I Live in Cheongdamdong Episode 107

We flashback to their cafe meeting. Hyunwoo and his ex are realistically awkward, so awkward, in fact, that each screencap I take seems inferior to the next. It can’t be fully appreciated in stills, but it’s the way they’re both so shifty-eyed and fidgety.

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His ex seems like a reasonable person and she asks him a series of questions:

“Are you living well?”

“I sent you some letters… are you not staying at your old home?”

“Do you still not use a cellphone?”

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Hyunwoo doesn’t say anything. For us viewers, his hangdog expression is answer enough, but from the perspective of his ex, I agree when she says, “You ask me some questions, too. Don’t be stingy.” In Chinese, calling someone stingy/petty doesn’t have as harsh of a connotation, and can be used in a light, joke-y way.

He asks her, verbatim, “Are you living well?” She replies, “No, not well at all.” (Which we all know is a lie!! Girls like that on screen probably still have fabulous careers, great health, a lovely social network, and so on and so forth. Yes, a lost love is sad… but… where am I going with this? Oh, yeah, female solidarity… ahem. Pat. Pat. I guess what I mean is that she looks like someone who wouldn’t let her whole life fall to smithereens, even if she was sad about Hyunwoo.)

Their coffees arrive and Hyunwoo thanks her for paying and then leaves, which, to me, suggests more intimacy than if he had stayed and chatted awkwardly for another hour, because it takes familiarity to have someone else pay for your coffee.

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The next day, Sangyeob gets a lucky break when the directors deliver Hyunwoo’s ex to his door in the form of the star architect his company is hoping to recruit. I’m interested to see how Sangyeob will balance his curiousity about Hyunwoo against his work and am very impressed when Sangyeob does not mention Hyunwoo at all and is strictly professional.

They go out to check out the premises for their new project, which is when Hyunwoo spots them and thinks Sangyeob is doing this to further their little dating challenge. He marches over and pulls Sangyeob aside. Sangyeob quickly corrects him, saying that Yoo Suri is a very important client to him. She could be the one to help propel his company onto the international stage and he has no intention of letting anything personal interfere with the growth of his company. Go, Sangyeob.

Hyunwoo also impressed me with his very first threaten-y face. Who knew he had it in him. Even the moppet of curly hair doesn’t detract from it.

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Sangyeob takes Suri to The One Restaurant in Cheongdamdong, which is, of course, where Jieun works. He and Suri chat and it looks like Suri has no scruples about delicately prying more information about Hyunwoo out of him. In the background, Jieun and Jungmin blatantly eavesdrop as they repeatedly rub down what look to be two bottles of Windex. When Sangyeob tries his hand at it, and asks her what HER relationship with Hyunwoo is, she changes the topic.

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In the bathroom, Suri and Jieun meet. When Suri spritzes on more perfume, Jieun sniffs about,  and Suri immediately attempts to disperse the smell, apologizing (which is so sweet). Jieun says that she thinks the smell is really lovely, and Suri immediately gives her the bottle, telling her that she’s grateful someone else has the same opinion of a scent. (Lol, we get it, Show. She’s a Nice One.)

Aside: The Three Stooges are having some luck in the romance department until Hyunwoo comes downstairs. Both girls spot him, immediately move away from the Three Stooges, and begin demurely reading manhwa books and rearranging their hair. The Three Stooges know when they’re outplayed and they retreat into the kitchen. Sanghoon wonders why the girls gave them the cold shoulder as soon as Hyunwoo arrived and Woohyun answers that men like themselves are only seen when no one else is around. It’s a sad moment, until Moosung bursts out, “Aish, these sorts of things you just keep to yourself, Woohyun! Did you really need to spell it out clearly with your mouth!”

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Hyunwoo sees Suri while riding his bike, and he puts on his usual I’m-with-Suri-here-is-my-hangdog-face look. I like my man-angst, but this is getting a little depressing. What I imagine is that Suri, whom Sangyeob notices is visibly older than Hyunwoo by a few years, was probably easy to look up to and a good person. She may not have been involved with him outright, but she probably didn’t reject his advances. Then, to further her career, she moved to the States. From what we’ve seen of Hyunwoo’s family life, we know it’s a lonely one, and Hyunwoo probably took her departure as abandonment at a young age.

In any case, Suri asks if she can stay at Hyunwoo’s place if he’s staying elsewhere. He asks, “Why?” and then rides away. Man, if you were just going to do that, you didn’t need to stop the bike in the first place.

I want to take your sorrow seriously, Hyunwoo! But… it’s just very distracting when your curly hair wings out in the breeze like that. You do sorrow better when motionless.

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Jungmin is meeting up with an old high school friend and she stops in front of a glass window to fix her hair. The reflection changes for a second to show her as a high school student again, and I like this quiet beat for showing that, in all of us, there’s still a younger version, and when we meet the people who knew us when we were younger, we feel younger, too.

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But, of course, ILICDD isn’t content in showing just the idyllic beats. Moments later, Jieun gets a call from Jungmin. “Did you meet him?” she asks excitedly.

“No,” Jungmin says. And the expression on her face is sad, regretful, and wistful. “I saw my reflection and I realized that I’m a middle aged woman… who’s worlds apart from the girl I was sixteen years ago. I can’t even recognize myself anymore.”

This reminds me of a One Tree Hill quote. (Hey, even teenybopper shows have their moments.)

“It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday. And then quietly and without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And that someday is yesterday. And this is your life.”

I don’t think Jungmin’s got it bad at all. She loves her career and is acclaimed for it; she has good friends. She doesn’t have a love life yet, but that can happen still. I understand, though, and worry for, also, the day when I might look back and see that I’ve ended up far from where I initially dreamed of.

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“Just to get a glimpse of him. I stayed outside the restaurant. But, I really couldn’t tell who he was. So, I called him, and the man who picked up… I still couldn’t recognize him. So, if he were to see me, what would he think? No, I would much rather that I forever remain in his mind the 16 year old me, sharing earbuds and listening to a song together”

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Her thought process is understandable, but still tragic. Even when Jungmin saw that he had also changed and grown in unexpected ways, she wasn’t willing to reveal herself. Even though Jungmin, most definitely, did not think less of him because he looked different, she felt too vulnerable. To protect that one memory, she gave up the chance of them getting to know each other as the lovely human beings they are NOW. Especially since Jungmin is only in her thirties, she could be missing out on years of friendship. I’m no one to point fingers, because I’ve been in similar situations and don’t know what I would do if I were in her position, but seeing this as a third party is very saddening.

Jieun tells Jungmin to wait at the manhwa house; she’s coming over. Jungmin comes in and sees Woohyun listening to music. She asks what song it is and he gives her the earbud to listen. The camera paints over the moment in the same golden tone and Jungmin listens wistfully for a bit before realizing what she’s doing with Woohyun and jumping out of manhwa house, telling Jieun she’ll just see her tomorrow.

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Urgghhhh. Most people who have reviewed ILICDD have praised it for accurately capturing and micocosming daily problems/current issues, and I think this is one of them. Jungmin thought swoony days like that were times that belonged in her teens, but when it came to smack her in the face, she rejected it and ran away.

Anyway, Suri comes to the restaurant for another meal and Jieun joins her, since Suri seems to be in a bad mood. Suri tells her that she was nervous, so she left for the states, and now she realizes that she may have lost her chance at being with a truly good person. Jieun says, as long as that person isn’t married, there’s still a chance!

And, as usual in the kdrama world, our wires cross, and Jieun ends up cheering Suri on in her attempts to win back Hyunwoo.

Ending thoughts: Up till now, the ex-girlfriend bit hasn’t bothered me. The writers are certainly stomping in the fact that Suri is a good person, but it isn’t overplayed to the point where she’s just a stock character, something I credit the actress for. She’s not grating on my nerves and just seems like a good (perhaps bland) person who knows that she lost a good thing and is regretting it. Who hasn’t worried about that after a few rounds in the dating sphere? Also, my state of mind is peaceful, since the preview at the end of this episode shows Hyunwoo squarely choosing to settle his business with Suri and move on with Jieun. Woot!


2 thoughts on “I Live in Cheongdamdong Episode 107

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