Sorry for the delay. I had no intention of dropping My Sweet Seoul, but I also found myself dragging my feet to keep watching. I’ve had a hard time working up the interest, even though I do think the drama is high-quality. Strange dichotomy, that.
I wish I could like the series, I really really wish I could. But I think this just shows that interest and quality aren’t always perfectly correlative. So many other factors go into making a drama watchable and entertaining — as if I didn’t already know from the people yelling at me for dissing certain dramas! Taste is subjective, yes. Matters of “quality” can be “graded” based on specific criteria (directing, script, acting, plot), but ultimately a viewer’s enjoyment is subject to factors outside of those.
SONG OF THE DAY
Yoo Hee-yeol (aka Toy) – “여름날” (Summer day). This comes from the “Summer Days” advertainment series (mini-movies with a plot and its own soundtrack highlighting a laptop brand) starring Shin Mina, Hyun Bin, and Ryu Seung-beom. [ Download ]
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Jane runs into Tae-oh while at lunch with Yoo-joon and greets him enthusiastically, inviting him to join them for a while. But he’s on his way to a film shoot (and uncomfortable enough that he’d probably decline even if he were free) and he heads off to work. He turns back at the last moment to ask, “She’s… all right, isn’t she?” Yoo-joon answers that Eun-soo is doing well.
Jane calls Eun-soo to tell her she ran into Tae-oh, which throws Eun-soo off-balance. She’s been doing pretty well post-breakup, but a large part of that is likely owed to the “out of sight, out of mind” principle.
Jane’s business is still going extremely slowly, so it’s with surprise and excitement that she receives her first customer. It’s an old customer, actually, the guy who’d asked her to make a ring of his wisdom tooth for his girlfriend, to whom he wanted to propose. Jane had found the idea gross at the time, but she’d made the ring look pretty and the girlfriend loved it. (Semantics note: In Korean, the word for wisdom tooth, sarangni, literally means “love tooth.” So the boyfriend had used the wordplay to make the ring a more meaningful token of his love.)
The couple has been looking for Jane for a while (she was at her old shop when she’d made the tooth ring), because now they want her to design their wedding rings. Jane is so touched she starts to cry, asking repeatedly, “Really? You really do?”
Young-soo and Eun-soo are having a quiet working date (he’s on his computer, she’s reading) at a café, when they notice a construction worker outside who’s staring at them. Eun-soo mentions it to Young-soo, who looks over and recognizes the man.
The ominous music and tense moment tells us there’s more to this story, but for now all we know is that Young-soo calls the man “hyung,” the hyung has a pleasant demeanor that is almost TOO pleasant, and Young-soo is shaken to meet him accidentally like this.
Afterward, Young-soo confides in his co-worker hyung that he’d met “that guy.” He flashes back to a memory when he had been huddled with fear (presumably after the other kid hit his head and died?), and he had been approached by a guy whom we can assume is this new stranger. His name is also Kim Young-soo — and the grave mood tells us this is likely not coincidence, and hints at whatever dark secret is haunting Young-soo.
Yoo-hee’s academy classmate starts showing some more interest in Yoo-hee, although she remains unaware. His first actual forward move comes when he presents her with two tickets to a musical. He makes it sound perfectly friendly, saying she ought to be doing more “studying,” but perhaps he’s too convincing because she doesn’t suspect a thing. And then, just as it seems he’s working up to saying something else, Eun-soo arrives at the doorway. Yoo-hee happily greets her friend and the guy misses his chance.
Eun-soo and Yoo-hee hike up to the mountain tree Yoo-hee had planted, and Eun-soo talks about how Young-soo has restored her equilibrium after being thrown off by thoughts of Tae-oh:
“He said he was like a wall. But I think he’s like a tree — deep roots, broad shade. He makes me feel relaxed. I couldn’t sleep a wink after Jane called yesterday. It felt like a hole had been punched in my chest. But look at me now, I’m okay.”
Yoo-hee tells Eun-soo that she broke up with her boyfriend, and alludes to the child she may have had, which I interpret as a reference to her previously having been pregnant. They’d liked the name Bom, which explains her emotional response to seeing his daughter, whom he’d also named Bom. The reason I think she’s referring to a pregnancy (her words trail off and there’s a lot of reading between the lines) is because she talks about their possible child that they obviously didn’t end up having, and follows that by explaining that they’d planted the tree during through hard times to ease their pain.
Yoo-hee sees Eun-soo’s expression and assures her she’s fine, and that she doesn’t intend to return to this spot. Yoo-hee tells her, “Love passes by. Sometimes, I think you have to let it pass by.” She encourages Eun-soo to forget Tae-oh as well.
Jane and Yoo-joon have been seeing more of each other, partly because Yoo-joon is working for the company leasing her shop, and Jane has been calling him incessantly to bug him about little repairs. Without much business, Jane’s bored out of her mind so it’s a way for her to vent her energy, but it also appears she’s starting to see Yoo-joon in a different light. For instance, she later flips through photos of her friends and lingers on Yoo-joon’s face.
Eun-soo receives a jolt when opening her email to find one sent from Tae-oh. At first, she’s so flustered she can hardly bring herself to read it, but she calms down and feels better as she reads. Tae-oh explains that after their breakup, he’d had hard feelings, but as time passed, those feelings faded: “Some days I forget about you, and other days I think of you. My thoughts of you are all happy ones.”
He continues: “It hurt me to wonder if my words had hurt you. You know I’m sorry, don’t you? If you don’t, you’re a real dummy. I have so many things I want to say, but I know our time has already passed.”
Tae-oh asks Eun-soo if they could meet, if she feels up to it.
They both greet each other warmly, and she thinks, “Like old schoolmates meeting after a year, our conversation wasn’t deep or shallow. Like he said, we had lots of things we wanted to say, but our time had already passed.”
He gives her a DVD of the short film she’d helped shoot, and she gives him a gift, too: athletic shoes. Tae-oh mentions the old wives’ tale that you shouldn’t give shoes as a gift because the recipient will run away from you, and wryly notes, “It’s like you’re telling someone who’s left to leave again.” She hurries to assure him that that’s not her intention.
As they part ways, they shake hands, and the mood is a combination of affection, acceptance, and wistfulness:
Tae-oh: “Later, way later, if I’m going through a really hard time, is it all right if I call you?”
Eun-soo: “Later? Way later? Sure.”
Tae-oh: “It’s a promise. Later — way later — when I call you as an old grandfather, remember who I am and pick up the phone, okay?”
Eun-soo: “Of course.”
Eun-soo surprises Young-soo by arriving at his workplace unannounced, and suggests they go out for a drink, which takes them to a restaurant where they talk over sake (naturally she drinks hot, he drinks cold). Young-soo is a little surprised at her sudden appearance but doesn’t make a fuss over it.
Eun-soo tells him she met her ex earlier in the day. He nods, guessing, “Is that why you came to see me? Because you felt guilty?” She answers yes, then corrects herself, “No.” Young-soo asks, “You’re not sorry?” Eun-soo answers, “Yes. I thought I’d feel sorry, but I’m not. I felt a little bad toward you, which is why I think I’ve come here, but thinking about it, I don’t feel sorry.”
Young-soo just smiles and says, “I see.” Expecting more of a reaction, Eun-soo wonders if that’s all he has to say (others get jealous or have more to say), then figures he’s not a jealous person. He tells her, “Of course I have a lot of jealousy. But am I supposed to feel jealous?” A little disappointed, she says, “No.”
Young-soo explains, telling her he’s feeling great today. It makes him feel good to hear her say she felt a little bad, “But since you don’t feel sorry about it, it means it’s not something I have to be worried about, and that puts me at ease.”
He tells her he wanted to put on a long-sleeved shirt this morning (in a prior episode, it was noted that he always wears long shirts), but he thought of her, figured it would be hot, and wore short sleeves instead. There isn’t a whole lot of meaning behind his story, but he says that he just wanted to share that with her.
And as they walk, he (finally!) takes a hold of her hand.
At home, Eun-soo puts away her Tae-oh Box, which contains all the mementos of their time together, musing: “Nothing disappears, not memories, not love.” But while things don’t disappear, they all have their time and their place, and it’s time to put Tae-oh behind her.
Eun-soo gets a call from her brother telling her that their mother has left home. Her father is as cool as ever, unruffled by the drama, and says he’s sure she’ll come back home eventually. Her brother tries to locate her by going through their address book, but can’t locate one of her mother’s close friends: “Kimpo ajumma.”
Eun-soo calls her mother’s former boyfriend (aka Kimpo ajumma) and meets with him in an awkward first meeting. The man greets her kindly, explaining that he’d wanted to meet her, and tells her that he and her mother have stopped seeing each other.
He recalls having seen Eun-soo once when she was a baby, which was the day he’d run into her mother by chance on the street. After sitting down for a chat, her mother had told him, “I should go home. I was going to go somewhere else, but now that I’ve run into you, I can’t go. I should go home.”
I’m not sure if she’d intended on leaving her husband, but she does have one bag with her, and the scene seems to suggest that was her initial intention. The man tells Eun-soo that it was probably because of her that she decided she couldn’t go, and tells her, “Take care of your mother.”
Young-soo and Eun-soo take a trip to the zoo, where he asks which parent she resembles. Eun-soo answers that she’s like her mother, to which he says that she shouldn’t worry too much — if she’s like her mother, her mother will be fine, since Eun-soo is a healthy person. He suggests that her mother probably needs time to think. “Everyone needs time to think about themselves.”
As they’re leaving the zoo, Eun-soo gets a phone call from her mother. She doesn’t answer Eun-soo’s frantic questions about where she is or what she’s doing, and tells her daughter calmly that she’s fine, that she’ll be back soon, and not to worry.
Seeing how upset Eun-soo is, Young-soo takes a look at the phone number and starts calling hotels bearing the same number prefix (assuming her mother called from a particular room whose specific number isn’t listed). He and Eun-soo divide up the list of possible numbers, asking the hotels they call for a guest staying there under Eun-soo’s mother’s name, until finally Young-soo gets an affirmative answer.
Regarding Young-soo’s mysterious “secret”: Personally, I don’t think intrigue and mystery suit My Sweet Seoul at all. It’s a sentiment I’d felt earlier, for instance, when Eun-soo heard her upstairs neighbor being killed and freaked out. It feels like too much of a tone shift to be organic to the story, interrupting the flow and seeming like an add-on. I’m not saying darker tones CAN’T be introduced in lighter dramas, but My Sweet Seoul hasn’t woven the intrigue elements well throughout its plot, nor has it been consistent in bringing in the darker overtones. If it had, I think this kind of mystery could work as it is intended, but because of the abrupt ambiance shifts, I’m not invested in the Big Dark Past at all.
- Point-counterpoint: In defense of Eun-soo
- My Sweet Seoul: Episode 11
- My Sweet Seoul: Episode 10
- My Sweet Seoul: Episode 9
- My Sweet Seoul: Episode 8
- My Sweet Seoul: Episode 7
- My Sweet Seoul: Episode 6
- My Sweet Seoul: Episode 5
- My Sweet Seoul: Episode 4
- My Sweet Seoul: Episode 3
- My Sweet Seoul: Episodes 1 & 2