20th Century Boy and Girl: Episodes 3-4
It’s tough to be famous! Things go from bad to worse as our heroine deals with rumors that spiral out of control that make it hard for her to keep her head up. But when you’re confident in the knowledge that you’ve done nothing wrong and have a solid support system around you, you’ve got everything you need to come out the other side stronger than ever.
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EPISODE 3: “Love story”
It’s 1999, and Jin-jin sits in class, flipping through a notebook full of photos of her friends and their favorite idols. She barely pays attention to the lesson, in which their teacher goes line by line through the English lyrics of the song “Love Story,” from the 1970 film.
A note on one page from Ah-reum asks what she wants to eat tonight, but Jin-jin writes a response that she’s going to “Oppa’s” office tonight. A grumpy scribble from Ji-won asks why he has to participate (in the group notebook) when he has nothing to say, though I notice he’s still complied.
We come back to the present, as Jin-jin is confronted by a sea of reporters asking questions about her alleged sex tape. Suddenly, someone takes her by the hand and steps in front of her, and she’s stunned to see that it’s Ji-won, her old friend.
Ji-won leads Jin-jin past the reporters, out of the airport, and all the way to the curb where her team is waiting. CEO Jang pulls Jin-jin into the van, and Ji-won gives her a tiny nod, then sends her off. The reporters turn on Ji-won, asking about his relationship with Jin-jin, but he quickly hails a taxi and leaves without a word.
There’s a thick, awkward silence in Jin-jin’s van until she eventually asks, “What video?” CEO Jang starts to ask if it’s her, but she says no firmly, and everyone relaxes.
Young-shim is in the middle of her uncomfortably silent job interview with a lawyer, KANG KYUNG-SEOK (Oh Sang-jin), and as he takes forever reading her resume, she notices that the office is a bit run-down. Finally he asks what kind of lawyer she wants to be, but he’s not satisfied with her stock answer that she wants to fight social wrongs.
He’s about to dismiss her, but Young-shim blurts out something that was said at her law school graduation—that a lawyer is someone who listens attentively to people. She says that she wants to be a lawyer who listens to her clients, and it gives her interviewer pause. He writes something on a slip of paper, calling it her homework to figure out while he steps out for a break. Young-shim sees that he’s written “your desired salary.”
Still recovering at the hospital, Ah-reum has been texting Jin-jin and getting no response. Her old classmate and now-doctor, Woo-sung, asks her about Jin-jin, and she tells him to worry about his patient instead (ha, he just blows her off: “You’ll be fine”). He shows her an article online about Jin-jin leaving the airport with a mysterious man.
In the taxi, Ji-won calls his assistant in Hong Kong, who asks why he’s going back to live in his tiny childhood apartment. Ji-won says flippantly that the jjajangmyun tastes better there. His assistant admonishes Ji-won, telling him to call his mother, which wipes the smile off his face.
As it turns out, Jin-jin and her parents also still live in their old building, her parents in their same old apartment and Jin-jin on the floor above them. When she arrives home, Jin-jin pushes the elevator button to her place on the fifteenth floor, but changes her mind and goes to her parents’ apartment instead.
They’ve been eagerly awaiting her return home, but when she walks in, they both pretend they were doing other things. Gah, they’re so cute. Mom offers to make her something to eat, so Jin-jin requests bulgogi. On her way out, Jin-jin stops and says, “It wasn’t me, Mom. You have nothing to worry about.” Her parents finally breathe in relief.
She’s been pretending to be fine ever since the airport, but once Jin-jin is alone in her home, the memory of the aggressive reporters comes back to haunt her. Later, she finally texts Ah-reum and Young-shim, who are relieved to finally hear from her. Ah-reum whines that she’s lonely, begging her friends to come visit her.
Young-shim is in the middle of dinner with her parents, which is an utterly silent affair. Her mother keeps pushing bites of fish towards Young-shim, and every time, her father grabs the bite before Young-shim can eat it. He finishes and wanders off, grumbling that the food was terrible, but Young-shim just smiles and tells her mother that the vegetables are delicious.
In the friends’ chat, they ask who the man at the airport was. Jin-jin gets so distracted thinking about his swoonworthy rescue that she drops her phone on her face, LOL.
Ji-won is thinking about Jin-jin too, in particular one day back in school when he and Jin-jin ended up in their building’s elevator together. He’d lived on the thirteenth floor, one floor below her, and the ride had been full of awkward silence and quick, shy glances at each other.
When they’d gotten to Ji-won’s floor and the doors had opened, he’d just stood there, unwilling to leave just yet. He’d said stiffly, “I’ll take you home,” and closed the elevator doors.
Jin-jin’s mom goes shopping with Ah-reum’s mom again, but this time when they get to the makeup counter, they both gasp in surprise. Jin-jin’s ad has been taken down. Damn, that was fast.
Jin-jin sneaks out after dark wearing a mask, and she takes a taxi to the women’s hospital where Ah-reum is recovering. She calls a nurse to let her in, and nearby, someone takes covert pictures of her entering the building.
Up in Ah-reum’s room, Ah-reum and Young-shim chow down on junk food, but Jin-jin feels under the weather and declines to eat. Ah-reum tells her friends that she saw their old classmate Woo-sung, and she calls him into the room to show them how… well, different he looks these days.
Jin-jin and Young-shim shoot each other looks wondering How is this the same guy? Ah-reum just nods ruefully and tells them that Woo-sung performed her surgery, confirming that he did indeed get all up in her business. He tells them not to get any weird ideas, because he’s a professional.
He sits next to Jin-jin, excited to see his old classmate who’s now a star, though he’s worried if she should be here after her scandal. He starts asking her questions about celebrities’ personal lives, but she says she doesn’t know.
The next morning, Jin-jin’s mom brings her tea in bed. Mom hesitantly tells Jin-jin that her poster was taken down at the store, but Jin-jin gets exasperated and asks what she’s supposed to do about it. Her voice gets louder as she yells at her mom to stop being so interested in her: “Stop caring so much. I’m tired enough without you bothering me!”
She throws herself back in bed, accidentally sending the tea flying and spilling everywhere. Jin-jin looks horrified at what she’s done, but can’t say sorry and just hides under the covers.
Mom goes back downstairs, worried about Jin-jin. Little brother Min-ho sees a new article about his sister on his phone and exclaims in shock, then makes up a lie that he was reacting to a message from a friend because he doesn’t want his parents seeing it.
Jin-jin goes to see CEO Jang later, since they have an appointment with a director to talk about her next movie. All of a sudden, absolutely every phone in the place begins ringing, and manager Hong-hee asks Jin-jin if she went to an ob-gyn yesterday. Oh no. This is very bad.
The latest article features photos of Jin-jin entering the hospital last night after hours, then leaving seven hours later. While the article simply states the facts, it looks really bad, especially on the heels of the sex video, and CEO Jang loses his cool.
Jin-jin protests that she was only visiting Ah-reum, so CEO Jang explains the truth to the reporter who wrote the article. The reporter refuses to retract the article, saying that they didn’t speculate on why she was there, they only reported that she was there.
When Ah-reum learns of the article, she goes online and reads the netizens’ comments, horrified to see that everyone is assuming that Jin-jin went to the hospital to get an abortion. Even Jin-jin’s young rival, Da-young, gleefully takes pleasure in Jin-jin’s downfall.
Jin-jin grows increasingly downcast as she listens to CEO Jang fighting with reporters. Though his protestations fail, he still tries his best to cheer her up for her meeting with the movie director. But just as they’re heading out, the director calls to cancel.
Doctor Woo-sung finds Ah-reum, worried that he may have said something to upset Jin-jin last night. Ah-reum snaps at him for caring more about Jin-jin than her, his actual patient, but he just asks for Jin-jin’s number so he can apologize, hee.
As CEO Jang fields another call from brands threatening to sue Jin-jin for breach of contract, Jin-jin stands to leave. Hong-hee explains that her van is being camped by reporters, so he got her a “limousine,” which turns out to be stylist Mi-dal driving a compact car, and doing it so badly that Jin-jin fears for her life, ha. Mi-dal reassures Jin-jin that she has nothing to worry about because this isn’t her first time driving a car—it’s her second.
Young-shim calls Jin-jin to warn that there are reporters swarming her building, and Mi-dal gets an idea. A little while later, Jin-jin drives up to her apartment on a delivery scooter from her father’s restaurant, her face hidden by her helmet’s visor. Smart!
But the reporters are smart, too, and one in particular eyes her with suspicion. When she slips into the building, he and a couple other reporters follow Jin-jin inside and into the elevator.
The reporters know she lives on the fourteenth or fifteenth floor and push both buttons, figuring to try both. So Jin-jin chooses the thirteenth floor just to get away from them and steps off quickly. The one persistent reporter follows her using the excuse that he’ll walk up the stairs, watching her closely, and Jin-jin panics and rings the first doorbell she sees.
When the door opens, she slips inside without even checking to see who answered—and freezes to find herself face to face with Ji-won.
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EPISODE 4 RECAP
Ji-won is as surprised as Jin-jin, but he doesn’t betray that he recognizes her under the helmet. From upstairs, they can hear the reporters banging on Jin-jin’s parents’ door, yelling for Jin-jin to answer some questions.
Inside, Jin-jin’s mother clutches her rosary and shakes in fear. Min-ho paces between his mom and the door, wanting to do something but unsure of whether he should open the door and yell at the reporters.
Not letting on that he recognizes her, Ji-won asks for the chicken, acting like he ordered it. He asks Jin-jin how much, and when she holds up two fingers, he goes to get some cash.
Jin-jin leans into the door, and she overhears her parents’ neighbor come out to shoo the noisy reporters away. Jin-jin jumps a foot when Ji-won comes back with her money, and he sends her off with a sweet smile.
Ji-won goes to his lunch meeting to discuss merging National Chemical with a Korean chemical company. The other company’s CEO takes his paperwork, and says with a satisfied smirk for them to take this slowly.
CEO Jang gets an idea, and he goes to see the director of the talk show that Jin-jin filmed in Hong Kong. Then, he’d begged the director not to air the show because of what Jin-jin said to Da-young about how to deal with tabloid rumors (he’d said it would tarnish Jin-jin’s image), but now he pleads for him to change his mind.
The executives that Ji-won is meeting with are all older than him, and they joke that their company president is getting old and wants to date. They snicker that a candidate may be available soon, naming Jin-jin and wondering how much money she’d want to be paid to date their boss.
Ji-won listens, his anger rising, until finally he stands and excuses himself. Disgusted, he stops and goes back in, and announces that he’s no longer interested in doing business with them.
Late that night, as Jin-jin lies in bed all alone, she hears Ah-reum and Yong-shim let themselves into her apartment. They don’t bother her, they just bed down in her living room, determined to be there for her.
Jin-jin doesn’t let on that she’s awake, and lies in bed cuddling her giant stuffed giraffe. She remembers when her father sent it to her from a business trip, including a pair of smaller giraffes for her two best friends. He’d sent a note that Daddy is a giraffe who protects his baby giraffe, and that when he’s gone, that she, Ah-reum, and Young-shim should be giraffes for each other.
In the morning, Jin-jin wakes first and affectionately tells her friends to go home. A building announcement reminds her that it’s Wednesday, and sparks an idea. She shows up unannounced at the radio show she’s always listening to, where the Golden Child boys are thrilled to finally meet their goddess.
Ah-reum and Young-shim tag along, and everyone gets a kick out of the fact that Ah-reum is still in her hospital gown. Jin-jin tells the listeners that it wasn’t her in that bedroom video, though she adds that videos should be no reason for women to be condemned by society. The problem isn’t the video, but the person who secretly filmed it and spread it around.
Her sincerity really touches the host, who confesses that she’s also been hurt by unfair scandal, and they discuss how women are always the victims. Jin-jin vows that along with her “tiger lawyer” friend, she’s going to find the person who made the video and seek full punishment.
She also reveals that she was at the hospital to visit her friend, and that she plans to sue the reporters who defamed her. The listeners’ response is positive, but the real turnaround happens when everyone gets a text message featuring a new video.
The video turns out to be a clip from Jin-jin’s talk show appearance in Hong Kong, which we’d never seen the ending of. Jin-jin remains unaware until the radio show concludes, and her friends can’t wait to show the new video.
In it, we finally see Jin-jin’s advice on how she handles tabloid scandals: She doesn’t. She’d told Da-young that because those stories are false, there’s no need to address them at all.
When Da-young started mentioning other men that Jin-jin supposedly dated, Jin-jin had admitted, on camera, that she’s never dated at all. CEO Park had started to panic that she was ruining her image, and he’d finally just ruined the shoot by wandering around in front of the camera, bellowing that his stomach hurt. Pfft.
As Jin-jin and Young-shim laugh over the video, Ah-reum’s chin starts to wobble, then she suddenly bursts into tears. She wails that this is all her fault for asking Jin-jin to visit her in the hospital, and Jin-jin and Young-shim hug her and assure her that that’s not true. Awww.
Having convinced the PD to let him access the canned footage from the Hong Kong shoot, CEO Park had fallen asleep while working on it. He wakes to a call from Jin-jin, thanking him for releasing the video, but when he protests that it wasn’t him, she just says she knows he likes to play dumb.
Ji-won talks to his assistant again, telling him that he’s decided against the merger. His assistant mentions that the video spread pretty quickly, and Ji-won thanks him for saving his friend. As we’d seen before, Ji-won’s assistant had been on the set of the talk show and he’d filmed it on his phone—so it was his video that just went viral.
Aw, it was Ji-won who saved Jin-jin! We see him watching the video that night in Hong Kong, and his friend commenting that the not-dating line seems like a lie. But Ji-won had grinned to himself, saying, “She doesn’t lie about things like that.”
On her way back to the hospital, Ah-reum gets a call from Woo-sung, who yells at her for leaving without permission. He can’t believe she didn’t tell him she’s a flight attendant, and he reveals that flight attendants are his ideal type, then asks her to introduce him to some of her friends. One-track mind, this guy.
The lawyer Young-shim interviewed with, Kang Kyung-seok, calls her and tells her she can start work next week. She got the job! She calmly accepts, then hangs up and does a victory dance before running to tell her mom.
Her new boss smiles at the card where he’d asked Young-shim to write her desired salary. We see her thinking about it, and remembering a time when she’d found her father napping on the couch, muttering in his sleep, “Lawyer…” She’d seen that his wallet was empty, so she’d written on the card that she wants to earn “enough to give my father a generous allowance.”
The talk show PD finds CEO Jang still in the editing room, and kicks him out so he can do his own work. As CEO Jang leaves, the last part of the interview plays, when host asked Jin-jin if she planned to change agencies now that her contract is almost up.
CEO Jang’s grin fades when Jin-jin sounds nonchalant about the possibility. The host asks if she’d be interesting in meeting his agency CEO, and she nods, “Sure, if you pay me a hundred billion won.” Awww!
We go back to 2002, when a young Jin-jin was just starting out in the business. She’d been riding the bus home late one night, and she’d spotted CEO Jang putting up posters for her first movie, shivering in the cold. In the present, CEO Jang beams with shining eyes.
Breakfast at Young-shim’s house is still silent after she tells her parents that she got a job, and her father’s only comment is that she’s not so great because it’s just a tiny office. But this time, he leaves her the choicest piece of fish, which she shares with her mother.
Jin-jin spends a lazy day watching the movie Love Story, and when Ali MacGraw says her famous line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” Jin-jin thinks that actually, love means being unable to say you’re sorry. Beside her is a glass of her mother’s tea.
Soem time later, the man who filmed the bedroom video is caught and arrested. It turns out that the woman in the video was his girlfriend, whom he taped in a moment of anger. As she sends her friends home from her parents’ restaurant, Jin-jin sees the apron concealing her poster fluttering in a breeze, and underneath is a cartoon drawing of three giraffes.
Jin-jin heads home, and though she just barely misses the elevator, the doors open again a few seconds later to reveal Ji-won inside. Jin-jin steps in, and just as they did when they were kids, they ride the elevator to their floors in awkward silence.
Eventually Ji-won says hello, and Jin-jin responds politely. Ji-won says that he’s moved back to the thirteenth floor, and when the elevator arrives, he steps out. But he turns back to Jin-jin with a mischievous look in his eyes, and asks, “You’ve been single all your life? How were you single all your life?” He tilts his head knowingly at her as the elevator doors close.
Back in 1999, when a younger Ji-won had ridden up to Jin-jin’s floor with her, he’d stopped her before she got out of the elevator. Too shy to say anything, Ji-won had just stepped closer to Jin-jin, then leaned down to give her a soft, sweet kiss.
So far, my only real complaint about this drama is that we didn’t get enough of Jin-jin and Ji-won together in this first week’s episodes. We got just enough to see that their chemistry is going to be out of this world, but I want to see more! They’re both such vibrant people, but they go so still and careful when they’re near each other, and I’m dying to learn why that is. It was the same in high school—when Ah-reum and Young-shim were around, both Ji-won and Jin-jin were loud and wacky, but in that elevator together they were oh-so-careful not to do or say anything to scare the other off. I really love their interactions, both as kids and as adults, and I need to see more of that magic.
I like all the little side stories that are shaping up to be pretty cute, too. I love Ah-reum and doctor Woo-sung together, especially the way they always seem to be having two entirely different conversations at the same time. And do I detect a touch of jealousy from Ah-reum over Woo-sung’s fixation on Jin-jin? I also thought that Young-shim’s new boss seems interesting, particularly the way he found her utterly ordinary until she gave him an answer he didn’t expect, which piqued his interest. I liked that he became curious about her for that, and though it’s too early to be seeing any loveline there, I wouldn’t be sorry if there were.
Normally a show that seems to be pairing off its heroines so early would have my inner feminist standing up and saying, “Hey, not every woman needs a man to be happy!” But I don’t feel like that’s the message the show is sending, because its heroines are already happy, and they’re not looking for a man to give them a happily ever after. You can sense that if they find love, it will just be the icing on the cake of their already-full lives. Because of that, I’m just giving myself over to the giddy enjoyment of the three friends meeting amazing men who will realize what amazing women they are.
I just adore Jin-jin and her friends, and how much they obviously love each other—they’re each other’s giraffes! Who wouldn’t want friends so loyal that they sneak into your house just to sleep on your floor so you won’t be alone? Or who walk around town all day in their hospital pajamas because you need them so badly that they didn’t even bother to get dressed? Or burst into tears because they feel guilty about putting you in a bad position? No lie, I was crying as hard as Ah-reum when she was sobbing that Jin-jin’s scandal is all her fault, just seeing the obvious love she has for her lifelong friend. Their commitment to hold each other more important than anything else is so beautiful to see.
And it’s not just Ah-reum and Young-shim—Jin-jin has a whole network of people who love her, and it just warms my heart, the lengths they’re willing to go to for her. Her parents, her brother, even CEO Jang, Mi-dal, and Hong-hee all obviously think that Jin-jin hung the moon, and it has nothing to do with the fact that she’s famous. They love her because she’s a genuinely good person, someone who is just aa loyal to them as they are to her. It’s lovely to see a character in a drama who loves their friends and family, and is dearly loved and adored in return. It’s clear that Ji-won is just as devoted to Jin-jin as everyone else, and I can’t wait to see how he dotes on her once she lets him back into her life. You can tell just by the way he looks at her, that there will be some serious doting going on.
This whole show is just chock-full of people who love each other, and it gives me such a warm, fuzzy feeling. I appreciate that although dramas so often have a bad guy, a nemesis for the main character, that aside from Da-young (who has no real claws, anyway), 20th Century Boy and Girl doesn’t need that kind of conflict to be interesting. I liked that, instead of a person being the “enemy,” the show instead tackled the problem of unfounded scandals where women are so often made the victims. Rather than a scheming second lead, I’d much rather watch Jin-jin and her friends tackle a problematic social issue.
The show reminds me of Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju in that way, when even the ex-girlfriend turned out to be a good person who just had some personal issues to work through—I will be completely satisfied if 20th Century is the same type of show. I don’t need to have a character who schemes and plots to keep me interested, not when there’s so much pure, unfiltered love going around.
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