Age of Youth 2: Episode 3
Ji-won and Eun take center stage this time around, and we dig a little deeper into each of their stories. We get more of a glimpse into Ji-won’s background than we ever have, as she tries to trace back her own childhood, hoping to rediscover a missing memory, and takes full charge of her mission. Eun has a mission of her own, and as she learns more about her housemates, we also learn a little more about how she ended up at Belle Epoque.
EPISODE 3: “I’ve decided to hate you” #crimeandpunishment
As Eun makes breakfast, she watches Eun-jae somberly walk to the bathroom and knock her head against the wall. Ji-won comes out of the bathroom and gags in the kitchen sink as she finishes brushing her teeth, and Eun gives her a disgusted look. Ji-won dramatically explains that she’s in bad health and asks Eun to keep her terminal illness a secret from the rest of the housemates.
Eun looks confused and asks why Ji-won told her this secret. Ji-won says dramatically that she doesn’t want to burden those closest to her, while she and Eun are just not there yet. Ye-eun walks out of her room and calls it all a lie, and Ji-won happily owns up to her morning joke.
The housemates leave for the first day back to school while Eun trails behind them, and Jin-myung arrives for her first day of work.
While Eun-jae and Ye-eun don’t look excited to be back at school, Ji-won looks pumped. She walks with a skip in her step and gleefully declares that she doesn’t have class because she’s on leave. She cheers on her housemates as they head off on their separate ways.
Ye-eun anxiously walks through the building, looking visibly gloomier than her former self. Two friends welcome her back, and one lifts her fist in mock punishment for leaving school suddenly without warning. Ye-eun flinches in fear, which surprises the friend, and the other friend later explains the rumor that Ye-eun has been receiving psychiatric treatment.
In class, Ye-eun shakes and takes a deep breath, trying to convince herself that everything is okay. Eun-jae repeats the same mantra in the bathroom before going to class and gains some confidence when two younger students bow to her as their sunbae. But her false confidence melts as soon as she sees Jung-yeol in class.
The class goes silent, and Jung-yeol greets her with an awkward wave. She freezes and bows formally to him, and the air in the classroom gets even more uncomfortable when a classmate (omg is that greasy hair sunbae?) comments on how the couple still keeps their distance even after a year together. Mortified, Eun-jae walks out of class before it even begins, and friends scold the oblivious classmate, since the couple broke up.
Over lunch, Ji-won tries to comfort Eun-jae, saying that breaking up isn’t a huge deal. Ye-eun retorts that Ji-won has no dating experience, and Ji-won responds that she doesn’t need experience to know. She continues to advise Eun-jae, saying that it will all pass, and Ye-eun intervenes. Of course she knows it will pass, but it’s the short moment before it all passes that’s hard.
Ji-won asks why they made their relationship public in the first place, and Ye-eun answers that hiding your feelings is harder. Ji-won writes off dating as a hormonal imbalance, but Ye-eun points out that Ji-won’s the one thirsty for guys. Ji-won clarifies that statement and yells, to her roommates’ embarrassment, “What I really want is SE…”
We jump to a nightclub, where Ji-won dances wildly while her classmates and sunbaes drink in celebration of their media award. A sunbae who seems new to the group eyes her with interest and hands her a beer, and when she happily chugs it down, her ever-present classmate Sung-min throws her a disapproving look.
Her friends comment that she hasn’t changed and wonder if she’s still single, and Ji-won confirms that she’s only ever been single. She says that losing her virginity is more urgent than getting hired, and she vows that she’ll make a public announcement on that day.
Sung-min throws food at her to be quiet, but their little fight quickly ends when they’re asked about their future. Sung-min is going to graduate school, while Ji-won doesn’t worry and crows that the award is a free pass to any job. Her classmate scoffs that everyone has at least one award these days, and Ji-won looks briefly concerned before resuming her carefree dancing. The interested sunbae continues looking at her.
When Ji-won comes out of the bathroom, he’s waiting for her outside. He asks if losing her virginity is that urgent, and suggests that they leave together. Ji-won’s still unclear on what he’s suggesting, so he makes it clear: “Let’s have sex. I think you’re all right.”
Ji-won just smiles blankly, and he takes her arm to lead her out. As they walk, Ji-won’s eyes glaze over and her smile stays frozen in place. The sunbae puts his arm around her shoulder, and Ji-won’s frozen face looks even more uncomfortable. When the elevator doors open, he steps forward, but Ji-won falls to the ground, eyes wide open but completely unaware of her surroundings.
The sunbae tries to shake her out of her reverie, but everything sounds muffled to her ears and Ji-won stares as if in a trance. When Sung-min arrives, he shoves the sunbae aside to get to her side, shouting her name worriedly.
Sung-min holds her and calls out to her, and Ji-won finally manages to say, “Pretty shoes.” Then, Ji-won’s gaze focuses on Sung-min and she slowly comes back to consciousness.
Eun and her friend Ye-ji eat at a restaurant and try to figure out which of the four housemates the threatening letter is addressed to. They consider each person, and we get glimpses of each person as Ye-ji describes them. For instance, Eun-jae is the one you kind of want to pick on for no reason. We see Eun-jae riding the bus, and she’s asked to move because a couple wants to sit together.
Ye-ji calls Ye-eun the “pink hamster” who acts completely differently inside and outside the house, and we see Ye-eun eating alone in the cafeteria and nervously leaving when two guys sit at her table.
Next up is the talkative one who also lies: Ji-won. As Ji-won walks home with Sung-min, she retraces her memories of the night, only able to remember up to the point when the sunbae asked her to go out. Sung-min seethes that the guy’s a crazy bastard and asks if she was really going to sleep with the sunbae. Ji-won shrugs and says probably, which makes him even more incredulous.
Sung-min disapproves of them both and says that your body is precious, especially for the first time. Ji-won gasps, wondering aloud if he’s also a virgin. He gulps a little but doesn’t answer, just telling her to go home. She decides that he is and says generously that it’s okay, and as he walks away, she teasingly yells that she’ll keep his secret about his virginity, which has him running back to shut her mouth.
Finally, the uppity one: Jin-myung. Jin-myung asks if Eun is enjoying her comics, and Eun shrinks a little to see her with a copy of Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat.
Still, Eun says that’s not a big issue, since the other housemates also seem to have a similar reaction. We see them loudly playing a game on their phones, and when Jin-myung arrives, they all stop playing and decide they should study. Ye-ji asks what company Jin-myung works at, but Eun can’t remember, so she says it must be some no-name company.
When Eun gets home, she sees an open laptop and tries to snoop, but doesn’t get the chance because Ji-won comes out of the bathroom just in time. The rest of the housemates lie in bed, exhausted from their day, but Ji-won chirps on about how she actually fainted earlier. Noting Ji-won’s lie about being ill, Eun doesn’t fall for it this time, even though it’s real. Then Ji-won tries to clear her ear when a ringing sound grows louder.
Everyone leaves the house separately in the morning, and Jin-myung receives her ID card at work. It’s a surreal moment for her, and she relishes it.
Ye-eun continues to struggle walking through the crowded hallways alone, staying close to the wall and keeping her head down. Ji-won also seems to be in a sad mood, crouched on the floor and sighing audibly for Sung-min to hear. He reluctantly asks what’s going on, and she explains that she went to the hospital earlier that day.
Sung-min is used to Ji-won’s dramatics and tries not to engage, but at her prolonged silence, he crouches down in front of her to ask if she’s sick. She looks up with tears in her eyes and reports that they said nothing was wrong with her. Sung-min jerks his hand up in frustration, but Ji-won looks seriously worried.
Ji-won grabs onto Sung-min’s arm and worries that something might actually be wrong with her mind. She says that she saw something weird when she fainted. She recalls vague memories of a playground, white head sculptures, and young children playing hide-and-seek. And she remembers pretty shoes, which she’d mentioned back at the club.
A group of students enter the room, and Ji-won immediately shoves Sung-min away, calling him an animal and running out the door. The students stare in confusion until someone identifies her as Ji-won, and then they all nod their heads in understanding. Sung-min sits down at his desk and wonders how much of her words were truthful.
Eun-jae bumps into someone while going up the stairs, and the person grabs her shoulders to help regain her balance. She looks up, and it’s none other than her ex, Jong-yeol. Once he realizes it’s Eun-jae, he lets go of her and quickly apologizes before going on his way.
At home, Eun-jae tells Ji-won and Ye-eun that she can’t believe that he simply said “sorry,” when he used to touch her body like his own. That puts Ji-won’s mind in the gutter, and Ye-eun kicks her before she can ask how far the couple went.
With that, Jong-yeol suddenly gets goosebumps (ha, what a fun transition) at the bar. When his friend asks why the two broke up, he changes the subject to the baseball game.
Eun also asks why Eun-jae broke up with her boyfriend. Eun-jae says vaguely that they “just broke up” and Ji-won overexplains that there was no cheating, scamming, or hitting. At that last example, Ye-eun shoots her a look, and Ji-won shuts up.
Eun wonders if people actually break up for no reason, and Eun-jae clarifies that there was a reason: their love went cold. She says it’s the saddest reason for a break-up.
Jong-yeol’s friends ask if he was dumped, and he chugs his beer. Over at the house, Eun asks the same question, and Eun-jae insists that she did the dumping.
Ji-won and Ye-eun take her side, but Eun points out that they’re talking about it like she’s been dumped. Eun-jae contradicts her fiercely, and Ji-won explains that the guy couldn’t be reached, wouldn’t respond to messages right away, show up late.
Eun-jae adds a whole string of grievances: seeming bothered to walk her home, looking at his phone when together, yawning while she’s talking, being completely unaware of their once-in-a-lifetime 333rd-day anniversary…
Through her tirade, Ji-won and Ye-eun say all the right friend things, although it seems clear they’ve heard this all many times before and are a little tired of it. Eun looks amused and says that it sounds like Eun-jae was dumped, but Eun-jae states firmly that she was the first one to say that they should break up.
Eun-jae storms off to her room, and Ji-won explains that Eun-jae is especially sensitive to details because this was her first relationship and first break-up.
Jong-yeol and his buddies divide up the check, and his friend asks once more why they broke up. Jong-yeon replies, “What, and only date her for life?” It doesn’t seem to be the real reason, but that’s enough of an answer for the friend.
Eun-jae sits on her bed and strangles her stuffed animal, still angry about the break-up. Jong-yeol sits on the bus alone, and it seems like he’s not completely over the break-up either.
The next day, the professor hands out the team assignments for their project. Eun-jae panics when she sees that she and Jong-yeol have been assigned to the same team, and she takes a moment for herself in the bathroom. When she arrives to meet her team, Jong-yeol’s friend tells her they switched teams, and she responds with a mixture of relief and disappointment.
And anger, apparently, given how Eun-jae later storms into her room and writes furiously in her journal. She vents about how she doesn’t want to be in a group with him either and still wanted to keep the peace but then why did he tell her that he loved her? She rips out the paper and throws it in fury, and imaginary steam shoots out of her nostrils.
Ye-eun meets up with some high school friends, who’ve reached out to her out of the blue. They share news of another classmate and claim that they just reached out to catch up, although it seems they’re really here for gossip about Ye-eun.
Alas, the friends ask about her leave from school and say they heard what happened to her. Ye-eun tenses up right away, grabbing onto her purse nervously, and can only answer in monosyllables as the friends ask about her experience being abused by her boyfriend.
Ye-eun begins to fidget uncomfortably, rubbing her arm and neck, but they don’t notice her discomfort or ignore it, asking for details of her experience. When Ye-eun says she doesn’t want to talk about it, they insist that talking it out is therapeutic and keep prodding.
A guy in glasses (Lee Yoo-jin) at another table hears the conversation unfold and begins to remember his own traumatic experience being bullied in high school. He begins to fidget as well, rubbing his ears where the bullies grabbed him.
The friends continue asking detailed questions about the kidnapping and abuse, triggering Ye-eun’s vulnerable mental state, and the triggered guy at the next table finally can’t stand it anymore and intervenes.
He’s so socially awkward, however, that he doesn’t know quite what to do. He walks right up to their table, but can’t think of what to say when the women ask what he’s doing. Without any better ideas, he finally grabs Ye-eun by the arm and runs away from the café.
Glasses guy leads her outside, thinking he’s saving her, but Ye-eun is extra spooked by his behavior and screams. Shaking, she recoils when he tries to approach her and runs away. A few bystanders ask him accusingly what he’s doing, and he can’t explain. Ye-eun watches from around the corner and ignores a call from her friend before going on her way.
Ji-won tells Sung-min about a strange dream she had, which was about an all-glass shower and nobody else with her, regrettably. She says that she’s been having weird dreams ever since she fainted, and she’s trying to figure out why. She retraces her steps to what she was doing when she fainted, and he drolly answers that she was about to have her wish come true. He concludes that she simply passed out because she was so happy.
Ji-won scolds him for only looking at what he can visibly see and wonders if she’s actually scared of sex. Sung-min laughs incredulously and can’t fathom that, considering she talks about it all the time. She makes an analogy about children who’ve experienced big surgeries always playing the doctor in role play, and she thinks maybe she’s overcompensating because of a childhood experience. She can’t believe that someone as sexy, elegant, and intellectual as her could not have had sex yet.
Sung-min asks if she remembered anything after the incident. She explains that she’s been watching porn during her free time to stir possible memories, but nothing. She wonders if it’s because porn is two-dimensional, and she slowly approaches Sung-min with a naughty look in her eyes. She backs him up against a car and places his hands on her behind. She holds his face and tells him that it’ll be over soon, and he closes his eyes, bracing himself for the impact.
Before she can kiss him, the window of the car rolls down. Ji-won casually acknowledges the driver’s presence and apologizes, but she doesn’t look ashamed at all, ha. They get into Sung-min’s car, and she wonders why she didn’t feel anything. The air isn’t at all awkward and they slide right back into their bickering friendship.
Jin-myung goes to the convenience store to get a drink for her overtime work, and she recognizes a guy who’s humming to the music. She remembers him as the guy in the clown make-up asking to borrow a phone, but she doesn’t think too much of it.
As she passes him, she happily texts “My Chef” about being happy to work overtime, and the guy assumes she’s texting about him. He confronts her about exposing his private life and tries to check her phone, but Jin-myung turns serious when he tries to invade her privacy. He apologizes and says that he trusts that she didn’t take a picture of him. As she leaves, she glares at the supposed celebrity who spoiled her mood.
Ji-won takes the train to her hometown, and is met by her mother. In the car, her mom asks about her job prospects, and Ji-won complains that there are three taboo topics: job prospects, marriage, and children. Still, her mother tells her to focus on her studies so that she can get a job.
Ji-won asks her mom if she experienced any traumatic event in her childhood, and her mom confirms that she fell and broke things in all kinds of accidents, but Ji-won isn’t talking about clumsy cuts and bruises. She doesn’t know how to mention what she wants to know, though, and just asks how Dad is doing.
Dad greets Ji-won joyfully when they arrive, and Ji-won is immediately fed home-cooked food. Although her relationship with her parents seems normal and happy, Ji-won glances at Dad with some suspicion and thinks back to her research about sexual assault. She’d read that sexual assault is often inflicted someone the victim knows, possibly by a father figure.
Dad calls her over urgently, and when she sits next to him, he delivers a fart bomb to her face. As he laughs heartily, she grabs Dad in a headlock, and then she apologizes to him vaguely for suspecting the unimaginable.
Ji-won searches her desk for any journals from her childhood, and she accuses Mom of throwing them away. But Mom didn’t throw anything away—Ji-won just never wrote a journals when she was younger.
Then, late at night, Ji-won wakes up her sleeping parents to ask if they recognize a girl in a picture who’s holding hands with a childhood Ji-won. Mom looks at it carefully but can’t remember anything about the girl and barks at her to go to sleep. Ji-won is convinced that she’s been adopted, but her parents joke that if they had the choice to adopt, they wouldn’t have chosen her.
Outside her parents’ room, Ji-won takes a closer look at the photo and finds a name written on the back: Moon Hyo-jin. There’s also a date and the note that it was a field trip, but it doesn’t bring any new information to mind. Ji-won thinks back to the girl in her dreams saying “pretty shoes,” then calls it a night.
At home, Ye-eun tells Eun-jae about her enraging encounter with her high school friends. She vents that they only wanted to hear the reason for her dating violence and blame her for deserving it. Eun-jae wonders why the stranger grabbed her and ran, and Ye-eun angrily responds that she has no idea. Eun-jae and Jin-myung comment on her improvement—she’s much less timid now—and Ye-eun is happy to hear that her counseling sessions have been worth the money.
Just as Ye-eun mentions her medication, Eun walks into the house and they all shush the conversation. Eun-jae tries to cover up their awkward moment by calling Eun by her nickname (Admiral Jo), but it’s painfully obvious. Before Eun walks into her room, Ye-eun opens up about her dating violence experience last year. She explains that it would have been weird to bring up to Eun, so they ended up talking about it privately—but they didn’t mean to be exclusive.
Eun nods in understanding, then asks who was living in the house last Christmas. They don’t quite remember, but they conclude that it was just the four of them without a new housemate. It’s an odd question, but they don’t think too much of it.
At a cafe, Eun adds more to her profiles of each housemate, and she circles Ye-eun’s name as her leading candidate. Ye-ji tiptoes into the cafe and tries to cover Eun’s eyes, but Eun avoids her because she could smell Ye-ji’s perfume.
As they talk about who the letter belongs to, Eun admits that she thought it would be obvious who the letter would be for—she thought they’d be strange and mean. But it’s turning out to be much more difficult than she’d initially thought.
Ye-ji thinks Eun is the strangest of them all, with her moving in to deliver such a letter. Then, she suspects that there’s something else going on. Eun’s mind wanders to her watching her father happily walking with his new wife and young daughter. Eun had run into a bookstore, out of sight of her father, and watched them walk by.
Before Eun left the bookstore, she heard a voice asking for help. As she walked through the bookstore, searching for the voice, a book fell on the ground behind her. She picked up the book—titled Delayed Justice—and found the letter inside.
Ye-ji asks what Eun plans to do after finding the owner of the letter, but their conversation is cut short by a phone call. Eun arrives at a hair salon, and she heads right upstairs to the source of a loud ruckus that a stylist explains as construction noise.
But when Eun opens the managing director’s office door, her mother is screaming at the two women who hold her back. She immediately calms down at the sight of Eun.
Eun asks what the problem was this time. Her mother doesn’t specify and just says that she had a manic moment of anger. She threw and ruined everything in her room, and Eun helps her pick up the pieces.
On the bus home, Eun looks at the threatening letter on Christmas stationery. She’s deep in thought about her own complicated situation with her father, but she tries to persuade herself that things aren’t that complicated. She tells herself, “It will get simpler. You come to realize there’s no such thing as good people or uncontrollable circumstances. I’m tired of that.”
As Eun walks home, she decides, “I’m choosing to either like or hate. Friend or enemy, I’ll only be one. I don’t want to know too much, since you’ll become pitiful. And when you become pitiful, I can’t hate you.”
She thinks back to childhood when her father used to tie her hair, and also of her manic mother. “I don’t want to understand, I won’t understand, I will never try to understand.”
Ye-ji’s question rings in her head: What will she do after finding the letter’s owner? Eun vows to get revenge. As she walks in on everyone laughing over Ji-won’s story, she wonders which one of them has the audacity to laugh after ruining someone’s life.
Walking down a small neighborhood street, Eun-jae is confronted by a trenchcoat flasher. She screams and covers her eyes, and he chases her down the street, cackling gleefully.
Next, the flasher exposes himself to Jin-myung, but she just calmly calls the police. Ji-won stares with interest and starts to ask the flasher questions, which spooks him—and as he hurries away, she chases him, exclaiming, “Wait, teacher!”
Ye-eun screams too, and falls to the ground in a frightened huddle. The flasher skips off happily—only to be chased off by angry neighborhood ajusshis. Last but not least is Eun, who walks right by the flasher and he doesn’t do anything at all.
I enjoy seeing the Belle Epoque housemates from Eun’s perspective because it gives me a fresh take on everyone’s situation. We’re aware of our housemates’ demons from the first season, but it’s not so clear from the outside. Without an explanation, it’s hard to understand each housemate, and I think it’s quite clever use this new perspective to relearn their stories. I can see Eun slowly warming up to everyone, despite her intentions and desires to keep everything so black and white. Her intentions and rationale for seeking revenge are terribly misguided, but I’m sure come from a place of unattended resentment and fatigue. I’m ready to learn her story and learn to like her, empathize with her, and understand her—just like she’ll learn to do with the rest of her housemates.
I love Ji-won a lot and learning more about her story made me more invested in her character. Unlike the rest of the housemates, it seems like Ji-won has absolutely no idea what’s going on, and I like that the viewers are going through the discoveries together with her. I was definitely shaken up by her sudden fainting, but it was more chilling to watch our lovable Ji-won slowly freeze into an uncomfortable smile, being so passive about her consent. Ack, what a chilling moment. Thank goodness she has Sung-min, and bless him for dealing with her dramatic antics. They’re really cute together, and I hope Ji-won’s story includes her friends-to-lovers transformation with him on top of her self-rediscovery.
This show does a great job of baiting us into the story by providing just enough to keep us wondering. It doesn’t feel like a cliffhanger as much as an intriguing clue into the lives of our housemates, and I’m eager to learn more. The show is cleverly written, and the anecdotal storytelling is done very well. There’s always some sort of anecdotal evidence for someone’s perceptions of you, and this show makes use this common habit of humans to make assumptions based on a moment. It feels unfair to judge someone based on a few encounters, but it’s also how we coexist with each other at a distance. In a house of mysterious ladies, unaddressed letters, and a few broken hearts, it takes a lot of courage to open yourself up and make yourself vulnerable. But it’s also the only way invite strangers to be your housemates and allow your housemates to become your family.
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