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A Moment at Eighteen: Episode 15

We’ve come full circle in our last week, as our distant transfer student is now the one thriving, and our former class president is the one tucking his tail and running. It may be exhausting, but our sweet couple give it their all as they work towards their dreams and support one another all the way. As for Hwi-young, not all the blame can be placed as his parents’ feet, and he must finally answer for his own bad behavior.

  
EPISODE 15: “Ways to Embrace Your Scar”

On the steps of Joon-woo’s place, Joon-woo leans in to kiss Soo-bin. They stroll to the street hand-in-hand, and when Soo-bin pulls away to walk home alone, Joon-woo holds tight and walks her to her gate. He apologizes for snapping at her before their kiss, and she says that she understands that he just wanted to keep his promise to her mom. Soo-bin grins when Joon-woo says that he’s had the best birthday of his life.

Soo-bin’s mom is home early, and Soo-bin gathers her courage and confesses the truth about her trip to Joon-woo’s house. Mom seems subdued; she doesn’t fight, reports that she’s let Soo-bin’s handler go, and even returns Soo-bin’s phone to her. Soo-bin accepts a math level test from her mom without argument and promises to do whatever her mom demands.

Once Soo-bin retreats to her room, we flashback to her mother’s earlier phone call with Joon-woo’s mom. His mother was in town for his birthday, and Soo-bin’s mom gets a hunch that proves correct when she spies her daughter at Joon-woo’s with their friends. Now in the present, she call’s Joon-woo’s mom and asks to meet.

Joon-woo goes straight to meet the art teacher Mr. Oh recommended for him, and the teacher is impressed with Joon-woo’s work, especially when he learns that Joon-woo hasn’t had any formal training. The teacher warns Joon-woo that he’ll have to work extra hard to catch up, and Joon-woo nods, soon working at an easel.

Soo-bin and Joon-woo’s moms meet, and Song-hee begs Yeon-woo to transfer Joon-woo to another school. Song-hee grows desperate, quick to apologize for selfishness and yet unwilling to withdraw her request. She tells Yeon-woo that she’ll do anything when it comes to her daughter. She knows Joon-woo is a good kid, but she can’t allow Soo-bin any distractions.

Tears trickle down Yeon-woo’s cheeks as she realizes that Song-hee said something directly to Joon-woo as well. And then she stands up and reminds Song-hee that she is also a mother willing to do anything for her kid, and Soo-bin is not the only child who needs to be protected. And for Yeon-woo, respecting Joon-woo’s feelings are the most important thing that she can do. She leaves Song-hee with her head in her hands.

Joon-woo ducks out of art class early to get to work, but he finds a moment on the bus to call Mr. Oh to thank him. Mr. Oh’s eyes well with pride as Joon-woo thanks him, and Mr. Oh still has Joon-woo’s drawing of a ladybug on his apology form, a reminder of how he got Joon-woo started on this path.

While Joon-woo’s day is busy, Hwi-young returns home to an empty house full of nothing but newspapers with negative headlines about his family.

When Joon-woo finally gets home, he opens Soo-bin’s present. She’s assembled art supplies for him, including a work apron with his name and peas embroidered in. Included is a note which Soo-bin labored over the perfect words while her friends helped wrap the presents. She apologizes if she’s picked all the wrong supplies, and Joon-woo thinks to himself that it could never be wrong if it’s from her. Her card continues, and she thanks Joon-woo for being in the world.

Mom arrives to deliver birthday food at last, and she listens to Joon-woo talk happily about his new art class and all of those at school who have supported him, like Mr. Oh and Soo-bin. Mom thinks about her conversation with Soo-bin’s mom, while Joon-woo also holds back his confrontation with his father.

Soo-bin and Joon-woo spend the nights at their respective desks. Soo-bin wonders how Joon-woo liked her presents, while Joon-woo stays up late drawing and smiling at her card.

Joon-woo wakes up the next morning at his desk still, and he barely manages a groggy hello to Soo-bin when she spots him on the way to school. Chan-yeol and Da-hwin both reassure one another that they’re over their crushes, and Oh-je can even join the group as a friend of Da-hwin’s now.

Soo-bin and Joon-woo take a spot on their bench. They catch up on their yesterdays, including Joon-woo’s art class and Soo-bin’s new tutoring academy. Soo-bin relays that she told her mother the truth, and that things seemed to have gone well.

Joon-woo sits down with Mr. Oh, and they discuss the upcoming investigation into Hwi-young’s grades, as well as the other issues at school he’s been involved in. Mr. Oh asks Joon-woo to prepare to answer any questions related to the issue with the stolen watch.

When Hwi-young opens his locker, garbage spills out all over the floor. Joon-woo can’t help but pick it up for him, though he tells Hwi-young he’s not doing it for him. Sang-hoon lingers behind them both, looking like he wants to say something.

Joon-woo’s got to dart out of class quickly to get to his art class, and he spends the day apologizing for being late at every new stop in his day, from class to academy to work. As the days pass, Joon-woo finds himself falling asleep on Oh-je’s shoulder in class. Oh-je is kind enough to treat his friend to some food at the family restaurant before Joon-woo has to rush off again.

Joon-woo’s struggling a little by now though, and he misses his bus stop on the way to work. Luckily, Mr. Oh is there is his place, and his teacher pretends that Joon-woo asked him to cover for him. When Joon-woo gets a break, Mr. Oh asks if Joon-woo can find a job closer to the art academy. Joon-woo says that he’s promised to work at the convenience store until the end of the month.

It’s dark when Joon-woo bikes by Soo-bin’s window that evening. She surprises him when she’s not upstairs sleeping but awake still and out for a walk. Joon-woo tries to convince her that he’s still full of energy, but his nosebleed betrays him.

Mr. Oh finds Ji-min at one of her part-time jobs. He comes bearing study books, and also mentions that he’s opened an online English study group if she’d like to swing by. Ji-min gapes at Mr. Oh, and he promises that regardless of their relationship, he respects whatever she decides.

Poor Joon-woo’s nosebleed finally dries up, and he rests his head on Soo-bin’s shoulder. He asks if he’s doing a good job, and Soo-bin tells him she’s very proud of him. She also repeats what all the adults tell her, that things may be rough now but always get better.

Test scores are announced at school the next day, and Hwi-young drops down to 36th place, ouch. But Soo-bin and Joon-woo have done well, and even Pil-sang moved up to 200th place. He’s eager to collect his date with Ro-mi, but Ro-mi is in a bad mood from her less than stellar grade. Mr. Oh drops by their table and reminds them to look at the sky, relax, and just try again next time. Chan-yeol can’t help but sigh over Mr. Oh as he leaves, and Da-hwin and Oh-je happily show off their good scores to one another.

Joon-woo eagerly shows off his improvement to Soo-bin, though he does regret breaking his promise and seeing her outside of school. Soo-bin says they should relax when they can, and the two retreat to the stairs. Joon-woo shows her an art contest he hopes to enter, and if he wins he can be considered for early acceptance to the school under a special talent category.

Soo-bin’s gaze turns distant though, and she sighs that she hopes to find her own path soon. Joon-woo pats her head to comfort her, and promises that she’ll find her way soon.

Sang-hoon’s friends congratulate him for finally taking the top spot, and do their best to rub it in Hwi-young’s face. Sang-hoon dismisses them and once alone with Hwi-young, tries to apologize to Hwi-young. He tells him that his father was the one responsible for leaking the truth. When Hwi-young responds coldly to his apology, Sang-hoon tries to return to their usual competitive repartee but Hwi-young doesn’t respond to that either.

The investigators arrive to question the teachers and students regarding Hwi-young’s case. Mr. Oh sits for their questions, and the students watch as others, like Ki-tae and Joon-woo, are called out. Ki-tae confesses to everything, and So-ye is there to reassure him once it’s over. Prior to the interviews, we see that Mr. Oh warned Hwi-young that he had to answer everything truthfully.

So-ye tells her friends at last what’s been going on, and Soo-bin now understands the full extent of Hwi-young’s behavior. She finds Joon-woo just as he leaves the office, and Soo-bin dissolves into tears as she apologizes and blames herself for not realizing what was going on. Joon-woo explains that he didn’t tell her because he knew how close she was with Hwi-young, and that he understands why she might have been blinded to the truth.

It’s Hwi-young’s turn to answer questions, and he confirms to the investigators that everything is true. He assumes that Joon-woo has told them everything, and the investigator mentions that Joon-woo delayed answering them for now.

At the end of the day, Mr. Oh offers Joon-woo a ride to the art academy. On the way, Joon-woo confesses that he still resents Hwi-young, but for some reason he couldn’t tell the investigators any of it. Mr. Oh points out that it’s because Joon-woo hates to hurt anyone with his words, even when it’s the truth. Once Joon-woo is alone in the studio, he finally breaks into tears of his own.

Soo-bin finds Hwi-young after school to confront him about his behavior. She’s disappointed in him, but also confesses that she’s upset at herself for letting him turn into this person all while she was at his side.

Soo-bin heads home after attending her tutoring academy, and her mom pauses before finally asking if the rumors about Hwi-young are true. Soo-bin doesn’t have an answer for her. She follows her mother into her office, where she points out that Joon-woo obviously isn’t a bad kid.

She asks if her mom can trust her now, and Mom calmly tells her that she trusts her, but that things can be unpredictable and Soo-bin needs to just trust her mother to take care of her right now. Soo-bin stands firm though, and tells her mother to just trust her for now before retreating to her room.

The next morning, Soo-bin picks Joon-woo up at his door. He’s surprised, but she promises him it’s alright. By the time Joon-woo arrives at school, he’s decided not to add any testimony to the case against Hwi-young and tells the investigators so. He means to tell Soo-bin, but she tells him that no matter what he did, he did the right thing.

Meanwhile, Hwi-young drops an application to drop out of school on Mr. Oh’s desk. Mr. Oh does his best to convince Hwi-young to stay, but Hwi-young doesn’t budge.

Hwi-young crosses Joon-woo’s path on the field as he leaves. He tells Joon-woo he should have answered the investigators questions, while Joon-woo tells him he doesn’t have to explain his decision. Hwi-young then declares that he’s dropping out, and that’s when Joon-woo unleashes his fury at last by delivering a punch to Hwi-young’s jaw.

Joon-woo calls Hwi-young a coward, and tells him that he can’t leave until he actually genuinely apologizes. Joon-woo tells him that it’s his pride that has him running, not any actual regret for his own actions. Tears fill Hwi-young’s eyes as he calls out to Joon-woo. “I’m sorry,” he says, as he drops to his knees.

  
COMMENTS

What is a suitable punishment for Hwi-young? The drama has done a good job of putting distance between those first horrible acts committed by Hwi-young in order to build sympathy for a young student under a lot of pressure. I think that’s why I appreciate that this episode pulled it back to the front, reminded us how much Joon-woo lost because of Hwi-young’s actions, and how that has left a lingering resentment. The case of the doctored grades is not his fault, and I don’t want to see him punished for that. But the bullying of Joon-woo and Jung-hoo, that is on him.

Joon-woo approaches his feelings to this situation in his own way. He isn’t interested in using his words to punish Hwi-young, and would rather see Hwi-young atone, in person, by staying in school and toughing it out. He’s seen how getting to take down Hwi-young has not worked out for Sang-hoon. But I do feel like the episode doesn’t overly emphasize Joon-woo’s restraint as the only right path forward. If Joon-woo had confessed all of Hwi-young’s misdeeds to the investigators, that would have been okay. If Joon-woo never forgives Hwi-young, that’s okay too. As the one who was targeted by Hwi-young, he gets to decide how he personally works through it.

There’s this tough edge that the show is approaching, where it’s trying to find a suitable punishment for a kid like Hwi-young. Because on the one hand, the mantra of the show has been all about how they’re all just eighteen, with a whole world waiting for them as they move on to adulthood. On the other hand, the idea of a young man’s life being ruined is a poor excuse for not having to face consequences. The show is trying to find an appropriate punishment for Hwi-young, while also giving him the space to grow.

I worry about Soo-bin. With only an episode left, she still needs to work through things with her mother, find a healthy relationship balance with Joon-woo, and decide what her own dream of the future is going to be? In the beginning, all Soo-bin wanted was freedom from her mother to make her own choices, and she’s not quite there yet but man is she pushing for it. A choice that I find appealing is to allow herself to not have a major professional dream yet and instead to just experience life and take her time. But she seems so adrift right now, watching Joon-woo work so hard to grab hold of his future.

Soo-bin’s mom seems to somehow still think that she’s acting in her daughter’s best interests. I cheered at the screen when Yeon-woo finally expressed to Song-hee what she needs to understand. Soo-bin is not the only young person out there. Her needs are not more important than others. No kid should be trampled on in order to lift up another one. Yeon-woo embodies the entire theme of this show to the end, and man I just hope Song-hee gets it before the credits roll.

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ong seung-woo and shin seung-ho executed that last scene so so well i was in tears by the end (this drama just drains away my tear ducts), jun woo’s pain was so palpable in that scene.

i feel like a proud mum of these two having followed shin seung-ho in a-teen and ong seung-woo from his produce 101 days, really looking forward to seeing what they do in the future

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I agree. That scene was cathartic and acted brilliantly. I have been getting massive headaches with all the crying I have been doing over these characters.

Shin Seung-Ho...Man...That was so good.

So proud of these boys.

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Totally agree. All this time I'm only noticing how great Seongwu is as an actor but maaaan, Seungho is definitely something else too. That tears and his pained reaction are so on-point that I am so hurt for him because he's on that situation and it can't be helped.

Of course, my all time favorite, Seongwu, never disappoints... at all. His rage, sadness, fear and happiness are perfectly demonstrated even if he is not talking and just using his facial expressions and beautiful eyes.

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The whole moment where JW calls the teach from the bus and tells him how teach impacted him and the emotion of that moment from teach was just perfect. I cried then as well but those were happy tears.

I noticed I cry for all sorts of different reasons in this drama!!!

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This was such a great episode!

Jun-woo finally got the apology he deserved, I think he really wanted to forgive Ma hwi-young but was struggling with "Why should I when he hasn't even apologized?", he resented him yes but I don't think he really wanted to, that's just not him and that's why he was so conflicted with himself! Ong Seung-woo did really great in that break down scene, I loved it!

Thank you for the recap!

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I cried for the whole episode
1. When Jun Woo omma saying that Sun Bi not the only mother who would do anything to her child and how hurt she is when she asked if Sun Bi omma ever saying anything that hurts Ju Woo

2. Jun Woo call his teacher ans said that he really in debt towards him. Looking the teachers back, I know that what Jun Woo said was really meaningful to him

3. Last scene when Hwi-young apologize to Jun Woo. Both actors deserve a standing ovation for theirs act! I cry a bucket!

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All the students have come a long way- Dahwin and Ohje's friendship, Joonwoo's decision to not answer the investigator's questions and Hwiyoung's tiny baby steps towards growth. But the one that surprised me the most is Soobin and her mother. Soobin was completely honest about when she sees Joonwoo outside of school and I think her mother is slowly starting to soften up :)

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On one side the show tells us that they are just 18 and have a life still in front of them but at the same time it tells us how for Korean kids failing in school at 18 equals a life of misery because you will never be successful in life if you end up in the wrong uni (or at least that is what the parents tell the kids constantly with the exception of JW's mom).
HY is going to gave 0 grades for this year and that will stop him from going to a prestigious uni. Sure, he is rich and he can probably enroll somewhere abroad, so that is really no punishment for him.
How to atone for what he did? Difficult to say. I think he will have to atone for a lifetime...not running away, setting aside his pride and start from the bottom? Work at the 7/11 maybe?

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Soo Bin's mother is so tiring... She's acting like her daughter was facing a big issue when she thinks that the fact they're dating could possibly make her daughter to not have the best grades...

For Hwi Young, it's good that he's facing what he did. But I'm surprised we don't see his parents anymore... They did bad things and they should be punished too, for the cheating but overall for the abuse.

Sang Hoon is so cute. He never knows how to act :p

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I was suprised that during the investigation against HY none of his parents were present, shouldn't at least one of them be there as his legal guardian?

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Are they not adults at 18 in Korea as in the U.S.?

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I have no idea, but it's weird that his mom was in school multiple times because she didn't like English homework but wasn't there when so much more serious matter was discussed.

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I believe they're 18 in Korean age, which means most of them are probably 17 in international age.

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Kdramas seem to depict 19 to be the age when they can do stuff like drink. In Goblin Eun Tak was all ditzy about celebrating her 19th birthday and she took the initiative to have an alcoholic drink and even to get herself a kiss in honour of the occasion. In my part of the world, to be legally adult one has to be 21.

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Too much focus on romance and too little of the rest of the students imho, and I can't stand SooBin mom, she acts like falling in love would ruin her life forever, whereas none of her daughter behaviour even indicate that. I like how they are approaching HY redemption but it's not looking belivable with removing parents from the picture. I loved what we saw of the rest of the gang, wish they would get more screentime.

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This is the drama that I'm not afraid to cry over and over again. The acting is really great, with a less speak more on actions and eye speaking is one of the instrument to feel the emotions and I can tell they truly pull this of especially Ong Seong Wu and with a co actors he has (all of them did a great job). I can't really believe that this is his first drama. Keep up the good work Ong Seong Wu. ☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️
I always wait for your recap. Thanks for the recap abirdword.👍👍☺️☺️☺️

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I dropped the drama after it focused too much in the romance. Just reading the recaps.

Even reading about Soo Bin’s mom makes me mad. What would this woman be if she had the power??
Now she is worried her daughter might resent her if she pushes her any further so she is using her friendship to make Joon Woo move? His studies don’t matter? His life, his friendships, his stability, his future don’t matter?

Soo Bin is struggling. I like that they didn’t magically throw a ‘she is a genius at this unknown skill’. So many student struggle with finding a path and not everyone finds it in school. I relate to this so much. I was the same. I joined the wrong major, regretted it, studied further to correct my mistakes and started a job unrelated to all this. I was 25 before
I knew my strengths and knew what I wanted to do.
She is so busy defending her freedom ‘to be’ that she can’t figure her life. Defense is not a very good strategy for long term.

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I was so mad at So-bin's mother for that! She knew she was being selfish but she still did it anyway, like other people don't matter at all, she didn't think about how Jun-woo's mother was going to feel, she didn't think about how that's going to affect Jun-woo's future, and honestly even if she says she has So-bin's best interests in mind I don't really believe her, she treats her daughter more like a property that is hers rather than a person who has their own life and can make their own choices! I know So-bin's young and I can understand her mother wanting her to be best and excel in her studies but give the poor girl some room to breathe and just be!

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She had made it clear that she doesn’t care about Jin-Woo mom’s friendship. She just failed as a friend. She doesn’t deserve her friendship.
She is a very selfish woman who goes around emotionally tormenting people (blackmailing, guilt tripping etc) around her. Especially people who are close to her. I hate people like that!!
Soo-Bin is so suffocated she won’t be able to excel at anything in this situation. She really is being mature and trying her best here.

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Exactly! I was just going through my friend's social media pages and she's posted something that instantly reminded me of Ma Hwi-young and So-bin's situations so thought I'd share it here:

"Your children are not you, they're not an extension of you and they're not your avenue to fulifll your dreams. They are individual humen beings who have their full right of belief, love, marriage, and career. They are free, don't impose your beliefs on them, don't choose for them, don't control them, just guide them and love unconditionally!"

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That request was a terrible move from Soo-bin's mom. I remember watching this scene without sub first and all I could see is how manipulative Soo-bin's mom was. As a mom, I can't even imagine that she dared to ask Joon-woo's mom to "sacrify" Joon-woo's study/life/friendship... at this school like this. Sure, she framed it as "for their best", but at the core, this move makes me feel Song-hee is no better than Hwi-young's parents who were/are willingly step on other to get their kids ahead.

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Yes. That was my thought too. If this woman had the social standing & power wouldn’t she behave like HY’s mother too? Going around trampling other kids who she sees are beneath her/her daughter.

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I'd say she doesn't deserve to be SooBin's mother

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That end scene, ughtthfty, just well done gentlemen, well done. I felt bot Hwi Young's apology and Joon Woo's need to hear that apology and hurt Hwi Young.

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ooooh. That cute scene when JW put his head onto SB shoulder. It's just too cute and too sweet. They don't only like each other, they're literally best friends! They can tease each other and just be sweet.

Until now, I can't accept that this drama just ended.

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