There’s always something that happens as a result of a decision that was made. Whether that decision was made decades ago or within the past few months, these results can come at any time and at any given moment. As Young-woo will experience for herself, things happen when you least expect it.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo Episode 7: Case 7 – A Tale about Sodeok-dong Part 1
The episode kicks off with a townhall meeting about a highway construction called Haengbok-ro that will be built in the town of Sodeok-dong. After showing a map of the highway construction, the attendees of the meeting – residents of Sodeok-dong – all protest and voice their concerns and disappointment. The highway isn’t merely just passing through their town; rather, it’ll be plowing right through the town and splitting it up into two halves. The head of Sodeok-dong, Choi Han-su, leads the conversation by listing out all the grievances that residents of Sodeok-dong had to endure in the past. From a new subway line to a garbage incineration plant to now the highway construction, Sodeok-dong has been the victim of many different cases. They’re fed up and tired of it. They’ve had enough.
Head Choi and Chairman of the village meet with our Hanbada team for support and legal advice. They present the map to the attorneys and explain what their concerns are. In addition to residents not being compensated for past projects, the Gyeonghae-do, the larger region that Sodeok-dong is located in, assumes that this issue can just be fixed with a soundproof wall. The Sodeok-dong village formed a committee and submitted complaints as well as protested, but their efforts were futile. They’ve already done everything they can so now they want the help of the Hanbada team to revoke the road zone decision of Haengbok-ro.
Since our attorneys aren’t too familiar with road construction, they request for some additional time to do some research and look into things. Head Choi and the Chairman agree to the request, but they ask that things don’t take too long. The highway construction has already started. So with that, Attorney Jung debriefs with Min-woo, Young-woo, and Soo-yeon. There are a few arguments they could make on the case, but it’s rare for judges to make a ruling on a field they don’t know too much about. So with that, Attorney Jung assigns all 3 attorneys to dig up some answers in regards to the route of the highway by speaking with experts. Is the planned route the best option or are there alternative routes?
So our 3 attorneys consult with 2 experts on the subject matter. One side argues that the route isn’t all that great and that alternatives such as an underground road is possible. The other side disagrees and feels like the original route was the best option. They can’t build the highway around Sodeok-dong because it’d require tunnel construction or it’d interfere with the University of Defense Security’s land. As for the underground road, there’s no point in creating that as Sodeok-dong has a military purpose so there are no plans of it becoming a planned city.
Soo-yeon, Young-woo, and Min-woo present their findings and information back to Attorney Jung, Head Choi, and the Chairman in a follow-up meeting. They’re afraid that it’d be difficult to win the case so Team Hanbada would rather prefer not to take it on. They would be spending too much time and effort in a case that has a low chance of winning. But Head Choi and the Chairman are persistent and they’re not willing to give up just yet. They pressure the team to visit Sodeok-dong first before finalizing their decision. How can they jump to this conclusion before visiting the actual town? So with that, our team + Jun-ho all take a trip to Sodeok-dong (Yay! Field trip time!).
While waiting in the car for Attorney Jung, Jun-ho hops into the back of the vehicle and seats himself next to Young-woo. With Soo-yeon next to her, she recalls how she saw Jun-ho chatting with Soo-yeon in the office last time and pitches that Soo-yeon and Jun-ho sit next to each other. So with that, Young-woo switches seats with Jun-ho and the most popular employee of Hanbada has no choice but to be squished between Soo-yeon and Young-woo. He doesn’t look the most comfortable. Haha. It’s a teeny tiny bit awkward. Eventually, the group makes it safely to Sodeok-dong and Head Choi and the Chairman take the Hanbada team on a tour of the village. They greet a few of the more notable residents such as their town’s version of Kim Jang-hoon or Son Heung-min or even (Mother) Teresa (the Son Heung-min resident got me cracking up!).
After getting to meet a few of the residents, there’s one last spot that Head Choi and the Chairman take the team to: the famous hackberry tree sitting peacefully on the hilltop that lets you see the rest of the town. It’s Sodeok-dong’s defining spot and it unfortunately wouldn’t survive if the highway construction was to proceed. The entire group soak in the beautiful view of the tree as well as the rich history behind it. They all eventually climb up the hill to get a closer look at the tree. While walking up the trail, Young-woo accidentally loses her footing and stumbles. Jun-ho quickly notices and checks in with her to see if she’s alright.
Thankfully, Young-woo is okay, but her blazer is torn. With that, Jun-ho gives up his denim jacket and puts it over Young-woo to cover up her torn blazer (EEEEEK!! This was the scene that we got in the previews prior to the drama’s release and now we finally see the entire scene! These two got me blushing!). Young-woo blushes upon receiving Jun-ho’s jacket and the man himself is a little nervous. They eventually catch up to the rest of the group and all settle down by the tree upon arrival. To their surprise, Head Choi has even recruited one of their talented residents to play the violin for them as they take in the beautiful view of the town. Head Choi had everything planned. He really wants to protect the beautiful village.
So with the visit, our Hanbada team is persuaded and they decide to take on the case. Attorney Jung assigns them a few tasks to get started on the way to his office, but there’s even more for the three young attorneys to do once they arrive. Laying on the table are a bunch of materials and documents to sift through in preparation for the case. It’s a tad bit bigger and complex than their previous cases and it won’t be easy. But no matter what the circumstances are, our three passionate attorneys are always up for the challenge and they get started. Through many sleepless nights and mornings, bloody noses and blister-less fingers, Min-woo, Young-woo, and Soo-yeon work endlessly. They study and study and study.
Just when they thought there wouldn’t be any additional documents to go through, Jun-ho presents them with two more packets. He hands the documents over to Soo-yeon and Young-woo who are busy studying in Attorney Jung’s office. The documents pertain to the complaints that were filed by the Residents’ Countermeasures Committee of Sodeok-dong to Gyeonghae-do (the larger region that Sodeok-dong is located in) and Gyeonghae-do’s responses to the complaints. Young-woo is concentrated on studying, but Soo-yeon gets sidetracked for a bit. She can’t help but notice just how careful and caring Jun-ho is towards Young-woo. He takes the packet out of the manila envelope for Young-woo and places it in front of her which he didn’t do for Soo-yeon. Jun-ho also peeks at Young-woo before bidding farewell with the two attorneys. EEEEEEEK. BE CALM, MY HEART.
Once Jun-ho leaves, Soo-yeon addresses the truth to Young-woo. Jun-ho likes her. Does Young-woo really not know or is she pretending as if she doesn’t? Young-woo reflects on her “Cham cham cham” moment in the car with Jun-ho and feels as if she already knows how Jun-ho feels about her. She doesn’t believe he likes her. But Soo-yeon notes that it’s not an interrogation and asking Jun-ho such a question probably wasn’t the best way to go about for a confirmation. So if it was the approach that didn’t work, Young-woo brings up how it’s not easy for someone to have feelings for someone like her — something with autism. This upsets Soo-yeon once again. Young-woo shouldn’t say such things or think such things.
So Young-woo goes to none other than her bestie, Dong Geu-ra-mi, for advice. She wants to know how she can test her feelings and whether or not she does like Jun-ho. So Dong Geu-ra-mi proposes a few questions to Young-woo: how does she feel when she’s around Jun-ho? To that, Young-woo recalls a few moments with Jun-ho – from their earlier interactions with the revolving door to the more recent one with his denim jacket. She reaches the conclusion that he’s kind and warm-hearted. Not only that, her heart flutters and she gets nervous when she’s around him (EEEEEEEK!).
So with that, it doesn’t take long for Dong Geu-ra-mi to make her conclusion: Young-woo does like Jun-ho. It doesn’t help that Young-woo’s blushing either. Hehehe. She then suggests that Young-woo touch Jun-ho and measure her heart rate in the act of doing so. If her heart rate is off the charts during that moment, then there’s her sign. But as Young-woo points out, consent always comes first so Dong Geu-ra-mi follows up by saying that Young-woo should ask Jun-ho for consent first before testing her feelings.
And so the first day of trial for the court case begins. Min-woo and Soo-yeon underestimate the Taesan attorneys representing the defendants in this case as it seems like they’re a bit younger. Where’s the senior attorney? But just when they thought the case might be a breeze, that senior attorney from Taesan comes strutting in. It’s none other than CEO Tae (who is no longer the CEO of Taesan so I’m going to refer to her as Attorney Tae for now). Everyone freezes upon seeing her enter the courtroom and all eyes are on her. Young-woo in particular can’t stop glancing at the attorney.
The trial proceeds with Attorney Jung presenting 3 alternative routes for Haengbok-ro instead of the original. There were other options that they could have gone with to build the highway. But Attorney Tae steps up to the plate and she provides a counterargument. To appeal to the judges, she even uses an animation of the judges driving in a car and going on the alternative routes that Team Hanbada proposed. She explains why each alternative route would not work. The original route is the best option there is, but Head Choi and Chairman are not satisfied. What about compensation? The other towns who agreed to the highway construction must have been compensated fairly except for Sodeok-dong.
So Attorney Tae turns it back on them. Are the two Sodeok-dong residents claiming that they filed the lawsuit just so they could receive more compensation? Attorney Tae wraps up her argument by concluding that any delays in the highway construction will cost millions of dollars. It’s already underway and they must proceed with it. Team Hanbada are at a loss for words, especially Young-woo who observes Attorney Tae silently from the other side of the room.
Later on that night, Young-woo digs up some information and research of Attorney Tae on the internet. Dad swings by Young-woo’s bedroom to hand her some bread he got from a bakery when he learns more about Attorney Tae from Young-woo. They’re assigned to the same case together and Young-woo found her inspiring after what happened in the court earlier. Dad is upset and bothered by Young-woo’s interest in Attorney Tae. He’s taken aback by the news and he grows speechless.
A decision on the suspension of effect for the highway construction hasn’t been made by the court yet so construction workers dig their way into Sodeok-dong. Head Choi, the Chairman, and additional residents attempt to stop the construction workers from doing anymore damage and even fight the group from digging up anymore of their land. There’s not much Team Hanbada can do at the moment since they’re still waiting on the court to make a decision, but seeing as to how the court is taking their time, it’s likely that Team Hanbada and Team Sodeok-dong won’t win this case. They would have to find a cause of illegality: the work that is being done is perceived as illegal so the court can then revoke what the government is doing.
Our intelligent Young-woo then brings up a lead that they could use for the argument of illegality: the process of the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment was violated. The assessment must be done when a plan that impacts the environment is being established. However, the plan for the road design of Haengbok-ro started in 2017 while the assessment wasn’t done until 2019 — nearly 2 years after. Attorney Jung feels good about Young-woo’s feedback and agrees that they can go off of this.
So then, in terms of their presentation, maybe they can switch it up a little bit and do something cool and flashy like Taesan did. But Attorney Jung feels the opposite. Instead of going all out, they should take an emotional strategy and approach in their next court hearing. They can showcase the stories of the Sodeok-dong residents and appeal to emotions. Young-woo even adds that they can do an on-site verification. Visiting Sodeok-dong themselves was what persuaded the team to take on the case. It might be the same for the judges too.
CEO Han receives a surprise visit from Dad and she’s quite excited at first. But Dad’s serious and he doesn’t waste any time. He accuses CEO Han of hiring Young-woo for her own personal agenda of getting back at Attorney Tae and defeating her Taesan rival. She wants her law firm to be on top by defeating Taesan and it’ll only get more challenging once Attorney Tae becomes the minister for the Department of Justice. With that, Dad confirms that the rumors regarding him and Attorney Tae are indeed true and he permits CEO Han to “use” his daughter just one time at the most crucial moment to take Attorney Tae down. Although CEO Han vehemently denies Dad’s accusations, Dad isn’t buying it. In fact, he’s only giving her permission to “use” Young-woo this one time because he’s well aware of how easily she could kick his daughter out of the law firm if she wanted. He explains,
The world doesn’t offer Young-woo chances. Even if she graduated summa cum laude from SNU law school and got a near-perfect score on the bar, they say they can’t accept people with autism..
Watching my daughter like that and not being able to do anything for her was.. I’ll just.. be the bad dad. No matter how much Young-woo resents me, that’s on me. I want her to have an opportunity.
CEO Han has nothing to say to follow up with Dad’s comments. She merely sits back in disbelief. After the meeting, Dad encounters Young-woo and Min-woo in the hallway and they exchange greetings. Dad comments that he just came by to have a talk with someone he knows and he walks away shortly afterwards. Of course, Min-woo being Min-woo catches onto this small detail and he makes the connection between Dad and CEO Han. They went to law school together so Dad must have used his connections to get Young-woo into Hanbada. It all begins to make sense for Min-woo, but Young-woo isn’t quite catching onto what he’s assuming.
Back at the office kitchen, Jun-ho prepares some coffee and encounters Soo-yeon in the same space as well. Young-woo is brought up in their conversation and Soo-yeon warns Jun-ho to be intentional with Young-woo. She too at one point listened to Young-woo’s whale stories and facts and enjoyed it. But somewhere along the way, it became a burden to her and she didn’t enjoy it as much anymore. Soo-yeon hopes that Jun-ho won’t act the same way she did; he shouldn’t hurt Young-woo if his feelings are temporary. But Jun-ho argues that his feelings aren’t temporary. To make things less confusing for everyone, Soo-yeon adds that Jun-ho should tell Young-woo how he feels about her (GO SOO-YEON! Doing God’s work out there in Hanbada! She’s passionate about this and so am I!).
At the next court hearing, Team Hanbada presents their finding about the assessment violation. But Taesan is always one step ahead and they provide their counterargument as to why the assessment is valid. So just when it seems like things are hopeless, Young-woo reaches another mini-eureka moment and a vision of a dolphin appears in her mind. The plaintiffs should have been able to request changes to the highway route before the assessment was completed in October 2019, but Gyeonghae-do responded that changes couldn’t be made anymore because the design was already complete. She recalls reading this in the packet that Jun-ho handed her about the complaints filed by the Residents’ Countermeasures Committee of Sodeok-dong to Gyeonghae-do and lists out the exact page she read it on. Since Gyeonghae-do’s response was in April of 2019 and the assessment wasn’t completed until October, Team Hanbada stands corrected on this one and their argument is reasonable.
Attorney Tae has nothing to say on her end and Attorney Jung follows up by requesting for an on-site verification to Sodeok-dong. Head Choi and Chairman adds that seeing Sodeok-dong might help the judges with their judgement on this case. When the hearing concludes for the day, Young-woo comes across Attorney Tae in the women’s restroom and they exchange introductions. Attorney Tae was quite impressed with Young-woo back in the courtroom and she also feels as if Young-woo’s name is familiar. They don’t chat much beyond the introduction and Young-woo prepares to head back to the office.
Out in the parking lot, Jun-ho assists the attorneys in packing boxes of documents into their cars. He has an extra seat available in his car and everyone’s heading back to the office so Min-woo comes close to taking up the offer of riding back with Jun-ho. But Soo-yeon won’t allow that to happen and she recommends that Young-woo go back with Jun-ho (HAHAHA. I LOVE IT). So with that, Young-woo sits in the passenger seat (rightfully so) and she leaves with Jun-ho in the same car.
Min-woo’s a bit frustrated with Soo-yeon’s decision, but there’s also something else he’s frustrated about. He brings up the accusation that Young-woo got into Hanbada because of Dad’s connections to CEO Han. It’s unfair employment and it’s a big deal. Soo-yeon doesn’t think too much about it until Min-woo raises his voice at her. It’s not something that they should just overlook; Young-woo is always in a position of power and she’s always winning against them. He adds that they shouldn’t mistaken her as someone weak because she has autism. In fact, Young-woo is viewed as the strong one in this case and he feels as if they’re always having to accommodate to her. He’s fed up and he can’t take it anymore. Yikes. Min-woo gonna Min-woo, what can I say?
On the drive back to the office, things are a little awkward and silent. Young-woo can’t help but peek at Jun-ho. He catches her staring at him and he’s curious as to why, but Young-woo doesn’t say much. She just looks away and pretends as if everything’s fine (but everything is not fine and I’m not fine at this moment. I’m panicking). The two unpack the boxes out of the car and transfer them into Attorney Jung’s office later on that night. Jun-ho praises Young-woo for her hard work and he assumes they’ll simply leave to go back home.
Buuuut Young-woo has other plans in mind and she throws at him the unexpected question: can she touch him? Jun-ho’s confused and thrown off by Young-woo’s question for consent so she adds that she wants to test whether she has feelings for him by measuring her heart rate while touching him. Jun-ho’s eyes gleam and his face slightly lights up and he seems delighted at the thought of love that isn’t one-sided. He inches towards Young-woo, step by step, and closes the gap between them. While doing so, he questions whether Young-woo doesn’t feel nervous when they’re not touching. If that’s the case, he’s a bit disappointed by that (OMG I’M NOT OK. I CAN’T DO THIS. I’M FREAKING OUT. WHAT. IS. GOING. ON. MY POOR HEART). Young-woo backs up to the couch and there’s no further room for her to escape to. She squeezes her eyes shut while Jun-ho stares into her eyes. The night is young for our two whale
When Young-woo arrives home that night, she seems a bit flustered and nervous (oh ho ho, I wonder what happened back at the office hehe). But Dad is serious and there’s something he wants to talk to his daughter about. Young-woo isn’t in the mood for it, but its urgent and Dad needs to get it off his chest. So with that, he brings up his relationship with CEO Han and how they know each other. She was the one who offered Young-woo a job. Young-woo connects the dots and assumes then that she must have gotten the job due to Dad’s connections. Whether or not this is true, both Dad and Young-woo know just how hard it was for Young-woo to find a job. It was painful for Dad to see Young-woo so discouraged.
But that’s not all. There’s another reason as to why CEO Han approached Dad to offer Young-woo a job. Just when Dad is about to reveal the reason, Young-woo interrupts him with some thoughts. She wants to be discouraged. She wishes that Dad not always try to protect her. She’s an adult who can learn and try to cope with this discouragement herself. She pleads that Dad stop intervening in her life and storms out of the restaurant. Dad chases after her to no avail. Meanwhile, Min-woo himself is quite a busy man. He heads to a PC bang and visits the anonymous bulletin board page on Hanbada’s website to air our his grievances. The topic: exposing Hanbada’s corrupt hiring practices. His target: Woo Young-woo.
This episode was quite a heavy one and the last 10 minutes to this episode felt like such a wild roller coaster ride. I felt like I was getting tossed in every single direction and my emotions were all over the place. From Jun-ho and Young-woo’s heart-fluttering moment to Dad’s honest conversation with Young-woo to Min-woo’s alarming actions, I couldn’t stay calm (for better or worse). So many things happened within those 10 minutes!
I think we can start off by talking about Attorney Tae and the theory surrounding her that we had a feeling about all along which was that she was Young-woo’s mother. The drama basically confirms that in this episode when Dad confronted CEO Han and confirmed the rumors between him and Attorney Tae to be true. That means then that Attorney Tae did have a child out of wedlock which happens to be Young-woo. That could account for the similar behaviors that the two exhibited in the ending of episode 6 and how talented both are as attorneys in this episode. In addition, we saw that they were easily impressed with each other in this episode. Dots are starting to connect and the bigger picture is slowly but surely getting a little clearer.
We also got a hint as to why CEO Han approached Dad with the hiring of Young-woo and what her intentions and plans were. As this Twitter user pointed out on their account, it’s similarly eerie to the whale hunting story that Young-woo told Soo-yeon in episode 6. In this case, CEO Han would be the whale hunter while the baby is Young-woo and the mother is Attorney Tae. CEO Han is coming after Attorney Tae and using Young-woo to get her way. It’s kind of scary how quickly things have shifted. Unlike what we thought or was made to believe at the beginning of the drama, CEO Han is not as nice as she seemed. Attorney Tae might not be the villain or antagonist of the drama just because she’s from Hanbada’s rival law firm (in fact, the actual villain in the drama is within the walls of Hanbada itself!). It’s still too early to draw conclusions as to what type of person Attorney Tae is or what her character will do, but we at least got some kind of context about CEO Han thanks to Dad’s confession. She has a personal agenda she wants to achieve and Young-woo is unfortunately, and without her knowledge or permission, a part of that plan. We clearly saw what her reaction was to the news of possibly being hired through connections was, I can’t even imagine what her reaction will be when she discovers the other reason as to why CEO Han hired her 😦
Min-woo continues to be such a frustrating (and annoying) character and I’m not even sure that I want a redemption arc for him at this point. Given how the drama is, I’m pretty sure that redemption arc will eventually arrive later on in the show (as much as I dislike the idea of it), but given the way that he’s been acting up, it’s almost as if he doesn’t deserve it. He’s been attacking and underestimating Young-woo since day one and he still doesn’t appreciate her or warm up to her a few months later. There’s no reason as to why he should be feeling the way that he does towards Young-woo. She didn’t say anything bad about him or do anything ill-will or harmful towards him. Young-woo has been neutral towards him since the day she stepped foot inside the law firm.
I also feel conflicted about Min-woo’s accusation that Young-woo got into Hanbada purely based on connections and nepotism. One one hand, I get it because connections are a thing in reality, especially for figures who have that network and the money to accompany those connections. If I placed myself in his shoes in a non-Young-woo work situation, I think I would feel similarly and also get a bit frustrated too. If not frustrated, at least a little suspicious that something must be up.
But where I struggle with his accusation is based on 2 thoughts: 1) CEO Han was the one who approached Dad about hiring Young-woo. So while Dad and CEO Han do go back to their law school days, Dad didn’t beg CEO Han to hire his daughter; it was the other way around in that CEO Han was the one who wanted Young-woo in her law firm and 2) his accusation would have much more emphasis and impact if Young-woo wasn’t good at her job. It’s one thing to accuse Young-woo of only getting in based off of connections and another if she wasn’t successful as an attorney. If the accusation was true (in which it’s not but for the sake of this argument, let’s just say it is), I think I would have maybe understood just a teeny tiny bit as to where Min-woo’s frustration was coming from. Young-woo got in only through connections and she struggles at her job? That wouldn’t be fair.
But as we have seen, that’s not the case with Young-woo and, in fact, it’s been the complete opposite. Min-woo has witnessed for himself just how talented, successful, and gifted Young-woo is as an attorney. She has a good track record. She’s done great so far. Attorney Jung, Soo-yeon, and Jun-ho all like her; they’re all on her side. And maybe it’s because Young-woo continues to excel as an attorney that Min-woo feels insecure and intimidated by her so the only way to make himself feel better is by attacking her. He can’t comprehend or fathom the fact that someone with autism can be so successful and talented as an attorney; in his mind, it’s as if those two things are exclusive. To Min-woo, it’s as if the two can’t be possible at the same time. But Young-woo has proven Min-woo wrong every single time and it hurts his pride. Instead of trying to level up to meet the standards that Young-woo has raised, he feels the need to stay put with where he’s at and bring her down instead.
It’s obvious that Min-woo feels insecure around Young-woo and uses her autism as an excuse to attack her. He also now uses Dad’s “connections” as another reason to criticize her. Just like CEO Han, Min-woo too has his own personal agenda that he wants to achieve and a vendetta against Young-woo that he’s seeking out. It’s ironic that the antagonists in this drama are the ones within those Hanbada walls. As the saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
While watching the episode, it can be easy to get frustrated with Dad and the way he gave permission to CEO Han to “use” his daughter at the most crucial moment to bring Attorney Tae down. It can be easy to think that Dad shouldn’t do such a thing and that what he’s doing is wrong. He should be protecting his daughter and there are several ways he could have gone about doing this. But to Dad, this is his way of protecting Young-woo. He knew just how hard his daughter struggled to find a job, how hard she studied to graduate at a high-level, how hard she worked in law school. I don’t think you can blame Dad for the way that he reacted when he found out about CEO Han’s hiring of Young-woo. We’re talking about Young-woo’s livelihood here and like he mentioned, if he purely confronted CEO Han and cursed her and said all these hurtful things to her in a disrespectful manner, CEO Han could have dismissed Young-woo and send her off. And then Dad and Young-woo would be back to where they were before and it’d be even more painful this time because: 1) Young-woo was living her dream job 2) she and Dad was hopeful that things would work out even if it was just for a split second and 3) her hiring was all just a corrupt lie.
As much as Dad wants to just pack everything up and leave, he knows he can’t because the consequences to that decision would only make thing worse. It would only escalate tensions and that’s not what he wants for Young-woo. Dad mentioned that he wants his daughter to have an opportunity and Hanbada is that opportunity. It can’t go to waste. So he made some hard decisions and sacrifices along the way and this is that sacrifice. In return for letting CEO Han “use” his daughter just this one time, Young-woo will remain at Hanbada. Whether this decision will come back to hurt Dad is to be seen, but he feels as if it’s the best decision for both him and his daughter at the moment which you can never fault him for. This is the painful reality and conflicting truth that comes along with his position as Young-woo’s parent and protector.
Soo-yeon is a character who continues to grow on you with each passing episode and she’s turning out to be such an endearing character. She’s so interesting because her kindness towards Young-woo isn’t as straightforward and explicit as Jun-ho’s actions are. She didn’t speak the nicest about Young-woo back in episode one and even shouted at Young-woo at the revolving door. But it’s become quite obvious over the episodes that Soo-yeon is a lot more expressive now in terms of caring for Young-woo and that she will protect her law school classmate in her own special way. It was especially evident in this episode when she confronted Jun-ho and told him to be honest with Young-woo about his feelings towards her. Soo-yeon pleaded that he not mess around with Young-woo if he wasn’t serious about her. She didn’t want Young-woo to get hurt and to be lead on that she had a friend in Jun-ho if she really didn’t. Of course, this upset Jun-ho because his feelings are real, sincere, and not temporary. He just hasn’t acted upon them because he’s uncertain as to how Young-woo feels about him since she’s yet to show him any signs and he’s hesitant in doing more.
It was also in the way Soo-yeon confronted Young-woo to be honest with Jun-ho about her feelings and to not think so negatively about herself. In that honest conversation with Young-woo, Soo-yeon indicated that people with autism are also capable of love and being loved. It’s as if Soo-yeon has sort of transformed into this matchmaker or is playing cupid right in front of our eyes. I’m sure it must not be easy for her because doing so means acknowledging that Jun-ho doesn’t like her back, but she’s willing to do it so that Jun-ho and Young-woo can get their own happy ending. Soo-yeon is a true friend to both and she cares about Young-woo’s well-being. She doesn’t want anyone to hurt Young-woo (be it Jun-ho or Min-woo) and she’ll stand up for her friend out of sincerity. Soo-yeon wants what’s best for Young-woo and even if her actions or expressions might not come off that way, it’s clear that Young-woo matters to her.
I want to end this commentary section by praising Kang Tae-oh for his acting in that ending scene with Young-woo at the office. I actually think it’s got to be his best acting yet out of the drama so far because of the context that it all happened in and everything else that lead up to that very moment. Up until that point, we viewers had the sense that Young-woo had feelings for Jun-ho. She spoke about it with Dong Geu-ra-mi and Dong Geu-ra-mi teased her about it a few times. Young-woo blushed when she thought about Jun-ho or she blushed when he gave her his denim jacket to use. It’s been shown to us that Young-woo is also starting to feel things for Jun-ho.
But Jun-ho himself was unaware of this development so it wasn’t until that ending scene at the office that he finally got his first hint that maybe Young-woo did feel the same way. Of course, it’s not necessarily confirmation that she likes him just yet because she still has to test it out first, but it was the first time that Jun-ho heard from Young-woo directly herself that she might like him. This entire time, all he got was an earful from Soo-yeon. Then Young-woo’s switching of the seats in the van to the Sodeok-dong field trip didn’t help either. I can see why Jun-ho was discouraged or why he was confused or why he didn’t think there was anything between him and Young-woo other than being whale besties.
That’s why the office scene at the ending of this episode was so important and crucial and that’s why I loved not only Jun-ho’s reaction to Young-woo’s question but also Kang Tae-oh’s portrayal of Jun-ho in that moment. It was his first time hearing from Young-woo that she’s confused about her feelings for him and that she might potentially like him. Even though it’s not a straight confirmation, just the thought of Young-woo potentially liking him gives him some hope. It was also the sign that he needed to potentially make the next move. If Young-woo is interested in him, then maybe she won’t feel uncomfortable if he continues to express his care and feelings for her. Maybe she’ll start to notice all the tiny details and things he does for her and come to appreciate it.
Of course, it’s also important to point out that Jun-ho is not entitled to Young-woo’s feelings and time and attention just because he’s doing these things for her. If Young-woo doesn’t like him back or isn’t ready to express her feelings just yet, that’s completely okay too and he should respect that. And the thing I love about Jun-ho is that he’s already been practicing all of this since the beginning. He’s been understanding and respecting of Young-woo. He honors and respects her and the boundaries they’ve set up in their relationship. He doesn’t demand her for her attention or time, he doesn’t touch her without her consent, he sincerely cares for her and does things for her out of the kindness of his heart. Jun-ho respects Young-woo for who she is. He likes her for who she is. Now that he heard directly from Young-woo herself that she could also like him too, it gives him the courage to be a little bolder, a little bit more confident, a little bit more daring.
As we saw with their ending scene in this episode, they both make each other nervous. Jun-ho’s heart rate was probably spiraling just as much as Young-woo’s heart rate was soaring. And the way Jun-ho’s eyes slightly gleamed and his face slightly lit up and the way he slowly stepped towards her as Young-woo explained the reasoning behind her question, I mean – that scene was just perfection. Jun-ho had to be careful with his reaction; he had to learn to control his emotions and not make it so obvious that he liked what Young-woo said. He couldn’t just jump up in the air and do a whole fist pump out of excitement. He was careful, he was cautious, but he was also a little daring. Huge props and kudos to Kang Tae-oh for the small details in his face expressions and the magical stuff he does with his eyes that conveys a multitude of emotions within a short amount of time. It’s truly so magical and wonderful how Jun-ho looks at Young-woo; his glances at her are a part of what makes Young-woo and Jun-ho’s relationship so magical and wonderful. I hope it stays this way forever.