Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 13
It’s a heartbreaking episode, but it’s the kind of heartbreak that awakens the soul(s). The transitory nature of our ajusshis’ re-existence hits home, and that further drives them to search for the essence of their return. As we learn more backstory, I found the title of the show resonating deeper, with the strong yearning for our beloved ajusshis to come back, even if it’s for just a moment.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Hae-joon speeds home and calls Hong-nan for back up to help find a disappeared Hanna. She jumps up from her nap (on stiff Seung-jae’s lap) and rushes straight home, where she and Hae-joon try to comfort Da-hye. They search the neighborhood and ask all the passerby if they’ve seen Hanna, but with no avail.
Meanwhile, Hanna is on a bus. She’s alone but doesn’t look lost at all.
Hae-joon looks at the note left by Hanna and wonders where she would have gone to visit him. Grandpa enters the room and asks why they’re all so frantic — if she was looking for her dad, Hanna just have gone there. Hae-joon looks at the circling ferris wheel on Hanna’s desk and rushes out with the hint, leaving Da-hye to be comforted by Hong-nan.
Yi-yeon now covers the front the department store as the new face of Sunjin, and Jae-gook walks through the department store grumbling about Hae-joon. The employees watch him pass by and celebrate Hae-joon’s victory.
In his office, Jae-gook meets with Ji-hoon to strategize their next steps to take control of the department store and then asks about Hong-nan. He speculates that Hong-nan has ulterior motives to sticking right by Yi-yeon’s side, but Ji-hoon pokes back by asking why he’s so interested in Hong-nan. Does he have some personal connection to her?
Jae-gook dismisses the question and excuses Ji-hoon from the room. But as he walks out, he overhears, Jae-gook telling his secretary to bring Suk-chul to him — he wants to know more about Gi-tak.
Da-hye paces in worry, and Hong-nan helplessly watches her sister struggle. Hong-nan decides to teach Da-hye a technique to alleviate her anxiety with pursed lip breathing. It seems to work momentarily, as Da-hye laughs at how ridiculous they look.
Hae-joon runs around the amusement park and finds Hanna sitting alone by the ferris wheel. He approaches her, but she still seems to be in a sour mood. She tells Hae-joon that she was supposed to come here with Dad and asks if she could see Dad if she were closer to the sky.
Hae-joon tries to change the subject, but Hanna continues with her dilemma. She admits that she really enjoyed the party and thinks Mom and Grandpa like Hae-joon very much. But Dad isn’t here. “If even I like you, then Dad becomes so pitiful.” Tears roll down Hanna’s face, and her voice trembles with guilt. “It must be because I forgot Dad for a moment and forgot to be sad that he doesn’t show up in my dreams anymore. But I still have things left to say to him…”
Hae-joon suggests that they go see Dad and get on to the ferris wheel. Hanna looks alarmed by how high the ferris wheel goes, but she puts on her brave face and pretends to be fine all while tightly holding onto his hands. To make her feel better, Hae-joon admits that he’s scared and grabs her hands more tightly.
Hanna compares the size her hands with his and comments that Hae-joon is just like Dad. He even smells like Dad. She asks if Dad sent him here, and Hae-joon confirms with a nod. Hae-joon asks if she can tell him a little bit of what she wanted to say to Dad, but Hanna refuses. She likes Hae-joon, but he’s not Dad. Accepting this irrefutable fact, Hae-joon holds Hanna close as she cries.
Maya appears in the seat across and looks upon them with sympathy. She blows magic dust onto Hanna’s cheek, and Hanna opens her eyes to find Hae-joon in Dad Young-soo form. She bursts into tears and resentfully cries about why he left her. He apologizes, struggling to hold back his own tears.
Then Hanna looks at him and tearfully apologizes, “I’m sorry that I’m not your daughter.” Young-soo shakes his head and says that he was happy he could be Hanna’s Dad. “Thank you for being my daughter.” They hug each other calling each other “my dad” and “my daughter.” My heart just broke.
On the drive back home, Hae-joon watches Hanna sleeping and thinks back to anpast break-up with Da-hye. In a flashback, we see that Da-hye suddenly decided to break up with him and claimed that she just didn’t like him anymore. He respected her decision but was determined to keep his heart set on her.
Hae-joon returns with Hanna, and she gets a scolding from a worried Da-hye. She cries in apology, and Da-hye holds her close. Hong-nan and Hae-joon look upon the pair with relief, and Grandpa nonchalantly passes by with a simple “I told you so.”
Yi-yeon starts to yell at Hong-nan about leaving food out, only to realize that Hong-nan isn’t living with her anymore. She looks at Gi-tak’s picture and tells him that Hong-nan must be unyielding just like him. She tells Seung-jae to not let Hong-nan into her life and claims that she doesn’t miss Hong-nan at all. But she’s basically talking to a brick wall with Seung-jae, and her words more serve to convince herself.
As Da-hye tucks Hanna into bed, she tells Hanna how much Dad loved her. She recollects when she was pregnant with Hanna and how Dad would always sing to her, and how Hanna and Dad always slept the same way. Hanna smiles at the stories and then tells Mom that she saw Dad today. Da-hye looks puzzled, but Hanna tells her about the dream of Dad.
After putting Hanna to sleep, Da-hye thinks back longingly to a memory. Continuing from the previous flashback, we find Da-hye waking up at the hospital after fainting on the street. The nurse tells her that her guardian brought her here and calls him her baby’s father. Young-soo waves from the entrance with food and embraces that title. Back in the present, Da-hye gets a message from Ji-hoon to meet in front of the house.
Hae-joon and Hong-nan go for a walk, and she admits that she feels lonelier now that she’s found her sister. Sure, they’re family, but she doesn’t know half as much about Da-hye as strangers do and feels useless. Hae-joon empathizes with that sentiment, and they realize the truth in Maya’s warning that this journey would get harder the deeper they go.
Da-hye meets Ji-hoon outside and apologizes for calling about Hanna being lost. She tells him not to come again, but he cuts her off with the most urgent question: Is Hanna his daughter? He suspected it early on, but he needs confirmation from Da-hye now. He reveals that Hanna suspected it too because of their similarities.
Hong-nan notices the two talking and instinctively jerks to interrupt, but Hae-joon holds her back. Da-hye responds to Ji-hoon’s question by adamantly rejecting his suspicions. She tells him that Hanna has always been and will always be Young-soo’s daughter. Nothing can change that. With that, she leaves, but her strong face falls as soon as she gets home.
Hong-nan demands to know what’s behind all of this, so Hae-joon explains. He didn’t know that Hanna was Ji-hoon’s daughter from the beginning and only discovered Da-hye’s past relationship with Ji-hoon after he returned. He had promised Da-hye not to ask about this relationship until she spoke of it first, so he never knew, even with Ji-hoon as one of his closest friends.
Only now does he realize how difficult and uncomfortable it must have been for Da-hye to endure; he had only focused on his own difficulties. He feels even more foolish for this late realization as a returned spirit in Hae-joon.
Ji-hoon walks away dejected, and Hong-nan catches up to him to give him a good beating. He doesn’t know why she would be beating him, but she tells him he deserves it. After resisting for a bit, Ji-hoon submits to the blows, and Hong-nan stops, useless once again.
As Da-hye does the dishes, Hae-joon looks at the pictures on the piano. He picks up the one ultrasound picture, on which he wrote a letter to Hanna, nicknamed “Lucky” at the time. Da-hye thinks back to the time when Young-soo did become Hanna’s father. Flashback to Christmas, with Young-soo secretly trailing Da-hye. He catches up to her when she trips, but she doesn’t seem too fond of his presence. He swears that he’ll leave, but only after he wraps a scarf around her neck and gives her a matching hat.
He starts to walk away, but Da-hye calls out to him with a request. She asks him to buy her a cake, and he happily agrees. Young-soo gets giddy at the prospect of getting her a cake and possibly a diamond ring, and he suggests the nickname “Lucky” for the baby. But most importantly, he thanks her for allowing him to be the father.
Back in the present, Da-hye breaks down in tears. A hand reaches out to comfort her, and when she turns around, she sees Young-soo. She hugs him and cries on his shoulder, but he soon becomes Hae-joon, who kisses her forehead. When Da-hye opens her eyes, she sees Hae-joon and walks off, leaving the water still running at the sink.
At the attic house, Yi-yeon seems captured by the view and asks Seung-jae how long Gi-tak lived in the house. He guesses probably over 10 years, and Yi-yeon smiles. She sees herself on the new Sunjin billboard ad and realizes that her face covered the billboard for most of those years.
Inside, she reads an interview Gi-tak did as the owner of his restaurant. For the moment, Gi-tak is in the room with her, and they have a fun mock interview. Then, Yi-yeon asks what food he longs for the most, and he answers solemnly that he wants to eat his passed mother’s doenjang stew and rice.
Trying to lift his spirits, she asks about the inspiration for the name of his restaurant. He admits that it’s named after Herman Hesse’s Knulp, which he received as the first gift from someone he liked. He also adds that he never finished it because it was too difficult. He laughs his hearty laugh, which gradually disappears.
Hong-nan looks at the billboard from outside and approaches the door. Yi-yeon senses someone outside and slowly reaches for the doorknob from the other side. They both stand there, hesitating, until Yi-yeon decides to open the door, but no one is there. Yi-yeon shakes her head for clinging on, and Hong-nan walks away.
The next day, Hae-joon and Da-hye meet at a café. Hae-joon comments on how it’s been a while since they’ve had this kind of outing, and Da-hye corrects him that it’s their first time. She reminds him of his offer to be a passing transient figure, open to listen to anything, and she gives him the truth.
Having received so much love from Young-soo, she didn’t think that she deserved to complain. That resulted in her matching everything to Young-soo, and she couldn’t honestly show him who she really was. She was deeply and painfully regretting that, when suddenly Hae-joon appeared.
Admittedly, she wavered, whether it was because Hae-joon was similar to Young-soo or just because of Hae-joon the person. She may have even searched for Young-soo within Hae-joon. She’ll ask Young-soo for forgiveness when she sees him again, but she’s stopping here with Hae-joon because she loves Young-soo.
Hae-joon smiles and thanks her, which confuses Da-hye. He says that this is plenty for him and assures her that Young-soo will understand. He reminds her that he’s just an insignificant passerby in her life, satisfied by any amount of solace he could bring. He’ll even move out immediately, if that’s what she wants. Da-hye allows him to finish off his stay and asks that they never see each other again afterwards. Sadly, that’s something she doesn’t need to worry about.
At home, Hae-joon awards the poster with plenty of smiley face stickers, preparing his leave. He then heads upstairs, where he finds Hong-nan enjoying the massage chair. She tells him to get close and then showers him with kisses. She just really appreciates him and tries to pull him in for a real good kiss. Haha.
Jokes aside, Hong-nan thanks Hae-joon for loving Da-hye so fully, and Hae-joon returns the gratitude. She suspects that they were sent down together to discover unknown truths, and she considers it lucky that Hae-joon is one of them. Apart from that, she doesn’t know what else to do. Hae-joon knows that Hong-nan is lonely and asks what she would do if she could start with Yi-yeon from the beginning.
Eyes closed, Hong-nan walks across a bridge with her hand out, simply wanting to hold hands while walking. When she opens her eyes, she sees Yi-yeon waving at her. Convinced that it’s a figment of her imagination, Hong-nan walks past her. But it’s really Yi-yeon, and she yells at Hong-nan for constantly showing up in front of her.
Hong-nan turns around and offers to get lost. She won’t ever show up again. Before Yi-yeon can respond, Hong-nan storms off… then turns back around. She rebukes Yi-yeon for always wanting her way, ordering Hong-nan in and out of her sight. It’s always one-sided, and even if it’s for Hong-nan’s good, she knows that Yi-yeon is surely crying in regret of the decision. Yi-yeon smiles in appreciation of the scolding.
Walking back together, Hong-nan hesitates to hold Yi-yeon’s hand, and Yi-yeon admits that she must have missed Gi-tak a lot to feel his aura from Hong-nan. She tells Hong-nan that she knew Gi-tak called her manager 10 years ago and complied when she was taken away, in fear that Jae-gook would hurt Gi-tak. Hong-nan stops and thinks about how much she wants to stay by Yi-yeon’s side. But she doesn’t linger on the thought and catches up to Yi-yeon, grabbing her hand in bliss.
Yi-yeon surprises Hong-nan with homemade doenjang stew and rice, and she asks Hong-nan to eat it for Gi-tak. Hong-nan seems overwhelmed with emotion, but she’s cut off by a call from Da-hye, who invites her to a meal the next day. She keeps the caller identity a secret from Yi-yeon, and she takes away the food in jealousy.
Ji-hoon calls Hae-joon to the roof to ask about Hae-joon’s real intentions for not revealing all of his misdeeds against Young-soo. Hae-joon is the bigger person here and tells Ji-hoon that it doesn’t matter now. He tells Ji-hoon to live well, since he could be the source of encouragement for someone else. As Hae-joon walks away, Ji-hoon drops the hint that Jae-gook is looking into Hong-nan, which is a big red flag.
Pacing in his office, Hae-joon tries to brainstorm why Jae-gook would be interested in Hong-nan. He looks at his mysterious fortune cookies and opens one, which questions: Are you really who you claim to be? It’s unnerving, and Hae-joon bursts out of his office demanding to know who these fortune cookies were from.
In the hospital, Boss wakes up with Seung-jae on watch. Seung-jae rushes to his bedside and is ordered to keep quiet about his return to consciousness. He asks Boss about Suk-chul’s involvement in Gi-tak’s death and implies to Seung-jae that Suk-chul should have drowned him completely to get off clean.
In a flashback, we see Boss making sure that Gi-tak knows where the money is. Gi-tak assures him that only he and his younger sibling know the location, so present-day Boss calls Hong-nan to order her to find the money before Suk-chul does.
Seung-jae tries to leave with Boss unnoticed, but a nurse stops him for a required check-up before his release. He reluctantly agrees to the hospital policy, but Boss gets wheeled into an empty room with none other than Suk-chul. Bitter and greedy Suk-chul asks Boss to reveal the location of the funds, but Boss stays resolute. Suk-chul seethes and threatens him at the top of the stairs, but Boss seals the deal to his death when he claims that he can’t remember.
Suk-chul storms out of the staircase after the murder and goes on his way to a location recently visited by Hong-nan and Seung-jae. Soon enough, Boss’s dead body is discovered in the stairwell, and Seung-jae only has a quick moment to mourn before running off to protect Hong-nan. He calls her and tells her to stay put.
Hong-nan marvels at Da-hye’s meal preparation, and Da-hye explains that she wanted to treat her like family and thank her with a good meal. She’s not good with opening up, so she felt thankful for Hong-nan’s friendly greeting when they first met. Da-hye rushes inside the get the rice, leaving Hong-nan alone when she receives the fateful voice message from Boss.
Suk-chul watches the surveillance tapes from the cemetery and finds her taking something from the urn. He’s off to her current location, ready to use all means necessary to get this allocated money.
When Da-hye comes back outside, Hong-nan has disappeared. Worried, she calls Hae-joon and notifies him of Hong-nan’s absence. He immediately barges into Jae-gooks office with accusations while Seung-jae runs through the streets with determination. But Hong-nan has already been dragged to an isolated place, at the mercy of Suk-chul and his gang.
Character-wise, I appreciated this episode for giving us some necessary backstory and direction on Young-soo and Da-hye’s relationship. Although their relationship didn’t have a compelling arc to begin with, I found that the flashbacks were helpful in understanding the complexities of their marriage that weren’t explored previously. Of course, a nice dose of birth secret can help stir the pot, but I think in this case, Hanna’s birth secret helped explain why the marriage was full of love, yet inevitably resulted as a broken marriage. I could finally understand why Da-hye kept saying that Young-soo was too kind for her and why she was so cautious about being her true self — she always lived with the guilt of burdening Young-soo with a daughter that was not biologically his.
As Da-hye has realized, it was foolish of her to live behind a veil because biological or not, it ultimately made no difference to Hanna or Da-hye. Young-soo was always and would always be Dad. The ferris wheel scene was a beautiful way to portray Hanna’s longing for Dad, and the brevity of Young-soo’s return made the scene even more poignant. Most drama children are precocious little adults, but I was particularly captured by Hanna’s protectiveness of who was Dad to her. Nevermind Ji-hoon, whose only contribution was passing down the banana allergy genes to Hanna; the only Dad to Hanna is the hardworking man who embraced her as his own and loved her endlessly.
With time in the living world spiraling to an end, our ahjusshis are finally hitting some a-ha moments. It took long enough for Hae-joon to stop acting like a child and realize the glaring mistake of overlooking Da-hye’s individuality in his past life. It’s a shame that he’s only come to this realization now, but that’s a result of Young-soo as a character wasting time on petty revenge against his enemies and not prioritizing the real purpose for his return. I just want more of those ferris wheel scenes from Hae-joon, and we’re finally at a place with his character that would allow more.
Hong-nan/Gi-tak is much more enjoyable, but she’s not an exception to this delayed realization — she’s got this noble idiocy exchange with Yi-yeon. They cared so much for each other that they never cared enough for themselves. Or maybe they were both too stubborn. Either way, that’s how they ended up with so much regret, yet here they were, doing it all over again on that bridge.
Essentially, people don’t change easily. Returning to the living world may have sounded like the best opportunity for settling unresolved grudges, but it’s not any easier to address if you’re approaching it as the same person. I wouldn’t say that the journey back to the living was destined to fail; it’s more of a double-edged sword prone to unfavorable consequences. Ultimately, there’s nothing going for these ajusshis, and I think that’s what Hong-nan touched upon when she commented on the increasing difficulty as they progress. It’s a good lesson for the living — that resolving matters in the afterlife happens on a steep learning curve. Better now than later.
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 12
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 11
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 10
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 9
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 8
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 7
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 6
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 5
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 4
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 3
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 2
- Come Back, Ajusshi: Episode 1