We’ve reached the end of this drama. I’m a bit disappointed by the slow end of this show coming from this writer, but I understand why it ended like this. Most of the loose threads were already resolved before the end of the series, so it’s time to give everyone a nice neat bow on their heads.
Nora’s typical morning consists of biking for exercise, having a sandwich for breakfast, and then working at the ddukbokki shop. As Dong Chul is trying to land more acting gigs, he’s now handing over the ownership to Nora and teaching her her grandmother’s secret recipe. He wonders what Hyun Suk would say if he knew she were cooking, reiterating that he’s teaching her in secret!
Clearly Nora and Hyun Suk don’t talk anymore, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t keep tabs on him, especially since he has many interviews in newspapers these days surrounding his play’s premiere.
Yoon Young visits to check in on her friend and pick up some ddukbokki for her students. She’s surprised that Nora does not regret withdrawing from college, especially since Nora had spent so much effort getting in. A flashback to a few months prior, when Nora first dropped out, shows that Nora didn’t find a reason to continue going anymore. She’s had a taste of college life, and now she’s leaving before the debts of tuition and loans piles up on her. She admits that she went to school for Woo Chul, but that’s no longer her motivation. Yoon Young wonders if Nora would at least want to get an education to be closer to Hyun Suk’s level but Nora doesn’t care about that. Why must she live according to other people’s standards? She doesn’t know yet if she’ll regret rejecting Hyun Suk, but she knows for a fact that she doesn’t want to depend on him.
It’s also almost time for Grandma’s birthday so Nora plans to return to Okcheon where her grandmother is buried to pay a visit. Yoon Young volunteers to go with her, since Nora won’t have a car and will need help bringing the food to the cemetery.
Hyun Suk is on edge as opening night is drawing near and he’s still working with his cast on getting the right emotions from them. Soon Nam has taken over Nora’s position as the part-timer, getting the food for the cast and running errands. He’s quite eager, barging in during rehearsal loudly instead of coming in quietly. The production manager asks how Soon Nam likes his job, and he replies, “Besides Producer Cha yelling at me every now and then, everything is good.” Aww. The manager wonders why there aren’t any ddukbokki dishes in the lunch orders anymore when there always used to be some. Looks like Hyun Suk is actively avoiding all things associated with Nora.
Nora heads to a bookstore to pick up another book and it just so happens she sees Hyun Suk there! They walk towards each other awkwardly, having clearly seen each other. Except… Hyun Suk walks right past her as she tries to say, “Long time no see.” Wow!
She returns to a small studio apartment where she now lives alone. Min Soo’s gone abroad, presumably to a countryside where he’s now working on a blueberry farm and meeting other people his age from around the world. Looks like he took a break after his freshman year to work and “find himself.” And find himself he does – he’s got a whole new perm and a lighter color hair! Nora misses her son, but he’s experiencing so much right now that he wouldn’t trade it for more classes in college.
The following morning Nora awaits Yoon Young’s arrival, but her friend cancels on her at the last minute because she forgot she had to take her mother to the hospital for an appointment. She suggest that Nora take the bus up to Okcheon herself, but to wait for her there until she catches up. As Nora waits for an available taxi, Hyun Suk drives up to her casually as if he were just passing by. Feels like a set-up…
He offers to give her a ride to wherever she’s going, but she says she could just take a cab. He drives away, then stops. Is she going to Okcheon by chance? He puts all of her stuff in the trunk, offering to drive her to the bus terminal at least. During the drive, he doesn’t even talk to her or ask how she is. He ends up talking to a reporter about another interview, and in so doing drives past the bus terminal and straight to Okcheon. He has the day off so he might as well take her all the way. Besides, it’s for Grandma. Nora then gets the call that Yoon Young is going to be even later. Hyun Suk sighs, “Guess I’m taking you all the way up to the Okcheon mountain, not just the bus terminal there.” Oh, as if you wouldn’t enjoy it.
They arrive at Nora’s old house and he sends her off to greet her grandmother first while he cleans up the place. She visits the grave, sharing the news that she finally went to college with Grandma’s money but quit because she was “too smart” for it. Heh. She thanks her for being her grandmother, then wonders aloud, “Isn’t Cha Hyun Suk just so mean?”
Woops! Hyun Suk was right behind her, ready to trade places. Thankfully he didn’t seem to hear that. Nora heads back to the house to cook rice while Hyun Suk clips away at the weeds on the grave. She feels that he’s gotten meaner towards her, even though he did say that he needed to get over her. She remembers back to when Hyun Suk was an awkward high schooler and suddenly recalls that they had watermelon by the stream and made time capsules. That’s the memory she forgot!
Nora heads to the stream and locates the tree where they dug the time capsules in. Hyun Suk knew he’d find her there and guides her to the right spot. She finds his letter first and sees that he predicted she would still be bright, pretty, and the same from 1995. And… they’d still be together 20 years later. Then she looks at her note, where she predicted he’d be the best producer of Korea and signed it as “The one who is keeping an eye on you.”
It hearkens back to the card in the bouquet of roses that said “To the person who I hoped to keep an eye on.” That means Hyun Suk opened up these time capsules already! A flashback shows that Hyun Suk visited Grandma’s grave during his time in the army and decided to check the time capsules because he didn’t know when he’d be back. He was going to go straight to Russia to study after the army.
Nora doesn’t understand why he took all the effort to bury it again, but that’s who Hyun Suk is: he was optimistic that they’d return together in 20 years. He turns to leave, and Nora grabs him from behind. BACK HUG! Hyun Suk belligerently says he doesn’t understand what the hug means, and wants her to spell it out loud and clear why she’s hugging him.
Nora: “I want you to be by my side. Because I like you. Because I missed you. Because I can’t forget you. I thought I was going to die because I wanted to see you.”
AWW. That puts a smile on Hyun Suk’s face. He turns around and embraces her, and then double checks whether she’s forgotten him or not. Before she can finish calling him a jerk, he kisses her. Wow, this is weird. It’s so weird seeing them kiss because I feel like there is less chemistry in that kiss than in all their other interactions.
In any case, they kiss and then greet Grandma with food at her grave together. She shares a toast of makgulli with her grandmother, and Hyun Suk teases her for liking it so much ever since she got drunk on it at six. Nora’s surprised he knows that story, but that’s just how much he knows about her through Grandma. It’s also how he fell deeply in love with her. Hyun Suk even shares the story of how Grandma had worked so hard for a farm and only got a red bean paste bun as payment, and even though she was so hungry she saved it for 5-year old Nora to eat. Except Nora, who had also been starving all day, held it out to Grandma first and told her to take the first bite. And that’s why Grandma loved Nora so much, even though they were not blood related.
They weren’t blood related!!
Hyun Suk then tattles on Nora to Grandma, saying that she took 3 months and 10 days to come to her senses and return to him. Already bickering… Turns out the two of them had been watching each other from afar on the sly, still afraid to approach one another directly. Hyun Suk even used Yoon Young and Dong Chul as his spies to keep an eye on her and tell him everything that she’s doing. These two… at least we know they’re getting along famously.
So what about Woo Chul? Well, he’s quite disheveled these days and working hard on another psychological paper. He’s started over in another school, Yoobae University, outside of Seoul. Still teaching psychology, he happens to spend a lesson on narcissistic personality disorder. Looks like he identifies with it quite a bit and now understands the full meaning of the disorder.
He catches Yi Jin spying on him on campus, as she’s wearing the same disguise she always wore on their public dates. She’s quite embarrassed, and he offers his cheek for her to slap. Clearly he’s quite remorseful for his past, but he’s made a clean break of everything. He cleanly ended all lingering feelings for Nora, even giving her the necklace he had bought for her; his card even said “For the past 20 years, I’m sorry and thank you.” So mature, and even Yi Jin is impressed at how elegantly Nora accepted her first gift from Woo Chul ever.
The two of them settle in for lunch, and Woo Chul puts a slice of cutlass fish on her spoon. Turns out he never liked cutlass fish, and she never knew! He only lied to her because she seemed to like it. Likewise, she admits she never liked red bean patbingsoo and only ate it because Woo Chul liked it.
Yi Jin’s also resigned from WCU, seeing that she doesn’t deserve to be a teacher after all the underhanded acts she had performed. She’s headed for the States for a one-month vacation, but plans to head back to Korea because she can’t quite leave it. Looks like they’re going to try and start over as a couple, this time without all the lies.
It’s the day of the play’s premiere, and Hyun Suk brings out his best suit and gels his hair. OH MY GAWD I forgot how his forehead looked! It’s like he went from Liar Game back to Angel Eyes days, and boy is it a transformation! Nora also pretties herself up for the show but her transformation is not as shocking as Hyun Suk’s, for me. She brings in the food for dinner with Soon Nam, and Hyun Suk scolds his part-timer for making his girlfriend work.
Soon Nam: “Between the producer I work part-time for, and my eternal Noona… who do you think I’d listen to?” BEST LINE OF THE NIGHT!
Nora is quite proud that Soon Nam is sort of following his dreams, ditching plans for the civil servant exam and pursuing a career in production planning. She knowingly understands how he can’t quite sit still at an office job since he’s a dancer at heart. Hyun Suk doesn’t like this cute noona-dongsaeng relationship that’s going on here and scares his part-timer away so that he can have a moment to himself with his girlfriend. So cheesy!
The play begins, and Nora and Yoon Young sit in the audiences as the characters reveal their stories of loss during their last Christmas party. Nora identifies with the main character, who just woke up from a coma of 20 years and found her life had passed her by. She is envious of other people’s experiences in life when all she could do was sleep, and it’s not unlike Nora’s own situation. The play is a success and there are many reporters and fans who swarm Hyun Suk afterwards.
Nora and Yoon Young watch with bouquets at hand, wondering when they would have a chance to talk to the famous producer himself. Hyun Suk notices them from afar and stops autographing and picture taking so he can “get his bouquet from his girlfriend.” Aww – now if only he kissed her on the cheek it would have been a sweet moment. The other bouquet is for Sang Ye, who is surprisingly happy, very much over Hyun Suk, and working on her own debut. Hyun Suk is really proud of his protegee, and Soon Nam tsks over how Hyun Suk acts so close to Sang Ye in front of Nora. He nudges Seung Hyun, “Don’t do that in front of me okay?”
Omo. Soon Nam and Seung Hyun a couple? YES!
The bulk of his work now over, Hyun Suk has plenty of time to visit Nora’s ddukbokki shop, in which she is now full owner and Dong Chul is her employee. But Nora doesn’t have time for him, as she’s busy managing the store and doing a lot of side projects. So Hyun Suk sits in the corner and waits for her to return, almost falling asleep. The moment she’s back he brightens up, but his mood quickly sours when a lawyer hurries in asking Nora to whip him up a dish. The lawyer only visits when Nora is in the shop, and it’s quite clear he’s got a bit of a crush on her.
That makes Hyun Suk insanely jealous of course, and he wants Nora to promise never to serve him again. So unreasonable! Nora laughs at how jealous Hyun Suk is and actually enjoys the idea of being the object of someone else’s affection. Yoon Young catches them fighting, and finds it hilarious that this is what they’re arguing about. Nora serves her friends some ddukbokki, barely giving Hyun Suk a second glance. But we know that all is forgiven between them, because she’s added a fried seaweed roll in Hyun Suk’s dish and not in the others’!
Hyun Suk isn’t the only creative one too; Nora’s drawn up her own experiences of going back to school for the first time into a very simple webcomic, detailing the second time around two friends meet. Seung Hyun thinks she ought to submit it to a webtoon forum and does it for her, and she gets a comment almost right away! Someone likes it! I guess we can assume Nora’s got a future as a webtoon artist ahead of her!
Nora and Hyun Suk spend a date back at the WCU campus, where they see Hye Mi turning down a trip with her friends to go study. She failed the last semester, and since her first year is over it’s time to buckle down and get to work. On top of that, she’s still keeping in touch with Min Soo through postcards. It’s quite impressive that Nora was able to keep her relationship to Min Soo a secret from Hye Mi.
They settle in the open field, Hyun Suk reading a script while Nora reads her book. She falls asleep lying on his arm, and Hyun Suk makes sure she doesn’t wake up when a kid’s ball heads over to their spot. He kisses her forehead. All is well.
Well… that’s the quiet ending of Twenty Again! I don’t mind it so much, as it’s kind of hard to end this drama. I do like that they just live their lives as a couple, not as a married one or like a young couple completely infatuated with each other. It’s a mature kind of love.
I get that Nora and Hyun Suk are the couple to root for, but I felt it increasingly weird when I saw them acting romantically towards each other. It felt more forced than their easygoing friendship, and I ended up wincing at the most romantic part of this episode: the kiss. I don’t know why – perhaps it was how Choi Ji Woo seemed more tense around him, or how it seemed like she was trying too hard to act young with her halting speech pattern whereas Lee Sang Yoon spoke quickly and fluidly – but it felt a little more awkward than when Nora interacts with Woo Chul. Nora and Woo Chul had established a distant, formal relationship that worked out really well for the two actors. There was no need for skinship, and I felt Nora spoke more eloquently with him than with Hyun Suk. Even her 18-year-old self spoke to Hyun Suk with more ease than she did now.
Overall, I think the series was really strong from episodes three to twelve; episodes one and two were definitely quite the set up but it got the ball rolling quickly. By episode thirteen the drama lagged a bit, and I really had to drag myself to watch it. I almost didn’t finish it because I didn’t care how we were going to get to the resolution, which was obviously Nora and Hyun Suk getting together. I also didn’t care for the storyline of how Yi Jin tried to ruin Woo Chul, even though it was a perfectly natural progression for her character to do so. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. The only thing I was really happy about was Min Soo and Hye Mi breaking up. I think that was the perfect ending for them because they were definitely not compatible at that time. Everyone else got the neat little bow on their endings as you expected them to.
So while this series made me quite happy for several weeks, I think it’s safe to say that I became quite lukewarm towards the end.
Verdict: 6/10. Not the strongest series out there, but quite fun while it lasted.
- Twenty Again: Episode 15 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 14 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 13 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 12 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 11 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 10 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 9 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 8 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 7 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 6 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 5 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 4 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 3 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 2 Recap
- Twenty Again: Episode 1 Recap