Thousand Day Promise: Episode 12
Phew! Thank goodness for another episode that’s heavy on the happy, and (relatively) low on the misery. After yesterday’s cheerier turn, I was afraid that we’d be back to gloomytown since they’d gotten some lighter moments. But that would’ve killed me, because their taste of happiness is still so fleeting in context of the bigger picture. In that sense, this drama is doing a very good job of driving in the message of enjoying the good moments while you’ve got them, because now every smile, every laugh, every loving encounter seems precious and loaded with meaning.
SONG OF THE DAY
Sung Shi-kyung – “한번의 사랑” from the Thousand Day Promise OST. [ Download ]
EPISODE 12 RECAP
The happy couple meets with Jae-min, who adopts a paternal presence and says he’d been sure Seo-yeon would make Ji-hyung give up somehow. She smiles and leans in close to Ji-hyung, whispering the words that the devil on her shoulder said: “You have a right to be happy too.” So she took the devil’s hand.
Ji-hyung declares that he’s taking over Jae-min’s role in taking care of Seo-yeon, which Jae-min is now happy to hand over to him. They shake on it.
Jae-min comes home to find his parents on their way out, and gives them the good news. Just like that, he tells them Seo-yeon is getting married, which has his parents so flustered that Aunt (er, Mom) heads back inside and drags her husband with her, plans canceled.
After the initial shock, Aunt is thrilled and pumps Jae-min for information, pleased when he describes the groom as “an outstanding guy.” Meanwhile, Ding-dong (er, Ji-min) runs to the bakery to tell his parents what he’s overheard. Both are shocked, but it’s Myung-hee who tears out of there and sprints home with her ajumma run.
Watching Aunt react to the news is like a roller coaster, because she’s excited one second, then glum when Jae-min shares the part about the groom’s family opposition, but cheery again when she figures the couple will be fine, then teary as she exclaims, “That pitiful girl has this fortune, at least!”
Jae-min tells his parents that Ji-hyung is heading over to give his respects, sending his mother into a flurry of panicked activity. Food! Laundry! Cleaning!
Myung-hee bursts in and demands to know if it’s true. Jae-min answers her barrage of questions with a simple, “Yes, it’s Park Ji-hyung,” and that’s enough to get her mouth flapping uselessly, stunned speechless. Alas, just for a second. She can’t believe — not that guy — with the doctor parents — it’s gotta be a joke, right? Jae-min confirms it and she stews in her inferiority complex.
Ji-hyung and Seo-yeon arrive bearing gifts, and despite Ji-hyung’s posturing about being strong enough to carry the heavy stuff on his own, they end up holding the monster fruit basket together, which is cute.
They laugh their way up the hill, as he says he’d rather carry her up the steps since her “kill heels” always worry him. In fact, he wants to get rid of all her heels once they’re married, and she balks until he offers to pay her back. Okay then, but he owes her double. He smiles at the memory, saying he’s glad she wore them to impress him, and she points out that he complained the whole time. Heh, well here’s a case where it really is the thought that counts.
Aunt accepts Ji-hyung’s bow happily, and gets tearful as she expresses her relief. She had been so worried for Seo-yeon’s future, and urges her to be happy.
Aunt’s joy and tears are touchingly sincere, and I wonder if it hadn’t hit Seo-yeon just how much her aunt loved her, and how hard it was to watch them maintain a respectful distance. She loves them like her own children, but Seo-yeon has always been so conscious of her pride and kept her relatives at arm’s distance lest she be considered a freeloader, paying for her keep and working for everything.
Myung-hee comes in with coffee and kills the mood (so what else is new?), sniping at Seo-yeon for keeping her relationship a secret for a year: “She made us all into fools!” Jae-min argues, “So what?” Myung-hee uses her mother as her excuse to complain, saying that Mom’s worked so hard trying to find Seo-yeon potential matches, and the whole fuss could’ve been avoided.
Myung-hee throws a few more veiled insults at Seo-yeon, then turns to leave with a totally insincere, “Anyway, congratulations.” I love Aunt for her response: She flies at Myung-hee and hits her in the back, screeching, “What kind of congratulations is that?” Haha.
But I suppose it’s not really a funny scene, because Mom has just taken her daughter to task in front of a guest, which is doubly humiliating for Myung-hee. Not that she doesn’t deserve the rebuke, because she has crossed the line so long ago she probably can’t even see it anymore, but it adds to her hurt feelings.
Myung-hee screams and sobs, saying Mom never took her side, and finally Dad raises his voice and tells them to cut it out. Dad leaves for work, the men see him out, and Aunt sits with Seo-yeon to apologize for the outburst. She assures her not to worry about the groom’s family, and encourages her to be happy with her husband.
Next it’s off to see Moon-kwon at his convenience store job. Who could’ve guessed that there’d be a scene in this drama that could double for a toothpaste commercial?
Meanwhile, while the three parents on Team Death To Ex-Groom golf together, Ji-hyung’s mother, aka the one with a heart, stays home. Hyang-gi comes by with homemade soup for her, hearing that she wasn’t feeling so well.
Hyang-gi and Ji-hyung’s mother go for a walk, and Hyang-gi confides that she finds it comfortable to be with her. She even prefers their house to her own, with her own demanding mother never being satisfied with her. Ji-hyung’s mother tells her it’s not that her mother dislikes Hyang-gi, but that she basically wants a mini-me. Now there’s a frightening thought. It brings to mind images of a tiny Lee Mi-sook running around creating havoc like an imp, shrieking at people and cutting random cords with tiny scissors, and maybe running them into your shins. Where’s that drama?
Hyang-gi asks about Ji-hyung, admitting that she’d like to call him, but doesn’t want to burden him. She sighs that she wishes he’d just text her once in a while, even if just to ask if she’s okay, but “He must have forgotten that I exist already.” Mom faces her with an Oh, honey look on her face and tells her it’s so she can get over him quickly.
It’s like Hyang-gi’s convinced herself that she doesn’t expect more, all while hoping for a miracle, or maybe a personality transplant. That he’ll wake up and realize he loves her after all. That’s clear in the way she clings to hope, and reminds Mom that he accepted the cookies she gave him. Ji-hyung’s mother has to remind her that she said he treated her like a sibling, and entreats, “Forget him. There’s no space for you in his heart. End it now. The most painful thing in the world is a once-sided love. Don’t do it.”
The words shake Hyang-gi, perhaps getting through to her in a way that nobody else’s words have. But maybe she needs another push, because Ji-hyung’s mother drops the big bomb, that Ji-hyung intends to marry. She doesn’t approve and his father is unaware, but there you have it. Mom offers to break the news to Hyang-gi’s mother while Hyang-gi cries and says, “My mother…will have a fit.” That’s the nice way of saying it.
Seo-yeon invites Ji-hyung in to her apartment and unpacks groceries while explaining to him how happy and comfortble she and Moon-kwon were to move here, to have their own home. Ji-hyung comes behind her to hug her, and she warns him that this isn’t the place for that, since her brother could come home at any minute. Ji-hyung tells her he wasn’t planning anything more than a hug, but she says that it’s because she wouldn’t want to stop with a mere hug. Rawr. That revs his motor, and he grabs her hand and asks, “Where’s your room? Is it that one? It’s that one, right?” Hehe.
She resumes with the groceries, cheerfully posting up her “Foods for Dementia” list and adds, “But for our lunch…” She stops short, then picks up that misplaced train of thought, “We ate already.” I like the matter-of-fact way Ji-hyung handles her lapse, adding, “At Aunt’s, with Jae-min.” It’s nice that the men in Seo-yeon’s life react to her illness with a conspicuous lack of hysteria — it’s refreshing. (Those dramatics, I fear, will be supplied enough by Aunt.)
She falters when looking for the green tea, forgetting which cabinet it’s in. She remembers at the last minute and pours herself a cup, but accidentally spills the scalding water on her hand. In a flash, Ji-hyung’s at her side, running her hand under cold water and preparing a cold compress, worried and just a wee bit overreacting. About halfway through this procedure, Seo-yeon calms and watches him fuss over her, and when he wants to take her to the hospital, she outright bursts into laughter. Her: “Are you going to be like this every time?” Him: “Are you going to pour hot water on your hand every day?”
She assures him she’s fine, although he’s not convinced, and she tells him out of the blue, “I’m going to kiss you. I want to.” She hugs him and says, “I love you. I’m sorry. Thank you. I want to say it while I think of it, and not push it till tomorrow. I might not think of it tomorrow. I love you, I’m sorry, thank you.”
It’s a bit emotional for him and he tells her not to talk this way, but she continues, “Even if I don’t say these words again and become dumb, be understanding. Even if I’m not me, my heart will remember you.”
Ji-hyung: “I was a coward. Because I was, I turned away from you. I’m sorry. Don’t forgive me — you don’t have to forgive me, Seo-yeon.”
Seo-yeon, Moon-kwon, and Ji-hyung sit down for dinner, and she tells her brother that they’ll all be moving soon, and that preparations are nearly complete. He protests, preferring to stay here and not get in the way of the newlyweds, but she appeals to his sensitive nature by teasing, “You’re not just saying that because you’re tired of me and want to foist me off on him, are you?”
Seo-yeon’s jokes are understandable and it’s refreshing that she’s so frank, even if it’s disguised as jest, especially after hiding her condition for so long. But it’s also a bit gut-twisting every time she says something darkly amusing and the men in her life look stricken. For instance, Ji-hyung praises her cooking by saying that smart people are often good cooks, and she says lightly, “Am I smart? Is that why my brain going to ruin, because it’s too smart?”
At Aunt’s, the family gathers around a cake and sing Dad happy birthday. Myung-hee’s husband stumbles in drunk and in a rage, shocking everyone by kicking things over. The normally affable husband orders his wife to pack their bags ’cause they’re moving out. Myung-hee thinks this is just drunk babble, but he announces that this is how he really feels, and he’s been holding it all in all this while.
Okay, this scene starts out serious but becomes comical because of everyone’s unfortunate tendency to mutter one last comment that ignites the flame just as it’s about to die out. Seriously, it’s a hoot. Turns out that Husband is upset that Mother-in-Law embarrassed Wife earlier and hit her, and in front of Cousin’s Bridegroom, at that. (That gets Myung-hee to stop arguing with him, at least.) It’s almost sweet how he declares that she can’t treat Myung-hee like that…until he adds that it’s because Wife is his (read: property, chattel, minion, what have you) to manage, not Mother-in-Law.
Mother-in-Law retorts that she’s Myung-hee’s mother, a never-changing condition, compared to a spousal relationship that can be dissolved. Plus, Myung-hee was rude enough to merit the discipline, as far as she’s concerned. Finally Father-in-Law intervenes, which you know means everybody’s crossed a zillion lines because he always tries to remain far out of the mother-daughter hysterics. And when Husband starts to argue with him, Myung-hee slaps him upside the head — he can argue with Mom, but not Dad, especially not in this condition.
Aunt tells Husband to sober up and then talk, then tosses out the backhanded insult about him not being brought up right, and that gets him right back in their faces, demanding, “Did you just insult my mother?” Oh lordy. You people.
Seo-yeon sees Ji-hyung out, the lovers reluctant to part ways. She stops him to remind him to drive safely, and he laughs it off. But she tells him that you never know: “I’m really happy right now, but that happiness scares me. What if the devil who gave me this curse gets angry and steals you away from me?”
He promises to drive safely, and goes. She watches his car drive away, and thinks:
Seo-yeon: “You can’t have everything in life. From the start, I couldn’t have parents. But I still considered myself fortunate, better than the child who has no parents and no living aunt. Before I came to love him, I wanted nothing other than to find financial stability. Was the devil’s curse of Alzheimer’s to a 30-year-old too cruel a punishment in God’s eyes? The man I couldn’t have no matter how much I wanted him has taken my hand to be my one and only man. As I laugh and enjoy happiness with the man who is ruined because of me, while I’m still myself as Lee Seo-yeon, with the time that’s left to me, with all my strength, with all my heart, I want to love and be happy.”
Seo-yeon gets ready for bed, takes her medicine, and continues:
Seo-yeon: “What I must do from here on out is to delay my illness as much as possible, to do everything possible. To take my medicine, eat tofu, drink milk and cabbage juice. So that I can remain myself for one more day in front of my man.”
Problems arise at work, with a discrepancy in a book printing order. It turns out that another employee made the error, but it doesn’t stop us — or Seo-yeon, of course — from feeling that jerk of fear in the moments before we realize it wasn’t the fault of her Alzheimer’s. She thinks to herself of how many times every day she deals with that sinking feeling, worrying whether something is her fault. “How much farther can I go?” Her doctor says she can keep this up longer, but she wonders.
Wedding preparations near their end, and Ji-hyung’s mother calls to ask how things are. Ji-hyung informs her that the wedding is scheduled for this Saturday, and she asks about the details in a pained voice. Hearing about the small, quick affair makes her burst out — she’s not really upset about that, but it’s what breaks the dam — and Mom says brokenly that she’d hoped he wasn’t really going to do it, that although it’s a horrible thing to say of Seo-yeon, she wished he’d just live with her for a while.
Ji-hyung’s disappointed in her reaction and tells her not to take his feelings too lightly: “I’m not just playing at being the nice guy.” What kills me, though, is her anguish at her son taking part in a wedding that needs absolutely nothing from her, one she can’t be happy about or congratulate him on.
Ji-hyung calls Seo-yeon to tell her he’s running late for their meeting, and she tells him he doesn’t have to come pick out curtains with her because Aunt will be with her. He asks why she didn’t tell him earlier, and she replies, “I forgot. Did you forget who you’re dealing with here? I’m a dementia patient.” He catches on before she does, asking if she can talk about that so freely at work, and Seo-yeon belatedly realizes her slip.
Looking around, her co-workers are studiously pretending they didn’t hear, although they all look alarmed at the mention. Seo-yeon smoothly covers, saying that it’s okay because everyone knows it’s a joke. That relieves the tension, and the co-workers joke that everyone here is dealing with dementia.
Aunt and Myung-hee unpack gifts at the newlyweds’ apartment, where Myung-hee all but dies from envy. Finally she has to admit that Seo-yeon has scored the good life with the rich fiance and the fancy home. Her mother reminds her that the groom’s parents are still opposed to the match, and Myung-hee gripes, “What if they relent? You want me to die of indignation, right here?” Or, you know, you could try being happy for once.
But no, she’s the superficial one, and she even objects to the plate set that Aunt is giving the couple, which is the same one she gave Myung-hee, who now objects — it’s too cheap, it doesn’t belong in this home, it’ll humiliate her.
Seo-yeon heads to the work bathroom with her toothbrush kit, on which she’s actually taken to marking down the number of times she’s brushed her teeth today. Oy, that little detail gets me, more than all the crying and yelling. So stark and real, this proof of her illness in the midst of all the happy cheer.
There’s no need to brush, so Seo-yeon freshens up her makeup while her co-worker enters a stall, only to ask if she forgot to flush the toilet. Startled, Seo-yeon says defensively that she didn’t use that stall, rattled because she genuinely can’t remember.
I still don’t think that this show is making nearly as much use of Kim Rae-won as it could, and should, but at least we got to see him smiling more, and starting to take on the role of caretaker. As girlfriday mentioned yesterday, we do need to see them actually working together as a couple to understand why anybody would love him to such an extent, because Mopey and Dopey weren’t cutting it.
The laughably short (and mostly irrelevant) scene with the three indifferent parents — what shall we call them? Three Musketeers? Amigos? Stooges? — seems like one of those things stuck in to make use of contracted actors, but on the upside, if it means more time with Seo-yeon’s family, I’ll gladly forego Lee Mi-sook’s brash hilarity. Kim Hae-sook’s character is wonderful and nuanced enough to fulfill the tortured parent quotient, and I continue to be fascinated by her. I respect that she’s honest about her own conflicted feelings, and that she sees herself as a mother first. And while most characters in her mold — the rich groom’s parents opposing the marriage with the poor heroine — would write off the heroine as a gold digger or inferior human being, Ji-hyung’s mother gives her her due.
I also love what we’re seeing from Seo-yeon’s aunt, who’s got complexity of her own. Her reactions to the wedding news were simultaneously hilarious (happy to sad to ecstatic to worried, all in the span of two seconds) and heartbreaking, because it’s so apparent that she loves Seo-yeon and wants to do more for her. She’s always done more for her, but out of respect for Seo-yeon’s feelings, she’s forced herself to pull back, and you know that kills her. But that’s what a parent does, isn’t it? You put the child’s needs above your own, and smile and count your blessings and show them you love them every time they’ll let you.
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 11
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 10
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 9
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 8
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 7
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 6
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 5
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 4
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 3
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 2
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 1
- Thousand Day Promise’s poster and trailer