A Moment at Eighteen: Episode 16 (Final)
The summer break means the end of another school year. It’s been quite a year for the lonely boy who was forced to transfer and thankfully, he’s no longer lonely. The transfer student made friends, fell in love and discovered what he wants to study. With everything falling into place, what can go wrong? Everything’s gone wrong for the former class president but his crisis gives him the chance to finally step out of his brother’s shadow.
EPISODE 16: “This Goodbye Isn’t Forever”
Joon-woo sits in his empty classroom and ponders Mr. Oh’s news, “Hwi-young is leaving today.”
In the counseling office, Hwi-young thanks Mr. Oh for all that he’s done and apologizes for the rude and disrespectful way that he and parents treated him. Hwi-young even apologizes for everything that he did to Joon-woo.
Mr. Oh gently counsels Hwi-young that he’s made it through the worst part of his ordeal and urges, “…don’t resent anyone. Just stay strong and live your life of your own accord.” When an emotional Mr. Oh confesses that he’s sad to see him go, Hwi-young has to fight back tears.
Joon-woo is waiting outside of the office and he follows Hwi-young to the school gate. There, they find Soo-bin, who asks Hwi-young if he’ll be all right. Before he leaves, Hwi-young tells Joon-woo that dropping out of school was the only option when he considered the students who studied honestly. Hwi-young thanks Joon-woo for forgiving him before walking away from the school for the last time.
Joon-woo offers Soo-bin a ride on his bike to cheer her up. As they ride through the park, Joon-woo thinks about Hwi-young’s humble apology while Soo-bin remembers the afternoon that she spent playing arcade games with her childhood friend.
On the day of the art competition, Soo-bin races to the hosting university to wish Joon-woo luck but she’s out of breath when she gets there. Joon-woo waits until Soo-bin can tell him, “You’ll do great,” before going inside.
Joon-woo is entered in the watercolor competition and after finding his assigned seat, he puts on the apron that Soo-bin gave him and calms himself with a deep breath. As Soo-bin leaves the campus, she passes some students and imagines herself and Joon-woo as university students.
Hwi-young exits a taxi at the psychiatric hospital where his older brother is now a patient. When they meet, Hwi-young assures his brother that their parents are doing well even though they’ve haven’t been able to visit.
Hwi-young informs his brother that he dropped out of school but he just gets a blank look. The sight of a handmade craft that announces, “I love you, son,” helps Hwi-young to continue. Hwi-young confesses that he idolized his older brother who was good at everything that he tried. Even though their parents wanted Hwi-young to be like him, he’s decided, “I’ll be as good as I can be…I’ll find what I should do on my own.”
At the art competition, Joon-woo puts the finishing touches on the painting that’s a tribute to Soo-bin, his hands held up as a shield from the rain. Soo-bin wonders how he’s doing when she leaves her academy and finds her mother waiting for her.
Soo-bin and her mom go out for lunch and Soo-bin’s mom apologizes for the way she reacted when she discovered Soo-bin and Joon-woo together. Soo-bin takes it in stride when her mother explains that she still won’t allow her to date Joon-woo.
Since they’re having an honest discussion, Soo-bin asks her mother to stop caring about her dad so that she can live her own life. Soo-bin’s mother doesn’t know what to say when her daughter urges her to focus on being the cool career woman that she’s always been.
Joon-woo walks outside after the art competition and gets a call from his mother. She’s calling from a stairwell and when Joon-woo asks about the echo, his mom lies that she’s at the supermarket. Joon-woo wants to visit her but his mom orders him home to rest.
After they hang up, Joon-woo recalls his mom saying that Aunt Hae-young was sick. Confident that her son did well, Joon-woo’s mom gets back to mopping some stairs.
Joon-woo calls Soo-bin but she’s with her mom so he texts that the competition went well and that he’s on his way to visit his mom. When Joon-woo reaches his mom’s restaurant, he finds that it’s closed and he realizes that something is terribly wrong.
On the bus ride home, Joon-woo calls his mom and she lies that she’s still at the restaurant. When he gets home, Joon-woo tries calling Aunt Hae-young but her phone is turned off so he calls another friend of his mom’s to ask about the restaurant.
Joon-woo is in bed when Soo-bin texts and he asks if they can talk. When Soo-bin calls, she can tell right away that something’s wrong and Joon-woo’s eyes fill with tears when he claims that he’s just tired. Soo-bin sings Joon-woo a lullaby about a mother and her baby while tears stream from Joon-woo’s eyes.
In the morning, Joon-woo watches his mother run to catch a ride in a waiting van and he’s nearby when she’s dropped off at the end of the day.
Joon-woo calls his mom and when she says that she’s busy with customers, he walks into the restaurant. Joon-woo asks for the truth about their situation but his mom insists that she has everything under control. Joon-woo is just as insistent that he has a right to know what’s going on.
Joon-woo’s mother finally tells Joon-woo that Aunt Hae-young disappeared with the money that she’d saved to remodel the restaurant. Joon-woo’s mother adds that it was a large sum of money that took years for her to save.
Without the money for the restaurant, Joon-woo’s mother decided to take part-time jobs. She wants Joon-woo to focus on getting into an art school while she works to save more money but her eyes fill with tears when she looks at her son’s worried face.
When Joon-woo returns home, he calculates his monthly expenses, including the art academy fees, and sighs when he sees the total.
Our final glimpse of Hwi-young is at work at a gas station, pumping fuel. In between customers, Hwi-young has lots to think about.
Joon-woo surprises Soo-bin outside of her place and taking her hand, proposes, “Shall we run away?” As they walk past the spot where they were caught in the rain, Joon-woo confesses, “I felt as if getting soaked in the rain with you was washing away all the hurtful feelings I had inside my heart.” When Soo-bin asks Joon-woo about his summer plans, he hesitates before answering, “I’m not sure.”
It’s time for summer break and as Mr. Oh looks at his class, he tells himself that he did a good job. Sensing his students’ excitement, Mr. Oh tells them to enjoy their break and announces, “I’m off!” Chan-yeol suggests a celebration, including Oh-je and Joon-woo. When Pil-sang reminds Ro-mi about her promise, she invites him to join them.
Mr. Oh is still on school grounds when a tearful Ji-min runs up and hugs him. He assumes that she failed another job interview but Ji-min announces, “I got in!” Mr. Oh hugs Ji-min in his excitement before suggesting that they should move their celebration elsewhere.
Ki-tae is still at school on trash-duty when Sang-hoon asks him about Hwi-young. Ki-tae is hopeful that Hwi-Young will get in touch with him after he pulls himself together. Before Sang-hoon can tease Ki-tae about picking up trash, So-ye sends him away.
Soo-bin and her friends have gone bowling and everyone, including Ro-mi, is surprised by Pil-sang’s skill. Pil-sang explains that he’s good at everything except studying and he reminds Ro-mi that he’s especially good to her.
Ro-mi finally agrees to go to a movie with Pil-sang if their friends join them, so Pil-sang offers to buy everyone’s tickets. Joon-woo watches Soo-bin wistfully as she laughs with her friends.
Mr. Oh sits in a restaurant by himself, wondering why Ji-min hasn’t come back from the ladies’ room. Wearing a huge red bow, Ji-min returns with flowers and balloons while singing, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” Ji-min thanks Mr. Oh for waiting for her and when she asks, “Please be my boyfriend,” he happily agrees.
On Joon-woo’s rooftop, Oh-je asks if something is bothering Joon-woo. Joon-woo confesses that he’s thinking of living with his mother because she’s going through a hard time. Joon-woo remembers how lonely he was before he met Soo-bin, Oh-je and Mr. Oh and he realized that his mother must be even lonelier. Oh-je asks Joon-woo if his indecision has anything to do with Soo-bin.
The next day, after Soo-bin leaves for the academy, her mom gets a phone call. She meets with Joon-woo and assumes that he wants permission to date Soo-bin, but she can’t agree to that.
Joon-woo asks Soo-bin’s mom for a favor, “Please allow me to hang out with Soo-bin for just one day.” Joon-woo explains that he doesn’t want Soo-bin to feel bad when they spend time together before he moves away to be with his mother.
Joon-woo asks Soo-bin’s mom her to keep the news from Soo-bin so that he can tell her himself. Before she leaves, Soo-bin’s mom apologizes to Joon-woo, “Thank you so much for comforting Soo-bin back then. And I think I reacted too emotionally. I’m sorry.”
After she’s done at the academy, Soo-bin calls Joon-woo, who’s busy at the art academy. She sighs that she misses seeing him every day at school but urges Joon-woo to keep working hard so that her mother will allow them to meet freely. When Soo-bin gets home, her mother surprises her when she suggests, “You’re on vacation now. Why don’t you meet him (Joon-woo) once?”
At the art academy, the teacher hands Joon-woo contact information for an art teacher in his mother’s area. Joon-woo is painting when Soo-bin texts, “…will you go on a date with me? All day? I have my mom’s permission.”
Joon-woo gets back to work but he’s interrupted again when Mr. Oh shows up at the academy. Over a meal, Mr. Oh exclaims that Joon-woo has improved so much, which is why he wants to know why he’s leaving the academy.
When Joon-woo explains that he needs to help his mother, Mr. Oh realizes that he’s moving away. Mr. Oh offers to help, arguing, “To me, it seems like everything is finally in place.” Joon-woo explains that’s why he’s able to leave, because he’s now confident that he’ll do well wherever he goes.
Mr. Oh thinks back to the day that he accused Joon-woo of running away and how happy he was when the boy returned to class. Realizing how much Joon-woo has changed, Mr. Oh agrees, “Go to your mom and be with her. I think you can do that now.” Joon-woo gets emotional when Mr. Oh confesses that without him, he’ll feel a bit empty.
At home, Joon-woo dresses carefully for his day with Soo-bin, careful to mask his sadness with a smile. As Soo-bin leaves to meet Joon-woo, her mother thanks her for giving her the courage to move ahead with her life. Soo-bin and her mom share a tearful hug and tell each other, “I love you.”
When Soo-bin walks outside, Joon-woo is there to take her hand. Their first stop is a movie and when Soo-bin rests her head on Joon-woo’s shoulder, he looks happy. Their next destination is an art museum where Joon-woo snaps cute photos of Soo-bin before they take in an exhibit.
Pil-sang, Ro-mi and friends get seated in the movie theater. Pil-sang is dressed to impress in a suit and Ro-mi carries the flowers that he gave her. Ro-mi watches the movie while Pil-sang stares at her and he’s not sure that he heard her correctly when she asks, “Do you want to go out?” When Ro-mi repeats herself, “Let’s go out,” Pil-sang jumps up, startling their friends.
At a park, Joon-woo and Soo-bin lay on a blanket looking up at the sky. Joon-woo sits up and when he explains that he has something to tell Soo-bin, she confesses that she already knows what he’s going to say.
Soo-bin sensed that something was wrong after Joon-woo visited his mother, so she called Joon-woo’s mom. His mother was sorry because she wasn’t able to talk Joon-woo out of moving in with her.
When Joon-woo apologizes for not telling her sooner, Soo-bin shares what she told his mother. In a flashback we witness Soo-bin’s tearful reaction when she learned that Joon-woo was moving away but she knew that he made his decision after much thought.
In the park, Soo-bin repeats what she told Joon-woo’s mom, “No matter where Joon-woo lives, what’s important is for him to feel at ease. He can keep studying hard and focus on his art studies…I’ll stay in touch with Joon-woo, so don’t worry.”
In spite of what Soo-bin told Joon-woo’s mother, she tearfully admits that she’s worried and Joon-woo hugs her as he admits, “…you’re the one that worries me the most too.” Joon-woo wants Soo-bin to know, “Even if I go live with my mom, it’s not like it’s over between us. We can…wait a little longer.”
Joon-woo gets a text with the art competition results and Soo-bin exclaims, “You came in second place…Congratulations!” Joon-woo pulls Soo-bin into a hug as they cry happy tears.
Joon-woo walks Soo-bin home and before she goes inside, he lets her know that he doesn’t want her to be there when he moves. Realizing that they won’t see each other again before Joon-woo moves away, Soo-bin nods in agreement and holds back her tears until she walks away.
On moving day, the truck drives aways with Joon-woo’s belongings while Soo-bin studies in her room. When her mother suggests that Soo-bin should say good-bye, she continues to study as tears fall on her schoolwork.
Joon-woo gazes at the view from his rooftop one last time and smiles when he remembers being there with Soo-bin — the meal that he prepared for her, his eighteenth birthday celebration and their first kiss. Downstairs, Joon-woo walks away with Bumbi.
Soo-bin heads for the academy but she stops when she sees Bumbi with the bikes parked outside her place. Soo-bin finds some drawings in the basket with a note from Joon-woo, signed with his customary pea pod.
Soo-bin scans the drawings, Joon-woo’s most precious memories of their time together — the day that she wrote his name on his school uniform, his hands shielding her from the rain, their first kiss and Joon-woo wobbling away on Bumbi after Soo-bin confessed that she liked him.
Her face wet with tears, Soo-bin races to Joon-woo’s place but he’s already gone. Next, Soo-bin runs to the bus station where she frantically calls for Joon-woo among the departing buses. When Joon-woo hears Soo-bin’s voice, his eyes fill with tears.
Soo-bin hangs her head when Joon-woo’s bus pulls away until she sees that he stayed behind. Soo-bin runs into Joon-woo’s arms and she holds him tightly as her tears soak his shirt. Joon-woo comforts Soo-bin as he narrates, “Even though we’re facing this moment of farewell now, this goodbye isn’t forever…the moments we shared are still shining so radiantly and the dazzling moments that I experienced at the age of 18 were truly beautiful.”
I should have been better prepared when I saw this episode’s title but I honestly didn’t expect it to end in a puddle of tears, Joon-woo’s, Soo-bin’s and mine. I haven’t shed tears like that in a long time and I think what made it so emotional for me was the fact that Joon-woo and Soo-bin are high school students. Their emotions are so raw because this is their first experience with love. Of course they’re worried about the separation, but realistically, it solves some serious problems.
Even though Soo-bin’s mother has calmed down and apologized to Soo-bin and Joon-woo, she’s not going to allow them to date in high school. They both have a year of hard work ahead of them, especially Joon-woo, to get into good universities. Yeon-woo’s crisis (kudos to @abirdword for predicting that) actually allows both Soo-bin and Joon-woo to focus on their studies. But that doesn’t lessen the anguish of a separation, especially after everything that they’ve endured together.
I appreciate Joon-woo’s predicament when he finally learns the truth about his mother’s situation. After his father’s rejection, his mother’s devotion is even more meaningful and Joon-woo can’t ignore her plight. Joon-woo pledged to be someone dependable for Soo-bin’s sake and of course that includes his mother. Soo-bin understands Joon-woo’s loyalty towards his mom because she overheard his conversation with his father. Soo-bin doesn’t fault Joon-woo for making the decision to live with his mom, but it doesn’t make it easier for her to accept. In spite of the fact that Joon-woo is moving away, there are strong hints that he and Soo-bin will make it.
Ji-min asked Mr. Oh to be her boyfriend, so clearly his patience wasn’t in vain. Ki-tae and So-ye are well on their way to a reconciliation, so it’s possible to come back together after time apart. What about Pil-sang and Ro-mi? Obviously Pil-sang’s persistence paid off, no small feat with someone like Ro-mi. Her willingness to date Pil-sang is serious since she knows that his mother wants him to marry as soon as he graduates from high school. We were treated to a glimpse of Soo-bin’s and Joon-woo’s future, both as university students and as a couple. It’s a good sign when a couple’s future is just as realistic as their past and present.
With such a poignant ending to work towards, there wasn’t much time to deal with Hwi-young or his family. All we know is that his brother is in a psychiatric hospital and that his parents seem to be unavailable. Since Hwi-young got a job at a gas station, does that mean that he’s living by himself, like Joon-woo? I can’t imagine that his Dad would allow his son to take such a menial job if he’s still living at home. Is Hwi-young’s dad still a CEO? Hwi-young and his brother are obviously very damaged by the abuse from their father but hopefully Hwi-young can follow Mr. Oh’s advice to live without resentments and find his path. Hopefully, Hwi-young’s good-bye isn’t forever either.
Joon-woo learned to cherish the people who were precious to him — his mother, Soo-bin, Oh-je and Mr. Oh. Joon-woo’s memories will sustain him through the hard days ahead while Soo-bin fills her days with studying to keep her promises to her mother. Their efforts will be rewarded when Joon-woo can reunite with the girl who’s his inspiration.
- 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