Who Are You–School 2015: Episode 4
Eun-bi sets out in search of answers—though they may only lead to more questions—and Mi-kyung has to make a heart-wrenching choice. At the same time we learn more about Tae-gwang’s family and the circumstances that shaped his childhood. Everyone has a story, it seems, and that story never fails to conceal some sadness at its heart. And though it sometimes feels as though no one understands what you’re going through, everyone grapples with the same question: How do we navigate this strange, often bumpy road we call life?
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Eun-bi finds letters and notebooks that Eun-byul left in her room, with messages addressed to her. When she sees the handwriting, Eun-bi finally learns that the person who sent her gifts at the orphanage was actually Eun-byul.
Eun-byul’s diary explains how she came to be adopted, and later to find out that she had a twin. Years ago, when Eun-byul’s first adoption fell apart, Mi-kyung saw her at the orphanage, sitting apart from the other children. Mi-kyung told Eun-byul that she saw her before “at Love’s House Orphanage,” but Eun-byul was too scared to say that she had never been there—the child Mi-kyung saw first was actually Eun-bi.
So that was Eun-byul’s first clue about the existence of her twin, and the cause of her guilt towards Eun-bi. The final words in her journal ask whether, if Eun-byul had known the truth all those years ago, she would have been able to tell Mi-kyung.
Eun-byul’s mom finds a letter waiting for her in the morning. In it, Eun-bi tells the truth about the mistaken identity, thanks Mom for giving her such warm memories, and apologizes. We see her boarding a train bound for Tongyeong.
At the Tongyeong hospital, Eun-bi checks to see if another patient was brought in with her. Checking in with the police, she learns that they found a corpse near where she was rescued. ACK! Please don’t be Eun-byul!!!
Eun-bi visits the funeral home, where she has the surreal experience of seeing her own name on the burial urn. A picture of the younger children from the orphanage rests beside the urn. Eun-bi starts to cry, believing that her twin died to save her.
Yi-an runs through Eun-byul’s neighborhood, clearly hoping for another early-morning stroll. He keeps looking, jumping in front of one poor girl who looks like Eun-byul from behind, but she’s nowhere to be found.
At Tae-gwang’s house, the ahjumma reminds Dad that Tae-gwang’s birthday is coming up in a few days. He tells her to prepare a gift, and that he’ll check his schedule. Father of the Year, he is not.
Teacher Kim addresses the class at school, asking if anyone knows where Eun-byul is. Song-joo looks to Yi-an, but he is just as confused as the rest of them.
Mom goes to Love’s House Orphanage to find out if Eun-bi’s letter was telling the truth. When Mom introduces herself as Song Mi-kyung, the lady in charge of the orphanage recognizes her as the person who sent packages to Eun-bi over the years.
She tells Mom about Eun-bi’s suicide, sparked by the vicious bullying she received at the hands of her classmates. Bewildered by all the contradictory information, Mom asks where Eun-bi’s ashes are interred.
Mom goes to the funeral home, where Eun-bi is still looking through the glass at the urn with her name on it. For a long moment, they look at each other in silence.
Mom addresses Eun-bi as “Eun-byul” at first, not wanting to believe the alternative. Close to tears, Eun-bi says that she thinks this happened because Eun-byul saved her life. It’s too much for Mom to take in, and she sinks to her knees.
“My Eun-byul… My Eun-byul can’t be dead!” she whimpers, and Eun-bi, now crying herself, can offer nothing except her shoulder to cry on. They cling to each other in the hall, grieving for Eun-byul.
After bumming a cigarette on school grounds, Tae-gwang overhears Teacher Kim talking on the phone. He’s asking for consideration from someone, and says that he’s trustworthy—in twelve years, he’s never been in a car accident.
When Teacher Kim hangs up, Tae-gwang asks if anyone knows beforehand whether they’re going to get into an accident, and if Teacher Kim needs money. About to reprimand Tae-gwang for smoking, Teacher Kim thinks better of it and says that he prides himself on keeping a safe distance from students, like the distance between his car and the car in front. Tae-gwang wonders what he’s talking about.
Class President Min-joon informs one of the students that he can take the Level Test to get into his study group (this is the study group presided over by the Mafia Moms, that might kick out Eun-bi because of her “amnesia”). The only other person taking the test is Shi-jin, who seems surprised to hear that her name is on the list.
Shi-jin calls her mother and yells at her (quietly, because she’s in the library) for trying to get her into the study group. She doesn’t think she has a chance at passing, and suspects her mom of placing her close to Min-joon in the hope of pairing them up. Teacher Kim asks Shi-jin what she’s so upset about, and she replies that her mother met a friend who’s having a bad influence on her.
When Tae-gwang comes home, the television is playing an announcement about his mother’s third marriage. Ahjumma hastily turns off the tv and asks if there’s anything Tae-gwang wants to eat for his birthday, but he replies that anything’s fine.
In his room (which has some serious gaming equipment), he looks at an old picture of his parents and broods.
A flashback shows us little Tae-gwang on his birthday, which was also the day his mother was supposed to come back after a long period of filming. He hides behind the table to surprise his parents, but when his mother comes in, the first thing she does is demand a divorce.
She reminds Dad that he didn’t marry her for love, and that Tae-gwang was a mistake. “That’s why I’m being punished now,” Dad replies, and Mom shrieks that he sees her and Tae-gwang as a punishment. That pushes Tae-gwang to the edge—he screams and stands up, startling his parents, and sends the contents of the table crashing to the floor, birthday cake and all.
In the present, Tae-gwang picks at the meal that Ahjumma has made for his birthday. He pushes aside the seaweed soup (traditionally eaten by mothers to restore strength after giving birth, and subsequently by children on their birthdays), saying he doesn’t like it.
On the way to school, Tae-gwang sees Teacher Kim driving the car behind him. He grins devilishly, and then forces the chauffeur to stop abruptly—poor Teacher Kim rear-ends their car, shattering his headlights.
Tae-gwang hams it up when he gets out of the car, clutching his neck and acting hurt. Teacher Kim, good guy that he is, is first and foremost concerned about his student. Tae-gwang says impishly: “This isn’t like you, Teacher. I thought you always maintained a safe distance. Your car and the car in front of you; teacher and student.” He skips away merrily, while Teacher Kim groans in despair at the knowledge that he’s been had.
The chauffeur asks about his insurance, and we learn that the call from earlier was about Teacher Kim’s insurance coverage expiring. Poor guy. Unseen by Teacher Kim, Tae-gwang’s father pulls up in his own car, watching the scene unfold.
Mom is about to drop off Eun-bi back at Love’s House Orphanage. She feels sorry for Eun-bi and the other orphans, who had to work so hard without adults to protect them, and yet grew up so strong. She tells Eun-bi to contact her if she ever needs money or someone to talk to, and Eun-bi thanks her again for taking care of her until she regained her memories.
As Eun-bi starts to walk away, Mom remembers all the moments when Eun-bi seemed happy to have found a mother. She remembers how Eun-bi lay in the hospital bed, repeating the word “Mom” over and over. Eun-bi, too, replays her time as Eun-byul as she heads back to the orphanage.
Mom runs out of the car and hugs Eun-bi from behind. Crying, she asks if they can’t go back to how they were, before Eun-bi regained her memories. She admits that without Eun-byul, she doesn’t know how she will go on. Can’t the two of them live together? Hesitantly, face glistening with tears, Eun-bi returns Mom’s hug.
The swimming coach addresses his team in preparation for an upcoming competition. Yi-an is already slotted for three events, and the coach tells the other athletes to decide amongst themselves who gets the other races.
Once the coach leaves, Yi-an’s Angry Sunbae confronts him again. He’s angry that Yi-an gets all the opportunities to shine, while the rest of the team fights for the scraps. But Yi-an doesn’t fight back; he says calmly that there won’t be any problems in the future, bows and walks away.
Shi-jin meets with her classmate after school to take the Level Test. Time ticks away, and it’s clear that she’s struggling. She eventually finishes, long after her classmate has left.
Song-joo meets with Shi-jin and shows her an application for an acting agency. Song-joo hopes to be scouted and become an actress. Shi-jin is jealous of Song-joo’s determination; she says that it would be nice to have even one thing that she knew she wanted to do with her life.
Yi-an swims laps on his own, pushing his body to its limits. Coach sees him working hard, smiles and leaves without saying anything. But when Yi-an heaves himself out of the pool, he tests his shoulder with a grimace of pain.
Later that day, Yi-an meets his father outside of an auto shop. He insists on carrying a heavy item, and Dad scolds him for over-exerting his body. He even says that Yi-an could injure his shoulder, which makes me think he must have injured himself before. Yi-an promises to succeed, even if only for his father’s sake. He urges Dad not to skip meals.
Mom urges Eun-bi to act comfortably, but she struggles with it. She has to be reminded a few times not to use formal speech, and she offers to stay home from school to look after Mom while she’s ill. But Mom won’t hear of it, and they compromise—she will eat the porridge Eun-bi made, and Eun-bi will take the bus to school.
After donning her school uniform (complete with Eun-byul’s nametag), Eun-bi looks into the mirror. She promises Eun-byul that she will live well, to thank her sister for giving her this chance.
On his way to school, Yi-an sees Eun-bi on the bus. He runs after the bus, and sneaks in to sit behind Eun-bi without her noticing.
Yi-an texts Eun-bi, asking if she was sick or just skipped class. Eun-bi says she skipped, prompting him to ask if she’s really Go Eun-byul. Of course that hits a little too close to home, and Eun-bi freezes. Yi-an watches her, confused, and when she doesn’t reply he reveals that he’s been on the bus the whole time. Eun-bi has a tense moment, but she gets control of herself and jokes with Yi-an the rest of the way to school.
In class, Eun-bi has another stressful moment when Song-joo and Shi-jin notice that her handwriting is different from before. They’re amazed, because they thought that even people who’ve lost their memory retain physical traits through muscle memory. Eun-bi masks her discomfort and leaves the class, needing to pick up a form from the nurse.
In the nurse’s office Tae-gwang is “recovering” from his car accident, though he assures the nurse he doesn’t need to go to the hospital—checking his watch, he says he should be fine in about two hours. Not a bad way to skip class, honestly. When the nurse leaves the office Tae-gwang looks at his smartphone, reading a news article about his mother.
Eun-bi enters the nurse’s office and sees Tae-gwang in a hospital bed. She sits down on a neighboring bed and asks if he has recovered after his accident. At first Tae-gwang is surly, using the accident as an excuse not to talk to her.
But Eun-bi remains cheerful, saying that since she never talked to Tae-gwang before her amnesia, he must not know anything about her. “You don’t know anything about me, and I don’t know anything about you,” she reflects. “It’s nice.”
Turning to Tae-gwang, Eun-bi offers to tell him a secret. “Don’t believe anything I tell you,” she warns him before sharing her secret. “I’m a liar.” Then she tells Tae-gwang that her name is Go Eun-byul. Tae-gwang thinks she’s gone crazy from all her studying, but he still responds by showing her the picture of her mother. “Do you know top star Song Hee-yeong?” he asks. “She’s my mother.”
Teacher Kim goes to Director Gong’s office—he seems to know Tae-gwang’s father personally, calling him “Teacher,” and he also seems stiffly uncomfortable. Director Gong offers to pay for any damages to his car, but Teacher Kim cuts him off quickly and says he’ll take care of it himself.
“I know you were disappointed in me-“ Director Gong begins, and though Teacher Kim denies it, his face says otherwise. He says that he treats all of the students in his class equally, and that teaching to him is like any other job that pays the bills. Hmm… could something have happened between the two men that caused Teacher Kim to adopt his impersonal “safe distance” philosophy?
Teacher Kim and Eun-bi walk past each other on the stairs, when they each receive a text message at the same time. Both texts are from the mysterious Jung Soo-in, containing a cryptic message about “good memories.” Eun-bi asks Teacher Kim about Soo-in, and he exhibits a classic case of Shifty Eyes when he says it’s difficult to remember all the students’ names.
In class, students gossip about actress Song Hee-yeong’s third marriage. They’ve heard the rumor about her having once been married to Director Gong, and how she received a large settlement even after marrying another rich man.
Class bully Ki-tae jokes that their gym is half the size it was supposed to be as a result of the divorce, and now Tae-gwang has had enough. He gets up, muttering about them being too loud, and kicks Ki-tae out of his chair to the floor.
Tae-gwang takes a vicious beating from Ki-tae. One of the students runs for a teacher, but in the meantime Ki-tae bloodies up Tae-gwang pretty badly. Each blow only seems to fuel Tae-gwang’s anger, though, and he even manages to laugh as he’s getting hit.
Eun-bi takes his arm and tries to urge him to stop, but he throws her away without even looking, not noticing when she falls to the ground and hurts her elbow. When Yi-an enters the classroom and sees Eun-bi hurt, he jumps in between Ki-tae and Tae-gwang. At that point the dean arrives, putting an end to the violence.
A little calmer now, Tae-gwang sees what he did to Eun-bi, and his face fills with remorse. But Yi-an pulls him back when he tries to go to her, and the dean leads Tae-gwang and Ki-tae away. Yi-an leans down next to Eun-bi, checking to see if she’s alright.
Eun-bi walks through the courtyard with Song-joo and Shi-jin, who tell her she’s lucky to be okay after interfering in Ki-tae’s fight. Song-joo then says that Eun-bi has been different since the class trip, and shares what the girls know about her supposedly fighting with some guy. Eun-bi remembers what Yi-an said about dropping by Tongyeong briefly, but neither Song-joo nor Shi-jin know about that.
Later that day, Eun-bi meets with Yi-an and asks for more details about his detour to Tongyeong. He lies that he didn’t meet her, and keeps silent with difficulty when she wonders if her fight with the “strange man” resulted in the wound on Eun-byul’s neck.
Tae-gwang is playing video games at home, face covered in scrapes and bruises, when his father gets home. Dad disconnects the game, looking furious.
Dad tells Tae-gwang to prepare for study abroad, to which Tae-gwang fires back that he could just go back to the mental hospital for a few months. Dad thinks that not seeing each other might be the best course of action, while Tae-gwang thinks Dad just wants to get him out of sight.
Tae-gwang changes the subject, asking if they can’t have dinner together—him, Dad, and Mom—to celebrate his birthday. He’ll even congratulate Mom on her third marriage. His father retorts that he is just like his mother, expressing her emotions in ways that don’t make sense. When Tae-gwang wonders if anyone living with his father would turn out the way he had, Dad slaps him.
“Think about what I must have seen and heard as I grew up,” Tae-gwang says through gritted teeth, “that made me turn out this way.” He walks out of the room, leaving his father alone.
Tae-gwang rides a segue (or some automated scooter-thing?) in the middle of the street. He screams his frustration into the night, heedless of the cars that follow behind him, honking.
Meanwhile, Yi-an looks at the medal he meant to give Eun-byul, wondering if he’ll regret giving it to her now and telling the truth. He makes his decision and texts Eun-bi, asking to meet—we see that her phone is still at home, on her dresser.
Eun-bi is out for a walk, and she passes Tae-gwang on the bridge in her neighborhood. He turns back, and their eyes meet. Instead of apologizing for hurting her during his fight, he snorts that she shouldn’t stick her nose in other people’s business.
When Eun-bi tells him not to be concerned, he asks if she means the opposite—after all, she told him before that she was a liar. “I really want to be alone,” Tae-gwang says. When Eun-bi agrees and begins to walk away, he shouts out after in frustration: “You really don’t understand people’s words, do you?!”
Eun-bi turns back, and the hurt, lost look in Tae-gwang’s eyes really kills me. Eun-bi looks at him, then smiles in understanding.
Yi-an is running to meet with Eun-bi, when he sees her on the bridge. Tae-gwang is showing her how to use his segue, and the two of them are laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Yi-an looks down at the medal in his hand, and sighs.
The next morning, Teacher Kim announces to the class that a transfer student has arrived. Of course, who should it be but Kang So-young, the bully from Tongyeong who originally drove Eun-bi to attempt suicide.
So-young is greeted by an approving chorus from the boys in the class, and begins her self-introduction. She asks the class to look after her, sees Eun-bi—and freezes. The two girls lock gazes, shocked.
Oh, my. This episode felt like it was taking its time, working through Eun-bi’s dilemma and Tae-gwang’s family situation deliberately and without undue haste, but we certainly ended with a bang! With So-young entering the classroom and Eun-bi remembering who she is and what she did, there is no telling what will happen in the future.
I hope it involves a little cosmic justice, of course. With friends at her side, Eun-bi is far from the isolated loner who was so vulnerable to So-young’s calculated cruelty. At the same time, it won’t be easy for the victim of such lasting trauma to confront her abuser. And as much as I want So-young to experience what it feels like to be isolated, such a course of revenge might pull Eun-bi down a darker path, tempting her to turn into another version of So-young.
The slightly slower pace allowed the emotional beats—like Mi-kyung’s anguish at the Love’s House orphanage—to land with full force, but it didn’t feel like it dragged at all. I particularly liked how the story developed Tae-gwang’s character even as it followed Eun-bi’s difficult choices, showing how the two start to mean more and more to each other as time goes on.
It was great to see how Eun-bi turns to Tae-gwang because he has no experience with her “pre-amnesia,” and so he isn’t constantly comparing her to how she was before. She has to keep up her pretense, and he has a whole host of defensive mechanisms to keep anyone from getting close enough to hurt him, yet somehow that short scene in the nurse’s office allowed them both to be more honest with each other than they can be with anyone else.
And the scene at the very end, when Tae-gwang doesn’t know how to apologize or ask for help, was beautiful. Eun-bi has always been the kind of person to look after others, even when she has trouble protecting herself, and it’s fascinating seeing Tae-gwang come to confide in her more and more, without even realizing.
It was also nice to see that we still get a focus on everyday issues faced by high school students the world over. Even with abusive rich dads and secret twins running around, there was time for Shi-jin’s more modest dilemma of what she wants to do with her life.
Bullying, divorce, living with mental illness, the question of how to live a meaningful life once you leave the uniforms and timetables of high school—all these issues are real and important, and I love that we can have a plot that is so unabashedly dramatic without losing sight of the more mundane (but no less important) battles that make up most of our lives.
Whether Eun-byul is dead or not (did anyone else think that explanation is a little too neat?), her central mystery—which seems to include Soo-in, whoever she might be—still remains. But even that will probably have to wait a while, until we see how Eun-bi handles having her nemesis once again in the same class. This show’s secondary title—“Who Are You”—doesn’t only refer to the obvious difficulty of telling twins apart; I think it’s also a nod to the choices we face while growing up, the choices that ultimately make us who we are. Who will Eun-bi choose to become? I can’t wait to find out!