A Moment at Eighteen: Episode 5
A tragedy strikes our transfer student, and there are those at his new school who should be held responsible for the part they played. But the class president is powerful, maybe even more so when backed into a corner, and his network of minions are as loyal as they are desperate. But Joon-woo gathers supporters of his own, and even if it’s not enough to tip the scales, it might be enough to yield some hope.
EPISODE 5: “After that Long and Sad Day”
The culprit’s confession still ringing in his ears, Joon-woo lunges for Hwi-young and hits him right in the jaw, as Mr. Oh and the other students try to pull them apart. Joon-woo doesn’t drop his fist until he finally hears Soo-bin, who cries for him to stop.
Mr. Oh sits Joon-woo down to talk outside, where he learns that the kids inside confessed to Joon-woo that Ki-tae paid them to beat up Jung-hoo. Mr. Oh doesn’t get the Hwi-young connection, and doesn’t believe it when Joon-woo tells him that Hwi-young is the one who gives Ki-tae his orders.
Meanwhile, Soo-bin, Oh-je, and Hwi-young sit together on a bench. Hwi-young assures him that he doesn’t need to go to a hospital, and he offers that Joon-woo was acting out of grief when he hit him, not for any specific reasons. But then Hwi-young discovers that the kids who showed up with police said something to Joon-woo right before he exploded, and Hwi-young makes an excuse to leave to take a call from his tutor.
He’s really frantically trying to get a hold of Ki-tae, because he knows exactly what those kids might have told Joon-woo. Ki-tae doesn’t notice Hwi-young’s calls though, as he watches So-ye’s dance practice. She sees his phone trying to alert him though, and he scurries off with the excuse that his tutor needs to see him.
Back at the memorial hall, Mr. Oh packs up the other kids to drive them home and tries to reassure Joon-woo as he leaves him there to grieve. Joon-woo looks at his friend’s portrait and wonders aloud what he’s supposed to do now.
Hwi-young and Ki-tae meet up at a lonely building, where Hwi-young berates his friend for paying off Joon-woo’s old classmates. Ki-tae tries to defend himself, saying that Hwi-young told him to get Joon-woo expelled no matter what, but Hwi-young tells Ki-tae that Jung-hoo died in a car accident and that the money will lead a trail back to them both.
Ki-tae reminds Hwi-young that he promised to take full responsibility if anything happened, but now Hwi-young says he’s not so sure about that, since he never told Ki-tae to go so far as to give anyone money. Ki-tae panics and begs Hwi-young to tell him what to do, but Hwi-young makes it clear that he doesn’t have any help to offer.
As Hwi-young turns to abandon Ki-tae however, they both find So-ye around the corner, having followed Ki-tae there. Hwi-young asks Ki-tae if he’s dating So-ye, and specifically if she knows what they’ve done. Hwi-young hurls his bag to the ground in frustration, as Ki-tae follows after his girlfriend. So-ye lets Ki-tae know how disappointed to see that he is indeed Hwi-young’s little minion, and Ki-tae curls his head into his hands in frustration as she leaves him alone in the stairwell.
All the other girls are together studying, and they wonder why So-ye isn’t answering any of their calls. The conversation shifts as Soo-bin arrives and her friends offer sympathetic looks. Da-hwin wants to know how Oh-je is doing, since he’s not answering her calls either.
Soo-bin’s mom calls then, who wants to confirm that Soo-bin is attending her tutor today. Mom tells her daughter to stick with Hwi-young, and Soo-bin just sighs in agreement.
Ro-mi wants to know if Soo-bin has followed up on her test scores yet, while everyone else yells at her for picking the worst time to bring it up with everything else going on. Soo-bin’s ready though, and she tells Ro-mi to pack up and come with her to the tutor.
It seems that Tutor Sohn refuses to tell Soo-bin her test scores, and so she tells him that she’s dropping the lessons to study alone. She calls for Ro-mi, and Ro-mi bows and asks for the opportunity to take the placement test.
Soo-bin leaves her friend there, though her thoughts are on all of the efforts that her mom made to get her into the tutoring group in the first place. Hwi-young startles her back to reality as he arrives for the lesson, and Soo-bin asks him not to tell her mother that she quit. She also has a question for Hwi-young, though she hesitates to ask: why did he just take Joon-woo’s hits without fighting back?
Hwi-young shakes off her question, saying no one would just sit and take a hit. Hwi-young has his own question, about the longing expression that Soo-bin shot back to Joon-woo from the car, but he doesn’t ask and instead tells her to rest from the shock of it all and come to the next tutoring class.
Soo-bin finds herself at the convenience store window, watching Joon-woo stock shelves, until Joo-woo’s coworker unni Ji-min appears at her side. Ji-min asks if Soo-bin has a crush on “Yeong-bae,” and then tells her that she already has dibs on him. Soo-bin is flustered, and strikes back at Ji-min by calling her “ajumma” as she leaves. Ji-min growls at that, but smiles after Soo-bin as she retreats.
Da-hwin tracks Oh-je down at his father’s restaurant where she introduces herself to his dad as Oh-je’s girlfriend. Oh-je shakes his head no, but Dad isn’t really registering and just wants to congratulate his son. Oh-je is released from the awkward moment by a phone call from Joon-woo.
While the kids are busy with their own lives, Mr. Oh pays a visit to the correctional facility where Joon-woo’s former classmates are being held. The kid, Geon-hyuk, tells Mr. Oh that he told Joon-woo about Ki-tae and the money just to prevent Joon-woo from suspecting their involvement in Jung-hoo’s death. Mr. Oh asks Geon-hyuk to testify to what he saw, and the kid agrees.
Mr. Oh calls Joon-woo with the news, and asks Joon-woo to join him at school to get the kid’s confession and sort things out. Joon-woo thanks his teacher for the help, and Mr. Oh reassures him that the world isn’t completely unfair.
As Joon-woo walks home, he runs into Ki-tae, desperate to contact So-ye and spiraling into his panic. Joon-woo tells him that he knows that it was all Hwi-young’s demands, while Ki-tae still tries to cover for Hwi-young and makes up a story about paying the kids off for trouble that his little brother got into.
Joon-woo obviously knows better, and says that Ki-tae must know that Hwi-young will get out of it and leave all the blame for Ki-tae. Joon-woo tells Ki-tae to just tell the truth tomorrow, and asks Ki-tae how he can remain so loyal to someone like Hwi-young.
Ki-tae breaks and drops to his knees in front of Joon-woo. He confesses that he’s the only one in his family who can make it into college and provide, and he begs Joon-woo to drop everything so that his life isn’t ruined. “Yours is ruined already, but not mine,” he says.
“No one’s life is ruined already,” Joon-woo answers. “We’re all only eighteen. You, me…and Jung-hoo.” Joon-woo leaves Ki-tae standing in the street.
Meanwhile, So-ye lurks near Hwi-young’s house to intercept him. Hwi-young thinks she’s there to ask him not to tell anyone that she’s dating Ki-tae, but she offers a deal of her own, that she won’t tell anyone about what she heard, as long as Hwi-young protects Ki-tae.
As soon as Hwi-young walks through his front door, his mother spots the bruises on his face and asks what happened. Mom wants to go to the hospital, while Hwi-young is mostly concerned about whether his dad is home yet. Dad’s not there yet, and so Hwi-young asks his mother to help him, and he gives Ki-tae a call.
Soo-bin sits in her room, trying to compose a text to Joon-woo. But she just can’t bring herself to ask if he’s okay, since she knows he couldn’t be. Joon-woo, meanwhile, finds his mom waiting for him when he arrives home. Mom does her best to take care of Joon-woo, but the attention becomes overwhelming, and Joon-woo ducks outside for a breath, where he breaks down in the street.
The next day, the classroom is buzzing with rumors about Joon-woo, including one of Joon-woo calling Oh-je asking for Ki-tae’s address. Pil-sang announces that Joon-woo is in the vice-principal’s office, where he overheard the vice-principal scolding Joon-woo for hitting Hwi-young. That’s when everyone notices that Hwi-young didn’t come to class either, and then Ki-tae is called to the counseling room as Hwi-young finally arrives (poor nervous So-ye watching it all!). Hwi-young laughs off the idea that Joon-woo is a gangster and tells everyone to quiet down.
Joon-woo walks the halls towards the counseling office, and Hwi-young meets him at the intersection and then enters the counseling office too. The vice-principal welcomes Hwi-young in, mentioning that his mother called him this morning.
Mr. Oh is there as well, but the vice-principal blocks him at the door. He reminds Mr. Oh that he’s been relieved of his duties as homeroom teacher, though Mr. Oh protests that he’s the one who brought this incident forward in the first place. The vice-principal doesn’t budge on it though and Mr. Oh watches the room from the window.
The vice-principal and teachers call Geon-hyuk at the correctional facility and ask him to confirm Joon-woo’s report. But now Geon-hyuk denies receiving money from Ki-tae and attempting to lure Joon-woo into a fight. Hwi-young smile smugly, having gotten away with everything.
He and Ki-tae walk together after they’re dismissed, and we flashback to the night before when Hwi-young called Ki-tae over. Hwi-young tells Ki-tae that his mother is taking care of everything, and says that he never planned to abandon Ki-tae. Ki-tae thanks Hwi-young, though there’s something in his eyes that suggests that looks like lingering mistrust.
Meanwhile, Mr. Oh has his own flashback to when he reassured Joon-woo that everything would work out, and he winces as Joon-woo gives him a look that says, “I told you so.” Joon-woo now meets with a school counselor, who reassures him that he acted out in his grief, and that they can all work through it together.
Hwi-young and his mother celebrate their victory over the phone, and Mom is especially relieved that they were able to handle things before Hwi-young’s father found out. Mom makes Hwi-young promise to never let anything like this happen again.
Mr. Oh spots Hwi-young, and apologizes to the kid for misunderstanding the situation. Hwi-young just smiles and says he gets how someone might want to support the weaker side. Mr. Oh grumbles to himself about the arrogant remark as Hwi-young joins his friends, and hopes that he didn’t apologize for no reason.
But in the teacher’s offices moments later, Mr. Oh suddenly withdraws a resignation letter from his drawer and delivers it to the vice-principal, who is on the phone but frantically chases after Mr. Oh.
The girls are huddled together in a practice room with their lunches, discussing all of the gossip from the day’s events. When Chan-yeol reports that Joon-woo looked like he’d given up, Soo-bin leaves to find him in the recycling shed.
Joon-woo curtly tells her not to ask if he’s alright, and Soo-bin says that she’s there to ask what happened between Joon-woo and Hwi-young. Joon-woo asks if she’s upset that he beat Hwi-young up, since she’s his girlfriend, and Soo-bin recoils at his harsh tone. She says that she just wants to help, and Joon-woo tells her that he doesn’t want her pity. In his thoughts, though, he wonders why he’s taking his anger out on Soo-bin, after he’s held it together for so long. The damage is done though, and Soo-bin retreats with a cold apology.
Back in the classroom, Joon-woo is already looking at Soo-bin with regret, but he can’t catch her eye. The news of Mr. Oh’s resignation hits the classroom, and Hwi-young eagerly moves to the front of the class to take over for their homeroom teacher. But his reign is interrupted by Mr. Oh, who he assumes is there to say goodbye to everyone.
The class erupts with protests, and Joon-woo begins to pack up his bag to leave. Mr. Oh asks him to at least hear him out, and announces to the classroom that he isn’t resigning after all. Not only that, but Mr. Oh is no longer their substitute assistant teacher–he’s now their official homeroom teacher.
And now we flashback to when Mr. Oh received a call from the missing homeroom teacher. It seems that the missing teacher had been readmitted to the hospital. Armed with that information, Mr. Oh turned in his resignation, knowing that the vice-principal would be desperate to find someone to cover the class. Mr. Oh refused the vice-principal’s pleas to return, unless he was instated as a full homeroom teacher for the class. Good work, Mr. Oh.
Outside class, Mr. Oh spots Hwi-young and Ki-tae and issues a warning to them, that he plans to keep an eye on both of them. Hwi-young returns his typical smarmy confidence, while Ki-tae looks more nervous.
Meanwhile, Joon-woo is busy looking up directions to the correctional facility where his Geon-hyuk is held. Hwi-young and his entourage pass in the hall, and Joon-woo can’t help but call out to Ki-tae, asking him if he feels better now that his life isn’t ruined. The guys blow him off, but when Joon-woo turns he finds Mr. Oh waiting for him.
At the correctional facility, Geon-hyuk is surprised to see Joon-woo there to see him. Joon-woo tells Geon-hyuk that they held a good funeral for Jung-hoo, who was grateful just to get to sit with his bullies and eat lunch. Geon-hyuk stands to leave, and Joon-woo tells him to take care of himself.
Mr. Oh waits for Joon-woo outside, and Mr. Oh teases Joon-woo while Joon-woo tells his teacher that his naivete is charming. Mr. Oh announces that he’s found a new dream, to become a teacher Joon-woo trusts. Mr. Oh musses Joon-woo, who protests that he’s messing up his style, and they lope down the hill together.
Joon-woo’s lifting spirits take a short plunge though at work, when he finds the handkerchief pressed between his notebook pages and recalls his spat with Soo-bin. At home, Joon-woo tries to send an apology text, but he can’t quite hit send.
The next morning though, Joon-woo sweeps in to carry a heavy pile of notebooks for Soo-bin. She doesn’t give him even a smile in return though and proceeds to hand out the coursework to everyone. Hwi-young takes his preferred spot at the front of class and announces seat reassignments for the looming test. Groans rise from the class as it becomes clear that Hwi-young sat everyone with lower grades in the back of the room, while those in his study group are packed together at front.
Soo-bin questions whether this is necessary, and Hwi-young replies that the class approved on this process earlier in the year. Joon-woo asks Oh-je if everyone really voted for this, and Oh-je says that there were some hold outs, like him, Soo-bin and Chan-yeol, but that Hwi-young got the majority vote in the end.
When Mr. Oh returns to the class, he’s startled to see everyone in new seats, and asks Hwi-young why he wasn’t consulted before the change was made. Hwi-young stands his ground and says that they’ve always done it this way in the past. Mr. Oh moves on, and announces a supplementary English class after school. But oh, Hwi-young and his study group can’t attend since it conflicts with their meeting time. Mr. Oh can’t stop them from skipping his class, since it’s not part of the regular curriculum, though he does get a few students to agree to stay (though not Joon-woo, even though he shoots him a look, haha).
In the teacher’s office though, Mr. Oh continues to argue with Hwi-young about the new seating arrangement. When Hwi-young tells him he can’t yield to him this time, Mr. Oh asks if he comes to school just to yield things to his own teacher. Mr. Oh plays it pitiful for a moment, but then he laughs and says that his pride hasn’t hit rock bottom yet, and firmly demands that the seats return to their previous arrangement. Once Hwi-young walks away though, Mr. Oh issues a prayer to every god he knows, including his grandmother, for the strength to stand firm, ha.
After class is over, Joon-woo turns up at Hwi-young’s study group. Hwi-young tries to suggest that Joon-woo isn’t qualified to join the group, but Joon-woo gets his own jab in as he shrugs and says that he can’t stay after all. He then turns to Hwi-young and asks why he goes through all this effort for everyone else, and then sighs that it must be hard.
On his way out of school, Joon-woo spots Soo-bin’s mom as she marches in. She pulls Soo-bin from class and drags her away to a secluded hallway, where she explodes. Mom has found out about Soo-bin dropping her math tutor, and now Mom yells and strikes Soo-bin. Soo-bin tells Mom that she’s embarrassed at the way they got her into the group, and now Mom yells that she’s embarrassed by her daughter, who she can’t brag about to any of her friends.
Soo-bin fires back that if her mom gave birth to her just to brag about her, she should just get rid of her and adopt a smart kid instead. Mom tells Soo-bin to get out of her house, and Soo-bin thanks her mother for releasing her from her expectations and stalks off. Around the corner, Joon-woo lingers on the stairs, having witnessed it all.
Soo-bin splashes water on her face before returning to class, but she promptly excuses herself for the day and leaves. Over the hill, Joon-woo waits with his bike, and though she tries to ignore him, he follows along. He confesses that he saw what happened with her mom, and Soo-bin retorts that now he sees that he isn’t the only one with problems.
Soo-bin says she wants to be alone, but when Joon-woo moves ahead to leave, she calls after him that she’s not Hwi-young’s girlfriend, and that she hasn’t been checking in on Joon-woo out of pity because… She trails off briefly, and then admits, “because I like you.”
Joon-woo’s expression widens in shock, and his legs wobble on the pedals of his bike as he begins to sail down the hill on his bike.
Haha, poor Joon-woo might actually get into a real bicycle accident now. His reaction is perfectly darling though, and I hope Soo-bin helps him limp to his part-time job and rile up Ji-min’s faux jealousy a little more. Now that a little hope has returned to Joon-woo after all of this heartbreak, it looks like he’ll be trying to extend some of that to Soo-bin right when she needs a boost. Joon-woo’s been a loner, but he’s clearly shown that he’s no misanthrope. He cares deeply for his friends, and is more than willing to take a beating (or the fall) for them if necessary.
I’m hoping that Soo-bin walking away from her mother has the best outcome possible. I can’t tell you how angry I was when I saw Soo-bin’s mom manipulate her previously, lying in bed injured because her daughter dared stand up to her and then celebrating in bed when her guilt trip worked. The games that Soo-bin’s mother is willing to play to get her daughter in a good school are too much for a child to deal with, and thank goodness that Soo-bin recognizes her mother’s bad behavior and is willing to walk away, though it’s clearly not easy for her.
It’s not perfectly clear yet what is driving Soo-bin’s mom to act this way, though we’ve got some clues. Her angry reaction in this episode provides a mask of the stereotypical mom who wants their child to be the best so that she can brag to her friends, but I think this is just cover for Mom’s own insecurities. I’m guessing that Mom experienced her own struggles, and thinks she’s protecting her daughter. Rookie parenting mistake number one: assuming that what would have been good for you will be good for them.
Where will Soo-bin land as she hides from her Mom? Hwi-young’s place seems unlikely considering his father. None of Soo-bin’s girlfriends have really stepped up as the kind of best friend who would let her live indefinitely in their room, so I’m not sure where that leaves her.
I am so loving the growing relationship with Mr. Oh, and his character development in general. He can be flighty, but he recognizes that in himself, and he makes sure that he does show up when it counts. And, like all the best school dramas, he and Joon-woo will likely help each other grow and change for the better. I do wonder if Mr. Oh would even bother pushing back against Hwi-young if he didn’t feel compelled to protect Joon-woo, but I’m glad that they’re all there now.
Hwi-young clearly prefers to be in the spot where everybody owes him something, and it’s clear to see why. He definitely likes being in the position of power where if he needs something, he’ll get it, and otherwise everyone will get out of his way. That’s why Joon-woo, and now Mr. Oh, have been so irksome to him. And it’s only going to get worse. This test of his net of minions didn’t fail, but it definitely weakened the links.
I do think that we’ll be headed for redemption for Hwi-young. His family life is complicated, and I can’t stop thinking about when Soo-bin asked why he just let Joon-woo hit him. I imagine some of it is a feeling inside that he deserves it for what happened to Joon-woo’s friend, but I also wonder if Hwi-young is used to getting hit, and knows that the best way to get out of it is to just wait for it to end.
We haven’t learned too much about some of the side characters, but the hints so far seem to strongly suggest that Oh-je will be revealed as secretly gay. I’m hoping that the show doesn’t go down the well-tread path of a broken-hearted second lead, because I’m tired of watching the sweet boys not get the guy in the end. I would love for Oh-je to find love if this is where we’re headed, or even to just leave him happily single until the right guy comes along. I’m hoping that the biggest trauma he has to face is breaking Da-hwin’s heart a little, and that his father will be supportive when everything is revealed. Do I think we’ll get this? The show hasn’t given us any indication that it won’t go with what’s expected, but I’m willing to hope.
- 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