Dear My Friends: Episode 10
What could be more delightful than spending the night with someone you love? Even if all you do is talk, there’s an intimacy to be found when old lovers reunite, be it three years or fifty years later. There are still difficult conversations to be had, but when one has been abandoned previously, even the greatest joy cannot mask the inner pain of knowing this all-too-brief moment may be the last.
EPISODE 10: “Sharpening the blade of revenge, part 1”
Nan-hee finds her musician friend playing his guitar outside the convenience store. She stops to listen, and as they talk, she discovers that he’s a widower. Even though she still wears a ring, she tells him she’s widowed, too, which means she’s now alone. Except for her daughter, and her brother, and her mother — so maybe she’s not that alone, after all.
At the airport, Wan tries to buy a ticket for the next flight to Slovenia, but the only availability is for the expensive business class. She hesitates for a second, then says she’ll take it. Her mother calls just as she’s hurrying through security. Nan-hee wants Wan to come help her clean up Jung-ah’s new house tomorrow, but she tells her mother that they just made up so she shouldn’t push her luck.
Over some soju (in fancy wine glasses!), Choong-nam and Nan-hee talk about how she and Wan made up so easily. Nan-hee admits they had a screaming fest where Wan told her that she hated her, but she thinks it’s just an exaggeration. Choong-nam points out that most children have problems with their parents until the parent is on the deathbed — then Wan will be full of tearful reconciliation.
Nan-hee is too happy to take Choong-nam seriously, instead asking if she should start dating again. She’s got her eyes on the musician, who’s ten years younger. Ooooh, a noona romance! But she’s not sure if she’s ready yet.
The rain has slowed to a drizzle, and Seung-jae hands Hee-ja a sweet potato. As they eat their snacks, she laughs at his confession that he’s nervous because he likes her. He brushes off some crumbs on her face and she returns the favor in kind.
He leans in, reminding her that they used to do that sort of thing right before they kissed. She matter-of-factly says she used to do the same thing to her husband, too, effectively killing the mood.
They share a room, but Seung-jae sets his bag down between them to act as a barrier. Hee-ja warns him that if he crosses it, she’ll take the axe from outside and cut him. Pffft.
Seung-jae asks what her husband was like, and she leans back, telling him that other than the one time that he cheated on her, he was a good man. Seung-jae is surprised that he only cheated once, and Hee-ja turns it around on him — are all men like that, then?
He says he isn’t — women just happen to like him. Hee-ja’s curious about his wife, and Seung-jae simply tells her that she was beautiful. When Hee-ja continues to ask about how he took care of his wife when she was sick, he admits that he was only really good to her during that time. Before that, he was only half-heartedly devoted.
Turning the attention back on her, Seung-jae asks what was her happiest moment. Hee-ja tells him that it was the day her first son was born. And her saddest? The day her first son died.
They were living in her husband’s home town at the time when her son fell ill, and her husband was away on a business trip, so she carried her son to the hospital by herself. But he was dead by the time she arrived.
She tries to cover up her emotion of remembering that day by telling Seung-jae she’s not afraid of dying, since it means she’ll meet her son and husband again. Seung-jae thoughtfully says that he always believed she’d had an easy life, free of worry or concern. But there’s no such thing as a truly uneventful life, is there?
He admits that he thought about her every now and then, wondering how she was doing. She’s pleased to hear it, because she’d think he was lying if he said he thought about her all the time. Growing older makes life harder, though, and he says that if he was younger, he would have held her so tight right now even if she threatened to cut him with the axe. But instead, he’s too sleepy, and says he’ll see her in the morning.
That night, Suk-gyun snores while Jung-ah quietly packs a bag.
In the morning, Seung-jae boasts that he can carry Hee-ja on his back if she’s feeling tired during their hike up the mountain. When she finally agrees to let him carry her — more so to make him stop talking — he realizes that his legs aren’t what they used to be and tells her to just keep walking on her own. Pffft.
He continues to chatter about all the romantic memories they’ve had on the mountain top, but Hee-ja says that he must be confusing her with his wife. Her last memory of this mountain was the time they got into a fight and took separate buses back home. She doesn’t blame him though, because she gets memories mixed up herself.
The mountain hike is totally worth it, though, because before them is a stunningly beautiful sunrise. In awe, Hee-ja thanks him for bringing her there, and as Seung-jae tries to take a selfie, she holds out her hand. Surprised, he takes it, and aw, he’s so happy. She starts to say that they should come back sometime, but then realizes this moment — being in the present — is all they really need.
Choong-nam, who stayed over at Nan-hee’s, is woken up by a text from Seung-jae thanking her for helping him have a great trip with Hee-ja. Nan-hee asks if she’s jealous, and Choong-nam simply says she should be there instead.
Wan tries to settle into her fancy airline seat, but she’s too nervous and excited about seeing Yun-ha. During a layover, she wakes him with with a phone call, asking where he is. As she waits for her flight, she wonders if he’ll faint when he sees her.
At the marketplace, Suk-gyun is leading the way, selecting ingredients for the memorial meal. His daughters are astonished by how much he’s buying, and they try to convince their mother to rein him in. But she simply says that it will be the last time. Suk-gyun acts like he’s doing them all a favor by buying the ingredients so far in advance because it means Jung-ah will have enough time to prepare everything.
Jung-ah excuses herself to answer the phone — it’s Nan-hee, complaining that Jung-ah’s new house isn’t fit for human habitation. But Choong-nam snatches the phone from her, warning her to not get in the way of Jung-ah’s long-awaited revenge. Nan-hee thinks Jung-ah should sue Suk-gyun and get enough money in compensation to find a better place to live, but Choong-nam points out that anywhere would be better than staying with Suk-gyun.
Young-won, tired of their bickering, says that there’s no point in suing because Suk-gyun would claim he’s the injured party since his wife suddenly left him with no warning. She adds that she saw her ex-husband. He’d been sending her flowers for weeks but then finally attached a note, asking to meet. But when she says she saw him, she means just that — she stayed in the car and just watched him through the window.
Of course, Nan-hee is of the opinion that Young-won shouldn’t meet with him, especially if he’s still married. But Choong-nam thinks that if he came all the way here, then there’s no harm in having a cup of tea together.
Young-won wonders where Wan is, and Nan-hee just assumes she’s at home, working, since she won’t answer her phone. She asks Young-won if Wan really broke up with Yun-ha, muttering that Wan can’t marry someone who’s disabled because, in her opinion, that’s still as bad as a married man. Choong-nam and Young-won just exchange a look.
Wan’s finally in Slovenia, and as the taxi gets closer and closer to Yun-ha, she remembers all the times they shared together on these familiar streets. She anxiously fiddles with her couple’s ring before slipping it on her finger.
Stopping to buy a bouquet of roses, she walks up the familiar cobblestone path to Yun-ha’s home. When Yun-ha’s sister answers the door, she’s surprised to see Wan, but warmly invites her in. Ha, when she asks Wan what brings her here, Wan simply says, “An airplane.” Hee!
One of the first things Wan notices is that photos of her and Yun-ha are still scattered throughout the apartment. Yun-ha’s sister offers her a glass of water, explaining that Yun-ha is still asleep after working all night on a project.
He’s just outside on the balcony, and when Wan sees him, she gives him a little wink as she continues her small talk with his sister. He quietly rolls into the living room, his face unreadable. He tells his sister to leave, and she knowingly says that she’ll be at the office if he needs her.
Happy that his sister is gone, Wan rushes to greet Yun-ha, kneeling so that she’s eye-to-eye before him. She’s surprised by his neutral reaction as he politely offers to make her a cup of tea.
Embarrassed, she admits that she thought he’d be so happy to see her he might faint, but she guesses she was mistaken. Yun-ha says that he’s pleased, but Wan points out his cold and distant attitude makes it seem more like he’s tolerating an unwelcome guest.
Yun-ha notes in amusement that her nose has started to bleed, and she starts to yell at him. He covers up his laughter while, with tears of frustration, she informs him that she fought with her mother, worked three days straight, and then spent eighteen hours on a plane and then took buses and taxis all the way to see him. And this is the reaction she gets?
As she rushes to the bathroom, she tells him that it’s like he’s getting his revenge. She slams the bathroom door shut, then freezes when she sees the his-and-her bathrobes, toothbrushes, and razors.
Returning to the living room, she demands to know why he’s acting so cold when he still has all of her stuff in the bathroom and their pictures all over the place. He pulls her into his arms as she cries, and then he gently kisses her. As they hug, she tearfully says that it only took her eighteen hours to reach him — “it was so easy.”
Seung-jae drops by Hee-ja’s, who’s surprised that he thinks he can now just show up unannounced. He’s brought her a coloring book and pencils to help give her something to do as well as prevent dementia. She’s sweetly delighted by the gift, but Min-ho arrives just then, suspicious of Seung-jae’s overly friendly demeanor.
He’s there for a date with his mother, and he eyes Seung-jae like he’s the enemy. Seung-jae can take a hint and pleasantly excuses himself while Hee-ja gets ready for her date with her son. When she sees that Min-ho has thrown away the snacks Seung-jae brought, she tries to retrieve them from the trash, but Min-ho just barks at her to leave it.
Seung-jae calls Choong-nam to tell her all about the great time he had on his trip thanks to her. Choong-nam doesn’t need more salt rubbed into that wound, and she demands to know why he really called her. He’s worried about Jung-ah and Suk-gyun — it isn’t right that Jung-ah sold property and is moving out without telling Suk-gyun.
The property she sold was in her name, though, and Choong-nam says that if Jung-ah and Suk-gyun do happen to get into a legal dispute, she’ll hire Seung-jae to represent Jung-ah. Seung-jae still thinks that it’s something that should be worked through privately between the couple — after all, Suk-gyun is an old man and it would be difficult for him to be on his own. Choong-nam retorts that if Seung-jae is so worried about Suk-gyun, then the two men can live together instead.
Choong-nam’s nephew shows her the bill that the art professors have racked up with their expensive wine tastes, and she just tears it up, telling him to be nicer to her friends. He grumbles that they’re no friends, instead they’re just freeloading off her because she’s such a pushover.
Hee-ja picks out bedding for Jung-ah’s new place (adding in a set for her as well, so she can stay over — so cute!). But when she goes to the place she believes is Jung-ah’s new apartment, it’s the already occupied basement unit. She tries to remember where the other place is, but realizes she can’t recall where it is.
As she frets about not remembering the directions, Min-ho reassures her that it’s a simple mistake and easily fixed with a phone call to get the proper directions. But it does seem like the delusional disorder is slowly getting worse.
From the comfort of Yun-ha’s apartment, Wan watches the merriment in the town center down below. Yun-ha asks if she’d like to go outside — after all, they’ve just spent fifty-two hours indoors together. Rawr.
As they hang out on the balcony together, Wan tells him not to think about anything else except that she’s there with him right now. She retrieves his ringing phone for him — it’s his sister, checking up on him. She’s happy that Yun-ha is having a good time, but she warns him that Wan will probably leave him again like she did in the past.
He’s aware of that, and when his sister tells him not to get his hopes up, he simply agrees that he won’t. Wan returns with a cup of coffee, and he says that before her flight leaves, they should just go for a walk.
Suk-gyun’s memorial gathering is in full swing, and his daughters rush about to keep their father and his family’s plates full. He calls for Jung-ah, but she’s taking a break in the bathroom, looking at photos of her mother on her phone. When he finds her, he asks her where the Go-Stop cards are.
She goes to get them for him, and he notices the bag she packed with her belongings. He dismisses it, though, as just a bunch of stuff she’s donating.
Wan slowly wheels Yun-ha along the streets of the old city, telling him that Dong-jin is returning to America to be with his wife, and she’s also decided to write the book about her mother and the aunties. She admits that at first she didn’t want to, but now she believes they have stories worth sharing.
Over a cup of tea at a restaurant, Wan tells him that after she’s finished both her work translation and the aunties’ book, she’ll come back. If she works hard enough, it should only be a few more months until she can return for good.
Yun-ha cuts her off, telling her not to make any empty promises. He’ll just excuse her visit by saying it’s because she missed Slovenia, and not because of him. When she asks if he’ll be here waiting for her, he says that he’ll be here, but he won’t be waiting.
Right now, he just thinks of his paralyzed legs as an inconvenience. But if she promises to return and then doesn’t, he’ll blame his legs for pushing her away, and will start to hate them. Reminding her that he’s stuck with his legs for the rest of his life, he warns her to be considerate.
Angry, Wan asks if he thinks she came here impulsively. It took her three years to finally get on that plane. Although they might break up over something else, she insists that it won’t be over his legs. She’s strong and more than capable of looking after him — and she’ll be back.
But Yun-ha has his own questions: should he just be grateful that she loves him in spite of his disability? Is he just supposed to politely say “thank you,” then? She was the one who decided to leave and then come back as she wished — and now she’s leaving again.
Wan stands up as if to leave, but then stops herself and sits back down. No matter what her mother says, Wan promises to return. She no longer wants to talk to him through a computer screen. When she comes back, she expects him to work harder at physical therapy if he’s planning on living with her.
She uses her uncle as an example of someone who worked hard to go from bedridden to being able to get along with the use of crutches. When Yun-ha simply says that he’ll never be able to walk again, Wan begins to cry, passionately begging him to at least work with her to try, no matter how difficult it seems.
She starts to cry as she says that she needs something to tell her mother — the mother who considers Wan to be the most important thing in her world, and who insists that Wan can’t marry someone who’s disabled. She needs to be able to have some sort of justification of why she chose Yun-ha over her mother.
Once again, Wan promises that she’ll return as soon as she finishes her book. Yun-ha tells her that if she doesn’t come back, he’ll kill her. It’s much sweeter than it sounds, and when his sister arrives to take Wan to the airport, he gently wipes the tears from Wan’s face as she gathers her things. With one last kiss goodbye, she says that she’ll see him again.
As Choong-nam settles in for her nightly studying, the pain she’s been enduring the past couple of days gets suddenly worse, and she realizes that it’s definitely something serious. She tries to remind herself that she’s still young and there’s no reason to panic as she she calls her nephews. But they’re having a good time with their friends and can’t hear their phones over the music.
She then tries calling Young-won and Nan-hee, but they’re both busy at work and unable to answer, too. Deciding that Hee-ja is too old to bother and that Jung-ah is too busy with the memorial services, she calls Professor Park.
He lies that he’s busy picking up his kids at the airport, but he’s really just with the other professors. He warns them not to pick up their phones because Choong-nam is complaining she’s sick, but she sounds okay to him.
Choong-nam realizes that she has to call 911, but decides to get dressed first. Except the pain is too excruciating and she passes out on the floor. Granny calls, but Choong-nam doesn’t answer.
The aunties are worried because they’ve seen the missed calls from Choong-nam, and now she’s not picking up. Granny heads out on her ATV while Il-bong calls Seung-jae, who rushes out to drive over, but is delayed due to a fender bender.
Wan has just landed in Korea when her mother calls, asking her to check on Choong-nam since Nan-hee can’t leave the restaurant. The ambulance pulls up at the hospital just as Granny does, and she watches as the paramedics wheel in an unresponsive Choong-nam.
Suk-gyun and his family go through the formal memorial rites, unaware of Jung-ah who silently slips out. Her daughters are hanging out just outside, and they assume that their mother joined them because the uncles won’t let a woman take part in the ritual (even though they’ll eat the food made by women).
She tells her daughters that she’s moving out, and they’re more amused than shocked by her declaration. Jung-ah tells them to be good to their father, and as she listens to her daughter talk to her husband on the phone, she goes back inside to set out Suk-gyun’s underwear for him after his shower. Aw.
Collecting a set of bedding, she slips back outside just as Suk-gyun yells at her to bring him underwear. He’s happy to see that she’s already left it by the bathroom door, and assumes she’s gone to bed already. In the morning, he wakes up, alone, calling out for her to get him a glass of water. But he’s the only one in the quiet apartment.
After fifty years of marriage, she finally left him, and now she’s peacefully snoring away in her new home.
Choong-nam wakes up in the hospital, surprised to see all the aunties (including Granny and Wan) surrounding her bed. Granny brags that she saved Choong-nam’s life by calling that ambulance for her — the acute pain was her appendix, which has since been removed. When Wan hands Choong-nam her phone, she sees that the professors accidentally texted her about how much fun they’re having at the bar.
Hahahaha, Granny brought her to the hospital where all of Choong-nam’s relatives are, thinking that would make her more comfortable. Wan tells us that for Choong-nam, who always preferred younger people, was now surrounded by her old friends and even older relatives. That was the morning her desire for revenge rose to the surface. Choong-nam clutches her phone as she mutters that those bastards are now dead.
Oh, I cannot wait to see Choong-nam destroy those pretentious freeloaders! I love that she had proof that even if she’s alone at night, the reality is she’s not alone, since her friends will be there for her. Such a perfect example of figuring out who your true friends really are.
I also loved the little parallel between Seung-jae/Hee-ja and Wan/Yun-ha. Even though their circumstances seem vastly different, there’s a similarity between Seung-jae and Wan who are so desperate to relive those happy days they once had with the person they love. Seung-jae tries to recreate old memories on the mountain, only to realize that old age and fifty years of life with someone else is the barrier that most be gradually broken down. Hee-ja may still harbor some affection for him, but she also doesn’t trust that not only he won’t leave her again, but that he won’t die like her husband.
Wan, on the other hand, flings herself across the world in hopes to return to a moment where time has stopped. Of course she knows that three years makes a difference, and it’s not like they hadn’t talked during that time, but it does seem like she felt that just by showing up, things would pick up where they left off. And maybe they can, but I don’t blame Yun-ha for being cautious.
She left him just at the time when his life was turned upside-down. It’s easy to believe in the good times, but when life is difficult and messy, would Wan still stick around? He knows how much she honors her mother (whether she likes it or not), so it’s completely fair for him to question her loyalties and demand respect for his emotions. I can only imagine the depression he went through (or perhaps is still going through), believing that if only he hadn’t gotten into that accident, Wan would still be around and he would still be happy with the woman he loves.
She will have to work hard to prove that she won’t up and leave him the moment her mother expresses disapproval, and that she is indeed strong enough to remain through the bad times. I have faith that she will, though. After all, we’ve seen since the beginning that Wan is strong willed, and if she truly believes in staying with Yun-ha — that she may even, perhaps, love him more than she loves her mother — then I think I can begin to kindle this flame of hope I have for a happy ending without the urge to constantly check over my shoulder, worried about what else life may bring her and the aunties.