“What If I Die Tomorrow?”
Chocolate returns this week with another dramatic and poignant episode, one that peppers in some light comedy throughout, ready for the gut punch at the end that’s sure to reduce many to tears. This is fast becoming one of my favourite Korean dramas this year and the beautiful, simple theme around food bringing us all together is perfectly illustrated here.
We return to the hospital with Cha-Young throwing her arms around Kang and passing out. As he lies her down and tends to her, he asks Seon-Ah what she’s actually doing at the hospice. When Cha regains consciousness, Kang is nowhere to be seen but instead, he sits awkwardly with the others as they offer him up a celebratory cake and wish him happy birthday. It all becomes too much for him though and he leaves the others to enjoy the food while he walks away. As he does, he winds up face to face with Cha-Young.
Meanwhile, Lee Jun works on his pottery while Kang shows up at his parents’ and tells them to reconsider the transfer. Unfortunately they don’t take kindly to his request, calling him an amateur compared to Lee Jun. He bites back though, telling them he’s not going to die like his Mum, prompting them to test his dexterity and hand-eye coordination through picking up beans with chopsticks. Unfortunately it’s enough for him to realize the truth – he’s not able to do surgery anymore.
As he heads back to the hospice, he learns through the Director that Min-Seong used to call him the best surgeon he knew. While he finds comfort in this knowledge, Tae-Hyeon continues to cause mischief, posing on an expensive car and uploading photos.
Back at the hospice, one of the patients, Mr Kim, tries to convinces Cha-Young to head out with him and eat at a restaurant, “What if I die tomorrow?” he asks, prompting her to reluctantly tag along and head to his chosen restaurant. However, on their way back he narrowly avoids being hit by a motorcycle, prompting Kang to tend to his wounds, going on to forbid him from going out again.
Ms. Han’s Alzheimer’s progresses and causes another allergic reaction with one of the patients. The head doctor, Hyeon-Seok, berates her forgetfulness and implores that she get herself checked out, going on to tell her the illness is serious and she needs to be careful. On the way out the door, he tells Cha she needs to pack her things up and leave, realizing the patient is having cyanosis. Battling through his shaky hands, Kang manages to save Ms Kim.
Back in the kitchen, Cha convinces Seon-Ae to cook but as it turns out the outer leaves were seasoned and it turns out it actually wasn’t Seon-Ae who cooked after all. It was Gyeong-Su. She collects her stuff and storms out, leaving the two ladies to discuss her work. Together, they cook bowls of food for the hospice patients, prompting both Cha-Young and Seon-Ae to greet them and hand the bowls out personally.
After heading out on her bike for a bite to eat, Cha-Young heads back to the hospice and finds Lee Jun standing in the car park. He asks her to give Ms. Kim a gift from him, and it turns out she was the first person to teach him pottery, tying in to the early moments of this episode. Feeling down, Mr Kim asks again whether Cha-Young will head out and eat with him but she turns him down. Soon after, he asks Tae-Hyeon but he shouts at the old man, going on to curse his son until Cha-Young hurries out and watches as Mr Kim collapses, eventually brought in by Kang who rushes out too.
Inside, he makes the Director promise to take him to the Chinese restaurant the next day in a heartwarming scene. Back in the ward however, Kang tends to Tae-Hyeon’s injuries sustained from the old man’s stick while Cha-Young perseveres through hers, clutching her shoulder while cooking up a gorgeous shrimp noodle dish for Mr Kim. Only, the Director stops her and lets her know his picnic in this world is done. Cha-Young heads to the restaurant and picks up his hat again, as Kang arrives and orders three bowls of jajangmyeon – a tribute to Mr Kim. He places the bowl and hat at the empty seat and as the episode closes out, an emotional montage shows the trio eating together.
I have to admit, I was ready to score this one a little lower than 4 stars, just because for most of this episode a lot of the drama is mixed in with comedic moments that don’t always hit the right mark. While I understand these are used to alleviate some of the heavy drama late on, for me the slapstick style feels a little jarring next to the poignancy evident in most scenes.
The ending delivers one heck of a gut punch though and the tribute to Mr Kim actually had me in tears. This beautiful and bittersweet ending really reinforces the themes of the show, which predominantly revolves around food and how that brings us all together. It’s a simple message but one that’s executed perfectly with the gorgeous visual design throughout.
Chocolate is fast becoming one of my favourite Korean dramas this year and that’s before even mentioning the recently released third part of the soundtrack too, “Always Be Here”, which perfectly captures the mood of the series. Given the preview for tomorrow’s episode, it looks like another emotional one but for now, Chocolate bows out with another strong episode.