Kimchi Family Episode 2


Welcome back to Kimchi Family episode two –  a day late despite my best intentions. We pick up the episode as Ki Ho Tae returns to Heaven, Earth and Man and declares his intention to help out at the restaurant until Papa Lee returns.

Ho Tae is given a chance to prove his kitchen chops, and the result illustrates the dynamic that rules the familial relationship. Woo Joo, big hearted and always looking for the bright side of things, is immediately impressed with the result and votes to keep Ho Tae on. Kang San, suspicious and self confident, points out all the flaws in the dish and votes against Ho Tae.  The sisters appeal to “Uncle” Do Sik, who while quiet on his opinion of the food’s taste, points out that they really need the help at the restaurant.  Kang San overruled, Ho Tae stays.

Kang San and Ho Tae exchange words, Ho Tae accusing her of running away in her determination to sell the restaurant while Kang San defends that he doesn’t understand the family.  She walks off to the kitchen and tries to understand what motivated her father to leave. As she looks at the pile of ingredients to be prepped for the next day, she thinks she knows the next day’s dish.

Ho Tae asks questions of Woo Joo, trying to ferret out information to confirm or deny whether or not the father he can’t quite remember is Mr. Lee. Woo Joo, on whom guile and subtext are wasted, answers Ho Tae but sheds no light on the situation.  She goes back to care for the baby that had been abandoned at the restaurant, and while pondering her own mother has an epiphany. Finding Kang San, the sisters confirm their conclusions about the next day’s dish and set about making it.

As they cook, Ho Tae looks though Mr. Lee’s room.  He finds a journal detailing Mr. Lee’s returning customers, not only their favorite foods but family history, health needs and well being.  He also finds a picture of Mr. Lee and himself at age 8.  He remembers more of the day he was lost the memory expanding to include an amusement park and being taken to an orphanage where he is given the name Ki Ho Tae after Don Quixote.

The sisters meanwhile, remember their mother teaching them to prepare the Japanese Apricot Kimchi. As little girls she taught them, likening the ingredients to family members, all different but working harmoniously together.


Ho Tae sits by the kimchi pots in the dark contemplating the picture, and Kang San, finished with the next day’s kimchi comes out.  Before they can talk, she sees someone lurking in the dark behind Ho Tae. Kang San and Ho Tae chase the intruder who gets away.  As the whole house calms from the uproar, Kang San returns Ho Tae’s earlier insight with a little of her own.  She accurately deduces the circumstances of Ho Tae’s exile from the gang and tells him that her father will come back when he needs to. His questions prompt Kang San to wonder long into the night about what could be so important as to pull Mr. Lee away from his whole life at Heaven, Earth and Man.

The next morning Ho Tae’s ignorance is exposed as he can’t even correctly wash cucumbers. Disgusted, Do Sik rescinds his support of Ho Tae’s presence. Kang San reveals the depth of the financial emergency to Dr. Han and Grandpa, the two regulars of such long standing that they insinuate themselves at the family breakfast table. Ho Tae pleads with Do Sik to give him a chance saying he’ll work at anything to stay.

Kang San intercedes with Do Sik unbeknownst to Ho Tae, explaining she is brought Ho Tae home because of his great hunger and it seemed she was following her father’s ideal of feeding the hungry. To make a difference one person at a time. Do Sik stops Ho Tae from leaving and puts him to work doing every grunt job around the restaurant.

Kang San returns to the French restaurant to get her job back and in the course of her conversation with the new boss, realizes how important Heaven, Earth and Man is. She loses her temper and walks out after telling the boss that a Korean chef who doesn’t value Korean cuisine will never be successful. Before she leaves, her subordinate gives her the contact info for the head French chef in France.  Kang San returns to Heaven, Earth and man to work.

Kang San finds her father’s customer notebook.  As she begins to look through it.  Woo Joo calls her agitatedly.  The mother of the abandoned baby reappears.  She is a young high school student.  Regretting the abandonment of her child, she returns for her, having seen the notice on the menu board that the baby had called Woo Joo “mom”. The family feeds her and encourages her to return home to her parents with the baby to make a fresh start.  Woo Joo is stricken at the loss, and the normally taciturn Do Sik is angry. The turmoil drives Ho Tae to contemplate a broken watch – the only link to his missing father.

We meet the first of two persons interested in buying Heaven, Earth and Man: Jung Hyun Suk, owner of a large corporation, she seems to know Mr. Lee quite well. A bit later we meet a man directing things to be taken care of without fuss.

Kang San, after contemplating her father’s customer journal decides to not sell, but hang onto Heaven, Earth and Man as long as she can. Kang San reclaims the apron her mother made for her as a child.

Ho Tae’s gangster boss is trying to find Ho Tae.

Ho Tae and Woo Joo run across Eun Bi, the small girl who used to come to Heaven, Earth and Man.  Eun Bi says that her mother tells her to eat at home these days.  Woo Joo accepts this, but Ho Tae is more skeptical, although he says nothing. They leave but we see that Eun Bi is living alone in a dirty, water damaged room, living on instant ramen.

Kang San, happy with her decision to stay enjoys makgeolli at the family dinner table. Uncle tell the sisters that they must create the daily menus, all they have to do is remember the food they ate growing up. In high spirits Kang San, with Woo Joo, remembers a song taught to them about tasting wine from their parents.

Have some, have some
Have a cup of this wine
This wine is not wine
This wine is our mother’s tears
This wine is our father’s sweat
Don’t say it’s bitter or sweet
Have a taste with your heart
Don’t be sad
The myeongsasibri rose buds fall
When spring arrives next year
you will bloom once again Our pitiful life
is like a floating rootless weed

 Have some, have some  – Have a cup of this wine

The paulownia tree
in the bright fall moon
reminds me of my wife
and saddens me
Does my wife think of me?
Or am I alone in this thought?
In the morning’s cold frost,
the wild goose cries and leaves

I hope for news of my wife
The overflowing clouds
are empty of noise

Ho Tae sees Do Sik fall quietly into the warmth of the song and shared memories, and realizes that he is part of the family now.

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