My Liberation Notes – K-Drama Episode 13 Recap & Review

Life and Death

Episode 13 of My Liberation Notes starts with us some time in the future. Mr Gu is back in Seoul, working. Mr Gu breaks bad news to Chairman Shin. After the earlier incident with the police, their chatrooms have been exposed and as such, they’re going to have to declare their real income. Shin shrugs this off though, claiming they’ll just have to charge more per-table. The thing is, the club is bleeding money with the sales reports in the red.

Gu is drinking heavily through all of this, drowning his stress and anxiety in soju – and hard liquor. The club is in a complete state, and Gu brings all the managers in to question over 1.2 million won worth of unpaid bills. Gu is livid and after finding out about a customer that’s been ghosting them, shows up at their place of work.

At the department store, Gu arrives with the new manager, forcing the woman to pay up. t’s a completely different side to this man than what we’ve seen before; ruthless and not taking any crap from anyone.

It’s clearly a very stressful job and eventually he finds himself sitting opposite a baby, a baby whose father has head in to drink at the club. When the mother arrives, she’s livid and the pair end up having a scuffle.

There’s an absolutely surreal bit of comedy here as Mr Gu sits opposite the baby with a drink. However it’s clear that Gu is depressed and when he’s given a plate full of food, it just reminds him of Mi-Jeong. In fact, he even calls his subordinate Mi-Jeong. “I want to go home.” He says, when asked what would make him happy. And as such he’s allowed to do just that. This small act of kindness seems to change Gu’s feelings as he takes the train back to the countryside once more.

As he does, we cut back in time and see what the other characters have been up to leading to this moment. Mi-Jeong is still working hard but she’s grilled by her boss for including the green card brochure in her proposal. She’s entered a design contest and is getting confident that she’ll win. In the midst of this, she also finds out that Mr Choi is having an affair with a girl that works at the company.

As for her thoughts on Mr Gu, she’s trying to put it out of her mind. She’s almost become fearless in a way, embracing the idea of death if it’s to come for her. This is typified by a tense run-in with a wild dog, where she stands her ground and pierces its eyes with her steely gaze. The animal turns and leaves.

The next day, Gi-Jeong gets Chang-Hee in trouble by pointing out that he’s quit his job. Je-Ho is livid and stops the truck when he drives past, but he thinks better of reprimanding his son until after their own work is done. As for Chang-Hee, he just goes right on back to bed. He hasn’t been happy for a while, as we know, and despite 8 years of servitude, has had enough of feeling second best.

That night, Je-Ho asks what his plans are. Well, Chang-Hee has decided to do nothing for a while. He just wants to be respected by his father, like Gu was. Chang-Hee points out that he’s worked so hard over the years, including winning over many of his colleagues and those in his life that they’re given him gifts for when he leaves.

Chang-Hee feels numb and just wants to take a break… but Je-Ho’s silence speaks volumes. This man is a grafter, someone who works hard by the sweat on his brow. Chang-Hee’s words certainly have an effect on him though, especially when Chang-Hee asks why he’s not proud of him. The thing is, he is proud of Chang-Hee, but he hasn’t actually seen it.

During a flashback, we see Je-Ho watching from afar as Chang-Hee wins a race at school. And in a way, this is indicative of where Je-Ho has been; in the distance watching as his son does his best. While reflecting on this out in the fields, Chang-Hee silently shows up to help out.

However, the farm over from theirs is thriving and they belittle Je-Ho, claiming he’s not very good at farming and should just quit. They stay silent though, until it turns into The Fast and the Furious. The two cars race up the road, with Je-Ho taking a shortcut through a winding dirt road… to a pothole and a big accident.

Sweet potatoes are all over the floor, the car is on its side and their pride is shattered. Hye-Sook does not see the funny side though, heading home and bemoaning how she never seems to have a day off.

We haven’t seen a whole lot of Gi-Jeong this episode but we do see her standing up for herself. She isn’t being pushed around by Gyeong-Seon anymore. As she and Tae-Hun start to grow closer together, Hye-Sook continues to be nosy, showing up at the restaurant to check on her daughter. When she shows herself, the second hand embarrassment is just too much.

When she leaves, Hye-Sook speaks to some of the women down at the market who ask abut her dog. Apparently Mi-Jeong was there beforehand, crying her eyes out over their “family dog” a month back.

Hye-Sook immediately realizes this is to do with Mr Gu. While she heads home and thinks this over, Mi-Jeong wins her contest but bails out on drinking with the girls. She’s still torn up over Mr Gu and wills him to come to her. And like a knight in shining armour, he shows up that night. Only… it’s the wrong year.

As we catch up with Mr Gu arriving at Je-Ho’s place, he’s got himself a new partner and a lot of time has passed. The kids have all moved out and it’s just them now.

Hye-Sook actually passed away when she lay down to sleep that afternoon, consumed by sadness and unhappiness. This reframes the beginning of the episode and puts Mi-Jeong’s discussion about death into perspective. We also learn – when we jump back to the present timeline – that Gi-Jeong, Mi-Jeong and Chang-Hee have all moved to Seoul.

When Mr Gu heads outside, he does so with an address from Je-Ho for where Mi-Jeong is.

The Episode Review

What a stunning episode. Episode 13 is absolutely fantastic and I really love the cruel juxtaposition of Mi-Jeong “embracing death” in front of that wild dog and then having to actually face it late on when the ambulance passes her to pick up her mum from the farm. The way the screen turns black and white, visually showing the colour literally draining from her, is so powerful.

In fact this whole episode is essentially an allegory for life and death. The Fast and Furious car chase and the farmers beforehand show that there are no shortcuts in life; sometimes things aren’t fair and some people are just dealt a better hand.

At the same time, we have to make do with what we have and can choose to grind it out and stay quiet, picking up sweet potatoes along the way, or bemoan our circumstances and feel bitter regret to those who have better opportunities.

Ultimately, episode 13 is an absolute scorcher; a masterful visual allegory for the futility of life and death and a really powerful chapter that manages to reframe those Mr Gu scenes in a very different light. Tomorrow’s episode should be very special and for those invested in this one, My Liberation Notes is likely to dish out some serious post-drama blues!

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You can read our full season review for My Liberation Notes Season 1 here!

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5 thoughts on “My Liberation Notes – K-Drama Episode 13 Recap & Review”

  1. I love this drama. It just gets better and better with each episode. The characters are people you want to know and continue being involved with. I will be sad to see it end.

  2. I wanted to see the family drinking soju and laughing out loud by the seashore or in a restaurant in Seoul, but that’s not going to happen as Mrs. Yeom’s gone. I like Gi-jeong from the get-go. Letting her mother see her boyfriend from a distance made me like her even more. She made her very happy.

    I cried when Yeom Chang-hee opened his heart to his father and when he found his unconscious mother in her bedroom. I also cried when Mr. Gu was talking to Mr. Yeom.

    I expect nothing but perfection with episode 14 tomorrow. Congratulations to the cast and crew of MLN!

  3. By far one of the most powerful episodes I’ve seen ever. Very well reviewed. Every scene , every moment, every shot showed how well mastered the writer and director are in their craft. Left a deep deep impression in my heart.

  4. Good for you, as you seemed enjoying this drama very well. But I’m not. Yes some scenes are has strong emotional impact. I didn’t like character and his alcoholic addiction. He completely abusing his body.

    Even both and Mijung get happy ending. It will won’t last long. Once they planned to have kids. Reality will hit them hardly. Its clear they have atleast 10years age gap. Definitely will start getting some health issues and won’t able to support family for long. Mijung has to fill in his shoes and take care of children’s education and family finances.

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