the bride, Kang Dan Yi (Lee Na Young) and starts to wish her well but is pushed out of the way by well-wishers. Eun Ho takes his place at the piano. The groom makes his entrance. Eun Ho plays the wedding march for Dan Yi’s entrance. She doesn’t show. Eun Ho side skirts two fans heading for the car to find Dan Yi.
He’s startled when Dan Yi is in his backseat. The groom calls knowing Dan Yi is with Eun Ho because of the CCTV. He begs Dan Yi to return. Eun Ho tells the groom they’ll be back shortly. Sitting on the sidewalk outside the convenience store Dan Yi bemoans their financial state. Eun Ho tells her he’ll whisk her away if that’s what she wants. His car is towed. They walk back to the chapel.
Dan Yi’s voiceover “That day if I chose not to go back to my wedding, that day if I went to a foreign country, like Eun Ho suggested, I’d be living a different life now.”
7 years later…Present…
Divorced bride Dan Yi tries to reenter the workforce in advertising but the 7-year absence to be a full-time mother is difficult to overcome. In fact, the current employees are irked that she’s trying to reenter the workforce they’ve been slaving in while she wasn’t. The younger job seekers are irked that she’s competing with them.
Eun Ho assigns his university student homework. He still has fans that he still sidesteps.
Dan Yi tidies Eun Ho’s home. He’s not aware that she’s his housekeeper. She gets a call from her daughter’s school requesting a letter of employment. Eun Ho complains to bride about his housekeeper. He believes she showers there, eats his rice and uses his computer. He’s right about all that.
At the publishing company, Eun Ho is editor in chief. The executive team meets. The president isn’t interested in following the law regarding no age limits for hiring. He does agree that age won’t matter for a contract position.
Dan Yi lives in a house slated for demolition. She recalls happy times in her marriage with her husband and young daughter. She recalls the breakup with her husband due to his bankrupt business and cheating. She almost texts her daughter the truth about her depleted finances but when her daughter calls from boarding school needing to go to the hospital, she lies to her daughter she can afford the medical bills and the next term.
Eun Ho is surprised to see Dan Yi’s resume print on his printer. He wonders why she’s looking for a job.
Dan Yi’s daughter texts that the doctor gave her a shot and all will be well.
The next day, Dan Yi wakes to the demolition underway. She rushes outside. They order her to pack up and leave. She cringes as the demolition crew wonders if she’s homeless.
Dan Yi has bad luck when one of her dress shoes is crushed by a bus. She sobs that she can’t make the interview she had scheduled. To add insult to injury, it rains on her. Her daughter text the hospital bill. Dan Yi forgoes the other shoe and lugs her belonging through the rain.
She arrives at Eun Ho’s house but the passcode has changed. She calls him for the new passcode but he doesn’t answer the phone.
Eun Ho meets his girlfriend for coffee. She tells him she’s marrying someone else. He pretends all is well and says marriage isn’t for him. She dashes water in his face and coat. She declares he doesn’t know what love is and storms away.
Dan Yi buys a drink with her meager money.
Eun Ho muses that Dan Yi is the reason he doesn’t believe in love.
Dan Yi recalls her wedding and Eun Ho making sure she was alright. Eun Ho finally returns her call. He shares he just got dumped because he doesn’t know about love. He tells Eun Ho it is all her fault. He asks if she went by his house to print her resume. Dan Yi declares the next man she meets follow.
She recants when a drunk man bothers her. Another man intervenes and gets the drunk guy to leave her alone. She thanks him for the help. He notices her lack of shoes. He produces a pair of shoes. He wipes the dirt off her feet. He puts her feet in the shoes. A perfect fit! He smiles. She smiles. She says these are her shoes. He admits to retrieving her broken shoe but she’d left. He admits finding the other shoe she tossed. They both smile. She says the Cinderella fantasy is lovely but she needs to save herself. It begins to rain. He offers his umbrella. She offers her plant to thank him for the shoes. He gives her his umbrella and dashes away in the rain.
Dan Yi arrives at Eun Ho’s house. He sees her disheveled state. He asks why she has a bag with her. He asks if something is wrong with her marriage. She asks if she can stay overnight. He asks if she ran away from home. She heads upstairs after admitting she has nowhere to go. He recalls when she said the same to him on her wedding day.
Dan Yi gets her spare clothes from the box she hides in his spare bedroom.
Eun Ho wonders if he should call her husband.
The next morning, Dan Yi won’t answer questions. Finally, she tells him she’s divorced. He doesn’t believe her. Eun Ho knows he’d know about a divorce. He asks if her husband cheated on her. She doesn’t answer. He leaves.
Eun Ho wonders if Dan Yi is divorced.
Dan Yi cleans Eun Ho’s house. She finds the recruiting poster for Eun Ho’s workplace. She spies the contract position…no degree required. Her eyes light up.
Eun Ho returns home and sees Dan Yi’s shoes. He calls her. She doesn’t answer. He texts her offering sympathy over her divorce. She smiles and returns to considering applying for the contract position.
At the publishing company, the interviews are underway. Dan Yi is ready for be interviewed. Eun Ho sees her resume.
Dan Yi enters the interview room. They lock eyes.
Why Am I watching this show? I’m a Lee Jong Suk fan. I’m ready for romance. I want a lighter show. Writer Jung Hyun Jung has a list of romance kdramas including the I Need Romance trilogy. Will Romance Is a Bonus Book fit the bill?
This first episode, set the stage, and made me want to watch the second episode. Over 30 divorcee struggles to reenter the workplace. She saves everything to keep her daughter in private away from home schooling. She literally has no place to live. Unbeknownst to her friend, she’s moonlighted as his housekeeper. She finally admits she’s divorced but he does not believe it. Desperate for a job to fund her daughter’s schooling, she applies at the publishing company he works out. What happens next?
Kang Dan Yi (Lee Na Young) takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Why she kept her divorce and meager financial state from Eun Ho isn’t clear. Pride must be a factor. I like that she’s not plucky but rather willing to keep going in the face of overwhelming odds against her. The job market is competitive and her 7-year gap puts her at a distinct disadvantage. She’s been divorced for a year, so she might be ready for romance. I’m counting on it. Wikipedia lists Dan Yi’s age as 37 and Eun Ho as 32. Writer Jung had an older woman younger man relationship in I Need Romance 3, so bring it on.
Cha Eun Ho (Lee Jong Suk) does not embrace love because his first (and only?) love, Dan Yi, married another. I like the quiet confidence of this character. He isn’t awkward but he doesn’t allow his followers to inflate his ego. He clearly still cares for Dan Yi. Does he believe she’s divorced? Will he pretend he doesn’t know her at the interview?
I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as good. My rating chart is below.