Twenty Again: Episode 3 Recap

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Alrighty – I’m sold with this series. It’s getting better with each episode so I only hope it gets stronger. Twenty Again is picking up the pace, bringing Nora closer to her past self while still reminding us that she is still not the normal twenty-something in school. But it’s not so painful to see her suffer under the students’ gaze.

Hyun Suk insists on an answer to why Nora didn’t tell her husband she’s going to school. Nora gets really frustrated with him, thinking that he’s threatening her for information. But after repeated “threats” that he’ll go ask her husband for the answer she finally gives: she didn’t tell Woo Chul because he wanted her to live a comfortable life as a housewife instead of going to school with no friends. That’s not the total reason, but that’s all she’s giving Hyun Suk.

It only raises more questions for Hyun Suk: “Why did you want to go in the first place?” She’s not answering that as it was not part of the deal, but immediately apologizes for whatever wrong she must have done against him. She doesn’t remember what she could have done wrong, and a flashback clarifies that she really didn’t. He just had an insane crush on her ever since she was open to his idea about mixing genres between dance and music. Nora reassures him that he won’t see her anymore, since she dropped his class, and hurries off.

Eh?! She dropped my class?! That’s what Hyun Suk is thinking when he chases after her and tells her to re-add his class. Otherwise his class will get canceled. (Yeah right.) In exchange, he’ll get her to the other psychology class and even calls up the professor in front of her.

Meanwhile Woo Chul’s just completed his first class, and he gets a text from Yi Jin to meet outside. The two of them sit back to back on a bench, pretending they are not talking to each other. Psh… acting so discreet when it’s not like they’re on a date. Yi Jin only wanted to ask about how things were progressing with Hyun Suk, and Woo Chul is offended that a lowly adjunct professor is acting so rudely to him, a newly permanent member of the staff. Yi Jin comes to Hyun Suk’s defense though, revealing that Hyun Suk was courted by the school for a long time and that he would only accept an adjunct position even though they wanted him as a permanent faculty member. Woo Chul naturally becomes jealous, which Yi Jin enjoys.

After her classes are sorted, Nora realizes that she never introduced her husband to Hyun Suk. So why does he act like he knows her husband? Well, Hyun Suk isn’t going to reveal that so easily. She must first answer another question: why does she want to attend school now, of all times? Nora replies: “Well my son is all grown and I want to match my husband intellectually.” Hyun Suk scoffs; it’s a deceptively simple answer that he was not really expecting but is quite disappointed by. In return, he reveals that he knows someone at Youngjoo University who knew Woo Chul, and that he had recently met a “Kim Woo Chul” that joined WCU. It wasn’t hard to put together, especially since Kim Woo Chul is the name of the guy that stole his girl away.

Hyun Suk returns to his studio, where his assistant producer Sang Ye is preparing the first group project he’s throwing at his class. She’s surprised that Nora dropped the class and then re-added it, figuring that Hyun Suk must have had something to do with it. Hyun Suk won’t say, so she presses further: is Nora the same “bad, dumbfounding, annoying wench” that he had drunkenly blurted out, who was also his first love? Heh – Sang Ye just has good memory while drunk. Hyun Suk admits to it, and adds the adjective “idiot” to the list.

Back home, Woo Chul gives Nora a new contract to sign as an addendum to their original one, where she promises to divorce three months from March 2. If she does not then she forfeits the right to the old store that belonged to her grandmother. Woo Chul starts being really condescending towards her, implying that she’s developing bad habits in delaying their divorce, so she shuts him up by stamping her thumbprint on the contract.

The following morning Min Soo heads out to the library. On a Saturday. Nora wants to encourage him to rest, but Woo Chul says he’ll meet his son at the library since they have to talk. Min Soo’s eyes widen; yep, he wasn’t planning to go to the library at all! But now he has to! He’s trapped! And sure enough, Hye Mi had a trip and picnic planned out for them that day!

Sadly he must delay their trip, and the two sit at the library across from each other, wondering when Woo Chul will finally come over so they can escape. The father arrives just in time for lunch, which means Hye Mi is going to be sidelined yet again for this father-son lunch. Woo Chul gives Min Soo some allowance, as well as his business card. It’s his quiet way of revealing that he now works at Min Soo’s school. Woo Chul wanted to wait until Min Soo was settled, but assures him that he’s different from what Nora was going to do because he’s a professor. He adds that it might be helpful to have a father as a professor for future job prospects. However, that seems to be the least of Min Soo’s worries.

Min Soo now has to break it to Hye Mi that he can’t act like a couple with her around campus, but they will be able to have meals together and hang out on weekends. That’s it… because he had signed a contract saying that if he were to date in college he’d immediately go to the army. Woo Chul and his contracts!! Hye Mi thinks it’s a stupid agreement, but Min Soo didn’t know he was going to meet her or have a girlfriend anyways! So for now, they’ll have to date in secret.

Nora visits a nursing home that day, one that her grandmother may have stayed at during her later years, to share a meal with some of the old grandmothers there. They’re so happy to see her, but she tells them the sad news that this will be her last visit. Instead of revealing her sickness, she makes up the excuse that her husband is returning to Germany for work. After making their meal, she then helps do their laundry while listening to the radio.

Guess who’s on the radio?! Yep – Cha Hyun Suk. He goes on to talk about his project “You & Now,” which is a play about loss, based on people’s stories that they sent in. Hyun Suk goes on to talk about how most stories sent in is about death, which is the greatest form of loss. But he doesn’t agree, because he doesn’t think death only give loss. He believes that it also can lead to happiness because everyone dies. And if everyone is aware of that fact, they might live their lives more fully. They could even write biographies, bucket lists, or wills to somehow remember a full life lived.

That’s inspiring to Nora, who believes that she is dying in 6 months. She tries her hand at writing her biography, which gives us a chance to learn about her backstory. After her father died from pancreatic cancer and her mother remarried and left her, she was raised by her grandmother and attended an arts school for one year before meeting Woo Chul, getting pregnant, and moving with him to Germany. It was tough for her out there because she didn’t know how to raise him and was quite weak herself. She relied a lot on Woo Chul, but he was always studying until very late. And then when Min Soo was older, they finally moved back to Seoul.

Nora acknowledges that her life has not been anything remarkable because she’s lived all her life for Min Soo and raising him. So why not start now? Why not give herself a mini makeover, to live her life as if she were twenty again? And with that, she buys a whole lot of “hip” clothing, changes her hairstyle, and prints out a “lecture guide” on slang, what’s in these days with the younger crowd, and what events are upcoming for her class.

The following day Nora goes to school with the intent of signing up for a new club. She only sees signs for Bounce, which is Soon Nam’s club, and heads over to sign up. Little does she realize that no one is signing up for Bounce because the other club, Beat Sounds (the one Nora danced with during the club fair) stole all of their prospective registrants with her dancing demonstration! Soon Nam is really pissed about the lack of new blood in his club and yells at his underlings to go find the “woman” who danced with Beat Sounds and sign her up with them ASAP! She would probably instigate more sign ups!

Just as he sends them off, Nora arrives! The two are shocked to see each other but Nora takes this opportunity to finish their ‘Marriage and Family’ assignment of introducing one another to the class. Soon Nam gives his basic background, adding that he is a business student who completed the army and just wants to get a job before he graduates. Heh – for a business student he sure is more invested in the performing arts. Nora says she’ll chat him her bio, which means she will need his number. Hah!

She then remembers that she was here to sign up for Bounce. This floors Soon Nam – is she seriously stalking him!? It’s a complete coincidence though, as she didn’t know he was the president of the club, but she’s willing to do anything to get in. She doesn’t mind it if she has to do all the menial tasks or if he talks to her informally – she is a freshman technically! Soon Nam won’t let her join – he’ll quit if she does! So Nora decides she’ll just leave for today… but she’ll be back!

It’s class time with Hyun Suk, and he notices three students are late: Park Seung Hyun (the girl on the train that returned Nora’s phone), Nora, and Soon Nam. Immediately he sets their colored pencils aside as they will be a group together. Everyone else can randomly choose a pencil to get their assigned groups for the project. The three of them stumble in late, and Soon Nam is shocked that he will have to be paired up with Nora again. When Seung Hyun asks for his number after class, he says he’ll drop it as he has too many group projects to work on. Hyun Suk overhears this, and he informs Sang Ye to place Seung Hyun in a different group when Nora drops out again. Sang Ye really doesn’t understand her boss – even if he’s no longer curious about her, why is he being so hard on her?

Hyun Suk then gets a call from Yi Jin, who wants him to go to a nearby bar for beer and a chat. It’s a place where Nora’s humanities freshman class is having a welcome party thrown by the seniors. Nora arrives a little late, and she cuts through the awkwardness immediately by introducing herself and acknowledging that she’ll need their help through college. At first the seniors want to order the strong drinks to get her drunk right away and get her out, but she is more than capable to hold her own even with drinking games.

Just then, the department head Professor Cho makes his entrance, and the seniors start planning on how to deal with him instead. It turns out that Professor Cho is very touchy towards the girls when he gets drunk, and so the seniors try to make sure that the men surround him instead of the girls. However, the seniors also don’t try very hard to protect the freshmen girls, leaving them as prey for Cho’s wandering hands. Nora sits quite far from all of this so she can only observe disgustedly as he puts his arms and hands on their shoulders and thighs.

The other freshmen girls frequently escape to the bathroom, and there Nora overhears them complaining about why the seniors don’t do a single thing. She returns to the table where most of the students are drunk and passed out, and Cho is being quite touchy with Hye Mi. Nora gets flashbacks of the time there was a flasher pervert who would accost female students, and how she and Yoon Young surprised him first and tried to get him to reveal his clothes. The flasher then got scared and ran away, only to be tripped by Hyun Suk and attacked with flour and eggs by other female students. Back then, Nora, Yoon Young, and Hyun Suk were able to do something against sexual harassment. So now in the present, Nora feels she ought to do the same.

She stands up finally and tells Professor Cho to stop sexually harassing the students. It’s quite an allegation, one that makes Professor Cho sputter with, “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I’m just encouraging the students!” She lists out the numerous times he’s touched the students, all the while giving eye contact. Professor Cho gets angry with her insolence, as even though she’s an older woman she’s still a student, but he gets shooed out of the bar by the seniors. The others start clapping, and the freshmen female students all see Nora as a hero now.

Little does she realize, Hyun Suk saw the whole thing, as he’s been having drinks with Yi Jin. Yi Jin’s been trying to convince him to have Woo Chul on his team as a consultant, because it would add the public’s trust in him. And, he’s been a sponsor for five years too! So Hyun Suk rejects the sponsorship. He doesn’t need it, and he’ll find his own way to fund it since it’s his project. Yi Jin sputters – is Hyun Suk looking down on her right now? She is the school’s chairman’s daughter you know. Hyun Suk doesn’t care, especially since he’s never seen the chairman’s daughter get so involved with school activities before. Offended, Yi Jin waltzes out, dropping her papers and a ball point pen with the engraving “I <3 W.” That’s quite obvious to us what it means.

The following day Nora watches her son studying in the library from afar. She feels like he needs to take more breaks and enjoy life more, and drops off an energy drink when he steps away to return a book. She rushes past Hye Mi, not realizing that Hye Mi’s there to see Min Soo too. She is puzzled by the presence of the energy drink, wondering who gave it to him. Min Soo’s seat mate, who saw the whole thing, doesn’t say anything but shakes his head at this potential love triangle going on.

Professor Cho is not very happy with what happened the night before, and his T.A. apologizes for not having been there. He had gone for an interview at Cho’s friend’s company. Turns out this T.A. is having a hard time, graduating two years late now and without a job offer yet. He feels quite lowly in front of Cho and knows that he must rely on his professor’s connections to get him anywhere.

And that’s exactly how the other seniors in the humanities department feel. When Nora asks aloud at the student lounge why the seniors didn’t do anything earlier if Cho had been harassing the female freshmen, they fire back that Nora doesn’t know anything. Besides, it’s not like she’s going to look for a job after she graduates right? So she has nothing to fear. They on the other hand will need to be on Cho’s good side to get a recommendation, so even though they know what he does is wrong they don’t dare stand up to him.

Just then, the T.A. also overhears this conversation at the lounge and orders Nora to apologize to Cho for what she said the night before. Everyone seriously fears Cho way too much, and they even talk behind Nora’s back at lunch for causing more trouble for them. The other seniors think she’s being a martyr, pretending to sacrifice her potential future career for them by calling Cho a pervert. Kids these days…

Nora is so perplexed she actually seeks counsel from Hyun Suk. After all she can’t go to her family for answers about what kids these days think. He gives her directions to his studio, and then tells her he saw the whole thing. He points out that she insulted the seniors by standing up for the freshmen girls. They’re trying their best to survive in a world full of uncertainty. Hyun Suk tells her to go to her husband for advice on these things in the future, because he is not going to be the person to help her on how to improve relationships and whatnot.

So fine – Nora won’t ever come to him again! She rushes out of the studio, dropping her planner in the process. It lands on the page where she has written a letter to Min Soo about how she is dying and has only a few months left due to pancreatic cancer. Oh boy – Hyun Suk is going to severely regret his harsh words towards her after he reads this.

Nora is reminded that she needs to go to the hospital for a follow-up and discovers that the diagnosis was wrong! She had come into the office when the nurse called for Han Oh Ra. She really doesn’t have pancreatic cancer! Woo! What a sigh of relief that that’s finally out in the open!

Some Thoughts

I find it quite amusing that while Hyun Suk “discovers” she has cancer, she learns that it’s not the case. I mean, this is a fairly common set up but I like that it happens right away and at the same time. None of this drawn-out dramatic nonsense. I would like him to be nicer to her though and not find out about her illness for a little longer. It will sure make Sang Ye even more confused about her boss’s intentions.

Speaking of Sang Ye, I really like how she’s currently just acting like a friend and colleague who is the common sense to Hyun Suk’s irrationality. She’s more collected and sees things for what it is, not letting emotions or stereotypes get in the way of how she will judge the students – especially Nora. I like that she reminds Hyun Suk he’s being ridiculous at times, and I hope she remains the friend on the side who won’t do anything about her possible one-sided love for him.

I find it really difficult to watch Yi Jin. It’s not because of Park Hyo Joo the actress; I enjoyed her quite fine in I Need Romance 3. Rather, I don’t like how her character acts so uppity and knowledgeable about marriages and people, when she’s currently a mistress and trying to get her boyfriend involved in a well-known project by throwing her position around as the chairman’s daughter. Actually, I wouldn’t mind if she were a mistress if she could show me something that makes her better than Nora. Right now she has not shown me anything that makes her the better choice for Woo Chul over Nora. Call me biased, and it’s possible that the writer does not intend to make Yi Jin more likable. But so far she appears frivolous. Her lecture about finding your intellectual soulmate did nothing to prove that she’s a better match to Woo Chul.

Most of all, I’m glad that Nora grew a bit of a spine in this episode. I like seeing her younger self in flashbacks because she was more confident then. She clearly knew who she was then – a teenager who enjoyed her life and wanted to be a dancer. She was in her “proper place.” It was only when she became a mother and a wife in a foreign country that she lost her identity, because she now was forced to be someone that would have normally been ten years older and wiser. She was traveling in unknown territory, unprepared for that kind of life, and I think that’s when she closed up into a shell and became more meek. She acted like she didn’t know better, and that is probably why Woo Chul grew tired of her too. Seeing Hyun Suk probably makes her more confident – and thus she’ll fight back – because he reminds her of her high school days when she knew who she was. I liked seeing her finally resolve to live for herself, rather than living for someone else as she had been for the past twenty years.

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