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Manhole: Episode 7

In theory, a simple “I like you” shouldn’t be so difficult to utter, but for the past twenty something years, Pil has not once been able to say those words to Soo-jin in person. Stammering always gets the best of him, and there’s only so much waiting Soo-jin can do before walking away. This manhole trip transports Pil to a critical day in the past, and he’s determined to get it right this time by prioritizing love first.


 
EPISODE 7: “What is it that blocked us?”

The night of September 10, 2012, two days before Pil’s enlistment, Pil and the usual gang share drinks by the Han River. The guys (Pil, Gu-gil, Dal-soo, Seok-tae) are at one table, and the girls (Jung-ae, Soo-jin, Jin-sook) are at another. Soo-jin asks Jung-ae what she particularly likes about Dal-soo, and Jung-ae answers that he’s an aloof and innocent intellectual who doesn’t show any interest in her, yet he sometimes makes her heart flutter.

Jin-sook disapproves and warns Jung-ae to be alert because Dal-soo has the qualities of a bad boy. Jung-ae then asks Soo-jin and Jin-sook about their ideal types, and Soo-jin glances at sad and tipsy Pil as she answers that instead of a calculative guy, she prefers a nice and loyal one who’s athletic.

Jin-sook says she likes a guy who’s modest, but one who looks after her from behind and gives her strength. She glances at Pil while she says this, and Jung-ae takes note of her friends’ preferences and replies that their ideal types sound like someone she already knows. We see Soo-jin and Jin-sook eye Pil before cheerfully clinking shots of soju.

It’s a beautiful, tranquil morning the next day in the neighborhood — streets are clean and flowers are in full bloom. Pil is fast asleep in his room when Soo-jin enters and gently shakes him awake. He’s startled to see Soo-jin telling him to eat the home-cooked breakfast comprised of all his favorite food downstairs.

After she leaves, Pil wonders why she’s acting like a housewife since there’s no reason for her to make breakfast at his house. Suddenly it dawns on him: “Did I get married to Soo-jin?!” I don’t think so buddy, but enjoy your few minutes of joy while they last.

Feeling giddy that the dreadful manhole finally blessed him with a jackpot, Pil scrambles to get changed and heads downstairs to experience the moment he’s always wanted. He assumes there aren’t any kids in the picture yet, and before he can taste Soo-jin’s food, Soo-jin pushes him to the bathroom to wash his hands. Pil shrieks when he finds his dad sitting on the toilet and wonders why he’s at the home of two newlyweds.

At the table, his mom informs Pil that Soo-jin sweetly cooked various dishes just for Pil. Confused, Pil turns to Soo-jin and asks if they got married, haha. Everyone seems baffled by his question and figures Pil’s still hungover, so Pil tries again: “Is today my birthday?”

That doesn’t seem to change anything, so his mom says, “Sure, let’s go with that.” They dig in, and when his parents and Soo-jin offer him lettuce wraps by hand, he’s so overwhelmed by their bizarre coddling that he bolts out. Gu-gil stops by and concernedly asks Pil if he’s all right, and Pil answers that he feels weird, the people he knows are acting weird, and his own neighborhood feels foreign. Gu-gil seems to understand and grabs him in a bear hug as he emotionally states that it’s already the end.

Pil asks Gu-gil what he means by that, but Gu-gil says that Pil knows better. Pil grows serious and asks if he’s dying (again), but this upsets Gu-gil, who says he’ll see Pil later before walking away. Believing that everyone’s been so good to him because he’s dying (again), Pil angrily curses the manhole and runs there to destroy it, ignoring Soo-jin’s calls to eat.

Soo-jin watches him run away and thinks to herself that Pil is strange; his gaze is on her, but she has no idea where his heart lies. “He’s always close, but feels far away which is why when I see him, I’m happy, but always feeling sad.”

Pil sits before the manhole, fed up that although he’s not in a coma, he’s now dying and has no idea what to do now. “Why did you reset everything, rendering everything I’ve done useless?!” he wails. Jin-sook happens to be there, so she orders Pil to help carry her groceries, and despite feeling offended that a dying person is being bossed around, Pil begrudgingly carries all the groceries for Jin-sook.

Over at her rooftop, Jin-sook chides Pil for not skewering shish kebabs in the correct order of meat and veggies. Still thinking his time on earth is limited, Pil is appalled by Jin-sook’s quip that she’ll sell skewers at his funeral depending on how many people show up. But Jin-sook tells him to stop exaggerating since he’s not dying and that two years will fly by — plus, she’ll write to him.

Pil’s unsure by what Jin-sook means, but then he asks her what year it is and freaks out when he realizes that today is one day before his enlistment. It all starts to make sense to him, and he remembers that all his friends (except for Soo-jin) had gathered for farewell drinks on this day. In flashback, everyone was at the bar, and Jung-ae had explained that Soo-jin wasn’t present because she got drenched while taking photos. To make matters worse, Soo-jin’s camera also broke, which ended her chances to enter a photo contest.

Back in the present, Pil realizes that he missed his chance to profess his love to Soo-jin then and decides to feign having the runs to avoid having to skewer meats with Jin-sook. He groans and keels over, thoroughly grossing out Jin-sook, and frantically tells her that he has to go home to use his toilet since he’ll most likely clog hers, lol. Jin-sook tells him to hurry back when he’s done and sadly realizes that today’s the last day she’ll see his stupid shenanigans.

Pil runs and decides to treat today as if it were his final chance to profess his love to Soo-jin, planning to profess with the desperation of a man enlisting tomorrow.

Elsewhere, the friend gang marvels at Jin-sook’s new food truck, which she’s named “Bong Pil’s Skewers.” While a few of them don’t love the name, they all congratulate Jin-sook nonetheless for winning a new menu contest and for using the money to start her own business. At the same time, Jung-ae continues to shamelessly flirt with Dal-soo, much to Gu-gil’s chagrin.

Soo-jin arrives and takes a photo of the gang in front of Jin-sook’s truck on the first day of business. She apologizes for not being able to help out since she has to take photos for a contest. Gu-gil wonders why Pil hasn’t shown up yet, and Pil doesn’t answer when Jin-sook tries calling him.

Suddenly, Soo-jin’s phone rings, and it’s Pil who’s calling. Soo-jin tells Pil that everyone’s waiting for him to arrive, but Pil merely tells her that it’s going to rain today and advises against shooting, since she’ll get drenched and break her camera. But she doesn’t believe him because it’s sunny out, so before she hangs up, Pil asks her where she plans on shooting.

Soo-jin tells her friends that Pil still seems hungover since he’s spouting nonsense, and she assures Jin-sook that Pil will probably come even though he didn’t explicitly say so. She apologizes again for not being able to help out, and Jin-sook sweetly wishes Soo-jin well on her shoot. The food truck crew decides to get going sans Pil.

Soo-jin eagerly arrives at a lovely outdoor garden to find Pil already waiting for her. She’s surprised to see him there when he’s supposed to help Jin-sook out, but Pil says he didn’t want to waste today making skewers, so he’s here to be Soo-jin’s assistant. Soo-jin says that Jin-sook was counting on him, but Pil says that the others will help her out and adds that he has something to say to her (which he’ll divulge later today).

As they walk in together, Pil tells Soo-jin that she can use him however she wants today, adding that he’ll do anything for her. She’s surprised by his sudden maturity, and Pil asks that she visit him often in the army if she wins the contest, since he had some part in it. As Soo-jin goes off to photograph something, Pil asks for forgiveness for choosing love (Soo-jin) over friendship (Jin-sook).

While Soo-jin goes around photographing flowers, Pil happily holds her bag and offers her water, alternating between assisting and modeling for her photos. They’re all smiles and laughter as they take turns photographing each other, and there’s a cute moment where little birds perch on their hands.

Pil can’t take his eyes off Soo-jin the whole time, and the two take selfies and take a ride on the carousel.

Meanwhile, Jin-sook and Seok-tae have the grill fired up on the food truck to serve chicken skewers to the customers. But Gu-gil, Jung-ae, and Dal-soo are too busy off to the side stuffing themselves with delicious skewers to be very useful. When Jin-sook scolds them, they decide to get up and try to attract more customers.

Seok-tae struggles to make more skewers, so Jin-sook takes over and tells him that he should just stick to studying. He doesn’t like that he’s so incompetent, but Jin-sook orders him to take a break nonetheless.

In a bid to be helpful, Seok-tae offers to get more water since they’re out, but Jin-sook decides to go instead, despite Seok-tae insisting that he’s strong enough. Jin-sook sighs that Pil’s the strong one as she wonders where he went.

Speaking of, Pil tosses coins into a water fountain and asks Soo-jin to join him since her wish may come true, although Soo-jin’s dubious. With his eyes closed and hands clasped, Pil wishes internally for the courage to profess his love to Soo-jin — because if he fails to do so again, he says he’ll throw himself into the fountain and die, haha.

Soo-jin sees how serious Pil looks while making his wish and wonders if he’ll profess, since men tend to spill right before enlisting. She tosses a coin and makes a wish, too. “If Pil is planning on professing, please let him succeed today,” she prays.

We flash back to their high school days and see that Pil had followed Soo-jin around with a bike decorated with flowers and balloons to tell her that he liked her, but he always stammered from nerves and only succeeded in testing Soo-jin’s patience. Jin-sook had walked past him after his failed confession and called him a doofus.

Back in the present, Pil asks Soo-jin what she wished for, but she replies that it’s a secret. Pil says he likes spending his last day of freedom with her, but Soo-jin is more apathetic, which makes him pout and ask if she doesn’t feel the need to be nice to him since he leaves tomorrow. She says she’s not sure about that, but she admits that she does stop worrying about things when she’s with him, which makes Pil smile.

She’s been worried about job prospects, but Pil assures her that he has uncanny foresight and knows that she’ll open an amazing studio, and her photography business will be booming. Soo-jin’s buoyed by that notion and asks him to divulge what he planned on saying to her, but as Pil’s about to start, it starts to rain. Of course.

Pil quickly grabs her camera and shields it with his shirt. They seek cover under a tree, and Pil drapes a raincoat over Soo-jin. She’s alarmed he didn’t bring an extra one for himself, but he assures her he’s fine and makes sure that Soo-jin’s well covered.

From the top of a staircase, Jin-sook freezes when she spots Pil and Soo-jin below. Oh no.

Soo-jin orders Pil to speak up and reveal everything he needs to say to her before the end of the day. Pil promises, and Soo-jin takes the raincoat off so that they can both huddle under it.

Meanwhile, Jin-sook glumly watches the two together as the rain pelts down on her. Seok-tae rushes over with an umbrella, follows her eyeline, and wonders what Pil and Soo-jin are doing down there. Jin-sook instructs him not to go to them since Pil ignored her call just to be with Soo-jin. Ouch.

Dal-soo dramatically recites a poem about rain and sorrow, which instantly impresses Jung-ae. They head back to the food truck, and Jung-ae sticks to Dal-soo’s side like glue while Gu-gil just scoffs.

Back at the food truck, Seok-tae stands next to Jin-sook, appearing concerned for her. Jin-sook figures that soldiers train regardless of the weather, and when Seok-tae tells her not to worry since Pil is strong and athletic, Jin-sook replies that Pil lacks endurance. That statement has her wondering why she knows so much about someone so useless, aww.

The rain stops, and Seok-tae tells Jin-sook that her feelings are akin to a passing rainshower; not seeing Pil will allow her to reconfigure her feelings and notice that there are better guys around her. But Jin-sook interrupts him and says that her feelings aren’t like that, since she’s felt this way for awhile now.

In flashback, we see that when Jin-sook was in high school, she witnessed Pil bring bundles of paper to an elderly woman collecting them and helped the woman bind everything to her wheelbarrow. Jin-sook was touched by his kindness when the other students had feared the old woman was a homeless beggar.

Back in the present, Jin-sook tells Seok-tae that she divulged all this because she knows how hard it is to like someone who doesn’t like her back. She doesn’t want him to do the same.

Meanwhile, Pil and Soo-jin warm themselves up indoors over coffee. Concerned that Pil will catch a cold, Soo-jin gets up to obtain towels.

While she’s away, Pil faces Soo-jin’s camera and presses record. He reveals that he’s making this video message because he’s unsure about whether he can say all this to her face: “Strangely, when I’m around you, I pretend I’m not cold when I am. After spending twenty years with you with that mindset, I think I’ve forgotten how to be honest with you, but for the first time in twenty-three years, I want to be honest with you.”

He continues, “I like you. Remember, your past and my future are connected… please remember me, who’ll always protect you and stay by your side. I’m not sure if you feel the same way I feel right now, but I know I’ll be the same in two years. I like you a lot. No, I love you.”

Pil quickly stops recording when Soo-jin returns with towels. Soo-jin still regrets that she wasn’t able to help Jin-sook today, but he just advises Soo-jin to have her camera with her and says he’ll explain later so as not to ruin the surprise.

Pil’s send-off party is next on the agenda, so they get up to leave, but as they’re heading out, Pil spots Jae-hyun enter with his girlfriend, Young-joo. He does a double-take when he sees Jae-hyun, but doesn’t dwell on it.

The whole gang has gathered at BongBong Pub for Pil’s last night before enlistment, and everyone brought gifts. Jung-ae gives him a photograph of herself (lol), and Gu-gil grabs it when Pil flings it away. Soo-jin gives Pil an album containing photos of all of them so that he can look at them when he’s feeling down.

Jin-sook throws him a package of 100% cotton underwear so he doesn’t get heat rash, ha. Gu-gil takes off his quilted jacket and gives it to Pil, and Dal-soo gives him a book that he claims will keep Pil’s sensitivity alive. Pil thanks his friends and hopes they all realize how precious he is while he’s gone.

Soo-jin appears nervous when Jin-sook asks Pil where he was all day, and Pil fibs that he was on the toilet all day due to army stress. Jin-sook asks Soo-jin if she took any good pictures today, but Pil steps in and says that they can take a look when she wins the contest.

Gu-gil proposes they play truth or dare, but Pil rejects the idea immediately, claiming that the game can ruin friendships. Jin-sook looks at Pil, and we flash back to two nights ago.

Pil was dreading enlistment because there was still something he needed to do, so Jin-sook had taken a seat beside him. He asked her if Soo-jin would think he’s crazy if he asked her to wait two years for him and regretted that he couldn’t just say “I like you” to Soo-jin. Jin-sook had internally wondered why it was hard for her to say those words to Pil, too.

Back in the present, Soo-jin walks home alone and wonders when Pil will speak up since the day is nearly over. Jin-sook catches up to her then, and they decide to catch up at a cafe, just the two of them.

Jin-sook asks Soo-jin what she photographed today, and Soo-jin gives a vague answer. Jin-sook doesn’t press further and watches Soo-jin’s face when Jin-sook mentions that things will be quieter after Pil leaves tomorrow. Soo-jin smiles, and Jin-sook’s about to say something, but decides against it and merely says she was looking at her best friend’s pretty face.

Soo-jin gets an angry call from her mom for staying out too late. In her hurry to get home, Soo-jin ends up leaving her camera behind, and by the time Jin-sook notices, Soo-jin’s already gone.

Soo-jin figures that Pil will leave for the army without telling her anything, but just then, Pil calls her. He’s outside her house and says he left what he wanted to say to her in her camera, urging her to check it out. Soo-jin says she will and hangs up, but panics when she sees that she’s without her camera.

She runs back to the pub to see if she left her camera there, but no luck. Meanwhile, Jin-sook looks through the photos on Soo-jin’s camera. (Uh oh.) She sigh as she flips through photos of Pil and Soo-jin together, then presses play when she lands on Pil’s video.

She’s visibly upset after watching the whole thing, and her finger hovers over the delete button.

Meanwhile, Pil is antsy in his room since he thinks that Soo-jin should’ve seen his video by now, but she hasn’t reacted in any way. He calls out to her through his window, but she’s not in her room, so he steps outside and runs into Jin-sook, who says she came to see him.

“What am I to you?” she asks. Pil grins at the deep question and answers matter-of-factly that Jin-sook is his close friend as he puts his arm around her. But she pushes him away and says she doesn’t want him to feel comfortable around her. Pil’s thrown by this, but before she can explain, Soo-jin calls, so he runs off to meet with her.

And that’s when we see that Jin-sook left Soo-jin’s camera behind on the bench where she went through all of the footage.

Soo-jin waits for Pil on a bench, and Pil nervously takes a seat beside her, wondering if she saw his video message. Soo-jin admits that she misplaced her camera, so she wasn’t able to see his message. To his credit, Pil’s more worried about all the footage she didn’t back up.

Soo-jin tell him that what’s more important than the footage is his video. “What did you say in the video you left for me?” she asks. Pil decides to tell her in person, but he gets nervous and stammers helplessly. Luckily, Soo-jin speaks up first: “I like you, Pil. What about you?”

Pil determines that he must tell her now, but in that moment, he turns transparent, and time freezes. Uh oh, the manhole calls. Just his luck.

He grabs onto the bench and begs for more time to finish his sentence, but he vanishes, and Soo-jin unfreezes and wonders where Pil went.

Elsewhere, Jae-hyun walks past Soo-jin’s camera and picks it up. When he turns it on, he sees a selfie of her.

Meanwhile, on her rooftop, Jin-sook determines that she’ll get to tell Pil how much she likes him one day.

The next morning, Soo-jin narrates that she wasn’t able to hear Pil’s confession until the very end, adding that she wanted to hear his feelings not because she doubted him, but because she wanted to be sure. She says that after two years, both of them will be different, and she wonders what they’ll be like and what they’ll talk about when they meet again.

As she’s having these thoughts, Jae-hyun comes into view and asks if she’s the owner of the camera he’s holding. Soo-jin’s surprised he has it, and he smiles.

Epilogue: Pil watches as Jin-sook gets scolded by Gestapo for not wanting to attend dream colleges like everyone else.

As a result, Jin-sook cries outside, and Pil places a thick envelope of money next to her. He says he won the lottery, but that he has no use for the money. Jin-sook tells him to take it back, but Pil says he wants to be proud of having a friend who attends a good college. He tells Jin-sook to think of it as a scholarship — plus, he’ll be expecting her to help him out if he ends up jobless in the future.

Later, we see Pil getting scolded by the gym teacher for lying about his age in order to work part-time during his senior year. The gym teacher asks Pil if he needed the money to buy expensive clothes, but Pil vaguely answers that he needed to use it for something, and that something is a secret.

 
COMMENTS

Time is really not on Pil’s side. I knew midnight would strike right when he was about to tell Soo-jin he loved her, and when that happened, I couldn’t help but feel pretty irked because we’re seven episodes and four(?) manhole trips in, yet I don’t think Pil has made much progress. Is progress even possible when everything Pil does in the past gets reset and no one except Pil remembers anything?

At the very least, I think it can be said that Pil has had a tiny spurt of personal growth and maturity. But that’s about it, really. The manhole trips are interesting because we never know which place in time he’ll be transported back to, but because everything resets at midnight, I’m left wondering if anything that transpired in the past and whatever actions Pil took differently made a difference at all. Is the manhole supposed to be helping him? If it is, I’m not really getting the sense that it is, though it is doing a great job at complicating matters for Pil.

I guess I was expecting each manhole trip to reveal a new truth for Pil, like how his previous trip allowed him to learn how much his friends and family loved him. But this trip just allowed Pil to spend a whole day with Soo-jin alone, and I wouldn’t consider it a successful trip, since Pil failed to profess his love to her. It’s true that he came pretty close, but close doesn’t cut it because it’s back to square one again when the clock strikes midnight. Also, what would’ve happened if Pil did manage to tell Soo-jin he loved her before midnight? Would the manhole just combust and allow normalcy to resume?

I miss the weight of last week’s episodes, and I appreciated that they felt necessary for once, for character and plot development. This episode, much like the other ones, feels like more of the same. Stuff happened (but not when it mattered the most), Soo-jin and Pil grew closer (but then he left for the army), so… what now? Also, when Pil vanished, what did Soo-jin think happened? It’s bizarre to me that the next morning, she seemed totally unfazed and went about her day figuring that Pil left for the army despite the most abrupt farewell ever. If a friend you were just chatting with suddenly vanished, wouldn’t you be extremely concerned or feel the need to check up on him/her? Or get your sanity checked?

But poor Jin-sook. She’s really the only secondary character who feels fully fleshed out, and I find her more relatable than Soo-jin, but I have a feeling the show may try to permanently push all of us onto the Soo-jin/Pil boat by painting her as the villain for deleting Pil’s video (if she deleted it, that is). I get why Pil ditched Jin-sook for Soo-jin, but it still kind of rubbed me the wrong way that he chose love over friendship. Pil and Soo-jin make a pretty pair, but Pil and Jin-sook makes more sense to me even though it’s never going to happen. Besides, Jin-sook deserves a better guy.

The zany comedy that characterized Manhole in the beginning is gradually becoming less prevalent, but I can’t say that the more dramatic moments from this episode are augmenting the show in any way. Now I’m starting to think that bringing back the silly may not be such a bad idea. On another note, is Pil ever going to get a job? When does adult-ing kick in for him?

 
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I agree with your comment @chickachunga When will Pil get a job or just get his life together ? Marrying Soo Jin is one thing but married life (if that ever happens) will not perhaps have manholes.

It's frustrating to see no progress about him and Soo Jin. I'm starting to believe they're going to get together in the last episode. I actually disliked the fact that he chose love over friendship. Jin Sook used his name for her business why can't he see it ?

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I'm actually a bit disappointed with the time travel this time round. Why is it suddenly Pil disappeared at the end? I mean, for the past two times when he was in the past timeline, when midnight strike, it's just his soul that went back to the manhole, but Pil's body was still there and moved on with his life. I totally agree with the comment here that the writer seems to push for Pil x Soo Jin pairing, but what can I do? I just don't feel their love at all. You can't just force me as a viewer to accept it just as it is. I was mad at Soo Jin for waiting for Pil to confess to her when she clearly knew that Pil had feelings for her. It seems to me that the writer has come to dead end to make viewers accept Soo Jin by making her to confess her love first at the end, but wait a minute, it can't be too easy for Pil; hence, the vanished of Pil at midnight. Pooff.Wth? And don't give me the justification of Soo Jin's act for wanting Pil to confess to her just because she needs "confirmation" from Pil in the next morning. Sorry, I just don't buy that.

It seems to me that the pharmacist is meant to be with Soo Jin as he's always around in the past. I just hope this drama's ultimate goal is not just for Soo Jin and Pil to be together at the end, but maybe to give a life lesson that if it's not meant to be, then it's not meant to be no matter what you do. I just hope the writer focuses more on characters development on how each character would act differently given different circumstances as last week's episodes. It was really good.

Anyway, group hug for Jin Sook because she deserves better!

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I do appreciate Jaejoong and UEE individually but sadly, I don't feel their chemistry. To think we're almost at the halfway mark for the series.

As for the other things you pointed out, I totally agree with you. Giving my hug to Jin Sook as well!

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I think the reason he didn't leave a body behind was that this time he wasn't in a place that he was in the original timeline. I'm probably giving way too much credit but that was the only thing that explained it for me.
Agree with everything else!

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That makes a lot of sense of the whole vanished thing. But...if he can't change where he was from the original timeline, so it means that he can't really alter too much in the past. So the point of manhole and time traveling is just to make Pil understand things better? Got it.

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>Anyway, group hug for Jin Sook because she deserves better!

Why? She left her best friend's probably favorite thing in a park to be stolen. She might have deleted a confession she knew her best friend has been trying to make for years and knew the other was waiting for also for years. Even if she didn't delete, leaving the camera there is the same. If that wasn't enough she stole the letters her best friend sent to her other best friend hurting them both for years. Worst of all, she betrays Pil's trust pretending to be friends while having a romantic interest in him. She deserves some slaps instead of a hug.

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Well said! And this is coming from someone who thought Jin Sook is the best/coolest member of Pil's gang throughout episode 1-6. Her loyalty to her best friends (to both Soo Jin and Pil) was tested when she saw the confession video and when she accidentally obtained Pil's letters to Soo Jin, and she utterly failed both tests. Instead of wanting her friends to be happy, she jeopardized their chances to be together and worst of all, had no courage to profess to Pil in the three years after he's discharged from the army. I think I would have admired her a bit more if she at least took actions to try to make Pil hers, but instead she was just a coward who made all three of them, including herself unhappy. I was super disgusted when Pil found those letters in her drawer and confronted her, her first reaction was not to apologize or explain, but blaming him for poking around in other's house? Hun?! I really hope this is just a temporary insanity that Jin Sook is experiencing, and that she'll return to her brilliant self when the timeline is reset again.
Goo Gil is a complete opposite from the likes of Jin Sook and Suk Tae, he's 100% honest with his feelings toward Jung Ae, and in spite of always being ignored by her he never did anything to back-stab Dal Soo. And judging by all of his actions up until now, he would have given up on Jung Ae for her sake had Dal Soo been more caring of her and that they are truly happy together. So there's really zero excuse for Jin Sook to have done what she did, her feelings are selfish, and not genuine like Dal Soo's.

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*Typo* not genuine like Goo Gil's.

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why do you expect prograss when he is going BACK in time?

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I think Pil's made progress. He's finally deciding to go for it, even if he fails. I think the real end game for the Manhole is to open his eyes to reality, giving him the perspective and confidence to grow up in the original timeline. The Manhole resetting each time shows him how one small change can butterfly out to be so much more. (For instance, IMO there’s no way Jin Sook steals the letters in the original timeline, because it was his dumping her before army that triggered her jealously faster.)
What's interesting to me is that is so willing to work for Jin Sook, volunteering to in fact, but can't figure out how to do it day to day. Is he really such a failure? Or does he just not have anything he thinks is worth working for/think he’s worth anything himself?
Each trip backwards they show another side of him not being a loser, so why is he considered one in the future? The real loser-ish thing he did this episode was leave Jin Sook hanging. Unfortunately, it appears like his obsession with Soo Jin leads him to do this a lot.
Each trip backwards also shows me another irritation with Soo Jin. Contrast her stringing Pil along with Jin Sook's gentle shutting down of Seok Tae. I keep thinking that if she actually liked him, she could have either accepted the unspoken or challenged him to speak up clearly a long time ago. It feels like she's just keeping him hanging in case something better doesn't come. That bike scene just angered me.
Re: Second Lead Syndrome:
I think part of Pil’s confession problem is that it isn’t honest. He feels like he has nothing to give her and deep down knows that won’t work for a relationship, and he’s scared that she’ll prove him right if he says it. I rather like how he’s starting to get angry with her for knowing and stringing him along.

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I agree, if Soo Jin really liked him, she wouldn't have strung him along like this. That's what bothers me. She knows that Pil likes her and that she likes Pil and yet she goes after other guys like the church guy and the guy at the beach. I just dont get her, like her excuse about being sure is bullshit. She has the advantage since she knows that their feelings are mutual, while Pil would be going out on a limb confessing to her, not knowing if she'd like him back.
Ugh I just wish he'd fall for Jin Sook.

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>her stringing Pil along with Jin Sook's gentle shutting down of Seok Tae.

It's a very different situation. She does like Pil, she never wanted to reject him and she gave him several chances, while JS knew for sure she had no interest in ST. How is she stringing him along if she has always liked him? She just didn't want to confess first and the show has explained why many times.

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She likes the idea of him liking her, she doesn't actually like him. The rest is excuses, just like Pil's inability to confess. His basic personality isn't going to change, so if she can't deal with who that is now she needs to shut him down and move on. They've shown us that Pil very much works in secret and shows he cares through actions, not words.
Some guy shows up with a bike full of flowers and balloons and calls your name, you can't pretend you don't know. Either accept it without the words or tell him you need to hear him say it.

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I think the show has shown many times she has always liked him but she expects him to be more active and take initiative. She never had the courage to reject him because she kept hoping he would get more confident, I have a very strong feeling she knew they would only work well together once Pil became more sure of himself. Like I said somewhere else, this is something show has shown instead of saying it. It is the kind of girl she is but it was also confusing for him. I do get how some people might not like her actions.

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But that goes to the basic point of a relationship. She wants him to pass some kind of test before committing to a relationship. In effect, a very conditional commitment.

Maybe it is realistic. Subconsciously most of us probably have a checklist of desirable traits in our partners. The contradiction (as far as K-drama romance is concerned) is that there is no such thing as a OTP. She has demonstrated that she'd settle for someone who better meets her criteria.

So why all this regret and pining for what might have been when it was clear Soo Jin drew a line in the sand and didn't want to go a step further even knowing how Pil was/is.

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Yes, maybe that is one of the reasons I like her. She isn't that boring regular Candy. She knew or felt he wouldn't work with her unless he took that step. I love a bit of realism in my characters.

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Yeah, Why did soo-jin really need that magic word? why did she always got angry when Bong-Pil couldn't say it loudly, even when she watched him struggling to say it. She always got mad and went away. And when anything still didn't work she blame it on Jin-Sook feeling and lied to her oftenly. Even Goo-Gil and Dal-soo can be friends while both of them openly fight for Jung-ae.

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Regarding the main characters.
Soo Jin - It appears she knows that Pil likes her and apparently she likes him as well (from way back when). However, she doesn't feel committed to her feelings or to his unless he says the magic phrase. So, it is questionable that she is committed to either her feelings or his. It seems that she is completely passive (and somewhat passive-aggressive)

Pil - apart from being self pitying, passive and with a somewhat low IQ, his character appears to be a loser who doesn't act but feels entitled to have his feelings and desires reciprocated. For the most part, it appears he is more comfortable with the IDEA that he loves Soo Jin than doing anything on the REALITY of making a relationship with her. Rather unadmirable.

On the time-travel premise: This is a tough one to be logical and consistent at. Rather than a single time-line, the show seems to indicate that it supports the multi-verse version where every possibility exists.

So basically he's a passenger in viewing all these alternate time lines. It isn't clear whether the story ultimately is one where he simply chooses which of the infinite time lines of possibility he wants as his objective reality by not going back to the manhole. And if he chooses a reality for himself, what happens to his other self that actually lived through the timeline. For example, what happens if he remains in the "gangster" timeline. He clearly doesn't remember what he did before he re-entered the timeline so he must have displaced another self that actually lived and acted as that gangster. Is that other self simply erased? (in effect, killed) We cannot really argue that it is the same person since their realities are different. Problematic.

It is clear the writer did not choose a "single" time line version of time travel because, since he never undid his actions, he should still be a gangster who punched out the church guy and is in a coma and left a message on a camera ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Even more problematic.

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Well,
1. he'll always disappear on midnight while he is in the past timeline.
2. After that he'll be "back" to the "new" future.
3. And it's up to him whether he likes that "new" future or not.
4. If he doesn't like the "new" future he can goes back to the manhole at midnight and discard all the changes (return to the original past timeline)
5. But he also can be trapped in the "new" future if he miss the chances to go to the manhole.
6. If he like the "new" future, he can live in it and sleep tight every night.
7. Forget about the alternate life, once Bong-pil choose to return in the manhole, look #4.
8. Since the time travels is a curse from the alien (not that Bong-pil were gifted), he can't choose when and where are his next journey.

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"Is progress even possible when everything Pil does in the past gets reset and no one except Pil remembers anything?"

I totally agree with this @chickachunga. I've been actually wondering this since the first reset. If we keep resetting and no one remembers anything, how cohesive is this plot really? Like what have we really accomplished so far? I guess now Pil knows that Soo Jin likes him... but was that not obvious, at least in the past it was. I liked last episode, one because the trip lasted two episodes and two because everyone was kind of in on the manhole drama. It was the perfect blend of emotional gravitas and zany manhole/ghost shenanigans. But this episode was literally a repeat of the beach trip episode, with Pil and Soo Jin spending time together and trying to admit their feelings. Except there was no big event like the fire that Pil was trying to prevent.
But what is the point of these trips? Is it just for Pil to grow up? Because that's the only thing that makes sense. No one gains anything from the past but Pil because everything is reset, and nothing really moves forward except Pil's understanding of things.
If the writer was trying to make a game changing drama, I think the one thing Pill would gain from the manhole is knowing that Jin Sook liked him, and maybe realizing that he liked her too. But from the looks of it, thats not the ship the writer is trying to make sail.

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Librarianerin I agree with "I think Pil's made progress. He's finally deciding to go for it, even if he fails. I think the real end game for the Manhole is to open his eyes to reality, giving him the perspective and confidence to grow up in the original timeline. The Manhole resetting each time shows him how one small change can butterfly out to be so much more. (For instance, IMO there’s no way Jin Sook steals the letters in the original timeline, because it was his dumping her before army that triggered her jealously faster.)"

I keep wondering what is the point of revealing these key points in his life and Pil getting a chance to take action on it, but nothing changes to improve his present circumstances? We are seeing a different side each time on how Pil does things behind the scenes to make life better for his friends but ok, he is a genuine nice guy, now what.

On to Episode 8......perhaps we will get clarity on why their relationships are so complicated.

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How terrible this drama so it's deserve the worst low rating in kbs history... why? the drama maybe have some flaw but it's nowhere near terrible I watch much more terrible drama before. Poor manhole cast I hope one didn't cut this drama

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I feel the opposite about the female leads, I completely understand Soo Jin and don't really like Jin Sook.

I get why SJ always wanted Pil to confess in every timeline, everybody knows how he feels, she knows it too but he is so passive around her, he would never be on equal ground if she speaks first. She is the kind of girl that needs to be with a guy that at least can be on the same level as her. Not sure how to exactly explain this but it is something the show has shown us instead of spelling and most people seem to not understand this. She also gave other reasons about why she waited for him instead of telling him she liked him. She felt his interest could disappear, she knew JS liked him too and didn't want to hurt her feelings, she felt remorseful about not telling him.

The difference between Pil and JS is that he doesn't have the same kind of friendship with Soo Jin. There were always a romantic tone and flirting between Pil and Soo Jin while his relationship with JS was purely a friendship. People feel sorry for JS without thinking that feeding a romantic interest in a close friend and remaining silent about it is a very wrong thing to do, it is a form of betrayal of this friendship, do they think about how they would feel if suddenly their best friend tells them everything they lived together was not felt as a friend on their part? It is very selfish, just because kdramas romanticize this it doesn't make it so simple. I'm not even getting into the fact of Jin Sook having stolen his letters which was very mean. His reaction was beyond kind and people think he chose love? I think he was too shocked, too kind as always, and loved Jin Sook too much to say what needed to be said, so he just chose to go after SJ which is understandable. I also don't get why people think it's ok for her to just leave the camera, a precious possession of her best friend Soo Jin, in the park, where anyone could have stolen it, again, very selfish, it's actually almost worst than deleting the video and returning the camera. I can't decide which was the worst thing she could have done.

About the manhole, my theory is that it a random alien time shifting gadget, it doesn't have any mission or purpose.

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While I understand your POV, I do have my own view when I watched this drama. Mostly my criticism towards Soo Jin comes from the original timeline, not the one that has changed because Pil altered the past. I just don't understand how she keeps waiting for Pil to confess to her, but keeps on choosing someone else to be with her other than Pil. It seems to me that she's accepting other guys just because she feels more secure since they confessed to her? Even when she clearly knows that Pil likes her? She's the one who's creating reasons to not be with Pil: Pil doesn't confess so she's unsure, accepting other guys who come to her life (church oppa & pharmacist), and backing off herself because of her best friend. It's rather frustrating to see how she's the one who can't open up to her feelings, but somehow give other reasons on why she can't be with Pil: It's not me, it's them.

While I get that what Jin Sook did is definitely wrong. But like I said before, I basically took this drama with the original timeline because everything is reset when Pil is back in the past after the time-travel. With her acting impulsive on not giving back the camera and stealing the letters are the after effect when Pil tried to alter the past. Jin Sook felt betrayed when Pil decided to go after Soo Jin when she just opened up their food truck. And what triggered her to intercept the letters is when she watched the video of Pil confessed to Soo Jin. I bet that she didn't intercept Pil's letters in the original timeline because she didn't have any motivation to do so. Even back in the past, with the original timeline, she did say to Soo Jin, "it's hard to tell your friend that you like him, because you could lose a friend," which explains why she didn't even confess to Pil in the original timeline.

And about the camera, in the original timeline, Soo Jin's camera was broken because of the rain, but Pil tried to change that. Maybe it just didn't work just like the fire occurred in the past because what's fate is fate. Maybe Pil would've been wiser by now to know that what's bound to happen will happen just like the fight with church oppa, the fire by the beach and Soo Jin not having the camera by her at the night after her photo shoot.

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Don't you feel we know very little about the original timeline? We don't know how she became engaged in the original version. I got the feeling they had become more distant in the recent years and she had just stopped waiting for him. Maybe she thought he didn't want to act on it anymore? Her reactions in the first ep were consistent with SJ having given up on him. Why she chose the pharmacist is something we don't know in that story. About the church guy Pil said she suffered so she liked the guy, I think around that time she wasn't so sure Pil's feelings were so sure and long lasting, it was their school years. I don't think she is afraid of her feelings but she is very romantic and she needed him to say it. She is always closer to him when he is more protective and does things for her, it is the kind of girl she is and I get why people don't like her personality so much, though I do.

About Jin Sook her reactions are way worse than what others did to her, if she was just being impulsive she could have tried to go back and get the camera or explain but she never did. I have to judge each character based in what we know about them in every timeline because their personality is always the same, they have the potential to do those same actions, make the same choices. In the recent timeline Jin Sook had no excuse for her actions. The fact Pil finally had the courage to confess made her steal his letters? Just because SJ didn't have the camera in the original timeline that doesn't excuse the fact that JS would leave it there, it's like saying she is just a puppet for fate, so every timeline would just lead to the original story but that's not true because every time he goes back the future has changed.

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It's great that you like that kind of personality, while I, myself don't feel connected or understand her stand point. At least we know that the writer is not wasting on Soo Jin's character.

As for Jin Sook, I didn't support on what she did. Even when she was about to delete Pil's photo, I was basically wishing that she wouldn't go that low and hoping that she didn't do anything to jeopardize Pil's confession. When I knew that Jin Sook stole Pil's letters, I was very disappointed in her for doing so. But when she said that she's been trying to get over her feelings, but can't. She also said that it'd be better for Pil and Soo Jin to be together, so she could move on easier, but again, she lost herself in jealousy. I just understand her reasoning better compared to Soo Jin's reasoning on being oblivious toward Pil or wanting Pil to confess to her. I just can't hate Jin Sook because she's not villain just because she's lost to her own jealousy. I also feel more moved by her description of Pil being her dream guy in the beginning of this episode compared to Soo Jin's description (which basically in the original timeline of the past when they were drinking).

And about the things I said, what's bound to happen will happen is just my other point of view because we've shown that whenever Pil recalled something on what's gonna happen to Soo Jin, it always happened: Soo Jin broke the mirror, Soo Jin went to the church and dated church oppa, Soo Jin was trapped in the fire and Soo Jin didn't have the camera.

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Like hannaehh, I am working with the original timeline: what is shown happening before Pil changes anything and the original episodes.
My problem with Soo Jin is that Pil won't suddenly have a different personality because he says the words. If you aren't ready to deal with that now, move on and tell him to move on. Don't pretend you don't know and let him keep trying.
As for Jin Sook, I don't know that I consider it a betrayal for a friend to love someone instead of being just friends. Romantic love fades anyway, the underlying relationship is what holds people together. It's a betrayal if someone pretends to like you when they actually hate you, but I can't see it as a betrayal for someone to love me more than they say/I realize. She crossed a line in the alternate timelines, but in the original she's been nothing but supportive.

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What do you mean working with the original timeline? Every time he changes things the original disappears, at least until he resets everything, then we know what happened in his past.
She doesn't want him to have a different personality but it's important to her that he says it.
I think passion fades, not love and romantic love is very different than a friendship kind of love. I think it's a betrayal because it changes the very core of the relationship you think you had with a person. For you it was friendship but for them it was romance. Nothing was real, there was love but no real friendship so it's a betrayal of that true friendship you think existed. About the original lines I don't get how you girls think that could excuse the characters actions in other timelines.

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Basically what I mean about the original timeline is this: If Manhole resets for each trip back, then everything happened in the original timeline until Pil actively changes something. So that's what I'm piecing together my opinions for the end game on.
It's not that I agree with the character's actions in the other timelines, it's that the characters haven't actually done those things in the original timeline. It's simply an alternate reality in Pil's head. It's kind of like Pil getting mad at JinSook for something she did in a dream he had. (Re: some of her choices in ep. 8, I've been holding off on commenting yet.)
I think we'll have to agree to disagree on the nature of love and friendship. I've been in the friend side of a friendship where the other person liked me, and I didn't feel betrayed or insulted. We're still friends and he's now happily married. That may stem from my experience and philosophy on love and emotion, however.

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Ok, we have different takes. One of the things I like a lot in the show is that I feel characters are always the same even with different scenarios. Which means JS would have done those things if she was in that situation. The way she chooses to like Pil is a selfish way for me. She is happy SJ is getting married and Pil is going crazy in the first ep. that is the same Jin Sook that is capable of leaving the camera in the bench. I take all those timelines as possible realities.

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I feel like the moral for this story is don't have a one sided love. It ruins your life. I keep feeling like would be better off if they met new people and moved on.

As for Jin-sook, deleting the video doesn't make her a villain, but it a pretty crappy thing to do.

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She didn't delete the video though, she just thought about it.

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Even if she didn't delete it, (don't know for sure) leaving your good friends very expensive lense and camera to get lost, stolen, or rained on is almost worse.

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Another point that irks me a fair bit in this drama is that the writer must have lost touch with young adults?

It is 2010ish, for goodness sakes, and he enlisted in national service not sent to prison or another planet. During the ~2 years, there would be multiple home visits and shore leaves. Surely they caught up during that period. And these are young adults, not 12 year olds. So if a letter was not replied to, it would be absolutely certain that a person (in the 21st century) would chat or call the other person to verify that it was delivered. (and not wait 4 years)

So these lapses from reality (other than the time travel bits... ha ha) in service of a plot device are irritating. Sort of like creating a character who is a physicist who doesn't know about Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton.

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Hahaha I totally agree with the out-of-touch with reality part regarding the letters. I mean I was angry at Jin Sook for what she did BUT, I also thought it made no sense that Soo Jin and Pil had no contact with each other throughout the enlistment, for her to confront him about not replying to her when apparently he replied to everyone else! Romantic feelings aside that was just douchebag thing to do to a FRIEND. I understand the writer wanted to create misunderstanding between Soo Jin and Pil, but then, he just had to make sure that reality in 2012 checked out and come up with some other more logical method to keep SJ and BP apart.

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I think this was explained more in the next episode.

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"Is progress even possible when everything Pil does in the past gets reset and no one except Pil remembers anything?"

If and when Pil chooses to not return to the past by being around the Manhole at midnight in 2017, then whatever latest timeline he is in because of whatever changes he made in the past, would become the new permanent reality so YES, technically progress IS possible through his time traveling.
But I am kind of wondering if in the end, we will get a Bong Pil who's all grown up and realizes that he SHOULDN'T try to make his present reality better by trying to alter the past, decides to go back to the past one last time and makes NO change, allowing the past event to play out exactly like it originally did so we go back to the original timeline where Pil was a total loser and Soo Jin was about to get married with the pharmacist and THEN, Pil tries to change his reality in the *present*. Because I think owning up to your past errors and live in the now is the real mature thing to do, going back to the past is like... cheating xD

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>If and when Pil chooses to not return to the past by being around the Manhole at midnight in 2017, then whatever latest timeline he is in because of whatever changes he made in the past, would become the new permanent reality so YES, technically progress IS possible through his time traveling.

Yes, this is how I have been understanding every timeline, he might choose to keep any, as long as he is happy with the reality.

And yes, I bet in the ending we will have his decision to not change the past and act on the original timeline of the first episode. There is the mature lesson reason you listed and the big hint that Pil knows the pharmacist is cheating so he has a good motive to stop the wedding even if she doesn't like him anymore.

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You guys, what if the pharmacist is also using the manhole all this time to ruin Pil's chances?

Hahahaha, what if the pharmacist used the manhole first to keep sujin and pil from getting married? LOL

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This would be a hilarious plot twist, if true. Like he is the reaction to Pil's every action.

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Coolest theory ever! :)

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I think it is now becoming more clear that Pil and Soo-jin cannot seem to be together not only because of their cowardice to fess up their feelings but because of people and circumstances that kept them apart, whether intentionally or unintentionally. What I want Pil to get from all this time travelling is not just the courage to confess to Soo-jin but also the commitment to turn his life around. If we are to focus on the present, we see Pil acting like a man-child and just being a bum. I want to know how he got to be this way. He was also somewhat surprised when he found out in the present that Soo-jin was marrying Jae-hyun in a week. In the first two episodes, Soo-jin even had her marriage invite sent by post instead of just handing it to Pil, who is just her next door neighbor.

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Yay! Jin-sook! Well done!
She didn't delete the video anyway. Yes! she kept the letters but didn't destroy it nor threw it off. Because maybe there'll be someday she'll strong enough to tell the truth.
Not only her who betrayed her friend, Bong Pil also betrayed her who really needs his help for their juice truck, Soo-jin too, they were both lied to her.

And, if Soo-jin really love Bong-pil she'll chase him anywhere since she know that "only" her that he wants. But, she choose her friendship over Bong-pil.

and, please Bong-pil-a! Get a job! How can you always whine about your jobless status but didn't do anything about it? Is it a good thing to brag about? Sigh.

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anyone can help me here.? what song played at the bong bong pub?

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