Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 15
Bok-ju’s and Joon-hyung’s roles are reversed in this episode, as suddenly he’s the one that needs her to be there to support him through a difficult time. But it’s not an easy job to be someone’s rock, as Bok-ju is finding out — the job comes with a pretty hefty emotional price tag of its own.
EPISODE 15: “That’s how you became an adult”
Joon-hyung looks stunned as he sees his mother for the first time in over a decade. He’s crying by the time she steps close to ask if it’s really him, his face crumpling like a child’s. His mother says that he grew up better than she expected, and reaches up to touch his face tenderly.
Joon-hyung’s aunt worries about him, knowing that his mother planned to look for him today. She asks his uncle if he thinks she’ll mention the postcards that she’s been sending as if they were from his mother.
Joon-hyung and his mom sit at a coffee shop, the air awkward and heavy between them. Joon-hyung can barely bring himself to look at her, and answers with a short “yes” when she asks if he and Bok-ju are very close.
She asks about his swimming and he starts to cry again, and she gives him a pair of sneakers even though she’s unsure of his size. She says she’s been thinking of him a lot, like whether he’s grown tall and how his face may have changed. She apologizes for not coming to see him sooner.
They have dinner with his aunt and uncle and Jae-yi, and Joon-hyung chokes on the piece of fish his mother sets on his spoon. He asks “Mom” for a glass of water, meaning his aunt, but his mother stands as well, causing an uncomfortable moment.
He walks her out to catch a cab, and she takes his hand, and he finally looks at her. Before she gets in the cab, she asks if he wants to come to her hotel tomorrow, so she can make him a meal. He agrees to come, and gets her phone number. After she leaves, he looks at the hand she was holding, and smiles a tiny smile.
He goes to school to see Bok-ju, and grabs her in a big backhug when he sees her. She notices that he seems happier than he was earlier, and he tells her what he and his mother did today, and about their plans tomorrow night. He tells Bok-ju about holding his mother’s hand, and she jokes that she’s not going to get jealous this time.
Bok-ju does admit that she’s a little jealous, because she’d like to have a mom who could come visit her, too. Joon-hyung tears up at that, and blusters that she has a great dad and uncle instead, not to mention his awesome self. He grabs Bok-ju in another hug.
The next day, Joon-hyung readies to head to his mother’s for dinner, and he tries on the sneakers she gave him. They’re a bit too small, but he puts them on anyway, determined to make them fit. That seems like a bad omen.
He goes home to pick up some photo albums to show his mom, and finds his aunt, uncle, and Jae-yi talking about money. He listens as they talk about “that child” needing surgery, and making plans to sell some land to raise more money.
Despite the talk of a sick child, all Joon-hyung hears is that his mother only came here for money. He steps into the room and asks if it’s true, and starts to sob as he says she should be grateful for all the years they fed and raised him.
He’s utterly distraught, and only grows angrier when his aunt tries to explain that there are extenuating circumstances. He screams that it doesn’t matter, and asks how someone who hasn’t even contacted them for ten years could do something like this.
His aunt realizes that Joon-hyung must know that she’s been sending the cards and gifts, not his mother, and he confirms that he’s known for a long time. He turns his anger on her for not telling him the truth and making him pretend not to know, and says that he’s ashamed because he knew she was lying for his sake.
He demands to know how they could even consider giving her money, asking if they consider him that pathetic, or if they just want to feel good about themselves. That’s going too far, and his aunt reflexively slaps him. Angry now, she spits sarcastically that she raised him so she could get into Heaven, and Joon-hyung runs out of the house.
Over at the weightlifting gym, Coach Yoon yells at Bok-ju in front of the entire team, accusing her of not training hard enough. He tells her to just quit and go to Taereung (the Korean national training center), then grins — awww, he was tricking her!
He laughs, and tells her that she’s been invited to train at Taereung. He says there will be an interview with her tomorrow, and she’s to report to Taereung this very weekend. Bok-ju is in shock, and the whole team celebrates.
Uncle Dae-ho takes a delivery at the chicken restaurant, and the new girl making the delivery (cameo by Kim Seul-gi) is decidedly flirtatious with him. She asks him for a soda, and he’s mesmerized by the way she knocks the cap off the bottle and drinks it in one go, pinky-out of course. She gives him one last cheeky smile, pokes his cheek, and leaves him trying to literally slap some sense into himself.
Nan-hee and Seon-ok are thrilled for Bok-ju’s good luck in being invited to the national team, and she tells them that her dad is happy too, since being a national weightlifter was always his dream. They’re sad that she’ll be going away though, and Nan-hee asks what she plans to do about Joon-hyung.
Bok-ju tries to call him, but he never answers the phone. Shi-ho notices that she’s worried and tells her that’s what dating is like, that you worry when you can’t get in touch, and everything makes you wonder if their feelings have changed.
Joon-hyung’s aunt is worried sick about him, feeling guilty that he’s known about the postcards and gifts for years. His uncle assures her that Joon-hyung will be fine, and his mother calls to see if something happened to him, since he didn’t show up to their dinner.
Nan-hee and Seon-ok get all gussied up for Bok-ju’s interview the next morning, since there will be a group photo. Tae-kwon runs up and asks Bok-ju if she was with Joon-hyung all last night, since he never came back to their dorm. They start to grow worried that something has happened to him, and Bok-ju calls Jae-yi to talk.
He tells her about the family fight yesterday, and how Joon-hyung learned that his mother only came back for money. He’s not surprised that Joon-hyung has run off — he says that Joon-hyung had to grow up too fast, but that he’s really very tender-hearted.
When it’s time for Bok-ju’s interview, the whole team stares at the door, and jump into action the moment it opens, ha. It’s only Coach Choi, who tells them to act natural, only to have them do it again when Coach Yoon walks in (wearing the most hideous suit ever, lol).
Her friends tell Bok-ju not to worry too much about Joon-hyung, but she can’t help it. She steps out to call him again and gets his voicemail, and this time she leaves a message. She tells him that she knows what happened, but asks him to send her a message so she can stop worrying.
Thank goodness, he’s okay — he ended up on their beach last night and fell asleep in the sand, like a stranded starfish. He dreams about his mother leaving him, then coming back, and when he wakes he finds that the too-small shoes she gave him have caused bleeding sores. Angry all over again, he throws them away.
The weightlifting team is hilariously awkward when the interviewers finally show up to film, following the camera around and acting completely unnatural. Bok-ju is distracted when it comes time for her interview, but she tells them about her slump, and how she overcame it with help.
She mentions her family, her coaches and friends, and starts to mention Joon-hyung. She thinks about all the times he’s been there when she needed someone, and she ends the interview. She rushes out, determined to find Joon-hyung and be there for him this time.
He’s still not answering his phone, and she leaves an angry message, fussing at him for worrying her like this. She goes to the river, then the beach, but Joon-hyung is nowhere to be found. Her last message is tearful and furious, and she sobs she’s breaking up with him if he’s going to be this way.
Uncle Dae-ho stops at a convenience store for snacks, and finds himself a bit short on cash. The delivery girl shows up and pays the difference, and they end up having a drink together. She leans in close and says he’s cute, and even recognizes him from his (very tiny) movie roles.
She’s drunk as a skunk later, and invites him to her place. He gallantly tries to turn her down but he’s not made of stone, and he eventually caves.
It’s dark by the time Bok-ju gets back to school, and she finds herself outside the swimming pavilion. She goes in just in case, and finds Joon-hyung floating face-up in the pool, fully clothed. She screams at him to come out but he doesn’t move a muscle, so she takes off her coat and wades in, yelling worriedly as she moves towards him.
He finally looks up when she touches him, but he hardly seems aware of what’s happening. In an emotionless voice, he says that his mother didn’t come to see him, but to ask for money. He whispers that he thought his mother was suffering all this time the same as he was, “… but I was just fooling myself.” Oh, sweetie.
He admits to Bok-ju that he’s embarrassed, toward himself and toward his aunt and uncle. His voice breaks and he cries, saying that he’s sadder now than when his mother abandoned him as a child. Bok-ju hugs him and he cries on her shoulder, still standing in the middle of the pool.
Eventually they get out and dry off, and Joon-hyung listens to Bok-ju’s angry messages and smiles a little to hear how much she cares about him. He enjoys it when Bok-ju towels off his wet hair, and cutely objects when she calls him a pretty baby.
Bok-ju fusses at him softly, telling him how worried she was. He ducks his head and says he heard her message, and asks if she’s really going to break up with him. Bok-ju says it was a warning, and he smiles and says that she likes him a lot. How could she not, when you’re looking at her that way??
Bok-ju gives him a mild beating and says they have to go, but Joon-hyung doesn’t have any shoes. They wrap his feet in plastic bags and she piggybacks him a short way, but decides he’s too heavy, so she parks him on bench and goes to borrow some shoes from a sunbae.
He puts them on and snuggles up to Bok-ju, apologizing again. She tells him that she can understand his mother, and uses an analogy to explain that her first priority right now is her sick child. But she says that he needs to go apologize to his aunt, and admits that she heard how upset she was from Jae-yi.
She doesn’t pull any punches when Joon-hyung is reluctant to do it now, and tells him that the longer he waits, the worse it will be. She takes him all the way to the pharmacy to make sure he doesn’t chicken out, and shoos him inside (it’s so cute how he calls her “noona” when she’s being bossy).
After walking as slowly as humanly possible, Joon-hyung finally goes in. He gives his aunt a bag of roasted chestnuts, her favorite, and starts to peel one for her. She gently takes her hands to stop him, and offers to make him some tea. As she does, Joon-hyung walks up behind her and backhugs her, and apologizes.
He jokes that his bad behavior is really her fault for raising him too gently, which makes her laugh. He apologizes again, saying how thankful he is for her and his uncle and Jae-yi, and how much he loves them.
Joon-hyung nuzzles his face in his aunt’s hair, and says she smells like a mother. His aunt quips that she was too worried about him to wash her hair, and now they’re both laughing.
When it’s time for Joon-hyung’s mother to catch her flight home, Joon-hyung surprises her by showing up to see her off. He looks lighter and more accepting now, and she genuinely thanks him for coming. She starts to say something, but he interrupts and thanks her for giving birth to him.
He says that that’s what he came to say, and gives her the handkerchief that he’s been holding onto ever since she left. He says that he’ll be okay without it now, and asks if she has a picture of his sister. She shows him a photo, and says that her name is Amelia.
Joon-hyung asks his mother to bring her to visit when she’s well, and shows his mother a picture of Bok-ju (aww, it’s the one he took during the fireworks). She recognizes Bok-ju from seeing her at school, and he tells her that she’s his girlfriend.
Dr. Go is shocked when Jae-yi shows up at her new office, and he jokes that she probably wouldn’t believe he was just in the neighborhood. He says that he just wanted to see her, and she asks why he’s suddenly doing things he’s never done before. Jae-yi says that he doesn’t have anyone to eat with since she left, and invites her out now.
Some girls make moony eyes at Joon-hyung’s handsomeness on the bus ride back to school, and Bok-ju pulls his turtleneck up to hide his face, hee. He pulls it down and she suggests cutting off all his hair. Sorry girlfriend, still not gonna work.
She finally tells him about being accepted to the national weightlifting team, and that she’s leaving next weekend. Joon-hyung is thrilled for her, and she’s surprised he’s not upset that this means they’ll be apart.
He says that the winner of his next swim meet gets an invitation to Taereung, so he’ll just win and join her there. Bok-ju is so excited that she shoves him to the swimming pavilion to train, bribing him with kisses. Such cuteness.
Joon-hyung trains hard, determined to win his competition and go to Taereung with Bok-ju. She makes him sandwiches and sends him back to practice after he steals another kiss, as they shoot finger-hearts at each other. They wish at the wishing fountain for him to get over his “start trauma,” and soon it’s time for the race.
Bok-ju is there to cheer, and Joon-hyung looks for her in the audience as he gets ready to start. He seems calm and ready, and as the whistle blows, he dives into the water with no issues whatsoever.
He doesn’t have the fastest start, so he has to struggle to catch up to his rival in the next lane. It’s a close finish, and Joon-hyung comes in second place by only a tiny fraction of a second. Damn.
Meanwhile, Bok-ju’s father gets the news that a kidney donor may have been found for him. He makes an appointment for the next day for further testing, telling Dae-ho that he wants to wait until after he sends Bok-ju off to Taereung. He asks Dae-ho to keep this quiet unless the donor is confirmed.
Joon-hyung looks disappointed when he rejoins Bok-ju after his race, but she smiles up at him and gives him a hug. She tells him that he did a great job overcoming his start trauma, and that now he can just work on improving.
As they walk back to school, Joon-hyung knows exactly how long until she leaves, down to the second. He tells her not to escape because he plans on following her soon, and she tells him that she’s assigned Nan-hee and Seon-ok as his “paparazzi.”
He offers to escort her to Taereung tomorrow, but she says she wants to go alone. She warns him to spend all his free time training so he can join her, though she asks him to look in on her dad every once in a while.
She gets a call from Nan-hee, who asks her to stop by the weightlifting gym. Joon-hyung goes with her, and decides to take advantage of the dark room for some smooches. Of course that’s right when the lights go on and the entire weightlifting team yells SURPRISE!, then freezes at the sight of the two kissing.
Once the awkwardness is over, the coaches give Bok-ju some words of encouragement, and she thanks them for all their support. Coach Yoon has Joon-hyung introduce himself, then tries to claim that he was totally that handsome when he was young. Coach Choi interrupts and proposes a toast, wishing Bok-ju luck at her first competition in China.
Bok-ju is ready to leave in the morning, and her father and Dae-ho see her off. Dae-ho offers her a ride but she says she wants to go on her own, and she asks him to take care of Dad. She salutes them as if she’s going off to army duty, and Dad watches her leave, both sad and proud.
As Bok-ju takes the bus to Taereung, she thinks, “Joon-hyung-ah, I’m leaving. I couldn’t show you, but I’m really nervous and scared right now. Will I be able to do well? After I open that unknown door and enter, what kind of world will be waiting for me?”
Joon-hyung looks at the photos of Bok-ju decorating his locker, and he also thinks, “Don’t worry, Bok-ju-yah. You’ll do well. You’re much stronger and prettier than you think you are. You’ll shine brilliantly wherever you are. Kim Bok-ju, swag!”
Bok-ju enters the national training center, and in her heart, she promises Joon-hyung that she’ll wait for him, and asks him not to wait too long. Joon-hyung gets ready to train, determined to join her, and in his heart he promises that if she waits, he’ll follow her soon.
“I miss you, Jung Joon-hyung.” “I miss you, Bok-ju-yah.”
Awww, what a great episode. This show just can’t take a wrong step — it continues to get better, and has never experienced the late-stage slump that so many dramas suffer. It never drags out any of its issues, handling them with just the right timing but moving on quickly, so that instead of a few long, drawn-out problems, we get new situations and new conflicts every single week. It’s just perfect, and I’m going to be so sad when it’s over.
In fact, I’m very curious to see where the finale next week takes us, because as far as I’m concerned, the show could end right here and I’d be completely satisfied. We know that Joon-hyung and Bok-ju’s love will carry them through whatever comes, whether or not he’s able to join her at Taereung, and I think I would have liked this as an open-ended finale (and I don’t normally care for that sort of thing). But I have faith that whatever the final episode brings, it will be just as poignant and meaningful as the show has proved itself to be, week after week.
I’ve said, more than once, that I believe that Nam Joo-hyuk’s acting has grown by leaps and bounds with this drama. I hadn’t been able to tell though, if it’s just that Joon-hyung is the perfect character for him, or if he’s really gotten that much better. But this episode really drove home the fact that he’s not just thriving in this one role. Every time Joon-hyung cried, I cried right along with him — his pain was so real and palpable. But the scene with his aunt, when his heart was breaking at the thought of his mother only coming for money… that scene convinced me, then the one with Bok-ju in the pool decided it. This isn’t just a case of an actor and a role suiting each other. He’s truly growing as an actor, almost before our eyes, and I think he has the potential to be a truly gifted performer.
You know, in a way I think Joon-hyung is better off without his mother in his life, because she clearly doesn’t see how special and amazing he is. He has a mother and a father who adore him, and a brother who dotes on him, and that’s a gift that I’m happy he acknowledges and appreciates. It’s not worth his emotional effort to pine after a woman who doesn’t appreciate the wonderful man he’s become enough to keep even in minimal touch, who only showed up because she needed something, and not even from him. He was unfortunate collateral damage in her quest for money, and I don’t honestly care why she needed the money… even if she has a sick child, she didn’t have to travel halfway across the world and show up in front of Joon-hyung to ask for it. There’s absolutely no excuse for not making a freaking phone call once or twice in ten years. But I’m glad he finally saw her for what she is — a mother, but no longer truly his mother. And if nothing else, it cemented the love that he and Bok-ju have for each other (and I love that when he ran off, he went to the place where he first told Bok-ju about his mother abandoning him), and gave Bok-ju a chance to be there for him in an important way, like he’s consistently done for her.
But you know, I think that I was mistaken when I said that up until now, Bok-ju hasn’t supported Joon-hyung the way he supports her. His biggest complaint with Jae-yi (and his adoptive parents, too) is that they’re too nice to him, which inadvertently made him feel like an outsider in the family. Of course that’s not what they intended, but not being yelled at, not fighting with him, just made Joon-hyung feel like he wasn’t truly part of their family. But Bok-ju has never done that — she’s always spoken straight with him, fussed at him when he’s wrong, and she’s outspoken about his screw-ups when he makes them. Even now when he’s at his most vulnerable, she doesn’t let Joon-hyung off the hook about worrying her and everyone else. By letting Joon-hyung know when she’s disappointed in him, Bok-ju isn’t treating him with the kid gloves that make him feel separate. She’s honest because she loves him and she knows he can do better, and that’s love right there.
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 14
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 13
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 12
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 11
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 10
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 9
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 8
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 7
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 6
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 5
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 4
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 3
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 2
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 1