Just when you think you’re all out of tears… Today’s episode is all about motherhood – the mother that Seo-yeon is to her brother, the mother who abandoned them, the mother who stepped in to take care of them, and the mother that she wants to be.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
Seo-yeon stares at her Christmas tree, lost in thought, while Aunt cleans up around the house. She puts her head in Aunt’s lap like a little child, and they talk about missing work, and what it’s like to have a baby, and then Seo-yeon asks about her mom.
She suspects that Aunt knows where Mom lives, and Aunt just sputters that she doesn’t know know, but she could find out… why, does Seo-yeon want to see her? Aunt looks up at her with these searching eyes, almost pleading with her to say no. Something about that just breaks my heart.
Seo-yeon: “More than wanting to see her, there’s something I want to ask her. Something I have to ask her just once. Any longer and there won’t be anything, and even if I ask and she answers, it’ll disappear before long. But… I’m still Lee Seo-yeon.”
Aunt gives a big smile and says she’ll make it happen, and that it’s okay to want to see her mother. She makes sure to say that she’s okay with it, and that no one would blame her for wanting to meet her mother once. Aw, I love her.
Seo-yeon wonders why Ji-hyung married her, and asks if Aunt thinks he loves her. Aunt laughs and says that Myung-hee calls him wacko, because he’s so crazy for Seo-yeon. (The bride’s family would normally call him Park-suh-bang for his last name, but she calls him Ddol-suh-bang, replacing Park for Loony.) They get a good giggle out of it.
He comes home all kisses and sweetness and light, putting Seo-yeon in a good mood… until his phone rings while he’s in the shower. It’s a text from Hyang-gi. Oh no. Seo-yeon can’t help herself and she reads it.
It’s mostly just chit-chat in a text message – how are you, I’m doing well, our moms are still fighting, Mom set me up on a blind date, we met a few times but he’s just so-so. But the thing that kicks Seo-yeon in the gut is the line that asks after her: “How is her health?” Oh this is gonna be bad. Why is she still texting you??
Over at Hyang-gi’s house, her parents argue over who’s to blame in the big skirmish between the moms. Dad’s still trying to convince Ji-hyung’s dad to come back to the hospital, and they’ve sent flower baskets and fruit baskets, but he argues that Mom is the one who should apologize, in person.
Mom flares up at that, of course, thinking that she was the one who suffered, and doting son backs her up that she was the one who got doused with water. Oh man, that was just the most satisfying water-to-the-face ever. Dad thinks that for Ji-hyung’s mom to react like that means his wife really scraped her last nerve.
At Ji-hyung’s house, Dad’s doing the same thing, trying to convince his wife to make amends. It turns out that basically the husbands are still besties, and they find it uncomfortable to have their wives at war.
Mom points out how ridiculous it is for him to insist she swallow her pride, when he won’t accept his own son over a matter of his stupid pride. She tells him to accept the kids, and she’ll consider Hyang-gi’s mom. Nice.
Dad just pouts, asking if she’s trying to turn this into a deal. Mom sighs and tells him to think whatever he wants. Seriously, I didn’t even know they made babies this big. GAH.
Seo-yeon’s house is bustling because they’re having a housewarming dinner party, hence Aunt’s busybodyness all day. Myung-hee comes by with a cake, while Seo-yeon sits numbly staring at Hyang-gi’s text message, shaken.
Her co-workers arrive and Oppa comes too, and they eat and drink and mostly the women spend the evening fawning over Jae-min. You can practically hear the catfighting, though it’s all a series of silent stinkfaces at each other whenever they manage to get his attention. Don’t blame ya.
Seo-yeon’s attention comes and goes, sometimes completely oblivious to the conversation around her, other times joking and being witty. It’s a little awkward at times, but Ji-hyung takes it so in stride that he smoothes over her lapses. It’s clear she’s not in a great mood overall though.
Back at home, Aunt tells Uncle about Seo-yeon wanting to meet her mother. Only now does she confess all her worries – her fear that Seo-yeon’s mother won’t agree to see her kids, and not wanting to cause Seo-yeon any more pain.
Uncle says that Seo-yeon’s mother probably said she didn’t want to see her kids because she knows she has no right to, and Aunt wonders if it’s really her guilt, or if she actually doesn’t care to see them. And if that’s the case, does she just drag her there by the scruff anyway?
She sighs at Seo-yeon’s rotten luck, crying, “Why didn’t they take me instead?” Oof. That kills me. She cries that Seo-yeon is just starting out in life, while she’s lived a full one – so why can’t she be the sick one instead?
While Ji-hyung sees off their guests, Seo-yeon flips through the books she’s edited, memories of her work life flashing by. Ji-hyung comes back, and she complains that Moon-kwon is staying out too late these days.
Ji-hyung reminds her that he’s out with his co-workers tonight. Oh, he got a job! Yay. He tells her that his company is known for working their newbies into the ground and getting hardcore with their training. He tells her to rest and kisses her hand. You can kind of see his heart crumbling at every turn. “I love you…” Seo-yeon: “More than yesterday?” Ji-hyung: “A thousand times.”
He takes a call from Jae-min, which is when he finally notices the text from Hyang-gi, already read. He asks calmly if she saw the text, and if it upset her. She gets up and asks matter-of-factly, “Are the two of you waiting for me to die?”
Damn. I knew this would be bad.
He tells her that they weren’t in contact, and that this is the first he’s heard from her. He only knows her whereabouts because his aunt told him, and Seo-yeon interrogates him coldly, asking if he talks about Hyang-gi with his mother.
She tells him angrily that Hyang-gi is still not over him, which he thinks is ridiculous because they’re living like this, with a baby on the way. Dude, you might be, but she’s still texting you from Boston and calling you oppa. Not over you.
She asks if he’s going to reply. He says no, and then she counters why, if it’s so meaningless as he insists. So he starts to reply, “Don’t contact me anymore. It makes my wife concerned…”
And Seo-yeon snatches the phone out of his hand, refusing to let him make her look like the bad guy in all this. She types the reply herself, “It’s nice to hear from you. Be well and I look forward to your return.”
She turns to him coldly, “Should I add – I miss the loveable you?” She sends the reply (without the addendum) and puts the phone in his hand and walks away, closing the door behind her.
Augh, I feel bad for Ji-hyung because he’s not cheating on her, but he’s stupid for not cutting off contact with Hyang-gi. From Seo-yeon’s perspective, how could she not have that fear in the pit of her stomach? She’s losing her mind, feeling like an increasing burden to the people who love her, and if she can’t trust her own mind to tell the difference between fact and fiction, what on earth can she trust?
But in the time it takes Ji-hyung to clean up after dinner, she either forgets about the fight, or pretends to, because she glosses right past it, though she refuses to let him fawn over her as usual. She says nothing when Ji-hyung’s phone rings again with a reply from Hyang-gi, saying that he didn’t have to reply but that she’s grateful for it. He erases all her messages and says nothing.
Moon-kwon comes home and Seo-yeon suddenly decides that she wants to take a picture with him, while she’s still her. She tells Ji-hyung to make sure and capture their matching dimples, which is so cute because the actors really do have matching dimples on the same side.
She’s satisfied with that, but then Ji-hyung pouts that she doesn’t want to take a picture with him, whining that Moon-kwon is her favorite. So they take pictures together in the exact same poses, by now the mood back to happy.
She tells Moon-kwon to print the picture of them, and finds him in his room, her mood turning serious now. Tears pooling her eyes, she turns to him, “Noona’s sorry. I’m really sorry. I haven’t expressed it very much. I wanted to make you a capable, confident, honest man.” He tells her that he hasn’t risen to her expectations yet.
She apologizes for raising him so harshly – it was because she wanted him to grow, to be better than her. Fighting his tears, he tells her that she doesn’t need to say these things. He knows what she had to sacrifice to raise him, why she turned herself into a harsh mom. It’s why he didn’t run away even when he wanted to, or didn’t throw tantrums when he was angry.
Waaaaah. I never cry as much as when she talks to Moon-kwon. The noona-dongseng love turns me into a puddle.
She pets him on the head, saying that she trusts he’ll be okay if she’s not here, that he’ll live well and be okay. He tells her not to worry about him, “I’ll do well.” She turns his face to her, “Look into my eyes and promise me.”
Moon-kwon: “I promise.” Seo-yeon: “I’m sorry I only fed you water. I’m sorry I lied to you that we’d have beef when Mom came back.” *SOB* He bursts into tears and hugs her. God, her guilt at not being able to feed him when they were abandoned? When she was six? That turns me inside-out.
Ji-hyung meanwhile finishes the housework, thinking to himself that the doctor said that Seo-yeon’s condition hadn’t visibly worsened, but that he can feel her taking a step backwards, day by day.
Seo-yeon gets up in the middle of the night, pacing back and forth as she recites a poem. She heads out to the balcony and marvels at the snow, catching snowflakes in her hand. Ji-hyung finds her and brings her inside, where he gives her cake and she gives him kisses. Aw.
He holds her as they lie in bed, and Seo-yeon murmurs, “Thank you. I’m sorry. I love you.” Ji-hyung: “I love you. Thank you. I’m sorry.”
Ji-hyung gets a call from Mom, and all we hear from his end is that he doesn’t want Seo-yeon to get hurt. Methinks Dad agreed to Mom’s deal and wants to see them? He calls Seo-yeon to check up on her, and she lies that she’s grocery shopping with Aunt but she’s sitting in a coffee shop…
Aunt goes to see Seo-yeon’s mother, to ask her to meet her daughter just once. Mom refuses to, and Aunt tears her a new one for her nerve. She tells her that it’s a good thing she found her after her cancer and her surgery, otherwise she would’ve died at her hands. Ha. I love her spunk.
After the talking-to, Mom says she’ll think about it, while she downs a bottle of soju. But Aunt says that Seo-yeon is waiting for her right now…
Seo-yeon waits at the coffee shop, thinking back to the lies she told to Moon-kwon when Mom abandoned them, as she fed him nothing but water. And then she sees Aunt approaching… with Mom in tow. It’s silent as they enter, and Aunt’s the only one who speaks, saying that she’ll be just over there. Mom sits down without a word and hangs her head, not looking up once.
Seo-yeon tells her that it’s okay to look at her, so she raises her head. She tells Mom that she’s not here to be angry or hateful, but Mom just tells her to say anything she wants, and she’ll listen to it all.
Direct as ever, Seo-yeon asks why she left. Mom says that when Seo-yeon’s father died, and the only family they had was Aunt, who hated her. She didn’t have the courage to raise them alone, and she figured that Aunt wouldn’t let them starve.
But Seo-yeon knows about the other man in her life, and Mom answers that it’s true – that he wouldn’t take in her kids, so she left them behind. Seo-yeon asks why it took her days to make the call to Aunt, and tells her, tears streaming down her face, “Moon-kwon and I almost died.”
Mom hangs her head, knowing all this. Seo-yeon tells her that Moon-kwon got a job at a really good company. Mom asks about her job, having heard about it before. Seo-yeon pauses, as if trying to decide what answer to give her.
She says that she quit after she got married. Mom looks up, tears welling in her eyes, “You got married?” Seo-yeon searches Mom’s face and asks if they look alike. Mom: “What do you want to take after me for?”
She clarifies that she means facial features and the like, and Mom finally bursts into tears. Another tear falls from Seo-yeon’s eyes as she watches her cry, and then without a word, she gets up and walks out. In voiceover:
Seo-yeon: I never once had the desire to meet her in my lifetime – the woman whose name is ‘Mother.’ But I met her today. The moment the woman who was my mother walked into the café behind Aunt, I saw the proof that I had borrowed her body to be born. I will forget that woman very soon. But she won’t be able to forget me until the day she dies. She covered her face in shame and cried. It’s done. With this, it’s done.
Aunt pays the tab back at the coffee shop and runs out to catch up with her. She goes ahead to hail a cab, and Seo-yeon watches her, her face breaking into a smile as she continues in voiceover: “Mother. My mother, Aunt-mother.”
Aw. How much do I love that meeting her deadbeat mom only proves to her that Aunt is her real mom?
She can feel someone watching her, and she turns around to see her mother looking at her from afar. Aunt calls her name and Seo-yeon lingers, looking back at her mother one last time, before turning to go.
Aunt bawls her eyes out in the cab, holding Seo-yeon the whole way home. They come home hand-in-hand, and Ji-hyung is waiting for them, asking if they crossed the river to go grocery shopping, and wondering where they left the stuff they bought.
Aunt just stammers that they’re having it delivered, which is funny because what’re they gonna do when no groceries arrive? HE’s not the one with dementia.
Ji-hyung announces that his father wants to have them over for dinner, and she stares at him, shell-shocked. That’s a whole lot of chilly family reunions in one day.
He tells her that it’s totally up to her, and that if she doesn’t want to go, they don’t have to. She asks timidly, “Is he… scary?” Ji-hyung: “He’s different from my mother. Let’s not go.” Hahahaha. I don’t know why, but the way he answered that just makes me laugh.
Seo-yeon: “Is he… like Hyang-gi’s mother?” HA. He answers again, “Let’s not go.” But she says no, she’ll go. She just has to prepare herself and focus. He hugs her in gratitude, but that’s probably scaring her more, at the moment.
Ji-hyung’s dad arrives at home, and Mom warns him, “If you give her a hard time, I will not exchange a single word with you until the day I die.” LOL. Mom is so awesome.
But then apparently, she’s waited until today to tell him that Seo-yeon is pregnant. What, now? I don’t think that was very good timing on your part. Now Dad’s all riled up again, wondering what on earth they’re thinking, having a child who will have no mother to raise him/her.
But Mom says that they’re around, and it’s what Ji-hyung wanted, and warns him again not to make them feel bad. “Make me like you again. I miss the old you.” Aw. I like that it’s both an insult and a warning and a compliment, all rolled into one.
The couple arrives outside, and Ji-hyung tells her that they can turn back even now if she wants to. Dude, you’re really not instilling a whole lot of confidence here. She says she’s scared, but she wants to face it. She tells him about her plan to just pretend to faint if anything happens, and he sweetly tells her to do so, and that he’s always right next to her.
They brace themselves and head inside to face the music.
Now that Seo-yeon’s condition is worsening, there’s actually a pit-of-stomach kind of suspense in waiting for her reactions to things, because we never know how she’ll respond. It’s heartbreaking to watch Ji-hyung try to hold it together all the time and be her rock, when sometimes it’s like walking on thin ice just to be with her.
But it continues to be the family stuff that really tugs at my heartstrings. It’s the brother love, and her apology at being such a hardass mom that killed me. She’s spent her whole life trying to over-compensate for the fact that he has no mother, but she was only six, and she didn’t have one either.
That’s why I love that moment after meeting – and I love how the writer puts it – “the woman named Mom,” that she sees so clearly just how much Aunt has stepped in to do the same for her. So when she became Moon-kwon’s mom, Aunt became hers.
I liked this episode, but I’m scared for the next one, because I don’t trust Ji-hyung’s father to act like an adult, despite his wife’s warnings. Somehow I don’t think Mom will throw a glass of water in his face too, but damn, don’tcha wish she would?
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 16
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 15
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 14
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 13
- Thousand Day Promise: Episode 12
- 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