Thirty-Nine (서른 아홉) is a Korean drama TV series directed by Kim Sang-ho and stars Son Ye-jin, Jeon Mi-do and Kim Ji-hyun, alongside other cast members. The series has 12 episodes and Thirty Nine episode 12 is titled Samseong-dong, Hyochang-dong, Gocheok-dong and has a runtime of 68 minutes.
Netflix describes the series as:
LEANING ON EACH OTHER THROUGH THICK AND THIN, A TRIO OF BEST FRIENDS STAND TOGETHER AS THEY EXPERIENCE LIFE, LOVE AND LOSS ON THE BRINK OF TURNING 40.
– Thirty Nine episode 12 recap contains major spoilers –
And, we have finally reached the last episode of Thirty Nine! We start off Thirty Nine episode 12 with Mi-jo swooping Chan-young away to Joo-hee’s mother’s restaurant. We learn from where the three became close friends and how karaoke rooms became a norm for them – a place for them to bond. As the happy memories fade, we are taken to the present where Chan-young is being wheeled to the emergency room in immense pain. Her parents are Mi-jo are close to follow, so are Joo-hee and Jin-seok.
It’s a moment of pain for those who are left behind. Most are silently waiting but are quickly allowed in as Chan-young wakes up later on. The doctor later tells Mi-jo to get ready since this kind of pain will happen often – it’s best that Chan-young gets hospitalised. Although Chan-young desperately wants to go home, the others must first see whether it would be possible to get care from home.
In the meantime, Chan-young walks around the hospital watching bereaved people mourning the loss of their loved ones. A very odd thing to be doing, but honestly, I don’t know what might go through the minds of people who don’t have a long time to themselves. On the other hand, Chan-young is also concerned that Jin-seok wants to marry her still. When Mi-jo asks her why she’s so against it, Chan-young says that it’s because it will taint her love for him. She later gives her a list of people she wants at her funeral.
Either way, the fun actually begins when Chan-young finally comes home. Joo-hee tries her nail art skills on her friends, Chan-young’s parents ask Jin-seok to stay with their daughter till the end and although everyone tries to be in their best moods, the feeling of despair still looms large. It’s apparent that everyone is slowly getting ready for the fact that this might just be it for Chan-young and although no one wants it to happen, everyone has accepted it as an inevitability.
However, the real heartbreak comes when Jin-seok takes Chan-young to a brunch orchestrated by Mi-jo and Joo-hee to bring those closest to her together. These are people she wanted at her funeral, but it’s better to meet those with whom you’d share a meal before you actually die, right? That’s what exactly happens but the effect that it has is immense – especially when Chan-young says that the amount of time she spent in this world is enough, regardless of whether it was short.
To everyone’s surprise and happiness, Chan-young saw the next spring and successfully got through it. And although it was an anxious time for Mi-jo, she got through it somewhat decently. Chan-young also comes up with things for Mi-jo to do for her parents after she dies and Mi-jo, being a great friend, goes through with all of her demands. She writes down having pork belly and soju with Jin-seok as well, but once a week is a bit much, even for Mi-jo. As time flew by like this, one night the inevitable happened.
It’s a flurry of emotions but we move swiftly through the moment that should’ve been something to linger on. We, just like them, move on swiftly from the sadness that is losing a friend, lover and daughter. Instead, we move to Mi-jo keeping her promise of meeting Chan-young’s parents, Joo-hee has opened up her nail studio and Jin-seok, too, helps out washing dishes for Chan-young’s parents. It’s apparent that, even though everyone misses her presence, Chan-young is always with them.
Mi-jo decides to adopt Choi Hoon and Seon-u’s father finally decides to meet Mi-jo’s parents. Later, as Chan-young’s film releases, it’s a mix of emotions from everyone in her life. Although most of them cry, it’s mixed with a lot of happiness as well. To be able to see and hear her feels like a blessing – something that they can always have with them. Mi-jo, however, is apprehensive about watching the movie and has a heart-to-heart about the reasons with Joo-hee later on.
It seems like Chan-young has everyone planned, though. That night, Mi-jo gets a surprise from Chan-young via Joo-hee. She left is specifically so that Mi-jo will get it when she’s having a hard time. It’s a bracelet and a pendrive, the latter of which contains a video of Chan-young… well, it’s a heartbreaking video about friendship, gratitude and celebrating what you love.
Life goes on and people move on, somewhat. It’s difficult to get used to Chan-young not being there. But you learn to cope and live your life. So you sometimes slip – you call that old number, you cry a little when you miss them. It’s a part of getting used to that void and that’s ok. Do you ever get used to it? Probably not, but you try.
Final Thoughts: Thirty Nine Episode 12
I liked this episode. I liked how they ended the season with hope with still with the thought that it’s devastating to lose someone. What took the cake, honestly, was Son Ye-jin who was tremendous as Mi-jo. That scene where she sobs watching Chan-young’s video is absolutely haunting and heartbreaking.
I liked how they did not dwell on the dying itself and instead showcased how the people closest to Chan-young reacted to the news of her passing and then continued with their lives. As I said before, it’s not easy. But, you have to get through it. You have to cope. I am a bit confused, however, whether I would’ve enjoyed dwelling on the fact a smidge more or whether quickly pushing through it is good enough. On one hand, we put so much time and effort into Chan-young’s illness and inevitable death so the event just whooshing past feels a bit offputting. On the other hand, we’ve had too much heartbreak for one season and watching Chan-young going through hell really wouldn’t have added anything. But at the end of it, I think I am glad that we passed through it. I think it made sense in the bigger picture.
All in all, Thirty Nine hasn’t been a flawless series, but it definitely has ended on a hopeful note. It’s shocking how quickly they discarded the bio mom episode after making a stink about it for so long. Either way, I am glad to be rid of an unnecessary plot point by the end of it and have something heartwarming to watch.
Thirty-Nine is streaming on Netflix.
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