As we dive into the penultimate episode of Soundtrack #1, the world is a little off-kilter for Eun-soo (Han So-hee). Her new discovery – photos of her on Sun-woo’s (Park Hyung-sik) laptop – has left her with thousands of questions and a weird feeling in her chest. She doesn’t waste a minute – as soon as she collects herself, she launches her queries at Sun-woo, much like anyone would upon discovering that their long-time friend might have feelings for them. How long has he had a crush on Jennifer? Why does he like her? Is he going to tell her?
Sun-woo, however, won’t allow any cracks in his walls – he shuts her down immediately, still thinking that she’s blissfully oblivious of his feelings. Eun-soo wants to push further, but she has bigger fish to fry and a song about unrequited love to finish. Struggling to put emotions into words, she fishes out her first lyrics notebook, where she’d penned down one of her first songs about hers and Sun-woo’s friendship.
In a deeply poetic, almost fateful flashback, we see how Eun-soo and Sun-woo have always been both each other’s subjects and muses. While she wrote her first song about their friendship, Sun-woo got his first camera from her – an old one she’d gotten from her mom – and made her his first willing subject.
Back in the present, Sun-woo finds his deadline to leave the country moved up unexpectedly when a golden opportunity comes knocking. Now on the clock, he has a decision to make – will he tell Eun-soo how he feels, like he’d promised himself, or will he let sleeping dogs lie?
Just like him, Eun-soo finally gets a break – her revised version is accepted. As she celebrates with the couple who owns her local hideout, one person is conspicuously missing – Sun-woo – and for good reason. Now that the pressure of the lyrics is out of the way, front and center is the question-that-must-not-be-asked: Does Sun-woo like her? Moreover, can she actually give this a shot with Sun-woo?
The answer seems almost too absurd. “You can be indifferent in the morning and in love in the evening,” the pub owner tells her, as if it’s ever that simple. Before she can process it, however, the couple jumps the gun and asks her whether Sun-woo finally told her how he felt, and the color drains from their faces when they realize they had unwittingly given away his biggest secret.
“You can tell by the way he looks at you. We all knew. Even the chopsticks here knew. You’re the only one who didn’t know.” Clearly, there is no saving anything now. As it turns out, there are two liars here: Sun-woo, who carries his love like Atlas shouldered the Earth; and Eun-soo, whose reasons for not entertaining the idea of a romance with Sun-woo aren’t entirely altruistic.
“He feels bad all day after accidentally stepping on an ant. He spends the entire winter worrying about every stray cat in the world,” she says. “I’m afraid I might hurt him. I can’t risk hurting Sun-woo because he means a lot to me.” Eun-soo’s heart gets further torn apart as she returns home and finds Sun-woo waiting with some flowers and answers. How long has he liked “Jennifer”? Eight years now. Why does he like her? Because she believes in him. Is he going to tell her? Yes.
Eun-soo spends the night tossing and turning, and narrowly and awkwardly escapes Sun-woo during the day. While she goes to dinner with Producer Kang (Kim Joo-hun) and superstar Jay Jun (Seo In-guk in a special appearance), Sun-woo makes her childhood bike his pet project for the day.
As she finds herself alone with Producer Kang later on, we almost see the other shoe drop as he unexpectedly confesses to her. She’s only just processing what this means, when Sun-woo crashes her dinner. As she steps out to take a call – and perhaps diffuse the awkwardness – Producer Kang tells Sun-woo that he’d just confessed to Eun-soo. Annoyed, confused and heartbroken, Sun-woo leaves their dinner and spends the night at his studio. Ironically, Eun-soo stays up all night waiting for him.
In the morning, she makes her way to his studio, but he’s already gone. She finds out from Donghyeon (Yoon Byung-hee) that Sun-woo’s “good news” was the collaboration opportunity of a lifetime, one that would take him around the world and change the course of his career. As she sits in the empty studio, replete with Sun-woo’s memories and art but devoid of the man himself, she makes a decision.
Sun-woo’s waiting for her when she returns home with his childhood bicycle all refurbished and good as new. Before he can say anything else, however, she cuts him off – both verbally and emotionally. “The yellow friendship cheers for the green dreams,” she tells him. “My yellow friendship will always be by your side. Because we’re friends. That’s how I feel.”
It seems, however, that two hearts break at once. Whatever Sun-woo was about to say dies on his lips, and he instead saves the day by casually dropping the news that he’s leaving the next to chase after his world-famous photography dreams. Despite the excitement on her face and the confidence she had a moment ago, Eun-soo is anything but ecstatic.
The next day, Sun-woo’s departure is more anticlimactic than anyone had hoped for. Eun-soo drops him off at the bus stand, reminiscing about the day eight years ago when he’d left for the military. He tells her to take care of herself and not skip meals and, at long last, gets on the bus to his new destination.
As Eun-soo walks back, her mind goes back to the day eight years ago – the night before Sun-woo’s departure for the military. It was an anticlimactic farewell then too, but as soon as Sun-woo is out of sight, Eun-soo breaks down crying. In the present, she does the same. As tears stream down her eyes, she thinks that maybe this time, she’ll produce some of her best work, and she knows exactly why.
“Because I finally understand what you meant about unrequited love.”
- Throughout the show, Eun-soo maintains a cool, calm, excitable facade. Perhaps she feels displaying any vulnerability is a sign of weakness, but it’s exactly what makes Sun-woo fall for her. In the flashback to the day Sun-woo left for the military, we see the moment Sun-woo realized he loved Eun-soo: it’s when he comes back to the cafe he had said goodbye to Eun-soo in, and finds her sobbing at the prospect of spending the next two years without him.
‘Soundtrack #1’ is available on Disney+