We have experienced many Korean mystery thrillers, but Sweet & Sour (Saekom-Dalkom) is different. Initially, it tickles you with romantic and cute moments. And by the end, it is a transforms into a gripping thriller (mystery).
The film directed by Lee Gye-byeok is based on a novel, Initiation Love, written by Kurumi Inui. So let’s try to get a sneak peak into its intricate plot.
‘Sweet & Sour’ Summary
Da-eun (Chae Soo-bin) is a nurse at Incheon Juan General Hospital, Seoul. At the beginning of the film, a plump boy named Lee Jang-Hyuk (Lee Woo-Je) is admitted to the hospital. He is suffering from Hepatitis B, and Da-eun nurses him with adorable care and charm.
Quickly, Lee Jang-Hyuk falls in love with Da-eun, and they start dating. And in a quick montage, the film establishes that Lee Jang-Hyuk got slim for Da-eun so that they can wear matching t-shirts (I know, it’s stupid, but I didn’t write the script).
A slim Jang-hyuk (Jang Ki-Yong) and Da-eun start living together and begin their new life. Jang-hyuk takes a temporary dispatch promotion to a more prominent architect corporation. But the workload and physical distances create a gap between him and Da-eun. As the distance increases, their love starts fading away.
Were Lee Jang-Hyuk and Jang-hyuk the same person?
No, these were two different characters played by two different actors. The “lee” was the plump guy and Da-eun’s current boyfriend. While without the “lee” one, was Da-eun’s ex-boyfriend. The makers gave them a similar name to trick the audience. Let’s dissect it further through timelines.
So when Da-eun met Lee Jang-Hyuk, the incident was happening in the present. And Da-eun’s relationship with Jang-hyuk occurred in the past. During Christmas time, when the couple planned a trip to Jeju, both the timelines intersect.
When Da-eun was roaming around with Lee Jang-Hyuk in the market, she stopped at a candy shop. The hawker looked at her and commented that she came to his shop for the second time and gave her a credit prize. The scene links back to an incident when Da-eun visited the same market with Jang-Hyuk. At that time, Jang-Hyuk was incredibly tired, unbothered about Da-eun, and was cheating on her.
She bought the same sneakers for both her ex and present boyfriends because they were at a discount. This information was also plotted to create confusion in the film. A quick time-lapse shot of the sneakers suggested that Lee Jang-Hyuk lost weight while running (funny, I know). The timelapse was a flashback and a match cut to the same sneakers worn by Da-eun’s ex, Jang-Hyuk (the incident happening in the past).
Did Da-eun get an abortion?
Jang-Hyuk assisted Da-eun to the clinic to get an abortion. But, it wasn’t revealed till the end whether she got operated on or not.
While nursing Lee Jang-Hyuk, she had constant mood swings and hunger waves. The doctor in the last sequence suggested that it was due to her pregnancy, and thus, it could be established that she was pregnant when she met Lee Jang-Hyuk. But later, when he was discharged from the hospital, the two became distant. Somehow, Lee Jang-Hyuk found her number and contacted her again, but a lot might have happened between this time.
Lee Jang-Hyuk called her on the day she got an abortion. Da-eun was feeling low and therefore invited Lee Jang-Hyuk to her flat for company.
‘Sweet & Sour’ Ending – What happened to Jang-Hyuk?
Jang-Hyuk texted Da-eun to go to Jeju with someone else (which she did). However, he wasn’t aware of Da-eun’s ongoing relationship. When the tickets weren’t canceled and Da-eun didn’t change her profile picture, Jang-Hyuk thought she was still waiting for him. At the year-end meeting of his company, Jang-Hyuk heard the mention of Jeju again and perceived it as a sign from God. He left the party and ran to the airport. He saw Da-eun standing outside the airport waiting for someone. He quickly ran to her but, in haste, struck Lee Jang-Hyuk.
At the precise moment when Da-eun attended Lee and not Jang-Hyuk, he finally understood the whole setup. She didn’t cancel the trip because she was going there with her new boyfriend.
In the end, a wretched Jang-Hyuk presented Da-eun’s ring to his colleague Bo-Yeong, with whom he was romantically involved. But the karma hit him hard. Bo-Yeong rejected his proposal. Jang-Hyuk became a loner in the end (kudos).
Sweet & Sour (Saekom-Dalkom) is a 2021 South Korean romantic thriller film directed by Lee Gye-byeok.