Because This Life Is Our First: Episode 3
Something happened between the first and second episode of this show that can only be described as pure magic. I went into this show with high expectations, then was forced to lower my expectations after the first episode, only to be promptly surprised by the emotional potency and fun of the second—so in other words, well played, Show. But as much as I liked the second episode, it’s this third episode that has upgraded this show to a full-blown obsession, and my heart is so full.
Episode 3: “Because this is my first proposal”
Se-hee asks Ji-ho very politely if she like to get married. Without thinking, Ji-ho answers “Yes,” only for the statement to click a split-second later, causing her to exclaim in surprise. He’s dead serious, of course, but after seeing her freak out from the proposal, he takes it all back and asks her to forget that he said anything.
He announces that he’s going to bed, and begins to inform her that he put new sheets on her bed for her to sleep on, but she says that she should be going now. He looks at his watch, which reads 3:00 a.m., and wordlessly eyes her pajamas after she reiterates that she’s just out for walk.
She covers herself with her arms self-consciously, then excuses herself before speeding toward the door.
Outside, Ji-ho realizes again that she doesn’t have anywhere to go. Se-hee texts something to her, but we don’t see it, and the next thing we know, Ji-ho reenters the apartment. In her room, she rereads Se-hee’s message, which tells her that she won’t find a cab so late in the night. He also adds that the passcode is the same. Aw, what a sweetie.
His message prompts the memory of his marriage proposal, but her thoughts are cut short after she hears Se-hee lock his bedroom door, which makes her grow outraged by the entire absurd situation.
Scoffing, she decides to leave first thing in the morning and leave this all behind her.
The next morning, Ji-ho’s intention to wake up before Se-hee doesn’t exactly go as planned. In fact, the sound of her snoring is so thunderous that at first Se-hee thinks his neighbors are conducting some unauthorized construction and complains to the building manager. Once he’s corrected on this, he goes to check on Ji-ho only to find her deeply asleep, and he decides to pretend that he hasn’t heard anything.
Finally, Ji-ho wakes to her alarm, which she mistakenly set for 5:00 p.m. instead of 5:00 a.m. She doesn’t realize her mistake and thinks she only slept for two hours as planned, before venturing out into the living room.
She’s ready to leave, but Cat begins meowing for its dinner. Ji-ho fills up Cat’s bowl, which is when Se-hee returns home from work. Her eyes bulge in shock, and she stutters to ask where he’s coming from. He replies that he’s coming back from work, then clocks her confusion and asks incredulously if she’s only waking up now. LOL, their faces.
She thinks about his question for a moment, then becomes indignant that he’s being rude to her. She voices her intentions to take the first train of the morning, and when he asks if she meant to say the “last train,” that sets her off.
She makes a speech about how she was trying to be considerate by leaving early. Se-hee replies plainly that he’s only stating the facts, because it’s 5:00 p.m., and though the first train is no longer available, she’ll probably be able to catch the last train. The truth sinks in, and Ji-ho’s mortified beyond belief, which is when her stomach growls.
They reconvene at the table for some instant ramyun, and they both awkwardly wait for the noodles to cook. When Ji-ho breaks the silence to explain that she set the wrong alarm, Se-hee is very understanding and says that he didn’t wake her since she seemed to be deeply asleep. He remarks that it seems like she wasn’t able to sleep well for the last couple of days, and he guesses that she’s uncomfortable at her new place.
His perceived thoughtfulness isn’t lost on Ji-ho, and she suddenly asks why he’s being so nice to her. He’s perplexed, so she points out that he even gave her the bigger bowl of instant ramyun (omg, this is too adorable), new sheets, and even asked her to marry him.
He tries to change the topic and points out that their noodles are done, but Ji-ho isn’t ready to let go and asks bluntly if he likes her. Se-hee looks up at her stunned, but then replies that he doesn’t like her, and claims that he only gave her the big ramyun because his spice tolerance is low. He also adds that he gave her the pillowcase because it’s unhygienic to sleep without one, and that he proposed because he needs to get married.
He explains that since he must get married, she seems like the perfect fit. He adds that it’s mutually beneficial, but she rightfully doesn’t understand how that’s a reasonable conclusion, so he asks her why people get married.
Ji-ho lists love and affection as the main reasons, and Se-hee sighs, agreeing that those are the most common reasons. But then he asks if she needs love and affection more than she needs a house right now. Oof.
She replies with growing confidence that she doesn’t need those things now, but one day she will. Se-hee looks down disappointedly and remarks that he thought she was the same kind of person as he is, but he made a mistake. He asks her to erase this conversation as well, before bidding her farewell.
Meanwhile, Won-seok picks Ho-rang up from work after her late night shift, and they return home together. She tries to hint to him about this sofa she really wants (one perfect for newlyweds), but he doesn’t really catch the hint, and instead decides to make a comment about the economic inequality in Korea (even condescendingly sounding out a “big” word to her, after he assumes she doesn’t understand it). Ugh, oh no.
Annoyed, she begins slapping her face angrily with face cream, which finally gets his attention. He asks if something bad happened today, but she just stomps off after denying that she’s angry.
Suddenly, he instinctively moves to a kneeling position (hahaha), and jumps when Ho-rang returns to crossly ask for Se-hee’s address, since Su-ji is worried that Ji-ho has been out of contact.
His demeanor is obedient as he points out that Ji-ho moved out already. This is news to Ho-rang, who immediately grows worried about Ji-ho.
We cut to Ji-ho as she walks toward the bus stop while thinking about Se-hee’s words describing her as the same type of person as him. She breaks out of her reverie after she notices the people around her laughing at her attire. She finally decides to call Su-ji back and asks for a ride. Luckily, she’s already nearby with Ho-rang to look for her.
They park outside of Ho-rang’s so Ji-ho can give them the 411 on sleazy Yong-seok. Enraged, Su-ji vows to murder Yong-seok, while Ho-rang chides Ji-ho for not calling them in her time of need.
Ji-ho replies vaguely, so Ho-rang and Su-ji exchange knowing glances and ask if she has something going on with Se-hee. She denies it, but Ho-rang doesn’t really buy her answer and teases her until she angrily shouts that it isn’t true. Deciding that’s enough for the night, Su-ji takes Ji-ho back to her place.
At home, Se-hee and Cat wind down for the evening, but he catches a glimpse of his and Ji-ho’s empty ramyun bowls and becomes thoughtful. He receives a text from a woman asking to meet the next day and groans.
Meanwhile at Su-ji’s, Su-ji shows Ji-ho a new dating app that allows users to rate one another, then get matched based on those rating levels. Additionally, if the users want to meet users above their rating levels, then they need to pay for access.
Ji-ho points out how mean-spirited the system is, but Su-ji only replies that the app is a hot ticket in the investing world, and will be the centerpiece at her company’s hosted networking(/investing) event tomorrow. Su-ji adds that dating is a competition these days, wherein only the strong-minded survive. Word, girl.
The next day, Se-hee presents the same dating app to a roomful of investors as an answer to failed blind dates. He alleges that people who are simple should be honest with themselves and go by instinctive traits they want in the opposite sex: for men, looks, for women, capability.
He theorizes that given those parameters, it makes sense to match people who are closer to each other in these categories in order to find the best matches.
A potential investor in the audience asks why the app is called “Dating, Not Marriage” if the app’s premise is to pair people with high, long-term compatibility. Se-hee replies with his own question and asks, “How can marriage be the result of love?”
Se-hee explains, “Marriage limits one’s freedom” and adds that in modern society, marriage is only a system to preserve one’s genes and nothing more. He claims that “love” is an antiquated concept for those filled with false hope.
His statements cause an uproar in the audience, so mercifully, Sang-gu intervenes and states that the sole aim of their app is to facilitate dating, not marriage. They understand that everyone has different values when considering marriage, but in dating, the one common denominator between two people is love.
His words earn the applause of the crowd, and Su-ji, who is watching from the audience, smirks as she compliments Sang-gu’s swift save.
After the presentation, Sang-gu follows Se-hee out to scold him for answering questions. He continues that Se-hee is in charge of the visuals, and is needed only to show his attractive face to draw in investors.
He asks if it was too hard for Se-hee to act like a normal person for a little bit, which leads Se-hee to turn around and cast a tired glare at his friend. Immediately, Sang-gu amends, and begins complimenting Se-hee for his outstanding presentation.
When Se-hee heads for the door, Sang-gu asks where he’s going since the networking event has only just begun, so Se-hee shoots back that since Sang-gu is the “normal” one, he can take care of it.
Ji-ho arrives back at the workshop to retrieve her things, but finds the door locked. She reluctantly drafts a few texts to Yong-seok, but Writer Hwang calls before she sends the message.
She goes to Writer Hwang’s house, who placatingly asks if Ji-ho is still upset about her changes, only to apologize and say that what Ji-ho said about her writing was right.
Writer Hwang continues that she always claims to want to write something new and fresh, but ends up writing the same sort of drama over and over. She says in order to survive she had to conform and compromise her visions.
Writer Hwang takes Ji-ho’s hand and says adamantly that she truly wants to see Ji-ho succeed. Ji-ho replies that she knows, and is grateful for her support.
They exchange friendly smiles, and so Writer Hwang suggests they go for some drinks (stating notably that it’ll be just the two of them). Ji-ho quietly thanks Writer Hwang for her words and mentorship, and the women head out.
At the networking event, Sang-gu speaks with the potential investor who asked the question during Se-hee’s presentation. The investor calls over Su-ji and her male colleague to join the conversation, and Sang-gu recognizes Su-ji, but Su-ji doesn’t seem to reciprocate.
Meanwhile, Su-ji’s male colleague makes some gross comments about Su-ji’s attractiveness and guaranteed high-ranking in the app, then proceeds to put an unwelcome hand on her shoulder. Sang-gu notes all his actions and steps in to ask the man for a cigarette so that all the men can go out for a smoke and leave Su-ji behind.
Sang-gu lingers for a moment looking as if he wants to say something to Su-ji, but she’s too busy launching eye-daggers at her colleague to notice him.
On the rooftop, Su-ji takes out a cigarette from her purse, and Sang-gu swoops in to light it from behind. He mentions their encounter at the wedding, which Su-ji remembers, but when he brings up a previous meeting they had long ago, she draws a blank.
Apparently, it was a much more involved interaction, and resulted in sex. He attributes her lack of reaction to mean that she doesn’t want to discuss their past, but she replies that it’s only polite to discuss it since he brought it up.
She looks him up and down as if trying to remember some other part of him since his face isn’t memorable (heh), but it doesn’t work.
Sang-gu becomes indignant since he thought they really hit it off, so she smiles to herself before apologizing and saying that she normally remembers who she sleeps with, but it seems that his performance wasn’t impressive enough.
Meanwhile, Writer Hwang takes Ji-ho to a fancy restaurant, but she’s blindsided when she sees Yong-seok and Director Park waiting for them there. She stays mum on the incident, even as Writer Hwang and the director discuss how nice it is that the two are friends even though they are of the opposite sex.
Director Park watches Ji-ho’s despondency and makes an oblique comment about how “all kinds of things happen” when young people work together, which triggers Ji-ho. (OH NO! You two did not set this up after knowing fully what happened! How dare you!)
Yong-seok looks repentant, and Director Park half-playfully/half-seriously orders him to apologize to Ji-ho. He tells Ji-ho that he scolded Yong-seok very harshly after learning what he did, so Yong-seok sincerely apologizes and says that he was super drunk. Writer Hwang remarks that she was going to scold Yong-seok, but held back for Director Park’s sake.
Ji-ho is stunned into silence, but finally speaks up to ask why Director Park would scold Yong-seok, and why Writer Hwang would hold back on her behalf when she’s the victim. Director Park takes issue with Ji-ho’s usage of the word “victim,” so Ji-ho clarifies and says that she was sexually assaulted and nearly raped.
Yong-seok pathetically attempts to gaslight Ji-ho, so she puts him in his place and tells him to shut up before she puts him in prison. Omg, yes, tell them who is in charge, Ji-ho.
Writer Hwang steps in and states that she is “trying” not to break up their close-knit team, so Ji-ho answers:
“It’s like I’ve been struck by a rock and I am bleeding right now, so carrying me to a hospital should be considered ‘trying’ in this situation, but instead you’re forcing me to keep going my way and telling me that I seem all right, and I’m not bleeding that much. You’re dragging me by force—this isn’t trying. I’m bleeding so much and I’m hurting to death.”
Director Park impatiently asks Ji-ho if she understands that making such a big deal of such “trivial” matter will jeopardize her drama-writing career and erase her chances of ever getting one of her shows made.
Ji-ho says she understands, then announces that she won’t be writing dramas anymore because she’s quitting, and these people should never contact her again. Can Ji-ho hear my applause? I love this so much.
She leaves the restaurant as her eyes tear, then she shakily stops around a corner to praise herself for doing well and not crying.
Ji-ho and her girls drink outside of Ho-rang’s to celebrate Ji-ho’s resignation. Their solution for comforting Ji-ho is to get piss drunk and burn away the night at a noraebang.
They jam out like crazy to “My Friend” by Cho PD, as Ji-ho thinks gratefully about how her friends are always there for her when she’s going through a tough time. But instead of trying to push her to talk, they just chat and laugh as they always do, which is the greatest comfort.
Su-ji learns that one of her work projects has gone wrong and she needs to leave ASAP, so Ji-ho sends her off in good spirits and goes back inside to Ho-rang, who’s already passed out.
Won-seok comes to pick her up and offers Ji-ho their couch, which she politely refuses. But as they leave, she thinks sadly about how her friends have places to return to, but she doesn’t.
She goes to the bus stop only to learn that the are no more buses for the night, and she wonders why she is always drifting around. Mom calls to give Ji-ho tips on how to be a good housemate, not knowing that she moved out of Se-hee’s, which causes Ji-ho to snap.
Mom argues that she’s just trying to help Ji-ho do well, and Ji-ho (clearly thinking about the other things going wrong in her life) asks if Mom thinks that she only has to “do well” for things to work out.
She catches herself for taking out her anger on Mom, but then grumbles that Mom doesn’t know anything about the world. Mom gives in and just tells Ji-ho to take care of herself before saying goodbye.
Ji-ho looks like she feels sorry about her outburst, but Mom surprises her by staying on the line and says comfortingly that she can always come home if Seoul is “too cold.” And these are the words that finally make Ji-ho cry as the day finally ends.
On his jog the next morning, the security guard gives Se-hee a suitcase that Yong-seok left for Ji-ho with a note to Ji-ho, explaining that Ji-ho said not to contact her.
Se-hee texts Ji-ho about the suitcase, and they arrange for her to pick it up right away. Ji-ho makes breakfast for Su-ji, then tells Su-ji that she’s going back to her hometown, Namhae, for good. She says that now that her drama career didn’t work out, there’s really no reason for her to stay—besides, she adds, Seoul is too cold.
Ji-ho arrives at Se-hee’s shortly after, but he doesn’t answer, so she lets herself in. She sees Cat waiting for her, and together, they go into her old room. She throws out Yong-seok’s note, opens up her suitcase, and sees her scripts for Turtle Gosiwon. She tells Cat sadly that she can’t bear to throw them away herself, so she leaves them on the nightstand and asks Cat to recycle them for her.
She hears the door beep and comes out to greet Se-hee, but then dashes back into her room when she hears the sound of Se-hee’s mother’s voice. Haha, omg, Mom’s complaining to Se-hee about him asking his mat-seon date to pay rent even after they get married.
Mom begs Se-hee to just live normally like everyone else and fall in love, get married, have a kid. Se-hee asks how those things are normal, then states that the average cost of getting married and having a kid is 300 million won.
Mom tells Se-hee to stop with his numerical nonsense and argues that his date was very pretty, so Se-hee picks up Cat and says that he’s satisfied with this pretty cat.
The statement is concerning for Mom, and she asks if Se-hee has a “problem” in the sexual department. From the bedroom, Ji-ho gasps, but manages to stifle her surprise.
Mom tells Se-hee to just apologize to his date because it seems like she might still like him, and since there won’t be anymore mat-seon dates (due to the fact that the matchmaker finds Se-hee too weird, ha), if Se-hee messes this up and his father divorces her, Mom’s moving in with him.
She warns Se-hee to choose wisely, then leaves.
After she’s gone, Ji-ho comes out and scares the life out of Se-hee (hehehe, I liked that way too much). He composes himself, then politely bows to her, before clutching his heart as they sit on the couch.
Ji-ho apologizes for hiding, but Se-hee sincerely thanks her for her good judgment. He asks about her luggage, and so she explains that she quit her job and is going back to Namhae. She thanks him for renting his room to her, since it’s where she wrote her first drama.
Sweetly, Se-hee tells Ji-ho that wherever she goes, she’ll do well since she is a responsible person and scored the highest amongst all his tenants. She also wishes him luck in finding a nice person to marry, but he isn’t so sure that he’ll be able to marry. She doesn’t see why not, since he was able to propose to her.
He pauses for a moment then says he did it because it was her, his highest scorer. What he needs is her, and not a marriage, which is why he proposed to someone who can pay a monthly rent.
She’s stunned and thinks to herself, “I know it was not the right moment to fall for him. But still, it was the first time hearing that someone needs me. Throughout my twenties, I worked hard to be a person who is needed. I crossed the Han River Bridge whenever I went through a hard time. Looking over the Han River, I thought there might be at least one place that needed me in this big city—that’s how I thought.”
She leaves after that and goes right to the bus terminal to buy a ticket home. She pauses when she sees a young girl looking a little lost in the terminal, and is reminded of her younger self.
She boards the bus and continues, “For the last ten years, this luggage got scratched up so much like me. It was shiny when I first came to Seoul with it. For what did I try so hard to live, when I’d go back to Namhae without any achievement? There wasn’t a place for me from the beginning anyway.”
She stares out the window aimlessly, but then perks up when she sees Se-hee walking toward her. He gets on the bus and asks why she isn’t answering her phone, then hands her her old scripts and her poster of The Graduate.
He says that he was on his way out and it seemed like she needed these, so he delivered them. She echoes that she needs them, stunned, but then he leaves. (Go after him!!) She watches him from her window, and thinks of how he’s the first person who said that he needed her.
Se-hee begins to leave when Ji-ho runs up and grabs his hand, before asking him to marry her.
He replies “Yes,” politely, then hurriedly, she runs back to get her luggage. He calls after her and says that he wants to ask one thing first: “By any chance, do you like me?” She looks thoughtful for a moment, then shouts back, “No.”
They stare at each other as Ji-ho narrates: “That’s how our proposal began.”
*Does happy chicken dance.* I seriously love this show to bits, and each episode continues to be better and more powerful than the last. I’ve always liked Jung So-min, but she’s so delightful and skillful in this that she’s become a must-watch actress for me. She has this wonderful ability to make Ji-ho’s emotions accessible and vivid every step of the way. That dinner scene with Yong-seok was badass, and I felt so proud, but also in awe of Ji-ho’s strength. Nearly all the characters are written amazingly well and with so much depth that even though I don’t agree with a character’s actions, I can see how true to life their choices are.
Take, for example, Writer Hwang. That exchange she had with Ji-ho where she apologized was refreshing and heartfelt, and though I kept feeling like she would betray Ji-ho in some way, it’s evident that her affections for Ji-ho are sincere. It’s an important point, because what she did by colluding with Director Park to try and force Ji-ho to make up with Yong-seok and let bygones be bygones was motivated by her fondness for Ji-ho, and her belief that this was the only way for Ji-ho to attain success. And maybe she’s right, because maybe that’s how to world has always worked, but I love, love that Ji-ho rejected the premise of her misguided and complicit actions by not allowing Yong-seok’s harmful and abhorrent actions to be so easily forgiven or made light of.
This show is filled with multidimensional characters like Won-seok, who is brilliant, sweet, and totally in love with Ho-rang, but unable to see how he belittles her so casually. Kim Ga-eun’s face is so expressive and filled with microexpressions that I find myself watching her closely in the scenes she’s in just to catch them all.
Another interesting character is, of course, Se-hee, and I love how polite and respectful Se-hee and Ji-ho continue to be with each other. There’s a gentleness and positive energy between them that I find to be so lovely, but above all, I love how safe Ji-ho feels around him, especially given what she’s been through. Through what he views to be sheer logic-driven candor, Se-hee has an instinctual knack for being thoughtful and for saying kind and supportive words to Ji-ho when she needs it the most, and I love that it’s these moments that are making her become aware of him in a new way.
I’m really enjoying this theme of finding a place for oneself. On one hand, Ji-ho feels adrift and without a place where she’s needed and wanted even after struggling for so long. Meanwhile, Se-hee has devoted his life to protecting the place he calls his own, and is even willing to live with Ji-ho permanently in order to do so. It’s clear that this “place” is the solace they find in each other, but it’ll be fun to see them come to that conclusion. I wonder if Se-hee already has a prenup drafted.
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