This drama is a bit of a slow burn. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it has a simple story that requires a lot of buildup. We alternate between the past and the present, with every action in the present being defined by something in the past. So yes, more flashbacks. But don’t worry, present No Eul is okay.
Though Shin Joon Young is in denial, he feels overly protective over this girl that he doesn’t believe is No Eul. So when she ends up fainting on the snowy road, he makes sure she ends up in the hospital and is given the proper IV fluids – and then makes a disappearing act. When No Eul wakes up, she finds Gook Young beside her. He was called away from an important date just to make sure that she’ll be okay.
No Eul gets up and unhooks herself from the IV. Gook Young immediately is worried that No Eul is leaving before she gets her full treatment so that she can later sue Joon Young for more money. He also hands her an envelope full of money as a way to buy her silence so that she won’t spread bad rumors about Joon Young. Without shame, No Eul starts counting the bills and notices that she’s 50,000 won short of 1 million. He took it didn’t he?
So now Gook Young is enlisted to driving her home, and she even drinks his flat coke in his car. It drives Gook Young crazy that she just took his things, and so he tells her to buy him a new one or spit out all the coke she drank! And… she spits all the coke she drank back into the bottle. Haha.
When they arrive home, No Eul finds the loan sharks taking away her things again because she’s late on a payment. She hands them the envelope Gook Young gave her, and then reclaims her computer from the back of their car. But that’s not the worst of it – the loan sharks already claimed her security deposit. Now she and her brother have nowhere to live.
Meanwhile Joon Young’s gone to his costar Kim Yoo Na’s birthday party. At first he was presumed to be a no show, but he does arrive at the private party because he wants to forget about No Eul. However Kim Yoo Na, the ever-petulant actress, insists that he sing a birthday song for her. The song only elicits more memories of No Eul, and he stops mid-song to leave. Kim Yoo Na chases after him, wanting to go wherever he goes. “Did I mislead you?” Joon Young asks. “You’re just a fellow label-mate. We’re nothing more than that.” Nice.
Joon Young then sits outside of his mother’s house, but she completely ignores him. She claims that her son died five years ago, which we can presume is when he became a star, and that she has no obligation to take care of a random stranger. Joon Young won’t let her go, pleading that they just hang out together for a bit, but she calls up Gook Young and bids him to come pick up Joon Young.
Gook Young doesn’t understand why Joon Young would go to his mother’s place, as if he’s a sucker for pain. Joon Young simply states that he needed a distraction, and what better than his mother who just hates him so much? He grabs a swig of coke from Gook Young’s car, and is warned too late that No Eul spat into it before swallowing. Ewww… Gook Young goes on to tell Joon Young of what he saw at No Eul’s house but Joon Young doesn’t want to listen to it. He tries to tune his manager out but to no avail. When Gook Young relays his “worry” that No Eul might have thrown herself into Han River, Joon Young gives up and tells his manager to get out of the car. He’s going to drive himself home.
Except… Joon Young can’t drive home. All he can think about is No Eul and her debt troubles, and the likelihood that she committed suicide. He finds himself looking up and down the bridge walkways for a girl like No Eul, mistaking a random girl for her at one point. Eventually he sees her – or rather, someone dressed like her – and Joon Young makes the painful decision to just keep driving as if he doesn’t care.
No Eul meanwhile calls her brother by the bridge to check up on him. She worries that he’s just eating bread and not taking care of himself but he assures her that he’s actually eating some meat this time around. Wanting proof, she video calls him, and of all people Choi Ji Tae picks up! He’s treating No Jik to dinner and shows her brother eating some meat. Once again without shame, No Eul asks Ji Tae to please buy more servings of meat for her brother, as he can’t just eat one serving. Ji Tae doesn’t seem to have a lot of money, though he does have sufficiently more than No Jik and No Eul. Nevertheless No Jik is incredibly embarrassed for his sister’s requests and wishes that she’d at least retain some dignity among friends.
No Jik hangs up on his sister and sort of apologizes to Ji Tae by way of telling him that she wasn’t always like this. Ji Tae makes him feel better by saying that No Eul is a great gal and very pretty. Somehow that makes No Jik feel better because he now thinks Ji Tae will be a future brother-in-law! And as a future brother-in-law, could he request for two more servings of meat? Ji Tae smiles and gamely orders it, but there’s a hidden sadness that shows that he may never really marry No Eul no matter what happens.
Back on the bridge, No Eul once again climbs on a foothold to get herself a little higher against the railings. She leans over, and suddenly a hand pulls her back…
And we’re back in 2010. It’s been four years since they last saw each other. Joon Young, now a law student (after taking the bar exam a few times), catches No Eul defacing the posters of Choi Hyun Joon, who’s now running for Assemblyman. He is mildly amused by what she’s doing, while she’s too much in shock at seeing him again. Joon Young asks her to eat with him, and they head to a nearby pojangmacha for some noodles. He teases her for not seducing him; since he had nothing better to do, he’s continued his studies to be a prosecutor.
No Eul is not interested in talking to him much more so she quietly leaves, pretending to go to the bathroom. But the thing with pojangmachas is that they’re surrounded by patches of clear plastic, so he can see her clearly not going to the bathroom. He throws a shoe at her head and asks where she’s running off to. She’s a criminal technically for defacing a poster, so he grabs her bag and searches for her ID card. He will confiscate it so that she can maintain a clean record from now on.
No Eul tries calling the police on Joon Young, but he once again dangles the fact that defacing posters of candidates will lead to jail time and a huge fine. Clearly he’s blackmailing her now. No Eul demands to know what he wants, and he replies, “I’ll pretend I didn’t see you do anything, so go out with me.”
No Eul would rather go to jail than be his girlfriend. She marches right up to the entrance of a police station but at the very last second turns weak. She can’t go to jail! She can’t afford a fine! She presumes that Joon Young just wants her to pretend to be his girlfriend to get rid of all his admirers, and he’s actually hurt by that presumption. He’d rather send her to jail now! No Eul pleads with him not to…
And at the same time another woman is pleading her man not to leave her: cafe waitress Nari (Kim Min Young), who is not quite as cute as she was in high school, is begging her coworker and pseudo-boyfriend to not dump her. Unfortunately, that coworker was just being a douche and was using Nari for her money. He points out that he’s way out of her league and would never believe that she was the “Son Ye Jin” of her class back in the day. Joon Young arrives at the cafe just in time to hear this and immediately sidles up to Nari. He was Nari’s boyfriend for a time! And boy does he regret it… It’s enough to make the coworker rethink whether or not he should date Nari, so Joon Young’s help was a bit of a success!
In the four years that No Eul was gone, Joon Young and Nari actually became friends. Close enough friends where Joon Young would actually help Nari with sit ups by the Han River. Joon Young asks a few probing questions about No Eul, such as if she goes to college, and Nari warns him not to bug her. She has a hard enough life as it is trying to support her younger brother and then paying off the debt.
The following day, Joon Young passes by a rally for Choi Hyun Joon. He’s being endorsed by Assemblyman Yoon, who tells the crowd that they’ll find no finer man than Hyun Joon, who even gave his kidney to his ailing wife! (Seriously, this guy’s almost like a saint now.) He bikes off before Hyun Joon can spot him in the crowds and nearly crashes into Haru and Ji Tae, who are standing in the back. Ji Tae makes sure that Joon Young is okay, whereas Haru is enthralled – she’s in love with Joon Young. Shaking my head…
Though he scraped his hand, Joon Young hurries off, and he’s replaced with Jung Eun’s arrival. Finally! More meaty scenes with Im Joo Eun! She came back from the States to support Hyun Joon’s bid and then makes a passing comment about when Ji Tae will propose to her. Haru’s jaw drops as she can’t believe the news, but Ji Tae grimaces.
Another flashback time! This time back to the night of the hit-and-run accident. Assemblyman Yoon had hurried over to Hyun Joon’s home hoping that the good lawyer could fix the mess that his daughter’s in. At first Hyun Joon’s hands are tied: No Eul remembers the license plate number and there were three witnesses total. Assemblyman Yoon doesn’t care: “Your father-in-law’s company would have disappeared without a trace if it weren’t for me! The reason why humans are better than animals is because they know how to repay kindness!” Dang… Hyun Joon was really put into a corner here. And what’s worse is that Ji Tae heard all this outside the room; he was about to serve them water and present his father a letter from Harvard. I think he ends up never going to Harvard after learning what his father does.
Ji Tae in the past also sees No Eul standing outside the prosecutors’ office every day begging for Hyun Joon to reveal the truth, but he ignores the sign every day. This might also explain why Ji Tae feels a particular burden and obligation to take care of No Eul and No Jik. It seems he doesn’t tell them who he is exactly, but has appeared in their present life as a sort of benevolent figure.
Back to 2010 (since we’re jumping through so many timelines). Two candidates’ party supporters are outside a subway station handing out flyers, lobbying for their respective candidates. No Eul hands out a flyer by chance to Young Ok, and she politely declines, saying she’ll vote for Hyun Joon. Jung Eun joins the party of Hyun Joon supporters and hands out flyers, standing right across from No Eul. She recognizes Jung Eun, but she restrains herself from doing anything. I think it’s partly out of shock that she doesn’t do anything, but also because she knows she can’t do anything right here right now.
Jung Eun realizes she’s being stared at and No Eul points at Jung Eun, then her eye. I’m… watching you? Jung Eun is weirded out, and then No Eul goes right up to her. Smackdown! Smackdown! But my chants are for naught because No Eul just plucks an eyelash from Jung Eun’s cheek. So… that’s why she pointed at Jung Eun and her eye? No Eul adds that Hyun Joon is an overall bad guy, and before Jung Eun can get a word in No Eul picks up her ringing phone. It’s Joon Young.
She races to his college, where he’s currently trying to field an admirer. The girl wants to know why Joon Young won’t date her, and he says he doesn’t like anything about her. “If I change my entire face, will you date me then?” the girl replies. I nearly puke from that line for the girl’s lack of self-esteem and simplistic thinking. Joon Young declares he has a girlfriend, but she doesn’t believe him.
Enter No Eul, just in time. “Are you done with class my honey bear?” she says in a sickeningly aegyo voice. It’s so disgusting that it’s actually hilarious. She sits right down next to him and starts pinching his cheeks – quite painfully. This is the only way she can get back at him! He grabs her into an awkward hug and says, “I missed you so much that my eyes hurt!” He then pinches her nose and cheeks, and pretends to poke her eyes out: “I love everything about you!” No Eul stands up and screams, “Hey!” and for a moment we all wonder if she’s going to give up the ruse. But she turns to the other girl and says quite seriously, “If you ever make a pass at my honey bear again, I’ll destroy you. Got that?”
So – her job is done.
She escapes to the bleachers on the field, hating herself. Joon Young throws it back at her: why’d she commit a crime? If she didn’t, she wouldn’t be pretending to be his girlfriend. He lies down on her lap and asks to sleep for ten minutes; if she lets him, he’ll cut down the number of times she has to pretend to be his girlfriend to seven. She tries to bargain for less, but he completely ignores her and soon enough, is asleep.
Though uncomfortable for her, it’s also quite peaceful and we have a momentary cinematic scene with the leaves falling. Just when you think No Eul is about to fall in love with him again, she pulls out a pen and starts drawing whiskers on Joon Young’s face. Hee! He wrinkles his nose, but is mostly asleep. But just as she gets to drawing on his forehead he wakes up with a start. “Are my ten minutes up?” he says, slightly wild-eyed. No Eul can’t stop herself from laughing at his face, especially since he has no idea what’s going on. But those tears of laughter quickly turn into tears of sadness. No Eul can’t live her life this carefree, and I think she senses the magnitude of such a loss.
Joon Young walks home alone, wanting to forever tease No Eul and make her life miserable if it means keeping her by his side. He arrives at his mother’s restaurant to find Hyun Joon and his wife, and his crowd of supporters, entering the restaurant. They’re having their celebratory dinner there because he loves yookgaejang and one of his supporters, Jang Jung Ja, had recommended this restaurant.
So… it looks like Jang Jung Ja and Jang Jung Sik are twin siblings, and Young Ok is like a sister rather than blood related. Jung Ja is also Hyun Joon’s housekeeper whom we met in earlier episodes. They all work together at the restaurant and act like a very tight knit family regardless. So it makes sense that Jung Sik is super angry at Jung Ja for bringing Hyun Joon over to the restaurant. They don’t even realize that Young Ok is having stomach spasms from stress because she’s not ready to face Hyun Joon just yet. But Jung Ja wanted Hyun Joon to meet Young Ok and have a chance to see what a fine man Joon Young has become. Really – Jung Ja shouldn’t have made that decision for them though.
Joon Young finds his mother curled up in the kitchen, and he demands that they go to the hospital. He knows she’s stressed from seeing Hyun Joon, so he has her climb on his back and hide her face from him as they exit the restaurant. Hyun Joon recognizes him as the kid from years ago, but Joon Young excuses himself because his mother’s sick. Hyun Joon wonders if Joon Young hasn’t come to see him yet because he didn’t pass the bar exam. Heh – Joon Young did, but probably doesn’t feel ready to see Hyun Joon yet.
Son carries mother on the street for a bit, and he reassures her that Hyun Joon is no longer watching her. He admits that he saw Hyun Joon before, and promised to see him again when he passed his bar exam. “I’ll make sure you will be able to meet him again with pride and show me off at least once before you die,” he tells his mother. “I’ll make it so you can brag to him, ‘I raised into a fine man who takes after you without your help!'” It brings tears to Young Ok’s eyes, hearing her own words that she told Jung Sik being repeated back to her by her son.
Back at home, No Eul shares with Nari some footage she captured of Hyun Joon stumbling, drunk, out of a hostess bar. At first it was purely by chance when she happened to work as a designated driver, but then she kept going back to that bar and got several days’ worth of footage. Each time, Hyun Joon has to be supported by beautiful ladies and put into the car. He’s not doing anything lecherous, but it does put a mar on his image as “innocent, pure, perfect Choi Hyun Joon.”
At that moment, Joon Young calls her up wanting to meet. If she’d hang out with him, it’d count as two girlfriend-pretending-instances. But No Eul avoids his calls, so he uses her ID (which he still kept all this time to hold over her) to find out where she lives.
No Eul steps outside and sees another flyer for Choi Hyun Joon. On a lark, she decides to call him up and reaches his direct number. I assume she managed to get it after all the years trying to get him to solve her father’s case properly. She introduces herself, and Hyun Joon says he doesn’t remember her. (Liar.) To get his attention, she starts listing a bunch of dates – all the dates where she caught him visiting the hostess bar to see Madame Song. One of those dates was one week after he gave his kidney to his wife! She wants him to withdraw from the race, and to clear up who really killed her father in the accident. Then, she will burn all the evidence.
Hyun Joon is listening to all this while in his car, with his wife beside him. Without saying too much, he tells her to do whatever she wants; those threats don’t work on him. He hangs up, and then reassures his wife that his critics and rivals are going all out against him.
Unfortunately, Joon Young heard all that. He was right outside No Eul’s home when she called up Choi Hyun Joon. He follows her as she goes down the road and calls up KBC broadcasting company to reveal the evidence, now seeing the kind of pain she’s going through over her father’s death. But indecision also plagues him, as No Eul is set on bringing down his idol and father.
She calls for a cab, and suddenly a motorcyclist grabs her bag (because silly girl let’s it hang on her arm that’s waving for a cab!). She pursues the motorcyclist on foot, and suddenly a car driving perpendicular to her slams its brakes – and hits her. No Eul falls on the windshield, and the motorcyclist turns around. It’s Joon Young.
Joon Young probably didn’t want her to reveal Hyun Joon’s true nature, hence the theft, but he didn’t intend for her to get into an accident either. He does bring her to the hospital as soon as possible, and she goes straight into the OR. Poor Nari restrains a young No Jik from entering the room as he screams, “Please noona! Don’t die noona!” How horrific if he lost all his family members to a car accident…
Joon Young sits on the floor in the hallway, thinking back to the time when his mother brought him to church when he was young. His mother told him to make a wish to God so that it’d be granted, but Joon Young didn’t believe in God at all and wished for nothing. But now… years later, he hopes God is out there listening to him now, listening to his wish that No Eul be saved. If God lets her live, he will give up all the happiness he was destined to have in his life. If God lets her live, he will happily give up all the time he has left in the world…
And back to present day.
The hand that pulled No Eul back from the bridge was Joon Young. He yells, “Do you think life is something you should take for granted? Is it so easy for you to choose death?” What a loaded question… He’s so mad that he adds, “Fine I’ll shoot the damn documentary like you wanted.”
Even though it hurts him to see No Eul again because of their painful past, he’ll do this documentary and agree to be near her. Once again, he’ll try to be by her side, and see what happens.
That flashback was chock full of information. It helped define Ji Tae as a character a bit more. It’s a bit shocking for me to see that he gave up his entire future to help No Eul because he feels guilty for his father’s crime, so I’m wondering if there’s more to how he dealt with his father that made him shun his old life. He even shows up briefly at the hospital when No Eul is taken to the hospital, although we have no idea how he knew in the first place that she was hurt. As for Jung Eun, I’m very curious as to how she’s doing in the present day, and how she’s dealing with the fact that Ji Tae probably doesn’t ever want to marry her or be associated with her and her family. Every time I see Im Joo Hwan and Im Joo Eun in the same scene together I can’t help but think about What’s Up, and so I get giddy with excitement. It will forever be weird to me that they are romantically interested in each other because they always seemed like siblings to me. Their dynamic in What’s Up was very much like siblings, or good friends, so I can’t imagine them as lovers. Not that it matters since I presume both their characters won’t truly be in love with each other anyways.
I must admit I was a bit frustrated by the fact that No Eul ended up getting hurt in the middle of the road and in the hospital again. It’s like she just always gets hurt near the end of the episode. I bet in episode four we’re going to see more of her in the hospital as we still have one more year to account for before Joon Young becomes a big star. Something must have happened in their past that really divided them both for the next five years.
The episode’s final flashback scene was quite poetic on the writer’s part, and to be expected of a melodrama. You feel like Shin Joon Young’s illness is the price he’s paying for saving No Eul years before. As in, of course he caused her accident. Of course he promised to trade his life for hers because he likes her so much. Of course he’d do anything to save her.
This drama so far has not really pulled too much surprises in terms of the paths the characters are taking. But I am hoping we wrap up the flashbacks to the past with episode four because I’m itching to remain in the present. I want to see Joon Young shooting this documentary while uncomfortably close to No Eul. I want to go back to more lighthearted moments in the present because I’m pretty sure the past is going to catch up to them again by episode 10. And I really want to make the most of the lightheartedness as much as possible.