Eighteen Again: Episode 6
This drama is so full of life lessons, yet it never feels heavy or preachy. Our estranged couple is learning a lot about themselves now that they’re apart, some good and some bad, but all of it necessary. They may or may not ever get back together, but no matter what happens with their relationship, they’re both bound to come out the other side as better people.
EPISODE 6: “The sincere heart of her number one fan”
Da-jung arrives at work to find a gift on her desk. It’s a pretty pair of heels, and a note: I became your fan after seeing how confident and brave you are. I hope there’s only sunshine and rainbows in your future. From Your Number One Fan. She tries on the shoes, and they fit perfectly.
We go back two days, to the night that Ji-hoon and Dae-young faced off over Da-jung in front of Duk-jin’s office building. Dae-young overhears Ji-hoon telling Da-jung that even a divorce is a new start, and he loudly announces his presence. Da-jung steps away to take a call, leaving the guys to argue over who should leave first.
Dae-young takes offense to Ji-hoon using banmal, and Ji-hoon hilariously assumes he’s his rival team’s fan, ha. Da-jung returns and Ji-hoon offers to drive her home, but she says she’s more comfortable taking the bus, making Dae-young grin in satisfaction.
She only gets a few steps away when her heel breaks, and she falls. Both guys rush to her side, but it’s Ji-hoon who helps her to her feet and offers to take her to the hospital. While she’s there, Dae-young takes her shoes to a cobbler, who fixes them but says that it would be better to just buy a new pair. While he’s there, Dae-young buys a pair of pink slippers.
Dae-young is fine, but she gets a gentle lecture from Ji-hoon about accepting his kindness in the future. He presents her with a pair of sneakers, and he kneels to put them on her feet, telling her to be careful until her ankle is fully healed.
When Dae-young gets to the hospital, he sees the new shoes on Da-jung’s feet. He gives her the repaired heels, and she apologizes for Dae-young supposedly putting him in an awkward position by making him be his proxy at the courthouse. She gets into Ji-hoon’s car, leaving Dae-young feeling alone and helpless to do anything about it.
When Dae-young gets up to Duk-jin’s office, his reaction to the Ji-hoon-autographed jersey is somewhat less grateful than Duk-jin expects. They start cursing each other out, scandalizing Duk-jin’s assistants, lol.
Da-jung asks Ji-hoon to take her back to the JBC office, since she’s on night duty. He’s glad to hear that Shi-ah is okay after Da-jung had to run off to the hospital, but Da-jung worries that his comment that Shi-ah must be as beautiful as her mother is a giveaway that he’s a player.
Ji-hoon tells Da-jung that he thought he knew what women liked, but that there’s one he can’t figure out. She tamps down her concern that he’s talking about her and answers that women know when a man truly cares and worries about them, so if he lets the woman know he cares, she’ll open up.
After dropping Da-jung off, Ji-hoon goes home to his daughter, Seo-yeon. Awww, he’s a daddy! He tucks his little girl into bed and smiles proudly at a picture she drew, but a drawing of her mother, dressed in nurse’s scrubs, has him looking worried.
Ae-rin is also working late, and she complains loudly as she carries an armful of papers through her building lobby. One of her shoes breaks and she flings the papers into the air, but someone catches her mid-fall. They freeze in a dramatic pose and Ae-rin sees that it’s “Woo-young,” who she’s nursing a pretty big crush on by now (LOL, the music).
Finally, Dae-young says he’s uncomfortable and Ae-rin rights herself. Dae-young starts to help her pick up her papers, but Ae-rin says coquettishly that she can do it, and HA, he’s all “Okay” and walks off. He turns back and gives her the pink slippers he bought for Da-jung, and unfortunately, Ae-rin takes the gesture much more romantically than he means.
Shi-ah is at school to turn in a late assignment, and she runs into Ji-ho. He goes with her to the teacher’s office to sneak it into the teacher’s file, but the cabinet where she needs to drop it off is locked. Shi-ah rattles the doors and sends a box of heavy textbooks crashing down on her head… but Ji-ho gallantly grabs it before it hits her.
After a long, swoony moment, Ji-ho replaces the box and opens the cabinet. They hear some teachers approaching so Shi-ah drags Ji-ho into the cabinet with her, where they almost forget to be afraid of being caught due to being so physically close. One of the teachers almost opens the cabinet door, causing Shi-ah to reflexively grab Ji-ho’s hand, and when they are finally able to come out, poor Ji-ho has to take a moment to catch his breath.
Da-jung prepares to spend the night in the JBC night duty room, where anchors take turns sleeping in case of a late-breaking story. She’s sharing the room with Choi Ji-na, Yu-mi’s college sunbae, who makes pointed remarks about Da-jung’s lack of traditional education and experience. She exclaims over Da-jung’s luck, as if that’s the only reason Da-jung got the job. Well, isn’t she a treat.
They get the call in the middle of the night that there’s an apartment fire, so they hop into the broadcast van to cover the story. On the way, Ji-na mentions again how lucky Da-jung is to be with someone experienced — surely she’d have made a mess of this alone. She’s being so superior that it’s satisfying when she realizes that she left all her makeup back at the station, ha.
When they arrive at the fire, Ji-na borrows some makeup from another station’s anchor and starts frantically applying it. She refuses to start until her face is perfect, but Woong-ki is ready at the station, so the cameraman finally just tells Da-jung to do the announcing.
Woong-ki is surprised to see Da-jung on camera, but as usual, she relays the important information about the situation with poise and accuracy. When the broadcast concludes, Woong-ki asks how many captions they got (more is better), and he’s amazed to hear that they got a record-breaking twelve captions. Even Ji-na admits to herself that she told Da-jung that she needs skills to succeed, and Da-jung just proved that she has the skills.
Dae-young happens to be out for an early jog, and when he sees Da-jung up on the JBC jumbo screen, he smiles proudly to himself. He recalls catching Da-jung practicing breaking news broadcasts at home, and how she explained that anchors are rated by how many captions they get.
The next day there’s a meeting at JBC, and the topic of the breaking news story comes up. Woong-ki grins as he mentions their twelve captions, and several other directors speak up in praise of Da-jung’s performance under pressure. Woong-ki says that the field team told him that while Ji-na was applying makeup, Da-jung was going around to the firefighters and police, gathering information about the fire.
But Director Moon is fixated on the viewer comments, which still mention the fact that Da-jung is a divorced mother. He calls Da-jung an embarrassment, and when Woong-ki counters that being divorced isn’t really embarrassing these days, Director Moon flips his lid and yells that image is the most important thing for anchors.
Woong-ki has to inform Da-jung that her baseball interviews will now go to Yu-mi, and exactly why. Da-jung politely asks why she should “be careful” about her divorce, which makes Director Moon storm over to yell that her personal life is overshadowing her work. He orders her to go clean the storage room, and while in there, she learns that she’s being dropped from another show she was scouted for.
Dae-young is riding his father’s bus again when a motorcycle cuts in front of the bus and causes his dad to swerve. An aggressive passenger gets in Dad’s face about his “bad” driving, yet Dad keeps his calm as he asks the passenger to sit back down for safety’s sake.
That makes the guy complain even louder, so Dae-young steps in and tells the guy that his behavior is more dangerous than the driver swerving to avoid another vehicle. He orders the guy to get off at the next stop, and the other passengers back him up.
When his shift is over, Dad treats Dae-young to dinner to thank him for his help. Dae-young asks if it’s hard being a bus driver, but Dad replies cheerfully that everyone’s job is hard. Dad spills some food down his shirt and grumbles that it was a gift from his daughter-in-law.
He goes to the restroom to clean it, thinking about how Da-jung apologized in person for divorcing Dae-young. He had sadly absolved her of the responsibility of visiting him any longer, yet she’d still sent him the shirt as a birthday gift. He’s unable to fully clean the shirt, and you can see that it pains him to have ruined the last gift he may ever get from Da-jung.
Later Dad sends Da-jung a text thanking her for the shirt. She thinks about how he’d come to visit her after the twins were born, bringing seaweed soup (a healing meal for newly-delivered mothers). He’d apologized for his part in making her life harder, and he’d pressed an envelope of money on her, asking her not to tell Dae-young.
Dae-young finally calls Da-jung to apologize for not showing up at the courthouse for their divorce hearing. He tells her that he knows she’s kept in touch with his father, and Da-jung says shortly that it’s because he’s family. She tells Dae-young that his father apologized to her for the mean things he said about her in the past, and that he secretly helped them, but that it’s Dae-young’s job to take care of him now.
Dae-young watches Da-jung sadly as she walks home from the bus stop. It begins to rain so she opens her umbrella, then she spots him standing there getting soaking wet. She tries to give him her umbrella, but he offers to walk her home before he takes it. He drops her off at her door and thanks her for always caring, but she misses the true meaning of his words.
The next morning, Shi-ah sees the sneakers that Ji-hoon gave to Da-jung and comments that they’re an expensive brand. Da-jung calls up Ji-hoon and says they’re too expensive for her to accept, and he sees an opportunity and tells her to bring them to the stadium later.
Ji-hoon is surprised when Yu-mi shows up that afternoon for a scheduled interview instead of Da-jung. Yu-mi tells him that Da-jung is on everyone’s bad side at JBC because she got divorced and lowered her reputation. Annoyed by her attitude, Ji-hoon asks if divorce is something that should lower one’s reputation, and Yu-mi retorts that Da-jung probably got divorced because she “has an issue.”
As a fellow public figure, Ji-hoon informs Yu-mi, “Reputations crumble more easily by saying the wrong thing than getting divorced. To some people, getting divorced may be big news, but to others, it’s a huge life decision. I’m just worried that when people hear you say that, it might hurt your reputation.” He walks away, having neatly put Yu-mi in her place.
Outside the high school, Shi-woo sees Dae-young giving a hearing-impaired woman directions to the teacher’s office in sign language. He tells Dae-young that he’s impressed, but Dae-young also forgot about their math assessment tomorrow, so he invites “Woo-young” to his house to study together.
Thrilled to go home for a bit, Dae-young brings a box of dried persimmons as a gift. Shi-woo tells him that nobody in his family eats them, and Dae-young mutters, “You don’t know…” Dae-young spots the sink full of dishes and starts washing them, confusing poor Shi-woo.
He recalls a day when Da-jung came home and found him on the couch, trash and food all over the room. He’s said he’d clean up after the game, but Da-jung had turned the TV off and snapped that he never does housework. Dae-young had insisted that he did fifty percent of it, but Da-jung had yelled that it was more like thirty percent. Now Dae-young says to himself, “Pathetic. You didn’t even do thirty percent.”
Shi-ah comes home with Bo-bae to do some studying, and she’s not happy to see Dae-young there (though Bo-bae declares him “husband material,” hee). They sit to watch some TV first and turn on the baseball game, squealing over “Ji-hoon oppa.” Dae-young lectures that Ji-hoon is too old to be their oppa, and he warns them to beware of men who look like that.
His phone rings with a call from Da-jung’s mother, so he scurries to another room to answer. She’s upset that Dae-young and Da-jung got divorced without talking to her, and that Dae-young hasn’t apologized to her. Dae-young promises to come apologize in person as soon as possible.
He gets to see her sooner than he expects, because she walks in minutes later to surprise the twins. The both jump ten feet when they see each other, and Dae-young reflexively bows and yelps an apology, then does his best to hide his face.
Mom peers at him closely, finding him awfully familiar, until Shi-woo introduces Dae-young as his friend Woo-young. Dae-young quickly makes an escape, and Mom warns Shi-ah to beware of men who look like that, HAHA.
As he leaves the building, someone takes photos of Dae-young from a distance.
Da-jung doesn’t get to the stadium to return the sneakers until late, but Ji-hoon is still there waiting for her. He asks her to “help” him practice then sets her up to be the batter while he gently pitches. It takes some coaching before Da-jung connects with the ball, and Ji-hoon grins at her when she screams excitedly.
He tells her that all it takes is to keep trying, and eventually you hit the ball. He adds that whether it’s a strike, a ground ball, or a home run, the important thing is just to swing. Da-jung guesses that he’s being this way because Yu-mi gossiped about her.
She admits that she’d assumed everything would be fine once she got an anchor position, but says that working at a company is harder than she thought. She tells Ji-hoon that she’s okay but she feels bad for her kids, and she sometimes worries she’s being too ambitious.
Ji-hoon asks why being ambitious is bad, and tells Da-jung that he’s often been ambitious, but that it helped to have people who believed in him like her family does. She thanks him, and he quips that he’s her number one fan. It reminds Da-jung of the note that came with the pretty heels, signed by her number one fan.
Ji-hoon says he needs to tell Da-jung something, but a phone call sends him into a panic. Da-jung asks what’s wrong, and Ji-hoon says quickly, “My daughter is missing,” before rushing off.
He’s in the car when he gets a call from the police asking if he’s Ye Seo-yeon’s guardian. Whew, she’s been found. Ji-hoon finds her crying at the police station, and the cops tell him that she was found outside a hospital with a picture of a woman. Aww, it’s her mother, Seo-yeon was looking for her at the hospital where she works.
The cops recognize Ji-hoon and ask how he knows Seo-yeon. He says that he’s her father, unaware that one of the men in the room is a reporter who was hanging out in hopes of a scoop. As he leaves, carrying Seo-yeon, the reporter secretly snaps pictures of the father and daughter.
The next day, Da-jung is heading into work when she sees the news about Ji-hoon and his daughter on the jumbo screen. Speculation is rampant about who the little girl’s mother could be. Elsewhere, Seo-yeon’s mother nervously redirects her current husband away from the news on TV. Da-jung texts Ji-hoon, asking if he’s okay and saying that she’s worried for him and his daughter.
At the high school, Il-kwon approaches Teacher Ok and offers her a ride home. She declines and he graciously back off, but he watches her walk away grumbling that she must think she’s some kind of queen. (I hate him so much.)
Duk-jin is also waiting for Teacher Ok with a huge bouquet of flowers and a request to talk. She sees a limo nearby and asks incredulously if that’s his car, and Duk-jin stammers that of course it’s not (then growls into his smartwatch, “Abort the limo!” LOL). He officially asks her out, but she officially turns him down, lying that she has a boyfriend.
Awww, poor Duk-jin, he’s crushed but he accepts her answer. Il-kwon had seen them talking and guessed what was going on, so he pretends to slip up and call her “my Hye-in” then tells Duk-jin that he and Teacher Ok are secretly dating. (I really, really hate him. A lot. Soooo much.)
Meanwhile, Ae-rin can’t stop thinking about the handsome high schooler who makes her heart flutter. She calls Da-jung and they meet up after work. Ae-rin brings up “a friend” who gets butterflies for a high school student, which makes Da-jung shudder in revulsion thinking about a woman their age liking a boy her son’s age.
Dae-young finds Duk-jin at a café, sobbing over his broken heart. He blubbers that Teacher Ok is dating Il-kwon, and Dae-young’s idea of cheering him up is to tell him that he never had a chance with her anyway, HA. Duk-jin screams, “Hong Dae-young, how can my own friend say that to me??”
Across the room, Ae-rin hears Dae-young’s name and perks up. Oh no… She hears Duk-jin sobbing that he should have been the one to get younger, and Dae-young snapping that it does him no good because he can’t even tell Da-jung who he is.
She stands over their table and says dazedly, “Woo-young… you’re Hong Dae-young?” Dae-young slips up and calls her “Ae-rin-ah,” and he can’t think fast enough to talk his way out of it. Da-jung joins them and tells Ae-rin that she needs to leave (Ji-hoon asked to talk to her), but Ae-rin stops her and says dramatically, “I have something to tell you.”
We see Dae-young at a shoe store, buying the pretty heels and sending them to Da-jung as her number one fan. As Da-jung wonders who changed the burnt-out bulb in her porch light, did the dishes, and left her favorite dried persimmons, Dae-young says in voiceover: There are things you want to give even if it’s impossible. In hindsight, they weren’t that grand. They were so small and insignificant, you considered them to be unimportant. But these small things make you smile. I finally realized that.
Da-jung is surprised to see that her mom is there, and she assumes that Mom did all those things for her. Dae-young continues: It’s impossible to share my sincere feelings, as it’s too late. But I’ll be okay as long as it makes you smile.
I still think it’s much too soon for “Woo-young’s” true identity to be revealed, at least to Da-jung, so I’m assuming this is another fake-out. My only complaint about this drama is that this is the third time we’ve been tricked with a “You’re Hong Dae-young…” cliffhanger ending, only for the rest of the sentence to show that the person thinks something else entirely. This time was a little more straightforward, but I’m still expecting Dae-young and Duk-jin to talk Ae-rin out of her conclusion with another fib. Though I have to admit, it would be fun if Ae-rin does know now, and has to keep the secret from Da-jung, because if there’s one thing Ae-rin cannot do, it’s keep her mouth shut.
It’s so satisfying to see the personal journey that Dae-young is on, coming to terms with the husband and father he truly was and not the husband and father he puffed himself up to be. He’s never been a bad guy, but he certainly wasn’t contributing fifty percent, as he’s now realizing. Yes, he was there in the big moments, but he understands now that it’s those small things he never did, that he didn’t think mattered, that would have truly made Da-jung feel loved and cared-for. It’s not an easy thing to look at yourself so honestly, especially when that look isn’t as flattering as you’d hoped, but Dae-young is really taking this seriously and accepting his role in his unhappy marriage and divorce. I don’t think that Da-jung is innocent, we’ve seen her pick fights and how quickly she was to place blame, but Dae-young is realizing that she got to that place in large part because of his behavior. He’s starting to appreciate Da-jung in a way he never did before, just when he’s unable to show her how he’s changing. But I love that, instead of giving up, he’s doing what he can with small acts of service like doing the dishes or walking her safely home. She doesn’t know it’s him, but that just makes those actions all the more meaningful because Dae-young is truly doing them for her and not for any personal gain.
Speaking of good men, Ji-hoon has officially won me over. He’s not perfect, but he’s a decent guy with modern sensibilities, who is willing to risk his good name to help Da-jung. I absolutely loved the verbal smackdown he gave to Yu-mi over her insults aimed at Da-jung, and the fact that he’s a father who knows exactly what Da-jung is going through with her personal life on display. My only misgivings about Ji-hoon are that, while he’s vocally supportive of Da-jung’s status as a divorced parent, he’s kept his own child and divorce a secret for the exact same reasons he tells her shouldn’t matter, which feels a bit two-faced. But now he’s going to learn exactly how it feels to be judged for his past, and I just hope that he is able to weather the storm now that his own secret is out.
On a general note, I’m absolutely in love with how this drama just keeps digging deeper into the characters and their backstories. We initially got the broad strokes of the situation, but with each episode, more is revealed and things that were initially confusing start to make more sense. It’s not an easy thing to do without causing some confusion, but Eighteen Again manages it with such a loving, gentle touch. I love seeing the sweet little vignettes, like how Da-jung kept in touch with Dae-young’s father all these years, being a loving daughter-in-law even though her husband was disowned. And so much is made clear without even needing words — for example, you could feel how sad Dae-young’s father was when he stained the shirt from Da-jung, knowing that it was probably the last gift she’d ever send him. It makes me happy that we’re still near the beginning, which means we’ll get a lot more of these wonderful emotional beats and backgrounds until the entire story is told and understood.
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