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.

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. ❤️

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. ❤️

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while reading the review.

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 ALERT]

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]

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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 ALERT]

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]

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 ALERT]

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]

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 ALERT]

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 ALERT]

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. ❤️

[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 ALERT]

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.

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. ❤️

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]

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 ALERT]

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:

WHERE TO WATCH:

Available for free on iQIYI and Viki. Also available on Netflix.

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BE
2 years ago

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.

denniscastello
denniscastello
2 years ago

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.

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  denniscastello

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. 🙂

denniscastello
denniscastello
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

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. 🙂

MARY D
MARY D
2 years ago
Reply to  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.

denniscastello
denniscastello
2 years ago
Reply to  MARY D

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

Yossra
Yossra
2 years ago

Thanks for the excellent review. Job well done

Vi
Vi
2 years ago

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.

seankfletcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Vi

Hello Vi, I think you will enjoy what unfolds during the remainder of your watch 😊

mj19
mj19
2 years ago

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!

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  mj19

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! 🙂

mj19
mj19
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

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!

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  mj19

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

Jesse Gray
Jesse Gray
2 years ago

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.

Jesse Gray
Jesse Gray
2 years ago
Reply to  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.

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Gray

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

Jesse Gray
Jesse Gray
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

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.

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Gray

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

Jesse Gray
Jesse Gray
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

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!! 😀

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Gray

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! 😅

seankfletcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Gray

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 😀

Jesse Gray
Jesse Gray
2 years ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

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. 😉

seankfletcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Gray

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 🤗

Jesse Gray
Jesse Gray
2 years ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

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!

seankfletcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Gray

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 😊

Jesse Gray
Jesse Gray
2 years ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

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. 😀

seankfletcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Gray

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.

beez
1 year ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

And to bring these lofty thoughts back down to earth: Hugh Jackman – swoooon

Edited to add: Ji Chang wook is the Korean Hugh Jackman. Both would rather perform on stage in musicals yet get cast as ultimate action hero’s (and we love them as such)

Storyteller
Storyteller
2 years ago

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.

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  Storyteller

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

Storyteller
Storyteller
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

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? 🙂

denniscastello
denniscastello
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

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.

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  denniscastello

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.

Larius24
Larius24
2 years ago

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.

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  Larius24

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. 🤩🤩

arnoldgamboaph
2 years ago

Now, if this kdrama would do a season 2, the question is — from the fans’ perspective, how should the story line go? 😉

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  arnoldgamboaph

That’s an interesting question, and one that I think Show posed on purpose, with its chosen open ended finale. I personally would prefer the relationship between our main pair to stay platonic, but I suppose I wouldn’t be opposed to things turning romantic either. 😉

testralia
testralia
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Maybe from the point of view of Lee Kwang-il would be interisting

marj lorenz
marj lorenz
2 years ago

wow! as how they say it in korean, this drama is a daebak! i have never noticed this drama until i went over your review ratings. i started watching those dramas whom you have given an A+ rate. thanks for your reviews, else, i was not able to watch such a well written drama. all episodes just seem tied with each other that you can’t merely stop going to the next. i’m still on episode 10, and can’t wait to see the end of it. eniwe, thanks and keep on sharing your views.

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  marj lorenz

Hi there marj! YAY that you’re enjoying this drama (it really is SO special!), and that you’ve been finding the review ratings helpful! 😀 Makes me feel very important and special, heh. 😉 I hope you enjoy your watch up to the very end, as much as I did. <3

Logic Logic
Logic Logic
2 years ago

Your reviews are right. I watched the drama several times to be able to understand and absorb every details of the scene, and the more I watched it, the more I was able to appreciate and loved each characters they played, the good storyline. directing and the beautiful OST most specially “Adult”.

There are several scenes that I liked the most.

– The three brothers confrontation regarding the wife involvement with another man. (They all have different approached and attitude on how to handle the situation and to comfort Dong Hyun, I cried with their emotions.)

– Dong Hyun, Jian and the grandmas first encounter just to help her see the moon (so touching).

– The pat on the back of her neck scene (I can see how sorry he was that he did it to Jian).

– The demand to give him another pair of slippers ( As if he is saying “I cannot afford to loose you”).

– The confrontation with Gwang IL regarding Jian’s loan where he is not aware that Jian is listening and crying on the other line.

– And several scenes that he is outside obviously waiting for Jian to passby and the other way around. And everytime he will glance on Jian’s office table most specially on the last episode that he sitted on his old chair as General Manager trying to look on Jian’s office table that’s already belong to a new Temp employee.

– While Jian is on the run he is more anxious, depressed and uninspired to work even as a Managing Director already where in fact he should be more excited with his new position but he chosed to look for Jian, compared to when he founds out about his wife infidelity that he can easily say “It is nothing” and just go on with his life.

On my own opinion his feelings with Jian is getting deeper without him noticing or admitting it. Or maybe he is unaware or still on denial because of the current situation with his wife that will complicates more. Knowing of his character or his nature being a decent man with dignity. And of course he still want to protect his wife reputation even at the very end for the sake of their son and his mother as well. But they are both aware that the right time will come, that either one of them will file a divorce which is mentioned several times in different episodes.

It is also noticeable everytime Jian’s grandma will give him a words of appreciation and grandma being thankful that he is with Jian, most specially the last visit they had, he became curious on what her grandma is telling her about him as if he is curious and can sense an approval from her grandma for him to Jian.

Even on the last scene with his office colleague or subordinate while drinking all together after learning the truth they are more interested to talk about Jian and her loyalty to PDH than giving him support and comfort because of his wife’s affair with their CEO.

Yes it is an open ending story, but the fact that both met each other again with a smile, hand shake and another invitation of eating together, only tells us of another chance of developing their relationship into another level, plus their willingness to be happy and comforted again is definitely a good ending.

Nice and remarkable story.

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  Logic Logic

So glad you loved this one too, Logic Logic! 🙂 Yes, this one was remarkable indeed, and it’s so thoughtfully done that I’m sure we would be able to notice new details with each rewatch. That’s the kind of drama that just never gets old. <3 I personally saw the connection between Dong Hoon and Ji An as more platonic kindred spirits.. That said, I do like that Show is vague – and therefore versatile – enough, that we can all draw our preferred conclusions from our personal watches. 🙂

linda
linda
1 year ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Agree with you fan girl ☺

seankfletcher
2 years ago

This is by far, my favourite Kdrama (and Asian series for that matter, although The Longest Day In Chang’an is giving it a nudge). Ranks number two for me in my tv shows of all time, with Deadwood coming in at number one.

I didn’t watch the shorts on Netflix re IU, because I had a feeling that what you mention in your comments may be the case. She does have a bright future and let’s hope she continues to pick good projects. Her interviews show a very mature insight along with a strong sense of being grounded. I’m sure she will be given some more real roles too – it may take a while though.

BE
BE
2 years ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Thanks, skf, for the tip on The Longest Day in Chang’an. Led me to a review that piqued my interest. I am a poet, and the T’ang dynasty was a legendary era for poets, including two of my all time favorites Tu Fu and Li Po. Since according to the review, it takes place during that era, I will certainly give it a spin.

BE
BE
2 years ago

Maybe the best tv drama I have ever seen. The ensemble was terrific, but the leads were playing what might be the defining roles of a life time. This might be fine for Lee Sun Kyun, an actor in the fullness of his maturity, but I worry a bit about IU. I knew nothing about her before watching this show, and only looked her up to find this rather amazing and certainly about to be international megastardom career as primarily a music performer, and secondarily as an actor. In some ways it strikes me her stardom works against her and I wonder if she will be given an opportunity to have a role with so much meat on the bones to it again. Persona, I thought was rather unfortunate, and as it was on Netflix, really unfortunate as an introduction to her in what appeared to me to be a collection of shorts that reminded me of student films. I know Hotel Del Rio has gotten off to a popular start, but after watching a couple of episodes, it strikes me as gimmicky and rather thin. That is, I hope she has the opportunity to do more real human dramas that offer character roles even if they are leads. I hope so. In any case, the problem with this My Mister, for me, is that only so many like this come around, and so many others thus fall short by contrast.

Of dramas set in the present day, this and Secret Love Affair have been far and away my favorites, and if anyone were to ask me I would refer them to your reviews on both. These are very satisfying and observant reviews. Thanks.

tvbgraphics
tvbgraphics
2 years ago

omg this review is everything. thank you for taking the time to write it. i appreciate your thoughtfulness and dedication in crafting this review and enjoyed every word!

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  tvbgraphics

Aw, thank you so much for your kind words! 😘 I’m so glad you enjoyed this review.. My Mister is truly a rare gem of a drama, and I can only hope that this review did it justice. ❤

Wella Salanio
Wella Salanio
3 years ago

Thank you ;-(

newbie
newbie
3 years ago

i love your detailed review! really brought to light certain things i missed.

but i was wondering what happened in ep 14 before JA called DH using the public phone. with the electric wiring and everything. was he trying to commit suicide??

the only scene that stood out for me for being unrealistic was when he went to DJY’s room and punched him and had a fight. Everyone heard what was going on outside. I was wondering whether the CEO’s room really was so uninsulated that a little shouting would be heard by everyone. corporate espionage would be so easy!

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  newbie

Hi there, thanks for enjoying this review! 🙂 I have to confess that my memory of the scene that you mentioned is kind of hazy, as it’s been a while since I saw the show. However I don’t recall that DH tried to commit suicide. I know that’s not very helpful in terms of answering your question, sorry! 😅 Also, yes, it’s not like DJY’s room was soundproofed, lol. But perhaps they didn’t dare to interfere since he was the CEO? 🤷‍♀😆

emijn
emijn
3 years ago

thank you for the review! My Mister aka My Ajhussi was a really good drama! I only have a small thing against this beautiful drama – the tracking app used throughout (from ep 3). As a software developer I can’t help but wonder it must have cost Park Dong hoon a lot of internet and phone battery to have an app running 24/7 on the phone that records and streams audio via internet. On top of that GPS location tracking too?! How could he not notice his huge internet bill or that his phone has started losing battery really fast recently..?! I guess it’s just my little OCD but I was wondering if there’s anyone else who thought the same

MC
MC
3 years ago
Reply to  emijn

Haha yes I also wondered the same but mostly this show was so good that I didn’t think too hard about it! Maybe they should’ve shown more charging phone scenes… hehe. That part wasn’t too realistic!

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  emijn

Ah, that’s a great point, Emi! I never thought of that, that Dong Hoon’s phone should’ve been showing signs of a fast-draining battery. I guess that must’ve been an oversight by the writers, thanks for pointing it out! Happily, that’s a small enough detail for most, that it doesn’t ruin the watch, and it sounds like it didn’t ruin yours either. Such a beautiful drama indeed. <3

Emi Choraria
Emi Choraria
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Yes it was a wonderful watch 🙂 <3 MC is see your comments on other posts (all the shows I watched)! Haha
Thanks for replying Kfangurl! Whenever you reply I feel like a celebrity I like replied! As always, love reading your reviews! Fighting!

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  Emi Choraria

Aw, you are so sweet, Emi! <3 Thanks for always enjoying the reviews, and I'm so pleased that you're enjoying your journey through Dramaland! 😉

MC
MC
3 years ago

(warning: this is a long comment!)

So, I should start this comment with an embarrassing story. I actually heard of the show when it first filmed, when I was watching another show and saw the recaps on Dramabeans. I knew the show was good, ridiculously so, but… I couldn’t bring myself to watch it because it felt too depressing. So, I started to read the recaps instead. Lo and behold, I binge-read like 6 or 8 episode recaps non-stop till it was 3am and my eyes were burning but I couldn’t stop because I was too drawn into the story and the characters. After that I would wait every single week to read the recaps. But I still didn’t want to watch it! Even though people in Dramabeans said it was a show that had to be watched not just read because of all the nuances. But it just felt too sad and depressing (especially Ji-an’s life! Also cos I’m a scaredy-cat, I didn’t want to watch the beating scenes) to watch, so it was at the back of my mind as a “show I should watch” but never did.

Fast forward about a year or so, I finally got around to watching it. Even though I roughly knew the plot and the ending (I forgot the details in between) but it was STILL SO GOOD. That’s a testament to HOW GOOD this show is, that someone like me already knew the details but still felt heart attacks when Ji-an was stealing the money back from Kwang-il, or carrying out the plan on Dir Park. It was crazy.

How do I feel about this show… I think one of the best ways to describe it is that it leaves you speechless. It’s incredible. It takes you on a journey, it breaks your heart, then it puts it back together again and ends off amazingly with hope and comfort. Even the thank-you note thanking the viewers and hoping that we would have comfort was so touching. I remember reading on Dramabeans comments that people were actually thankful and grateful to the My Ajusshi team for creating such an incredible show. When people are grateful for a tv show, it’s truly above and beyond. I also felt grateful and thankful.

Everything about this show was perfect. The writing was so assured like you said. The directing and cinematography. The ACTING (every single actor was amazing). Every episode would kill my heart and I needed to take a break too, but yet I wanted to watch the next episode to know what happens. I even delayed watching the finale cos I couldn’t bear to leave the characters and the world they lived in. And the OST – it was so melancholic and perfectly applied to every scene that it really elevated my watch. I was so addicted it was on my Spotify playlist non-stop, I couldn’t bear to listen to anything else. The life lessons – about being grateful, living as happily as you can, being kind to others, not giving up on life all resonated with me. I think this will be a hard show to follow, because how do you find another show that is as good, or better, than this!

I’m amazed you managed to recap this show, it’s really hard! Even now I feel I’m just writing in circles and I can’t fully express how I feel about this show. And I know you didn’t manage to touch on some of the characters – Sang Hoon’s journey, how he was humiliated, how he provided for Ji-an’s grandma’s funeral really touched me. It’s not a reflection of your review, but more that this show is so wonderful that no review could adequately cover every nuance and instance.

One thing I wanted to comment on is on Yoon Hee. I know many people hated her, but I actually find her sympathetic. I don’t condone adultery and certainly not with someone who was actively plotting to destroy her husband. I think now having been married for a number of years, I understand that distance creeps up and I think Dong-hoon just couldn’t love Yoon-hee the way she wanted, and vice versa. I imagine that over the years they both changed (or maybe she changed, he didn’t, he seems stuck) and their priorities, their value systems were different. He prioritised his family of origin but her value system ranked their immediate family over his and her family of origin (noted that there was no mention of her own family too). Also they probably had different love languages – he in acts of service (buying stuff from the supermarket, doing chores), whereas she probably wanted more quality time/words of affirmation/physical touch which he didn’t give (he was pretty shut down, they seemed more like roommates than a couple). Neither were wrong, it was just different, which brought about a lot of hurt and distance and loneliness leading to her looking for affection and demonstration of love in someone else. I’m glad she worked hard to right her wrongs and defend Ji-an/Ki-bum. One of the magical things about this show is that I feel it’s so realistic and portrays such complex characters. Everyone was so complex, no one was dimensional so everyone felt real, like people I knew or could know, rather than characters in a show.

I know a lot of people also were debating if they were married/divorced at the end. I’m not sure, but think this he-in-Korea-she-in-US distance worked out for them. I’m glad they will always be good co-parents, even if not happily married. I think the chasm and years of hurt and her betrayal was too great to overcome without major change by both, and they didn’t show that in the 16 episodes. So I imagine that they were still broken but came to some kind of peace and the arrangement (being apart physically) will meet their need of separating, regardless if they officially separated/divorced or not. In this aspect, I think it worked out well even though it’s quite ambiguous.

Another point I wanted to comment on is whether Ji-an and Dong-hoon loved each other romantically or not. There were raging debates, I know. Personally I think I’m in the same camp as you. I think they loved each other but I don’t think Dong-hoon would ever make it a romantic one. It just doesn’t fit his character. But I’m glad that the ending was open so that everyone could take it how they wanted.

Speaking of flaws (hard to pinpoint any like you said!) I agree with what you said. Also the abduction is a little spy-show-like for a 2-man team who are so young. To me one other minor “flaw”of the show (or it could be a translation issue) is the bribe. Was it cash or gift certificates? It looked like cash but it was stated as gift certificates. Why would Ji-an use it to pay her debt? Which loanshark would accept it as cash? It’s not the same as cash. A gift certificate can only be used in certain ways and shops right, so it would be a strange way to repay her debt. But anyway it’s just a minor point. Everything else, the key stuff, was perfect to me.

Oh my this turned out to be an essay. If you made it this far in reading this essay, thanks for reading and this barely encapsulates how much I love this show (maybe I’m also writing so much because no one I know has watched it so I can’t exclaim about it with someone!)

I honestly think that not only is one of the best K-dramas I’ve ever watched, but it’s one of the best TV shows I’ve ever watched. It’s incredible. I’m so glad I got around to watching it. Thank you KFG and to the team who made this show – I’m so glad I got to be a part of this world, even for a short while. I like what you said, that this show feels so real that it feels like they would continue on with their lives even after the cameras have switched off. It’s hard to leave this world but I’m (maybe consoling myself) glad that they’ll continue to live on as happily, and as comfortably, as they can. Fighting!!

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  MC

This was a beautiful comment, MC! <3 Lovely to read, and it really stirred my feelings for this show, all over again. As you said, this one was really special; one of those that you feel grateful to have met. <3

What an unusual path you took to watching this one! I'm curious, do you feel that reading the recaps first colored your perception in any way? I sometimes check out recaps after I watch an episode of something, and I find that I disagree with the recapper often enough (ie, not all the time, but maybe.. 2-3 times out of 5?) that I would feel glad that I watched the episode myself and had my own reaction and opinion, before exposing myself to theirs, and I do wonder if I'd read their opinions first, if I'd have felt differently when watching the episode myself. Of course, knowing others' opinions adds to the richness of the watch experience, it's just that I also value knowing that my response is truly my own, if that makes sense?

Yes, it really was impossible to cover all of the characters and their journeys; Show was just that rich. <3 About Yoon Hee, I agree that the marriage between her and Dong Hoon deteriorated slowly over differences that they never managed to fix, and that's why she looked elsewhere. That, I get. I just cannot accept that she would scheme to destroy him. I mean, divorce him, marry a new husband, or just date a new guy, that's all fair game. But once she was shown to be scheming to destroy him, she crossed the line, for me. That is not fair game, and that's why I disliked her as much as I did. I do absolutely agree that her betrayal was too great, and therefore I don't think she and Dong Hoon would ever be able to reconcile, and I also agree that their being in separate countries felt like a suitable arrangement for them.

The details about the bribe are hazy in my head, I must admit. Were they bank cheques? I can't recall. I think I thought they were. But it could also be a thing that's lost in translation, as you said.

Since we're talking about this show and how it's one that we're grateful to have watched, I recently met another show I feel grateful to have watched: The Light In Your Eyes, which I highly recommend if you haven't checked it out yet. It's not quite as amazing as this one, but it comes close enough that I think it's worthy of your time. 🙂

MC
MC
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Yessss I re-read your review and I love it all over again. Haha I don’t think I can ever fully get over this show – i think of from time to time, about living comfortably and being good and kind to others. Also whenever it rains I go listen to the soundtrack and love it all over again. There’s just something about this show ❤️

One little beautiful moment about the soundtrack lifting the show up to a whole new level – I remember when Ji-an got beaten up by Kwang-il and she was walking home (I think episode 4??) and it showed her walking, bruised and battered, the song playing was “An Ordinary Day”. Just the title alone; it broke my heart to think that being beaten up and hurt was so much a part of Ji-an’s everyday life. And later when I read the lyrics, about trying to live each painful day, brought a greater depth to the scene. I can’t even understand Korean and it affected me so much, I can’t imagine how it would feel to someone who understands Korean and would immediately understand what it was trying to do. And this applies to every scene where the soundtrack is played. Oh my heart! 😫

Agree about Yoon-hee, I understand her loneliness and decision to cheat, but when she didn’t stop Joon-young trying to betray DH that was totally a no-go for me too. I could see she was trying to mitigate it by getting DH to quit and set up his own company so he wouldn’t be hurt, but that was out of her selfishness and unwillingness to put a stop to Joon-young’s plans. What a contrast to our Ji-an who does everything (at great cost to herself) just to protect Dong-hoon!

On a side note, Lee Sun Kyun’s voice – I loved it so much I watched most of the show on headphones even when I was at home, so I could hear every nuance of his voice/breathing and the soundtrack too. Love his voice. I became a mini Ji-an too! Haha.

Yes it was a very unusual route to take. Frankly I just read the recap cos I was bored that night and found the plot interesting but couldn’t bring myself to watch cos it seemed too depressing. But I’m so glad I did! It surpassed what I read. In this case the review made me watch it so maybe it was a good thing I did read it!

Normally I wouldn’t (I don’t actually) read before watching, I want to experience the show the way it’s meant to be. I only read recaps if I give up on the show haha, cos I need to know how it ends. So it was unusual for me too. Maybe if I didn’t read the recaps I would have loved this show even more (if that’s possible)! I like to read recaps/reviews/peoples comments after each episode or after the show is completed cos I’m the kind that likes to find out what people think about it and also pick up little elements I might’ve missed out. But yes I like to have my own thoughts about the show (though my thoughts aren’t as in depth as yours haha).

Oh and yes I do want to watch The Light In Your Eyes. I watched some random snippet on YouTube and it looked interesting. I also know little about it other than the girl becoming an old woman. I’ll definitely give it a try, maybe once I’m done with Coffee Prince! Your short review makes it sound really really good 🙂

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  MC

Aw, thanks for re-reading the review and enjoying it all over again! That makes me feel quite important, to help bring back the feels for this very special show. <3

Oh wow, thanks for sharing about the OST! I don't pay a lot of attention to the song lyrics, to be honest. As in, I don't seek out the translated lyrics and juxtapose them with the scenes where they're used, to see if it amplifies my watch experience. If I happen to understand some of the lyrics just from listening, it's bonus, but that's about it, for me. And so, your sharing about Ji An's Ordinary Day, with that song, with those lyrics, playing right after she's been beaten up and dragging her exhausted soul and body home, is just a punch to the gut. Oof. I need to improve my Korean, and then rewatch this show so that the feels can be amplified as I understand more of the lyrics!

Oh yes, Lee Sun Gyun’s voice is gorgeous. 😍😍 Did you know that his nickname around the dramaverse is The Voice? 😋 It’s like velvety melted butter. <3 If you haven't seen Miss Korea, he's pretty great in that too. It's not quite a rom-com, but it's a heartfelt story that I really enjoyed. I've been recommended his 2016 drama This Week My Wife Is Having An Affair, but I haven't gotten around to checking it out yet. Maybe you can consider some of these later. For now, though, you're getting a throwback dose of him in Coffee Prince – where he even does some singing! Have you heard the singing part yet? It's velvet in melody. 😉

Ah, I see, yes, I do occasionally check out recaps after an episode too, mostly to remind myself (through the screencaps mostly) in terms of the episode's events. And yes, I can see how this exercise can broaden the watch experience, seeing other people's impressions and perspectives. 🙂 Also, YES, put The Light in Your Eyes on your list. I have a feeling you would really appreciate that one, though it wouldn't work for everyone. <3

MC
MC
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Yes your review really brings back all the feelsss!!! <3 I love what you say – dark and beautiful, also warm and beautiful. Beautiful, aching, heartbreaking and yet hopeful and healing in the end.

About OSTs – I usually don't too, but somehow this show's soundtrack is just too good that I went to find out more about it (also I tend to like sad songs quite a bit). yeah really a punch to the gut!

Lee Sun Gyun – "the voice" really fits him! I loveeee his voice. It's true, it's like velvety melted butter! Apt way of putting it 😀 Nope not watched any of his shows apart from My Ajusshi and now Coffee Prince but I intend to watch This Week My Wife Is Having An Affair, also heard lots of good things about it. It's quite funny watching him in CP, he's so different from how he is in My Ajusshi – so much younger and expressive, rather than shut down and repressed. But I can still see his distinct way of walking, of laughing, of saying certain things and of course the voice! A very versatile actor indeed. Yes his singing! That was pretty good!

Haha there are SO MANY shows to watch and so little time!! I'll get around to The Light In Your Eyes … soon, haha. Thanks for all your many recommendations and feel free to let me know what you think about other shows/if you ever want a recommendation too (assuming you have time to watch other shows – amazed at how many you manage to cover in a year!)

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  MC

Yes, “The Voice” really does suit Lee Sun Gyun, doesn’t it?! I’ve heard many lovely voices while watching so many shows over the years, but his voice always takes the cake as being the most velvety on the ears. It’s no wonder Ji An got addicted to listening in on Dong Hoon; he just sounds so lovely! 😆❤

In terms of him playing romantic leading man, I first saw him playing male romantic lead in Pasta, which I loved a great deal and even watched twice, maybe even three times. BUT, I must say that I’m not quite sure whether I would love the show or his character as much, if I were to attempt a rewatch now. The reason is because he plays a chef in Pasta, and in the story, Chef is very shouty and dominating, and even a little misogynistic in his behavior. Gong Hyo Jin is his leading lady, and Chef basically tells her what to do, even right down to the last episode. I realize that this kind of domineering male lead doesn’t really appeal to me now and I’ve mentioned it more than a few times in recent reviews. So I really wonder whether to recommend the show to you. He does come across as charismatic though, and his character isn’t a through-and-through jerk.

In comparison, I found Miss Korea a fresher watch, because there’s more focus on the journey of the female lead, and also, LSG is not the shouty sort in Miss Korea. I feel like Miss Korea is quite an underrated gem, so I hope you’ll give it a chance sometime. 🙂 That, and of course, Light in Your Eyes, which is just very special. ❤😉

MC
MC
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Oh speaking of LSG’s shows – can I recommend This Week My Wife Will Have An Affair? I just finished it (it was on Netflix so I figured I should watch it) – it’s good!! Although our poor Ajusshi keeps being cheated on. It’s just 12 eps so it’s not as long but I felt it covered a lot of material in those 12 episodes. I feel the best part of it is that it is very nuanced. Adultery, marriage, family, role of husbands/wives were covered from multiple angles and I felt it was able to convey all the gray areas (as such topics would surely have). The second couple was adorable and the third, well… just watch for the main couple and the 2nd couple, haha.

I get what you mean by shouty misogynistic characters. We’ll see! It’s on my list though just cos it’s LSG (I am so so biased I know). YES! Dazzling is next on my watch list. I’m now on Misaeng (frankly PD Kim Won Seok alone is reason enough to watch). Intended to watch Dazzling but I started on Misaeng first cos I thought Misaeng would be taken off Netflix soon. I’m on ep 3 and it’s rather depressing how hard life is, but I can see why people love this show! I’m trusting that Geu Rae’s life will get better soon…

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  MC

Guess what, MC? I’m currently 5 eps into This Week My Wife Is Having An Affair, and it is like you said. 🙂 It is nuanced and presents just about everything as a gray area. So many perspectives, from so many sources, and all have their point. A lot of thought went into this one for sure. From what I’ve seen, I can already guess which is the 2nd couple and which is the 3rd, lol. The cheating lawyer is quite something else. I mean, I know it’s written for laughs and purposely hyperbolic, but 😳😳 it’s insanely out there.

Actually, seeing as how LSG has played Ahjusshis who’ve been cheated on, it might be a refreshing change of pace to see him play the overconfident alpha male for once? 😆 As for Misaeng.. I think it’s objectively an excellent show, but I will also say that Show didn’t grab me by the heart like My Mister did. And I feel you, it can feel kinda depressing. But yes, Geu Rae’s life does get better bit by bit, so hang in there! 🙂

MC
MC
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

YESSSS I’m so glad you are watching it!! I was pretty sure you would like it (and hopefully you do like it!) It’s portrayed as a comedy but it’s so much more. So much to chew on and think about. I’m dying for your review (although I know you have so many to do), just to know your thoughts on it!! yeah the cheating lawyer is really too much but the plot progresses interestingly for them, is all I will say till you watch it 🙂

Misaeng – I left an extremely long and more-personal comment on that page so you can see it when you’re free! Long story short, I loved the show. I think Misaeng could now be part of my top 3 dramas (the other 2 would be My Ajusshi, no prizes for guessing, and Because This Life Is Our First. Clearly I really love PD Kim’s work hahaha. And maybe rounding out a top 5 would be ALSB and Love 020 (not cos it’s great but it was my very first drama so I have a lot of fondness for it!)

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  MC

Yes, I do like it.. it’s a show that I want to make sure I’m suitably alert and awake, before I watch an episode. Every episode has been pretty thought-provoking, and I’m never quite sure where the story will go next. So far, I find Song Ji Hyo’s character less sympathetic than Lee Sun Gyun’s, but I’m also prepared for Show to potentially flip that around. That sense of not being sure where we will land with all of these characters makes this feel quite realistic, despite the dark comedy treatment. A very interesting show indeed. 🙂

I absolutely feel you on having a soft spot for your gateway drama, despite its imperfections. That’s how I am with Goong. It was my first kdrama, and even with its flaws (late-episode drag and a less than compelling ending, most likely thanks to Show’s extension), I still have big love for it. 😉

sadiesmith
sadiesmith
3 years ago
Reply to  MC

I wonder if the director considered Lee Sun Kyun’s legendary voice when he decided to cast him. Such a perfect choice of actor. Did you come to appreciate his voice all on your own or were you persuaded by others’ comments on it? Also, have you watched Pasta? It’s a light, fun watch, and LSK’s character is the complete opposite of Park Dong Hoon.

MC
MC
3 years ago
Reply to  sadiesmith

Hello! I just noticed your comment. I agree he is amazingly cast! I can’t imagine anyone else as Dong-hoon. I already liked his deep and unique voice when I first started watching but I think when I followed someone’s suggestion of watching it with headphones, it really upped my love for his voice. Hahahaha that sounds so stalker-ish. I’m now watching this week my wife will have an affair because of LSK! I will put pasta on my list of shows to watch which is… really long so hopefully I can get to it! 🙂

Rachit Kant
Rachit Kant
1 year ago
Reply to  MC

Dear MC

Hope you don’t mind me replying on this thread; I just got done watching My Mister and currently in my 1st re-run of it; I have been so deeply overwhelmed by this show (and I have thanked KFG for her fabulous recommendation on a separate thread) that I’m feeling depressed for a reason I cannot fathom – withdrawal symptoms, most likely!

I want to write as detailed an essay of a comment (LOL!) to express my thoughts, but they just won’t settle down, for now! And they’re having to fight a myriad of emotions that this gem of a show has managed to awaken; so I’ll have to wait for that.

I think for now, I just want to talk about Yun Hee; I find myself agreeing with you on her character. There are many things to be said about the weakness of her character (worst of all, if you’re going to have an affair why do it with the sworn enemy of your husband, unless you detest your husband, which you clearly don’t!!) but I do have a modicum of sympathy for her. I do think that had Dong Hoon been a little more attuned to her, the situation might have been avoided. Granted, it was extremely poor judgment on her part to have an affair with the one person Dong Hoon hated the most, I still feel she got carried away playing out her own escapist fantasy without wanting to bear the responsibility of her actions. There is no excuse for what she did, but the way she tries to make amends does tell me that she has some redeemable traits – unlike Do Junyeong. She is ready to serve her punishment in any manner that Dong Hoon may deem right. The fact that she sincerely takes up Ji An’s case to extricate her from the legal complication showed that she is willing to walk the talk. In short, I will be willing to give her another shot at redemption.

Much more of this later 🙂

soumya108
3 years ago

I have a lot and lot to say about this drama but then it will be just too long to read. 😛

soumya108
3 years ago

Oh man what a masterpiece this show is! Ok, so interestingly i watched this show quite early in my Kdrama journey and i was left dumbfounded. I mean when you dip your toes in Kdramaland you expect everything to be warm and fuzzy with splashes of humor. But, My mister took me to another world of Kdramas. I was quite hesitant at first because it seemed to be somewhat dark and a tough show to watch but thanks to the outstanding appreciation for this show I watched it and I loved it.

The emotions of this show were so raw, pure and real that you actually feel for the characters from the bottom of your heart. It truly shows the true meaning of humanity,kindness and selfless love and care. The relationship between Dong hoon and Ji-an was just about two humans connecting without any expectation from the other. They just knew that there was something that keep them connected at a much deeper level. The dialogues were so powerful and meaningful. The character trajectory of Ji-An was also very impressive where she finally begins to smile and starts to hope.

And Yes, the best scene was when Dong Hoon faces Lee-Kwang il and keeps asking him how much Ji-an owes him. OMG! I cried so much during that part. The pain that Dong Hoon felt for Ji-an was so clear and transparent. He couldn’t bring himself to terms that she was actually beaten regularly by this guy. The way Ji-An kept crying on hearing his words were so touching.

MASTERPIECE it is! Please guys go and vote for it on Imdb also and make it reach a perfect 10. 😀

I just had one question was Lee-Kwang il in love with Ji-An but he hated her at the same time because she murdered his father? Because there is one scene where when Kwang Il finds out that Ji-An has left the place and went into hiding he enters that house and sits alone while staring at the empty walls. I was quite confused about his feelings and thoughts about Ji-An.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  soumya108

So glad you love My Mister as much as you do, soumya! What a great drama to watch early in your kdrama journey! <3

As for Kwang Il.. I personally did get a sense that he had some sort of special interest in her, and possibly romantic in nature. But because of their history, she is technically his enemy. My personal take is that he did love her, but had very complicated feelings towards her, which resulted in his fluctuating moods and erratic behavior around and towards her. 🙂

billz
billz
2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Sorry Im late to the party, this drama has really been great so far (am on ep 13). Just wanted to chip in abit about Kwang Il in that he liked her but because she killed his dad, it kind of felt that the two conflicting feelings drove him semi-mad in a sense, which was why he always looked so crazed/tense. I kind of got the feel he hates himself for it as well, there was a scene where he visited Ji An after she had already paid the debt and he told her his thoughts swing between killing her and killing himself. Feel the actor really did a great job of portraying a character that looks crazy but is also living in his own personal hell.

kfangurl
2 years ago
Reply to  billz

Ah, that’s a nice insight to Kwang Il’s character, billz, and it makes a lot of sense! And I like your observation, that he probably hates himself for it. Jang Ki Yong did an excellent job indeed. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

Evangeline Dare
2 years ago
Reply to  soumya108

There was a scene where Kwang Il listens to a recorded conversation between Ji-an and Dong-hoon. His eyes glisten with tears as Ji-an reveals to Dong Hoon that he [Kwang Il] was not really an evil person; and in their much younger years Kwang-Il was kind to her and would protect her by taking the blows from his father. Then, a glimpse of Kwang-Il carrying a badly-bruised Jian on his back was flashed. In a way, those are very humanizing elements in favor of Kwang Il. Dong-hoon was right when he said that an adult [Kwang Il’s father] destroyed a budding relationship.

lotusgirl
3 years ago

I had been wanting to see this for a while but couldn’t find it at my regular viewing places/apps/sites. With your review I tried harder and found it. It was so worth it. It is so moving. The music is so beautiful. I ended up buying the whole Soundtrack. I just finished watching the whole thing and came back and read the whole review as a way to revisit the highlights and get your take on them. I love how you captured so many points in this review. Thanks for all the time you have put in to make this such a great site. I’ve got myself a nice watch list forming.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  lotusgirl

Ah, I’m so glad that you managed to find this one! It would’ve been such a shame to have missed this one – this drama really is very special, isn’t it?? <3 I completely understand why you ended up buying the whole OST, it's just so hauntingly beautiful. <3

Thanks for enjoying the review, and I'm so pleased to know that you're finding the reviews helpful! Makes me feel super useful and all 😉❤

Julianne
Julianne
3 years ago

Oh no. ep 9 was such a gut-wrencher. Bc of ur review, I was waiting for that scene, and man, did NOT disappoint. Totally teared up when he heard her childhood/story. And then teared up again when she teared up later as Dong Hoon’s validation of her reasons for killing a human freed her tears.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Julianne

OMG. That scene ripped my heart out, in the best possible way. 💔 It moved me to tears, literally. 😭😭 Dong Hoon literally set her free from a mental and emotional prison of condemnation. Guh. SO good. <3

Julianne
Julianne
3 years ago

Jesus. I came to this review bc of ur 2018 Year in Review. And then now, over 12+ hrs later, I’m on ep 8. This is amazing. This is so so so quietly depressing. Two things so far have really stuck out to me; when JiAn tells grandma, it’s easy for people with money to be nice. And 2: When Dong Hoon is talking to Jung Hee about JiAn saying she’s 30,000 years old because she can’t find her way home…And then Jung Hee replies, you have to have not a single shred of hatred left in your heart to return home, to be at peace. Plus the melancholy mood and aching music. That was just a quiet cosmic moment. Everything about this show is quietly real, gritty, mundane. Even when shit is blowing up, people’s lives are ruined, people are pushed past breaking point, everything’s just so quiet and grey. Like this is all but a blip in the universe, and the world keeps spinning. No one stops to give you more than a moment of pity, or that at all, and that’s that. Life’s hell, harsh, unfair. You can try and try, be a good person, do good things, and reality will just b****-slap you back to the pits of rock-bottom. But you can’t stop and complain, stop and feel indignant, because while you’re stopped, the world keeps spinning and you just end up full of hate and disgust like Kwang Il, or full of avoidance and weakness like Yoon Hee.

Again, this is honestly so quietly depressing. Yet somehow it’s not the end of the world. Your heart aches but it’s also just nothing, a blip in the universe. Because that’s just life. And there’s nothing to pity and cry over because that’s life stripped of all the fantasies and dreams. Tbh there’s no light in the darkness but the small bits of love and minuscule acts of kindness in spite of shitty people and shitty lives, and the nuggets of hope that gosh-darn-it flare up even when you objectively have no reason to hope anymore.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Julianne

First of all, Julianne, I am honored that you checked out this show because of this review. Thank you for allowing me to persuade you to give this one a chance. 🙂

Given how you mentioned in your other comment, that you haven’t quite been in the mood for even the dramas that you’d looked forward to the most this year, it’s a Huge Deal, that you have reached E8, just 12 hours after your last comment on this review! Wow! But also, I’m not that surprised, because My Mister is just that good. <3

Yes, the initial episodes are on the gloomier side, but I will say that it gets more hopeful later on, and I really like that Show manages it all in a manner that feels organic and realistic. None of that deux ex machina that many dramas rely on, to solve the big conundrums that they've made for themselves. I love how you describe the music as aching. That is a perfect word for it. The music literally expresses the ache and melancholy that our characters find difficult to voice; the music speaks for them, and I love it. <3

The glimmers of hope continue through even the darkest of seasons, if I remember correctly, and by the end, I was very satisfied with where we left our characters. I'm looking forward to hear what you feel about the show as a whole, after you get to the end. I'd just like to say, don't rush it, though.. I loved this one, and felt that it was worth savoring. <3

Julianne
Julianne
3 years ago

Oh jeez. this review totally makes me wanna watch this.

seankfletcher
3 years ago
Reply to  Julianne

You won’t regret it 😊

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
3 years ago

I love stories about redemption, forgiveness, and healing, and this show had them all!

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Yes, and Show even dealt with all of those things with sensitivity and restraint. What a rare gem! 😍😍😍

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
3 years ago

The loan shark guy redemption at the end was priceless!

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Yes, that was a nice touch 🙂 I just loved this show <3

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
3 years ago

I gave this a try because of your review. Another great drama I would have overlooked otherwise. I don’t know if it was intentional, but I felt like the season of filming (winter and early spring) gave another layer of meaning to the story.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

YAY! 😀 I’m so pleased you gave My Mister a chance, Snow Flower! It really is a wonderful gem of a drama, isn’t it? <3 And yes, I do believe you're right, that the seasons were selected to give that additional layer of meaning, particularly when winter gave way to spring, and the brightness and new life that it represents. <3

Ai VEe
Ai VEe
3 years ago

Your review is beautiful just like the drama, My Ahjussi. I felt like I watched it all over again. I watched this drama because I really love IU, but then I learned to love this drama as well. This became one of my favorite kdramas. It’s very relatable and real. also admire IU even more because of her acting. As I watched this drama, I feel like I was IU. I really cried a lot. It’s good to know that a lot of people love this drama as well.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Ai VEe

Aw, thank you for enjoying the review, Ai VEe! <3 I'm so glad you ended up loving the show as much as you did. It really is a beautiful drama.. so wonderfully written and acted and executed, all around. The more love I see for this drama, the happier it makes me, because so many people give it a pass due to its serious looking posters. Yay that IU led you to this one <3

raspberry
raspberry
3 years ago

Hello fangirl!! I am grateful you decided to watch this show because I swore I couldn’t watch until I read your flash review. I was invested as soon as I started the first episode because rather than been bored I could feel how life like and real this show was . This show is everything and more and I can’t even compare or rank it with other dramas because I literally feel the characters are alive in Korea lol… this show shook my core + AM OBSESSED with the OST. Show really deserves the A+.
And can I just say how impressive IU is. Girl knows how to pick roles in a movie. A truly people centered drama. The scene where Dong Hoon noticed ji An’s bruises and assumed it was an abusive boyfriend really caught my attention and highlighted the fact that people suffer abuse beyond it been domestic. Yoon hee’s struck me as a very selfish lonely person who had no intra personal peace and just needed an excuse for her sadness and blamed Dong Hoon but I wish we were shown a bit of their marriage at an earlier stage so that we had more clarity. I couldn’t quite understand the Monk and Bar owners relationship though and Yoo ra was just a brat.
DONG HOON😍 I read somewhere that a movie about the phlegmatic personality would be boring and I wish I could send this movie to whoever wrote that. Dare I say this is the best written character I have watched in kdrama land and even beyond. If only Doctor crush had gotten a format similar to this Show ‘ s it would have been much more. Thank you for the review show indeed is an A+

sadiesmith
sadiesmith
3 years ago
Reply to  raspberry

@raspberry, I felt exactly like you did, and four months later I am still as taken with the show as I was during the live watch. I love so much what you wrote about the character Dong Hoon. I have been editing posts for the fan site since the show’s conclusion, and let me tell you that there are endless ways of looking at this mess of a man. He is truly one complex character and LSK brought him to life perfectly. Please drop by the fan site and spazz with us some time. https://givemeslippers.wordpress.com/

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  raspberry

I’m so glad you enjoyed My Mister, raspberry! <3 It really is a beautiful show, and the OST is wonderful as well. Not to mention Dong Hoon. OMG. 😍😍😍 So much love for Dong Hoon indeed. So wonderfully written and portrayed. Truly a shining example of how a phlegmatic personality can be sympathetic, engaging, and even compelling, in the right hands. <3 I wish you could recommend this show to whoever wrote that too!

Albert
Albert
3 years ago

Loved My Mister and so love your review Kfangurl! I finished watching the final episode 30 minutes ago and I’ve already re-watched the ending like 4 times. Hopeful and sweet ending.

So grateful to have stumbled upon your review. Your writing is gorgeous and reminded me of some powerful scenes and nuances that I didn’t pick up on (like Ji An’s swollen pinky). I look forward to reading more of your reviews!

The loneliness and weariness that Dong Hoon and Ji An evoked was palpable. As their friendship developed, my appreciation for how far they had come on the journey grew. They shared a courageous resilience throughout. Definitely my favourite Kdrama so far. Lee Sun Kyun and IU are fully deserving of the accolades for their phenomenal performances. I hope they win some awards for their real and raw performances.

Fighting!

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Albert

Hi there Albert, I’m glad you found me! Thanks for enjoying this review. 🙂 Indeed, this is a beautiful show, from it’s writing, to its directing, and most certainly, the acting. It all felt so raw, so real, and also, so exquisite, equally displayed in its portrayal of pain and of comfort and joy. <3

I completely agree with your comments on Dong Hoon and Ji An; they journeys, individually and together, were so compelling to behold. I couldn't help but be completely sucked in. Both Lee Sun Kyun and IU did remarkably indeed. 🙂

afroboy99
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Thanks for responding kfangurl. I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

This morning, after watching the ending scene yet again, something dawned on me.

There is a long moment where they are just smiling at each other and standing still, I wondered if they were going to hug … I felt they wanted to. When Dong Hoon asks to shake Ji An’s hand, “Just this once.” Ji An says that she’ll buy him a delicious meal and call him. The handshake finally reconnected them and lingered for 34 seconds! It felt as though they didn’t want to be separated again. Aww… 🙂

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  afroboy99

That’s a lovely observation, Albert! Thank you! 34 seconds! That is a lingering handshake indeed – and does say so much about the wistfulness and the unwillingness to let go. Which absolutely bodes well for those of us rooting for them to reconnect after the credits stop rolling. <3

Dave Reesor
3 years ago

Shades of Fyodor Dostoyesvsky! Probably the best TV series I’ve ever watched.

seankfletcher
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Reesor

A fabulous insight. As he once said:

“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken”.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Reesor

This really is one of the best <3

Mel
Mel
3 years ago

I abandoned this show after watching one and a half episodes and came back thanks to your short veredict. Really, thank you for recommending it. It’s beautiful.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Mel

Oh, I’m SO glad you gave this one another chance, Mel! 😀 Thank you for allowing yourself to be persuaded! 😉 It really is beautiful and worth the watch. <3

bugs_bunny
bugs_bunny
3 years ago

great review!

My Ahjussi, will forever be one of my top kdramas. it’s affecting, moving & shows the beautiful & ugly facets of life. LSG is luv<3 i've always liked IU, maybe coz i was impressed with her in The Producers.

i would highly recommend LIVE written by Noh Hee Kyung & Life on Mars. 2018 is a banner year for kdrama, these 3 are rare gems, happy watching!

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  bugs_bunny

Thanks for enjoying the review, bugs_bunny! <3 Indeed, this show is so affecting, in all the best ways, and LSG is so understated and yet so glorious to watch, in it! 😍😍 LOVED him in this, unreservedly. <3

I'm enjoying Life On Mars very well, and I'm almost at the end (sniffle). I attempted Live, and found the first 2 eps engaging enough. But once the first case hit, I was so rattled by the woman who lost her tongue, and all the blood that went with that, that I chickened out and couldn't continue. I attempted to go back to it a second time the following day, but promptly chickened out again. 😛 Is the rest of the show as hard to watch? Coz I've heard good things about the show, but dang, that was hard to watch! 😝

bugs_bunny
bugs_bunny
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Oh nooooo… this episode is an integral part of one of the lead’s arc, i think on the 3rd act, if i’m not mistaken. i would encourage you to forge ahead, but if it’s not your thing, that’s fine also:)

the writer interviewed people on the force hence the characters looked all fleshed out & realistic, no weak portrayals. am i succeeding in luring you in to watch more episodes, hahahhahhaaa…

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  bugs_bunny

Lol. I am still hedging with this one.. and now that I know it’s an integral part of one of the leads’ arc, at least I know I can’t skip it, if I do go back! 😅😂

Alaskan
Alaskan
3 years ago

I watch KDramas because once in awhile a truly great drama appears. I think that this is one of the best dramas I’ve seen. I llike the fact that the writer did not tie everything up into a neat little bow. Not everybody got a happy ending. And that’s fine, that’s wonderful in fact, because it shows that that’s not what this drama was about. Reading your review makes me appreciate this drama even more. Thank you!

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Alaskan

Aw, thanks for enjoying the review, Alaskan! 😀 And yes, I do agree that this is one of the best kdramas I’ve seen. Absolutely worth the watch, and I wish more people would give this one a chance. It’s such a lovely show. <3

hobi
hobi
3 years ago

this show isn’t really the typical genre that i’m watching but the minimalist as it seems, it feels more real. I love the cinematography, dialogue, cast, osts because everything felt warm. I admit that I enjoyed every indirects or parallels of romance between them haha their bond is strong, too strong that can’t be explain easily because even if silence surrounds them, they know how each other feeling with all circumstances they have encounter. watching the drama is like a journeying with the characters. I learned from them a lot.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  hobi

This isn’t my typical kind of drama either, but like you, I fully enjoyed it too. It really is worth stepping out of one’s drama comfort zone for! Thought-provoking, and so very warm at its heart. <3

Timescout
3 years ago

Yes, to everything. Such a beautifully put toghether post about a lovely, thoughtful drama.

It took me a bit longer to get into the groove with this one but once the switch flipped, I was totaly immersed in the story. I may have to watch it again some day as I flew through it a bit too fast. Which was totally not worthy of this gem. I hate it that I have so little time to dig into my backlog but when my holiday started, I swore I was going to watch at least one of the dramas on The List. And this was it. No regrets. 🙂

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Timescout

Eee!! YAY that you managed to make time for this one, AND that you loved it, Timescout! 😀 I kind of knew you would love this one too, it’s just so lovely and thoughtful, as you said. Thank you for enjoying this post too <3 I know what you mean about feeling like you might've rushed through a watch too fast. I imagine this one would be just as lovely – and perhaps even more so – on a rewatch, and I can totally see myself rewatching this one sometime. <3 A gem indeed, worthy of being the single show you completed out of your list! 😉

putri novianti (@putrinopi)

OMG I’m so happy that you watched My Ahjussi. Reading your review makes me tearing up again and failed to move on. immediately i watch it again.
This drama is so special, it break and warm my heart at the same time.
and when you say that you couldn’t watch more than an episode at a time, it’s so true i just need to think, contemplate and enjoying the feeling, the pain and just like you said, i need to recover and breathe after an episode.
I really love Dong Hoon character especially that he has morale standard that he always carry, argh its so frustrating that i cant write well plus my english is very limited. to sum up, thank you very much to write this review really voiced what i feel and think about this drama.
i always love your review, if i watched a good drama i always hope you’ll watch and review it, if i’m clueless about what drama should i watch next, i always look up you review and i found some drama that very satisfying that goes under my radar from your review like Secret love story, queen in hyun’s man and sungkyunkwan scandal.
Keep writing <3 <3

kfangurl
3 years ago

Hi there putri, I’m so glad you enjoyed this show, and this review too. <3 Hi5, that you felt that you needed a breather between episodes too! I felt the same way. It was just so meaty, and left my heart so full and my mind so thoughtful, that I needed that time to get over an episode, and get ready for another. A truly special show indeed. <3

No need to apologize, my dear. In fact, thank you for taking the time and making the effort to comment even when English isn't your first language. I appreciate it very much! 😀 And I'm so glad that we feel similarly about this beautiful drama.

I'm also so happy to know that you've been finding the reviews helpful, and that you've been enjoying the recommendations! Makes me feel all special and useful, y'know 😉 Hugs! <3

KS
KS
3 years ago

KFG, I am so glad you gave this drama a chance, and I was quite surprised to see your review posted so soon after the Pretty Noona review. Thank you. I really love the way you compared Dong Hoon – Yoon Hee’s relationship to YH-Joon Young’s relationship. What you said about them existing within/without context makes so much sense. Also appreciate your pointing out the meaning of Joon Young’s name in Chinese characters. Hahaha… The meanings of names do play a big part in the show, so yeah. And I also had to laugh at your very short list of the show’s shortcomings. Says a lot when one single misstep was all you could find in this whole 16-episode epic.

This show truly does not waste any detail, no matter how small. I was reading your twit on Nirvana on Fire earlier and what you said about that show also having very tight writing, and repeat watch will uncover hidden details and important clues. I haven’t seen NIF, but I think the same can be said with My Ahjussi. If ever a show warrants a second and third viewing, I think it’s this show.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  KS

Aw, I’m glad I gave this drama a chance as well! 😀 This is where I have so many kind readers to thank, who took the time to leave comments urging me to watch this show, and attempting to explain why I would like it. After all the comments piled up, I just knew I couldn’t miss this one 😉 And yes, this came unusually soon after Noona’s review. I don’t often manage 2 lengthy reviews in such a short span of time (my brain can’t take it, lol), but I just had to get all of this off my heart and into a review.

Thank you for enjoying the review, and yay that you found the thing about context meaningful. I often say that context is everything, and Yoon Hee’s relationships with Dong Hoon and Joon Young seemed to me to be such perfect examples of what a difference context makes. Also, yay that you enjoyed that little tidbit about Joon Young’s name! 😀 I was quite tickled by it, coz it made him feel even more thoroughly shallow as a character, heh. A lot of thought definitely went into every detail – even the naming of a character like Joon Young!

Yes, I can absolutely imagine that repeat viewings of this show would give one added insights. I would definitely be open to a rewatch of this one, sometime. And I rarely ever rewatch dramas these days, so that says a lot. Nirvana in Fire is brilliant, by the way. I highly, highly recommend it! <3

sadiesmith
sadiesmith
3 years ago

Forgot to mention a few of us fans are putting together a blog for all things My Ajusshi including well done reviews like this. May we have your permission to republish your review there? We’ll give full credit and a link back here, or course. Here’s our fan site: https://givemeslippers.wordpress.com
Thanks so much.

Kethy-chan
Kethy-chan
3 years ago
Reply to  sadiesmith

hello! I posted your link on DramaBeans for others to see !
(I hope you don’t mind…)

sadiesmith
sadiesmith
3 years ago
Reply to  Kethy-chan

On the contrary, thank you!! We would love for more people to share our love for My Ajusshi, so share our link freely. 🙂

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  sadiesmith

Thanks for sharing your site url, sadie. It’s great that the My Ajusshi love lives on. 🙂 Thanks for asking to feature this review. I would be open to a partial republication, but not a full one. Could we compromise, and have you republish The Short Verdict, with a link back to this site, for readers to read the full review? Let me know. 🙂

sadiesmith
sadiesmith
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Hi again, kfangurl. I’ve meant to ask you sooner but it’s been a little busy. Thank you for letting us republish the short verdict on our site. Do you mind if I pick one or two of my favorite excerpts and include those, too? Thanks again.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  sadiesmith

Hi there sadie, no worries, we all get busy. I sometimes get really behind on responding to comments myself, when Real Life gets hectic.

One or two excerpts sounds fine, to go with the short verdict, with a link back to the original post so that your readers can read the rest of the post here. If you’re ok with that, I’m fine to go ahead. Appreciate if you could share the link when you have posted it, I’m curious to see which excerpts are your favorites. 😉

sadiesmith
sadiesmith
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Thank you so much. I’ll definitely come back and share that post with you.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  sadiesmith

Great, thanks. Looking forward to it 🙂

sadiesmith
sadiesmith
3 years ago

Thank you for a very well written review, and I agree with so much of what you said, especially on LSK and his low voice adding warmth and genuine humanity to his character. 🙂

You are completely right about the subtleties and the thrill of discovering something on our own, as I have experienced that myself. Sometimes, though, it took more than one watch before I saw them, because they could be very very subtle. This drama is a great example of show and not tell.

About the scene where Ji An apologized 10x, I would take it one step further. Do you remember what Kim told Dong Hoon after he apologized 10 times? He said, “I love you, manager.” Yes, the narrative seed was planted early like you said, and I firmly believe that ILY was also planted there for a reason, if you know what I mean.

While I do agree with you on most points, I can’t come to the same conclusion as you did on Dong Hoon’s feelings for Ji An. To me he is clearly in love but does not realize it himself, and if he did, he denies it because of too many reasons. They are soulmates like you said, but there is no way they could be around each other only as besties. Their feelings for each other are too intense for that. And I see enough subtle hints/clues planted throughout the show to convince me this way. But no matter what people conclude, don’t you just love the way DH character is written? He is such a complex creature with very few words that to fully analyze him would take pages and pages of text.

These words you said about Ki Hoon and Yoo Ra I would totally apply to Ji An and Dong Hoon: “ 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.”

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  sadiesmith

Thanks for enjoying the review, sadie. 🙂 That’s an interesting observation you made about the “I love you, manager” in the scene where he apologizes to Dong Hoon ten times.

I would say that I personally am not too fussed whether or not Dong Hoon and Ji An ever have a romantic relationship, because, from my perspective, their connection as soulmates and kindred spirits mattered more. I actually find it more moving, that they would care so intensely for each other, even without romance in the equation. Yes, Ji An did have a crush on Dong Hoon, but she quickly realized that he was not in space where he could or would reciprocate that romantic affection. What moves me about that, is that she continued to care for him anyway, and he continued to care for her anyway. And that one-sided love or no, embarrassing romantic dead-end or no, nothing stopped them from caring for each other in a deep, meaningful way.

Does Show leave the option for romance open? I think so. The ending is open-ended enough that I can accept their relationship evolving either way. And I would happy either way. The only thing I care about, is that these two kindred spirits find each other again, and connect again, and continue to care about each other and understand each other, as kindred spirits do. 🙂

sadiesmith
sadiesmith
3 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Well said. He is an upright man with a whole lot of self restraint, so I agree with many who said it would have been out of character for him to pursue her in his condition pre time jump. Recently people have noticed the calendar in Jung Hee’s bedroom. It shows Feb when Ji An first comes to her, then it changes to April when Ji An gets ready to leave for Busan. All that time Dong Hoon has avoided coming to the bar, and Ji An realizes that she can no longer stay there anymore. The way they watch out for the other’s interest is so beautiful.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  sadiesmith

Oh, that’s a great observation, I hadn’t noticed the calendar thing. Thanks for sharing that – I do appreciate having a grasp of the passage of time in a show, because it does add context and meaning. In this case, it shows, as you’ve pointed out, just how much Dong Hoon changes his routine in order to be sensitive to the fact that Ji An is at the bar, and then, how loudly that speaks to Ji An, that it’s time for her to leave. A lovely detail indeed. <3

Mds
Mds
3 years ago

I really love your detailed review. I will watch now this drama. I feel afraid of watching it before because of its dark and heavy look but now i feel i should watch it. Thank you.

kfangurl
3 years ago
Reply to  Mds

Hi there Mds, thanks for enjoying the review! 🙂 I’m so pleased that you’ll be giving this show a chance. I do believe you won’t be disappointed! Enjoy your watch! 😀

Dame Holly Has A Hat (@Lee_Tennant)

I described this show as transcendently beautiful and flawlessly written and time hasn’t changed that opinion. I’ve only given two dramas 10/10 and this was one of them.

kfangurl
3 years ago

A very fitting description indeed. This show truly is transcendently beautiful. <3

Kat
Kat
3 years ago

Yep, this is definitely an A+ and one of the best k-dramas I’ve seen. I watched the early episodes and was so afraid it was going to be a drama with this one good guy being destroyed at the company that I put it on hold until more reviews came out and then I jumped back in.

I am a little bit more sympathetic of Yoon Hee. I found the infidelity, who she cheated with and her willingness to see her husband’s career sidelined all unforgivable. However, this marriage of two lonely people who seemed to have no connection anymore was not just her fault. He spent A LOT of time at that bar! I kept wondering if they would have been happier with their son with them instead of overseas. This was the big “what if” regarding their marriage. Sure, still connected to the extended family but a little family unit of their own as well. Still, no excuses.

Overall this had a realness to it and it is obvious that so much thought was put into it with limited cliches. I love that the business owner was not a horrible chaebol but someone who cared about his company, his legacy, his employees. I found all the characters treated with such care.

I could quibble a bit about how such a street and business savvy character as Ji An didn’t know about getting her grandma into the free nursing home (because when you can’t pay the bill, someone usually will help ship a patient elsewhere). I also agree with you about the takedown of the other guy which seemed a bit too easy. But any flaws are minor and didn’t hinder my enjoyment.

I’m keeping an eye on this writer. I think he/she must have had this outlined out as it in no way seemed like a rushed writing job which is what we get more often than not. I actually think I might watch this a second time someday which I rarely ever do.

One last thing. When news of this drama first came out, people went crazy with the age difference even though the production said it wasn’t a romance. About halfway through its run, I started seeing comments like, “I’m kinda okay if they get together”. LOL There are people who think the drama is open-ended and that they might get together, but I don’t think Dong Hoon would ever go that way. I think HE would think it is inappropriate.

Dame Holly Has A Hat (@Lee_Tennant)
Reply to  Kat

To me, they both married the wrong person and should have divorced a long time before this.

Having said that, and in the context that I always find infidelity a dealbreaker, what I found unforgivable was *who* she had an affair with, not the affair itself.

Re the romance angle, I got into quite heated discussions on this. I won’t go down that road again but all I’ll say is that Dong Hoon was a father without his son. His response to her was extremely paternal – after all, all that love has to go somewhere and he is a very kind, loving man. The idea that he would be romantically or sexually interested in her was against who he was as a character and consistent characterisation was this show’s greatest strength.

Wait… the cinematography, directing, acting, music…. its fifth greatest strength?

Kat
Kat
3 years ago

I think the affair was an open wound and who she had the affair with the salt on the wound; it made it just all that much more painful and humiliating. I don’t know if they were the wrong people together from the get-go or if they started down a path and couldn’t get off but, absolutely, they needed not to be together anymore.

I would have disappointed at seeing a hint of romance only to find out that others saw it and I totally didn’t; not from him but oh well.

kfangurl
3 years ago

That’s a great point, Dame Holly – Dong Hoon’s response to Ji An had a pretty paternal flavor to it. And he regularly referred to her as “that child” as well. I agree that it’s in line with his characterization, for him to continue to insist that his relationship with Ji An stays platonic.

Vea
Vea
3 years ago
Reply to  Kat

I think most of us agree that Yoon Hee cheating automatically makes her the villain in the couple. Yet, one flashback (from Dong Hoon’s perspective!) made me feel for her a bit. I don’t remember the specifics but in that scene, Dong Hoon was telling his family about Yoon Hee becoming a lawyer. The mother was not too thrilled about Yoon Hee’s progress/Dong Hoon stagnation? The younger brother’s words were quite poignant- had Yoon Hee been a son of the family, the event would have been celebrated with more pomp. In my eyes, this scene added to the realism of the drama. Many women still face the same issues today- the desire to advance in a career/have emotional needs but have the response be lukewarm. As much as I believe Yoon Hee will always be to blame for cheating, Dong Hoon (and to some extent his family) are just ‘there’, not bad or abusive but not anything else either. I hated how he didn’t even reply to her in the first few episodes. Without the cheating, Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee would have such a dead relationship in real life..

I don’t think Dong Hoon would have married someone who did not want to interact with his family at all, I just think that the relationship between her and the family just became distant eventually…While I totally get the point made in her character analysis, I believe a relationship is a two-way thing- one that she definitely didn’t maintain but neither did them.

PS. I’m also surprised that in this day and age, they did not communicate with their son that much. Is that a normal thing for young children who go to school abroad?