Sweet & Sour Plot Synopsis
Sweet & Sour is a seemingly simple rom-com playing on ideas surrounding long distance relationships. The movie opens with Da-Eun helping Hyeok early on overcome the stigma surrounding jaundice patients. In exchange, he helps her take breaks at the hospital and the two form an unlikely bond.
Da-Eun eventually buys Hyeok some running shoes as a gift. He vows to get in better shape and promises to run until he’s fit.
As the camera then pans down to these shoes, we see a seamless transition to a character we assume is this same patient from the hospital. This seems to indicate that Hyeok lost his weight and managed to win over the girl. This sets up a tale about the difficulties of long distance relationships and how hard they can be to sustain. But there’s a twist (more on that to come!)
Who is Lee Jang-Hyeok?
As we come to learn, Hyeok and Lee Jang-Hyeok are two different people. This Lee Jang-Hyeok is who we follow after panning down to the shoes. He’s the one who’s in a relationship with Da-Eun, having met over a year prior to the jaundice patient incident in hospital.
However, all is not right with their relationship. With Da-Eun working long shifts at the hospital and Lee Jang-Hyeok transferred to the main office, the pair start to grow apart. That’s made all the more difficult by the revelation that Jang-Hyeok was actually on the verge of asking her to marry him.
The turbulent year the pair share is what’s showcased in the film, as Jang-Hyeok travels between the city and office for his job. He eventually spends more and more time at the office, leaving Da-Eun alone and needing someone to rely on.
Unfortunately this is made all the worse by Jang-Hyeok’s co-worker Bo-Young starting to take a fancy in him and trying to win over her colleague. Jang-Hyeok remains loyal though and despite some obvious attraction between the pair, stays strong.
Do Lee Jang-Hyeok and Da-Eun break up?
The distance soon takes its toll on Jang-Hyeok, who ends up losing his enthusiasm and always coming home tired. He’s got little time for Da-Eun and this sets up the beginning of the end for the pair. And then it happens. Jang-Hyeok calls Da-Eun by Bo-Young’s name. Oof.
This is made even worse given it comes off the back of Da-Eun’s reveal about her pregnancy – and subsequent abortion. The two eventually break up, with both complaining about being tired and going their separate ways.
Their relationship severed, Lee Jang-Hyeok begins dating Bo-Young instead. The two get along well but when Bo-Young points out a child and makes it clear she wants children, Jang-Hyeok finds his mind wandering over to Da-Eun again.
This eventually hits breaking point when Jang-Hyeok receives a reminder about the Christmas vacation the two of them had planned. Da-Eun hasn’t cancelled their trip to Jeju Island either. Believing he still has a chance, Jang-Hyeok grabs his ring and prepares to make a big gesture at the airport. He tries proposing to her with the same ring she sent back to him.
What’s the twist?
It’s here that Jang-Hyeok bumps into Jang Hyeok. Yep, there’s two of them. The difference comes from the hyphen which reaffirms that these are two different people. For clarity, we’ll refer to our jaundice patient as Hyeok.
Jang-Hyeok’s over-reliance on work caused their relationship to become strained, and inadvertently pushed Da-Eun toward her new patient in hospital, Hyeok. She’s been using him as a substitute replacement for Jang-Hyeok.
Every time Jang-Hyeok cancelled on her she turned to Hyeok to keep her company. He’s the one who helped change the lightbulbs, cuddle her and offer reassurance when Jang-Hyeok failed to do so.
How Does Sweet & Sour end?
This catches us up to the moments just prior to the big twist. Da-Eun takes one last, long look at Jang-Hyeok before turning her back and heading inside with Hyeok. They have their bags packed and seem to be en-route to Jeju Island. She’s taking him instead and leaving Jang-Hyeok behind.
Only, Da-Eun is clearly not 100% happy either, sighing loudly and asking Hyeok to take her suitcase. The last shot of our protagonist sees Da-Eun sitting on a bench in deep thought, just prior to her flight.
Meanwhile, Jang-Hyeok heads back to his “silver trophy” Bo-Young. She’s won the work competition to fly over to Jeju Island. As he sits in quiet contemplation, he tries to work out when his relationship fell apart – eventually shifting the blame to his boss.
Not once does Jang-Hyeok take responsibility for his own actions. Instead, he hastily decides to propose to Bo-Young. She rejects him though, claiming it’s way too soon for her. She has plans of her own, which include going abroad to study and upgrade her profile. It’s poetically ironic, given Bo-Young is doing to him exactly what Jang-Hyeok has done to Da-Eun.
As he realizes this, Jang-Hyeok reflects back on his choices and curses.
Does Sweet & Sour have a happy ending?
Yes and no. The title reflects back on the themes. In the end, this twist works to show Jang-Hyeok has been so fixated on work that he’s neglected his relationship completely. You have to invest time and energy into making love work and that’s not something Jang-Hyeok was willing to do.
Instead, both Da-Eun and Jang-Hyeok find themselves drifting apart completely, leaving the prospects of what could have been a distant memory.
Read More: Sweet & Sour Movie Review
Thanks for reading our Ending Explained article! What did you think of Sweet & Sour’s ending? Did that twist catch you off-guard? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!