Will It Snow For Christmas: Episode 11
After the wonderful, moving Episode 10, I was a little nervous about the one that would follow. Ep 10 was so satisfying that I almost didn’t want to continue, because it was obvious we’re in for more conflict: I thought, “Ah, I could just stop here and be happy.” I didn’t really want the series to end with 10, of course, since that would have been too abrupt, but I wasn’t sure how I’d like this next turn.
It wasn’t better than the previous episode, but I’m still onboard and generally satisfied with where we’re going. And just when things start looking predictable, we’re thrown a new twist.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Seung-hwan – “천일동안” (In those 1,000 days) . A line of dialogue in this episode reminded me of this song, which is an old classic by one of Korea’s top ballad singers (though now he’s more pop-rock). I wore out this CD till it skipped. [ Download ]
The morning after the kiss, Ji-wan revels in the memory, giggling to herself and overcome with glee. When Kang-jin calls, she has to calm herself down before answering.
Kang-jin asks if she slept well. He, on the other hand, couldn’t sleep at all “because I thought if I closed my eyes, someone might tell me it was a dream.”
(This line reinforced why I love Go Soo so much in this role. (Well, one among many, many reasons.) He delivers his dialogue matter-of-factly, so that even when his lines could make him sound cheesy, they come off honest and sincere.)
He asks to see her later, and after hanging up, Ji-wan squeals and kicks so excitedly that she falls out of bed. She looks up at the wall, and this time when she sees the picture of her brother, the smile stays on her face:
Ji-wan: “You did good, Han Ji-wan. This is what Oppa wanted for you. If our Ji-wan is happy, then I’m satisfied. That’s what you were going to say, right? You were going to praise me, right? I knew you would.”
For their date, Kang-jin takes her to the mountain house, which is still a work in progress. He’s going to remodel the house entirely, with his own two hands. As he shows her around, he indicates where he’ll put the rooms — that one’s for his mother, that one’s for Bu-san and his wife, and he’ll add two more for Bu-san’s kids.
Looking upstairs, he indicates, “And that’s where I’ll live with my wife.” Since he plans on having two kids or so, they’ll need three rooms. Kang-jin is acting very casual, looking up rather than at Ji-wan, but the meaning is clear and she smiles happily. She asks, “Only two? Couldn’t you raise six or so?” She likes houses with lots of kids.
He thinks six is too much, but she says that in the past, people used to have ten or more. Plus, Korea’s dwindling birthrate is a national problem. Kang-jin asks, “Are you proposing to me right now?”
That flusters her — wait, she never said that. He points out, “You just said you’d have six kids.” Ji-wan backpedals — no, wait, she wasn’t saying she’d have six herself, just commenting on a social issue…
Then she sees his face and feels miffed at his teasing (like he’s having fun at her expense). Stiffly, she says she wants to go home and gets up to leave.
Kang-jin stops her and hugs her, saying, “Dummy, I’m proposing to you now. Will you accept?”
Pleased again, Ji-wan smiles, and notices that it’s snowing outside.
Afterward, Kang-jin drops Ji-wan off at home, and reminds her that she hasn’t answered his question. Still on a high, there’s no doubt that she’ll say yes, but she’s feeling a little shy so she doesn’t answer the (implied) question. Rather, she changes the subject and mentions that she’s going up to Seoul tomorrow for class.
Spotting her mother coming home with a shopping bag, Ji-wan bounds over enthusiastically and helps her. Kang-jin bows to Young-sook, and she says hello politely, not realizing until he identifies himself that this is Chun-hee’s son. At mention of his name, her smile fades and she asks why he’s here.
Ji-wan answers happily, “We’re dating, Mom. I even proposed to him a little while ago, but he hasn’t answered. It’s not that he doesn’t like me, but he must be embarrassed.” (What’s sweet is that this is her way of answering Kang-jin, explaining indirectly how she feels.)
Ji-wan leads her mother inside the house, turning back to tell Kang-jin, “Think it over and answer tomorrow. I understand that you might be embarrassed, but if you let go of a girl like me, you’ll regret it, ajusshi!”
Once she’s inside, she does a little giddy dance. Han Ye-seul has never been more adorable.
Kang-jin comes home that evening to find his mother looking glum. Earlier in the day, she had told Bu-san to pack his things to move tomorrow, but he had refused — he’s going to marry the nurse girl Jin-kyung. Kang-jin won’t leave either, because of Ji-wan — Bu-san explained how she returned and that the two have been dating.
Chun-hee asks Kang-jin, “Are you dating someone?” A little abashed, he answers that he was planning to introduce her officially, to which Chun-hee replies that there’s no need to bring a girl home that he’s just going to date for a short while.
Kang-jin says, “I’m going to marry her.” His mother hesitates, then asks, “What would you do if I opposed your relationship with her?”
Treating the question like a mere hypothetical, Kang-jin keeps his tone light: “Don’t do that, Madam Cha, if you don’t want to see your son die an old bachelor.” With a wink, he goes.
That night, Kang-jin plays Ji-wan a song on guitar. (As if they had to make Kang-jin look even MORE cool!) Bu-san, who holds the phone, marvels that he’s never seen his brother do this before.
Watching with a far more grim expression, however, is Chun-hee. She understands that her children won’t go with her, so she heads off alone. In the morning, Kang-jin sees the note she has left, and learns from Bu-san that Mom had talked about moving away.
Kang-jin runs to the bus station to find his mother, but it’s Jun-su who gets there first. He stops Chun-hee and pulls her off the bus, saying, “Leave tomorrow, with me. If we separate like this, we won’t see each other again. Let’s see each other just a little more.”
Chun-hee shakes her head no. “Live a long time. Even if I hear that you have died, I won’t be able to come.”
Jun-su presses, “Let’s see each other just a little longer, and then no more, okay?”
He gathers Chun-hee to himself in a hug… which is the sight that greets Kang-jin when he arrives at the bus station. Chun-hee opens her eyes to see her son staring at her in shock — and adding yet another complication, Ji-wan is also there, on her way to Seoul for her class.
Jun-su looks up and meets eyes with Kang-jin, but doesn’t see his daughter. It seems he feels a little guilty, but he takes Chun-hee’s arm and leads her away.
This moment is a pretty big shock for both kids, but I suppose it must be worse for Ji-wan, since she hadn’t known anything was wrong in her parents’ marriage. She slumps to the ground, stunned — she can’t do anything but laugh harshly. Kang-jin carefully wraps her in his scarf, feeling doubly pained over her reaction.
With his headaches growing in intensity, Jun-su must know his time is nearing, and he asks to speak with Ji-wan that night. He gives her Oriental medicine books that were passed down to him from his father-in-law (from whom he inherited his practice), telling her to read them.
Unaware of his illness, Ji-wan asks if it’s really okay to give them to her. Jun-su answers that they’ll probably be difficult to understand, “But I can teach…” Remembering that he won’t be around, he cuts himself off, saying that she can ask her professor for help.
Kang-jin trudges back home in a dark mood, and confronts his mother angrily. Seeing that she’s packing food for her sons to eat after she’s gone, he accuses, “So you’re going to leave us and run away? Did you make plans to leave with Ji-wan’s father?” Furiously, he asks why she couldn’t stick to one of the many men who mill around at the tearoom — why did she have to pick a man with a family? He demands, “When will you grow up? When will you come to your senses? How long do I have to coddle you and put up with everything?”
It’s been a long time since Kang-jin has gotten angry with her, and Chun-hee is startled. He says that he won’t let her go, and orders her to unpack.
But now it’s Chun-hee’s turn to talk: “I want to live with the person I love.” She reminds him that those are his words to her — to be with the one you love. She fires back, “If you didn’t have many days left to you, who would you like by your side? If God asked me that, I’d say Han Jun-su, no matter what. I don’t need anyone else.” So what if she’s a horrible person? “Right now, all I can see is Han Jun-su. I don’t need conscience, or you guys. I’m going to go with him.”
Kang-jin realizes that his mother’s feelings run deeper than he had thought. His anger subsides, replaced by frustration, and he stays up all night brooding. However, when he hears Chun-hee leaving in the early morning hours, he doesn’t move to stop her.
He just sits there in his room, unmoving. Hours later, when he finally comes out, he finds Chun-hee sitting on the front step. She’s been there all morning.
Chun-hee: “I can’t go. I’m not going, Kang-jin. I won’t go with Han Jun-su.”
Kang-jin: “Why? You said you’re not afraid of the world censuring or stoning you. You said all that didn’t matter.”
Chun-hee: “If we went, then you guys… what would happen with you and Ji-wan? What about you two?”
For all her brash talk in the heat of the moment, Chun-hee usually does calm down and listen to sense, and today is no different. After seeing her son’s point of view, she can’t bring herself to be the reason for ruining his relationship. She takes off one shoe, wracked with sobs, because this means she’s giving up her last chance to be with Jun-su before he dies.
Moved, Kang-jin’s face trembles as he holds back his own tears, and he kneels in front of her mother to put her foot back into the shoe. His voice breaks as he tells her gently:
Kang-jin: “Go. From a very long time ago, from before we came back to Sancheong, I knew that there was a man in your heart, one you couldn’t forget. Someone who isn’t me, or Bu-san or my father or Bu-san’s father. Was that person Ji-wan’s father? Go. What will happen if you let him go and regret it? What if you live the rest of your life in regret? Go, Mom.”
Ji-wan looks for her father but finds his room empty. Her mother sits alone at his desk with tears on her face, looking at their family portrait, which gives Ji-wan a sense of foreboding. She races to Kang-jin’s place, where he’s sitting numbly outside.
Nervously, she asks if his mother is also gone, half-afraid to hear the answer. Kang-jin doesn’t respond, but she can sense the truth in his pained expression, and she starts to run off to find her father. Kang-jin grabs her arm, holding her back.
Growing more anxious, Ji-wan insists on searching for her father and tries to break free, but his firm grip won’t let go. Guessing the truth, Ji-wan asks, “Did my father and your mother leave together? Why didn’t you stop them? You’re strong, why didn’t you hold her back? What about my mother?”
Slowly, she sinks to the ground in defeat. “What about me and my mom? What now?” Kang-jin can only look at her miserably.
As Jun-su and Chun-hee sit in the parked car outside the bus station, she tells him to go home — she’ll go alone. Like I said, Chun-hee may pout about wanting the selfish choice, but when it comes down to it, she picks the noble(r) one.
Jun-su answers, “I’m sorry. For not being able to go that far with you.” She replies, “It’s okay. I’m thankful you came this far with me. I won’t forget the kindness.”
She forces a pleasant smile on her face, trying to leave things on a positive note, but that smile fades when he says, “Even in the next life, let’s not meet.”
At home, Young-sook spots something Jun-su has left behind, which she picks up with trembling hands. Clutching his lighter, she breaks down in earnest.
After waiting inside the station for her departure, Chun-hee prepares to catch her bus. When she walks out, she smiles to see Jun-su still parked outside, asleep in his car. But then a thought occurs to her, filling her with dread, and she runs to his car window. She bangs on the glass and shouts for him to open it, but gets no response. Through the window, she sees his hand slip — as though losing the last bit of life — and her sobs grow wilder.
Kang-jin takes Ji-wan home, the mood between them strained. She’s silent and hurt, still angry at him for not stopping their parents, and he gives her some distance. But the nurse, Jin-kyung, bursts out of the house screaming about a fire, frantic because Young-sook is still inside.
Ji-wan lurches to go inside to save her mother, but Kang-jin holds Ji-wan back. Urging Jin-kyung to keep her away from the house, he rushes inside and finds Young-sook collapsed on the ground. He carries her out.
Thankfully it seems she has escaped major injury, and at the hospital, Young-sook slowly wakes up. To Ji-wan’s relief, her mother smiles to see her, then looks over at Kang-jin standing behind Ji-wan. Young-sook’s smile grows even wider.
Happily, Young-sook calls out, “Ji-yong. Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you. Come here, my son.”
Startled, Kang-jin looks around the room. And then the realization sinks in.
Kang-jin’s voiceover: “I don’t know why I thought of the mountain cabin then. Why, in that moment, did I think of our incomplete blueprint? I still don’t know.”
We see the happy couple just a few days before, cheerfully planning out their future home and their children’s rooms.
Fade to white…
…and we return three years later.
Kang-jin stands in front of a lecture hall, talking about the design of traditional Korean-style houses, comparing their appeal to the warmth of a mother’s embrace. As he wraps up, he asks for questions, and one woman raises her hand. It’s Woo-jung.
She voices her disagreement with his comparison: “Say, for instance, a completely awesome man like you were to propose to me. But if you suggested we marry and live in a Korean-style house, I’d be really conflicted and probably decline in the end.” She argues that the houses are uncomfortable and cold in winter, so she’d rather live alone as a spinster in an apartment.
Kang-jin tells his class that those are the same reasons that construction companies give up the idea of building more Korean-style homes. Isn’t that sad? This is an issue they will have to figure out how to address.
He thanks Woo-jung for the question, but asks a follow-up question: “If you were really with the one you loved, I’d think that you wouldn’t be cold in a Korean house, or even an igloo.”
The students ahhh — the hot professor is waxing romantic! He tells them, “Winter is cold, but let’s love passionately.”
Woo-jung and Kang-jin sit down for coffee, joined mid-conversation by Jae-hyun. Woo-jung has been living abroad, and this is their first time seeing each other in years. She only returned to Korea last week, and hilariously, Kang-jin chokes on his coffee when she comments that he’s gotten even more handsome.
When she starts to fill him in on her life, Jae-hyun interrupts to tell him the facts plainly (without any sugarcoating): Woo-jung was disowned, fired, and financially cut off. Her father even struck her out of the family registry.
She didn’t want him to know about all that — at least not told in such stark terms — but she attempts to brush it aside and keep the tone light. But when Kang-jin similarly says that his career is doing all right, Jae-hyun butts in to return the favor. Kang-jin has been blocked at every turn by Bumseo Group; the company has interfered and told everyone not to work with him.
Both Woo-jung and Kang-jin try to laugh it off, not wanting to wallow in self-pity. He tells her that even if Bumseo enjoys stepping on people, he isn’t the type to let someone step on him like that, so he’s been okay.
He gets up to go, and she asks cautiously about Ji-wan. Kang-jin merely smiles at her without responding, and leaves.
Ji-wan is, at the moment, having a heated confrontation at the hospital where she works. She’s offended that a man (debt collector?) would come to demand money from a sick patient and calls into question his status as a human being. Fired up in indignation, she has to be held back by doctor colleagues. (A passing comment about the failure of her first love suggests that she and Kang-jin haven’t been in touch.)
Apparently, this isn’t the first time she has been in a situation like this, and her boss reprimands her for her behavior. Does she think she’s a gangster? She’s fired.
Watching with some amusement is Tae-joon. He doesn’t approach her, but instead walks off with one of the doctors. He’s here on a work-related matter to discuss a hospital design project.
Kang-jin arrives outside a house which bears the sign “Cha & Seo Architecture House.” (Seo refers to Jae-hyun.)
Kang-jin enters the office area, where a woman is seated at the kitchen table preparing some food. He announces that he’s back, and she turns to greet him with a happy smile: “Oh, Ji-yong!”
My initial impulse when I read “Three years later” was to roll my eyes (again?), but I’m actually relieved. Reason being: Ji-yong died in 1998, so adult Ji-wan and Kang-jin met in 2006. They separated for a year, so the proposal happened in 2007. That means that we are now in 2010. No more time jumps!
Despite my wariness of the time-skip device, I will defend its application here. I hate it most when it’s used only once in a series in a last (or almost-last) episode. If you have created a story that unfolds at a regular pace, then shoot forward in the last episode to allow Time to wrap up your loose ends, I will usually be dissatisfied with the result. (Case in point: My Girl.) However, Will It Snow For Christmas has leapt forward a few times already. This puts the emphasis on the development of Kang-jin and Ji-wan’s relationship over the years, rather than purely on the angst.
For the first half of this episode, I was starting to think that everything was getting too predictable. The way the story was going, we’d have to address the turmoil that would arise after the kids discovered their parents’ relationship. Then when Jun-su dies, there’s the grief that must follow. Same with Young-sook’s delusion about Kang-jin being her dead son.
Therefore, with the time jump, we preserve the emotional suspense but thankfully get to skip over the other stuff — not that grief and turmoil would be boring, but there’s just no surprise there. It would be necessary but tedious, and it’s not the emotional terrain we want to explore here. The writer has employed this kind of dramatic shorthand throughout the drama, and it’s something I appreciate. There is one main story that drives this drama for me, and to focus on the other stuff would slow the pace way down and get in the way. These characters should experience those reactions and stages of grief, but it doesn’t mean we have to watch them on camera.
I’m just thankful that we got a really adorable first half (okay, third) of an episode that let Kang-jin and Ji-wan be happy. I knew they’d be getting more tribulations thrown their way, but each separation follows an advancement in their relationship, so at least they’re not going back to zero. They may face constant setbacks, but I can bear them because it’s like they take two steps forward, and one back — I’m fine as long as the net total is movement forward.
Also, since I mentioned it up top: The conversation that reminded me of the song was the last one between Jun-su and Chun-hee, where he wishes that they not meet again. The last line of the song conveys that same sentiment; the song looks back on the 1,000 days that the singer was with his love, but the relationship ultimately ended painfully. He sings, “Even in the next lifetime, let’s not meet again.”
(Gossip! There’s speculation that the song is written about the singer Lee Seung-hwan’s ex-girlfriend, Shin Ae-ra; she later married Cha In-pyo, and Lee went on to marry (and divorce) Chae Rim. This song was a huge hit back when it was released in 1995, and I’ll go ahead and call it one of the greatest (The Greatest?) kpop ballads ever. It’s been remade at least several times, but this version is boss. I LOVED Lee Seung-hwan back in the day; he was one of very few singers who would perform live rather than lip-synch, and when he sang on music broadcasts, programs added the note “LIVE” to give him extra credit.)
Anyway, although the line conveys a sad sentiment, it also reinforces just how powerful their love really was. It was so strong that It would hurt too much to live through its failure again.
I enjoyed the surprise at the end of the episode, because just when things were starting to feel predictable, it really added a fresh jolt of energy into the story. WTF is going on with Ji-wan’s mother? Since she was holding a lighter, I’m pretty sure she set that house on fire, but did the shock addle her mind? Where is Chun-hee? Is Kang-jin taking care of Young-sook for Ji-wan’s sake? Or to assuage his guilt, because he has now been linked to two great losses in her life?
- Go Soo: “I didn’t know this role would be this painful”
- Will It Snow For Christmas: Episode 10
- Will It Snow For Christmas: Episode 9
- Will It Snow For Christmas: Episode 8
- Will It Snow For Christmas: Episode 7
- Will It Snow For Christmas: Episode 6
- Will It Snow For Christmas: Episode 5
- Will It Snow For Christmas: Episode 4
- Will It Snow For Christmas: Episode 3
- Will It Snow For Christmas: Episodes 1-2