Review: My Mister [My Ahjussi]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

This show is like its titular protagonist; both start out quiet, gloomy and unassuming, but over the course of 16 episodes, both reveal themselves to be beautiful, moving heroes who show us the power of kindness, and the grace of humanity.

Assured writing, tender directing, and outstanding performances from the cast all come together to make My Mister an absorbing watch that feels organic, real and raw. The OST, which is delicate, thoughtful, and ethereal in turn, is meticulously crafted and applied, and effectively lifts the watch to another level.

Dark and beautiful. And at the same time, warm and beautiful. A must-see.

My Mister OST – 우리 식구 [My Family]

THE LONG VERDICT:

If I’d been left to my own devices, it’s quite possible that I wouldn’t have given this show a second glance. Mostly, I wasn’t immediately attracted by the heavy vibe of the posters, and Show’s gloomy-sounding theme. I don’t specifically go looking for heaviness in my dramas, after all, and this seemed like a show that deserved a wide berth.

Thankfully, you guys wouldn’t leave me to my own devices. As this show was airing, and even after it finished its run, there were so many of you who took the time to persuade me that this was a show I would enjoy; that this was a show that was worth my time.

And now, here I am, having loved this one, and given it my heart and my tears. Thank you, y’all. <3

I think a good way to put it, is that right off the bat, I felt intrigued by this show, almost against my will. I don’t tend to gravitate towards melodramas (I think, anyway, coz I’ve been liking more melos than I’d expected to, of late), and I thought I would prefer a lighter show than this. And yet, right after episode 1, I felt interested and intrigued, in spite of myself. I was curious to know more about these characters and what they would do, and what would happen if they did do those things.

Just, so absorbing and engaging, all the way through.

The only thing was, I found that I couldn’t watch more than an episode at a time. I just couldn’t do back-to-back episodes of this one. I needed time to recover a little bit, and my heart needed a moment – or ten – every time I finished an episode. This show just had a way of creeping under my skin and pulling my heart in different directions, that I needed time to breathe and recover, after an episode. My heart got too full. <3

GENERAL HANDLING & EXECUTION

I very much enjoyed Show’s general handling and execution. From start to finish, the writing, music and directing felt carefully conceived and thoughtfully executed.

The writing

Most kdramas have some sense of formula to them, in varying degrees, but this show did not feel formulaic, at all. I loved that it felt organically like a story that someone wanted to tell, rather than a rehash of drama tropes that a writer felt compelled to use.

It feels real

One of the things that writer-nim does very well, is paint a world that feels real and unpolished. Many kdramas portray worlds that are a little more fairytale than real. Not this one. In this one, I felt like I was being presented with a blunt, as-is look at life in Korea, and that made me feel, all the more, like a fly on the wall, observing these characters, and sharing in their lives.

[MINOR SPOILER] For example, all the horrible dirty staircases that Sang Hoon and Ki Hoon (Park Ho San and Song Jae Byuk) have to clean reminds me of what I was told before, that in Korea, a lot of people drink so much that they just throw up everywhere, and when you walk on the street, it’s not uncommon to have to sidestep different-colored pools of puke, because of all the drunk people who’d thrown up on the street the night before. [END SPOILER]

This show doesn’t whitewash Korea to show only the pretty polished version of the culture to everyone. This show tells it like it is, and that made this story pop, all the more.

It feels careful and detailed

[SPOILER] One instance where I keenly felt the care that writer-nim had taken with this narrative, is in episode 15, when, while on the run, Ji An (IU) remembers what Dong Hoon (Lee Sun Kyun) had said in episode 5 to Assistant Manager Kim (Chae Dong Hyun) after he found out that Kim had talked trash about Dong Hoon behind his back.

Apologize ten times.”

With this memory echoing in her mind, Ji An drops to her knees in the middle of the busy street, and sobs out apology after apology. I found that scene powerful and affecting, and I love how early that narrative seed was planted.

Just so careful and detailed, I love it. [END SPOILER]

The music

Almost every note that you guys wrote to me, to tell me that I would love this show, included a line or two, about how I would love the OST. You guys are so right. I do love the music in this, very, very much.

I found this show’s OST to be often lilting, and alternately moody and wistful. I felt like while the OST worked to make my watch immersive, it also added a layer of surreality – and occasionally, poetry – to an otherwise melancholic narrative. I found this particularly true in Show’s earlier episodes, which leaned gloomier than its later episodes.

I’m sharing several of my favorite tracks from the OST in this review; I hope you guys enjoy.

The directing

Coming from the same PD who directed Misaeng, it should come as no surprise that the directing in this show is assured, and pretty darn fantastic. Kim Won Seok PD just has a way of handling minutiae to communicate on a larger scale, and he does that so effectively, while remaining subtle, and respectful of his characters.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here are just two instances where the directing shone extra, to my eyes.

Episode 4

The way Show tells us things can be quite subtle. In this episode, we see Kwang Il (Jang Ki Yong) beating up Ji An, and that looks like the end of that, especially when she goes back to Ki Bum’s (Ahn Seung Kyoon) place all bruised and cut up.

But, we then see that she’s secured the receipt that she’d wanted, and that he had written the condition that she had demanded. And, we also see that her pinky is badly bruised, trembling and bloody. That’s when it clicked into place in my head: she had beaten him back, and beaten him badly enough, that he had agreed to write that condition on the receipt, even though he clearly had stated that he wouldn’t.

That experience, of having the realization dawn on me, is quite special. Dramas are rarely subtle, and that felt refreshing and slightly thrilling, that Show would let me come to the conclusion myself, without shouting the information at me, or pointing to it with flashing neon lights.

Episode 15

The scene when Ji An tunes in to listen to Dong Hoon, one last time, is just so well done.

As wistful music plays in the background, she hears the sound of his breathing, the sound of his footsteps, the sound of the train clanging past him. And then, as she listens, she taps on the uninstall button on her phone. Suddenly, the sounds of Dong Hoon’s world stop, and her world goes silent, as a single tear falls from her eye. As the music continues to play, the sounds of Dong Hoon’s world are momentarily muted for us too, before eventually resuming.

In that moment, the shift feels palpable. Dong Hoon is finally walking on his own again, with no one privy to the sounds of his footsteps. Just, so very well done.

[END SPOILER]

My Mister OST – 보통의 하루 [An Ordinary Day]

CHARACTERS

I find this drama world interesting because on the one hand, I feel like all of the characters are real people and therefore deserve a moment in the spotlight. Yet, at the same time, I feel like Dong Hoon and Ji An are all that matter to me. Kinda funny how that works, eh?

In this section, I’ll be talking about Dong Hoon and Ji An (of course), and I’ll also be giving the quick spotlight to several other characters. And I just wanted to say that just because a character gets a mention, doesn’t make them any more special than the others. I just couldn’t cover ’em all, in this review.

Lee Sun Kyun as Dong Hoon

Lee Sun Kyun is, in a word, wonderful, as Dong Hoon. His delivery of Dong Hoon is understated and restrained, yet fully expressive and nuanced. Every little detail of his being – from his micro-expressions, to his body language, to the tones of his voice, to even his breathing pattern – comes together to make Dong Hoon pop as a real, living human being, instead of simply a character on a page.

In particular, I felt like Lee Sun Kyun’s famously deep and gorgeously buttery voice added a very special gentleness to Dong Hoon. No matter how frustrating his circumstances, or how trying the people around him, Dong Hoon’s voice almost always remained gentle and even, and that evenness sounded effortless and easy, like honeyed velvet, instead of strained and deliberate. I appreciated that detail a lot, because to my eyes (or more accurately, to my ears), Dong Hoon appeared all the more genuine in the patience and kindness that he showed to the people around him.

He’s kind, in spite of it all

When we meet Dong Hoon in episode 1, his life is not fun at all. [SPOILERS] His wife (Lee Ji Ah) is cheating on him; his boss (Kim Young Min) is sleeping with his wife; his boss is out to get him fired; people around him are watching, and he appears pitiful to them. [END SPOILERS]

Yet, through it all, instead of lashing out at the people around him, Dong Hoon continues to stick to his principles, and we see his kindness leak out to all and sundry, whether they were his closest friends, or almost strangers. [SPOILER] We see it right away in episode 1, in the way he extends himself to help his bum older brother Sang Hoon, even though he’s not doing so great himself, and also, in the way he buys the tomatoes (the subs say tomatoes, though the packet does look like persimmons) that Ji An puts back, hoping to give them to her. She’s no one to him at this point; just a colleague who hasn’t spoken much to him at all. But he sees that she’s not doing great, and when he sees a chance to help her out a little bit, he takes it quickly. [END SPOILER]

These were the things that told me immediately, that Dong Hoon is innately a good person, and I wanted to be there for him, as he journeyed through the necessary obstacles, towards a better future.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In the next couple of sections, I’d just like to talk about the various facets to Dong Hoon, as well as a scene or two, that really left an impression on me.

He’s a good boss

One of the things I really enjoyed about Dong Hoon, is that he’s a good boss. He leads by example, and we see this right away in episode 1, in the way that he personally climbs up the very tall, very dangerous water tower to take the crack measurements, when the drone fails because the weather is too cold.

I really liked the fact that Dong Hoon is not only serious about his job and very good at it, but he also coaches his team on the regular, like we see in episode 9. The way he guides them through the analysis of the building by asking pertinent questions to direct their thinking, is a sign of a good coach who’s interested in imparting knowledge and wisdom.

In episode 12, I love that Dong Hoon goes back to work after his duties are over at the hotel cram session. It’s late, and he’s tired, but he won’t let his team work through the night without him. It’s no wonder they are so loyal to him. (He should’ve shown up with food though. That would’ve taken it to the next level, I say.)

I absolutely loved the scene of the entire team running for the last train together, afterwards. Aw. This is the stuff that builds bonds, and I love that he’s right there at the forefront, creating those memories and those bonds, with his team.

The excitement and happiness of Dong Hoon’s team, when they read the notice of his selection in episode 14, and the heartfelt hugs that automatically go out, is evidence of just how much his team genuinely respects and loves him.

When he cares, he cares with all his being

In episode 9, when Dong Hoon realizes that Ji An’s been regularly beaten up by the loan sharks, Dong Hoon goes to Kwang Il and confronts him with fire in his eyes and a waver in his voice, and a deep pain in his heart, that became more and more visible as his confrontation with Kwang Il wore on.

The way he loses it, as he demands to know why Kwang Il would beat a child like her; the way he pauses, as the information that Ji An killed Kwang Il’s father sinks in; the way he bursts out, that he would’ve killed him too, in her place. So much raw emotion, as Dong Hoon wrestles with Kwang Il with everything that he’s got. It’s deep-hitting, in an almost animalistic sort of way, and it’s no wonder that Ji An freezes where she’s standing, as she listens to it all, and slowly collapses on her feet, unable to fight the tight, heaving sobs that have been pent up for so long.

AUGH. Such a raw, viscerally affecting scene.

And Dong Hoon is absolutely serious about helping Ji An with the debt, too. He’s all beat up and bleeding, and yet, as Kwang Il walks away, Dong Hoon still asks about how much Ji An owes.

Not getting his answer from Kwang Il, Dong Hoon later blurts out to Ji An that he knows about her debt, and asks her how much she owes. To me, this really demonstrates how badly Dong Hoon wants to help Ji An, and how much he feels for her, in her situation.

Another thing that left a deep impression on me, is how, later in the same episode, Dong Hoon still helps out and piggybacks Ji An’s grandmother (Son Sook) down the slope from her house, to help Ji An transfer her to the assisted living facility. This, while his body must still be hurting like crazy from the fight that he’d had with Kwang Il. To me, that says so much about how much compassion he has in his heart, for Ji An and her grandmother.

He is wise

In episode 10, during his cram session with the directors on his side, they pressure him to say that part of the reason he wants to become a director is so that he can bring Do Joon Young down. I just love what Dong Hoon says in response:

“I don’t want to include that bastard in any part of my life. And I’m even wondering if I need to face off against him at all. I think it’d be too generous of me to even make moves just for the sake of bringing someone like him down. I don’t want to concern myself at all with whether or not a bastard like him becomes a failure.”

YES. That’s how you exert power in your own life, and disallow that power from getting in the hands of those who don’t deserve it. Dong Hoon refuses to give Do Joon Young the power to have any effect on his life, and I respect him so much for that.

The scene that really got me

In episode 11, when Yoon Hee finally kneels downs and apologizes, Dong Hoon’s reaction really hit me in the gut. He basically loses it, and in between punching his knuckles bloody on the door, brokenly heaves out what he’s been hiding in his heart all this time:

“Why did you do it? … Why did you do it?” … “Why did it have to be him? Why him?”

“How could you do that with him?” … “How could you do that?”

“Why did you do that? Why?” … “As soon as you cheated on me with that bastard… you pronounced me dead. Because you thought it was okay for me to be treated that way. That was you saying that I’m worthless and that I should just die.”

Oof. So much raw, pulsating hurt, pouring out of such a huge gaping wound, finally pried open.

Major props to Lee Sun Kyun. By the time I reached the end of the scene, I felt like my heart was a gaping wound, too.

[END SPOILERS]

My Mister OST – 우린 둘 다 자기가 불쌍해요 

IU as Ji An

I must say that I was very impressed with IU in this. She plays Ji An with a jadedness and melancholy that suits the character quite perfectly. Additionally, IU’s small frame and small hands give Ji An an overall feeling of fragility as well, even though she acts tough.

In the beginning of the show, I admit that I wondered if IU appeared good in the role, because the writing didn’t require Ji An to show much emotion in the earlier episodes. All we see, for the most part (in the beginning of the show, anyway), is a deadness in her eyes. However, I’m happy to say that my earlier suspicion was heartily proven wrong. By the later episodes, Ji An starts to show more range and depth of emotion, and there were even a couple of scenes where I was completely sucked in, and quite gutted, by IU’s delivery of Ji An’s pain.

Character-wise, we quickly learn that Ji An is ballsy, and is probably forced to be so because of the tight corners she finds herself in. [SPOILER] Smuggling her grandmother, hospital bed and all, out of the hospital and onto the street, is quite something. Provoking the debt collector Kwang Il to beat her up, in order to prevent him from seeing her vulnerable grandmother, is something too. [END SPOILER] 

Ji An often looks like she’s the living dead, but when I think about it, she is amazingly tenacious, and in that sense, you could say that her thirst for life might be greater than the average person. It’s just that circumstances have sucked her so dry, that she often looks and sounds like she has barely any strength left, to carry on living. And yet, she does just that. No matter what comes her way, she just keeps on finding a way, and carries on living. There’s just something deeply admirable, about that.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In the next few sections, I’d like to talk about the various aspects of Ji An that I grew to appreciate.

She’s not a bad person

Through most of our story, we see Ji An doing things which are morally questionable. But each time I wanted to take Ji An to task for being unfair, for stealing the money out of Dong Hoon’s drawer, for putting Dong Hoon in a bad spot, I saw how painfully hard her life was, and I felt like I could understand why she would do the things she did, and why she would be so emotionally withdrawn; dead, almost.

Ji An was always just looking for a way to survive; a way to get money to pay off Kwang Il, so that he would stop beating her up, and stop threatening the safety of her grandmother. She wasn’t ever a bad person driven by bad intentions. She was a person driven by desperation.

She’s fast, and smart

Ji An demonstrates her quick-wittedness on a regular basis, over the course of the show. She is quick to snatch the opportunities that are presented to her, and it’s quite impressive.

We see this in episode 2, in the way she topples the crates onto the car, to create a distraction, when she sees the truck parked next to the loan sharks’ car. And then when the distraction is successfully created, she nips in and steals the money back. And then later, when Do Joon Young’s other phone keeps on buzzing in the elevator, she takes it out of his coat pocket without the bat of an eye, and then texts him to instruct him how to get it back from her. So ballsy.

And then there’s the time in episode 3, where she goes about achieving the task she’s promised Do Joon Young, like she’s some kind of secret agent. The quick reflexes, the way she installed the bug on Dong Hoon’s phone, the way Director Park was set up to miss his meeting. It all came together so impressively that I found myself thinking that she’s wasted as a temp in this drama world; she ought to be a ninja spy.

She does care

On the surface, Ji An looks as if she doesn’t care about anything or anyone.

Early on, like in episode 5, I’d started hoping that Ji An would make a choice to protect Dong Hoon, instead of working to make him lose his job. But in that instance, she doesn’t. The thing, though, is when Ji An thinks that Dong Hoon is in serious danger of dying in the cold, as he lays there in the snow, she runs towards him with urgency.

She does care, underneath it all.

When she cares, she cares with all of her being

The thing is, when Ji An cares, she cares completely and fully.

By episode 10, Ji An is on Dong Hoon’s side, and works with all she has, to protect him from the various traps that Do Joon Young has set for him.

This episode, I wondered at first, why Ji An would overtake the stalker and give the stalker full view of her interactions with Dong Hoon, but it eventually became clear to me. She did it so that she could create a scene where Dong Hoon would be seen rejecting her.

She chose to sacrifice the precious closeness she’d built with him – an act that must’ve killed her so bad, on the inside – in order to protect him. Augh.

She responds to love

Over time, I realized that with Ji An, it’s always kindness that breaks through the prickly shell she’s erected around herself.

In episode 12, by the time Dong Hoon’s gang of friends say goodbye to her, their kindness has leaked onto her heart enough that she feels touched; affected. Her deep bow, and simple “thank you” is right from the heart. She really is grateful, for the warmth, unquestioning acceptance and kindness that she felt, while walking with them.

In the same episode, when the board of directors call her in for questioning, she speaks from her heart, about the warmth and kindness that Dong Hoon has shown her, and how much that has meant to her.

“I got used to being neglected… so I didn’t expect much from other people and I never tried hard to hear praise from other people. But now… I want to do a good job. I don’t know if the fact that I like someone… will produce an unfavorable outcome… but even if you fire me today… I’ve been treated like a human being for the first time. And I thought… that I could be a decent person after all while working here. So I’ll always… be thankful to Manager Park. In the three months that I’ve worked here… I’ve felt warmer than I’ve ever felt in my 21 years. Whenever I pass by and see this building, I’m happy… and I’ll always… wish the best for Saman E&C.”

So heartfelt, and coming from what must have seemed to the Board, like the most unlikely person.

She’s unabashedly honest

One of my favorite things about Ji An is that she’s got a strong honest streak.

She might be strongly reticent and not say much, but she answers truthfully, even when it’s awkward. Like in episode 12, when Yoon Hee calls to ask Ji An if she really does like Dong Hoon, she unflinchingly answers, “yes.” I had to admire that about her.

[END SPOILERS]

Lee Ji Ah as Yoon Hee

For the record, Yoon Hee was not one of my favorite characters. But I did find her interesting enough to want to discuss her character, for a little bit.

[SPOILER ALERT]

From what Show reveals to us, it seems that Yoon Hee has always been unhappy at how Dong Hoon hasn’t been able to distance himself from his family, thus making her feel lonely and neglected. And this is how she rationalizes her affair with Do Young Joon.

But in reality, isn’t she also at fault, for expecting that of him? At least in Korea’s context – and in much of Asia and in other parts of the world too – marriage is considered a joining of families, not just of the individuals. When she married Dong Hoon, she should have been prepared to accept his family too, including how they would take up space in her life.

Instead, she puts Dong Hoon in that uncomfortable position where he has to show up in front of his family without her, and make excuses for her. Even that scene in episode 7, where Dong Hoon asks if she can make time to visit his brothers’ new cleaning company, is telling. She declines and makes an excuse, and he looks disappointed, albeit not surprised. That right there, is an example of how it’s probably always been, with them and the issue of his family. It’s no wonder that his mother isn’t all that happy with this daughter-in-law.

All Yoon Hee seems to want is a romantic relationship devoid of context; that’s why she comes alive so much when she’s on a rendezvous with Do Joon Young. Theirs is a secret relationship that cannot exist with a context. But for as long as they keep meeting in secret, there is a space for her to enjoy what she wants most out of a relationship. I am very sure that if she were ever to try to put context in that relationship with Do Joon Young, like pursue marriage, or any kind of recognition or legitimacy, things would very quickly go south for them.

Sang Hoon’s estranged wife Young Joo (Jo Ae Ryun) is the opposite of that. Even though she isn’t even on speaking terms with Sang Hoon and has threatened him with divorce, she continues to spend time with her mother-in-law, and brings her kimchi when it’s nearing her birthday, so that she can have the kimchi with her birthday meal. That just goes to show, that this daughter-in-law has truly come to see her mother-in-law as family, and not just as her husband’s mother.

Yoon Hee is short and impatient with Dong Hoon – and then, when Ji An flatly informs her in episode 10, that Dong Hoon knows about her affair, she becomes all scared, tearful and sorry. So, it was ok to snap at him and get impatient with him, when he didn’t know? It shouldn’t work that way. I was not at all moved by Yoon Hee’s tears, because her tears were always more about herself than about how she’d hurt Dong Hoon.

Yoon Hee’s spiel in episode 12, about how lonely she felt, and how she finally realized that she couldn’t change Dong Hoon, sums up the whole problem. She couldn’t accept him as he was, and she couldn’t accept his relationship with his family and friends, and she thought she would finally be happy when she was able to change him. If that was the case, she shouldn’t have married him. She would have known how close he was, to his family and neighborhood friends. She should have been prepared to be a part of them too, if she was going to marry him.

To my eyes, Yoon Hee brought all of her problems on herself – and dragged Dong Hoon down along with her. She married Dong Hoon without accepting his relationship with his family and friends, and instead of working out a compromise with him, she made herself miserable while piling the blame squarely on him – and then she had an affair, where she was, at one point, working to get her husband out of a job, while planning to divorce him as well. How awful.

All in all, I didn’t have any sympathy for Yoon Hee.

[END SPOILERS]

My Mister OST – Dear Moon

Quick shout-outs:

1. Go Doo Shim as Mom

I loved Mom. For all her gruff ways, she cares intensely for all her sons.

I really liked the little detail in episode 5, where Mom is shown packing food for Sang Hoon and Ki Hoon, because they couldn’t afford to buy themselves good lunches. She prepares the lunchboxes with so much care – and with thoughtful extras like fried eggs – in order to boost their morale. So sweet.

[SPOILER] And then in episode 14, when Mom hears the news that Dong Hoon has been promoted to Director, the way she squeals with laughter and happy tears, and flaps her hands about as she hugs her sons, is the cutest, most adorable thing, and it literally brought tears to my eyes to see how proud and happy she was. [END SPOILER]

2. Son Sook as Gran

I also really loved Ji An’s grandmother, she’s just such a sweet, loving and gentle character. She’s been through so much, and yet, she maintains such a grateful attitude.

[SPOILER] Like when she ate the meal Ji An brought back, in episode 7. Or the time she got to go out and see the moon – even though she was brought there in possibly the most uncomfortable manner possible.

In episode 10, Gran writing out her thanks to Dong Hoon, and then touching her forehead to his hand, is such a tender, raw moment. She is so deeply grateful for everything that Dong Hoon has done for her and Ji An, and that gratitude is palpable from every fiber of her being. We should all strive to be as grateful as Gran. <3 [END SPOILER]

3. Kim Young Min as Do Joon Young

Do Joon Young is a total coward of a character, and was a bad guy that I loved to hate. To that end, I thought Kim Young Min did a very good job of making him so pompous and yet so weak, at the same time.

[SPOILER] One of my favorite Joon Young moments is in episode 10, when Joon Young realizes that he’s being tailed, just like he’s been having Dong Hoon tailed. I found it oh-so-satisfying to see his horrified shifty-eyed expression, as the information sinks in. Tee hee. GLEEFUL ME. [END SPOILER]

Also, on a complete tangent, it amused me to see Joon Young signing his name in episode 14, coz that’s when I realized that his name in hanja – 俊永 – means forever handsome. Ha. And, snerk.

RELATIONSHIPS

The relationships in our story are the lifeblood of this drama world, and I wanted to give the spotlight to at least a few of the key relationships in the show.

Dong Hoon & his brothers

These brothers. They argue and they grumble about one another so much. But they are all heart, and they care about one another, intensely, even though they would never admit it. This brotherly bond grew on me a whole lot, over the course of the show. By series’ end, I found this brotherhood one of the most moving, among the relationships in this drama world.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In episode 4, Sang Hoon seems all out of sorts, and it later comes out, that he’d been treated like dirt, while trying his best to earn an honest living, by a passerby who seemed to think that cleaners didn’t deserve the time of day. That is so heartbreaking, and to make it worse, Mom sees it all, and then cries by herself at home.

When Ki Hoon hears what happened to Hyung, he rages off, shouting that he’ll kill the guy who did it. And Dong Hoon then runs after him and forcibly back-wrestles him with all his strength, to keep him from hurting himself. It’s all very dramatic, with shouting and flailing and scuffling, and it takes practically all of Dong Hoon’s strength, to keep Ki Hoon in check.

I think the reason that these brothers allow themselves to go a little crazy, is because they trust their other brothers to hold them back when push comes to shove. They know that they won’t be allowed to hurt themselves, even when they can’t think straight enough to make that call for themselves. That’s a deep kind of trust, which I found touching.

I loved the little tidbit in episode 12, that Mom lets slip, that since they were little, the 3 brothers would all be in a bad mood, if just one of them was struggling with something. That really endeared them to me. In my head, they’re like triplets, born several years apart, they’re so connected.

And now in adulthood, that interconnectedness still shows. In episode 13, when Sang Hoon and Ki Hoon realize the truth, that Yoon Hee’s been cheating on Dong Hoon, both brothers are as devastated as if they were the ones being cheated on. In particular, Ki Hoon seems to take Dong Hoon’s pain so personally that he feels the need to lash out at himself; it’s like if Dong Hoon is hurting, then he should hurt too. Later, Ki Hoon doesn’t even call his brand-new girlfriend, nor even seem to remember that they’re supposed to meet at the bar. Dong Hoon is more important to him, hands down.

In episode 15, we see it again, when Ki Hoon consciously wants to commiserate with Dong Hoon and be sad too, because Dong Hoon is sad. He even asks Yoo Ra (Nara) to break up with him for just 3 days. And he does it all with an utterly miserable look on his face, while claiming that he absolutely does not love his brother.

Heh. It’s all very cute, while being very sad-sweet, all at the same time.

[END SPOILER]

Dong Hoon’s neighborhood pals

Dong Hoon’s gang of neighborhood pals go back a long way – all of their lifetimes, literally – and the deep bond and connection shows. While some (like Yoon Hee) would argue that these people see way too much of one another, I found the matter-of-fact way that these people built their lives around one another very heartwarming. They bicker everyday and rib one another all the friggin’ time, but when push comes to shove, they are so there, for one of their own.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In episode 9, when the gang hears that Dong Hoon is being considered for a promotion to Director, they all celebrate so delightedly, it’s as if each one of them got promoted too. This, even though each of them admits to being failures, in general. There is no sense of jealousy that Dong Hoon might become more successful than they. Instead, they are just bursting-at-the-seams proud of him, and it’s the sweetest thing.

In episode 10, when the gang hears that Dong Hoon’s been beaten, I love how everyone dashes out like they’re mad people, to fight back on his behalf, if they could just find the guy who beat him.

These people have turned their neighborhood into a bona fide community, and I love that.

In episode 14, when Gyeom Deok (Park Hae Joon) calls Dong Hoon, worried about Jung Hee (Oh Na Ra), Dong Hoon calls his brothers. But both brothers are at work, and so he calls his mother, who has the key to the bar, and Mom goes out like a champion to save the day, by showing Jung Hee some tough love, and getting her out of bed to eat a meal. And so it is, that Dong Hoon can report back to Gyeom Deok that Jung Hee is ok, and he doesn’t need to worry. Aw.

I love too, how welcoming this community is, of Ji An. In episode 15, when they are introduced to her at the bar, they greet her readily, and pour out care easily. They surround her with warmth, laughter and acceptance. And then there’s Jung Hee, who instantly treats Ji An like the best friend she’s been waiting for, for years. Best of all, this isn’t a once-off thing. The gang continues to care for and accept Ji An, all the way to the very end, even though they haven’t known her for very long. Just the fact that she’s Dong Hoon’s friend is good enough for them.

It’s no wonder that Ji An muses that if she were to be reborn again, that she’d like to be reborn into this neighborhood. I mean, I kinda feel like I wouldn’t mind being born into this neighborhood too, heh.

[END SPOILER]

Ki Hoon & Yoo Ra [SPOILERS]

I decided to do a quick spotlight on the relationship between Ki Hoon and Yoo Ra, partly because of just how weird I found it all, at first.

I found it weird that Ki Hoon would go back to her apartment and give her his name card, so that she could call him directly if she needed help cleaning up her puke mess. I also found it weird that after she identified Ki Hoon as the director she’d worked with previously, she’d proceed to keep thanking him for failing.

In stages, though, I began to see this potential loveline in a more plausible light.

In episode 7, when Yoo Ra explained her very weird statement, that she likes Ki Hoon because he’s a failure. I mean, seriously, girl has some deep communication issues, if that’s the only way she knows to say that she likes Ki Hoon because he’s shown her that it’s ok to fail, and that you can still be happy and lead a decent life, if you fail. But, it did make her attraction to Ki Hoon easier to understand.

On the downside, I didn’t care for Yoo Ra’s attitude, at least in the early days of this loveline. In episode 8, she blames Ki Hoon for losing the carefree happy attitude she used to have, and blames him for the fear that she experiences around acting. And she expects him to fix her. I mean, maybe Ki Hoon has a part to play for how she turned out, because he was involved in the experiences she had, but in my mind, you can’t expect someone else to fix you. That’s your own responsibility. You need to do what is good for yourself, and find the healing that you need, after getting roughed up by the world. You can’t shove yourself into someone’s face and cry and demand that they fix you. That doesn’t work.

In the end, it was Ki Hoon’s confession in episode 12 that changed the way I looked at this maybe-couple. That outburst of deep-reaching, gut-wrenching, soul-ripping honesty from Ki Hoon, about the truth behind what happened when he directed Yoo Ra; that he’d taken his fear of failure out on her. I didn’t see it coming, but afterwards it all made sense to me. Why Ki Hoon went back that day, to offer Yoo Ra his name card, so that she could call whenever she needed help cleaning the stairwell. Why he agreed to help straighten her out, even though it looked like she was just a bad actress with seriously displaced gratitude issues. Why he continued to be patient with her, even though it didn’t look at all logical to do so.

It was from this point onwards, that I began to feel like these two people fit together. They’d seen all the flaws and shortcomings and ugliness of each other, and chose to like each other anyway. That’s a sentiment that I will always get behind, and so, even though Show gives these two people an open-ended result in terms of their relationship, I like to think that these two will always find their way back to each other, somehow.

My Mister OST – 어른 [Grown Ups]

Dong Hoon & Ji An

When I stopped to consider how to tackle this section of the review, I came to the conclusion that the best way I can talk about the relationship between Dong Hoon and Ji An, is to reflect it the way I – and they – experienced it, as a journey.

Over the course of the show, Dong Hoon and Ji An come such a long way, that where we leave them at the end, makes where we find them at the beginning, feel like a whole evolution away. They begin our story as strangers, but by the time we reach the end of our story, they are – without a shadow of a doubt – kindred spirits; soulmates, in a manner of speaking.

I very much enjoyed watching these two people connect more and more, during the journey of our story. For the record, I didn’t even think of the possibility of romance, between these two characters. In fact, I’m so pleased that Show chose to treat their connection with as little romantic emotion as possible. I found it somehow deeper-hitting, purer, even, that they were kindred spirits, able to draw strength simply from the solidarity that the other provides.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The basis of their connection

The entire foundation of the connection between Dong Hoon and Ji An, is that they each see the pain and struggle that the other is in, and recognize it, viscerally.

In episode 4, Dong Hoon says of Ji An, “I’m sad that she knows who I am.” Oof.

I found that statement so penetrating. He sees her, and she sees him. And, that, to me, is the the whole basis of their connection.

Stages of realization

Because Ji An has wiretapped Dong Hoon’s phone in order to fulfill her mission of getting him fired, she gains early and deep access into Dong Hoon’s life and his entire mind and way of being. Therefore, it made sense to me that she was the one who realized earlier, how much Dong Hoon was affecting her, versus him realizing how much she was affecting him.

An early incident that felt significant to me, is in episode 4. After seeing the tears and heartbreak of his brothers and his mother over how Sang Hoon was disrespected while at work, Dong Hoon takes a fruit basket to reason with the man who was rude, and then, when left with no other option, he takes his hammer and basically rips out the guy’s walls while telling him exactly what’s wrong with the construction. I thought that was pretty badass. That move effectively made the guy take the fruit basket to Sang Hoon to apologize, while quaking in his boots.

After the confrontation, though, Dong Hoon needs to stop somewhere to recover from it all. The ragged, overwhelmed, emotional breaths that Dong Hoon has to stop to take; it’s all so raw, and so intimate, and Ji An hears everything.

All that hidden inner badassery, and all that vulnerable, raw emotion, laid out bare. This was the moment where I felt that Ji An had no other option but to see Dong Hoon in a new light, if she was at all human.

She runs to him

It was very gratifying to see Ji An connect more and more with Dong Hoon, in spite of herself. The way she ran, hard, in episode 7, to get to the bar, just because she heard him ask the bartender if she’d been by, says so much.

She is happy that he asked after her, she’s happy to know that in such a time as this – when his life is in serious flux – he would think to connect with her. Afterwards, it was really nice to see Ji An and Dong Hoon smile at each other for the first time, while both trying to politely match beer-chugging paces with each other, only to be dorks about it. So cute. <3

He looks for her

Dong Hoon soon finds himself looking for Ji An too, on his way home. In episode 9, it says so much, that Dong Hoon would basically go kill time at the supermarket, so that he can run into Ji An on her way back, after she’s missed a stop. And Ji An mirrors that exactly, with how she runs to the station exit, hoping to find Dong Hoon somehow. And what do they get, after all that? A brisk walk together, a brief conversation, and quick goodbyes.

It doesn’t seem like a lot. And yet, that means enough to each of them, for them to bend themselves over backwards for. That says a lot, about how much they value time with each other.

Forging strong bonds

The thing that moved me the most during my entire watch, was seeing how much Dong Hoon and Ji An come to value and care for each other, as well as how much they affect each other, often without even realizing it.

Here, I’d like to gather a series of highlights which spoke to me about how the connection between these two people evolved, and how, when their words often didn’t say much, their actions always said far more than enough.

E7. “Ahjumma. Get it together, before your entire life is ruined.”

The more Ji An actively gets involved in Dong Hoon’s affairs, over and above what Joon Young is paying her to do, the more it becomes clear that she cares about Dong Hoon.

In episode 7, the way she literally throws herself in front of Yoon Hee’s car, and risks serious injury, just to let her hear the recording of what Joon Young had said about why he was dating her, says so much. She’s putting her personal safety at risk, for Dong Hoon’s sake. She sees that Dong Hoon is trying to preserve his marriage, and so she’s sticking her nose in at Yoon Hee’s end, to try to make that happen, for his sake. She literally puts his desires, needs and well-being above her own, and I found that very moving to witness indeed.

E8. “Fighting”

In episode 8, after sharing a meal, a drink, a walk, and deep philosophical conversations about life and what it means to live, as they say goodbye to each other, Ji An adds, “fighting.” Her voice is small, and it sounds like she almost falters a little bit, while uttering the syllables, but Dong Hoon acknowledges the message and receives it with a slight smile.

Just that one word, “fighting,” probably means so much to Dong Hoon’s weary spirit. And trust Ji An to be the one to know exactly how he feels.

E11. “Buy me another pair of slippers”

In episode 11, suspicion about the nature of Dong Hoon’s relationship with Ji An starts to swell in the office. During one of their walks home, Ji An instructs Dong Hoon to fire her, to protect himself. I love that this says so much about how she truly does care for him, never mind what she tells Joon Young.

What I love even more, is how Dong Hoon basically refuses to fire her, and refuses to be awkward around her, and insists that she buy him another pair of slippers, to replace the pair that she took back. The look in Ji An’s eyes, as she realizes that Dong Hoon just will not let her remove herself from his life, is one of stunned surprise, and I think, at the same time, gratitude.

It’s clear that neither of them wants to cut ties with the other, and it feels like they’re both a little relieved that they aren’t doing that, that evening.

E12. “You are a good person, absolutely.”

In episode 12, Ji An is summoned to be interviewed for Dong Hoon’s possible promotion. The way she speaks up for Dong Hoon in front of the directors, it’s crystal clear that she’s telling the truth, from her heart. Underneath that silent, deadpan facade, she really does feel all those things. That moves me, so much. In his kindness to Ji An, Dong Hoon had sown so many seeds of life, and in this moment, we get to see those seeds come to fruition.

The scene of Ji An and Dong Hoon having a quiet drink together afterwards, is perfect. It’s subdued, they don’t say much, but the little that is said, comes deep from the heart, and hits deep in the heart.

“You are a decent person, absolutely.” … “You are a good person, absolutely.”

The tears sheening subtly in both their eyes, say it all. Oof.

Later, when Dong Hoon returns home and Yoon Hee asks where he’s coming from, he replies that he had dinner with a friend. That’s significant, in my eyes. He didn’t say colleague; this is the first time he’s referred to Ji An as a friend, and I think this is the moment that Dong Hoon becomes cognizant that he sees Ji An as more than just a colleague.

E13. Mutual safety buoys

In episode 13, the tension and complexities around Dong Hoon’s promotion swirl to a boil, and at the same time, Ji An disappears.

Augh. This is the moment when I can feel the intensity of Dong Hoon’s visceral affinity for Ji An ramping up to almost boiling point. As the tension around him increases, he realizes more and more, that her presence and solidarity provides him with stability. She’s like his safety buoy. She keeps him afloat, just by being close by. And he is becoming more and more fiercely protective of her, the more cognizant he becomes of that.

The way he kept such a calm, even tone during his interview, all the way until Director Yoon (Jung Jae Sung) started to try to stir things up by using Ji An’s criminal record against her. The way Dong Hoon spoke up in defense of her, is so full of fire and compassion. And then the first thing he asks, once he leaves the interview room, is whether or not his team has managed to contact Ji An. It’s almost like he can’t breathe if she’s not nearby.

And as Ji An prepares to leave, I feel like she feels the same way. The main reason she’s dragged her feet in running away, is because she can’t bear to leave Dong Hoon behind. I think, the very thought of not seeing him anymore, of possibly not being able to listen to his every breath, just about kills her.

The intensity with which each of them needs the other, really hit me hard, this episode, and I wanted Dong Hoon and Ji An to just be together, and be around each other, and be besties, forever.

E14. The pain of goodbye

They say that you don’t know how much someone means to you until you lose them. This is never truer than in episode 14, when Dong Hoon and Ji An are cut off from each other.

It’s painful to watch Ji An’s call to say goodbye to Dong Hoon. The way she chooses to hang up, feels deliberate, like she’s forcing herself to do it. And then, when she plugs back in to listen in on Dong Hoon, all we hear is ragged, uneven breathing, and that is just so raw, it hurts. He’s trying to hold it in, but it’s hit him hard. He’s lost his life buoy, and he finds it difficult to deal.

Afterwards, Dong Hoon realizes that Ji An really has changed her number. That look in Dong Hoon’s eyes; he looks so lost, like he truly has no idea what to do now. Oof. This, from a guy who’s just received the biggest promotion of his life.

Ji An has become so critical to his sense of well-being, that even this promotion doesn’t feel right, or even that amazing, when she’s not there.

E14. The choice to trust

In episode 14, Dong Hoon finally discovers that Ji An had been wiretapping his phone.

In the midst of unraveling information, in the midst of shock, in the midst of processing what must have felt like betrayal, and just way too much surprising information out of the blue, it moves me so much, that Dong Hoon chooses to believe in Ji An. Instead of believing that she was on Joon Young’s side, he meets Joon Young, just to ask him what he did to Ji An. Instead of using the wiretapping to his advantage like ex-Director Park (Jung Hae Kyun) said they should, Dong Hoon uses the wire tapping to get a message through to Ji An. “Call me.”

That’s the thing that gets me about Dong Hoon and Ji An. In the face of all the pressure to do otherwise, they choose to believe in each other. That just hits me right in the heart.

Dong Hoon’s shivery, ragged breathing; the pauses between words, as he takes an extra breath; it’s so clear that Dong Hoon’s mind is whirling, and he’s processing, and this is taking a lot of out him. But yet, he says to Ji An, “It’s okay. Call me.” Augh.

E15. The road to reconciliation

In episode 15, while she’s on the run, Ji An remembers what Dong Hoon had said to Assistant Manager Kim after he found out that Kim had talked trash about Dong Hoon behind his back. “Apologize ten times.”

I love the idea that Ji An has learned so much about Dong Hoon while listening in on him, that she knows that an apology is what he would ask for, and that he would ultimately forgive her. I love how that realization sinks into her, and how her defenses start to break down, even as she starts to apologize out loud, as she crumples to the ground, right there in the middle of the street.

Later, when Dong Hoon finally finds Ji An after a tip-off from her cleaner friend Choon Dae (Lee Young Suk), I love how wisely and sensitively Dong Hoon handles the situation. He opens the door gently, and when Ji An realizes he’s in the room and recoils from him, and instinctively starts speaking harshly and saying he should’ve never been nice to her, he thanks her. He thanks her that even after listening to how pathetic his life was, she still took his side. Oof.

That speaks again, to that theme that is so close to my heart: we all want to be accepted. We all want to be accepted without having to pretend. We all want to be assured that in spite of all our flaws and shortcomings, we are not judged, but accepted. And Ji An gave that to Dong Hoon, without even realizing it, and Dong Hoon now thanks her for it, with tears glistening in his eyes.

Augh. My heart.

[END SPOILER]

My Mister OST – 무지개는 있다 (Band Ver.) [Rainbow]

DOES SHOW HAVE ANY SHORTCOMINGS?

To be honest, when I look over this show and ask myself whether Show has any flaws worth mentioning, there is only one thing that I think was a misstep.

[SPOILER] In episode 3, the way Ji An and Ki Bum orchestrate Director Park Dong Woon’s abduction is the stuff of heists. The thing is, Ki Bum trails Director Park to the hostess club, and it’s only when he gets there, that he calls Ji An to inform her of the location. Which means that neither he nor Ji An knew in advance that this was where Director Park was having his meeting. Yet, we soon see that Kim Bum already has the club’s exact uniform on, under his hoodie, so that he can take off his hoodie and easily blend in as a waiter. This seemed like an oversight, to me. [END SPOILER]

THEMES & IDEAS

Show’s left me with a bunch of themes and ideas swirling in my head and spinning in my heart. Here’s a quick list of the ones that left the deepest impressions on me:

The idea of pretending not to know, when you’ve heard something bad said about someone. It’s about preserving the dignity of the other person, and that’s a concept I find moving, somehow.

The idea of what it means to be human. Ji An, saying that listening to all of Dong Hoon’s sounds made her feel like she knew what it was like to be human, for the first time. This show really is about humanity.

How we as humans operate, with regards to wrongdoing and guilt. “How can I do this, when I know that you know?” Yoon Hee felt the same way about being around Dong Hoon while cheating on him, and Ji An felt the same, about listening in on Dong Hoon, when she knew that he knew she was listening.

The theme of acceptance, in spite of it all. The idea of not being judged, and instead, being accepted in spite of all our flaws.

The triumph of kindness over evil; the healing effect of forgiveness; the liberty born of solidarity.

The power of community.

The hope of new beginnings.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

What a bittersweet finale, that manages to make my heart feel bereft, like I’ve been sucker-punched, and yet leaves in its wake a trail of hope, and even a sense of.. satisfaction? Yes, it hurts. so. good. – but it still hurts. And yet, I want more.

When Ji An’s grandmother passes away, Ji An calls Dong Hoon, just like he had instructed her to do, before, and I love how he is just there, for her, through the entire process, through all of her grief. I love how Dong Hoon’s community basically shows up, and absorbs Ji An as one of their own. I love how it’s not just lip service; the warmth is real, and the concern, sincere.

Later, Dong Hoon accompanies Ji An to the police station, where she turns herself in, and Yoon Hee serves as her lawyer. I appreciate that through it all, Dong Hoon is consistently kind and gentle, and also, maintains complete decorum. Afterwards, when everything is settled – I loved Kwang Il’s turnaround, triggered by Ji An’s words about him – Ji An prepares to leave for a new job in Busan, and my heart breaks at the goodbye between her and Dong Hoon.

It’s clear that it’s hard for her to leave him, and it’s clear that he wishes that she wouldn’t go so far away. But it’s also clear that they both think it’s for the best. With tears sheening in their eyes, Ji An asks for a hug, just once, and Dong Hoon accedes. They exchange one last fist pump, “fighting” – and I cry.

Even though I recognize that these two will always be kindred spirits, this separation feels hard. For Dong Hoon, Ji An’s presence has become a life buoy, and likewise for Ji An, she’s learned to depend on the sound of Dong Hoon’s voice, to keep on living. This separation feels hard, but it also feels necessary. Both of them need time and space to heal, and to grow, on their own.

Over the entire stretch of the finale, people in Dong Hoon’s community go through various changes. Gyeom Deok finally visits Jung Hee, and they arrive at a measure of closure. Ki Hoon breaks up with Yoo Ra; Sang Hoon looks to be on the road to reuniting with his wife; Yoon Hee goes to the US to be with Ji Seok; Yoo Ra becomes a successful actress; Ki Hoon finally starts writing a new script.

And in the course of the passing of time, as lives continue to shift and progress, Dong Hoon and Ji An finally meet again.

I find it so perfect, that the reunion between our pair of kindred spirits, is triggered by Ji An’s ability to pick Dong Hoon’s voice out of a crowd. The cafe is buzzing with people and their conversations, but she recognizes his voice immediately, even though he isn’t even sitting inside the cafe, but is out of sight, around a corner, sitting outside with a friend. How completely fitting that it’s his voice that draws her to locate him, considering how many hours she had spent before, listening to his voice, as she listened in on, and shared, his life.

As always, there is so much left unsaid between these two. He smiles, clearly delighted to see her. She smiles, glad to see him too. He asks when she came to Seoul, and she tells him that she walked past Saman E&C a couple of days ago. It feels like there is so much more that these two want to say to each other, but their brief conversation is cut short when Ji An’s colleagues tell her it’s time to go. He asks to shake hands, just once, and she says she’d like to buy him a meal, just once. They walk away, each looking back at the other’s retreating back, just once.

Oof. It is so, so bittersweet, to see that both Dong Hoon and Ji An are doing better now, and are both more cheerful than before, and yet, know that deep down, unspoken, they think of each other and miss each other, keenly. Yet, at the same time, I’m hopeful that now that things have had time to settle and heal, that they would meet up for a meal, at least once in a while, just like they did before, and create a space where their kindred spirits can meet; where they can provide encouragement and solidarity to each other, as kindred spirits tend to do. Fighting.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Hopeful, achingly beautiful, and bittersweet. Viscerally affecting in the best way.

FINAL GRADE: A+

TEASER:

MVs:

176 thoughts on “Review: My Mister [My Ahjussi]

  1. merij1

    Wow. We just finished this one. Normally I have a lot to say, but this show is so over the top great I honestly don’t feel worthy to comment.

    So I will say only this: We didn’t watch it sooner because it looked depressing. So if you’re reading these comments to decide whether to give it a shot, take my wife’s and my word that it will be one of the most profoundly uplifting shows you’ve ever seen.

    The difference is that where protagonists in similar stories hit rock bottom midway through the show’s run, these characters start out half-dead, but almost immediately begin to climb back to the living in response to one another’s influence. And it just gets better and better.

    I’m in awe. Thank you to everyone who encouraged us to give it a shot!

    Reply
      1. merij1

        I’d watch it again just to see Ji An/IU’s deaf grandmother’s luminous smile. She reminds me so much of my own mother it makes my heart ache.

        Reply
  2. momaw

    The day after this show finished and I realised there was no more, I felt like Ji An after she deleted the listening app – lost and not sure what to do with the hole now left in my life.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      That’s such a perfect analogy, momaw! Some dramas ruin us for other dramas for a while, and My Mister is certainly worthy. Perhaps try something light and fluffy for a change? 🙂

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Dear kfangurl: Who are your favorite supporting actors – and will they ever get to play lead?? | The Fangirl Verdict

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  5. Prashil Prakash

    Hi,
    I really like your thoughts on this show (and also other shows)
    In short id say:
    “”
    Honestly I don’t think there’s a show better than this.
    It’s so real and moving. It’s not designed in a way that there is a lot of tension and suspense or tragedy. Yet tragedy and suspense are deeply rooted in the show and it dismantles it slowly, piece by piece.
    You get invested in characters. You constantly want to just give them a hug. You sometimes want them to just cry, cuz it’s okay to cry.
    “”

    But I hope to add one point about the show which was the message that “everyone is capable of being loved” (everyone is redeemable)
    The Loan sharks son who beats her up quite brutally and even though his actions seem like you could justify as she killed his father, it still doesn’t make it okay for him to beat her up and I think that’s where the show shines.
    It’s NOT “he beats her up, but he’s a good guy, he has a reason for being like this”
    Its actually “He IS a bad guy, but he always Wasn’t”
    And even he’s capable of being redeemed (you can’t imagine the roller coaster it was for me to absolutely hate this guy to be finally rooting for him)

    And the same goes for Dong hoons wife.
    She was in a loveless marriage and was basically a bad guy. But even she knows it she can’t blame dong hoon for the failed marriage alone (I think she mentions it in episode 16 to Ji an)

    Even she is capable of being redeemed
    The show doesn’t say “everyone will be redeemed” but rather “everyone CAN be.” (They’re capable of it)
    Was she wrong in cheating? Yes.
    Did she have a reason? Yes but she herself wasn’t convinced with the reason.
    Was she being manipulated but the CEO? Yes.

    And finally did she redeem herself. I think Yes.
    And the comparison with Yoon hee and Sang Hoons wife is there to actually show the contrast between them as to how easily she(Sang Hoons wife) could cleanly divorce Sang hoon and still be a part of the family.
    And not being able to do that even when Yoon hee should (as she’s supposed to be the better one right) just pile up on the guilt.

    And ultimately that’s how she even turned the character around. Because of her guilt. Her guilt of being the bad person (even though she had her reasons)
    The point on She shouldn’t have married him in the first place in my opinion isn’t really right because you can’t know what’s gonna happen in the future.
    Or divorced him early on, cuz that IS the point, her regret of not doing so. And who knows maybe they did a decent marriage in the beginning (they have been married for quite a while, they have a kid too)
    But maybe she’s not happy anymore , Dong hoon isn’t happy either but he just won’t (can’t) do anything about it or is oblivious to it, also he doesn’t want to change the status quo even being in a loveless marriage (shown when he asks the CEO to not tell Yoon hee about him knowing about the affair, meaning he could continue being oblivious to just continue being in the marriage)

    (Sorry for rambling so much, I really liked her as a character I could empathize with her)

    I really wanna say Thanks to you for saying that Ki-Hoon and Yoo-Ra was an open ending. Cuz it just felt like cheating if they broke up. The fault in their relationship was introduced in the last episode which seems more like a character development device rather than to break them off.
    Honestly it really affected me badly thinking they broke off and felt like the writer thought he had to break off the second leads heart as its a trope.
    (They should have added a scene of him maybe calling her after starting to write the scenes in the notepad. It would still be an open ending but a hopeful one)

    About the show’s ending I’d say it’s perfect.
    And Ji-an and dong hoons relationship wasn’t romantic, It was much more than that and more pure than romance, it was an acceptance and understading they shared and mainly just Comfort in each other.
    And making it romantic would have simply been cheating. As it would be just a fan service (dis-service IMO)

    I wouldn’t want a second season to this as its perfect as it is. (You don’t want a sequal to fight club or Shawshank redemption right? Same)

    Honestly I can’t describe how much this show has affected me. I don’t cry. I just don’t. At Max I can get a lil sad.
    But I cried when this show ended.
    This show took something from me.

    Thanks for your amazing review. It was pretty much on point!

    Reply
  6. Akhnaten

    You are my guide to all things related to Korean drama. And I love your detailed reviews. My basis for watching a drama is simple – I refer to your index, go through the list, and opt for the ones with a grading of B+ and above. Then I”’ briefly read the first para to see if it’s something up my sleeve. And once I’m done with watching all 16 episodes, normally across two days, I come back and read your review in full. I love that. Heck, let me say it, your reviews are the gold standard that I go with when I watch any Kdrama. Salut, I say, and be safe and be well.

    Reply
  7. Cla

    Wow! What a wonderful review of a wonderful show – My Mister. Agree with everything you say but could never in a million years have expressed it so comprehensively and so well. Everything about this drama was worth watching. Thankyou and Congrats to all .

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi Cla, thanks for enjoying the review! <3 My Mister truly is a wonderful show, and I'm pleased to know that we think and feel similarly about it! 😀

      Reply
  8. BE

    Rewatching it now that it has hit Netflix, meaning I saw it on a computer screen the first two times, now watching it on a larger video screen. Just finished episode 7, so the real fireworks is ahead, but I have to say watching the two leads in this is wonderful as they both put in such nuanced performances, and both the directing and IU’s performance as Lee Ji An is gradually falling in love with Park Dong Hoon is almost like music in its gradual tonal rise. Just wonderful.

    Reply
  9. denniscastello

    It’s really great to have experts you can turn to when you need them. Let me give you an example.

    A few days ago I was surfing Netflix when a recommendation comes up for the kdrama “My Mister.” It’s not surprising it came up, I did watch “Something in the Rain,” “Mr. Sunshine,” and “Secret Affair,” although I only thumbs-up’d the latter.

    “My Mister” seemed interesting so I decided to check out what my expert had to say on the matter. I looked up kfangurl’s review of “My Mister” and I see she gave the show an A+ rating. So right there I know I’m in for something really good and I immediately downloaded all 16 episodes to my iPad.

    She was not wrong — although I do see things a little bit differently from her — the show is amazing! I won’t go through a long, step by step analysis of the show’s various virtues because she does such an amazing job of it here, but I do want to relate a slightly different perspective on the show.

    When I started watching Episode 1 I thought, “of course the wife is having an affair. That clears the way for Dong Hoon to get with Ji An by the end,” figuring the show was going to be a typical “older man gets with wiser-than-her-years pretty young girl” romance.

    But my heart lifted when I gradually came to realize that, while it was going to be a romance, it was one that was much more rare in the TV landscape: a father/daughter love story.

    [It saddens me that, because this is the internet, I know I have to make it explicitly clear that I’m not talking about something gross, but about the actual love that a father has for their daughter, and the daughter has for their father.]

    This is what makes this story so truly beautiful to me, that by wiretapping Dong Hoon’s phone and listening to his every moment, Ji An gets something she’s never had in her life: the presence of a kind, well-adjusted adult man. She gets a dad.

    The greatest lessons that a father, or any parent, impart to their children aren’t in words of wisdom — though Dong Hoon has a few of those, too — the greatest lesson is the day-in-day-out example of how they live their lives. In those months of Ji An listening to Dong Hoon’s life she received a lifetime’s worth of parenting.

    It’s what we all want for all daughters — sons, too — that they will have the example in their lives of a father who is honest, kind, gracious in victory, perseveres in defeat, is generous to others, never criticizes unfairly, and gives correction without being harsh (I’m thinking of that great, “say sorry ten times” scene).

    Most kids love their dads by default but only after growing do they truly come to admire them. Ji An gets this version of a dad, the dad seen through the eyes of the older, wiser child who is even more impressed when they finally understand the real weight of the sacrifices the parent makes.

    I believe that Ji An at first does feel romantic feelings for Dong Hoon, but she can’t help falling in love with him a little bit because she has had so little experience with any kind of love in her life. But the very fact that Dong Hoon never sees her that way teaches her that there are other ways to love. Ways that are perhaps deeper and more permanent.

    For Dong Hoon’s part, at first he sees her simply as a subordinate worthy of sympathy and help, but eventually he clearly comes to love her like a daughter. I say this with two things in mind: he forgives her for the wiretapping so effortlessly and says what any father would say to their daughter when they were in trouble, “it’s okay. Call me.” Later he talks into his phone, hoping she’s still listening, and asks, “Where are you? How are you getting by?” Ok, that’s exactly what a dad would say to their daughter in that situation.

    After he gets the call from Choon Dae we see him running — literally running — to her, and that feels to me like a dad running to help his scared and injured daughter. And what does he say to her when they talk? He says “thank you,” yes. He’s grateful that she accepts him, absolutely. But what else does he say?

    “I’m done seeing you get hurt because of how much you pity me. How could a little kid like you end up doing this because you pitied an adult like me? I can’t stand how much it aches my heart.” [Netflix subtitles]

    This is what every parent says when their kids are worried about them. Maybe there are money troubles, or divorce, or some other bad situation, and because the kids love their parents the kids are worried, or even scared for them. But what does the parent say? “It’s not your job to worry about me, it’s my job to worry about you.”

    Dong Hoon is willing to expose his wife’s affair for everyone in his company to know, if it will help Ji An with the police. He puts her welfare and future above his own — as any good father does for their daughter.

    At the end of the show, what can he do except what any father must do: send their kid off to live their life as best they can with the tools they gave them. And I know that when Ji An gets into a difficult situation that she can aways ask herself, “what would Dong Hoon do?” And she’ll have his fine example to guide her.

    In addition to everything great about this father/daughter story, everything else in this show is so good. Kfangurl, as usual, hits everything spot on.

    The relationship of the brothers is, in a word, wonderful. I have two brothers myself, although one was killed in a robbery, which just makes this story so much more poignant for me. The three of us used to go see movies together and we would laugh or groan about them to each other for days afterwards.

    If that wasn’t enough similarity I work in the film industry, went to a fancy film school, and I *know* a bit of Ki Hoon’s fear that despite what people say, you actually have no talent and you’ll never amount to anything. So I loved Ki Hoon’s whole storyline. And, yes, if the actress is bad, that’s the director’s fault. No doubt.

    (The Yoo Ra character is just a nutcase though, honestly.)

    And mom… what can I say except she’s the best mom — probably the most well-adjusted person — in any kdrama I’ve seen. If she had been the mom in “Something in the Rain” that show would have lasted 6 episodes and ended with a wedding.

    I love all the characters in this show!!

    Oh, and about that “shortcoming” — IKR?! All they had to do was have Ki Bum shuck his hoodie, grab a soiled apron, and pick up a bus tray. With that instant disguise he could slip into any room and no one would give it a second’s thought. Who pays any attention to busboys? That “caper” made them seem way too much like professional grifters.

    Kfangurl, if you bothered to read this far down in this ridiculously long comment, thanks for another great review. I’m looking forward to the next great watch you’ll turn me on to.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi Dennis!!! It’s great to see ya!! 😀 I have to admit, I got a bit of a thrill when I read that you consider me your expert. Thank you! 😅🥰

      I LOVE your perspective and insight on the father-daughter dynamic between Dong Hoon and Ji An! I hadn’t seen it that way, but now that you’ve unpacked it, it’s hard NOT to see it! 😀 I looked at it more of as a friendship that transcended all the usual barriers: gender, age, life experience, and I love that idea, that two people can be platonic soulmates regardless of how different they might appear to be. BUT, I ALSO love your take, that this was a connection that became familial, and that both Dong Hoon and Ji An grew into, so organically. <3 You're right; the way Dong Hoon relates to Ji An is very fatherly, and the things that he says, strongly echo what Dads tend to say to their children. Thank you for a brand new lens through which to understand this relationship! 😀

      Also, how uncanny is that, that you have so many key similarities in your own life (so sorry to hear that you lost your brother, that really is so tragic 😥), that you can identify so strongly, with the various storylines in this show. To think that you're in the film industry too, and therefore appreciate Ki Hoon's story in a deeper fashion than the rest of us. 🤯 That's a rare and precious thing, to have a story resonate with you on multiple levels. <3 Haha, YES, Yoo Ra was a nutcase that I failed to understand, and also, I laughed at your estimation that if Mom had been the mom in Something in the Rain, that the show would've panned out VERY differently! 🤣🤣 Well.. I'd moderate that with saying that the lead couple still had seriously unhealthy habits in their relationship, so maybe the ending wouldn't have been as happy as that, but the issue with Mom would've been removed for sure! 😆

      YES, that caper was quite out of place, I thought. In such a restrained, organic sort of world, the caper felt like a cartoonish detour, and I found it distracting and weird. Not the PD's best choice, but I feel like I can hardly complain, considering how beautifully directed the rest of the show was!

      Dennis, have you considered the drama Dazzling (aka The Light in Your Eyes, aka Radiant)?? It's a thought-provoking gem and only 12 eps, and I feel like you're quite likely to appreciate it. The watch experience can feel odd at times, but if you can trust Show to tell its story, everything will eventually make a lot of sense. I find it best to go in blind, and just let Show take you for the ride. 🙂

      Reply
      1. denniscastello

        I will definitely check that show out. I’ll have to try a site like Viki or something to watch it, though. Haven’t had the best luck with those sites. BTW, it’s too bad we can’t organize your reviews by rating. It would be convenient to see all the A ratings together. 🙂

        Reply
        1. MARY D

          @denniscastello If you are watching on Netflix in the US, there’s a marvelous little show (with a magnificent heart) called Mystic Pop-up Bar. It has two more episodes to go before it’s a wrap…..but I have complete faith they’ll bring it in with a perfect landing.

          Reply
          1. denniscastello

            A friend of mine was talking about that show, I think. I’ll definitely check it out — thanks for the recommendation!

            Reply
  10. Vi

    When I checked your list and saw that this is one of the A rated ones, I tried watching it then but wasn’t able to get through episode 1. I initially felt it was I guess too heavy for me. Then I gave it another go and got sucked in. I watched 12 episodes in just a few days. Now, about midway onto episode 13 and I stopped watching. I felt too invested in the story that I don’t want to see what else their fictional life will be throwing at these broken people YET. Will continue watching sometime soon. Thanks for the insightful review.

    Reply
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  13. mj19

    I am a latecomer as I just finished watching the series only a few days ago. I was feeling alone and forlorn and wanted to find others who felt the way I did about My Ahjussi and I chanced upon your review! First off, I want to tell you that despite finding it at 2am I decided I had to read all of it because you laid out all the details so well, the nuances and subtle interactions of the two main characters were so well explained in your review. I caught myself remembering those scenes and confirming my perceptions of some or coming to a realization in others. Wow! So well written, thank you!

    The two main characters were so well portrayed that it was easy to think we were watching them in their real environment.

    Dong Hoon was admirable in his deep sense of right and wrong. He never shirked from his values even at the point where he was asked to use his hatred of Joon Young to win over the latter once he got the director position. At some point in our lives we have experienced injustice which we could not fight or would not because it goes against our nature. We are aware of people feeling sorry for us and even blaming us for not taking steps to right the wrongs done against us. During his directorship interview, I just loved Dong Hoon’s dismissal of Joon Young and refusing to have him occupy his thoughts or be in any way a part of his life. We all spend too much time hating on someone who has done us wrong but by giving them a chance to cross our minds, we legitimize them within us. It is a lesson of great temperance we can learn from. Dong Hoon’s character is just so well developed and portrayed!

    Ji An struck me in her honesty at all times. She never did not tell the truth which got her in trouble sometimes and got her out of it in others. IU was magnificent in the role.. deep emotions were palpable just from a nod of her head or an intake of her breath. I was very much invested in her relationship with Dong Hoon because it was so pure and unconditional even as I wondered how it could have come to be. In our lives, we would be lucky to have one friend we have such a deep connection with as these 2 main characters had. It just goes to show that kinship, deep and abiding trust and great affection can happen between two very dissimilar people in both background and personality.
    I have to comment also on the ensemble cast because each one was essential to the whole. I felt a sense of belonging to this neighborhood (I wish I could be a part of it!) that embraced its own but also welcomed Ji An.

    My last comment is how amazed and happy I was to find out the PD-nim was also the one who beautifully crafted my other favorite series Misaeng! No wonder the characters are so well developed! They are both series I would watch over and over again even if many emotions surfaced for me in the course of watching: sadness, melancholy, anger, disgust on the one hand and affinity, a sense of belonging, joy, compassion, admiration and hope on the other.
    My Mister was truly a masterpiece that will be hard to top on my list for many kdramas to come.

    Thank you for your review! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there mj! Welcome to the blog! 😀 I’m so glad you found me, and I’m really glad that you enjoyed this review, and this beautiful show. <3

      Indeed, Show is so well done. I, too, felt like I was a fly on the wall, observing our characters' real lives. I love what you said about kinship, and how a deep relationship like this can happen between two very dissimilar people. I love the idea of kinship across boundaries, and I feel that that word – kinship – encompasses perfectly, the connection between Dong Hoon and Ji An. I'm of the opinion that their bond was not romantic, but to my mind, that doesn't mean that their connection was inferior to a romantic one, in any way. In fact, I feel like it transcended romance, to be something purer and even more elevated than romantic love. <3

      I agree My Mister is a masterpiece. I also happen to think that Secret Love Affair is a masterpiece, so if you haven't seen that one yet, I hope you'll give it a try! 🙂

      Reply
      1. mj19

        Thank you for your suggestion! I will definitely watch it. I really have to tell you though that your deep insights and analysis added to my enjoyment of My Mister. I came to the right place to find the affinity to the series I was looking for. I will also be waiting for any new kdramas you recommend. Misaeng is one of my absolute favorites. Rising above one’s limitations and station in life is always fascinating for me because it shows that human compassion can make a person strive harder and be a better version of themselves!
        Thank you. You are a wonderful writer. Keep up the good work!

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Yes, please do give it a try, I think you’d probably enjoy it. 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement, I appreciate it! <3 You might like to browse my Full List of reviews here. Not all the A-grade dramas are masterpieces, but they’re all excellent in their own way. All reviews have spoiler markings, so feel free to dip a toe into a review, just to get a feel for the show, to see if you’d like it. I hope that helps! <3

          Reply
  14. Jesse Gray

    First off, thank you again KFG for recommending this. I don’t have any friends or family who watch k-dramas, which is a bit of a bit of a bummer because it means that even if I try to relay what happened in a show or episode, there’s no way they’ll understand how it felt. (And that lack is what makes sites like this even more appreciated.) That said, this is a show I feel I could recommend to anyone as a pure drama that happened to come out of Korea. No qualifiers needed. If you like drama, grit, emotional turbulence, realized characters and redemption, and if you don’t mind subtitles or misting up several times, this should not be missed. As you know, I love “Healer” and I still think it has more…balance for me. It’s also something I can enjoy again and again, whereas this has such unbroken weight and raw emotional exposure that I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch it again–at least not completely. I’ve already gone back several times to watch some of the more poignant scenes in the later episodes where it’s more about the healing and reconciliation.

    And that’s right after binge watching 90% of the show yesterday/last night/this morning. After the first four episodes, I admittedly had to skip through a lot of scenes that didn’t feature the main characters so I could finish before I passed out. I don’t usually do that, but I couldn’t leave these two where they were. With most dramas, there are spikes in earnestness and chaos, moments of suspense and angst, but no character is so utterly destroyed and crushed that it is painful to turn away before relief comes. That is, until Ji An came along.

    There is such a fine balance needed to make a character sympathetic but not pathetic. They have to be aware of their situation but not buried in it. They have to be aware that they are lacking but not wallowing in self-pity. They have to show resilience and an effort to change their circumstances, all while displaying transparent but guarded vulnerability. Ji An hits all those points perfectly. The fact that she doesn’t actually break down until almost halfway through the series but is constantly being broken down up to that point is a great illustration of how well the development is executed. She is resourceful and hard-working which is admirable, but the fact that her sacrifice and resourcefulness only gets her a small dank room and handfulls of other people’s leftovers is heart-breaking.

    As you mention, she is very dead and muted early on, but to me that was painful enough to watch. When she gets fired simply for trying to smuggle out what is effectively garbage by an owner who clearly doesn’t notice or care that she is probably starving, she doesn’t protest. She doesn’t even flinch. This is someone who has been so rejected, abused, and neglected that she expects to be discarded. She doesn’t seem to be burdened with guilt about taking a life in self defense(which is refreshing considering many shows have characters taking on unnecessary baggage), but the world has taught her that the mere act of trying to stay alive is something she should be ashamed of.

    Ah, I could go on and on about how well this show hits all the right notes (including with the OST–pun retroactively intended) without ever making it seem like it was following a script. As almost everyone has said, it is a perpetually heartbreaking story that gradually peppers in hope, love, and healing until the balance tips in the final moments.

    One of the most gut-wrenching moments for me was when Dong Hoon finds Ji An after realizing she’d been wire-tapping him. My favorite song from the series sets the tone as Dong Hoon enters the room. You see the terrified look on Ji An’s face when she sees him…and then she cowers. She desperately edges away from him, her broken arm limp on the blanket. Even after everything that had happened up to that point and all that she had experienced, she was certain this was it. Someone she loved, someone she’d helped and who had helped her was now going to turn on her. Violently perhaps. Because that’s what people do to her. That’s what she’s worth. That’s what she deserves.

    It’s one of the few times you see her as the young girl that she is. She says she’s 3,000 (corrected to 30,000) years old, and in almost every scene she acts like it. Even when she breaks down, even when she cries, she seems to do it as someone who has endured the pain for a lifetime, not a couple decades. But in that scene, she is an exhausted, drained, heart-broken girl huddled in a pink blanket–one of her very few possessions. She can’t run, she can’t fight, she can’t even defend or justify her actions. And for those few brief moments, she thinks the only person who has shown her sustained kindness, compassion and love is going to try and destroy her. The one who knows her, who has seen what she’s had to endure and knows the aching vulnerability she lives with has come to punish her for just trying to survive.

    And then the only defense she has left goes up. Even though she was sobbing apologies in the street earlier, the only coping mechanism she has to protect herself–callous insults and disdain–comes out. The amount of fear, self-loathing, and anguish she had to feel for her genuine regret and remorse to be buried under harsh words is overwhelming.

    There are many other scenes that have a similar depth and complexity, but is one of the ones that stands out. I think it would have been even more wrenching if they didn’t fade the song out until after Dong Hoon thanks her the second time, but that’s just my personal editorial bent. 🙂

    I applaud everyone who has expressed themselves at any length regarding this show. As draining as it is to watch, it is even harder to remember and articulate the moments and elements that resonated. Perhaps the saddest part of it all is there are actually thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people like Ji An in this world. And even more like Dong Hoon. It shows the need there is for love, acceptance, and forgiveness, how difficult it can be to walk those out, and how hard it truly is to be someone who helps more than four times. The impact of this show will linger with me for a long time, and I hope it is transformative to some degree as well. I want the compassion and heartache I felt for this fictional character to manifest in reality. It will be 10x as hard to truly care about someone who is hurting than it is to empathize with a show, but one can hope.

    Footnotes: Lee Sun Gyun’s looks and voice remind me so much of a young Christopher Lee–it’s scary. Also, I thought I was going to hate the fact that Ji An and Dong Hoon don’t get together romantically, but I think I agree with the bittersweet expression. It doesn’t fully send me into a catharsis; in the realistic style of the show, it simply gives glimpse of a beautiful hope. Initially it never occurred to me that the ending could be perceived as the beginning of a romantic relationship, though I’ve since seen websites and reviews that have that perspective.

    I think they do both love each other, but there is a very deep and real love that can exist between two people that isn’t meant for a fully intimate relationship. I think they feel the same way about each other, but Dong Hoon has the experience/age to see it for what it is, whereas Ji An seems to indicate (at least right before the finale) that she “likes” him in the full Korean drama sense of the word. 🙂 The fact that neither of them seeks the other out seems to indicate that they are content to greet each other warmly on the street. (Particularly Ji An, who made no effort to make contact when she was back in town and only found Dong Hoon by chance.) Not as completely platonic as an older brother/younger sister relationship, but something along those lines. They fought beside and for each other, know the depths of each others wounds, and can celebrate the healing. They helped pave the way for that “someone” to enter their lives and hearts later on, but that’s not a place for them to fill.

    The handshake, while meaningful in its own way, communicates something much different than an embrace would have. As much as my heart years to see the epitome of love invade their lives fully, I just can’t see them facilitating that for each other. The story just wasn’t crafted that way. But I envy those who can see it that way!

    Again, thanks to KFG for the recommendation, and thanks to all of you who convinced her to give it a try against her better judgement. I watched it on Viki, and the thumbnail they used doesn’t make it look as depressingly heavy as some of the earlier promotional material apparently was. Heck, it looks downright romcom-ish with Ji An sporting a white turtleneck sweater and the brothers looking goofy and fancy-free. That helped encourage me a bit, and after the first 20 minutes, I knew I was in it for the long haul. One day when I regain my emotional fortitude, I’ll be able to watch 100% of the show at a more reserved pace, knowing that the perfect beats will hit in time and those two broken people will soon be reborn.

    Reply
    1. Jesse Gray

      It may be tacky to reply to my own comment, but I did’t want to clutter the board with a separate post. This drama has continued to weigh on me, and I can’t get “There’s a Rainbow” out of my head. I’m glad the weekend is coming, ’cause it’s really hard to edit videos about eye safety when you’ve just seen something that makes your heart ache.

      There are many things that have come to my mind outside the scope of the series. What was a “good” day like for Ji An? She spent over a decade living like that with no change. Was a good day when she wasn’t beaten by the loan sharks or cast aside by someone who found out she’d taken a life? What could possibly happen that would make her go to sleep hoping the next day would be better– that she wouldn’t wake up hungry in that dingy little room with nothing but a long day of labor waiting for her? It’s hard to endure that cycle for months, but for her to survive for years, she had to have died inside. And when you are dead, you no longer hope, because hope deferred is anguish. Worst of all, you no longer have the capacity to recognize or accept love. A heart isn’t a machine that can partially work–if it’s really and truly broken, it doesn’t function at all.

      I think that’s part of the reason why Janitor couldn’t help her. He was there from the beginning, and seems to have provided some measure of support for over ten years. He helped her on multiple occasions (certainly more than four times), and he knew all about her past. But he couldn’t or didn’t reach her. Part of it was the lack of education; one of the biggest physical aids Ji An received was when Dong Hoon told her about the free healthcare for her grandmother. Apparently Janitor didn’t know about that. Besides that, he didn’t seem to have the means to provide protection or stability. He’s obviously kind, but after all those years there was no evidence of any daily interaction or help from him. I’m guessing because he couldn’t.

      The other aspect though, I believe, is the difference between compassion, caring, and love. I think Janitor cared about her and had compassion (not pity, which skews into the negative spectrum) for her situation, but he didn’t love her. The same goes for all the people in the office she worked in. Were they all cold-hearted selfish people? No. I mean, some of them were turd muffins, but the others seemed like genuinely nice folks. Yet out of all of them, Dong Hoon was the only one who took notice of her. She was on his heart from the beginning, but he himself was dead inside so it didn’t register. Not to mention that he very suddenly had an incredibly dire situation at work to deal with that she was intricately and suspiciously involved in.

      It started with minor interest that gradually increased in intensity and scale. His reaction to her injuries seemed to be little more than indifference, but you could see it bothered him to some degree. Small step. Then he saw how she was living and how she took care of her grandmother. Again, not a huge reaction, but it was a spark for both him and her. “You’re a good person”. It gave him the realization that despite his initial impression of her (regarding the money) she has a good heart, and it was probably the first time in forever that someone said she was “good”. (The later scene with her repeating the recording of him saying that to her shows just how badly she needed to hear it.) I think that got them both out of the dead/numb phase, which meant they could start to recognize, receive and give love–even if it started in small doses and subtle ways.

      The full manifestation of that love came while he was fighting the loan shark’s son, demanding how he could do that to a little girl. He was heartbroken (as he later told his brother, I believe) to hear what had happened to her. Not saddened, not disappointed, not empathetic. Heartbroken. You can only be heartbroken when you truly love something or someone. His fierce actions and raw outbursts are evidence of a love far stronger than anyone had ever expressed for Ji An, and hearing them shatters the protective disconnect she’d lost herself in. Mix that with his acceptance and agreement with what she’d done in the past, and she was finally able to tap into the love she felt for him. Up to that point she was doing things guardedly, first for her own wellbeing and then, if it worked out, for his. In fact that last thing she’d done before Dong Hoon went to fight for her was take an advanced payment for bringing him down in a scandal. She may not have intended to go through with it at that point, but if worse came to worst, that was her way out. When she kissed him, she truly saw how miserable he was and genuinely wanted to see if that brief touch of intimacy could help either of them, but she also did it to set him up for a fall.

      I don’t recall with 100% certainty, but I think after that altercation, the relationship changed its course, and both of them began to put the other first.

      As another review mentions, the love isn’t the romantic kind we’re used to seeing in these dramas, but agape love. Unconditional love that has no limits or weakness. I’ve always thought of unrequited love as a curse, but I’ve begun to see it as a blessing. If you expect your love to somehow find its mirror in the other person, you will be sorely and painfully disappointed. I can speak to that personally. But if you can embrace it for what it is, it allows you to become that person’s strongest advocate. Ji An and Dong Hoon’s love technically isn’t unrequited, but it’s also not coupled with a desire for complete intimacy. The love allows them to see and know each other, which in turn feeds the love in a beautiful inexhaustible cycle, but it doesn’t seek reciprocation (hence the unconditional part). What makes it so wonderful to see is that they have it for each other, and that the more they give, the freer and happier they are.

      So many times I wondered why Dong Hoon doesn’t ever hug her. We get one stinking hug, and while it’s precious in its own way, it’s also a little awkward and not terribly long. I think after the kissing incident his guard was up, but I also believe the distance was designed to make it clear that it wasn’t about romance. Touch is designed to kindle feelings, just as physical intimacy creates an incredibly deep connection. Even if they didn’t feel “that way” about each other, too much contact mixed with the love they did share could have muddied the water–both for the characters and the audience.

      What makes this story so unique is how transformative, selfless, and powerful their love is without being self-serving. I think if Ji An got engaged and introduced her fiance to Dong Hoon, he would smile all the wider, and vice versa. They got to see love work through them and for them, raising them up from the mire and death they’d resigned themselves to. It was love with a purpose, and they walked it out to its fullness.

      I think the show presents a challenge, or at the very least a new possibility. There can be someone out there that you will never be with, but you’ve been given a unique love to pour into them. No one else can do it, and if you try to make it something its not, you’ll hurt yourself and them. But if you can set yourself aside, you’ll be able to support and stand with them in a way that would be impossible on your own. You alone can tire, you can become impatient, you can fail. You can be critical, you can fall into judgement. But when you see someone through perfect love and know them, there is no limit as to how far you’ll go to see them raised up into life. And maybe watching them walk away, surrendering them to the path that you helped put them on will be bittersweet, but you will forever be a part of their story with an impact you will probably never know the fullness of.

      I’m sorry for anyone who actually sifted through this meandering prose. When something is on my mind like this, I have to figure it out. I need to understand why just the opening of “There’s a Rainbow” coupled with moonlit images of the forlorn stairway leading to Ji An’s barren little apartment overwhelms me. I know on the surface this was just the perfect mix of a powerful story with transparent performances, tender direction, and an insightful soundtrack, but there has to be some truth for it to resonate like this. Is it the fact that there are so many people whose story starts this way but they don’t share its ending? While Ji An’s grandmother got to see Dong Hoon’s intervention and felt at peace about her granddaughter’s future, the final months of her own story were filled with pain, loneliness, and fear. She could only eat knowing that it meant Ji An was going without, and she died alone in a nursing home with only one person in the world who truly knew her. How many people’s journey ends that way?

      Is that it?

      I mean, the ending isn’t terribly bittersweet. It’s not like one of them wanted to be with the other but had to set their desires aside. They are both happy. They are both comfortable. –But jeez! Even that word gets me. When he asks if she found comfort–it has a whole new meaning in this show. It’s not cushy cozy pampered comfort. It’s comfort of the heart. It’s comfort with who she is. It’s being able to rest after years of striving and suffering. It’s waking up unafraid to a day that doesn’t just mark the languished passage of time. She found it! She’s smiling! And yet there’s a twinge of something that I can only attribute to thinking there was a time when she didn’t have that comfort. But that’s ridiculous!

      *Sigh* I have a feeling if I read any of this for some reason a month from now, I shall cringe at the emotional disarray and melancholy musings that surely are not befitting a man of my years. But private embarrassment is preferable to this bewildering grief over a fictional story that began as tragedy but rose to triumph! A love story like this should be uplifting and inspire celebration, not the painful process of introspection. Have I been the Janitor to someone when I could have been Dong Hoo? Did I miss a chance to help bring someone out of a lonely, forsaken alley? …Am I somehow the one in that apartment, waking to death until I am no more?

      Apparently the answers won’t come tonight. But at least I had a place to muse amongst the thoughts of those who share in that experience.

      Reply
      1. kfangurl

        Wow, Jesse. I am completely sucked in by your comments here. You have expressed so much empathy for our characters, Ji An in particular, and you’ve explored it with such thoroughness and thoughtfulness. I feel like you literally entered their world and walked around it with a magnifying glass, examining the nooks and crannies of their world, in a wonderfully compassionate effort to truly understand them. Just, wow. I love how eloquent and expressive you are, as you describe your thoughts, hypotheses and imaginings of Ji An and her world, and what a good day might have looked like, for her. Such powerful stuff, Jesse. You completely sucked me back into their world, and made me see further into it, and into them, in what feels like a whole new dimension. Thank you! <3 I don't think there's any reason at all for you to look back on these comments with retrospective embarrassment. You took some powerful emotions in the moment, and transformed them into expression; that's some inspired writing right there! It's why I like to write things as I feel them; it's my best shot at fully expressing what I feel in response to what a show is doing, in that moment. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I personally found this an inspired and lovely read. <3

        Reply
        1. Jesse Gray

          It’s been awhile since I’ve had a spike in elation like the one I experienced reading your post. I’m not being melodramatic. It was a release of sorts to express everything this show conjured up (a sensation I’m sure you’re very familiar with), but it’s something else entirely to feel like someone has seen even a glimpse of what went on in my heart and mind because of it. I think it scales with how deeply someone processes a show, event, song, etc, and, as you have perceived, this particular show pretty much went right through me. It’s a powerful but lonely experience, feeling like I went on a journey that I could never properly explain. I knew from your review that the show had a significant impact on you, and while it seemed like I was more/less echoing your sentiments, somehow there was still something in me begging for expression. Writing it down, no matter how haphazard, was an attempt to surrender the tempest and move on. Unfortunately surrender brings relief, not satisfaction. Though the intense emotional turmoil finally ebbed, it left the experience itself largely unresolved.

          Until today.

          I don’t know how you are able to organize your thoughts so well during the reviews while you’re being dragged in the emotional undertow. You’re able summarize and analyze the various elements and relationships, giving each one full and fair consideration, while also emphasizing the points of resonance in a concise, contained way. My rambling train-of-thought had a very narrow focus and jumped around with frustrating ease; I could scarcely grasp what I was trying to convey, let alone attempt to package it in a coherent sentence. The most I can say is that it was unfiltered and genuine, and I’m just happy it somehow managed to communicate in a way that engaged you.

          I think the embarrassment comes from admitting that I can be so engulfed in a work of pure fiction. When I was about ten, I watched a series called, “A Little Princess” (I think it came out in 1986 but I saw it years later). Admittedly I had a small crush on the actress, but I was mostly impacted by the beauty of her character amidst horrible, painful circumstances. At an age when my imagination was rampant, I wanted to throw myself into that story and pull her out of her suffering. While I knew it was fiction, the distinction between actors and characters wasn’t as concrete in my mind, so I saw Sarah (the main character) as a “real” person. She didn’t exist, but in my imagination she was very realized and the portrayal of her pain occupied my mind for many days.

          Fortunately years of theater and film experience (as well as, you know, growing up) have made definitive distinctions between performers and characters, so I didn’t have that deal with that confusing dynamic. Still, this was the first time in recent memory that I was so emotionally entangled in the plight of a character, and it made me feel a bit foolish. The fact that I couldn’t focus on anything else for several days just compounded that feeling.

          There’s a part of me that wants my imagination to be as stimulated as it was when I was younger, but there are no brakes. If I get engaged, every useful part of my mind is drawn in and only time allows me to extricate myself successfully. I think that’s why when you said, “you sucked me back into that world” it struck a chord–because that’s how it felt for me. The world of “My Mister” was somehow very real in a sense, and it was so well written and motivated that it was easy to see beyond what was shown. Yet that is another level of fiction, another step away from reality, and my involuntary immersion felt frustratingly futile.

          Such indulgence of fiction has no intrinsic value in terms of every-day life. When I look at the work I have to do–the mechanisms of my time–the functional aspect of fiction is to divert my attention and provide a release from reality; it’s a clutch that disengages the gears for a bit before the grind begins again. I was grateful in a way for what I was able to experience with the show, but when I closed my laptop, everything I had felt and worked through vanished. So much energy and emotional earnestness had been spent but there was no return. It felt hollow.

          KFG, I shared all that in the hopes that when I say how much I appreciate your message, you understand why. It was uplifting and kind, expressing a connection to a shared experience that suddenly made the journey real. It gave my shout from the mountaintop a warm acknowledgement instead of a cold echo. For a person who has been numb for the past few years, having someone perceive–and express appreciation for–a lone emotional experience is a wonderful thing.

          Is this too grand a sentiment for a couple of posts? Perhaps. But it didn’t come from an obligation of reciprocity, and despite the extent of my sharing, I submit that I maintained perspective. But I think that just as any drama, or scene, or line can have an unexpected and peculiar impact, so too can seemingly small gestures or exchanges. I had the luxury of time to reflect, and since I’m still girding myself for the next episode of Weather, I chose to expound rather than disengage. 😉

          Thank you for reading, for sharing the journey, and for bringing closure to it with a beautiful expression of affirmation and edification.

          Reply
          1. kfangurl

            Thank you for sharing, Jesse!! Indeed, it’s a beautiful thing that we, as drama fans, can engage in a shared experience, despite being thousands of miles apart. I feel how gutted you are by this show, not only because of your eloquence, but also because this show gutted me too, in some similar way. I love talking dramas with everyone who visits this space, because in sharing our experience with dramas, we are also sharing pieces of ourselves, and we intrinsically understand, because we shared a similar drama experience, even though we viewed it through lenses unique to ourselves. It’s a lovely thing, and I’m so glad that you enjoy coming here, and sharing your experience too! <3

            In my opinion, there's no need to feel foolish for feeling so engaged with a character; I think it just shows how deeply you've processed this show and its characters, and how far you've extrapolated it as well, to even consider the real life ramifications and implications, of how you relate to others. I'm sure the writer of this story would be pleased to know the kind of impact this work has had, on you. It's the highest compliment, after all, to realize that your work has had a deep-reaching impact on someone's life. <3

            Reply
            1. Jesse Gray

              Yes. …Yes, you’re right of course. Obsessing to the detriment of my work or real relationships would certainly cross a line, but processing and extrapolating to understand and experience all a show has to offer isn’t anything to feel foolish about. That’s pride talking. Cunning, rampant, ridiculous pride. My life was better and simpler without it, and if going through this can help me shed its loathsome presence, then the show has even greater value than I initially thought!

              And I couldn’t agree with you more: for a writer to not only entertain with her work, but to leave a lasting and perhaps transformative impact on one person–let alone thousands–has to be one of the most fulfilling and satisfying achievements. Alas that I can’t communicate it personally, but I trust that the almost universal acclaim will carry along my sentiments with adequate esteem and enthusiasm.

              I know it’s been said before, but thank you again for creating and nurturing this site to allow for the continued sharing of experiences. I’m sure it’s a labor of love, but it is still quite an undertaking to maintain a fresh stream of content and facilitate discussions for as long as you have. Fortunately the drama community is passionate, genuine, and eager to find the next emotional adventure, so sharing experiences and connecting over distance is relatively easy as long as there’s a healthy forum in which to virtually gather. For the privilege and experience of seeing and being seen in the context of revelatory dramas…geonbae!! 😀

              Reply
              1. kfangurl

                Aw, I’m glad you enjoy this space, Jesse. I think that the fact the drama community is as passionate, genuine and enthusiastic, is a big reason why I’ve managed to keep going for as long as I have. If the community was as toxic as some other online communities I’ve come across, I probably would’ve crashed and burned before the first year was up! 😝 Instead, here I am, in my 8th year, coz every time I feel like maybe it’s time to throw in the towel, some sweet soul will leave me the most encouraging comment, and I’m motivated, all over again! 😅

                Reply
      2. seankfletcher

        Wonderful, relatable sentiments, Jesse. I have been thinking about this for awhile. When I first saw those scenes of what was a “good” day for Ji An my thoughts went to the resilience of some people in such situations. One such person I had the privilege to meet a long time ago was someone who had spent 22 years in prison, in a country we are all familiar with, seven of those in solitary confinement. For most of those 22 years he wasn’t even allowed to have anything on his feet, receive letters, let alone clothing. He was a prominent, important person. I just happened to be hanging around drinking my umpteenth cup of coffee after breakfast in the main dining hall at a university college when he came in. I was the only person there. He came over and sat down. He was on his way through from the point of his subsequent release before commencing a tireless campaign of works. He talked to me about the importance of routine, his faith and general belief in humanity, along with the virtue of being kind to others, and building on this, to get him through. His heart, after such an ordeal – crushing in its extreme, was intact. His memoirs refer to this.

        For me, My Mister is beyond awesome. People trapped in an existence, that they somehow rise above. It will be quite some time before we see the likes of such a show again, if ever. No need to cringe. I wish I could say such things this well 😀

        Reply
        1. Jesse Gray

          Thank you, Sean! That sounds like an amazing conversation and an incredible person to meet. That right there would be worth the price of tuition! I’ve never had the chance to meet anyone who has gone through that kind of an ordeal, but I have read books written by/about them. Not everyone can endure that level of hardship, particularly when the circumstances can erode you in every possible way. Just being able to stay hopeful, stave off bitterness, and believe that every day has value regardless of circumstances is hard enough without the physical challenges, the injustice of the situation, and lack of a light at the end of the tunnel. I read one story about a man who spent over a quarter of a century in prison for no crime, and who never saw the outside world again. But the impact his life and joy had on those who witnessed it in the prison (other prisoners, but mostly the guards) was transformative for them and had a ripple effect. It seems the gentleman you were able to connect with had a race yet to run after his incarceration, and with an ordeal like that behind him, he’s going to be able to impart a powerful perspective. –As you were able to experience! 🙂

          You’re right that “My Mister” is spectacularly (and, in a way, sadly) unique; I like many shows that I’ve seen, and they all have moments that captivate me, but this one…was beyond enthralling. I’m just glad it has been acknowledged as such on pretty much every level. It’s an internet anomaly in that it’s hard to find people who hate it. It’s not everyone’s cup o’ tea, and some may have been “meh”, but it has a stunning amount of acclaim and many people were touched in the same way–albeit to varying degrees–by it.

          In a world where cinematic “heroes” are uninspired exaggerations, and at a time when the concept of a “strong character” has been egregiously perverted, it is refreshing to see genuine heroism and strength wrapped in humility and given profound purpose. I don’t think the term, “Sweet sorrow” has ever been more applicable than describing this show…although happily it transcends said sorrow before leaving us to ponder, pontificate, and peruse this profound production. 😉

          Reply
          1. seankfletcher

            Yes, some of our cinematic “heroes” do leave a lot to be desired. What does it really mean to be strong? My favourite exaggerated hero though, both in his fictional written form and in terms of the screen is Uhtred of Bebbanburg. A great warrior, noble, loyal, downtrodden, generally revered by all, fallible, compassionate, a romantic, and a statesman (“I can be diplomatic when I have to be” – that line made me laugh). Not a great cook, though 😂 There are a couple of others I could mention who are not too far behind. Fabulous escapism for us mere mortals.

            “My Mister” resonated so strongly with me. I know I mentioned this elsewhere but I got to the point where I was literally watching episodes through my fingers, or putting them off, because I was afraid the writers would stuff it up. The characterisations were so on point, so much so, I am reminded of our (Australian) great poet Henry Lawson when he said: “Oh, my ways are strange ways and new ways and old ways, And deep ways and steep ways and high ways and low, I’m at home and at ease on a track that I know not, And restless and lost on a road that I know.” Henry experienced it all some 100 years ago or more.

            There are those amazing people, who despite their situation, inspire others or bring comfort to others lives. Yes, the man I met was on a preordained path, had great influence, then endured a 22 year hiatus before he took up the challenge once again, but from outside his homeland. As for the story you read, for someone to have their mind so positive for 25 years is amazing. That there is the power of transformative thinking. I have been fortunate in terms of who I have met, and know, because of what I do, or have done. It’s one of the advantages of wearing a beard from a young age. It makes all the difference. Happy to ponder, pontificate and peruse anytime 🤗

            Reply
            1. Jesse Gray

              Ah, you hail from Australia! I’d like to think that even if you hadn’t indicated it outright, I might have gleaned it from your use of the phrase, “stuff it up”. 😉

              I find that it’s easier to identify a strong character by how they are written instead of what attributes they are awarded. A “strong” character is a fleshed out, breathing individual who, like real people, struggles, fails, succeeds, doubts, perseveres, stands alone when needed, relies on others when possible, etc.., They are brought to the screen with a full lighting array that creates shadows, highlights, and a distinguishable outline/hairline to separate them from the background and make them as realistic and three-dimensional as possible.

              A hero who does not grapple with or fight against fear can’t have courage. If they are not vulnerable they can’t have fortitude. Yada yada yada. I’ve seen too many characters heralded as strong because they don’t need anyone’s help, they never lose, they never back down, and they are good at virtually everything. In my definition that is a weak character because it takes no effort to create a cardboard cutout that is lit by a single blinding key light with the intent of making that character a beacon for all to admire.

              All that said, I am intrigued by this Uhtred you speak of. I quickly surmised he was not a k-drama protagonist (I’m keen like that 😉 ), and did some light research to figure out his origin. I have to thank you for putting me onto what could very well be my next entertainment indulgence. My main gripe with heroes has more/less stemmed from the saturation of comic book characters; I enjoy several of the films, but they are based on rather simplistic ideals designed to connect with teenagers and young adults. The adaptations have been modified somewhat to capture the imagination of an older demographic as well, but ultimately they have a cap as to how deep and complex they can be.

              That said, films like “Logan”–staring one of Australia’s favorite sons (I assume) and one of my favorite actors, Hugh Jackman–managed to make an emotional connection and brought an organic realism and humanity to the comic world. But those are by and large the exception.

              But I digress. Horribly. I will look into Uhtred though!

              Lawson’s poetic musing does indeed articulate much of what goes on in “My Mister”, though there is so much wrapped up in each character that it’s really hard to capture it all. I mostly fixated on Ji An’s struggle for some reason, but was equally intrigued and satisfied with the other’s journeys as well. I just bought the DVD set and look forward to watching without commercial interruptions. (I may also do an edit and set some of the more poignant scenes for me to “There’s a Rainbow” just to trigger the last bit of emotional catharsis.) It’s the only series beside “Healer” that I have felt compelled to add to my collection.

              I totally understand what you mean about kind of holding your breath and hoping the story stays the course. A lot of stories begin a bit thin in the character or plot departments, so by the time we get halfway through, shenanigans of some kind are required to sustain the rest of the story. “Like butter scraped over too much bread…” Fortunately, as you noted, “My Mister” came in front-heavy so there was plenty of authentic exploration to last until show’s end…and one of the few perks of binging for 12 hours is a lack of time to worry about what will happen next. 🙂

              I believe there are always multiple purposes and reasons for most of what we go through. It can be hard cheese to swallow sometimes, but with the right perspective I think overall it brings a sense of satisfaction. The man you met who endured those 22 years surely emerged with more steadfast character, perseverance, faith, boldness, and a multitude of other upgrades, but I think the purpose of his endurance wasn’t just for him. It’s for people like you, me, and anyone else who comes across his story to be encouraged, challenged, emboldened and transformed. It’s a high cost to pay, but the results are far-reaching. There is great comfort in that, I think.

              And I KNEW I was missing out on so much of what life has to offer–I just didn’t know why. The beard! Of course it’s the beard! My facial hair is not conducive to a full beard, and I’ve found I don’t have the stamina to maintain a goatee for very long either. I never considered that the growth of facial hair would facilitate crucial relational convergences and deeds of great import, but now I see the correlation.

              Challenge accepted! (Well not really. I still can’t grow a respectable beard, and the pitiful one I can manage is sorely afflicted when I wear a helmet.) But in spirit, challenge accepted!

              Cheers!

              Reply
              1. seankfletcher

                Hello Jesse, yes, well I use the Aussie vernacular that isn’t laden with what many think we often say! I am on the west coast and we tend to talk with more of an English orientation than the rest of the nation.

                I think what you say is true re a strong character. A character that is well defined, written with all the embellishments, no matter how big or small, allows an actor, no matter who they are, to bring that person to life. I think that is what we see with IU in “My Mister.” In “Hotel del Luna,” she plays a role that is a sumptuous feast of the eyes and she has some delightful moments, but perhaps is not seasoned enough to fill the gaps re the interpretation of her character.

                If you do take on Uhtred, I am sure you will enjoy his portrayal very much. However, I do need to apologise in advance for some of the more squeamish material.

                The whole issue for me with our comic book heroes is that their current screen interpretations have almost ruined my childhood enjoyment. As I often say to my children this just isn’t right: he/she wouldn’t say/do that! Apparently, I am not up with the expansion of canon (a most over used term now) re various characters and universes, although they agree with me that, with the current interpretation of Doctor Who, it is perhaps, sadly, almost beyond saving. Ditto for Superman, although there is a new series on its way where he is married to Lois Lane – so fingers crossed. Perhaps, the only two that I have any time for now is Wonder Woman and Wolverine (something about the W’s perhaps). My favourite comic/cartoon hero character is Golden Bat. The Japanese creation that ultimately lead to the hero genre 🦹‍♂️.

                Hugh Jackman is simply marvellous (plus he is from my home town). No one can say anything bad about “our” Hugh. Back home, he and his wife do so many good philanthropic things (so, apart from the many international causes he is involved in). Early in his career, his second movie was that of an Aussie outback truck driver who writes romantic novels. It’s a nice, gentle movie.

                People come into our lives, and sometimes they do leave that glimmer (in old english: splendour) that is a reminder of how much we can make of the world if we put aside our fears.

                When I was 20, I went to pre-dinner drinks and formal dinner at my university college with our leading heart surgeon, one of our greatest novelists and historians, the then Lord Mayor of my home city and a range of other luminaries. The beard did the trick. They all thought I was twice my age, which allowed me to have some interesting conversations. I am nowhere the philosopher, so to speak, that I once was back then, though. Somehow, I did “get lost in translation” along the way. If you want to put beards in perspective, its hard not to have a giggle at the annual World Beard Championships 😂 We acknowledge your spirit of acceptance 😊

                Reply
                1. Jesse Gray

                  Hullo Sean!

                  I’m usually okay with squeamish moments, though there are exceptions. I’ll take a gander at Uhtred soon, and as long as the blood doesn’t drain from my head at the sight of some gruesome entanglement, I should be okay. 🙂

                  I’ve actually heard from many adamant Dr. Who fans that show has died a gruesome death. I enjoyed the rebooted series for the first 7-8 seasons before my attention went elsewhere. Fortunately I don’t have the deep connection to the show that many had, so the wounds aren’t as deep. If the prequels hadn’t helped me withdraw from Star Wars, the newest films would have been crushing; as it stands now, I consider 1983 as the last Star Wars movie release. Even as removed as I am from the franchise, it was still painful to see what happened, so I can only imagine how hard it must have been for the Dr. Who fandom.

                  I’m with you on the comic heroes too. The multiverse may be the worst thing to have happened to the industry (although it could be argued at all the continuity errors that brought about the creation of the multiverse were the real travesty), and all the reboots and gender-swapping have really mucked up the heroes’ identities. There are also a lot more politics finding their way into shows and comics these days, which takes pages and scenes away from story and gives them to platforms. Not a happy state of affairs. Makes me very glad that these shows we watch here are produced outside the US!

                  Wolverine and Wonder Woman have largely gone untouched. I’d say Wonder Woman has evolved for the better since her somewhat bizarre origins, but overall she’s kinda kept the same spirit. The power of the Ws indeed! 🙂 I haven’t heard of Golden Bat, but he may join Uhtred in my pantheon of Yet-To-Be-Discovered Heroes of Note!

                  I’ve also got to look into the flick with Hugh as a truck driver; I haven’t seen any of his work before the first X-Men flick. He seems like a genuinely good dude who has a wide range of talent. Most actors have a type of role they excel at and kinda stick with it. Even esteemed actors like Pitt, Clooney, Washington, etc.., don’t take on too many expansive parts. But Hugh does romance, comedy, musicals, action–he’s all over the place. Doesn’t get the props he deserves here (though no one argues with me when I point to his work), so I’m glad he’s gett’in love in his homeland.

                  Ah, now see in lieu of the prestige of the beard, I chose to wear suits and carry a briefcase to class starting my junior year in high school. It ended up getting the attention of my principal (who thought I was a substitute teacher), which in turn lead to a road trip to a university where his friend happened to be the president, and suddenly I was going to college. I kept the wardrobe until dry cleaning and resoling became too expensive in my junior year of college, but I was often able to mingle with the bearded ones until that time. 🙂

                  But to your credit, the beard could only get you in the door–for folks of that caliber to think you a man beyond your years, you had to be regaling them with some impressive insights. I know some guys with beards that end up seeming half their age once they start talking. Usually when that happens, someone comes up and discretely asks them for something. They dejectedly hand over out some kind of card that is promptly destroyed and shuffle off crestfallen. To he who is given much, much is required. 😀

                  Reply
                  1. seankfletcher

                    Jesse, I am totally in agreement with you regarding Star Wars. Still, money talks I guess. In terms of Dr Who, I keep my fingers crossed. I am also waiting for when they reboot the multiverse to address all the issues 😱🤣😜 It will be a long time coming, I think!

                    Hugh started out in film, theatre and TV all at the same time. He has just about played all the different genres. In his first TV role he played a prisoner in a very thoughtful, psychological prison drama. He really shines in musicals. I think his best performance is in Oklahoma (the West End) – mesmerising. I even enjoyed his role in Van Helsing.

                    What a great story re your junior year and subsequent experiences including your amazing introduction to college. I can almost see all of this in my mind’s eye: a filmed panorama covering such a wonderful story. The bearded ones, such an eclectic group – many a friend has called me “Oh bearded one.” It was said back then I was beyond my years, and to that extent, I have now caught up to myself 😂 Ah, yes, the dreaded card. I have some empathy for the dejected. I haven’t used one in so long. I just say I am easy enough to find. It seems to work.

                    Reply
  15. Storyteller

    Hey, K. Well-written exposition on this masterpiece, as always.

    Unpopular opinion (?), but I agree with YH’s stance that marriage is the union of two individuals, and that she and their children should be DH’s priority over his family. I think DH could have better communicated his concerns and agree on resolutions with his wife, to salvage their marriage. That being said, those issues did not justify YH’s infidelity.

    In the end, I think Ji-An and DH shared a selfless, agape love, which is above and beyond the romantic (eros) type. Kudos to Show for poignantly depicting this.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Storyteller!! Thanks for enjoying this review. 🙂 I agree with your “unpopular” opinion. I agree with Yoon Hee that her family with Dong Hoon should have been his priority, over his brothers. But, that didn’t justify her affair either. And YES, I’m with you that the love between Ji An and Dong Hoon was deep agape. I agree that the love between them transcends romantic love, in its selflessness and purity, even though I know that there are many fans who argue that the love between them is romantic. Seeing their love as agape felt more accurate and true, to my eyes. And I agree, Show did a fantastic job of portraying this love. <3

      Reply
      1. Storyteller

        Interesting insights on YH and DH separation at the finale — a realistic conclusion given the fallout from YH’s affair / betrayal. I wish Show provided us more backstory on their marriage, but I think they both loved each other (albeit in different ways), and if it wasn’t for the affair, communication / counseling could have saved their marriage.

        https://www.reddit.com/r/KDRAMA/comments/9dlv2a/my_mistermy_ahjussi_discussion/

        Minor gripe with Show would be the Ki Hoon characterization. I found his overprotectiveness of DH post-Kwang-Il fight and YH affair rather overbearing and OTT (Sang Hoon even calls him out for this).
        I also didn’t like his hot and cold relationship with Yoo Ra. While the Ep 12 confession somehow contextualized his actions,, I agree with you that both of them should have worked on self-growth and healing before resuming their relationship.
        His character growth (directing comeback) was rather rushed during the finale, instead of being developed throughout Show’s run.

        The brother’s comedic interactions could have been cut down to show more of their characters’ growth — or rather DH-Ji-An’s healing journey, which was the highlight of the Show. I’m surprised LSK didn’t bag Baeksang Best Actor for his superb characterization and delivery — was the Mr. Sunshine ML performance that much better than his? 🙂

        Reply
      2. denniscastello

        I want to pitch in here with something to consider. It’s clear to me that, after their father passed, DH ended up being the father figure for his extended family. You can see it in the way he gives his older brother money, the way they, and everyone around them, looks up to him, and even in the way he’s the only one of the brothers to go into the kitchen to get his own food instead of waiting to be mothered. This is a role he seems to have taken on unconsciously and without complaint. This is a heavy responsibility.

        A good friend of mine once told me about the worst moment he had after his father passed. His extended family was now turning to him for everything they used to turn to his father for. His father had this Christmas tradition where he used to buy a stuffed animal for every woman in the family, no matter how old or young. My friend was driving over to his mother’s place for Christmas Eve dinner, the family tradition, when he realized there weren’t going to be any stuffed animals that year. He said he had to pull over because he was crying so hard he couldn’t drive. He got those stuffed animals and never told anyone why he was so late to Christmas Eve dinner that year.

        DH is that kind of guy. He can’t turn his back on his family. On the other hand there are so many ways that YH could have partnered with him and helped lighten that load but she thought only of herself. I’m with KFG on this one. YH could have easily been the change she wanted to see in their marriage.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          I love that story about your friend, Dennis! <3 That's such a poignant story, and you're so right, that's exactly the kind of man Dong Hoon is. He would've gone out and gotten those stuffed animals too, in the same situation. And Yoon Hee would've known that this is the kind of man Dong Hoon was, when she married him. She should've worked out a compromise with him, and, as you say, been the change she wanted in her marriage, rather than cheat on him.

          Reply
  16. Larius24

    Your review is on point.
    One of the best chemistrys ever between the main leads.
    After this i really respect IU as an actress. Usually I am wary around idol actors but damn she knocked it out the park.
    Best drama I watched this year. I was just not very satisfied with the ending.
    Definitely a must watch.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      YES, this definitely is a must watch, regardless of how one feels about where Show leaves our main pair; it’s just SO well done. And I agree, IU is a very solid actress. I generally like her as an actress, but I must also say that I haven’t loved everything that she’s been in. I didn’t care for Scarlet Heart much, for example. I thought she was good in Hotel Del Luna, but I didn’t love the show itself. This is my favorite role of hers, so far. Really well done, I thought. 🤩🤩

      Reply

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