A Beautiful World: Episode 15
As lies distort the truth, it becomes increasingly difficult to trust what people say since everything sounds like feeble attempts to conceal their crimes. At this point, even the truth comes across as deceitful, and the sins of the past quickly catch up to our characters in unexpected ways. Despite the difficulties that still lay ahead, hope thrives within our heroes, and against all odds, their kind nature still remains.
EPISODE 15 RECAP: Miracle Boy
Sun-ho walks to his classroom and watches his classmates from outside. When he tries opening the door, it’s locked, and though he wiggles the doorknob with mounting desperation, it won’t budge. Suddenly, he hears In-ha calling his name, and a blurry image of her looks down at him. Then an image of Moo-jin tells him to wake up, and with a soft smile, Sun-ho tries again.
This time, the door opens, and Sun-ho walks into the blinding light. His family watches him open his eyes, and no one dares make a sound as Sun-ho whispers, “Mom.” His tiny utterance sends a wave of emotions through them, and they cry at the sight of their loving son and brother finally wake up.
The news travels quickly to the others who are just as excited to hear about Sun-ho’s recovery and spread the word. Joon-ha chokes on her tears and can barely pass on the message to her mother; Dong-hee whoops with joy and dances when she tells Dong-soo; and Teacher Lee calmly relays Sun-ho’s status to the other teachers but breaks down into tears once alone. However, not everyone rejoices at the news as Jin-pyo hangs up his phone looking dismayed.
The doctor checks Sun-ho’s condition, and though Sun-ho can blink and move his fingers on command, he can’t move his toes. Even so, the doctor calls Sun-ho’s reactions a miracle, and given his young age, he hopes for a fast recovery. While watching over Sun-ho, Soo-ho encourages him to concentrate on moving his toes, but Joon-ha stops him from overexerting himself since he just woke up.
Eun-joo sits lost in thought as her earlier confrontation with Jin-pyo plays in her head. She asked him for a divorce, only wanting full custody of Joon-suk and nothing else, but Jin-pyo refused to let her take their son. He argued that only he could protect Joon-suk, but Eun-joo corrected him since he only wants to protect his foundation, not Joon-suk.
She told him that Joon-suk still had a chance to be like other children, but if he stayed under Jin-pyo’s care, then Joon-suk would turn into a monster. Her words struck a chord, and Jin-pyo threw his cup, lashing out at her for calling him a monster when she was the cause for this entire mess. Eun-joo acknowledged her fault, but that only angered Jin-pyo more since he found her act hypocritical.
In the present, Jin-pyo tells Eun-joo about Sun-ho’s recovery, and from the second floor, Joon-suk overhears the news. Contrary to their more stunned reactions, Detective Park can’t help but smile when he receives the call from Moo-jin, and he suggests stalling the case until they hear Sun-ho’s testimony. The good news doesn’t end there, though, since Detective Park’s partner just found the car that passed the guard’s hit-and-run site.
After hearing the news, Eun-joo crumples to the couch, thankful for Sun-ho’s recovery, but Jin-pyo questions her sincerity. He reminds her of the negative consequences this might have on them since Sun-ho could testify against Joon-suk. Even if the fall was an accident, Jin-pyo says that Sun-ho could blame Joon-suk for his predicament, and the thought sends Joon-suk reeling backwards with a frightened expression.
Detective Park and his partner track down the car, and to their surprise, they run right into their main culprit Ki Deuk-chul. Though they chase after him, Ki Deuk-chul’s head start allows him to escape, so the detectives settle for the car’s camera for the time being. Meanwhile, Jin-pyo secretly meets with one of his spy’s lackey to hand off a bag of money to keep them quiet.
Afraid of everything turning out to be a dream, In-ha stays awake and watches Sun-ho until the morning. Moo-jin joins her by Sun-ho’s bedside, and she tells him how happy and blessed she feels. This experience made her realize that she only wants to support her children in their pursuit of happiness, and Moo-jin jokingly says that she’ll probably nag them about studying soon. In-ha doesn’t rebut, and they laugh wholeheartedly for the first time in a long while.
The same air of lightheartedness fills their home as well as, and Soo-ho jokes with Joon-ha before heading off to school. On her way, Soo-ho messages the good news to Da-hee, inviting her to visit Sun-ho, and she even notifies the flower shop owner who gives his congratulations. As soon as Soo-ho arrives at school, Dong-hee hugs her, and they both cheer loudly for Sun-ho. Aw, they’re so adorable.
Sung-jae learns of Sun-ho’s recovery from Young-chul, but unlike the latter, Sung-jae is clearly conflicted over this recent development. He believes that Young-chul lied for Joon-suk when he testified to the detectives about Sun-ho asking to meet first, and questions Young-chul’s agenda. Their conversation ends when Joon-suk walks towards them, and to Joon-suk’s disgruntlement, they both turn away from him.
Ki-chan ignores Sung-jae when he takes his seat next to him, but turns around in shock when he tells him about Sun-ho waking up. Soon after, Joon-suk enters the classroom alone, and finds his desk moved to the back and filled with nasty notes again. Fed up with everything, he walks out of the room and runs away from Teacher Lee who calls after him.
Seeing the desk, Teacher Lee realizes why Joon-suk left and silently throws away the notes. He moves the desk back to its original spot, and Dong-hee helps him return the chair. Teacher Lee takes his place at the front of the class and addresses his students about Sun-ho’s recovery as well as their bullying of Joon-suk.
Without mincing his words, Teacher Lee calls their behavior cowardly and bad, but a student takes offense at his rebukes. She points out that Joon-suk is acting too brazenly and accuses the school of covering for him because he’s the director’s son. Teacher Lee admits his and the school’s faults, but explains that if the students reflect the mistakes of adults, then the world will only get worse. Looking into the camera, Teacher Lee asks that we change the world together, one small step at a time.
Teacher Lee informs Eun-joo of Joon-suk’s absence, and when she tries calling him, his phone is off. While Eun-joo runs off to find him, Jin-pyo meets with the vice principal to take care of matters on this end. He instructs him to meet with Sun-ho’s parents and give them money on the school’s behalf. Making sure that the vice principal stays on his side, Jin-pyo tells him his plans to recommend him for the position of principal, and the vice principal practically grovels at his feet.
The three students’ parents gather together to discuss what to do, but Young-chul’s mother stares at them with her mouth wide open as they suggest a settlement rather than an apology. She criticizes their shameless attitude and says that all their kids, including Young-chul, should be punished for their crimes. Despite the admonishment, the other parents continue their conversation once she leaves.
Called away from a happy moment with Sun-ho and In-ha, Moo-jin meets with the vice principal and Teacher Shin. The vice principal hands Moo-jin an envelope filled with money, but Moo-jin knows that it’s from Jin-pyo and refuses to accept it.
He asks the vice principal to spend his efforts on preventing another victim like Sun-ho from happening, and gives him a message to pass along to Jin-pyo: What they need from him is a heartfelt apology and his confession. The vice principal tries to stop Moo-jin from leaving, but Teacher Shin holds him back.
Over the phone, Jin-pyo orders Eun-joo to stay put rather than search for Joon-suk, and informs her that she’ll just have to pay a fine for her crimes. As he gets ready to leave his office, his second phone rings, and his face falls at what he hears. The detectives have arrested the hit-and-run truck driver, and have a clear picture of his face obtained from the dashcam they found in Ki Deuk-chul’s car. The interrogation doesn’t yield much results, but Detective Park continues his investigation to catch Jin-pyo.
Elsewhere, Reporter Choi tells In-ha and Moo-jin of Eun-joo’s fine, which means the end for their case against her. The prosecution hasn’t indicted Joon-suk yet, but Reporter Choi doesn’t hold much hope for that either since correction takes precedence for minors. His explanation of the justice system baffles In-ha who argues that Joon-suk hasn’t repented nor have they forgiven him. Though it seems unfair, the only viable option for them is Sun-ho’s testimony.
Sun-ho has a nightmare of the events leading up to his fall, and he sees Da-hee’s crying face telling him that it’s all Joon-suk’s fault. His dreams turn to the fight on the rooftop, and we watch Sun-ho whack Joon-suk repeatedly with his bag. Joon-suk pushed him away, and to both their horror, Sun-ho fell over the ledge. Though Joon-suk reached out to grab his friend, he couldn’t pull him up, and Sun-ho crashed to the ground.
Da-hee’s mother stops by the bakery after confirming Sun-ho’s alibi with the librarian, and apologizes for what they did to them. Despite her attempts to coax Da-hee to reveal the truth, her efforts remain fruitless, and Da-hee’s father is still adamantly against reporting the incident to the police. Since Da-hee told Sun-ho someone else’s name, she asks In-ha who the assailant is.
Briefly conflicted on whether to divulge Joon-suk’s name, In-ha ultimately refrains, and explains how the detective doesn’t think she met that student either. This means Da-hee lied to both of them, which confuses the mother. In-ha gently advises her to muster up the courage first because hiding the incident might make Da-hee feel like a criminal.
Da-hee checks her surroundings as she leaves her house but fails to spot Joon-suk who’s been waiting for her. He calls her name and chases after her when she runs. He quickly catches up to her and forcibly stops her so they can talk.
At the hospital, Moo-jin hears a scream coming from Sun-ho’s room and quickly runs inside. Sun-ho lays on the floor, and in a trembling voice, he tells Moo-jin that he can’t move his feet. Holding back his own tears, Moo-jin assures him that he’s gotten better than yesterday, so he shouldn’t feel rushed. He helps Sun-ho back into bed, and Sun-ho apologizes.
Moo-jin tells him that he did nothing wrong, and instead, he apologizes for not realizing Sun-ho’s troubles sooner. With his voice cracking, he then apologizes for missing his call that day and not calling him back. Sun-ho listens silently as Moo-jin tearfully thanks him, and from the hallway, Soo-ho cries as she overhears Moo-jin’s words.
The house is empty when Jin-pyo arrives, but as he pulls out his phone to call Eun-joo, an unknown number calls him first. It’s Ki Deuk-chul on the other line, and he blackmails Jin-pyo since he knows about the hired hit-and-run driver. Meeting a foe just as immoral as him, Jin-pyo’s act of innocence fails, and Ki Deuk-chul goads him to prepare the money or else.
Joon-ha complains to In-ha about not giving Joon-suk’s name to Da-hee’s mother, but In-ha saw no benefit in telling her something that may be false. Changing the subject to something happier, In-ha shares with Joon-ha about Sun-ho’s improvement, and they finally break out into smiles. However, In-ha’s mood soon deflates since Eun-joo runs up to her once she exits the bakery.
Unaware of the chilly air radiating from In-ha, Eun-joo asks her to contact her if she sees Joon-suk. In-ha flatly refuses, affronted by Eun-joo’s audacity to ask for such a favor, and Eun-joo apologizes for her thoughtlessness. Remembering Sun-ho’s recovery, she congratulates In-ha, but In-ha interprets her words as an insincere act.
In-ha tells her that she might think she’s off the hook with just a fine, but in reality, she has imprisoned herself for life along with Joon-suk. Eun-joo shrinks as In-ha confronts her about the guard’s murder, unable to deny the accusation. In-ha then offers her one last piece of advice as an old friend: if Eun-joo really cares about Joon-suk, then she’ll confess.
Dong-soo remembers Joon-suk from their previous encounter and sighs at his attempt to buy a bottle of soju. To Dong-soo’s shock, Joon-suk ignores his orders to put it back, and instead, he walks out of the convenience store with the bottle. He opens it before Dong-soo can stop him, and Dong-soo wonders why he keeps bothering him when they don’t even know each other. Joon-suk says that it’s exactly because they’re strangers that he’s acting this way, and he begs Dong-soo to punch him.
Unable to ignore Joon-suk’s desperate pleas, Dong-soo drags him inside the store and promises to hit him after work. However, his threat is clearly a lie since he tells Joon-suk to come visit him from time to time because they’re no longer strangers. Joon-suk rebuffs his act of kindness and runs away just as he did last time.
Eun-joo staggers home, barely able to stand up, and she looks around her house as In-ha’s words about a life sentence echo in her head. Staring at the framed images of Jin-pyo’s foundation decorating their entryway, Eun-joo mutters about being imprisoned for a long time. Jin-pyo gives her a perplexed look, but as soon as he yells at her to snap out of it, she grabs a plaque and chucks it at the frames, screaming uncontrollably.
Meanwhile, Moo-jin steps out of the hospital room and notices In-ha standing in the hall. He knows instantly that something is bothering her, and she tells him about her meeting with Eun-joo. Despite what she said, In-ha is worried about Joon-suk much to her vexation, but Moo-jin smiles at tenderhearted nature.
Keeping Sun-ho company, Soo-ho describes Dong-hee’s exclamation this morning at school, but hearing their story, Sun-ho wonders how Joon-suk is doing. His question dampens the mood, and Soo-ho asks if he remembers that night. Meanwhile, Joon-suk walks into the police station looking dazed, and his sudden presence shocks the detectives.
At the hospital, Soo-ho tries to address the elephant in the room, but Dong-hee stops her. However, Sun-ho tells her to go ahead, so Soo-ho asks if the fall wasn’t an accident. Cutting back to Joon-suk, he answers Soo-ho’s question and claims that the push was intentional. Detective Park offers to call his parents, but Joon-suk continues and takes the blame for Da-hee’s incident as well. On the other hand, Sun-ho’s answer contradicts Joon-suk’s, and he tells Soo-ho that the fall was indeed an accident.
When characters start mixing the truth with lies, the truth starts sounding like lies, and lies start sounding like truths. Joon-suk and his family’s attempts to conceal their secrets have backfired on them as now no one believes what they say. In an almost ironic twist, the truth our heroes so desperately fought for sounds like futile attempts by the wrongdoers to hide their crimes because the people on Sun-ho’s side have convinced themselves of one version of the events regardless of its validity. It’s a great use of storytelling to watch the culmination of past sins and interactions develop into the final contradictions proposed at the end since the creators have carefully built on this concept from the beginning of the show. The truth was always murky with Joon-suk’s family because they never revealed everything, and consequently, their motivations and confessions were constantly questioned. Just like the time when In-ha learned the truth about Eun-joo’s presence during the night of the fall, once a person is revealed to be untruthful, everything else that the person says becomes tainted as well. Unfortunately for Eun-joo, this is part of the prison she locked herself in, and if she wants to escape, then she needs to dig out her key to freedom from under all her deceptions. Confessing her crimes is the start, but as Teacher Lee said this episode, it’s only the beginning of the long process of redemption. Though ruining relationships and breaking trusts may have been easy, building those bridges won’t be as fast an endeavor.
Joon-suk’s family is an interesting commentary on the issue of trust. On one extreme is Jin-pyo. He trusts no one, not even his family, and this choice has isolated himself from everyone. As a result, he relies only on himself for everything but doesn’t realize that he’s created this situation where he can only rely on himself. It’s not that everyone is below him and incapable as he claims, but that his trust issues have made it so that no one can help him. He justifies his actions with his twisted logic, which makes him a scary person in my opinion because he truly believes what he preaches. As for Eun-joo, she shows how trust can be easily destroyed when seeds of doubt creep in. However, rather than acknowledge these suspicions, she hides her wavering trust with lies, both to convince Joon-suk and herself, which causes even more damage to the relationship. It allows the doubts to fester like a wound, constantly being poked at but never treated, because she claims to trust Joon-suk yet her actions speak differently. Lastly, Joon-suk is at stage between Jin-pyo and Eun-joo, but not quite either of them at the same time. Through him, the show reveals the importance of trust and how its needed for people’s growth and healthy maturation. Joon-suk trusted his parents the most, but never received the same from them. The lack of reciprocation broke Joon-suk’s own ability to trust others because, in the end, trust isn’t a one-way street. There needs to be an exchange because when only one party trusts the other, then eventually even that person will lose trust like Joon-suk did with his parents.
While Joon-suk told the truth about the nature of the fall from the beginning, no one believed him, and unfortunately, he had to pay the price for that toll. He’s completely broken at the end of the episode as he wanders aimlessly until he arrives at the station to make a false confession. It’s telling how much his “confession” sounds like the truth that so many characters believe, and it’s frightening to think about how easily we can be convinced of our own interpretations of things regardless of the facts. The world has driven a young boy to the point where admitting to a crime he didn’t commit gives him more peace of mind than fighting for himself and justice. It reflects the bullying that Joon-suk experienced at school as his classmates quickly turn on him and harass him from the shadows. They don’t care about the truth behind the incident, and act on their own understanding of that night’s events. They feel justified in their cruel actions because Joon-suk doesn’t act repentant, so to Joon-suk, the only solution they offer him is to take the blame for something he didn’t technically do. It’s an especially disheartening scene to watch because of its mundanity. The students only left sticky notes, but bullying doesn’t have to be extreme or physical to have disastrous effects on a person. Therefore, I’m glad Teacher Lee was strict with his class and refused to let them off the hook. He’s become an amazing teacher who acknowledges his own complacency in the situation that has occurred but doesn’t let those mistakes stop him from teaching his students a lesson. I thought he struck the right balance as an understanding yet firm teacher who wouldn’t turn a blind eye to his students’ misdeeds any longer, but his approach is a restorative one that emphasizes becoming better people. In the end, maybe Teacher Lee is the one the show is using the most to convey the message of a “beautiful world” to the audience.
On a happier note, seeing Sun-ho wake up brought a tear to my eye, but seeing everyone’s reactions was what really made me cry. The relief and joy mixed with the weight of worry being lifted off their shoulders were clearly present in Sun-ho’s family’s faces as they cried and smiled while watching him speak his first words after waking up. However, it wasn’t just In-ha, Moo-jin, and Soo-ho’s heartfelt reactions but those slightly farther away from Sun-ho that drove home the impact of his recovery. The show goes from closest to farthest, starting with Joon-ha who can barely speak through her tears after hearing the news. The consistent ray of sunshine that took it upon herself to brighten everyone’s day is finally allowed to cry openly and freely; and her response reveals just how much she’s been suppressing her true feelings. Then there’s Dong-hee, Sun-ho’s friend, who shouts with joy and is just like Joon-ha but the reverse. She probably felt like she shouldn’t be fully enjoying life when the person who gave her the strength to live was lying in coma. Therefore, hearing the good news bursts opens the doors to Dong-hee’s emotions, and her unbridled expression of excitement reflects how much she has changed thanks to Sun-ho and her new supporters. After Dong-hee is Sun-ho’s teacher, and seeing Teacher Lee unsuccessfully hold back his tears was the final kicker for me. As someone who felt partly responsible for Sun-ho’s predicament, it seemed that Teacher Lee didn’t fully allow himself the comfort of sorrow because the guilt weighed too heavily on his heart. Thus, the news of Sun-ho’s recovery not only brings him relief but thankfulness for giving him the chance to make up for his mistakes. Sun-ho really is a miracle boy, and though he may have earned this nickname because of his miraculous recovery, I think he also deserves it for his character. In a world that seems bleak and cold, Sun-ho has brought warmth to so many people in his life, and from their reactions alone, it’s clear how much of a positive influence he has on those around him. Just like the others, I’m glad to see Sun-ho back.