Chicago Typewriter: Episode 13
Sometimes the smallest steps in the right direction can be the biggest step in the pursuit of happiness. Now that our core trio has opened the Pandora’s box of their past lives, it’s time for them to work together in solving the mystery that ties their stories into one. Even if reliving the past brings up some painful memories, there’s no doubt that life’s simplest moments are what brings them the most joy.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
At the sound of gunfire, Seol and Se-joo race through the streets of Gyeongseong to escape the police. But it’s not long before a sniper starts picking off their pursuers, and they turn around to see their rescuer: Soo-hyun.
While Jin-oh is rattled by the vision of his own death, Soo-hyun continues shooting with precision and forces the police to retreat. Down below, a frightened couple passes through Se-joo and Seol, who realize that no one can see nor hear them here.
Soo-hyun slips away and waits for the commotion to die down before reappearing in her stage singer attire. When Young-min approaches her in a dark alley, she quickly plays the role of a woman spooked by the sound of bullets, and he accepts her request to escort her back to the main street.
Not far behind them, Seol is astonished to learn that Tae-min was a spy for the Japanese in his past life. Watching Soo-hyun and Young-min part ways, she and Se-joo split up to cover more ground. Se-joo follows Young-min, who berates his lackeys for wasting this opportunity and orders them to find out who the mysterious sniper is.
Se-joo stays close and eavesdrops on Young-min meeting with the police commissioner and his attempt to explain why his men still failed in procuring any youth independence fighters despite being tipped off about their mission.
Understanding the commissioner’s patience is wearing thin, Young-min promises to arrest the top members of the activist group soon, explaining that he’s already laid out a trap. He waits for someone outside… and then Yul emerges from the shadows. Ah, say it ain’t so!
Meanwhile, Seol follows Soo-hyun back to the independence activists’ hideout behind Carpe Diem and notes that Madam Sophia looks like her mother. Inside, a comrade suspects there’s a mole within their group because their enemies seemed to lie in wait for them.
She jumps when Se-joo makes himself known, and she quickly fills him in on what she’s overheard. Just then, the door opens and Hwi-young walks up to the hideout entrance. He doesn’t bat an eyelash when Soo-hyun bursts out with her gun drawn since he’s here to treat their wounded comrades.
Suddenly, Seol and Se-joo wake up in the present where Jin-oh apologizes for pulling them out early unintentionally. He guesses that Seol and Se-joo relived a night where their subconsciouses crossed paths and explains that they moved like ghosts within that memory because they can now distinguish between their past and present lives.
He carefully broaches the topic of whether or not they collected any new information, and soon the trio is lost in their own thoughts while the room spins around them. Seol wonders if Mom was the mole in the ’30s whereas Se-joo thinks of how Yul met up with Young-min, and Jin-oh wonders if Soo-hyun was the one who shot him dead.
Noticing that they’re all staring at one another, Se-joo prompts the others to share what’s on their minds. When they say nothing, he reminds them of the clause in their contract of having no secrets among them… only to add that none of them signed that document anyway.
Everyone decides that they’re too tired to continue and agree to reconvene at a later time. Happy that Seol got to see herself as an impressive sharpshooter tonight, Se-joo offers to take her home.
She smiles at the idea that she didn’t kill Se-joo as she feared, but the thought that she shot someone still scares her. Jin-oh ponders the possibility of Soo-hyun shooting him dead since his memories were triggered by the pocket watch. He’s suddenly gripped with pain and discovers a crack on his arm that glows.
Se-joo returns home, debating with himself on whether or not to tell Jin-oh that Yul possibly betrayed them in the past. Finding Jin-oh’s torn-up message about sending him and the typewriter back to Chicago, Se-joo later practices asking Jin-oh not to leave… with the stuffed dog. Hahaha.
He’s tense at the breakfast table, where Jin-oh asks why he’s staring at him so intently. Now given the opportunity to speak, Se-joo flubs his question, sputtering, “Chicago… spy…” but ultimately doesn’t get to finish his sentence because Ji-seok arrives.
Ji-seok chomps down on the extra plate of food, and when he comments that it’s bland, Se-joo sighs, “Everything tastes like that after a ghost eats it.”
Afterward, Ji-seok sits down with Se-joo in the office and suggests that he nail down a genre for Chicago Typewriter soon because the readers currently find the story too innocent. But Se-joo is no longer interested in writing just to appease the masses, and he’s finally found a reason to write and what to write about.
Hearing Se-joo talk about this serial novel as a personal writing pursuit rather than a bona fide profitable bestseller leaves Ji-seok to feel like a jilted girlfriend on the brink of tears. He cries that Se-joo has never once asked him over to eat with him and this emotional wall Se-joo has put up hurts his feelings.
Secretary Kang echoes those sentiments, saying she too questions how important she is in Se-joo’s life. But their hurt feelings are easily rectified with expensive gifts given to them at Riccardo, where Ji-seok and Secretary Kang urge Se-joo to focus on the motorcyclist who nearly killed him.
Sang-mi overhears Ji-seok suggest that they round up some media attention to dissuade anyone else from harming Se-joo, and then accidentally drops a wine glass on their table. Dae-han is quick to apologize on her behalf and offer a free dessert to everyone but Se-joo. Pfft.
Over at Seongsucheong, Bang-jin’s mother is spooked when a candle in her room goes out. She relights it, only to see the flame move and she calls out, “Who’s there?” Just then, something starts typing on her laptop: it’s Jin-oh, who seeks her advice on the crack forming in his arm.
Learning that Jin-oh has been tied to a typewriter for eighty years, Bang-jin’s mother explains that the cracks are a sign that his time here at a ghost is coming to an end because either the object he’s tied to will soon break down or he’s meddled too much in human affairs.
His ghostly powers will diminish with time, and those cracks will deepen the more Jin-oh taps into those powers until he eventually ceases to exist: “All of this is happening because you interfered with the living realm. Why didn’t you just quietly stayed inside that object?”
Bang-jin arrives home in time to see Jin-oh standing outside. She greets him happily, wondering why her mother wants her to stop seeing him and doesn’t believe Seol for saying that he’s a ghost. She wonders if he’s a secret agent for the NIS, which is when her mother intervenes and declares that they aren’t meant to be because Jin-oh is a ghost.
When Bang-jin counters that she can see and touch Jin-oh, her mother stresses that she can’t. Jin-oh silently nods and follows up with a verbal confirmation, and Bang-jin drops to the ground, sobbing. Poor thing.
Jin-oh mulls over how there are so many things he still wishes to do and how his memories aren’t fully recovered. He walks home, and Se-joo is surprised to see him enter through the door instead of passing through it.
Jin-oh doesn’t disclose to Se-joo where he’s been today, so Se-joo sits him down for a beer and calls him out for keeping secrets from him. Se-joo then shows him the now taped-up message of him being asked to be sent back to Chicago, and takes the bait that this message was merely typing practice.
Se-joo chuckles in relief, and when Jin-oh points out as much, that smile quickly fades away. Now it’s Jin-oh’s turn to ask if they’re drinking because Se-joo needs some liquid courage to ask him something.
He encourages Se-joo to speak his mind, and so Se-joo shares how he saw Yul secretly meet up with Young-min following one of their missions.
It’s at that moment Jin-oh says he remembers why he met Young-min that night. Turns out that Young-min had handed him two invitations to an event where many government officials and financiers of the war effort will gather. Ah, is this the kind of trap Young-min had in mind?
So when Yul met with Hwi-young later, he believed this event would be a perfect opportunity to take that money and use it to fight for Joseon’s independence. They both knew that this was a trap set up by Young-min, and Hwi-young said that was all the more reason for their enemies to think that they took the bait while secretly carrying out their own operation.
In case there was a mole in their organization, Hwi-young advised that no one else know the full details of their mission apart from themselves. Somewhere else, we see a rickshaw pull up to a street stall and a gloved hand hands Young-min a message about an assassination attempt.
Se-joo is told that Hwi-young had enough foresight to investigate Young-min soon after their first meeting, so Hwi-young and Yul knew that Young-min was working for the enemy. Unfortunately Jin-oh doesn’t know if their mission was successful because his memory stops right before they were supposed to carry out the operation.
At the very least, Se-joo is relieved that Jin-oh didn’t betray him in their past lives because he’d feel a deep sense of hurt if his new ghost friend turned out to be a traitor. Jin-oh is moved by the sentiment, and Se-joo asks what happens to Jin-oh once his memories are fully recovered and the novel is complete.
“You won’t enter Nirvana or anything, right?” Se-joo carefully asks, adding that it wouldn’t be too bad to have Jin-oh stick around. D’aw. Jin-oh smiles and teases that while Se-joo will continue to age, he would stay forever young.
Sang-mi surprises Tae-min by showing up at one of his lectures, though she later reminds him that he asked to see her. She snickers at his threat of telling Se-joo about her ultimate plan in targeting Seol, explaining that while her brother was busy obsessing over Se-joo, she spent her time learning about Tae-min.
It was through her research that she realized how miserable Tae-min must’ve been, to a point that he could wish Se-joo dead. She figures Tae-min also wants to bring Se-joo down, and Tae-min doesn’t disagree.
When Se-joo is informed that the CCTV footage of the motorcyclist has been found, he initially decides to put that case to rest before deciding to see it anyway with Jin-oh. It’s then he realizes that the motorcyclist was actually targeting Seol, and Jin-oh points out that the person on the bike is too small to be a man.
Se-joo immediately rises from his seat while we cut to Seol, who doesn’t notice the motorcyclist following her until she’s off the phone. Seol slowly quickens her step before breaking into a run, but the motorcycle speeds up too.
She runs into the street with the motorcyclist hot on her tail, and then Se-joo appears in his car, cutting off the motorcyclist’s path and forcing it to drive off. Se-joo climbs out of the car to console Seol, then brings her back to the house where Se-joo fills her in on the details.
She finds it hard to believe that someone is out to harm her, but Se-joo argues that the motorcycle they saw didn’t have a license plate. The men believe that the attacks will keep coming, and despite Seol’s insistence that her close call earlier was just a scare tactic, Se-joo believes it’s safer for her to stay here and vows to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Seol is torn about being happy or worried about residing in a house with her boyfriend and a ghost. Se-joo stops by the guest bedroom that night to give her a shirt to sleep in, and he lingers in the doorway before advising her to keep the door locked and stay safe. From you?
Seol closes the door, which opens a second later to Jin-oh dropping off some towels. Se-joo drops by a little later to give her pajama pants, followed by Jin-oh with some water, followed by Se-joo with a robe, and then Jin-oh with a flashlight. Lol, this competition is fantastic.
Following Jin-oh’s last visit, Se-joo pulls him into his bedroom and orders him to sleep here because he keeps on bothering Seol. Jin-oh gasps, “My fault? Not yours?”
Emphasizing the idea of avoiding any unnecessary bedtime visits, Se-joo keeps the ghost tied by the ankle while the other end of the string is tied to his own wrist. He doesn’t trust Jin-oh to stay away from Seol and instructs him to sleep… and then Jin-oh’s stomach grumbles. Ha.
So the guys head downstairs for a late-night snack, only to find Seol helping herself to ramyun. Surprised, she nearly chokes and looks up to find both men offering her a beverage. To Se-joo’s surprise, she takes the cup of juice from Jin-oh, and Se-joo downs the glass of water.
After enjoying a hearty snack, Jin-oh agrees with Seol about the simple pleasures in life. They ask Se-joo what the happiest moment in his life was, eagerly waiting to hear his answer like kids ready for a bedtime story.
Se-joo replies it would be the day he won a rookie writer’s award because that was the moment that it felt like his efforts had finally paid off. He turns the question to Jin-oh, who answers that this very moment is the happiest moment yet because the three of them are here together. Awwww.
Not having to worry about what will happen tomorrow or their country’s liberation makes him feel so happy, Jin-oh continues. He can still imagine the faces of his friends and comrades who kept up a smile to make their fears and anxiety.
He remembers the day before their grand operation, when he relayed words of encouragement from the organization’s group leader to the freedom fighters:
“The pain and suffering they felt for Joseon as a colony will be the first step in changing the reality of this country. The blood and tears they have shed will become the foundation of this country’s future. The power that drives them to take action to the very end derives from the love they have for this land of Joseon. ‘It is for my parents, brothers, my children, dear friends, lovers, and comrades.’”
Soo-hyun looks over at Hwi-young, who looks away while Yul continues to read: “They are doing this out of love and compassion for this country.” Hwi-young’s voice then superimposes on Yul’s as the message takes deeper root in their hearts: “While the fighting spirit and anger flare up easily, they also easily die out in the face of reality. While idealism and passion are noble, they too fade easily. However, the desire for my loved ones to be happy… can never change.”
“I wish for a world where our children will not starve and can laugh and run around freely where there is no persecution nor discrimination. Comrades, let us see this to the end. Let us greet the day Joseon is liberated!” Yul roars, which spurs his comrades to cheer.
Everyone enjoys themselves in food and drink, though Madam Sophia advises them not to go overboard in the hours prior to their operation. She encourages the independence group members to share what they wish to do once Joseon is liberated, and the stories are heartwarming, from a man who wishes his son to be a police officer of Joseon and or living peacefully with one’s family.
Yul and Hwi-young’s ears perk up when Soo-hyun is asked to share her dreams in a liberated Joseon, but she says she hasn’t given it much thought. One comrade arrives late to the party because his wife recently gave birth to a baby girl, but says seeing her face drove him to see their homeland liberated as soon as possible.
Hwi-young slips away from the party and Yul joins him saying that his friend always looks worried the day before a big mission. It’s because Hwi-young is always struck with guilt because he knows that not everyone in that room can survive.
He feels responsible for putting firearms in the hands of his fellow countrymen, and although he knows sacrifice is inevitable for their cause, there are times when he hates himself for putting such precious lives in danger.
Yul responds with tough love, saying that Hwi-young is the one who brought them this far. But Hwi-young replies that his friend could be in grave danger too because who Young-min really wants is him, the organization’s leader.
Yul is told to run away with Soo-hyun to Manchuria should anything go awry, but he reminds Hwi-young that this is Carpe Diem: “Just enjoy this moment.” He then asks what Hwi-young wants to do in a liberated Joseon, and chuckles when his buddy poses, “I’m not sure. Should we go fishing together?”
“What if you were born again in a liberated Joseon? What would you want to become?” Yul asks. We don’t hear Hwi-young’s answer.
Hwi-young later finds Soo-hyun sitting on the stoop outside. She calls out to him before he heads back inside, saying that he needn’t avoid her because she put her feelings for him to rest for the greater good.
“But in our next life…” Soo-hyun gently says, “if we are born again in a liberated Joseon, promise me that you’ll see me as a woman. Don’t hesitate, don’t shut me out, don’t lie to me, and don’t be sick on your own.”
“I want you to be honest with me and tell me everything. Promise me that you’ll do everything you couldn’t do in this life in the next.” She finishes, tears welling up in her eyes. Hwi-young nods, “Why do you keep talking about the next life?”
She tells him to hurry up and promise her, but his voice shaking slightly, Hwi-young makes her uphold a promise of his own: “Makes sure you come back alive. That’s an order.”
They share a moment together before Hwi-young breaks the stare. He walks a few more steps before stopping there, his hand inches to hers… and then steps forward, letting his fingers brush against hers.
Be still, my beating heart. I admit Chicago Typewriter has been a slow burn in terms of narrative overall, and though things have really ramped up in recent weeks, it’s always this still, emotive moments that has my heart caught in my throat. There was such emotional maturity in that last exchange between Hwi-young and Soo-hyun, both of whom harbor feelings for the other, but both of whom know that they must table their potential romance for the greater cause.
While I thought it was sweet for Soo-hyun to think ahead into the next life, I was more impressed by Hwi-young challenging her promise of leaving a possible future for them in the next life when they could succeed in this mission and live out that reality in the lives they lead now. Even if the selfish part of me hoped Hwi-young would cave and hold her, I still loved how the noble leader broke the impregnable wall of his heart to express how important she was to him by ordering her to come back alive.
We don’t know whether this last conversation was part of Yul’s memory (since it didn’t seem like he was recounting this bit) or whether Se-joo or Seol knew of this moment. Regardless, I love how Hwi-young has kept his end of his bargain through Se-joo in this life and in his relationship with Seol. Even if Se-joo doesn’t know it yet, he’s done everything that Soo-hyun has asked: to see Seol as a woman, not to hesitate in expressing his feelings for her, and being honest with her—especially when her life was in danger.
I cracked up at the roommate hijinks, but my heart was stirred at hearing what made our core trio happiest. Their responses, whether that was a full belly, an award, or just being with one’s friends echoed back to Hwi-young’s earnest words that the people of a freed homeland will be able to be happiness and experience joy. Conversely, I felt so bad for Bang-jin when she found out that not only does she see ghosts, but that she fell in love with one. One can only hope that she too will find happiness too… maybe with Dae-han?
But now we’re on the brink of D-day and finding out just what happened between our trio in the 1930s. What could have transpired in those short hours that led to Yul’s death and Soo-hyun to be left with such guilt and pain? And most importantly, will we be ready to learn the truth, no matter what it is?