A Moment at Eighteen: Episode 12
The joy of the new couple’s young love contrasts sharply with the agony of a marriage near its end. A very real threat to their happiness must be dealt with and even though the teenagers have a plan, it may not be good enough. There’s uncertainty as well for the class president, thanks to a rumor about an academic scandal that’s spreading like wildfire, posing a threat not only to him, but to his family.
EPISODE 12: “Being More Mature Than Adults at the Age of 18”
After Joon-woo’s mother catches Soo-bin and Joon-woo hiding in the kitchen, they move to a cafe to talk. Joon-woo’s mother squeals with delight when she confirms that Joon-woo and Soo-bin are officially dating.
Joon-woo’s mother blinks away tears of happiness but the mood changes when Joon-woo asks why she was at Soo-bin’s house. Joon-woo recalls the matching rice balls that he and Soo-bin had on the school trip and has an idea what his mother is going to say.
As they walk to the convenience store, Joon-woo’s mom explains how she ended up working for Soo-bin’s mother. Mom guesses that now that he’s dating Soo-bin, her job must make Joon-woo uncomfortable but he insists that he doesn’t mind.
Joon-woo’s mom has to run off when she gets a text from Song-hee, but before she leaves, she urges Joon-woo to make sure that Soo-bin’s mom knows that they’re dating. Joon-woo’s mother surprises him when she shouts out congratulations and he watches her fondly as she walks away.
When Joon-woo texts Soo-bin, he finds out that she’s right behind him. Soo-bin tells Joon-woo that she had no idea that his mother was working for her mother but he insists that it doesn’t bother him.
Joon-woo mentions that his mother asked them to tell Soo-bin’s mother that they’re dating and Soo-bin reluctantly agrees. At the convenience store, Joon-woo and Soo-bin wave goodbye but she can’t tear herself away until he finally disappears inside.
A tired Hwi-young arrives home and heads upstairs just as Ki-tae calls him about a post on the class thread. Hwi-young looks suspicious when he and his mother read the anonymous post, “I think Ma Hwi-young in Class 3 rigged his grades.”
At school, the teachers field a flood of phone calls while the vice-principal coaches them on what to say. The vice-principal instructs Ms. Bae to delete the post but Mr. Oh argues that will look suspicious. Mr. Oh suggests posting an official response but the coach informs him that it’s too late, the students have reposted the rumor everywhere.
In Chan-yeol’s room, Soo-bin reminds her friends of a similar rumor the year before. While Chan-yeol urges a depressed Da-hwin to go home, Soo-bin stares at Hwi-young’s number on her phone.
Hwi-young’s mother walks into her son’s room and shuts his computer so that Hwi-young can’t read any more comments. When she urges him not to worry, Hwi-young tells her, “You shouldn’t worry either. And stop drinking.”
When Yeon-woo picks up Song-hee, she mentions how upset the class moms are about the allegation but Song-hee knows that once Hwi-young is ranked #1 again, all will be forgotten. After Yeon-woo notices that Song-hee’s cast is gone, Song-hee reminds her that her assignment isn’t over yet.
As they walk to the car, Yeon-woo mentions that her son has a girlfriend and she’s convinced that Song-hee saw a rat when she exclaims, “Oh my gosh!” Song-hee argues that Joon-woo is too young to date and scolds, “This is a big problem.” As Song-hee walks ahead, Yeon-woo tells herself, “Yes, it is a big problem.”
After work, Joon-woo runs into Hwi-young, who’s on his way home from the academy. They talk and when Hwi-young asks if he saw the post, Joon-woo explains why he didn’t mention it, “I can’t be nice to you.”
On a date with Ji-min, Mr. Oh can’t stop talking about Hwi-young, who he describes as one of his most vulnerable students. Mr. Oh understands Hwi-young’s situation all too well because his own mother always demanded that he had to be first. In a flashback, a young Mr. Oh cried as his mother berated him for an unacceptable score of 95%.
Mr. Oh confesses that he grew up afraid of his mother and when he got into a university, it wasn’t the one that she wanted. After his mother died while he was at the university, Mr. Oh’s resentment was replaced with regret. Ji-min comforts Mr. Oh with the belief that his mother must be happy that he became such a good teacher.
Hwi-young’s parents discuss the rumor and while Dad blames the previous home room teacher, Mom blames Mr. Oh. She’s anxious to get rid of Mr. Oh but Hwi-young’s father argues, “How can we change him again?” After hearing their conversation, Hwi-young demands to know what his parents have done.
Anxious to protect Hwi-young from his father’s anger, his mother sends him back upstairs but he has another question, “There’s someone else I’m suspicious of…that genius that you like so much, the savage.” That savage, Sang-hoon, stares at his phone and chuckles, “Hwi-young is probably experiencing a mental breakdown by now.”
At home, Soo-bin steels herself to tell her mother about Joon-woo but she doesn’t get the chance because her mom has some news of her own to share, “Hey…the son of my driver…has a girlfriend…I guess he’s given up on going to university.”
Soo-bin can’t move as her mother’s words sink in and when she escapes to the kitchen for some water, her mom mumbles, “If the post about that rat’s son is true, I hope he gets humiliated once and for all. Yikes.
At school the next day, Sang-hoon catches up to Hwi-young and when he sees the bandage covering his rash, he blames it on their upcoming finals. Sang-hoon wants Hwi-young to know that he had nothing to do with the post about his grades, he’s much too thankful for all that Hwi-young’s family has done for him and his father.
Annoyed, Hwi-young pushes Sang-hoon to the ground. Ki-tae pauses as he passes by but Hwi-young tells him to keep walking and Sang-hoon senses the rift between them.
Joon-woo notices Soo-bin’s concern when Hwi-young walks away with Sang-hoon, who promises to be Hwi-young’s new best friend. Joon-woo mentions that Hwi-young looked fine when they ran into each other the night before.
While waiting for class to start, Pil-sang tries to sketch Ro-mi but he’s not very good. Joon-woo gives Pil-sang an impromptu drawing lesson and impresses the boys with his skill.
Out by the athletic field, Soo-bin and her friends beg Da-hwin to eat, worried that she might actually faint from hunger. When Oh-je walks by with Joon-woo, Ro-mi grabs him by the collar, “How dare you make Da-hwin starve herself.” Ro-mi demands that Oh-je take responsibility for Da-hwin but when he tries to talk to her, she walks away.
Hwi-young meets with Mr. Oh to apologize for the petition to have him removed as home room teacher but he argues that the moms just want the best for their kids. When asked about the online rumor, Mr. Oh expresses confidence in Hwi-young, “Even if something unexpected happens, I’m sure it won’t be because you do something wrong.” Hwi-young wants Mr. Oh to know that he never cheated or changed his grades and the teacher believes him.
During the class announcements, one of the students asks Hwi-young, “The rumors about rigged grades aren’t true, right?” Hwi-young asks the rest of the class what they think and after a long silence, Joon-woo suggests that they should get ready for class.
After school, Da-hwin uses her phone to record her “Breakup Project”. She notices when Oh-je appears in the background as he walks by, his focus on the boy ahead of him. Hwi-young?
Soo-bin goes over her study schedule with Joon-woo and explains her plan — Soo-bin will tell her mother that they’re dating after she does well on the final exams. Joon-woo sketches Soo-bin in the corner of her calendar and cautions, “Things don’t go your way when you try too hard to do well.”
Soo-bin is frustrated that she finds it necessary to hide their relationship from her mom but Joon-woo explains, “It’s because we’re 18.” When Soo-bin wonders if being eighteen is a sin, Joon-woo reasons, “We learned about the most brilliant thing at the most brilliant time of our lives. I guess you could call it a sin.”
Soo-bin wonders if they should just be brave and tell everyone the truth so that Joon-woo won’t have to hide whenever he’s in her neighborhood. Joon-woo confesses, “I’m happy, but it feels weird…It makes me sigh,” and Soo-bin admits that she feels the same way. Joon-woo takes Soo-bin’s hand and leans in for a kiss but before their lips meet, her dad calls.
Soo-bin wants Joon-woo to greet her dad but the call gets disconnected. Song-hee interrupted the call when she snatched the phone from her husband’s hand with a reminder that he’s not to call their daughter without permission.
Song-hee is in a hurry and asks her husband why he wanted to meet. Soo-bin’s father hands Song-hee an envelope with divorce documents but she tosses it back at him. When he reminds Song-hee that they no longer love each other, she laughs that he’s acting like he’s eighteen with his talk about love.
Song-hee returns to her car where Yeon-woo is waiting. Song-hee is surprised when her husband leaves the restaurant with the new woman in his life. Yeon-woo asks, “Should I run them over,” and when Song-hee nods, she revs the engine and lurches forward, stopping just inches from his car. The women can’t help but laugh when Soo-bin’s father yells, “Are you crazy?”
That night, Soo-bin’s snack includes some cookies that her mom’s driver sent. Soo-bin asks Mom if she and her driver are close and Song-hee admits that they’re now friends. Once she’s alone, Soo-bin can’t wait to text Joon-woo with the news along with a reminder that they need to do well on their exams to improve their chances with her mom.
After getting home, Mr. Oh wonders why he hasn’t been able to get in touch with Ji-min all day. He texts Hwi-young a reminder to call him anytime and is annoyed when he replies with a simple, “Thank you.”
At home, Hwi-young pulls out a photo of him and his brother as boys and asks, “What do I do? I’m afraid.”
Joon-woo is on the phone with his mom when he gets home. She’s back at her place and he promises to do well now that he’s on his own again. When it’s time for bed, Joon-woo turns out the light and in a flashback, we see that Soo-bin suggested he should try sleeping without it. Soo-bin told Joon-woo to imagine her next to him, protecting him.
Joon-woo and Soo-bin have one of their mental conversations and he confesses that the thought of her next to him is making it difficult to fall asleep. Soo-bin lies in bed at home and imagines Joon-woo getting sleepy and when he finally falls asleep, Joon-woo imagines Soo-bin sitting next to him until the sun rises.
The next day, Soo-bin tutors Joon-woo and she’s proud when he solves a problem on his own. Joon-woo is reminded of the story of a princess and a fool named On-dal.
Soo-bin teases that Joon-woo’s nickname should be Joon-dal and hers can be “Bean”. Joon-woo can’t contain his happiness over her suggestion and he surprises Soo-bin with a kiss on the cheek. Soo-bin maintains her composure and when Joon-woo tells her, “I love you,” she calmly replies, “Okay.” Joon-woo complains to himself, “That’s not fair.”
After they’re done studying, Joon-woo panics when he learns that Soo-bin arranged to meet her father. Soo-bin didn’t say anything sooner because she didn’t want Joon-woo distracted while they studied. Soo-bin plans to meet with her dad first and then promises to text Joon-woo when it’s time for them to meet.
Joon-woo waits outside and practices his introduction while Soo-bin meets her dad inside a restaurant. She’s not prepared for his news, “Your mom and I are getting a divorce.” Soo-bin’s dad explains that he and Song-hee no longer get along, they haven’t for some time, but Soo-bin’s mother won’t agree to a divorce because she’s worried about Soo-bin.
Soo-bin looks out the window and smiles wistfully at Joon-woo, who’s still practicing his introduction. When her father reminds Soo-bin that she’s old enough to understand, she points that there are times when kids her age are told that they’re too young to do anything but study, but at other times they’re expected to act like adults.
Soo-bin’s father reminds his daughter that she’s always been mature but tears spill from her eyes as Soo-bin confesses that it was all an act. She only pretended to be mature to ease her parents’ guilt.
Soo-bin joins Joon-woo outside and explains that her dad is too busy to meet him. Joon-woo is scheduled to go to work but he decides to skip his shift so that he can hang out with Soo-bin.
Joon-woo takes Soo-bin to a roller rink and he stays by her side as they skate, fully aware that there’s something bothering her. When they stop at their favorite cafe, Soo-bin asks Joon-woo about his greatest regret, the one thing that he’s kept bottled up in his heart. Joon-woo immediately answers, “Not being able to tell him that it was me.”
Joon-woo explains that when he was about to be transferred again, he went to his dad’s address. Even though he’d always known where his father lived, Joon-woo had never been able to go there but on that day, he found the courage. Joon-woo’s dad didn’t recognize him and he confesses that his greatest regret was not being able to tell his father who he was. Soo-bin proposes, “Let’s go back and tell him. So you won’t regret it anymore.” When Joon-woo realizes how important it is to Soo-bin, he agrees.
On their way to his dad’s place, Joon-woo asks Soo-bin to look at the letter that he wrote but she shakes her head. Soo-bin guesses that Joon-woo included a drawing and tells him, “Good job.”
Soo-bin stands next to Joon-woo in front of his father’s front door until he pushes his letter under it. Once that’s done, Soo-bin wishes, “I hope all your regrets are gone now,” and they smile at each other.
As they walk away, Joon-woo asks Soo-bin if she’s feeling better, “You had something you regretted, so you were trying to feel better by using me.” Joon-woo always intended to return someday and because he wanted to help Soo-bin, he tells her, “I guess today was that day.” While they talk, Joon-woo places his hand over Soo-bin’s head to shield her from the sun.
Song-hee walks past some shops as she and Yeon-woo talk on the phone. Song-hee promises to treat Yeon-woo to something good when she visits and after hanging up, she finds herself in front of a bakery.
Joon-woo and Soo-bin walk up to his rooftop and gaze at the skyline in the distance. Joon-woo is surprised when Soo-bin confesses that she visited his place once before, when he realized that she didn’t trust him.
Soo-bin asks to see Joon-woo’s room but it’s messy, so he has her wait outside while he fixes something to eat. After their rooftop meal, Soo-bin confides in Joon-woo, “The thing I regret most right now is when my mom and dad said they would get a divorce, and I stopped them.”
In a flashback, a younger Soo-bin ran to her mother in the parking garage and grabbed her suitcase, sobbing, “Don’t go.” As her father stood in the background, Soo-bin’s mom reminded her, “You said you’d understand even if we got divorced.”
In spite of her mother’s assurances that they would love her no matter what, Soo-bin begged, “Don’t split up with dad.” Swayed by her daughter’s tears, Soo-bin’s mother promised to stay.
Soo-bin explains to Joon-woo that she thought that she was doing the right thing but her parents only pretended they were still together for her sake. Soo-bin feels responsible for her parents’ unhappiness and when she starts to cry, Joon-woo tells her, “You didn’t know back then.”
Joon-woo wipes away Soo-bin’s tears and hugs her consolingly until Soo-bin’s mother interrupts, “What are you guys doing?” Soo-bin’s mother sets down the cake that she bought for Joon-woo and demands to know if Soo-bin is Joon-woo’s girlfriend.
Soo-bin tries to explain but her mother slaps her and when Joon-woo shields her, he gets hit too. Joon-woo backs away after Soo-bin’s mother shrieks, “Let go of her,” and he’s stunned when she screams, “What on earth is happening?”
Joon-woo’s and Soo-bin’s relationship gets discovered by the scary mom, ending in that disastrous confrontation. The kids’ two moms couldn’t be more different and while the episode began with Joon-woo’s mother’s heartfelt congratulations, it ended with a stinging slap from Soo-bin’s mom. When I think about it, it has everything to do with how the woman view their failed relationships. While Joon-woo’s mother remembers her short-lived relationship fondly, Soo-bin’s mother is bitter, her heart hardened against her daughter’s desire to share her heart with someone like Joon-woo. No wonder Soo-bin’s dream is to escape her mother’s control.
Before Soo-bin’s mother learned about them, Soo-bin and Joon-woo navigated some rough waters together and helped each other immensely. Along the way, their first kiss was a miss but Joon-woo did manage to kiss Soo-bin on her cheek and confess that he loved her. As usual, Soo-bin’s response was strangely measured, but after seeing how she’s had to control her emotions around her parents, her subdued reactions make more sense.
We learned quite a bit about Soo-bin’s parents’ unhappy marriage in that heart wrenching flashback. Kim Hyang-gi broke my heart when she pleaded with her mother not to abandon their family. Soo-bin’s raw desperation really came across in that scene and it’s no wonder that her parents stayed together for her sake. But after years of pretending, they now despise each other and Soo-bin realizes too late that her interference hurt more than it helped. There are some regrets that we just have to live with and unfortunately, Soo-bin’s greatest regret falls into that category because she can’t go back and change history.
Joon-woo and Soo-bin did their best to help each other because good relationships aren’t just about smiling sweetly at each other, even though they’re really good at that. They’re actually both very good at helping each other through their challenges and I wouldn’t be surprised if their relationship stands the test of time. But first they have to deal with the fallout now that Soo-bin’s mother knows that they’re together.
As hard as it was to watch Soo-bin’s mother’s meltdown, her reaction makes some sense. Song-hee made a huge sacrifice for Soo-bin and she wants it to be a worthwhile one. In Song-hee’s mind, what would make staying married to Soo-bin’s father worth it is if Soo-bin gets accepted to the best university in Seoul, ending up with an enviable career and a wealthy husband. As a mother, there’s nothing but disappointment in store if there’s an expectation that the sacrifices made in raising a child will be rewarded. That’s what plagues Soo-bin, knowing that she’ll never be able to make her mother happy while Mr. Oh understands the pain caused by unrelenting, unreasonable demands.
Poor Mr. Oh, he’s the original Hwi-young, only his family wasn’t wealthy. It must be why he became a teacher, to help students who suffer with a similar experience. As hard as it was for Mr. Oh to get through to Joon-woo, it’s even harder with Hwi-young but he may get a chance thanks to that post about Hwi-young’s grades. Whatever Hwi-young’s parents have been up to behind the scenes, it’s about to be revealed and maybe we’ll learn more about his brother in the process. With only a handful of episodes left, I have no idea what to expect for the students of Class 3, but I’m hoping for some happy endings, for some of the adults as well as the kids.
- Premiere Watch: A Moment at Eighteen
- Shin Seung-ho plays the piano for A Moment at Eighteen
- Throwing away the old and bringing in the new in A Moment at Eighteen
- A warm encounter begins a first love story in A Moment at Eighteen
- New posters from youth drama A Moment at Eighteen
- Kim Hyang-gi, Ong Sung-woo, and more attend A Moment at Eighteen script read
- Kang Ki-young, Moon Bin join Kim Hyang-gi, Ong Sung-woo in JTBC youth drama