Age of Youth 2: Episode 9
People are ruthless and hurtful, but that doesn’t always mean they mean harm, as we find out today. There may be different intentions behind the prickly words, and there’s mutual responsibility to unpack what those words really mean. That way, you minimize the wounds and regret that comes with hurting people you care about. It’s tough to hurt people you care about, but no relationship is without scars.
EPISODE 9: “I became a scar” #paradiselost
The housemates read the malicious letter Eun found, and Ye-eun interprets it as being addressed to her. Tearing up, she wonders, “What have I done? What I have done to provoke this?” The other housemates watch her silently as she scurries into her room.
Heimdal sets up to protest in front of Oh & Park again, but this time he’s forced by security to stand five meters away from the building. After the security guard goes back inside, he scoots back a couple steps and grimaces as Jin-myung walks past, ignoring him.
Jin-myung submits the four termination contracts to her team leader as well as details regarding Heimdal, then efficiently returns to work.
Eun zones out during lecture, and Ye-ji tries to cheer her up by suggesting that they go eat Eun’s favorite foods. Eun indifferently agrees to everything, and worried Ye-ji demands to know what’s wrong and if she’s so sad to leave Belle Epoque. Eun doesn’t answer, so Ye-ji trails after her, nagging to figure out what’s wrong.
Ye-eun shows the letter to her friends Kyung-ah and Yoo-kyung. Kyung-ah wonders if the letter was written by Eun, since it’s strange for someone to move into the house just because of a random letter. But Ye-eun doesn’t doubt Eun because they have no bad blood.
Yoo-kyung questions whether Ye-eun is the true recipient of the letter, since the letter is addressed to the house, not the person. But Ye-eun seems convinced that the texts and this letter align, and she’s the target.
Yoo-kyung bites her nails as she tries to think of who the culprit could be, and Kyung-ah looks at her suspiciously. Kyung-ah suggests that Ye-eun wait to report to the police, since they probably couldn’t do much to help her with this evidence.
As the friends leave, Eun arrives home and begins to pack. She goes outside to grab a box for her things, and Jang-hoon jokingly asks if she’s moving out. He’s surprised when she confirms that she is, and she asks when he’s going to army. He says he’s leaving on October 23rd, and she tells him to be well.
Eun gets a call from Ji-won to meet on their campus, and meets Eun-jae there first, sweating from running all the way. Eun-jae wipes some of her sweat with a tissue, and her friends watch curiously in the background (oh, misunderstanding alert!). Ji-won arrives and shares their mission: Find the bookstore where Eun discovered the letter.
The trio retraces Eun’s path through the bookstore, and she locates the place where she discovered the book—Delayed Justice—that fell from the shelf. At the counter, and Ji-won requests the contact information of the book’s seller, since they found a “very important” letter and want to return it to the owner.
The bookstore lady is hesitant at first, but they’re in luck—she looks up the information and says that she can find the seller’s contact information by going through their receipts. Things get a little awkward when the lady asks if it was a love letter, dreamily imagining a pink love letter written with a fountain pen.
Ji-won hedges that the letter was pink, and the lady squeals in delight. She gets so into her romantic vision that she disregards a waiting customer to help the trio find the letter’s owner. When she finds the contact information, Ji-won calls the number, but the number is nonexistent.
The bookstore lady says that people occasionally write false information down, but investigator Ji-won identifies another trail: The book’s seller sold 37 books to this store. They take the list of titles and continue their search.
Heimdal meets with Jin-myung and her boss, Team Leader Jo, who does all the talking. Team Leader Jo shows Heimdal the records of the company’s investment in Asgard and says that it’s no use for him to continue individually when the rest of the terminated members have moved on.
Team Leader Jo claims that the company is not doing well financially—they only appear to be doing well for their investors. He brings out the termination contract and tries to coax Heimdal into helping them by signing the contract, since he was a part of the Oh & Park family for seven years.
But Heimdal doesn’t fall into the trap and argues using Team Leader Jo’s own logic against him: that they shouldn’t treating him like this if he was family. He knows that he’s being fired for lack of popularity and says that if Asgard had been successful and wanted out of their contract early, the company would have protest—and so, he has a right to protest too.
Team Leader Jo drops his friendly façade and speaks bluntly about Asgard being untalented and not worth investment. JIn-myung listens in uncomfortable silence to Team Leader Jo roasting Heimdal about untalented ones always blaming others for their misfortune.
Heimdal doesn’t back down and asks why they chose them in the first place if they were so untalented. He demands an apology for misreading their talent and selecting them. Team Leader Jo bites his tongue and apologizes insincerely, then proceeds to ask Heimdal to sign the termination contract. Heimdal refuses and leaves the meeting room.
Fangirls sit outside the building when Heimdal returns to his protest, and they ask him (calling him “ajusshi”) who he is. Heimdal dances and sings one of Asgard’s songs, but the girls quickly lose interest and ignore him. Ouchie, salt to his wounds.
At home, Jin-myung joins the others in looking for clues in the other books that the letter owner sold. Ji-won explains the three cases that a person would sell so many books: moving, change of setting by graduating or getting a job, or cleaning out a deceased person’s belongings.
They look for any hints about the owner’s identity, and Eun-jae reads aloud an underlined quote: “A kind person always blames oneself if someone begins to attack them. Bad people never consider themselves to blame.” Ji-won finds another one and reads it: “The thought that living here is more tragic than dying here drives me crazy.”
Eun finds another line: “Depression is a whole-body illness—not just a mental illness—so simply moving your body can improve your condition.” Based on the underlined text, they assume that this person must be gloomy.
Ye-eun steps out into the hallway with heavy footsteps, and Eun watches her with a guilty look. Eun asks how to handle rent when she moves, assuming that her departure is a foregone conclusion, but the housemates think otherwise. Eun would need to pay a month’s rent anyway, so they suggest that she stay through the end of that month.
Eun is surprised at the reaction and asks if it’s really okay if she continued to live there. Ji-won says that it’s up to Eun to decide whether to live there or not, and they assure her that they have no hard feelings. Eun still feels guilty about Ye-eun, but they’re interrupted by another quote.
Jin-myung reads: “When scientists conduct experiments—whether it’s bacteria, rats, or humans—they identify new traits and compare them to controls. The controls are not recorded in history. We can never know what would have happened—we can only speculate.” Jin-myung uses that quote to explain that even if Eun had told them about the letter beforehand, they couldn’t predict what would happen. She thinks about Heimdal’s situation and tells Eun not to twist herself up about it.
Ji-won figures that Eun must be so moved by their generosity and asks for her gratitude in the form of ramyun. Eun pretends to be reluctant but goes to the kitchen with little protest.
Eun throws out the trash with a skip in her step, and Jang-hoon looks confused by her smiley mood. She happily tells him that she’s not moving out, and he asks teasingly if she’s that happy they won’t be separated. Eun’s too happy to make a snide comment and simply smiles back at him as she walks into the house.
Heimdal continues his one-man protest, and when he tries to use the Oh & Park bathroom, he’s blocked by the security guard. He returns to his post, where two of his terminated groupmates are waiting, and he’s excited to have company. But his groupmates try to persuade him to give up the useless protest because he’ll only hurt himself in the process.
At Belle Epoque, Ji-won summarizes their findings to Ye-eun: The letter-sender wrote a letter to Ye-eun around Christmastime, thinking Ye-eun ruined their life. They probably hadn’t known Ye-eun’s address until then, and eight months later, the sender began to threaten her through texts.
Ji-won retraces the timeline starting with Ye-eun’s leave of absence from school. Initially, Ye-eun took leave last year because she was more embarrassed than anything, but her real symptoms of panic began to arise in February. The threats only started after Ye-eun’s condition improved, so Ji-won concludes that this person had kept tabs on Ye-eun, and acted once Ye-eun seemed happier.
Ye-eun says bitterly, “That’s fortunate. That means they won’t do anything to me for now.” Then Eun-jae notices a company logo on the bottom of the letter, and Eun supposes the paper could have come from a notepad sent out by a business to their customers, since her mother’s salon does the same. That gives the trio a new lead.
The trio heads out and enlists Jang-hoon’s help, piling their books onto his bike, and he walks with Eun-jae to ask about her progress with Jong-yeol. Walking behind them, Eun glares at them with jealous eyes, while Ji-won asks her to gather information on the company that made the notepads. Ji-won unknowingly fuels the jealousy fire by noting that Jang-hoon and Eun-jae are dressed in matching couple outfits, and Eun looks bothered.
After class, Eun-jae’s friend asks about her new boyfriend, meaning Eun—she’d seen them together the other day. Eun-jae, however, recalls Ji-won’s teasing and thinks she must be talking about Jang-hoon. She looks to Jong-yeol, who he glances at her looking stone-faced as he walks out of the classroom.
When Jang-hoon returns home, he looks suspiciously at a stranger lurking on the steps of the house. It’s Ho-chang, and his nervous behaviors mislead Jang-hoon to think that he’s a pervert waiting to violate the ladies. He attacks Ho-chang and pins him down until Ye-eun runs out at the commotion, and only when Ho-chang waves to her does Jang-hoon let the poor guy go.
Ye-eun and Ho-chang sit on a bench outside, and he apologizes for coming against her wishes. He just wanted to check if she was doing okay. She reminds him that she told him not to come, and Ho-chang gets very apologetic. But she adds that she was also hoping that he would show up, and holds his hand to thank him. Ho-chang sits up stiffly, his hand nervously reaching for his ear.
Ji-won continues to research the letter-sender’s book, Delayed Justice, and Sung-min checks in with her. She vows on her grandfather’s name to catch this suspect, and when Sung-min reminds her that her grandfather gambled their house away, she vows on her maternal grandfather’s name. Ha!
They wonder how Ye-eun couldn’t have any suspects in mind, and Sung-min suggests an alternative target: Ji-won. She vehemently rejects the idea, insisting that she was born to be loved. Sung-min glances at Jealous Hoobae—who’s intensely glaring at Ji-won through the window—and tells Ji-won to continue to live in blissful ignorance.
Heimdal stubbornly keeps his place in front of the company through waves of screaming fangirls and into the night. When Jin-myung leaves for the day, she pointedly asks what he hopes to achieve if he hasn’t been able to achieve success in the past five years. Heimdal asserts that miracles happen to those who work hard until the very end and stays hopeful that he’ll make it big because of his diligence.
Jin-myung disagrees and argues that diligence does not guarantee a miracle, but Heimdal insists he’ll keep trying anyway. Frustrated, Jin-myung asks if Heimdal thinks he has talent, and he responds that he does. Dropping the honorifics, Heimdal tells Jin-myung to worry about herself—she studied obediently, went to a good university, and never discovered what she really likes.
Stung, Jin-myung tells him not to belittle her life. She says that she’s better than someone like him, who only blames others and doesn’t think of his own shortcomings. If he had real talent, he would have survived in the business. “You won’t want to acknowledge this, but you’re the leftovers of the leftovers.” Ouch.
Hurt by her harsh words, Heimdal pushes her, and she falls to the ground. The security guard runs out to help her up, and it looks like she’s injured her wrist. Heimdal angrily walks away without an apology, and Jin-myung looks more regretful than angry.
When Heimdal returns to his empty dorm, he hears Jin-myung’s blunt words about his lack of talent. He finds that the lights and water have been shut off, and sighs in defeat.
In the morning, Eun-jae comes out of her room squealing and excitedly shows her housemates her phone. She tells them that Jong-yeol texted her: “Are you sleeping?” They all close in on the phone to confirm, and yup, he has. Meanwhile, Jong-yeol stares at his phone in shock and kicks around in mortification. His mother yells at him for drinking so much last night and demands that he eat breakfast.
At the breakfast table, Eun-jae tries to hide her smile, and Ji-won asks how she won Jong-yeol over. Was it the cute? The sexy? Eun-jae shakes her head and reveals that it was jealousy. She explains that Jang-hoon must have been mistaken as her boyfriend that day when they wore matching clothes.
Ji-won suggests that she jump ship and try to make it work with Jang-hoon, but Eun-jae isn’t interested, calling Jang-hoon a little greasy. Eun gets cranky and pettily withholds the toast, only sharing with Ye-eun. Heh.
When Jong-yeol runs into Eun-jae at school, he blurts that he mistakenly sent the text. Smiling widely, Eun-jae just nods and walks away. Jong-yeol’s friend comments on his long face that just keeps getting longer, and that earns him a collar-grab.
At Oh & Park, Jin-myung works with a wrap on her injured wrist, and Team Leader Jo checks on her after hearing about the incident from the security guard. He orders her to go to the hospital for all the necessary tests and bring back all the receipts, since she was injured because of company work. Though she initially refuses, Jin-myung leaves for the hospital and notices Heimdal standing outside.
Ji-won and Eun search for the origins of the letter notepad, but they’re unsuccessful. Turns out notepads like this are so common that it’s hard to pinpoint anything about it, so they make no progress on that front.
As they walk to get food, Ji-won happily answers a call from Eun-jae, who’s found herself in an awkward situation—Ji-won called Jang-hoon to campus, and now Eun-jae’s stuck with him one-on-one. Ji-won is matchmaking, and she marvels at her own skills in taking care of her hoobae’s love life.
Hearing this, Eun gets annoyed and storms off to campus to find them, and eventually spots them sitting together. She watches them from behind a sign and their forced laughter makes her think that they’re having a good time.
Little does she know that conversation is actually pretty stiltled. Jang-hoon tries to make small talk, but Eun-jae doesn’t watch sports or TV and likes scary movies—all things they don’t have in common. Jang-hoon says that he can’t watch scary movies, and Eun-jae says that Eun is the same way. They finally connect on the topic of Eun—her child-like nature and her embarrassed grumbling—and start chatting freely. Eun watches them happily engage and walks away, deflated.
When Eun gets home, Ye-ji is waiting for her and notices that something is wrong. Eun denies it and walks Ye-ji to the bus stop, looking dejected. Just then, Ye-ji sees Jang-hoon walking back with Eun-jae, and she immediately gets angry for being with another girl. She charges toward him and kicks him in the shin, scolding him for hanging out with a girl when he’s already taken.
Scared Eun-jae rushes to Eun’s side and asks if Ye-ji is dating Jang-hoon. Ye-ji clarifies that Eun is the one dating him, and Eun-jae looks shocked. Nobody confirms or denies this, and Eun quickly escapes the situation by forcing Ye-ji along to the bus stop.
As Ye-ji rides away on the bus, she tells Eun to tell her housemates about Jang-hoon, but that’s not necessary because when Eun gets home, the word has spread. Ji-won starts in on the teasing and asks Jang-hoon what he likes about Eun. He points out her grumbling as her charm and mimics her with endearment, but sensitive Eun storms into the house in a huff.
Jin-myung is summoned into the meeting room, where Heimdal is waiting to sign his termination contract. He agreed to sign under the terms that Jin-myung be present, so Team Leader Jo lets her finish the task.
As Heimdal signs the papers, he says he didn’t intend to hurt Jin-myung. Looking at his signature, he explains that he paid a lot of money for his signature so that he could sign autographs for his fans. But he’s signing the papers now for her… because she was his first fan. Tearing up, Heimdal passes over the signed contract, and Jin-myung accepts silently.
Heimdal acknowledges everything that Jin-myung told him yesterday and says that he needed to do something because he felt wronged. He’s always known that effort alone was not enough, but nevertheless, he worked hard. So when the company suddenly told him to give up, he felt resentful but didn’t know who to take out his anger on.
Embarrassed by his sobbing, Heimdal gets up to leave. But he turns around and apologizes to Jin-myung for hurting her. Once he leaves, Jin-myung sits alone in the room and begins to cry. The clear day has turned into a rainy one, and Heimdal lets the rain hide his tears as he walks away from his dreams.
Ye-eun meets up with her friends to celebrate Kyung-ah’s new job. Oddly enough, Kyung-ah seems uncomfortable, although Yoo-kyung is upbeat and cheerful, even though she was up for the same job opening and lost out. Asked for her secret in landing the job, Kyung-ah just says that she got lucky, though Yoo-kyung assures her that she would have hired her too.
When Yoo-kyung goes to the bathroom, Ye-eun admires how cheerful and sincere Yoo-kyung is, being so happy for her friend even though she didn’t get the job herself. Kyung-ah just sighs uncomfortably. Then Ye-eun gets a text message, and her face immediately falls.
Ye-eun shows Yoo-kyung the text when she returns, and it reads: “Die die die…” This tips Ye-eun past her breaking point, and she says shakingly that she can’t take this anymore.
Yoo-kyung says consolingly that everything will be okay and hugs her to comfort her. But at that, Kyung-ah finally breaks her silence and tells Ye-eun that she’s had enough.
Ye-eun is completely startled by Kyung-ah’s accusations that she holds some blame herself. Kyung-ah says that Yoo-kyung’s dad closed down his store and that Yoo-kyung has failed at all of her job applications, but Ye-eun had no clue. Even though Ye-eun was having a rough time, she also should have recognized that her friends were going through tough times as well.
Then, she turns to Yoo-kyung and tells her to stop too. Suddenly, Yoo-kyung’s worried eyes turn cold, and she sits down. She asks how Kyung-ah found out. Kyung-ah remembered that the scratched-out picture in Ye-eun’s locker was one Yoo-kyung took, but had been in denial that she’d been the culprit.
But when Ye-eun received the threatening texts, Yoo-kyung never asked who sent it—but she was very curious to know who sent the letter. Everyone else thought the text threats and letter were from the same person, except for Yoo-kyung, who was only curious about the letter because she sent the texts.
Ye-eun slowly pieces together the clues, and Kyung-ah cries that she didn’t know what to do because they’re both her friends. The three of them sit in silence, realizing their broken friendship.
Flashback to orientation, where freshmen Ye-eun, Yoo-kyung, and Kyung-ah sat next to each other, all with long curly hair. Ye-eun narrates: “It was coincidence that we sat next to each other. We didn’t have the same thoughts, hobbies, or backgrounds. What we shared was that coincidence of sitting next to each other.”
Freshman Kyung-ah points out that they all have the same hair, and both Ye-eun and Yoo-kyung share that they got a perm as soon as they graduated from high school. Kyung-ah jokes that they all must have been model students at their school, and they all laugh. Ye-eun’s voiceover: “That coincidence was enough.”
Back in the present, Ye-eun cries silently, still in shock. Kyung-ah sobs into her hands, and Yoo-kyung stares off coldly. “That day, we became friends.”
Our housemates are tasked with drawing a self-portrait, and while Eun-jae is reluctant to do the task, Eun gets right onto it. As the other housemates get started, Jin-myung carefully plans her drawing before sketching.
Jin-myung draws a picture of herself dressed in her working professional outfit. Ji-won’s drawing has her hands in the air with a bright smile. Ye-eun draws a side profile of herself. Eun-jae’s sketch depicts only the upper half of her body with light pencil strokes and lots of eraser marks. Eun scratches a simple drawing of herself in a hat, no face, and hands in her pocket.
Ah, the crushing feeling of broken friendships. Something this show does so well is make us empathize with relationships more so than the people. And it’s the relationship between these three friends that affected me more than the individuals themselves. The beauty in the awkwardness of college and new experiences are the lasting relationships that we form with strangers. It’s not that we have many things in common, but we’re in the same place at the same time. It’s a friendship that sprouts from convenience and coincidence, and if cultivated well over time, it can grow into a lasting relationship. But when you’re faced with unforeseen circumstances, how do you deal with all the baggage?
I think Yoo-kyung’s response was a way to cope with all the baggage she accumulated over a tough season in her life. Though the show does demonize her in some respects, we’re given hints on her difficult family situation and stresses in feeling responsible for Ye-eun. No one’s really to blame here—life just gave them some tough shit to deal with coincidentally at the same time, and none of them were ready to deal with more than what they were given. The idea of coincidence is so fitting to describe these friends, and I wonder if coincidence is enough of a foundation and if their grown friendship is enough of a motivation to rebuild what they’ve broken.
Heimdal broke my heart in this episode. The moment he revealed that he was signing the documents for his first fan, my heart was crushed. I do respect his protest, but it was starting to get pitiful, and I think Jin-myung was just trying to save him from devaluing his worth. I think Jin-myung was more concerned with the preservation of his dignity, and those harsh words were just an expression of tough love. There’s something so pure about Heimdal, and it’s not the same as naivety. Even with a deep understanding of his talent and limitations, he remains so dedicated to an art that fulfills him. I hope we’ll get to see his passions manifest in some way because I also believe that diligence can produce miracles.
Now that we’ve established that the letter-sender wasn’t Ye-eun’s threatening texter, I am assuming that this letter belongs to Ji-won. Given that she’s done a bulk of the work of investigating the letter sender, I think it’s fitting that the investigation be fully transferred to her own personal journey. I’m still waiting for many things to happen with Ji-won’s story, but I’m relieved that we’ve made some unintentional progress in the last couple of episodes. There’s so much to unravel with her past, with her current state of mind, with Sung-min… please, let’s get to it.
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