Discovery of Romance: Episode 11
Tae-ha goes on a downward emotional spiral, as it hits him that he and Yeo-reum are really over. He can’t help but watch over her, even though it only makes him more miserable, and he’s starting to withdraw in a way that makes me worry for him. But it looks like things are about to be turned on their heads and the status quo won’t hold up much longer, and I can only hope that means that everyone’s about to get very honest.
EPISODE 11: “Staring out the window several times a day”
Yeo-reum comes home after her talk with Tae-ha, quiet and thoughtful, and takes the box of keepsakes he gave her to her room. She starts to open it but thinks about how he said they should really break up for good now, and closes the box again. She thinks more of how Tae-ha genuinely wished her happiness, and a tear falls.
Yeo-reum sadly tells Sol and Joon-ho at dinner that Tae-ha broke up with her, and her friends are baffled by her statement and her tears. Sol points out the obvious, that they broke up five years ago, and Yeo-reum only nods morosely. She sniffles over her ramyun until they crack and yell at her to either stop crying or make some sense.
Tae-ha and Director Yoon go for drinks where Tae-ha tells him about his conversation with Yeo-reum, saying that he even shocked himself. He no longer feels obsession or possessiveness for Yeo-reum, which tells him that he finally truly loves someone. He figures Yeo-reum is probably relieved.
Yeo-reum, meanwhile, is cursing him out for making her cry when she doesn’t even really know why she’s crying. Later, Tae-ha sits in his car outside her workshop, and watches Yeo-reum through her window.
Back at his place, Tae-ha says to himself that he gave Yeo-reum everything, but there’s one thing she doesn’t know about — a pair of rings he’d bought five years ago. He had meant to propose to her on their trip back to the island where they’d met, only Yeo-reum had broken up with him before they got to their destination.
When Yeo-reum goes to bed, she can’t keep her eyes from straying towards the keepsake box, and she takes it outside to burn it. She gets as far as building a fire, but she can’t go through with it, and takes it back inside.
Ha-jin and Ah-rim talk on his office roof, and discover that they’ve both always dreamed of being volunteers overseas. Ah-rim assumes that’s why Ha-jin is interested in fixing her scar, and he doesn’t correct her. Ah-rim says she’d also like to study abroad, and Ha-jin offers to pay for it because he also got help when he was in school, and he’d like to pay it forward.
Sol and Yeo-reum take delivery of some wood the next day, but Yeo-reum says it’s not the wood she and Tae-ha picked out. She asks Sol to talk to Director Yoon, so she calls him on speaker phone, and he’s also on speaker phone with Tae-ha in the room on his end. Yoon explains the mix-up but before they can hang up, Tae-ha asks Yoon if Sol said where Yeo-reum is right now.
Sol and Yoon both keep the line open, and the girls overhear Tae-ha ask Yoon to ask Sol (sheesh, it’s a literal game of Telephone) if Yeo-reum is okay. Yoon makes a big production of saying loudly into the phone that no, he won’t ask, and that Tae-ha should know she’s fine because he checks on her every night at her workshop. Sneaky.
That night Ha-jin surprises Yeo-reum, taking her back to his place to cook dinner together. As they eat, Ha-jin says he likes feeling comfortable with Yeo-reum this way, but she says she doesn’t like it when a relationship loses too much tension. Ha-jin argues that being comfortable makes you care for each other more, but Yeo-reum thinks that no relationship stays the same over time.
Ha-jin counters that that won’t ever happen to them, because no matter what happens they never even talk about breaking up. Yeo-reum pessimistically tells him that change is inevitable, as she thinks of the arguments that led to her and Tae-ha’s break-up, and she says that it doesn’t matter how much you love someone — the changes will happen.
Ha-jin correctly guesses that that’s happened to her in the past, and that she loved someone very much and got hurt (he still doesn’t know that Yeo-reum and Tae-ha dated). Yeo-reum denies it, and he promises her that they won’t get sick of each other and they’ll never break up.
That night in bed, Yeo-reum sleeps through her phone alert and Ha-jin sees that it’s Tae-ha texting her, asking if she’s asleep. Tae-ha meanwhile, rolls around on his living room floor, berating himself for sending the text. Yoon finds him still there the next morning, face-down on the carpet wallowing in self-inflicted misery.
At breakfast, Ha-jin tells Yeo-reum that she got a text in the middle of the night and wonders why she’s getting texts from men at all hours, again noting that Tae-ha used banmal. Yeo-reum guesses he must have been drunk or texted her in error, but Ha-jin’s hackles are up and he’s not buying it this time.
Yoon gets Tae-ha up and moving, and has to take his phone away to keep him from staring at it willing Yeo-reum to answer. The phone rings and they both freeze when they see that it’s Ha-jin, and Yoon hangs it up when Tae-ha can’t answer because he’s too busy trying to crawl inside the refrigerator.
Yoon texts Ha-jin as if he were Tae-ha, saying he’s in a meeting, but Ha-jin thinks it’s too early for a meeting and he calls again. Ha, you’d think the phone were made of lava the way Tae-ha is scared to even touch it. Ha-jin finally resorts to texting him back, and demands an explanation of why Tae-ha texted Yeo-reum last night. Poor Tae-ha just bails and leaves Yoon to figure it out.
Yeo-reum calls Ha-jin childish, again saying that Tae-ha probably just drunk-texted her. Ha-jin is out of steam in the face of her logic and backs off, though Yeo-reum can’t help but look at her phone to see if Tae-ha might text again.
Ha-jin takes Yeo-reum to her bus stop where she asks when Ah-rim’s friends’ treatment will be over, and when he’ll tell her the thing he said he needed to tell her. He promises it will be soon, and asks for a kiss, but she says he was in the wrong so he should kiss her first. He does, but they both think to themselves that they really weren’t in the mood to initiate a kiss. Ha-jin asks Yeo-reum on an overnight trip that weekend, and she agrees, though things seem awkward between them.
When she gets to her workshop, Yeo-reum starts to answer Tae-ha’s text several times but deletes it each time. She finally settles on a blunt, “Don’t ever send me a text like this again.” She goes into interview mode to tell us that if he wants her to be happy, he should be happy too, and she doesn’t know why he’s doing this.
Also in interview mode, Tae-ha tells us that he knows it was wrong, but that if she knew how Ha-jin was texting him, she should have at least called or texted to check on him. Yeo-reum argues that he should date other women, because he’s a good catch and a good boyfriend, and he’s matured lately and seems to know what love is. She tells the mysterious interviewer to tell Tae-ha to go date.
Tae-ha says to forget it, and that Yeo-reum should worry about herself. He insists he’s fine as long as she’s happy with Ha-jin. Hee, I kind of love this weird way of arguing.
Director Yoon bounces out of the office to catch Sol after a meeting, to invite her to a company workshop that weekend. Her coworkers urge her to accept and she does, earning a sunny grin from Yoon.
That night, Sol and Joon-ho arrive home to find Eun-gyu waiting for Sol with a big bouquet of flowers. Joon-ho tries to tell him to leave but Sol just asks Joon-ho to go in the house. He leaves them with a warning that a man who makes you cry once will do it again, and hides behind a bush to eavesdrop (muttering that Eun-gyu probably bought the flowers with a coupon, HA).
Eun-gyu offers Sol a genuine apology for the way he broke up with her, and for pretending not to know how she felt about him. He says he feels bad for all of his actions that hurt her, including calling the police on her. He asks if she can consider those things to be errors that helped him realize his feelings for her.
We don’t see Sol’s answer, but we do see her arranging the flowers in a vase later, to Joon-ho’s frustration. He frowns at the flowers and the tiny pine tree that Yoon gave to her, and not-at-all-casually asks if Sol has feelings for either man — while in his head, he wills her to say that she actually likes him.
Sol says it doesn’t matter, since they’re both Twelves, which makes Joon-ho whine about her having three Twelves. She says she’s just going to date them and decide later, since it takes at least three dates to find out if you like someone.
Joon-ho does the math and wails that she can’t date either of them, because then what will he do every night? Sol orders him gone and he leaves, but only after knocking the rest of her flowers on the floor. So childish and cute.
Ha-jin and Yeo-reum take a ferry to their weekend getaway, taking dorky selcas and enjoying the sights. Meanwhile Sol and Tae-ha stand on a very familiar-looking pier and Sol sidles up to him, saying that just this once she’ll tell him if he asks after Yeo-reum. She takes glee in telling him about her trip with Ha-jin, and advises him to get on with his life.
Tae-ha, Yoon, Sol, and the company have fun playing games while Yeo-reum and Ha-jin bike around the island, unaware that they’re all in the same place even though they pass within feet of one another. Ha-jin gets thoughtful at one point, remembering that Ah-rim told him that love has no meaning if you can’t share your deepest feelings.
He brings up his trip to the orphanage, and tells Yeo-reum that he heard about a boy and girl that were so close they could have been siblings, but that the girl was to be adopted so they ran away. The boy ended up being adopted by that couple instead, and asks if she thinks the boy was horrible. Yeo-reum says that he wasn’t, because his life depended on it.
Cryptically, Ha-jin asks why Yeo-reum likes him, and she gives her standard answer — he’s a good person. Nervously, he asks what if he weren’t a good person, or even a doctor, would she still like him? She says that she’s not that shallow, but Ha-jin half-jokes that it seems like she doesn’t like him as much as he likes her. Yeo-reum says that’s not true, because she knows how it feels to be the one who loves more, and Ha-jin is mollified with a kiss.
Stuck in the bathroom with no toilet paper, Sol is forced to appeal to her stall-neighbor for a handout, and her voice is recognized by Yeo-reum. Sol is delighted to tell Yeo-reum that Tae-ha is here, and that he froze up when he found out she was away for the weekend with Ha-jin. Sol says that Tae-ha looks awful and comes to work reeking of alcohol every day, and that if Yeo-reum is worried she should check on him.
Ha-jin is approached by one of Tae-ha’s employees who recognizes him as Yeo-reum’s boyfriend, and he invites them to come play a game with them at their campsite. Ha-jin is about to decline but Sol and Yeo-reum arrive, and Sol overrides their objections.
When they get to the campsite, Tae-ha doesn’t greet them and only exchanges a curt nod with Ha-jin. Yoon acts as MC for a game where he plays a song, and the first person to guess the year it came out, the album name, and the track number on the album, wins a prize.
The first song plays, and both Tae-ha and Yeo-reum freeze when they recognize it. They’re thrown back to a memory, when Yeo-reum had been working late and Tae-ha texted her that her favorite song was on the radio, and the DJ had read a message on the air from Tae-ha to Yeo-reum. He’d texted her to come downstairs, where he waited with flowers saying that he missed her, and they’d shared long slow kisses in the hallway.
Tae-ha and Yeo-reum lock eyes over the bonfire, and the pain in Tae-ha’s eyes is frankly hard to look at. Tae-ha wonders to himself when their love had changed. The song ends, and Yeo-reum wins the prize for knowing the song.
The next question is to guess what meaning the cherry tree flower holds, which also resonates with Yeo-reum and Tae-ha since their couple rings had been made of cherry wood. They both remember that Yeo-reum mentioned that the cherry tree flower means “only one love,” and Yeo-reum raises her hand and wins the prize again.
The last question is to name a certain famous tree, which Tae-ha and Yeo-reum also know because he’d mentioned it on their first date and asked her to go there with him. Yeo-reum wins the third prize, and seems to be having fun while Tae-ha only sinks deeper into his thoughts.
After the party everyone parts ways, and Yeo-reum thinks that she’d wanted to tell Tae-ha, just once, that she hasn’t forgotten the good memories with him. Tae-ha sits alone by the dying fire, lost in the past.
Yeo-reum’s mom wraps up a meeting with her team (whoa, that’s a jarring change of tone) and Producer Bae hangs back to sigh that he’s sad. He says that he’s fine with the woman from his meeting not being interested in him, but he can’t understand why Mom doesn’t have any feelings for him.
He says that he likes her and asks if she can like him back, but she says she hates dating and feels sorry for people in relationships. She says she likes being too old for all the havoc of dating. Bae doesn’t like that answer and chases her into the hall to ask what age has to do with it, and tells her that she likes him or at least she doesn’t hate him, and that’s enough for him.
He says one more time that he likes her, and asks her to live with him, and employees start popping out of doorways to congratulate them. Mom flees the applause, while Bae soaks it all in. Too cute.
Back on the island, Tae-ha wanders the campgrounds thinking about how Yeo-reum said that whoever loved most is the weaker person. But he disagrees — he thinks you find out who’s weak and who’s strong after you break up. The one who loved the most is stronger, because they put every ounce of effort into trying, which leaves them with no regrets.
He thinks how all he did was receive love, and now he only has regrets, and when that happens you’ll never be able to forget the other person. The strong person loves as much as they can, and does as much as they can, which is what makes them strong. Just like Yeo-reum.
He stops when he sees Yeo-reum standing on the opposite side of a bridge, as if he’d wished her there. Without a word he turns to go, but her words stop him: “Can’t you be happy?” She warns him not to lie, because she knows he’s not okay. She says that, just like he wants her to be happy, she wants him to be happy too.
We see all the times Tae-ha had watched Yeo-reum, thinking she couldn’t see him, but she’d known he was there every time. They had even sat on either side of the dark window of her workshop, so close but so far, Tae-ha unaware that Yeo-reum was only inches away.
Her voice starting to crack, Yeo-reum asks why Tae-ha keeps coming to look for her. “If you keep looking for me like that, I start to wait for you.” Tae-ha turns back to her, and Yeo-reum’s face is streaming with tears as she cries, “Do you know how many times I look out the window every day?!” Her knees give out and she collapses, sobbing.
Still having not said a word, Tae-ha slowly approaches and reaches a hand down to comfort Yeo-reum. But before he touches her, a voice calls out her name — it’s Ha-jin, and he’s seen everything.
Oof. That last scene was tough to watch, as everyone’s feelings were laid out on the table. It’s interesting that, until I thought about it, I didn’t even notice that Tae-ha never said a word for nearly the entire second half of the episode. His expressions were just so raw and loud, it seemed like he was screaming his feelings even as he withdrew and shut down. He didn’t need to say a word because everything was right there on his face — I would be remiss if I didn’t say how very impressed I am with Eric’s ability to say volumes and make me cry, just with his eyes.
I feel so bad for Tae-ha, because for the first time in his life, he’s willing to sacrifice his own happiness for someone else’s even though it means his own abject misery. It’s bad enough to lose someone you love, but to lose them knowing that it’s largely because of your own actions, then to have to watch them make a new life with someone else, has got to be absolute torture. For a man like Tae-ha, who is used to crooking his finger and having what he wants, the worst feeling has got to be that there’s truly nothing he can do. Despite all his earlier confidence that Yeo-reum should come back to him, he’s having to come to terms with the thought that Yeo-reum may actually be happier with Ha-jin.
But it looks like that particular house of cards is starting to fall apart, and both Yeo-reum and Ha-jin are starting to feel the strain. They’ve built a relationship on little more than liking each other a whole lot and getting along pretty well, but I’ve yet to see them have even one deep conversation or talk about their actual feelings for each other. This is just my opinion, but to me they seem more like very good friends than people deeply in love who want to share their lives. Every time there’s a conflict, they just kiss and make up without ever really dealing with the problem, which is quite a problem in itself. Their relationship is cute, but shallow, since neither one of them can tell the other about their most important life-defining events — Ha-jin’s adoption and search for his childhood friend, and Yeo-reum’s previous relationship and traumatic break-up.
Half of that issue might solve itself — Ha-jin is smart and it won’t take long for him to put the clues together and figure out that Tae-ha is the great love in Yeo-reum’s past. Things are about to change in a great big explosive way, and to be honest I’m looking forward to it. It’s time for all of these people to start talking to each other, really talking about the important things, and work out what they actually want and not just what they think they should want. I’m guessing they’re all going to be surprised by the answer.
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 10
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 9
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 8
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 7
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 6
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 5
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 4
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 3
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 2
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 1