A Beautiful World: Episode 3
People are scary, selfish, and cruel. Even children who should be innocent of the machinations of the adult world are not free from its influence. As the unfairness and injustice of their situation weighs heavily on our protagonists’ hearts, they must continue their fight no matter how difficult the task because no one else will do it for them.
EPISODE 3 RECAP: Blood Moon
Memories of Sun-ho’s childhood from his birth to his first steps play on screen, intercut with Sun-ho being bullied by his “friends.” As little Sun-ho smiles happily at his parents cheers and support, older Sun-ho gets kicked by the students who take on superhero personas (hence, the name “Avengers”). The most recent memory is of In-ha noticing Sun-ho’s dirty clothes and bruised face, but Sun-ho told her that he had played soccer. With a smile, Sun-ho said, “I’m fine.”
In-ha screams at the video of her precious son being beaten, and Moo-jin rushes into the room. Seeing him, In-ha shrieks, “Why didn’t you answer his call?” She yells at him repeatedly about the missed calls, and Moo-jin stares at her speechless. Later that night, he sits alone in the dark, barely able to contain his tears, and from her bedroom, Soo-ho watches silently. Oof, it’s only the opening but my heart.
In the morning, In-ha goes to Young-chul mother’s apartment and accuses her of covering up the truth. Flashing back to last night, Young-chul’s mother told the other mothers that they should reveal the bullying to In-ha. However, Ki-chan’s mother asked that her son not be dragged into this mess, and Sung-jae’s mother said that they should believe their kids if they say it was just a game.
In-ha can’t believe Young-chul’s mother of all people lied to her and pretended to be concerned for Sun-ho. She yells for Young-chul to come out, and still drowsy, Young-chul shuffles out of his room, none the wiser. In-ha grabs him and asks about the bullying, but Young-chul repeats his usual excuse about it being a game.
Seeing red, In-ha smacks Young-chul in the head, and his mother steps in between them. She berates In-ha for hitting her son over a joke between boys, but the hypocrisy of her words settles in and stuns her. Young-chul’s mother calls out to In-ha, but she shoves her hand away and asks that she never speak Sun-ho’s name again.
At home, In-ha realizes that she left her phone that has the video on the table, easily accessible to anyone, including Soo-ho. She tells Soo-ho that they have something important to discuss, but Soo-ho escapes to the bathroom. Meanwhile, Detective Park and the other officers are still at the station, unable to go home, so when Moo-jin walks in, Detective Park looks absolutely dumbfounded.
Joon-suk’s phone rings endlessly as the others send messages to their “Avengers” chatroom. Only Young-chul is afraid of the recent development while Ki-chan and Sung-jae seem confident that their parents will take care of their mess. On the other hand, Joon-suk nervously paces his room, and finally goes downstairs to talk with his mother.
Moo-jin shows the video to Detective Park and cautiously asks about a reinvestigation. According to the detective, the video shows proof of school violence and not foul play. Therefore, a School Violence Committee will be opened, and they will handle matters. Moo-jin argues that if Sun-ho was running away from the bullies, then the accident is a crime, but Detective Park only restates the need for more evidence.
Moo-jin remembers one evening when Sun-ho asked him to go out and eat a midnight snack with him for old time’s sake. Moo-jin promised to go next time and was too busy with work to notice Sun-ho’s disappointment. Only now does Moo-jin recognize the subtle signs of help his son gave him, and he sits numbly in his car while the red light turns green.
The driver behind him honks and screams at him before driving ahead. In typical Moo-jin fashion, he apologizes to the other driver, but then his face hardens. Moo-jin slams on the accelerator and swerves recklessly in and out of lanes before cutting off the driver. He gets out of his car and grabs the driver by the lapels, roaring at him to get out. The driver manages to push Moo-jin away, and as the man drives away, Moo-jin screams into the sky, “What did I do so wrong?”
Detective Park stares at the number of the mysterious video sender, and contrary to what he told Moo-jin, he orders his junior officer to investigate the number and gather all the CCTV footage of the surrounding area. At Eun-joo’s house, Joon-suk tells his parents about the video and how Ki-chan blames him for Sun-ho’s accident. To Joon-suk and Eun-joo’s surprise, Jin-pyo doesn’t see what’s the problem.
He gives Joon-suk careful instructions on how to act and orders him to tell the “truth” first. He explains how Joon-suk knew the others went too far with their game but didn’t want to be a tattle-tale. As Jin-pyo spins this version of the story, Joon-suk readily accepts it and looks positively relieved while Eun-joo watches them both with a horrified expression. Once Joon-suk leaves, Jin-pyo wonders out loud who could have sent the video and why.
At Soo-ho’s request, Joon-ha is with In-ha, who hasn’t spoken a word. She finally speaks when Moo-jin comes home, telling him to eat breakfast since they need energy to fight. Joon-ha leaves to open the bakery, and Moo-jin asks if Soo-ho knows the truth. In-ha doesn’t see how they could hide it, but when Moo-jin asks if she showed their daughter the video, she gives him a scathing look. The mention of the video breaks In-ha’s icy façade, and she throws up her breakfast in the bathroom.
The only with a conscience, Young-chul’s mother stands in front of In-ha’s door, but as she hesitates to ring the bell, Ki-chan’s mother calls her and rebukes her for trying to apologize. While dropping off their son, Ki-chan’s parents fight with each other—his father even threatening physical violence—but Ki-chan is unfazed and ignores them. Sung-jae’s mother is much calmer with her son, but just the same, she brushes off the incident as a “mistake” and tells Sung-jae to concentrate on his studies.
While Eun-joo sends Jin-pyo off, she comments on the silver lining for In-ha because, at the very least, now she knows the reason for Sun-ho’s suicide. Jin-pyo tells her to confess then, since a big lie can be covered up with small honesty. She asks him what he means by a “big lie,” but rather than answer her, he calls over his driver and smacks him across the face for not having the car door opened.
Jin-pyo explains to the trembling Eun-joo that Joon-suk is probably the leader as the others claimed, and wonders what else she thought could be the “big lie” in this situation. She asks if he doesn’t trust Joon-suk then, but Jin-pyo answers, “I don’t trust anyone.” However, that doesn’t mean Jin-pyo finds his son guilty because ultimately, it’s the follower’s choice to obey orders or not.
Soo-ho enters Sun-ho’s classroom with clenched fists, but witnessing the perpetrators’ mundane conversations, she turns around. Dong-hee stops her in the hallway and asks about Sun-ho’s condition. She’s glad to hear that he’s doing better even if he hasn’t woken up yet, and Soo-ho says that her brother told the truth: she is a good ghost.
Soo-ho mentions how she’s the first person at their school to truly care about Sun-ho, whereas the others are only curious. Deeming her trustworthy, Soo-ho asks if she knows where Da-hee lives, and surprisingly, Dong-hee does. Soo-ho leaves school as the bell rings, and though the guard sees her, he lets her go.
The principal apologizes to In-ha and Moo-jin, but what In-ha needs from him isn’t an apology but a committee and a reinvestigation. The vice principal promises that their school will do their best, as per Jin-pyo’s orders, and Teacher Lee stares at him in confusion. After the meeting, In-ha and Moo-jin pull Teacher Lee aside and inform him of their speculations behind Sun-ho’s accident.
They think it wasn’t a suicide, but Teacher Lee finds it hard to believe that middle school students would destroy evidence and hide a crime. Moo-jin sympathizes with him as a teacher himself, but urges him to dispel their doubt if he truly cares about the students. Teacher Lee agrees to help as much as he can and apologizes again for not noticing Sun-ho’s plight.
As soon as Teacher Lee returns to his desk, the vice principal harps on him about his students. He asks if Sun-ho showed signs of emotional instability, and brings up Young-chul’s one-parent household since the other two come from “good” families. The vice principal blames Teacher Lee for not paying attention to his students and orders him to do better this time and not tarnish their school’s reputation.
Teacher Shin complains to the others about being in charge of the School Violence Committee since it’s a thankless job that leaves everyone upset. Teacher Ham, who’s also been tasked to help Teacher Shin, asks again if Teacher Lee really didn’t notice anything, but he leaves without a word.
While Moo-jin is at his school to extend his holiday, In-ha is at the bakery with Joon-ha who complains about the shameless parents who haven’t even called to apologize. In-ha, on the other hand, doesn’t care because she has no intentions of forgiving them. An unexpected call does arrive, though, and In-ha learns of Soo-ho’s absence from Teacher Ham. While In-ha imagines the worst, Soo-ho is at the flower shop to ask for an identical bouquet Sun-ho bought.
Eun-joo stops by the bakery to talk with In-ha, but since she’s busy right now, Eun-joo offers her a ride home. Over the phone, Moo-jin calms In-ha down and trusts Soo-ho will be back after organizing her thoughts. After hanging up, he spots Dong-soo in the parking lot and confronts him about skipping class again. He then asks if Dong-soo ate, but as Moo-jin pulls out his wallet, Dong-soo says that he did and walks away. Though he remembers his sister’s words about Sun-ho, he brushes them aside since it’s not his problem.
In-ha admits to Eun-joo that even the little things make her nervous lately and can’t believe this misfortune fell upon her family. Remembering that Eun-joo had something to say, In-ha wonders if it’s related to Sun-ho. At the same time, Joon-suk confesses to Teacher Lee about being present during the bullying, and as directed by Jin-pyo, Joon-suk claims that he didn’t realize it was school violence at the time.
When Teacher Lee asks why he didn’t come forth sooner, the scene cuts back to Eun-joo who repeats the same story: Joon-suk didn’t want to betray his friends. Eun-joo agrees with In-ha that Joon-suk was still a bystander and expresses her disappointment with his choices. She continues her apology, but when she says that he would do things differently if he went back to that day, her voice trails off.
Despite still feeling resentment, In-ha thanks Eun-joo for her courage to tell the truth, and at school, Teacher Lee says the same to Joon-suk. Once Joon-suk leaves the faculty office, he grows more confident with each step, and the smile that breaks out on his face reveals the ugly truth: Jin-pyo was right.
The three mothers discuss how they’ll handle the School Violence Committee, and Ki-chan’s mother lambastes In-ha as a mentally ill woman who raised a weak son. Young-chul’s mother scolds her for her callous remarks, but Ki-chan’s mother points out how Young-chul’s mother knew the truth first but kept quiet. She also mentions Joon-suk, who’s the leader of the group, which is news to Young-chul’s mother. Sung-jae’s mother says that they should proceed with caution concerning Joon-suk, but Ki-chan’s mother refuses to watch her son take the blame alone.
Soo-ho takes her bouquet to Da-hee’s house and meets Da-hee’s mother outside. She explains that she wanted to deliver flowers on Sun-ho’s behalf, but once she says his name, the mother’s demeanor turns hostile. The bouquet ends up in the trash outside the house, so Soo-ho grabs a rock and throws it at their window, accidently breaking it as well.
Teacher Lee calls In-ha to tell her about the situation at Da-hee’s house, which causes both parents to frantically search for Soo-ho. Moo-jin tells In-ha to wait at home while he searches since Soo-ho hates coming to an empty apartment. Once In-ha returns, the door opens soon after, and Soo-ho walks in—but it’s only In-ha’s imagination.
In-ha watches Soo-ho come home to a dark and empty apartment, and realizes how lonely she must have been spending so much time alone. Her phone rings with a call from Soo-ho, but it’s actually the flower shop owner telling In-ha where Soo-ho is. He anxiously waits for In-ha to arrive and admits to Soo-ho that he called her mom.
As an adult, he believes it’s his duty to protect students in trouble, especially those with no place to go, but she reminds him that he stopped her while she was passing by the store. He knows she’s grateful that he did, but Soo-ho denies it. While the flower shop owner muses about why the lady might hate her brother, In-ha walks in to pick up Soo-ho.
They sit at a bench to talk about what she did, and Soo-ho tells her that the trashed bouquet looked so much like Sun-ho. She doesn’t understand why he’s experiencing something like this when he did nothing wrong, and finds this whole situation to be unfair. Rather than scold or comfort her, In-ha shares a story.
She explains how she had a difficult time birthing Sun-ho because he was so big. Though the doctor suggested a C-section, she wanted to give birth using her own strength. The doctor told her to push properly then, and in that moment, In-ha realized that she was only screaming in pain and not actually using her strength. Turning to Soo-ho, she tells her that when she feels upset and angry, she needs to stay strong in order to properly fight. In-ha kisses Soo-ho on the cheek and holds her tight as she cries.
Eun-joo sits lost in thought when Joon-suk comes home with a clear pep in his step. She apologizes for not picking him up, but he cheerily says that it’s fine. He tells her that he confessed to Teacher Lee and was complimented afterwards.
He asks if they have food at home, and Eun-joo confusedly says that there is. Smiling, he asks for a big bowl since he’s hungry. Eun-joo watches his go into his room, and her son’s nonchalant attitude leaves her feeling distraught.
Children are the mirror for their parents as this episode clearly showed. As we see a bit more of the assailant’s parents and their reactions to the situation, it’s almost uncanny how similar they act. Even if they may not physically resemble each other, it’s obvious from which tree the apple fell—and fall far, it did not. Ki-chan’s parents are a “class act,” resembling their brash and violent son in every way. His father shows signs of abusiveness while his mother speaks before thinking. I knew she was thoughtless when she came to the convenience store last episode to spread false rumors about In-ha and Moo-jin, but this episode revealed that she’s not just thoughtless but heartless as well. Her presumptuous comments about In-ha were jaw-dropping, and it’s almost unbelievable how bold she is of her shamelessness. She dares call In-ha a terrible mother for potentially ruining her child’s life while her child did ruin Sun-ho’s life. As for Sung-jae’s mother, he obviously takes after her. During that café scene, Sung-jae’s mother remains passive while Ki-chan’s mother criticized In-ha and only speaks when Joon-suk is mentioned. When we first meet Sung-jae, he also remains quiet while Ki-chan scolds Young-chul and derides Sun-ho. The first things he says concern their own safety and Joon-suk’s involvement. Both mother and son show no concern for Sun-ho’s condition and only think of themselves. Young-chul, just like his mother, is the only one who seems to feel a smidgen of regret, though I wouldn’t go as far and say he feels remorse for his actions toward Sun-ho. However, when push comes to shove, both are quick to protect themselves. Just as Young-chul’s mother called it all a game when In-ha smacked her son, Young-chul kicked Sun-ho the most to prove he wasn’t “Sha Wujing” (one of the disciples from Journey to the West) in an attempt to compensate for his stutter and lack of confidence. They both had their chance to confess and ask for forgiveness, but neither had the courage to do it.
Then there’s Joon-suk. As time passes, he grows eerily similar to Jin-pyo, and the resemblance seems to unsettle Eun-joo who’s never noticed this side of her son before. Unlike the other mothers, the show portrays the comparisons and contrasts between the two characters. While both followed Jin-pyo’s direction about telling half-truths, the show bouncing back between them during these scenes, their responses were wholly different. After the conversation, all of Joon-suk’s anxiety are gone as he leaves the faculty office with strong, determined strides. On the other hand, Eun-joo stumbles overs her words and grows visibly agitated as her ruse continues, and even when she comes home, she still can’t shake off the sinking feeling inside of her. As a result, when Eun-joo sees Joon-suk look so happy… so normal, it naturally disturbs her because she is going through the same ordeal as him (hiding a big secret and gaining people’s trust under false pretenses) but experiencing such deep remorse and unease. She probably sees Jin-pyo in her son, and from the way she behaves around her husband, I’m sure this isn’t a good thing for Eun-joo. The director also shows the growing resemblance between father and son with his camerawork, framing Joon-suk through a glass window and creating double images just as he did with Jin-pyo in earlier scenes.
However, not all parents are terrible, and hopefully, not all people are bad. While Detective Park seemed like a terrible officer, the show depicts him in a more sympathetic light this episode, revealing to the audience that maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to judge without knowing the whole story. (I still stand by my opinion that Ki-chan’s mother is a piece of work.) Also, people like the flower shop owner demonstrate the power of kindness, even in simple forms that are often overlooked, and maybe it’s the little things that make all the troubles of the world bearable. Though the recent tragic events have led both In-ha and Moo-jin to reflect on their lives and all their shortcomings, I think that their home was still one of warmth and care because of the people Sun-ho and Soo-ho turned out to be. I don’t think Sun-ho is weak, like some of the (terrible) characters think, because during the bullying scene, Sun-ho could have hit Young-chul back but decidedly didn’t. Even when beaten and ridiculed, he noticed Young-chul and his pain, illustrating his empathetic nature which resembles In-ha’s so much. It’s a shame that Sun-ho felt like he couldn’t share his troubles with his parents, but I think it wasn’t because he didn’t trust them. Instead, it may have been his way of not disappointing and worrying them.
As for Soo-ho, she’s a wonderful character, and I’m so glad the show is depicting family tragedy not just from the parents’ perspective but from a sibling’s as well. She’s in an awkward position where her parents feel like they need to shelter her but don’t have the time to pay attention to her needs. However, Soo-ho doesn’t hold this against them, but rather, she seems to deeply sympathize with the heartache they’re experiencing. Much of the time Soo-ho watches her parents’ grief from the sidelines, and even more than In-ha or Moo-jin, I think she realizes how much everyone is holding in their pain and grieving alone. Though Soo-ho is headstrong, she also has a softer side like everyone in her family. When Soo-ho vowed revenge, I thought her first course of action would be to face the assailants, but what she actually does is deliver the flowers her brother failed to do. It’s a sweet gesture that the parents would have never thought of because while they are (rightfully) focused on the big picture, Soo-ho picks up on the little things that Sun-ho wanted but couldn’t do. While every one of Sun-ho’s family members breaks my heart, seeing Soo-ho cry over the injustice and express her confusion about the world that looks so bleak simply devastate me. Despite her young age, Kim Hwan-hee has consistently put out strong performances one after another, and living up to expectations, she’s wonderful as Soo-ho. She captures the warring emotions Soo-ho is experiencing, and though she tries to act tough and put on a brave face for her family, she’s still a little girl who doesn’t understand how the world could be so callous and unjust.