Updated: Feb 28
My previous blog post goes into great detail about the characters and their journey until the separated pair decides to reach for each other again. This post looks at the final four episodes and helps to find closure on some of the open questions I had posed in my last missive.
I had asked:
Will Woong & Yeon-Soo acknowledge Ji-Ung's role in their love lives?
Will Woong stop growing now that he has Yeon-Soo back in his life?
Will Yeon-Soo lose sight of herself and her ambitions to protect her relationship?
And through the show's continued poetic storytelling, all three questions get an answer.
Ji-Ung's biggest void was not the loss of Yeon-Soo, but not having his mother. Accepting that loss throughout his life made him even more sensitive about getting love from the object of his affection. Believing that Woong is blessed with so much already, perhaps he feels that the universe owes him Yeon-Soo, even though it is obvious to him that she cannot love anyone but Woong.
He gets an opportunity to confront his mother about his past, and eventually begins to heal with her. This gives him the emotional space to embrace the attentions of Chae-Ran, a beautiful young girl who admires and cares for him for who he is. He is able to maintain his friendship with Woong and Yeon-Soo without ever having to openly share his unrequited love for Yeon-Soo. His heart is now truly open.
Child Trapped In His World
While Woong ponders the possibility of going to the school of Architecture, he is happy with Yeon-Soo and doesn't want to unsettle that. It takes the harsh words of a critic to help articulate to himself his own sense of inadequacy. It ignites a fire within him to make a plan and follow through; not for anyone else but for himself.
This coincides with his journey of making peace with his past, acknowledging his insecurities with his adoptive parents, and accepting that the love he got from them was more than enough to let go of his memories of his father. It turns out he knew where to find the man, but he confidently moves on to the next step of his life, no longer planning to look back.
When Yeon-Soo decides to stay, he doesn't abandon his dreams and ambitions. He trusts in their relationship enough to attempt a long-distance relationship. With both more honest with each other, they know they can face any obstacle coming their way.
In my essay for 1 - 12, I had questioned the eternity of time and how the theory suggests we repeat our patterns. I had wondered "Within that, could the meaning lie in finding an anchor that we do not let go of? Could the seasons come and go but we learn to find strength in our love so that it never feels like an option to let go of each other’s hands?'
It is beautiful that Woong and Yeon-Soo discover enough about themselves to accept their love as the anchor for their future.
I Was Never Alone
For much of her life, Yeon-Soo has felt burdened - be it by her poverty, her desire to outgrow that poverty, to carry the weight of her relationship with Woong, to carry the guilt of abandoning him, to be the one who had to keep the family together, the sane voice at the office that holds the business together - there seems to be no dearth of life events that weigh Yeon-Soo down. It makes her wooden in her interactions and she goes through the machinations of life as though there is no greater purpose.
Being back with Woong softens her and she begins to take the time to appreciate the smaller things. She sees the value of the friends who never left her side, the wisdom of her grandmother who understands she could have taught Yeon-Soo better coping skills, and Yeon-Soo accepts that no matter how much she may want it, her grandmother is not immortal. Fear of loss cannot cripple her from living her life.
Yeon-Soo also learns to accept that even though she felt forced to make the decisions she made, in reality, she did what felt right to her for herself at the time. Her seemingly dead-end life wasn't as dry as she thought and that she loved the career she had worked hard to build. Her life had more meaning, and perhaps the joy of having Woong back with her helped her see all the good things she truly had.
It is empowering that Yeon-Soo makes the choice to remain in Korea while Woong goes for his studies. They acknowledge the hard work that will come with a long-distance relationship but neither can imagine a life without the other. They willingly take a path that helps their individual growth before they ever decide to settle down.
Love At First Sight
The bickering pair that they are, a long running point of contention between them had been who fell for whom first. As they reprise this argument in the library being donated by Woong's parents - a beloved venue for the two bookworms - Woong uses his art to put a rest to the question.
He draws Yeon-Soo as their eyes had met for the first time, and with his customary attention to detail, we see his first drawing of a person. A young girl with inquisitive, intelligent eyes, who moves with a graceful and yet powerful sense of purpose. Woong, who always seemed rudderless, was similarly brilliant and comprehended the yin to his yang at first sight.
To use this picture to ask her to marry him, after he finally feels fully worthy of having her, is a testament to the artistry of this series. The story is not complicated with complicated scenarios, but it is a story that is aesthetically told. Both Woo-sik and Da-mi conveyed layers of emotions, while blending in choice moments of comedy. Through the various stages of their lives, from school to break-up to reunion to separation to marriage, their journey of love is sweet and endearing.
Bookshelves have all sorts of stories. Some require a mindful reading that is fully engrossing and some that provide a lighter mood that leaves a pleasant afterglow. Our Beloved Summer falls in this latter category. A soft story quietly told where the triumph of love is really a triumph of one finding oneself.
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