Fight My Way: Episode 12
Being a grownup is exhausting, and sometimes you just want to do what you want and damn the consequences. There are times when the best thing to do is sit and wait, and times when the only thing to do is stand up and fight. For two of our friends, the time for waiting is over, and they’ll have to decide whether they’re willing to roll over and give up on their dreams, or if it’s time to fly.
Round 12: “If dreams disappear as you mature, then I… ”
Up on the roof, Dong-man tells Ae-ra that he likes her so much it makes him crazy. He decides that if it’s got to be all or nothing, then he’ll go for “all.” He asks Ae-ra if she wants to sleep over tonight, and she goes wide-eyed with surprise.
We don’t hear her answer, but soon they’re heading downstairs through the secret door, and run right into Landlady Hwang and her son, Nam-il. She tells Dong-man and Ae-ra to drink and play on the roof all they want, so long as they play like children and not adults, and go back to their own homes afterward.
Angry, Ae-ra stops fighting the nagging urge to talk back to her and blurts out, “We kissed up there.” HAHA, Dong-man looks utterly terrified, and behind Landlady Hwang, Nam-il gets the giggles. It’s adorable, and I suddenly like him a lot more.
When Joo-man helps Ye-jin carry a heavy box into her apartment, he drops the box’s corner on his toe, making it bleed. A few seconds later Ye-jin’s mother knocks on the door, demanding entry, so Ye-jin shoves Joo-man into her closet promising to let him out when her mother leaves.
Ye-jin lets her mom in, and to her dismay, her mom turns on her favorite drama and settles in for a long evening.
Landlady Hwang and Nam-il follow Dong-man and Ae-ra downstairs as Ae-ra grumbles that the landlord has no right to dictate what they do. Landlady Hwang asks if they have the right to trespass on the roof. Dong-man politely suggests that Nam-il help his mother find a nice hobby, lol.
Ae-ra whispers something to Dong-man that makes his eyes go wide. Landlady Hwang asks if she said she’d shower and come back, and from the happy look on Dong-man’s face, that’s exactly what she said. But Ae-ra just states that being told not to do something only makes a person want to do it even more.
She haughtily informs Landlady Hwang that she’s the one setting fires, making Landlady Hwang huff indignantly and Nam-il start laughing again. Dong-man and Ae-ra go into their apartments, and Nam-il says that he can see the resemblance, and why his mom stationed herself here.
Dong-man runs around his apartment, cleaning up and making sure the bedframe is nice and strong, hee. He even Febreezes himself again, taking special care to Febreeze his abs as well. Meanwhile Ae-ra changes into her prettiest underthings and heads back to Dong-man’s place.
They’re adorably shy as they sit on Dong-man’s bed drinking soju. Finally Ae-ra takes the bull by the horns and leans over to kiss Dong-man, but she misses his lips in her nervousness, so he backs away.
When her sensitive stomach makes a loud noise, Dong-man can tell she’s nervous and stressed. He tells Ae-ra that he’s not a thoughtless kid, but that he doesn’t want to be a gentleman with her. Ae-ra accuses him of having a dirty mind, and he agrees that he wants to be a barbarian around her, but he says that this isn’t homework either.
He tells Ae-ra that even without this turning point in their relationship, she’s not Bigfoot to him anymore. He says that he’ll just hold her all night and lies down, pulling Ae-ra into his arms. He says that they can just sleep so long as he can hold her tightly like this.
Ae-ra whispers that she feels like she’s dying because she can’t breathe and her heart is racing. That makes Dong-man happy, so he kisses her forehead and hugs her close, and they fall asleep curled up together.
Ye-jin’s mother conks out on her couch, so Ye-jin sneaks into the closet to find Joo-man fast asleep on the floor. She sighs when she sees his still-bleeding toe, then she hears his phone ring. It’s Seol-hee, and Ye-jin just sighs again.
Dong-man and Ae-ra are woken the next morning by a loud pounding on the door. They jerk awake when they hear Seol-hee yelling for Ae-ra, and when Dong-man lets her in, Ae-ra pretends to have just come over for breakfast (though she gives herself away by pouring water on her cereal, yuck).
Seol-hee doesn’t even notice as she tells them through tears that Joo-man didn’t come home last night. Ae-ra arms herself with a plunger to go after Joo-man and Ye-jin, but Dong-man wrestles it from her, scared of what she’ll do. Ae-ra just argues that he should stay out of it with gems like “You can’t even hit girls anyway” and “Don’t curse? Then why do curse words exist?” A call from Coach Hwang orders Dong-man to the gym, so he reluctantly leaves Ae-ra to handle this.
Ae-ra drags Seol-hee to Ye-jin’s building by the wrist, fussing all the way for not telling her about this, and for not nipping it in the bud sooner. Seol-hee admits that she was scared that saying it out loud would make it real. Ae-ra says that as the girlfriend, Seol-hee shouldn’t have been afraid.
But Seol-hee says that those six years are all she has going for her, and that being with Ye-jin must be more exciting then her boring self. Ae-ra declares that if Joo-man leaves her because of a few moments of excitement, then she won’t let him have Seol-hee anyway.
The girls pause outside Ye-jin’s building, and Seol-hee grows insecure and worries that she’s wrong about Joo-man’s whereabouts. She tries calling him again, and his vibrating phone falls off a shelf onto his head, waking him from where he’s sleeping on Ye-jin’s closet floor.
Ye-jin joins him, asking shyly if he doesn’t remember that he hugged her when she brought him a blanket last night. Joo-man hotly denies hugging her, but she insists that he grabbed her wrist and pulled her close. Then she reluctantly adds that he said Seol-hee’s name then fell asleep, which hurt her feelings. Joo-man checks his phone and sees forty-two missed calls from Seol-hee.
The girls wait outside, since Seol-hee isn’t sure that Joo-man is here. She gets nervous and wants to go home, but Ae-ra stops her and says that she needs to dump Joo-man and follow her own dreams.
Seol-hee tells Ae-ra that she’s always had the same dream—while Dong-man had taekwondo and Ae-ra had her microphone, Seol-hee dreamed of being a good mother. She says defensively that she’s okay with her quiet dream of a family, wondering why being a mom isn’t considered a dream too.
Ae-ra agrees that it’s a wonderful dream, and that Seol-hee can just find someone else to share it with. But Seol-hee says that Joo-man is more than just a boyfriend: “He’s my world. So… so… I just want to go home.”
But as they cross the lobby, they run right into Joo-man on his way out. He hangs his head as Ae-ra berates him for being here, but he addresses Seol-hee to explain that he just fell asleep. He says that nothing happened, but then Ye-jin runs up with his sock, which just looks awfully bad.
Seol-hee asks why he took his sock off if he only fell asleep, in a voice so quiet she can barely be heard. Joo-man reaches for her but she steps away, and he swears that he didn’t cross a line. Seol-hee whispers that it’s all the same to her whether he slept with Ye-jin or not.
Joo-man begs her not to say it, but Seol-hee says it anyway… “Let’s break up.” She turns and walks away, as Ae-ra narrates that Seol-hee’s world just crumbled.
On Tae-hee’s advice, Tak-soo holds a press conference, where he makes a stir by admitting that his fight with Dong-man in 2007 was rigged. He puts on a show of being all choked up, lying that the money he gave Dong-man was a personal favor, and that he played fairly but was betrayed. He issues a public challenge to Dong-man to fight him again in a fair match.
Coach and Dong-man watch the press conference, and Dong-man calmly tells Coach that he won’t fall for Tak-soo’s taunts, but that he’ll train hard and fight him next season as they planned. Coach marvels that Dong-man is all grown up, and Dong-man says, “I’m not a tiger cub anymore. I’m a tiger.”
As they wait for their bus, Ae-ra tells Seol-hee that she’s really impressed with her today. Seol-hee thinks it’s because she dumped Joo-man, but Ae-ra clarifies that she’s impressed by Seol-hee’s dream to be a mom, because there’s nothing more incredible than a mother.
Ae-ra takes Seol-hee’s hand and thinks back to her own childhood, when Seol-hee found out she had no mother and would come over an hour early to do her hair every day before school. Nobody else wanted to be the tomboy’s friend, and her dad didn’t know how to do it, but sweet-hearted Seol-hee had taken care of her. Ae-ra narrates, “Seol-hee was a vast ocean.”
Dong-man is shocked when Ae-ra fills him in on the breakup, though he gets stuck on whether Joo-man slept with Ye-jin or not, ha. Ae-ra asks if he somehow ended up sleeping at Hye-ran’s, whether she should let him off the hook or beat him, but he misses her point. She starts to ask if it were her sleeping at a guy’s place, and Dong-man interrupts, “I’ll bash your head in!” and nearly gets a beating before he scurries off.
Ae-ra overhears some shoppers talking about Tak-soo’s press conference, so on the way home Dong-man tells her about it. She asks if he’s going to fight him, expecting a no, but Dong-man says that he’ll have to fight Tak-soo one day.
Ae-ra makes it clear that she’s firmly against Dong-man fighting Tak-soo again. Dong-man promises that he won’t lose, but Ae-ra says that she likes him so much that if someone were to shoot at him three times, she’d take two bullets.
Dong-man chuckles and asks why she didn’t say she’d take all three, and Ae-ra says that would be a lie, hee. She tells him that she can’t take on all of his burdens, but she’d take two out of three bullets for him.
Smiling, Dong-man asks why she’s so awesome, and she asks why he can’t avoid Tak-soo for her sake. He takes her hand and says that he doesn’t want her to have to protect him, and that he’ll become strong so that as his girlfriend, nobody can mistreat her ever again. He asks if she can trust him.
Later Dong-man meets his father at the bus stop, but Dad barely even looks at him as he exits the bus. He gripes at Dong-man for picking him up instead of working then walks ahead, leaving Dong-man to complain about never walking together at the same pace.
Dad wanders around Dong-man’s apartment criticizing everything, so Dong-man asks when he goes to work. Dad turns his question on him, asking why he’s home during the day, guessing that he’s unemployed. Dong-man says that he’s working, but he avoids telling Dad about his fighting.
Dad won’t let it drop, complaining that if Dong-man wanted to get married then he’d be working. Dong-man says he’s not getting married, asking who would want to marry a thoughtless guy with no house or job.
Dad starts the When I was your age I worked hard lecture, but Dong-man snaps that Dad never paid for his tuition or rent. Dad says defensively that he raised his children with all his strength, but Dong-man asks angrily if he should live like that, and have a child who will resent him for being poor.
Back home, Joo-man opens a package of health supplements that Seol-hee previously ordered for him. When the doorbell rings he’s thrilled to see Seol-hee and hugs her. He thinks she’s here to reconcile, but she just asks him to pack up her things.
Joo-man admits that he made a mistake, but Seol-hee calmly says that it’s not a mistake, and it wasn’t just once. She reveals that she knows he put his phone on silent every night, saying that every time his phone lit up with a text from Ye-jin, her heart sank. She says that she knew when he was going to see Ye-jin, and she asks how he thinks that felt.
Joo-man desperately makes excuses, but Seol-hee’s point is that Ye-jin was on his mind and he always went to her. She says that he’s the one who let go of her hand first, and that he thought she’d always be there even if he let go for a bit, but she doesn’t want to do that anymore.
She tells Joo-man that cheating is cheating, and that degree doesn’t matter. Joo-man says she’s just angry, but she says that in all their years together, even in anger she never said they should break up. She says that she has no regrets because she gave it her all, and that regret is his burden to bear. She leaves him sobbing on the stairs.
Later Ae-ra brings Seol-hee a cake with a lit candle. She says it’s for Seol-hee’s first day of independence, but the cake just makes Seol-hee sad. Her voice wobbles as she says that she can’t blow out the candle, and she sobs, “Joo-man… he cried. He started crying.” Awww, poor kitten.
Dong-man consoles Joo-man with soju shots, asking him why he let himself be swayed when he loves Seol-hee so much. Joo-man has nothing to say for himself, and Dong-man just tells him to beg for forgiveness.
Dong-man’s mother calls him, nearly frantic because his father just spent a lot of money at a bar and isn’t answering his phone, which is completely out of character. Dong-man goes to the bar, where he finds his father with his new boss. Dong-man watches from a distance as Dad tells his boss that he paid for the drinks because his boss was too drunk to do it.
The boss talks down to Dad and says that he brought him in over all the younger men in his department because of his connections, but that he’s disappointed that Dad has too much pride to use them. Dad sits stoically, only saying that he’ll try harder, and it reminds Dong-man of his own boss at his exterminator’s job who would abuse him.
He follows his father home at a distance, thinking that Dad has never kept the same pace as his family. He remembers a time when his dad was rushing to the bus, yelling at him and his mom to hurry up as he left them behind. He’d jumped onto the bus and rudely stolen a seat from another passenger… so that he could give it to little Dong-man, who would get motion sickness.
Another time, Dad had carried Dong-man on his back when he was sick, running through the night to get him to a doctor. He’d pounded on the doctor’s door, frantic with worry over his feverish son, terrified he might die. Dong-man realizes that his father’s different pace was always for the good of his family, and he gets choked up. Fighting back tears, Dong-man calls out to Dad and suggests a drink.
He takes Dad up to the secret rooftop, sneaking him past Landlady Hwang’s door. Dad sees something (a cork?) rolling at his feet on the way, which seems strange, but he keeps following Dong-man to the roof.
Dong-man sits Dad down to enjoy the view, then cuts the yolk from one of the eggs he’d fried to feed to his father. Suspicious, Dad asks if Dong-man’s already been drinking, but he accepts the choice bite. They share a drink, then Dong-man asks Dad what his dream was.
Dad reluctantly admits that he wanted to be a pilot. He says he was influenced by the movie The Red Scarf, and that he was dying to become a pilot. Dong-man thinks that sounds cool and asks why Dad didn’t go for it, but Dad says he couldn’t afford the Air Force Academy and that now, his children are his dream.
Dong-man says he thought Dad was always a dad, but now that he knows Dad had a dream, it feels weird. Dad just tells him to cut the nonsense and pour him another drink. Dong-man says that he can’t help Dad become a pilot, but he promises to make sure Dad flies first class one day.
Dad lights up like a Christmas tree when Ae-ra joins them, making Dong-man whine that Dad likes her better. Dad asks if the two of them have “done it” yet, giving them both coughing fits. But he’s talking about starting savings accounts, lol.
In the morning, Dong-man takes Dad to Coach Hwang’s gym, telling him that this is where he’s been “working.” Coach says that he’s the one who talked Dong-man into this, but Dad just walks out without saying much.
Outside, he realizes that this is why Dong-man wears sweats—because he’s always training. Dong-man starts to ask his dad to have faith in him, but Dad interrupts to say that he didn’t live like this. He says that he worked hard morning and night, and Dong-man replies that he knows Dad doesn’t approve.
But Dad tells Dong-man not to live like him, surprising his son. They relocate to a park, where Dad says that it’s too late for him to be a pilot, but that Dong-man is still young enough to chase his dream.
He adds that it breaks his heart that Dong-man set aside his dreams for all those years. Dad admits that he feels guilty that Dong-man’s precious youth was wasted because he lost his company, forcing Dong-man to make a terrible decision.
He tears up thinking about how his son bore the burden and gave up on his own life. But he says that seeing Dong-man doing what he loves makes him feel like he can breathe again. Dad tells Dong-man that he’s not poor, and that he’s got his back: “So, fly high. Let me fly first class thanks to my son. You can’t save your youth. Just go for it, and even if you get beat up, live your life how you want, okay?”
Seol-hee goes back to work, and Ye-jin takes her aside to apologize for what happened. But then she ruins it by adding that her feelings for Joo-man are sincere and she wants to try dating him. Seol-hee keeps her cool, telling Ye-jin to do whatever she wants because they’ve broken up.
But then Seol-hee picks up a full glass of water, and this time she actually does throw it in Ye-jin’s face. Awesome. She says that she didn’t do that when Ye-jin was innocent, but this time she knew that Joo-man was with someone, so that makes her evil.
While Ye-jin splutters in shock, Seol-hee says that she hopes that one day, Ye-jin will be in her shoes. She hopes that those eyes that claim to be innocent will overflow with tears. Ye-jin gasps that Seol-hee is mean, but Seol-hee just says calmly that Joo-man liked her a lot, unlike the vague excitement he feels towards Ye-jin now.
As scenes of their romance flash across the scene, Seol-hee says, “He was crazy about me.” She tells Ye-jin that Joo-man remembers all of the passionate moments they shared, adding that if she dates him, she hopes that those memories haunt Ye-jin.
When it’s time for Dad to take the bus home, Dong-man runs over to give him a baggie and asks him to call and talk once in a while. Dad gets on the bus, not giving Dong-man another look, but he opens the bag to find some cash, and he grumbles that Dong-man has no finesse, wondering who he takes after.
Dong-man arrives home to find that his father has cleaned his entire apartment. And on top of his folded shirts is a small pile of money and a note to fix his desk chair. He fights his tears and mutters that Dad has no finesse. Awww, like father, like son.
Dong-man finds Coach Hwang and tells him that he’s done pretending to be mature. He says that he’s thought about that November day every single day of the last ten years, and that every time he saw Tak-soo succeed, he clenched his teeth in anger and felt crazy inside.
He tells Coach that he’s done waiting, and that even though he had a hard time hitting Doo-ho when he was hurt, he’s ready to kill Tak-soo. He begs Coach to set him free from that day a decade ago. Coach just says he’d better do it right, and kill Tak-soo properly.
Dong-man runs straight to Ae-ra, scaring her with his intensity. He tells her that he’s going to fight Tak-soo and she argues that he’ll lose. But Dong-man doesn’t care, saying that he’s not doing this to beat Tak-soo, but because it’s what he’s been dying to do.
He says that nobody can beat someone who’s having fun, and that if growing up means your dreams fade, then he’ll give up on growing up. He says that it’s pointless to pretend to be grown up for others, and that if you save it, you lose it.
He adds that that’s why he ran to Ae-ra like this, to be blunt and say what he wants to say. Ae-ra asks what he means, so he looks her right in the eyes and tells her, “I love you.” OMG.
He keeps going, “I love you to death, crazily, madly, immaturely, I love you. I love you, Ae-ra.” Almost shyly, he wraps his arms around her and drops his face to her shoulder.
Ae-ra takes this all in, then she says quietly, “Me too.” Squee!! Dong-man pulls back to look at her face, and she tells him more clearly, “I love you too, you immature jerk.” Overjoyed, Dong-man remembers to breathe, then he yells, “I love you like crazy!”
He covers Ae-ra’s face with kisses, then he bellows again at the top of his lungs, “I love you, Choi Ae-ra!!”
Landlady Hwang hides when she hears footsteps coming up to the roof. She drops the cork from the bottle she’s carrying, which rolls towards Dong-man’s dad’s feet. He stops to look around, then keeps going, and Landlady Hwang whispers, “Oppa. Hyung-shik oppa…”
So, Landlady Hwang knows Dong-man’s father, too. She’s still such a mystery, since all we really know about her for sure is that she used to know both Ae-ra and Dong-man’s fathers, both of whom she hides from, and Coach Hwang whom she doesn’t, and that she came to Namil Villa to watch over Dong-man and Ae-ra. I’m not ready to say she’s Ae-ra’s mother because we haven’t gotten any clues to that effect, but I’m very curious to know how she knows everyone.
I haven’t said much about Landlady Hwang because I was waiting until we knew more of her, but I can’t ignore how much she’s been overstepping her boundaries. She’s dictating to adults in their late twenties what they can and cannot do with their own bodies in their own homes, when she has no right whatsoever to do that, or to threaten to raise their rent if they don’t obey her. If she does turn out to be Ae-ra’s mother, it at least explains her rationale, though Ae-ra is still a young woman living on her own who has the right to do whatever she wants with the man she loves. I generally like Landlady Hwang, and I get that her forbidding her tenants to shack up is supposed to be funny, but in this one area I find her to be out of line.
But more importantly… Hooray, they finally said it!! Dong-man’s love confession was perfect, as open and loud and honest as he is. Isn’t that exactly how we want to be loved—openly, unabashedly, crazily, and childishly and without any reservations? Every time I think Dong-man can’t surprise me any more, he goes right ahead and does just that. He’s such an open book already, but now he’s throwing his love at Ae-ra with all of his strength and just having faith that she’ll catch him, and it’s the best thing ever. I used to worry that Dong-man couldn’t match Ae-ra’s strong spirit because he was so timid with his feelings for such a long time, but now he’s loving her as fiercely as she loves him, and it just makes me so happy.
Speaking of love, I just love the way Dong-man and Ae-ra’s dads love them. They’re both gruff and stingy with their words, but when push comes to shove, they think their kids hung the moon. Both of them have surprised their children by believing in them as much, or even more than they believed in themselves. Knowing that you can follow your dream is a powerful thing in and of itself, but having the support of your parents even when your dream is a long shot is a pretty amazing feeling.
I’m so proud of Seol-hee right now, I was literally tearing up with pride when she finally had enough of Joo-man’s ambivalence and ended it. She was so strong in that moment, and she reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books: “That which yields is not always weak.” I used to think she was weak, but Seol-hee proved me wrong in this episode—her ability to yield is her strength. But I knew she also had a core of steel in there somewhere, and that if pushed, she would stand up for herself. Finding that steel, and using it to hold herself up while she does probably the hardest thing she’s ever done in her life—letting Joo-man go—is going to bring nothing but good things to Seol-hee.
I was equally glad to see Joo-man broken up about the breakup, because he’s the one who needs to see what he stands to lose by not appreciating Seol-hee’s quiet love. If what he wants is a partner who will stand by him no matter what, who will support him and raise wonderful children with him, then he can’t do any better than Seol-hee. A shiny new toy may look good for a while, but Ye-jin can’t hold a candle to Seol-hee when it comes to dignity, strength, and loyalty. I’ll give him a tiny bit of credit for accepting his responsibility for the breakup like a man, but if Joo-man can’t find a way to convince Seol-hee of his remorse, then he doesn’t deserve her.
- Fight My Way: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Circle, Fight My Way, Lookout
- Life is rosy for the youths of Fight My Way
- Oh Snap! A friend to lean on when things go sideways
- Suffocating best friends in Fight My Way’s new teaser
- The cute and the petty in Fight My Way’s second teaser
- KBS schedules drama shorts, delays Fight My Way’s premiere
- Finger hearts in new stills for Fight My Way
- Bickering besties Park Seo-joon and Kim Ji-won for Fight My Way
- Kimbap and charged looks on the set of Third-Rate My Way