Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Thank you for joining me on this group watch of My Mister! 🥰
Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. If you really need to talk about a spoiler, it is possible to use the new spoiler tags, but please know that spoilers are still visible (ie, not hidden) in the email notification that you receive, of the comment in question. We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
Edited to add: If you’d like to discuss lots of spoilers retrospectively as a re-watcher, here’s a Spoiler Zone for you!
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
My Mister OST – Adult / Grown Up
In case you’d like to drown in the music as you read the episode notes, here’s Adult, which I feel is one of Show’s iconic tracks, and that we hear featured right away, in episode 1. It’s so ethereal and delicate, and yet, so lightly mournful and wistful, at the same time. It’s quite possibly my favorite of the entire soundtrack.
Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”
What a solid, solid opening episode. I’m reminded all over again, of why I love this show.
Before we get into anything, full disclosure that I’ve watched this show once before, when it first aired, in 2018. Since then, most of the details have faded from memory, and so I find that this rewatch basically feels fresh.
I find that on this second watch, I’m picking up on a fair number of details that I missed on my first watch. For example, I hadn’t noticed, the first time around, that Dong Hoon has so little money in his bank account. The money that he gives to Sang Hoon for his daughter’s wedding, is a credit advance.
Wow. Immediately, that tells us so much, doesn’t it? It tells us that he’s not doing well at all, financially, even though he’s got a manager position in a well-established company. And, it also shows us how willing he is, to extend himself, for the sake of his family.
I mean, the way he pushes that money onto Sang Hoon is so generously insistent, you’d think that Dong Hoon was doing well, and this was money he could spare. But that isn’t the case. He’d gotten that money on credit, all for the sake of his brother.
This detail, about the meager balance in Dong Hoon’s account, also lends a layer of important context to the way he responds to the bribe that lands in his hands by mistake. With Mom asking for money for Hyung to start a small business, and with Dong Hoon having so little money in the bank, it becomes clearer, why an otherwise decent, upstanding person like him, would be swayed to perhaps consider taking the bribe.
I don’t think that Dong Hoon’s sure about taking the bribe. From what we see this episode, he’s discombobulated; nervous; uncertain. I feel like if Hyung hadn’t been in a situation where he needed money, Dong Hoon would have found it much easier to report the attempted bribe. Again, it says a lot, that Dong Hoon would consider compromising his morals, for the sake of his family.
It’s telling, that Dong Hoon seems to have a more open sort of communication with his brothers and his mother, than his wife. He does call her to ask if she’d like him to buy anything on the way home, but when he’s home, I can’t help but notice that he doesn’t answer, when she asks if he’d like her to cook him some steamed egg, to go with his soju. This husband-wife relationship feels distant, and that’s even before we talk about the affair that his wife Yoon Hee is having with his CEO, Joon Young.
We aren’t given more than the structural details yet, on the affair, but already, it sounds highly dysfunctional. Joon Young had been Dong Hoon’s hoobae in college, and now he’s Dong Hoon’s CEO, AND he’s having an affair with Dong Hoon’s wife..? I have to wonder how that happened. Were they all acquaintances in college? Did Joon Young have a thing for Yoon Hee even back then? (On a tangent, doesn’t Kim Young Min vibe completely different compared to his character in Crash Landing On You? He’s so versatile! 🤩)
Either way, I’m sure we’ll find out soon. For now, I just want to say that I’m rather struck by how different Yoon Hee looks, when she’s at home with Dong Hoon, compared to when she’s with Joon Young.
At home, she really does look like a typical ahjumma, taking care of the household stuff, on top of her work. She looks tired and jaded. However, when she’s with Joon Young, she looks carefree, excited and alive. I don’t endorse her affair, for the record. I just can’t help noticing how the affair seems to have sparked something in Yoon Hee, that seems absent when in the context of her marriage to Dong Hoon.
And then there’s Ji An, who is utterly fascinating and mesmerizing, in her reticent, almost sullen, yet delicate way.
In the course of a single episode, it becomes clear that Ji An’s living a very hard life. Not only is she in debt, her creditor Kwang Il seems intent on bullying her (Jang Ki Yong is so different here, compared to his recent turn in My Roommate is a Gumiho!), her grandmother requires help and care, and she can’t afford it.
In fact, Ji An can barely afford to eat, from what we see. She works two jobs, but it seems like all her money goes towards paying the interest of her debt, and taking care of Gran.
I feel so bad for her, that she’s secretly taking leftovers from the dishes that she’s about to wash, and eating that as dinner. It suddenly makes sense why she’d take those sticks of instant coffee from the office pantry; they’re free, and they’re full of creamer and sugar, which help to keep her feeling full. It’s an awful life to live, and I feel bad for Ji An, because she’s ruining her health, slowly but surely.
Because of Ji An’s difficult circumstances, I can see why she’d resort to actions that are less than above-board.
The way she basically steals Gran out of the nursing home, bed and all, is so full of chutzpah, honestly. (On a side note, the sight of her pushing Gran, bed and all, under that giant moon, has such an interesting sense of whimsy about it, considering the overall tone of our drama world.)
Plus, she’s creative, putting Gran in a supermarket cart, and putting hot bottled drinks in Gran’s hands, to keep Gran warm.
And then there’s the way she steals the bribe money out of Dong Hoon’s cabinet drawer. She’s really quick-thinking and bold, I have to say. First, there’s how she just blocks the drawer with her leg, when Dong Hoon reaches for the cabinet drawer, and asks that he buy her food. And then there’s how she outright tells him to go straight home, afterwards.
Plus, it’s just ballsy of her, to get her cleaner friend to down the power for a few minutes, while she races against the clock, to get that packet of money out of that drawer, and then get back down to the ground floor again.
Ji An’s decisive and daring, and while her actions can be questionable, given her circumstances, I can understand why she’d feel compelled to do the things that she does. I can’t even blame her too much, for stealing that bribe money, because Kwang Il’s made it clear that she’s not bringing him enough money to repay her debt.
By the time we’re rounding off the episode, Dong Hoon’s in a bad situation, though. Although the bribe money had been meant for Director Park, Joon Young’s decided that using this mistake to get rid of Dong Hoon’s not such a bad idea either. Is this.. because Dong Hoon is Yoon Hee’s husband? It sure looks like it, at the moment.
With CCTV footage showing that Dong Hoon had received that package from the delivery rider, and Ji An not responding to Dong Hoon desperately calling out her name, things don’t look good for Dong Hoon, at all. And we’re only at the end of episode 1. Gulp.
One of the first thoughts that comes to my mind, this episode, is that Ji An would do well as a secret agent. I mean, some of her moves really feel like they came out of Espionage 101. 😅
The entire way she navigates that visit to the loanshark office, is just really impressive. When she realizes that Kwang Il’s just out to get her, whether she returns the money or not, her decisive, quick thinking, where she really is just improvising on the go, is nothing short of fantastic.
She even has the presence of mind to call Ki Beom, to get him to take Gran away from her apartment, to his place, so that Kwang Il won’t be able to find anyone there, henceforth. I mean, to be able to think of this detail, in the height of the adrenaline-pumping task of distracting both Kwang Il and his partner, and stealing the money back, is Quite Something.
Ji An’s clearly been through a lot on in her life, and that’s definitely helped to make her as scrappy as she is, but she’s also really smart, creative and flexible. It makes me wonder what kind of achievements she might have had, if she’d only had better opportunities in life.
On a tangent, Kwang Il definitely has a personal agenda against Ji An. We’re not told what this grudge is, but from the sound of it, it’s something that’s deeply upsetting to Kwang Il, because it seems that his goal in life, is to make Ji An as miserable as possible. He doesn’t want to kill her; he wants to make her life a living hell. That’s gotta be really miserable, not only for Ji An, but for him as well.
I’m glad to see that Ji An’s quick to find an alternative way to deal with the money, that would go towards clearing Dong Hoon’s name. I mean, someone else in her position might have kept the money, right? I’m sure that, being as resourceful as Ji An is, she’d have been able to find a way to launder the money so that she’d have been able to use it to help herself and Gran, even if she can’t use it to pay off her debt?
Instead, she goes right back and works with her cleaner friend, to make it look like Dong Hoon had thrown away the bribe, after receiving it. That strikes me as pretty decent of her, since, to her (at this point in our story anyway), Dong Hoon’s basically a random colleague in a job where she won’t work for long.
The other thing that strikes me during this whole thing where Dong Hoon’s in trouble, is that Yoon Hee isn’t out to get Dong Hoon either. She may be cheating on him, and planning to leave him at some point, but she’s not out to destroy him, and she’s actually shocked and disappointed, when she realizes that Joon Young’s basically taking the opportunity to get rid of Dong Hoon – and in a ruthless manner, at that.
And since we’re tangentially on the topic of Joon Young, I just wanted to say that it was a stroke of casting brilliance, to have Kim Young Min play Joon Young. In Kim Young Min’s hands, Joon Young looks sharp and suave enough to pass for a CEO, but at the same time, there’s a hint of insecurity about him, like he knows he doesn’t quite measure up. I feel like Kim Young Min not being as tall as the average kdrama lead adds to this effect.
I have to confess that I’m not super interested in the corporate machinations that are going on, and it’s probably not Show’s intention for us to take sides in this corporate fight, but for now, I have to say, I rather like the way Director Park’s sharp enough, to see through Joon Young’s ruse. His investigative questions are varied and on point, and he zooms in on the most important piece of information of all: that the bribe had been addressed to him, Director Park, and not to Dong Hoon.
I can’t help but cheer a little on the inside, when Director Park tears down Director Yoon’s made-up story about Dong Hoon taking the money. Not only that, Director Park is able to detail exactly why Joon Young’s even doing this, in the first place. YES. You tell him, Director Park! I don’t know if I like you yet, but for today, you’re in my good books. 😁
I feel bad for Dong Hoon, that he’s randomly ended up as a pawn in this corporate fight that should have nothing to do with him in the first place.
Through all of this, I feel that Dong Hoon does what any average person would do, in his place. He tries to find ways to trace the money; he tries to locate Ji An; he follows Ji An onto the train and attempts to reason with her. There’s nothing particularly outstanding about the way Dong Hoon attempts to get himself out of trouble, and I think that’s the exact effect Show is going for.
The reason Dong Hoon’s so inept at this, is because he’s usually so upright that he doesn’t have a reason to try to get out of trouble.
On a tangent, I’d like to say that so far, I find Dong Hoon’s brothers frustratingly loud and low-key annoying. It’s clear that they care about Dong Hoon and mean well, because otherwise, they wouldn’t stake out the train station for Dong Hoon’s sake, but I have to admit that their drunken ramblings, their apparent habit of peeing on the street when they’re tipsy, and the fact that they are adding burden and worry to Dong Hoon, which, really is the last thing he needs, don’t endear them to me at all.
I do recall that I eventually warmed up to them, so let’s see how that shakes out.
I hafta say, the way Ji An basically pickpockets that burner phone right out of Joon Young’s coat pocket right in front of him, then acts like it’s her phone, to throw Director Park off the scent, is impressively audacious.
I mean, not only is she quick to see an opportunity when it presents itself, she’s decisive in taking it, and has the skills and the nerve, to make it actually work. I’m so impressed, seriously. Her deadpan nonchalance is such a great contrast to Joon Young’s tamped down discombobulation, for the rest of that elevator ride. 😆
What really blows my mind, though, is how Ji An makes use of the situation, to set up a deal for herself, where she’ll help Joon Young get rid of both Dong Hoon and Director Park, for 10 million won each. The matter-of-fact nerve, and the sharp discernment, is so surprising and yet so pitch perfect; she’s the one controlling this conversation with Joon Young, and not the other way around, even though he’s the CEO, and she’s a temp worker. I kinda love it.
It’s only when Joon Young caves and makes to talk terms with her, that Ji An indicates that she’d been at all worried. In fact, she’d wondered if Joon Young would have her killed. I guess that really drives home for us, just how desperate of a situation Ji An is in, and how Ji An really is almost at the end of her rope, for her to do something so daring, that might have put herself in mortal danger.
With this as context, Ji An’s request for Dong Hoon to buy her dinner, does take on darker overtones. It’s not spelled out for us that Joon Young takes Ji An up on her offer, but it’s a reasonable conclusion, based on what we see of their conversation. And so, as we see Ji An and Dong Hoon share a meal – an expensive Japanese one – and then take the subway together, I can’t help but wonder what kind of plan Ji An has in mind.
If she’s so quick and effective when coming up with a strategy on the fly, what might she come up with, when she’d had more time to think things through..?