20th Century Boy and Girl: Episodes 7-8
Aw, Show, you’re supposed to be a rom-com, why you gotta make me cry like this? Get ready, because as the past is brought to light, it turns out that Ji-won and Jin-jin’s childhoods weren’t as rosy as we’d thought. The more we learn about their past and how they were split up, the more I love them. These poor kids have been through a lot, and I have a feeling that we’ve just scratched the surface.
EPISODE 7: “Christmas in August”
It’s the year 2000, and Jin-jin sits for a professional portrait. The photographer offers to give her the portrait for free if she lets him display a copy in his window, though he asks for a favor first. He mentions the current picture in the window, which is of her older sister Ho-sung, but we don’t see her picture or hear his request.
Later, CEO Jang sees Jin-jin’s photo in the window and goes inside, desperate for her contact information, saying she “has an aura.” And even later, Ji-won stares at Jin-jin’s picture just before his mother picks him up in a moving truck, on their way out of town.
Jin-jin narrates that Ji-won left without even saying goodbye. It was a summer’s day, when they were 18 years old.
In the present, Jin-jin and Ji-won unknowingly end up at the same showing of Love Letter, and Ji-won spots Jin-jin on his way out. He lurks in the lobby, and when Jin-jin emerges, he sings the same taunting children’s song he used to use to tease her with when they were children.
Jin-jin immediately knows it’s Ji-won, and she looks nervous as he asks her to eat with him. She says she’s busy, and Ji-won points out that it’s 2:00 a.m. He asks if she’s angry, noting that she’s wearing the same expression as when he recorded over her Anthony tape.
He asks if he’s done something wrong, and when Jin-jin says no, Ji-won relaxes and says he’s glad to see her. He’s surprised when Jin-jin asks where he’s been, since he texted her explaining everything, but she says her phone was broken.
Ji-won tells Jin-jin that there’s a lot he wants to talk about and someone he wants her to meet, but they’re interrupted by a call. Ji-won drives Jin-jin to the police station to pick up her little brother, asking her to stay in the car and going inside alone.
Aw, Min-ho must not have gotten the job because he’s drunk as a skunk, sporting his pink hair again and wailing that they already knew who they would hire before the interviews. Jin-jin is embarrassed in the car as Min-ho slurs that she’s ugly, has a bad temper, and never washes when she’s at home. HAHA.
Jin-jin levels her best glare at her brother, scaring him into the hiccups and shutting him up. Ji-won can’t help but grin as he remembers a tiny Min-ho who used to get beat up. He recalls that he threatened to beat those kids up once… “Is what I’d love to say happened, but instead I got beaten up by a sixth grader.” PFFT.
Jin-jin sincerely thanks Ji-won for that day, and for today. She also thanks him for helping her at the airport, and Ji-won confuses her by saying that they met once more after that. She doesn’t know that he saw her on the street in Hong Kong.
The next day, Jin-jin finally looks through the purse she was carrying, and only now finds the note that Ji-won left inside saying, “I’ll be back.”
The next day, Jin-jin’s parents are looking through some old photos, and they find one that sparks Mom’s memory. She remembers that it was taken, “That day… Ji-won’s father.” They wonder where Ji-won is now.
Jin-jin comes in looking for pictures for a magazine article, and her mother suggests one of her with Ah-reum, Yong-shim, and Ji-won taken on their first day of school. Jin-jin smiles nostalgically, but when Mom asks, she says she doesn’t remember that day.
She shows some of the photos to CEO Jang, who teases her about how many were taken at a certain Subway shop. She giggles that she used to wait there to see Anthony, but she never saw him. She says that she ate so many ham sandwiches that she can’t stand them now, and she glares when road manager Hong-hee shows up with Subway ham sandwiches for lunch.
The three talk about what project Jin-jin should do next, and Hong-hee suggests she go on We Got Married. He says they’ve been calling nonstop, interested in filming her in her very first relationship for their show. CEO Jang snaps that Jin-jin is a serious actress, then gets his head bitten off by Jin-jin for yelling at Hong-hee.
Jin-jin’s mom calls Min-ho for help taking out the trash, but he’s hung over and ignores her call. Someone stops to help, and Mom’s shocked to look up and see Ji-won grinning at her. She’s thrilled to see him, and also to learn that he’s back in town.
She asks about his mother, and he must give her his mom’s number, because we see them talking on the phone. Jin-jin’s mom fusses at Ji-won’s mom for not telling them something sooner, saying sadly, “Because of our Ho-sung…” Ji-won’s mother answers, “Unni, actually I—…” but we don’t hear the end of their sentences.
That night, Ji-won’s mom calls him to say that she talked to Jin-jin’s mom. She asks him to come for dinner on Thursday, and he says he’ll be there — he’s even got the date circled on his calendar.
Tonight’s meal is a humble bowl of jjajangmyun with a fried egg, which brings back a memory of Ji-won as a child, when he and his father shared a similar forbidden meal. As Ji-won ate, his father sadly asked Ji-won to remember this when he wouldn’t be around anymore. Oh no.
In the morning, Young-shim is again a few minutes late to work, and again, her boss Kyung-seok doesn’t mention it (I’m starting to think that clock is broken). Later, he asks about her work, and she’s on top of everything, but she has trouble finding her results on her messy desk.
Kyung-seok offers the cleaning lady another cup of coffee, and this time, Young-shim offers to make it. But the cleaning lady says that she likes Kyung-seok’s coffee better, then berates Young-shim for making more work for her by not separating her trash, dripping coffee, and not cleaning her desk.
On her way home, Young-shim spots a hotteok stand (fried bread with syrup filling), and she texts Ah-reum, since it’s her favorite treat. But Ah-reum says that tonight is the work event that she’s attending with Dong-hoon, the cute copilot.
On her way out, Ah-reum finds her mother piling up all the things she’s stockpiled for Ah-reum’s eventual marriage. Her mom says that she can’t just let them rot and plans to give them away, but Ah-reum assures her mom that she’s getting married soon.
Ah-reum is first at the restaurant, and she’s soon joined by her coworker Ji-hye, the one she previously roomed with. Dong-hoon arrives next, but instead of sitting next to Ah-reum, he chooses to sit by Ji-hye. Ah-reum tells herself that he just wants to see her face better.
Elsewhere, doctor Woo-sung parties it up with his cellist date, Hee-jin. He’s a shameless flirt, and his date soaks it up like a sponge.
As Ah-reum’s event gets going, another coworker asks Dong-hoon whether he has a girlfriend. He says there’s someone he likes, and that his type is bright and cheerful, a girl who makes you happy to be with them. Ah-reum assumes he’s describing herself, but her coworker thinks that sounds just like Ji-hye.
Later in the evening, both Ji-hye and Dong-hoon disappear, and Ah-reum is told that Ji-hye was feeling sick. She goes looking for her, stopping for a hotteok on the way, and eventually sees Ji-hye sitting alone on a bench. Ah-reum is about to approach her when Dong-hoon shows up, bringing coffee.
As Ah-reum watches, Dong-hoon leans over and kisses Ji-hye. Ah-reum turns around with tears filling her eyes as she stumbles away.
A few days later, her friends ask why she hasn’t mentioned her date with the copilot. Ah-reum sneers that she doesn’t like him anymore, criticizing his looks and calling him a boring kid. Her friends squint at her, knowing her better than that, and Ah-reum finally confesses that he’s dating someone.
Jin-jin and Young-shim loyally jump to Ah-reum’s defense, threatening to call the girl and give them a piece of their minds. When they calm down, they tell Ah-reum that she’s better off without him. Best. Friends. Ever.
They notice that the weather is getting cooler, and Ah-reum says that this time of year always reminds her of Ji-won, because of his father. They remember that he passed away on August 25th, which they call “Christmas in August.”
On that Thursday, Ji-won’s assistant Tae-hyun shows him the magazine article about Jin-jin, which features the picture of her with all her friends as children. Tae-hyun says this proves that Ji-won knows Jin-jin, and asks why the photo is captioned “Christmas in August.” Ji-won dodges the question.
Tae-hyun tells Ji-won that the CEO of National Chemical is coming to Korea, then says in an equally distraught voice that he has to get married. Ji-won laughs, but Tae-hyun groans that he’s an only son with an older father who’s nagging him to get married.
When Tae-hyun says that his father’s only wish is to have a grandson before he dies, Ji-won’s smile turns sad. He recalls a day when his father had lit candles on a cake, even though it wasn’t anyone’s birthday. He and his parents had all made wishes, and little Ji-won had grown serious when asked what he wished for.
He’d said he wished for his mom and dad to live to be 100 years old… oof. His dad had gathered him into his arms and said in a shaky voice that his only wish was to see his son start school.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
CEO Jang meets with an executive, telling him that Jin-jin is having a resurgence in popularity after her confession that she’s never dated. The executive mentions a daily drama they might offer to Jin-jin, which delights CEO Jang.
Another CEO joins them and mentions that Director Shin, the one CEO Jang has been hoping will call with an offer, has cast a new actress in his latest movie.
Furious, CEO Jang calls Jin-jin to rage about Director Shin, but she tells him to calm down and not worry about it. Hong-hee answers another call from the producer of We Got Married, and he starts to turn him down yet again.
But CEO Jang jumps at the chance to revamp Jin-jin’s image, and he meets with the producers of the show. He says that he only has one condition, though we don’t hear what it is. Later, he calls Jin-jin, selling her on the idea by calling the show “the 20-year-long love story of the century.” Of course he doesn’t mention what show it is, hee.
Jin-jin’s mom has been taking food to Ji-won often, but when she takes him some pancakes, he’s not home. She goes down to her husband’s restaurant, where he reminds her of the date: August 24th.
Ji-won turns down an offer to go out for beer with Tae-hyun after work, saying that he has a date. Tae-hyun eagerly asks if it’s with Jin-jin, but Ji-won says, “Nope, my dad.” On his way home, “Hyung” calls him to say that he’ll be late.
A passing ambulance sparks another memory of Ji-won’s father being rushed into an ambulance while Jin-jin’s mother stayed behind to take care of him. The doctors told Ji-won’s father that his illness had spread, and that it was no use continuing his treatment.
Dad had said that he wanted to see his son go to school, and the doctor praised him for hanging in there this long. He’d advised him to go home and make the most of the time he had left, and later, Jin-jin’s mother had held Ji-won’s mom as she sobbed.
Ji-won’s father had made it to Ji-won’s first day of school, and he and his parents had posed for a picture at the school gates. That photo is the one that graces the table at his memorial, where Ji-won spends this evening.
Jin-jin’s mother tells Jin-jin’s dad that Ji-won has a new family, knowing that her husband feels as though Ji-won’s mother betrayed his friend. A flashback to Ji-won’s teen days shows him having dinner with his new stepfather, who seemed like a good man.
He’s not disrespectful, but Ji-won eats robotically and speaks in one-word sentences. His stepfather tells Ji-won that he also has a son, who will be Ji-won’s new hyung. He’s late to dinner, and as they wait, we see that Ji-won’s mother was already pregnant with her now-teenage daughter.
At Ji-won’s father’s memorial, they all sigh that Hyung is always late, though Ji-won defends him. The door opens as Hyung arrives, and at the same time in Ji-won’s memory, his new brother shows up to dinner. In the past and the present, we learn that Ji-won’s hyung… is Anthony. I did NOT see that coming.
Anthony brings Ji-won’s dad’s favorite cake to the memorial, and he and Ji-won perform the ceremony together. When it’s time to eat, Anthony teases Ji-won for getting old and pudgy, making Ji-won laugh. Aww, I’m so happy that they like each other.
Ji-won asks their sister to tell “him” that dinner is ready, and when she’s confused, Anthony says that he means Dad, sending Ji-won an understanding look. Dinner is comfortable and normal, as Mom tells Anthony that she wants him to get married, their little sister teases her brothers, and Stepdad passes Ji-won his favorite dish.
The next day, Ah-reum sees the photo of Jin-jin and her friends in the magazine, which reminds her of today’s date. Jin-jin also remembers that it’s “Christmas in August” today, and she goes to their old elementary school. Ah-reum and Young-shim are there waiting for her, and they play together like they’re kids again.
And then the day gets even better when Ji-won shows up. The ladies scream his name, thrilled to see him, and the Four Bongos are finally reunited.
We flash back to the day they all started school, each arriving with their parents. Jin-jin narrates that they knew it was a special day, even though it wasn’t a spring day, but a warm day in August. “Mom told me this: That Santa Claus had decided to grant Ji-won’s dad a wish, and set up something special before he had to leave us. It was like Christmas in August.”
The friends had posed for a picture, and now as adults, they take a bunch of pictures of the four of them in front of their school. Jin-jin continues, “The kids who remember the sun, air, and wind of that day have gathered again. We’re 35 now, on Christmas in August of 2017.”
CEO Jang speaks to the We Got Married producer, confirming that his one condition won’t be a problem. With a mischievous smirk on his face, he says that Jin-jin will have no idea.
Something is definitely up as a nervous Hong-hee and stylist Mi-dal drive Jin-jin to what she thinks is a meeting to discuss a movie. Hong-hee says that CEO Jang will be late and asked them to go somewhere first, and Jin-jin is surprised when they arrive at the same Subway where she used to try to get a glimpse of her celebrity crush, Anthony.
Meanwhile, Ji-won arrives home to find his belongings in the hall, and Jin-jin’s mom rushes down to tell him that their boiler exploded. Ji-won gapes at his damaged ceiling and soggy furniture, and though he tries to decline when Mom invites him to stay with them until everything is fixed, she’s a force of nature and doesn’t take no for an answer.
PWAHAHA, she takes him to stay in Jin-jin’s old room, which still has Boys Be Ambitious posters featuring his brother Anthony on the walls. She embarrasses them both by remembering a time when Ji-won had been playing in this room and refused to go home, insisting he was going to marry Jin-jin. She gives him a set of keys, and he offers to change her locks for her, but she declines.
Jin-jin waits at the restaurant, feeling nostalgic as she looks out the very same window where she spent so much time as a teenager. She’s so lost in thought that she doesn’t immediately notice the man who steps into her line of sight. After a moment she finally registers him, and she sits up in surprise to find her crush, Anthony, standing in front of her after all these years.
I’m guessing that that Anthony being her onscreen husband is CEO Jang’s “condition” for having Jin-jin go on We Got Married, because that is brilliant, not to mention deliciously devious. CEO Jang knows that Jin-jin is going to be angry that her new “project” is a variety show, but that the possibility of being “married” to Anthony will sweeten the deal so much that she’s very unlikely to refuse. It’s also going to really put a wrench into Ji-won’s plans to woo her, because not only will Jin-jin be pretending to be married to the guy she’s crushed on since childhood, but it’s also his brother.
Which brings me to biggest shocker: Anthony is Ji-won’s Hyung?! I never saw that coming in a million years, and while part of me is cringing in anticipation of the complications this is going to cause for Ji-won as he tries to win Jin-jin’s affections, another part of me is so ridiculously excited for the exact same reason. It’s one thing when the girl you like has a crush on an unattainable celebrity, but it’s quite another when that celebrity is family. Not to mention the fact that Anthony is about to transition from girlhood crush to actual man for Jin-jin, and one that seems like a really sweet, generous person, and that she believes that Ji-won is married.
Usually in a rom-com it’s clear why the heroine would choose one guy over another, but in this case I’m not going to blame her one bit for waffling between the brothers, because they both have a lot to recommend them. I could generally do away altogether with the whole second-lead plot in dramas, but in this case, I find that making Anthony and Ji-won surprise brothers (to Jin-jin anyway), as well as having Anthony be every bit as wonderful of a man as Ji-won is, will make Jin-jin’s conflict more interesting than her just thinking that Ji-won is married. She’s going to have a real conundrum on her hands — on the one hand, Ji-won is bound to come on strong after having lost Jin-jin once, but on the other hand, she’s going to be playing house with the man she’s fantasized about for decades, on a show designed to elicit romantic feelings in its couples. Poor, lucky Jin-jin!
This episode was a real tear-jerker, and I found myself needing to stop and compose myself several times. Poor Ji-won has had such a sad life, losing his father at such a young age. It explains a lot about why he’s so quiet and soft-spoken, both because he appears to be a lot like his gentle-seeming father, and because losing such a loving man is bound to have an effect on a boy.
I’m really loving the way the families are portrayed in this show. Jin-jin’s family isn’t very verbally affectionate, but you know they all love each other very much. I’m very curious to learn more about her older sister, what role she’s played in all this, and why she’s no longer around. And Ji-won’s family reduced me to tears with the way they came together for his father’s memorial day — most of the people there never even met Ji-won’s father, yet they honored his life simply because they love Ji-won so much. That’s real love right there.