Eighteen Again: Episode 15
It’s gotten to the point that this situation is hurting our young-again father’s family more than it’s helping them, but unfortunately, he doesn’t know how, or even if, he can get back to his old self. His life is simultaneously getting better, or worse, depending on what he decides he wants for his future. Will he go back to his old life, or will he take this second chance while he can?
EPISODE 15: “Confession”
Da-jung tells Dae-young that she knows who he truly is, and he kisses her. She touches his face, disbelieving that she didn’t recognize him before, but Dae-young takes all the blame for not being honest.
They talk awhile about some misunderstandings from their marriage, such as how Dae-young thought Da-jung wanted a divorce because she was having an affair. He says it’s because he didn’t know why she wanted a divorce, and Da-jung replies that she understands, since you can’t know what your spouse is thinking when they don’t tell you.
To avoid any further misunderstandings, Da-jung clarifies that there’s nothing romantic between her and Ji-hoon. Dae-young apologizes for making her feel she had to lie about dating Ji-hoon. She thanks him for taking care of her and the kids without their knowing, then boards the bus for home.
To her surprise, Dae-young follows her onto the bus and says, “Let’s not go home tonight.” They spend the evening walking the streets hand-in-hand, and Da-jung doesn’t get home until well after dawn (RAWR! What…? They’ve just reconciled, he’s young and gorgeous, it’s a safe assumption).
Shi-ah catches her mom coming in at dawn, but says that she deserves to have a night out. At school, Ji-ho wants to hold Shi-ah’s hand, but the moment Dae-young rounds the corner he drops her hand like a hot potato, hee. Dae-young’s paternal-sounding compliments to Shi-ah for being on time to school remind Ji-ho of his suspicions, after seeing her dad on an old video and recognizing him as Woo-young.
That night, Da-jung sees a pretty bracelet at a street stall but doesn’t have cash to purchase it. Ji-hoon is watching her, and in exchange for an autograph, he has a kid give Da-jung the bracelet and tell her he’s her fan. Aww, that was sweet.
While she’s searching for job openings, Dae-young calls Da-jung and invites her on a real date tomorrow. She accepts, but there’s something she wants to do first, so in the morning, they meet up with Duk-jin and Ae-rin.
Da-jung offers Duk-jin an apologetic but heartfelt confession, saying that she’s in love with Woo-young and plans to date him openly despite their age difference. LOL, Duk-jin and Ae-rin are completely shocked. Da-jung and Dae-young scurry away, and moments later, Duk-jin and Ae-rin get a “I’m mad that you lied to me, but thanks for helping Dae-young” text from Da-jung, and they realize they just got punked. Awesome!
Dae-young has borrowed a fancy sports car from Duk-jin, but Da-jung insists on driving since Dae-young doesn’t have a valid license with his current name and face. Adorably, Dae-young finds Da-jung’s driving attractive yet terrifying, and she obviously has fun driving the flashy car.
The end up at a beautiful park, where they spend the day taking photos of each other with a very cute PPL instant camera. While they look through the pictures, Dae-young asks Da-jung if it’s true he’s not her first love. She finds his jealousy cute, and teases him by almost telling him who her first love is, then running off.
After dark they go see a drive-in movie, which reminds Da-jung of the time she saw a movie with Il-kwon and Dae-young got mad at her. Dae-young remembers that her apology included her telling him she loved him for the first time, making Da-jung shy.
They go to dinner, and while they eat, Dae-young and Da-jung realize a little sadly that they can’t remember the last time they went on a real date. Dae-young says they should start doing the things they couldn’t do when they were young, and Da-jung happily agrees.
But then she’s recognized by several people, who assume that Dae-young is her son, and Dae-young notices that Da-jung looks embarrassed. Outside her door, Da-jung pushes Dae-young away when he tries to hug her, afraid someone will see them. She goes to her room and looks at their pictures, seeing how much older she looks than Dae-young.
Dae-young runs into Ji-ho and Shi-ah walking home, and this time he sees them holding hands. Ji-ho breaks the connection, and Shi-ah assumes he’s jealous so she takes his hand again. She asks Dae-young to keep their secret since they’re friends, and Dae-young has to remind himself that he’s not Shi-ah’s dad right now.
Later as he’s walking home, Dae-young gets a call from someone claiming to be from the school and asking if he’s Shi-ah’s father. He confirms it, then belatedly notices that he’s on his dedicated Woo-young phone. Oops. He turns to see Ji-ho behind him and realizes that Ji-ho knows.
They sit so that Dae-young can explain, and it’s cute how Ji-ho immediately starts calling him “Ajusshi” and deep-bows in apology for being rude to him. He explains that he saw Dae-young on an old field day video, then had his suspicion confirmed when he saw Dae-young hug Da-jung just now.
He assures Dae-young that he kept Shi-ah from seeing anything, which reminds Dae-young that Ji-ho was on a date with his daughter. Ji-ho stammers that it was their first date, and at first Dae-young growls at him, but then he grins and tells Ji-ho to let him know if he needs dating money. Awww.
Ji-ho asks if Dae-young will be able to go back to his old self, and Dae-young hangs his head in answer. Ji-ho doesn’t tell Dae-young that Shi-ah saw a father and daughter together earlier, and had told him that she misses her dad and wishes she could make up for all the times she was mean to him.
Ae-rin gets a late-night call summoning her to the police station — one of the mean girls she told off at the reunion for insulting Da-jung was caught making malicious online posts about several broadcast MCs. Ae-rin asks to see the evidence (it’s a lot!) and among the reported comments, she sees the one that was posted about Da-jung’s high school pregnancy, just after Da-jung’s first interview with Ji-hoon.
Ae-rin blows up at her old friend, who says that she’s hated Da-jung ever since she stole Ae-rin’s friendship. Ae-rin points out that Da-jung defended her from the bullies when the “friend” ignored her pleas for help. Ae-rin storms out of the station, refusing to defend her now ex-friend. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her.
The Serim High School basketball team wins the semi-finals. After the game, the coach informs both Shi-woo and Dae-young that if they also win the finals, Hankuk University wants to scout them. Shi-woo makes a call as Dae-young is leaving, and Dae-young’s phone lights up. Shi-woo asks his dad if he can come to the finals, and when Dae-young has to tell him he may not make it, he can hear the excitement drain from Shi-woo’s voice. Oof.
He goes back to Shi-woo, who tells him that he became interested in basketball because he wanted to achieve the dream his father had to give up when he was born. Shi-woo admits that he pretended not to care about basketball in case he was bad, so that he wouldn’t disappoint his father. He says that he wanted his dad to see him play in the finals, but that he can’t come, and the look on his face nearly kills Dae-young.
Ja-sung comes over and says that his dad can’t make it to the game either, and he invites Dae-young and Shi-woo to the PC cafe with him and his friends (I love him so much!). Shi-woo looks stunned to get such a genuine invitation from his former bully, but he goes, while Dae-young says that he has something to take care of.
Da-jung is at the baseball stadium as a favor to the sports anchor, and as she’s leaving, she sees a video replay of the game. Ji-hoon was obviously floundering and preoccupied, so much that the announcers wondered if he was going into a slump. Da-jung runs into Ji-hoon, who invites her for coffee.
He gets ragey when she tells him she was fired, yelling into the night that broadcasting people are dumb. Aww, he’s so cute when he’s mad. Da-jung asks why Ji-hoon is struggling on the pitcher’s mound, and he says with a sigh that he feels like he’s failing Seo-yeon, his niece.
He tells Da-jung that he approached Seo-yeon’s mother, Mi-young, and asked her to meet with Seo-yeon just once, because Seo-yeon’s been missing her so much. Mi-young hadn’t wanted to, but she’d eventually agreed. When she’d showed up at the restaurant, Seo-yeon had lit up to see her mother, but Mi-young had said cruelly that she didn’t consider herself a mother and wanted nothing to do with the little girl.
Ji-hoon had followed Mi-young to the hall to ask why she did that to an innocent child. Mi-young had snarled that it was so Seo-yeon wouldn’t have false hope — she’d never wanted Seo-yeon and considered her a mistake. Ji-hoon was left comforting the sobbing Seo-yeon, and now he feels horrible for putting her through that. Da-jung suggests that instead of trying to replace Seo-yeon’s father, which nobody can do, Ji-hoon just be her uncle.
Ji-hoon mentions Da-jung’s husband, and how he contacted him recently. He explains that on the night of his brother Ji-kyu’s fatal accident, Seo-yeon was in the car with Ji-kyu when they were hit by a sleepy driver. Dae-young had been in his work vehicle, and had been one of the cars in the resulting pile-up.
Dae-young had been the only one to approach Ji-kyu’s car, which had caught on fire. Ji-kyu and Seo-yeon were both alive, but when Dae-young had seen the girl in the backseat, he hadn’t hesitated to save her first as Ji-kyu had gasped a weak, “Thank you…”
Dae-young had carried Seo-yeon to the sidewalk then turned back for Ji-kyu, but another truck had hit Ji-kyu’s car, causing it to violently explode. Oh god, that’s horrific. Dae-young had collapsed to the pavement in shock, and when he woke up in the hospital, he was surrounded by his family (Oh, this is what he dreamed when he was in the hospital before).
He had shown up at Ji-kyu’s funeral, but only long enough to confirm that Seo-yeon was okay. He had refused to stay until Ji-hoon arrived, though they had briefly passed in the hall, unaware of each other. Ji-hoon tells Da-jung that Dae-young refused a reward, and that lately he’s been wanting to thank him and try to give him that reward.
But when he called, Dae-young had only apologized for not saving Ji-kyu and said that he’d saved Seo-yeon because she reminded him of his daughter. Ji-hoon admits that if Da-jung had rejected him for any other man, he wouldn’t have given up, but that he knows he’s no match for a great man like Dae-young. (I’m not crying, you’re crying…)
When Da-jung returns home, she learns from Shi-woo that he’s being scouted by Hankuk University. She’s excited for him, but she fades a little when Shi-woo tells her that Woo-young is also being scouted, though he says he can’t go. Da-jung asks why, so Shi-woo explains that Woo-young says he’s leaving.
On the TV is a “where were you when” program about the 2002 World Cup. Da-jung vividly remembers that night — she’d been waiting with the twins at the bus stop for Dae-young to finish work, feeling deeply sorry for herself.
Dae-young had had a bad night at work and, injured by the celebrating customers and feeling abused by his judgmental boss, he hadn’t gotten off at his stop. Da-jung had seen him hide his face and stay on the bus, and they had sat at different stops, sobbing out their heartache.
In the present, Da-jung calls Dae-young and asks him to meet with her. She finds him on the same overlook where they reconciled, and she congratulates him on being about to fulfill his life’s dream. Dae-young tells her that he wants to get his life back, because his wife and children are more important than his dream.
Da-jung grows upset that he’s going to throw away this chance a second time, and she says she wants to end things. She tells him to live his own life now that the kids are almost grown, since he can stay in their life as friends, and that he’s a good person who deserves this.
Realizing that she’s serious, Dae-young begs her to let him stay with her. But she reminds him what happened to his life the last time he made that choice, and how happy he is playing basketball again. She says that seeing him play made her regret telling him she was pregnant back then, reminding him that he even said he regretted it.
She tells Dae-young firmly that regretting his life with her once is enough. Dae-young begs her to give him a chance, but Da-jung says this is his chance, and that he shouldn’t miss it again. She walks away, leaving Dae-young sobbing, but she doesn’t get far before her own tears start falling.
Desperate, Dae-young goes back to the high school gym and shoots basket after basket, wishing each time to get his old life back. But despite sinking his shots, nothing changes, and he crumples to the floor in despair, screaming, “I want my life back!”
On the night of the World Cup, while crying at the bus stop, Da-jung had gotten a call from her mom. Mom had heard her daughter’s voice and told her to bring the babies and come home, but Da-jung had reassured her mom that Dae-young takes good care of them.
We see Dae-young crying then, and in voiceover, Da-jung says: Everyone was wildly cheering for Korea in summer of 2002. You at the age of twenty cried because you were heartbroken by your own misery and by heartless people. They made you cry. I wanted to comfort you by telling you not to try so hard…
Just as Da-jung decided to go home, Dae-young had shown up with a smile, saying that he was fine. Da-jung continues: But you tried and put a smile on your face. And I didn’t want to make you cry. When the whole world turned its back on you, I believed in you. We were covered in wounds, but we were each other’s brightest star.
At first, I was angry with Da-jung for making such a painful decision unilaterally, like I would be in any K-drama “noble idiot” situation (and because I feel extremely protective of Dae-young now, knowing what he’s been through). But after thinking about it a while I realized that this isn’t a noble idiot situation, and that Da-jung did the right thing by breaking things off. We as viewers know that Dae-young will probably get his old body and life back, but from Da-jung’s perspective, his newfound youth is permanent. She loves Dae-young, but he’s physically half her age now, which creates all sorts of problems.
Aside from the inappropriateness of an almost-forty year old woman dating a teenager, if they went public with their relationship, it would negatively affect both of their lives and their children’s lives. And because Da-jung loves Dae-young, she wants him to have the chance to live his dream of playing basketball, which he can now do without the worry of supporting a family. Dae-young can have the future he always wanted, and since Da-jung believes that their being together like they were before is impossible, she sees letting go as the best (and only) option for them both, and she’s not wrong.
I think that a big part of Da-jung’s decision was learning Dae-young’s role in Ji-hoon’s brother’s accident. The fact that Dae-young saved a child’s life, but never told anyone because he felt he didn’t deserve praise since Ji-kyu died, tells us everything we need to know about Dae-young. They say that true integrity is about what you do when nobody is looking, which describes our Dae-young perfectly. He consistently sacrifices his own needs and desires for others, and never seeks any praise or credit. Dae-young is a man with strong principles and deep humility, who’s willing to risk his life for others without any gain to himself. If I were Da-jung, I would also be averse to locking such a man back in his old life, where he was misunderstood and unappreciated, and in fact vilified for those qualities.
I just feel so much pity for Dae-young, and his whole family. He’s done his best to use his young-again situation to help his wife and children by being helpful and a friend, which is totally in-character for him. But lately, it’s not enough. He can’t really be with Da-jung in the way they want to (and should) be together, and his children haven’t seen him (that they know of) in months. Dae-young has been right there, every day, but from Shi-woo and Shi-ah’s perspective, their dad has become more distant and neglectful than ever, just when they want him there the most. Da-jung wants to let him go so that he can reach his full potential, and all he wants is to get his loved ones back, but it’s looking impossible. The show really is taking this down to the wire, and I’m getting nervous for everyone’s happy ending.
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