Was It Love: Episode 2
Men from our heroine’s past are showing up one by one and although she hates having to rely on a certain writer, she needs to swallow her pride to keep the company afloat. The task ahead of her is a daunting one but it’s all or nothing from here on out.
EPISODE 2: “Why Is Youth So Beautiful?”
Spring 2010. OH DAE-OH (Sohn Ho-joon) listlessly makes his way across campus and literally every student whips their head around to gape at him. He stops by Ae-jung’s locker, emotional at the sight of the fading “Noh Ae-jung ♡ Dae-oh” written on the door.
Later, Ryu Jin storms into the film club room where Dae-oh is waiting yells that Dae-oh must be out of his mind – “After four years of being the biggest nutjob, you call me out of the blue and tell me that you’re dropping out?”
Dae-oh just apologizes and hands Ryu Jin a gift – the manuscript of his first novel as Cheon Eok-man, “Love Doesn’t Exist.” He asks Ryu Jin to read it over and tell him if it’ll help him win “her” back. Dae-oh is sure that the story will get his name out there, which will bring “her” to him.
Fast-forward to 2020. Dae-oh was right, because Cheon Eok-man is well-loved and the entire country is curious about his identity. On the phone, his editor-in-chief (cameo by Kim Kwang-gyu) tries to convince Dae-oh that now’s the time to reveal his face to the public but is chastised for organizing a book concert without Dae-oh’s consent.
Dae-oh scrolls through is inbox and an e-mail from Noh Ae-jung gives him pause. He hangs up just as Editor Hong is explaining the situation regarding Thumb Film and the production rights.
He scours the internet for proof that this is the Noh Ae-jung that he’s been waiting for, largely unsuccessful until he stumbles upon an Instagram post where he finds her smiling face amongst the Thumb Film staff. Dae-oh’s eyes widen and he lets out a chuckle in disbelief.
We come full circle back to the café, where Ae-jung struggles to keep her facial expressions in check when Dae-oh introduces himself as Cheon Eok-man. “It’s been a long time,” he says casually.
They grab a table and while Ae-jung’s full of nerves, Dae-oh sits comfortably and gives her thirty seconds to convince him to work with her. Her attempts at flattery are quickly dismissed as boring and cliché.
Dae-oh prods Ae-jung to think about why he agreed to meet with her despite Thumb Film’s poor reputation. He turns serious and tells her it’s because he wanted to know how she feels meeting him again fourteen years later.
We’re brought back to 2005, where Ae-jung screeched at Dae-oh for throwing up on her shoes. Eww. He’d followed her to the stream where she angrily scrubbed her shoes clean. Heh, I love how every threat she made had him flinching, but it didn’t deter him from getting closer.
Dae-oh mumbled that everyone makes drunken mistakes but when she continued to yell at him, he barked out an apology, not sounding sorry at all. “I didn’t want to play this dirty either,” he confessed, “But you were about to kiss Ryu Jin.” He defensively said that it’s not like he did anything wrong by trying to stop the kiss.
Ae-jung took offense with his use of banmal, lecturing him to respect her as his sunbae even if they’re the same age. He’d scoffed that starting university two years late was already bad enough, but now he’s being looked down on too.
He deadpanned, “Is liking you considered rude?” and the sudden confession took all her fighting spirit away. Dae-oh stepped closer and vowed to show her how “rude” he can get, mere inches away from her face. Let’s hope he brushed his teeth.
Back in the present, Dae-oh says, “I really missed you a lot,” and they share a short but charged moment until he clarifies that what he really meant was that he wanted her to see how he turned out.
Dae-oh says Ae-jung isn’t at the level to be working with him and flings two tickets for his upcoming book concert towards her as a parting gift. He’s definitely enjoying flaunting his success, promising to take care of the bill before walking off and leaving Ae-jung fuming.
However, Director Kim texts her for an update so Ae-jung swallows her pride and runs after Dae-oh. Before getting into the elevator, he points out that the old her would’ve never groveled to earn someone’s favor.
Back at the office, Hye-jin fangirls over Author Cheon, finding it extremely lucky that Ae-jung had a history with him too. Ae-jung snaps that his book is trash, but is caught lying when Hye-jin points out that she tabbed all her favorite parts of the story.
Ryu Jin suits up to practice some cheesy lines for Hollywood but is interrupted by Dae-oh who comes knocking and teases him for dressing up at home. Dae-oh pops a bottle and shares that he got his long-awaited revenge on Ae-jung today.
He animatedly explains that they crossed paths while working in the film industry and freaks out about how he knew she’d come looking for him, sputtering, “What an emotional moment!”
Ryu Jin’s lost in his own thoughts and hesitantly asks if Dae-oh agreed to work with Ae-jung. Dae-oh replies that he was mean and even threw some pricey tickets at her. He figures that if she’s desperate, she’ll show up at the event to beg him.
“She sure has changed then,” Ryu Jin muses after confirming that she left without saying anything else. What Dae-oh doesn’t share is that when he got off the elevator, content with his petty revenge, Ae-jung had run down the stairs to tell him how she felt meeting him again.
Knowing that it’d upset Dae-oh, she’d claimed that it’s been sooooo long that she’d already forgotten how close they were. Ae-jung apologized for her poor memory and thrusted the tickets back at him. “How could I attend your book concert when I barely remember you?” Oof.
Ae-jung was prepared to never see him again, but Dae-oh gave the tickets back because it’s rude to return someone’s gift, especially when he still remembers her clearly.
Dae-oh now sprints alongside the river and huffs, “You barely remember me?” It’s reminiscent of how he’d acted back in 2006, post-breakup. He’d made a name for himself amongst the student body for running nonstop every day after being dumped.
Ryu Jin was worried that he might die running from day to night on an empty stomach. The idea didn’t sound too bad to Dae-oh, and he broke down as he asked if it’s true that she left him because he lacked money and connections, and had no future. Ryu Jin grabbed him and confirmed it, yelling in frustration that he needs to get over it.
Dae-oh just cried, “If I die from running like this, tell Ae-jung that I died because she broke my heart.” He let out gut-wrenching sobs and wailed that he’s having a hard time. Back in the present, Dae-oh breathes that there’s no way Ae-jung can treat him so nonchalantly.
He doesn’t know, of course, that she’s anything but emotionless when it comes to him. She stabs the tickets with a fork while complaining about “the sick bastard” to Sook-hee, who just advises Ae-jung to play nice if she needs his help.
Ae-jung fumes that she tried to maintain a friendly atmosphere but he came at her with daggers and she didn’t even have time to defend herself. To make things worse, she can’t win against him.
Sook-hee shows Ae-jung that even a chipped whiskey glass can be repurposed. Rather than throwing it away, it started the second chapter of its life and now houses a plant. She tells Ae-jung that with life, you never know if you’ll end up growing a flower or rolling around in dirt, encouraging her not to give up.
Ae-jung cradles the plant on her way home and wonders if a flower can grow from a life like hers. The streetlights flicker off and the next thing she knows, she’s being whisked away to Pa-do’s basement and tied to a chair.
She frantically explains that her mission to recruit Cheon Eok-man was doomed to fail because he’s made it his goal to ruin her life. Pa-do calls their deal off and she shakenly asks for other options, since she can’t possibly repay the debt.
The “other option” is to lose a hand, so Pa-do sits back to watch as Director Kim and the lackeys take action. She screams as the knife comes down but of course, that was all a dream and she wakes up relieved to see all her limbs intact, LOL.
Ae-jung’s so distracted that she doesn’t notice Yeon-woo waiting for her at the bus stop. She works on crafting a text to Pa-do and is so oblivious to her surroundings that Yeon-woo runs up ahead to protect her from incoming pedestrians. When he makes his presence known, he accidentally triggers a screaming match, pfft.
They sit at a nearby park and Ae-jung learns that there’s a meeting for parents today. She promises to be there, since she hasn’t been able to do much for Ha-nee. Yeon-woo tells her she’s a better mother than she gives herself credit for.
When she mentions that a guy has been getting in her way lately, Yeon-woo offers to grab his neck, throw him on the ground, and then beat him until all his teeth fall out, but Ae-jung laughs that he needs to be much scarier when saying that.
They’re apparently the exact words she’d used whenever she sided with Yeon-woo in the past. They first met in 2005 when Ae-jung was tasked with cleaning the men’s bathhouse. A high-school-aged Yeon-woo had his belongings taken away by his basketball teammates, who left him behind.
He made excuses for their behavior but Ae-jung explicitly described how she’d rough them up for treating him like that and said that people usually feel better with someone taking their side. Ae-jung noted that their encounter felt like something out of the folktale The Fairy and the Woodcutter, but he’s the fairy with the beautiful smile.
At the meeting, the other mothers gossip about “the new girl’s mom,” avoiding the seat next to Ae-jung. She slips out to take a call from Grandma who calls her daughter naïve when she lies that everyone’s very friendly at the meeting. Ae-jung spots Pa-do arriving at the school and hangs up to deal with him.
She shakenly grabs a mop to keep him away from Ha-nee. “I thought the moment when I decided to have my daughter was the scariest moment of my life, but I was wrong. I’m scared to death right now,” she admits to a confused Pa-do.
Ae-jung promises to beg Cheon Eok-man, or to even let Pa-do cut off her hand so as long as he doesn’t come to Ha-nee’s school like this. Dong-chan calls out, “Dad?” and Ae-jung realizes her mistake.
Grandma shows up to the meeting and ignores the nasty murmurs of distaste. When Yeon-woo asks for guest speaker suggestions, Grandma brings up Cheon Eok-man, which erupts a wave of excitement within the room.
Ae-jung apologizes for her misunderstanding but Pa-do just asks how she knows Dong-chan. She can sense that he doesn’t want Dad to know the truth, so she says that Dong-chan’s a kind boy who befriended Ha-nee. He scampers away and Pa-do follows behind, so Ae-jung heads to the meeting alone, noting that they don’t look very close.
The meeting’s over when she arrives and Grandma has somehow won over the hearts of the other mothers, who now greet Ae-jung with bright smiles.
Pa-do sees that his son spends his break alone and Dong-chan texts Pa-do’s right hand man (Dong-chan calls him “uncle”) that he doesn’t like it when Dad comes to school. He chokes on his bread but Ha-nee comes to the rescue with some milk in hand.
She asks why Dong-chan’s eating alone and he throws the question back at her, but Ha-nee answers that she’s not eating alone, “I’m eating with you.” Aww! She learns that Dong-chan’s mom has passed away and shares that she decided that her dad doesn’t exist.
Ha-nee hears Mom and Grandma fighting – Grandma wants Ae-jung to throw her pride aside to ask the famous writer to speak at the school. That way, everyone will think she’s a hotshot PD and treat Ha-nee nicer. Ae-jung storms off and Yeon-woo catches up to greet Grandma. It takes a moment, but she gasps when she recognizes him.
When Ae-jung returns to the office, Hye-jin is immersed in Author Cheon’s latest book. She points out that the anti-heroine of Love Doesn’t Exist is a lot like Ae-jung. They share similar qualities and habits, like the fact that they bite their thumbs while deep in thought. Even the title reminds her of “Noh Ae-jung,” a.k.a. “No Love.”
So when Ae-jung re-reads some highlighted excerpts that night, she draws parallels to her own relationship with Dae-oh. The female protagonist had warned the hero not to wield his sword with his left hand, as it’s closer to the heart. He realizes that’s why his sword swayed before her.
It triggers a memory of when she and Dae-oh took photos of each other during cherry blossom season. Ae-jung told him that she uses her left eye to shoot photos, so she can put her heart into them. He’d asked if that’s the reason why his heart flutters when he sees her.
On the day of the concert, Ae-jung shows up to the office to meet Editor Hong, holding a letter he’d sent her. She states that even if he pays her ten times the penalty fee, she has no plans to give up on the copyright.
He tries to argue that the contract is invalid, but is no match for her. She leaves him with a message to relay to Writer Cheon: “That’s my story too. That’s why I have to produce a movie out of it.”
Dae-oh unexpectedly orders Editor Hong to schedule a meeting with Ae-jung, but reassures that he won’t let her produce the movie. He’s just going to show her who’s boss, and tells the editor to escort her to the best seat in the house tonight.
Ryu Jin slips into the venue just as the event starts, scanning the crowd for Ae-jung. The crowd goes wild over Dae-oh, and the MC (cameo by comedian Kim Ji-min) gushes that he should’ve revealed his face sooner since he’s so handsome (and hee, Ryu Jin is appalled at this comment). Dae-oh agrees, “Then perhaps we could’ve met sooner,” looking straight at Ae-jung.
As conversation shifts to his debut novel, Dae-oh confirms that it’s based on his personal life, written after he broke up with the woman he loved fourteen years ago.
Without breaking eye contact with Ae-jung, he recites the first line. “She vanished. She left me out of the blue. Because of the woman who took everything from me, I had fallen sick.” Ae-jung scoffs when he claims that he didn’t eat or drink and spent his days running, better off dead.
Dae-oh had always wondered what his ex would’ve thought about his novel, so he decides to ask someone from the audience instead. Of course, he picks Ae-jung, which puts Ryu Jin in alert mode.
“Imagine that you were the protagonist. How would you feel?” A moment feels like forever while waiting for Ae-jung’s answer: “It’d feel horrendous.” She clarifies that it’d be the female who would feel that way, which takes Dae-oh by surprise.
“Previously, you said that the woman took everything from you. But I beg to differ. Perhaps, it could be you who stole everything from that woman,” she declares before leaving the venue emotionally. Ryu Jin follows her out but is quickly recognized and crowded by fans.
Ae-jung walks around aimlessly, thinking back to how Dae-oh claimed that his lover disappeared. However, she remembers it differently. She’d stood outside an apartment on a rainy day and dropped her umbrella because of whatever she witnessed from outside the window.
She thinks, “It was you who vanished first. You left me.” When Ae-jung crosses the street, a car manages to stop right before hitting her but she falls unconscious.
Meanwhile, Ha-nee had overheard Grandma telling Yeon-woo that he hadn’t changed in the past fourteen years, while he’d claimed to have waited endlessly for Ae-jung back then. She’d invited him over for dinner and now asks Ha-nee to grab some plates from the attic.
Grandma’s claim that Yeon-woo’s just an old neighbor doesn’t convince Ha-nee, but she doesn’t press further. In the attic, Ha-nee knocks over a box of Ae-jung’s belongings from university, and she sees that Mom was credited as the producer of a film (Dae-oh was the director and Ryu Jin acted).
Ae-jung regains consciousness at a hospital with Pa-do by her side. He was the driver of the car and wants to compensate her, and she asks if she’s under his surveillance. Knowing that he can’t just write off her debt as compensation, she rips off her IV to meet Dae-oh. She tells Pa-do off for acting like he cares when he’s the one who gave her the mission.
She waits at their designated meeting place but unbeknownst to her, Dae-oh agrees to do a special interview with a reporter instead, telling Editor Hong to cancel their appointment. When the café closes, Ae-jung sits outside in defeat and it starts to pour.
Ha-nee continues to clean up the mess but finds a notebook titled, “To My Future Baby.” The cover indicates that the dad is Oh Yeon-woo while mom is Noh Ae-jung. A sonogram drops to the floor, labelled “My precious Ha-nee,” so of course, her head is spinning, wondering why her teacher’s name is here.
The doorbell rings – it’s Yeon-woo with a cake in hand. Meanwhile, Dae-oh shields Ae-jung with his umbrella, allowing himself to get soaked.
I don’t believe for a second that Yeon-woo’s the father. Nice try, Show! But… is it too obvious if Dae-oh is the father? They broke up in 2006 and that’s also when Ha-nee was born. I hope this mystery isn’t dragged on for weeks because I’m already tired thinking about it. Let’s just have it laid out in the open so that our characters can deal with the truth. Otherwise, things are settling in nicely as the four suitors take their place orbiting around our heroine. Three of the four are from her past, which makes me automatically want to root for the completely unrelated Pa-do. Or… I hope he’s unrelated, anyway. Not everybody needs a childhood/past connection to be able to fall in love; I want to see something new and fresh! Plus, I find Pa-do the most interesting of the lot. I bet you he’s the softest one beneath his rough exterior.
But…who am I kidding? I’m already on Team Dae-oh (because Sohn Ho-joon), and everyone else is merely a distraction. While I don’t currently think they have a whole lot of chemistry, I really felt that heartbreaking display of sorrow after Dae-oh was “abandoned” by Ae-jung and was devastated for him. On top of losing the love of his life, the reasoning he was given was that he wasn’t good enough – that’s incredibly hurtful and must’ve done a toll on him. It’s why I give Dae-oh a pass (…for now) for acting like he’s better than Ae-jung and showing off his success. He’s clearly hiding his pain with jokes and a childish revenge plan that I don’t believe he’ll be able to carry out. He still has so much love to give, and the one thing that sounded truthful during his exchange in the café with Ae-jung was when he said that he missed her a lot. Of course, he turned his words around but in that one moment, I really felt the genuine emotions of ex-lovers reuniting for the first time in over a decade.
I don’t know if this is me being scarred from seeing Song Jong-ho playing the villain in Hwayugi, but… Ryu Jin seems just the slightest bit suspicious whenever Ae-jung is mentioned. Like he has a secret. My guess is that he liked Ae-jung, but she was swept away and won over by Dae-oh before he was able to confess. The show is pretty predictable plot-wise in terms of typical rom-com tropes so far. It therefore seems like what drove the couple apart was a huge misunderstanding, which I can’t help but suspect Ryu Jin to be at least partially responsible for. I’d hate for this to be true though, because he and Dae-oh have a strong bond and seems to genuinely want Dae-oh to be okay. Ultimately, whatever happened in 2006 seems to be the result of a lack of communication because there was no closure for either of them – they’d just assumed that the other gave up on the relationship and disappeared. I hope that they will talk about it sooner rather than later, so they can begin their journeys towards healing, even if they aren’t endgame.
I love Song Ji-hyo’s variety persona and have watched a handful of her shows, but I’ve never felt that her acting was distracting until this episode. Was It Love is definitely a show that sprinkles in a fair share of wackiness (like Pa-do literally biting into an onion), but I feel like Song Ji-hyo’s reactions seem a bit too over the top in certain moments. An example would be the moment she met Cheon Eok-man. I just couldn’t figure out what emotions she was feeling because of her facial expressions…was it just me? She’s much stronger when it comes to the more emotional acting, so I trust in her and know that she’s going to be pulling at my heartstrings soon. Especially when it comes to her relationship with Ha-nee. Ha-nee has matured quicker than others her age (she literally calls them “kids,” lol) but definitely had no shortage of love growing up, even if others view her family as unconventional. The grandmother-mother-daughter trio are definitely the heart of the show. However, Ha-nee still clearly craves a father figure in her life and if someone good comes along that can fill that role for her and be a strong partner for Ae-jung, then that’d be great! Ha-nee’s a girl who knows what she wants, and I’m sure that the four men will have to first win her over before they even have a shot at romancing Ae-jung. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll woo these ladies and am positive that we’re in for a fun (and emotional) ride.
- Premiere Watch: Men Are Men, The Good Detective, Was It Love, Graceful Friends, Train
- Song Ji-hyo’s four suitors come to save the day in new teaser for JTBC’s Did We Love
- Song Ji-hyo to be romanced by Sohn Ho-joon, Kim Min-joon, Gu Ja-sung, and Song Jong-ho in JTBC’s Begin Again
- Song Ji-hyo courted for upcoming JTBC romance drama Begin Again