Age of Youth: Episode 4
I think I love this show. The wait for episodes doesn’t exactly drive me insane like most dramas, but when I do get to watch another episode, I fall back into the story effortlessly as soon as the characters walk onscreen. It’s almost like sitting down for an hour and catching up with some friends. And in today’s episode, we catch up with our silent observer Jin-myung, a character whose inner thoughts I’ve been dying to hear since day one.
EPISODE 4: “My dream is to be a company employee #proof of poverty”
Earbuds in as always, our eldest housemate Jin-myung waits for the bus. She narrates that there was a time when she wanted to be special, and as far from average as possible.
She takes the bus to a hospital, and she goes straight up to a room. The patient inside is a young man, unconscious. As Jin-myung blankly stares at his face, she thinks that being called average would’ve been an insult back then. But now, she’s doing everything she can to be average. To work in a company, just as Yi-na had said.
Her mother enters and pushes past her to take care of the young man. “I told you to wait in the lobby,” her mother tells Jin-myung coldly. Mom tells her to leave, so Jin-myung complies, but not before taking one last look at the man. “Right now, I’m even less than average,” Jin-myung narrates matter-of-factly.
The next day, Jin-myung makes a run for the door and throws her goodbyes over her shoulder, in a rush as always.
After stopping by another one of her part-time gigs at a house, the owner stops her from hurrying out to give her some food. Jin-myung checks her watch, but the owner takes her good ol’ time. Which causes Jin-myung to miss her next bus.
She eventually makes it to her restaurant job (did she run the whole way??), albeit soaking wet from the rain. Her manager notes her tardiness, looking rather displeased. At home, Ji-won, Ye-eun, and Eun-jae color together while wondering how Jin-myung can handle so many jobs. And even so, with all the money she racks up, she still makes less than what Yi-na would get from one of her suitors.
At the end of another busy day at the restaurant, Jin-myung apologizes to the manager, though she doesn’t answer why she was late. He just tells her not to let it happen again.
She readies herself to go under the rain again when an umbrella pops open above her head. Friendly chef Jae-wan smiles and walks her to the bus stop (making sure to give her more space under the umbrella, awww).
It doesn’t make Jin-myung feel all that comfortable though. “Please don’t treat me so well. If you treat me well and then stop, it’ll just be harder for me,” she says. Her bus comes and she steps in without another glance in his direction.
But she’s surprised when Jae-wan plops down in the seat right next to her. “Can’t I just keep treating you well then?” he asks, “I can do that, right?” Flustered, she looks out the window and tries her damnedest not to smile, but totally fails.
He takes her all the way to the front door of Belle Epoque house with the umbrella. Since the last bus is gone, he tells her he’ll rest up at a nearby jjimjilbang. She calls him foolish for going through all this trouble, making Jae-wan smile again. He tells her to go inside, and reluctantly, she does.
The girls greet her once she’s inside, but she whisks right past them and goes out to the balcony. And down below, Jae-wan is looking right at her. She smiles brightly, giving Jae-wan his cue to finally leave. The girls ask what she’s doing and she panics, slamming the window way too hard and smashing her index finger in the process.
Ye-eun, Ji-won, and Eun-jae interview a new girl for Yi-na’s room, and she seems okay until the girl explains how ridiculous her old roommates were with tidying the house: only cleaning the bathroom for thirty minutes and even washing their clothes with their underwear.
The girls seem to find this one a little on the cuckoo side, but they see her out with plastered-on smiles.
Meanwhile, Yi-na kicks back in her new apartment, singing and dancing while enjoying the quiet, open space. When she sinks into the bed, her energy drains as soon as it came.
Eun-jae notices Jin-myung drinking alone by the balcony, though Ji-won and Ye-eun reassure her it’s a normal Sunday night ritual for Jin-myung. However, Jin-myung seems to have more thoughts than normal. She gazes out the window, remembering Jae-wan watching her from the street.
The next day, Ji-won and Ye-eun attack Eun-jae with tickles, wanting more info on a boy she had a special moment with during a department trip. It’s so nice to see how close these three have gotten. Eun-jae seeks help from Jin-myung, but they’re all surprised when Jin-myung joins in on the teasing and asks what kind of guy he is.
Well, now Eun-jae’s trapped and she has to spill.
Enter story mode: Eun-jae had some trouble carrying her bag, so classmate Jong-yeol had stepped in and grabbed it. Eun-jae had misinterpreted his intentions and figured he’d just tease her again later. So in a huff, he’d just dropped his own stuff at her feet, telling her to carry that too. Oh, come on, boy, you’re just making it worse for yourself.
And, of course, in the present, Eun-jae hurriedly states that Jong-yeol isn’t her guy — Jong-yeol is someone who only bothers her. Then, who is her guy, Ye-eun wonders. Eun-jae smiles shyly.
Apparently, after Jong-yeol had left, another boy tsk-tsked behind her, saying all the heavy lifting should be handled by the men. Eun-jae had turned around—angels literally singing in the background—to find a tall, long-haired boy glowing from the sunlight. One offer to carry her bags and one hair flip later, Eun-jae had completely fallen.
The girls cringe at the cheesiness of it all, but break into giggles when Ji-won reminds Eun-jae to use a condom if needed. Jin-myung freely smiles, though it immediately drops when she sees that the smile was caught by Ji-won.
While prepping for work at the restaurant, Jin-myung applies a bit of lipstick and makes sure to bandage up her bruised finger. The night goes pretty smoothly, with more so-subtle-you-barely-notice eye flirting with Jae-wan. Afterwards, everyone goes out for a staff dinner. Jae-wan falls back when he’s told Jin-myung has already left for her other job.
At her convenience store job, Jin-myung’s eyes wander away from her studies and onto the security monitor where she can see a young happy couple at a table. Her eyes are glued to the screen with intrigue, maybe even longing, though she eventually snaps herself out of it.
She automatically calls out a greeting to the sound of the door chime, and it turns out to be the last person she expected. “Why are there so many convenience stores in this neighborhood?” Jae-wan says, “This is the fifth one I’ve been to already.” She asks if he was trying to find her, but he just grins and buys them both drinks.
He presents her with a twist-tie ring, and makes sure to emphasize that it’s not just an ordinary twist-tie—it’s a legit ring. Jin-myung seems to melt as he slips it onto her finger. Even after she gets home, she can’t stop looking at it. She rests in Yi-na’s old room and admires the ring, making it clear that it’s not an ordinary twist-tie to her at all.
In her new apartment, Yi-na gives up on trying to sleep. Instead, she looks through the Belle Epoque house group chat and re-reads old texts, laughing at the girls’ usual banter.
Ji-won and Eun-jae interview another potential housemate who turns out to be even shyer than Eun-jae. After they politely show the girl out, Ji-won wonders if the resident ghost is sabotaging their efforts to find a roommate. The comment gets Eun-jae nervous again.
Ye-eun goes out with boyfriend Doo-young, where they sign a quick petition on the street and then head to the movies. Doo-young scowls at her and suddenly says he’s not in the mood for a movie. Or for the rest of their date, apparently, because he drives her all the way home. Ye-eun is understandably confused at his sudden annoyance and asks in a small voice what she did wrong.
He opens her door and huffs, “When you signed the petition earlier, why did you write your school name?” Wait—that’s what you’re mad about? He accuses her of showing off that she goes to a better college than him, which Ye-eun innocently denies. Doo-young only gets more frustrated with her answers and yanks her out of the car and onto the ground. Oh, hell no.
Thankfully, this entire scene is witnessed by Yi-na and she struts right up to Doo-young and whacks him on the head with her purse. She then turns to Ye-eun: “Who is this bastard? Why is he doing this to you?” Embarrassed, Ye-eun stands up and walks past both of them to hurry inside.
Yi-na follows Ye-eun all the way to her room and asks if that bastard is her boyfriend. “Break up with him right now,” Yi-na orders. She doesn’t want Ye-eun dating a guy like him.
But Ye-eun doesn’t want to listen. She shouts that it’s her love life and it isn’t like Yi-na’s is any better. She slams her bedroom door, screaming at Yi-na to leave the house. Equally agitated, Yi-na screams back that she will.
Jin-myung goes shopping for a new pair of shoes, then at the restaurant, she gets Jae-wan’s attention and sneaks him away from mealtime. She hands him a gift, though she stresses that it’s nothing much and scurries off. We see her put her old ratty shoes away in her locker, having chosen to buy his present instead of the shoes she needed.
Jae-wan beams as he opens the gift—a knife sharpener—and he makes sure to use it right in front of Jin-myung as she goes in and out of the kitchen. She doesn’t express her content until her face is out of his view. So many smiles from her in this episode. Gotta love it.
While handing a customer their order, the pain in Jin-myung’s finger causes her to drop the plate a little too harshly. The manager notices this and later confronts her about it in the employee break room. He rips the bandages off her finger, nearly ripping off her nail as well, and berates her for serving with hands that would disgust the customers. He orders everyone else to go home. From the kitchen, Jae-wan watches her sadly, unable to speak up.
Even after everyone leaves, Jae-wan waits for Jin-myung outside, but she never comes out. He goes back inside and searches the entire building, but she’s nowhere to be found.
Her manager takes Jin-myung out for a late dinner and drinks to explain that he only yelled at her as a show in front of the other workers. In truth, he put himself through college as well, so he understands how she feels. He drives her home that night, dropping her off just as Jae-wan arrives. Jae-wan watches from afar as Jin-myung gets out of the car and trudges inside the house. I hope he’s not getting the wrong idea.
Jae-wan gets even more confused when he hears the next day that Jin-myung’s been promoted to register duty.
Yi-na gets a bit tipsy at the bar and continues sharing her relationship troubles with her new bar buddy, AKA Creepy Stalker Man. It’s making me uneasy that she’s being so open with this guy.
What’s really bothering Yi-na is the nightmares she’s been having since she moved. “I’ve fallen into water,” she tells him, “It’s pitch black, but someone is staring at me underwater.” She thinks it might be a person, but it could also be some sort of beast.
She breaks off and asks the man if he wants to come to her apartment, but quickly changes her mind. The man lets out a shaky breath, though I can’t tell if it’s because of her offer or her dream. He excuses himself to the restroom to splash his face with some water. When he comes out, he’s surprised to see that Yi-na is already gone.
Once off work, Jin-myung finds Jae-wan waiting for her outside as always. They silently walk to the bus stop together, though the silence today is more awkward than usual. Jae-wan is the first to speak, saying he waited for her yesterday too. Jin-myung says what he already knows—that the manager drove her home.
Jae-wan turns to face her. “Please tell me it’s not like that,” he pleads. Jin-myung seems to close up and heads for her oncoming bus instead. He grabs her wrist, finally getting the words out of her. Jin-myung: “If I told you, would you believe me?” Jae-wan: “Yes.” Her expression softens, but she still removes his hand and escapes onto the bus.
As she walks home, alone with her thoughts, an extremely drunk Yi-na drops out of a taxi and stumbles into the house. The poor girl just can’t seem to stay away.
Yi-na makes a beeline for the bathroom, while the other girls stand there in shock. Once she’s out, Yi-na slurs an apology for using their bathroom and starts to leave. She comes to a sudden stop and points at Ji-won, wondering if the ghost in the cupboard left. It must have, Yi-na says, because the ghost followed her out and is now showing up in her dreams.
She turns away to leave again only to slip and fall, sending Ye-eun down with her. Yi-na holds Ye-eun down and looks her straight in the eye. “You,” Yi-na’s voice becomes stern. “Stop seeing that guy. I’m saying this because I’m afraid you’ll get hurt. Because I’m worried about you.” Ye-eun pushes Yi-na off, and Yi-na mutters drunkenly that Ye-eun doesn’t even know what a great person she is, because she’s dating that punk. The girls all seem touched, and Yi-na’s rambling soon turns into snoring. Ye-eun grumbles in annoyance, but it seems more like half-hearted annoyance to me.
Jin-myung later checks in on Yi-na and finds the poor girl sprawled on her old bed. Jin-myung covers her up with a blanket and watches her sleeping face. Her thoughts go back to being in the car with her manager the previous night. The manager had told her to think of him as an uncle and to come to him for any help. He got a little too comfortable with her and started patting and squeezing her thigh.
Back in Yi-na’s room, Jin-myung thinks that the manager knew exactly what he was doing, as did she. She brings her eyes back to Yi-na. In her thoughts, she tells us that she didn’t like Yi-na all this time—she thought she was a better person than Yi-na. But now she realizes that that’s not true. She just never had to face as much temptation as Yi-na did.
Sometime after Jin-myung leaves, Ye-eun comes in, carrying her own blanket. When she sees Yi-na is already covered, she quietly retreats. Daww, I knew you cared.
Everyone’s already busy cleaning the house when Yi-na finally wakes up the next morning. All eyes turn to her when she comes out of her room, and she awkwardly apologizes for intruding. Before she can leave, Ji-won calls out, “That ghost… it’s been here the whole time.” So it didn’t follow Yi-na out after all. Yi-na wonders what the dreams were about then.
However, Yi-na still can’t seem to leave. “Can’t I just live here?” she asks with wavering confidence. “I know it’s foolish to move out then move back in, and I know I lied to you. I know that, but even so, can’t I live here?”
The rest of the girls exchange strained looks, but no one says a word. Yi-na takes the silence as a rejection and rushes out without turning back.
The four girls interview potential housemate #3, and this time, the applicant seems perfectly normal. The girls find her a bit too normal though, to the point of being boring. They all agree that they want someone more dynamic.
Jin-myung then gets a call from her mother, and she immediately heads to the hospital. She rounds the corner to a hectic scene: nurses rushing in and out of a room, and her mother collapsed on the floor, crying hysterically for the patient, Joon-myung. Ah, so it must be Jin-myung’s brother.
It all moves in slow motion for Jin-myung and she can only watch numbly as the doctor reassures her mother that Joon-myung’s been stabilized again. It stops her cries, but the mother still looks heartbroken, as if she’s had to go through this many times before. Jin-myung takes one look into her mother’s exhausted eyes and turns the other way, a new determination in her stride.
The restaurant is Jin-myung’s final destination, and this time, it’s her turn to wait for Jae-wan. When he comes out, he can tell something’s wrong. Jin-myung looks like she might break at any moment, but she calmly rests her forehead on Jae-wan’s chest.
“My younger brother didn’t die,” she says, her voice flat. “He hasn’t died for two years. But I really thought he died this time. I was really hoping he’d just die.” Jae-wan tries to put a comforting hand on her arm, but she pulls away. She asks if he still likes her, and he answers with a confident yes.
“Don’t like me,” she says, “When I think that someone likes me, I get weak. If I get weak now, it’ll really be the end for me.” And she leaves him just like that, still composed.
Eun-jae comes out of her room that night, followed by Ji-won, and they’re completely shell-shocked to see Jin-myung hunched over near the balcony, shaking with sobs. Ji-won kneels down before Jin-myung and asks what’s wrong. “My fingernail fell off,” Jin-myung whimpers, “I didn’t know it would hurt this much. It hurts so much, I feel like I could die.” Gah, now I’m crying too.
Jin-myung repeats over and over that it hurts, so Ji-won envelops her in a hug and pats her back. Eun-jae and Ye-eun stand back, tears forming in their own eyes as they watch their sunbae fall apart.
Epilogue. Jin-myung is interviewed about her school and family life, and she flies through every question, unwilling to get too deep. When the interviewer asks if Jin-myung thought the house ghost was somehow related to her brother, she takes a long pause before answering that she doesn’t know.
Ugh. *pounds chest* That was rough, ya’ll. But so, so good. So far, I’m liking how each episode is set up, with one girl usually the main focus, while the other heroines are still given plenty of attention, whether for more angst or some welcome comic relief (Eun-jae’s boy story was a true highlight for me, lol). Yi-na’s story was one I was glad to see fully unraveled, and I loved seeing her growing concern for the girls, especially for Ye-eun when her boyfriend was pushing her around. Those two were definitely the least close of the group, and they made sure to show it, but their scenes in the episode were all incredibly heartwarming.
I don’t even know if it’s because Yi-na still sees Ye-eun as somewhat of a friend or a roommate, or if it was more because she was seeing another woman being abused by a man. Yi-na must know what that feels like, so I’m sure it hurt her even more to see it happen to someone else. Now I just want Ye-eun to take off her rose-colored glasses and stomp all over them so she can see what a destructive relationship she has. And I do believe Yi-na could be the best one to help her with that.
Then we have Jin-myung. She’d been a question mark for me since the premiere, so I was really looking forward to her story arc. And I think Han Ye-ri absolutely nailed her interpretation of the character. She gave Jin-myung a very cool, almost wise kind of vibe with enough history written in her eyes to tell us that she was hurting. I think up till now, Jin-myung has been doing a good job of numbing the pain by giving up her desire to be someone special and turning all her energy into being someone especially average instead. The average company employee may seem like a boring job description, but to some, it can also be a good safe zone. No one can touch you within your small cubicle, and I’m sure that’s just what Jin-myung wanted. She wanted to hide in her own space, away from any potential heartbreak waiting to take her down again.
So while all the girls have managed to tug at my heartstrings, Jin-myung was the one who ripped them clean from my chest. After a long time of numbing her feelings, it must’ve felt amazing to have them restarted by Jae-wan. Her moments with Jae-wan were no doubt adorable, and that’s all I thought they were—adorable. But as we got more backstory with Jin-myung, it was becoming more obvious that these small moments actually meant the world to her. The little twist-tie ring Jae-wan gave her even seemed to symbolize how the smallest gesture gave her the courage to feel again.
Like her housemates, I was surprised to see so much emotion out of her in this episode: excitement, giddiness, and even a little shyness. I began looking forward to her scenes with Jae-wan, because that was when she came alive. And I love that as she opened herself up with him, she also opened herself up with the girls. Sure, she was still hiding smiles, but they were meaningful smiles nonetheless. And to see her take her own happiness away from herself made the impact of her breakdown much more powerful.
At this point, I feel like I’ve already bonded with Jin-myung and the others, so even though the show isn’t as cohesive as I wanted it to be, I still care about every single one of their issues. And I guess even real life isn’t that cohesive either. Like these girls, we can’t always see the road to success or happiness. We just have to steer blindly and find the right road on our own. So we take abrupt pit stops in life, like Yi-na moving out, only to turn around and realize it was probably a huge mistake. And it’s this age—the twenties—that always seems like the hardest. The hardest with love, with adjusting to adult life, and with keeping friendships. The twenties are a sensitive time when good friends drift away and it becomes harder to maintain newer friendships. Which is all the more reason for us to hold onto them for as long as we can.
- Age of Youth: Episode 3
- Age of Youth: Episode 2
- Age of Youth: Episode 1
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- 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