The Third Charm: Episode 13
We get a little more insight on Young-jae’s life before it was in a downward spiral, and though we knew this was coming, it’s still tough to watch. Young-jae has dealt with loss before, and as time passed, it began to chip away at her spirit. And the latest tragedy to hit her family made it impossible for her to move on. How can she when everything that’s made her happy has been snatched away?
EPISODE 13 RECAP
On her way to Joon-young’s restaurant, Se-eun calls her parents and informs them that Joon-young wants to visit them. Her folks are excited since they haven’t gotten the chance to meet him yet.
Se-eun reaches the restaurant and heads inside, though she stops when she sees Joon-young sitting with Young-jae. Joon-young looks surprised at first (as if he’s been caught), but he ultimately smiles and introduces Se-eun to Young-jae as his fiancé.
Young-jae is a bit shaken to come face-to-face with Joon-young’s new partner. Still, she smiles and notes that the couple look good together, even resembling one another.
Se-eun returns the smile, pleased to meet another friend of Joon-young’s besides Sang-hyun. At that, Young-jae asks how Sang-hyun is doing these days, and Joon-young reveals that he’s a dad now.
“They say marriage changes people,” Young-jae muses. “I guess he changed too.” Se-eun asks if her boyfriend changed from the first time they met, making Young-jae go silent.
After some talking, the couple and Young-jae part ways, with Young-jae returning to her dark and empty apartment. She thinks back to how content Se-eun and Joon-young looked, forming a small smile.
On the car ride home, Se-eun tells Joon-young that she feels bad for bringing up the boyfriend question, though she admires Young-jae for revealing her divorce like it was no big deal. She wishes she could be as cool and confident as Young-jae. The way Se-eun is speaking seems to worry Joon-young. He has a thought and asks if she’d like to move to Portugal after they marry.
Se-eun doesn’t understand why, but after he explains that they both liked it there, she takes his hand and cheerfully answers, “Anywhere is fine, as long as I’m with you.” Joon-young looks down at their intertwined hands and remembers when he’d said the exact same thing to Young-jae after she’d insisted on living in the city. Oh boy, now I’m starting to worry.
Joon-young drops Se-eun off at her place and the sunniness seems to leave her face. In the bathroom, she stares at herself in the mirror, thinking back to the time she’d spent with Joon-young’s family when he was still in Portugal.
His folks had already accepted her as a daughter-in-law by then, and Dad had pulled her away to show her all of Joon-young’s baby photos and awards (which Joon-young meticulously organized himself, ha).
Se-eun had a good ol’ time giggling at the baby Joon-young album, as well as the report cards that state he’s a good worker that still needs to work on his social skills. But for some reason, this memory doesn’t make Se-eun giggle; she actually looks kind of sad.
Joon-young is looking pretty pensive and emotional himself as he walks the rest of the way home. And then we cut to Young-jae in her apartment, watching TV in the dark again. They’re still not showing what’s on the TV, but I strongly assume that they’re home movies of her daughter.
The next day, Sang-hyun takes Ri-won to work and makes sure to scowl at the junior that he dislikes. Sang-hyun overhears the junior asking her to eat together, so he heads over to Joon-young’s to relay his suspicions.
His jealousy has him so far gone that he develops this whole theory of Ri-won and the junior having secret feelings, which he wouldn’t be able to do anything about since they’re not married. Joon-young just sighs and kicks Sang-hyun out so he can get ready for work.
Joo-ran sits Young-jae down and asks if she wants to work at the hair salon again. Young-jae would rather continue doing nothing, though, which Joo-ran understands. She then tells Joo-ran that she recently ran into Joon-young.
At the police station, a co-worker of Se-eun’s is upset because his girlfriend decided to marry another man. After he leaves to get some air, Se-eun’s superior states that it’s complicated when women date men who can’t get over their first love.
“Those first loves,” the superior sighs. “It’s best not to know about them.” As the superior says this, Se-eun is deep in thought.
Se-eun visits Joon-young’s restaurant and finds him waiting in the park as his customers finish their meal. She joins him on the bench and offers him a drink, as well as a ride home. He gives her a bittersweet smile as she fixes his jacket, taking care of him as always.
Joo-ran has a follow-up with the OBGYN, and it looks like her diagnosis isn’t as simple as menopause. Her doctor starts to describe a lump on her X-ray, and then we cut to a shocked Joo-ran leaving the office. Her emotions come flooding out, but she tries her best to push them back down since she’s in public.
Still dazed, Joo-ran heads into the bathroom and rinses her mouth. A cancer patient comes out of the stall and runs a hand through her hair, some of it falling out. The sight nearly shakes Joo-ran to her bones.
She waits in the lobby until a nurse hands her the needed forms. She reads through them, and we see that her diagnosis is cervical cancer. She’s even more emotional when she gets down to the blank space where the guardian’s signature should be.
Needing someone to talk to, she starts to call Young-jae but changes her mind and calls Soo-jae. Soo-jae is busy making edits, so he misses the shakiness of Joo-ran’s voice, but he does agree to hang out later.
They later meet in Soo-jae’s apartment, and he starts complaining about his production company’s CEO wanting an idol for the main role. Joo-ran turns to him, eyes glistening with fury, and asks how he can be so high and mighty just because of one successful film.
He stares at her and asks if something’s wrong, to which she responds, “You’re just asking that now?” She gets up and heads for the door, only stopping to call him a selfish jerk who’s too scared to give or receive love. She leaves him confused and marches all the way to her car, where she finally sobs, unable to contain her emotions any longer.
Young-jae is lying in bed, turned away from whatever’s playing on the TV. Instead, she’s looking at a framed photo of her, Ho-chul and someone else we can’t see. As she cries, she’s haunted by a string of memories.
Years ago, while starting their new life in Portugal, she and Ho-chul had a baby girl. When the baby was first born, the couple didn’t want to do anything other than lie in bed with her.
Young-jae had warned Ho-chul he’d be late for work, but every time he tried to leave, he’d just come back for more baby kisses. (Okay, this is really sweet.) He comes back one last time to settle on a name, and they agree on Choi So-ri.
Little So-ri grew up fast, always making her mom and dad smile. She even accompanied Young-jae on photoshoots, where Young-jae styled all of the Portuguese models’ hair.
Knowing it was So-ri’s third birthday, one of the models gifted her a stuffed cat. So-ri told her mom that she wanted a real cat, but she couldn’t have one since she had an allergy. To her excitement, Young-jae promised that once her allergy was taken care of, she could eventually get a real cat.
The two then had to hurry to buy a birthday cake for the party at their house. They went to their favorite bakery, which is where Young-jae and Joon-young had unknowingly crossed paths.
As Young-jae talked to the baker, So-ri had noticed a stray cat out on the street and grinned. Once Young-jae got the cake, and some egg tarts on the house, she realized that So-ri was gone.
Young-jae then saw a group of people gathered around a car and pushed her way through. In total shock, she dropped the cake and fell to her knees. And on the ground, we see So-ri’s stuffed cat, as well as her shoe. Jesus.
At So-ri’s funeral, Young-jae had cried harder and harder with each flower that dropped onto the coffin. After the memorial service ended and the other guests left, she fell to the ground and wept, while Ho-chul silently cried beside her.
Later, Young-jae had stayed in bed staring at their family photo, and Ho-chul had stayed on the couch in the living room. In the present, Young-jae stares at that same family photo, So-ri’s face now visible.
She then wipes the tears from her face and weakly notes that she’s hungry. She whips up some microwavable spicy octopus but sets it down after one bite. She decides to go out and buy something else at a nearby convenience store.
Joon-young is walking by when he spots Young-jae through the store window buying junk food again. It pains him to see her that way, browsing the shelves like a robot. “Memories are so frightening,” he thinks, “that even its owner has no control over them.”
He starts to walk away but stops, frustrated because he thought he’d completely forgotten about her. He waits there until Young-jae comes out, chiding her for eating more instant food.
She’s embarrassed to see him, especially when he notices that she’s wearing a mere sweater and sandals out in the cold, sprinkling rain. She explains that the instant spicy octopus she’d tried wasn’t good and trails off.
Joon-young looks at her, more frustration setting in. “You should be living well,” he says in his head. “Not showing up like this.” Finally, he comes to a conclusion and tells her that he’ll teach her how to cook his spicy stir-fried octopus recipe. He hands her his umbrella and walks away, and though Young-jae is reluctant, she follows him all the way to his restaurant.
He shows her the recipe step by step, and she seems genuinely moved as she watches. When she eats the dish, her face lights up and she says that she’d tried and failed to find this exact taste at restaurants. Joon-young reminds her that he specifically made it to match her tastes.
He asks if she’s working, and she answers that she’s taking a break–not because she has to but because she wants to. He doesn’t push further, accepting that that’s all he’ll get out of her. But in her head, Young-jae says that she’s hurting whether she eats or not.
As if he’s answering, Joon-young says in his head that no one will help her, so she needs to get it together and do what she must to survive.
Young-jae smiles (I swear, there’s some real telepathy going on here) and thinks, “Joon-young, I know that this is the last hot meal I’ll get from you. I also know that this is your way of scolding me. But, even right now, I’m still hurting.”
Her thoughts continue, saying that she wants to feel this pain with every fiber of her being. And while she may look like a prickly cactus to him, she hopes he’ll know someday that those thorns are hiding tears.
Joon-young finally speaks out loud, suggesting she go home. He puts the rest of the food in a thermos and gives it to her to finish. His voice firm, Joon-young tells her to dress warmly and eat her meals properly.
He sends her off in a taxi and walks back into his restaurant with a final thought: all he wants is for her to live well, even if he’s not there.
Oh, Young-jae… I wish you didn’t feel that way. I know that nothing can compare to a parent losing their child, but there seems to be more guilt and self-loathing piled on top of her sadness. As if she truly believes that she deserves this pain, which she definitely does not. No one deserves that. Not her, and not Ho-chul, who, admittedly, I’m also worried about. The reason why I wasn’t happy with their marriage was that it didn’t make any sense to me. She gave him a firm rejection back in 2013, so I don’t understand why they then formed a relationship after her breakup with Joon-young. The drama is trying to convince me that Young-jae and Ho-chul were a decent match after all, but it’s not working; it needs to fill in the blanks.
Nevertheless, this was probably the first episode where I fully sympathized for Ho-chul. He was pushy and annoying in wooing Young-jae, but past all of that, he was just a guy desperate to find love and start a family again. How can I not feel bad for him when fate decided to literally kill that dream off? Now, he’s all alone again, with the weight of a second divorce and his daughter’s death. The episode also made me realize why The Third Charm feels different from the everyday romance drama. There’s so much tragedy happening that it could easily go into makjang territory, but the way it’s shot takes the over-the-top qualities out of it. The scenes like to linger when I’d prefer that they cut away. At times, it really bogs the pace down, but when it gets it right, it really gets it right.
This is what real life looks like and it’s downright hard to watch. I don’t want to watch Young-jae sluggishly move through her apartment like her life is suddenly in slow motion. I don’t want to watch her quietly suffer. But the drama forces me to watch, as if telling me that there is no cutting away from real life tragedy. For Young-jae, her pain is constantly with her, and she has no thoughts on getting rid of it. This is just my read on Young-jae as a character, but perhaps she’s holding on to the pain of little So-ri’s death because it’s all she has left of So-ri. Moving on means forgetting her daughter, right?
Not necessarily. I would say that Joon-young is going through a similar process in moving on from Young-jae. He was angry with himself for worrying about her well-being because he thought he’d completely forgotten her. But, honestly, I don’t think you have to forget about someone or forget a certain memory in order to move on. I actually think that with the right mindset, those memories can act as a burst of encouragement. Joon-young shouldn’t feel bad; it’s sweet that he wants his ex-girlfriend to be happy. The only thing I can’t figure out is if he wants her to be happy, period, or be happy with him.
Just as Young-jae was happy with Ho-chul (for some time), I could see Joon-young being happy with Se-eun, one-hundred percent. But now that they’re engaged, it puts things in perspective for him. Joon-young is starting to see that Se-eun is another version of him, or more like the 2013 version of him. And he doesn’t want to put her in the same position that he was in at that time. Since they’ve come this far, it’s time for him to really consider if this is what he wants. If it isn’t what he wants, and he marries Se-eun anyway, he could end up hurting her and himself somewhere down the road. He has a lot to figure out, but I am glad that in the midst of his confusion, he still tried to help Young-jae. Hopefully, he can be the needed push that gets her smiling again. Really smiling.