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20th Century Boy and Girl: Episodes 5-6

These two are so cute I can’t even stand it! I love them together, so I’m still frustrated that we haven’t gotten more scenes between them. But we do get a chance to learn more about their history together, though Ji-won remains a mystery to Jin-jin, which is bound to cause all sorts of confusion down the line.

 
EPISODE 5: “Love letter”

We go back to 1999 as a narrator tells us that four friends lived in a building called Seoul Mansion. One of them, Sa Jin-jin, stakes out a corner hoping for a glimpse of her favorite idol, Anthony. Han Ah-reum, the spoiled brat, is known for getting into trouble. Jang Young-shim is the brain of the group, and the fourth is Gong Ji-won, the only boy.

They call themselves the Four Bongos after the van they take to and from school every day. Once, while the girls are being driven home late at night, the driver warns them that they’re approaching the Magic Tunnel. He tells them that true love will come to those who can hold their breath through the entire tunnel.

The girls grumble that he’s lying, but they all hold their breath as they enter the tunnel. Jin-jin gasps for air first, and our narrator says that she didn’t know then that breathing would bring her such misfortune — she would never have a single romantic relationship.

The narrator turns out to be Doctor Woo-sung trying to impress his date, who’s a cellist with the Hanyang Symphony Orchestra. Woo-sung spouts musical knowledge that he just picked up from the internet, and it seems to work on the lady.

Jin-jin and her friends are also discussing what they call the Bongo Curse, though Ah-reum wonders why she and Young-shim have never dated when they were able to hold their breath through the tunnel.

Ah-reum waits eagerly for a text from the cute copilot, Dong-hoon, but when he finally sends something, it turns out to be a screenshot of a game app. Ah-reum thinks it’s a ploy to get her to contact him, and when Jin-jin scoffs, Ah-reum snaps that she’s never even dated (though Jin-jin coos that she’s the queen of melodramas, lol).

It’s as she’s heading home to her building next door that Jin-jin runs into Ji-won in the elevator. When he gets off on his floor, he asks her cheekily how it is that she’s never dated.

Jin-jin’s parents watch the interview, in which she reveals that she’s never been on a date. She tells host, Heo Ji-woong, that she’s been approached by men, but she prefers the company of her friends. Her mom sighs that she thought Jin-jin probably had a secret boyfriend, and she wonders if there’s something wrong with her daughter.

There’s something wrong with her all right, and it definitely has to do with a man. Jin-jin is so flustered after seeing Ji-won that she puts her hoodie on backwards and flings herself into bed screaming and flailing. She remembers Ji-won rescuing her from the reporters and swoons happily to herself.

Ji-won also watches the whole interview, taking particular note when Ji-woong tells Jin-jin that falling in love is insane, so she’s probably just not ready to go crazy yet. He asks Jin-jin what she thinks is the signal to the start of love, and Ji-won listens intently, but we don’t hear her answer.

During another evening, Jin-jin finally tells her friends that Ji-won is back, and they exclaim that they thought that he was dead, since they never could find him online or on social media. Young-shim asks a million questions, like where he’s been, whether he’s seen his mother, and what he does for a living, but Jin-jin doesn’t know. She is happy to report that his face hasn’t suffered the same misfortune as Woo-sung’s, HA.

Ah-reum asks the most important question: What’s Ji-won’s marital status? Jin-jin goes straight for the internet and does search after search, trying to discover if he’s married or not.

Later, Ah-reum lies in bed, willing Dong-hoon to call her. When her phone rings, it’s just Woo-sung, but Ah-reum takes advantage of the opportunity to ask him if there’s ever a time when a man is interested in a woman, but doesn’t contact her. Woo-sung says it can happen, and advises Ah-reum to think up an excuse to contact him first.

Ah-reum takes his advice and invites Dong-hoon to a work gathering, as if it’s just a general invitation and not her trying to finagle a date. Next, she looks up Ji-won to see if he’s married.

Meanwhile, Jin-jin finally finds the information she’s looking for, but it’s not good news. She stares at a wedding photo showing Ji-won standing next to a woman in a wedding gown, whose name is listed as Bella.

The bride’s face is obscured by her veil, but it’s obviously Ji-won in the picture, looking like a man very much in love. Storm clouds gather over Jin-jin’s head, and she’s drenched in an emotional downpour by the discovery that her first love is married.

While unpacking a box of photos, Ji-won finds the photograph of himself and his bride. He looks at the picture for a long time, his smile fading.

In the morning, he runs into Jin-jin in the parking lot, and when he notices that her hair is wet, he asks if she still swims. She just snaps, “Why do you care?” and goes inside.

Young-shim heads to her first day on the job, and she cringes when she’s a few minutes late. Her new boss, Kyung-seok, doesn’t mention it, and just points her to her desk. He startles her when he’s the first person to address her as Lawyer Jang, which makes her smile.

Kyung-seok piles work into Young-shim’s arms, assigning her several projects. Young-shim invites him to speak casually to her, but he doesn’t respond.

As Jin-jin looks over some potential commercial offers, CEO Jang squints at her suspiciously, then says that she looks like she’s just been dumped. He gives her some movie scripts to consider, but they all have titles like “Just Single” and “I Can Do Anything but Dating,” HA. Jin-jin decides to just take some time off instead.

That evening, she bumps another car’s fender as she’s parking in her building’s lot, and of course, the car turns out to be Ji-won’s. He brushes the damage off as nothing, more concerned about Jin-jin, and he invites her to dinner. She barely even looks at him, her body language stiff and closed off as she says that she’s busy.

Ji-won is obviously disappointed, but he’s pleased to have her number after she called him about his fender. He confirms that she has his number, which she got from his dashboard, making sure she knows that it ends in 0710.

We flash back to the year 2000, when a younger Ji-won had waited for Jin-jin by a fountain. He’d gotten right to the point and asked her to date him. We don’t hear her answer, but she’d circled the date in her calendar as their first day, which just happened to be July 10th – 0710. Awww.

Back in the present, her friends notice that Jin-jin is quiet and subdued that evening, and they know her too well to believe her when she says that nothing is wrong. She mentions Ji-won, and Ah-reum reveals that she saw online that he’s married. Jin-jin tells them that she bumped his fender, and Ah-reum demands her phone so they can see if his wife’s face is on his profile (it isn’t).

Jin-jin is called away by her mom, and Ah-reum and Young-shim note that Ji-won’s number ends in 0710, the same as when they were kids. Ah-reum screams just as Jin-jin returns, because copilot Dong-hoon answered her text accepting her invitation to the get-together.

Jin-jin mutters, “It’s starting again,” and we’re treated to a montage of Ah-reum over the years, coming on too strong to guys who aren’t into her and getting her heart brutally broken. Jin-jin and Young-shim were supportive in their college days, but by the time Ah-reum was lugging entire pots of chicken soup to her crush in 2005, they were both exhausted.

On his ride to work the next morning, Ji-won finally calls his mother, though his end of the conversation feels stilted as he fends off invitations to visit. Meanwhile, Jin-jin prepares for a job narrating a nature documentary, and she’s waved past security at the broadcasting station without having to sign in.

Ji-won’s assistant, TAE-HYUN, has followed Ji-won to Korea, and he asks about Jin-jin. Ji-won insists that they’re just friends who’ve known each other since childhood. Tae-hyun asks if Jin-jin was pretty as a young girl, and Ji-won grins like a lovesick fool as he remembers her as a teenager.

Tae-hyun clocks the smile and teases Ji-won for liking Jin-jin. On his way home, Ji-won sees an old lady selling roses on the street, and he looks at the flowers thoughtfully.

When Jin-jin arrives home, she stands in the parking lot peering up at the building, counting floors to find Ji-won’s apartment. She wilts when she sees that his lights are off, and as she’s gazing at his apartment, a voice asks in her ear, “What are you doing?”

EPISODE 6 RECAP

Jin-jin is shocked to see Ji-won leaning right in her face, and she tries to scurry off. He stops her and gives her a whole handful of roses, which he says with a smirk that he just found on the way home. Jin-jin smiles despite herself.

They’re joined in the elevator by an older couple, and they’re forced to listen as the wife berates her husband the entire way up. She even advises Jin-jin not to give her heart away for a few roses, because even dogs can give roses, making Ji-won pull an offended face.

When they’re finally alone, Ji-won starts to ask Jin-jin why she isn’t married, but his phone rings and interrupts. Jin-jin hears a female voice chirp, “Oppa!” and assumes that it’s Ji-won’s wife, especially when Ji-won says he misses her and will be home soon.

What she doesn’t know is that Ji-won is talking to his younger sister, who wasn’t born yet back when they dated. Ji-won makes his way into his apartment as his sister begs him to pay for her to get double-eyelid surgery, and he’s shocked when she informs him that she’s in high school already.

Jin-jin goes home and contemplates the roses from Ji-won angrily, but she softens when Ji-won shows up at her door, tears in his eyes. He grabs Jin-jin in a hug and asks her to run away with him, and she readily agrees. Later, Jin-jin is attacked by Ji-won’s angry wife and her career is destroyed. Of course, Jin-jin is just imagining everything.

Downstairs, Ji-won is happily texting someone just named as “Hyung” in his phone, saying that there’s someone he wants Hyung to meet. He admits it’s a woman but says she’s just a friend, though Hyung is skeptical.

Anthony, Jin-jin’s idol crush, is having dinner with his manager, who fusses at him for taking money to her mother again when he hasn’t got much to begin with. She reminds him that he got scammed by a fraud scheme because he cares too much about others, but he tells her not to worry about him, because he’s Anthony.

His manager mentions that Infinity Challenge wants to do a comeback show featuring the former members of his band, Boys Be Ambitious. She says that they just have to convince one last member, Terius.

But Anthony sighs that Terius is too distant now, and they both look over at a poster featuring the former idol. His manager complains that Terius ignored her recently at the broadcasting station, but she mentions that Sa Jin-jin was on a talk show, and that she’s still a huge fan of Anthony’s.

Anthony goes to the station, but unlike Jin-jin, he’s not allowed to enter without signing in first. Ouch. He writes down what must be his real name, Lee Chul-min, and gets a visitor’s pass.

He’s here to speak with a director, but he sees that Terius is in a dressing room and goes in to say hello. Terius now goes by his real name, Jung Chang-hoon (cameo by Shim Hyun-tak), and he barely looks up from his video game as Anthony invites him to have a drink sometime.

Chang-hoon mentions the Infinity Challenge invitation, but he scoffs that legends should remain legends. Anthony looks disappointed, as if he was hoping Chang-hoon would agree to go on the show.

Jin-jin’s younger brother, Min-ho, spiffs up in a suit for a job interview, with his orange-and-pink hair toned down to a natural brown. He assures Mom that he’ll be bringing in good money soon, and he makes a great impression on the interviewers compared to the slouching, long-haired candidate next to him.

After the interview, Min-ho’s friend (who works for the company) tells him that he’s got the job so long as he makes a decent score. He says he’ll call Min-ho within three days, and tells him to have a lot of fun with his remaining free time.

Young-shim is a few minutes late to work again, but again, Kyung-seok doesn’t mention it. He spends the morning in meetings with shady clients, who either offer him bribes, defend their loan-sharking ways, or are just plain whackjobs.

The building’s cleaning lady comes in that afternoon, and Kyung-seok smiles a real smile for the first time. He steps out for a call, asking Young-shim to make the cleaning lady a cup of coffee. She does, though she seems to feel weird about it.

Min-ho makes himself some ramyun for lunch, using a book as a hot pad. He gets a call from a friend who invites him to an internet cafe, and he tries to call the friend who works for the company, but he doesn’t answer his phone.

While on the phone with Young-shim, Ah-reum sees a poster at a bus stop advertising that the movie Love Letter is in the theaters again. They know that Jin-jin loves that movie.

Ji-won also sees the poster and looks thoughtful. Jin-jin hears a commercial for the movie on the radio, and she and Ji-won both remember seeing the movie together as teenagers.

They had been adorably nervous, jumping when their hands bumped and sneaking shy peeks at each other. Jin-jin had deliberately kept her hands within easy reach, and Ji-won had obviously wanted to hold her hand, but he’d chickened out.

Adult Jin-jin takes herself to see Love Letter, and neither she nor Ji-won realize that they’re in the same theater, only a few rows apart.

At his home, Anthony flips through the channels, stopping at Jin-jin’s Hong Kong interview. In response to the host’s question, she says that love begins with a movie, because you’re hyper-aware of everything your date is doing — how they move and breathe, even their scent. She says that because you can’t focus on the movie, but instead are feeling those feelings, you end up falling in love.

Ji-won had seen that part of the interview too, and it had reminded him of seeing the movie with Jin-jin back in their school days. The host had asked Jin-jin to think of a movie right now, and without hesitation she’d replied, “Love Letter.”

As he watches the movie again now, another scene recalls the past for Ji-won. The hero had drawn a picture of the heroine and given it to her, and young Ji-won had worked hard to make a similar drawing of Jin-jin.

He’d left the drawing in a book, with the note: “I’ll be back.” That book now sits on Jin-jin’s parents’ table, and the wind flutters the pages, revealing that the drawing of Jin-jin is still there.

 
COMMENTS

I just love the little scenes of Ji-won and Jin-jin as kids. Aside from the fact that the actors playing them are so cute I can’t stand it, seeing how they went from friends to dating (and I’m assuming, their eventual split) is so much more fun than just being told what happened. Besides, seeing them so young and innocent lends a lovely wistfulness to their present-time interactions, because no matter how they’ve cultivated slick, professional facades as adults, you can just see them become those shy, smitten teenagers all over again whenever they’re near each other. It will be interesting watching them spend more time with each other, and seeing that immature love blossom into something more adult.

While I really find nothing lacking in the story as it is now, I’m finding myself anxious to see how Anthony is going to fit into the plot. So far all we know is that he used to be a very famous idol, but now he’s struggling to find work, and that Jin-jin still carries a teenage torch for her oppa. Anthony seems to be a sweet, generous guy, whose fall from fame still bothers him even though he tries to hide it. I won’t blame Jin-jin one bit for being swayed when they start working together, because goodness knows, the thought of actually having a chance with the guy who’s been your fantasy boyfriend for most of your adult life.

And while normally I’d be frustrated by the fact that Jin-jin and their friends think that Ji-won is married, because it’s such an easy misunderstanding to clear up, in this case I’m interested to see how it feeds into the love triangle that’s surely about to take place. Jin-jin obviously still has feelings for Ji-won, feelings that are real based on an actual history of having dated him, as opposed to her frivolous fantasies about Anthony. But she truly believes that Ji-won is married, and his pursuing her will only put her off and make her think that he’s a cheater. And it’s not like Jin-jin and Ji-won have a history of talking much – their teenage romance seems mostly based on attraction and the natural closeness you feel towards your friends. So it’s very easy for me to see how Ji-won won’t get much chance to explain himself.

And for that matter, do we even know that he’s not married? I’m working on the assumption that he’s either divorced or widowed, but we don’t really know. He doesn’t wear a ring, and he lives alone, but that’s not always an indication of single status. Ji-won doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would hit on a woman while he’s married, but I suppose it’s always possible that his wife is elsewhere (with the name Bella, she’s probably foreign) or maybe that they’re just separated. I’m sure there’s a lot more to his story that we don’t know.

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jiwon please don't be married. I love you and jin-jin together. this show keeps getting interesting. love it

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I don't think he's married. He's doesn't seem like a guy who would be married and flirt with another woman, particularly his first love. If he was indeed married, he is probably a widow or divorced.

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It's so funny that they actually are throwing cliches at us.
JiWon married? Bah, as if.
However I enjoy the Reply feel of this show, I hope they will finally start the story next week since I am totally sold on the beginning.

PS. And I don't ca-aaaaare, I don't ca-aaaaare about the ratings (pulled a 2ne1 here, blame it on Smile You drama 😉😉😉😉)

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Anyone else think that clock in Young-shim's office is broken? I'm pretty sure that thing is stuck on 9:05 which is probably why she's late by the exact same time every day and her boss doesn't say anything. This drama gives me a lot of Greatest Love vibes, especially from the next episode. Which is not even remotely a bad thing, Greatest Love is one of my favourite dramas. I feel bad for poor Ah-reum, it can't be easy getting this carried away again and again.

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It's the calm before storm, let me savour this moment when they all happy and life has their up and down while had nothing big to choose.

The ep solidify why we like them and how they just really cute together,

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I love this show so much!!!

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I never knew I would say this, but I actually like the misunderstanding between Jin-jin and Ji-won. It really wasn't their fault that they didn't confirm it with each other. Because what they found was actually true, and they just assumed everything else based on what they thought they knew about him. They just forgot that 17 years is a very long time, enough to change someone's life drastically. (Seriously though, did he got married at some point? And did his mother remarried? Because suddenly he has a bunch of new siblings.) It would be interesting to see him pursuing Jin-jin romantically, while she tried her hardest not to fall for him again because of his allegedly married status. Though judging from her giddy reaction, she is too far gone already.

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Bella is probably his mom or something.

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Or maybe a step-noona.

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This is such a cute show. In some ways it feels very old-school, hitting all the expected plot points, but I am enjoying the relationship between the three friends, as well as the sweet chemistry between Jin Jin and Ji Won.

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I feel for Ah-reum and her string of crushed crushes. I am glad she has good friends who are there for her and still is hopeful that one day she will get as much love as she wants to give.

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This OTP is just so adorable. Their interactions and everything. and the friendships are <333.

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Idk if its just me but I'm not really feeling the chemistry between adult Jin Jin and Ji Won. I JUMP FOR JOY WHEN THEIR TEENAGE SELVES APPEAR but not when their adults versions appear. I just want my heart to flutter and it just isn't happening :(((

On the plus side, I love all the scenes with the girls together. I could watch them talk about miscellaneous stuff all the time. I can already feel my second lead syndrome hitting because of Anthony. I'd kill to see a fangirl x idol drama.

Ah-reum Ah-reum Ah-reum!!!!!!! I hope she finds someone who appreciate all her efforts cuz girl goes ABOVE AND BEYOND when she likes a guy.

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I agree -- In Seong and Kang Mi-Na are doing great as the young versions of Ji-won and Jin-jin. They are so darned cute together. ;-)

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-- I'm here believing after I watched this episode that Jiwon was been married. MAJOR PLOT TWIST if its true.
-- THEY SECRETLY DATED BEFORE! Its confirmed in this episode. I knew it. And Jiwon saying why you never date is like saying we never dated before?!

and am I the only one wanting to know the OST esp. the one used when Jinjin was imagining going to kiss JiWon? I really luv it!
The one used at the end was sung by Nam Taehyun (South Club). Waiting for the release!

PS: I just like the little drama and editing the director put in this show.
PPS: Thanks Lollypip for pointing the difference of young and adult Jiwon and Jinjin. Looking forward to their cute interactions!

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I'm very much interested in the Young-shim - Kyung-seok couple. I hope we'll get more of them.

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This week's episodes were much better than last week's.

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I almost didn't recognize Min Ho with his new hair color and style. I didn't know he had that aegyo and enthusiasm in him until the scene with his mom. He was very smooth and confident during his interview too. I wish he would get the job.

I'm glad we continue to get to see more of Jin Jin and Ji Won's young, innocent love. The child actors are so cute (I'm sure I said this already... hehe) ! I crave more scenes with adult Jin Jin and Ji Won too.

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I'm also holding on to the hope that if Ji-won did marry, he's either widowed or separated. I'd find that more realistic than say, him being single since they were teens.

Though I also like Beanie cantbothertologin's explanation that Bella might be his mom - who knows, maybe she and her new husband renewed their vows and he walked her down the aisle. That would also make sense to me.

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maybe the picture is some advertising thing he did before he became succesful as a businessman? i really hope Ji won isn't married.

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I was thinking that he could have worked as a model when he was in college.

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Aww teen jin jin & ki won are super cute.
Puppy love is so cute ahmygawd!! Cute cute cute!!

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Thanks for your recap and comments, @LollyPip!

I can't help but notice the references to Japanese media in 20TH CENTURY BOY AND GIRL. The 1995 film LOVE LETTER that Jin-jin loves so much made a strong impression on young Ji-won when he watched it with her. In some respects he was, and still is, just as shy as the movie's male protagonist, Fujii Itsuke. Just like his fictional Japanese counterpart, he did not say anything to the other Bongos, not even Jin-jin, when he and his mother moved away. I have a feeling that In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust will also figure in the unfolding story of Jin-jin and Ji-won, and maybe the rest of the Bongos as well.

If you haven't watched LOVE LETTER, I highly recommend it. It is touching, beautifully evocative, has a great soundtrack, and the cinematography is gorgeous. I've posted my impressions of it on my fan wall (beware spoilers!), and have added OST links as well.

Dovetailing neatly with LOVE LETTER is that book on the coffee table in Jin-jin's parent's home, the one Min-ho uses as a trivet for his pot of ramyun in 2017. It is a Korean translation of a 1987 Japanese novel that takes its title from the Beatles song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)." Instead of sketching Jin-jin's portrait on a library book's borrower's card, he's given her a paperback copy of her own and drawn a very good likeness of her on a back page. Along with the Terminator promise: “I'll be back.”

But has Jin-jin ever seen Ji-won's portrait, or his promise?

As for the Beatles reference, “bird” is groovy Sixties British slang for girl. (But actually it was Ji-won who flew the coop.) The song figures heavily in the novel, so take a gander at the lyrics and see how they relate to the drama as well.

According to Wikipedia, the novel was very popular among young people in Japan. Perhaps that popularity extended to Korea? Love and loss figure in what sounds like a retrospective coming-of-age story with numerous characters, some of them quite tragic. I can see where there might be parallels with the drama's characters.

I found some food for thought in Justin Bauer's review of the second English translation of the novel Norwegian Wood [ノルウェイの森, Noruwei no Mori], by Japanese author Murakami Haruki:

Bauer, Justin (October 5, 2000). "This Bird Has Flown". Philadelphia City Paper. (Periodical now defunct: accessed via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine on 10/19/2017.)
https://web.archive.org/web/20151001153209/http://citypaper.net/articles/100500/bq.wood.shtml

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I have to admit that the PPL at the beginning of episode 5 was quite clever. Jin-jin has her vantage point staked out. And Subway will get a twofer in the process. Stay tuned. ;-)

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So L.O.V.E. L..O.V.E. this drama and everyone in it. So adorable and good castings and OTP... and pretty sure he is single. Probably he was the best man at a very close friend's wedding

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Yes, that's another plausible interpretation. ;-)

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A sad reality for many entertainers is that their popularity wanes over time, while others remain immensely popular for decades or half a century or longer. Anthony is no longer as popular as he once was, while Terius's star has ascended. The latter cannot be bothered to think of the fans who still hold Boys Be Ambitious dear. This is the kind of egotistical BS that has prevented all to many musical reunions in real life. Bah, humbug! ;-)

Finally we'll be seeing more of Lee Sang-woo. I loved him to bits in LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. He looks every bit as fetching as Anthony as he did as Kyung-soo.

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Awwww this show!!! Thanks for pulling me out of my drama slump 🙌🏽

I really want to say a lot of things but I somehow cannot put this into words. Could not wait for the next episodes so the soundtrack is on loop for 2 days already 😭😭😭😂😂😂

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I love Standing Egg's OST for this! It captures the fuzzy feelings of the drama.

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I posted two Rostropovich items on my fan wall for fellow cello fans. One is a clip of him performing next to the Berlin Wall, the other is the Bach prelude that plays during Dr. Woo-sung's dinner date.

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Right now, this show and Witch's Court are more important than my sleep. #priorities

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The show continues its non-linear storytelling and keeps us on our toes by making us remember all the hanging conversations and objects that will tie up later.

Love it! Thanks for the recap!

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The OSTs for 20TH CENTURY BOY AND GIRL, MAD DOG, and BLACK are now on my fan wall.

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I love this cute drama. Everything is perfect.
And now monday is my new crack

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who knows the song that A-Reum sings in ep 5 please

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I get the feeling that I'm in the minority thinking that these two episodes were slowwwwww. I haven't watched eps. 7-8 yet because of that. I initially liked this show for the 'Bongos' but I get something better over at Because This Life Is Our First. I'll try to watch eps 7-8 today, but I think I might end up dropping this show.

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I adore Jin Jin & Ji Won so much that I doubt I will have second lead syndrome. Anthony's side of the story in this episode did nothing for me. Meh. Not liking the idea of a love triangle happening.

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One thing that confused me with the opening scene...was there even Subway restaurants in South Korea in 1999?? I mean, writers, if you're going to do your crazy PPL so you can write your dramas, it's fine...but maybe a bit of research there hahaha
(also, if I'm wrong and there were Subway restaurants in SK at the time, let me know, just it seemed odd to me and when I looked it up it seemed to be pointing to the mid 00's before they opened there)

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