Because This Life Is Our First: Episode 4
After facing defeat, our heroine stops to look at those around her and realizes that under the surface, everyone has their own struggles and worries. Dreams aren’t as easily achieved as she thought they would be back in high school, and maybe the future isn’t as bright as she once hoped it would be. Though the show tackles some hard questions and topics, it never loses its whimsy or charm, and in the end, hope and comfort can come from the most unlikely sources.
Episode 4: “Because this is my first marriage”
Su-ji and Ho-rang sulk together over Ji-ho’s departure, but Won-seok doesn’t understand why they’re so sad since she’s only going back to her parents’ house, which is a couple of hours away. Ho-rang explains to her boyfriend that it was hard for Ji-ho to leave home because her father thought that colleges in Seoul were too expensive.
He asks them how Ji-ho came to Seoul then, and in unison, Su-ji and Ho-rang tell him that she’s crazy. He laughs at their explanation since Ji-ho is the nicest person he knows, so they tell him a little story about their high school days.
Ten years ago. Despite ranking first in all subjects but one, Ji-ho’s impressive grades weren’t good enough to get her into Seoul University’s law program. However, her dream was to become a writer, so she decided to apply for Korean literature instead. During dinner, Ji-ho cautiously brought up the topic to Dad, but he immediately flipped the table in disapproval.
Undeterred, Ji-ho registered herself to Seoul University without telling anyone, and the day before class, she ran away from home. In the end, Dad never realized the truth until she finished her first semester, as he angrily waited for her one day outside the wrong university.
In the present, just as Ji-ho’s bus pulls away, she gets off to ask Se-hee if he will marry her, and he says, “Yes.” She hurries back to the bus to get her luggage, but Se-hee calls after her, wondering if she likes him by any chance. After a pause, she shouts back, “No.”
He immediately tells her that he’ll wait inside, and once Ji-ho grabs her suitcase, they take the subway home. He mentions the instant noodle bowls she washed, complimenting her good habit, and she accepts his praise.
Nearby, a seat opens up, and Ji-ho watches a couple affectionately argue over who should get it. In contrast, when the passenger in front of her leaves, Se-hee tells her to sit, and soon after, he walks down the subway car to sit in another empty seat.
At home, Ji-ho and Se-hee go over their contract, and while he doesn’t have any changes, she has a request. Now that she’s unemployed, she asks if he can lower the rent by 50,000 won, and after contemplating for a moment, he agrees.
Se-hee suddenly asks if she isn’t overextending herself, since it might be more economical for her to go back home. Ji-ho shakes her head, telling him that she would only save on rent if she went back, and in his usual logical way, he reasons that the stress levels of going home would cost more than the rent.
However, he’s still surprised that she chose to marry him based on tenancy rather than love, so she explains how she needs his room more than love and affection for the next two years. Staring at Ji-ho, Se-hee narrates, “I decided to marry my tenant today. I know, it’s an unusual choice that an ordinary person wouldn’t make.”
Ji-ho admits to Se-hee that she wanted to try marriage at least once in her life, and then asks if he sorted the recycling this week. He gapes at her, and thinks to himself, “I met a very unusual wife.”
Ji-ho wakes up feeling refreshed in the morning, and happily notes how long it’s been since she’s slept this well. She devours a big bowl of rice for breakfast, and mentally pats herself on the back for her wise decision to get married and save money on rent.
While Ji-ho eats, Se-hee drinks a cup of coffee on the couch, and for the first time in a long while, he and Cat enjoy a peaceful weekend. He blocks his mat-seon date, and is more than satisfied to have gained this valuable serenity in exchange for 50,000 won. As he watches Ji-ho refill Cat’s bowl, he smiles and thinks, “Yes, marrying my tenant was the answer.”
Ji-ho gets a call from her parents, who are coming to Seoul today, and when she tells Se-hee that she’s going to her brother’s apartment later, he asks if he should accompany her. Ji-ho is confused by his question, so he explains that he should greet her parents if they’re getting married.
He shows her the timeline he made last night, which includes the entire (normal) wedding process, but highlights the first step—meeting the parents—as the only one they need to focus on. He thinks it would be efficient to go today, and Ji-ho agrees.
Ji-ho visits Ho-rang at work to inform her friend that she’s staying, but holds back on telling her about the marriage, choosing to save it instead for another time. Ho-rang notices Ji-ho’s outfit and large bag and guesses that she’s going to an important meeting. To Ji-ho’s relief, Ho-rang incorrectly assumes that she’s meeting a new writer.
Hesitantly, Ji-ho broaches the topic of a guy meeting a girl’s parents, wanting advice about making a good impression. Ho-rang asks if she needs this information for a drama, and Ji-ho doesn’t correct her.
Sitting at the bus stop, Ji-ho spots Se-hee walking toward her, and he looks dapper in his suit while receiving a glorious slow-motion sequence. They go over their plans for this evening at a café, and his task is to mark Dad while remembering the three points she mentioned.
Just in case, Ji-ho tells him about a backup plan, and shows him a text from Ho-rang highlighting four guaranteed ways to win her Dad’s favor. As Ho-rang goes down the list of phrases about treating her like a princess or loving her forever, Se-hee’s eyes grow wide, and he firmly tells Ji-ho that he’ll make sure this backup plan never happens. Good luck with that!
Ji-ho and Se-hee walk to her old apartment, but from behind, little brother Ji-seok runs up to her. He excitedly notes all her new items, including her clothes, bag… and man.
After greeting Se-hee, Ji-seok rushes on ahead, and Se-hee tells Ji-ho that her brother isn’t as out of control as she described. Suddenly, Ji-seok screams—loud enough for their neighbors to hear—that Ji-ho brought home a man, and Se-hee realizes that he spoke too soon.
The entire family stares at Se-hee throughout dinner, making him too nervous to eat. Seeing this, Dad wonders if he doesn’t like the food, but because of his dialect, Se-hee simply stares at him until Ji-ho translates. Dad offers a drink to Se-hee, and remembering Ji-ho’s rule that the first drink must be finished in one gulp, Se-hee drinks the entire cup, thus gaining Dad’s approval.
Dad asks Se-hee about his job, and Se-hee begins to give a detailed description until he remembers Ji-ho’s second rule: always keep your answers short. He corrects his mistake and tells Dad that he works at an IT company.
His short answer pleases Dad, but he asks a follow-up question concerning the company. Ji-ho’s third rule is about using famous examples to explain things, so Se-hee says that they develop an app like KakaoTalk, and their office building is located between Samsung and LG.
Since Se-hee cleared his mission, Ji-ho brings up that they want to get married, and Ji-seok asks if she’s pregnant (like you should be talking). Se-hee is confused because of the dialect, so when Ji-ho translates his question about being pregnant, he hurriedly explains that they might live together, but that won’t happen. Oops.
Dad goes ballistic, threatening to lock Ji-ho in her room, and Se-hee throws fuel onto the fire by trying to calmly explain the misunderstanding. As Dad bends down to flip the table, Ji-ho kicks Se-hee in the legs, causing him to fall on his knees.
Kneeling before Dad, Se-hee looks back at Ji-ho, who frantically points at her phone, indicating their backup plan. Se-hee starts to stutter, and with his eyes closed, he yells, “I will never let your daughter’s hands get wet!” Bwahahahaha!
Ho-rang and her coworkers walk through the furniture store, and the saleswoman approaches their group, telling the youngest member about her purchase of the last pink sofa. Looking apologetic, the youngest member explains that she’s getting married next month, and Ho-rang acts like it’s not a big deal, though she leaves the group to go back home.
Picking up some groceries, Ho-rang calls Won-seok so that they can eat together, but he’s meeting Sang-gu right now. He offers to meet her in thirty minutes, but already in a foul mood, Ho-rang yells at him to forget it.
Sang-gu asks Won-seok if he fought again with his girlfriend, and he confides in Sang-gu that he doesn’t understand her lately. Sang-gu offers his help, and with a quick scroll through their past messages, he immediately assesses the source of their problem.
He calls Won-seok crazy for misunderstanding Ho-rang’s text, and shows him the one about the couch and her coworker getting married. Thinking that his mistake was the sofa, Won-seok thinks that Ho-rang should have just told him outright that she wanted to buy the couch, and assumes that this must be why she was talking about a newlywed home.
Sang-gu explains that women never say things directly, and gets very animated as he expounds on his ideas about women talking in circles. Won-seok calls him amazing, and Sang-gu haughtily says that his nickname is “Magical Sang-gu.”
Meanwhile, Ji-ho gives Se-hee a glass of water, but it makes him remember his embarrassing declaration. Feeling guilty, Ji-ho starts to explain why she forced him to his knees, but Se-hee is bothered by the ridiculous expression, not at her.
She tells him that there were other options, but Se-hee angrily says that he chose the least offensive one (the angry cat noises are perfect). He stomps away, and later that night, Ji-ho looks over the phrases and agrees with Se-hee’s judgement. Heh.
Ho-rang texts Ji-ho to ask about her meeting and to tell her that she fought with Won-seok again. Alone in bed, Ho-rang looks at a photo of her and Won-seok, and when he arrives, she goes under the covers, pretending to be asleep.
Won-seok cuddles her, apologizing for not understanding and for making her wait so long. Turning around, she stares up at him with tears pooling in her eyes, and he says that he knows what she wants now. Ho-rang brightens at his words, thinking that he’s finally realized her feelings, and the couple quickly reconciles.
In the morning, Se-hee slides an envelope to Ji-ho, intending to split the cost of the gift she bought yesterday—though she refuses the money. After sleeping on it, Se-hee concludes that Ji-ho made a wise decision and credits yesterday’s success to her.
He plans to tell his family about their marriage today, and describes how his mom will assist him in convincing his dad. But for his plan to work, he needs a picture of them together, and they proceed to take a slew of awkward selfies.
At work, Se-hee messages his mom about getting married and sends the selfie he took in the morning. Bo-mi passes by his desk and asks if he’s having lunch, and when Se-hee tells her that he’ll eat after his call, she points out the obvious: No one’s calling him. Without taking his eyes off his phone, he says that it’ll come, and right on cue, his mom calls. His “I told you so” look to Bo-mi is brilliant.
Meanwhile, Sang-gu thanks Won-seok for the meal, and noticing how sharply dressed he is, Sang-gu correctly guesses that he made up with Ho-rang. Won-seok proudly says that he’s going to go buy it today, and Sang-gu tells him that it’s a good idea.
Sang-gu decides to teach Won-seok another trick from his book, and shows him a text message that he sent to “Cigarette Light” (aka, Su-ji). He explains to Won-seok that this is bait to infuriate her, since he’ll pretend that he accidentally sent the message once she responds.
However, unlike Sang-gu’s prediction, Su-ji takes one look at the notification and ignores it, calling him an idiot. Hahaha!
As Su-ji leaves work, her coworkers spot her, and the particularly distasteful coworker informs her of a get-together with one of their clients. She politely declines, citing an important engagement she has to attend. Looking her up and down, he assumes that she’s going on a date despite her protests, and then he has to audacity to “advise” her to go home early so she doesn’t worry her mother. Yuck.
Su-ji’s important meeting is Won-seok, and he begs her to help him buy something secretly for Ho-rang. Coincidentally, Ho-rang steps outside for a break and notices the two exiting a jewelry store together. She eyes them suspiciously and calls Won-seok, who lies about his whereabouts. Rather than be upset, Ho-rang suddenly breaks into a large grin and texts Su-ji that she saw them, correctly guessing that Won-seok bought something for her.
Su-ji tells Ho-rang to act surprised when she comes home, and Ho-rang returns to work with some pep in her step. At the apartment, Won-seok and Su-ji rest on the bed, out of breath from bringing home the item. He tells Su-ji that he made a big decision to buy it, thinking that it was the least he could do for Ho-rang. Oh no… I’m already feeling the secondhand embarrassment.
Su-ji gets another text message from Sang-gu (who she saved as “Idiot”), and then promptly blocks him without even checking the texts. Savage. I love it!
Sang-gu stares at the unread messages he sent Su-ji and sulks in the company breakroom. Se-hee walks by, telling him about an email from Su-ji’s company, but to Sang-gu’s disappointment, the sender was someone else.
Ho-rang walks home after work with the others, and they pass by the furniture store, where the pink sofa on display is gone. Ho-rang hints to the others that she’s going to buy a bigger couch since she might get married soon.
Ho-rang meets Ji-ho on the way to her place and excitedly tells her a secret: Won-seok is proposing to her today! She practices her surprised face, and Ji-ho laughs, clearly happy for her friend. She sends Ho-rang up to the apartment first though, since she has to take a call from Se-hee.
Once Ho-rang reaches the top of the stairs, she hears whispers inside, and the lights go out. Unable to contain her excitement, Ho-rang loudly proclaims her presence and walks into the apartment. Won-seok and Su-ji yell surprise, but the real surprise is something else: the pink sofa taking up all the space in the apartment.
Ji-ho informs Se-hee about her plans to tell her friends about their marriage today, but is worried that they might not believe her. He offers to send the selfie they took this morning to use as evidence, but looking at their stilted expressions in the picture, Ji-ho scratches her head, wondering how to use it. Heh.
However, her attention is brought back to the apartment when she hears Ho-rang scream. Upstairs, Ho-rang calls Won-seok crazy for putting a sofa in their small space, but he argues that she was the one who wanted it.
With emotions rising, Ho-rang says that this is embarrassing, and Won-seok interprets her words to mean him. She yells at him for not understanding her, but he shoots back, “Then why don’t you make it easier for me to understand? Help me understand rather than act crazy for not understanding you!”
Ho-rang grows quiet, hurt by his words, but Won-seok is through with her tears. Though she threatens to break things off if he leaves, Won-seok ignores her and walks out the door.
Drowning her sadness in alcohol, Ho-rang asks why Su-ji went to the jewelry shop with Won-seok, and she explains that she was changing her watch strap. Su-ji berates Ho-rang for her outburst, taking Won-seok’s side in their fight, but Ho-rang cries, “I thought he was going to propose to me!”
Ji-ho tells the audience that since she was 17, Ho-rang’s dream was to get married. It’s been seven years, and Ho-rang asks her friends how long she has to wait while crying over her aging womb.
That comment is the last straw for Su-ji, who doesn’t want her friend to define her self-worth with marriage, but Ho-rang twists her words, accusing her of showing off and not understanding the woes of a penniless girl like her.
Infuriated with Ho-rang’s accusations, Su-ji storms off, and Ji-ho chases after her.
Inside her car, Su-ji recounts to Ji-ho all the sacrifices she made for Ho-rang today, but rather than receive thanks, she got cursed at. She expresses her disappointment, and excuses herself when she gets a call from a client.
As Ji-ho watches her friend pander to her client, she remembers Su-ji’s dream of becoming a CEO. Returning to the car, Su-ji says that she’s going to work, and Ji-ho narrates, “Su-ji wanted to become a CEO, but now, she’s just an employee who answers to her boss.”
Returning to Ho-rang’s side, Ji-ho recalls how Ho-rang’s only dream was to be married, but even for her, it hasn’t come true. Ji-ho goes back home, thinking to herself that she’s marrying her landlord to live in Seoul, and once home, she sees that Se-hee is still awake.
He asks how her talk went with her friends, but she admits that she couldn’t bring it up yet. She asks about his friends, and he says that they’re all “normal.” Ji-ho comments on how hard it is to achieve your dreams, adding that she was just curious about how others lived.
Se-hee tells her to not ask others if she’s looking for an answer, since the world is only getting worse and needs new standards. She asks if that includes marriage, and he says that it does.
As Ji-ho gets ready for bed, she thinks to herself that the world isn’t getting better, which means her life won’t get better either. Instead of looking forward to a brighter future, she wonders if she’s just living to avoid a worse tomorrow.
Before heading to bed, Ji-ho has a question about their marriage, and says that they should skip things that incur expenses, like a wedding ceremony. Se-hee agrees with her and says that the only expense will be their family meeting.
As they lay in their separate beds, Ji-ho explains that only the rich are entitled to marry for love. She looks at Ho-rang’s changed status (“Stop Dreaming”), and turns off her lights to go to bed.
It’s a sunny day, and Ji-ho is dressed in a white dress while Se-hee is in a black suit. Both of them run to catch the bus, and then sit in the back, looking tired and confused. Ji-ho asks if they didn’t agree to not do anything, and Se-hee replies, “I think we did.”
As our contractual couple look grimly ahead, Ji-ho narrates, “To live normally, we have to do something.”
It’s been a while since I’ve wholeheartedly rooted for a couple like I do with Ji-ho and Se-hee. As individuals, they’re both charming and quirky, but the real magic comes from their interactions as an awkward and adorable couple. They’re just so compatible and all-together perfect for each other that I seriously can’t imagine either of them finding a better partner. Also, I love how they highlight positive aspects in each other, and character traits they have that might be considered an issue by other people are almost always seen favorably by our two leads (e.g., Se-hee’s logic-driven explanations and Ji-ho’s preoccupation with cleaning).
In addition, we got to see more of Se-hee and hear his thoughts this episode, and he’s really shaping out to be a thoughtful person and not just a calculating landlord who calls the police on his tenant (which still cracks me up). As a husband or romantic partner, he has his faults and would make most women unhappy with his thought process, but paired with Ji-ho, his non-romantic lines that purely driven by rational-thinking become swoon-worthy moments, forcing me to cheer for our couple. Because, honestly, how could I not?
While our main couple continues to deliver wonderfully comedic hijinks, the show is still contemplative and insightful, striking the right balance between poignant moments and funny ones. In the previous episodes, we learned about Ji-ho’s dream and saw her arduous journey stop before reaching its goal—not because of her own lack of skill, but because of horrible people and circumstances that forced her to make a tough decision. This episode, we learned more about Su-ji and Ho-rang’s dream, and how they also seem to be chasing after something that seems out of their reach no matter how long and hard they strive towards it. In the end, it looks everyone is walking down a dark tunnel by themselves, but maybe they’re not as alone as they think they are—they’re just blinded by the darkness.
The relationship between the three friends is sweet, and I’m confident that the fight between Ho-rang and Su-ji won’t cause a permanent rift, because they seem to share a history and bond that’s endured hard times before. That doesn’t mean reconciliation will come easily, because the fight between them hints at deeper issues between the two friends, both in their relationship and as individuals. Ho-rang was clearly wrong for taking out her anger on Su-ji, who only helped Won-seok, and the problem on her side is that she feels inferior compared to her well-off friend. I think some of her remarks thrown at Su-ji were more for herself, and in her anger, she hurt Su-ji in the process to avoid the truth about her own frustrations.
On the other hand, Su-ji is disappointed in Ho-rang’s actions since she sacrificed her time to help her friend, but it also seems that Ho-rang’s outbursts about her womb struck a nerve with Su-ji because of the constant battles she faces in the workplace. Hearing Ho-rang describe her self-worth through her female biological attributes probably reminded Su-ji of the casual way her identity is solely tied to her being a woman, outside of any of her merits or actions. Thus, it’s only natural that Ho-rang’s words made Su-ji angry, because she struggles every day to prove herself outside of her gender identity while Ho-rang seems to passively accept it.
The fight between Ho-rang and Won-seok is more complicated, since both were in the wrong. It wasn’t necessarily the couch that caused their big blowout—it was just the final straw. While some may be more sympathetic to one side or the other, it’s clear that both contributed to the problem that formed in their relationship. Ultimately, the issue with them is communication, and in all seriousness, Sang-gu’s advice to Won-seok was utter crap. That’s not to say that he didn’t have some helpful tips, and I do think he probably understood Ho-rang’s feelings in that moment better than Won-seok did, even though he only read a few texts. My issue with Sang-gu’s advice (besides the inherent sexism in his comments) is that Won-seok can never accomplish anything with that method because his personality isn’t like Sang-gu’s.
Won-seok seems to be a straightforward person, and being observant isn’t his strong suit, which became evident when he bought a couch that barely fits their one-bedroom apartment (like really, did he actually think that was a good idea?). He needs to be upfront with Ho-rang and ask for clarification when he needs it, because he isn’t a mind reader. While it would be nice for Ho-rang to be more direct with her boyfriend, it’s also her personality to be observant and cautious with her demands. There’s a social stigma towards women initiating things in relationships, and though it’s an antiquated way of thinking, I think Ho-rang has internalized this gendered message, much to her detriment. I personally thought her message to Won-seok was obvious given her constant desire for marriage and their long courtship, but maybe that’s the real problem—they see different futures for their relationship.
As a side note, I want to send applause to whoever is in charge of the sound effects, because they are on point! The hissing cat noises when Se-hee was pissed was a nice touch, and overall, I love the sound effects so far. It makes the show just that much wackier without becoming overly tacky.
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