A Beautiful World: Episode 7
Everyone sees the world from their viewpoint which can cause misunderstandings and conflicts. It’s hard to know another’s struggle if they refuse to share, but that doesn’t excuse people to be inconsiderate to each other. While words can leave scars, they can also heal and uplift. From a simple promise to a heartfelt apology, sometimes all it takes is a few words to change someone’s life forever.
EPISODE 7 RECAP: People of Lies
Eun-joo waits for her accomplice by the river, and the school’s security guard knocks on her window. Flashing back to the night of the incident, Eun-joo came back downstairs after altering the crime scene and ran right into the guard. She stopped him from calling an ambulance and lied about Sun-ho jumping off the roof. Dropping to her knees, she begged the guard to keep quiet about seeing her and Joon-suk that night.
In the present, Eun-joo accuses the guard of hiding Sun-ho’s phone and diary to blackmail her for more money. She doesn’t believe him when he claims to have neither item, so the guard tells her that he knows the truth: Joon-suk killed Sun-ho, and Eun-joo covered it up. Though he wouldn’t have helped her if he knew this from the beginning, it’s too late now, and they’re both in the same boat.
The guard explains how the “broken” security camera that night wasn’t a stroke of luck but a deliberate tampering by him. He destroyed the footage afterwards, but when Eun-joo asks if she can trust him, he warns her to trust no one since he doesn’t trust her either. Worried about her carelessness, he informs her of Moo-jin’s recent investigation into the shoes and advises her to act with caution.
As long as she leaves him alone, the guard promises to keep her secret. However, in truth, he did take Sun-ho’s phone that night and saw the diary as well. Observant of his surroundings, the guard notices a strange car in the distance and deduces that someone is keeping close tabs on Eun-joo.
Lost in thought, Eun-joo speeds recklessly down the road and nearly runs a red light. A police car pulls up next to her, but the officers just stare at her before driving away. At the hospital, In-ha decides to call Eun-joo to ask why she lied about the shoelaces, but Eun-joo calls her first. She tells In-ha that she was mistaken and actually heard about the laces from Jin-pyo.
In-ha assumes the police are reporting to Jin-pyo, but Eun-joo clarifies, explaining how Moo-jin mentioned it to the guard who then reported it to school personnel. She swears that Jin-pyo is more concerned about uncovering the truth than the school’s reputation, but In-ha is still wary of the police and school given the results of the School Violence Committee.
In-ha’s mother visits Sun-ho at the hospital and blames her daughter for not noticing Sun-ho’s situation sooner. In-ha tells her mother to leave and yells at her for adding to her troubles when she’s barely holding on as it is. Her mother wonders if she still hates her after all these years and leaves the room without much fuss. After she’s gone, In-ha sees the money her mother left for her.
Eun-joo is surprised to see Jin-pyo home before her, and he asks why she didn’t tell him about Sun-ho’s hospital transfer. She says that she forgot and changes the topic to the school and Soo-ho’s petition. Jin-pyo waves aside her concerns since petitions pop up all the time.
Jin-pyo: “The top one percent move this society. The remaining ninety-nine percent are just carriages that follow the vision we set. The top one percept are the leaders who determine the direction. If we start listening to all the voices of the ninety-nine percent, will that society function properly?”
Bothered by Ki-chan’s words, Soo-ho goes out to meet him and asks if he can prove Joon-suk really is the leader. Ki-chan tells her to talk with Dong-hee since she’s the reason why Joon-suk started targeting Sun-ho. Flashing back, Ki-chan stole Dong-hee’s book and mocked her for smelling bad. Joon-suk intervened, but his kindness was just an act to ridicule her further. Sun-ho witnessed all this, and ignoring Joon-suk’s request to play, he went to pick up Dong-hee’s fallen book.
Hearing the story, Soo-ho argues that it only proves how mean they are, but Ki-chan insists that she speak with Dong-hee. Soo-ho calls herself pathetic for trusting his words for a moment when he’s just garbage like the others. Ki-chan vows to prove his claims, and before she leaves, he asks if she wants pizza with him. Soo-ho’s response? A kick to shin. Heh.
Moo-jin finds Dong-soo’s house, but only Dong-hee is there. Taking in the dilapidated state of their small home, Moo-jin asks if they’re living off Dong-soo’s income with no contact from their mother, and Dong-hee quietly says yes. Remembering Dong-soo’s complaints about his employer refusing to pay him, Moo-jin goes to the restaurant where Dong-soo worked.
Dong-soo arrives just a bit later and watches Moo-jin fight with the owner. He demands for proper payment and berates the owner for stealing from a poor kid who has to support his family. Refusing to admit his fault, the owner points at his bruised face and calls Dong-soo a thief and a gangster who beat up an adult. Before Dong-soo can barge in to defend himself, Moo-jin shouts, “If I were Dong-soo, I would have beaten you to death.”
With no one to help or even trust, Moo-jin asks what else Dong-soo could have done in that situation. He calls the owner the real thief and gangster while Dong-soo is much more of an adult and human being than him. Dong-soo walks away before anyone notices him, and he stops in the middle of the sidewalk to cry.
Moo-jin buys snacks and envelopes on his way home, and invites In-ha to have a drink with him. She can tell right away that something happened, and he tells her that he’s planning on taking a leave from his school. She wonders if it’s because of Sun-ho, but Moo-jin says that it’s because he’s lousy. She immediately defends him as a good person, especially since she has high standards, but Moo-jin describes himself as a fake.
All this time, he was only pretending to be nice, spouting textbook answers when, in reality, he knew nothing about his son or student. He chides himself for only seeing the things he wanted to see rather than the things they wanted to show him, but In-ha argues that all anyone can do is experience their own perspective. Thus, it’s the heart that counts, and in that regard, Moo-jin need not worry since he has a kind one.
Moo-jin jokes about saving a nation in his past life (aka, rewarded with a good wife in this life), and finds strength in her comforting words. Although he still doesn’t know what it means to be an adult, he’ll start by living faithfully to his family, and maybe in the future, there will come a day when he can call himself a decent adult. Hearing his confession, In-ha admits to being mean to her mother earlier at the hospital, and after becoming a mother herself, she realizes how much pain children can afflict on their parents.
Moo-jin plans to take a year-long leave, and In-ha hopes that by then Sun-ho will be here with them at the table. She asks for Moo-jin’s hands, and holding back her tears, she says that they’ll get through this and be happy while doing it. No matter what others say, she wants the two of them to happy since their kids can’t if they aren’t. From her room, Soo-ho listens to their conversation and wipes away her tears.
At Joon-suk’s house, Eun-joo brings Joon-suk a snack and finds him sleeping at his desk. She tells him to go to bed, but his hand drops to his side with blood dripping to the floor. Eun-joo wakes from her nightmare and rushes to Joon-suk’s room where he’s slumped over his desk like her dream. She shakes him awake to make sure he’s fine, and once he responds, she hugs him. She tells him that it’ll all pass, but her words of comfort seem aimed at herself.
Soo-ho gets ready for school following her normal routine before the incident, and during breakfast, she misses In-ha’s sandwiches, even calling them the best. In-ha asks how school is going for her after the petition, and Soo-ho shares her disappointment with the lack of signatures—only having around 160 when she needs 100,000. After some thought, Soo-ho decides to tell In-ha about Ki-chan’s statement concerning Joon-suk.
In-ha catches Young-chul before school to ask about Joon-suk, but he sticks with his story about Ki-chan being the leader as well as the meanest bully. With no reason to question his statement, In-ha leaves, but she looks unconvinced. As for Young-chul’s mother, she reminds her son to tell her if Ki-chan bothers him again, but Young-chul isn’t afraid since he’s Joon-suk’s best friend which means no one can touch him.
Young-chul reports the morning events to Joon-suk right away, and the news of In-ha’s questioning worries Eun-joo. On the other hand, Joon-suk is unperturbed and suggests to his mother that they transfer Ki-chan if it bothers her so much. She says that Jin-pyo can’t do that, but Joon-suk argues that they can do anything, especially his mother.
During the faculty meeting, the vice principal informs the teachers about Sun-ho’s parents’ retrial application which means the three students will resume their class activities. He continues his usual spiel about monitoring gossip, but diverging from the norm, the guard also attends the meeting. On behalf of Jin-pyo, the vice principal hands him a monetary award for his recent services to the school.
Teacher Lee chases after the guard to ask about the old security cameras, but they were all taken by the security company and probably destroyed. In class, he writes down his new personal email address for his students to contact him about anything. Intentionally making eye contact with Dong-hee, Teacher Lee promises to keep the sender’s identity anonymous if he needs to share the email with anyone, but if the student doesn’t want that either, then he won’t disclose it no matter what.
Teacher Lee’s uncharacteristic behavior unnerves Sung-jae, but Young-chul doesn’t share his apprehensions and is more excited about starting up their “game” again. Sung-jae comments on how Young-chul is turning into Ki-chan, but Joon-suk stops them from fighting. He reminds Sung-jae that Ki-chan was the one who lied, not them, and ends their meeting.
After looking into Reporter Choi, Joon-ha informs In-ha about his sexual assault allegations. Though he got acquitted because there was no evidence, she expresses doubts concerning the outcome. That’s enough for In-ha to chuck his card in the garbage, and she heads off to Sun-ho’s school to pass around her business card. She leaves behind her phone, and Joon-ha answers a call from Eun-joo, telling her where In-ha went.
Reporter Choi uses his network to contact Moo-jin and introduces himself at the hospital. He wants to write a story on Sun-ho, but his various tactics to convince Moo-jin have no effect on him. He firmly declines an interview since they’re still looking for facts, and like In-ha, he gives the perfunctory “I’ll contact you later” farewell. Watching Moo-jin leave, Reporter Choi mutters to himself that he needs to crush Jin-pyo.
According to the vice principal, Reporter Choi once tried to uncover a corruption scandal in their school’s foundation, and now, he’s incessantly calling the school about Sun-ho’s case. He reports all this to Jin-pyo who orders him to ignore the reporter since they did everything by the book. However, after hanging up, Jin-pyo seems annoyed at the mention of Reporter Choi.
School ends for the day, and In-ha passes her business cards to all the students pouring out. She asks them to call her if they know anything about Sun-ho, but most of her cards end up on the floor. Eun-joo picks them up, offering to pass them with her, but In-ha declines her help since she’s the director’s wife. Instead, In-ha reminds her of her previous favor about meeting Joon-suk, and Eun-joo agrees to mention it to him.
Teacher Lee visits Detective Park at the station and watches the CCTV footage of Sun-ho before the incident. Detective Park asks if he recognizes the other student’s backpack and doll, but all Teacher Lee can determine is that the student isn’t Da-hee. He asks if the detective suspects foul play, but Detective Park says that he’s just investigating on his own because a couple things don’t add up.
The yellow backpack and doll belong to Dong-hee who brings home two instant noodle bowls. She finds Moo-jin outside her home, and he re-introduces himself as Sun-ho’s dad after recognizing her uniform. Since he came empty-handed yesterday, he’s here today with a box of food, but since Dong-soo is still not home, he decides to visit again tomorrow. As Moo-jin turns to go, Dong-soo stares up at him from the stairs.
He returns the box to Moo-jin, refusing his pity, but Moo-jin points out that he’s the more pitiful one between the two of them. Rather than pity, Moo-jin admires Dong-soo for taking care of his sister and working hard at such a young age. However, Moo-jin adds, “What’s wrong with receiving pity? A world without sympathy is what’s terrible. The feeling of sympathy is a beautiful thing.”
Moo-jin regrets telling Dong-soo all those irresponsible things about being brave without providing real solutions and apologizes for hitting Dong-soo. He admits to releasing his anger unduly on him, and when Dong-soo asks why he was upset, he tells him it was because of lousy adults. Moo-jin hands him an envelope, explaining that he got his overdue wages for him, and promises to visit more often since he’s on leave. Finally opening up to Moo-jin, Dong-soo confesses that he stopped Dong-hee from interfering in Sun-ho’s case.
Eun-joo drops off Joon-suk’s laundry to his room and tidies up his messy desk while she’s there. She opens a drawer to put stuff away and finds an unusual item (lip gloss? nail polish?) inside. Meanwhile, Jin-pyo jerks forward in his car when his driver suddenly hits the brakes, and the school’s guard knocks on his window. He mentions Jin-pyo attaching a “rat” and hands him a recording device that contains a conversation he might find interesting.
No one is with Sun-ho when Joon-suk visits him since In-ha and Moo-jin are at the bakery waiting for Dong-hee. She finally arrives with Dong-soo and tells In-ha and Moo-jin that she met Sun-ho the night of the incident. Though he told her that he was meeting someone, he didn’t say who, which doesn’t help further their case.
However, Dong-hee firmly believes that Sun-ho didn’t commit suicide, which leaves In-ha speechless since this is the first time she’s heard an outsider say it. Moo-jin asks how she can be so certain, and Dong-hee admits to planning her own suicide that day. During that chance encounter, Sun-ho told her something that convinced her to live.
Staring at Dong-hee, Sun-ho told her that “suicide” backwards is “live.” Therefore, she must live. He said that the real ghost wasn’t her, but those kids who trampled down on her just because she was weaker. As his final command, he stated, “Don’t lose. You must not lose.”
That final scene of Sun-ho staring straight at the camera seemed like a command not just directed at Dong-hee but to those watching the show who have experienced a similar struggle. It’s a challenge thrown to the audience, urging those thinking the unthinkable, to live. In the end, Dong-hee’s secret was simple and probably holds little value in the grand scheme of things, but because of that simplicity, I thought it delivered a powerful moment. Not a single person told In-ha that Sun-ho wouldn’t have jumped from the school building—even her own mother assumed that Sun-ho committed suicide. Thus, Dong-hee is the first to tell In-ha, without even a hint of doubt, that Sun-ho wouldn’t take his own life, and it stuns her speechless. It’s easy to forget how lonely and scared In-ha must have felt since, as an audience member, we’re privy to the details and know she’s correct. However, In-ha has no evidence to support her hunch, so the toll it must have took on her to hear again and again from everyone that Sun-ho was driven to the point that death was better than living is unimaginable. I’m sure a persistent and niggling whisper of doubt lived in her heart no matter how fervently she tried to suppress it, so what could be seen as a simple statement, must have felt like a wave of assurance to In-ha and given her a renewed energy to continue fighting.
The word choice in this show is quite deliberate and used to convey meaning. In particular, Sun-ho’s final words to Dong-hee intentionally reflected Moo-jin’s advice from before. While Moo-jin believed that losing sometimes meant winning, we see Sun-ho discard this teaching when he told Dong-hee to win no matter what. Not only does this reveal that Moo-jin’s worries about his lessons pushing his son to commit suicide were unfounded, it also gives Sun-ho more agency as a character and portrays him as a stronger person than we imagined. The first time we see Sun-ho, he was falling from the roof, and after that, he’s been in a coma all throughout the present timeline. As a result, Sun-ho is only really shown through flashbacks which are from a particular perspective. We never see Sun-ho as a fleshed-out character as we do the others because he’s confined to memories. As a result, it’s almost like we see Sun-ho from different angles to get the overall picture, so when we see Dong-hee’s version of Sun-ho, he’s the commanding classmate who tells her to win against her foes.
I admire In-ha and Moo-jin more every episode, and this hour was no different. I’m glad Moo-jin not only realized his mistake but immediately went to apologize to Dong-soo. It’s surprisingly hard to find genuine apologies from those in power because a true apology requires a submission of guilt and, to a certain degree, a relinquishment of power. It might be a low bar, but I was happy to see one of the kindest characters in this show follow what he teaches and learn from his mistake. In his apology, Moo-jin recognized his own complacency and acknowledged the irresponsibility behind his attempts at comforting Dong-soo. He probably had good intentions at the time, but his comments were ignorant and hurtful since he was only seeing a part of Dong-soo’s life. It’s hard to fault Moo-jin completely since teachers can only do so much, so hopefully he’ll learn to extend his ability to sympathize with others to himself as well. I also want to point out that the perpetual conflict-avoider Moo-jin actually fought with the restaurant owner on behalf of Dong-soo, and I’m sure Soo-ho would have been proud. Though Moo-jin may be experiencing an emotional slump at the moment, he has an amazing wife who will stick by his side through thick and thin, so even if he falls, she’ll pick him up and guide him to the right path. With these two together, I’m not worried for their future because time and time again they have proven that their love and respect for each other trumps everything else. When push comes to shove, they have each other’s back, and their relationship is one of the rare gems of humanity this show has.
My favorite thing about this show is that the characters are complex and rarely one-note. One of the major reveals was the security guard and his role in Sun-ho’s accident. Though he always seemed to be hiding something from the way he interacted with Sun-ho’s family, I was still surprised by how manipulative he actually turned out to be. He’s not just a quiet guard who unfortunately got tangled into this mess but an active participant who uses this tragedy for his own gain. Unlike everyone else, who I would argue are mainly motivated to protect themselves, the guard wants to profit. Contrary to his unassuming demeanor, he’s more devious than I imagined, and I shudder at the thought that he was once a detective. The students continue to be interesting as well with Young-chul growing more audacious as he experiences some indirect power through association. As for Ki-chan, he’s a terrible bully with very few redeeming qualities, but in the end, he’s still a kid who craves friendship. Ki-chan clearly feels lonely, and I couldn’t help but chuckle when he invited Soo-ho for pizza. It’s was a dumb move given the circumstances, but as Soo-ho said, he isn’t the brightest. I agree with In-ha that these students need to face the consequences of their actions in order to learn their lesson, but as Moo-jin said, a world without sympathy is a terrible one, indeed. Hopefully we can see a beautiful world at the end of all this.