At Seventeen

As Jung Hee and Dong Hoon mourn their lost other halves in Episode 14, a quiet, melancholic song plays in the background, hinting at their heartbreak, grief and loss.

The song starts playing as the camera cuts to a bereft Dong Hoon, staring at the phone and the number which no one answers. Jung Hee, in the meantime, struggles to climb out of the Sang Won-sized crater created by their ill-fated relationship.

How long more do I have to live like this? … Every morning I hear the sounds ta-dak, ta-dak. The sound of people’s footsteps, people getting on with their lives. It’s the most depressing sound in the world.

Dong Hoon doesn’t even respond. He’s lost in his own Ji An-shaped hole. Where is that girl? Where is the part of me that belonged to her?

He only stirs when Jung Hee mentions “her … that female office worker.” Dong Hoon’s head rises, shaken out of his stupor. And so the song ends.

The song is called “At Seventeen”, written recorded and released in 1975 by Janis Ian.

Thanks to sharp-eared @jujurose for discovering the song!

Here are the lyrics. Do you think it tells Jung Hee’s story, or Ji An’s?

At Seventeen
I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth
And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say “come dance with me”
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn’t all it seems at seventeen
A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said: “pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve”
The rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly
So remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debitures of quality and dubious integrity
Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received at seventeen
To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
When dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly duckling girls like me…
We all play the game, and when we dare
We cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
That call and say: “come on, dance with me”
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me, at seventeen

Other theme songs:

Dong Hoon Yearns to be Free “El Condor Pasa”



2 thoughts on “At Seventeen”

  1. I still go with my first impression that I think this song represent DH, JH and JA love lives.
    yes the overall theme fits JA the most, but for me, it’s truly an eye opening moment regarding DH & YH marriage.
    he was 3 years older than YH and DJY when entering college, which means he goes from high school straight to the 2 years mandatory military service. our ajusshi would be lack of experience of being the usual reckless young adult….
    I believe YH pursued him, and he goes why not? she is smart & pretty (he does love her but not passionately enough? poor
    YH, I feel for her). so his lfe was college–>working–>married–>kids just like what the society expected (which fit part of the song lyrics about social expectation). no wonder he burn out at 40. that conversation about how he never have enough temptations?

    this also makes me agree with a soompier that said JA is DH first love.

    sorry…it’s hard to get what I mean across, because english is not my first languange

    oh, I’m @jujurose btw 🙂 I feel honored 😉

    Liked by 4 people

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