A Moment at Eighteen: Episode 9
What does first love feel like? This is the question of the hour, and everyone seems to agree that it’s somewhere between floating euphoria and an icy shower, haha. The budding romance experiences some of the latter as misinformation creates a rift between our transfer student and his first love. And of course our class president is the one orchestrating the whole issue, as he tries to hold on to the one person who actually makes him smile.
EPISODE 9: “I’m Sorry”
Joon-woo smiles at his movie date, until he notices Soo-bin’s troubled face in the dark. Soo-bin excuses herself to go to the bathroom, and in the theater lobby she checks her phone again. Hwi-young screencapped a message sent to him supposedly from Joon-woo, promising to steal Soo-bin from him as an act of retribution.
Joon-woo emerges from the theater to check on her, and Soo-bin tells him her mom wants her home. She tells him to stay and finish the movie, but he insists on walking her home. Soo-bin trails behind him on the sidewalk, so Joon-woo checks for a fever and then runs over to a pharmacy for her. It’s Soo-bin’s chance to ditch him and go home alone and yet… she wonders what keeps her there, waiting for him.
Joon-woo makes it all the way to the gate with Soo-bin, but thoughts of encountering her mom send him off on his way. Meanwhile, Soo-bin’s mom spots Hwi-young lurking near their home awaiting Soo-bin.
Once alone, Soo-bin asks Hwi-young if the text from Joon-woo was real. Hwi-young doubles down that Joon-woo must be holding an unfair grudge against him. He says that it’s just a misunderstanding between them, and Soo-bin asks if that’s really true. Hwi-young stands firm, and Soo-bin asks him not to tell anyone else about the text. He asks if she’s doing it to avoid embarrassing Joon-woo, but she says it’s to protect her own pride.
As Soo-bin sits in her room alone, crushed, Joon-woo studies an envelope he intended to give Soo-bin during the date. And Hwi-young heads to the soccer fields to get out some of his pent-up frustration. Oh-je spots him and offers to serve as goalie, but Hwi-young’s kicks are aggressive and way too hard. Oh-je asks if something bad happened, and Hwi-young huffs, “What do you do when you hate yourself?” but then refuses to elaborate.
Oh-je moves on to visit Joon-woo, who is sulking on the rooftop in the sun. Oh-je quizzes him about the aborted date as they wash dishes together, and then they return to the roof to discuss first loves. Oh-je asks if it feels great to be in love, and Joon-woo says that the great is shrouded in heavy and awkward vibes, haha. Joon-woo feels like he tries so hard and yet keeps making mistakes, and Oh-je sighs that at least he can experience liking someone.
Soo-bin’s mom stops in to the new tutor she’s selected for Soo-bin, and that’s when she runs into… is this Soo-bin’s dad? Mom is not happy to see him, especially accompanied by a younger woman, and even more so when he says that his apartment is in the building. She tells him to move because Soo-bin’s tutor is in the building, and he looks super excited at the thought of seeing Soo-bin.
Mom strides away, but slips on the floor and falls, hard (man, that looked like it hurt). She refuses any help Soo-bin’s dad offers and struggles her way to the elevator, holding her arm tucked to her.
Mom returns home with a new cast on her arm. Soo-bin follows her mother around to make sure she’s alright, but Mom provides no details, including seeing her dad. Soo-bin tries to relax in bed, but she receives a text from Joon-woo asking why she’s not responding to him. For his part, Joon-woo starts second-guessing everything that he did, and wonders if it was the too-big popcorn or the warm soda that was the problem.
Soo-bin’s not ready to reply to Joon-woo, so she warms up some milk for Mom and cuddles in bed with her. Mom mutters to her daughter to stay healthy, and she returns the same to her mom as she curls her arms around her.
The weekend is over and the girls are eager to hear about the date from Soo-bin. They note Soo-bin’s glum look and wonder if her mom caught them. Oh-je shows up, and has to apologize again to Da-hwin for ignoring her. Hwi-young’s at the lockers too, and comments that Oh-je and Da-hwin look good together. Oh-je sends a look after Hwi-young, who is looking at Soo-bin. And then there’s Ro-mi, staring at Hwi-young as he ignores her entirely.
Oh-je follows Da-hwin into the classroom. He kneels next to her desk and cutely begs her to forgive him (and who could not? That face!). Meanwhile, Ro-mi manages to corner Hwi-young in the hall and demands entry to his tutoring group, but her grades are sufficient. She begs him to help her out, but Hwi-young doesn’t hand out favors to everyone.
A girl from another class approaches Ro-mi and mentions that her mother still hasn’t deposited a consulting fee to her mom. Ro-mi promises to remind her mom, and then glowers when the girl delivers the news that Soo-bin and Joon-woo were at the movies together.
And where is Joon-woo? The boy’s still in bed. A call from his mom wakes him up and he dashes for school.
Ki-tae continues to serve Hwi-young, and So-ye scowls as she spots him carrying the guy’s books for him. And Mr. Oh arrives at school to a visit from Hwi-young’s mom, who isn’t satisfied with Hwi-young’s less-than-perfect score in his latest English test. When Mr. Oh doesn’t budge on his fair assessment of Hwi-young, Mom starts to laugh and says that she realizes now that they haven’t “properly taken care of” Mr. Oh. She clearly means a bribe, though it seems to go right over Mr. Oh’s head.
Joon-woo arrives at school just in time to overhear Ro-mi confront Soo-bin about the movie date. Soo-bin tells Ro-mi that she knows that Joon-woo rejected her, and then finally admits that she likes Joon-woo too, though she uses the past tense, “liked.” Ro-mi latches on to that detail, while Soo-bin walks away. Joon-woo walks past Ro-mi without a word, while a Pil-sang lackey lurks nearby, having witnessed it all.
In class, Joon-woo and Hwi-young both watch Soo-bin, Oh-je watches Hwi-young, and Ki-tae notices that So-ye doesn’t seem so happy with him. But only Pil-sang causes a class disruption with his feelings as he calls Joon-woo a jerk. As class lets out for a break, Pil-sang charges forward into Joon-woo and Oh-je, but they easily sidestep his “attack.”
Ki-tae takes this moment to confront So-ye, who says she hates watching him be Hwi-young’s butler. The comment stings, but Ki-tae just lists all of the things he gets by staying by Hwi-young’s side. So-ye then offers an ultimatum: be her boyfriend or Hwi-young’s servant.
The next class is art, and everyone must draw the person sitting across from them. Pil-sang forces his way into the seat across from Ro-mi, while Joon-woo just blatantly disregards instructions and sketches Soo-bin. Hwi-young sees him craning his head to get a good look at Soo-bin for reference.
While the kids are at school, Joon-woo’s mom goes to meet someone for a job, and that person turns out to be Soo-bin’s mom. Soo-bin’s mom is looking for a driver while she’s injured, but both women agree that it would be awkward to work together. That is, until Soo-bin’s mom realizes that she’s blocked in by another car, and Joon-woo’s mom solves it by pushing the car out of the way by herself.
Soo-bin’s mom needs to make it to a meeting, so Joon-woo’s mom shows off her excellent driving skills and arrives ten minutes early to their destination. The moms are both reluctantly warming up to one another, shooting glances back at each other and smiling as they part.
Classes end and Joon-woo waits at the bottom of the hill to talk to Soo-bin. Her friends leave them alone and Joon-woo asks what he did wrong. His guess is that he avoided Soo-bin’s mom when he walked her home. Soo-bin says that she suddenly felt awkward to be dating someone. Joon-woo has nothing to argue with or apologize for with that response, so he hands over the envelope he wanted to give her and leaves. Soo-bin opens it and finds a drawing of the two of them when they first met.
Joon-woo’s mood lifts a little when he discovers that Mom is staying with him for a little while. She’s sorting through some old things, and smiles when she finds the dress that she wore on her first date with Joon-woo’s dad.
Meanwhile, Mr. Oh is accosted by one of Hwi-young’s mom’s staff, who hands over a bag with an expensive “gift.” Mr. Oh promptly returns it and asks if this is how Hwi-young’s mom handled the previous teacher too. He says that it’s a serious problem if that’s the case. Mom asks him to just keep quiet until Hwi-young is accepted at SNU.
Mr. Oh goes out drinking again after a meeting like that, and Ji-min shows up again as well. This time the two drink companionably, but also maybe a little too much. Mr. Oh stumbles around, and Ji-min manages to get him safely into a cab, though she’s still holding his bag as the car drives away.
Soo-bin’s mom dwells on her encounter with Soo-bin’s dad, but pushes the thoughts away when Soo-bin checks in. Soo-bin leans into sign her mom’s cast, and draws a peapod. She mentions a kid in her class who draws them, and Mom says the kid should go to art school. Mom also asks if Soo-bin’s still in a group with the transfer student, and Soo-bin reassures her that she’s not.
Joon-woo also spends time with his mom, and he asks about her first love experience with his dad. Mom likens it to having a bucket of water dumped on you, and remarks that you aren’t the same person afterwards. Mom laments that they broke up because they were too immature, but that she doesn’t regret those times at all. Joon-woo thinks about his first meeting with Soo-bin, and admits to himself that he’s not the same person that he was before their meeting.
The next morning, Mr. Oh realizes that he’s left his bag with Ji-min. Meanwhile, Soo-bin’s excited to walk to school instead of her usual ride, and Joon-woo’s mom hides until Soo-bin is gone. She’s got two huge bags of radish kimchi, and asks to put them in Soo-bin’s mom’s kimchi fridge (the look Mrs. Yoon delivers makes it clear she is not the type of person who has a kimchi fridge).
In class, Oh-je notes that Joon-woo is still mopey. They lean in to examine Joon-woo’s bag, which has been torn by a wire in the bottom. Pil-sang watches on, satisfied with his mischief. And as Joon-woo tries to take care of recycling, Pil-sang and co. jump out to dump additional recyclables on him. Joon-woo lists all of Pil-sang’s pranks for the day: hidden math book, the wire in his bag, a ladybug on his food tray, and now this. Joon-woo tells him to just work harder to win over Ro-mi, and he laughs as Pil-sang growls angrily back at him.
Mr. Oh announces that it’s time to plan their class trip, and literally the only one excited is Da-hwin, haha. Mr. Oh leaves Hwi-young and Joon-woo in charge, and of course Hwi-young wants to put forth minimal effort so that they can focus on exams. But Joon-woo offers the option of planning something fun to anyone who wants to, and most of the class stays with him. Soo-bin gets up initially to follow Hwi-young, but Joon-woo thanks her for staying, and she returns to her seat. So-ye gives Ki-tae a look, but Ki-tae can’t abandon Hwi-young and leaves for their study group.
The class wants a group outfit theme, and Joon-woo gets the idea to wear retro outfits like their parents, inspired by his mom and her fond memories.
Mr. Oh heads to the convenience store after school to retrieve his bag and get a chance to talk with Ji-min. But Joon-woo has already started his shift, so Mr. Oh pretends that he’s there to congratulate him on his excellent leadership planning the trip. He even leans in for an awkward hug, aww.
Hwi-young finds Soo-bin sitting alone after class, and she asks him to participate in the trip. He says that he’ll agree only if she’ll grant him a wish. This leads them to an old arcade, one they used to sneak off to after private lessons as kids. As they play, Hwi-young recalls once when a young Soo-bin sat next to him as he goofed off. She could tell that he was in a bad mood, and promised to sit next to him in silence to share their troubles.
Hwi-young smiles genuinely for once, until his mood is busted on the walk home. Soo-bin mentions the text, and says that she understands that he must have had a moment of jealousy, and that’s why he showed her even though he knew it would hurt her. She hammers home that they’re friends, and then turns to leave once they’ve reached Hwi-young’s house.
But Hwi-young can’t leave it at that, and so he turns and walks her home. As they arrive at her gate, Hwi-young starts to confess the truth about the text. Joon-woo’s been thinking about Soo-bin’s response earlier though, and he can’t help but think that he’s missing something. So when Soo-bin arrives home, he’s there waiting to talk.
Soo-bin doesn’t want to talk at first, but Joon-woo gently grabs at her elbow to stop her. Finally Soo-bin offers up her phone with the text. Joon-woo asks, “Did you believe this? More than you believe me?” Hwi-young jumps in to defend his actions, as Soo-bin watches Joon-woo walk away, unable to see the tears in his eyes.
I’m so grateful that this misunderstanding didn’t stretch more than an episode. I can only scream, “Just tell him!” at my television for so many hours.
Joon-woo is disappointed that Soo-bin even believed the text for a moment, but I can completely understand why she handled things like she did. She’s been Hwi-young’s friend for a long time. It’s hard to tell if she just knows about all his general bad behavior and kind of sweeps it all aside because she knows how bad his life can get, or if she’s genuinely unaware of it. But she’s suspected his involvement in Joon-woo’s troubles for a while, and Hwi-young only made her more suspicious when he denied it completely. But it takes a while to consider that your childhood best friend may have lied to you and hurt you. Soo-bin took her time, gave everything full consideration, and in the end did finally communicate the problem with Joon-woo. He’s hurt, and has a right to be, but I feel like this can be forgiven.
Besides looking forward to our main couple’s eventual reunion, I’m pretty excited for the school trip and the retro theme they’ve decided on. We got more and more hints about the kids’ parents in this episode, and I’m excited to see what reflects back when the students raid their closets. I’m especially interested in seeing a younger side of Soo-bin’s mom. We know that she’s been tough as nails since at least college, but I am certain that circumstances in her past made her that way, instead of just blind parental pride alone. Her reaction to running into Soo-bin’s dad also makes me think that she’s dealing with some disappointments regarding how her life turned out, and I can’t wait to see the full complexity of what drives her character.
And if I don’t get it from the school trip, at least I can enjoy her growing affection for Joon-woo’s mom. These two are so cute! Joon-woo’s mom is just the energy this woman needs.
What’s perhaps most significant in this episode is that Joon-woo is a different person than he was before he met Soo-bin. Even as Soo-bin pulls away, Joon-woo keeps making efforts at school. He encourages his classmates to plan a school trip theme that they’ll all enjoy, even as he’s struggling to understand what’s gone wrong in his love life. Old Joon-woo would have retreated right away, while the new Joon-woo smiles proudly when Mr. Oh tells him he’s done a good job.
I also appreciate how Pil-sang acts out with pretty harmless ways. He can probably be pretty annoying, but the students mostly tolerate and ignore him in a benign kind of way. I remember students like that in my own classes. I hope nothing changes as Ro-mi continues to ignore his interest.
And now, I definitely suspect that Oh-je is crushing on Hwi-young, and probably has been for a while. He had his eyes on him all episode long, and though his concern could just be that as a long-time classmate, I think Oh-je’s conversation with Joon-woo on the roof suggests otherwise. Oh-je seemed wistful and maybe a little jealous that Joon-woo gets to have a crush. It’s a strange thought for someone supposedly going out with Da-hwin, and it seems to suggest that he believes that he can’t entertain his own actual feelings.
But man, why does it have to be Hwi-young? I can’t imagine anyone less prepared to handle an eventual confession gracefully.
- 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