A Moment at Eighteen: Episode 7
What an ominous episode title! Though the show is invoking the most infamous star-crossed lovers in this installment, I’m glad to see that it seems to be channeling the first part of the play, when Romeo is just super awkward. Because that’s definitely what our sweet transfer student and his love interest are dealing with as they try to just find a moment to talk to one another. After both confessing, the two can’t seem to move on to the next stage. Meanwhile, our class president faces the consequences of a tiny slip-up on his own.
EPISODE 7: “Romeo and Juliet”
In the nurse’s station, Joon-woo finally gets the courage and confesses that he likes Soo-bin not once, not twice, but four times he says the words. Soo-bin is so thrown off, she scalds her hand at the water cooler. Joon-woo gets a wet cloth to cool it, holding her hand and staring into her eyes… and then the door swings open, and Joon-woo and Soo-bin both scatter as Hwi-young marches in.
Hwi-young is first concerned about Soo-bin’s test, but he’s also here to say that he wanted to take her to the nurse’s office himself, if it weren’t for the test. Soo-bin laughs that his mother would kill him if he got a question wrong because of her, and while Hwi-young looks hurt, he also knows it’s true.
Hwi-young gestures for Joon-woo to leave so that he can take over, and in response, Joon-woo very deliberately takes a seat to hold his ground. The disagreement is interrupted by the nurse this time, and both Joon-woo and Soo-bin blurt out each other’s injuries to her.
They sit side by side as the nurse treats Soo-bin’s burn and Joon-woo’s cut from carrying Soo-bin. Now it’s Soo-bin’s mother’s turn to bust in on the moment, and she loudly laments that this had to happen during the exam, and praises Hwi-young when she hears that he stayed to finish his test while Joon-woo was the one who took Soo-bin to the nurse.
And finally Mr. Oh manages to slip away after supervising the test to check on his students. Soo-bin’s mother is on him immediately about any accommodations that can be made due to the circumstances. They take the conversation to the hall. Mr. Oh is surprised to hear that Mom already has a doctor’s appointment for Soo-bin (one of her doctor friends from school), while Mom wants Mr. Oh to go over the test answers before they leave so that she knows the results. Mr. Oh would prefer to do that later, but Hwi-young volunteers to use his own answers to check with the class.
Soo-bin returns to class, while Hwi-young takes his favorite spot at the front and begins to go through the questions. Joon-woo takes one look at his own paper, and instead retreats to the hall to take care of the recycling. On his way, he spots Mr. Oh and Soo-bin’s mom still talking. He passes them by, but lingers long enough to hear Soo-bin’s mom ask his teacher to keep him away from her daughter.
After all the answers are tallied, it seems that Soo-bin didn’t manage top tier as hoped. But she was still able to best Ro-mi, even after all of the efforts to get her into the tutor’s class. Their friends make fun of Ro-mi and all the fuss that she put up, until Pil-sang yells at them to knock it off.
Joon-woo’s lost in thought at the recycling shed, thinking about Soo-bin’s mom’s reaction to him in the nurse’s station. Then he spots Soo-bin leaving school with her mom, and he watches and Mom berates Soo-bin for her mistakes on the exam. “It’s not like you have a terminal illness,” Mom retorts when Soo-bin tries to point out that Mom’s more worried about the exam than her feeling ill. Mom then moves on to the topic of Joon-woo, and tells her daughter to stay away from the attractive troublemaker. Joon-woo overhears Soo-bin as she protests that they’re just classmates.
Hwi-young holds court in his study group, smugly smiling as he promises to help everyone understand the ones they got wrong. His grin falters when Sang-hoon turns up and promptly demonstrates that for one problem in particular, the math teacher set up a trap, and Hwi-young fell for it. Sang-hoon shows the way to find the real answer, proving Hwi-young wrong in front of the group.
Hwi-young bursts into the hall and out to call his math tutor. He demands that the tutor solve the problem for him, right now, and the guy pulls his car over to provide the solution. He demonstrates that Hwi-young did get it wrong, and Hwi-young smashes his phone into the ground.
Meanwhile, poor Soo-bin can’t stop thinking about Joon-woo, especially since she hasn’t heard from him since his confession. She even asks the doctor if it’s possible that she hallucinated the whole thing, haha. The doctor’s response haunts her even after Mom has tucked her into bed at home with some porridge, because the doctor indicated that yes, under extreme stress it’s possible to imagine things or get situations mixed up.
Hidden under the covers, Soo-bin tries to imagine what Joon-woo “really” said: “You felt so heavy, I totally thought I was going to break my back.” But her burn certainly proves that something happened, right? But poor Soo-bin, she yanks off the bandage to reveal no visible marks from it. It doesn’t help that there’s no message from Joon-woo, though she does get an invite to join her friends for karaoke.
The ladies are carefree in the karaoke room after their exam, and Soo-bin joins them fully invested. That is, until she hears that Oh-je and Joon-woo are coming too. The door swings open, and there’s Joon-woo with a bouquet of flowers for her. “I like you, did you think it was your imagination?” the apparition asks, and then Soo-bin blinks and finds Oh-je, not Joon-woo, standing in front of her looking perplexed. Alas, Oh-je shares that Joon-woo had to go to work and couldn’t come.
Soo-bin’s mood declines considerably after karaoke, and her friends wonder if she’s still sick. Meanwhile, Joon-woo has the exact same moody expression on his face as he wipes down the windows at the convenience store. Ji-min complains about how much more work she had to do to cover Joon-woo’s mom’s efforts, and Joon-woo defends Mom, until Ji-min playfully threatens to call their boss and let him know what’s been going on. Joon-woo switches to compliance and offers to organize storage, and Ji-min smiles and sends him to eat some ramyun first.
In between bites of food, Joon-woo pauses to consider the bandage on his hand and remembers what happened earlier. So he turns to Ji-min and asks what someone should do after they confess that they like them. But of course, he’s not asking for himself, but for his friend Oh-je. Ji-min says that the next step is obviously to kiss the girl.
Back to Soo-bin and the girls, who are also trying to work through what happened to Soo-bin’s “friend.” They are scandalized to hear that the guy confessed and then hasn’t called, texted, or made any plans post-confession, even as Soo-bin tries to find any excuse to cover for his actions. But, definitely not someone who likes her. No way. Haha.
They manage to turn the subject to Ro-mi, who was absent from karaoke. Ro-mi told them all that she was headed to a spa with her mom. But we soon see that this was a lie, and that Ro-mi is at a new tutoring center trying to find another tutor. The price is way too high for her though, and she’s in an even worse mood when her dad calls to say that he can’t come pick her up.
Back at school, Mr. Oh finds Hwi-young still hunched over his exam at a desk. Mr. Oh breezily tells Hwi-young not to obsess and take a small mistake so seriously, and continues to dismiss Hwi-young’s reaction when Hwi-young says that this mistake could change his whole life. Hwi-young leaves, but not before getting a dig in that Mr. Oh didn’t even go to university in Seoul, so what would he know? On the way home, Hwi-young gets a message from mom asking to strategize how they’ll handle the math exam issue.
Soo-bin returns home just long enough to rally some courage, and heads out again to find Joon-woo. Joon-woo, meanwhile, tries to take Ji-min’s advice, who suggested a text if kissing was a little too much. But several aborted drafts later, Joon-woo is distracted by Ro-mi, who pops out of a phone booth next to his bike to ask for a ride home. Joon-woo says that he’s got a flat, so she then demands to borrow his bus card. Joon-woo uses a pass on his phone, so Ro-mi drags him, along with the phone, to the bus.
At the stop, Ro-mi badgers Joon-woo with questions–does he like her or Soo-bin? Is it because he thought Ro-mi wasn’t interested, so he was just willing to accept anyone? Joon-woo gets Ro-mi’s name wrong again as he tries to explain things to her, but she pushes him towards the bus. At the same time, Soo-bin exits that same bus, and spots Ro-mi and Joon-woo together. She doesn’t notice that Joon-woo asks the bus driver to stop and let him off, and Joon-woo doesn’t notice that’s he’s dropped his phone until he’s on the sidewalk. Ro-mi spots the phone, but it’s locked (thank goodness).
At a bar, Mr. Oh drowns his sorrows in some soju. Apparently Hwi-young’s comment about his non-Seoul academic background hit hard, especially since it’s just what his mom used to say. Across the counter, Ji-min is also deep into her soju sorrows, having received another interview rejection notice. Ji-min doesn’t like Mr. Oh’s competing sobs, and bellows across the counter for him to stop, teehee.
Soo-bin’s back home again, but she still doesn’t have an answer from Joon-woo. With one last burst of courage, she calls Joon-woo. But it’s Ro-mi who sees the phone light up with a call from someone called “it’s okay” in Joon-woo’s phone. Ro-mi answers and stays quiet while Soo-bin rambles. Soo-bin is confused by the silence, and startled when the phone call ends without anyone saying anything.
Joon-woo paces around his room, trying to figure out a way to contact Soo-bin without his phone. He tries to login to messaging on his computer, but two-factor authentication blocks him. He goes to Bumbi for a ride, but he realizes that he doesn’t know where Soo-bin lives. Instead, the two of them stay home, wondering what the other is thinking.
Another morning, another school day. Da-hwin chases after Oh-je to ask why he didn’t call, and he tells her that he had to work. Joon-woo arrives and tries to speak to Soo-bin at the locker, but Soo-bin bulldozes him over, fast-talking through both her efforts to contact him and also trying to seem like nothing happened between them.
Joon-woo watches her walk away, as Ro-mi slides up to return his phone. She watches him watch Soo-bin with puppy dog eyes, while Pil-sang watches Ro-mi. He stands agape, surprised that Ro-mi has a crush on the new kid.
Hwi-young’s mother is also at school to discuss the math problem with the vice-principal and the math teacher. The VP laughs nervously as he promises that the math teacher won’t ask bad questions like that again, ignoring the teacher’s protests. Mr. Oh interrupts their meeting, and after a quick introduction, Hwi-young’s mom sits to have a one-on-one with her son’s new homeroom teacher.
Mom asks for an open class to allow her to come observe Mr. Oh’s class to confirm his qualifications. Mr. Oh holds up against her and says that he doesn’t need her quality check, but that he’s planning on having a meeting with parents to introduce himself. Mom isn’t quite discouraged yet, and says that she’s heard that Mr. Oh has been “putting the brakes” on her son’s study plans. She says that the reason the class does so well is because Hwi-young is allowed to develop his own study plans, and asks that Mr. Oh respect that. In response, Mr. Oh gives a small nod.
Sang-hoon tracks down the math teacher as soon as he hears that all answers to the math problem in question will be considered correct, and the math teacher pulls him into his office to explain. Mr. Oh finds his classroom abuzz with the news that Hwi-young is again top student.
Mr. Oh then asks the class to elect a vice-president of their class, since the role is currently empty. It’s clear that it’s been left that way so that Hwi-young could have control, but Mr. Oh keeps pushing for it. Several of the girls self-elect, and Pil-sang’s offer to volunteer is quickly shot down by nearly everyone. Mr. Oh keeps looking at Joon-woo, until Joon-woo finally raises his hand. He says that he wants to recommend someone, and Oh-je protests that he’s not interested. But then Joon-woo recommends himself, Ro-mi quickly seconds it, and he receives several additional votes, to Hwi-young’s chagrin. Mr. Oh calls Joon-woo’s mom right away to let her know that her son volunteered for the position, and Mom smiles broadly.
First assignment for the new class vice-president? Dodgeball team selection. Joon-woo wins first pick of teams and chooses Soo-bin, and the class is soon split and enthusiastically hurling the ball at one another. Joon-woo and Hwi-young have a brief stand-off, each catching the other’s throw over and over again until everyone else complains. Hwi-young insists on dominating for his side, jumping in front of even Oh-je. Joon-woo watches out for Soo-bin the whole time, and then finally gets his chance as a ball hurtles her way. He stands in front of her, his arms out, and takes the hit in the back. The other students watch, looking a little unimpressed with his demonstration of chivalry, haha.
The girls gossip in the locker room afterwards, noting Joon-woo’s efforts. Soo-bin is definitely thinking about it, and what it might mean.
Meanwhile, Hwi-young waits until everyone else leaves the locker room before undressing. He doesn’t realize that Joon-woo’s still in there. Hidden behind a curtain, Joon-woo spots the mottled bruises all over Hwi-young’s shoulders. As Hwi-young stands before the mirror, we flashback to the night before, when his dad learned about the math problem. Dad stepped forward to strike, golf club in hand, and Hwi-young’s mom jumped in front to protect her son. Hwi-young wrapped his arms around her, taking the hits.
Outside the locker room, Sang-hoon waits to catch Joon-woo. He offers to finally clear Joon-woo’s name regarding the watch incident. Around the corner, Hwi-young hears them talking and stays put to listen in. Joon-woo turns down Sang-hoon’s offer, telling him that he’s not interested in being used for Sang-hoon’s own revenge.
Sang-hoon finds Hwi-young next, calling Hwi-young his parents’ pet. Sang-hoon leans in to Hwi-young, grabbing at his shoulders, as he promises that Hwi-young will get what’s coming to him. Once Sang-hoon leaves, the pain becomes unbearable and Hwi-young finds a spot to cower with his wounds. He sits alone, tears coming to his eyes.
Joon-woo waits for Soo-bin at the bike rack, but her friends whisk her away to her house for the afternoon. Not to be stopped, Joon-woo heads to Oh-je’s dad’s restaurant to ask for Soo-bin’s address. The delivery requests are coming in like crazy though, and Oh-je is also taking care of his infant brother. Joon-woo offers to take on the deliveries, but ends up with a baby strapped to the front of him instead.
Women coo after the baby in the park, saying that he looks just like Joon-woo (Did someone just have a spare baby on set? I love how silly this is). Oh-je finally returns from deliveries, and Joon-woo asks for Soo-bin’s address. Before he heads over, Joon-woo practices what he’ll say to a stray kitten, and Ro-mi spots him.
She’s on her way to Soo-bin’s as well, but Joon-woo asks if he can go first because he has something important to say. Ro-mi takes her chance though, and tells Joon-woo that she is willing to date him. Joon-woo looks at her, stunned, and then does his best to gently explain that he doesn’t have feelings for her, but for Soo-bin. He apologizes for any confusion, but then leaves her behind when he spots Soo-bin and her mom walking away from the house.
He jogs over, Soo-bin flashing him looks begging him not to say anything in front of Mom, but he’s waited long enough. He bows deeply to Mom, and then asks if he can have a moment to talk to Soo-bin.
These two are both so brave. Joon-woo is so brave in this final moment, knowing fully what Soo-bin’s mom thinks of him but not caring about it. But Soo-bin showed several moments of courage in this hour as well, rising up again and again to try to get an answer from Joon-woo, even as she began to doubt that the confession didn’t even happen. It felt like circumstances, rather than any silliness on their ends, that kept them apart for the whole day. So now I’m hoping that this goes well, and that Soo-bin’s mom doesn’t get too much in the way for now.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering if Oh-je’s situation is just that he’s too damn busy. He has to help out at home, he plays basketball, and he’s just not interested in spending time developing a romantic relationship in his spare time. The poor guy just wants to be the best Sports Oppa, and Hwi-young won’t even let him have that.
I understand why Mr. Oh would dismiss Hwi-young’s concerns about his grades. It sounds so overblown and dramatic when you don’t know the full situation, the kind of thing you might hear from a young person who doesn’t understand yet how small school can be in the scheme of things. Mr. Oh doesn’t realize the kind of home life Hwi-young is dealing with and the severe consequences for small mistakes he faces.
The stress is building rapidly for Hwi-young. He’s a target for Sang-hoon, he’s constantly challenged by Mr. Oh and Joon-woo, and he’s starting to see his friendship with Soo-bin slip as he prioritizes his own survival over helping her (and who can blame him?). Things are going to get intense really soon, and I fear that Hwi-young will lash out before he seeks help from others.
- 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