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Age of Youth 2: Episode 7

Appearances are deceiving, though it’s easy and convenient to judge someone by their looks. As we learn more about Eun, we look past her towering height and boyish style to see her big heart and reluctance to hate. She’s still cautious and closed off, but she’s cracking open little by little. As is Ye-eun, as she learns to trust people and be kind to herself. She may still feel scared of the world, but she’s slowly relearning how to trust and accept help.

 
EPISODE 7: “I am the center of the universe” #scarletletter

The housemates sit around the table staring at the anonymous text on Ye-eun’s phone, which reads “Bitch” repeated over and over. Eun-jae, Jin-myung, and Ji-won silently wonder if it’s the ex, Go Doo-young, while Eun thinks about the mysterious letter. But Ye-eun makes the unexpected guess that it’s Ho-chang, which fizzles the tension.

Ye-eun shares that Ho-chang is a little strange—in how he talks, how he looks at people, how he dresses—and that he recently told her to be careful at night and not walk alone. Ji-won asks about his tone when he said it—if it was genuine concern or malicious intent—but Ye-eun isn’t sure. So Ji-won investigates and calls up her friends for more information.

Watching Ho-chang at his usual cafe, Ji-won briefs Ye-eun on the profile she’s collected: He’s a fourth-year mechanical engineering student and won first place in a competition last year. He has no friends, no significant other, and there’s a rumor that he electrocuted a sunbae who bullied him. There’s no confirmation on whether it was intentional or an accident, but no one has bothered him since. Ye-eun looks at him from afar and decides he’s a scary person.

At Oh & Park, five members of Asgard get on the elevator with Jin-myung, and they wonder why they’ve been summoned separately from the other two. Heimdal stays positive and reminds his groupmates that they should just focus on working hard, and looks to Jin-myung for confirmation. She stays silent, and Heimdal tells her “fighting!” as she walks off the elevator (aw, puppy). When Jin-myung gets to her desk, we see that she’s kept the lollipop that Heimdal gave her in her pencil holder.

The five members cheerfully greet their management team, completely unaware of the situation. The chairman and director both hesitate to deliver the tough decision and provide vague words of encouragement before the manager distributes the contracts. The members are confused, and the manager finally explains that this is a contract to terminate their current contract.

The director uses euphemistic terms to soften the blow of their contract termination and says that they’re now free to sign with another company. Heimdal asks bluntly what other company they could sign with, and the execs give no answer.

Investigative journalist Ji-won spies on Ho-chang and follows him around from the cafe to class. Afterward, she reports to Ye-eun as they watch him from the cafe window. Every day, he sits in the same spot at the cafe eating the same food and sits in the same spot in class. He doesn’t talk to anyone all day, has no friends and eats alone.

Ye-eun isn’t too impressed with the lack of new information, so she barges into the cafe to confront Ho-chang and asks how he’s doing. He barely makes eye contact as he greets her, and then she rushes away back to Ji-won. Ye-eun asks if Ji-won observed anything strange about his reaction. Ji-won confirms that he seemed bewildered, but he’s always like that anyway, so there’s no way to tell if he reacted unusually just now.

Ye-eun buys them sandwiches (to Ji-won’s delight), and Ji-won comments that Ye-eun is good at talking to guys now. Ye-eun says that for some reason, it’s easy with Ho-chang.

Ho-chang gets up to order food, and Ji-won correctly guesses that it’s 12:55 p.m.—the exact time he orders the same sandwich every day. But when he gets to the counter, the cashier informs him that they’ve run out of the classic sandwich, and it makes him fret. He gets so agitated that he paces and accidentally knocks his drink off of the table.

Ye-eun notices his anxiety and thinks back to when he saved her from her disingenuous friends. Suddenly, Ye-eun gets up with her untouched classic sandwich and offers it to him. After his initial surprise, he becomes visibly relieved. She walks away before he can say anything, but it seems like he wants to acknowledge her kind gesture. When she returns to her table, Ye-eun tries to grab the other half of Ji-won’s sandwich, but Ji-won snatches it away from her because Ye-eun bought the meal for her. Heh.

When Ji-won, Ye-eun, and Eun-jae get off the bus that night, they’re pleasantly surprised to see Eun waiting for them at the stop. Even though she doesn’t let on that she was worried, they know that she secretly cares.

As they walk home, Ji-won shares updates on the still-unclear Ho-chang situation, and Eun-jae updates them on her failed aegyo attempt. She says that she likes guys who don’t like aegyo, and Ye-eun teases that her preference is because she’s so bad at it. And plus, what guy doesn’t like aegyo?

Ji-won suggests that they ask a man directly, just as they come upon Jang-hoon doing push-ups outside their house. As the rest of the housemates file inside, Eun-jae hangs back to ask for his opinion on what kind of girls guys like. Noticing this, Eun also lingers and eavesdrops from around the corner.

Jang-hoon advises Eun-jae to just confess her feelings, but he modifies his advice when she tells him that she’s trying to win back an ex. He warns her against being overly assertive and coming off clingy instead, which would be scary. Instead, she should make her ex be the assertive one, and since men are simple creatures, she should try changing her appearance. He compliments her many attributes—pure, cute, intelligent, and even elegant—but suggests that she’s missing a sexiness.

From her eavesdropping corner, Eun scoffs at the suggestion, but Eun-jae readily agrees and thanks him for the advice. As she heads inside, she finds Eun plastered against the wall and asks what she’s doing there. Jang-hoon walks over to her, and Eun just calls him a pervert (for fixating on sexiness) and shoots him a disapproving look as she walks inside.

Eun-jae begins to research “sexy women” online right away. She looks at pictures of Marilyn Monroe, among other women, and takes notes on key points: 1. Elusive look; 2. Beauty mark under the nose; 3. Revealing clothing; 4. Femme fatale.

After her research, Eun-jae asks her housemates for their opinions on her sexy expressions… which falls flat when Ji-won tells her to go ahead and Eun-jae says she’d already done them. Ha.

Eun-jae tries them again, and Ji-won votes that her “provocative look” is better than the “elusive” one. Eun-jae deflates again when she realizes that they didn’t realize which look was supposed to be the provocative one, and glumly heads back to her room.

Ye-eun says she’s looking forward to what Eun-jae will wear tomorrow, and Ji-won bets that she’ll wear something totally off the mark. Jin-myung worries that none of them are stopping her, but Ye-eun says that she’ll mature through the process.

The next morning, Eun-jae comes out of her room wearing pretty makeup and a short pink dress that looks great on her. The housemates are all shocked at the unexpectedly fitting transformation, and even Jang-hoon looks mesmerized as she walks by.

Jang-hoon comments that Eun-jae must be quick on the uptake because she goes to an elite university, and Eun gets offended that he looks down on her for going to a less prestigious school. He wonders if she’s insecure about her academics, and they bicker more when he tells her to call him oppa since he’s a year older, and she gets petty and scowls that he’s too short to be called oppa.

When Eun-jae walks into class, the whole class erupts in applause at her transformation, and Jong-yeol looks surprised. Throughout the lecture (on Freud, how cheeky), Eun-jae notices that Jong-yeol is sneaking glances at her, and she smiles in satisfaction. During lunch, Jong-yeol trips over his feet and almost eats it when he notices Eun-jae again, and she looks overjoyed by his disorderly reaction.

Ji-won notices Sung-min and Pretty Junior walking together, and she excitedly trails after them to a restaurant. She watches them get seated, and Sung-min notices her spying on them. He briefly excuses himself and comes up behind Ji-won to ask what she’s doing there, and Ji-won proceeds to tease him for his interest in Pretty Junior, saying that pasta is a meal for lovers.

Ji-won breaks a sweat trying to tease him, and gets a little tired of forcing her laughter. She cuts to the chase and asks if he’s going to date her, and he clarifies that they’re just having a meal together. Ji-won asks what he’s going to do if she confesses her feelings, and he asks what he should do. Ji-won looks confused that he’s asking her to make his decision.

Sung-min changes the topic and tells Ji-won to go to the hospital to check the ringing in her ears. Ji-won says that she’s too busy to go to the hospital, to which Sung-min asks what she’s doing spending her busy life stalking him. She tells him to be grateful that she took precious time out of her busy schedule just to tease him, then skips off to her busy life.

When Sung-min returns to the restaurant, he prefaces their meal by telling Pretty Junior not to confess if that’s what she was intending, and her deflated reaction tells all.

Jin-myung’s team manager tries to delegate the job of collecting Asgard’s contract termination papers, and everyone makes excuses to avoid the job. So Jin-myung gets delegated this task, and in the bathroom, her sunbae warns her about backlash, especially with Thor, since he’s rumored to have been the best fighter at his school.

At the contract termination meeting, Thor walks in with a deathly glare—but then he crumbles into tears and begs for one more chance. The next member, Baldr, angrily blames the selfish company for false promises and for abandoning them. Ur seems more relieved and copes with the termination by saying that Asgard is a mortifying concept and that he’s glad it’s over before they embarrassed themselves. Tyr politely hands over his contract and reproaches himself for not being good enough, apologizing profusely.

Jin-myung dreads her final contract termination meeting with Heimdal, but he’s nowhere to be seen. She informs her manager that he didn’t show up and returns to her desk—where she sees her sunbae eating Jin-myung’s lollipop. From Jin-myung’s reaction, she belatedly realizes that the lollipop may have meant something special, but Jin-myung says that it’s fine.

Ho-chang watches Ye-eun in class and discreetly follows her into the hallway. He follows her to her locker and tries to open it after she leaves, but she’s noticed him trailing after her and confronts him. She asks why he’s been following her, and he gets flustered, asking if she’s okay and mumbling, “Strange text message…”

Scared, Ye-eun steps back, and Ho-chang takes out a mysterious item wrapped in a black plastic bag. He says he made it and tries to force it into Ye-eun’s hand, but she screams and throws it on the ground. The thing starts blaring like an alarm, and Ho-chang quickly retrieves it to turn it off.

Outside, Ho-chang apologizes for the loud sound and confirms that he made this for Ye-eun. She asks why, and he says that he was worried, making an illogical explanation of his mom seeing the text and being worried about Ye-eun. She can’t make sense of anything he said, and he laughs innocently that he hears that often.

Ye-eun asks to see the text, and he refuses because it’ll make her feel bad. She shows him the malicious text she received and says that nothing could be worse than that. He reluctantly takes out his phone and shows her the text.

It reads: “Do you know that Jung Ye-eun was kidnapped by her boyfriend? Did you ask what she experienced for those two nights and three days? Can you still date her even after knowing what she s? There’s nothing good that can come from being close to Ye-eun. This is a warning in your interest.”

After reading the text, Ye-eun begins to hyperventilate, and Ho-chang hurries to help, though he ends up spraying himself with water as he opens it. She takes a sip of the water and calms down, then notices that Ho-chang received his text before she got hers. He says that it’s absurd that anyone would call someone as kind as Ye-eun a bitch.

Ye-eun asks why he thinks she’s kind, and he says it’s because she gave him her sandwich (aw). He adds that anyone who’s nice to “a person like me” is a kind person. She asks what kind of person he is, and he seems self-aware as he says, “Because I’m… you know.”

Ye-eun reroutes the conversation back to his device, and he scoots close to excitedly explain its functionality. It’s a homemade taser, and he adorably says that he couldn’t test how painful it was because the high voltage scared him.

Ye-eun interrupts to say that she’s not that nice—she wouldn’t be getting these texts if she were. Just then, Ye-eun’s worried friends find her, and she gratefully takes Ho-chang’s multifunctional taser.

As she leaves, Ho-chang blurts, “That other person is bad. The person who hates you is bad. You are a kind person. You are a kind and… pretty person.” He smiles, then scurries away.

Jong-yeol finds Eun-jae studying alone in a lecture hall, and he nervously approaches her about a survey for research. She acts pretty with her wide eyes and gets up to grab the paper, but she very audibly passes gas in that moment. Her wide eyes widen in mortification, and she runs out while Jong-yeol looks shell-shocked.

At home, Eun-jae drinks a digestive aid and Eun pats her back to help with the indigestion. Eun-jae laments the timing since Jong-yeol was coming around, but Eun asks if she would be happy to date Jong-yeol with a fabricated version of herself, instead of her real self.

Ji-won comes home without Ye-eun, and worried Eun goes outside to look for her. As she walks out of the house, Jang-hoon asks her to help him with something, but she says that she’s busy going on a walk. Worried that she’s going alone at night, he follows her out.

Thankfully, Ye-eun isn’t alone and walks back from the bus stop with her two friends. One of her friends, Hyun-hee, teases her about Ho-chang and suggests that he walk her home next time.

Eun runs into them, and Ye-eun assumes that she and Jang-hoon are out on a walk together, since he’s trailing right behind her. Since she’s not needed, Eun turns around to head home… until Jang-hoon follows her, and she turns back around and tries to fast-walk away from him.

When Jin-myung arrives at work, she finds a carton of lollipops from her sunbae, who apologizes for eating the lollipop without asking. Jin-myung reiterates that the lollipop didn’t mean anything to her, but Sunbae says that her expression said otherwise. The team manager asks after the Asgard situation, and Jin-myung promises to complete the task by the end of the day.

The two Asgard members with their contracts intact leave their dorm sheepishly, while the remaining members pack up their things to go home. Jin-myung arrives at the dorm to look for Heimdal, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Apologetic Tyr says that he’ll return eventually, since he has nowhere else to go, so Jin-myung leaves her card to contact her when he returns.

As Jin-myung leaves, Thor’s mother arrives and embraces her disappointed son. Thor apologizes as he cries, and she comforts him. Jin-myung looks back at them but quickly goes on her way.

Ye-eun’s friends are waiting for her outside her classroom to get lunch together, but she hesitates. We see why, as Ho-chang comes running up like a happy puppy. Hyun-hee realizes that he’s her lunch date and expresses relief that Ye-eun has good people around her. The other friend, Yoo-kyung, watches the two walk away with an unfriendly look and says that Ye-eun has too many good people to take care of her. Ooh, suspicious.

Ye-eun and Ho-chang eat the same sandwich at his favorite cafe, and Ye-eun asks why he eats the same thing every day. He says that it’s the most delicious one, even though he hasn’t tried anything else. Ye-eun suggests that they try something new next time, but he happily refuses, heh.

After class, Ye-ji suggests to Eun that they go see a movie, but Eun gets a text and sighs that she can’t go. Ye-ji assumes that it’s Jang-hoon, but she immediately understands the situation when she sees the text. It’s a message from Eun’s mom telling her to come in for a haircut.

Eun sits in her mom’s salon obediently, but she knows something’s up and asks about her father. Her mom says that her dad begged her to sign the divorce papers, since his younger daughter is about to start school. Eun tells her to just sign them, but her mom refuses—he cheated, so he can live with that much discomfort. Eun points out her mother is equally uncomfortable, and that it’s been eight years so Dad’s new relationship must be genuine. But Mom just warns her not to move lest she cut her ear.

Mom says that Dad abandoned both her and Eun, so Eun shouldn’t be so noble. Eun thinks back to her childhood, when her dad would comb her long hair into a ponytail. She touches the back of her hair and rests her head on the window of the bus as she heads home.

When Eun gets off the bus, Jang-hoon is waiting for her. He explains that Ye-ji ordered him to escort Eun home and that she would be in a gloomy mood. As they walk, Jang-hoon tries to break the ice by asking how long she’s known Ye-ji, and hears that they’ve known each other since elementary school. When asked about her height, Eun says that she suddenly grew in middle school and that the secret to her height was genes.

Gentlemanly Jang-hoon pulls Eun out of the way as a bicyclist rides by, and Eun begins to open up. She shares that when she was younger, she thought she could decide who to like or hate, since there were clear good people and bad people then.

Jang-hoon notices that Eun cut her hair, and he teases her that she’ll become a monk soon. He suggests that she grow out her hair, but he suddenly notices that Eun is crying. He stops her, but she doesn’t explain and walks away.

Jin-myung revisits Asgard’s dorm to check if Heimdal has returned, but no one answers the door or the phone. As she leaves, she runs into Heimdal, and he freezes, then turns to walk away. Jin-myung chases him to talk, and as he runs faster, he trips over his feet and scrapes his hand.

Jin-myung catches up to him, and after handing him a handkerchief, she asks about the termination contract. He says that he lost the papers, so Jin-myung hands him another copy from. She tells him that nothing’s going to change, and he reluctantly takes the documents. She says that she’ll return tomorrow and walks away.

Heimdal sadly walks into his dark dorm and sits on the couch, thinking about all the good times shared with his bandmates.

Ye-eun cheerfully walks to school, but when she opens her locker, her face falls. We flashback to a happy scene from Ye-eun’s childhood as she narrates: “When I was younger, I was the center of the universe. I thought that when I fell asleep, the whole world stopped with me. The world revolved around me, and I couldn’t imagine a world without me.”

The paused world resumes as young Ye-eun wakes up, and she continues: “Those days, everything existed to love me.”

Ji-won happily greets everyone and walks into Sung-min’s busy journalism office as he scolds his juniors about inaccurate headlines. She’s barely acknowledged because everyone is preoccupied, so she heads out. “Since when did I realize that the world continued to function without me?”

Heimdal looks longingly at a signed Asgard poster with encouraging words. He looks at his own encouragement, his own quote that diligence will not betray him. “Since when did I realize that I wasn’t the center of the universe?”

Jin-myung is hard at work, and we see the untouched package of lollipops. “Since when did I truly realize that I’m just one of many?”

Eun-jae watches Jong-yeol chat with another girl, and she occupies herself with work. “Since when did my world revolve around another person?”

Ye-ji waits for Eun and happily greets her. Jang-hoon also passes by, and while he bickers with Ye-ji, he and Eun only make awkward eye contact. Eun self-consciously strokes the back of her hair and glances at Jang-hoon. “Since when did I realize that there are things you can’t have no matter how desperately you want them? Since when did I redirect this resentment to myself?”

Back at her locker, we see what has Ye-eun so shocked: a photo of her with her abusive ex Doo-young, her face scratched out, the word “whore” written next to it. “Today I make another painful realization. As I can hate people, I can also be hated. Someone is hating me.”

Ye-eun falls to the ground in fear, and her friends come to her side. They see the scratched out photo and try to calm her down, but Ye-eun tears up in fear.

 
Epilogue

We get a glance of our housemate’s tombstones, though we’re left to guess which one belongs to whom. The first one reads: “1994–2061. Lord have mercy.”

The second one reads: “1997–2043. Rest in peace.”

The third: “1997–2084. Received love and loved more than anyone.”

The fourth one is an urn that reads: “1984–2025. Every moment was a fortune.”

The last one is an urn orbiting Earth and reads: “1988–2090. Lived fully until the last day.”

 
COMMENTS

There are so many factors in this new season that make me love the show a little more with every episode I watch. The show has a huge advantage of having such a successful first season, where our characters were well-established, and I really appreciate how the writing for this season is taking advantage of our familiarity with the characters. The writing feels purposeful and sharp (that narration at the end, wow), and I love how Eun’s story is subtly weaving in as she’s finding her place in the house.

Learning about Eun was super heartbreaking, and I was crushed to learn that the length of her hair represents her mother’s resentment. The shorter her hair, the more resentment her mother holds. I hate the “mother knows best” attitude that Eun’s mother holds, and that entitlement seems so toxic to Eun’s well-being. Initially, I thought that Eun may have just been rebellious when she left home, but now, I’m so relieved that she left that cold prickly house for the warm loving house that is Belle Epoque. She could use more love, considering how much she cares about the people she likes.

The more I learn about Eun, the more I realize how loving she actually is. She cares so much about the people around her, and it amuses and frustrates me that she has so much trouble expressing it. It’s so clear that she cares about Ye-eun’s safety even more than the other housemates who’ve known her longer, and it shows how sensitive she is to other people’s needs and emotions. Ironically, that’s where she fails herself, as she’s unable to really identify what she needs and be selfish enough to do things that make her happy. Actually, I don’t even think she knows what makes her happy, other than her favorite idol group. She’s so clueless with herself, but there’s something relatable with not knowing yourself. Often, you are the hardest person to figure out yourself.

Ho-chang is so adorable, and I love the budding relationship between him and Ye-eun. He seems so hopelessly innocent to the point where you can’t help but love the puppy. The show can accompany all the suspicious music with his presence and I would not suspect him for a second. He’s just too pure and genuine. I’m impressed with how the actor portrays all the nervous tics and anxious mannerisms without overdoing or forcing them. He plays the character with an awareness and sensitivity to Ho-chang’s struggles, and it shows.

I wondered if the sender of the malicious texts was one of Ye-eun’s friends, the one who was balding because of all the stress. I can see how a growing resentment towards a friend can be the source of malice, even though you care about the person. There’s a fine line between friend and caregiver, and it seems like she may have pushed her friendship to the point where she couldn’t handle the burden of taking care of Ye-eun all the time. But even then, I can’t see her traumatizing Ye-eun with that photo in her locker, so I’m now very afraid that Doo-young is back. He’s a monster, and I would really hate to see him undo all the progress that Ye-eun has made so far. Go away, Doo-young!

Even with all these lovable and great characters, Ji-won is still my favorite. She wasn’t even the center of this episode’s story, but she’s always there to make a moment sparkle. I love how much Park Eun-bin contributes to this character because Ji-won is definitely a character that requires an actor’s charm. During the first season, I remember some interviews where Park Eun-bin expressed some hesitance, but she’s so incredible as Ji-won that I want her to be this character in every drama she does. Forget about the family dramas, always be Ji-won, who’s petty and excited about free food, pretends to be an investigative journalist while you’re stalking a friend’s love interest, and take precious time out of your day to follow your best guy friend on a date just to make fun of him. She’s my hero.

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