In episode 2 of Page Turner all three of our leads must face the new futures they have been rather hurriedly thrown into. Yoo Seul must decide to seek help from the lesser of two evils in either her longtime rival or the rowdy stranger she recently met. We see a little more into the toxic environment of Jin Mok’s home and his father’s cold disregard for his son as a person. Meanwhile Cha Sik is faced with the decision to pursue his dream while everyone around him but his loving mother is telling him he will fail.
Page Turner Episode 2
This episode opens like the last with scenes foreshadowing some drama to come between our three main leads. “We didn’t know that choice was a very clear thing,” script across the screen reads between the scenes. “We found that out.” Yoo Seul is asked to choose between Cha Sik and Jin Mok in a tense moment between the three. We don’t get to see her answer before the title screen shows.
Back to the present, Cha Sik has returned to the graffiti filled tunnel he rode through at the beginning of epiosde 1 with his buddies. He asks the bum (who was miffed at his antics in the last episode) if he owns the piano. After getting a negatory response, he asks if anyone can play it and gets a nod from the ahjussi. Cha Sik is pleased by the news and presses a key, noting “This is perfect.”
Cut to the three leads getting ready for school. Yoo Seul’s mom offers to help her get ready but she says she can do it by herself. She feels her way into the bathroom and through her routine, accidentally slipping her feet into house shoes backwards.
Jin Mok is prepping for to leave as well but when he sees the crucifix sitting out in his room, he shoves it into a drawer to hide it away. His guilty heart is clearly still weighing on him. As Cha Sik packs up in his own room, his mom tells him to eat breakfast. He tells her that he can’t because he has a full schedule and leaves with a bounce in his step. Mom mutters to herself, “Does he think he’s a celebrity?” once he’s gone.
A group of Yoo Seul’s classmates wait together for the bus, amongst them the male and female student from last episode’s piano competition and Jin Mok. He listens as the pair mention that it will be Yoo Seul’s first day back. The male student (let’s call him “Glasses”) questions why Yoo Seul isn’t transferring to a school for the visually impaired instead. The female student (I’m naming her “Red Backpack” for now) defends her, saying she must be learning to live in a world with regular people. Jin Mok butts in asking, “Why would she give up piano? Does she have such strong willpower?” and says she must persevere somehow. He seems slighty miffed but Glasses laments Yoo Seul’s fate. Red Backpack brings up the idea that perhaps Yoo Seul never liked but is quickly shot down by her friend. She still argues that Yoo Seul is human and could feel that way too.
Jin Mok, who has been listening to this all, recalls the moment where Yoo Seul was about to jump off the roof and announced she was sick of piano and hating him. As the rest of the students begin to board the bus, he stops and stares. Glasses prompts him by calling his name but Jin Mok turns and runs the other direction. He runs directly by Cha Sik, who is mailing a letter and gives it a goodbye kiss before dropping it into the mail box.
Meanwhile, Yoo Seul is leaving for school and her mother attempts to follow her out of the house. Yoo Seul announces that she wants to go alone. Her mom is upset and asks if she suddenly hates her and wants to rebel. Yoo Seul angrily explains that she’s doing this because she doesn’t want to hate her. After being pestered by her mother still, Yoo Seul explodes and says she can do it alone and her friends at school will help her. So don’t follow her.
Mom listens for about two seconds before starting to sneak behind Yoo Seul as she walks away. Yoo Seul catches her though and shouts at her with an “Eomma!” and then very steadily tells Mom that she will go to school alone and be back. She begins walking away again but her mom calls out saying “Where do you have friends?” and “You have a curler in your hair!” Aw, Yoo Seul pulls it out of her hair without turning around.
The scene pans out and we can see that Jin Mok watched the whole exchange. (Hmm, he’s sure doing a lot of eavesdropping today). He must have run here from the bus stop. Jin Mok follows Yoo Seul up the hill with a sigh.
He follows silently behind her until a car drives by them, almost hitting Yoo Seul as it lets out a loud honk. Jin Mok grabs her and pushes her gently to the side but she freaks out at the unknown contact. She quickly jumps to the conclusion that it is her mother that helped her and begins ranting at her again, saying she can do it alone. Yoo Seul explains that even if she falls and gets hurt, at least she’s the one getting injured. So don’t follow.
She hands Jin Mok the curler that was in her hair earlier and he scoffs a bit as she starts to walk away with her cane. An ajhussi walks by and Yoo Seul hears the noise, thinking it’s her mother. Jin Mok and the ahjussi freeze as she whirls around and starts yelling again to not be followed. “I’m your daughter, I can clearly see what type of face your making,” Yoo Seul says angrily. As she walks away, the ahjussi asks Jin Mok why she’s calling him “Mom.” Jin Mok just says, “I know right?” with a smile on his face. Yoo Seul turns around one last time to yell at her “mom” but Jin Mok just laughs softly at her antics and follows her.
As she makes her way through the city towards school, Jin Mok stays by her side like a silent guardian angel. He helps her through the kiosk at the subway station when she can’t find the right place to swipe her card, but she remains unaware of his presence. On the subway Yoo Seul looks rather frightened in her seat. Jin Mok simply watches her carefully as he stands a few feet away. When she reaches a door on the way out of the station, he sneakily rushes ahead and opens it for her as she walks by, oblivious.
Now at school, Jin Mok waits until Yoo Seul has switched into her school shoes before finally leaving her alone. The male and female student from before (Glasses and Red Backpack) witness the exchange. Red Backpack points out in shock that Jin Mok helped fix her shoes but Glasses says he was only picking up money from the ground. Red Backpack is steadfast in her belief of what she saw and hits him for saying that. She demands Glasses to follow her as she heads out after Yoo Seul who is walking away.
The pair of students sit down across from Jin Mok as he is eating lunch. Red Backpack tells him that she saw everything. He looks unimpressed until she mentions him fixing Yoo Seul’s shoes. He freezes until Glasses prompts him with “That wasn’t it right? You picked up fallen money, right?” Jin Mok quickly agrees to this. Red Backpack is disappointed, saying she was about to be touched by his kindness. She thought that even though Jin Mok and Yoo Seul were enemies, he could set this aside to help her in her time of need. Jin Mok stays silent at this while Glasses tells her she should have volunteered to be Yoo Seul’s helper if she felt so strongly. It would have even counted for public service hours. But Red Backpack says that it would be bad if her grades dropped while trying to complete those hours. “My emotions and grades are separate,” she says with no remorse. Ha, that’s pretty cold but she’s clearly got her priorities. Glasses seems to think the same and is shocked by this, saying he can’t believe her.
Suddenly, there’s the sound of clattering plates and a girl screams out loudly across the cafeteria. Yoo Seul and another female student are both on the floor, with food and a platter around them. The female student screams out that it’s hot and it hurts, so she must have gotten hit by some of the food. Yoo Seul looks panicked and tries to feel across the floor, asking if she is hurt a lot. The female student says “I don’t know!” rather whiningly and then starts complaining about her her wet clothes. Hmm, I don’t think she’s that hurt.
Jin Mok suddenly grabs Yoo Seul’s wrist and pulls her up as a crowd gathers around the students. Red Backpack notes this once more, saying he’s still taking care of her as she and Glasses watch from the sidelines. But Yoo Seul pulls her wrist away and just looks close to tears.
Meanwhile, Cha Sik walks into Han Joo Highschool, looking around amazedly. He stops a group of female students walking by, complimenting the giant size of one girl’s violin. Hon, I don’t think that’s a violin. They just walk by hurriedly, scoffing to each other and asking what he’s saying. Cha Sik doesn’t seem worried by the brush off as he asks himself, “What can I do to get into this school?” with a smile on his face.
“There’s no way.” Cut to Cha Sik speaking to one of the teachers in the school’s office. That was a quick shoot down. Cha Sik doesn’t take no for an answer and questions why, saying he saw on their website that Han Joo takes transfer students. The teacher explains resolutely that the school must be in an agreement to accept a transfer student and even if they were to open a spot for one, it certainly wouldn’t be Cha Sik. He explains that this school isn’t one anyone can come into if they simply want to be a student.
Cha Sik laughs at this, explaining “Teacher, you’re taking me too lightly.” He says he’s not trying to get in just with will. But the teacher asks what else he has other than willpower. Cha Sik leans down close to his ear whispers “Talent.” But the teacher calls him a crazy punk, clearly unimpressed.
Also in the office, a teacher is explaining to Yoo Seul that no one has volunteered to be her helper around school yet. And that it is too difficult now because school is in session. Yoo Seul is stoic and composed as she acknowledges this. The teacher then mentions that the school will have to call her mother in instead. Yoo Seul quickly shuts this idea down, saying that this can’t be. You can see the cogs working in her brain as she declares that she’ll ask a friend instead. I kind of got the feeling she didn’t have many friends though…
The teacher points out that if there was anyone who was willing to help her, they would have already come forward. She says it’s too burdensome for anyone to do right now, so her mother must be called in instead. Suddenly, Jin Mok’s voice cuts in as he declares, “I’ll do it.”
He walks into the office as both the teacher and Yoo Seul look surprised. Jin Mok declares he brought the application form in and confirms that this will count as volunteer service hours. He pointedly tells Yoo Seul that he is doing it only for volunteer hours, nothing else. She still doesn’t look too pleased to hear it. The teacher even questions, “Aren’t you two uncomfortable with each other?” When she asks Yoo Seul if she’s okay with Jin Mok helping her, Yoo Seul stands up and angrily says that she isn’t. She declares that she’ll find a different person, no matter what.
Across the office, Cha Sik finally notices the exchange and perks up in surprise. He notes to himself (rather happily) that is it “Fool” and “Sam-Shik.” Meanwhile, Jin Mok is looking frustrated with her refusal and asks her why it can’t be him. Yoo Seul counters by demanding if he even knows what a helper is. Jin Mok declares he can do it and that it just requires things like reading out the material in class for her and helping her get home after school. He starts saying “I’m thinking of you-” but Yoo Seul cuts him off with an angry “Don’t think!” She says she wants to vomit when she thinks about him thinking about her.
She tells the teacher she’d rather go to school without help. But the teacher tells her that would be difficult, considering the scene she made in the cafeteria earlier when she spilled food on students. Without somebody’s help, school is going to be difficult. Jin Mok says Yoo Seul should listen to the teacher and, after a pause, awkwardly tells her he’ll take care of her. Yoo Seul still looks like she’s fuming as the teacher threatens to call her mother.
Now it’s time for another voice to butt in: Cha Sik’s. He loudly asks, “Can’t I be that helper instead?” and jogs over to the group. Yoo Seul is confused, asking who he is. Cha Sik excitedly declares that since he dropped out, he has a lot of time now. Yoo Seul finally catches on and realizes that he is the person from the roof. She angrily asks him that isn’t he the one that played a prank on her and told her to die? Cha Sik agrees to this easily with a huge smile on his face and declares that he’s living with new resolution. He says that he was crazy then but was reborn as a different person. Jin Mok is looking at him, mouth slightly agape and Yoo Seul does not look pleased as she scoffs at his words.
Cha Sik kneels down in front of the group and tells Yoo Seul that he is on his knees. He admits he committed a sin worthy of death. But he continues with his goofy smiles as he begs her to let him be the one to help her during class and walk her home. The teacher he was talking to earlier rushes over to him and angrily asks him why he’s making a scene in a school he doesn’t go to. Cha Sik is told by the teacher to get out as he is grabbed by the collar and pulled up. Cha Sik hurriedly tries to explain that he’s not saying that he’s transferring, just that he’ll be Yoo Seul’s helper.
Yoo Seul asks him why he would ever be her helper. Cha Sik unabashedly explains that the school doesn’t take transfers but he has to take classes here. So she should let him be her helper and he’ll never let anyone harm even a strand of hair on her head. Yoo Seul asks him if he’s in his right mind and Cha Sik declares with passion that he is. And he points out that it seems like she doesn’t like “Sam-Shik” (Jin Mok) anyways so he is by default much better. But Yoo Seul angrily announces that she doesn’t want his help either.
Jin Mok grabs Cha Sik and tells him to stop it and leave, he’s not even a student here. Cha Sik defensively points out that Yoo Seul’s mother isn’t a student either and the teachers said she could help. He starts getting more excited as he hurriedly asks the teacher “Am I not qualified?” She reluctantly says that he’s not forbidden from doing it. Cha Sik jumps on this and with a big smile on his face asks Yoo Seul choose: him or Sam-Shik?
Jin Mok, looking angrier by the second, asks Cha Sik why he keeps calling him Sam-Shik. Cha Sik bluntly tells him that there is a dumb looking fish that resembles Jin Mok, so he should look it up. Jin Mok pulls out his phone and actually does. The male teacher and Cha Sik peek over at the screen and snicker when they see the picture. Jin Mok demands to know how the fish remotely resembles him. At this, Cha Sik goads him with the name until he gets grabbed by the lapels by Jin Mok.
The teachers pull the two boys apart before an actual fistfight can break out. But Cha Sik continues to insult Jin Mok and tells him that if he’s mad he should fight him, or at least just curse at him. This is too much for Jin Mok and furiously calls Cha Sik a “larva-like bastard.” Cha Sik takes this a a comment however, happily saying that a larva becomes a butterfly later on in life. Jin Mok calls him an idiot, pointing out that a larva becomes a cicada. This doesn’t bother Cha Sik either and he announces he’ll be a cicada as he goes to hug Jin Mok. The two roughhouse for a bit before Yoo Seul finally speaks up after being silent for most of their conversation. Both boys freeze as she declares that she will choose who she wants as a helper. They look on with baited breath and the scene cuts away.
Now in Yoo Seul’s classroom during lecture, she looks towards the board with blank eyes. We see Jin Mok, who is seated close to her, starting at her before Cha Sik slides across the screen to block his line of sight. Well, that answers the question of who Yoo Seul chose!
To make this even clearer, Cha Sik whispers to Jin Mok, in English “I’m winner, you’re loser” and tells him to look away. Cha Sik assures Yoo Seul that he’ll tell her everything the teacher has on board as he scoots his chair close to her. Jin Mok looks on from behind them in disgust. Cha Sik starts explaining what is on the current powerpoint slide but struggles to pronounce the name of the composer, Jean Sibelius. He takes childish delight in the fact that his botched pronunciation sounds similar to the Korean version of the f-word and the rest of the students in the class shake their heads at him. The teacher makes a point of pronouncing the composer’s name correctly and Yoo Seul starts looking more and more annoyed with smiling Cha Sik.
On the next slide Cha Sik again mispronounces the next term in the lesson, “allegretto,” and mistakenly tells Yoo Seul that it is “arigato.” Both Yoo Seul and Jin Mok look irritated by this while Glasses snickers behind them as the teacher once again explains the word. Other students mock him and Yoo Seul doesn’t look happy as she overhears it. Cha Sik looks up an unfamiliar term on his phone and tries to explain it to Yoo Seul but she has her headphones in and is ignoring him. He looks slightly discouraged and it hurts my heart.
Later, Yoo Seul slowly makes her way into what looks like a powder room alone with only her cane to guide her. As she fumbles around the counter, trying to turn on the tap to brush her teeth, a hand reaches over and guides her. It’s Jin Mok and he asks her where “the larva” went and why she’s alone. She quickly recognizes that it’s Jin Mok and answers that Cha Sik left earlier when he said he had something he needed to fix. Jin Mok still seems put out as he asks Yoo Seul why she chose Cha Sik instead of him. He backtracks, claiming that he’s asking not because he really wanted to be the helper but he just can’t understand why she’d choose a helper like Cha Sik. Yoo Seul counters this by asking Jin Mok “How much do you think I hate you that I would chose a nonsensical guy like that?” Jin Mok points out that she said it was tiring to hate him and admits that it’s the same for him. He asks if they can be more comfortable together now.
Yoo Seul scoffs at this, telling Jin Mok she doesn’t recognize him like this and that he’s gone soft. She humorlessly points out with a bitter smile that he only became like this after she lost her eyesight. She questions if he finds it easier to be around her now, if he sees her as pitiful. He denies it quickly but she interrupts his explanation. Yoo Seul coldly tells him that the help he offered doesn’t look like kindness at all to her, it just makes her feel like shit. Jin Mok looks conflicted as he gazes at her. Yoo Seul announces that if she becomes number one again and he still feels this way, then she will think about being more comfortable with Jin Mok. But she tells him that will almost certainly never happen with her eyes in the state that they are. Jin Mok looks like he’s wants to say something but holds his tongue.
As Yoo Seul leaves school, Cha Sik bikes up to her, announcing he fixed his bike so she can ride behind him. She outright ignores his attempts to talk to her and walks off. He hops of the bike and runs after her, shouting that they should go together.
On the subway, he tries to usher her into an empty seat but Yoo Seul announces she’s getting off at the next stop. He jokingly asks her if she’s sulking because she was embarrassed by his antics during class earlier. He tells her that’s his style, like an “unscratched lottery ticket.” In other words: he looks useless at first but is actually valuable. Yoo Seul looks completely unimpressed by his efforts as he declares she just needs to give him time to show his full worth.
Now at the subway terminal, Cha Sik assures Yoo Seul that soon when he’s not there she’ll look for him and when she hears his voice she’ll welcome him. Then he cheerfully asks her when she wants to be picked up tomorrow. Yoo Seul stops and coldly declares she doesn’t need him. Since she only wants him here so her mother doesn’t come to school and Cha Sik is only helping her because he needs to be at Han Joo, they should just put on an act at school. He looks miffed at her sass.
As she turns to walk away, she ends up running into two different walls before Cha Sik has to tell her that she’s going the wrong way. She coolly turns around after a pause and tells him “I know” before strutting away (a hair flip included for good measure). Cha Sik looks at her as she walks away in anger and bewilderment and declares that she makes his fighting blood boil. He still follows after her though.
Back at Cha Sik’s home, his mom wakes up from a nap. She’s shocked to alertness when she walks into a room and sees sticky notes and music sheets covering a wall and mirror. When she hears the door click open she runs over to Cha Sik, calling out his name urgently. She asks him where he’s going on a Sunday and he answers the library. He explains that he might not be home until after dawn so she should lock the door and sleep because he’s taking the keys. After a cute salute to his mom, he’s off. Mom says to the empty house that at this rate, Cha Sik will be heading to Julliard.
Cha Sik gets to work in study montage library (finally learning that what he believed was a keyboard was actually a piano lol). He complains about some of the tricky names of the terms. As he walks down the street in the next scene, he is awed to find out that there are in fact two Mozarts. Cha Sik asks his “father” this as he slips an letter into a mailbox.
Back in class with Yoo Seul, he is explaining the lesson to her much more confidently than before and definitely knows his material. The entire class is impressed when Cha Sik drops some fancy musical lingo and he stands up and welcomes their approval as they laugh with him.
As the two leave campus for the day, Cha Sik bombards Yoo Seul with music facts from class and deftly knocks a ball out of the way that comes flying towards her head. This gets him the approval of the boys who actually kicked it while Yoo Seul just seems a little shocked at his sudden display of intelligence. Once they’ve gone a ways, Cha Sik as asks Yoo Seul if she still won’t ride his bike. She rejects the offer again and the two part ways, more through her actions than his. As Cha Sik watches her walk away he consoles himself by noting that it hasn’t quite been a month yet and that soon she’ll start looking for his help when he’s gone. Only he can’t even convince himself of this and looks dejected. Suddenly, Cha Sik startles when he hears Yoo Seul’s scream for her mom from down the street.
She’s fallen to the ground with a dog barking angrily at her. The dog’s owner shouts at her, demanding to know why she would hit a dog with her “stick” and Yoo Seul looks confused and terrified. She stands up and says that she didn’t and demands to know why the dog wasn’t on a leash. The owner hurriedly snaps a leash to the dog’s collar and threatens to take Yoo Seul to the police station. But before he can do anything else, Cha Sik comes barreling into the conversation, shouting that the owner clearly didn’t have a leash on. He furiously berates the owner for his irresponsibility and attacking Yoo Seul for false reasons.
The owner gets defensive and again claims that Yoo Seul beat his dog. She desperately explains that she just tapped it with her cane by accident and then fell down when it started barking at her. She screams out that she’s the victim here and Cha Sik agrees, grabbing her arm. He points out at CCTV camera above them to the owner and then agrees that they should take this to the police to see who’s really at fault here. The dog owner gets flustered and makes a hasty (and rude) retreat. This cowardliness angers Cha Sik and he starts yelling at the man before Yoo Seul grabs his hand tightly. He looks at her in shock as she asks him to take her home.
Not long after they begin their walk back, Yoo Seul gripping Cha Sik’s jacket all the while (cute!), he again asks her if she wants to ride his bike. She finally agrees with a shy nod. The sun is setting and bubbles fly across the screen as they make their ride home. Cha Sik points out that this was the first time she called out his name and tells Yoo Seul to hold on tight as he speeds up. She soon disregards this and spreads her arm, feeling the breeze fly against her face as a peaceful smile spreads across it. She looks genuinely happy for the first time in the series, I would say.
Yoo Seul’s mom is waiting to greet them as the pair of students bike up. Not knowing this, Yoo Seul warns Cha Sik to leave before her mom sees him but this illusion is shattered quickly by her mom calling her name. Yoo Seul doesn’t look happy as everyone makes introductions and her mom tells her they’ll have Cha Sik over for dinner next time. As the mom and daughter head inside Cha Sik cheerfully notes to himself that she seems like a better person than he expected. He’s about to leave when he sees Yoo Seul’s dropped cane and runs over their house, about to bring it to her. Their conversation stops him though.
Yoo Seul’s mom furiously berates her for riding a bike and risking injury to her hands. Cha Sik looks shell-shocked as she goes further to call him an ignorant gangster. But Yoo Seul jumps to his defense, yelling that he isn’t either of those things but her mother just further insults him. Yoo Seul finally calls her mom’s words the lowest of low and gets a quick slap to the face from her mother as a result. Yoo Seul looks absolutely devasted while Cha Sik, hearing the noise, is similarly shocked. Her mother continues to turn this against Yoo Seul, saying she thought she would be patient and wait for her to return to her senses but Yoo Seul must hate her too much. Yoo Seul defends in a shrill voice that she is doing this all because she doesn’t want to hate her instead.
Her mother answers with a disbelieving “What?” Yoo Seul, through her tears, states that it was the first time she ever rode a bike today and it was so nice. She wonders how much nicer it would have been when she could see. She gets more and more desperate as she lists all the things she regrets not doing before she lost her eyesight and demands to know why she only could play piano. Her mom points out all her trophies in desperation, asking if she regrets those, if she is proud of those. Yoo Seul denies this, saying she never felt like she earned them; rather, they were her mother’s trophies. Her mom is nearly speechless as Yoo Seul explains for the final time: she’s not rebelling, she’s just living her life in a way that will let her not resent her own mom. The shot pans to outside the house and Yoo Seul’s cane can be seen sitting against the door. Cha Sik is gone.
Later, her mom remembers Yoo Seul’s words as she looks at the trophies and photos. In a devastated voice, she notes how Yoo Seul never smiled once in any of the pictures.
Cha Sik walks to Yoo Seul’s mother the next morning and cheerfully asks her if he still looks like a gangster. He’s dressed in a spiffy suit complete with shiny black loafers and glasses but the effect gives him an appearance that is more comical than dapper. Mom points out his eavesdropping tendencies and says he looks like a loan shark instead as Yoo Seul emerges from the house. This just gets a “Heol” from Cha Sik.
He relates the insult later to his own mother and she quickly jumps to his defense by getting angry on his behalf. She demands to know if he stayed silent or spoke up for himself. And Cha Sik quickly affirms he spoke up for himself… by saying sorry. Mom is confused.
We get a flashback of Cha Sik apologizing for looking like a loan shark with a bow to Yoo Seul’s mother as he takes off his glasses. He asks her how to correct his fashion as Yoo Seul listens blankly in confusion but Yoo Seul’s mom just gets mad at his questions, thinking that he’s being cheeky. But with a serious expression, Cha Sik explains that Yoo Seul chose him so he has a strong will not to let her regret her choice. After his little speech he tucks Yoo Seul’s hand in his coat pocket and ushers her away kindly, as she looks a bit dazed at the whole argument. Mom goes back to her sweeping, appearing angry, but her expression softens as she watches the two walk away.
As they bike to school, Yoo Seul asks Cha Sik if she should buy him something. This stops him dead in his tracks. She explains that she feels indebted to him after the fiasco with her mom but he rejects her proposal, saying she’s not the one who needs to apologize. Instead, he has a different proposal.
They bike over to the abandoned graffiti piano near the ahjussi’s camp. Cha Sik asks Yoo Seul to play the piano so he can see how good she was but she says she doesn’t want to. He eventually guilt trips her into agreement by bringing back the debt she said she owed him. She angrily asks where the piano is while a huge grin spreads across Cha Sik’s face. He carefully helps her onto the bench while she asks herself “Will I be able to play?” Cha Sik announces that he will pick the song but Yoo Seul scoffs and wonders if he even knows one. She begins playing, but isn’t impressed with the quality of the piano. Cha Sik, however, is thoroughly amazed at her skill. Yoo Seul tells him he can’t tell anyone else she played the piano here and he agrees, still in awe.
Except… he’s now spilling the beans to his mom as they go around putting up fliers. Predictably, Mom asks Cha Sik why he’s telling her if he promised to keep it a secret and that gets him in a huff. He defensively explains that it’s because she is his mom but she tells him he’s acting like a child, not the adult she thought he was, in a teasing way. He grumpily tells her from now on he’ll act like an adult and keep his secrets from her. She has to run after him calling “Teacher Cha!” as he storms off.
All she has to do is ask him if Yoo Seul was a good pianist before his mood instantly brightens. He excitedly tells Mom that he thinks she’s the best after his dad. Eyes, closed with a dopey smile on his face, Cha Sik flashes back to her piano playing. He describes it as a “rainbow he hoped would never disappear” among some other choice cheesy descriptions. Then he mentions how recently that same song Yoo Seul played entered his dreams. Mom is surprised at this, asking how he’s able to remember the music but Cha Sik just nonchalantly says that he does.
Just then, his mom’s phone rings. When she hangs up she explains to Cha Sik it was an employer asking for a refund on a cover letter she wrote after he failed to get the job he applied for. Cha Sik is enraged, pointing out that he failed because of his specs, not his mom’s writing, but Mom gloomily suggests that she must have written a poor cover letter considering the little amount of work she can get hired for. Cha Sik looks heartbroken at this but puts on a smile quickly has he tries to cheer her up.
With a determined expression, he promises her that he’ll buy her a building one day and they’ll never have to put up fliers or answer rude calls again. She gives him a sad smile after he describes his extravagant plans and goes back to taping up fliers. Mom mentions that she can understand how beautiful Yoo Seul’s piano playing felt now, because that’s how her son’s words make her feel. They smile adorably at each other and I just love this relationship.
Back at the high school, the girls are getting ready to change and Red Backpack notices that Yoo Seul isn’t with them. She points out that it will be hard for her to change without help, even though that used to be her regular routine.
Cha Sik leads Yoo Seul into an empty classroom and promises that he keep watch so no one comes in. She ends up chasing him out with her cane though before beginning to change. Bad decision though- phone peeps up over the window, recording her changing. Before he can record anything to incriminating the student, Gyoo Seon, is called away by another student. Yoo Seul startles at how close the two voices sound and ducks down in the room, looking shaken.
The Peeping Tom is pulled into the locker rooms by a furious Jin Mok who grips him by the lapels. Gyoo Seon desperately tries to explain that he was just taking a picture, and then asks Jin Mok if he wants to see it. Uh, bad move. Jin Mok throws his phone to the ground, much to Gyoo Seon’s anger. When Jin Mok points out he should be grateful this isn’t being taken to the police Gyoo Seon defends himself by saying that it was Yoo Seul’s fault for changing like she wanted a picture to be taken of her. Scumbag.
This sends Jin Mok flying at him in a sudden brawl but other students quickly pull them apart and take Gyoo Seon away. Glasses asks Jin Mok what’s wrong but he’s too angry to even answer and just breathes heavily.
When Jin Mok gets home that night he stops for a moment at the entryway to look at his bandaged hand, presumably from the fight. He sighs before he goes to see the rest of his family.
At dinner, Jin Mok meekly announces his injury, saying that it will be difficult for him to perform at the upcoming wedding he was slotted for. His father immediately announces that this is a big problem and asks Jin Mok’s brother to find a replacement, saying it might be difficult in just two days. Jin Mok quietly asks if that’s all he’s worried about. When his father is confused at the question, Jin Mok angrily explains that his own son who plays the piano hurt his hand and all that he cares about is finding a replacement. His father coldly asks him if he’s whining again. Jin Mok says that he is, and he thought his father would be more worried about his injury but he was wrong.
His dad brutally says that Jin Mok is losing confidence in his piano playing and that the more his confidence drops, the greater he is hurt by a lack of attention. He says that Jin Mok started playing piano in the first place by being deceived by his own perceived talents. Jin Mok stays silent when his father asks if anything he said was wrong.
Later, hand still in bandages, Jin Mok aggressively plays the piano with a dark expression on his face. As his bandages unwrap, he finishes with a harsh bang to the keys and hangs his head.
Back at school, Cha Sik notices a flier for a two person piano competition that is, coincidentally, happening in three months. He excitedly asks nearby Glasses how to enter the competition but it’s Jin Mok’s voice that answers “Be born again.” The group of students gathered and laugh as Jin Mok walks up, but Cha Sik resolutely announces his sincerity. Jin Mok says he’s not joking and a “blockhead” like Cha Sik can never enter. Cha Sik defends himself by saying that he has innate talent but he’s just mocked by the other students for this, as they believe he got this insight from something like a horoscope or aptitude test.
With some reluctance, Cha Sik finally explains that his father is Hyeon Myeong Se and all the students’ expressions turn serious. Not for long though, as Glasses points out that he should at least come up with a believable lie, considering Hyeon Myeong Se is not married. Cha Sik pulls out his phone to show the photo of his mom and dad as evidence but nobody believes him, saying that lots of people take pictures with musicians after performances. Cha Sik looks angrier and angrier as the students further discuss his “lie” and its ridiculousness. He finally bursts, asking if he wins first in the competition, will it be enough proof. Jin Mok cooly states that if he even passes the preliminaries, he’ll acknowledge Cha Sik. The other students agree and Cha Sik walks off with a “challenge accepted.”
After he’s left the other students wonder how he’ll even find a partner. Red Backpack suggest he’ll go to Yoo Seul but glasses is convinced she’ll reject Cha Sik.
And… he’s not wrong. Yoo Seul asks Cha Sik if he’s crazy and tells him to go to the hospital to get some drugs. He quickly affirms that he’s as normal as ever, but Yoo Seul claims that he was never normal to begin with. But Cha Sik still determinedly explains that he has three months to master a song, he can do it. Yoo Seul says even if he was Mozart’s son, he couldn’t, and that he should just get a paternity test if he wants to prove his relationship to Hyeon Myeong Se. Very serious, Cha Sik asks her if he thinks he’ll lose this bet. Yoo Seul asks him in response if she practiced pole vaulting for three months, would she be able to get into a competition, and he has to say no.
She says that it’s not only reckless, it’s disrespectful to the students who have been playing piano for ten years for Cha Sik to think he could surpass them in three months. Looking crushed, Cha Sik finally agrees in a quiet voice and apologizes. He takes her wrist gently and says “Let’s go” leading a surprised looking Yoo Seul away.
As they bike home together, both students look unhappy. Cha Sik remembers his conversation with his mother where he spoke about the piano music he remembered in his dreams. With a sad smile he thinks to himself “I have a secret from my mom.” He’s hiding his dream from her, and the song he hears there. In his dream, he’s playing the piano with Yoo Seul, the two smiling peacefully at each other across two grand pianos.
Cha Sik dreams that he doesn’t look like a gangster and Yoo Seul can see and she smiles at him occasionally as they play. They sit alone in an auditorium, spotlight on shining, looking content and free.
Outside his fantasy, the two arrive in the graffiti tunnel with the abandoned piano. Cha Sik stops suddenly and Yoo Seul asks why. He asks her if she remembers the song she played there last time. Cha Sik tells her if he can play it, she has to acknowledge him. She scoffs a little at that, asking how it’s possible, but Cha Sik looks deadly serious. Yoo Seul gets off the bike, and says she’s caught his trick; she thinks Cha Sik is going to have someone else play for him since she can’t see for herself. She calls out for his accomplices, even going as far to name Jin Mok and Cha Sik just chuckles a bit.
Before announcing the he’s going to be a bit rude, Cha Sik suddenly picks Yoo Seul up princess style and sits her down on the piano bench, to her shock. The tunnel ahjussi watches them curiously as Cha Sik sets Yoo Seul’s hand onto his own and asks her if she can believe him this way. She agrees, seemingly dazed, as he begins playing. It’s slow, but accurate and Yoo Seul soon lets her hand fall in shock. Cha Sik narrates in voice over, “Even though it was a dream, to me, it was a memory that would last forever.”
Cut to Cha Sik slapping down a set of piano books with a proud smile on his face in his room. We get a montage of him studying and dutifully tapping away at the tunnel piano as the ahjussi looks on. Cha Sik announces he couldn’t let the dream go to waste. We see him bundled up in the cold with a headlight, pressing the keys until his fingers bleed, and with band-aids covering his fingertips.
Finally, he sits at the piano with Yoo Seul, fingers flying across the keys as he plays the song he’s been practicing for so long. The ahjussi listens carefully and a couple walking by even note them with interest. When Cha Sik stops playing, breathing heavily, he asks Yoo Seul if his plan is still unbelievable now. “No,” she says wonderingly, “It seems to make sense.”
Cha Sik turns her towards him and announces that they should enter the competition together. She gives him a big smile, the most genuine we’ve seen as he declares in voiceover “My dream is starting to happen.”
I absolutely love how this drama has taken to ending episodes: not with a cliff hanger or impending doom, but always with hope for a new beginning. Cha Sik is an absolute gem of a character. Seeing him get so discouraged throughout the episode with the constant mockery and doubt from his peers was heartbreaking, but the fact that he was able to pull through and show his talent to Yoo Seul is telling of his dedication He’s always going to fight for what he wants, and he doesn’t let the opinions of others run his life.
Quite contrary to Yoo Seul, who lived her entire life letting her mother dictate what she did. I think the fact that she’s now allowed to ride a bike with Cha Sik is a small but significant victory for her that will eventually let her reach out and try other new experiences she was unable to do before she quit piano. She’s still harboring that grudge towards Jin Mok, but I find it realistic and reasonable. If someone who was my rival for almost my entire life tried to suddenly be my helper, it doesn’t seem too outlandish to pick the rough-around-the-edges but devoted stranger than an enemy.
That being said, Jin Mok is definitely misunderstood and you can see how clearly he’s changed in just the span of two episodes. I think his interaction with his father is particularly telling in why his attitude was initially so poor. He grew up in a household where he was constantly being neglected for attention and used as a tool. He’s not being treated as a son or made to feel special by his father, and the fact that Jin Mok’s dad was more concerned about a replacement for him than his son’s injury was heartbreaking. All this terrible parenting makes me appreciate Cha Sik’s mom even more. She’s 100% supportive of all her son’s wild dreams, even if her own dreams aren’t looking too bright.
Overall, this episode was quick paced and covered a lot of ground. I suppose it has to, given that the series is only three episodes, but I would have loved for this drama to be extended. There’s so much heart and complexity to these characters and even if the story is a bit cheesy, it’s the best kind of cheesy and I look forward to how it concludes in the final episode.