Answer Me 1994: Episode 12
It’s a lovely episode with honest feelings, heart-wringing twists, and reunions with past loves, old friends, and family. And maybe, just maybe, it also marks the tentative, hopeful start of something new.
Soooo, tvN has announced that it will be extending the series by one episode. It’s airing off-schedule now because of last week’s preemption, though it’s not like it actually took away an episode. But now the series will have 21 episodes so it can end on a Saturday, which isn’t a surprise given its ratings. Sigh. This had better not mess things up for the final stretch. *shakes fist menacingly*
SONG OF THE DAY
Green Zone – “사랑을 할꺼야 (I’m Going to Love You)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 12: “The miracle that will happen to us”
It’s June 1995, which means Mom and Dad’s baby Sook-sookie is already born. Haitai babysits by dancing to Roo’Ra’s “Angel Without Wings” with Baby in his arms. Mom chats away on the phone with a hometown friend about coming up from Masan for her son’s wedding. She calls him Jae-seok, which makes me think it’s one of Garbage’s hyungs.
On Binggeure’s turn to rock the baby it’s Park Jin-young’s “Don’t Leave Me” as lullaby, and Mom has another conversation about how the youngest of the brothers who lived with them for some time is the sweetest, and how she worries about him living with his hyung Jae-hyung. Okay, definitely Garbage.
And then it’s Sung Jin-woo’s “Don’t Give Up” as Chilbongie serenades Baby, complete with rattle-as-microphone. This time Mom’s friend asks about Na-jung and if she has a boyfriend, and Mom sighs that she hasn’t even had a hint of a prospect.
She wonders at the poor sap who will marry her and have to deal with her terrible temperament, with Chilbongie sitting right there. Ha. And not to be left out, Samcheonpo takes a turn and raps Kim Gun-mo’s “Wrongful Meeting” at Baby. That is decidedly the worst lullaby choice ever.
Dad goes to the hospital and clucks in disapproval when he sees how worn out Garbage looks. It still breaks my heart that he doesn’t live at the house anymore. Dad’s here to visit a childhood friend who’s been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and Garbage leads him down the hall, promising to look into the case.
Dad braces himself before entering the room and does his best to greet his friend with a smile on his face.
At home Mom tells Na-jung to hurry up because they have to go, and gasps in horror to see her come out in sweats. Mom says she can’t go over there to see the oppas looking that way, but Na-jung grumps that it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. For a second I thought they were going to the wedding like this, but it’s still the day before.
Rewind to ten minutes ago, when Na-jung was sitting in her room in a pretty pink dress. She even got the makeup out and started to get all dolled up to see Oppa… but then went totally overboard and ended up looking like a clown, which only depressed her more. So she washed it all off and came out in sweats. I so feel that pain.
She gets sent to drop off a suit for Garbage to wear to his brother’s wedding tomorrow, and she hesitates at Oppa’s door, deciding to at least powder her nose before ringing the bell. His hyung Jae-hyung answers (ha, he’s played by Jo Jae-yoon, a great character actor who’s in every drama ever).
As expected the place is a pigsty, and Middle Hyung is hilariously tacky. He’s shocked at how much Na-jung has grown up, and jokes that he ought to marry her. Dude, get in line.
He does seem genuinely worried when he talks about his little brother though, because he’s working himself to the bone lately especially with his new internship at a Gangnam hospital, which makes the commute harder on him.
Garbage comes home in such a sleepy stupor that he doesn’t even open his eyes and lies down on the couch and peels his shirt off to sleep, not even noticing Na-jung sitting in the living room. It’s only when hyung calls out to her to leave with him that Garbage cracks one eye open and sees her.
Still, when he gets up to give her a ride home, she’s back to adorable smiles. She says he didn’t have to drive her but he pinches her cheek, calling her his little monkey, and says it’d be dangerous: “It’s dark out and someone might mistake you for pretty and take you.” Hahahahaha. Gah, you are SUCH an oppa.
She snaps at him to stop touching her and pinching her cheeks, and he counters that it’s just his way of showing affection: “It’s because I like you.” She only hears it as, I like you like a sister, and gripes that she’s a woman too.
She asks if that’s how he was with all his past girlfriends, naming each with such accurate details that Oppa is surprised, realizing there’s nothing about him she doesn’t know.
He says again that it’s really because he likes her (Granted he’s not saying any of this in love-confession tone. It’s all just passing conversation.) and then goes with, “Are you on your period?” Oh noes.
That’s really not what she meant by “I’m a woman,” but then he goes off on this medical tangent about the symptoms of PMS, and aaaack, somebody stop him. She finally claps a hand over his mouth and orders him to drop her off at the next corner.
Yoon-jin and Samcheonpo wait in line to see Seo Taiji, and he complains about how much money she spends on all the useless things Seo Taiji has CF contracts to endorse, like the shirts they’re always wearing or the popsicle she’s eating now.
She finds it endearing that he’s jealous of Seo Taiji, and snuggles up to him, making him melt instantly. She asks if they can’t come back for tomorrow’s concert since today is just a rehearsal, but he pouts that she promised to go to see his concert of choice if he went to ten of hers. That’s cute.
He has tickets for tomorrow and insists they have to go despite her sour face at his ajusshi music tastes. But as soon as he drops the suggestion that he could go with her to next week’s Seo Taiji concert, she’s all aboard the ajusshi train.
Back in the car, Garbage is belting out a song by Green Zone that Yoon-jin just dissed as old-mannish (it’s “I’m Going to Love You,” posted above, which is a song all about how he’s going to love her quietly from afar in his own way even though she’ll never know… aaaand now I’m back to swooning at Oppa).
He asks for a tissue because he’s sick with a cold, and Na-jung only now notices how filthy the car is. She reaches over to peel the bit of tissue he left stuck to his lip and feel his forehead, and this time it’s Garbage who reels from Na-jung’s touch.
Na-jung gets all aegyorific with the “oppaaaaaaa, oppa-ya,” before asking if he’ll go to a musical with her. He has a study group session that night, but also complains that he doesn’t care for musicals because he doesn’t get why they have to sing everything.
Garbage: “I like you. I don’t like you. Why can’t they just say it?” You did NOT just say that. It’s what I’ve been screaming at you for seven weeks!
She sighs and tells him to pull over for some ddukboki. He sits down and asks permission to order soondae, and does this ridiculously cute fist-spazz in glee when she allows it.
She asks about his eldest hyung’s bride-to-be and asks what he likes about her, like her personality or her background. Oppa sighs that she knows nothing about men, and says the only thing they care about is a hot bod. It’s like you have a burning desire to be thwacked in the head.
They apparently have a rule about him never dipping his soondae in her ddukboki sauce, which of course he breaks the second she averts her gaze. They spend the rest of the meal with her back turned, and him making raptor-faces at her behind her back. It’s strange and adorable.
He walks her home and declines to go inside knowing he’ll end up drinking all night if the other kids see him around. He heard that Haitai has a new girlfriend, and she says he met her on a group blind date and already kissed her.
He tells her to go inside, and Na-jung just stands there silently with her arms outstretched until he laughs and hugs her. Awwwwww.
At home, the rest of the group is busy hearing about Haitai’s latest girl, his second new girlfriend in two weeks. He’s getting ready to go on an overnight trip with her, and everyone asks which of the girls had better legs or was a better kisser.
Na-jung joins them mid-conversation and she starts naming all his past girls as he tells them what he liked about each of them.
But then she asks about his hometown girlfriend, and suddenly Haitai grows quiet. Yoon-jin asks why he’s not talking, and Samcheonpo nudges her not to bring up that ex.
In voiceover, Na-jung says: “I learned it then—to a man there is always that one woman that should never be touched—her name is First Love.”
Garbage gets back home and hyung mentions that his first love Joo-kyung will be at the wedding tomorrow, since she’s the bride’s best friend. Garbage gets quiet for a moment at the mention of her (and how much she broke his heart and made him cry), but assures him that he’s totally over it and could probably have coffee with her and be fine with it.
He says he likes someone new now, and plans to confess properly once his internship is over. I still don’t know why you even waited this long, but speed is obviously not your strong suit.
Hyung gets super excited about the new crush, especially when Garbage says she’s really pretty (though he calls her personality terrible, ha). He says she’ll be at the wedding tomorrow, so he can try and guess who it is there. Can I just say, you giggling like an idiot when you talk about her is such a nice change of pace from the foggy non-answers.
Chilbongie pops into Na-jung’s room to confirm their plans for tomorrow night. She helped him with some homework so she requires a meal at the fancy new Gangnam mall and a tape as payment, which of course is a win-win for Chilbongie who gets a date out of it. She has the wedding and he has baseball practice, so they agree to meet at the mall tomorrow, and then he helps cover her face in cucumber slices and piles them on till she’s buried. So cute.
Dad visits with his buddy in the hospital and they laugh about the old days. When his friend waxes nostalgic about their favorite rice cakes from home, Dad promises to pick him up a piece on his next away game. But by the next day, Garbage looks in on the same ajusshi who was talking up a storm and laughing just last night, and he’s lying in his bed without moving a muscle.
Garbage is especially friendly with a family who shares the same room, and is happy to find out that the mom who’s sick is well enough to check out tomorrow. The husband notes that they have the same watch and Garbage says it was a wedding gift from his brother.
He gets so distracted that he has to be paged to get his ass to the wedding, and runs in late to join his family in the greeting line. His dad scowls in disapproval while his mom dotes.
What… on earth is Middle Hyung wearing? He’s got a three-piece suit on with no shirt inside, and declares proudly that it’s what (R&B group) SOLID does. Pfffft.
The parents light up when they see Na-jung’s family arrive, and the adults greet each other happily. The oppas’ parents coo when they see how pretty Na-jung is, and joke that she ought to marry into their family. Middle Hyung volunteers for the job, and Dad asks if he wants to die. Ha.
They suggest their maknae, but Mom and Dad scoff at the idea that those two could go two seconds without tearing each other’s hair out. The whole time Garbage and Na-jung keep stealing glances at each other in turn, and Garbage doesn’t even try to hide the shit-eating grin on his face whenever he looks at her.
After the ceremony, Garbage sits down in the banquet hall with a table of his old friends, and they ask if First Hyung bought him anything as a gift since he introduced the newlyweds. He shows off the new watch.
The girl at the table muses at how odd it is that this is the couple that ended up married when she always thought Garbage would marry Joo-kyung. The guys get all awkward at the mention of Garbage’s first love, and chide her for bringing it up.
Na-jung sits down next to him and when Middle Hyung gives her what he thinks is the best thing on his plate, she scowls. Garbage immediately takes it off and tells hyung she’s picky about her food, and gives her the things from his own plate that she likes.
Of course then he follows up the sweet moment by ordering her to go get another plate of what he likes, heh.
While she grabs another plate at the buffet, the dreaded ex shows up. Na-jung watches tensely as she walks over to the table and sits down next to Oppa. Noooo.
Na-jung plops down at the next table over with the housemates, and tells them that she’s Oppa’s First Love. Yoon-jin calls her pretty, and Samcheonpo says there’s no such thing as a first love who isn’t pretty, which gets him strangled. Haitai looks over at Na-jung with concern.
Binggeure suddenly runs out after getting paged, and then Garbage gets paged from work soon after and gets up to go. The dreaded ex gets up to return to the office as well, and when the friends point out they’re headed in the same direction, Garbage agrees to give her a ride. The horrible part is that Na-jung has to watch them leave together.
He doesn’t even seem that interested in First Love (or he’s possibly still angry), and when she gets in the car and asks if he wants to have coffee, he says he’s busy and offers to drop her at a subway stop. Phew, that’s the last we’re seeing of her, right?
The housemates leave the wedding and Yoon-jin and Samcheonpo head off to their concert, and Haitai frowns to hear that even Na-jung has plans and everyone is ditching him. She rushes toward Gangnam, worried that traffic might make her late to meet Chilbongie.
At the hospital, Garbage gets a page from Binggeure that sends him running. Apparently his mother collapsed, which was why he ran out of the wedding. Garbage runs to the emergency room and finds Binggeure there with his little brother Dong-woo, both sick with worry and not knowing what to do.
Garbage speaks with the doctors and nurses and returns with assurances that their mom will be fine—she just fainted from shock. He takes out money from his wallet and tells Little Bro to go grab a bite to eat and bring something back for Binggeure, knowing he’s too stubborn to budge from his mother’s bedside.
Binggeure sticks right by her side as she gets moved for tests, and the nurse asks why he didn’t tell the staff sooner that his hyung worked here. He looks up in surprise, and she says he doesn’t look anything like Garbage, who must resemble their father. Aw. She said his hyung asked them to take extra special care of their mom.
Elsewhere in the hospital Dad is back to see his friend, but this time he’s hiding out in the hallway listening to his friend’s mad ramblings, heartbroken at his sudden decline.
Na-jung sits on the bus checking and re-checking her watch, but traffic is at a standstill. Chilbongie gets to the mall early and heads to the record store to buy the tape he promised, and asks the clerk if the noodle place upstairs requires reservations. She tells him it’s closed right now because of construction, and suggests a place nearby that’s just as good.
Meanwhile a news report breaks describes the ongoing labor negotiations for a subway construction project. And on Na-jung’s bus, suddenly everybody’s pagers start going off all at once. Uh-oh.
In the concert hall, Yoon-jin and Samcheonpo get paged, and soon the entire audience is buzzing.
Na-jung looks out the window when she hears sirens outside, and cranes her neck out the window when she sees it—the jumbo screen on the building across the way, with the breaking news of a mall’s collapse to the ground, with about a thousand people buried inside. OHGOD it’s where she’s supposed to meet Chilbongie!
Na-jung freezes in shock, and by the time she gets up to exit, she’s sobbing and pounding on the bus door to open. Ugh, there’s just this knot in my chest. She gets off the bus and starts running, barely holding it together as she swallows back the tears.
Haitai watches the news from home and calls Na-jung in a panic and asks her to call back because he’s worried. He paces in his room, waiting to hear back.
At the same time, Yoon-jin and Samcheonpo hear what happened and run to the payphone. They call Chilbongie and leave a message asking if he’s okay, and to call them because they’re worried. Samcheonpo: “You’re okay, right? Right?” Yoon-jin cries the whole time, and he hugs her close.
Na-jung runs the whole way and waits for the light to change at an intersection, leaning on a tree to help keep her standing. When she catches her breath and looks up, ohthankyou there’s Chilbongie waving at her from across the street, happy as a clam, with no idea what’s going on.
The light turns green and he runs across the street to her. She remains frozen in place, reeling from the shock. It’s only when he stops right in front of her that he notices she’s sniffling back tears and trembling.
She throws her arms around him and breaks down in full heaping sobs. He doesn’t know why she’s crying, but just puts his arms around her as she cries into his chest. Na-jung says in voiceover:
Na-jung: Some people say there are miracles, and some people say there’s no such thing. But in moments of urgency, people inevitably pray and wait for a miracle. Thus, miracles need to exist—so that in all times of urgency there is some glimmer of hope for people to dwell on. Miracles need to exist.
At the same time, Oppa is in the thick of the triage hotpot, the hospital flooded with the injured and dying as he races from one bed to the other. (Now we know why they made a point of him working across town at a Gangnam hospital.)
It all happens in this dreamlike slow motion, and as he loses another patient, he looks down at the man’s bloodied wrist. Augh, it’s the same watch as his—his patient’s husband who went out to go buy dinner for his wife and little son on their last day at the hospital.
As Oppa looks around the emergency room, his face and coat covered in other people’s blood, a single tear pools in his eye and trickles down his face.
Na-jung: But miracles are miracles because they aren’t common. There are far more misfortunes we don’t think of than miracles we don’t expect. That is the world. Life is too cold and harsh to live believing only in miracles.
Dad’s friend has a lucid day, and tells him he has no intention of dying anytime soon. They laugh and agree that he’ll be fine and outlive them all. But on the day that he returns from that away game with those rice cakes in hand, it’s to attend his friend’s funeral.
Dad lashes out, cursing at his friend for leaving such a young son and wife behind. “How could you go like that, you terrible bastard? Where is there a Buddha and a Jesus? How could you take someone fighting to live?! Why you?!”
Na-jung: In the end, miracles are a matter of probability. Miracles only exist to one person, and to the 9,999 others, are simply empty talk of that thing they call miracles. Life is cruel with its absolute and overwhelming probability. But still, miracles are needed. Rather than the despair of a zero probability that will never come to pass, a ten-million-to-one chance is better. That is how hope exists.”
Sometime later, the news reports of another miracle save in the ongoing rescue effort after the mall’s collapse.
Mom calls Garbage to say she sent Na-jung over with food, but he’s sleeping at the hospital tonight. He calls Hyung, who mentions that he’s going to have some friends over, and brags about having a new girlfriend.
He remembers he never confirmed the identity of the girl Garbage likes, and asks if she came to their brother’s wedding. While they’re on the phone, the doorbell rings at the apartment and Garbage tells him it’s probably Na-jung. “And if you make a pass at her, I’ll kill you.” Hee.
Hyung calls him crazy: “She’s like a sister! What, is she your girlfriend or something?” And THEN, Oppa just smiles this goofy smile that says everything. His hyung can’t even see it, but it’s like he can sense it from the silence, and guesses right away that Na-jung is the girl.
He busts a gut and giggles teasingly, asking when it started as he lets Na-jung into the apartment. Garbage warns him to keep his trap shut because she doesn’t even know yet.
The day of her musical comes around, and Na-jung gets all dressed up to go anyway, but sighs in defeat when she realizes it’s hopeless to wait around for Oppa to suddenly change his mind. She gets up to change, when Mom pops in and hands her the phone.
We just see her rocking back and forth in excitement as she talks to someone on the phone, and then when she runs outside… Oppa is standing there waiting. Kyaaaa.
She’s shocked he didn’t forget about the musical, and he chides that it’s not a thing to forget. He asks if she wants to go on a date with oppa, and stretches out his hand.
She lights up and walks up to him, eyes hopeful. She slowly raises her hand and puts it in his, and he leads her away by the hand.
Na-jung: What is the probability that out of seven billion people on the planet, the person I like would like me back? Right now a miracle might happen to me.
He showed up! That’s a miracle in and of itself. It’s like his first time really showing up when it matters. Have we finally seen the death of Arbitrarily Opaque Oppa? (Please say yes, and please don’t ever bring him back from the grave.) I still contend that it was in service of withholding information to the detriment of the character that we had to go such a long stretch without ever getting a glimpse of this Garbage—the one who giggles like a little boy when he talks about his crush. In this episode it was even more blatant that he had no real obstacles holding him back—no family objections and no lingering attachment to a first love (and if it was more of a struggle over figuring out his heart, we should’ve been shown that). It makes the previous rendition of him that much more perplexing, except I think the real reason is an external choice to withhold for the sake of mystery, and it turned him into an involuntary chain-yanker.
But now that the show has finally decided that we’re allowed to know how Oppa feels, it’s pretty great. Because Oppa is great, especially when he gets to be himself and himself is a Na-jung-loving fool. It’s so refreshing to see him being so openly adorable when he talks to his brother about the girl he likes, or when he steals glances at her thinking he’s being stealthy. Him being terrible about how to express the mushy stuff doesn’t bother me (and I find his foot-in-mouth syndrome endlessly cute), as long as WE know that he likes her. Though I still have no idea why he’d wait so long to confess after declaring he’d fight Chilbongie to win, but then, his idea of progress makes a sloth look like a marathon winner. It’s okay though—that outstretched hand at the end was perfectly perfect in that understated but full-of-love, Oppa-esque way, and he’s lucky because Na-jung is still in love with him by the time he reaches out to her.
The mall collapse was beautifully woven into the episode, which put so much focus on the wedding (and the first love misdirect) that we were blindsided by the tragedy that we didn’t expect. I for one had a momentary freak-out when I thought that Binggeure’s little brother might end up being wheeled into the emergency room after going out for dinner, since that’s what the dad with the watch was doing when he got trapped. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I was convinced we were going to have to pay a price for Chilbongie surviving. Na-jung’s moment with him blindsided me too, because I was all ready to call it Oppa’s game, and then she had such a visceral reaction to Chilbongie being okay that it gave me hope that she might love him. Now I feel completely torn.
I was all ready to forgive Oppa and cheer him on, but then they put Chilbongie on the chopping block and my heart leapt to my throat. But at the end of the day it was really everyone’s sincere concern for one another that brought tears to my eyes—Haitai, Samcheonpo, and Yoon-jin’s worried calls, and Na-jung’s desperate race to find Chilbongie. It was mirrored in Dad’s heartbreaking loss of a friend, and Garbage stepping up to take care of Binggeure without having to be asked. And I love that that’s the heart of this show—that love between friends who take bonds that could be fleeting, and turn them into family instead.
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 11
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 10
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 9
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 8
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 7
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 6
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 5
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 4
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 3
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 2
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 1
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 0 Preview