4 Moments Where Seo Hyun Jin Showed Her Soft Side In Episodes 3-4 Of “Why Her?”
“Why Her?” is shaping up to be quite the standout legal thriller. The show is host to the classic boat of corrupt politicians, greedy CEOs, and the leaders of law who allow them to get away with every crime. But what elevates it is Seo Hyun Jin’s brilliant performance as Oh Soo Jae. Yet, despite her icy smiles and every stinging barb from her lips, Soo Jae is extremely vulnerable deep down. And that vulnerability manifests itself in ways that no one might expect. Here are our favorite moments this week where Soo Jae’s soft side came through, including one moment that is not entirely okay.
Warning: spoilers for episodes 3-4 below.
1. Soo Jae’s rooftop meeting with Park So Young
The first couple of episodes make it appear as though Soo Jae made no attempt to speak to So Young (Hong Ji Yoon) after that initial disastrous conversation in the law firm boardroom. But when Soo Jae notices the broken buckle on So Young’s shoes, she figures there was one place the other woman had gone. She’s right and finds So Young on the rooftop. Soo Jae accurately guesses that So Young came there to meet someone as opposed to ending her life. With her signature bitter honesty, Soo Jae tells the other woman to live no matter what, and she reasserts that everyone’s life has value. In the world and climate that So Young and Soo Jae live in, there is no justice for the crimes committed to them. Worse, if they leave the world, no one will care. Rather, their death will merely become a statistic, a story. And the world will never change.
It makes even more sense now that Soo Jae was so shaken after So Young’s fall. Because there were only two possibilities: either Soo Jae’s talk wasn’t enough to convince So Young out of this course of action, or So Young was murdered. Both possibilities frighten her, but Soo Jae isn’t one to shy away from the truth, even if it implicates her. So without anyone knowing her true intentions, she sets out on a course of action to tear herself to shreds if it means So Young gets justice.
2. Soo Jae’s offer of helping Park Ji Young
We first meet So Young’s younger sister Park Ji Young (Park Ji Won) when she protests Soo Jae’s position as a law school professor before the bulk of the student body. Soo Jae’s cruel point, that the people who drove So Young to her death were her family, hits home. Her mother’s hospital fees are through the roof, and her father spends what money So Young sends them on drinking and gambling. Ji Young is a helpless high schooler who studies as hard as she can and sits at the top five students in her year in an attempt to escape her financial conditions.
Ji Young does everything she can to implicate Soo Jae as her sister’s murderer, but she also knows that Soo Jae wasn’t involved. Soo Jae sees to what the girl actually wants: justice, a reinvestigation. And she’s clear with Ji Young that she can give her that, but Ji Young will have to sacrifice herself for a bit, just as Soo Jae will by placing herself at the center of investigation. Soo Jae endures mockery, threats, and the student body’s disgust while Ji Young is arrested, forced to spend nights in jail and at risk of permanently staying there. The folks at the legal clinic, including Gong Chan (Hwang In Yeop), Na Se Ryun (Nam Ji Hyun), Nam Choon Poong (Lee Jin Hyuk), and Jo Kang Ja (Kim Jae Hwa), all team up to find evidence to exonerate her. And their hard work pays off: Ji Young is released, and So Young’s death by murder is proven.
3. Soo Jae’s reaction at overhearing Gong Chan’s confession
Soo Jae is ice cold when at work. Seo Hyun Jin does a marvelous job of conveying Soo Jae’s every micro expression as she sneers, mocks, and shreds people apart without lifting a finger. She’s brilliant, manipulative, and makes no apologies for it. But underneath it all, she’s a warmhearted person. She jokes freely with her friend Chae Joon Hee (Cha Chung Hwa) and her assistant Song Mi Rin (Lee Joo Woo). The cold attitude vanishes then, and she reverts to a regular person. More than anything, Soo Jae yearns for someone who can understand her. Someone who will look past her shark persona to know why she does what she does. And she’s bewildered when Gong Chan ends up being that person.
Here’s someone she doesn’t know who seems to care so much about her wellbeing. He steps in when she’s being harassed, defends her before an entire class, gets soaked in the rain if it means that she doesn’t have to, and cooks her food when she’s had a long day. And he wants nothing in return. He just wants to like her. Rather than being disillusioned by how different she is from the person he remembers, Gong Chan understands why she has had to become this strong and hard. He knows that the world didn’t give her a choice in the matter and that her success is always questioned and precarious. There are too many people waiting in the wings to drag away her accomplishment purely because she’s a woman and a high school graduate from a poor family. Meanwhile, wealthy dirtbags like Choi Joo Wan (Ji Seung Hyun) get away with murder (quite literally) and are praised for their every bit of incompetence.
Gong Chan just gets Soo Jae. And she can’t help but smile while watching him so besotted with her because it’s so new and so rare for her. But is it okay for her to enjoy it so much? And can she really reciprocate?
4. That kiss
It makes sense for Soo Jae to push Gong Chan away, and she does it with her signature honesty. Yes, she enjoyed the attention but it’s getting unnecessary now, so he should leave. But she wilts right after she does it, and when Gong Chan swoops right back in after she drops her glass, she just doesn’t understand why. Here’s this guy she just eviscerated, and he’s running right back to her without any thought of self-preservation and being so caring. And she yearns so much to be cared for (certainly a serious lack of that affection in her life given her wastrel family) that she kisses him.
And herein lies the elephant in the room. The setup here is pretty similar to “I Hear Your Voice.” The older, more jaded lawyer meets a puppy-eyed younger man. They have a shared past from when both of them were younger that involves a murder. She’s changed since then and grown harder. And he has stars in his eyes when he looks at her. But the execution could not be more different. The power dynamics, for one, are much more awkward in this one. This isn’t a lawyer and a very mature high-schooler she knows, this is a law professor and her student. She literally has control over his grades. This is the sort of relationship that every ethics board would be throwing red flags at. Sure, they can date after he graduates or once she’s no longer his professor, but to do so right now is an incredibly foolish move on both their parts. This sort of rumor could follow Gong Chan for the rest of his life. And Soo Jae has so many enemies waiting for a bad decision. Why is she giving them ammunition by opening herself to a disciplinary hearing?
Plus, ethics aside, there’s something too hero-worshippy about Gong Chan’s admiration. For example, the male lead in “I Hear Your Voice” challenged the female lead. He was right sometimes, she was right other times. This showed the male character’s maturity and that they were both learning from each other, which went a long way towards alleviating some of the initial discomfort with the age gap. But here, Gong Chan doesn’t push Soo Jae intellectually. She’s right all the time (save that time when she slapped him), and he learns from her and apologizes for not seeing her full picture (like with the Na Se Ryun case). That’s a very different intellectual dynamic.
This is not to say that Soo Jae and Gong Chan don’t work on paper. They do. It all makes sense, but Gong Chan has some serious growth to do if he is to be anything more than Soo Jae’s personal cheerleader. And for a show this good, the relationship dynamics could definitely be better. But it’s only the second week! We have time and so do Soo Jae and Gong Chan. With danger on the horizon for both of them, let’s see just where their journey goes next Friday!
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Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she works as a lawyer, fangirls over Ji Sung, and attempts to write the greatest fantasy romance of all time. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!
Currently Watching: “Why Her?” “Link” “Doctor Lawyer,” and “From Now On, Showtime!”
Looking Forward to: “Adamas,” “Island,” “Little Women,” “Big Mouth,” “Chaebol’s Youngest Son,” “Carter,” “Queen of the Scene,” and “Black Knight.”