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130

Twenty Again: Episode 1

It’s a promising beginning for Twenty Again, which starts off by putting our heroine in some sad places but does so with a nice touch of humor—she may feel sad, but the show maintains a lightness and sense of comedy that promises a more buoyant future. I like this approach, because I don’t want to zoom too quickly past the setup phase of the show, but also don’t want a first episode to misrepresent the tone of the rest of the show by being overly heavy or fraught. I’m certainly rooting for our heroine—Choi Ji-woo is adorable—to pull through and show everybody what she’s made of, and that keeps me on the hook and wanting more.

 
SONG OF THE DAY

Twenty Years Old – “다시, 스무살” (Twenty Years Old Again)Download ]

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EPISODE 1 RECAP

At a beachside festival, a young couple dances, enjoying a private moment as the boy leans in for a kiss. We hear a voiceover of their introductions: She’s HA NORA, and he’s KIM WOO-CHUL…

…and they’re on the cusp of divorce twenty years later, in 2013. Now all grown up, the couple (Choi Ji-woo and Choi Won-young) sign a legal certificate agreeing to be “divorced in practice,” which must mean they won’t be legally divorced just yet.

Wife Nora doesn’t seem thrilled about the choice, while husband Woo-chul has to work to hide his grin. He puts on a serious face to give the appropriate lip service to Nora about how the decision is hard, but for the best.

She nods, and he suggests going out for lunch together. Nora demurs, telling Woo-chul she left him a snack in the car—she knows his habits and schedule so well that she’s anticipated his needs. He remarks to himself that she ought to just sign the papers already, though we’re left to wonder why she’s reluctant to finalize the divorce.

Woo-chul is a psychology professor at Woocheon University, and as he drives to campus, he parses Nora’s parting comments for every grammatical error—her speech is full of slang and common slips, while Woo-chul seems very uppity about his education. Also image-conscious, based on the way he tosses the sausage stick he’s eating aside before a student sees him with it.

Thus far everything in Nora’s life has been registered in her husband’s name, but now she’s secretly registered for prep classes with the help of a friend, whom she repays in cash. RA YOON-YOUNG (Jung Soo-jung) tsk-tsks at the idea of Nora going to college at this late age, that she’s got nothing in her name, and also “for deciding to live again with the jerk who made things that way.”

Yoon-young finds the husband ridiculously pretentious, always talking about Freud and Tolstoy and the War of the Roses, but Nora defends him and assumes the blame for being ignorant of those topics. Yoon-young rolls her eyes, and Nora points out, “See, you’re tired of me too, because I don’t understand your words.” Aww, Nora, you’re not the problem in this dynamic!

Yoon-young can’t believe Nora turned out this way, and we flash back to 1993, when Nora takes a job working on a farm. She’s bad at it but insists she can do better, although she just ends up falling into the cow dung she’s shoveling.

Her grandmother gets angry when she finds out, even though Nora swears that she didn’t take the job because she’s earning money for that arts school. But Grandma decides that it’s time to move to Seoul and get Nora to that school, since she knows Nora badly wants to go there.

Nora has dancer dreams, and is soon installed at the school, while Grandma runs a neighborhood snack shop (Granny’s Ddukbokki). A snappish ballet student whines at Grandma to only serve her five pieces of the carb-heavy ddukbokki, and when she can’t control herself and eats it up, she blames Grandma for it.

She tracks Nora down to order her to make Grandma only serve her five pieces, and Nora points out the obvious: She could just eat five pieces.

Aha, the ballerina is young Yoon-young, and her temper flares and the scene escalates. She pushes Nora around, but every time, Nora just pops back up and says simply, “Just eat five.” She’s so indefatigable that Yoon-young ends up the scared one, calling her crazy.

Present-day Nora is confident she can succeed at her college goal, even reciting husband Woo-chul’s words about how there’s nothing more attractive than a person who works hard. Yoon-young asks, “What if he still wants a divorce? Would you still go to college?”

Nora looks glum and asks, “Why would I?” When asked what she’d do then, Nora jokes that she could sell ddukbokki.

Turns out Granny’s Ddukbokki is still in business (though without granny herself), nearby the school and frequented by a long line of students. A man (Lee Sang-yoon) picks up an order and delivers it backstage at a theater department, where the students gape in amazement—he’s their director, CHA HYUN-SEOK.

Hyun-seok directs his actors in rehearsal, talking the lead through the emotions he should be feeling about his longtime first love. He adds a few cynical words about first loves in general, and how most people think of them as a beautiful thing, although there are those that are pretty awful, too. That’s firsthand experience talkin’ right there.

That night, Nora welcomes her son and husband home, though both are indifferent to her care. Son MIN-SOO (Kim Min-jae) rejects her food, while husband Woo-chul rejects her wifely gestures, like looking after his clothes. He separates their beds and pulls off his wedding ring, and though she gets teary-eyed at that, she reluctantly follows suit.

In the ensuing days, Nora juggles her normal housework with the prep classes she’s taking in secret. She studies on the side, staying up late in the bathroom to keep the family from catching on. A full year passes, and the following autumn, the big day arrives for university entrance exams. Nora sends son Min-soo off in the morning with motherly concern… and then her BFF Yoon-young assumes the mom role for her, taking her to sit for her own exam.

When results come in, Nora slumps in disappointment, but Yoon-young says it’s a decent score. Woo-chul walks his son through the application process, and Nora chooses to apply to Woocheon University, where her husband teaches and her son is also applying. She calls it her safety choice.

Then the day arrives for admissions results… and to her dismay, she’s denied from both Woocheon and another school. She cries to Yoon-young over the phone, “What do I do if Min-soo’s dad takes that certificate to the court?” Ah, is she counting on college to save her marriage from divorce, because she’s too stupid for her husband? Oh, honey!

At home, the mood is equally dire: Min-soo gets rejected from his first choice school. But he does get into his safety—Dad’s school—and Woo-chul is satisfied with Woocheon University as Plan B. Furthermore, now that their son is heading to college, Woo-chul tells Nora to make preparations for divorce. They’ve kept up appearances for his sake, but they can soon put that to rest.

Nora glumly contemplates her divorce papers while watching the latest news about a Woocheon professor caught for taking a bribe from a student for admission. Just then, she gets a call from Woocheon congratulating her on her admission—it’s late (did the briber lose his spot?), but she’s now in. Yayyyy! I mean, I knew this was coming (obvs) but I’m just so glad for her.

She bolts up in excitement and heads to school, where she stops someone to ask for directions. It’s our theater director Hyun-seok, and his face freezes at the sight of her—and then he turns and walks away without a word. Nora chases after him and asks if he’s really Cha Hyun-seok, treating him with casual friendliness when clearly this means more to him. She says he’s changed a lot and that it’s good to see him, while Hyun-seok is all brusqueness and bad manners.

She thinks he must not recognize her, and he says curtly that he vaguely recognizes her, maybe from high school or something: “But I don’t want to know who you are now, and I’m very busy. Got it? Go.”

She’s left wondering if she’s really changed so much that he can’t recognize her, and what turned Hyun-seok so mean.

Meanwhile, Hyun-seok is mortified at his overreaction, berating himself for not acting more cool and just saying he didn’t know her. Ha, he was so very much the opposite of cool.

Nora pays her deposit to the school, then gathers the family at dinner to make her happy announcement. Only their reaction isn’t so much happiness; instead, they stare with dropped jaws and horror.

Min-soo does the typical (but totally hurtful) teenage thing of lashing out at his mother, asking, “Did you give birth to me just to embarrass me?!” Yes, son, everything is always about you. The thought of entering the same class as his mother is so terrible that Min-soo says he’d rather take a year off to reapply next year.

Woo-chul takes her to task for sneaking around for the past year to prepare for college exams. She says she wanted to surprise them, but Woo-chul calls it suffocating, that she would waste her time in the wrong place and still fail to understand that their issues aren’t just a matter of education credits.

Nora says it makes him unhappy to be stuck with someone he can’t talk with, so she wants to become that person. I actually feel a teeny bit sorry for Woo-chul, whose frustration at her thinking is palpable, and he pleads with Nora to let him go—he’s 43 and doesn’t want to live the rest of his life meaninglessly. “Give me freedom, please,” he asks.

A month passes, and Woo-chul reminds Nora to go in to get her physical results. On her way in, she sighs that it would be nice if she had a terminal disease, because her life seems so blank in front of her. But it’s not a sentiment she actually means, because when the doctor tells her that her stomach pains are late-stage pancreatic cancer, she’s stricken.

When he tells her to return with her guardian, Nora wells up in tears and says she doesn’t have anyone. She leaves the room distraught… and we see that the name on the chart isn’t Ha Nora, but Han Ora. Pwahaha.

But Nora doesn’t know this, and sheds tears at the bus stop, thinking she only has six months left to live. She sits there in a funk for hours, not even noticing when a man sits down next to her and pockets her cell phone.

Upon arriving home, she checks on Min-soo, but can’t bring herself to tell him she’s dying. She broaches the topic with Woo-chul indirectly, asking what he’d do if she died. He doesn’t take the question seriously, thinking she’s just wasting her time worrying and saying that in the case of dying young, you should do more things for yourself. All people die, and humans are ultimately lonely beings, he says.

“That seems so,” Nora whispers. She spends the night brooding to herself.

Meanwhile, director Hyun-seok reads the reaction to his announcement of his new theater production titled “You and Now Project,” which is about healing and comfort and doing what you can for yourself in the present moment.

At home, Nora receives a call from the school reminding her that today is the deadline to register. The man adds that the reminder isn’t customary, but because she’s a bit older…

At that, Nora snaps, asking what’s so old about 38, and if people her age shouldn’t go to school, and if she should just die then. LOL. I know that in her mind this is very serious, but she’s so adorable as she exclaims that she doesn’t need their school but she wants her money back and will go in today to take her deposit. Harrumph!

Nora storms onto campus, but that indignation fades as she watches a performance—it’s theater majors celebrating their graduation. Nora watches, transfixed, and sees her own high school self running by, leading her into a flashback.

Nora and her dancer friends put on a ballet-inspired performance to a pop song (Kim Gun-mo’s hit “Bad Meeting”). Aw, is that geeky boy holding the sign a young Hyun-seok? He’s adorable.

And then, present-day Nora reads the words printed on the back of the theater students’ shirts, and the wording is remarkably familiar. Twenty years ago Hyun-seok’s sign read “Arts school is not a tactic to get into university,” and today’s message reads “We did not come to university just to get jobs. We go to university once, and we live once.”

She sighs, “Who doesn’t know that?” But then one last message displays: “The choice is ours to make.” She takes off running, and nearby, Hyun-seok sees her dashing off and thinks of high school Nora.

She tells the employee that she’s not canceling her registration after all, but now needs to come up with the rest of the tuition in under two hours. It makes her think of how her grandmother used to stuff a pillow with cash intending it to be her college fund, and she goes home to pull out that pillow (…from inside another pillow. Simple Nora cracks me up).

Starting to cry, Nora thanks her grandmother and tells her she’s going to school with her money, and that Grandma must feel proud.

Then it’s time for freshman orientation, and Min-soo’s part of the MT festivities for the politics and economics department. He’s terrible at games and gets progressively drunk, and his sunbaes aren’t about to let him off the hook. They pour cups and cups of punishment drinks, and as he’s swaying looking queasy, a girl pops in and offers herself to drink for him. She downs drink after drink, impressing all the guys and thoroughly winning Min-soo’s admiration.

The guys ask her name, but she hears that this is the wrong department and hastily excuses herself and gets the sunbaes to promise not to punish Min-soo with more drinks. The boys nod like fools, because she’s pretty.

Min-soo finds her vomiting outside and offers his handkerchief. She’s OH HYE-MI (Sohn Na-eun) and displays a really cute mix of confidence and uncertainty (“You came to see me… right? I saved you… didn’t I?”). Min-soo’s surprised but not displeased, and when she asks for his phone, she says, “If you give this to me, we’re dating.”

Yoon-young hears about Nora’s health and scolds her for not telling her family. Nora says she couldn’t do that to Min-soo, who’s worked so hard and just barely started college. She gives it three months—she’ll let him enjoy the college experience fully, and not nag him about anything, and give him all the money she can. “It’s his youth, our Min-soo’s twenty-year-old youth.”

Yoon-young asks, “What about you—do you even know what youth is?” Nora tells her that’s why she’ll be going to school after all: “Now that I’m dying, I want to do the things I couldn’t do before I die. I’ll attend without Min-soo knowing.”

Next up: Picking classes. It’s a race against the clock (and other freshmen) to enroll in classes before they fill up, and she picks (among others) a psychology class (that happens to be taught by husband Woo-chul), a marriage and family class, and a theater class (taught by Hyun-seok).

Hyun-seok has been told of another project in the works elsewhere that resembles his You and Now Project—and interestingly, the “Healing to Overcome Trauma Project” is written by a psych professor, Woo-chul. Hyun-seok looks over his class roster, and Nora’s name catches his eye.

The new semester opens, and Nora is dismayed when Min-soo launches himself into his studies right away, wanting him to enjoy more of his college life. But Dad advises him to do well now to pave the way for the rest of his life, and Min-soo agrees.

It’s only now that Nora drops the bomb (casually) that she has a class to attend too, and makes her way to an English lecture. She’s dressed nicely for the occasion—so much so that the moment she steps inside, the students quiet, assuming she’s their instructor, and snicker when they realize she isn’t.

The students are assigned in groups for a homework assignment, and her teammates are eager to work without her, telling her just to follow along when they present. Behind her back (or rather, under her nose) they text back and forth about how much this sucks and how old she looks and how she doesn’t even have a phone.

Nora leaves the class wondering if there was literally a memo she didn’t get, a little in awe of all the things she doesn’t know. She gets to her next class a little early, listening to the conversations around her and frustrated that there’s so much slang she can’t comprehend.

Then Hyun-seok enters, to her surprise, and she dips her head in dismay at the thought, recalling their last encounter. Still thinking he didn’t recognize her, she’s expecting him to be shocked, only to have him barely glance her way.

He asks his class whether they’re aware of his course’s famously brutal flaw, and the majority happily confirm that they know, but enrolled anyway. He means the three team assignments they’ll have to complete, and Hyun-seok singles Nora out to ask whether she knows and why she took his class.

She repeats her name, waiting for that moment when he’ll remember her, but he continues in his cold way, and after he makes her take off her hat, he feigns surprise and asks if she’s a student’s parent. Aw, is he trying to force her to quit by being extra mean? He repeatedly calls her ajumoni, and at first she thinks he doesn’t recognize her, which gives way to the realization that he does.

He tells her to leave if she can’t answer his questions, then roars, “Get out NOW!”

 
COMMENTS

Aw, why ya gotta be so mean, Lee Sang-yoon? I know, I know, you’re harboring twenty years of hurt and you’re really still in love with her and you’re probably just trying to get her to drop out of your class, but come on. Be mature.

Actually, I don’t really want him to be mature, because I find his immaturity and pettiness hilarious. I just don’t want him to hurt Nora’s feelings too much, when she’s just a sweet, good-natured, caring person who wants an education okay? I really feel casting was a winner here, because I’m not sure I would care about anyone more than I do the way Choi Ji-woo plays Nora, in that curious mix of vulnerability, insecurity, and matter-of-factness. It’s almost amazing to think of Choi’s long-standing image as a glamour queen, all sophistication and designer brands, though her real-life personality has come through here and there.

I also appreciate that the characters don’t seem like bad folks, just selfish ones. I was hoping that the husband and son wouldn’t be too terrible to her, and so far I like the balance that’s been struck—they take Nora for granted and look down on her for being uneducated, but their dynamic seems fairly true to life. Min-soo’s bratty but not a hateful son, embarrassed of his mother in the way all teenagers are, saying mean things that I’m sure we’ve all said or thought about our mothers, which make us wince given the distance of time and maturity. I want for the drama to give him the chance to make things right and show his mother more kindness in the moment, rather than looking back later with regret, and I’m hoping that the show draws that relationship out with poignancy. ‘Cause I’m totally all ready to cry about it!

Even the husband doesn’t seem terrible, even if he is a pretentious twat much of the time. It feels like their marriage was more a mismatch than anything else, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in presuming he did his best upon knocking up an 18-year-old girl when he was 23. And I agree with him in believing that their marital problems are much more complex than Nora believes—she’s grasping at straws by thinking that she can turn herself into a partner Woo-chul will want more if she educates herself. It’s understandable that education is her great regret and also great insecurity, the thing her grandmother always wanted for her. But she’s treating her marriage/divorce with tunnel vision, and I understand Woo-chul’s frustration at not even being able to agree with the wife on what’s wrong.

But in the long run, that’s what I like about the setup, because if she’s gonna have a new love interest, it helps to know that her marriage was already not working, and that the thing that makes Hyun-seok our hero is that he’ll get Nora in a way that she’s not being gotten by anyone else. She shouldn’t have to reinvent herself to be worthy of love or respect; she can reinvent herself for her own sake, but it shouldn’t be for her man. That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing her twist Hyun-seok up a little before winning him over, ’cause come on, he’s being really mean! He’s earned himself a little punishment, no?

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Finally! Glad to see Choi Ji-woo being Twenty Again, and not aging a bit since Winter Sonata and Stairway. Thank you for the recaps. I am so eager to watch this! ♥

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Well, she certainly looks gorgeous but she has aged....and looking old is not bad really!

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"...but she has aged....and looking old is not bad really!"

Choi Ji Woo debuted in 1995, that was before some of the commenters here were born. She has been in the limelight for a good 15 years now. Who doesn't age in that amount of time?

She looks older than in WS for sure, but to my eyes, she is the most gorgeous 38 year old around.

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Liked the first episode..but not as much as I was hoping !! Choi ji woo is definitely brilliant !

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We all need a pal like Yoon-young to encourage us to move forward...*sniffs*

But my goodness, how much can one character take? I wanted to weep for Nora. You deserve to succeed, woman.

I look forward to seeing how these characters develop and is it wrong that I am rooting for the first love (in the love line) even though I want to hit him with a duster for now?

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I thought i'll see Ha Woo Jin with dImples, but he has to act with grumpy face (again),.. why oh why... :/
(Writer-nim, can we just save that grumpy face for Liar Game 2 Huh?)
i almost cry along with Ha No Ra,.. She has bad husband, bad son, and her first love act too mean to her,..
Aigooo,.. i need to see what will happen next in eps 2,.. hope there are more cute moments between Ha No Ra and uri unmature professor,.. wkwkwk

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You can find his dimple on My Daughter Seo Young :)

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Love Love Love Choi Ji Woo. Like this 1st ep, but hate it that everyone is so mean to her, even her own son. Are Korean like that to their parents these days? Or is it that he sees his father's contempt for his mother, and thereby follows suit?

The students in her classes are pretty mean too. I was a professor in San Diego, and the best classes I ever had were full of adult students going back to school. They were extra motivated, mature and brought a perspective to course material that the average university student doesn't have.

Looking fwd to see how she and others discover her truth worth.

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Are Korean like that to their parents these days?

Not just Koreans. Just get any average teenager from any first-world country. Teenagers can be mean! like me

Or is it that he sees his father’s contempt for his mother, and thereby follows suit?

Yes, that plays a part too.

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Meant to type: Are Korean "children" like that to their parents these days?
I know that teenagers the world over can be mean to their parents, but in KD after KD, we see Korean parents having a lot of power over their adult children, so that begs the Qn.

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Eh... I have to say, the East-Asian mom-child dynamic is a bit odd.

Because it's a collectivist society, the child usually assumes that mom will always be there for him/her and therefore takes mom for granted and is mean to her. Because that's what moms are for and what they're expected to do. It's a sub-conscious thing.

But on the other hand, everyone knows that you owe it to your mom who gave birth to and raised you. Hence, the child has the obligation to respect and even follow her wishes. If child fails that obligation, child feels a huge guilt inside, which is the source of mom's power over child.

As in any disagreement, the mom has the right (and usually exercises that right) to oppose, manipulate... etc something she dislikes regarding her child but the child also fights back, sometimes harshly, for what he/she wants (If he/she wants it bad enough).

While mom's power is guilt, the child's power is mom's constant worry for and dislike of sadness in said child, which gives rise to the phrase "you can never win over your child" (and also a lot of arguments).

In K-Dramas, parents tend to have their way and child remains sad because child is a sissy nincompoop who does not fight back. Or parent is a hard-hearted chaebol, whom we've already established to have no feelings except for anger and jealousy.

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Nice of you to illuminate.

I might have watched too many KDs. These days, I often ask: Is Korean society really like that, as depicted in KD-land? How much of it is poetic licence, exaggeration, dramatisation? I hope for the sake of Korean citizens that KDs don't reflect RL in K society too much, cos much of what we see is not very healthy stuff say by the standards of a psychologist or counsellor's handbook. ☺️

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"..poetic licence, exaggeration, dramatization..". Somewhat all of the above, but it does reflect reality to some extent. Best current example in currently running dramas is probably Virtual Bride, where every mother/MIL is a total manipulating bitch, and none of the kids are resisting.

The real problem comes when the parents attempt to live life through their children, and that is the subject of many k-dramas.

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I actually cringed a bit watching the classroom scene because in a way, I've treated "super seniors" differently even though I know from experience that they work harder than anyone else there. In general, I'd argue that this is TV exaggeration and that students aren't actually this rude in real life. We do make comments about someone's age but it's more of curiosity than anything. All of the older students that I've worked with were smart, motivated, and became some of my closest confidants.

In terms of the son's rudeness and disrespect for his mother, I'd say it's a combination of TV exaggeration and of his environment. I have an aunt who gets treated just as poorly by her family because they see her as just another commodity, someone who accepts whatever she is dealt with. She quite honestly has no voice in her family unfortunately and it breaks my heart. Whatever she tells her children is swiftly ignored and they take advantage of her quite readily. My aunt has major depression and has attempted to take her life twice now. Yet, my uncle and her children still believe it's just an attempt to get attention. Both times, I was the first personto respond in order to get medical attention even though I'm more than 100 miles away.

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My experience is that teenagers can be really rude. Not only to senior students but to anyone different from the group.
When I was a uni student, once I had a senior classmate (I think she was in her late 50's). And she was totally isolated.
My classmates gave her some mean nicknames and the teachers didn't have patience with her too.

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<I was a professor in San Diego, and the best classes I ever had were full of adult students going back to school.

I am wondering if it's such a uncommon thing in Korea to have older students. Or if professors have such an elitist status that they can throw out students just because.

UK unis would lose a huge amount of money without mature students (anyone over 25) and roaring "Get out now" for nothing is just so unprofessional and incredibly risky.

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I suspect it is much less common in Korea than in the US, but cannot find any real information. But, yeah, k-dramas always seem to portray the most unprofessional side of anyone in authority - I think that is a k-drama thing... mostly.

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Yeah, watching this episode was horrific to me, I couldn't imagine people snickering about mature students that way, even if it was behind their backs.

I didn't meet many mature students in college, but the ones I did meet were really inspiring. Kudos to all those working adults out there who take part-time classes on top of their full time jobs, so that they could fulfil their dreams of getting a college degree! I hope I have that kind of spirit by the time I am 40.

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I watched this ep on its airing date but I felt SO ANGRY that I didn't want to continue watching the next ep until today.

And man...I'm still so freaking angry.

Why is everyone so damn RUDE? I get it's a drama and everything is exagerated but at the same time it doesn't feel like a social critique, just for comic relief. And THAT it's just wrong.

I just feel like "Woaaah, yeah, everything it's about 'respect the elders' but at the same time it's 'age it's just another thing to mock about'. WTH"

I would understand if this was only a few scenes, I mean, the "joke", but it was the whole episode (and I'm watching the second and I want to murder everyone) and that was just rude.

And that end? Hyun-seok saying those things? Mocking a person just for her age? And I don't care if the character has his "own resons", the scene didn't feel like "Oh my god, what a jerk, how can be so rude? What if she is older, you tool, it's not your business!".
No, the whole scene feels like "Oh god, how embarrasing! Hyun-seok how can you be so mean to No Ra? Ha ha, but they have a point, she's so old! HA HA ha!".

So my issue it's not that the students, the profesors, her own family...everyone (minus her friend, thank god) are completely assholes (sorry, but 'rude' it's a too light term), no, my problem it's not that. My problem is that the narrative, the show itself, is ok with that, agrees with that. In fact uses that as a comic relief, as if someone with 38 years old going to the Uni is something completely ridiculous and laughable!!! We are in the 21st century!! Please, grown up!!

And THAT just infuriates me.
I know this is just a drama, but man, I suspect real Korean society it's not far from this, if not many people would be reeeeeally offended. So if real Korean society it's like that...I just need a looong deep breath.

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My own experience in attending a couple of classes at 40'ish does not match hers at all, so I would have to say it is highly exaggerated. Or maybe a Korean (drama?) thing. Oddly, in one class I got kudos from many younger for correcting (nailing) a professor on what he got wrong about Asian history.

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Yaaaa! Was very excited for this new drama since I have been watching a lot of melos and thrillers lately. It was cute and I'm excited to see Choi Ji Woo in a new drama. Last drama I saw her in was Suspicious Housekeeper, but I think I like her better in this drama so far. Love her bubbly character and her cuteness! Looking forward to it :) TvN usually delivers~!

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IMO, she was completely miscast in Suspicious Housekeeper. That role doesn't let her play to her strengths. It's the antithesis of what she does well (glamour and melo) and what she can do well (vulnerable and cute). So glad that Grandpa over Flowers and 3 Meals a Day are winning her new fans, and this drama seems good for her!

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Another reason why I'm taking a break from K-drama for the rest of the summer. I tried a half hour of this show and fell asleep.

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Ha Woo-jin, sorry Lee Sang-yoon, as a professor again? I'm sold.

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I'm really hoping they give her some open mindedyoung college friends who break her out of her funk...seeing her be walked all over and just except it was beyond irritating for me..seriously. I can't wait to see more of the personality she had in highschool which I'm expecting woojin to bring out in her as well. :)

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*Lee Sang-yoon not woojin...lol my bad.

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CJW is killing this role. Her vulnerability really stands out.

I think her husband actually works at the first school that no one got into and secretly switched to Woochun without his wife knowing.

Both her and the son are disappointed in not getting in at the other school bc it's dads school. Plan B for the son was Woochun. The husband hides the PowerPoint he's working on that has his new school on it. And when CJW was signing up for classes, she says something like, "oh this prof has the same name as husband"

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The son looks like Song Joong Ki, esp. with that haircut and when he smiles to the pretty girl.

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He is also a rapper (surprisingly good) and he was a contestant in "Show me the money season 4" and there he was compared to Song Joong Ki and Kim Soo Hyun.

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Thx. I thought he was a member of some Idol group. ?

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Don't go back to your husband at the end :P yes it is early to be in any ship but still.... The son is hopeless but I hope his girlfriend will be open minded, that I really want to see a stylish girl with brain and good heart :)

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I'm with you there. DON'T go back to that jerk of a husband at the end. PLEASE.

I don't really care if she goes with her "1st love". It looks like She was His one-sided "1st first", but he wasn't necessarily hers. But can it really be a 1st love if it was one-sided?

It IS too early to ship. But IF I MUST be on any ship, I'd rather ship her with her bestie girlfriend at this point. ?

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I think She did not love him but they were pretty close buddies or may be not

I too dont start shipping with LSY but I dont want her crawl back to her husband to save her family, even if he apologize . I just want her to succeed so that it would knock some sense to her awful husband.

BTW LSY is pretty hot here :)

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Ha, Choi Wonyoung also played the jerk husband who wants his wife back at the end in 100 Years Inheritance, so I guess he has experience. I personally like him better as a serial killer, is that wrong?

I was a little disappointed, this episode wasn't fun and funny like the teasers. I'm assuming it'll get lighter after this setup episode.

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He was a great serial killer - which I think makes him perfect soon-to-be ex-husband. (It makes sense in my head.)

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Love this drama.
Waiting for next recap. Tks

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Waiting for the subbed episode of this is pain ;w; I agree that the characters just feel bratty and selfish, and as the show progresses, hopefully we'd get more insight on their dynamics and why they act this way. I feel it's a fun ride ahead for me~

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Thanks for the recap.

THis looks like fun.

I've never seen Lee Sang Yoon doing comedy before. The car scene sold me on his ability/potential.

I love Jung Soon Young; she is the best female second banana in k-drama and plays everyone's best friend convincingly.

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second banana?

Pfft... kekekekekeke

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I am using the term in relationship to comedy duos.

Some people define the "second banana" as the straight man, others as the cut-up. Since she is sometimes funny and other times stalwart support, I was using the term to mean sidekick.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_act

No offense meant.

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LOL, I was so not offended.

It's just a funny term with a hilarious imagery. I'm now imagining NoRa's friend as a banana, prancing around like a yellow, straight ballerina, with a wibbling black tip at the top. keke. you put that in my mind.

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I really enjoyed this! Nora has so much room to grow as a character--they all do, in fact. She really is a character you want to root for. Also, I totally missed that she doesn't actually have cancer. Oh my goodness that makes the tone of the show a bit more appropriate lol.

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Why you have to be so mean to Nora? Although I agree with you JB, this kind of immature act will be very entertaining especially when he has time to contemplate them afterwards.
I'm really like the setup so far. I hope Nora will find her true self again soon. I cry along when she crying in the side of bridge-road.

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YAS I LOVE THIS. It hits all the right chords. The son is being an idiot but it hasn't been a long time since I tried to find ways to not get my mum embarrass me with her bad English in parent teacher interviews. It's heartbreaking, now, because I realise it was more painful for her knowing what other people thought but doing it anyway - for me. She's so talented with the highest degree of education and now people here are starting to recognise what she's doing and it makes me happy.

And while different context, it's the same idea isn't it. Mothers, after their children are grown up, finally have a chance at a 'second life'. Many are lost, feeling like they have no hobbies or interests, but the often painful process (timed with menopause) can make the next half of their life so much more rewardable. Be good to your parents yo.

So excited to see her start to fit in and have the kids like her. Where are you, skinny jeans.

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Also I bet it took a lot of effort for uni kids to look like they did with Choi Ji Woo in the same class as them. Ha.

(I also hope this gives uni kids a new appreciation for mature age students.)

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Choi Ji Woo is so adorable omg! I'm loving the characters so far and I'm excited for next episode. Ugh those students are so mean. Why don't you want to be friends with an ahjumma? It means good food and lots of love! In my class, most of my classmates are older, some even have grandchildren. They treat me like their own child and I get delicious treats most of the time. hihi. Thanks for the recaps!

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I think the same, is it natural to korean society??? I mean , if I would have an elderly woman in my class, I may feel a bit odd first but wont really dislike it. Sometimes I get a feel from kdramas that koreans are too judgmental, I dont know the real scenario though.

How can some dislike anyone for no valid reason!!!

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Wasn't it just in the previous post on this drama that someone said: "Absolutely disgusting" about somebody old going back to college? So that mindset exists somewhere in RL. It's just too bad.

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Over here, university students are from all kinds of ages, there are a few 12-year-olds and a few are in their 80s, most are somewhere in between.

When I was an undergraduate student, I didn't think much about it, to be honest. You learn how to consider the single parents who had to take care of their own children's school schedules when you schedule your learning groups after a few conflicts.

When I became a teacher at the university, it's been a bit more of a challenge. Having students who are not only much older but also much more experienced and knowledgeable than yourself in anything but a very narrow theoretical topic -- is not easy to manage and can be quite a threat to your confidence as a young university lecturer.

In Korea, there is much, much less variety in the student body though. No variance in terms of age, ethnics, experience. It's probably a very different thing there when the students are suddenly confronted with someone who is slightly different in some aspect.

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I like it!! Not in love yet, but it is soo adorable. Her cancer fakeout had me crying with sadness then hilarity. She doesn't know it yet.!

But woo-jin sshi..grumpy woo-jin-sshi is so mean and (un)cool/hot at the same time!!

Please be good, Show! Am in need of cutesy after big letdown. Hmph!!

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For once I wanted to slap the Husband,son and lecturer.
can I do that? I felt so bad for Han Nora. I want her to be happy. I know she will.

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OH, it'd be so much fun. Viewers form a line and slap each one of them in turn. :D

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Dear @ KDaddict?JCW

I can tell you are raring to enjoy this show. Me too. :) Kdrama hwaiting! All the best to us!

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Those three should all be ashamed with themselves, I can't wait for everyone to get their comeuppance!

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The first time I watched Choi Ji Woo cried but I was laughing lol. So far I like the setup. Nora-woo chul-HS. I am also intrigue with Min Soo and Hye Mi, I thought they were already a couple but it looks like it is only the beginning.

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Oh good. I was laughing too. I wonder if she meant to get that reaction?

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hahahahahahah omg am i the only one laughing at the actress' crying face?? ????

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Ok im hooked for good! Cant wait for next episodes :)

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It's so nice to have this to continue after Oh My Ghostess. I'm enjoying it so far and looking forward to new episodes.

I also have an OTP already in mind :P Hyuk-suk is mean now but he loves her (and there seems to be a misunderstanding to be cleared). Woo-chul doesn't and most likely won't. If Woo-chul's feeling changes only because he's feared of losing what he's taken for granted, I'm not going to root for that.

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Oh and the older actors' actings are all awesome. Love them.

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I haven't watched the episode yet because I am still in denial that Oh My Ghostess is over. It's like I can't accept that there is a different drama occupying that timeslot for TvN. lol

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I didn't really feel OMG's last two episodes except for one or two scenes, so probably that's why it makes things easier for me :P

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1) I hope the Cancer misunderstanding gets cleared up quickly. Because the last time we had an Adorable Death Scare, we got Warm and Cozy.

2) I read the recap before I watched the episode, and I read all of the first love's scenes (sorry haven't learned everyone's name yet) with Lee Pil Mo in my head, because he's my favorite Grumpy Ahjussi. After watching the episode I like the way the guys plays him. He's got that boyish look that helps you excuse the immaturity. Still, crack up imagining Pil Mo playing this role. Or even my hubby Mr. Voice.

3) It's cute so far. I like the soundtrack and I like the way the light music lifts up some of the heavy scenes. It's like they are saying "don't worry, we haven't forgot that this is a rom-com."

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3) It’s cute so far. I like the soundtrack and I like the way the light music lifts up some of the heavy scenes. It’s like they are saying “don’t worry, we haven’t forgot that this is a rom-com.”

Weirdly, I was put off by that. There are scenes where neither the actors nor the cutting have any kind of comedy timing, but the score suggests that this is supposed to be a comedy scene.

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I was put off too. I would rather laugh at the comic timing and delivery rather than the music telling me those scenes are supposed to be funny. I feel the music should be enhancing the comedy scenes and make them funnier.

Hopefully that'll improve!

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I was really put off by that too. It reminds me of some Emergency Couple's scenes that occurred at the beginning of the show, like the gunfire scene.

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Yes!!! This is honestly one of the few shows that I've any anticipation for currently and intend to use the limited reading time I have on.

I'm with the so many on the OT thread who have been bemoaning the ending of some good dramas and none better in sight so hopefully this will be one to prove a winner. Tvn is really giving the big 3 a run for their money.

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Hi @Whimsicalnet

At last we have another show to look forward to on the weekend, yes? I'll be watching this show with an eagle eye LOL!

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yes Unni GB! I will join you on this thread!

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Thank you for the recap...while it is true that the young adults welcome mature adults as their classmate but in my uni..there are also cases where the young ones doesnt want to be in the same group as mature adults due to the mature one usually have limited time constraint because of they also have to devote their time in managing their family thus it is difficult to find the right time to discuss projects...another thing because of gen gap mentality between gen x and gen y..so the writer actually has some points there

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Wow, I seriously struggle with Choi Ji-woo's acting here. All her line deliveries are very unnatural with utter lack of timing; and her crying is just ridiculous.

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@Jon G.
I felt that she may have over-acted a bit, however the crying was part of the comedy element.

I would like to commend Choi Won Young however for totally shedding the character of psychopathic Joon Yeong and being convincing as tired husband and supportive father.

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@GB, Hi,
Hmm.....Over the years, I've read many things said about CJW. Overacting hasn't been one of them.

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Hi @ KDaddict?JCW

I re-watched her scenes. I just found them a little more contrived, I think is the word, rather than natural. Come to think of it, I felt it a little too in Temptation, Winter Sonata and of course as you mentioned, in Suspicious Housekeeper her talents could not shine since she had to be just a robot. However I still do like her and I did feel with her. I look forward to her coming into her own. There maybe we'll see her more comfortable in her own skin.

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Yes, well, "crying in a comedy" for some reason has to be really bad in K-dramas. I'm not too bothered by that.

But the line deliveries really bother me. Maybe I'm missing something. Is her character supposed to be slow-witted, struggling to put a single sentence together while speaking?
Is there any reason why she constantly inserts these pauses in mid-sentence? Is there a reason she does this nodding movement with her head? Both are typical rookie mistakes by teenagers when they do their first role in a junior high school production (and they are a very reliable indicator for really bad child actors). Why does she incorporate this into her performance?

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@Jon G.

When I read your first comment, the first thing that came to my mind was that she was acting a particular 'type' now, so that the change in her would be more dramatic. I'm expecting a before and after thing... a more confident, articulate and well-spoken person compared to the diffident ahujumma of now. With your second comment, I feel it more strongly.

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I struggled with her acting as well. You're totally right about her deliveries being unnatural. I see what Growingbeautifully is saying and while I agree that the set-up of the story is so she'll go through a transformation from being demure to being (hopefully) an articulate, independent and outspoken woman, the way she delivers her lines isn't part of her character; I think it's just her acting.

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"..Is her character supposed to be slow-witted, struggling to put a single sentence together while speaking?.."

This is what I don't get. From the flashbacks I get the idea that she was actually pretty smart, so not sure why she is portrayed this way - perhaps because the writer thinks it gives more room for a dramatic turnaround.

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While I noticed this, to me it felt like it was because the character is so very unsure of herself. She has probably developed a real low self esteem after living with a man who has corrected her grammar for 20 years so she stops to think about what she is saying. I think it's because she been hammered with 'your not good enough' for so long that she is like this. Hopefully it will go away in the future for your enjoyment and as a sign of growth in the character.

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I'm a fan of Choi Ji Woo, so I'm glad she back. Some of her previous dramas have been real tear jerkers, so it's nice to see her in a comedy. I'm laughing at the scene where she thinks she dying, but she's not due to a error. It's sad and funny at the same time.

I want to go and slap the husband and son on the side of their heads. She has been devoted her 20 years to her husband and son, but they take her for granted and look down on her for even wanting a college education. It's understandable that she is so out of touch with her family and the college life since she's only been an ahjumma housewife.

I've had fun and a wonderful time going to college. I have sent all of my children to college because you really broaden your knowledge and understand the world so much better. No Ra is a little dense and seems very dependent on her family now, but I'm sure she will wise up fast especially when her husband wants to finalize their divorce. I like her spunky high school persona. Hopefully, she will find her inner strength soon because she so wishy washy now.

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From the setup so far it seems like No Ra's biggest problem is that when she got married and had a kid, she ended up totally isolating herself in her own little world, and until she went back to college she did not realize just how much she had missed out on.

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YES!

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Hmmm.. It's an okay first episode. A bit whackier than I expected. I kinda sighed when the whole cancer misunderstanding thing was unfolding. Not liking the son at all. He is an a-hole to his mom and gets rewarded by dating Naeun from Apink. Life is just not fair. lol

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I read the character as a little late in his adolescence and found him quite on point. I kind of dislike those teenager/young adult characters that feel like they were written by middle aged women who haven't seen a real-life teenager in 20 years and write them as some kind of wish-fulfillment fantasy child.

The "black rose" sequence though ... *urgh*

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Tq JB

Most of the dancers are not smiling must be very stressful

at the campus, the same situation during Ha Nora days

except for her.

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Many thanks JB for a good and succinct recap!
Ah, so nice to have a character-driven show. I'm feeling that the plot is predictable with both cuteness and angst in store, and that what will raise this above average are the relatable and nicely fleshed out characters.

I find it great that we have several quite fully realised characters, all in need of growth, including those who think they have arrived. It will be such a treat to see them brought down a peg as they adjust to changes in how they relate with No Ra.

I usually roll my eyes at the makeover trope, but here I'm just waiting for it with bated breath, because this ahjumma is not going to get dolled up to please someone else, but is finally going to show forth her ebullient, inner child, live for herself, and garner some much deserved respect. :)

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What other dramas did the young Ha No Ra appeared?

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Her face seemed familiar so I was wondering the same thing :D I think she was the young Tak Ye-jin in Producers?

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She was in unkind women too. Hmm...I need to finish watching that.

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I want her to end up with that cute professor. Really want to slap on Mr husband's face who talks boast while takes advantage of his own wife. Btw, who's the first male lead in this show, the 1st love or the terrible husband? Kdrama tends to pair up the two male and female lead, right? If it comes out to be the husband, it will be a great disappointment IMO

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The future lover is the main lead i think. The jerk husband is always the second lead in a drama where the mother/wife is the hero (queen of reversal for example, she did end up with the cutie one) . I doubt that she will get back together with her future ex-husband.

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It looks so promising! Choi Ji Woo is one of the best actresses and she can pull off any role. She manages to make her lover the character she portrays. So i can't wait to follow her journey as a mother, student and ex-wife/lover. Hope to see a lot of cute and funny moments.

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love*

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she is brilliant!! first ep promising. thanks for the recap

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OMG her husband is awful and her son is a disrespectful little shit! but so far so good~

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Such a cute first episode! Though I can't say I *like* all the characters, I at least understand them (for now, at least ^^).

I do have to wonder about the poor woman who actually *does* have cancer, though - when does she find out? (I'm hoping she's the woman in the bathroom, so she's told fairly quickly and she and her family can perhaps come to terms with it.)

Thanks for the recap, Javabeans!

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Watching them preparing and giving college entrance test I'm very curious about how the enrolments are done in university in Korea could anyone explain me please....I'm very curious to know.

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I have to say, she just doesn't seem like an adult woman. Her character is written the same as typical twenty-something trendy heroines (so she's 12, basically). It's amazing how she bounces back and forth between outside influences like a ping pong ball--first she's going back to college because she wants to win her hubby back (~why else would I want an education....seriously?), then she's not going to college because the registration person is rude to her (like it's that weird that a 38-year-old is going back to school in this day-and-age, please), then she's going to college because the universe drops a giant anvil on her head. You think she'd be able to self-motivate at this point in her life.

And this marriage is clearly toxic. The drama could have an adult conversation about it--they've grown apart and want different things out of life--but instead they come at it with the mentality of a two-year-old. He's a pretentious meanie who Doesn't Want to Save the Marriage, which he demonstrates in the most obnoxiously obvious ways possible (~I'm taking this ring off but you can keep cooking me dinner), and she's a doormat who Wants to Save the Marriage (~I'll change myself to woo him back). It's so obvious they're setting him up to be the bad guy so she can have their cake and eat it too, ie have an affair with zero moral culpability, with the built-in bonus of realizing her self-worth through another man down the road, and possibly getting revenge and kicking her husband to the curb down the road too. I can practically smell the manipulation from my computer screen.

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*her cake

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I agree with everything you wrote--but the manipulation smells like roses to me...I can't wait to see No Ra exact some revenge on jerk husband and self-centered son. Please show, make it good. No Ra deserves some repayment for being their doormat for 20 years.

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I think the theme is that she has been beaten down so much by her husband treating her like dirt that she has come to believe it, and has lost all her self confidence.

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Oh, I get that. How could I not, with sympathy anvils getting dropped onto our heads every five minutes? I'm just saying that there are two ways this thing could have gone. It could have treated its audience like adults and taken complicated issues like divorce and spousal abuse seriously...but instead it took the easy way out, abandoning any kind of moral storytelling for manipulative, cartoonish paint-by-numbers ploys for sympathy. Obviously ymmv, but when I see a drama trying this blatantly to make someone into the bad guy, it drives me nuts.

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YAAAASSS so happy yalls are recapping this.
one question, does anyone know the title of that happy ost? where she arrived at uni watching uni kids in grad robe dancing?

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to give a RL example of nora's example, i had this friend in middle school (also my neighbor) whose mom always drove him to school.

and she went back to cook lunch, then drove to school again to deliver that lunch. so her everyday activities are basically running errands for her husband and kid. so to whoever saying this character is unreal, it is real (well the kdrama version is always exaggerated).

my friend's mom didnt socialize with other moms at school, she was younger than most moms. and she was a nursing student, and his dad treats her exactly as that, as if she was "chosen" because she could raise a child.

i remember this so well because at that time i almost swore i didnt want to get married.

but yeah, bottom line is, women like this exist. they got married so young with the sole purpose of raising a good child and taking care of the husband. they practically live for others its khray.

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I agree that mothers like that actually do exist, but at least in the US it is pretty far off of the "normal" scale. But many times in k-dramas you see where the only reason the mother has to even be alive is to manipulate her kids. If dramas were real life, Korea would implode.

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I have good laugh for choi ji woo scenes in epi 2...you go jiwoo hime
And though this drama genre is rom com i am fine if ha no ra ended up alone so long as she could re discover herself and doing something that make her happy and pursue her dreams....not because of what others expexted from her....be sincere in ourselves and not wearing any masks and live for other people because it is so tiring

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We need to form a Ha Nora Protection Squad.

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+1000000000

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Now, I'm feeling a bit guilty. I'm currently at grad school and we have this older classmate. Well, there are so many people much older than me but she's like already a senior citizen. I try to be kind to her as much as possible however, she's a foreigner (in our country), she doesn't speak our language, and a bit slower to comprehend (relative to the much younger ones). My groupmates sort of doesn't like her. They don't get the idea why she enrolled again at a post grad course, when she pretty much have a stable career in her home country (and just spend the money for leisure purposes). Another thing is, she can't do group work. Most of the times, if given a task, she can't do it properly so, usually we just have to redo it. Well, she knows she's a bit of a burden at times (she messaged me before) and can't help but only be sorry. :( Personally, I don't know what to do with her too. I want to give her tasks but work is easier and faster if she doesn't do anything. But, I feel bad too that she just freeloads without doing anything so, idk. *sigh*

well, good luck to Choi Ji Woo! hope it gains as much success as OMG too!! :))))

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All I can say is maybe find something she is good at (research, typing, getting your group coffees) and hope she's not in your next group. It seems like she may be the problem and not your group.

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Oooo, I feel pretty good about this one.

It's been a while since I've felt this optimistic about a rom-com. Okay, yes, there was Oh My Ghostess, but the thing about a show like that is that the premise is so tricky that it's hard to sit back and just enjoy it when you're so concerned over the trajectory of everything. It makes OMG a delightful, yet frustrating watch, if thats even possible.

But with this show, the premise is a strait-forward one and yet one that I think a lot of people can instantly connect with. Because who hasn't wanted to get a second chance at the opportunities that have passed them by? I may be much younger than Nora, but, as someone whose only just returning to college as all her friends are graduating, I can really connect with her struggle to go back and succeed.

I find her and Lee Sang-yoon to be adorable together already and can't wait to see how they progress. Ok, obviously he's being a jerk right now, but I'm cutting him and the son a little bit of slack. I'm much harder on the ex, but, even him, I understand to an extent. The son, I like to hope, would actually be a lot nicer to his mom if he knew about the divorce and her struggle to get back some of the experiences she missed out on in life. I'm willing to give the show some time to develop the relationship between him and his mom, so hopefully it won't disappoint there.

All in all, I'm expecting good things from this drama :)
Thanks for the recap!

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I don't if anybody would b reading this but I strongly feel that the gal who played the young version was in unkind women too.
Even that story had similar trajectory for the adult version of that actress in that drama.
Even she was bullied at school n had a similar fate!!

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Thank you for the recap!

Hye-mi seemed like a confident character. She swooped in, drank the beer, and waited outside knowing Min-soo would come out. He may be drunk, but he is totally caught by her. It seems like she'll be the one in charge; I thought that until I read your recap where she's confident and uncertain. Maybe that's her charm to get Min-soo.

Choi Ji Woo had to cry twice in the episode and it's only the first one! I hope she doesn't have to cry a lot in this drama.

I thought the loss of the cell phone just so there can be a scene where her groupmates criticize her through a chat app was unnecessary. They could have a group chat without her, which would still illustrate how they don't want her in their group.

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