You Who Forgot Poetry: Episodes 15-16 (Final)
You Who Forgot Poetry has offered a slightly uneven ride, but I find myself content with the journey and satisfied by its end.
I love that the show made us fall quietly head-over-heels for Bo-young in particular, and humanized everyone, flaws and all. It’s always been low-key, its emotions as self-contained as its characters, but that never meant you didn’t feel them, especially with the poetry which put it all into words.
The physio department is abuzz with Jae-wook being filmed for a TV show. The producers want one more therapist to join him, and he picks Bo-young. She’s super-thrilled that she’s going to be on TV (and with Jae-wook).
But of course, it’s taken away even before she starts because she’s not a full-timer. Worse, her contract is about to run out, and when it does, she’ll be out of a home as well as a job, since she lives in hospital accommodation.
Shi-won takes his mother back to the countryside, now that his wife is out of a job and looking after their twins. His mom brightly waves him goodbye, but when he comes back with something she forgot in his car, he overhears her crying over a video of the babies.
Dae-bang treats the boys to lunch on the rooftop and they try to lift Min-ho’s spirits by giving him tips on how to get over his unrequited love.
He prescribes skinship which Nam-woo reluctantly offers, bless him, but Min-ho turns down with his trademark, “I’m kidding.” IT’S YOUR LOSS, MIN-HO, MIN-HO. At least he repents being such a jerk.
Joo-yong finds out from a friend at another hospital that his mom has been hospitalized. He’s upset that she didn’t tell him, instead letting him whinge about not sending him food. He feels so ashamed that he really applies himself to studying again.
Yoon-joo finds out about a job opening at another major hospital for Bo-young. Bo-young skips a team dinner to attend the interview, but when she gets there, she finds out that the interview process is a sham as one of the interviewer’s relatives has already been promised the job.
They treat Bo-young rudely and dismissively, until she’s had enough. Channeling Jae-wook, she gives them advice and tells them not to be rude and waste other people’s time. She’s so badass, I love her!
But she has nowhere to go for the night since she’d told everyone she was going down to visit her mom, and so decides to unwind in a jjimjilbang.
But of course, disaster always comes in twelves for Bo-young: she’s robbed, leaving her without clothes or money (and also covered in a thousand eggs because she collided with the egg-dude chasing the thieves).
That’s the moment Min-ho phones her to apologize for how he treated her on the MT, and she asks him to bail her out. Once they’re home and she’s cleaned up, he wonders if she really likes Jae-wook when she can’t show him all sides of herself, as she does to him.
He finally confesses that he sincerely likes her, and can’t give up his feelings, seeing how she’s uncomfortable with Jae-wook. Unknown to them, Jae-wook overhears the conversation and leaves with Bo-young.
Jae-wook had found about the interview and that she didn’t give up the show voluntarily from Yoon-joo. He writes her a card in which he hopes he can become someone she can lean on for support.
The next day, Min-ho and Nam-ho get a visit from their professor at school, who’s checking in on them, now their training is nearly over. The prof tells Min-ho that he needs to pull his socks up when he returns, and it embarrasses Min-ho that she reveals his appalling GPA in front of Bo-young. Kinda serves you right, though!
Nam-woo tells him that nobody wants to expose their embarrassing sides to the people they love, but it finally sinks in for Min-ho when he sees a patient trying to keep her dignity in front of her partner.
Meanwhile, Jae-wook racks his brains for how to help Bo-young become more comfortable with him. Thanks to Nam-woo asking him to drop formalities with him, Jae-wook tries it out with Bo-young, speaking to her in banmal and calling her “Bo-young-ah.” Thank you god, finally!
But the team catches him, and he styles it out by calling them all by their names, too. Hahahaha, I’m laughing so hard! I love that his dorkiness admits no embarrassment.
He tries to get closer to the rest of the team over lunch as well. Though he makes a hopeless mess of it, it doesn’t faze him at all. Good for you, Dr. Ye!
He admits it to Bo-young later, and she finds his efforts so endearing that she’s decided to be more open with him from now on. He offers to use his connections to help her find a new job, but she turns him down, determined to get it on her own merit.
Elsewhere, Joo-yong can’t take Dae-bang’s indecisiveness anymore and as soon as he hears a vacancy has come up in another department, he applies for the transfer.
He gets the position, and snaps at Dae-bang he’s not at all sorry to leave him since he’s tired of his dithering. Aww, poor Dae-bang! You meanie, Joo-yong!
And he regrets it fast, after finding out that Dae-bang was originally up for the position, but pleaded on the younger man’s behalf. Joo-yong races off to find Dae-bang, and throws himself, sobbing, into his sunbae’s arms.
Clinging to him, Joo-yong tells him that he can’t be like this to anyone else, because “Only I’m your kid.” Awww. Their love story is the best one. BEST.
Min-ho gets Bo-young to repay her jjimjilbang debt by buying him food. He acknowledges her relationship with and feelings for Jae-wook, and says he wanted to leave her after making a final good memory together.
Bo-young candidly tells him that he was a jerk to her, but he became a sincere friend, and she thanks him for turning her bad memories of him into good ones.
The team says goodbye to the two trainees, and Nam-woo swears to come back, no longer intimidated by Yoon-joo and Shi-won’s “threats.” Aww.
AT LAST SOME GOOD NEWS for Bo-young, for real this time: Chief Yang announces that Bo-young really really has been made a permanent employee. Yoon-joo privately says she asked Jae-wook to do it for Bo-young as a favor. What, no!
Crestfallen, Bo-young tells Jae-wook that it should embarrass her… but instead she’s so happy that she can stay at Shinsun, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to see each other anymore.
Jae-wook chuckles and corrects her misunderstanding: He begged the director to stop setting him up on blind dates, since he has a girlfriend. Haha! She really did get the position on her own merit, and he presents her with her certificate of appointment.
Overjoyed, she embraces him and they kiss.
We close with a reading of a poem by Oh Kyu-won, and revisit all our friends for the last time as they go about their everyday lives:
There’s nothing in a poem
Apart from what remains of our lives.
What remains of our lives always meets us
In a way that is not at all remarkable.
Though you might not wish to believe it,
It is not at all remarkable.
With that lovely denouement, I feel like it begs for a moment of quiet to let its poetry—always the stand-in for both emotions, and life itself—sink in. This is what this show has always been about: cherishing the everyday favors, blessings, and people, who go by without remark. It’s true that the show wasn’t always subtle in delivering its messages, but this week certainly, the message itself was worth it, and the focus on the daily heroism of mothers in episode 15 was especially touching.
Looking back on it, what I love about this show is how (despite certain missteps), it respected the characters’ choices and remained true to them. Like how Bo-young chose Jae-wook, who is second lead material by every measure, and didn’t force a tropey outcome on her. That might be an equal argument for why it didn’t work for some, since some of you found Jae-wook’s characterization insufficient, and while I don’t disagree, I just like that the better man had a just ending, and that jerk-beavior wasn’t rewarded.
With its low conflict quotient, it’s not necessarily the stuff of stories. Min-ho’s writing (and hair, why did you change it, show?) could have been better, but I think overall, now that we’ve seen the conclusion, his character made sense and had a fairly consistent throughline. I’m especially glad that he was redeemed in a way that worked for me, and I’ve already imagined him into an alterna-drama without Jae-wook, where he does win Bo-young’s affections.
But in a world where this Jae-wook exists, I have to choose him, even if he is an idealized vision of the perfect boyfriend (I still can’t get over how everything Jae-wook learns about Bo-young only makes him fall for her more). The thing is, I don’t actually find him perfect, and I can see how he might be frustrating or even embarrassing, but his sincerity is everything.
He doesn’t make decisions about her or for her, he doesn’t treat her like an object; he dignifies her personhood by always treating her like a person. He doesn’t cross lines she asks him not to, and after other dramas that shall not be named, seeing a couple respect each other’s boundaries feels pretty special. You don’t want a guy to decide he knows best and take unwanted actions on his partner’s behalf. You want to know that your words matter to the other person.
It sounds on paper like all these things should be a given, but functional, healthy, respectful relationships are not even common in real life, let alone dramaland. I don’t think either of the narratives of what love is like is universal, with regards to Min-ho’s idea that love is being comfortable versus the idea that love is showing your best self. What a person’s relationship is like is such an individual thing that you can’t create a single prescription for. So even if love is like that for Min-ho and others, it doesn’t make Bo-young and Jae-wook’s less valid.
To me, their relationship actually felt a little like an old-fashioned marriage, in a good way. Even if the partners tend to behave formally with each other, their mutual understanding is deep. (I have to admit, I was afraid that we were about to leap into noble idiot territory for a while there—that seeing just how impressive Jae-wook was, Bo-young would break up with him so as not to hold him back.)
The way it wrapped up just felt genuine and real, leaving some threads unfinished, others ongoing, some roads diverging while others grew closer. It feels like a snapshot of lives in progress. I’m only a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see the couple reveal their relationship, but other than that, my heart feels satisfied by everywhere we went with these characters.
Given the real-life context from which this drama was born, I feel like it always set out to speak directly to the viewers: about pain, about loss, about living in all our unremarkable moments with sincerity. In the beginning, I thought the “you” who forgot poetry was directed to Bo-young, but now, I believe it’s meant for us, as a heartfelt entreaty not to take our moments—or our people—for granted, and to cherish life as long as we live it.