Oh My Baby: Episode 3
Having decided to pursue pregnancy without a partner, our heroine explores her limited options to bear a child in the next six months. She experiences a few hiccups in her investigation, and she finds herself leaning on her support system for comfort, support, and to endure her frustrated outbursts. In her low moments, she also finds comfort and assurance from someone who always seems to catch her at the wrong place at the wrong time.
EPISODE 3: “39 years old but like a child”
As Ha-ri waits for her mother, she watches older women adore their dogs. Ha-ri finds herself being drawn in by the cute pups, but she quickly shakes herself out of the adoration and Yi-sang’s curse. Ha-ri takes her mother shopping, and when they come to a crosswalk, Mom uses Ha-ri as a shield from the large splash from an oncoming car. Ha.
Mom wonders if Ha-ri treated her to a shopping spree as an apologetic gesture and wishes that Ha-ri would cause an accident (read: get pregnant). Ha-ri lights up at Mom’s wishes and makes Mom promise not to oppose her big decision.
Ha-ri hosts best friend Eun-young and childhood friend Jae-young for dinner and drinks, but these two are mortal enemies. After spitting out Ha-ri’s inedible baked cookies, they fight over what to order. Eun-young has been craving jokbal, but Jae-young wants chicken. They go back and forth with Ha-ri validating their struggles — Eun-young with her twin boys and Jae-young with his tough divorce — and Ha-ri decides to make her big announcement before they decide on food.
They all fill up their glasses, each with a different alcohol of choice, and Ha-ri announces that in her second phase of life, she’s decided not to get married. Her friends stare at her blankly, not surprised or convinced by her announcement. Eun-young says that life never goes as planned, and Jae-young says that Ha-ri never had a knack for dating.
Jae-young recalls an encounter at a café, where a handsome work colleague (cameo by Lee Dong-gun) approached Ha-ri and asked her out to watch a musical with him. Ha-ri completely missed all the signs of this man asking her out and talked solely about work. Jae-young watched this missed opportunity unfold in front of him and cites this as the reason why he never sets Ha-ri up with anyone.
Ha-ri acknowledges that she sucks at dating and claims that humans have many inabilities. She tries to make her next big announcement, but her friends keep interrupting her. They end up going back to the jokbal vs. chicken argument, so Ha-ri gives up on sharing her big news.
Ha-ri researches her condition, endometriosis, and preimplantation procedures after consulting her OBGYN. Her doctor told her that unmarried women can only receive implantation with the consent of their partner, so if Ha-ri wants to get pregnant in the next six months, she’ll need to get married or just naturally get pregnant. The doctor further explains that in this country, there’s no way to receive an implantation as an unmarried woman and that there are barely enough sperm donors for subfertile couples. As a subfertile single woman, Ha-ri is on her own.
Yi-sang receives a call from his brother reminding him to visit home to commemorate their father’s passing, and Yi-sang somberly agrees to visit his family. We see that he’s waiting in front of Ha-ri’s workplace and calls out to her as she passes. Ha-ri reluctantly addresses him and claims that she’s not embarrassed to see him anymore. He stares at her, waiting for her to say something, and it takes Ha-ri a few tries to read his mind.
She thanks him for stepping in for the photoshoot, offers to buy a meal for giving her a ride, and then bingo — she cancels their agreement to avoid each other. They give each other a high-five, and then Yi-sang swiftly turns around and walks away. What a tease, and he knows it.
Ha-ri runs into the editing meeting late, earning her a glare from Chief Editor Shim. As they go through the proposed items, Hyo-joo also earns herself a scolding for suggesting an unrealistic interview with Won Bin and Lee Na-young about their childcare approach. Ha, wouldn’t we all love for this interview (and cameo). For their column, chief reporter Yeon-ho suggests that they feature Jae-young, and Ha-ri looks surprised. She shares that Jae-young knows nothing about childcare, and Editor Shim likes that he’s an unconventional character.
At the end of the meeting, Ha-ri notices a post on a subfertility bulletin she’s been following. It’s a sperm donor offering to help subfertile women, and Ha-ri looks hopeful.
We see Jae-young struggling with childcare, from offering Do-ah a french fry to running all over the mall to find a diaper changing station. He ends up stopping by a pile of cardboard on his way home to change Do-ah’s diaper, and passing ajummas lament that he’s raising a child on the streets. Jae-young claims that he isn’t homeless, but the ajummas don’t believe him. When Jae-young looks at himself in the mirror at home, he realizes his shabby look validates the misunderstanding.
Yi-sang meets with his therapist for the first time after his long hiatus. He reports that he’s back to work, and the therapists suggests that he focus on social interactions because personal relationships will foster self-confidence. Yi-sang wonders if those interactions can also foster self-apology.
Walking out of the office, Ha-ri notices Hyo-joo limping from breaking in her new heels and comments that she also used to insist on wearing heels in her 20s. She advises Hyo-joo to stick with flats to save her knees and then belatedly realizes that she just sounded like an old person.
Ee-tteum arrives and waves at Ha-ri, calling her “Aunt,” so Ha-ri quickly avoids him and goes downstairs to Jambi Studio (directly under Daechae Media — how convenient!). She tries to enter the studio behind Yi-sang, who’s on the phone and doesn’t notice her. As he enters, he accidently opens the door on Ha-ri’s face, and she quickly brushes it off as she enters the studio.
Yi-sang is uncharacteristically friendly and offers to help Ha-ri carry her supply boxes, and Ha-ri grows suspicious of his gestures. She asks how she should interpret this kindness, and Yi-sang says that it’s easier to like than hate a person. Ha-ri remains suspicious, and Yi-sang finally admits that she has a bruise from her forehead from him opening the door on her.
Ee-tteum notices Hyo-joo’s heel injuries and runs off to fetch bandages. He kneels to put them on her, and Hyo-joo pretends to be uncomfortable with his advances. He’s clearly just trying to be nice without any ulterior motives, but a misunderstanding seems to be brewing in Hyo-joo’s mind. She tells him that they should strictly remain work colleagues, and Ee-tteum agrees.
Back at the office, Ee-tteum reports his successful deal on children’s toothpaste to the marketing team Manager Kim, and suddenly, we hear ridiculous dramatic music as Manager Kim notes that he’s missed a deal on toothbrushes. Manager Kim educates Ee-tteum on managing your networks, and on that topic, Ee-tteum reports that he bought bandages for Hyo-joo’s heels. Manager Kim praises him for managing their colleague/enemy editing team network.
Jae-young finally washes up and changes out of his dirty tracksuit (into another tracksuit lol) because Do-ah pooped on him. He finds Ha-ri’s pregnancy outfit in the hamper and stuffs his dirty laundry inside it. As Jae-young helps Mom fold her laundry, he vocalizes his concerns about finding suitable daycare for Do-ah when he returns to work. Mom senses the request coming and starts to complain about her aching back and wrist pains.
In all seriousness, Mom offers to help care for Do-ah occasionally, but she advises Jae-young to cherish the time he has with Do-ah at this age. Mom shares that caring for Ha-ri while working was tough, but she continues to treasure those fleeting memories of Ha-ri as a baby.
Ha-ri receives a response from the sperm donor (username “I’m the Best”) and arranges to meet with the donor to discuss details. Though initially hesitant, Ha-ri walks into the café with determination, since she has little to no options. She cautiously finds the sperm donor, and he eagerly shares his profile: 180 cm tall, IQ of 148, served in special forces, and student of Korea University. He announces himself the perfect donor.
A journalist through and through, Ha-ri wants more information before any agreement. When the donor learns that she’s a journalist, he looks wary, but Ha-ri assures him that she won’t be reporting on him. She asks how the donation will occur and how much this would cost. Sperm Donor says that he approaches his work with a sense of duty toward people who want children. He likens his donation to organ donation, claiming that saving lives and creating life is the same. Then, he reveals his price of 10,000,000 Won (around 8,000 USD).
He shares that it’s an affordable cost, since he’ll continue to donate until successful pregnancy. Ha-ri notes his fluency in donation, and Sperm Donor confirms that many are drawn to his perfect profile. At that, Ha-ri wonders how many unknown siblings there are, and Sperm Donor suggests that she dismiss such sobering thoughts if she wants to receive a donation. Then, Sperm Donor shares his priority on a healthy baby, so the preferred method of donation is natural insemination matched with ovulation cycles. Every night.
At that last comment, Ha-ri comes to her senses and realizes that Sperm Donor is a pervert. He reaches for her hand and offers to treat her well every night, and Ha-ri slaps his hand away. She curses at him and threatens to call the police. Before she can report him, the police arrive at the café to arrest Sperm Donor for illegal sale of his sperm and falsifying his Korea University student status. Ha-ri confirms Sperm Donor’s illegal activities, but she’s also been caught in the act. She can’t talk herself out of this and ends up at the police station.
Ha-ri testifies that she was engaging with Sperm Donor as a journalist, but the police officer doesn’t believe her excuses. He advices her to use legal methods and follow the law, but Ha-ri argues that laws don’t protect her personal happiness. The officer warns her not to complicate the interrogation, and Jae-young arrives just in time with Do-ah in tow to save her from questioning.
Jae-young is dressed in a suit (wow!) and extends his business card to the officer. Ironically, he’s a pediatrician. The police officer confirms Jae-young’s identity, and Jae-young claims that he can confirm Ha-ri’s identity. He argues that Ha-ri is curious and proactive, but not someone to commit a crime. As someone who’s known Ha-ri, he vouches for her claims that she was investigating this as a journalist, and they’re released from the interrogation.
Jae-young knows that Ha-ri was lying and demands to know why she met up with the sperm seller. Ha-ri comes clean and admits that she wants a baby without marriage, so she intended to buy the sperm. Jae-young calls Ha-ri crazy, and she doesn’t expect him to understand her. Ha-ri knows that there are ethical concerns around buying sperm, but she finds it unfair that marriage is the only acceptable ethical way to have children. For unmarried people, there’s no way to bear children.
Ha-ri acknowledges that she was in wrong to research illegal methods, but Jae-young thinks that she’s also wrong to want to raise a child alone. He knows why Ha-ri doesn’t want to get married and that she adores children, but he wants her to live a normal life by getting married and having children. Ha-ri argues that this is her attempt at a normal life.
She says, “I’m 39. I wish that the love of my life would appear like fate, but in reality, I’m just an ajumma. I don’t know how to live a normal life, and I don’t want to stop myself from doing what I can because of what others say. 39 is too young to let life happen to you.” Before they leave the police station, Ha-ri takes off her coat to put over Do-ah and scolds Jae-young for not bringing a warm cover for Do-ah.
At Jambi studio, Yi-sang struggles to appease the children models, and the kids end up in an ice cream fight over whose cone has more ice cream. When the mothers try to break up the fight, a baby starts to cry, and Yi-sang clumsily tries to comfort the baby. He looks desperate for help and lightens up when Ha-ri arrives. She readily takes the baby from Yi-sang and expertly soothes the baby. Yi-sang smiles as he watches her in relief and in awe of her rescue.
Yi-sang continues to observe Ha-ri as she works hard and effectively to draw the ice cream children models’ attention toward the camera. He glances at her slightly as she pours her efforts toward the children, and he smiles. Oh, what are these feelings?
Yi-sang and Ha-ri meet for dinner at the neighborhood chef’s choice restaurant, and Ha-ri stares at him while he pours beer, making him read her mind this time. After a few guesses about dinner on him, he correctly answers by thanking her for helping with his photoshoot today. Ha-ri asks why Yi-sang doesn’t like children, and he says that he has no particular reason.
Ha-ri suggests that he practice getting along with children by helping out with their magazine’s shoots. Yi-sang knows that she’s trying to recruit him, and Ha-ri also knows that he won’t respond to her requests. Ha-ri then asks a personal question, and Yi-sang correctly predicts the question on his motivations for a bachelor life and if it’s because he doesn’t want children. He responds that he never wants children, won’t fall in love, and has never wanted to be a dad.
The next day, Ha-ri notices her empty wardrobe and goes through her laundry, in which she finds Jae-young’s dirty laundry. Furious, Ha-ri marches downstairs and kicks Jae-young before plastering his head to the wall. She yells at him for adding his dirty laundry and stealing things from her room. Before she can punish him further, Jae-young reminds her of his cooperation with her secret brush with crime. At that reminder, Ha-ri suddenly becomes agreeable to Jae-young’s laundry and requests.
When Ha-ri arrives at work, Ee-tteum once again addresses her as “Aunt” and continues to use that title as he talks to her in the elevator. Once the elevator empties out, Ha-ri pushes Ee-tteum into the corner and clarifies that there is no “Aunt” at work, only supervisors above supervisors. She makes herself abundantly clear, and Ee-tteum looks shaken by the sudden lesson.
At the company dinner, Ee-tteum brings the group’s attention to the woman on the news wearing the same outfit as Ha-ri. It’s the clip of Ha-ri denying involvement in the crime and citing journalistic reasons for her engagement. The news reports that after further investigation, the magazine denied any related investigation on the topic.
All eyes turn to Ha-ri, and she actively denies that the person on the news is her. Then, Ee-tteum points out that she has the same bruise on her forehead. Omg, this kid is useless! Ha-ri covers up her face and turns off the TV as she runs away.
When Ha-ri comes home, she tries to quickly run up to her unit, but Mom catches her. Mom confronts her about the sperm transaction, and Jae-young tries to defend Ha-ri by claiming that it was a secret work investigation. Mom reads Ha-ri’s expression and knows that it’s a lie. Ha-ri admits to Mom that she wants to have a baby without getting married, and Mom looks even more devastated.
As a single mother herself, Mom knows the difficulty of raising a child alone and how people treated her as a single mother. She doesn’t want that for Ha-ri, but that leaves Ha-ri with no other choice but to live alone. Without a partner and eventually without Mom, she’ll be alone and will have to live for herself. Just like how Mom lives for Ha-ri, she wants to live for someone.
Mom can’t believe that Ha-ri wants to live as a single mother after watching her struggle. She still wants Ha-ri to marry. Ha-ri argues that Mom raised her well on her own and that she learned that marriage was difficult by watching her parents fight all the time. She asks why Mom wants her to achieve something that she’s known to be difficult and painful. Mom says that it’s not her fault that Ha-ri can’t marry and that she’s on the wrong path.
Ha-ri yells that she’s foregoing marriage because she doesn’t want to live like Mom. Ouch. Jae-young tries to intervene and table the discussion for later, but Mom is already hurt. She tells Ha-ri to leave and live a life unlike her mother, and Ha-ri storms out.
In the heat of the moment, Ha-ri’s walked out in slippers and walks aimlessly in the neighborhood. She looks at the ground as she crosses the street and nearly walks into a truck, but someone gruffly saves her by pushing her forehead back. Ha-ri looks up and finds Yi-sang, yet again witnessing another low point. She tries to run away but trips on her slippers, and Yi-sang comes to help her up. Then, Ha-ri bursts into tears.
Yi-sang looks uncomfortable but tries to comfort Ha-ri by gently patting her back. Puzzled by the gesture, Ha-ri looks up from her sobs and asks what he’s doing. Yi-sang explains that Ha-ri taught her to pat a crying baby, and Ha-ri asks if she’s a child. “You totally seem like a child,” he responds.
Ha-ri finally calms down, and Yi-sang keeps a safe distance from Ha-ri on the bench as he offers a water bottle. She requests that he not ask for details, and Yi-sang confirms that he planned on not asking since he doesn’t want her to die of embarrassment. Ha-ri chides herself for being so senseless at 39 years old, and Yi-sang says that it’s fine as long as you didn’t run out of the house at 39 years old after being scolded by your mom. Which is exactly what happened.
Yi-sang says that at 41 years old, he still doesn’t know what being an adult means. He shares, “My body ages, but my heart doesn’t. I want nice things, I get mad if I hear something I don’t like, and I feel indignant when I suffer losses. My feelings haven’t subsided, and I don’t know what I’m working towards.”
Yi-sang says that there’s nothing great about growing older, but the one thing he’s gained is an eye for people. He says that even if the strange lady on TV was Ha-ri, he knows that she’s a good person. Before she can thank him, Jae-young interrupts and approaches them with Ha-ri’s shoes in hand. He greets Yi-sang and then proceeds to scold Ha-ri for storming out of the house after fighting with Mom.
Jae-young makes Ha-ri change shoes and stops himself from helping her put on her shoes. Huh, what just happened there? Then, he tells Yi-sang that they live together, and they head back home. Yi-sang doesn’t look the least bit bothered by this and only looks back briefly to see the two bickering before continuing on his run.
When they get home, Jae-young sincerely expresses his support for whatever Ha-ri wants to do, no matter what others say. Jae-young then shares that he left his job at the hospital and gave up his goals for professorship, since that would be impossible while caring for Do-ah. He plans to open up his own clinic with the money from selling his house, which explains why he’s living with Ha-ri now.
Jae-young admits that he was living irresponsibly after his divorce, and he came to rely on Do-ah. He admits that he can’t fully understand Ha-ri, but he empathizes with Ha-ri’s desire to be a mother, since he knows the sentiment as a father. She’s just making it work with how her life is turning out.
Ha-ri looks comforted by Jae-young’s empathy and offers to feature him in her magazine as a clinic opening present. Jae-young only agrees to this if Do-ah also gets featured, but Ha-ri breaks it to him that Do-ah is only cute to them and blames his genes.
At work, Editor Shim stares at Ha-ri and tries to force her into the meeting room for an explanation. But Ha-ri is saved when Manager Kim runs in with an urgent request for a pediatrician recommendation for their upcoming ad. Ha-ri offers to recruit the pediatrician and runs away from Editor Shim.
Overseeing Jae-young’s photoshoot, Yeon-ho asks Ha-ri if that sperm-buying woman was her, and Ha-ri denies this. Yeon-ho suggests the easier route of just seducing a man, but Ha-ri says that emotions can make it more complicated. She wants to go the route of consent and impartial acceptability.
Yeon-ho suggests asking a good friend or colleague, and Ha-ri says no one comes to mind. Then, she looks to the test shoot, featuring the three recent men in her life: Yi-sang, Jae-young, and Ee-tteum. It suddenly hits her that she has options.
Though the show is unfolding a bit differently from my expectations, I’m still really enjoying it. I expected more conflict and focus on who would be the chosen baby daddy and maybe that’s still to come, but I actually don’t really care about that as much. This story is about Ha-ri, and I love that this show reminds us of that in every episode. Our focus remains on Ha-ri taking life by the reigns, deciding how to manage her circumstances, and not letting life pass her by. She’s decided that 39 is too young to be complacent about her life path, and even with the obvious hardships ahead, she’s going for what she wants.
Ha-ri’s monologue to Jae-young at the police station perfectly captured her dilemma, and it was the honesty in her explanation that made her approach both sorrowful and beautiful. She can’t make sense of the legal restrictions barring her from pursuing her own happiness, so she’s left with very little options, including illegal ones. I was unfamiliar with such restrictions in Korea — that you need to be a legal couple to be a sperm recipient — and the rationale puzzles me. There are many other factors other than marriage that determine good parenting, and both traditional and untraditional coupling and parenting come with challenges that are hard to rank. I think Ha-ri’s desire and readiness to be a mother challenges these ethics embedded into law, and I appreciate her attempts to navigate the system and life she’s confronted with.
The confrontation with Mom was tougher to watch, and I can see why Mom wants Ha-ri to get married. Having experienced single motherhood, she ranks that as a very difficult challenge. She values good companionship and partnership, and she wants Ha-ri to experience this when raising a child. It was a low blow for Ha-ri to tell Mom that she doesn’t want to live like her, and I want to take a moment to appreciate all mothers everywhere for bearing with petty and hurtful outbursts from their children and forgiving them. Bless you all.
I appreciated seeing all the dimensions of Ha-ri and Jae-young’s friendship, which resembled more of a sibling dynamic, from aggressive physical fights and constant bickering to unconditional support. I could see how comfortable these two are with each other, but their deep friendship didn’t convince me that they would be compatible romantically. Other than that brief moment of jealousy and protectiveness in front of Yi-sang, I’m not getting any signs of any romantic potential. As a father, doctor, and friend, I think Jae-young would be a suitable candidate to help Ha-ri achieve her dreams, but their relationship is definitely more familial ( and maybe that familial relationship would make him the best candidate?). I know Mom ships these two as a romantic couple, but I’m shipping these two as best friends.
The ship I’m totally on right now is the Yi-sang and Ha-ri boat. He has the most chemistry with Ha-ri, and they are definitely flirting. Tell me that their telepathy staring game isn’t flirty. I think they’re both so removed from the idea of marriage and dating (especially each other) that they don’t even notice that they’re slowly building a rapport with each other. And Yi-sang is definitely falling for Ha-ri first, just like Ha-ri drunkenly promised he would. I half expected some of those brief moments of Yi-sang admiring Ha-ri in the studio to be interrupted by another record-scratch mortifying moment, but he just continued to admire her throughout the shoot. The way he was stealing glances at Ha-ri is hinting to me that his cheeky interactions with Ha-ri aren’t just for fun. He’s looking forward to his relationship with Ha-ri, and so am I.