One Spring Night: Episodes 17-18
Most of the secrets are cleared away at last, allowing our pharmacist and librarian to start to kindle their love slowly but surely. And this slow burn is going from kindling to a steady blaze in the best way possible. But while Ji-ho and Jung-in get a chance to make some progress at last, the world around them starts to take sides. While Jung-in will always have her sisters and mothers on her side, everyone else seems to be stockpiling objections to the new love in her life, and Ji-ho’s parents have worries of their own about their son’s new relationship.
Ji-ho pulls up to his apartment, Ki-seok’s car waiting for him and Young-joo spying from above and reporting to Jung-in via text. Ki-seok calls out for Ji-ho to follow him to a different location, and Ji-ho returns to his car and follows. Jung-in finally calls Young-joo for a status update, and Young-joo worries that the two men are brawling in an empty parking lot somewhere.
Jung-in’s sisters see how distracted she is, and Seo-in tells Jae-in to stay with Jung-in for now and take care of her. Seo-in promises to call Jung-in, regardless of the results of her pregnancy test, and the two hug it out. Seo-in tells her sister to trust her heart and Jung-in nods, and then Seo-in swaps out Jung-in for baby sister Jae-in for a hug.
Elsewhere, Hyun-soo and Young-jae are drinking and worrying about Ji-ho. Hyun-soo demands that Young-jae call Jae-in for updates, while Young-jae retorts that Hyun-soo should have just gone with Ji-ho if he was going to worry this much. Hyun-soo is certain that Ki-seok will be driven to anger due to the circumstances, while Young-jae points out that Ki-seok’s relationship with Jung-in couldn’t have been that good to begin with if it broke apart this easily. “I know Ji-ho always had good grades, but was he any good at fighting?” Hyun-soo asks.
Cut to a park, where Ji-ho and Ki-seok sit side by side on different benches. No punches have been thrown yet, and instead Ki-seok tries to stop Ji-ho from giving him any details, as if he wants to pretend that nothing happened.
But Ji-ho proceeds to tell the story from the start, how he and Jung-in met, and how he told her from the start that he couldn’t agree to be just friends. “Did you think our relationship was a joke?” Ki-seok asks, and Ji-ho answers very seriously, “If I had thought that even once, I wouldn’t deliberately gotten caught.”
Ki-seok asks why Ji-ho did give it away eventually, and Ji-ho tells him it’s because Ki-seok looked down on him, and that his attitude towards Ji-ho is wrong, and that Jung-in isn’t right for someone with that kind of attitude.
As the men talk, Jung-in and Jae-in make their way back to their apartment, and Jung-in’s stomach is upset from all the stress. Jae-in retrieves medicine for her and Jung-in laments that she has turned into a big loser. “I hope you don’t feel as if you’ve committed a big sin,” Jae-in tells her. “It’s okay to be selfish.”
Back in the park, Ki-seok turns things around and lets Ji-ho know that he’s staying in this to protect Jung-in from making a bad mistake, and to prevent a guy like Ji-ho from destroying her life. Ki-seok asks if Ji-ho understands, and Ji-ho responds that he’s worried, since he can clearly see which one of them is going to cause more problems for Jung-in.
“Are you saying that’s me?” Ki-seok asks, and Ji-ho responds, “I know it won’t be me.”
Ji-ho lets Ki-seok know that he’s been holding himself back as Ki-seok treated him poorly, and Ki-seok gets in closer and cocks his head aggressively. “What if you hadn’t? You would’ve punched me?”
“I would have made you get on your knees,” Ji-ho says.
And now Ji-ho says it clearly, that this isn’t so much about Jung-in, but about him, and about his son. Ji-ho says that Ki-seok may judge him for that, but that he gets strength from his son. Ji-ho walks away with confidence, and Ki-seok scuttles behind him to catch up and then pass him as he lurches for his car. Ji-ho sits in his own car, taking a breath.
Jung-in sits with her head in her hands when her phone rings, but it’s Ki-seok, not Ji-ho, who wants her attention. She heads downstairs where Ki-seok waits, and he tells her to get in the car so that they can talk.
He drives them to a secluded spot and tells her that he met up with Ji-ho, and Jung-in tells him that she already knows that. Ki-seok tries again to convince her that they can just forget all of this and that nothing will change. He says that Jung-in has put up with all his mistakes, and now he can forgive her one. But Jung-in tells him directly that it wasn’t a mistake and that she has feelings for Ji-ho.
Ki-seok can’t take that confession, and he steps out of the car to get a breath. Jung-in steps out and walks around the car to join him. She reminds Ki-seok that she was trying to break up with him anyway, and now Ki-seok says sure, that might have worked before, but now that Ji-ho is involved, he won’t give up.
Ki-seok continues on that he can’t believe it’s Ji-ho of all people, and that he intends to protect Jung-in from herself and this bad situation. And Jung-in’s response is: “I’m already done with you. If you truly care about me, you shouldn’t ignore me when I say I’m done.”
She calls him out on all of his bad behavior, and tells him that he never considered that they might break up because he looked down on her. But she also tells him that she went along with it, and so she accepts that they’re both equally to blame for their relationship’s dissolution.
Ki-seok is still using Ji-ho as his defensive block, and tells Jung-in that it’s pity she feels for him, not love, and he grabs Jung-in by the shoulders to shake sense into her. And now Jung-in drops the real harsh truth. She apologizes to Ki-seok, and tells him that she pretended to love him for a while, even when her feelings were long gone.” Ki-seok’s arms drop from Jung-in’s shoulders, and then he lifts one back to pat her shoulder and tell her that they should both sleep it off.
“Nothing happened to us, okay?” he says.
“There is no us,” Jung-in responds.
Ji-ho is in his kitchen when his phone rings with Jung-in’s call. She reminds him that he was supposed to call her, and he says that he figured she would give him a call when she was available, a subtle indication that he guessed that Ki-seok would seek her out.
Jung-in notes the calm in Ji-ho’s voice, and asks him if he’s putting on an act. Ji-ho says that this situation means a lot to him, but that he’s not the type to get worked up easily. Jung-in responds that he’s a real adult, and Ji-ho reminds her that he’s been through worse circumstances before.
Jung-in asks how he managed to get through something like that when he was so young, and Ji-ho says that he thinks that time took care of it eventually. And on that note, Ji-ho says that he thinks that he and Jung-in need more time before diving in to their new relationship. He wants to respect the time that her break-up will need, and says that he’s been in that kind of pain and understands that it takes time.
The next day, Seo-in stumbles to her car, so distracted she tries to start the car without the key in the ignition. She fumbles in her bag for her keys, and instead pulls out a sonogram, confirming her pregnancy. She eats alone at home, in thought. And then we see Shi-hoon outside a restaurant, trying to stall with the real estate agent on the phone about the new clinic. Seo-in arrives and leads Shi-hoon in to talk.
Shi-hoon wonders what made Seo-in ask to get together, and Seo-in pushes an envelope of money over to him. She offers him the full amount that she will get for the apartment, if he’ll just agree to the divorce. Shi-hoon’s face drops when she proffers the envelope with the divorce papers and does his best to assure her that he will make her happy again soon. Seo-in asks him to just sign the papers so that she can stop hating him. Shi-hoon picks up the envelope, feigning as if he’ll withdraw the sheets and sign, and instead tosses it all to the floor.
Young-jae stops by Ji-ho’s for some food, and comments on how Jung-in’s friend lives in the building and how lucky with women Ji-ho is. Ji-ho gives him some deserved side-eye for that comment, and asks about Jae-in. Ji-ho asks if she was really distracting him from studying, and Young-jae admits that she was actually very thoughtful and kind. Ji-ho takes particular note when Young-jae mentions the vitamins she brought him, finally figuring out where those vitamins meant for Jung-in ended up, ha.
Ki-seok is having breakfast with his dad, and insists to the chairman that Jung-in will say yes to his proposal soon. Chairman Kwon looks skeptical though, and tells his son that times have changed and that he can’t force someone to marry him. Ki-seok reassures his father, and promises not to let him down.
Chairman Kwon goes from breakfast to a quick meeting with Jung-in’s dad in his office. Dad is nervous as always, but learns that the chairman is actually quite impressed with Jung-in. Previously so insistent that Ki-seok get married soon, now the chairman asks Dad to give their kids time to figure things out on their own.
Soon after this revelation, Jung-in’s mom runs to the library to ask Jung-in over for dinner. Mom is encouraged by how happy her husband seemed, but Jung-in tells her that things aren’t any better with Ki-seok. Jung-in turns to her mother and says that she may be disappointed with her. Mom asks what she means, and Jung-in doesn’t explain. “Just act on your beliefs,” Mom says, “and I’ll never be disappointed.”
Evening arrives, and Ji-ho rushes to leave the pharmacy. But as he turns the corner, the reason reveals itself: Jung-in waits for him around the corner of the building. He asks why she wasn’t waiting at the cafe, and she says it’s because she wanted everyone to see them together. Jung-in promptly gets her wish, as Pharmacist Wang wheels around the corner, concerned about Ji-ho’s behavior. She smiles at Jung-in as Ji-ho introduces her, and offers to tell Jung-in all sorts of juicy stories about Ji-ho. Ji-ho pushes her back towards the pharmacy door before she can reveal anything, ha.
At the cafe, Ji-ho asks what’s gotten into Jung-in, and she replies that it’s the spring breeze. They tease and talk, and Ji-ho says again that he wants to take things slowly so that he can’t mess anything up. Jung-in tells him that actually, there are things that he doesn’t know about her, and that she’s in big trouble.
Ji-ho’s eyes turn serious as he waits for her confession, and Jung-in takes a big breath and says: “I… love you, Ji-ho.” Ji-ho can’t take it, and he stands up and walks out of the cafe to the street. Jung-in follows behind, and discovers him trying to hold in tears. She pokes and teases him, and soon the two are wrestling in each others arms and smiling.
Meanwhile, Ki-seok agrees to treat the guys at work to some drinks and food. Hyun-soo tries to decline at first, but Ki-seok ropes him in. Once at the restaurant, Ki-seok pulls Hyun-soo away to ask about Hyun-soo’s cagey behavior.
Hyun-soo points out that his awkward position should be obvious, and Ki-seok smiles and says that nothing has changed, not between them or with Ji-ho either. He says that friends are important, but reminds Hyun-soo that he should be important to him too, and that he should know how to show him respect. Ugh, this sounds so ominous and menacing.
And in Shi-hoon’s corner of the world, he’s grabbing dinner with Jung-in’s Dad. Shi-hoon pretends everything is fine, and only startles a little when Dad suggests that he and Seo-in should think about having kids soon. Dad brings up Jae-in, and Shi-hoon lets it slip that Jae-in is back in Korea. Uh oh.
At work the next day, Jung-in is accosted by her mother, who is upset that Dad has discovered that Jae-in is back. Jung-in offers to bring Jae-in over to their house when she comes for dinner as planned. Mom brings up how happy Dad was about Ki-seok and Jung-in, and Jung-in finally drops the news that she has broken up with Ki-seok. This news is big enough that Mom drags Jung-in away from work to talk.
Mom asks for further explanation, and Jung-in admits that she likes someone else. Jung-in starts to suggest that her mom might be disappointed that she cheated, but Mom says immediately that the details are none of her business. Mom wants to know about the new guy, but Jung-in isn’t ready to reveal everything.
The day ends and Ji-ho offers to drive Pharmacist Wang home before he heads over to his parents’ place. Pharmacist Wang recalls the last time that Ji-ho visited them, and she says that she can see Ji-ho’s mom’s concerns. But Ji-ho is determined now to hold his ground, and tells Pharmacist Wang that Jung-in is the last woman in his life. She says that he shouldn’t be so hasty to say that, but Ji-ho doesn’t budge.
Ki-seok calls Jung-in while driving home. He knows it’s her day off and wants to grab food. Jung-in asks why he’s even calling her, and tells him that she’s on her way to her parents to tell them that they’ve broken up. Ki-seok pulls the car over, and his voice rises as he asks if she’s going to tell her parents all about Ji-ho too. Jung-in asks if he’s threatening her, and Ki-seok tells her to think of it as a threat if she wants.
Jung-in hangs up on him, while Ki-seok bangs his head against the wheel in frustration. Jae-in, at her sister’s side, offers to go to their parents’ alone, and says she’s worried that Jung-in will admit everything and rile their dad up even more. Jung-in promises though that she won’t and the two head in to do battle together.
At their house, Jung-in and Jae-in sit with their heads cast down while Dad berates them. The topic quickly shifts from Jae-in’s deception to Jung-in and her meeting with Chairman Kwon. Jung-in clarifies to Dad that she told the chairman she has no intention of marrying Ki-seok specifically, and also that she’s ending things with Ki-seok. Dad rages on, especially when Jung-in says she’s looking for someone with a warm heart. Dad says that she’ll never find such a thing, and Jung-in pleads, “If at least one person understands me, will you approve of it?” Dad hesitates, and Jung-in admits that there’s someone else that she likes.
Other at another family meeting, Ji-ho’s mom fusses over her son before bringing up the woman she wants to set him up with again. Mom resists again, saying that she’s doing this for Eun-woo’s sake. As their voices rise, Eun-woo wakes up and interrupts the discussion.
Ji-ho tucks his son back into bed and follows his dad out to the store for a drink. Dad asks Ji-ho to forgive them, and says they can only think of Eun-woo’s best interests. Ji-ho says that he’s been thinking of that too, and Dad asks Ji-ho what it is about this woman that he likes so much. Ji-ho replies that Jung-in was the first person to see him just as himself. Dad smiles at that.
Jung-in’s phone rings as she arrives home, and she leaves Jae-in at the door as she rushes back downstairs. Standing outside is Ji-ho, and she jumps into his arms. Ji-ho’s eyes widen in surprise at first, and then his whole face relaxes into a happy smile as he holds her tightly.
They make their way to the park and sit on the bench, holding hands tightly. Ji-ho says that he’s wondering why he didn’t hold her hand sooner. Jung-in tells him that she likes the way they are right now, and Ji-ho says that he’s not satisfied with it. After a look, he leans in and gives Jung-in a sweet kiss on the lips.
Jung-in looks into his eyes and teases him a bit, about him taking her hug and jumping right to hand-holding and kisses. But she’s smiling, and now she’s prepared to return his kiss as they both lean in again for a deeper, longer kiss.
All that making out has lead to carb-cravings, so it’s off for bread and jazz. The pair tease and flirt, and Jung-in makes as if to eat all of their dessert alone. But it’s really just a ploy to lure Ji-ho to her side of the table, and now they sit together side by side, Ji-ho’s arms around her as they easily talk and laugh together. But the jazz band includes some of Ki-seok’s old band friends, and Ki-seok soon parks outside the restaurant.
Ji-ho and Jung-in hold hands as they exit together, but their smiles fade away when they spot Ki-seok approaching. Jung-in moves to take care of the situation, but Ji-ho takes her arm to stop her, and he approaches Ki-seok instead.
Ack, there’s so much willful pride sloshing around in these episodes! Ki-seok is hurting and flailing, and this final moment outside the restaurant is proof that there are others that will take his side in this whole mess along the way.
It’s as if Ki-seok has already taken a look at how him holding on desperately looks, and he’s managed to dig himself a real nice hole of denial to live in. He’s cast off that blame onto Ji-ho, and it’s going to be sadly easy for him to convince so many others that he’s right. He’s been denying Jung-in of her own feelings for so long, and it’s been working. He doesn’t know how to handle it any other way. And people like Jung-in’s dad will be all too eager to agree.
And Ki-seok is making this desperate move because he knows that Ji-ho is right. He knows that Jung-in will be the one who gets hurt in this battle of wills, but Ki-seok just can’t admit that he’ll be the cause of it. Because Jung-in is right too. Ki-seok looks down on her, he doesn’t consider her feelings as much as he considers his own. It’s not about protecting Jung-in for him, no matter how hard he tries to dress it up like that. It’s about Ki-seok protecting this version of himself he’s built.
There’s this layer of his father’s disappointment for Ki-seok as well. I get the feeling that Ki-seok has felt like a disappointment to his father his whole life and still does, even though he’s dropped his own dreams to pursue the life his father would prefer for him. Now that Chairman Kwon sees Jung-in as valuable, this has become a matter of proving his worth to his dad as well. Even while he knows that his dad already thinks he’s a loser who can’t win Jung-in’s heart. And his dad is right, just for perhaps the wrong reasons. It’s Ki-seok’s lack of heart in the relationship, brought on by all his efforts to live life as society demands it of him, that’s turned Jung-in off, and it’s that conformity to society that makes him look real shady right now. Ki-seok wants to know that all these sacrifices were worth it, and he sees keeping Jung-in as proof of it. But it’s clear that even if they did get married, it wouldn’t make either of them happy.
On the one hand, watching two dudes swing their pride around at each other isn’t particularly interesting to me, but I’m glad that in the end Ji-ho made the confrontation with Ki-seok about just the two of them, rather than about Jung-in. It doesn’t mean that Jung-in won’t get trapped in the middle of it all, but at least Ji-ho sees it for what it is and is willing to voice it. Ji-ho might have been less brazen and confrontational with Ki-seok, but Ki-seok showed his true colors a few too many times. I also like that while Ji-ho is soft-spoken and doesn’t anger quickly, the things he says are strong. He doesn’t come off as meek, just respectful.
I’ll confess, I was terrified for a lot of these scenes, because there is such an undercurrent of contained violence, especially from Ki-seok. I’m not alone either; all of their friends assumed that Ki-seok and Ji-ho headed off to decimate one another in a parking lot. But these moments, when Ki-seok demands that Jung-in go off with him alone in his car, when she says something he doesn’t want to hear and he throws open his door to get out, I wince as if there has been violence. Ki-seok hasn’t been violent, but there’s something about his behavior that feels like it’s moments away from it.
Touch is a big deal in this episode. As Ki-seok pleads his case to Jung-in, he grabs her shoulders, then drops them away as his anger escalates, and then returns a hand to her shoulder as he tries to reconcile and deescalate. Jung-in, in response, holds firm and pulls away from him. His movements are possessive, while hers match her words to him: the feelings are long since gone.
When Ji-ho arrives at Jung-in’s apartment, she’s the first to embrace him, and his eyes tell us so much about his feelings in that moment. He’s surprised and exhilarated, unfamiliar with an act of tenderness that’s been absent from his life for so long. And then they move forward to holding hands, then those kisses, and my favorite moment, when they lounge against each other comfortably on the same side of the table at the restaurant. It’s mutual, it’s forward motion, and it’s gentle.
Besides all the drama, this episode is bursting with sweet moments like this. We move from more familiar moments, such as Jung-in and Ji-ho’s phone conversations and the cafe, to less familiar territory, like Jung-in waiting in the open to meet Ji-ho after work, embraces after long days spent with family, and of course, kissing.
What I liked most about Ji-ho and Jung-in’s first impromptu date is how we got only a bird’s eye view of it. We weren’t right in there, hearing their every sweet flirtation. Instead, the couple had their backs to us most of the time in the restaurant, just two shadows dancing together in the happiness of new love. I was happy to give them this moment of privacy, since the drama plays out in excruciating detail. I hope they get more of this, even as everyone else tries to break it all down.
Except for Jung-in’s amazing sisters of course. Seo-in, please just move both of your sisters in! You all should be living together and caring for one another. Move Mom in too while you’re at it. I want a fortress of these ladies keeping themselves happy.
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