Monthly Magazine Home: Episode 13
Our hero is forced to confront his aimless existence and goes on the hunt for something to give his life meaning and joy. But while some characters remain mired in their heartbreak, others may be moving on quicker than even they expected.
EPISODE 13: A record of youth, a record of youth’s homes
Deep in a funk, Young-won has to convince herself to go to work. She almost forgets to change out of her pajama pants, and tells her reflection to get it together already.
Ja-sung is also miserable. When Secretary Hwang congratulates him on winning an investment deal he’s been working hard for, he mumbles a half-hearted response.
Editor Choi arrives at work to find Mi-ra sleeping on the sofa, and her whole story comes out. She’s been living in the office for the past two months because she couldn’t make rent, and she’s trying to find a new place to live. The others are sympathetic, but warn her not to let Ja-sung find out.
Just then, Ja-sung arrives and tells them to get to work – he’s not paying for electricity so they can stand around and chat. He doesn’t appear to have overheard the conversation, and Editor Choi tells Mi-ra she’s lucky, because she’d have to pay for all the water and electricity she’s used if he did.
In the break room, Young-won offers to let Mi-ra stay with her until she’s back on her feet. But that’s exactly why Mi-ra didn’t say anything before: she didn’t want to impose on anyone. They commiserate on how expensive rent in Seoul is, especially when you factor in commute time, and Mi-ra says she wants to spend every moment she can working to become a great editor like Young-won, her role model.
While Eui-joo and Editor Choi discuss an upcoming article, Sang-soon spaces out, remembering how his heart had pounded when Eui-joo had grabbed his face the other night. He starts to guess why he’s feeling this way, but stops and says out loud, “That doesn’t make sense.”
Eui-joo, having just asked him a question about the article, wants to know what doesn’t make sense. She quickly realizes he wasn’t listening at all, and pinches his cheek, yelling at him to focus. His heart pounds loudly again, and he hastily excuses himself to the restroom, where he insists he’s not developing feelings for her.
Young-won returns home to her messy apartment. She sighs, embarrassed at the state of her life in comparison to how Mi-ra sees her. She gets to work cleaning up, and resolves to focus on bettering herself and giving her all at work, because “the position I took for granted could be someone’s earnest dream.” She writes about her resolve on the homeowner forum, saying that she’ll forget the painful memories and start fresh again, which Ja-sung of course reads.
Young-won presents an idea for an article about young people’s satisfaction (or lack thereof) with their living situations. Eui-joo thinks it’s a great idea, but Editor Choi says that it won’t make money so it’s pointless. He looks to Ja-sung for validation, but Ja-sung tells Young-won to proceed with her idea, barely looking up from his notes. He says that Editor Choi’s story is the one that will make money, while Young-won’s is to keep up the magazine’s image.
Later, Young-won delivers the details about her planned article to Ja-sung and thanks him for giving permission for it. Again, he hardly even looks up at her, until she says she’d like to cancel her previous request for him to treat her coldly.
She doesn’t want him to feel uncomfortable, so she asks him to treat her however he wishes, since she won’t have any lingering feelings regardless. She leaves him sitting in stunned, sad silence.
That night, he finds the keychain she made for him in a drawer, and remembers how happy they’d both been.
The next day, Young-won visits Chan’s apartment for her article research. He shows her his view of the city, waxing poetic about how a rooftop home is the dream for any young person living alone… but then says he wants out of here as soon as possible. He explains that the romanticized picture of a rooftop home is made-up for movies and dramas (ha!), and that it’s too vulnerable to weather and pests. Young-won agrees, having lived in one before, and offers him some tips for living more comfortably.
On the way to an interview, Editor Choi talks Ja-sung’s ear off about his wife taking over as resident representative for their apartment complex’s reconstruction. Ja-sung mostly just lets him talk, and when their interview is canceled, he suggests going out for some fresh air instead of returning straight to the office.
Young-won goes to visit assistant Joo-hee next in her semi-basement apartment. Young-won is impressed by how clean she keeps it despite the inevitability of mold, and starts to offer tips, but Joo-hee has already tried them – and even knows some that Young-won didn’t.
Ja-sung and Editor Choi get their fresh air by a lake, and Ja-sung suddenly asks Editor Choi why he works so hard. Editor Choi says it’s to feed his family. Ja-sung wonders why he himself works so hard, then, since he has no one to support. Editor Choi says that if he had Ja-sung’s money, he’d spend it like crazy. Ja-sung gives him a strange look…
And we cut to the two of them tearing into a lavish lunch. Editor Choi is over the moon, but Ja-sung isn’t enjoying himself. He supposes that he’s just not the type to get joy out of expensive food. Editor Choi apologizes for wasting money, but Ja-sung forces a smile and tells him it’s fine as long as he enjoys it. Editor Choi assures him there’s much more to enjoy in life than just food.
Eui-joo comes into work lugging a huge package. She does a grand unboxing of a new coat that looks exactly like the one she’s currently wearing (one is “brown” and the other is “dark brown”). Then she pulls out another identical-looking coat, which is a size bigger. Sang-soon watches in disapproval as she pulls out a third coat… but she admits that this is a duplicate, and that she must have made a mistake because she ordered them while drunk.
Mi-ra suggests she return the extra coat for a refund, but Eui-joo can’t be bothered, and offers it to her instead. Sang-soon can’t believe his heart fluttered for someone like her, and rushes out of the room when she catches him spacing out yet again.
Editor Choi takes Ja-sung to try on a new suit, which does seem to make his feel happy and satisfied. But he’s really just acting happy because he thinks he should be. He sighs in defeat again, and Editor Choi admits that this was his dream, not Ja-sung’s. Ja-sung suggests he try on some suits, which Editor Choi does with much excitement. Ja-sung buys them all for him, hoping to find joy in generosity.
Next thing we know, they’re flying first class to Jeju. This is yet another wish Editor Choi would treat himself to if he had the means, and Ja-sung decides that seeing Editor Choi happy does indeed make him happy, too.
Gyeom finds Young-won working late at the office, and asks her to dinner. He takes her to a fancy restaurant (since they aren’t convenience store mates anymore), and the photographs on the wall remind her of something she read once: that people see what they want to see, but photographs show everything. When Gyeom invites her to take a walk afterwards, she tells him he doesn’t need to try to cheer her up anymore. He finally just comes out and says that he’s doing this because he likes her, which stuns her to silence. He says he doesn’t need an answer yet – she can wait until she’s ready.
When Editor Choi arrives home with all the gifts Ja-sung has bought him, he finds his wife organizing construction company bids. As he helps tidy up, he recognizes the name of one company – it’s the same one Ja-sung has just invested in. Editor Choi replays all of Ja-sung’s actions today, and somehow arrives at the conclusion that Ja-sung was bribing him so as to win the bid for that company.
Gyeom sits at his computer monitor looking through the photos he’s taken of Young-won. Meanwhile, Young-won thinks about all the little hints he’s dropped about liking her, leading up to his confession. And Ja-sung tosses restlessly in bed, unable to sleep.
The next day, Editor Choi eagerly tests out his supposed newfound leverage. He first demands to push today’s meeting until tomorrow, because he’s tired. Then he says they should put it off yet another day, because he plans to still be tired tomorrow. Then he asks to be taken to a hot spring – and not just any old hot spring, either.
Each time, Ja-sung remembers that he’s finding joy in generosity, and amicably agrees to Editor Choi’s demands. Finally, Editor Choi has had enough, and confronts him about the “bribes.” It takes Ja-sung a moment to realize what Editor Choi is saying, but once he does, he says he’ll withdraw the investment – along with all the money he spent on Editor Choi yesterday. They both deflate: Editor Choi because he has to pay Ja-sung back, and Ja-sung because his joy is gone again.
Eui-joo tries to set Sang-soon up with a date, but he rejects each of her recommendations. One for having short hair (he’ll consider her if she grows her hair out as long as Eui-joo’s) and the other for being too short (you guessed it – he’ll consider her if she grows to be as tall as Eui-joo). Eui-joo doesn’t pick up on the common denominator, and asks why he’s being so picky.
He in turn asks why she’s so determined to get him a date. She says it’s because she wants him to move on and “stop thinking useless thoughts,” which makes him worry that she might have caught on about his feelings.
Young-won gives Mi-ra information on rental housing to apply for, but Mi-ra’s already done so – at Ja-sung’s recommendation. Mi-ra says that he’s really a good person despite his cold manner, and Young-won nods sadly.
Ja-sung runs into Gyeom and Chan on his way out of the office, and Gyeom breezes past him without a word. Chan asks Gyeom what’s going on once they get to the studio, and Gyeom angrily tells him how disappointed he is in Ja-sung for hurting Young-won.
Eui-joo gets Sang-soon to agree to a date, and then finds Young-won and offers to get her one, too. But Young-won starts to cry, and says she wishes Ja-sung were a bad person so it would be easier to get over him. Hidden behind the bookshelves, Gyeom has heard everything.
Sang-soon goes on his date (cameo by Wang Ji-hye), but spends the whole time talking about Eui-joo until his date asks if he likes Eui-joo. He insists he doesn’t, but she’s not convinced.
Gyeom offers to drive Young-won home from work. She starts to turn him down (and not just for the ride), but he says he’d rather she wait, because a person’s heart can change with time.
The next morning, Ja-sung hears that Young-won has put in for leave and went home to Chuncheon. He worries that something bad may have happened, but then tells himself he has no right to worry about her. Editor Choi brings his calculation of how much he owes Ja-sung for their shopping spree, but Ja-sung tell him to forget it. It won’t bring him any joy, either.
Eui-joo yells at Sang-soon for ruining last night’s date, telling him he should just live alone for the rest of his life. He asks Mi-ra if he deserves that, and she explains that Eui-joo only got him the date because she found out his ex is getting married and she was worried about him. He asks himself why he’s thinking more about Eui-joo than his ex, and finally admits to himself that he likes her.
Editor Choi tells Gyeom and Chan about Ja-sung’s search for purpose. Chan wonders if Ja-sung is suffering because of the breakup, but Gyeom can’t imagine why – it was Young-won who got dumped, not him. So Chan confesses that he told Ja-sung Gyeom liked her, and says Ja-sung may have broken up with her because he felt guilty.
Young-won and her mom share a home-cooked meal as it’s the anniversary of the day her dad left them. Young-won wonders if he thinks of her mom’s food during hard times like she does, but her mom doesn’t want to talk about him. She claims to have thrown out his picture, but Young-won immediately finds it in a drawer and sets it back on the shelf.
Eui-joo and Sang-soon go out for dinner and drinks, and she again encourages him to move on. He says he already has. When a hot piece of meat flies at his face, she rushes over to make sure he didn’t get burned, and his heart pounds like crazy again. He gathers his courage to say, “Yeo Eui-joo! You’re bad for my heart.” She holds up her drink and laughs that she’s bad for his liver, not his heart. Just as he’s about to clarify, she gets a phone call and rushes out to pick up a package. But she leaves her phone on the table, and he sees a text from the rich gentleman asking about buying her a house.
Editor Choi convinces Ja-sung to go out for drinks. He tells Ja-sung that he’s thought about the times he’s felt like his life had meaning, and realized it was always times when he loved someone and was loved in return. He tells Ja-sung to date someone, because being with someone you love is much better than money. Ja-sung thinks back on happy memories of dating Young-won, and sadly pours himself another drink.
Gyeom finally decides to call Ja-sung, but of course it’s Editor Choi who answers instead. Ja-sung is passed-out drunk, and Gyeom rushes over to take him home.
Young-won finishes writing her article about the harsh conditions young people endure because of their hopes for a better future, noting that hope alone isn’t really enough to sustain such a life. She thinks about Joo-hee, Mi-ra, and Chan, and concludes, “I hope their space isn’t a space they must endure, but a space that brings them comfort. I hope what they hope for becomes a reality soon.”
Ja-sung wakes up while it’s still night. He staggers to the kitchen, only to find Gyeom sitting on his couch. Gyeom tells him that he knows Ja-sung broke up with Young-won for his sake, but that Ja-sung has hurt all three of them in doing so. Ja-sung remembers drunkenly telling Editor Choi in the taxi that he knows love is the reason to live, and that’s why he’s suffering – because he doesn’t deserve to have ever known joy at all. Gyeom tells him that Young-won hasn’t gotten over him and that he should go to her.
Gyeom goes back to his studio and deletes his pictures of Young-won. But he pauses when he finds several photos of Ja-sung staring adoringly at Young-won. He recalls Young-won’s words about photographs showing everything that’s really there, and smiles.
Ja-sung shows up outside of Young-won’s mother’s home the next morning. He apologizes for being shameless, but says he can’t live without her. She stares at him for a moment, and replies, “But I can. I don’t need you,” and brushes past. He watches her walk away.
Well, thank goodness for Chan and accidentally seen text messages, because without them, most people in this show would never talk about their actual feelings.
I kid. (Sort of.) But it is interesting how many important pieces of information in this show are revealed because someone left their phone with someone else at just the right time for a particular message to come through. I get that a lot of these reveals are things that the characters don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing, and that the others need to find out somehow… but still. It gets a bit comical after a while.
It does at least make me appreciate even more when characters like Chan, Joo-hee, and Mi-ra (or Gyeom, finally) speak up instead of allowing misunderstandings to continue. I’m glad Gyeom pointed out how Ja-sung making the breakup decision on his own hurt not only himself but also Young-won and Gyeom – it solved nothing, made everyone extra miserable, and robbed especially Young-won of having any say in the matter. This is one of my least favorite drama tropes: when one character makes this kind of decision on their own, because they’ve decided everyone will be better off this way, when clearly the opposite is true.
That said, I guess I can give Ja-sung a tiny bit of a pass in this situation, because at least it didn’t seem as though he was letting go of Young-won so Gyeom could have a chance with her, but rather because he felt guilty dating someone that Gyeom liked first, and Gyeom’s accident really scared him. It’s still selfish, and it still wasn’t his decision to make alone, though. So I really hope that he’ll have to come to terms with how that decision has hurt Young-won and work hard to make amends for it. He’s definitely trying to become a less selfish person, but he still has a long way to go to learn that how he treats people who care about him has consequences, no matter what his intentions were.
Much as I hated how it came about, I did appreciate that the couple’s separation helped Ja-sung realize that what he thought was his driving force in life (making money) was actually just distracting him from how empty he feels. Prior to this point, he’s lived in a constant state of earning, building, buying, moving – but never living. And it took slowing down and looking at the world through someone else’s eyes to make him see that.
Although Ja-sung quickly lost the spark of joy that he felt while buying gifts for Editor Choi, I do think the two of them touched on the truth during their little shopping spree. Doing nice things for people does make Ja-sung very happy, and it does give his life meaning and purpose. We’ve seen it a lot already: the way he supports Gyeom and helps him toward his dream, the way he filled his temporary home with furniture just to make Young-won feel comfortable (and kept wanting her to come back and enjoy the decorations she picked out), the way he helped Mi-ra out quietly and didn’t embarrass her further in front of the team, and on and on. Ja-sung may have grown up focused solely on himself, but he’s certainly far from heartless – and downright kind and attentive to those he truly cares about.
I didn’t really expect to get a closer look at our extra characters, but it was nice to gain a little more insight into their personal lives. As usual, the show gives us a glimpse at who they are through the environment they live in: Joo-hee is independent and self-assured, and observes a lot more than she lets on. Like her one-way window screen, she sees and understands others very well, but doesn’t easily open up to let people in. Mi-ra is a little down on her luck, but determined to make the best of her situation. She puts up a tough and easygoing front in effort to mask her struggles (such as homelessness) and make her own dreams come true. Chan is practical, but could use a little guidance here and there. He’s open about his difficulties and disappointments, and also willing to accept advice and/or correction.
As for our almost-couple, I’m not really surprised that Sang-soon was the first to (consciously, at least) develop feelings for Eui-joo. I do wonder how long it’ll take her to catch on, and to figure out that she probably has feelings for him, too. But I’m especially curious about how they’ll reconcile their vastly different lifestyles if they do indeed end up together. He’s worked so hard for that housing subscription, and she cherishes her luxurious apartment, not to mention her current spending habits. I can’t see either giving up their lifestyle without a fight, but something tells me a few arguments won’t exactly stop these two.
- Premiere Watch: At a Distance Spring Is Green, Monthly Magazine Home, Hospital Playlist 2, Nevertheless, Voice 4
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- Jung So-min, Kim Ji-suk showcase their homes in Monthly Magazine Home
- Jung So-min and Kim Ji-suk confirmed for new JTBC housing drama