Answer Me 1994: Episode 14
It’s the height of happiness and the depths of heartache, as one suitor takes a step closer, which invariably means the other gets left behind. The fallout turns out to be harder for my heart to handle than expected, especially when impending separation turns a simple goodbye into one that might be forever. Say it ain’t so!
SONG OF THE DAY
Hi.ni’s cover of Bank’s – “가질 수 없는 너 (The One I Can’t Have)” for the Answer Me 1994 OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 14: “The people who changed me, Part 1”
2013. The houseguests start getting hungry, and the boys prod Binggeure to pay for some food (I’m taking that as a good sign that he’s successful). He pretends not to know what they’re talking about, so they call out Chilbongie next, who defers to Garbage because he’s eldest. Heh.
So Garbage gets up to get his wallet (interesting), and then Na-jung hands the folder of takeout menus to Chilbongie, who calls to make the order (iiiinnnnnteresting). Garbage tells him to add some soju to the order, only to have Na-jung scream at him for drinking too much.
Back in the summer of 1995, we rewind to Oppa swooping in for The Kiss. Pssh, as if we didn’t all re-watch that a thousand times last week. Oh okay, I’ll watch it again if I HAVE to.
While he runs back to his bunk to change out of his lab coat, Na-jung sits in the lobby doing breathing exercises that sound like she’s getting ready to pop out a baby. She rocks back and forth in shock, feeling her face and then her forehead, so nervous that she can’t sit still for one second.
She’s still surprised when Oppa comes back out and throws an arm around her, pouting that she came too late for them to make their dinner reservations. Then he leads her out by the hand, and just when it seems like she might burst from trying to contain her swoon, he spazzes out and starts doing this jumpy dance. So cute.
At the restaurant, Garbage answers a page while Na-jung sits at the table and tries to will herself to be cool. Her pager keeps going off with calls from Yoon-jin (their foolproof insurance plan for when they were sure Oppa was going to break her heart), and she just yanks the battery out of it because her brain is too melty to do anything else.
Oppa shocks her again when he sits down next to her at the table, and I’m simultaneously happy for her but cringing because she’s SO nervous that she can’t even enjoy the date.
Back at the hospital, Binggeure wonders why Chilbongie is lingering in his room and prods for him to share what’s really bothering him. He asks if the ankle injury is more serious than he thought, but Chilbongie says it isn’t that. But something’s clearly bothering him, so Binggeure finally asks, “Is it Na-jungie?” Oh, you know?
Na-jung somehow makes it through dinner in her shell-shocked state, and over coffee Oppa tells her to look at him. She tries, but then finally bursts into tears instead.
Awww. There’s just something about him being the source of her pain and her comfort that always pangs my heart. Mostly I’m glad she finally gets to show how much she’s been holding back on the inside.
To his credit, Oppa apologizes for all the heartache he’s caused her: “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” He reassures her that he likes her and lets her cry it out on his shoulder.
Binggeure tells Chilbongie that everybody in the house knows that he likes Na-jung, which makes a whole lot of sense given how long he’s been nursing that crush. But Binggeure tells him plainly to give up—she likes Garbage, and it’s only a matter of time.
Chilbongie admits that he knows, adding that he even knows that Garbage likes her back. Binggeure asks what he’ll do, and he sighs, “I’ll wait. If now isn’t the time, then I’ll wait. I won’t give up.”
Garbage drops Na-jung off at home, and whispers goodbye just inside the door. She remembers that he had something to say to her but didn’t say it, and when he argues that he did, she counters that he technically didn’t SAY the words. He gets all sheepish: “I said it! With my body.” Hahahahaha. Rawr.
He manages to avoid the direct question when he remembers the heart necklace, and she beams when he hands it to her and tells her not to lose it. She nags him cutely to put it on, and when he urges her to go to her room, she just hugs him instead.
It looks like he’s about to be stern with her for a second… and then he gets all gooey and hugs her back like a big smiley dork. It’s awesome. And then he plants a kiss on her right there in the house before waving her away for the night.
And then we suddenly fast-forward to January 1996, which is a little jarring. Hm, the fact that we zoom past what should be the giddiest part of their romance has me raising an eyebrow for what’s to come. In any case, the house is gathered for their first letter from Haitai, who’s finally adjusting to army life.
Samcheonpo reads the letter aloud, stopping at every line for asides, eventually getting really teary-eyed as he reads. That’s so cute.
Haitai writes that the hardest thing about army life is really the senior officers who have nothing better to do than terrorize the underlings, as we watch him deal with one particularly crazy person who’s basically made Haitai his toy.
Later that night, the housemates are gathered for Chilbongie’s farewell party, as he gets ready to go to Japan to play baseball. Oh noes, for good?
Samcheonpo is the only one in the room clueless enough to ask why Garbage isn’t there to see Chilbongie off, as the rest ignore the question awkwardly.
Na-jung says Oppa is at the hospital to see his younger cousin, a high school fangirl who broke her legs trying to jump Seo Taiji’s fence. Ha, it’s a cameo by Kim Seul-gi (Flower Boy Next Door), and Na-jung describes her as being a little off—she thinks she’s clairvoyant, for instance.
Garbage comes to visit her in the hospital, and right away she guesses that Oppa is dating someone. He doesn’t think that’s exactly a supernatural vision, though she surprises him by knowing that his girlfriend is a computer science major with short hair who’s four years younger.
“And you like her more than she likes you. At first she liked you more, but now you like her more.” It gives him pause.
At the house they ask why she jumped Seo Taiji’s fence, and Na-jung says she had a dream that he got into a helicopter and flew far away. And in the hospital, she tells Oppa that she felt like she wasn’t going to get another chance to see Seo Taiji again, otherwise she wouldn’t have done something so drastic.
Damn, maybe she IS clairvoyant. (Seo Taiji and Boys suddenly retired in January 1996. Why yes, I do know that by heart. What?) Oppa nags her to use her powers to figure out useful stuff like whether or not she’ll ever go to college, calling her a hopeless troublemaker.
She shouts back at him in retaliation: “Your girlfriend’s going to break up with you! You’re going to lose her to another man! Be good to her while she’s with you. I’d go to that guy too!” Omo. But are you just saying that ’cause you’re mad at him? Garbage asks the same thing, but she grumps and avoids answering. Great, now we have a psychic girl messing with our heads.
At the house talk turns to Y2K fears and the chance that the world will end, and the group decides to meet on December 31, 1999 so that they can at least be together in case they’re all going to die. Ha. Each of them is convinced they’ll be the only one to show up, but they all promise to meet back at this house on that day.
Binggeure tells his cousin he’ll miss him, and Samcheonpo sighs that Chilbongie is going to be so lonely in Japan all by himself. He tells him to hurry up and get a girlfriend as soon as he gets there, though he adds quietly, “I have a girlfriend and it’s still lonely.” Heh.
Yoon-jin gets drunker and drunker, and then it’s time for her missiles of truth. She clucks at Chilbongie and Binggeure and wonders how a pair of cousins who look like that could be so terrible at dating, and points out all of the girls lined up to date Chilbongie that he’s rejected. Na-jung stirs in her seat.
And then she turns to Binggeure, and sighs that he’s got it even worse: “His first and only kiss was Garbage oppa.” And just when you think it can’t get ANY worse, she turns to Na-jung: “You were kissing Garbage oppa last night!” Ack. Na-jung’s eyes widen, and she can’t even look at Chilbongie, who just shuts down and leaves the party. Binggeure isn’t far behind.
Chilbongie packs the last of his things, and shows Binggeure an old baseball he keeps locked away in a box. Binggeure knows exactly what ball that is, and asks if he’s going to take it with him. Chilbongie says he has someone to give it to.
Binggeure is careful to bring up Na-jung, but he points out that tonight might be the last night he’ll ever see her. Binggeure says he doesn’t know why, but it feels like Chilbongie won’t ever come back this time, and though he’ll see him in the future because they’re family, it might be the last with Na-jung. The words sink in, and Chilbongie wonders if he ought to have a drink with her.
Na-jung is on the phone with Garbage and worries about going with him to meet his med school sunbaes tomorrow. He promises they’ll be nice so she agrees to go, and then asks him to sing her a song over the phone. He immediately hangs up. Ha.
Chilbongie comes knocking to ask if she’ll come out for a drink since it’s his last night, so they head out together. He’s due to leave for Japan the first of February, but from now until then he has to be in full-time training, which is why he’s leaving the house.
Na-jung chatters on nervously, thinking of a million things he ought to take to Japan (mostly food, of course). He just listens as she rattles off this insanely long list, and finally asks if he doesn’t make her uncomfortable.
She admits that of course it’s awkward, but it’s not because she dislikes him. She says she’s surprised every time she sees him on TV, and it makes her wonder if that’s really the same guy who lives in their house. He seems so normal at home, when in reality he’s this huge star.
She assures him that he’ll be great in Japan and his new teammates will love him there. He’s not so sure, figuring it’s pretty commonplace for players to come back after failing to adjust abroad, but she’s positive he’ll be a big success because he’s the most mature out of all of them, and the nicest.
That word—nice—stings him, and he sighs, “Being nice ruined me.” He berates himself for being so nice that he couldn’t even properly go after the girl he likes, calling himself an idiot. Aw.
He tosses back a drink and says he’s just talking to himself. Na-jung watches with a stricken face, and then after a moment calls out, “Joon-ah…” Omo. She called him by name! He looks up at her, and she smiles out the window: “It’s snowing.”
They share a few more drinks, and then get ready to walk home in the snow. Chilbongie stops her and puts his hat on her head before they go to keep her warm.
Once they reach the house, he tells her to go inside without him, and turns to leave. Na-jung calls out to him by name one more time: “Joon-ah.” She sticks out her hand for a shake, and tells him to go well and be safe.
He slowly raises his hand to hers and shakes it, telling her to be well too. They nod and smile, and then Na-jung starts to pull away, but Chilbongie holds on. “Na-jung-ah, if someday… I don’t know when… years later, if we meet again… and if then, you don’t have anyone by your side… date me then.”
Chilbongie, why do you break my heart so? She stands there frozen in place, tears filling her eyes but unable to say anything in response, and he lets go of her hand. He dusts the snow off her shoulders and sends her inside, where she tosses his hat on her nightstand and goes to bed.
Chilbongie goes to his room and fights back tears, and Na-jung falls asleep curled up next to her stuffed monkey, not having noticed her picture, still tucked inside Chilbongie’s hat.
The next day Garbage looks over Binggeure’s shoulder at the bank and gapes at the large pot of money in his account. He admits it’s tuition money from his parents, and Garbage nags him that it’s time to go home and tell his parents the truth about the not actually being in school. He promises to tell them and then heaves a sigh.
And thus begins one really bad day for everyone in the house. Haitai gets his entire army unit in trouble when he loses a piece of equipment, and as punishment they’re told to put on full gear and run a hundred laps. Eep.
Yoon-jin (dressed as a perfect Mini Seo Taiji, ha) waits outside Taiji oppa’s house along with other fangirls, wondering if something’s going on because it’s been days since anyone’s spotted him. She heads to wait in line for his concert overnight, figuring she’ll at least get front-row seats and see him then.
At home, Samcheonpo is busy having a stern conversation with a hyungnim… which turns out to be a picture of Seo Taiji on Yoon-jin’s wall. Ha. At first he’s asking what he ever did wrong, and then ends up asking Seo Taiji to move into this house. So that you can see Yoon-jin more? You poor thing.
Binggeure catches him in the act, but it at least gives Samcheonpo an outlet as he admits how hard it is to date a fangirl. (What the eff with the repetitive pull-focus mirror bit, PD-nim? Did you just learn a fancy new trick with your camera, and can you play with it elsewhere? It’s taking me out of the moment.)
He says they fought about it so much that they finally agreed not to talk about Seo Taiji at all, only in addition to stopping their fights, it created this distance between them.
That night Binggeure calls home and is surprised to hear how tired his mom sounds. He can’t bring himself to tell her about school, and decides to call his brother instead. And that’s when he gets the news that Dad is sick again, but they didn’t want to worry him.
As soon as he hears that Dad is getting heart surgery tomorrow, Bingguere dashes out the door. He sits with little bro outside Dad’s hospital room, and they can hear Dad’s rude disgruntled shouts that he’s being belittled because he’s a country bumpkin. He says defensively that he may not know anything, but his son is in school to be a doctor. Oof.
Haitai’s unit drops like flies during their hundred laps, and his legs finally give out too. But his senior officer who messes with him every day is the last one standing, and he finishes the laps on his own for the whole unit.
Later that night, Haitai braces himself for a beat-down and the other guys don’t hesitate to show their anger at him for causing their day of torment. But the senior officer walks in and tells them that anyone who gives Haitai a hard time about today will get a beating. Haitai nearly bursts into tears right then and there.
The guy advises him to learn from each of his superior officers because while they might be lesser men out there in the world, here they’re people who have accumulated more life experience and can teach him things.
Haitai says in voiceover that that senior officer, the man he thought was a useless human being, in fact taught him how to value other people. “That there are things you can never know until you try them. That there are sights you can’t see until you go places.”
He happily agrees to unpack the guy’s gear, only to find that it was stuffed with newspapers the whole time. Ha. And then Haitai adds in voiceover that the most important lesson he learned from him was the “resourcefulness to survive.”
Garbage waits outside for Na-jung to arrive for their date, and she stops to primp one last time. He asks in his oppa-way if she’s embarrassed about something because he sees her with blush on, though he takes back the teasing and tells her she looks pretty.
Na-jung is a bundle of nerves all throughout dinner, but Garbage is the perfect gentleman the whole time, more attentive than I ever thought possible for him. She’s as shocked as anyone, and gives him a big hug afterwards for being so great.
Binggeure and his family wait anxiously to see Dad out of surgery, and Mom sends the two boys in to see him first. It’s terrifying for them to see their once frightening, bullying father lying helpless in a hospital bed, and Binggeure cries the second he holds Dad’s hand.
Dad greets him warmly and proudly, and worries more about Binggeure being away from his studies. Mom is the same as she urges him to go back to school, asking about the tuition money that Dad went to go deposit in his hospital clothes yesterday.
Binggeure hesitates, the truth hanging there on the tip of his tongue. Little Bro braces himself for what’s to come, but then to his shock, Binggeure says with a smile that he’ll be paying tuition as soon as he gets to Seoul. Aw, puppy. As Mom hugs him, Na-jung says in voiceover:
Na-jung: Impressive dreams are those that defy family and rise above one’s situation. But most of us can’t bear to step on the ones we love, and in the bitter end we take it upon ourselves to lay down our own dreams. But it’s okay. There’s no need to be discouraged by the dramatic sweat of success or swayed by a setback or the feeling that you lost. To us, people were simply just as important as dreams. The decision to change myself for the people I love—is a pretty impressive thing.
We return to the housewarming party, where Binggeure confirms that he is in fact a successful doctor who’s about to open his own skin clinic. Yoon-jin complains about Samcheonpo’s meager salaryman wages, and thinks Haitai is better off because he’s a civil servant and has a permanent government job.
Haitai counters that his pay is tragic though, and asks about Samcheonpo’s book. Yoon-jin cries that it’s an embarrassment, and Na-jung points to copies of it on her shelf. Lol, it’s called Making A Hundred Million in Your Twilight Years, with Samcheonpo on the cover. They ask if he really made a hundred million, and Yoon-jin says sure, “and then we went into debt for three.” Ha.
More importantly, the shot of Samcheonpo’s book on the shelf reveals a very familiar worn baseball sitting out. Samcheonpo asks what it is, and when Yoon-jin says that ball tells a story, everyone else in the room butts in to shut her up.
Na-jung mouths at them to stop it, Garbage gets angry, and Chilbongie gets weird and fidgety. Huh.
Chilbongie makes an excuse to get up, and Garbage demands something to hit Samcheonpo with, wishing for a steel pipe but settling for a couch cushion. As that goes on in the background, Chilbongie gets up and picks up the ball. What is that look on his face? Wistful nostalgia? Forlorn and bittersweet regret?
What is that ball and why is it there? (And just to make it a total non-clue in the end, the same shelf also houses medical books.)
Back in January 1996, Chilbongie broods in his bunk at training camp, and as a cover of Bank’s “The One I Can’t Have” plays (posted above), he takes out that very baseball in question.
Well we know it ends up in Na-jung’s house somehow, so the question is what it means that she still has it. Is it a sign that she accepted his heart, or is it a remnant of first loves past (and unfulfilled)? Am I just in for a terrible heartbreak if I let myself hope that Chilbongie still has a chance? I don’t even think I can help it at this point, because the hints are feeding my hope and it’s turning into its own beast. Practically speaking, at this point Na-jung has been with Oppa for months, so Chilbongie should just give up. That’s what I would tell him to do if he were my friend. But I can’t help the fact that my heart does whatever it wants to, and it roots for Chilbongie.
It’s illogical on a basic level, since Na-jung finally has Garbage all to herself and they’re both insanely happy. The thing is, I’m happy for her since that’s what she wants. They’re so sweet together, and Oppa’s even turned over a new leaf with his less-garbagey, now-I-wait-for-you-to-arrive adoring ways. It’s gratifying to see to him head over heels for her, because we’ve spent so long watching her pine away for him, aching while he was making up his mind. But the thing that struck me was that Na-jung has spent so long wanting Oppa that I’m not even sure she knows how to enjoy having Oppa. Perhaps it’s something she lets sink in after the first date, but I wouldn’t know because you didn’t show me, Show. Why?
On a structural level, if Oppa is the husband, I’m really confused about the choice to skip the very beginning of their relationship, which is the stuff I’ve been waiting (and waiting, and WAITING) for, and after one date we suddenly skip half a year. It’s not like they’re not still cute, but the choice to zoom past the giddy happy early love stuff made me scratch my head. I want all the awkward first times for everything. Is that stuff just obvious for them, or are we skipping it because their relationship is already on its way out? Is Oppa’s cousin really clairvoyant, and does that mean he’s in for a reversal where he pines for Na-jung while she slips away from him? Or are we just meant to have that fear hanging over our heads so that we can’t even enjoy their happiness just in case the rug might be pulled out from under us? BAH. I honestly don’t even know anymore.
All that husband nonsense aside, I really loved Binggeure’s story in this episode. For starters, if he does in fact have a crush on Garbage (it’s still unclear), then Chilbongie’s got nothing on him because he can’t even bring himself to tell anyone about his broken heart. But the family storyline was really the best stuff in this episode. We’ve had an entire series’ worth of buildup towards this really terrifying father and the inevitable blowout when Binggeure tells his family about ditching med school to be a singer. It was, as befits his character, a slow burn as he quietly took semester after semester off, adrift while everyone else around him was working toward their futures. There was such a fantastic unsung-hero quality about his sacrifice, and Na-jung’s narration that punctuated how much more commonplace it is to lay down your own dreams for the needs of those around you. Maybe it isn’t the fairytale, but sometimes there isn’t enough credit in this world for the selfless, dependable, grown-up choice to live for the people you love.
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 13
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 12
- 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