A Moment at Eighteen: Episode 4
A special assignment brings together our loner transfer student and the one girl who’s always ready to help him. As they work together, they get to know each other better as well as a much needed break from their increasingly complicated lives. They share a sense of accomplishment after all of their hard work until a tragedy reminds everyone that happiness is fleeting. These high school students are about to learn the hard way that decisions can have far-reaching consequences.
EPISODE 4: “Happiness and Sadness Come and Go Instantly”
Joon-woo and Soo-bin take refuge from the rain in a pair of phone booths. Joon-woo hands Soo-bin a handkerchief that’s crumpled from being in his pocket. When Soo-bin suggests that ironing it would help, Joon-woo explains that his mother has the iron.
Soo-bin finally understands why Joon-woo’s clothes always look wrinkled and dirty. Joon-woo protests that the girls at school said that he looked okay and he gets teased for listening to them gossip.
When Joon-woo falls silent, Soo-bin asks why he isn’t curious about what’s wrong, while Joon-woo wonders why she hasn’t asked why he’s such a mess. Soo-bin guesses that Joon-woo got into a fight again but he insists that he doesn’t get into fights.
Soo-bin asks for an explanation and Joon-woo describes what happened as a matchup. Joon-woo suddenly remembers his part-time job when his phone rings and he and Soo-bin jump when someone yells, ” Hey! Where are you?”
Soo-bin demands to know, “How could you forget going to your part-time job,” and Joon-woo explains that he had an emergency. With the rain stopped, Joon-woo grabs his bike and motions for Soo-bin to get on the back.
As Joon-woo rides through the park, Soo-bin tries to talk about their English assessment. When Joon-woo ignores her, Soo-bin eventually looks up and enjoys the beauty of the park.
Joon-woo and Soo-bin arrive at the convenience store and when the morning clerk asks “Yeong-bae” about his injuries, he claims they were caused by a fall from his bike. The clerk assumes that Joon-woo and Soo-bin must be dating but they answer with an emphatic, “No.”
Hwi-young shows up and congratulates Soo-bin for passing the level test. Hwi-young sees Joon-woo’s face and offers to help if he’s in trouble and Soo-bin has to hide a smile when Joon-woo turns him down. When Hwi-young offers to walk Soo-bin to her first class at the academy, the clerk decides that they must be dating and she calls Soo-bin a lucky girl.
Soo-bin checks in with her mother when she and Hwi-young duck into a cafe to get out of the rain. Hwi-young brought Soo-bin some dry clothes to change into but she insists that she doesn’t need them and adds, “Don’t do things like this. It makes me…uncomfortable.”
At the convenience store, Joon-woo thinks of Soo-bin when he sees his dirty sweater. When he remembers Soo-bin walking with Hwi-young, Joon-woo pounds his fist on the register and then twists in pain from his injuries. When Soo-bin texts about their assignment, Joon-woo isn’t at all happy.
During class, Hwi-young is distracted and when Tutor Sohn notices, Sang-hoon blames Hwi-young’s lapse on his “girlfriend.” A girl in the back row texts Ro-mi that Soo-bin just joined her class.
When Soo-bin gets home, she finds her mother in bed with an ice pack on her head. Mom explains that she hurt herself chasing after Soo-bin, whose excuse is that she couldn’t bear to watch her mother grovel.
Mom weakly admits that she knows that she shouldn’t be so hard on Soo-bin but she can’t help but worry about her only child. Everything hinges on Soo-bin getting into a top university so that she can marry a nice husband and afford to live in Gangnam someday. Soo-bin promises to study hard and when she leaves, her mom smiles, “Getting hurt paid off.”
While Soo-bin checks the table where her mother got hurt, Joon-woo texts that he sent her his assignment. When she checks it, Soo-bin sees that Joon-woo’s English is really bad but she smiles because he did his best.
Soo-bin sends Joon-woo his corrected assignment and instructs him to stay up until he memorizes his script. After seeing his uniform hanging in his room, Joon-woo spits water onto it and carefully dries it with a hair dryer, thanks to a suggestion he found on the internet.
As she studies, Soo-bin recalls Joon-woo handing her his handkerchief and soon, it’s freshly washed and hanging up to dry. Meanwhile, Joon-woo does his best to stay awake to practice his English.
In the morning, Joon-woo wakes up on the floor. When his mother calls, Joon-woo runs to the bathroom to hide his face under some suds before calling her back. Later, when he leaves for school, Joon-woo tries calling Jung-hoo but his friend doesn’t answer.
At school, Mr. Oh sees Joon-woo’s face mask and when he pulls it away, Joon-woo explains that he fell off of his bike. Mr. Oh doesn’t believe him but since nothing was reported to the school, he figures whatever happened must not have been significant.
Hwi-young and Ki-tae walk past the pair and find a quiet spot to talk. Ki-tae reassures Hwi-young that even though the thugs were scared off by the police, “They’ll do it right next time.” Hwi-young asks, “They should be okay, right,” and then worries, “What if it’s not?” Hwi-young shakes off his concerns and laughs as he tells Ki-tae, “Don’t worry. You have me.”
At the lockers, Joon-woo stands tall in his pressed uniform and then slumps when Soo-bin doesn’t take notice. Soo-bin returns Joon-woo’s handkerchief and balks when he’s about to put it in his pocket because she ironed it. Joon-woo places it between the pages of a notebook and then beams when Soo-bin comments on his nicely “ironed” uniform as she heads for class.
In the classroom, Pil-sang tries to ask Ro-mi a question about his script and is told to get lost. Dong sees Joon-woo and loudly announces, “You must have gotten into a fight. Who was it?” Dong tries to get Pil-sang interested but he’s uncharacteristically quiet.
Soo-bin’s friends are convinced that Joon-woo was in a fight, ignoring her explanation that he fell off of his bike. Ro-mi changes the subject and asks Soo-bin, “I hear you’re taking Mr. Sohn’s class.
Hwi-young overhears as he walks in and he explains that he recommended Soo-bin for the class. Ro-mi asks if Soo-bin even took the level test and demands to talk to Hwi-young. When Hwi-young tells her she’ll have to wait, Ro-mi sits down and refuses to talk to Soo-bin. Mr. Oh walks in and immediately picks up on the tension in the room.
Later, Soo-bin catches up to Ro-mi, who takes issue with Soo-bin’s secretiveness. Soo-bin confesses that she didn’t say anything because she felt awkward but Ro-mi is convinced that it was out of guilt for exploiting her relationship with Hwi-young.
Soo-bin expresses confidence that she passed the level test but Ro-mi won’t listen, “It’s so annoying. These special treatments and special opportunities.” Angry, Ro-mi bumps into Joon-woo as she walks away and she doesn’t bother to apologize. When Soo-bin admits that they had a fight, Joon-woo asks if she won and she shakes her head. Joon-woo declares, “Then you won. Losing is winning.”
In the school office, Mr. Oh reviews Joon-woo’s file while trying to arrange a meeting with the boy’s previous home room teacher. Another teacher hands Mr. Oh a letter and after seeing that it’s signed by Shin Jung-hoo, a student from Joon-woo’s old high school, he runs after the boy.
In class, a sleeping Pil-sang passes gas and when he opens the window, Joon-woo hears Mr. Oh calling Jung-hoo’s name. He runs out of class and when he catches up to Mr. Oh, Joon-woo is sent after Jung-hoo.
A bus pulls away with Jung-hoo but Joon-woo manages to get it to stop so that he can board. Joon-woo finds his friend in the back seat and when he sits down, he’s reminded of the day that he confessed to taking money to protect Jung-hoo. The two boys sat together as Joon-woo explained to his friend, “You’ll get expelled if you’re caught again…But it’s the first time for me.” Joon-woo suggested to Jung-hoo that they could start over at another school.
Later, while the boys sit together at the bus terminal, Jung-hoo announces that he quit school. Jung-hoo apologizes to his friend, “I’m sorry about back then. You were falsely accused because of me and even forced to transfer.” Jung-hoo warns his friend to watch out for bullies and Joon-woo reminds Jung-hoo to call him if he’s ever bullied again.
As Jung-hoo is about to board the bus for home, Joon-woo has some parting words, “Our lives are not that messed up after all…Who cares if we were born a bit miserably? We can overcome it. Don’t you think?” Jung-hoo nods in agreement and promises, “I’ll see you again,” and the boys salute each other as the bus pulls away.
Mr. Oh intercepts Joon-woo when he returns to school, “Jung-hoo gave me a letter. He said you were falsely accused and forced to transfer because of him.” When the lecturing teacher steps out of the classroom, Mr. Oh explains that he’s just checking on his sick student and Joon-woo coughs for effect.
When classes are over, Joon-woo texts Soo-bin to meet at the park. Soo-bin notices Joon-woo’s good mood and when asked about his conversation with Mr. Oh, he explains, “Let’s just say he protected me in a way. He covered for me.”
Soo-bin steers Joon-woo to a table to practice for the free-talking test. Joon-woo reads the word “some” as “so me”, and explains to Soo-bin that he must be nervous. Soo-bin gives Joon-woo tips as he talks about his dream to fall asleep in a dark room. When Soo-bin asks if that’s really Joon-woo’s dream, he mentions her dream, “Escaping from Mom?”
On her way to the academy, Soo-bin stops to sketch clusters of grapes on Joon-woo’s script and instructs him to color in one grape every time that he practices it. Joon-woo gasps when he adds up how many times he’ll have to run through it and as she walks away, Soo-bin shouts, “Study hard! Stay up all night!”
Soo-bin’s mother calls after hearing that Soo-bin is paired with the student who was forced to transfer. Soo-bin watches Joon-woo disappear as she explains that the pairs were determined by a random draw, but her mother calls it unacceptable.
When Joon-woo arrives for work, he sees his mother and tries to put on his mask. She cries when she sees his face, “I knew it…you were pretending to be washing your hair to cover this.” Joon-woo doesn’t understand how his mother knew and the morning clerk explains, “Hey, Yeong-bae. Don’t you know that all moms know everything?”
Joon-woo assures his mother that nothing serious is going on but she starts to cry again when she thinks of everything that’s happened. Jung-woo hugs his mother, “Nothing bad will happen. Trust me, okay?”
Joon-woo’s mother makes him promise that he won’t ever get in a fight or get hit. When Joon-woo’s mother has to run to catch her bus, she stumbles while yelling at her son to remember to eat.
Hwi-young catches up to Soo-bin at the academy and senses that something’s wrong. Soo-bin tries to explain what’s bothering her, “I’d appreciate it if you could stop talking to your friends as if I’m your girlfriend. I know that you’re doing it to help me out, but I just don’t like it.”
After Soo-bin’s earlier admission that he makes her uncomfortable and her unwillingness to be his girlfriend, Hwi-young asks what she doesn’t like about him. After class, Soo-bin walks home and mumbles, “This will bother me now.”
Hwi-young stops to shoot baskets after his academy class and contemplates his reason for helping Soo-bin. When he gets home, his mother is waiting to ask, “I hope you’re not distracted from your studies because of Soo-bin.” Hwi-young escapes to his room as his mother reminds him, “I trust you, son.”
Soo-bin’s mother checks her daughter’s academy notebook and is impressed with Tutor Sohn. Soo-bin recalls promising Ro-mi that she’d quit if she didn’t pass the level test and Ro-mi asked, “Can I take the test for the class if you quit?”
Soo-bin tries to discuss Tutor Sohn’s class with her mother but she changes her mind. Instead, Soo-bin asks her mother to keep quiet about the free-talking test but Mom already decided to drop it. Soo-bin’s relief is short-lived when her mother instructs her not to befriend the boy who was forced to transfer.
Soo-bin reviews her script in bed and remembers Joon-woo’s explanation that sleeping with the light on just became a habit. Joon-woo is in bed too and he recalls Soo-bin’s suggestion, “You should practice sleeping with the lights off starting today.” Joon-woo turns on the light and finally admits why he leaves it on — it makes him feel less lonely.
In a dream, Joon-woo finds Jung-hoo standing in front of a nice house with a puppy named Rice, and he awakens with a smile.
At school, the vice-principal informs Mr. Oh that he was bombarded by complaints from parents all night because of the free-talking test. The vice-principal orders him to drop the test but once he leaves for the Education Office, Mr. Oh smiles.
Before class, Mr. Oh has to muster up his courage to enter his classroom. He gets the free-talking test started by randomly selecting the first pair — Da-hwin and Oh-je. Da-hwin shares her dream to become a make-up artist because feeling pretty makes her more confident and she wants to help others have that experience.
When they’re done, Oh-je and Da-hwin get a round of applause but Da-hwin isn’t finished. She tells Oh-je, “I want to be your girlfriend,” and as the class chants, “You should date,” Oh-je whispers, “Yes.”
Mr. Oh is so happy when he tells the class to quiet down and they listen. His triumph is short lived when Da-hwin points to the door. Mr. Oh jumps at the sight of the vice-principal, who puts Hwi-young in charge so that Mr. Oh can come with him.
During clean up duties, the girls acknowledge that everything worked out for Da-hwin. They’re worried about Mr. Oh and wonder which of the parents got to the vice-principal. Chan-yeol has her suspicions when Ro-mi walks up and asks, “Me?”
Chan-yeol accuses Ro-mi of having a guilty conscience and the two girls look as if they’re about to fight when Soo-bin shrieks, “I’m upset too!” Soo-bin explains, “Do you know how hard I worked to teach that fool?” Soo-bin walks away in frustration but when she sees Joon-woo, she asks herself, “Why am I disappointed?”
Mr. Oh sits alone near the athletic field and recalls the vice-principal’s decision, “…you’re no longer teaching Class Three. It’s what the parents, their homeroom teacher, and I want…” When Joon-woo sees him, he rolls a water bottle down the stairs, giving him a chance to talk to Mr. Oh.
Joon-woo musters up the courage to ask in English, “What’s your dream?” Mr. Oh confesses that he’d like to be able to buy whatever he wants because he’s a shopaholic. Joon-woo tells Mr. Oh, “You’re a lot like me. You’ve lost your dream.” Soo-bin joins them to complain, “What is this? We worked so hard for the English test.”
After all of her effort to train Joon-woo, Soo-bin wants the chance to give their talk. Mr. Oh agrees to a special test and soon, Soo-bin is asking Joon-woo, “What’s your dream?” Joon-woo gets off to a rough start and Soo-bin calls for a time-out and encourages Joon-woo, “You can do it.” Hwi-young walks by and even from a distance, he can see Soo-bin’s smile.
After Joon-woo shares his dream of sleeping with the lights off, Soo-bin expresses her desire to go to college as soon as possible to escape from her mother. Soo-bin’s mother is always disappointed with her, so Soo-bin dreams of the chance to live by her own standards.
When Joon-woo ends by telling Soo-bin, “I’m rooting for you,” the proud teacher gives the pair an unofficial score of 100 points. Mr. Oh suggests getting pizza to celebrate but as the trio walks off the field, Mr. Oh’s phone rings.
Joon-woo runs into an emergency room where the doctors are trying to resuscitate a badly injured Jung-hoo. Mr. Oh leads Soo-bin away as Joon-woo cries for the young boy who kept him company during a nighttime storm, the friend who bid him farewell just the day before.
In the funeral hall, Joon-woo sits alone in front of his friend’s portrait to mourn the boy who was more like a brother than a friend. Mr. Oh walks in with Soo-bin, Hwi-young and Oh-je but they decide to give Joon-woo some privacy and move into the empty hall. Mr. Oh explains that they haven’t been able to reach Jung-hoo’s father and that his grandmother is in a care home.
Oh-je offers to get some food for the small group but he stops when some detectives walk in with Jung-hoo’s assailants. Joon-woo recognizes the boys who beat him and Jung-hoo but he steps aside as they pay their respects. On their way out, Geon-hyuk tells Joon-woo, “Do you know Lee Ki-tae…He paid us money to get you expelled.”
Joon-woo stares at Hwi-young in horror as Hwi-young’s words come back to him, “You were making a big thing out of nothing instead of disappearing quietly.” Joon-woo charges at him and hits Hwi-young in the face again and again, unable to hear anything until Soo-bin shouts, “Joon-woo, stop!”
Joon-woo stops and looks down at Hwi-young, who’s staring up at him.
Every now and then a drama comes along where I can pinpoint the exact scene that steals my heart. That’s exactly what happened in this episode of A Moment at Eighteen.
As Mr. Oh’s students grapple not only with their English, but with identifying their dreams, Joon-woo finally seems to settle in at his new school. But part of his heart is still at his old high school in the form of his life-long friend, Jung-hoo. Even though Joon-woo’s life was turned upside down when he took the blame for his friend’s crime, he worries about Jung-hoo constantly. After Jung-hoo delivers his confession to Mr. Oh in a letter, the two boys finally have the chance to have a heart to heart talk and Jung-hoo apologizes for all of the suffering that Joon-woo endured on his behalf.
Perhaps it’s because of Jung-hoo’s sincere apology or Mr. Oh’s assignment that has Joon-woo focused on dreams, but as his friend is about to get on the bus for home, Joon-woo has something to say, “We can overcome it.” It’s those words of hope for a fellow “nobody” that really got to me and in that scene, I think Joon-woo discovered his true dream and he wanted it to be Jung-hoo’s dream as well.
That poignant scene only makes what comes after that much harder to get through. After all of Soo-bin’s and Joon-woo’s hard work, they get the opportunity to show Mr. Oh what his assignment meant to them. It gives Mr. Oh some much needed encouragement after being removed as the homeroom teacher of Class 3 and he convinces Joon-woo and Soo-bin to celebrate their accomplishment with some pizza. Until that fateful phone call.
I have to admit that even though there were multiple hints that Jung-hoo wasn’t long for this world, I didn’t expect that he would be gone by the end of the episode and that Ki-tae would already be implicated in his death. As realization washed over Joon-woo’s face, all I could think about were all of the big and small choices, seemingly unconnected, that brought all of those people together in the funeral hall. Joon-woo made a choice to help his friend and was forced to transfer to Hwi-young’s school. There, Joon-woo made an enemy of the class president after seeing a watch in a trash bag, but he decided to stay at his new school rather than be run off by Hwi-young. Hwi-young recruited Ki-tae to get Joon-woo expelled, and after the thugs he hired failed after their first attempt, they were ready to try again. And Hwi-young did nothing to stop them in spite of his concern.
Of course the person who set all of these events in motion was Jung-hoo himself, the culprit who decided to steal some money in the first place. After Jung-hoo returned home, the thugs must have cornered him so that he would summon Joon-woo, just like he did the first time. But I’m convinced that Jung-hoo didn’t want to cause his friend any more trouble and when he resisted, the beating must have escalated, costing Jung-hoo his life.
The second that Joon-woo knew that Ki-tae was involved, he knew that Hwi-young was involved too and he lost it. It’s only a matter of time before someone else connects the many dots and Hwi-young and Ki-tae are implicated in a serious crime. But I’m getting the feeling that Hwi-young is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s Mr. Oh’s removal, the vice-principal’s strong connection to certain parents and the other teachers’ unwillingness to challenge Hwi-young or the vice-principal. I’m guessing that Jung-hoo’s tragic death so early in the story may be the catalyst that unearths what’s really going on at that high school.
- Premiere Watch: A Moment at Eighteen
- Shin Seung-ho plays the piano for A Moment at Eighteen
- Throwing away the old and bringing in the new in A Moment at Eighteen
- A warm encounter begins a first love story in A Moment at Eighteen
- New posters from youth drama A Moment at Eighteen
- Kim Hyang-gi, Ong Sung-woo, and more attend A Moment at Eighteen script read
- Kang Ki-young, Moon Bin join Kim Hyang-gi, Ong Sung-woo in JTBC youth drama