Bubblegum 풍선껌 Episode 12
[I’m Calling Out To You, Like A Song That Doesn’t End]
Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah both try to be okay and go about their daily lives at work. Se Young reads a listener’s story on air at Black Radio about a memory with her boyfriend. Haeng Ah drifts to a memory of her and Ri Hwan casually hanging outside a convenience store wishing for enough money to buy fish bread. With his hair in a ponytail pom and looking adorable, Ri Hwan teases that he has his wallet but she has to call him “older brother” for a treat. Back then they were playful and carefree.
Cute Se Young and Joon Soo are stuck together like gum and practically even go to the bathroom together. Ji Hoon decides to take Ri Hwan out, but maybe they should have picked somewhere else. He does his best to give his hurting friend a pep talk. In walks Dong Il who does a double take when he sees them and quickly tries to head out. He makes a call to the person he’s meeting, but it’s too late.
Suk Joon is already walking in. It is awkward X 2 as the four of them share a table. It’s a tense atmosphere and silent stare down between Ri Hwan and Suk Joon until the other two excuse themselves and leave them to discuss the unavoidable. Suk Joon, who always seems to have the upper hand when they meet, challenges Ri Hwan to do a better job staying out of Heang Ah’s life if that’s what he has decided. Don’t frequent the place she may go. Don’t intrude and make it hard on her. Ri Hwan’s head is telling him to not ask about Haeng Ah, but even Suk Joon knows that Ri Hwan’s heart does not feel the same way. Suk Joon lets him know that she is doing well.
Flashback to a few days earlier: Suk Joon and Haeng Ah run into each other at the rental office. He insists she eat with him; they talk about his testimony on the news and she tells him the office supports him. He says he is grateful. He asks about the company restructuring; she tells him Black Radio team survived this round. As they part ways, he asks her to give him another chance. He isn’t asking to go back to the way things were, but to start over. When his phone rings, he doesn’t even answer it to show that he is putting her first.
Over another drink with Dong Il, Suk Joon wonders if what he said to Haeng Ah that time was a lie – could he really change? The two have a depressing conversation about lost love and missed chances.
Haeng Ah has been doing hard work to overcome her phobia. She meets with Chief Doctor and reports that she was able to come into the hospital and take the elevator without too much difficulty. Before she leaves her session she asks him what does it means that Mother/Aunt now remembers Ri Hwan? He tells her that forgetting the person closest to her isn’t common and Mother/Aunt probably blocked out some things with the trauma of learning of her diagnosis and her father’s death. These difficult events could cause a temporary memory loss and not necessary be the effects of Alzheimer’s. But Chief Doctor understands the underlying reason for Haeng Ah’s question is that she is blaming herself for Mother/Aunt’s symptoms. He steps up and tells her that she did nothing wrong and not to blame herself.
Ri Hwan drops off Mother/Aunt at Secret Garden for the day to visit with family. He won’t go in: he swore off any place and family that overlaps with Haeng Ah. Cousin Dong Hwa seems to know just how to handle Mother/Aunt with understanding and positive conversation. When Mother/Aunt is flustered because she lost her pencil, Dong Hwa helps her to not obsessively panic and offers her another pencil – see? it works just the same. Mother/Aunt is calm and content around Dong Hwa.
This is an interesting twist – Ri Hwan tells Ji Hoon that not seeing Haeng Ah is his decision. If he didn’t cut ties now, things might get harder. Ji Hoon deciphers this to mean that Ri Hwan has an unspoken DNA-fear factor of Early Onset Alzheimer’s.
Aunt Princess and Mother/Aunt go for a walk. Haeng Ah hides outside the restaurant and secretly watches as they walk past her. Like Ri Hwan, she is avoiding places where she might run into him or Mother/Aunt. A series of scenes show Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah going about their daily business, missing each other by a hair, until one day they find themselves facing each other across a wide boulevard. Haeng Ah speaks first, “Wait! I have something to say!” As he walks away, wanting to keep his promise to disappear from her life, she tells him she won’t come closer but to hear her out. She puts on a cheerful face and tells him that she is doing a lot for herself these days: taking her driver’s test, eating right, exercising, even going up the 11th floor of the hospital herself for sessions with Chief Doctor. It is her way of making him think that she is doing well. She tells him that when the time comes, not now, but later – she is coming back to him even if he says not to. It is her way of being assertive and not letting others make decisions for her, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. But for right now she is talking to him across the wide street so as not to be a burden until that time comes. “Some days I miss you so much…and wanted to stand in front of your house…but I endured and didn’t do them. I missed you so much.” Ri Hwan only listens, and with the saddest of forlorn expressions, slowly walks away thinking (no doubt) that it is the best thing for her.
Se Young becomes jealous when she sees Joon Soo greet younger women comfortably. When she is short and indifferent to him, he asks her what’s wrong but only gets the cold shoulder. At the dentist (Yi Seul’s) she lets him have it, accusing him of pretending not to know that he shows attention to women who are number one on all men’s lists. Poor Joon Soo is clueless; he’s just a nice guy to everyone, but Se Young feels threatened these days. She snaps back to reality when Yi Seul tells her that if she isn’t careful, she will need dentures eventually. What a blunt way to make a person feel old.
When Yi Seul stops by Mother/Aunt’s to drop off some healthy food, Aunt Princess insists she stop in to say hello. Even though Mother/Aunt doesn’t recognize her, they have a pleasant conversation about their daily routine as doctors. Just then, Ri Hwan comes in and Yi Seul is very uncomfortable about being there. Over tea, she apologizes that she didn’t mean to intrude, it’s just that she was invited in. Ri Hwan thanks her for all she’s done for them. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I just don’t get Yi Seul. Maybe it’s that I don’t get the importance of her in the story; I think the viewer is supposed to see her as a potential parallel love line in Ri hwan’s life, but it is not grabbing me that way. I could like her as a person and I do think her intentions are what she stated – that she likes Mother/Aunt and it isn’t just because of him – but her loop in the story isn’t as connected for me as I think it’s supposed to be. Still, she understands that she is in the same place over him as he is over Haeng Ah: that as much as they want something, it can’t be.
Mother/Aunt holds a bow in her hand. She asks Ri Hwan to help her remember, “By any chance, did your grandfather pass away?” He tells her that he did about a month ago. She wants to know if she was at his side and if she made any mistakes. Ri Hwan helps her through the memory. Mother/Aunt knows that she should say what she has to say now that her mind is clear at this present moment. She shamelessly pours out her regrets with her father – that her pride got in the way and she never made amends. Now it’s too late. Ri Hwan holds his mother’s hand tightly and tells her that he understands. Mother says, “But I was wrong.” She tells Ri Hwan not to listen to her anymore, that he should do what will make him happy and not to let her opinions and wishes get in his way. However, he is reluctant to tell her that she has affected his relationship with Haeng Ah. Ri Hwan’s heart is starting to override his head. He thinks about how Haeng Al called out “I missed you so much.” Is Mother/Aunt really giving him permission to follow his heart without worrying about her?
Dong Il asks Tae Hee to meet him at the coffee shop and says it’s a one time thing. He is terrible at expressing his feelings directly and his beating around the bush only makes her more annoyed. She knows the longer the explanation the likelier the answer is “no.” Tae Hee blocks his attempts at letting the hammer lower slowly and forces him to blurt out, “I don’t like you.” When he asks if that’s good enough for a direct answer she challenges him to say it to her while looking in her eyes. She’s scary.
Se Young uses Black Radio’s live advice corner program to ask an “anonymous” question about a younger man’s intentions when dating an older woman. Won’t he stray, lose interest, and want to date younger women eventually? Mr. Advice is all about short, to-the-point answers today. If he wanted to, he’d already be doing that. It’s common sense made easy. Everyone teases her about her obviously personal question.
When Haeng Ah’s “anonymous” question about loving someone she can’t have from afar comes up, Mr. Advice says it is only human. Don’t love from afar, like God, he says; people need touch and warmth. It’s a good thing, don’t feel guilty about that, he tells “anonymous.”
Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah have been consciously pushing aside their feelings, but they are failing miserably at it. Hiding confessions, making excuses, existing like a zombie to avoid feelings, always thinking about the other but not acknowledging it, going through the motions. They do the same things and the same time, but not with each other. Their weariness is palatable and their energy is waning as they continue to avoid the inevitable. That afternoon as she enters the hospital, he is leaving. Will either of them have the courage to honestly face the moment of truth?
- I am ready for things to be made right; the problem is I don’t know what “right” is, especially with the DNA conversation hanging like a dark cloud over Ri Hwan.
- I like Suk Joon and Yi Seul and understand what their roles are in the story, but their reappearance as back-up lovers seems misplaced and forced. The acting is such that, even though I’m not sold on their romantic second lead positions, I want to see it through. The problem (storywise) is that is doesn’t even seem remotely plausible that Haeng Ah will get back with Suk Joon or that Ri Hwan will team up with Yi Seul.
- I’ve grown fond of Se Young and Joon Soo as an item. I still don’t know how I feel about Tae Hee and Dong Il or Tae Hee and Ji Hoon.
- Mother/Aunt’s apology actually brought me over to her side which I didn’t think was going to happen because I chose not to give her my sympathy for her manipulative behavior even after the backstory. She has come around in a lucid moment and I applaud her right thinking.
- Onward, Bubblegum!