Answer Me 1994: Episode 5
This is a cute episode that does a rare thing (in the Answer Me series) by sticking to one timeline. It even confines the story to twenty-four hours, where we encounter everything from the mundane to the surprising, in a day filled with idol encounters, communal showers, a mystery digestive ailment, and that thing about the boy you have a crush on and the perfect way he wears (and un-wears) a sweatshirt.
SONG OF THE DAY
Sung Shi-kyung’s cover of Seo Taiji’s – “너에게” (To You) for the Answer Me 1994 OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 5: “Words I Can’t Bear to Say”
The camera starts in on a close-up of Dad’s shocked face, and pulls back slowly to reveal the entire household hovering by him, everyone gaping in unison at the massive breakfast spread before them. Dad, ever the coach, tells them not to cave to fear, and sits down to eat like he’s going to war.
Mom singsongs her way through the kitchen and brings two more heaping mounds of food, making everyone’s eyes turn over. Dad asks if there’s something the matter with her today because it’s a lot of food, even for her.
Mom explains that it’s because all the kids’ moms keep sending them food, so they have to eat this way, otherwise they’ll never keep up and the care packages will spoil. That’s so sweet.
Dad decides they ought to know who sent what to properly thank them, like the fish from Samcheonpo’s fishing family, or the eggs from Binggeure’s farm. At the mention of Binggeure’s hardworking parents, Garbage chides him for skipping class all the time and disappointing them.
Dad chucks a fish at him, crying that his best friend recently called to ask if his son is still alive, since if he weren’t, it might explain why he hasn’t called home in half a year. Garbage hangs his head.
There’s this great beat where Dad takes a heaping spoonful of steamed egg only to spit it out instantly, and Mom deadpans, “That’s really hot.” Dad: “Thanks for telling me so soon.”
I love all the little side interactions at the table, like Chilbongie stealing glances at Na-jung the whole time, or Garbage scooping out his own rice to feed Binggeure more.
Garbage asks where the octopus is from, and Mom says it came up from Masan last night. Garbage: “Who lives in Masan?” Dad flings a second fish at him in exasperation: “Your mom. Your mom, you dolt. Your mom lives in Masan!”
Dad asks Chilbongie about his first game of the season, and Na-jung seems a little impressed as the other boys all call him the ace pitcher even as a freshman. She asks which order he bats at, only to have Haitai explain that he throws the ball, and that he’s a better athlete than her beloved Lee Sang-min. Na-jung flares up at that, thinking it absurd.
Dad chides Chilbongie’s coach for overusing him, as if he needs to store up his good pitches for when he joins the major league, and recounts that he’s had his eye on him since his high school days.
Na-jung recognizes the name of his high school because it’s where a lot of the Yonsei basketball players are from, and Chilbongie says they’re all friends, which drops Na-jung’s jaw. Haha. Suddenly he’s very cool, eh?
He offers to call the basketball house and get “Sang-min hyung” on the phone, and her eyes turn to saucers. And then just like that, he gets up, dials the number, and gets Lee Sang-min on the phone: “Hyung, it’s me, Jjoonie.” So cute.
Na-jung darts up from her seat, but when Chilbongie hands over the receiver, she freaks out and goes running. He chases her all the way through the house and finds her hiding under a table, but she shakes her head and pleads with him not to make her speak. I love it—when presented with her first real opportunity, she can’t say a single word.
Mom realizes there’s yet another dish she forgot to put on the table, and adds the crab that Yoon-jin’s mother sent. Samcheonpo takes one bite and makes a funny face, warning that maybe Chilbongie shouldn’t eat it if he has an important game today, thinking it could be spoiled. Everyone else eats and declares it fine, but Samcheonpo remains unconvinced.
Na-jung calls oppa to request his presence at an intramural soccer game today, but he can’t get out of his clinical rounds in time because of his stupid professor, who happens to be standing right behind him to hear the barb… followed by Na-jung’s shouty declaration over the phone that there must be something wrong with that professor “down there” if he’s still unmarried with such a great job.
Garbage sighs and kicks a milk carton into the trash while thinking of the missed game, and explodes milk all over his face for good measure. He joins in on rounds, and hey, there’s 1997’s Kim Jong-min and Juyeon among the docs! Hello, crossover cameos.
The professor lines up the med students to hear their thoughts on a terminal patient, and sighs that Juyeon won’t be making it very far in med school. Garbage is the only one who has a clue what to do, and the professor takes an interest in him and asks his name… which of course we cut around.
Juyeon tells her fellow student that a fortuneteller told her she’d marry a chaebol someday, and she’d meet him here in this hospital. Ha.
Garbage finds their patient’s two little boys fighting over their Gameboy, and adorably chides the hyung for not sharing and the little brother for not being more grateful. He warns that the hospital is lined with security cameras and he’ll be watching to make sure they take turns properly. Cute. He gets the good news that the interns are free to go to the soccer game after all, with the message from his professor that he’s intact “down there,” in case he wants to clear that up with the girl on the phone earlier.
Meanwhile Yoon-jin lines up to get into Inkigayo, and when she hears that they’re only letting in forty members of each fan club, she hurriedly jumps ship to join the ajumma fans in the next line. Smart.
Haitai and Samcheonpo get ready for their department’s turn in the soccer game and go slackjawed at the pretty cheerleaders (who’re here for the med students). Na-jung scowls more than usual at the drooling. She gets a stomachache, but the boys seem fine, so she lets it go.
Garbage runs home to change for the game, and hello there, oppa’s abs. Mrwar. He gets a stomachache too, which does not bode well for everyone else in the house. He stops by Binggeure’s room to take him to the game, and when he protests, Garbage just slings him over his shoulder and carries him out. Heh.
Haitai and Samcheonpo get called in to play for the game against the med students, and their sunbaes tell them they have a chance of winning as long as “that one guy” doesn’t show up… and then they all groan when Garbage arrives.
Na-jung lights up to see oppa, only to get all ragey when she sees that the cheerleaders are here for him. He stops the ref before the game starts to take off his sweatshirt, and walks back toward the stands.
He passes right by his fangirls without a second glance and scans the crowd up and down… finally landing on Na-jung. Eeee. He throws his sweatshirt over her head and puts his watch on her wrist before returning to the field, and Na-jung swoons silently as the cheerleaders fume.
She pulls oppa’s sweatshirt down and breathes in the smell. Squee. Is there a better feeling in all the world? Something about the look on Binggeure’s face in that moment pangs my heart though. Is he jealous?
At Inkigayo, Seo Taiji and Boys take the stage and Yoon-jin sings and dances her little heart out in the sea of ajummas, who gape at the stowaway fangirl sitting in their section.
Back at the soccer game, Haitai and Samcheonpo get hit with their stomachaches at exactly the wrong time, and spend most of the game running back and forth to the bathroom while Garbage scores goal after goal against them.
After the game, Binggeure waits in the locker room while Haitai and Samcheonpo shower. (They even argue in there about Haitai using Samcheonpo’s soap, ha.)
A shirtless Garbage comes out, takes one whiff of his shirt, then Binggeure’s, and literally demands the shirt off his back.
Binggeure just looks up at him with these big dewey eyes, and awwww, he does have a crush, doesn’t he? Garbage practically strips the sweatshirt off of him, but Binggeure gets all shy and turns his back to take it off.
Garbage ruffles his hair and heads back to work, leaving Binggeure moony-eyed in his wake.
The girls aren’t faring much better in the war against breakfast crab. Na-jung sits on the toilet hugging oppa’s sweatshirt, while Yoon-jin comes out of the bathroom long after the concert is over. She wanders into a hallway of dressing rooms, and runs into Kim Jung-min who introduces himself as a new artist, heh.
And then, she comes upon the holy grail: Seo Taiji’s dressing room. She gets a peek inside and sees the back of his head, but a manager tells her she can’t be here. Seo Taiji sees her outside and calls her in, and Yoon-jin isn’t anything like Na-jung when it comes to her oppa—she jumps right inside.
He offers to share the chips he’s eating (you know, those old-school bugle-shaped ones), and she sticks out her hand. It’s like a dream sequence from her point of view, the way the corn chips fall like flower petals, and she carries them all the way home like they’re made of diamonds, gold dust, and bottled rainbows.
She finally gets home and lays them out on her desk, and has a silent squeal over it. She’s adorable.
At home, the bathroom hijinks and gymnastics continue as Haitai and Samcheonpo get muscled out of their turn in line by Na-jung and Mom, and have to resort to heading outside. Gross, in the yard?
At the hospital, the terminal patient finds out that she doesn’t have much time left, but can’t bring herself to tell her two sons that she’s dying and leaving them all alone. She sees Garbage playing with them in the hallway, and finds him later to ask him if he can’t tell the boys that she’s just going away for a little while.
He mulls it over at his desk, and remembers that Juyeon lost her mom at the age of seven, and asks how much she understood about death back then.
At home Mom makes a simple porridge for dinner since everyone’s sick, and talk turns to which of the foods made them this way. They eliminate one by one because it’s something everyone had to have eaten, and Samcheonpo declares that it has to be the crab. Everyone stiffens awkwardly to see that Yoon-jin is embarrassed by it, but Samcheonpo remains as clueless as ever.
They see that Chilbongie is on TV for an interview after his game, and everyone heads to the living room to watch. They wonder if maybe it wasn’t the crab because he seems perfectly fine, but then he says in the interview that his less-than-perfect game was because he had an upset stomach earlier.
Then the sports news segment ends with footage of Dad running off his field mid-game, clutching his butt in a familiar posture. Samcheonpo declares that crab has left a big scar on their nation’s sports today, while the rest of the family tries to smooth it over like it’s no big deal to cushion Yoon-jin’s feelings.
From the other end of the couch, Garbage points out that Dad didn’t eat crab today, and a flashback reminds us that he got the call about an injured player and ran off before he could take his first bite.
Garage just keeps prattling on, but everyone else turns slowly toward Yoon-jin, who has silently burst into tears. Aw.
Sometime later that night, Haitai is yanking a petulant and embarrassed Samcheonpo, urging him to go say he’s sorry to Yoon-jin. But he shakes his head like a child and hangs onto the stairs for dear life, unable to say the words.
In the kitchen, Mom takes a swig of tea and spits it out, realizing she forgot to put it in the fridge last night. And then it dawns on her that the tea was the culprit at the breakfast table. She leaves a note on the fridge that dinner will be out at a restaurant, and that Yoon-jin’s attendance is mandatory. Garbage narrates in voiceover:
Garbage: In this world, there are words too difficult to say. There are words that you can’t bear to say to the ones you love. When you have to explain the pain you’ve caused another… and when you have to convey the truth to those who aren’t yet prepared for it.
Garbage sighs over his dilemma of what to tell his patient’s sons, and Juyeon tells him that she remembers everything about her mother’s last looks and how she felt, even at that age.
Haitai finally succeeds in stuffing Samcheonpo into Yoon-jin’s room for an apology, and he hems and haws before finally getting out a tiny “I’m sorry.” (Though hilariously, it’s the whole of his personality he’s apologizing for, ha.) She lets it go, saying she’s already forgotten about it, and he beams.
But then he starts chitchatting again, and reaches for a corn chip… and another… and another. Ack! She finally realizes what he’s doing and comes at him with a pair of scissors still in her hands, cursing up a storm at him for eating her precious treasure.
Garbage sits outside the hospital early the next morning, wondering what to say. He gets up and kneels in front of a bench and takes a deep breath before beginning his speech to the little boys. He explains that all people get sick, but sometimes, like their mom right now, they get so sick that they have to say goodbye.
He says that their mom will give them homework in preparation of that day, and makes them promise not to be too sad, to study hard and go to college, and for hyung to share with his little brother once a day, and for the little brother to hug his hyung once a day. He sticks out his finger to make them pinky-swear, and then we see that it’s not the boys he’s talking to, but Mom, as he explains that’s what she should tell them. Aw.
He says it doesn’t really matter what she says, but she needs to let them remember her face in the end. He sits next to her as she sobs, and then he gives her his Gameboy so that the boys won’t fight anymore. Augh, oppaaaaaa, stop making me cry!
Garbage: When you have to convey the truth to a loved one who will have a hard time accepting it, when you have to deliver words you’d rather die than say, you just have to think of one thing… More than any long speech, more than eloquent words, it’s the look in your eye that says that you love them—that one thing is plenty.
It’s so impossible not to love Garbage—he’s perfect. I didn’t even care about the patient, other than obviously feeling bad for her, because we know we’re only meeting her for one episode. But it’s Jung Woo’s delivery that makes it not matter, because the way he gives that speech, with his sincere eyes and his shaky voice, just wrings tears from my eyes on cue. He’s so good. I don’t know if oppa ends up being Na-jung’s future husband, but it doesn’t much matter because mostly I just want him for me.
I’m obviously not the only one either, because it looks like Binggeure’s nursing a pretty big crush (and may therefore already know about Na-jung’s feelings, though it’s hard to tell when he’s so introverted). I wondered early on if Binggeure was set up to be this year’s Hoya, which is certainly another of the many things 1994 lifts from its predecessor. But if he turns out to be, I would never bemoan another sensitive, progressive portrayal of a gay character from the Answer Me crew (besides which, dramaland isn’t yet in a place where a token gay character is even a thing). I’m looking forward to his development and was pleasantly surprised today that the first bit of jealousy and crossed wires among the housemates was with him and Na-jung. Yay for a step forward on the loveline entanglement front.
Speaking of which, Chilbongie already kills me with his stolen glances at Na-jung at every opportunity, so I don’t think we’re far from that storyline kicking into gear. How much do I love the way he earned cool points with her at breakfast by being friends with her idol, even though the rest of the table is busy trying to explain that he’s just as famous? It’s pretty great that she’s like, eh, baseball schmaseball, which he just finds cute and endearing because it’s her. Overall I just want more of Chilbongie and his adorably smitten grin. All the time. Moar. Moar.
It seemed so fitting for her personality that Na-jung’s big swoon today was as a fangirl in the stands of oppa’s big game, even if it was only an intramural soccer match. I loved everything about the moment, from Garbage being cool (because based on everything we’ve seen of him at home, he’s so not… and yet… why is he so cool?), to Na-jung getting to feel extra special because he seeks her out in the crowd. Isn’t it funny how the little things like, Here, hold my stuff, can be so meaningful when you have your first one-sided crush? The way she just drank in his sweatshirt like it Meant Things—it’s what this show does so skillfully—it encapsulates in one seemingly tiny gesture everything about the high of young, heady love.