Answer Me 1994: Episode 7
I love. This. Episode. Is it that it’s set to the anthem of my drama first love? Is it because Chilbongie finally gets his spot in the limelight? Or because love begins to complicate all the friendships that have been built under one roof? It’s summer in 1994, and we finally get to the good stuff: that messy, ardent, giddy thing called feelings.
SONG OF THE DAY
B1A4 – “그대와 함께 (With You)” cover of the Neukkim theme song for the Answer Me 1994 OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 7: “Summer That Year”
It’s a sweltering summer in 1994, and Na-jung has a new part-time job working the counter at a chicken and burger joint near campus. She’s surprisingly sharp and good with numbers, as she tells her customer the exact price difference between ordering his burgers and colas separately instead of as sets.
Someone pages her, and it turns out to be Chilbongie calling from baseball practice. He comes up with the adorably lame excuse that he felt like eating burgers, and wants to know if her store delivers.
She says he’d have to order something like twenty of them, and he happily orders fifty. Ermagerd, he’s so cute I can’t stand it.
So Na-jung and her co-worker (the computer science sunbae) head over to the field that night with fifty burgers in tow. The sunbae is giddy about making the delivery to the Yonsei baseball team, and thinks it weird that Na-jung is so blasé about it when their school is more famous for baseball than basketball.
He rattles off all the famous players he wants to meet, and Na-jung is shocked to hear him name Chilbongie. She says he practically lives at their house and thought that the Chilbongie nickname was something her dad made up. The sunbae laughs that any male citizen in this country would know that name, and again she’s a little impressed.
They make their way inside for the delivery and Na-jung is taken with the vastness of the open baseball field, the lights, the hotties in uniform. (Eeee! Neukkim (Feelings)! Excuse me while I burst into song.)
The players run up to claim their burgers, famous names on uniforms flashing by the screen one by one. They wonder who hasn’t picked up his dinner, and Na-jung recites the exact number of burgers taken and the one player who hasn’t claimed his: Chilbongie.
Just then, Chilbongie opens the door and comes onto the field, and humona, he’s shirtless. Na-jung practically has to pick her jaw up from the floor, and I love that she outright stares him up and down, ha.
He sits down with her to scarf down his burger, and she asks about the shoulder he has bandaged up, thinking it’s an injury. He explains that he’s just icing it routinely, and the girl behind them (I can’t tell if she’s a manager or a fangirl) asks how he knows Na-jung.
Chilbongie says they’re really good friends, and adds that she’s baseball coach Sung Dong-il’s daughter, and that earns her some cool points. He already knows what time she gets off of work, and asks her to wait outside after her shift so they can go home together.
She warns that he’d have to wait, but he obviously doesn’t mind, so they agree to meet later. And then he gets even more undressed as he unwraps the ice pack, and Na-jung tries not to faint while staring. Or is that just me?
She declines to stay and watch practice, but as soon as Chilbongie runs out onto the field and starts throwing the ball, she can’t take her eyes off of him. (Double Eeee! They remade the Neukkim song! It’s posted above. Also, I didn’t think it was possible to top oppa getting Seo Taiji’s “To You” as his love theme, but now Chilbongie gets Neukkim? Man do these producers know how to tug the right strings.)
As Na-jung watches, taken with baseball for the first time in her life, Chilbongie narrates:
Chilbongie: At a time in my life when I had nothing left if you took baseball away from me, I found a person who made me more excited, more fired up than baseball. The hottest summer in history was beginning, and my age twenty was following suit just like the season. It was the summer of 1994.
At home, everyone deals with the heat wave in their own way, from ice foot baths to spray bottles to fights over the prime position in front of the fan.
Mom and Dad literally lie down in the street, and Mom changes her mind again about the kind of fruit she wants, sending Dad grumbling back into the kitchen for the umpteenth time. He opens the fridge and screams to find that Yoon-jin has actually stuffed herself inside. Ha.
In his room, Binggeure lays out a brand new Boy London shirt like it’s precious, and curiously, Garbage puts on the same shirt to come outside. Is it the same shirt or a pair?
Mom decides she doesn’t want the black grapes that Dad brings, and says the baby is craving green grapes. She is so loving this, and I love her for it. She orders him to go buy some now, with the argument that she can’t wait till tomorrow because who knows what new cravings tomorrow will bring. Garbage has to hold Dad back from pitching a fit.
At baseball practice, Chilbongie gets called over to pitch for a third-year sunbae, who’s dripping with smarminess as he asks if that burger delivery girl is his girlfriend and if he’s slept with her. Chilbongie says they’re just friends, and the sunbae orders him to set him up with her so he can get some, literally swinging his bat around for emphasis. Gross.
Chilbongie clenches his jaw and doesn’t say a word, and then winds up for the pitch… and launches the ball right into Smarmy’s helmet. HA.
He clearly pays for it though, because when he comes to pick up Na-jung after work, he’s limping. Awww, did you get your ass whooped to keep Smarmy away from Na-jung?
She sighs to see him injured yet again, and decides that he should switch sports to basketball from now on. She cracks me up. He counters that he’s rather good at the baseball thing, plus there’s all the years he’s poured into the one sport that would feel like a waste. (By the way, he’s picked up the habit of imitating her accent whenever he’s around her, which is so cute.)
She admits that other people do keep saying he’s really good, and decides she needs to see for herself. She points to a can sitting atop a fire hydrant across the street, and asks if he can knock it down.
Chilbongie asks what she’ll do if he makes it, and she offers to never tell him to quit baseball for basketball again. He frowns that the target is too difficult for such a measly prize, and asks for an unnamed favor in return.
And two seconds later, the can falls with exact precision, from a tiny rock no less. Na-jung ooohs, acknowledging that he really is as good as they say, and asks what the favor is.
He says tomorrow is an important game, and asks her to come to cheer him on. Aw. She grumps that it’s awfully hot for that, but agrees as promised.
Na-jung comes home to her parents camping out in the street and calls them crazy, asking what the neighbors will think. They just point down the street, where the entire neighborhood is doing the exact same thing. They tell her they saved a spot for her, and she whines that she won’t sleep there, that is until Garbage comes out to take the spot next to hers.
So the family sleeps outside that night, and Na-jung asks Garbage if he’s sure about his friends on leave from army duty—they’re setting up their friends on a group blind date—warning that they have to be worthy because her Seoulite friends are really pretty.
He gets a little weird when she requests a particular oppa’s presence (saying that he’s the good-looking one), and gives the excuse that he’s not on leave this time. And then he snuggles her to sleep while she tries not to swoon too hard.
Mom asks Dad if he remembers her favorite soondae restaurant in Masan, and he recalls it fondly… until she says that the baby really wants to eat that soondae. Hahaha. Poor Dad.
In the morning Mom and Dad see Yoon-jin and Haitai off for their summer vacation trips back home. They say that Samcheonpo left at the crack of dawn because he has farther to travel, and suggest that the two of them ride together since they’re headed in the same direction.
Haitai thinks that’s a good idea, but Yoon-jin shoots him down right away: “You never know. What if a handsome guy comes along and sits next to me?” Hee.
Samcheonpo’s thinking the same thing on his bus, and perks up at the pretty girl who makes her way down the aisle. But of course it’s a granny and a wild toddler who choose the seat next to his.
Na-jung and her friends wait eagerly for their blind dates to arrive, though the city girls are wary of meeting guys from her hometown. Na-jung doesn’t know what they look like, but she assures them that they’re from the richest families in Masan.
The girls light up when Garbage walks in, thinking that he’s one of the prospective guys, which rankles Na-jung a bit. But that’s nothing compared to the look on her face when oppa’s friends arrive. Ha, they’re cameos from Jung Woo’s high school gangster movie Wish, that also co-starred Sohn Ho-joon (Haitai).
Na-jung’s reaction can only be described as an are-you-kidding-me snarl of death. Really, it’s your own damn fault for thinking that Garbage of all people would know that dudes in socks and sandals and gold chains weren’t cool. They should’ve at least shown up in their army uniforms. It would’ve been better than this.
At the bus station, a spot opens up on Yoon-jin’s bus, and Haitai happily climbs aboard and plops down next to her, declaring that what is meant to be will be. She rolls her eyes and rejects all his snacks, and he pouts that they’ve been living under the same roof for months now, so she could be a little friendlier to him.
He nabs her headphones to listen in on her Walkman and wonders if she never gets sick of Seo Taiji, which is a pretty dumb question for a guy who insists they’re friends.
Back at the blind date from hell, Garbage bites his nails down to the quick, looking back and forth and back and forth in the silence to end all silences. He answers a page that turns out to be a message from Na-jung, warning him to hurry up and get these losers out of here if he knows what’s good for him.
I love that they’re communicating this way. So then he leaves her a voicemail that she has to get up and check, and asks her to give the guys a chance, chiding her for judging a man by his looks, all, Is that what I taught you?
So she regretfully complies to continue the date, which goes straight downhill once drinks are ordered and the guys start telling terrible jokes. Why is Garbage sweating bullets so funny?
On the bus, Haitai falls asleep on Yoon-jin’s shoulder, which she in no way finds endearing, especially when it’s accompanied by a big spot of drool on her shirt. On Samcheonpo’s bus, the toddler falls asleep in his lap and leaves a puddle of drool on his pants.
It’s rest stop time and a group of peddlers climbs aboard the bus to sell gold watches, using a really obvious scheme by passing out numbers and declaring that they can only give this special deal to three people.
Samcheonpo jumps in excitement when his number is called and forks over the money, only to unwrap his new watch that leaves gold paint smears on his wrist. Poor guy can’t catch a break. It’s really his embarrassment that sells the moment—he feels cheated, but can’t bring himself to go after them and admit he’s been duped.
Haitai gets off his bus and asks if Yoon-jin isn’t coming along, and when she rebuffs him yet again, he snaps back childishly, “See if I ever speak to you again!”
Mom and Dad are left home alone, and Mom worries that Binggeure hasn’t called yet. It’s so sweet how the roles are reversed now and the kids have to call their Seoul mother when they go home to the country.
She wonders if he didn’t go home, and lo and behold, Binggeure is still on campus having lied to both moms. He puts in his notice to take next semester off, and then comes out to find the campus littered with announcements of breaking news: North Korean president Kim Il-sung is dead.
Everyone, from home to campus to rest stop to café is glued to the TV. And following the announcement comes the recall of all active soldiers on leave. Guess the blind date is over after all.
Haitai watches the broadcast in fascination and then belatedly realizes he’s been due back at the bus for a long time. He runs back to find Yoon-jin standing next to the bus driver, who yells at him for being so late and holding up the whole group. The driver asks if he can have his keys now, and Yoon-jin silently hands them over. Haha.
Haitai is shocked that she’d care, and sheepishly sits down next to her and offers her the bigger half of his twin popsicles. But she’s as prickly as ever, and tells him to eat them both.
Once the group date is over, Na-jung apologizes to her friends and offers to make it up to them with a night out. But one of the girls says she liked the one oppa and asks for his number… it’s Garbage, of course, and no amount of protesting will convince the girls that he’s not desirable.
So finally Na-jung lies that he has a girlfriend and lives with her, and the girls gasp, scandalized. At the same time, Garbage gets a call from one of the sunbaes saying that they made it back to the army base safely, and he asks Garbage for Na-jung’s number because he liked her best.
Garbage hems and haws awkwardly, arguing that she’s too young to be dating, and the sunbae has to point out that all the girls today were the same age. The sunbae barks at him to recite the number, and Garbage hesitates…
We don’t see how he answered, and when he finds Na-jung’s room empty, he wonders where she ran off to.
Chilbongie warms up for his big game, scanning the crowd every other second and trying to hide his disappointment when Na-jung isn’t there by the starting pitch. He takes the mound and bows and gets ready to start the game, and looks up to scan the crowd one last time.
That’s when Na-jung walks in and takes a seat in the stands, and the look on Chilbongie’s face, just…gaaah. He smiles right at her for so long that even Na-jung notices and looks around her quizzically to check that he’s really smiling at her. Squeeeeeee.
Powered by the need to impress his crush, Chilbongie plays with laser focus and pitches a shutout. The team rushes him and he’s given the winning ball, and they line up in front of the crowd to bow before disappearing into the dugout.
But then he pops back out for one more look, and finds Na-jung still lingering. They lock eyes and he starts walking in the opposite direction of the crowd, and she just follows, not knowing why (But who wouldn’t follow that smile?) until they reach the very corner of the stands where there’s no net between them.
He does all this without saying a word, and stretches out his hands in front of him. Again, she follows, and then he tosses her the game ball. It lands perfectly in her hands and she cracks a tiny smile.
Rewind to Garbage’s answer to his sunbae, who asks if Na-jung has a boyfriend or something. After a long pause, he says, “Yes, she has a boyfriend.” Omo. You like her too! You like her too!
Seoul 2013. Ha, one of the couples from the group date actually got married, and they congratulate Na-jung in her wedding video. Na-jung scowls to find all the beer cans emptied already, and yells at hubby to go buy some more.
Haitai nags her to be more like Yoon-jin, who used to be so prickly back in the day but met a good husband and became a sweetie pie. Yoon-jin mutters a curse under her breath, ha.
Haitai rounds up the guys to go buy beer together, and Na-jung calls out to hubby not to forget his wallet, and chucks it at the group. Somebody catches it one-handed.
Back in 1994, Dad’s voice rings through the whole neighborhood as he shouts that they’ll sleep here over his dead body. Inside, the entire household is standing in the living room clutching their pillows like a group of sad puppies.
They inch closer with hangdog expressions, but Dad doesn’t budge, wondering why they all came back up so early when there’s more summer vacation left. “Is it because of that?” He shoots a look at the corner, where a brand new air conditioner has been installed.
The kids each take turns convincing Dad to let them all sleep with the air conditioner on for just one night, and he finally relents that it’s just for today. The resounding cheer is so cute.
Mom wonders if they’ll all fit, and he points to her ridiculously giant stash of nonperishables that she bought (in case of war) and complains they’d be fine if they didn’t have that taking up all the room.
The kids all cheer and plop down in the living room, and Mom requests the radio to be played. Lee Moon-se! Deux! So much pop culture goodness. Na-jung falls asleep with her head in Mom’s lap as the radio plays, and the whole family sleeps together that night.
In the morning, Samcheonpo is cuddled in Haitai’s arms, still wearing his fake gold watch. And when we pan over, Yoon-jin and Haitai are sleeping with their hands side by side, and pwahahahaha—they’re both wearing the same watch as Samcheonpo.
Did they all get hustled at the same rest stop, or are two of these three couple watches?
By morning, Na-jung has found her way back to her spot in the dogpile… right in between Garbage and Chilbongie.
Chilbongie: Someone once sang that summer is the season of youth, and the season of love. In the summer of 1994, the season was passing, but my—and our—summer was just beginning.
This is what I’ve been waiting for. Sooner would’ve been better, but I’m glad we’re here now. I feel like the last episode really launched us into the meat and potatoes of the love entanglements, and I’m loving the mounting tension. A lot of what we had early on in the series was fun, but it lacked this layer of conflict that makes us invested in every little look, gesture, and clue. And I don’t even mean clues about future husbands, but about feelings in the present. With love triangles brewing and wires crossed every which way they can be, there’s a distinct crackle to the proceedings now that everybody’s got a vested interest and a set of feelings to hide. At some point we’re going to end up with a house full of ticking time bombs, and one confession could set off a chain event.
Everything thus far has been pointing to Chilbongie liking Na-jung, who likes Garbage… but now we have new things to add to the mix, like Chilbongie refusing to let Na-jung ignore his general awesomeness (So. Great.) and Garbage revealing that he may not be quite so oppaish after all. Granted, his refusal to let his friend date his almost-sister is totally a real oppa thing to do, but that’s not why he lied on the phone. Did seeing Chilbongie with Na-jung jumpstart his feelings, or has he really purposely been ignoring them all this time, and why?
It was a pretty great build to that phone call in this episode, because we knew to expect that Chilbongie would refuse his sunbae’s date request, that Na-jung would refuse her friend’s, but it was Garbage who was the question mark in that equation. And now the third leg of the triangle is locked and loaded. Does this mean he’ll face his feelings head-on, or will Chilbongie beat him to the punch? Or will it not matter when Na-jung only has eyes for oppa?
I do think Chilbongie is giving Garbage a serious run for his money though, because between kisses and flimsy excuse burger orders and game-winning pitches into the stands, how is a girl to keep from melting into a giant puddle of goo? I know he’s always cute and sweet, but in uniform (and out, ahem), he’s a different person entirely. The fire in his eyes when he pitches is stealth-hot, and he woos Na-jung with zero reservation. This is a guy who doesn’t lose games, and I’m getting the impression that he’s not about to start losing when it comes to the girl.
I’m really excited for the other love triangle that revved up today too, because I think it’s just as fun to hunt for Yoon-jin’s future husband in the group (and let’s face it, Samcheonpo and Haitai were never really strong contenders for Na-jung in the first place). Her bus ride bonding experience with Haitai was really cute in this episode, and I think he’s the frontrunner for her, except for the fact that I absolutely LOVE her bickering hate with Samcheonpo. I hope theirs will be just as engrossing a mystery, with reasons to root for both sides. What happy dilemmas to have.