Age of Youth: Episode 3
For as much time as our heroines spend thinking about (or actively engaging with) romantic interests/members of the opposite sex, it turns out that female friendships — or more accurately, love-hate relationships with your roommates — are just as frustrating and difficult to navigate. It’s easy to brush off your housemates as strangers that you happen to share a place with; it’s a whole different story to have to admit that these “strangers” actually play a bigger role in your life, challenging you and changing you in more ways than one.
EPISODE 3: “I’ve never once loved myself #rotten roots”
Yi-na gets pampered at a beauty salon. Instead of paying with her own credit card, she swaps it out for one with a man’s name on it.
In a voiceover, Yi-na says that she lives an easy life, thanks to her youth and good looks. As she struts down the street, she continues: “People look down on living an easy life. I don’t get it…is living an easy life a bad thing? Just because you live a hard life, does that mean you’re living properly?” She says that unless you live twice, there’s no way of knowing what’s truly right — that’s just how life is.
Yi-na sits down at a café, where a waiter delivers her a coffee and slips her his number. But Yi-na’s there to meet someone: a short, plump, middle-aged man whom she enthusiastically calls “honey.”
Apparently, this man is her boyfriend — he picked her up six months ago at a hotel bar, and she liked his confidence. Besides this guy, Yi-na’s seeing two other men. Number Two wooed her with flowers. She liked Number Three (the married dentist) because he was totally up-front — he slid her his credit card as they met, and she happily put it in her purse.
She notes that the young guy she had lunch with in an earlier episode is just a friend, and he does the same type of “work” that Yi-na does.
Yi-na says that all of her boyfriends know they’re in a fake relationship with her. In other words, she’s playing a role for each guy, while getting an allowance in exchange.
We return to a scene from the Belle Epoque house, when Yi-na walks in just as Ye-eun calls her a prostitute. In her room, Yi-na leans against her closed door and says the word “prostitute” out loud. She thinks to herself that it’s true, but it really hits home when someone else says the word.
Yi-na heads out to the hotel bar again — this is where she picks up her boyfriends. She narrates that three boyfriends is a good number to have, but she’s troubled by Boyfriend Number Two, who keeps bringing up money and telling her to spend less. It could be time to switch it up.
She scans the bar for prospects, using the men she sees to demonstrate three criteria that she uses to screen her men. First, he can’t be too old. The second guy she sees seems to have potential — he’s got on expensive clothes and accessories — but then he disqualifies himself by licking his lips at her. Gross. Yi-na thinks back to the time when she ran out of a hotel room to get away from a guy dressed as Sailor Moon, and says that the money she gets from these guys should be considered hazard pay.
Yi-na turns her attention to a third man, but he’s disqualified too, this time because of his cheap outfit. This is her third and the most important criterion: money, and lots of it. Yi-na says the woman who owns this hotel bar is a good example of what happens when you date a guy without money: Her guy bought her expensive gifts to woo her, but it turned out he was embezzling from his workplace and went to jail for it. Now he works as a bartender at her bar.
As said bartender serves the third guy that Yi-na checked out, she notices a cut on the man’s hand. She leaves, not having found anyone suitable to seduce.
Back at the house, Ji-won, Ye-eun, and Eun-jae discuss the latest revelation regarding Yi-na: She’s not really a college student. The three all marvel at Yi-na’s undercover life — Ye-eun doesn’t understand why she’d live the way she does if she doesn’t even have to worry about tuition, and Ji-won’s more understanding, saying that it’s to live an easy life, and plenty of others do it too.
Jin-myung comes home and pretty much has zero reaction to the news that Yi-na’s not a student. Eun-jae, meanwhile, is distracted by the ghostly cabinet again, and asks Ji-won if souls have colors — after all, Ji-won said she could tell Yi-na was lying by the color of her aura.
Looking over at the cabinet, Ji-won nods. She says the ghost in question is grey, and it gives off a sad, depressed feeling. When Jin-myung comes out into the kitchen, Ye-eun asks her if there had been any incidents in their apartment — a death, or maybe a murder? But Jin-myung says no.
Ye-eun turns to Eun-jae and says the ghost must have followed her here — it only appeared after she moved in. Looking uncomfortable, Eun-jae dodges Ye-eun’s question about whether or not she knows anyone who died. But Jin-myung points out that the ghost could be someone who’s not dead yet, like someone in a vegetative state.
The conversation comes to a halt when Yi-na returns home, and she moves past her housemates wordlessly. In her room, she smells something funny and looks around, wondering where the smell is coming from.
Ye-eun can’t sleep and asks Ji-won if she doesn’t feel a little uneasy, what with Yi-na possibly bringing home diseases from all the guys she’s been with. A drowsy Ji-won mumbles that Ye-eun has a point.
The next morning, Eun-jae enters the bathroom just after Yi-na. Yi-na notices that Eun-jae flushes the toilet again; what she doesn’t see is Eun-jae wiping down the seat with toilet paper. Ye-eun collects her laundry left hanging to dry, but flinches when she accidentally takes down Yi-na’s underwear, holding it far away from her with two fingers. Yi-na watches from across the room, looking as if she’s unsure whether to laugh or cry.
Yi-na returns to the bar and catches a man stealing glances at her — it’s the same guy from the other night (Choi Duk-moon), the one she disqualified for not having enough money.
She ends up spilling her guts to him, complaining about how her roommates are treating her like she has AIDS. He wonders why she’s telling him all this, but she doesn’t see the problem, as it’s not like she’s going to date him. His face falls a bit at that, but he denies that he’s interested in her.
He shifts the conversation back to her housemates and asks if she’s going to move out. She says she doesn’t think she should have to, even if she lied about being a student. He wonders why she’s so intent on living in the house, going so far as to lie. Yi-na looks upset at the question, but quickly puts on a fake smile to answer a call from one of her boyfriends.
Boyfriend Number Two and Yi-na take a detour on their way to the hotel, stopping at a restaurant — and it happens to be the one where Jin-myung works. Thankfully, Jin-myung’s not their waitress, but Yi-na keeps looking over at her, while Jin-myung carefully avoids her gaze.
Picking at her food, Yi-na thinks back to the night she first met Jin-myung: Two women were beating Yi-na for sleeping with one of their husbands, just in front of the convenience store where Jin-myung worked. In her usual stoic way, Jin-myung intervened by threatening to call the cops and scared the women away. Yi-na lingered outside the window for a while, watching Jin-myung study at the counter.
It looks like Yi-na and Jin-myung ended up housemates by coincidence — Yi-na came to see the empty room at the house where Jin-myung was already living, and they both were surprised to meet again. Jin-myung assumed that she came from a rich family when Yi-na said she wanted to use the room by herself, and when Jin-myung asked Yi-na if she was a student, she said yes. Yi-na says this moment was the beginning of her lie.
The chef at Jin-myung’s restaurant, PARK JAE-WAN, stops a bus just before it takes off. He confirms with the driver where the bus is headed, then holds the door for a beat before Jin-myung runs up, out of breath. Aw, was he holding the bus for her?
Jin-myung just gets on, not even bothering to wave back at Jae-wan from her window seat. She does look back at him once the bus gets moving though, then smiles the tiniest of smiles. Yay, you’re not made of stone!
Jin-myung walks home and sees Yi-na in a cab, passing her by. In the cab, Yi-na turns around to look at Jin-myung, but the car keeps moving.
Yi-na is taking off her makeup when she smells something again in her room. She investigates and finds the roots of one of her plants rotten, with maggots crawling around the pot. That’s… disgusting. And kind of unnecessary.
She’s cleaning out the plant when Jin-myung finally gets home. Yi-na brings up Jin-myung’s restaurant job, then offers to introduce Jin-myung to a man, so she doesn’t have to work so hard. But Jin-myung’s not interested, and Yi-na watches her walk away.
Yi-na’s back at the bar, extra dressed up and looking like she’s waiting for someone. She brightens when she sees the man she shared her worries with last time, and launches into another one-sided conversation with him. He looks disinterested in what she’s saying, but then tells her it seems like she really cares a lot about what Jin-myung thinks. Yi-na vehemently denies it and walks away; the man glances over at her as she sidles up next to another man, and he’s giving me the creeps.
Poor Jin-myung is working herself to the bone, as usual. She takes the graveyard shift at the convenience store, where she attempts to study at the counter. A shifty-looking man in a baseball cap catches her attention, and Jin-myung has her finger on the panic alarm button as he approaches her… but it turns out that he’s just buying a condom and trying to hide his embarrassment. Relieved, she rings him up, and in the morning she barely makes it to class on time.
In the cafeteria, Eun-jae’s sunbae Jong-yeol slides up next to her and totally wigs her out with his attention. She’s able to escape him when she spots Jin-myung eating lunch solo, and apologetically asks if she can join her.
Eun-jae asks Jin-myung if people get bullied in college too, then tells her about Jong-yeol bothering her. Eun-jae says she was bullied in high school — or rather, she didn’t have many friends — and hoped that she could turn things around in college. Jin-myung’s not very empathetic, saying she wishes she could worry about things like that, instead of more serious issues like paying rent and taxes.
Perhaps in the spirit of turning things around, Eun-jae makes it out to a department get-together at a club. But she’s not being very social, sitting alone drinking beer. Jong-yeol joins her, thinking her cute, and in no time, he drags her downstairs to the dance floor. With nowhere to go, Eun-jae’s forced to do some awkward, cringe-worthy dancing, clapping her hands and looking like she might die of embarrassment any second.
She slips away and tries to head back upstairs, but she spots someone busting it out on the dance floor to the whoops and cheers of the others — it’s Ji-won! Eun-jae re-joins the group to get a better look and breaks out into a huge smile, cheering Ji-won on and finally having some fun.
It turns out that Eun-jae’s got a bit of a girl crush on Ji-won, who’s stepped up to take Eun-jae under her wing. When Eun-jae got a bad perm, Ji-won took her back to the salon and demanded that they fix it, which they did. Ji-won chewed out a salesperson at a store for selling Eun-jae a shirt with a hole in it. And when Eun-jae found a hair in her bowl of noodles at lunch, Ji-won called over the waitress to complain, scoring them free food. Every time Ji-won stood up for Eun-jae, Eun-jae saw her as a guardian angel, growing larger than life before her eyes.
Back at the club, Ji-won finishes her dance with a flourish surrounded by cheering fans. This includes Eun-jae, who looks like an adoring puppy, clapping excitedly.
Eun-jae looks to Ji-won for some dance lessons at home, but she’s a lost cause — she stiffly copies Ji-won’s moves, looking painfully awkward and aware of herself. Ji-won gives up when she gets a much more interesting text from a friend, offering to set her up with a guy. Ji-won responds with her characteristic enthusiasm, super psyched to see that the guy is good-looking.
She meets up with the guy at a café, and after the date, Ji-won skips home on cloud nine. She raves to her housemates about the guy, confident that things went really well. She even acts out their goodbye at the bus stop, double hand wave and all, then sings and dances her way to her room.
Ye-eun checks her phone to see if her boyfriend Doo-young has responded to her text, but the message remains unread. She heads into her room to find Ji-won deflated, sitting on the floor with her head down. Sad, did she get rejected already? The answer is yes: Her matchmaker friend had texted her to say that the guy just wants to be friends.
Ye-eun sighs and asks if Ji-won pulled out her impersonations and signature dance moves on the date. Ji-won just slumps down and says her date found her funny, and they had a great conversation. But when Ye-eun pushes, Ji-won admits she did most of the talking — about 75 percent of it, in fact, citing her fear of awkward silences.
A phone dings, and Ye-eun checks hers in hopes that it’s Doo-young — it’s not. She complains at his lack of communication, and Ji-won wonders when she’ll get to complain about such things, too.
Doo-young finally responds to Ye-eun’s text, inviting her to come out and meet him. She excitedly gets dressed and is about to head out when she gets another text from him, telling her not to come out after all. Womp womp. Ye-eun can’t even respond with how she’s really feeling, swallowing her anger and texting back that she’s tired anyway.
Just then, Yi-na bursts out of her room, yelling at one of her boyfriends on the phone. It sounds like he’s giving her a hard time for not coming out to meet him, but Yi-na’s having none of that — she tells him she’s not going out, and he shouldn’t call her.
As Yi-na hangs up, she asks Ye-eun if she wasn’t leaving. That comment sends Ye-eun over the edge, and she stomps up to Yi-na to snatch away the cup she was using, saying it’s hers. Yi-na apologizes, but Ye-eun pushes it further, scrubbing the cup in the sink and calling Yi-na dirty.
The argument between the two escalates, and both Eun-jae and Ji-won peek out of their rooms. Just as Jin-myung’s getting home, Ye-eun tosses the final barb at Yi-na, telling her that she has to be dirty, going around and putting her lips on all sorts of things.
At that, Yi-na marches over to Ye-eun and firmly plants a kiss right on her lips. That. Is. Hilarious. As the other three housemates stare in shock, Ye-eun starts screaming and crying. Yi-na yells that Ye-eun should keep watch on her lips to see if they turn rotten.
Ye-eun recounts the incident to Doo-young the next day (and of course, the first thing he wants to know is if Ye-eun used tongue.) He does offer to go scold Yi-na for her, but Ye-eun says she’ll take care of it herself.
Meanwhile, Yi-na complains about Ye-eun to her pseudo therapist guy at the bar. He listens to her go on for a while, then points out that she has a scratch on her neck.
Yi-na must be thinking about moving out of the house, as Boyfriend Number Three (the dentist) shows her a small officetel, telling her she can move right in and redecorate if she wants. Yi-na thinks back to what she said to Jin-myung about living an easy life by getting a boyfriend, then tells her boyfriend that she’s hungry.
She clearly has an agenda, as she heads right back to Jin-myung’s restaurant and requests one of Jin-myung’s tables. As Jin-myung pours wine for them, Yi-na tries to bait her, talking about spending her boyfriend’s money, then saying hello to her directly, but Jin-myung just ignores her. To her boyfriend, Yi-na refers to Jin-myung as just her housemate, not a friend, and asks him to leave a tip.
When Jin-myung cleans up their table, she finds a hefty tip – 100,000 won — which she pockets after a beat. She heads back into the kitchen, lost in thought over Yi-na, when Chef Jae-wan asks her for some help. They head out to the back to load up his cart, but instead of having her do any work, he sits her down in front of a dessert plate. He tells her she looks worn out already, and that eating sweets will help.
Reaching for a tart, Jin-myung asks Jae-wan how he knew she was having a hard time. He’s straight with her, saying that when you like someone, it’s easy to tell. At that, Jin-myung pauses, but then smiles a little smile and takes a bite. She even jokes with him, telling him that the dessert isn’t very good, before breaking out into a bigger smile. Cute.
The exhausted Jin-myung heads home after her shift, and once again, Yi-na’s cab pulls up just behind her. But this time, Yi-na stops and offers Jin-myung a ride. She declines, so Yi-na gets out instead.
As they walk, Yi-na asks Jin-myung if it’s worth it — to work as hard as she does now, only to end up as a mere company employee in the end. Yi-na says she mentioned Jin-myung’s financial situation to her boyfriend, and he offered to pay for her tuition. She tells Jin-myung to think of it like a scholarship, which… still doesn’t make any sense.
Of course, Jin-myung doesn’t want to take the money. Annoyed, Yi-na asks Jin-myung if she hates her. At that, Jin-myung looks squarely at Yi-na and tosses the question back at her — why does Yi-na hate her? And is it Jin-myung she hates, or the fact that she’s poor?
As Jin-myung walks off, Yi-na thinks to herself: “I hate you because I’m jealous of you. I hate you because you don’t have anything, but you make me feel poor…I want to be like you but I can’t, so the only thing I can do is hate you. That’s why it smells — there’s a rotten smell coming from my jealousy.”
Back at home, Ye-eun tries to convince Ji-won and Eun-jae to kick Yi-na out of the house. Because Ji-won and Eun-jae aren’t terrible people, the two refuse to take a position. Ye-eun’s aghast, asking them to think about what it would mean to live with a woman who sells her body. She brings Jin-myung into the conversation as soon as she gets home, and threatens to leave the house if Yi-na’s allowed to stay.
Yi-na calls out that she doesn’t need to do that — she’ll move out instead. In her room, she stares at a fluorescent bracelet, switching the light on and off to see it glow, before tucking it away.
Elsewhere, a picture of the Belle Epoque house is pinned up on a wall, along with maps, post-its, and photos of Yi-na, taken from afar. A man enters the room and ugh, it’s the guy from the bar she’s been chatting with. He sits on his bed and looks up at his stalker wall, focusing on a shot of Yi-na, flagged with a note that reads “place she frequents.” He is SO CREEPY.
In an epilogue, Yi-na sits for an interview; when she’s asked about her fluorescent bracelet, she says it’s a talisman.
First, we had Stalker Boy, and now, we have Creepy Stalker Man. I’m scared for what’s to come for Yi-na — how close will she get to Stalker Man before she finds out the truth about him?
I like Yi-na’s character — I think she adds a refreshing dynamic to the house, especially as a foil to Ye-eun (who I find to be the least likable housemate by a long shot), and the way she pushes some of our roommates’ buttons is fun to watch. But, this episode felt a little draggy to me, especially during her scenes at the bar and her interactions with her different boyfriends. I understand the show’s need to catch us up on how she operates, but I wish we would have gotten something, anything, on why Yi-na is the way she is. What’s her backstory? Why is she so insistent on living a life of luxury (when it comes to material goods, that is), but not on working towards it like Jin-myung?
Yi-na’s relationship with Jin-myung is actually really interesting, with both women so wary of one another, and the two being pretty similar to each other in terms of circumstance. I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of their story with this episode — we only got to hear how Yi-na feels about Jin-myung at the very end, and we still don’t know what exactly Jin-myung’s thoughts are on Yi-na. There’s more to mine here, and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) digging deeper into their conflict.
The show continues to be pretty uneven as a whole — there’s some jumping around of timelines and sequences that I think is confusing; it’s too heavy handed with the “theme” of each episode; and I’m finding most of its visual effects to be unnecessary. But still, I like the characters and where their stories are going, individually and together. I’m especially glad to see that the roommates are challenging one another in ways big and small, forcing them to reevaluate their thinking and their actions. It hasn’t necessarily led to growth for all our characters just yet, but at least the potential is there. The ghost subplot is still hanging around in the background, but I’ve come around to it, as long as it keeps being used as a setup to give us more info on our heroines’ stories.
Finally, I’m loving the work that Han Ye-ri and Park Eun-bin are doing here — they play completely different characters in Jin-myung and Ji-won, but they’ve both made fans out of me. They just make you want to root for them, not just for their overall growth and eventual happiness, but also for them to find love with guys that they both deserve. This applies especially to Ji-won, who’s amazing and funny and honest about her inability to figure out guys. I’m on your side! Fighting!
- Age of Youth: Episode 2
- Age of Youth: Episode 1
- Lies, girlfriends, and growing pains in JTBC’s Age of Youth
- Five-way roommate lineup assembles for JTBC’s Age of Youth
- Park Eun-bin, Park Hye-soo up for JTBC’s Age of Youth
- More potential roommates for JTBC’s Age of Youth
- Han Ye-ri considering upbeat JTBC roommate drama Age of Youth