Young-hoon holds his cell phone almost fearfully – selecting messages to listen to with trembling hands. After a lot of hesitation, he picks one. It is Sun-woo’s voice:
“April 24, 2013. My first message to my friend Han Young Hoon. I don’t know how my life will end up. I’m leaving a message just in case.”
Flashback to Sun-woo standing in the phone booth looking out at the rain “Young Hoon. The incense stick is mocking me until the end. I’m stuck in the past.”
Present Young-hoon selects the second message:
“April 24, 2013. Second message. It has been 30 minutes. I’m still stuck in the past.”
Flashback to Sun-woo in the rain again. “I wonder how it has changed over there. Is my brother alive? Did Choi Jin Cheol pay for his crime? Is Min Young back as Joo Min Young?”
Min-young, lovely bride, smiles at her reflection in the mirror holding her pale flowered bouquet. She likes what she sees. Through a door, Chul-min peeks in, and then comes in to give her the thumbs up. As the first couple from the station, he wishes her well and warns her not to fight with Sun-woo, then gives a beatific smile.
At that moment, her girlfriends show up to congratulate her and take cell pictures.
Sun-woo’s voice continues with the message “Did we become happier than before?“
Sun-woo, in the phone booth, hangs up his phone. He looks at his watch and up at the rain, without hope, without options. Suddenly, Choi’s car comes barreling in at him and strikes the phone booth hard.
Choi looks shocked. Sun-woo looks severely injured bleeding from a head and chest injuries. He drops the phone, cracked in a couple places, which we then see in present Young-hoon’s hand –same cracks. (How does it get there?) It wasn’t voice mail messages, but recordings.
Young-hoon is inconsolable.
Church Inside the church, just as with Jung-woo’s wedding, people are impatient that the groom didn’t show.
The CBM workers sit together complaining. Bum-suk comes in and informs them they can’t find Sun-woo anywhere. They searched ER’s in case there was an accident. He isn’t answering his phone, and the GPS appears to be off. Chul-min is worried. The group goes out of the church.
Young-hoon is traveling by taxi. He gets a call from Min-young. He lets her know he is going to where Sun-woo’s car probably is – near the former Myungse hospital site. Sun-woo mentioned he was going after Choi. Young-hoon lets her know his guess is the only reason Sun-woo didn’t show up was because he is injured – just like last time. (I like how gentle he is with her, how understanding of her feelings.) Min-young takes the news and crumbles.
Young-hoon’s taxi arrives at Sun-woo’s parked car, and he runs over. He shakes the handle and looks in, then calls his friend’s name. He notices crazy Choi sitting on the curb in front of the car. A memory of the successful man from the TV flashes and he looks at him quizzically. Choi looks back, but somehow doesn’t register anything, then gets into his funny little van and drives away with Young-hoon staring after him.
Smashed phone booth.
Blood spatters getting washed away by the rain. Sun-woo opens his eyes and looks at his watch. His arms are covered with blood, and by the way he is moving, he seems to have several broken limbs. He picks up his phone and we hear his third message.
“April 24, 2013 Third message. I’m really hurt. I still have no way of getting back. But I still want to believe that this is not how my life is going to end. I have to live. I have to think of a way to get back.” He tries to lift the pieces of the phone booth off of him, but can’t. He is too injured and it is too heavy. In frustration, he breaks through one of the panes of glass with his elbow.
Min-young’s father comes in and tells her it is time to go home. It is too late and she should change. Min-young thinks about what all this could mean.
Young-hoon sits on the street near Sun-woo’s car. The police have arrived on the scene with the CBM workers. They opened the door and are towing the car away. Bum-suk walks over and hands Young-hoon the jewelry box we saw on the passenger seat.
He asks him to take care of it, and suggest Young-hoon go home. But Young-hoon tells him not to worry and waves him away. They get into the police car and Young-hoon is left alone. He finds the wedding rings in the box. As he sits, time passes, he is deep in thought and in sadness. Tears fill his eyes. What a great friend this guy is. Through all of the time travel shenanigans and brain tumor business, he has done his best to give good advice, and be a voice of reason. He just wants his friend there and alive.
“Where the in the world are you?” he asks and puts his face in his hands. The phone rings. Jung-woo just arrived from overseas. They talk about how the police are looking for Sun-woo, but Young-hoon can’t tell them his real worries. Jung-woo wonders how he could be gone still if the incense has burned. Young-hoon informs him it has been six hours already. Young-hoon mentions he saw Choi, and wishes he had stopped him because he looked suspicious. Jung-woo offers to go find him, he knows where he works.
Choi is in his rat hole doing shots of soju when Jung-woo arrives. He screams, “Get out!” He tells him how surprised he is to see a dead person and asks why he would come to see him – it’s not like he is some famous TV personality. Choi laments his current circumstances to the NOBODY who cares. He calls the brothers “sons of bitches.” Jung-woo asks where Sun-woo is, and Choi says, “He’s dead. I killed him,” with far too much evil glee. He gloats that nobody will be able to pin it on him as it happened 20 years ago.
Choi, appearing unsettled, picks up the phone and calls Chang-min’s car phone, which keeps ringing. Cut to Chang-min hog-tied and on the floor of the record shop, struggling and swearing in his binds.
Present Choi continues his bragging about pulling off the perfect crime, even describing Sun-woo as an idiot who just stood there when “POW!” Choi hit him with the car. Jung-woo burns holes of hate into the man’s head as he listens.
Choi goes on and enforces in how horrible a human being he is. Jung-woo asks why he has to be such a bad man. He tells him that he has prayed for him for the last 2o years. In response to Choi’s disdainful “Who are you to me?” Jung-woo tells him he is his father – tearfully. Choi is shocked. Jung-woo finds the bitter irony in their situation. “Is there another father-and-son like us? I killed my father. And you killed his son. We will be in Hell together. I don’t know who will get there first. I will see you there anyway. I won’t look for you in this life again.” He walks out to silent Choi’s O.O,
Choi goes back into his den, disbelieving Jung-woo’s story. He flashes back to his talk with Mom before the rape at the Inn. This compels him to drive, drunkenly, away somewhere.
Young-hoon runs up the stairs at a police station where he finds Hyung.
Choi loudly shows up at Mom’s nursing home. The nurses run to get the security guards and leave the crazy man with the patient? (Wrong choice!) Flashback to Choi going to Mom’s house, seeing her pregnant, and questioning whose baby she was carrying.
Mom remains statue still.
A cop lets Hyung and Young-hoon into a tiny file room. Hyung reads the notes on the case and we hear a cop narrating as the scene plays out.
The voice over continues as we see Sun-woo passed out and bleeding at the scene. “The victim (WHAT?) was found at 8:00, and the police got there at 8:30.
Young-hoon sinks to the ground against the shelves. Hyung starts to cry.
The cops found the CBM ID tag, but concluded it was fake after investigating.
Min-young, at home with her mother, sits amid her pretty bouquet, photos and mom’s hanbok. Yoo-jin complains that history is repeating itself. Min-young covers her ears.
At the police station, the friend and the brother remain silent. Hyung walks out of the room as his phone rings. It is Choi, who begs Hyung to see him again. That he never knew he had a son. Hyung is resolute in refusing.
Choi cries that he doesn’t want to wait to Hell to see his son. Hyung hangs up and Choi, finally finally finally gets run off the road by a truck, his car flipping several times, and he dies dies dies dies, I hope, dies.
Hyung sobs at the police station overcome with way too much sadness.
We see the truck driver look over the ravine to the crashed van, and Choi’s dead dead dead dead body.
Past Choi wrings his hands in his office when the phone rings. Hyung is calling him from the hospital. Choi criticizes him and threatens that he had better leave town or else. Hyung lies that he is at the airport now.
Young-hoon turns the light on in his office and sits.
He has a manila envelope. His body language tells us he is exhausted mentally and physically. He takes papers and a plastic baggie out, and we have a mini – one hour ago – flashback. The cop pulls out the victim’s “effects,” among them something listed as “an unidentified object” – a modern cell phone – there as well. He thinks there must have been a mistake, but Young-hoon must have convinced him to let him have the phone anyway.
It is the same cracked phone he held at the opening. From his pocket, Young-hoon removes his own cell phone. It is the same model, so he is able to swap out the dead battery for his. (Critics of QIHM pay attention.) We now have a replay of the opening scene of him hesitantly playing the messages. Now we see they are from his dead friend.
Young-hoon’s eyes well up with tears as he listens to the one about Sun-woo being hurt and that he has to find a way back.
His hand shakes and he plays a message we haven’t heard. “April 24, 2013. Fourth message…” Flashback to Sun-woo sitting helplessly at the crash site. He tries to draw attention to himself by banging the broken handset against the metal wreckage of the phone booth, but to no avail. “I can’t lose again. I’m going to win. I’m going to survive. I’m going to go back. I won’t lose.”
Present Young-hoon covers his mouth to stop the sobs.
Still raining, Sun-woo bleeding his life out on the pavement, reaches for his cell and records another message
“Fifth message. I think I know why I can’t go back…” Young-hoon listens from his office as we intercut with shots of Sun-woo in the past. “The incense stick was me…“ All the events from the time travel flash before us. “I said that the incense stick was mocking my fate. But it was I who was the incense stick. The moment I lit up the incense stick, I became the Fruit of Knowledge for others’ lives.”
Hyung goes into Sun-woo’s bedroom and sits on the edge of the bed. He gets a call. A cop at the scene where Choi (dead dead dead) died tell him that he was last person he called.
Hyung admits to being his son.
Sun-woo’s voice over from the fifth message continues as we pan over Choi’s dead body. “It was an opportunity and a curse at the same time. It could be a salvation or destruction.” Sun-woo almost completely emptied of life keeps recording his theory, “It was me. I used all the incense sticks. My role is over. I won’t ever be able to go back. I finally realized that now. Knowing that, it’s not even that depressing that I’m dying. I won’t even feel guilty for playing God.” The camera pans back from him against the wall, and we flash to present Young-hoon listening to his friend. “It was never in my power but His. So I’m even thankful. For the people who have kept their roles in my life. For those who chose that fate. For being a true friend to me every time for every life.” Young-hoon sobs out loud. “To you, I’m thankful,” as looks closer at the cell’s screen.
Sun-woo’s face crumbles. “And…And Min Youngie…” he trails off and passes out? Dies?! Rain falling falling falling.
Present Min-young waits for the phone call. Her mother voices everyone’s biggest fear. “He must have died somewhere,” then asks for a glass of water, and Min-young complies. As she is about to pour, she has a realigned memory flash, and her world tilts.
A shocked, wide-eyed Kid Min-young stares at the destroyed phone booth, the blood and the man trapped, his shirt reddened with blood.
Kid Min-young yells “Ahjussi!” And Sun-woo wakes up.
She asks if he is hurt and should she call 119. He tells her he’s fine. She remembers him as the man who took mom to the hospital. He asks why she is there.
Kid tells him she is there because she forgot her teddy bear.
Surprisingly, Sun-woo tells her he is glad. He asks her to come closer, and brave Kid does. When she gets close, he says, “Remember my face. Don’t ever forget it.” Both Min-youngs look at his face.
“When you see a man that looks just like me…don’t get close to him.” Sun-woo has that heart-breaking half smile he used during his “Secret” conversation, and this one is killing me the same way.
He’s looking at her like his life depends on telling her this. “Don’t try to warm up to him. Don’t even take interest. He is going to ruin your life. Just stay away from him. Okay?” Present Min-young sobs. “Promise me.” He lifts he blood covered hand towards her, promise pinkie extended.
Present Min-young cries out loud.
Kid Min-young hesitates touching this strange and bloody man. Sun-woo insists. “Now. I don’t have much time.” Present Min-young watches, cries, and covers her mouth
Kid Min-young reaches her pinkie towards him and they grip.
Kid cries out “Ahjussi!” Min-young breaks down.
If they really want Sun-woo to die, and we find satisfaction in the fact he was able to fix things: make Choi suffer, bring his brother back, clear Min-young’s name, and even say “good-bye” sort of before he passed, fine.
No no no no!!! Not fine. This is what 49 Days did to me, and I hated that.
Sun-woo and Min-young did not have more than moments of happiness together. Yes, he would have died anyway. Min-young, however, was supposed be his happy place while he said his farewells to the world in his last months of life. They should have traveled, eaten lots of ice cream, and generally felt the warmth of each others’ presence and caring. To die, cold, in pain and miserable in the rain, giving his future wife a warning to stay away from him, is horrid, and unacceptable as an outcome.
Show, you have one episode to redeem yourself.
First, props again to Young Hoon (character and the actor who plays him) for being more than the goofy foible. When he was listening to the voice recordings it was heartbreaking. As an actor, he is basically just sitting in a room. I was blubbering about as hard as Young Hoon when Sun Woo thanked him for consistently being a good friend.
There must be a ripple to telling Shi-Ah (and I use that because young Min Young sounds weird to me) to avoid him. Sure, with or without Min Young, Sun Woo might have burned the incense sticks. But if not for the “she’s my wife/she’s my niece” trauma that started in episode 4 he might have left it there. And if he had not kept futzing about in the past, then he would not be in the phone booth and therefore might have lived. STRINGS of hope, wispy though they may be. I believe in this show, I believe these writers would rather give us the warm fuzzies as an ending. And for what it is worth I was fine with 49 Days and how it ended. It was consistent with the tone of that show, to me.
And Choi . . . I cheered a little when he veered into the truck (no drinking and driving while not using a hands free device for your phone kids!) but I am not going to lie, I actually felt a little bad for him. I am in no way excusing the rape, but it seems like maybe it was more of a date rape thing and perhaps the scene wasn’t written well. In 1968, it wouldn’t be considered a rape by definition. It would have been interesting to see it play out slightly differently, as Choi remembered it. The way things are shaping up, if there is more time travel left in the show a trip to 1968 is in order. There is a Korean saying about buttoning wrongly . . . once the top button of the shirt is askew the rest can’t fall into place. I get the feeling the rape was that first button for Choi. So many thoughts . . . but I will wait until we have our final episode to go into the woulda coulda shoulda.