Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 18
Episode 18: “Earnest Things You Need to Throw Away When You Love” Part 2
We know we’re heading into the last stretch of a drama because we open with a montage recapping Dal Ja and Tae Bong’s relationship. Of course, that also suggests that we’re in for a shake-up in the relationship’s status, but we knew that. It’s what the math of a kdrama series tells us.
At the fancy birthday party, we meet Jang Su Jin, who’s clearly interested in Tae Bong (as is every other female in the room). But Su Jin’s very familiar with Tae Bong, speaking informally (banmal) which indicates a close degree of familiarity, and coyly suggests, “Why don’t we two slip out of here early?” (Bitch. Right?)
She’s young and beautiful, making Dal Ja feel insecure. He introduces Su Jin to Dal Ja as a friend he used to work with. Su Jin tells Tae Bong he should say hello to her father, but when he makes a move to comply, Dal Ja stays behind.
Tae Bong wonders why Dal Ja isn’t coming along, but she declines. There must be lots of people he hasn’t seen in a while, so she’ll hang out and wait, don’t worry about her. Tae Bong appreciates the gesture, and leans over to tell Dal Ja that the cake is really delicious.
So Dal Ja eats cake, and watches them go.
As she watches, Dal Ja continues to be unsettled with Su Jin’s boldness toward Tae Bong, linking arms and smiling coyly (bitch).
Eom Ki Joong sees Dal Ja by herself and approaches. He’s actually very sweet — when some other women were snarking on how Dal Ja looks very old for Tae Bong, Ki Joong defended her saying she’s not old at all. And Dal Ja’s very glad to see a familiar face, as they eat cake together.
Tae Bong watches Dal Ja and Ki Joong together with perhaps a tinge of jealousy/insecurity. (Which is about damn time. I love Tae Bong, but it’s nice to see him insecure for once, rather than perfect. We women like our perfect men with a healthy dash of imperfection.) Su Jin picks up on it, and asks if he loves Dal Ja. He says she’s warm, and fun, and a good person. Su Jin persists in asking if he loves her, and he stays silent. Su Jin smugly says he can’t love anyone but himself — he’s always been this way.
At home, Dal Ja starts asking about Su Jin, so Tae Bong just comes right out and tells her they knew each other for 10 years since they were in high school. They dated for three years, until Su Jin dumped him for another guy. She was his first love. Dal Ja wonders if, because he was dumped, he still has lingering attachment for Su Jin, but Tae Bong says he’s over her.
Soon Ae asks why Dal Ja went to such an event in the first place. Dal Ja was merely curious about going to a fancy event like that, but Soon Ae shrewdly says no, Dal Ja actually went to the event to see if Tae Bong wanted to go back to the law firm, didn’t she?
To be honest, Dal Ja thinks it wouldn’t be bad for him to go back to the law firm. He’s talented and the firm people want him back. Reality is difficult, and the things to really fear are lack of clothing, lack of food. Plus, Dal Ja has to pay the lease/deposit on her apartment by the end of the month (which happens every 2 years), which is approximately $10,000. Dal Ja has the money she’s been saving up for her marriage fund, but she doesn’t want to dip into that. It would be nice if Tae Bong would go back to the firm and not worry about money.
Go Soon Ae tells her not to push: If you hold one thing in one hand, and try to grasp onto a second thing, you risk losing both. Don’t be greedy.
Tae Bong shows up for work, but Dal Ja’s mom says he can’t work for her anymore. He has to choose to learn cooking from her, or give up her daughter. It isn’t that she doesn’t like him, but she’s worried about her daughter’s happiness. She won’t have her daughter’s boyfriend and possible spouse-to-be struggling and working at a tiny restaurant. So it’s either his dream, or her daughter.
Tae Bong’s mother summons Dal Ja to give her money. It’s hilarious, because Dal Ja’s imagination runs away with her (as usual!) and she assumes Tae Bong’s mother is trying to buy her off. Puffed up with self-congratulatory pride, Dal Ja firmly rejects the cash: She cannot be bought off! She’ll pretend it never happened, and of course she generously offers to keep this a secret from Tae Bong, who would be furious with his mother.
But Tae Bong’s mother laughs: the money isn’t for Dal Ja. It’s for Tae Bong. She wants to make sure he’s living all right. She doesn’t approve of Dal Ja, but for the moment Dal Ja is her connection to Tae Bong. She wants Dal Ja to report daily about Tae Bong’s whereabouts and activities. Tae Bong’s mother’s quite a pain in the ass, but kind of endearing. I mean, she’s not smart enough to be truly threatening, so she’s just shamelessly up-front about her intentions. She also tells Dal Ja to do something about that hair; every time she sees the curly mess, it distracts her so much it drives her crazy. Which is a sentiment I can understand, but the style has really grown on me since Episode 1.
Su Jin meets with a reluctant Tae Bong to ask him to help her on a case. She gets to pick her team, and wants his help. She knows he’s given up law, but she isn’t telling him to come back to the firm, it’s just a friend asking for help.
Dal Ja sees Tae Bong coming home with Su Jin, and hides. Tae Bong sees her, and assures her that he was just having dinner with an old friend. Nothing more.
Meanwhile, Sae Do proposes to Seon Joo with a trail of roses…..
(If you’ll remember, it’s a nice touch with the yellow roses. Back in Episode 3 or 4, when Sae Do was first trying to woo Seon Joo, he plucked out a yellow rose and gave it to her. But he caught her at a bad moment, when she was just threatened by someone regarding her ex-husband’s debts, that she rejected him, and Sae Do threw the rose to the ground in frustration.)
Tae Bong’s father and grandfather meet, and the grandfather asks the father to come back home. He’s been married for 30 years; he shouldn’t mention divorce so easily. He also reminds Tae Bong’s dad about all he’s done for him, supporting him back before he became a professor, and is disappointed that he’s only ever called him the very formal “Father In Law,” never just “Father.”
Tae Bong looks into cooking courses. It’s 600,000 won (approx $600), so for now he got a part-time job. Dal Ja suggests that he accept money from his parents, but he says that taking that money would indebt himself to his grandfather. When she asks about rejoining the law firm, Tae Bong asks if that’s what she really wants. She says it’s not that, but she just doesn’t want to see him suffer.
Tae Bong: “My dream is having a restaurant (lunch shop). From the day I decided to live with you, that’s what I decided. Don’t you understand what that means?”
Dal Ja: “Not really, no.”
Tae Bong: “It means, since I met you, I started to have my own dream. So, I’ve started to look forward to living. I enjoy today, and wait for tomorrow. I decided to become happy.”
So Dal Ja deliberates over what to do with the money situation. She’s tempted to use the money Tae Bong’s mother gave her, but says no, Tae Bong would be disappointed in her. Then, give up her lease and take that money? She can’t do that either.
Tae Bong’s mother is shocked to see her husband back at home. She’s a little pissy, until he apologizes. He says he was wrong, he realized a lot of things, and that of the mistakes they’ve both made, his were bigger. He’ll try hard in the future. When he leaves, he calls his father-in-law “Father” for the first time, and you see how happy that makes them. You really get the sense that both she and her father were starved for affection, and you wonder if all this time, things would have been so much better if Tae Bong’s father were a bit warmer.
Sae Do tells Dal Ja he proposed, , but hasn’t gotten a response yet. He doesn’t know what to do. He can’t leave Seon Joo behind, pregnant and alone, but he feels it’s a waste to let his career opportunity go, too. Seon Joo overhears the conversation, as Dal Ja wonders, “So it’s work or love. What a dilemma.”
Working construction makes Tae Bong constantly exhausted, which causes Dal Ja to worry. He assures her, though: “I know this sounds awful, but I learned at this age, what a difficult think it is to earn 600,000 won for academy classes. All this time, I never worried and lived so comfortably.”
He insists it’s fun, but Dal Ja sees over the following days how hard it is on him, although he never complains about it.
Finally, Dal Ja can’t take it anymore and gives him the money his mother gave him. She wants him to use it to enroll in his courses until he gets a job. He tells her to return it immediately. She knows he doesn’t want to take the money, but she can’t watch him suffering so much. His dream is important, but she doesn’t think this is the way to do it. Tae Bong: “Why can’t you understand me? Can’t you see me killing myself working this hard? Can’t you see me trying to live right for once?” Dal Ja says he doesn’t have to suffer this much. Others suffer because they don’t have his abilities, but he’s doing things backward, living hard when he doesn’t have to.
She says he could go back to the law firm, work two or three years, then start his restaurant then. Tae Bong: “Dal Ja, do you think the same thing as your mother? Do you want me to choose between the two, that I should give up either my dream, or you? I thought you would be different. I thought you’d understand.
Dal Ja says she wishes she had the money to support him. But she’s got to pay her lease at the end of the month, what can she do? Watching him come home every night exhausted is too hard.
Tae Bong: “So in the end, it’s about money.”
Dal Ja: “I can’t watch you struggling so much.”
Tae Bong: “In any case, it’s about money. Sorry. To be such a complainer who can’t come up with the money to pay his own course fees. I’m really sorry. That I can’t do a thing to help with your lease deposit.”
Seon Joo turns down the proposal. It’s not because she doesn’t love him, or can’t trust him — but they’re not the type to tie themselves to each other in marriage. Their separate lives are too important. Sae Do thinks she should quit work while he can take care of her abroad. But she doesn’t want to stop working. Her pregnancy won’t stop her, as long as she’s able. Seon Joo pleasantly and coolly tells him that this is what she wants.
Su Jin arrives at Dal Ja’s office on business, and invites Dal Ja out to dinner, where she questions her about her relationship with Tae Bong. Su Jin tells Dal Ja why she broke up with Tae Bong: Tae Bong seemed too cold, so she wanted to arouse jealousy by dating someone else. But he never showed any emotion or said anything about it. Frustrated, Su Jin said she wanted to break up in a fit of anger, thinking he’d definitely hang on to her. But instead, he just broke things off, never looking back. She heard later that Tae Bong really did have a hard time over their relationship.
Meanwhile, Tae Bong gets into an accident at work…
…dun dun DUN!!!