A Beautiful World: Episode 11
A new dilemma falls on our heroes that shakes them to the core. They must choose whether to continue their fight for justice or ignore it for the bliss that comes with ignorance. The truth may not always be what they expected, and sometimes it’s tempting to just run away from it all. As our heroes stand at a crossroad, they learn that the line between good and evil is thinner than they thought.
EPISODE 11 RECAP: Confusion
In-ha and Moo-jin leave Da-hee’s parents’ restaurant shell-shocked. Just moments before, Da-hee’s parents told them that Sun-ho sexually assaulted Da-hee, and she only spoke up after hearing of his comatose state. Moo-jin asked why they kept quiet about this until now, and Da-hee’s father said that they intended to hide the incident for Da-hee’s sake since people would mock and point their fingers at her. If In-ha and Moo-jin didn’t stir things up, they planned on taking this secret to the grave.
Though Moo-jin voiced his disbelief, In-ha remained silent and trudged out of the restaurant without a fuss. As she left, Da-hee’s mother shouted at her to live the rest of her life paying for the sin of raising her son poorly. On their way home, Moo-jin pulls the car over so In-ha can throw up, and from a distance, Jin-pyo’s spy watches them.
While Eun-joo waits for Joon-suk to finish cram school, Sung-jae’s mother approaches her. She feigns concern for Eun-joo’s family over the article, especially since Joon-suk was the target. Eun-joo asks if she’s implying that her son pushed Sun-ho off the roof, and warns Sung-jae’s mother to watch what she says. When their sons come out, Eun-joo turns away from Joon-suk, which Sung-jae’s mother notices.
On their drive home, Joon-suk talks about Reporter Choi’s sexual assault charge and expresses his befuddlement over such a person being a reporter. Remembering Sun-ho’s accusation of Joon-suk, Eun-joo reminds her son that Reporter Choi was acquitted, but Joon-suk thinks that there must be a reason why he was sued in the first place.
Eun-joo suddenly stops the car and confronts Joon-suk about the lipstick she found in his desk. He doesn’t know whose it is or how it got there, but she doesn’t believe him. Eun-joo almost lets slip what she knows, but remembers Jin-pyo’s word of caution to keep the recording a secret lest they cause Joon-suk to falter. Unable to bear with her anymore, Joon-suk decides to walk home and runs out of the car.
Jin-pyo’s spy informs him of In-ha and Moo-jin’s meeting with Da-hee’s parents while another spy watches over Da-hee’s house when Joon-suk arrives. Joon-suk tries calling Da-hee, but her number no longer exists. Back at Joon-suk’s house, Jin-pyo shares what he just learned with Eun-joo, and she worries that Joon-suk’s crime was revealed.
Jin-pyo tells her not to fret since In-ha and Moo-jin wouldn’t have gone home if they learned the truth, but she doesn’t listen to him. Growing tired of her ceaseless doubts, Jin-pyo points out that she was the one who chose this path, not him or Joon-suk. Eun-joo argues that she would have done things differently if given a second chance, but Jin-pyo calls her out for lying.
Whether it was an accident or not, Jin-pyo knows that Eun-joo would have done the exact same thing, just like any other mother would do, including In-ha. To him, her guilty conscience seems like a feeble excuse to rationalize her actions. Thus, when Eun-joo asks if they’re really doing the best thing for Joon-suk, Jin-pyo scoffs at her hypocrisy. She might look at him like he’s a bug, but in his eyes, she’s the real hypocrite.
Dong-hee watches over Sun-ho as memories of their last encounter play in her head. Gently holding his hand, she repeats his words back to him, “Don’t ever lose, Sun-ho.”
Soo-ho joins Dong-hee in the hospital room while looking over the comments on the petition which are now attacking Reporter Choi. Soo-ho is confident that the truth will soon be revealed since her parents met with Da-hee’s parents, but Dong-hee wonders why the scary lady suddenly changed her mind.
Joon-ha enters the hospital room and meets Dong-hee for the first time. She hugs her as thanks for all she’s done, and Soo-ho teases her aunt for flustering Dong-hee who smiles at them both. She offers to treat them to dinner, and when Teacher Lee calls to apologize for earlier, she invites him, too.
Over the phone, Moo-jin informs Joon-ha that they’re alright, but in the other room, In-ha sits in a daze as Da-hee’s mother’s words torment her. Just as Joon-ha ends the calls, Teacher Lee walks up to her. He asks about In-ha and Moo-jin, which earns him an earful from Joon-ha. He apologizes for his inability to help with the recent parent committee, and his apologetic attitude calms her down.
They go inside the restaurant where Teacher Lee is surprised to see Soo-ho and Dong-hee already eating. He sits there awkwardsly, but when the conversation turns to the online comments, he musters up the courage to apologize to them both. Soo-ho forgives him since he stood up for Dong-hee, and Joon-ha agrees that the support of one person can make a world of difference.
As they continue to eat, the food reminds Soo-ho of Sun-ho, and she tells the others to stop staring at her like she’s an abandoned dog. Joon-ha finds the comparison harsh, but Soo-ho thinks dogs are better than people since they don’t lie or betray others. Joon-ha sees her point, but comments on how people are more beautiful than flowers. Soo-ho retorts, “That depends on the person.”
Before Teacher Lee can eat, he receives a call from Moo-jin asking to meet. In-ha overhears the call and asks Moo-jin if he’s going to tell Teacher Lee what they heard. He says that he will if the need arises, so she tries to talk him out of it. While she doesn’t think Sun-ho would do such a thing, she can’t understand why Da-hee would lie, either. In the off chance that the accusations are true, In-ha wants them to bury the incident as well.
Moo-jin argues that hiding the truth would make them no better than the parents they’re fighting, but In-ha falls to the floor in frustration. She cries at him to reconsider because it would do Sun-ho no good if they’re the only ones who believe him. Even if he criticizes her, In-ha is determined to forget everything and runs away to their room.
Joon-suk finally comes home, and Jin-pyo tells him that he’s going abroad to study. Joon-suk assumes the idea came from Eun-joo and announces his intentions to go by himself. Jin-pyo sees this as a good opportunity for him to grow independent, but Eun-joo disagrees since Joon-suk still needs her. If she truly believes that, Jin-pyo tells her to get her act together and stop confusing Joon-suk, then.
Teacher Lee tells Moo-jin that Da-hee stopped coming to school sometime mid-September and offers to check the exact date for him. He asks how Moo-jin is faring with the comments, and Moo-jin explains how his heart has grown calloused. Everything feels trivial in comparison to Sun-ho, and Moo-jin would endure anything to see him wake up.
From this incident, Teacher Lee realized what a pathetic teacher he was for caring about paperwork more than his students, but Moo-jin comforts the younger teacher, telling him to not blame himself too much. As they say goodbye, Teacher Lee remembers to inform Moo-jin about the vice principal meeting Dong-hee, and shares his suspicions concerning Jin-pyo’s connection with the police.
Detective Park confronts his partner for blabbing about Dong-hee, but his partner swears that he didn’t tell anyone except for the detective from the women and teenager unit who’s in charge of the case. Detective Park orders his confused partner to keep everything a secret, and then sighs as he sees Reporter Choi (aka, headache #2) waiting for him at his desk.
Reporter Choi wants information, but Detective Park knows all about his ulterior motives. He accuses the reporter for making the situation worse since the truth has been buried by fake news due to his article and personal past. Reporter Choi argues that the real problem was the initial police investigation, and to his partner’s surprise, Detective Park agrees. However, that’s why they need to be cautious the second time around.
In-ha sits in the dark, remembering Moo-jin’s question about how they would be any different, and she wipes away her tears when Soo-ho comes home. Soo-ho is eager to hear what they talked about, but all she learns is that Da-hee’s secret didn’t involve Joon-suk. Hearing her disappointment, In-ha wonders why Soo-ho thinks Joon-suk is connected to Da-hee.
She explains how Sun-ho’s last actions indicate him wanting to talk about Da-hee with Joon-suk, but In-ha says that Sun-ho could have pestered Da-hee because he liked her. Soo-ho doubts that scenario, and In-ha asks how she can be so certain.
Soo-ho reminds her that she was the one who said people become the person they are today through the accumulation of the days before, and the Sun-ho she knows would never bother the person he likes without a reason. Those words are exactly what In-ha needed to hear, and she thanks Soo-ho.
Dong-soo takes a quick break from his convenience job when Moo-jin stops by. Worried about his teacher, Dong-soo tells him to ignore the online comments, and their reversed roles bring a smile to Moo-jin’s face.
The reason for his unexpected visit is the vice principal meeting, but Dong-soo brushes it aside as a usual school occurrence. On a happier note, he shares how Dong-hee has gotten much brighter lately thanks to Sun-ho and Teacher Lee, which is the best thing Moo-jin has heard all day.
Moo-jin finds In-ha still up when he comes home, and she silently reaches out for his hand. She mentions how lucky she is to have married him and apologizes for her earlier behavior. After being on the other side, she understands a bit more of why Eun-joo and the others acted that way.
In-ha tells him that she won’t avoid the truth, even if it turns out to be something they don’t want to confront. Whoever Sun-ho may be, their love for him won’t change, and she’s willing to bear the truth, whatever it may be. She’s grateful to have Moo-jin by her side during this troubling time, and hugging her, he says that he couldn’t have endured without her either.
Eun-joo downs a glass of alcohol as memories of Joon-suk and Jin-pyo swirl in her head. In her drunken state, she stumbles into her bedroom and retrieves the lipstick to bury in a flowerpot. Her commotion wakes up Jin-pyo who tries to stop her, but Eun-joo pushes him aside. Refusing to take orders from him, she tells Jin-pyo that she’s his wife, not a doll.
Jin-pyo looks disgusted with her behavior, asking how far she’ll break, but Eun-joo says that she’s already broken after pretending to be the perfect wife all these years. She even kept quiet about his fake business trips, but now, she doesn’t care about his infidelity. With her voice rising, she accepts everything as her fault, but Jin-pyo has had enough of her drunken outburst.
He raises his hand as if to strike her, and Eun-joo freezes up instantly. Grabbing her face, Jin-pyo warns her not to ruin his life because of her actions, and from the second floor, Joon-suk witnesses their exchange with a terrified expression.
The next morning, In-ha enjoys the sunlight and lays next to Sun-ho. Meanwhile, Moo-jin forces Soo-ho to eat a quick bite before school, and she complains that he’s turning into a “mom.” After seeing Soo-ho off, Moo-jin receives a call from Teacher Lee who tells him that Da-hee was absent starting September 20.
At school, Joon-suk and Young-chul bring Ki-chan to the bathroom where Joon-suk kicks Ki-chan to the floor. He threatens to kill Ki-chan if he pulls that stunt again, and before they leave, Young-chul calls Ki-chan a loser. Ki-chan leaves the bathroom looking downtrodden and remembers back when he bullied Sun-ho and called him a loser. He looks down at the floor and actually seems ashamed of his past self.
Ki-chan’s mother blabbers about her problems to Young-chul’s mother, but she’s happy that it’s all over since the retrial request was rejected. In-ha also reads the rejection letter, and in the faculty office, Teacher Shin is the only who’s glad that there won’t be a retrial… until the vice principal walks in.
He announces to the whole room that the case is closed, but when Teacher Lee sighs, the vice principal comments on his disappointed attitude. He accuses Teacher Lee for not caring about his students, but Teacher Lee just sighs again and ignores him.
Moo-jin goes to the restaurant again, but Da-hee’s father stops him outside. They relocate to a café, and Da-hee’s father vents his frustration about Moo-jin’s brazen behavior. Moo-jin promises to take responsibility for his actions, and Da-hee’s father finally gives in. He tells Moo-jin that the incident happened September 19—Da-hee’s birthday.
In-ha visits the flower shop owner who recognizes her, and when she asks how Sun-ho looked that day, he describes him as excited. However, when he came back, the owner thought Sun-ho looked shocked and assumed it was because he was rejected. In-ha tells him that Sun-ho didn’t meet Da-hee that day, but that only makes the owner more curious about Sun-ho’s expression.
Before In-ha leaves, the owner hands her a plant as a gift, and In-ha places it next to the cactus in Sun-ho’s room. Moo-jin calls her to ask what happened September 19, but In-ha doesn’t recall anything special. She looks at Sun-ho’s calendar, and noticing the red circle on the date, she remembers Sun-ho bringing back a birthday cake because his friend canceled on him last minute. In-ha remembers that Sun-ho made plans to go to the library instead, and rushes over to check.
The doorbell breaks Eun-joo out of her stupor, and at the door is Detective Park and his partner. They came by to return her dashcam, but the real reason for their visit is to check her alibi again. After scouring the footage from the neighborhood security cameras, they discovered that she took forty-five minutes to get home from the school when it should only take ten. That leaves thirty-five minutes unaccounted for, and Detective Park asks for an explanation.
In-ha asks the librarian for Sun-ho’s borrowing history and confirms that he returned and checked out a book September 19. The checkout time is 9pm, which doesn’t give him much of an alibi, but the librarian suddenly recalls seeing Sun-ho that day.
She’s certain that he sat by the window reading all afternoon and into the evening because she commented on the difficulty of the book he chose. In-ha stares at the seat where Sun-ho sat and pictures him sitting there. Past Sun-ho turns to face In-ha, and she smiles back at him.
It seems that In-ha has found Sun-ho’s alibi, proving that he really didn’t commit a terrible crime. This means that Da-hee lied or, at the very least, some sort of miscommunication occurred between her and her parents. Given the timing of her confession, it may be that Da-hee is trying to blame Sun-ho for the assault since he can’t talk, but I must admit, it’s hard to understand why she lied. I suspect that the show will give her side of the story, and I hope that it happens soon because the show’s portrayal of this case makes me uncomfortable. While I understand that victims can lie and that there may be a plethora of reasons to explain these choices, I can’t help but feel that this show is dabbling with harmful stereotypes that don’t further the discussion on sexual assault but derail it. Society already casts a negative light on sexual assault victims which is shown through the reaction of Da-hee’s parents. They assume that their daughter will receive a negative response from those around her, and it’s sad that victims, particularly sexual assault victims, are subjected to ridicule and blaming. They aren’t at fault, no matter the circumstances, and there’s no way to justify sexual assault. However, despite the research showing that false charges are rare, I feel like the media portrays this too often, and to be honest, I am a little sad that the show went this route with Da-hee. It was used as a moment of growth for In-ha and Moo-jin, but I wonder if the cost was too big.
Granted, I did love the way the show handled In-ha and Moo-jin’s response. It allowed our heroes to stand in the shoes of the perpetrators’ parents, and it presented a compelling dilemma for them. They grew as characters from this moment, and their ultimate decision at the end of the day was beautiful. While holding on to the trust they have in Sun-ho, In-ha and Moo-jin were willing to accept the truth as it came as well as the consequences. They never blamed Da-hee, only wanting to verify what really happened, and in the end, if Sun-ho turned out to be a monster, I’m sure both of them would have apologized and took responsibility in some way. What made their response different from Eun-joo and the others was that they wanted to uncover the truth, not just a version of one that suited their interest. They weren’t blinded by a need to protect their son, and through this experience, the show portrays a different version of parents who realize that their son may have done something wrong. While I loved all this, I couldn’t enjoy it fully, and I worry that this nagging feeling might not go away.
Aside from that issue, I continue to enjoy the juxtaposition of the two main parents. The stark contrast in their relationships really emphasizes how influential parents are on their children from the explicit things they say to the implicit messages they send through their interactions. In-ha and Moo-jin apologize to each other when they hurt the other, and both act as a source of comfort for their partner during this tragedy. On the other side, Eun-joo and Jin-pyo are too busy blaming each other for ruining Joon-suk and have become a cesspool of hate. As a result, Sun-ho and Soo-ho have learned from their parents how to admit their mistakes and give support to others while Joon-suk has learned how to express his anger in negative ways and look down on people. Moreover, touch is shown through gentle caresses and hugs in In-ha and Moo-jin’s relationship while violence is portrayed in Eun-joo and Jin-pyo’s. Although it hasn’t been shown, it seems that Jin-pyo may have been physical with Eun-joo from her extreme reaction. She freezes up whenever he shows the slightest signs of violence, from the throwing to the hand raising, and her immediate response might indicate a prior history of abuse. I knew that they didn’t love each other, but seeing just how much they despised each other made me surprisingly sad—mostly for Joon-suk. There might be a chance for him to repent and grow, but with parents like Eun-joo and Jin-pyo, the odds are against him.