Twenty Again: Episode 13
It’s a contemplative episode and a pivotal moment for our heroine, who’s faced with all sorts of question marks about her future, her marriage, and where her heart lies. And with the help of a certain dimpled manchild, she starts to see why it is that she changed and lost herself along the way, and why it’s worth fighting for the person she was always meant to be.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kim Dong-ryul – “기억의 습작” (A Study in Memory) [ Download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
At last, Nora gets to read Hyun-seok’s first love confession from twenty years ago, telling her that he likes her as more than a friend. She looks up to see Hyun-seok standing right there smiling at her, and he laughs that she opened up the keepsake box right away, just as suspected.
He sits down to answer her questions now, so that she doesn’t stay awake all night dying of curiosity. I’m pretty sure that’s your disease, not hers. She’s still a little confused about what all of this means, so he spells it out for her: “Ha Nora, you were my first love. You shined, and were so bright, strong, and pretty then.”
He tells her that he became a director solely because of her, because she was the only person who recognized his talent and believed in him. But hilariously, Nora can’t really remember saying those things, and Hyun-seok grumps, “You changed my life and you can’t remember?”
She asks him to remind her of the conversation, but he refuses. He does casually toss out the offer to tell her… if she keeps coming to work. Nora asks why he gave her the box then if he’s not going to tell her, and he says that it’s proof that she’s special to him: “You might not remember, but you were my only supporter, my friend, and my pillar. It’s because of you I realized my dream.”
He makes it clear that this is why he cares, not because he pities her, and adds the reminder: “So don’t forget what kind of person you were.”
As she watches him leave, she remembers all the times he spoke so highly of her, always saying, “Because you’re Ha Nora,” by way of explanation. She didn’t get it then, but she finally sees what he meant, and wells up with gratitude. Hyun-seok walks away hoping that Nora isn’t shaken from her decision to get divorced.
Woo-chul is waiting for Nora to get home and presents her with the torn-up divorce contract, declaring that he’s calling off the divorce. He says that he has two undeniable reasons to support this, and imagines Nora flipping out and calling him crazy as she leaves to go get her copy of the contract, which he’s already stolen in anticipation of this.
But back in reality, Nora just asks calmly what his reasons are. The first is that he can’t accept her calling him someone with narcissistic personality disorder, and launches into a whole defense… which only proves her point that he’s making this all about himself.
His second reason is that he began the divorce proceedings because they couldn’t communicate, but now Nora has become someone he can talk to. He urges her to consider how she went to school for this very reason just a few months ago, and to remember what kind of person he was when they first met.
Flashback to the dance performance when Woo-chul and Nora first locked eyes. After the dance where he sees that she’s injured, he finds her on the beach and sweetly tends to her wounds, introducing himself as the director’s friend.
He looks at his surroundings and says it reminds him of a movie where a guy has a crush on a girl and she teaches him to dance, and soon Nora is doing that very same thing as the sun sets behind them.
Back in the present, Nora says that what she liked about him was his back—broad and strong, dependable like she always imagined her father’s back would be. He recognized her injuries first and took care of her, and she fell for him because she felt secure, like she would be taken care of.
He agrees that that’s the kind of person he is, but she clarifies that he was… then. She reminds him of what he was like after they got married, when he ignored her and made it impossible for her to contact him at school, even when she was pregnant and ill.
She says that he was ashamed of her back then and tried to keep her hidden, purposely lying to her that there were no Korean people in their city for her to befriend. He made it so that she couldn’t do anything on her own without his help, and she retreated into herself. She spent four years alone in a room with just Min-soo to care for, until they returned to Korea.
Nora: “The reason I want a divorce is because I’ve come to realize why I lost myself. You made it that way. Following you to Germany was my mistake.” She admits that it was her fault for not considering that she could’ve raised Min-soo on her own.
Woo-chul argues that he’s doing this for Min-soo (I call bullshit!), and Nora sighs that she’ll at least hear Min-soo out and make sure that he’s okay with it. Out in the hallway, Min-soo overhears all of this and hides quietly in his room.
Hyun-seok waits on pins and needles for Nora the next morning and beams when she shows up to school as normal. He times it perfectly so that he’ll accidentally run into her on their way into campus, only to miss his window when Yoon-young beats him to the punch.
Yoon-young eagerly announces to Nora that she’s discovered something huge: “Cha Hyun-seok likes you!” She names all the suspicious signs, like how worried he was when he couldn’t find her, and how he got mad over Nora’s relationship with Woo-chul.
But Nora thinks it’s ridiculous that he’d like her, and laughs it off. Yoon-young is shocked to hear that Nora was his first love, and thinks it amusing that he confessed twenty years later. Nora gasps and says it wasn’t a confession, insisting that Hyun-seok would be crazy to confess to her, a 38-year-old mother.
Nora thinks that it’s only because he has no feelings for her now that he gave her that keepsake box. Yoon-young wonders why Nora didn’t tell him about the divorce, but Nora doesn’t see why she would when he never asked. Oh, you two. Min-soo asks to see Mom at home later that night, then wonders why his girlfriend Hye-mi is ignoring all of his texts.
Soon-nam sneaks up to Nora, adorably calling her “Ex-Girlfriend-nim,” and is surprised to see that she’s still searching for part-time jobs. She quickly exits the screen and they head to class.
Yoon-young drops by Hyun-seok’s office, and he asks worriedly why she came to see Nora earlier, and if anything is wrong. Yoon-young smirks and calls his interest in Nora considerable. She says that protecting her because of a loyalty to his first love might’ve flown with Nora who’s naïve enough to believe it, but Yoon-young isn’t: “You like Ha Nora, don’t you?” Heeeeeee.
His face freezes and he can’t speak, and Yoon-young just enjoys teasing him. He sidesteps her questions entirely and asks what Nora plans to do in the future, and Yoon-young catches on right away that he knows about the divorce.
Yi-jin hems and haws all the way to her class today, and can’t bring herself to go in there and face Nora. In the end she runs away like a coward and cancels class. Meanwhile, Min-soo finds out from Hye-mi’s friend that she went on an impromptu trip with her traveling club.
Yi-jin storms into Woo-chul’s office to ask how he’s been living his life that she got told by his wife that she can have him. She’s offended at the idea that Woo-chul is trash and she’s supposed to pick him up, and he’s just as shocked to hear that Nora said that.
She says that Nora declared that they were getting a divorce, and Woo-chul interrupts to say that Nora is mistaken. Um… is that the thing you want to be saying to your mistress? Yi-jin is appalled and asks if he’s suggesting they break up, and he has the gall to say that their plan failed, so they just need to take some time.
Yi-jin can’t believe he’s ending things when she got him a position at this university, and then it’s his turn to be appalled. He argues that he had the qualifications all on his own, but she tells him that there were many candidates—she just made sure he was the one chosen. But instead of being grateful, Woo-chul blows up at her for meddling when he could’ve done it on his own.
With class canceled, Nora enjoys beers on the lawn with Soon-nam and Seung-hyun, and fulfills another of her wishes. They sigh that it’s a rather expensive luxury though, when they factor in the cost of the missed class from their tuition.
Seung-hyun notices when Nora ignores a call from Hyun-seok, and she and Soon-nam tease her for being more than friends with Hyun-seok. Nora denies it and answers the phone gruffly just to prove her point, only to have Hyun-seok show up in person to steal her away by the wrist in front of them.
Nora protests, but her friends get the hint and run off to do other things, and Hyun-seok thanks them. Nora finally relents and says she’ll come back to work, and it’s pretty funny how they both act like she’s doing him the huge favor.
She says she can’t come today though because she has a date with her son, and Hyun-seok is a little flustered at suddenly being reminded that she’s a mom. He walks her to the bus stop and asks about the mixtape, and she says that it has all her favorite songs, but she hasn’t been able to listen to it because she doesn’t have a cassette player.
He guessed as much and takes his old Walkman out of his bag, and she marvels that he still has that same one from high school. He pops the tape in and sticks an earbud in her ear and takes the other one.
Kim Dong-ryul’s “A Study in Memory” (posted above) starts to play, and she asks when he started to like her. He looks at her and notes that she really doesn’t remember anything, and just tells her to search her memory when she’s bored. They sit like that for a while, taking turns stealing little glances at each other whenever they think the other isn’t looking.
Hyun-seok goes home and looks up more part-time jobs for Nora, and calls a friend to ask if a theater usher position has age requirements.
Min-soo calls to say he’s going to be late, and stands outside Hye-mi’s house all evening until she finally arrives. He gets mad at her for ignoring his calls and making him worry when he’s going through so much right now.
But she counters that he’s the one in his own broody mancave and refusing to tell her what’s going on. Touché. He finally decides to share his problems, and she lights up.
Nora paces worriedly at home, and Woo-chul says that Min-soo is rebelling and this is their answer. But when Min-soo does come home, he sits both his parents down and presents them with the divorce contract that he stole out of Dad’s office. Nice. Score one for the kid.
He tells them to follow the contract as planned, adding pointedly that Dad is the one who likes to keep his promises. Min-soo says he thinks he’s an adult now, because he finds it burdensome that he’s a burden on his parents. He’s also discovered that there are more important things than their marriage, and glances at Mom.
Min-soo tells them that he can’t help but rely on them financially while he’s in school, but promises to repay them once he’s graduated. And finally, Woo-chul tells Nora that once the semester ends this week, they’ll end things. For realsies? You’d better mean it this time.
Nora arrives at work while Hyun-seok is mid-interview, and seems awfully curious when the reporter asks him about his last relationship. He doesn’t comment at all on his personal life, and Nora actually looks jealous when Sang-ye helps him with his jacket in between pictures.
After the interview, he sends Sang-ye off to a friend’s opening night production, and Nora remembers that Sang-ye wants to become a director like him. Aw, is she suddenly getting an inferiority complex over Sang-ye?
Woo-chul decides to chase after that new job opening that his friend mentioned, and schmoozes with the professor who’s retiring and choosing his replacement. Meanwhile Yi-jin glugs down a bottle of wine by herself.
Hyun-seok starts asking Nora about choosing her major and studying for exams, and we see that Yoon-young told him about Nora’s plans to live with Min-soo while they finish school and earn her own tuition. He insists that he’s just looking out for her as a sunbae and teacher, which she thinks is overkill when he’s so busy.
She finishes all her work for the day and is surprised when there isn’t anything else to do, since Hyun-seok was so adamant she had to come. You just wanted her to see you getting interviewed, didn’t you?
When she gets ready to leave, he wonders if she’s mad at him and quickly invents a new errand. He asks her to help him shop for a new suit, and Nora says that she’s never done that before, telling him to get Sang-ye’s help. But he makes it worse by saying that he intended to, but she’s not around today. Ha, she’s totally jealous, and it’s adorable.
She hangs back at the store, saying that she doesn’t know his taste, but Hyun-seok insists that she pick something out. He tries it on and it’s written all over her face that she thinks he looks good. Because yunno, she has eyes.
He calls her out on it, so then they bicker about whether or not she thinks he’s hot, and he fawns over his own reflection until she finally laughs and admits that he’s good-looking. Her mood is lifted so she picks out the next suit, and the salesperson asks if this is his girlfriend.
Hyun-seok reacts like he said the most preposterous thing, and calls Nora his little sister who follows oppa around even at this age. Oh no, stop shooting yourself in the foot! That is not what she wants to hear right now!
She frowns and leaves the store feeling down again, and Hyun-seok starts to say that since she helped him shop he should buy her clothes too… but says he won’t because it’s not like she’s his girlfriend or anything.
He tops it off by offering to buy her dinner, though for some reason he feels the need to point out that he’s going to buy her rice because pasta and steak are reserved for girlfriends. Ack, did you wake up with your foot in your mouth today?
He pauses to make a call, which is when Nora sees a sign looking for a part-time employee at a children’s theater next door. They’re looking for someone with dance experience who can work with children and keep their attention with pre-show activities. Wait, you brought her here on purpose, didn’t you? Do you even need a suit?
Hyun-seok says she’d be perfect for that job, though Nora is less sure and says she’ll think about it. He prods her to go for it on the drive back, and she gets mad at him for nagging her all day over every little thing. She wonders if he thinks of her as a child, like she’s incapable of doing things on her own.
He sighs that he’s just nervous is all, though he doesn’t explain what he means by it. He covers up by saying that he must’ve just taken his oppa duties too seriously, and wonders if he should stop being an oppa.
Woo-chul is waiting for Nora at home, and tells her that he’s planning to transfer schools because that’s what’s best for Min-soo and Nora. You mean yourself, but whatever. He says he needs her help to secure the other job though. Hm.
Hyun-seok and Sang-ye are surprised when Nora shows up for work the next day all dressed up. All she tells them is that she has a dinner to attend straight after work, and Hyun-seok just spends the whole day glancing at her curiously, unable to ask questions.
Woo-chul goes shopping for jewelry and picks the most expensive necklace he can find, which makes me suspicious that this favor is just another ploy to stall the divorce.
He shows up unannounced to pick Nora up at work, and Hyun-seok watches with a long face from his window as she heads out. This time she pauses and looks up towards the window back at him, then gets in the car to go.
Sang-ye wonders if Nora is making amends with Woo-chul, since it looks very date-like the way they left. But Hyun-seok says that Nora isn’t going back to him, and there must be a reason she’s out with him tonight.
She attends a dinner with his colleague, who’s impressed by her beauty and guesses that that’s why Woo-chul kept her hidden all these years. And he seems to think Nora is Woo-chul’s age (which Woo-chul must’ve lied about so as to seem less like a college student who knocked up a high schooler).
His German professor arrives with his wife, and Nora is taken aback when the professor asks why she never once came to Germany in the four years that Woo-chul was studying there. What. You kept her that hidden that people didn’t even know she was there with you?
Hyun-seok paces on his terrace all night, clearly more worried about Nora’s date than he let on.
The professor sings Woo-chul’s praises, and tells a story about how back in 2000, he was injured and almost had to cancel a trip to the U.S. for a conference. Despite the professor’s protests, Woo-chul insisted on going with him and presented a paper there.
The men laugh about how much whiskey they drank on that trip, but Nora lingers on the date: the spring of 2000…. Flashback to Grandma’s collapse in that year, when she had clamored to hug her pillow stuffed with money, and made a call to tell someone that Nora’s college tuition is in there, and that Grandma is sorry. She dies, and Nora hears about it over the phone from Yoon-young.
Nora gets the call just as Woo-chul is getting ready to leave on his trip for the conference, and he makes a call and tells her that there are no direct flights to Korea left. They’d have to go through Moscow and they’d miss the funeral anyway. She says it doesn’t matter—she has to go to her grandmother.
But Woo-chul says he has to go to Washington, and argues that she can’t go to Korea alone with Min-soo when he’s this sick. She begs him to take care of Min-soo, crying that he could have another chance to present a paper, but she’ll never be able to see her grandmother again.
It’s hardly a surprise, but it’s still heartbreaking when Woo-chul tells her to ask Yoon-young to handle the funeral, and they’ll go later since they’re already too late as it is. She’s in shock as he explains that this conference could mean a university position and their futures, and then just leaves her there and runs out because he doesn’t want to miss his flight. Wow.
Back in the present, Nora’s eyes flood with angry tears and she looks over at Woo-chul fuming with rage. She darts up and walks away without explanation, and Woo-chul chases after her.
When he catches up to her, she whirls around and just slaps hard across the face. Twice. She snarls, “You bastard. April 2000 is when my grandmother died!” He suddenly realizes his mistake, but she cuts him off to ask if there really weren’t any flights, and he protests that he’s not that terrible a human being. I think you’d have some argument there.
Tears spill out as Nora declares, “You thought of your teaching position as bigger than my grandmother, who was a mother and a father to me!” He has nothing to say in response, and she leaves him standing there in a daze, holding the jewelry box he was so excited about earlier.
Nora runs to Grandma’s (new) ddukboki shop and bangs on the door crying out for her. She sinks to the ground and wails for Grandma with a fresh wave of pain and regret, crying that she’s so sorry.
After spilling all her tears, she looks back inside the shop and pictures her happy times playing with Grandma, and smiles at the vision wistfully before walking away.
We fade into morning, as Woo-chul and Nora walk away from the courthouse together. He stops and watches her walk on ahead without him, and says in a quiet voice, “I’m sorry.”
Omg, they’re divorced! *throws party*
I really thought they were going to drag that out till eternity, especially with Woo-chul’s newfound conviction to keep his family together. It so fit with his character that in all this time, he never once considered Nora’s feelings until the very end. I suppose it’s bittersweet that the one time he can give her what she wants is to divorce her, but at his level of self-centeredness, I’m honestly shocked that he had a moment of genuine empathy and remorse enough to give her even that. It seemed to sober him when his own son schooled him on keeping his word, and at that point he stopped being able to use Min-soo as an excuse to keep Nora around. I found it really heartbreaking when Min-soo discovered that he might’ve held his mother back, not in a self-pitying or guilty way, but just as a matter of fact. He seems to finally see now just how much of herself she gave up to raise him, just as Nora finally realizes how controlling Woo-chul was all these years.
It wasn’t surprising that he kept her hidden away for four years, though given the circumstances—moving to a country where she doesn’t speak the language or know anyone—it seems extra severe to keep her so secluded and solely dependent on him. But to be that blatantly self-serving when her grandmother passed away, for something so minor when he could’ve had plenty of other opportunities to be recognized in his field? He actually acted like she was bothering him with her problems, when he had more important things to do. What kind of person does that? I would’ve wailed like that for Grandma all over again too, because there’s no making up for that lost time, for that mistake in trusting Woo-chul and thinking of him as family, when he’s never once loved anyone but himself.
But what makes me respect Nora is that she puts blame where it’s due, and acknowledges Woo-chul’s flaws, but also her own. She didn’t have enough confidence to raise Min-soo on her own, and she wanted to believe that Woo-chul would take care of her like a father would. As much as he exerted control, she also gave up control of her own life, and let him make the decisions for her. It takes a lot for her to recognize that, and I love seeing her bump up against Hyun-seok’s concern and nagging because she’s trying extra hard to live the other way, where she doesn’t rely on anyone for anything. It shows that she’s learning from her mistakes, even though I’m sure there’s a happy medium in there somewhere, where she allows herself to accept help without giving up the reins to her life. Not that someone as respectful as Hyun-seok would even want that.
I find it amusing that it doesn’t even occur to Nora that Hyun-seok might like her now, though that makes Yoon-young’s discovery all the funnier (I hope she gets to tease him a LOT for it). On the upside, that means we get two confessions—one for the past, one for the present—and get to enjoy Nora’s jealousy and insecurity around Hyun-seok a little longer. I love that he’s trying super hard to give her space and holding his breath while waiting for her to get divorced without pushing her, and the whole time she thinks she’s getting shot down as a potential girlfriend. I can’t wait to see how twisted up things will get for their romance before they finally realize that they’re on the same page. Because from here on out, the misunderstandings can only be of the gleefully embarrassing, adorably happy variety. Okay, I’m ready for my buckets of happy now! Is it Saturday yet?
- Twenty Again: Episode 12
- Twenty Again: Episode 11
- Thing vs. Thing: Higher learning
- Twenty Again: Episode 10
- Twenty Again: Episode 9
- Twenty Again: Episode 8
- Twenty Again: Episode 7
- Twenty Again: Episode 6
- Twenty Again: Episode 5
- Twenty Again: Episode 4
- Twenty Again: Episode 3
- Twenty Again: Episode 2
- Twenty Again: Episode 1