“I could not return to my youth or that street either. Time always flows. Everything passes by and ages. That might be why youth is beautiful. Because it shines, blindingly bright at a brilliant short moment. But you can never go back.”
She is the frequent butt of her friends’ jokes; neither “smart” by their skewed standards, nor “pretty enough” to “deserve” verbal praise. At home, she is the forgotten middle child, overshadowed by her older sister’s brilliance and her younger brother’s neediness. In the total absence of validation, Deok Sun finds comfort in playing with makeup and hair spray, in arranging pretty outfits. Still, she–like so many of us–seeks the acknowledgement of the people around her. She craves affection and seeks reciprocation. It’s what prompts her first crushes. One of the standout moments of her and Sun Woo’s short, ill-fated romance is of Deok Sun running to her room just as Sun Woo comes to pick her up and slathering on foundation (top row, right). Makeup is how she finds confidence. She wears it like warpaint.
Her femininity is her pride. It is what she has, when even her mother gives up on her dreams of Deok Sun gaining admission to a university.
Fast forward five years, and we see Deok Sun beautiful and grown up, with long hair and makeup done to perfection. We see her in heels and in skirts. She’s a flight attendant, a profession (in that time) known for its beautiful women. She is successful, she takes care of her parents, she has fulfilled nearly every dream she has had for herself. But most importantly, she has learned to love herself. She has learned to harness the femininity that had been her last bit of pride and she has turned it into a career. And that, I think is her true love story. Deok Sun’s is the story of how she stops pinning her worth on others’ opinions of her, and learns that at the end of the day it only matters that she is happy with who she is.
“If I had not been caught at any of those damn traffic lights… if any of those red lights had helped me, even once… I could be standing in front of her, as if it were fate. My first love was always held back by that thing they call timing. That damn timing.”