Age of Youth 2: Episode 2
It was tough having to say goodbye to our beloved Kang Unni (She’s really gone! sniffles), but now is the start of a new year for the Belle Epoque girls, meaning the start of new cohabitation hijinks. To shake things up even more, a new housemate rolls into town, and it’s clear from the get-go that she’s not here to make friends. Whatever her intentions may be, her presence is already leaving our girls—and me—mighty spooked.
EPISODE 2: “I’m a coward” #stranger
The girls scrub the house clean for a potential new tenant. After bonking her head on the bathroom door, Ji-won asks if they really have to go this far to impress someone. The rest of the girls give out a firm “yes” and remind her of the last person who moved into Yi-na’s old room, who only lasted a month.
Apparently, the Belle Epoque girls have picked up a negative reputation, and the last roommate has been complaining that they’re cliquish and made her an outcast. Jin-myung looks chastened to hear the complaint about being too stingy over house expenses, while Ye-eun shrinks to hear that they were accused of falling silent whenever the roommate walked in. Ji-won hears that her sex talk was called harassing and silently turns back to her cleaning.
Then, they’re interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. Eun-jae notes that the tenant came early as they quickly head for the door.
They open the door with smiles at the ready, only for their eyes to widen and slowly make their way up until they meet the tenant’s. This is JO EUN (Choi Ara), who’s sporting a short ’do, dressed in all black, and easily towering over the girls. She asks if she’s reached the correct address.
Still blinking in surprise, the girls nod and step back to invite her inside. They watch her pull off her boots, Ye-eun wondering if Eun is really a girl and Ji-won wondering just how tall she is. Once Eun is inside, the girls scamper up one more step (trying to stay at eye level with her, ha) and point out the empty room. “Room?” Eun repeats. She inspects the space, looking almost disinterested.
When Jin-myung asks if she has any questions, Eun pauses for a moment before asking if it’s just the four of them here and if they’ve been together long. Jin-myung replies that it’s been at least a year. I guess that’s all Eun needs to know—she agrees to wait for their call and heads out.
The smiles immediately drop from the girls’ faces. They’re pretty uneasy about Eun and her moody vibe, noting that the ID she’d used to comment on their online ad was “Beyoncé at a glance”—very uncharacteristic. They all agree that it would be best to go with somebody else, just as Jin-myung gets a call from their grandma landlady. To the girls’ shock, Jin-myung panics and hastily says that they settled on a tenant, giving the landlady Eun’s contact information.
Jin-myung hangs up and explains that the landlady said if they didn’t find someone, she would rent to a friend of hers. They all sigh, accepting that they’d rather live with Eun than a grandma.
Later, the doorbell sounds again and Eun-jae checks the intercom. The girl at the door claims that she’s here to see the room, but Eun-jae informs her that they’ve already chosen a tenant. The girl walks away confused and little offended. Huh… So this must be the real “Beyoncé at a glance” that responded to the girls’ ad.
At her house, Eun packs up her stuff (which isn’t much) when she hears someone come through the front door. She confronts who must be her mother and tells her that she’s moving out. Mom balks, but Eun points out that Mom was always telling her to move out anyway. Too irritated to discuss anything, Mom tells Eun to go ahead and do whatever she wants.
It’s just Eun-jae at Belle Epoque when Eun officially moves in, so she happily acts as the tour guide. She shows Eun where she can keep her boots, but Eun asks why she has to use the lower cabinet and then plops her shoes right on the top shelf.
Eun-jae seems flustered but recomposes herself to follow Eun. She explains loose house rules—such as everyone chipping in for ramyun—but trails off when Eun turns around and stares at her. “You’re taking a long time,” Eun sighs. “Do you have a lot more to say?”
Eun stalks off and this time, Eun-jae is too stunned to follow. Ji-won and Ye-eun return home and notice poor Eun-jae still stewing in disbelief. Once they get her to explain what happened, they shake their heads disapprovingly at their shy little maknae.
The two reassure Eun-jae that they’ll handle everything and that she should just watch and learn. With that, they march right into Eun’s room, determined to give their new housemate the proper initiation.
Ye-eun heads straight for Eun’s wardrobe, teasingly noting all the black clothing, only for Eun to snatch them away. Just like Eun-jae, Ye-eun is stunned into silence and cowers behind Ji-won, urging her to take over. Ji-won goes for one of Eun’s books and again, Eun snatches it away. She tells the girls that she really dislikes it when people touch her stuff. Now even Ji-won has nothing to say.
The girls wait until Jin-myung gets home, desperate to have the mom of the group settle this once and for all. Eun acts just as hostile toward Jin-myung, but Jin-myung keeps her patience and coaxes Eun out of her room so they can celebrate her arrival with some beer.
They all sit down together for the first time, the air still painfully awkward. They try to ask Eun some innocent questions, but she only sticks to one-word answers. Ji-won sighs, unable to sit through this anymore. She downs her drink for some extra needed courage and then plops a hand on Eun’s shoulder. “Do you have an older brother?” she asks with a smile.
The others look up in horror, but Ji-won keeps her joke going, saying that even a nice uncle would do. Eun just gives her this look and her confidence completely melts away. Jin-myung comes to the rescue yet again and asks that they all try to get along despite their differences.
Eun agrees to do so and then stands to leave. Frustrated, Jin-myung calls her back, saying that they’re supposed to clean up after themselves. So Eun grabs her drink and dumps the rest of the contents down the sink before tossing the can outside. She then slips back inside her room, slamming the door.
The girls can’t believe how rude Eun has been behaving, but Jin-myung merely tells them that not all roommates become friends—they just have to get used to each other. We then see Eun leaning against her door as she eavesdrops on their conversation.
Over the next several days, the girls grow even more suspicious of Eun. They begin to feel like they’re being watched, with Jin-myung even admitting that she might’ve caught Eun spying on her when she’d visited her late brother at the columbarium.
Ye-eun notices Ji-won’s disturbed look and urges her to confide in them. But Ji-won blankly says that nothing strange happened to her—nothing at all. The others scoff as she elaborates how bad she feels for being left out, ha.
The next morning, a drowsy Eun-jae answers the door to find a girl here to see Eun—a small, sweet-looking girl dressed in all pink. (Wow, talk about polar opposites.) Eun appears and gets her friend AHN YE-JI into her room before the girls even get the chance to say hello.
As Ye-ji checks out Eun’s new room, she asks, “Is it them? Have you figured out which one it is?” Eun answers that she hasn’t yet. Ye-ji then presents Eun with a present—two talking stuffed bears—and actually gets a small smile out of her.
Outside, the girls can’t help but eavesdrop. They’re even more surprised later when they spot Eun walking Ye-ji out of the house arm-in-arm, looking extremely close. When Eun returns, Ji-won teases her by saying how cute she and her friend looked together, and starts in on her suggestive wink-wink talk about them looking like a couple. Eun just looks at her incredulously before slamming her bedroom door. Ji-won asks in confusion if she said something really terrible, and the others say she was acting like normal, ha.
The girls have been cooking together, and decide it would probably be better to leave Eun alone. But then they suppose that leaving her out purposely could look bad too, even if they’re not trying to be exclusive. That leads to the four girls huddling over a pot in one bedroom to eat their ddukbokki, talking as usual about Eun’s standoffishness.
Eun-jae suggests that people get angry when their “hidden truth” gets revealed, which leads to speculation over whether Eun is gay. Eun-jae asks what they’d do in that case, but Ji-won and Jin-myung have no problem with it, saying you can’t discriminate against that. Ye-eun admits that while she isn’t uncomfortable with Eun being gay, she doesn’t love the idea of living together, holding up her cross necklace. Eun-jae says she may be old-fashioned, but it makes her uncomfortable because it’s like living with a man.
The next day, Ye-eun knocks on Eun-jae’s door, wondering if she can accompany her to a convenience store to send a package. As they walk out together, they pass a young man and Ye-eun makes sure to stick close to Eun-jae and avoid eye contact. Eun-jae reminds Ye-eun that she needs to get used to traveling alone now—what will she do when she returns to school?
At the convenience store, Eun-jae overhears a girl telling her friend about the Belle Epoque house and how rude the people were there for advertising a room and then pulling it before she even got there. Eun-jae takes one look at the girl’s curvy figure and it all clicks into place for her. She points the girl out to Ye-eun, who also realizes that this is “Beyoncé.”
The two make a quick escape and make a run towards home, stringing Ji-won along with them when she sees their panicked state. Ye-eun and Eun-jae run all the way to Eun’s door and demand to speak with her. Once they get her at the table, they start hammering her with questions: How did she know about the spare room at Belle Epoque?
Eun answers that she heard about the room from a friend. Thinking she’s got her trapped, Eun-jae states that Eun initially claimed she had seen the online ad. But Eun counters that she never said that. And thinking back, Eun-jae realizes that she’s right—Eun never actually said she was this “Beyoncé” girl. Moreover, they were the ones who mentioned the room first and assumed she was the tenant, and Eun just went along.
Still, the girls don’t understand why Eun wanted to move in to the house. Eun sees no reason to explain herself, so she returns to her room, leaving the girls alone with Ji-won. They tell Ji-won that Eun isn’t the tenant they thought she was, and now they’re sure that she must be hiding something. As usual, Eun listens to the girls’ conversation while standing by her door.
After doing some shopping with her friend Ye-ji, Eun walks back to the house. She stops short at the sound of her name and turns around to face her father. He nervously smiles and says that her mom told him about her moving out.
“She’s not my mom,” Eun corrects. “She’s still just your wife.” Dad asks if she moved out because something was wrong, but Eun ignores his question.
Instead, she says that she saw him not too long ago. He’d been with another woman (the stepmom) and a little girl, beaming with happiness. Dad doesn’t have a reply to that, giving Eun the opportunity to leave.
Up on the roof, Eun-jae scrolls through her phone looking sad-faced at old pictures of her and sunbae/boyfriend Jong-yeol on her phone (nooooo! Did they break up already?) She flinches when the door bursts open and Eun comes storming out, and peeks around the corner to see Eun looking over the edge.
Eun watches her dad’s retreating figure, angry tears welling up in her eyes. Needing to release all her anger, she grabs a nearby watering can and throws it to the ground with a fierce yell. Tears still threatening to spill, she heads back inside, leaving a startled Eun-jae alone on the roof.
Eun-jae isn’t feeling too hot the next morning. Her housemates prepare for the day, giving Jin-myung some encouragement before she leaves for a big job interview, while Eun takes notice of Eun-jae’s pale complexion.
Ji-won and Ye-eun notice Eun-jae’s poor state as well. With Eun-jae sick, Ye-eun wonders who will accompany her to her therapist today. Ji-won insists that she can’t since she already has plans.
Soon, Eun-jae is in a deep sleep and she falls into a familiar dream—a much younger Eun-jae cries as a large dog continues to bark at her. Her father eventually gets to her and lifts her into his arms. Eun-jae sweats in her sleep as her dream self is comforted by her dad.
A hand covers her forehead and Eun-jae shoots upright when she opens her eyes and sees that it’s Eun’s. Eun tells her that the others already left and that they’ll probably be late. Unnerved, Eun-jae stares at Eun as if she’d just been threatened. Wanting to get as far from Eun as possible, she quickly excuses herself to her room and locks the door.
Sometime later, Eun returns after making a trip to the convenience store. She knocks on Eun-jae’s door, but doesn’t get an answer—inside, Eun-jae is resting in bed while listening to music with earbuds. Eun starts to walk away, but stops when she thinks back to Eun-jae’s weak state earlier, which makes her fear the worst. She starts pounding on the door, anxiously asking if Eun-jae is okay. When Eun-jae still doesn’t answer, Eun starts to search through the house to find the bedroom keys.
She grabs the spare keys from a drawer and starts working them one by one into the door, which is right when Eun-jae takes her earphones out. From Eun-jae’s point of view, it looks like Eun is trying to break in, so she jumps out of bed and calls every one of the housemates for help. However, Jin-myung is too busy mentally preparing herself for her interview at an entertainment agency, Ye-eun is too busy talking to her therapist, and Ji-won… is too busy lounging around in a pool with classmate IM SUNG-MIN (Sohn Seung-won). Lol.
Eun finally gets to the right key and gets the door open, scaring the wits out of Eun-jae. She lets out a terrified shriek and pushes Eun away before running right out of the house.
Completely taken aback, Eun goes after her and ends up chasing Eun-jae all the way to a park.
The two shuffle down to a halt, both looking at each other in confusion. Eun: “What’s wrong?!” Eun-jae: “Right?” Eun-jae numbly walks past Eun and as they make their way back home, she narrates that she’s a coward.
But she’s not alone—we see Jin-myung at her interview for an entertainment company, looking nervous when she hears an interviewee ahead of her breaking into a song and dance. She very nearly googles “idol dance” to have something for her interview, but then shuts off her phone. Instead, she answers honestly that she doesn’t know much about show biz, that the last movie she saw was from last year, and that the last idol group she could recognize is Big Bang.
After the interview, she notices a frantic young man (Ahn Woo-yeon) trying to borrow a phone and getting rejected for the strange clown makeup on his face.
We then see Ye-eun leaving her appointment with a friend, afraid to approach anyone who’s a stranger to her.
Eun-jae returns to the house to find that Eun had bought her medicine, which was left on the table. She smiles at the surprisingly kind gesture, her narration continuing, “I’m afraid again. That the coward inside me that closes her eyes and swings her fist might hit someone. I may not be as good a person as I think I am, and that scares me.”
The plumbing goes down in the Belle Epoque house, so all five girls file out and camp out at a jjimjilbang for the day (where Eun is mistaken for a boy). The girls later ask if being mistaken for a boy ever bothers Eun, but she doesn’t mind so much.
Still, Ye-eun playfully suggests that Eun quit slouching when she walks and strut like a lady. Eun reluctantly copies her strut and they all laugh, the air between them finally somewhat clear.
Jin-myung receives a text from the company she applied to, a blank look on her face. She then calls her mom and a small smile forms. Woohoo! Yoon sunbae got the job!
On the roof, Ji-won, Ye-eun and Eun-jae water the landlady’s plants since she’s been away. They huddle behind a corner when they hear Jin-myung come up, happily talking on the phone with someone. With the way she’s speaking, this must be someone she’s dating (perhaps Yoon Park’s character from last season?).
They’re overjoyed when they overhear that she’s been hired, though their smiles freeze when they suddenly hear Jin-myung acting all cutesy and asking for congratulatory kisses. Eun-jae hiccups in surprise, making Jin-myung quickly hang up the phone. The girls smile up at her from their hiding spot and mercilessly make fun of her aegyo.
Inside her room, Eun pulls out her journal, revealing notes she’s taken on all the girls. She turns to Eun-jae’s page and jots down a new observation—she’d noticed a scar on Eun-jae’s hand when she was sleeping on the couch.
Eun pulls out the book Ji-won had asked about when she’d first moved in and pulls out a folded letter. She rereads the letter, sighing when she reaches the last line: “I’m going to kill you.”
At the jjimjilbang, the girls each take a turn weighing themselves. Jin-myung is unfazed to read her weight, Eun-jae is a little worried, Ye-eun claps her hands over her mouth in horror, and Ji-won does a little dance, proud at how much she just pooped.
Eun walks over to the measuring tape next to the scale, looking annoyed to see that she’s way over 170 centimeters.
Ahh, it feels so good to be back! The obvious changes took some getting used to, but I am liking what Season 2 is offering so far. Honestly, I’m just ecstatic that we get to return to Belle Epoque at all (Season 1 was my favorite drama of 2016). Age of Youth was always real, was always funny, and it always had an air of uncertainty. I would get confused, nervous, and sometimes even scared.
It was like no matter how much we learned, there was always more to the story. While it was unsettling at first, it became one of my favorite aspects of the show. Because that’s just how life is. There are gray areas. That’s why I’m glad we were graced with a Season 2. It definitely could’ve ended with just the one season, but there was still so much there that could be extended. I especially felt terrible with where we left Ye-eun, so I’m glad we’re getting the chance to watch her heal from her traumatic experience with her ex-boyfriend.
What I found most realistic about Season 1 was that all the girls had drastically different storylines, but what they always had in common was the simple fact that they all had their own worries and secrets. The girls had started off so closed off from one another, but they’ve bonded since then and we can see that a year later, they’re as close as ever. And I love that instead of stewing in their problems alone, they can confide in each other with just about anything now. They’ve reached a point where they know each other’s pasts and struggles, and they’re comfortable with where they are.
The chemistry does feel different, but I think that’s due to the one year we didn’t see rather than the change in cast. Ye-eun is alarmingly frightened whenever outside, but she can be her usual self in the house. And even Eun-jae still has that shy innocence, but she also doesn’t hold back as much as she used to. She makes more of an effort to speak up and at times, she can be sassy (which I find incredibly cute). Despite missing Eun-jae’s original actress Park Hye-soo, I think Ji-woo is doing a great job in the role. She’s missing that chill, dark edge I found intriguing with Park’s interpretation, but the heart of the character is still there, and that’s the most important thing for me.
This writer continues to amaze me because I’m so drawn to all of her characters. And Eun is no exception. The housemates in Season 1 were standoffish, but with Eun, it almost seemed like she walked in after already deciding that she was going to hate these girls. The way she would look at them would scare me a little bit, but she had some surprisingly soft moments. There’s obviously a lot of tension with her family (her frustration on the roof was palpable), and the slimmer of vulnerability she shows when the drama brings it up really makes my heart hurt for her. I can’t wait to dig deeper into the history of this girl.
But along with our mysterious new housemate, there’s still one girl that’s kept me wondering. We’ve all loved Ji-won, but what’s her real story? Is her bright and bubbly personality a front for something? She’s always complained of living a boring, simple life, but what if there’s more to it than we think? Or than she thinks? Every housemate faced their “ghost” last season and I think it’s about time that Ji-won faced hers, whatever it may be. And who knows? Maybe it has something to do with Eun and her reason for staying at the house.
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