Soo Kwang: Hyung! Hae Soo noona, Dong Min hyungnim and I are real, and Kang Woo is fake. We are all waiting for you, Hyung.
This episode was all about Jae Yeol’s difficult journey to come to terms with the truth that Kang Woo is in fact a hallucination and a projection of his younger self. The process is a painful and heart wrenching one since it’s definitely not easy to accept the fact that what you have believed was your reality is all but an illusion. Good thing Jae Yeol has a solid group of people in his life that will love, support and wait for him as he, however reluctantly, takes this first step to finally reach out for help and start on his path to recovery. As Young Jin says, “Jang Jae Yeol seems like a very strong person”, and he is indeed just that.
And once again, standing ovation for the cast for their amazing performances and breathtaking delivery, especially Gong Hyo Jin and Jo In Sung who have mastered the art of depicting their characters with a nuance that is hard to come by! And of course, I can’t forget to praise the well-written, tightly woven script by writer Noh and the deft directing by director Kim.
We learn that Hae Soo’s actions from last episode, i.e. sneaking in to see Jae Yeol against protocol, has not gone unpunished and she has been reported to the disciplinary committee and has been suspended from treating patients for two months. Regardless of her how difficult her situation is in the hospital, Hae Soo continues to put Jae Yeol as her number one priority.
Hae Soo: How to bring Jang Jae Yeol from the unreality where Kang Woo lives back to the reality where I live.
I was actually rather surprised that Jo sunbae suggested that Jae Yeol be allowed family visitations so early in his treatment (~3 weeks now). However, it was a necessary step for Jae Yeol to truly confront his inner demons and the guilt that has burdened him for the past 13 years. In finally meeting with his hyung, he was able to finally apologize for what he did during the trial and let hyung give him the beating that he thinks he has always deserved. This also gave an opportunity for hyung to let out his last bit of anger and bitterness towards Jae Yeol.
By dealing with the issue that is at the heart of all these problems head on, Jae Yeol could finally stop trying to delude himself that hyung was guilty and accept the fact that he did something wrong. Through this confrontation with his hyung, Jae Yeol was also able to understand that rather than hating Jae Yeol for putting the blame of him; hyung was actually angry that Jae Yeol decided to take everything upon himself and made the decision alone.
Why couldn’t Jae Yeol trust hyung with the knowledge of mom being the real culprit and consulted him? As many of us probably suspected, hyung would have been willing to take the blame for his mom if he had known the truth since like Jae Yeol, he loves his mom greatly; he just shows it in a different way. And through beating Jae Yeol, he was also, in his own way forgiving Jae Yeol and taking away some of the guilt Jae Yeol has felt towards hyung during this entire time.
[While beating the crap out of Jae Yeol]
Jae Beom: What are you sorry for, huh?! Are you sorry that you didn’t tell the prosecutor, “it’s not my brother, but my mom that killed him”? What are you sorry for?! What are you sorry for, huh?! Hey! What are you sorry for?! What are you sorry for? What are you sorry for? Hey, since I was already a son of a bitch, if I knew that mom killed him, did you think I would have been excited and have told the prosecutor, “It was mom”, “take my mom away”, “Because she has been beaten repeatedly by a man, my mother has gone crazy and killed a person”? Do you think I would have done that? Hey, you deserve to be crazy! Are you the only one that mom gave birth to? I came from mom’s womb, too! [To the caregivers] Just go and clean that bastard’s blood.
By asking Jae Yeol what he is sorry for, Jae Beom is basically telling Jae Yeol that he doesn’t need to feel sorry for what he did since hyung would have done the same. It’s twisted but this has always been how Jae Beom has expressed his love towards Jae Yeol. Thus, this knowledge helped to relieve the burden that Jae Yeol has felt as a result of framing his brother and brought about a wave of peace for Jae Yeol and started the process of reconciliation between the two brothers. Even after beating the crap out of his younger brother, Jae Beom was also concerned enough to ask Tae Yong about when Jae Yeol would be released.
It was also nice that Jae Beom has finally come to resolve the misunderstanding he has had about Jae Yeol and mom. That image of mom and Jae Yeol playing happily in the stream without him has always haunted and confirmed for him that mom loves Jae Yeol more and the two of them would prefer him gone, but in today’s episode, he, and we, learns that the reason mom suffers from OCD (her desire to constantly clean) was a result of the trauma of hiding in a public outhouse. Turns out, the reason that Jae Yeol sleeps in the bathroom and the reason mom sleeps in the living room with the windows open is the same. That day, they both ran away from the abusive step-father and both ended up hiding in the outhouse. Afterwards, they washed up in that stream and Jae Yeol told mom to cheer up. That was what Jae Beom happened to see.
After hearing that, Jae Beom finally realized that what he has thought all along has been false and that his anger towards mom and Jae Yeol has been uncalled for. I’m glad that after learning about this story, he makes a serious effort to be there for his mom. Our boy is finally growing up!
Back to Jae Yeol. After getting beaten by Jae Beom, Jae Yeol saw Kang Woo in his hospital room but looked away from him, exclaiming that, “You’re a fake. You don’t exist”. However, that realization was short lived and for the majority of the episode, Jae Yeol has difficulty accepting the truth that Kang Woo is an illusion. To resist having to accept this reality, Jae Yeol decides to distance himself from most of the people in his life that wants to help his, excluding his family.
He was aware that Hae Soo occasionally checks in on him and has gotten in trouble with the hospital as a result. Therefore, he comes to the unilateral decision to break up with her, however painful it might be for the both of them, so as to not burden her. Although I usually hate these kinds of separations, in this instance, I actually found his motivation to be very moving and understand that he is currently very confused and need time to work out some of his own problems first before he can reach out to others and rely on them. And I give him some props for being honest in telling Hae Soo why he wants them to break up rather than being a noble idiot.
Jae Yeol: Mom, I don’t see Kang Woo these days.
Mom: I’ve heard, professor Lee called me about it.
Jae Yeol: Kang Woo must really be fake. Since I take my drugs regularly, I haven’t seen him not even once for a week.
Mom: I’ve also heard that you have been taking your medicine well. You’re being good.
Jae Yeol: I want to be discharged.
Mom: That’s not possible. When I told Hae Soo that I’m visiting you today, she firmly told me over text message. You can’t be discharged no matter what.
Jae Yeol: I’ll stay with you. You can keep an eye on me all 24 hours. That will do, right?
Mom: If you are going to say things like that, I’m going to go.
Jae Yeol: Mom, I think Hae Soo received disciplinary measures because of me. Hae Soo is a doctor, but she can’t see her patients because of me. Mom, it’s rare, but Hae Soo comes to see me outside of my room at night. Then she cries and leaves. I pretend to be asleep, but I know all about it. It’s hard to ignore it.
Mom: I’ll tell Hae Soo not to go to your room.
Jae Yeol: No, if she doesn’t come, I’ll be waiting so you can’t do that. Mom, she is poor. Her dad is sick, and she has lots of debt. Her dream is to become a professor. Mom, my illness…is not easily curable. [Looks over at Kang Woo] I can relapse and I have to take medication all my life.
Mom: I know. But just like hypertension and diabetes, if you take your medications regularly…
Jae Yeol: Don’t be greedy, mom. A person shouldn’t be like that. I’ll do this alone. No, with you, mom. And leave Hae Soo here. Mom, in order to stop embarrassing myself in front of the person I love, please take me out of here, huh? And trust me. Just as I have always been, I’m going to get back up by myself. [Hugs mom] I’ll take my medication regularly. Really. I will take them well. [Looks at Kang Woo] If I see Kang Woo again, you take me to another hospital. Let’s go now mom.
His break up with Hae Soo:
Hae Soo: Don’t go.
Jae Yeol: No matter what you say, I’m leaving.
Hae Soo: Why are you so cruel to me?
Jae Yeol: When Hye Jin fell into the lake, remember Yoon Cheol, whose heart was aching. I can’t let you go through that by having you by my side.
Hae Soo: It’ll be okay once we treat it, Jang Jae Yeol. If you love me, please…
Jae Yeol: To you, love is completely letting go in front of that person, being okay with feeling small. Not showing off and being dependent on one another, but not me. When my mom and I were beaten by my stepfather when I was young, I swore to myself, “I’ll never become small in front of anyone else”. I can’t help it even if you call me a jerk. I’ve always lived like that, and that’s comfortable. If it’s easier for you to think that I love you less, please do so. This means that I’ll definitely do it my way.
Hae Soo: What do I have to do to keep you? [Jae Yeol kisses her as she cries]
Jae Yeol: If you practice breaking up, it becomes bearable later. Trust me, Hae Soo.
*tears* Awww, he loves Hae Soo so much. He’s selfless to the core but I can’t believe mom actually discharged him…anyway…Thankfully, Hae Soo understands his need for time and space but isn’t afraid to give him some tough love when he needs it. She is so steadfast in her devotion and love for Jae Yeol that it’s amazing to realize how far she’s come from the beginning of their relationship. Like Hae Soo, Jo sunbae and Soo Kwang continue to prove how amazing they are by showing Jae Yeol that they are there for him and are willing to wait for him until he’s ready to grab their hand for help. I love Soo Kwang and Jae Yeol’s bromance!
It is also thanks to Hae Soo’s soft and tough love that finally gets Jae Yeol to seriously question Kang Woo’s existence and come to the conclusion that Kang Woo is a hallucination.
[thinking back to Hae Soo’s words]
Hae Soo: You have to trust me. Kang Woo is a hallucination. I’m real. It is not the doctor who finds that delusion and contradiction, but it’s you.
Jae Yeol [thinking]: What exactly are you Kang Woo?
During their separation, Hae Soo continues to check in on Jae Yeol. We also get one of the strangest and most amazing phone conversations ever, where Hae Soo pushes Jang Yeol to really look hard and deep at Kang Woo to find the contradiction in his existence.
Jae Yeol: Hello?
Hae Soo: It’s me, Hae Soo. [She hangs up]
[Phone rings again]
Jae Yeol: What?
Hae Soo: It’s been over a week since you left me. How are you after leaving me? Are you at ease? I’m uneasy. [She hangs up again]
[Hae Soo calls again]
Jae Yeol: Hae Soo-ah…[she hangs up]
[This time Jae Yeol calls Hae Soo]
Jae Yeol: Why are you like this?
Hae Soo: Dong Min sunbae understands that you had no choice but to make that decision during the trial. No…you made a huge mistake that day. You didn’t consult with your brother who trusts you or your lawyer. Similarly for this case, you are currently making a huge mistake. Leaving me and denying my help. When I hang up now, I’m never going to call you. Like you, when I say I’m going to commit to something, I do it. As long as you believe that Kang Woo is real, we’ll have to break up like this. Jang Jae Yeol, listen to what I’m about to say very carefully. When I hang up, you’ll probably see Kang Woo again. [Jae Yeol sees Kang Woo] Look carefully at Kang Woo, who is in front of you. And figure it out, the fact that he is an illusion and a contradiction. Only then, can we see each other again.
Jae Yeol: Kang Woo exists, Hae Soo-ah.
Hae Soo: When you see Kang Woo, remember the times we loved each other. Me touching you, and you touching me. Me smiling, and crying in your arms. Those moments, they are real.
Jae Yeol: Kang Woo exists, I don’t understand why you are saying he doesn’t. I can’t figure out what is an illusion and a contradiction.
Hae Soo: It’s possible, you can find it. Look carefully at Kang Woo who is in front of you. From head to toe, very, very slowly. Stop your breath, and slowly. All illusions have a contradiction. If you look carefully, you will be able to find the contradiction. Most patients find it this way, so you can, too. When you figure out the illusion and the contradiction, come back to me. I’ll be waiting. I love you so much.
With her words in mind, Jae Yeol takes a close look at Kang Woo, from head to toe, and realizes that Kang Woo has been a 10th grader for the past 3 years that they’ve know each other. The moment that Jae Yeol confirms this was moving and beautifully acted. He also eventually focuses on the fact that Kang Woo’s feet are always barefoot and rather injured (the detail in this show is amazing). This makes him realize that Kang Woo is in fact a reflection of his own childhood; when he ran away from his stepdad barefooted and in uniform. Powerful stuff.
Once he realizes that Kang Woo is in fact a hallucination, he immediately runs to Hae Soo for support. Which, awwwwww.
Jae Yeol: Behind me, Kang Woo is…Hae Soo-ah, Kang Woo is fake. Kang Woo…can’t possibly be me, but he is…me. Hae Soo-ah, help me. Hae Soo-ah help me.
Hae Soo: Good job. Good job. It’s all good now. It’s all good.
*tears* What an amazingly beautiful yet simple scene that was? I love Hae Soo’s reaction. She hugs him knowing that that’s what he needs at the moment but she also lets her tears finally fall in front of him. She is overwhelmed with emotions; relief, pride, happiness, love and compassion.
I also love that as soon as Jae Yeol asks for help, there was a whole legion of people who immediately rallied by his side to support him.
To really heal, Jae Yeol has to learn to sympathize with his 16 year old self’s actions as well as say a farewell to Kang Woo.
Hae Soo: If you meet Kang Woo today, tell him that for taking care of my lonely boyfriend, I…am very grateful. And…since I am here for you, he can leave comfortably, okay?
Jae Yeol: Okay.
*note how Jae Yeol (Jo In Sung) sweetly pulls down Hae Soo’s (Gong Hyo Jin’s) shirt after each kiss and hug. So natural…
The final farewell was so heartbreaking and immensely powerful. By washing Kang Woo’s injured feet, Jae Yeol is in a sense healing his own wounds. The psychological scars that have been holding onto Jae Yeol will now be confronted and dealt with. He puts the shoes Hae Soo bought on Kang Woo’s feet, a symbol that Kang Woo can now leave peacefully. Yet, in some way, the fact that these two people (I know one’s a hallucination) have to separate in order for Jae Yeol to get better is bittersweet….but by no means does that mean I want Kang Woo to stay!
Hae Soo’s family really pissed me off in this episode. I can’t believe her family is going as far as to sell their restaurant so that they can guilt trip Hae Soo into studying abroad or leaving the country so as to separate her from Jae Yeol. They aren’t thinking about what Hae Soo wants at all. Even when they went that far, I *tried* to understand their point of view but Mom definitely stepped over the line when she contacted Jae Yeol and asked him to let Hae Soo go.
Hae Soo’s mom: Jae Yeol-ah, it’s Hae Soo’s mom. I beg you, let Hae Soo go. Even though you are sick, I want to believe that you are not that selfish.
That was unforgivable. How can she do that, knowing that he is sick? And what the hell does the fact that he suffers from a mental disorder have to do with whether or not he would be “selfish”? He has finally reached out to Hae Soo for help, and in his time of greatest need, mom tried to guilt trip him into letting Hae Soo go. Mom is acting selfishly. She doesn’t care who she hurts as long as she gets her way since she believes that she knows best. She doesn’t pause to think about what Hae Soo and Jae Yeol are going through and that what they really need to successfully surmount this obstacle is family support. How I wish we were back to the good old days when Hae Soo acted spitefully against her mom…(just kidding!…But not really…) Please Jae Yeol, ignore Hae Soo’s mom and follow your heart. Hae Soo WANTS to be next to you, to love and support you, so let her! Don’t push her away again!
I’m confident that we have a happy ending in store for us on the horizon. Personally, I really hope we get a scene where Jae Yeol plays with his (and obviously Hae Soo’s) kid(s) since we all know how much he’s wanted to be a father, and from what we’ve seen, I’m sure he’ll be great at it!
One more episode to go. *cries* It’s Okay, It’s Love FIGHTING!!!
IOIL Part 8 OST