Chicago Typewriter: Episode 9
Oh boy, I’m practically giddy. This is the episode I needed, one that would tie everything together and fill me with so many emotions I can barely contain. It turns out that remembering the past doesn’t always have to be a painful endeavor—even when our characters think back to the days of the past they would rather forget, they’ll be reminded of the cause no one will ever forget.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
After seeing Seol in Se-joo’s embrace, Jin-oh thinks back to his past when he was Yul. He was confused when Soo-hyun masked half his face, unaware that she was still looking for her masked rescuer.
He lost his primetime singer, but his club’s madam assured him that she already found a replacement: Soo-hyun. Cut to: Soo-hyun being dragged to the back where the madam assured her that her cover won’t be blown—no one will recognize her as a woman on stage.
She laid the guilt trip on her, saying that Yul gave her free room and board for many years. That worked, and Soo-hyun reappeared on stage with her hair down and in a dress. Yul was gobsmacked.
Her new stage name was Anastasia, and Soo-hyun teetered in her heels like a fawn taking her first steps. Jin-oh muses sadly that he was the first one who saw Soo-hyun as a woman, but there’s nothing he can do about it in this life.
In the present, Se-joo and Seol sit on a park bench. He asks if she’s done crying now, and she teasingly replies, “Will you hold me again if I cry?” When asked if seeing her past life scares her, Seol offers to tell him a scary story.
It’s the tale of her own childhood, when she used to live with her mother (who looked just like the club madam in the ’30s). Her mother smiled that her daughter was very pretty, but then young Seol cheerily asked, “Even if I killed someone? I shot someone a long time ago.”
Afraid, Mom brought Seol to Bang-jin’s mother’s door and was told that perhaps Seol was remembering parts of her past life. Bang-jin’s mother felt Mom had nothing to be worried about, and advised Mom to work out her karma by showering Seol with love, reminding her of the saying that a person’s enemies in a past life are born as their children in the next life.
We can hear young Seol’s voice desperately asking Mom not to leave her. Seol says she understands how her mother must’ve felt hearing her child say things like “I shouldn’t have killed that person.”
Se-joo says it wasn’t Seol’s fault for being an honest child, and Seol smiles, adding that her mother actually left her for another man. But she can’t help but wonder if Mom wouldn’t have sent her away if she’d been normal, and when Se-joo asks if she still sees glimpses of her previous life, she lies, “No. I’m totally normal now.”
He walks her back home, and when she starts coughing, he instinctively places a hand on her forehead. The action makes her remember the face in her dream — Hwi-young’s — and before he leaves, Se-joo tells her that he isn’t afraid of her one bit and doesn’t think she’s crazy because he’s even crazier than she is. Heh.
He claims that he doesn’t abandon those he’s allowed into his inner circle because he’s been abandoned by people before too. “So…” he starts, about to say her name, but then he hesitates and says he won’t abandon the dog.
Now that Se-joo lives with a ghost, he takes note of Jin-oh’s behavior, like him watching the boy band survival show Produce 101 Season 2 (“There are 101 boys whose bodies I want to possess!” which yes, doesn’t sound great coming from a grown man) or ugly-crying at a scene of Tomorrow With You. Ahahaha.
Se-joo makes sure Jin-oh doesn’t give himself away, and even has his staff set another place setting for breakfast. Jin-oh is touched by the gesture, since it’s the first time he’s shared a meal with someone in over eighty years.
His first ghostly memory is waking up to find himself inside a typewriter, far from home. He was so happy to see Se-joo in that cafe in Chicago, and Se-joo tells him to eat, and even invites Jin-oh to let him know if there’s anything specific he wants the cook to make next time. D’aww.
Breakfast is interrupted by Ji-seok’s arrival, whereupon he explains that someone is persuading their investors to turn away from them during this multi-billion won project hiatus. But Se-joo is more upset about the fact the project is still on hiatus rather than canceled altogether like he asked, and doesn’t budge on the matter.
He later tells Jin-oh that he’s prepared to take that financial hit, even if it leaves him penniless. He can’t risk Seol reading Chicago Typewriter and figuring out that this story is of her traumatic past life.
Jin-oh argues against Se-joo’s pessimistic outlook, but Se-joo remains firm that Seol should be on a need-to-know basis about the past. And then Jin-oh has an idea.
Ji-seok has to deal with a roomful of angry investors, and is shocked to learn that the project’s biggest investor is none other than Tae-min’s mother. She argues that everyone here is getting restless, threatening that they’ll sue the publication company for fraud and violating their contract.
She also demands that Se-joo explain himself in person, and as if on cue, Se-joo shows up. Next thing we know, the media announces that Se-joo will be resuming the serial novel project. Seol isn’t at all surprised, and now we find out what Jin-oh’s idea was.
Turns out Se-joo handed Seol the typewritten manuscript in person, explaining that he would continue writing as long as it was okay with her. She gasped, and both boys carefully watched her for a reaction as she read it. When she was done, she uttered, “Daebak,” and gave it two thumbs up.
Se-joo leaned in closer and asked her how she felt reading it, and she excitedly said she was moved by the story and that it gave her goosebumps. Jin-oh smugly said he was right—Seol had no idea that this story had anything to do with her.
What Seol focused on was how Se-joo reached out to her, explaining to Bang-jin that he was showing respect to her as his first-ever fan. Tae-min calls just then, asking about a book in her possession, and she hesitantly offers to drop it off at his workspace.
Showing the comments explode online is enough for Se-joo to prove that the rumors about him hanging up his quill are false. The investors empty out, and Se-joo apologizes to Tae-min’s mother for not living like a ghost.
Tae-min has a surprise guest in the form of his father, who suggests that he stop pretending to be the author of a book he never wrote. He means Fate of course, describing it as a guilty prick in his son’s side, and offers to help Tae-min start over.
But Writer Baek is reminded that he too is a guilty party—Tae-min won’t take the blame alone and tells his father to shoulder his part of the responsibility instead of looking for ways to excuse himself.
That’s when Writer Baek mentions that Se-joo still has the rough draft of Fate, adding that neither he nor Se-joo will divulge the truth, so Tae-min should undo his own mess.
Upon leaving, Writer Baek finds himself face to face with Seol, who introduces herself as Tae-min’s assistant. He takes his leave, and Seol drops off the book. She declines getting a drink with Tae-min, but admits she happened to overhear him arguing with his father.
He and his father have always shared a strained relationship and he’d always been second best to Se-joo, Tae-min shares. That story stirs Seol’s sympathy, and we see her joining Tae-min for a drink after all.
He appreciates the company, saying that her presence is calming—she makes him laugh whenever they’re together, and he thinks of her whenever they’re not. He already knows that she feels uncomfortable and asks her to be his friend because everyone else in his life has pushed him away. Maybe that says more about you than them, buddy.
At her silence, Tae-min threatens to keep drinking until she agrees.
At home, Jin-oh gasps to learn that the Japanese General Government Building (which housed offices of colonial government during the Occupation period, and built behind Gyeongbuk Palace) was demolished on the 50th anniversary of the country’s liberation from Japan.
He wants to see the site for himself, but Se-joo refuses, saying that there are “candles” there now and reminds him of their deadline. Jin-oh hangs his head in defeat, so Se-joo relents. He even offers to open up his closet to Jin-oh, wondering if he needs to burn the clothes beforehand so the ghost can wear them.
But Jin-oh says that’s the old-fashioned way, then examines Se-joo from head to toe before spinning into the same exact outfit. Se-joo reminds him that they’ll work after this outing, which prompts Jin-oh to ask if they can’t invite Seol too.
Tae-min wakes up to a massive hangover and finds a note from Seol explaining that she and the driver brought him home. He calls to thank her, but Se-joo plucks the phone out of her hand to warn Tae-min never to call her again.
Se-joo says they need to go somewhere, adding that he’s willing to wait outside until her shift is over. He heads out to his car where Jin-oh suggests that they return later. But Se-joo says they need to protect her from Tae-min, and Jin-oh looks sad as Se-joo watches Seol work with a smile.
She’s let off early to go enjoy her “date”: a sightseeing tour of Seoul, which is more for Jin-oh’s benefit than Se-joo or Seol’s. At Jin-oh’s loud marvels of the sights, Se-joo grabs his phone so he doesn’t sound crazy when he yells at Jin-oh.
Seeing Seoul Station, Jin-oh asks for a photo, so Se-joo obliges with his camera. Seol thinks he’s taking a photo of her, and he has no choice but to photograph them together. He shows the photo of the building to Jin-oh, though Seol appears upset that she’s not in it.
She doesn’t know that he’s talking to Jin-oh when he describes the fancy technology, and snaps back that he should’ve gone on this date with the old building then.
Jin-oh can’t refrain from enjoying himself on this outing as he grabs a pair of sunglasses to try. Se-joo jumps to take them away from him before people notice the object floating mid-air, then pushes Jin-oh to keep moving while Seol writes a wish asking that Se-joo’s feelings don’t fluctuate anymore.
They take a stroll together (and Se-joo even lets Jin-oh eat some of his ice cream) which is reminiscent of the memories the 1930s Gyeongseong trio shared. Both Jin-oh and Seol bombard Se-joo with ideas of what to do until he can’t take it anymore, asking them to stop calling him “Writer.”
Realizing that his exasperation confuses Seol, Se-joo quickly says that people will start recognizing him if she keeps addressing him that way. He shuts down her first few ideas of what to call him, and pauses when she frustratingly asks if she should call him “hyung-nim” then, reminded that that’s how Soo-hyun addressed Hwi-young.
He agrees to that and belatedly realizes that things have gotten much quieter. Uh oh, where did Jin-oh go? He leaves her to find Jin-oh, who has stopped to admire Gwanghwamun, the main gate of Gyeongbuk Palace, noting that the Japanese General Government Building is indeed gone.
Jin-oh gets emotional thinking of how their country was eventually liberated, when all they had to offer to the cause was their youth so many years ago. It makes him want to live in the present, in this present where freedom is a reality.
Se-joo remarks that life is taxing no matter what year it is, and society will always have its problems. The world will never be perfect—there will always be something to fight and struggle for, but that’s how they shape the world they live in.
He thanks Jin-oh and his fellow independence activists because their efforts and sacrifices were important contributions toward liberation. He asks Jin-oh to relay to the youth of his era that they worked hard and to thank them for shaping their world to what it is today.
Jin-oh bows his head, immediately putting that request into practice: “You worked hard too—you were one of those youths.” Seol calls out to him just then, and as she approaches, Jin-oh asks him for a favor: to take a photo of him and Seol in front of Gwanghamun.
He knows he won’t appear in the photo since he’s a ghost, but he still wants one. Se-joo instructs them to smile wide and snaps the photo… which only shows Seol. I’m not crying, I’ve just been peeling an onion.
Se-joo asks a stranger to take their photo, and the trio is reunited, if only for a moment.
Later that night, Se-joo asks if Jin-oh is upset that he doesn’t have any actual photographic evidence of spending time with Seol today. Jin-oh can’t say that he isn’t sad, but he can still carry these memories in his heart.
Jin-oh is glad that Seol is still as cheery and brave as ever, but Se-joo says that’s her putting on a strong face in front of the world. He knows the memories of her past life still haunt her, and Jin-oh says Seol would’ve made a fine markswoman had she continued her pistol shooting career.
That prompts Se-joo to ask him how Soo-hyun learned how to shoot. Yul taught her, didn’t he? We’re then transported to the past where Yul conducts a secret meeting with his fellow youth activists.
Soo-hyun lures the lone guard on the lookout to lead her to the location of the secret gathering. Inside, the members ask when they’ll meet the mysterious face calling the shots in their various operations, but they all fall silent when they hear a noise outside.
They reach for their guns, and Yul carefully opens the door and finds himself pointing his gun at Soo-hyun. She demands to be let into the group or else she’ll run to the police this instant, and Yul instructs everyone to leave, calling an end to this meeting.
Once alone, Soo-hyun divulges that she knows Yul and his group aim to teach the Japanese a lesson. She asks to be taught how to use a gun to kill the people who murdered her father, but Yul refuses to let her take a path of vengeance.
Soo-hyun argues that she’ll fight for their homeland by avenging her father’s death, but she’s told that it isn’t Yul’s call to make. He needs to get permission from the leader of their freedom fighter group, and she declares that she’s ready to sacrifice her life.
So Yul does just that, asking their leader what they should do. At first the leader’s back is turned as they talk, but then he turns around, and it’s Hwi-young. He replies that if Soo-hyun is willing and able, they could groom her into a sharpshooter.
Although Yul thinks Soo-hyun is too weak for the task, Hwi-young thinks differently: “Who knows? This could be the birth of another great sniper.”
Back in the present, Se-joo has to swallow the hard truth that his past self was the impetus for Soo-hyun becoming a sharpshooter and that he was the cause of Seol’s trauma with guns.
Now we see that first memory of Hwi-young being encouraged to write something magnificent in a new light. “Could it be…” Se-joo wonders aloud, “that the person she shouldn’t have killed in her past life… was because of Hwi-young’s orders?”
Jin-oh admits that he doesn’t know the answer to that, and Se-joo sighs that it was his fault that Soo-hyun suffered a gunshot wound. We then see the fragmented memories falling in place: Hwi-young was rushing to get his manuscript in on time because his “third-rate” serial novels contained secret messages to the activist group about their next operation.
He assigned Soo-hyun to her first mission, telling Yul that she must pass to be accepted as their comrade. Later, Hwi-young walked by the designated escape route, checking his gold pocket watch for the time.
Just then, Soo-hyun appeared and took him by the hand. They ran through the streets, and Soo-hyun doubled back for his pocket watch. They kept running and she pushed him into the side of a building.
She covered his mouth to shut him up, and seeing his half-covered face, the truth dawned on her. She then carefully removed his glasses and said, “It’s you, isn’t it? You’re the masked man who saved me.”
Hwi-young denied it, and hearing their pursuers approach, Soo-hyun pulled off her hat and grabbed him to kiss him. Letting his glasses fall to the ground, Hwi-young held her tighter and deepened the kiss, entangling his arms in hers.
Yeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssss!! Excuse me while I go do a happy dance. *squeals at a frequency only dogs can hear* I love it, I love this episode so much that I’m honestly worried that I won’t be able to string together any coherent thoughts in these comments. I knew I loved this writer Jin Soo-wan (Kill Me, Heal Me) for a reason, and that her writing requires patience because she’s busy making a narrative web, and oh boy was it worth the wait.
We all knew that the memories from the 1930s would need to converge at some point in the series’ narrative arc, and these final ten minutes were so hauntingly beautiful and broke my heart a million times over. Sure, we could’ve guessed that Hwi-young was the secret brains behind the operation (because what better cover is there in fighting for a cause than living as a struggling writer who would spend his nights drinking and pretending not to care), but much like Se-joo, we now see his memories in a new light. Needless to say, seeing that final kiss and all of Hwi-young’s raw emotions made me feel on a visceral level, and the buildup in the music made this moment that much more impactful.
Even though Jin-oh knows that he may never be able to be with Seol in this life, I loved how he wanted to capture a memory with her in a photo. That made their group photo that much more touching, knowing that Seol had no idea that she was flanked by the reincarnated soul and ghost of her comrades. Hearing Jin-oh speak with such hope and yearning to live in this present deeply stirred my heart, since those who are blessed with liberty and freedom in their everyday lives rarely stop to think of the many lives and voices of the past who fought so fiercely in the hopes that future generations could enjoy such a precious ideal. Se-joo’s passing mention of “candles” in Gwanghamun Square made me think of the many people who marched with candles just a few short months ago at that very location and made a stand. No matter the cause, it’s moving to hear our characters speak of the important contributions made by those who choose to act.
Bringing it back to our story, however, we can see the key difference in Hwi-young and Yul’s opinions toward Soo-hyun. While I understand Yul’s empathy toward her and desire to keep her safe, it was Hwi-young who believed that she was stronger than she appeared to be and knew that she would need to face danger if she even had a shot at survival in their times. And then there’s the present, where Se-joo approached with more caution, wanting to protect Seol from recalling the painful memories of her past life. Upon learning that it was Hwi-young who prompted Soo-hyun to use a gun, there was no distinction of blame between himself and his past life. Instead Se-joo took the blame on himself, and now I’m worried that he might distance himself from Seol because of the guilt.
Which would only be terrible because Seol allows herself to let down her guard with him. I loved how Se-joo told her that he doesn’t abandon those he’s chosen to accept into his inner circle. We can see that idea apply to practically everyone, from his staff (whom he treats with respect) to Ji-seok and even Jin-oh. I missed seeing Se-joo interact with Gyeon-woo in this episode, though I think Jin-oh causing a mystical ruckus in his house makes up for it. All I’m saying is that Se-joo had better keep Jin-oh around until that final keystroke, because I cannot get enough of this duo.
- Chicago Typewriter pre-empted this weekend
- Pre-emptions in store for Chicago Typewriter, Rebel, Tunnel, Whisper
- Chicago Typewriter: Episode 1
- Persistent fangirl meets crabby writer in tvN’s Chicago Typewriter
- Old friends reunite 80 years in the future in Chicago Typewriter
- Novelist Yoo Ah-in barters in hearts for Chicago Typewriter
- Chicago Typewriter’s star writer, ghostwriter, and anti-fan go for a spin