Thousand Day Promise: Episode 9
Yay, we’re back to the core characters now that the wedding hullabaloo has died down. We focus on Seo-yeon and her oppa and dongseng who break my heart with their perfection, and her relationship with Ji-hyung, which continues to be a battle between Stubborn and Bull-Headed. I’m not even sure I know which side I’m rooting for, just that I’d like the winner to win now, please.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Jae-min comes by on his way home from work to check on Seo-yeon, insisting that he just wanted to see her. Aw. She knows it’s really because he wants to nag her about taking her meds, but he’s so sweet about it that she can’t really help but smile.
They sit on the swings and he asks how she is, to which she snarks that he ought to know, considering that the two men in her life (the brothers) are so chatty with each other. She’s talking about the pictures that she requested of Moon-kwon, since losing her way home.
Jae-min thinks that it was just a momentary lapse, but Seo-yeon is more realistic on that front, having come to accept that what is a momentary lapse now can turn into a daily problem, for her and for everyone around her.
He tells her to take her meds, over and over. She agrees to, but only verbally, and a little too easily at that, and he’s smart enough to know she’s just trying to get him to back off. But she assures him that her point of surrender is close, and asks for a little more time.
He says that Ji-hyung called to ask after her, and when he was told to back off, he did. She jokes that it’s disappointing that he gave up so easily. Jae-min wonders if it’s really over between them, if he skipped out on his wedding for her, and she calls it stupidity. “I think I’m not the only one with dementia.” Ha.
Jae-min asks if she wants to take a trip this weekend, and she laughs, calling him pathetic for not having a girlfriend and going on weekend trips with his little sister. He says that they should take Moon-kwon and go somewhere, and she agrees to think about it. They’re so cute.
She comes home to a worried Moon-kwon on the verge of tears, asking where she went, why she didn’t leave a note, why she didn’t take her phone. She tells him that she just stepped outside, and that she’ll leave notes from now on.
She thinks if he’s already getting this angry, it’s going to be a long road ahead for when she really loses her mind, but he calms down and insists he was just worried. He hands over her phone with a message about work, and then as she’s talking with the fridge door open, she sticks her phone inside and leaves it there.
Aunt comes by with some more food, cheerily chastising herself for forgetting to bring a stew over, saying that Uncle will say she’s gone senile again. The words sting Seo-yeon but she plasters on a smile.
And then Aunt discovers her phone sitting in the fridge, and she jokes that she can’t be acting like an old person already. That look in Seo-yeon’s eye every time she’s caught in a lapse is so panic-underneath-calm, it makes my heart sink.
Later she pieces together her route home with the photographs from Moon-kwon, numbering them systematically and studying them carefully. Guh, her attempts to order her life before accepting her fate are just crushing.
She gets through another workday without incident, and a coworker asks if she’s had a recent breakup, because that’s what everyone’s assuming is up with her mood. She denies it and rushes out before any more questions come flying.
As she walks down the street, she thinks to herself in voiceover:
Seo-yeon: If only I could go somewhere where no one knows who I am, sleep as if I’m dead for a few days… and then stop breathing, just like that. And yet every day I come to work. I speak when I have to speak. Laugh when I have to laugh. Some moments I feel like a hollow shell floating along. Other times like a newborn baby beast without a shell, hurting, searing.
Suddenly she stops in her tracks. Ji-hyung is standing up ahead, waiting for her. She doesn’t budge so he approaches. He tells her that he has something to say, that he knew she wouldn’t take his calls. “I thought I was going to die, I missed you so much.”
Her face changes the second he’s near her. Her eyes fill with tears, and though she says nothing other than okay, the way she looks up at him is so full of longing, it kind of kills me.
They drive in silence and her tears start to fall. He tries to comfort her but she pushes his hand away. He tries to give her a handkerchief, but she rejects that too. By now she’s in full-blown tears, growing angrier by the second at herself for crying.
I hate that feeling—when the last thing you want to do is cry in front of someone, but the tears won’t stop coming. It feels like they burn your pride with each drop.
At their officetel, he cuts right to the chase: “Let’s get married.” He tells her he’s found an apartment close to her aunt’s house, that all she’ll have to do is pack her computer and Moon-kwon, that he wants them to be together.
She decides that stone-headed is too good a descriptor for him, and decides he’s bird-brained. He repeats over and over, “I love you. I love you.”
Tears fill her eyes. (She can do that thing that always used to amaze me when Buffy did it—the way some people can fill their eyes halfway up with tears, like a little glass teacup, before any of them spill out.)
She says that if she were fine and normal, then she’d jump at this chance, without hesitation. She’d leave everything behind, even Moon-kwon, and run off with him and accept all manner of grief from his parents, just like the tv dramas she hates. She admits that everything she did before was to protect her pride, because she thought his choice was inevitable. But now that she’s sick, it’s all changed.
Seo-yeon: “From the moment I found out what you did, do you know how much I wanted to see you like crazy, how much I missed you? Like a crazy woman, in her bare feet, I wanted to run to you, to hold you, to touch you.”
She says she even thought about giving in and living with him for a week and then dropping dead, or just for a year. “Marriage? What will you do if I just say yes?” He says it again, that they should marry.
Ji-hyung: Let’s hurry and be together, and use each day like a thousand pieces of gold. [“A thousand pieces of gold” is a common expression to describe a sudden fortune.]
Ack, finally! What a way to say it—that their remaining time is suddenly precious, a fortune that comes from nowhere, so they should use it, spend it daily. I love that.
She smiles through her tears. “The words are enough. Thank you. I’m happy. For all the days I’ll remember you, I’ll be happy.” But she tells him still to leave her behind. “Even the heavens will understand.”
He gets up to protest. Seo-yeon: “What, a love like fate? There’s no such thing.” Ji-hyung: “Just lean on me. You can do that.” But she can’t, or rather won’t let herself. She rattles off all the things that could’ve/should’ve/would’ve happened if she’d gone to the doctor later, or if Jae-min had taken him to a different restaurant that night, or better yet… if they’d never met that day in the gallery.
She tells him to ask his fiancée (whom she calls “the nice girl”) for forgiveness and marry her. He pulls her into a hug. “I know why you’re pushing me away. But I’m not going to let you go.” Oh yeah, three cheers for the hero, making up for lost time spent in wishywashyville.
He drops her off near home, winning one battle (that she not take a taxi), but losing another (that they eat together). He tells her about the apartment he got, a rental. She snaps at him for doing all that, for not even considering what his parents would say.
He doesn’t so much care about that anymore, though he doesn’t get into the specifics about his fallout with Dad. He says he didn’t know what she meant to him because he was stupid. Seo-yeon replies, “Then continue to be stupid!” Hahahaha.
She leaves him staring off at her, just helpless to do anything to change her mind. He watches as Moon-kwon comes bounding up to meet her and walk her home.
Moon-kwon assumes of course that she’s coming from the bus stop, and adorably makes an excuse about wanting to stretch his legs from studying all day. She says it feels like winter already, and he rushes to take off his jacket for her. Aw.
Seriously, between the oppa and the dongseng, it’s just unreal how good they are. It’s nice that she’s got that cosmic balance somehow, that she’s surrounded by such good family. Because otherwise her fate would be unbearable, even for us.
Moon-kwon makes dinner for them, and then timidly brings up their weekend trip to the mountains. She makes excuses that she’s got work, but he presses her to go, and to discuss it with Jae-min.
Jae-min gets a call from Ji-hyung, on his way after dropping Seo-yeon off. Ji-hyung asks if Aunt and Uncle know about her condition, and declares that he’s going to take her away, to marry her. Oh, okay then. Shouldn’t you maybe get her to say yes first?
That’s news to Jae-min, and he asks if Seo-yeon agreed. Of course she didn’t, but Ji-hyung says he’s going to do it, even if he has to hogtie and kidnap her. Okay, now I’m back to disliking you.
Jae-min says he’s clearly not in his right mind either, and yells at him to back off. Now they’re both screaming at each other, and Ji-hyung says that he can’t do nothing, that he can’t have broken his engagement to do nothing. Well that’s a load of horseshit. Life isn’t a checkbook balance. You can’t just swap out one bride for another. Doofus.
Jae-min gets so riled up he doesn’t notice that his mom has entered the room behind him, and he yells at Ji-hyung to stop interfering and saying crazy things, and making life harder for her. He hangs up angrily.
Mom asks what could possibly make him so angry, and advises that he stop getting so involved in his friend’s matters. If only it were that easy. Seo-yeon texts him that she can’t do the weekend trip because of work, and he asks her to meet him for a morning hike instead then.
Ji-hyung comes home to find a basket of cookies on his doorstep, with a note from Hyang-gi. He calls and asks to see her. Aw man, you’re not going to drag her feelings along by being nice to her forever, are you? Over dinner she says that Mom and Dad went to Singapore and today was her first venture outside the house. She asks hesitantly about the other woman, how she’s doing.
She asks if the other woman is pretty. Ji-hyung answers honestly that she isn’t prettier than Hyang-gi. She thinks he’s being nice to her but then realizes that he’s not, and that if he loved someone who wasn’t prettier than her, it’s more sincere. Oh, honey, if I could just scoop up some pride or self-worth and give it to you, I would. You’re taking pathetic to new and astounding heights.
It does kill me though, that despite knowing it’s useless and pathetic, she’s just still so obviously in love with him. GAH. And then just when I’m screaming at him for being nice to her, he recalls his mother’s words about how he’s going to take all the punishment for what he’s doing to Hyang-gi, that just because he can’t see her heart ripping to shreds in front of him, that it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
Seo-yeon paces back and forth at home, distraught over something. She paces from room to room, finally tearing apart the kitchen looking for something. Moon-kwon comes running out and she demands her bottle of wine, accusing him of drinking it all.
He assures her that he never touches her liquor, and then tries to tell her that it’s not good for her to drink. She explodes, demanding it right this instant, and he caves and takes it out from his hiding place… the veggie drawer in the fridge? Augh, that’s not a red, is it? Augh.
She slams down a glass and he pours a little in. She demands more. More. She finally grabs the bottle from his hands and pours half of it out into the one glass. Now a little calmer, she tells him that nothing’s going to happen to her, not yet.
She says bitterly that she’d rather it come all at once, that she’d fall asleep one day and then wake up stupid, rather than this slow torture. She downs the glass as Moon-kwon watches, the terror creeping into his eyes. She reaches again to finish off the rest, but he protests, and this time she relents, “Okay. I’m sorry.” Poor puppy Moon-kwon. Little Bro needs a big hug.
The next morning she tells Jae-min about the proposal. Without judgment, he asks what she wants to do, what she sincerely wants, without regard for anything else. (Why so perfect, Oppa?) She laughs and wonders if she should really marry him, and assures him that she’s not that far gone yet.
Ji-hyung comes home to pack up the rest of his clothes, and accidentally runs into Dad, who’s gotten a late start that morning. Mom tries to smooth things over, saying that even Hyang-gi’s house isn’t this antagonistic anymore, and Dad just spits that it’s because they don’t have a child who betrayed his parents in their house.
She says it’s suffocating, and he replies that it’s her price to pay for raising a child in that manner. Oh WOW. Way to pass the buck, Dad. Even evil mastermind bad daddies aren’t this evil.
Mom comes in to assure Ji-hyung that it’ll pass with time, but then he breaks the news that he’s going to marry Seo-yeon, that he’s got an apartment ready. Now it’s Mom’s turn to flip out, wondering if she really did raise him wrong.
She says that she had planned to take his side, to accept the woman he turned everything upside down for, because he chose her. But marriage, now? She tells him there’s not a chance in hell he could bring up marriage in anything less than a year’s time.
But he tells her that time is precious, that he can’t waste it, that there’s an extenuating circumstance. She jumps to the most logical conclusion, that she’s pregnant. She asks if she was already pregnant, if that’s why he did all this. He swears that’s not it, and promises to tell her later.
Meanwhile, Myung-hee comes running into the bakery calling for her husband, to take Dad to the hospital. Jae-min and Seo-yeon are there having coffee after their hike, and Jae-min rushes to get the car.
Seo-yeon goes outside to find Aunt and Uncle arguing, or rather Aunt yelling at Uncle, for being so stubborn. He basically let a corn on his foot grow to some enormous size so that now he walks with a limp, and never said anything to anyone until it got so bad that he has to go to the hospital now.
Aunt can’t understand for the life of her why someone would act that way, and Seo-yeon watches them with a heavy heart, knowing she’s doing exactly that. Jae-min takes them away, and then Myung-hee gets in another jab about Moon-kwon taking all the high school customers over to the convenience store.
On her way home, Seo-yeon thinks in voiceover, directed at her unni, that she knows she resents the attention that Aunt gave Seo-yeon growing up, because of her circumstance. But she pleads with her to let it go, to take the thorns out, that she’s sick now. Sigh, if only she would say those things aloud.
Ji-hyung calls to tell her that he told his mother about her, that he’ll speak to her aunt and uncle, and that all she has to do is follow him. She demands he come meet her at once.
As her final line of defense, she lays out how bad it’s really gotten—the photos of her route home, the notes with her name, number, and emergency contacts folded into every pocket of every article of clothing she owns. She confesses that she sometimes can’t follow what other people are saying, that she worries about how long she can work.
She asks if that’s what he wants to deal with, trying to scare him out of his fantasy. He tells her that that’s more reason to be together. She asks if he thinks it’ll be like in dramas, where she disappears and then he finds her in some special place that they share. “Is that what you want?”
She tells him that she’s scared every day as she goes to work, worried that she might lose her way there, that she might forget the way home. She feels so desperate and scared, that love seems laughable to her. She pleads with him to leave her alone.
He doesn’t budge, so she tells him that if he wants her to move, he can wait till she’s stupid and then move her all he wants. He changes his tactic to say he’ll just move into her house then. Seo-yeon: “You really don’t know me, do you?”
She storms out of the car, pushing away his embrace. She walks all the way home, and he follows just a few steps behind, silently.
Hyang-gi’s parents arrive home, and the only important bit of news is that Hyang-gi apparently has an older brother that Dad is constantly disgruntled about. He’s a movie producer or director, and either way he’s very hands-off with the family and very spendy with the money. I assume he’ll make an appearance at some point, if he’s suddenly being mentioned now.
Ji-hyung’s mother calls Seo-yeon out for coffee and asks how far along she is in the pregnancy. Seo-yeon stammers a whatchoo-talkin’-bout, and Mom says that’s what Ji-hyung says, or more accurately, what she gathered.
Seo-yeon assures her that she’s not pregnant. Mom breathes a sigh of relief and says that rushing to get married now is insane and outside her rules of common decency and the like, and adds that Ji-hyung isn’t himself and she doesn’t understand what’s gotten into him.
Seo-yeon in turn asks her to help break Ji-hyung’s stubbornness on the matter, that she can’t marry him – that it can never be. Mom looks at her in surprise. And then she drops the bomb:
“I’m an Alzheimer’s patient.”
Well thank goodness at least one other person finds out this week. It’s like pulling teeth to get this drama to churn ahead sometimes. Obviously this story is going to be slower in the plot development aspect of things, because we’re meant to linger on the emotions of each moment. But sometimes, I’m like, We already know that. NEXT!
I feel like until Seo-yeon breaks down her massive wall of pride, we’re not really going to get anywhere with anyone. I love her character and I appreciate that she’s so flawed, but sometimes it’s so frustrating to watch Ji-hyung hit his head against that wall over and over and over, with no change.
It’s taken her a long time to get to this stage, where she’s actually admitting how bad it is to Ji-hyung, calling herself an Alzheimer’s patient to other people. It does feel like she’s really moving past Denial into Acceptance. But I want it to mean change for her, especially where Ji-hyung is concerned. I know she loves him – I can read it on her face, and though her nobility is heartbreaking and I understand it, I hate that it means they’re stuck in the same place.
I think I feel worse for Ji-hyung, because he’s got zero control, but then he also infuriates me because he’s not like Jae-min. But then that’s because she doesn’t trust him like her oppa, doesn’t lean on him the way he so desperately wants her to. Auuuuuugh. I guess it’s saying something that I feel so conflicted and see why it’s everyone’s fault and no one’s fault, why she should trust him and why she shouldn’t, why she ought to give into love and why she can’t. Le sigh, pass that bottle of wine.