Because This Life Is Our First: Episode 14
This episode our hero reflects on his emotions and feelings, realizing just how he feels about his wife. Unbeknownst to him, her words have found their way into his once dry heart, and as the trees around him signal the start of winter, spring has already bloomed inside of him. Words can plant new feelings of love, but they can also leave behind scars that last for years. And while spoken words may die as soon as they reach the ears, they can live on if they’re harbored in the heart.
Episode 14: “Because this is my first confession”
Unable to reach Ji-ho, Se-hee walks around the neighborhood looking for her, and runs into Jung-min. Both freeze, instantly recognizing each other, and from a few feet away, Ji-ho sees their encounter and hides behind a pillar.
Still frozen in mid-stretch, Jung-min stammers out a greeting, and hands Se-hee her business card. They quickly separate, too frazzled to hold a conversation, and Jung-min retreats to the car as Se-hee turns away.
Ji-ho returns to the car once Se-hee is gone, and excuses herself to walk home. Jung-min assumes that her husband is coming to pick her up, and readily lets her leave.
Se-hee puts away Jung-min’s card, and calls Ji-ho again. She answers this time, and tells him that she’s right here. He looks around and sees her right next to him, much to his relief. She apologizes for not answering before, and they walk home together.
Once home, Se-hee makes tea in a thermos, and hands it to Ji-ho to drink throughout the night to soothe her insides after drinking. As they say goodnight, Se-hee asks if she wants to sleep together again tonight. She turns down his offer, explaining how she snores more when she’s tired, and Se-hee watches her retreat to her room.
Ji-ho sits in bed, remembering Jung-min’s story about a painful past, now also recalling Se-hee’s previous explanations of marriage and his wish to live an uneventful life. Meanwhile, Se-hee recalls Ji-ho’s words from the bus, describing Jung-min as a protector.
He calls Ji-ho despite the late hour, and congratulates her on getting a chance to write again. Ji-ho seems to see past his words, and thinks to herself, “This man is torn. He is afraid. He is nervous.”
Sporting a shorter haircut, Ho-rang meets with Sang-gu since she has no one else to seek advice from concerning Won-seok. She wonders if he won’t come back even if she begs, and Sang-gu explains that Won-seok decided to let her go because he felt that he was making her unhappy.
As they leave the coffee shop, a finance officer, Shin Young-hyo, from Sang-gu’s company runs into them. Sang-gu introduces Ho-rang, and while Young-hyo stares intently at her, she’s too preoccupied with other thoughts and barely gives him a glance.
At the bus stop, Young-hyo drives his car up to Ho-rang, and offers her a ride since he heard where she was going from Sang-gu. Though Ho-rang refuses, his persistence wins, and she sits awkwardly in his car as he tries to strike up a conversation.
He asks if she doesn’t recognize him, and introduces himself as the person from Sang-gu’s app who wants to get married. He tells her that she was the first person he chatted with on the app, and was disappointed when she stopped replying.
Ho-rang describes her actions as meaningless, but Young-hyo playfully calls her out on her attempt to draw a line between them, and her cold responses don’t curb his enthusiasm. Maintaining her distance, Ho-rang quickly leaves his car once they arrive at her place, and slams the door before he can say bye.
Ho-rang stares at all the memories stored in the rooftop apartment, from the pink couch to the board of pictures. She takes down each polaroid of them as a couple, and while she packs her belongings, Ho-rang takes off her ring. Coincidentally, Won-seok arrives right then, also here to pack his stuff.
He sees her out, but before she leaves, Ho-rang admits that he was right, deciding now to be honest with herself. She goes down the stairs, and to her surprise, she finds Young-hyo waiting for her. Noticing her flu-like symptoms, he couldn’t leave her to carry her stuff alone, and offers her a ride home.
Catching Won-seok from the corner of her eye, Ho-rang relents, and accepts the ride. From the rooftop, Won-seok watches her leave while Ho-rang looks back forlornly at the place she once called home.
Jung-min reviews the lawsuit with Ji-ho, and asks if she’ll be all right with the investigation and questioning. Ji-ho nods, understanding that it’s inevitable, but Jung-min warns her that things might get messy since this involves the broadcasting industry.
Onto a brighter topic, Jung-min shows Ji-ho a writing contract, and tells her to read over it before signing. Ji-ho immediately comments on the proposed payment, and Jung-min wonders if they offered her too little. Ji-ho explains that it’s the opposite—the payment is too high.
Jung-min sighs, and gives Ji-ho a little life lesson: “Even if you’re surprised, you should go outside and express it alone. When negotiating a contract, how can you reveal everything to the enemy?”
To Jung-min’s surprise, Ji-ho answers, “You’re not my enemy.”
Jung-min smiles at her response, and explains that they offered her the normal rate for new writers. Though her company rarely signs contracts with writers, when they do, they do it properly since it means they want to work with that person for a long time.
Se-hee scrolls through Jung-min’s company’s website, and finds an interview of her. One of the questions asks about money, and Jung-min’s response says that she started this work because she was in desperate need of it.
Ji-ho and Jung-min go out for lunch together, and Ji-ho has something to ask. She wonders how Jung-min would feel if she met her almost-husband again, and Jung-min finds her question strange, especially since she recently met him by coincidence. Holding her gaze, Ji-ho reveals the truth: Se-hee is her husband.
Driving to work, Su-ji remembers Sang-gu’s urging to face the world rather than run away, as well as his promise to support her. Fueled by his words, Su-ji confronts Park, inviting him to a smoke, and once outside, she tells him how horrible the last three years have been working with him.
She constantly worries about his sexual harassment, and only has painful memories of him. Without an ounce of guilt, he simply asks what she wants, so Su-ji tells him to give her a formal apology in front of their team. She sincerely wants to end this toxic relationship, and asks him to show his sincerity in return.
Sang-gu waits for Su-ji, and as she approaches, she suddenly runs into his arms and says that she’s glad to see him. Finding her cute, he kisses her on the forehead.
Su-ji admits that he was right about her, and realized that she only ever tried to avoid Park. She finally recognizes that Park is someone’s son and father, making him just another human being like her. Sang-gu pinches her cheeks as a sign of affection, but Su-ji glares at him—no cheek-pinching for her.
Sang-gu notices Se-hee zoning out in front of the office, and sneaks up behind him to scare him. However, Jung-min’s business card (that Se-hee is holding) catches him by surprise, while Se-hee jumps in shock at the sudden noise.
Sang-gu advises Se-hee to talk to her about it since Ji-ho and Jung-min will have to meet a lot if they work together. Se-hee doesn’t know what to tell Ji-ho, or even where to start—but he does know that no matter what he says, she’ll still get hurt.
Confused, Sang-gu clarifies that he was talking about explaining the truth to Jung-min. He thought Se-hee was still hung up on her, while Ji-ho was just a tenant to him because of their contractual relationship.
Sang-gu leaves him alone to his thoughts, and as the gingko leaves fall around him, Se-hee narrates:
“I thought I could meet her again, maybe once in my life. I even thought of what I should do when that happens. ‘How are you? It’s been a while.’ But as soon as I saw you, I realized I was worried about just one person. When did it start? I thought the only things remaining in my life were dry leaves. I thought I would merely spend the rest of my life waiting for those leaves to fall, living quietly alone.”
Se-hee stops by a bookstore, continuing his narration: “I didn’t want to do anything that could decide another person’s life. I thought I would never make someone cry again.”
As he arrives at the apartment complex, the security guard calls after him, with director Yong-seok standing nearby.
In the office, Won-seok types away mindlessly until Bo-mi stops him, berating him for messing up their program because of his ex. Won-seok quickly apologizes for his mistake, but is surprised by how Bo-mi knew about his breakup.
She explains that it’s written on his face (which he takes literally), and tells him to not make it so obvious since it’s not like he’s only been in one relationship. Won-seok says that he has only been in one, to her shock, and she asks if that this is also his first breakup.
Meanwhile, Ho-rang gets off from work, and sees a slew of text messages from Young-hyo, with the last one asking her out to dinner. She texts him back, and soon after, he arrives to pick her up. He asks what she wants to eat, but Ho-rang only wants beer, and he cheerily agrees.
They sit by the river drinking beer, and Ho-rang cuts to the chase: She broke up with her boyfriend of seven years and went to pick up her stuff from their place that day. She waits for the truth to shock him, but instead, he just asks, “Why did you have such little luggage?” Pfft, this guy is so quirky.
Then he supposes that there isn’t that much stuff to get rid of when it comes time to pack, confessing that he also once broke up with his girlfriend of seven years. Ho-rang asks why he broke up, and he explains how they fought about marriage, realizing too late that dating and marrying were two different things.
He asks how she’ll overcome her breakup, and Ho-rang assumes that time will heal all wounds. Young-hyo argues that time just passes by, and instead, he shares something he did to help with his breakup: make wishes aloud to the mirror about what you want.
He begins to chant his different wishes, but she doesn’t understand the words and tells him flatly not to use difficult language with her. Young-hyo shyly admits that they’re slang terms used by teenagers, which finally gets Ho-rang to laugh.
Se-hee meets with Yong-seok, who begins to apologize about that night. He blames alcohol for his actions, and asks that they withdraw the lawsuit since he’s willing to compensate with a cash settlement.
At first, Se-hee looks at him in confusion, but the more he listens, the more he catches on to the truth. Remembering the night Ji-ho came to his apartment in her pajamas, the pieces click together, and Yong-seok belatedly realizes that Se-hee hadn’t known.
Yong-seok excuses himself to leave, but Se-hee grabs his arm, staring menacingly, and orders him to sit down and talk to him instead of Ji-ho.
Ji-ho thanks Jung-min for sharing her story, but Jung-min also has a question for her: What would she have done if Jung-min had said she still loved Se-hee? Ji-ho tells her that they would become enemies, and that she would wait for Se-hee’s heart to come to her.
Jung-min asks if she’d wait because it’s a contract marriage, but Ji-ho replies that even in a real marriage, there’s no guarantee that one spouses will have their partner’s heart. Jung-min disagrees, thinking that marriage is the official declaration of a couple claiming exactly that. Ji-ho admits she’s new to marriage, but she is sure of one thing: Hearts aren’t things to be stolen or grabbed—they can only come to you.
Later as she contemplates Ji-ho’s words, Jung-min flashes back to the day she wrote the farewell Post-its to Se-hee, telling him to never love again. She sighs that she envies Ji-ho for already realizing the truth about love.
Her driver informs Jung-min of complications regarding Ji-ho’s lawsuit. Apparently, Yong-seok got beat up by Ji-ho’s husband when asking for the charges to be dropped, and Jung-min can’t believe that Se-hee did such a thing.
At a company dinner, Park gives a toast, pandering to their boss, and throws in a halfhearted apology to Su-ji. Shocked, Su-ji glares at Park, who waves aside the issue when a coworker asks, calling it nothing. *grabs pitchfork and burning torches*
The group heads out of the restaurant for their second round, but Park needs to stop by the office for something. Su-ji shoots daggers at his back and calls Sang-gu to clarify that those who don’t understand words are not human. She asks if he meant it when he promised to stand by her side once she faces the world, and he confirms it.
With that, Su-ji half-whispers into the phone, “I love you.” She hangs up, and Sang-gu is unsettled enough to leave the office in the middle of a board game to find her.
Wearing a grim face, Su-ji follows Park through the lobby as instances of his sexual harassment come flooding back to her. She steps up next to him at the elevators, and tells him that she has some unfinished business.
The elevators arrive, and unbuttoning her coat, Su-ji calls Park by his first name, making him twirl around. She punches him in the face, which throws him to the ground, and Su-ji glowers at Park as the elevator doors close.
The rest of the employees continue their board game, and as Won-seok starts winning, the others comment on how they’ve raised a tiger (“horangi”). He gets bothered by the word since it sounds like Ho-rang, and suggests going out for drinks. Bo-mi declines since she has a prior engagement, but the other two guys agree to go clubbing.
Once there, though, the music and lights are too much for them. Won-seok ends up dancing alone while the others leave, and onstage, a women pole dances to the crowd’s cheers. Then the pole dancer whips back her hair, revealing her face, and Bo-mi winks at the camera.
She continues to dance and notices Won-seok jumping around on the floor. She pulls him onstage, to his surprise, and tells him to talk with his body as they resume dancing.
Meanwhile, Se-hee bandages his bloody knuckles and remembers Ji-ho’s mom’s request to help when Ji-ho decides to write again. Gathering his resolve, he calls Jung-min, and meets her at her office.
Ji-ho walks home and stops by the same bookstore Se-hee went to earlier. She asks a worker about the same book Se-hee looked at, and the worker informs her that their last copy was sold today.
At the office, Se-hee asks Jung-min if his actions will disadvantage Ji-ho, but Jung-min reassures him that she has it under control. He then asks if him being Ji-ho’s husband will affect her chances of becoming a writer, and Jung-min is slightly upset that he came to meet her after twelve years to only ask about helping Ji-ho.
He apologizes, but explains that there’s nothing he can do to help her achieve her dreams. On the other hand, Jung-min knows how to do it, and all he asks from her is to treat Ji-ho as a writer and not as his wife.
On the bus ride home, Se-hee reads a passage from the book he bought: “Words are born from people’s mouths and die in their ears. But some words don’t die. They go into people’s hearts and survive.”
In his room, Se-hee takes out the poetry book left by Jung-min, and looking over the note again, he thinks, “These words survived in my heart for twelve years. When did they disappear so suddenly like this? I couldn’t get rid of them from my heart no matter how hard I tried then.”
Flashing back to earlier, Jung-min asked if Se-hee ever confessed to Ji-ho. He hadn’t, so she’d informed him that he never confessed to her either. Jung-min gave him the advice that that words can only survive when they reach people’s hearts, and to reach people’s hearts, words have to be said out loud.
Back in his room, Se-hee recalls the different moments Ji-ho expressed her feelings, and realizes that his feelings aren’t coincidental. Ji-ho’s warm words piled up inside of him, and survived in his dead heart.
Se-hee’s father calls Ji-ho to meet, and she mentions resuming her writing career to him. He clearly disapproves, wanting them to have kids instead, and slides a bankbook to Ji-ho to pay off the house loan.
She tells him he should give it to Se-hee directly, but he tells her to act as the bridge between their families. Before getting up to leave, Ji-ho stops him since she has something to say, but we don’t hear the rest of their conversation.
Afterward, Ji-ho hangs out at Su-ji’s place, and they call Ho-rang, who sounds chipper than she did in the morning. Ji-ho brings up her favorite movie, The Graduate, and explains to Su-ji that when she first saw it in high school, she loved the scene where the main character interrupted the wedding.
However, rewatching it in her twenties, Ji-ho noticed the anxious expressions on the leads’ faces at the end, and Su-ji astutely asks if she’s seeing that between her and Se-hee. Holding back her tears, Ji-ho says yes.
Su-ji waits with Ji-ho for a taxi, but Ji-ho tells her to go since Sang-gu called and is waiting for her. Su-ji leaves, and tells Sang-gu about punching Park in the face. He praises her, and Ji-ho watches from a distance as the two kiss and hug, clearly in love.
On the ride home, Ji-ho contemplates why her marriage was so easy, realizing that it was because there was no love. However, now that she’s found love, Ji-ho wonders why she’s getting more hurt.
Se-hee puts the nametag collar Ji-ho bought on Cat while remembering Jung-min’s advice about confessing. Talking to Cat, Se-hee acknowledges that the collar might be awkward but thinks it’s better-looking than he expected.
He waits for Ji-ho outside, and when she arrives, they talk about her day as he tries to hold her hand but fails. Inside the apartment, Cat greets them as usual, and Se-hee tries to act normal as he expectantly waits for Ji-ho to notice the collar.
She doesn’t seem to register the change, and in a deflated voice, she says there’s something she needs to say. He also has something to tell her, and they move to the couch to talk.
Se-hee turns Cat’s collar around to make it more visible, but he soon realizes that a more important matter is at hand when Ji-ho takes a seat on the couch rather than the floor. She tells him to go first, but he can only stammer the first part of his sentence before giving up and letting her go instead.
Pausing between words, Ji-ho tells Se-hee that they should terminate their contract now. Se-hee stares at Ji-ho, his expression unchanging, but in voiceover he says, “Words are always slower than the heart.”
Once again, I’m amazed by the show and how they handle the relationship between Ji-ho and Se-hee. They might be adorable oddballs caught up in a ridiculous situation, but the emotions they feel and the problems they face are neither farcical nor unusual. The potential breakup looming over Ji-ho and Se-hee might have been obvious in some sense, but not for the typical reasons often used in romantic comedies where first loves butt in and cause misunderstandings.
Rather, Jung-min has actually helped strengthen their relationship more than come between them, and instead, the writer has chosen to depict this possible split as a result of Ji-ho coming to terms with reality and realizing the heartache that comes with love. Just like how she viewed her favorite movie with rose-colored glasses—romanticizing the leads’ hasty getaway—in some ways, Ji-ho has fallen in love with Se-hee with no consideration of the repercussions of their relationship. She lives in the moment, which is admirable, but just as she noticed Ben and Elaine’s anxious expressions at the end of The Graduate, she’s starting to see beyond the initial flutters of her first love and experiencing the gamut of emotions, both painful and happy, that inevitably occurs in all relationships.
Though it seems Ji-ho is implying a termination of their marriage alongside the contract, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that she wants to completely break ties with Se-hee. Part of me still hopes that Ji-ho loves Se-hee and will want to pursue a “real” relationship with him, but that could simply be me thinking idealistically because thoughts of Ji-ho and Se-hee no longer being a couple breaks my heart. While I love them both individually, I love them even more as a pair, and can’t think of a world where Ji-ho and Se-hee aren’t together. (Okay, maybe I can think of a situation where they aren’t together, but rainbows and kitties don’t exist in that twisted reality!)
The theme of this episode was about words and how they can live on in someone’s heart. This was most evident with Se-hee as he lived with Jung-min’s bitter parting words for twelve years, and only recently, he found out that a new set of words had wormed their way into his heart and burrowed a place to stay. He realizes that his newfound feelings aren’t accidental, and it was a lovely to see how Ji-ho’s words affected Se-hee little by little. However, Se-hee hasn’t been as transparent with Ji-ho as she has with him, which is part of the reason why she has no confidence about her place in his heart. She doesn’t understand how much her words have changed him, and as Se-hee narrated at the end of the episode, by the time he realized what was in his heart, his words were too late.
In a different vein, the idea of words and the heart was also displayed in Su-ji’s circumstance with Park. While she acted tough, his remarks and actions lived on in her heart, leaving scars, which was why it was necessary for Su-ji to confront him about his behavior to acknowledge, at least to herself, how much pain he inflicted on her through his words. She took Sang-gu’s advice and sincerely faced the world, though Park trampled on her sincerity in the end. However, this confrontation and resulting disappointment make it clear that Park is intentional in his sexual harassment, and allows Su-ji to accept the fact that he’s not worth her sincerity.
Though I rarely mention it, the directing continues to be wonderful, and there were some particularly pretty scenes this episode. The use of colors, light, and reflections have a narrative purpose, and adds another dimension of nuance to an already brilliant show. With only a week left, it’s time I prepared myself to say goodbye to this drama because I know I’ll need it when next week arrives.
- Premiere Watch: 20th Century, Witch’s Courtroom, This Life Is Our First, Mad Dog, Revenge Club, Go Back Spouses, Package, Black, Revolutionary Love
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- Yoon Doo-joon to cameo in Because This Life Is Our First
- House-poor Lee Min-ki finds house-hunting Jung So-min in Because This Life Is Our First
- Supporting cast secured for tvN’s Because This Life Is Our First
- Jung So-min becomes Lee Min-ki’s housemate in Because This Life Is Our First
- Lee Min-ki offered new tvN drama Because This Life Is Our First