Answer Me 1994: Episode 19
The new millennium wipes the slate clean and sets us up for the final game (thank goodness). In the search for answers, everyone muses on the role of Fate—is it a real thing, an entity out to mess with us all, or just another name for good old-fashioned timing?
SONG OF THE DAY
Go Ara’s cover of Park Ki-young’s – “시작 (Beginning)” for the Answer Me 1994 OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 19: “Do you believe in Fate?”
It’s January 2000, and Samcheonpo narrates that despite his hopes, the world did not end because of Y2K after all, and he still has to report to the office for his first day of work. Haitai makes sure to rub it in after chatting on the phone with girlfriend Ae-jung and telling her how much he loves her.
Samcheonpo tells us that he failed spectacularly at getting into grad school, and finally joined the rank and file at a big company. His job: the all-important, highly specialized Copy & Fax Minion. We watch him struggle to make ten copies (he makes a thousand instead, ha) and he narrates: “The world should’ve ended.”
Yoon-jin stuck through the hard times at her job even when they couldn’t afford to pay her, so now she’s in her third year at the office. She comes home the bedraggled breadwinner, while Samcheonpo irons. Heh, they’re already like a married couple, and she warns him not to touch her tonight because she’s tired.
Binggeure is already wearing lab coats and putting in rounds at the hospital, and Na-jung is busying herself with the new goal of getting a driver’s license. Samcheonpo argues with her about TV rights (FinKL vs. Heo Jun), and gets attacked. He tells us she returned from Australia with her personality intact.
Mom and Dad are in good spirits because Dad has just been rehired by the Twins after a two-year hiatus, which he spent working at a friend’s business. Mom steams crabs for the occasion, and Na-jung tears into them with so much gusto I’m jealous. Dad wonders if she starved while in Australia, but she doesn’t pay them any mind and just chows down to her heart’s content.
The doorbell rings and Haitai returns to the kitchen to tell everyone to hurry up and grab their cameras, and then Chilbongie shoves him into the room for a big jolly, “I’m HE~RE!” Aw. Everybody cheers, and Na-jung just glances up while stuffing her face some more, since she saw him just the other night.
He comes bearing a chocolate cake for Mom and a 30-year scotch for Dad, and the other guys marvel at his memory. Dad gets walloping drunk right away, and the other kids get excited when Binggeure mentions that Chilbongie is doing a talk show interview soon.
As they eat he notices a piece of crab on Na-jung’s face and stops to peel it off and wipe her cheek clean with his hand, and it catches everyone’s eye at the table.
The gang drinks upstairs after dinner, and Chilbongie confirms that he’s due in America by the end of January. Poo. He’s taking some extra time off while he can, and the other guys suggest it’s a good chance to get his driver’s license. They tell him that Na-jung has already scoped out a surefire academy in Jeonju that promises to get you a license, and the two exchange an awkward look. Road trip?
Road trip! They get on the bus to go to Jeonju, and Chilbongie sighs at the amount of stuff to be memorized on the written test. Na-jung tells him it’s a piece of cake and that the trick isn’t memorizing, but comprehending.
He pouts. Aw, this brings back happy memories of the time she tried to tutor him in school. My favorite thing about Chilbongie is that he’s realistically terrible at studying.
Na-jung scores 100 on her test, as expected, and then goes to find Chilbongie expecting to congratulate him. He tells her he failed with a sheepish grin, and then we cut to the whole group laughing hysterically at the story as he tells them he scored 44.
One by one, Binggeure and Haitai get called away on boyfriend duty, and then even Samcheonpo gets the bright idea to call Yoon-jin while she’s sitting next to him. Heh. That just leaves Na-jung and Chilbongie alone again for an awkward beat.
He says he’s going to retake the driving test tomorrow, and asks if it’s okay if he sleeps over in Binggeure’s room. He looks at the medical texts on Binggeure’s desk with a smile (hilariously failing to read the English title to himself), and notices Garbage’s notebooks with a long face.
Binggeure has gone to the hospital to visit Garbage, but finds him sleeping after a long surgical rotation. He just leaves a coffee and a post-it on his desk and heads out.
Samcheonpo reminds Yoon-jin about his sunbae’s wedding tomorrow, and gets thwacked for trying to sneak up like a zombie and steal a kiss. Points for style though.
Mom is a happy camper now that the house is bustling again, and sighs that all they need is Garbage and it’ll be like old times. Binggeure and Haitai freeze awkwardly at that, knowing his fallout with Na-jung keeps him away. Dad sighs that it’s been a year since he’s seen his best friend because of it all, though he has plans to see him soon. Mom presents Dad with a pair of matching red mittens she knitted for their family—Mom, Dad, Na-jung, and Joonie. He characteristically complains while still putting them on, even hitting Binggeure for trying to steal them.
The parents wonder about Yoon-jin and Samcheonpo and why they aren’t getting married now that both are gainfully employed. Dad jokes that they’ll just have kids right here in this house and never leave.
At the wedding later that day Samcheonpo is as doting a boyfriend as ever, running to get Yoon-jin the food she wants, or answering questions about how long they’ve been dating in number of days, not years.
But when their friends ask about when they’re getting married, Samcheonpo says he has no plans for marriage. Yoon-jin is caught off-guard, clearly not on the same page, and Haitai sees it written all over her face.
She makes painfully insincere attempts to agree with him, and excuses herself to go to the restroom. Haitai yells at Samcheonpo for his thickheaded ways, and he just sits there totally oblivious.
Chilbongie and Na-jung are on their way back from Day 2 of driving tests, and he’s failed yet again. He asks her not to rat him out to their friends, and she deadpans, “Tell me the truth. You’re dumb, right?” Pfft.
He swears it’s because he didn’t have time to study last night, but is determined to pass tomorrow. She acknowledges his persistence, wondering if that’s what got him to the major league.
Samcheonpo comes by to ask Yoon-jin if she’ll come to a movie tomorrow with the gang, but she answers noncommittally that she’ll see. She answers a late-night call from a work sunbae, and Samcheonpo gets all rankled that he’s calling so late. She reminds him that they’re just friends, “besides, it’s not like you and I are getting married or anything.” Oouuuuch. Please, take the hint.
He doesn’t, but thankfully Na-jung and Haitai are around to pull their hair out and scream at him to hurry up and tell Yoon-jin that he wants to marry her. Samcheonpo argues that he DOES want to marry her, but not yet—he’ll tell her when the time is right.
They try their damnedest to make him understand that he has to let her know that he intends to marry her, even if it’s someday in the future, but he doesn’t understand why. It’s like banging your head against a wall, and Haitai and Na-jung nearly explode trying to reason with him.
The group makes plans to meet at the theater later that night, and Na-jung runs off in anticipation of getting her license today. Binggeuere worries that Chilbongie will fail again today, but Na-jung says he couldn’t possibly unless he was a total moron…
…And of course he failed again. Pwahaha. He explains how close he was to passing with a goofy grin, and Na-jung smiles back like she’s patronizing a simpleton. They realize there isn’t time for a whole meal before the movie, and he happily suggests this new bakery he discovered that has the name of some dinosaur or something (it’s Tous Les Jours, which he reads like it’s English).
She takes his word for it, only to arrive at the bakery and realize what he meant, and has a grand ol’ time piling on the jokes, which go totally over his head. She asks him to go inside and order the Tyrannosaurus bread, or on second thought, the whole Jurassic Park set. He just smiles and nods, repeating her words like it’s a real order. LOL.
Haitai and girlfriend Ae-jung are the only ones to meet them at the theater, Binggeure and Die-Die having ditched them to watch the sex movie that’s playing on the other screen. Everyone gulps awkwardly at that.
Ae-jung is shocked that Haitai is actually friends with famous baseball star Chilbongie, who says he’s heard a lot about her and that they reunited on New Year’s Eve. He adds that he and Na-jung did too, which startles her.
They settle into their seats for the movie, but then Chilbongie tenses up when the man next to him introduces himself as a reporter who interviewed him once. Uh-oh. He remains wary of the reporter’s presence the whole time, and then chases him out afterwards.
He asks the reporter not to write the story he’s about to write, and the reporter doesn’t look inclined to let it go. “She’s your girlfriend, right?”
Chilbongie: “She isn’t. Not yet. I like her on my own.” He confesses that he likes her and promises to give him an exclusive when he’s officially in a relationship, and the reporter softens at that. Whew, bullet dodged.
Dad goes to see his bestie (Garbage’s dad) while he’s in the hospital for a regular checkup, and they chitchat good-naturedly with zero hard feelings on either end about the kids’ broken engagement. Dad asks after Garbage and says it’s time he meet with him, and promises his buddy he won’t beat his son or anything.
Garbage runs down to meet Dad, head hanging, and sits down in preparation to hear the worst. Garbage apologizes for not calling and apologizes again, and Dad tells him to stop saying sorry: “It’s not your fault. It’s not anyone’s fault.”
Dad says he’s okay now, and tells Garbage to call Mom at least once a month. He promises, all quivering lip and shaky voice like a little boy.
It’s when Dad takes a deep breath and calls him “Son” that the tears start to spill uncontrollably. Dad says he opposed the two of them dating because, “I don’t know what you thought about it, but you’re a son to me.”
He starts to say after they lay Na-jung’s oppa Hoon to rest… but gets choked up just bringing up his son’s name. Dad says that after he died, Garbage called them mother and father and filled their lives, making each day a little better. “And I was grateful.”
“But when you said you were dating Na-jungie, I was disappointed, and worried—Ah, so I’ll lose another son this way.” He admits to being worried for Na-jung, to being angry at the both of them for breaking up, and thinking of yelling at them until they fixed things.
But he sighs that things don’t happen in life the way you want them to. “And what you are to me… Could I live the rest of my life not seeing you? I’m okay. I’m okay now, so call home once in a while.” Man, nobody can break my heart like Dad.
He chuckles, “Still, saying everything on my mind to my son for the first time in a long time feels nice.” He’s back to his nagging self by the time Garbage walks him out to a cab, and tells him to wear a coat when it’s cold.
He digs out those red family mittens that Mom knitted for him and stuffs them in Garbage’s hand without explanation, insisting he wear them. Awwwww, Daaaaaaaad.
The air is still frosty between Yoon-jin and Samcheonpo, and he trails after her with the reminder that he made reservations at a French restaurant for tonight. Haitai bets they’ll break up, Binggeure bets they won’t, and Na-jung bets they’ll break up at least once. Dad: “I bet you’ll all be dead in three seconds.” Ha. Everyone skedaddles.
Dad heads out for drinks with his team and Mom takes Joonie to Masan, which leaves Na-jung staring at the family car keys with an evil glint in her eye. She asks Haitai and Binggeure who wants to be the first to be taken for a ride, and they tiptoe away gingerly.
Right on cue, poor Chilbongie comes by sing-song-ing, “Na-jung-ah, come out and play~!” Binggeure and Haitai mime at him to run for the hills, but they’re too late to save him.
He doesn’t seem worried until they get in the car and she tells him it’s her first time actually driving in the city and not on a practice course, pffft. I’m so scared for you. Also, who gives licenses away like that?
It doesn’t exactly put him at ease when she suddenly forgets which pedal is which, and things just get worse as she takes him on the tensest drive ever, screaming in fear while crawling along in the street.
Samcheonpo ends up stuck at an office party much later than he’d planned, and has to call Yoon-jin to apologize and cancel their dinner plans. She then answers a call from her sunbae, asking if she’s busy tonight.
Samcheonpo ends up in one of those horribly awkward situations where his work superiors are drunkenly asking him to call his girlfriend over so they can meet her, and despite his attempts to explain that they’re fighting and she can’t come, they make him feel pressured enough to grit his teeth and make the call.
Naturally Yoon-jin says no because she hates those things, besides the fact that he isn’t exactly her favorite person right now.
Na-jung and Chilbongie finally make it to his place in one piece, and it only took them the entire day to drive across town. Ha. She’s way too freaked out to even consider driving back on her own, and asks to leave the car here while she takes a cab home. Hahaha.
Samcheonpo counts down the seconds till the noraebang clock runs out, only to be told they paid for an extra hour and won’t leave until his girlfriend shows herself. Oy. He tries calling again, but now her phone is off.
The situation inside just gets worse, so he heads out to try calling one last time. He gives up when she doesn’t answer, thinking it’s over. But when he looks up, Yoon-jin walks through the door, all dolled up and prepared to do the thing she hates, just for him. Aw. Marry her, you fool!
Na-jung and Chilbongie stand in the street waiting for a cab, when Mom calls in a panic to say that Dad got drunk at the team party and fell and broke some bones. Oh no. Someone has to go to the hospital to sign for surgery, and Mom’s in Masan, so Na-jung has to go.
Na-jung starts to freak out, crying at the lack of cabs when she needs to go to Dad. Chilbongie watches her tensely for a moment, and then caves: “Hand me your keys.” What. If he knows how to drive, I’ll die laughing.
Sure enough, he gets behind the wheel and weaves through traffic with ease. Na-jung gapes at him, and he smiles sheepishly, “So… I was going to tell you, really…” Hahahahaha. She snaps at him that they’ll discuss it later, though she totally gives him the death glare of doom.
Yoon-jin sings a duet (Trip Sketch’s “Fate”) with Samcheonpo in front of his coworkers, and totally makes his night.
Na-jung and Chilbongie pace back and forth outside the operating room, and the doc comes out to say that Dad will be fine. He’s got a bunch of broken bones that’ll need to heal, but he’s okay.
Na-jung’s legs finally give out once the relief hits, and Chilbongie catches her before she falls. He sits her down and puts an arm around her to comfort her.
At home, Samcheonpo comes to Yoon-jin’s room and says he has something to give her. Ack, she looks like she’s expecting a ring, which makes me positive he’s going to muck it up instead. He tells her to close her eyes and put out her hand, so she does, palm down, totally expecting him to slide a ring on her finger. While she has her eyes closed he futzes with something, and then tells her to open her eyes.
She opens them to find three bankbooks tucked into her fingers, ha. He says that he really likes her, and that he wants to do a fancy proposal too, “But I’m a person who needs a plan. What can I do, when this is who I am?”
He asks for her understanding, because who else in the world would? He tells her that one account is for a house, one is savings, and the last… is for their wedding. Aw. “These funds haven’t matured. But when they do, I’ll propose.” Best non-proposal proposal ever. He asks her to be patient till then, and hugs her sweetly. And then he adds that if that sunbae calls her again, he’ll rip his head off. Ha.
Na-jung finally calms down once she knows that Dad is okay, and then she tells Chilbongie to fess up and hand over his wallet. Haha, caught. He cringes and hands it over, and she finds his driver’s license right there.
He swears he was going to tell her, and she just rails at him for making her the idiot. I think you’re pretty even on that score. He pouts, “Well what was I supposed to do? I have to go back to America in half a month, and I’m out of time.” He fesses up to doing it on purpose, not really knowing what else to do after seeing her again like that on New Year’s Eve. He felt like this was his last chance, and if he lost it it’d really be the end.
He asks if she remembers what he asked when they parted—if they met again years later and she didn’t have anyone by her side, for her to date him. He wrings his hands nervously and takes a deep breath: “Na-jung-ah, I like you a lot. I liked you when I first saw you, and I still… I like you now.”
Mom breaks the tension with a call, and Chilbongie goes to get them some coffee. When Mom hears that she was able to get to the hospital so soon because she was with Chilbongie, she says it’s good luck that he was there, and tells Na-jung to buy him something to eat. “Heaven helped us.” Na-jung looks up at Chilbongie coming toward her, perhaps with new eyes.
Na-jung: Sometimes there are moments when I really feel like there is a God. Even if there isn’t, there are times I feel like there has to at least be a something like Fate to explain certain situations. This exquisite coincidence, this unbelievable timing, this ingenious reversal—it’s possible that my fate is playing a game with me.
Or a writer is. Just sayin’.
Garbage sleepwalks to his bunk, where his buddy tells him about Dad’s surgery. Garbage scrambles to run out the door, but his buddy tells him that was already hours ago: “You’re late. You’re beyond late.” Augh, always Oppa’s curse, isn’t it?
Garbage: Fate is damned. Fate is cruel. And Fate… is strong. Fate throws us into dilemmas, traps us in corners where we can’t do a thing, and in the bitter end, even ignores our sincere prayers. That’s how Fate is damned. That’s how Fate is cruel and strong.
As Oppa narrates, we go back to New Year’s Eve, when he finishes his work and steps outside as it starts to snow. But as soon as he does, someone runs out to say that his professor is calling him back. He gets delayed, stuck in traffic on his way, and gets into a fender-bender that sets him back even more. By the time he reaches Na-jung’s house, all the lights are off and everyone is asleep. He sits out in his car, not even able to step foot inside.
Chilbongie tells Na-jung he has a few more days till he has to leave, so he’ll be back tomorrow to see her and Dad. She walks him down the corridor, and he smiles after her.
Chilbongie: Another reason why Fate is cruel and strong: timing you can’t predict. This is how Fate is cruel.
Na-jung walks him to the elevator to send him off, and the door slides open to reveal Garbage standing inside. Smiles fade and faces freeze all three ways.
Na-jung: Fate pushes me to the edge of a cliff, makes it so that I can’t budge, and in the end passes me the ball. In the end Fate is choosing. Now I just have to make a choice.
Yes, you do. Please, for the love of Fate, make a choice and make it quick. I’m glad that the conclusion isn’t that she’s just going to leave it up to Fate to decide for her, because that would be the worst kind of deflating after waiting 21 episodes to find out the answer. Fate as timing, I can get behind, since after all love is just one of those things that lives or dies by timing. But in the end choice is what really matters.
I wonder what kept Oppa from going inside the house on New Year’s Eve—was being late worse than not showing up at all? Was it meaningless if he missed that window? Or was not going inside the damning choice, not the missed timing? Perhaps it won’t matter, as New Year’s Eve clearly isn’t all there is, and they still have to deal with the fallout of their relationship. It’s yet another thing that happened offscreen for this couple that drives me bonkers, but at least in this case the breakup was actually a fizzling out, and the feelings left over are the ones that matter, once they deal with them.
Oppa just has this horrible history with being late—late to show up, late to realize feelings, laaaaate to act on them. I hope he isn’t now doubling up on his problem by shooting himself in the foot and giving up because of lateness. That seems like the worst thing he could do. I dunno, Fate’s a bitch and all, but showing up seems far more important than being on time. Having a rival in Chilbongie lit a fire under his ass once before (er, sort of) so maybe seeing him with Na-jung now will get him to act. Who knows, maybe his whole character arc is in learning to actually get the timing right.
Chilbongie was hilarious in this episode with his blatant lies about driving just to spend time with Na-jung, and of course the show does its classic twist of taking something funny and making it meaningful when you see it under a different light. I still can’t believe he didn’t say a word when she spent an entire day driving him from Shincheon to Gangnam or was calling him stupid, but that’s just his style, and why he breaks hearts. My favorite thing is that he is actually still endearingly dumb regardless, just maybe a little less than he was letting on. Ha.
I loved Samcheonpo’s story in this episode, and his whole conversation with an incredulous Haitai and Na-jung cracked me up. But it’s great to see him step up, be consistent to his nebbishy worrywart character, and still make the proposal that hits the heart. Who needs a flashy ring when the person you love shows you he’s planning for his life to be with you?
And of course Dad tugs all the heartstrings, because he’s amazing and he’s Dad. Garbage’s place in the family was always the stuff that touched me the most at the start of the series, and I was sad about it falling to the background when he started dating Na-jung. It was nice to be reminded that his relationship to Mom and Dad can be mended and forgiven separately, as a son—that warmed my heart more than anything, because Dad doesn’t need him to marry Na-jung to love him as his child. It’s the best kind of I-just-love-you-for-being-you statement there is.
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 18
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 17
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 16
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 15
- Answer Me 1994: Episode 14
- 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