First was her job as an attorney and then now her relationship with Jun-ho. Young-woo is quite busy in her life. What is it like being in love? What is love? What does it mean for someone with a disability like Young-woo to love someone and be loved? There is plenty for Young-woo to learn and experiences to go through as she navigates unfamiliar situations and territory for the first time.
Content warning: This episode contains mentions of rape and sexual assault.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo Episode 10: Case 10 – Holding Hands Can Wait
While on the subway to work, Young-woo witnesses a young man get arrested by two police officers right in front of her. She’s frightened by the sudden scene, but she speaks up and says something when the young man questions if the police officers have an arrest warrant. As an attorney, she points out that it’s an illegal arrest if the police officers don’t have one. She even proceeds to recite one of the laws related to the Miranda Rights so the police officers have no choice but to recite them out loud to the young man while uncuffing him. They also include the charges that he is arrested for: quasi-rape of a person with disabilities. The young man is accused of sexually assaulting a woman with an intellectual disability.
Young-woo and Soo-yeon head to the detention center to visit the young man. His name is Yang Jeong-il and he’s delighted upon reuniting with Young-woo. He’s glad to see Young-woo as his attorney, but Soo-yeon and Young-woo remind him of his serious circumstances. Based on the charge that he was arrested for, he could serve a life sentence or a minimum of seven years of imprisonment. And even if there was no force involved, the prosecution believes he took advantage of the victim, Hye-yeong, and her intellectual disability. Jeong-il continually denies the allegations, claiming he and Hye-yeong were in love with each other. They met through an organization that he volunteered for called Eoulrim which includes members with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and autism. Plus, is there a rule that states that people without disabilities can’t fall in love with people with an intellectual disability? People with disabilities also deserve to be loved.
Young-woo and Soo-yeon go over the case with Attorney Jung. He’s cautious about taking on the case considering that it’s related to sexual assault which happens in private which means the only evidence is usually the victim’s statement. That means as attorneys representing Jeong-il, they would have to discredit the victim’s statement which might be inconsistent or specific given that the victim has an intellectual disability. It’ll be challenging to do if they were to accept the opportunity. But Young-woo is up for the challenge despite Soo-yeon’s opposing thoughts. She wants to believe that Jeong-il and Hye-yeong were in love. So with that, Young-woo and Soo-yeon receive permission by Attorney Jung to represent Jeong-il. Soo-yeon is also asked by Attorney Jung to make sure Young-woo doesn’t get too emotionally attached to the defendant and case. He asks her to “woah woah” Young-woo just in case, haha.
Young-woo updates Dong Geu-ra-mi and Min-sik about Jun-ho’s confession and they respond excitedly to the progress. Great! He confessed to her. But then what happened after? Welllll, Young-woo ran away. She was so shocked and caught up in the moment that she remembered she needed to go home and ran away to catch the subway. Haha. The two friends acknowledge that it’s a little weird, but it’s ok. Now that Young-woo and Jun-ho have confessed to each other, they can go on dates to get to know each other better. Love expert Min-sik even suggests ideas like getting food or watching movies together. There’s quite a few fun things they could do as dates. Dong Geu-ra-mi is impressed with Min-sik’s advice and Young-woo is reminded of Soo-yeon in the moment. She shares that she has a friend she’d like to introduce to him which excites him and disappoints Dong Geu-ra-mi. Her best friend wants to know when it’ll be her turn to be introduced to someone, haha.
It’s the first day of the trial for Jeong-il’s case. Members of the organization, Eoulrim, are present in the courtroom as well as Hye-yeong and her mother. Young-woo is appointed to give the opening statement. To prevent the trial from seeing like it’s a case where one side is people with disabilities up against people without disabilities, Young-woo can introduce herself as someone with autism. So Young-woo begins with her introduction and mentions that she has autism spectrum disorder. The audience in the room doesn’t react much so she proceeds as usual. She first points out that Jeong-il and Hye-yeong are in love with each other and that the night they had sexual intercourse was consensual. As evidence, she reads a group of text messages that were exchanged between Jeong-il and Hye-yeong the morning after. The two even had pet names for each other and had plans to go on additional dates. Does the conversation documented in the messaging app they used seem like that between a sexual assault victim and her assailant?
Hye-yeong’s mom explodes in court in defense of her daughter. She accuses Jeong-il of seducing Hye-yeong and playing around with her. It was all fun and games for Jeong-gil and he took advantage of her. Hye-yeong’s mom is in disbelief at Young-woo’s ignorance. How could she not know the difference between what is love and what is not? Young-woo shuts down and she attempts to keep herself together at the sudden attack. Jun-ho, who’s also in the courtroom, watches carefully.
Another day means another moment to cause trouble for Min-woo. He meets with the reporter who caught photos of Attorney Tae at Dad’s gimbap restaurant and learns the bombshell news that he never expected: Young-woo is Attorney Tae’s daughter. Now that Min-woo has the information, who knows what he will do with it this time. Ugh. Meanwhile, Young-woo meets with Jun-ho after work in front of the revolving door (hehe, it’s the revolving door again). She stops him to ask if he still likes her. She did run away after he confessed to her after all. But of course, Jun-ho still likes Young-woo so she presents to him a list of ideas of dates that they could go on. Does her list possibly include walking her home or holding hands? Although Young-woo isn’t the biggest fan of physical touch, she garners her courage to test an experiment with Jun-ho to see how long she can hold his hand. Haha.
So Young-woo and Jun-ho pause the walking to hold hands. With the timer on her cellphone in one hand and Jun-ho’s hand in the other, Young-woo tracks to see if she can beat her personal record of 57 seconds – the longest that she’s held hands with her father. But today is just not that day and she manages to achieve a little over 20 seconds with Jun-ho. She apologizes for not being able to hold his hand for longer, but Jun-ho doesn’t mind. They still have the other idea on the list which is walking her home so he does just exactly that. Jun-ho walks Young-woo home (oh my loves. I love them 2 so much).
In the next day of the trial, a psychiatrist is brought in to testify. She first diagnoses Hye-yeong’s intellectual disability with a developmental age of a 13-year old. When asked about the victim’s statement, the psychiatrist note its validity and credibility. She also reads out loud a few pieces from the statement to support her notion that Hye-yeong’s emotions and thoughts were expressed consistently in the victim’s statement. When they engaged in sexual intercourse, Hye-yeong didn’t like it in fear of what her mother would think. When she told Jeong-il no, he got upset and began to cry. The psychiatrist adds that people with disabilities are vulnerable to violence that takes advantage of relationships masked as affection. Hye-yeong was unable to resist Jeong-il’s actions because she thought it was love and she was afraid to lose the relationship. She most likely didn’t know how to refuse in the first place (wow, this episode is quite heavy and hard to watch).
So it’s Soo-yeon’s turn for cross-examination so she presents a few pieces of text messages to the psychiatrist that Jeong-il and Hye-yeong exchanged with each other. Even after the night of the incident, the two continued to stay in touch until the day he was arrested. When asked what her thoughts on the situation were, the psychiatrist notes that it must have been heartbreaking. Hye-yeong just wanted to love and be loved, but people with intellectual disabilities face a more challenging time in relationships due to how they might perceive an impure motive towards them as affection. It’s often hard for them to determine the difference between a normal and improper relationship. She might not have had the sound decision-making capabilities when it came to sex.
So how is it then that Hye-yeong can write a valid and credible victim’s statement, but not be able to make sound decisions when it came to sex? The psychiatrist answers that she’s specifically referring to the power to protect one’s self. Unlike people without disabilities, Hye-yeong lacked the ability to protect herself from Jeong-il’s malicious intent. So with that, the court hearing ends for the day. Once outside the courtroom, Hye-yeong waits for Young-woo to have a short conversation with her. It seems as if there’s something she wants to tell the attorney, but a sudden appearance from her mother cuts the interaction short. All Hye-yeong manages to tell Young-woo before being pulled away by her mother is how she’s alone when she’s at BA. Though Young-woo doesn’t know what the abbreviation BA stands for, she takes notice.
Soo-yeon catches up with Young-woo shortly afterwards and shares the bad news about Jeong-il: he’s committed something similar before with another person with an intellectual disability. Since he settled with the person and paid her back the money she spent on him, the case closed and the police never investigated. That could explain for why there were no mentions of this on his criminal record. The fact that this happened only a year ago doesn’t help either. So with that, Young-woo and Soo-yeon visit Jeong-il again at the detention center. They can no longer trust him. Who knows how many other victims he did this with? With that, they decide to withdraw from the case. Jeong-il pleads to the end that he and Hye-yeong really did love each other and that they were in love. So much for calling Young-woo “noona” and pretending to be close to her.
While on a walk, Young-woo and Jun-ho chat about Young-woo’s withdrawal from the case. She plans on having a talk with Attorney Jung to let him know. Young-woo then changes the subject to the Deoksugung Stonewall walkaway that they’re currently strolling on. Legends say that couples who walk on the stonewall path will eventually break up. Paranoid and concerned, Jun-ho questions if they should stop, but Young-woo isn’t as scared. She doesn’t believe in such things (I’m totally Jun-ho here in this situation! Also, I hope the writer isn’t foreshadowing their future. I would cry if this came true!). Just then, their conversation is cut short when the couple receives a surprise visit from Jun-ho’s college classmates. It’s the same lady he encountered a while back and two additional classmates. With Young-woo next to Jun-ho, they assume she’s a member of the organization for people with disabilities that he previously volunteered at, but Jun-ho denies it. In fact, he loudly and proudly states that he is on a date (LEE JUN-HO, THE MAN THAT YOU ARE! You learned your lesson from the first time. You truly have grown so much. I am so proud of you).
Young-woo chimes in and repeats that she and Jun-ho are on a date. Jun-ho proudly introduces Young-woo to his classmates and introductions are exchanged and they’re now well aware of who she is. Just then, Young-woo catches sight of the cup of coffee that the female friend is holding in her hand and reaches another eureka moment. A vision of a whale pops up on the screen and Young-woo finally realizes what Hye-yeong was referring to when she stated “BA.” Barista Academy. Hye-yeong previously mentioned how she was attending a barista academy in her text messages with Jeong-il. With that, Young-woo rushes off to the address of the academy and Jun-ho trails after her (they’re so chaotic as a couple, I love it).
Young-woo and Jun-ho barely catch Hye-yeong as she exits out her academy class and they flag her down. What was it exactly that Hye-yeong wanted to tell Young-woo? Hye-yeong garners her courage and admits that she doesn’t want Jeong-il to go to jail. In fact, it was her mother who made her say that he sexually assaulted her even though he didn’t since her mother hates men and thinks Jeong-il is a bastard. And even if Hye-yeong is aware that Jeong-il is a bastard, she still loves him. Therefore, she doesn’t want him to go to jail. Young-woo and Jun-ho request that Hye-yeong testify in court and repeat the same exact thing she just told them to the judges in the courtroom. Although worried, Young-woo reassures the young lady that she’s an adult who doesn’t need the consent of her mother to do so. Plus, people with disabilities also deserve to love and be loved. They should have the freedom to love whoever it is they love. Hye-yeong should not be discouraged by her mother or the court in determining how she feels about Jeong-il. Hmmm. This conversation was quite an interesting one.
While Young-woo and Jun-ho are busy conversing with Hye-yeong, Soo-yeon has plans of her own. She chats with her friend about the not-so-successful blind dates she’s been on, but she’s also not that interested in clubbing. The phone call comes to an end when she arrives at the restaurant to meet her next blind date: Min-sik. Hahaha. Ahhhh. The two greet each other upon meeting and introductions are exchanged. But this blind date is unlike any of the other ones that Soo-yeon has experienced. Min-sik just can’t stop with the dad jokes. He continually spews them out since the beginning and Soo-yeon isn’t the biggest fan of them. Haha. Soo-yeon can barely keep up a conversation with Min-sik without him busting out another dad joke in there somewhere. So to escape from the blind date, she pretends as if she has an urgent issue to tend to and she runs out of the restaurant (“the house is on fire? Wait there! I’ll take care of it!”). Oh and that idea about clubbing earlier that her friend suggested? Soo-yeon takes up on the offer and goes to the club with her friends only to come across a guy who expresses interest in her.
At the next court hearing, both Hye-yeong as well as the Hanbada team prepare for the trial. Young-woo notices that Soo-yeon is still wearing the same outfit as the night before and she smells like alcohol (ooooo Soo-yeon, get ittttt). Meanwhile, Jeong-il expresses his gratitude to the attorneys for still being on his side, but Young-woo points out that she’s doing this for Hye-yeong, not him. With that, it’s time for Hye-yeong to testify as a witness so the judge removes Jeong-il from the courtroom just in case it becomes difficult for Hye-yeong. Young-woo is up first for questioning and she asks the same question from the night before: does she wish for Jeong-il to go to jail? Hye-yeong answers that she doesn’t because she loves him. The night she had sexual intercourse with Jeong-il was all consensual. This causes everyone in the courtroom to react in disbelief and shock. They’re unsure of what to make of this information. Though Hye-yeong doesn’t explicitly state it in the courtroom, Young-woo poses the possibility that it was her mother who forced her to make the sexual assault allegations. Hye-yeong reiterates that she wishes Jeong-il wouldn’t go to jail.
Next up is the prosecutor’s turn. She’s quick to the point and questions Hye-yeong what love is. When Soo-yeon objects, the prosecutor then throws another set of questions at Hye-yeong: does she know the difference between sexual intercourse and sexual assault? What about the extreme scratches and scars she got on her hand when she came back home after leaving the motel? Why did she scratch her left hand so hard to the point where her mom had to take her to the hospital? Was it possibly because of the mental stress and exhaustion she experienced as a result of the sexual assault?
Attorney Jung interjects and responds that it’s merely a habit of Hye-yeong’s and that the prosecutor is forcing her speculations onto the young lady. The commotion is too much for Hye-yeong and she retreats back into her mother’s arm. She no longer wishes to be on the witness stand any longer. After the court hearing concludes, Young-woo is confronted by Hye-yeong’s mother outside of the courtroom. She disproves of the way that Young-woo was speaking on behalf of Hye-yeong just because she herself has autism. Not all disabilities are the same and Young-woo does not represent people with disabilities and autism. Therefore, she should stop trying to empathize with Hye-yeong. Hye-yeong’s mother has her own reasons as to why she feels the need to protect her daughter. Soo-yeon stands by Young-woo’s side through the intense confrontation and she comforts the young attorney through the shouting and yelling.
Jun-ho catches up with his college classmates who he encountered the other night. They’re quite interested in his relationship with his girlfriend (Young-woo), but they assume the worst of things. They think that this is just Jun-ho’s kind personality coming through again or that he’s helping her out of kindness and pity. They feel as if he might not actually like her at all. Jun-ho grows tired and fed up with all the assumptions and it’s not until one of his friends comments that he must be with Young-woo out of sympathy that Jun-ho explodes. He throws his friend onto the ground and has to be separated before the fight escalates even further. Jun-ho once again proves that his feelings for Young-woo are not temporary nor are they not genuine. He sincerely likes and loves Young-woo for who she is (LEE JUN-HO, THE MAN THAT YOU ARE AGAIN!! If my man isn’t fighting for me like this when his friends are talking smack about our relationship behind my back, then I don’t want it! PERIODT!).
Min-woo continues with his investigation on the relationship between Attorney Tae and Young-woo. He meets with a senior attorney who went to law school with Attorney Tae and learns about the time when she suddenly disappeared to “study abroad” back then. It was quite unexpected, but since her family had money, no one thought too much of it. Min-woo begins to connect the dots and he receives further evidence to support the link between Attorney Tae and Young-woo. The more he thinks about it, the more it makes sense that Young-woo could be Attorney Tae’s daughter. This isn’t fun.
On the final day of the trial, the head judge reads out loud the jury review as well as the verdict for Jeong-il. While the majority of the jury found Jeong-il not guilty, he is to be imprisoned for two years as punishment for his actions. This shocks Jeong-il and Hye-yeong both and Hye-yeong begins to cry in the courtroom. Her mom’s quite confused as to why she’s crying, but Young-woo observes quietly from the side of the room. In a way, it’s as if she can understand Hye-yeong and where she’s coming from. In a way, it’s as if she knows why Hye-yeong is crying. Commotion ensues in the courtroom with the final verdict.
After the trial, Young-woo walks Jun-ho home and he shows her where he and Min-woo lives. Since Min-woo won’t be home until late, Jun-ho invites her inside. However, Young-woo declines since it’s been a long day and she’s tired. So with that, Jun-ho volunteers to walk her back home. But wait, if that’s the case, then why did she walk him all the way to his place? Well, that’s what dates are all about. They can be foolish sometimes. Haha.
This gets Young-woo thinking and she shares her honest thoughts about what relationships are like for people with disabilities like her. Even if she says she likes someone, people might think and say otherwise. Jun-ho assumes she’s referring to the case with Jeong-il and Hye-yeong, but at this point, Young-woo isn’t even so sure herself if she’s talking about the case or herself. But best boy Jun-ho reassures Young-woo that what she deems as love is love, regardless of what other people says (LEE JUN-HOOOOO).
Young-woo then voices another concern that’s been weighing on her mind. She’s aware that loving her can be difficult, but will Jun-ho still continue to love her regardless? To that, Jun-ho’s answer is quite simple and easy. Yes. He will still love her (MY HEARTTTTTT. I’M TEARING UP). The light in the walkway turns off and the two lovers are alone in the dark. Jun-ho inches closer towards Young-woo for a kiss, but Young-woo isn’t ready. She wasn’t expecting it. Things get a little awkward and silent for the two for a few seconds, but Young-woo steps up. Literally. She reciprocates Jun-ho’s feelings and she steps up to reach for his lips (AHHHHHH NO WAAAAYYYY).
The two share their first kiss as a couple both under the lights and in the dark. Though it doesn’t last long, Young-woo seems to have enjoyed it. She even asks Jun-ho how to kiss him more properly to which he answers that she can open her mouth a bit more and maybe close her eyes (THEY ARE TOO CUTE. I CAN’T HANDLE THIS. Also, the chemistry between these 2 is just oozing in this scene). So after processing Jun-ho’s advice, Young-woo does as he suggests and she opens her mouth just a bit more. She also closes her eyes this second time around. The two lovebirds take in this sweet and special moment and enjoy it. Whether the lights are on or off, all that matters is them two in this moment.
We return to the surprise visit that Dad received from Attorney Tae at his gimbap restaurant. She invites herself into the shop and seats herself across from him at the table. Though they’re both not thrilled to see each other, Attorney Tae is desperate and she presents the reason as to why she came to see him after many years. He promised her that he would disappear from her sight forever after giving birth to Young-woo. Well, now that time has come. Attorney Tae wants Dad to keep his promise and disappear. She shows him a pamphlet containing information about Taesan’s branch located in Boston. Both Young-woo and Dad can move there so Attorney Tae won’t have to worry about them any longer. She is running for Minister of Justice after all. She even goes as far to claim that Dad and CEO Han conspired with each other to go up against her.
But Dad doesn’t budge. Even when Attorney Tae brings up talks about a doctor or counselor who can support Young-woo while she’s working in the U.S. or communities for people with autism that Young-woo can join, Dad doesn’t move. He isn’t fazed. The thought of moving abroad doesn’t interest him. Young-woo is his daughter who he’s raised by himself this entire time. How dare Attorney Tae show up out of nowhere and make such absurd statements? He reaches his breaking point when he’s accused of using Young-woo for revenge and money. Dad yells at her to leave and so she does. Although Attorney Tae disappears from the restaurant, the one other thing she brought with her remains. The pamphlet that she showed Dad lays clearly on the floor.
NOOOOOO. NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I really really really really really hope the drama doesn’t separate our dear Young-woo and Jun-ho by shipping Young-woo abroad. As fun and adorable as it was watching them two get closer and transform from friends-to-lovers, we JUST got moments of the two as a couple. I would hate for the drama to end it early by moving Young-woo overseas and then eventually lead to a break-up or somehow attempt to make a long distance relationship work. I just want to see Young-woo and Jun-ho spend more time as a couple and create meaningful experiences and memories with each other. I just want them to be happy T_T
With that ending scene, I couldn’t help but just feel for Dad. And not feel as if in feel pity or sorry or bad for him. I just felt for him. What he said to Attorney Tae about how he basically raised Young-woo by himself for 20+ years just for her to show up out of nowhere and act like nothing ever happened was so heartbreaking but true. It’s insulting to him because she never cared to even visit once or support him with raising Young-woo financially. She just disappeared and left him alone to protect and raise Young-woo all by himself. Being a single parent was already hard enough, but Dad also gave up law school and his own personal dreams as well. It was not easy for Dad and it still isn’t in the present. It was a journey for Dad to get to where he is and he’s still learning something new everyday as Young-woo’s parent. Attorney Tae doesn’t get to just show up unexpectedly and then demand that Dad and Young-woo move abroad for her own convenience. They already had been living their separate lives for the past two decades, but now she wants to them to disappear? Just leave Dad and Young-woo alone. Don’t touch them T_T
I’m still wondering if we’re going to get any additional background information or context behind Attorney Tae’s story and her reasoning for why she abandoned Young-woo. I don’t think it’s going to necessarily change the way that I feel about her (I agree more with Dad in this situation), but I am curious to hear both sides of the story and why Attorney Tae was absent in Young-woo’s life. I know we already heard a bit from Dad’s perspective, but it’d also be interesting to learn from Attorney Tae herself.
I’m hesitant to speak on the case in this episode because of how complex and layered it is and if I’m being honest – I’m still trying to understand and process how I felt about this episode overall. That’s also not to mention just how heavy the topic of rape and sexual assault is. There were multiple times where I had to pause and stop watching the episode because it was just too much for me and I needed a few seconds to refocus and get myself together. All of the societal issues that the drama has covered so far are sensitive, heavy, and impactful in their own ways, but there’s just something about sexual assault that feels even heavier and gets to me so much more.
I think the other aspect of it as well is that I don’t really know how I felt about Hanbada’s involvement with this specific case pertaining to Jeong-il and Hye-yeong. To be completely honest, I can’t say for sure that I was comfortable with Team Hanbada defending Jeong-il. We learn in the episode that the sexual intercourse between him and Hye-yeong was consensual and that her mother coerced her into saying that she was sexually assaulted, but there’s still something about the act of Hanbada defending Jeong-il that didn’t sit so right with me. Although Hye-yeong and Jeong-il claimed that they were in love and that they loved each other and that things were consensual on that night, it hurt to see Young-woo and Soo-yeon in the beginning of the trial defend him in the courtroom by discrediting Hye-yeong. I understand that they were merely doing their jobs as attorneys representing their client, but watching them break down the text messages that were exchanged the two and attempt to discredit her made me feel uncomfortable and iffy.
On top of pointing out the text messages, there was also the questioning of the psychiatrist and asking how Hye-yeong could have written a valid and credible victim’s statement but then not be able to make a sound decision on whether to engage in sexual intercourse or not. I get that things panned out eventually and that the psychiatrist answered the question with an honest and powerful response, but it made just made me sad to see them on the opposite side going against the victim (Hye-yeong).
I think the most telling part was Jeong-il’s conviction in the end and how he received a punishment of imprisonment for 2 years. That means he was found guilty of taking advantage of Hye-yeong’s intellectual disability even if the night that they had sexual intercourse was consensual. That means that even if he and Hye-yeong did harbor romantic feelings for each other, there was enough evidence during the trial that showed that he enacted emotional and mental damage onto her. Jeong-il is not a good guy; he committed something similar just a year prior with another woman who also had an intellectual disability. This case was not black and white and there were many deep and conflicting layers to it. I appreciate the drama’s complexity and ability to show all the different sides to each episode’s case, but this case also didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I wasn’t the most comfortable with seeing Team Hanbada defend Jeong-il unfortunately.
I’m not a scriptwriting expert so I’m not so sure what the episode could have done differently to still convey the same message, but would Team Hanbada representing Hye-yeong’s mother as their client be any different? In episode 2, Hwa-young went up against her father. She disagreed with where her father went with the case and objected in the courtroom as an act of courage in standing up for herself. If, somehow someway, Hye-yeong’s mother was Hanbada’s client who they were representing, could we have seen something similar in this episode where Hye-yeong objected to her mother’s goal? Hye-yeong’s wish was for Jeong-il to not go to prison. If positions were changed where they were Hanbada’s clients, she could have maybe talked privately with Young-woo separately on the side like Hwa-young did with Young-woo in episode 2 in objection against her mother. Hye-yeong could have still testified in court as a witness and the outcome could have still been the same. If the focus of this case was Hye-yeong and the overall lesson that the drama wanted to convey was that people with disabilities also deserve to love and be loved, was it necessary to have Team Hanbada representing Jeong-il?
This ultimately brings me to my next point in that I think this episode had so much potential but ultimately fell short because there was just simply too much ground to cover and not enough time to do it. Now that the drama has picked up on several other sub-plots and storylines, it wasn’t as devoted to focusing on the case anymore. I like that we’re now exploring other storylines in the drama; I mean, it only makes sense that we see more of our characters do their own thing (Min-woo with his investigation, Soo-yeon with her blind date, etc.). We’re shown different sides to our characters which makes them interesting and multi-dimensional. That’s the type of characters you want to see in your dramas.
But I think this episode was one of those episodes where focusing on the case would have been more helpful. You needed to fully develop the case. You needed to invest more time in fleshing out the case. Because the case pertained to sexual assault, you needed to do more in covering the nuances and details. There just wasn’t enough details and information for me to fully feel and understand the impact that the episode was trying to make. It felt as if this episode was a 50/50 mix between the case with Hye-yeong and Jeong-il and then the rest of the characters (Young-woo and Jun-ho’s blossoming relationship, Min-woo’s investigation, Soo-yeon’s blind date, Dong Geu-ra-mi and Min-sik’s love advice). I needed more showing and less telling. We see Jeong-il and Hye-yeong claim that they loved each other and that they were in love and we see text messages that the two sent each other, but actual flashback scenes of them spending time together as a couple to exemplify these statements would have been helpful. I think that’s why I felt as if the episode was unbalanced in covering the case and then showing us outside stuff covering our characters. This was one of those rare episodes where I wanted to see more of the case with Jeong-il and Hye-yeong.
With a case mentioning sexual assault and rape, the drama took it seriously and shed light on victim statements, the importance of consent, and the removal of the defendant in the courtroom when the victim is testifying. But with the time spent between the case and everything outside of the case being unbalanced, I felt as if the drama had another goal in mind as to why it covered a case involving a character who had a disability. The drama was ultimately trying to connect Hye-yeong and her relationship with Jeong-il to Young-woo and her relationship with Jun-ho and draw the parallels between the two female characters with disabilities. It was ultimately trying to show Young-woo that she also deserves to love and be loved. She deserves to be in a loving and cute and mutual relationship with Jun-ho. She likes Jun-ho and he likes her and they’re deserving for each other. There were quite a few eye-opening things that Young-woo learned from working on this case and hearing from Hye-yeong how she loved Jeong-il – even if the court and her mother claimed she didn’t – showed Young-woo firsthand that people with disabilities can love and that they are loved. That was the primary message that the drama conveyed and the connection that it drew between the case and Young-woo.
So while I get what the episode was trying to do by covering a case where Young-woo could connect and learn from (as with many of the previous cases), there was a disconnect between what the drama was attempting to do and then what I was constantly reminded of as I watched Hye-yeong as the victim. When it comes to sexual assault cases, theres’s the victim blaming and victim shaming and questioning of why victims make the decisions that they do. Sexual assault victims and survivors are afraid to speak out because they’re afraid of being discredited and shamed and they know that it’s hard to get people to believe them. So watching the Hanbada team discredit Hye-yeong the first few times in the trial was heartbreaking. Watching them attempt to downplay the situation by showing the lovey dovey text messages between her and Jeong-il was uncomfortable. Though Jeong-il may not have sexually assaulted Hye-yeong, the text messages didn’t say much. Like Hye-yeong’s mother pointed out, you may think you love someone and also be taken advantage of by that person. You may think you love someone, but someone else perceives it as something else. That was the conflicting part in all of this. Those two things are not exclusive. And like the psychiatrist pointed out in this episode, victims don’t speak up in fear of being harmed or harming the person who they love. They may even also feel guilty and be afraid of losing their relationship.
Ultimately, I say all of this to say that I think the drama had the opportunity to go big and speak louder about sexual assault and rape, but didn’t dive as deeply as it could have because its intention with the case was to connect it back to Young-woo instead. I’m not against the latter as I think the case helped open Young-woo’s eyes and helped her make advances in her relationship with Jun-ho, but it could have also done so much more. Seeing more from Hye-yeong’s perspective and side of things could have made a much bigger difference in terms of impacting Young-woo and informing the audience about the complexity of sexual assault cases.
Phew! Now that I have those thoughts out of the way, I do want to spend the last few moments in this commentary to speak about Young-woo and Jun-ho. I love how Jun-ho has repeatedly proven to us just how loyal and genuine he is about Young-woo. Whether it was Soo-yeon or Min-woo or his college classmates, he reiterated that his feelings for Young-woo are 1) genuine and 2) permanent. His feelings are not temporary; he knows that his feelings for Young-woo are strong and that he wants their relationship to last for a very long time. He can see it lasting for a very long time. Jun-ho continues to show over and over again that he’s serious about Young-woo and that’s one of the biggest things I love the most about him. Whether with Young-woo as we saw at the stonewall walkway or alone with his college classmates over some drinks, he’s consistent and loud. He makes his feelings for Young-woo clear regardless of who it is he’s talking to. I love that Jun-ho stands up for Young-woo and that he also learned from that first encounter with his female college classmate. He’s grown since then and he doesn’t want to experience those same feelings again.
I also think the kissing scene between Young-woo and Jun-ho has probably got to be one of the most heart-fluttering kiss scenes ever. Not only did the scene stay true to itself by remaining simplistic and not amped up for dramatic purposes, I also just loved seeing Young-woo and Jun-ho be themselves in that moment. We know that Young-woo isn’t the most familiar with love and relationships and kisses so she stopped to ask Jun-ho for a few pointers. We know just how soft Jun-ho is for Young-woo and how patient her is with her and how much he wants her to feel comfortable so he gave her a few tips back. Even though it could have been an awkward moment, it didn’t feel that way because Young-woo and Jun-ho were in their natural element. They is just who they are; they’re allowed to be themselves when they’re with each other. They feel comfortable enough to try new things and step out of their comfort zones when they’re with each other. They don’t have to be someone who they’re not when they’re together. And that’s what makes them so compatible.
And as I was scrolling on Twitter, I read a post pointing out how you can’t tell who is the one with a disability and without a disability when the two lovers were kissing in the dark. All you see is Young-woo and Jun-ho in love and expressing that love for each other and I just thought that was so endearing. And maybe that’s how Young-woo and Jun-ho view each other in their relationship: as equals, as human beings, as soulmates.
When I first watched this episode, I almost teared up during that ending scene when Jun-ho answered that he will still love Young-woo even if she may find herself difficult to love. Then when I watched that scene a second time for this recap, I found myself tearing up again. You can just tell that Jun-ho loves Young-woo so much and that she matters to him. Before the two of them became a couple, I think a part of Jun-ho already knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. A part of Jun-ho knew that there was going to be a lot of outside talk and noise. But he accepted it all regardless. Because he doesn’t care and he shouldn’t care. Jun-ho has proven that he doesn’t care what others think or say about him and Young-woo. What matters is that Young-woo likes him and he likes her. If she loves him, then it’s love. If he loves her, then he loves her. What matters is how Young-woo and Jun-ho think and feel in their relationship. It’s no one else’s business. It may not be easy as people say one thing or think another, but at the end of the day, it’s Young-woo and Jun-ho against the world. There may be a few more fights and arguments against other people along the way, but they’ll have each other and be by each other’s side through it all. Because they love each other. Because to them, love is love.