Open Thread: My Mister Episodes 3 & 4

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Ji An’s headlining our post today, because this thing, of her listening in on Dong Hoon’s world, feels like such a key part of our story.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:

1. ZERO SPOILER POLICY ON THE OPEN THREAD

We will be adopting a ZERO SPOILER POLICY for this Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point.

The spoiler tags don’t work in email notifications, therefore, please take note that WE WILL NOT BE USING SPOILER TAGS FOR THIS OPEN THREAD. ANY AND ALL SPOILERS WILL BE REDACTED to protect first-time viewers in our midst (although, I’d appreciate it if you would save me the trouble of having to redact spoilers, heh 😅).

*This includes (but is not limited to) how characters or relationships evolve over the course of the story. Just pretend that this is Past You, on this Open Thread!*

2. SPOILER ZONE AVAILABLE

HOWEVER!! If you’d like to discuss spoilers from a rewatcher’s point of view, I’ve created a SPOILER ZONE for you, where you can discuss all the spoilers you’d like, without the need for spoiler warnings. You can find it here!

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 3

Ji An kicks her plan into gear this episode, and, just judging from her abilities so far, I feel like she’s really quite formidable when she wants to be, and whomever she sets her mind to taking down, likely doesn’t stand a chance. And right now, she’s got her mind set on taking down Dong Hoon. Yikes. 😬

Before I go any further, I thought it’d be relevant to state upfront, that I don’t support or endorse Ji An’s espionage efforts, so she doesn’t “get a pass,” as Beez put it. In fact, I think the characters in this drama world are as interesting as they are, because of how gray they’re written.

There’s nothing morally right about what Ji An is doing to Dong Hoon, but given the context of her situation, where we see what she has to deal with in Kwang Il, and with her grandmother’s needs on top of it all, it becomes understandable, why someone in her position would make the choices that she does.

And that, by extension, might also trigger the question of, “What would I choose to do, if I were in Ji An’s shoes?”

Similarly, Dong Hoon’s portrayed as a very decent person, and yet, even someone like him was tempted, when 50 million won was suddenly put in front of him, and his family had a need that he couldn’t fulfill.

We don’t know what would have happened, if Ji An hadn’t first stolen the money, but it’s clear that Dong Hoon was tempted, at least for a while.

There are no paragons of virtue in this drama world; our characters feel like real people who have real struggles and experience real temptations. I think that’s part of the reason we find them so unforgettable.

We get more of a glimpse of the relationship between Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee this episode, and it seems to me that there are bigger, deeper issues that they are likely ignoring, in the interest of carrying on with a “normal, daily life.”

Yoon Hee’s touchy about Dong Hoon ripping open that bag of dried cuttlefish, and Dong Hoon’s perplexed that Yoon Hee appears to care more about him ripping open the bag, than the fact that he’s found the missing money.

Of course, there’s the affair in the equation, but it does seem to my eyes, that they likely had been having these communication / relationship issues even before Yoon Hee had started having an affair with Joon Young.

We don’t know what those issues are yet, but I do think it’s important to note that Dong Hoon puts away the cuttlefish in a new bag and apologizes to Yoon Hee. He may not be digging into the heart of their relationship troubles, but he does desire to mend the relationship.

I find Ji An’s strategy of asking Dong Hoon to buy her dinner for a month intriguing. It makes makes me wonder what her specific intention was, in making that request. Did she have a specific outcome in mind?

Could it be to see what kind of information she could get out of him, over the various meals, since she’s specified that alcohol needs to be part of each meal and he might let something useful slip, if he were tipsy? Or might the dinners be an avenue to create a rumor, that Dong Hoon’s seeing the temp girl, and have that rumor be Dong Hoon’s undoing? At the moment, I can’t tell.

Importantly, Dong Hoon attempts to negotiate with Ji An. Even though it’s important to him that she keep his secret, he’s still uncomfortable spending time alone with her outside of the office, and is careful to draw that line.

And, even though he goes along with Ji An’s demand for dinner (and even declines an invitation from the Chairman, in order to meet Ji An’s demand), it really isn’t that long before he feels like he can’t deal with the sneaking around any longer, and demands that they stop.

Even more than our last set of episodes, this episode, Ji An’s aptitude for subterfuge is really coming through. I mean, she effortlessly observes Dong Hoon’s code for the main door of his building, and steals his and Yoon Hee’s mail (although for what, I’m not super sure at the moment).

And then there’s how she later takes the opportunity to pickpocket Dong Hoon’s phone right out of his coat pocket, install the spyware and replace the phone, all without Dong Hoon noticing.

Not only that, I’m pretty impressed, actually, at Ji An’s quick thinking, when she realizes that Dong Hoon doesn’t take his phone with him, to meet Director Park. Her solution, to get Ki Beom to call Dong Hoon several times, so that she can chase him down and put the phone in his hands, is so sharp and so effective.

On a tangent, Ki Beom’s really fast on the uptake too, with how he makes up a plausible wrong number, for when Dong Hoon actually picks up the phone. These two just born for spy work, I feel like!

Ok, I have to confess that I struggle a little bit, with the slick manner in which Ki Beom goes undercover at that room salon, in order to drug Director Park’s drink. It doesn’t seem logical, that he’d have that exact waistcoat hidden under his hoodie.

I tried to rationalize that he perhaps stole it on his first foray into the room salon with the kimbap in tow, but.. we follow him in and out of that place pretty closely, and it still seems a stretch, that he’d have had time to nick one, let alone put it on under his hoodie, before coming back out.

It certainly feels that Ji An starting to listen in on Dong Hoon’s daily conversations, is the beginning of her being able to see him in a different light.

I don’t think she could care less before, but the fact that she seems to do that double take, when he hears Dong Hoon stop his brother from joking about a possible relationship between Dong Hoon and Ji An, says something, I feel.

She’s essentially nobody to him, and yet, he defends her to his brother, and refuses to allow Hyung to talk disparagingly about her, telling Hyung that she’s just a kid, and someone’s precious daughter. It feels like it’s a new and unfamiliar thing to her, to have someone speak up for her like this.

That doesn’t stop her from trying to trap him with that staged attempted kiss at the end of the episode, though. I’m sure that it’s a combination of, 1, the fact that all she’s heard by bugging Dong Hoon’s phone, has only been enough to give her slight pause, and 2, Kwang Il’s exerting pressure on her to remind her of just how in debt she is, and how precarious her situation is.

Given the desperation of her situation, I can see why Ji An would think of any means possible, to achieve her goal, even if it means getting Ki Beom to take a compromising picture of her and Dong Hoon.

Episode 4

This episode, Dong Hoon and Ji An are starting to see each other more clearly, and, as it turns out, that’s quite an uncomfortable thing, for both of them.

In that scene in the meeting room, where Dong Hoon confronts Ji An about messing with him, she’s definitely lying about trying to kiss him because she’d felt bored, but there is enough truth in her observations about him, to give him pause.

“I wondered how someone could look so bored when he makes over five million won a month? Even while knowing… that your college junior who is above you is trying to fire you, you play dumb. You’re struggling through your life sentence of earnestness. It looks like your life sucks just as much as mine.. and I’m the most miserable looking person here.”

It is true that despite the income that he makes, Dong Hoon is less than enchanted with his life. And it’s also true that Joon Young is his college junior, and Dong Hoon’s playing dumb that Joon Young’s trying to get rid of him. It’s even true, that Dong Hoon strives to be earnest in life – but that value of his, is turning out to be something of a life sentence.

Ji An’s cutting to the heart of some of Dong Hoon’s most private thoughts, some of which it feels like he doesn’t even admit to himself. I can see why this would make him feel uncomfortable.

Perhaps, aside from Ji An’s overstepping in attempting to kiss him, that discomfort could also be part of what’s driving Dong Hoon to try to get Ji An fired. After all, Dong Hoon doesn’t strike me as a “fight” kinda guy.

When something makes him uncomfortable or fearful, I’d peg him more for “flight,” where he finds a way to avoid the situation. And getting Ji An to leave is his way of avoiding this very confronting sort of thought.

I’m actually a little sorry to see Director Park leave, though it does look like this is meant to be temporary.

I just rather like how sharp he is, when he’s in investigative mode. I mean, he manages to figure out a fair amount of stuff about his drunken kidnap to the East Sea, just by studying CCTV footage, and piecing together the clues that he finds. I feel like he’d make a pretty good detective.

This episode, I feel more for Dong Hoon’s brothers, for the first time.

I like the fact that they’re no longer jobless, and are applying themselves to their new business, even though cleaning isn’t something that either of them had imagined themselves doing for a living. The earnest, stiff-upper-lip determination to do something with what they have, appeals to me.

And therefore, I feel really sorry for Hyung, when he gets humiliated on the job by that tipsy guy. It’s not just the harsh, derogatory words; it’s also the fact that the guy recoils from Hyung’s touch, like Hyung is the vermin of the earth.

That’s gotta sting, especially since this is all new to Hyung. He’s never done this type of work before, and therefore isn’t yet familiar with the kind of stigma or prejudice that can come with it.

The way he can’t help but cry, and yet, tries not to show that he’s crying, is really quite poignant. It makes me feel sorry for him (and it makes me willing to overlook his more annoying tendencies, like eating out of Ki Hoon’s doshirak just because the food looks better to him). Also, how awful that Mom sees and hears everything.

That really does make everything ten times worse.

The way Dong Hoon intervenes, by going to see the tipsy guy, and getting him to apologize is nothing short of badass. I mean, I kinda didn’t realize he had it in him, because when it comes to his own life, he’s the sort to keep his head down, and roll over, if that’s what it takes to keep the peace.

Yet, when it comes to his family, he’s not afraid to speak up and unleash some fire, in order to protect the ones whom he loves. It’s really quite touching, to see him do this for the love of his family. It also makes me feel that he values them, more than he values himself.

Because if he has it in him, to fight for their dignity, why doesn’t he use that same fire, to fight for his own dignity, right? The only logical answer I can see, is that he instinctively values their lives more.

In a similar-but-different way, Ji An fights for her rights – and Gran’s too – like with Kwang Il, this episode.

Even though Kwang Il is determined to torment Ji An to her dying day, and is violent with her, it doesn’t deter Ji An from demanding that he write her a receipt for the 10 million won that she’s returning, with that additional promise that he will not break into her home again, failing which he will free her from her remaining debt.

Kwang Il doesn’t take kindly to her demands, and beats her up for it, but later, we see that Ji An’s secured that receipt, and we also see that her little finger is extremely bruised and injured. Dang.

Show doesn’t allow us an explicit look, but from these circumstantial details, it’s enough for us to deduce that Ji An had fought Kwang Il for it, and had made herself clear enough, that he’d actually given in to her condition.

Sure, it’s possible that Kwang Il might have some sort of soft spot for her, despite obsessively stalking her and beating her up, and perhaps that’s why he gave in, but it remains abundantly clear, that Ji An had fought for what she wanted.

It’s debatable whether Ji An would have fought Kwang Il as hard, if Gran hadn’t been in the picture. I tend to think that if it hadn’t been for Gran, Ji An wouldn’t have fought Kwang Il. After all, when we first saw her interacting with Kwang Il in last week’s episodes, she’d ignored the fact that he was sitting there in her apartment, when she’d come home from work.

On a similar note, this episode, we learn that Ji An had actually killed a man, just like she’d told Dong Hoon. She’d stabbed Kwang Il’s father, when he’d started beating up Gran.

First of all, dang, she really did kill a man, after all. Ji An’s been through more in her short life, than others do, over many more decades.

Secondly, this, again, is an example of how she would tolerate someone beating her, but can’t tolerate someone beating up Gran. This is why she’d killed Kwang Il’s father; not because he’d been beating Ji An up, but because it had been Gran on the receiving end.

In this sense, it feels like Ji An and Dong Hoon have something very fundamental in common.

Earlier in the episode, Ji An feels offended when she listens in on Dong Hoon’s conversations, and hears him say about her, “I feel bad for people who look tense. It gives you an idea about their past. Kids grow up quickly when they’re hurt. I can see it.

That’s why I feel bad for her. I’m scared to know what happened to her.”

Although Dong Hoon says it in a compassionate manner, Ji An takes it as an invasion of her privacy, judging from the way she cusses him out for having the audacity to say that about her.

And then at the end of the episode, when Dong Hoon tells Ki Hoon, “There’s someone… who knows a lot about me,” and Ki Hoon asks if that makes Dong Hoon happy, Dong Hoon’s reply is a somber, “I’m sad… that she knows who I am.”

Oof. That’s such a painfully honest answer. It tells us – and Ji An, who’s listening – that Dong Hoon’s essentially ashamed of himself and his life. And that it hurts him, to have someone be able to see the truth of who he is.

That look on Ji An’s face, as she hears this, looks like sadness and compassion, to my eyes.

At the same time, couldn’t it also be empathy, because she knows how he feels, in the vulnerability of being seen, in all of his misery, because he’s also able to see her, in all of hers?

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eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago

after BE posts his notes, there is not much left for anybody to add. thank you BE for doing all the work, letting us off the hook!
but my main take from these two episodes is as follows: HE gets HER, SHE gets HIM. and it is not just a temporary, a one time thing, a on the surface, an external glance into each other… but rather fundamental, deep, profound, soul penetrating connection, like soul mates experience. although it is only a few exchanges about it, it seems to me like this connection and it’s further development is going to be the true main character of this drama. it is in a way sad for both of them, never before experienced, melancholy, but o so powerful with so much potential that it sends chills down my spine. love this drama!

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

At this point my take as to what I expect out of the character of the drama is pretty similar to yours, except that having falsely thought I had met a soul mate on various occasions in my long life, and having met a few who had mistakenly thought I was their soul mate as well, I am not quite as certain as you are what their connection is, except that it is drawing each out their individual shells. A long life can for some throw a dash of cold water on their romantic ideals. And to be honest, though I do give it a pass, every time I think about it as real, there is something profoundly icky about her bugging him. And you George, how did you meet your soul mate? I put a 24-7 audio bug on her cell phone to listen in on her private life.

But there also seems a bit of timeliness provided by the plot that adds to that feeling. Story certainly seems like it is going to be centered on them, and it isn’t a spoiler after all the hype to make that conjecture.

I think everyone here wants to throw in their two cents. Certainly Kfangirl’s commentary is pretty spot on, and many folks who commented before I did covered the same ground and in wider swaths. And you Eda have much to say, I am certain, whatever my conjectures might be. I am not sure if you meant it as a complement, but I want to think of it as one.

Trent
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

I will just say that at 16 I thought the whole concept of “soul mates” was a fine and precious ideal, and that now, 30+ years later, I’m deeply skeptical about the whole notion, and not convinced it (the concept) doesn’t do more harm in the end than good.

There, how’s that for setting a Saturday afternoon fox among the pigeons?

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

trent, may be i am an idealist, but i even had a cat who was my soul mate. (and of course, women as well as men) you might laugh, but i swear to god, i had many animals since childhood, cats, dogs and wild animals that i rescued and raised, and i loved those animals, but only one was a soul mate. he would come to me in dreams, and predict future, which i would not understand at times, but i kept a journal, and would understand later what was the prediction. when he left me, it stopped, never to happen again, (or before). also, i never had birds in the house, because of the cats, but after this particular cat passed, a month after, my husband and even other people started bringing me injured birds, baby-birds of only a few days, one after another, and i was faced with taking care of them, i had to learn all about birds, which i did – these birds became part of the family, even with the cats and dogs. this was so strange, never happened before or after these birds left. i could only consider it as messages from that cat. and although i referred to myself as an idealist, i am also a realist, and on top of everything a staunch skeptic. i do not know what came over me, to tell you all these stories, please forgive me, but that was on the topic of soul mates. i am pretty much convinced that sometimes in life you meet beings that are just more that just interests, or attraction, or infatuation or what ever you call it. but it has a different feel. i am not here to convince you about that, i am just sharing my own experiences.
and people have a tendency to throw words like love, soul mate into the wind without really meaning or understanding, it makes it cheap and meaningless, i am aware of it. and yet, it does exist somewhere on a higher level.

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

There is nothing wrong with the concept of a soulmate. Some people are lucky enough to meet them. They don’t always meet them at the right time, or don’t recognize them until it’s too late, but, as Eda said, it’s a feeling on a different level. Never heard of a cat soulmate though. Koreans believe in a possibility of being reborn many times. Maybe somebody came back as a cat…

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

be assured, it was a compliment. not many people have that amazing way with words, and regardless whether i agree with it or not, i enjoy and appreciate more than you know your talent, for sure.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
6 months ago

It occurs to me that the bugging is a very necessary plot device. Because Ji An is keeping such close tabs on Dong Hoon, she is privy to his quiet moments of decency – standing up for Ji An in front of his brothers and colleagues even though she’s not there. Threatening the condo owner. Quietly heroic yet secretly so. His own wife has no idea because he’s always putting on a calm, completely ordinary front for her even though he might be going through a lot.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I think you may be correct. Which is why I tried to see the previous episode via the lens of petty crime v corporate corruption suspense/espionage because it allowed me to buy into the idea that Li Ji An and Ki Geom could run a bug like that and because it allowed me to sort of turn a blind eye to just what a horrible (think of it, someone spying on your every waking moment and interaction–how transgressive is that?) thing Li Ji An is perpetrating upon the thankless Dong Hoon. After just one episode, it seems like a feature of the landscape, and, ironically, the irony adding to her character and show’s substance, the door for Li Ji An to walk through into a larger perspective

Georgia Peach
6 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

And notice …JiAn is doing to DongHoon what she is telling KwangIl not to do to her…break into her house to ‘spy’ on what she is doing.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Georgia Peach

so true. i didn’t even see it that way, so thank you for pointing it out.

BE
BE
6 months ago

Episode 4
For me this episode marks a real sea change in the drama. The first three episodes strike me as set up. And one particular feature that has become quite important in this episode is having had the lens of petty crime vs corporate corruption suspense, I already accept the bug Li Ji An has planted on Dong Hoon, even though that is the most outrageous thing she has done to him so far.

Especially outrageous as she uses the over heard conversation, or Ki Geom does to throw Dong Woon off her track by throwing suspicion because of how he was hijacked off to the coast and he had this particular rooftop convo with Dong Hoon, he now must also mistrust his friend of two decades, Dong Hoon. Like the business of getting the photo of the kiss, as smart as Ji An might be, this is bound to backfire on her if it all gets spelled out to Dong Hoon, whom Dong Woon advises to trust no one.

But that is small fish to fry because, we finally come to grips with the fact that yes indeed, Li Ji An did kill a man. In the 8th or 9th grade. That man was the father of her current harasser (ah, the why of him too), and she did it to protect herself and her poor grandmother from being continuously physically abused. But then how this bugging device planted to ruin Dong Hoon turns out to completely alter and awaken Ji An to what we already know, Dong Hoon is a truly honorable fellow, one she can identify with, admire, be touched by. IU is just spectacular in this episode registering this increment by increment change in her estimation of Dong Hoon.

His confrontation with Sang Hoon’s job place abuser triggers her memory of the killing in ways that make us sympathize even more than the reveal in her fight with Ki Yong, and considerably more than the reveal of Yoon Hee with Jun Young (she frightens the two of them, but as we can tell by his conversation with his workers, Dong Hoon without knowing the details has a real insight into her, just as she, even while lying to him about her motive for the kiss, has seen enough of him to perceive his disquiet better than most, but we will get back to that). But the insight she gets is that Dong Hoon understands the heart of the matter–not the personal humiliation but that family witnesses it. Her grandmother witnessed her being beaten, and then was beaten herself. It is the offense to the loved one that is unbearable, that can lead a person to violence. Dong Hoon, this guy up till know she has thought to play, has steel in him she recognizes in her self. And then she gets to hear him wield his power as a man who has real skills and clout in the world. Something to respect, admire, he gets the guy to apologize. Then, she hears him in his breathing pay the cost, a cost she knows well, standing in the street bent over. All this the bug provides her, but even more, in the final scene when Dong Hoon is quietly talking with Gi Hoon about how she gets him, and he, her, she hears the vulnerability he feels, the sadness because of it. And she is visibly and personally touched by that vulnerability. It is the kind of vulnerability one has for a lover alone, a soul mate alone, and it moves her.

Dong Hoon is a man suffering from what Buddha called dukha, his First Noble Truth. To live in this world is to suffer disquiet–yes old age, infirmity, death as well, but a persistent disquiet, as if one were born in the wrong place, born of wanting more, or have the sensation of having lost something–for Buddha it’s being blinded by this wanting and losing one’s true nature to it. Dong Hoon is an everyman, a South Korean everyman with those strong familial values, those values about relations between sunbaes and hoobaes, with values of what can be taken and washed over and what cannot, and a Buddhist everyman as well. He’s an old building, on a river that has been covered up, who when he collapses will certainly disappear.
He knows entering the building he must fire Li Ji An; what she has done is unacceptable, not to mention personally threatening, in a professional relationship. He knows that he cannot spell out why to that contemptible piece of excrement, Managing Director Yoon, and ruin this girl’s life. He knows that four men badmouthing a subordinate and a girl drinking after work is something that should make a person’s skin crawl. He knows Gi Hoon is quite liable to do something that will put himself in prison, and he knows what he must do to take care of the problem. He can see Li Ji An has some sort of an infection from her injured hand that may well have caused her collapse, and despite what has transpired, still has the compassion to worry over her to her face. There are many ways in which characterization can be revealed, but my favorite moment in this episode with regard to Dong Hoon, comes from a character we are just being introduced to: Jeong Hui, a woman, we can see already is beloved by the entire group of old guys at her bar. When he wakes her–ah does Lee Sung Kyun ever put more tenderness in that mellow and langorous tone of which he is master–as she dozes off while her clientele is loudly carousing, she looks at him and with such sweet affection lightly slaps him across the cheek. We know what she thinks of Dong Hoon, and we agree–such a sweet man, something beginning to dawn on Li Ji An as well.
In Buddhism, it is the bringing to light the first noble truth that sets a person on the path of enlightenment–the realization that there is a hole in our souls, which we tend to discover, as Buddha did by witnessing the suffering of others. Up till now, I was unsure of where show was headed, but I get it now. These two have something important for one another. Let’s see how this unfolds; this is a human story about people lost in the middle of their lives with it dawning upon each that an other might hold…what? I want to know.

Trent
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

Ah, BE, such good good stuff. Thank you for taking the time to set it down and share it. Truly.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Glad my commentary works for you Trent. Thank you for the kind words after each.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
6 months ago

Just a quick comment on Yoon Yee and the cuttlefish, yes it’s one of those annoying things that her husband does but her over reaction there is because she almost revealed herself. He came in and she said you found the vouchers? And he was like how did you know and she had to admit that she had reached out to Joon Young. Dong Hoon said some unflattering things about Joon Young and that’s when everything just swirled together – her guilt over the affair, not liking Dong Hoon’s contempt towards Joon Young and then that darn plastic bag! The whole thing is very off, she is obviously reacting wrongly to the whole voucher situation cos she has got the inside story from Joon Young. Instead of being relieved she’s annoyed at Dong Hoon. Maybe because he has a track record of not sharing or telling things to her that a husband should?

Pixaiated
Pixaiated
6 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Yup great point here. As Dong Hoon himself states in ep4, it doesn’t matter what he goes through as long as his family does not know. He says this to the condo guys, and there’s a scene of him eating dinner normally with his wife spliced in as well. It basically shows Dong Hoon’s approach towards handling problems, and his belief that keeping his problems to himself and bearing with it himself is the best way to deal with them.

In my opinion, that’s a really unhealthy mindset to have, and one where it probably made the wife feel untrusted / uncared for, partially leading to the current sorry state of affairs.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Pixaiated

” that’s a really unhealthy mindset to have” – i can’t agree with you more. unfortunately, there are a lot of men that have no skills or capacity to SHARE, but especially on the emotional scale. it seems they are brought up by the society (different levels for different societies) to avoid or disregard being emotional especially demonstrating it, considering it as being a strong “man” (macho so called). it gives a woman who is close to such a man a feeling of being close but not really friends, and causes a misunderstanding of her closest person to be distant, even that he does not know what causes the rift. not being friends with the one you consider your soul mate is difficult to comprehend by a woman – women are used to share emotions as this is natural to them. seems like this is at the root of dong hoon’s and youn yee’s relationship, even with her lover, she’s sharing her marital problems with her lover, and he is not sharing his feelings about his ex-wife, even when she asks him. so even if they would stay together in the future, i see the same problem bubbling up to the surface.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I think a very revealing, but unstated, circumstance revolves around Jeong Hui’s bar. That is where the neighborhood men gather it seems. We know at least a couple of them have wives. They are seemingly quite at home there, having fun, drinking, away from their actual homes and wives, bathing in the company of the beauteous Jeong Hui, a sexy Sadie if there ever was one, who can drink with the fellows and asks nothing more of them than bonhomie and paying for their drinks and food. This to our contemporary American, and I would suppose even South Korean these days, pov seems quite atrophied and anachronistic, but it is the world of My Mister, and for good as well as ill. These poor men, according to Jae Chul, still find warmth and satisfaction in each other’s company, and Jeong Hui isn’t there to ask them about the financial straits they have found themselves in these days, having come down a notch in a world, like most throughout the world, in which you can say one thing or another about a man’s ability to communicate, but making a living, supporting his family, especially in places where that is not so easy, remains the de rigeur measure of a man, and as we can see from Ae Ryun and mama Yo Soon’s reaction to Sang Hoon and Gi Hoon’s lack of employment then current employment, it is not only making a living but doing so in a position that does not feature cleaning up people’s excrement or vomit of the stairways. Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee are in a terrible patch in the marriage, and would be it seems, even without the affair, but one can imagine why Dong Hoon would not want to bring his circumstance at work home to her, and how little by little the propensity of those men to have a watering hole run by such an attractive woman might erode the communication in a marriage.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

hmmm… i think the marital problems of dh and yh are a chronic one, that started way before the problems in office. i am talking about friendship if you are true soul mates, where you feel comfortable to share everything, and you know that you will only get support, strength and maybe a constructive criticism to help you understand the situation whatever it may be. just to be a provider and protector is like the primitive mail, who went out hunting and guarding the family from wild animals and wild intruders, and so on. in today’s family, this kind of role is not enough for a modern woman, and she will crave closeness beyond leaning on simply mail’s strength.
all these mail friends hanging out almost every day, if not every day in this bar, drinking and having a good time, – that’s just hunky dory for them, but what about their wives, children? are the women only to clean, cook, take care of the children and sometimes work also? do they not feel a need to SPEND TIME with them? why are they not included in these friendly bar gatherings? it seems that not only dh and his wife are lacking this fundamental to a relationship friendship, so where do their marriages go? i do not think this drama goes as far as showing us, but it seems a deep painful problem in SK society, and i am not sure there not wives like yoon yee that finds it unsatisfactory.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

As yet we have nothing more to go on but that whether their problems are chronic or acute, we do not know the specifics of them. Though communication problems are certainly as large a symptom as the affair. How that happened….certainly however, marriages bereft of communication are often caused by work realities, in this case an absence of children in the home around which parents might be likely of necessity to communicate, and so on. I hardly think marriage, a legal institution, is necessarily a soul mate reality anywhere, but especially so in such a patriarchal, tradition bound, culture.

Marriages of convenience, sexual attraction, professional class, arrangement–it appears the two of them met at university, both attractive, skilled. Certainly of that generation courtship was particularly limited. One can imagine that at least with Dong Hoon his wife may have been his first girl friend. I am older, but part of a generation whose marriages famously failed. Why? Because we did not have much in the way of models in our parents. One can see in South Korean homes much communication goes under the radar, via body language, and verbal tone. Things are not spelled out. Sang Hoon is wonderful character, but given he is fifty not very mature. Gi Hoon is so over the top emotional, he too, appears immature for a man entering his late thirties. There is no man at all in their home, so we have no idea about their father.

Are you still with someone from back in your college days. The division of labor is what it is there in that time and place. Nonetheless, the women in this show remain fully fleshed out, and interestingly the men feel more like victims of the structure than the fellows. And, albeit indirectly, we get that at least Jae Chul is more than willing to accomodate his wife, and that they are in it together as partners in life. Still, show is not meant to be about folks who have it figured out, about folks who distinctly do not. And yet…..

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

BE. one sentence really threw me off, i hear it too often actually.  marriages famously failed. Why? Because we did not have much in the way of models in our parents. how convenient – the parents are at fault. really? parents give you your life, true, but then it is your responsibility to do with your life whatever you want, need, strive, learn, understand and so on, when you become a “person”. of course, everything is influencing your development as a human in this world, parents, teachers, society, friends, lovers, ideas, philosophies… and yet, i do not accept the transfer of such responsibility for one’s life on anybody or anything. every human has a FREE WILL, do with it what you will. there also might be the effect of karma, or might not… and even then, one has a FREE WILL. and of course, it seems more difficult in a society like SK, but at least in a small unit like a family, one can establish his/her own just or unjust world. or at least to strive towards it.
dh and his wife met at the university as students, probably young, fall in love… this was not an arranged marriage, or convenience, or any other kind of marriage. and we see that is not just body language they rely on, she is definitely asking questions, he is NOT answering. i am sure, this is not just a one time thing. so, there is obvious lack of communication, lack of friendship, lack of closeness. such relationship is most likely doomed for disappointment.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I am a much better parent than my parents were, so I get your drift. Love is a powerful motivator when it comes to growth.
And yet, as a former teacher, I can tell you this universal truth, for the lack of being shown how at an early age myriad are the failings of human beings. Marriage is a complex undertaking, and by the way I have witnessed marriages in as dire straights as that depicted between Yoon Hee & Dong Hoon get to the other side and survive the test of time, just as I have seen marriages im which at first the couple worked very hard to communicate and get to know one another and still after three or four years…
Insofar as the question of soul mate is concerned for me the suggestion of the word soul implies the test of time. We meet people, think they get us, or we them, and suddenly we find it was a whole mass of projections, projections that get in the way of truly getting the other. I do agree that a friend of the soul need not be a lover, but can manifest in a number of iterations, even place.
Insofar as the drama is concerned, JiAn does not entirely get Dong Hoon, has to be told and educated that Dong Hoon is a grown man, not to be so casually trifled with, and despite this beginning to dawn on her, it appears she is still out to entrap him.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

BE, i reread your comment, and i must agree that marriages even marriages that stem from love are not necessarily soul mate connections. quite to the contrary, most of them are not, (so i misspoke, describing a marriage as a soul mate connection), but there can still be a deep love connection that calls for friendship and sharing. and even when children are around, parents can discuss all kind of issues related to kids, but are lacking anything else.

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

“do they not feel a need to SPEND TIME with them? why are they not included in these friendly bar gatherings?”

I got an impression that most of the times these men go to that bar after playing soccer, so it’s a team drinking together. Another explanation could be that many of them (especially the older ones) have family businesses now, after losing their corporate jobs. So they might be working with their wives during the day. It’s possible the women don’t mind spending some time apart.
Another reason could be that men drink a lot in SK, and women don’t want any part of it.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

you are too kind, maria. the soccer game is only on the weekend, one day, from what i understand. what’s your theory for the rest of the days? and if the wives work together with their husbands,(so far there is evidence of only one couple working together) wouldn’t it be nice to relax together after a hard day of work? and if there are children, why is the woman the only one responsible? or am i misjudging the SK society?

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I’ve posted a reply to this and one of your earlier comments on the other side of the conversation. I mostly followed this thread this time. Be is correct: it’s interesting to rewatch and discuss the show as it unfolds. But in this particular case I wanted to reference future developments, and I don’t want pretend to speculate, when I know what happened.

BE
BE
6 months ago

Episode 3
So…to begin with a couple of lenses with which I am watching at this point in time. First of all, while show may well know where it is going, and I wish to assure first time watchers, it does, up to this point it appears to me as if this is one of those kdrama genre mashups, and that is how I am viewing it, primarily it being one of the office corruption/espionage variety and a biting satire of office politics and class with a petty criminal emphasis, with a bit of family and neighborhood slice of life thrown in. In this episode the intrigue element seemed on highest register to me.

First of all, however, I should say, looking at this episode from this lens offers me some advantages. First of all, insofar as Li Ji An is concerned, people can say what they want about her character, but if I approach her as an antihero in this milieu, it allows me to simply witness rather than make judgments about her atrocious behavior.

In this particular episode Li Ji An, blackmails Dong Hoon (first for meals, and a lot of them, right after she is fired from her night job for trying to take home leftovers, perhaps just so she can eat well, and perhaps too, to set Dong Hoon up for scandal so she can make off with her deal to ruin the lives of two men she does not know for Jun Yeong, whom we must also note she does not really care for, and then for an outrageous sum); she stalks Dong Hoon to his home and then steals his mail, and not just his mail, but his wife’s as well; she stirs up Dong Hoon against Jun Yeong for reasons that are not really very apparent; she puts a bug on his phone that can (is this really possible) listen in on his every moment as long as it is turned on and on his person–seriously, this!; and finally, knowing he is extremely awkward both personally (she has overheard him speak of her as being a kid just like his brother’s daughter, and in doing so, comment on how sick Sang Hoon’s fantasy is. and because of their professional relationship, accosts him on the street to have him kiss her.

No, this was not a nineteen year old girl with an affection challenged first boyfriend desperate for a kiss; but a street wise petty criminal plying for an opportunity at blackmail and worse. Li Ji An is not a person you want to meet in your real life, and her pretty and innocent looking face makes her all the more dangerous. BUT, if I see her as an antihero (not as some angel or the like, puh-lease) in a corrupt world, then my take on her changes.
First, there is this creepy guy, who will go to the lengths of paying her granny’s elder care center bill,,,just to have his hooks in her more deeply than he already has, and we get to see all that tough girl front she uses to shamelessly leverage Dong Hoon–I do not know how much that meal she scarfs down in front of him near the end of episode 3 might cost there, then, but man, that was an expensive feast for a family of four, one, rubbing it in his face, she takes her own sweet time plus gulps of soju one at a time to finish–whatever the reason, that loan shark Ki Yong can break her down. We can see where she picked up her stalking and blackmail predilections. We are sympathetic with her predicament, even if given what a good guy Dong Hoon appears to be, what she is doing is pretty shady. The framework of the narrative allows this.
Her smarts too really make her a magnetic character. Where she learned about the problem and taboo of bribery in corporate South Korea (paying attention to the guy running the employment agency? strict memorandum upon employment? the day in/ day out spooky paranoid office atmosphere?), she is astute in her observation of Dong Hoon when the bribe arrives at his desk.
Her audacity, the audacity of this entire plot–ah the lower class petty crime class drama, what a player! And then the outrageous commentary when Dong Hoon, in a moment of self pity confesses to her that everyone he hates becomes a success. Oh ho, she tells him, then please hate me with all you are worth. There is a wonderful sense of dry humor in this comment, but also a knowing, and for the first time a bit of compassion, when she promises to hate him too. One can almost see the wheels turning inside Li Ji An, well, then maybe it is a good thing I am effing this guy’s life up some–maybe we’ll make each other successful this way.

Other things that come to mind: I love when Dong Hoon stands up at the table, after she intimates a possible erotic liason–Dong Hoon really does think of her as a girl, not a woman–what does your father do young lady? takes his money back, and says (to himself, to Li Ji An), basically, effing A, girl, I am too old, this is too much monkey business for me to be involved in and I am not gonna be played by a punk like you. I loved that moment with him, and I love when he puts Sang Hoon in his place fantasizing on his behalf of hanky panky with Ji An, with his, how would you like an old married guy like me putting moves on your daughter. This business of age and power difference, filial loyalty all of these things seem deeply embedded in Dong Hoon’s sensability, a kind of South Korean everyman in the middle of his life beset by challenges. He cannot communicate with his wife; his son is in some far away boarding school, it seems, so there is no normal family life in his home to settle around the child; his brothers are in deep doo doo, putting enormous strain on his mother, and for reasons he does not understand he has the growing anxiety that his boss, someone with whom he has a natural distaste–bad chemistry–might be trying to get him fired from his job. On top of this, the temp whom he hired–on the whim that her noting she liked to run said something about her to him–whom he at first thought had saved his bacon is now blackmailing him, and for a considerable amount. Forget it, I will rewrap this salad in one of the million plastic bags we have on hand in a roll, put it back in the fridge, forego dinner, and apologize. Who needs all this?

I love mom Yo Soon’ss monologue at the dinner table with Sang Hoon and Gi Hoon after Sang Hoon tries to sneak back in the apartment and eat (her) dinner while her back is turned. The heartbreak of her situation, what a strong person, expressed as exasperation. Those brothers, everyone are smart guys, including Sang Hoon, and what, there she is the oldest, almost fifty, washed up, in debt, despised by his wife, the youngest already a washed up artist, the two sleeping on the floor under the same blanket like little kids in her home where she still makes them meals. Go Doo Shim is just wonderful in this scene and this show. She is like the emotional bottom line for everyone, the barometer.

I also like how Jae Shul really delivers the economic reality of this generation of men. He once ran a pharmeceutical operation in a big corporation but has been reduced to cleaning excrement off the steps of apartment buildings to get by, a job so onerous, his wife walks off the job, and forces him to sell even that business for the chancey opening of a restaurant, which at least does not carry the equivalent social shame attached to it. How Sang Hoon, who when he tells his wife he will pay his debt, however pitiful he often appears, he seemingly really means to do, gets a business, which Gi Hoon after his run in with the film director, is ready to take up himself as well. Strike up the brothers theme music.

I did get a kick out of Ae Ryun confronting the three brothers and ask them if they are dating. And yet, how infantilized each must feel at this moment in time, Dong Hoon, thus, by this young temp employee at his office, but his brothers cause, university or no university, they are grown men living off their aging mom.

Boooooo for Jae Sung that sniveling, sychophantic, supervisor. Just booo hiss.

I am not so much into Dong Woon, played by that wonderful and ubiquitous K Drama character actor Jung Hae Kyun. I do not care what side the guy is on, he is an officious individual, who because of his animus for Jun Yeong, however warranted or not, is going out of his way to plant Dong Hoon, who is very susceptible, into a frenzy of paranoia. If there is one reason not to resent Li Ji An all that much, is I hardly care about Dong Woon, and power hungry conniver, one level up in smarts from Jae Sung, but almost as venal.

And who is Ki Beom to Ji An anyway?

More on four later.

Trent
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

Ah, BE, what a rich and tasty analysis to serve up; thanks for taking the time to lay it all out. As always, we can quibble at the margins here and there, but the meat is good.

You draw out in black and white what I was trying to express from the first: Ji-an is no bowdlerized tenement saint, and heck no, I wouldn’t want to show up in her sights; on the evidence so far she would skin me and leave me for dead at the side of the road. And yet, that said, I maintain she is not gratuitously malicious. She is ruthless because she has to be, not because she has a particular taste for it.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Yes, it does appear she is more feral than malicious, but ruthless none the less. I forgot to mention, one other tell in IU’s wonderfully subtle performance, and the direction she is being given, is how she hesitates for just a moment, after Dong Hoon, asks her what she is playing at, before jumping him for the kiss. Dong Hoon is not a complete fool, much more complicated than that. He is older than Ji An, came up in the very neighborhood she lives in with two brothers and a pack of friends. While he and his brothers went to university, it appears exceptions for that particular neighborhood. He knows enough to know she is playing him. A kid playing him, and her acute awareness of how there has been a shift in power between them, the audacity of what she was planning, a bit desperate as her long con with him will no longer be available, it gives her pause–this was gonna take gumption. So here again, despite what a low down thing Ji An is gonna go for, whatever excuse she might have, however understandable even as Dong Hoon with Sang Hoon reveals–she is a kid, she is a kid– what–directorial, actor pov–we get is Ji An has guts, she is very brave, and we are in on her secret, very, very vulnerable. And IU because of the combination of her short stature, her youthful and utterly beautiful physiological appearance, with the added characteristics of courage and vulnerability–casting director was a genius. And IU is just in the subtlest of ways getting inside her character with empathy and verve–yes, Beez IU gets away with stuff in this show cause she nails her character.

beez
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – Excellent observations/post.

But “yes, Beez IU gets away with stuff in this show cause she nails her character.” quoting BE
While that may be true (that IU nails her character) that’s not what I asked.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  beez

I understood what you meant, and my comment was to say, yes her physical attractiveness is very much part of why a viewer might give her a pass, but what she does with the role along with her physical presence is the whole story. Just as if one could deny Jang Hyuk is particular masculine beauty as being an essential element of Dae Gil, not all, but essential nonetheless in beguiling the viewer to his side even when his behaviors might not warrant it.

beez
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – My right brain totally processed what you’re saying but my left brain is completely hypnotized by Dae gil’s bad boy act. 😂😂🤣🤣🤪

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  beez

Just as mine and so many others are hypnotized by Ji An’s tough girl strut. But the squee emitting from your hypnotized state, that has nothing at all to do with Jang Hyuk’s, um body in service of the act?

beez
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

Hey, BE! What do you want from me?!!! 😄 You know I’m shallow and I’ve admitted you’re right on all points. I even gave you a touché a while back on your excellent points!

*grumble-grumble* Just like my kid – just nailing me to the wall when I admit I’m wrong. 🤣🤣🤣

Trent
6 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez – C’mon, beez, don’t you know you can’t show any weakness?! 😁

beez
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

😄

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
6 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – my kids do that too. You are not alone. 😆😆 Then they remind me of it as often as possible.

beez
6 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

😄

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

I’ve been thinking why, while not giving people like Hye Won and JA a pass, I’ve been patient enough to give them at least a chance to remedy themselves and to grow. On the other hand, every misstep by poor Da Mi irritated the hell out of me. And it finally dawned on me: it’s not their looks, it’s their brains. Despite their differences in age and education, both of them are really smart and emotionally mature (totally opposite of that bulldozer of a girl). These are qualities I admire.

I can’t say more here, because in this thread we are all sworn to secrecy.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

I really think directorial point of view shapes our takes on these characters. Li Ji An is established from the beginning as a central character, just as it is pretty clear early on Da Mi is not only a peripheral character but someone who provides conflict to the main plot and our two protagonists getting together. I did not think Da Mi was stupid, just overly possessive. As I have pointed out she registered quite early the corruption of the milieu in which Seon Jae and Jang Ho were entertaining. She is simply a thinner, less important character who messes with one’s rooting interest. We are intrigued by Ji An, and by the end of episode four, we are beginning to root for her, and all this is done by how the director has set us up to do so.
Rewatching has real advantages as I said last time. The early impression I had of I U in this was that she does such a subtle job in the first eight episodes, so one of the things I am watching for is how does that happen. How she proceeds from episode three to the end of four is quite masterful.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – your comments on this My Mister group watch are truly masterful! I can see how much you love this drama. Although I am not watching (I did see it when it came out) with everyone you are bringong me back into this story as if I was. Beautiful work BE!

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Thanks phlrxd. I do love My Mister, and I will try to elucidate my feeling for the show as time goes on. I cannot help, for example, keep from loving (Go Doo Shim’s) mama’s delivery of her lines in response to Jae Shul telling her that her sons’ fate as janitors is not unlike the fate of most of the men in the neighborhood as good jobs for older men fall by the wayside. And then with all the verve the wonderful Park Soo Young puts in his role as Jae Chul, says to her having new jobs makes life exciting and fun, to which Go Doo Shim in the driest tones imaginable, retorts, your life must be awfully fun and exciting these days then. Like all great K Dramas for me, the ensemble, the minor players really add so much flavor to the whole.
And PS I will recommend again Dear My Friends, in which Go Doo Shim practically steals the show from her other elder, and more renown, leads, in a very different kind of role, one in which she is almost as screwed up as she is in My Mister, such a rock of wisdom, sweetness, generosity, and strength.

the_sweetroad
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

I love Dear My Friends! It’s a testament to Go Doo Shim’s giftedness that she can play 2 different characters, in 2 slightly different age brackets, only 2 years or so apart!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – I love her too. She is so deeply talented and I am specifically using that adjective. I absolutely must watch Dear My Friends. It is has a superb cast.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

And Happy Holidays phl1rxd from some Congolese boobaloo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NygxvBPqhkY
arriba!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – Wuepa!!! ¡Ay bendito! Muchisimas gracias amigo!

Right back at ‘ya with my very favorite Christmas parang – Scrunter’s Piece Ah Pork and yes I am shaking the house over here! It gets pulled out every year for the last 25 years. Not Christmas without this right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLpEvkj9jTc

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

equally enjoyable, thanks. i started years ago with bob marley and progressed to manu chao – my favorite till today.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Eda – I just took a look and he is one musically versatile creator. Thanks for introducing me to him.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

ya, once i discovered him, it was just his music again and again in the house, non stop. he’s also very political, if you do not understand spanish, get the translations. and of course the rhythm itself is captivating. i saw him in concert.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

they are not simply political, it’s political with a twist, quirky and humor.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

lovely!. i am not familiar with this particular artist, but listened to this kind of music, either in costa rica or curasao, do not remember exactly. but really enjoyed it. thanks.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Well two things–Caribbean music derives in no small part from Africa, Congo and West Africa, and is all then also influenced more locally by Cuban music (this was a boogaloo, distinctly Cuban dance music), which when the Congolese began their musical ascent was already very, very popular in Africa.
In English speaking countries we tend to notice the correspondence of some African music to jazz and blues variants, but for the Africans when popular music in the forties, fifties, and sixties became a thing, there was a much greater correspondence with the Spanish and French Caribbean.

Your friend Manu Chaio recorded an album with a Malian band led by the blistering guitarist Amadou and vocalist Mariam, who play an electric Malian sound with which rhythm and blues has its probable missing link origins.

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

I never thought Da Mi was stupid, just very ordinary. She did suspect that something dodgy was going on, but how difficult was it to figure out? We don’t know how much information was divulged during those spa sessions. I suspect these people don’t notice the help, you know. 

I can imagine people having a serious conversation with JA. With Da Mi, on the other hand, not so much. Also, remember how Sun Jae said that his mother was a simpleton? Da Mi got along with her very well. Sure, Sun Jae’s mom was a mother figure for Da Mi, but I thought it was more than that.

As far as main vs minor characters go, I thought Da Mi talked to much and occupied too much screen time for a minor character.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

didn’t we swear that we’ll leave da mi in SLA? but now she’s here,(BE’s fault, sorry, not mine) and the temptation is too big.
maria, seems again, we are in total agreement. from the beginning, ji an is much more colorful, intriguing, close to perfect in her delivery of this character, a brilliant casting in this role – i can’t really imagine anybody else suited better for this role, she has many forks in the road and leaves us guessing which way she’ll go. even without us being psychic, we can not avoid picking up her deep suffering in her aura, and that is what dong hoon is picking up. at the same time she has a quite unusual smartness about her, and we can not avoid admiring her brain power, regardless of what she’s doing with it.
da mi on the other hand is a simpleton, and an annoying one at that. and i am stopping here talking about da mi, her time has passed.
in addition to all that i just said about ja, i can not steer clear of her “professional evil doing”. what she does to director park dong woon is deeply deeply disturbing to me, stripping ja (in my mind)of consideration for another human’s life, of an ounce of kindness, of deliberate abandoning her own humanity. suffering is supposed to teach a human recognizing potential suffering in another fellow human – so far she’s lacking it. again, i understand her predicament, but there is a lot of suffering in this world, but not everybody goes to rub a bank, to kill another person, or to even humiliate another person. ji an is a very complex character, and i guess this is the beauty of ja and this drama in general.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I am done with the comparison at this point. I love Secret Love Affair, and for me it is an unrivaled television series artistic masterpiece. I have watched, however, My Mister, 5 times previous to this watch (the SLA watch was my third), and so it too has a special place in my heart. Dong Hoon’s neighborhood reminds me more of Seon Jae’s and Da Mi’s, and I am at home there, so my take on Da Mi derives from that perspective.
However, Li Ji An is the protagonist of My MIster. Along with Dong Hoon, now that we are four episodes in, we can see these two are the big cheese and chunks of bread to chew on. Let’s ruminate on them.
My only consideration for discussing her is how she is portrayed episode by episode in this. I like the two episode, no spoiler, format for group watch, even though, of course, as with Nirvana on Fire, I had a tendency to jump ahead in my personal watch, because I do think the show runners work off a two episode per week format–episodes 3 and 4 dovetail quite nicely together, and because it allows me to slow down and watch how the show was originally inteneded to be seen.
For me in the rewatch, it also demands that I reconsider earlier impressions, both in investigating how a certain effect was achieved and to correct mistaken or incomplete understandings I had in the wake of my previous viewing. Yes, I know what happens, but immersed in this fashion, I can enjoy the show in ways I had not previously.

Nati S
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

I agree with you that she is ruthless because she has to be but she is not a naturally malicious person…

When Dong Hoon pushes her after she tries to kiss him, you can see that her expression and her body language is of tiredness, like, she is exhausted from doing that type of things which, for the looks of it, is not the first time she has done this type of thing before

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
6 months ago

I want to punch Mr. Yoon in the face!

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Sometimes his character bothers me as it seems so exaggerated, I have a hard time believing he is a real character, and melodramatic, also extremely satirical, and it does not seem that in tune with the tone of the rest of the show, but you have to give Jung Jae Sung credit, the guy has created a kind of modern South Korean corporate type with this character, almost like one of Dickens’ less savory villains, and puts in quite the memorable performance as such.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

@Snowflower: The Fortress is now on Netflix

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

snow flower, if you are interested in “the fortress “, i saw it. so a few words about it. first of all, it is not entertainment, it is difficult to watch as the topic is the price of life, the path of life, death as a solution to life. it is deeply philosophical, existential and truly timeless. the need of hope in despair, and despair in hope. add to this shame, dignity, human honor, endurance, submission, dignity. the production is sharp and artistic. the acting is superb, lee byung-hun adds to it a quality of a masterpiece. it will leave your head exploding for days to come, if not more. it is unforgettable, kind of like “the throne”.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

FYI takes place in the years immediately preceding Chuno.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

with the same emperor?
did you see this movie?

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago

I noticed a difference between Netflix and Viki subtitles. On Netflix, in a meeting room JA tells DH: “I wondered how someone could look so bored …?” On Viki, the same phrase is translated as : “You look like you are sick of life”. I thought that the difference is pretty significant. I wonder what DH really said.

Gloglo
Gloglo
6 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

Yes, it’s quite a significance difference in meaning and tone… It would be a good idea to see the Korean subtitles and check out what she’s really saying… my Korean language skills are still pretty rudimentary, but kfangirl or some other proficient speaker could shed some light on this…

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

I meant what JA said.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

is there anybody authentic korean in this group? i mean not korean from america or england or canada or… but one from korea. because sometimes there are nuances in a language that only a person living in korea will interpret it right. anybody there?

actionscript
actionscript
6 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

Indeed there are key phrases that are translated differently by various platforms and are very crucial in understanding complex characters like DH’s. I’ve read the phrase “struggling through your life sentence of earnestness” and I don’t think that phrase ever appeared on Netflix. If I’m not mistaken, its equivalent in Netflix is the phrase “trudge on like a diligent lifer.” I think the former phrase frames the predicament of DH quite more accurately and more completely, and it paints a better picture of what kind of healing and development DH have to go through. “A diligent lifer” seemed to lean towards just one’s career life. 

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  actionscript

I agree. There is a big difference. It makes you wonder when watching foreign movies or shows with subtitles: “Are characters even saying what we are reading?”

Gloglo
Gloglo
6 months ago

Ep 3

This ep felt quite expository in many ways. My suspicion is confirmed: there is indeed a child in photographs nobody has mentioned yet… unusual. A lot of details are explained, like Ji An noticing the vouchers were a bribe and why vouchers are used instead of money.  Ji An  is quick with her hands and great at orchestrating crises. I’m already feeling sorry for Dong Hoon. There is a sexual misconduct charge coming his way…

Ep 4:

This episode dealt with abuse and humiliation and this is where our ML showed us ( when he squared up to that thug who made his bro kneel) the kind of hero he really is: intelligent, passionate and civil. What a gent. Ji An’s admiration for him increases, as she hears his breathing quickening through the hacked phone, and him almost collapsing after the confrontation … Great acting.

So we find out that Dong Hoon’s son is abroad. I wonder about that one… I wonder whether this son would have made Ding Hoon smile more and be a bit happier if he were around. Why isn’t that child living with his parents? I imagine that question will be answered soon though…

It’s funny how that photo with the fake kiss with Dong Hoon didn’t work out for Ji An in the end and how  she wants to take it down from social media… Is she worried about losing her job or worried about coming across as a pathetic opportunist to others? She doesn’t seem to be a girl who cares about what others think though…

I’m also surprised at how she got a receipt from the violent dude… How do you do something as civilised as writing a receipt and handing it over after beating the living hell out of someone? 😳

And who is that manic pixie dream type coming from Thailand with goodies for all those middle aged drunken boys… I wonder whether this lady will add something relevant to the story… Curious. Let’s wait and see. 

What a beautiful way to end this episode though! Dong Hoon  confesses the connection between him and Ji An to his bro, and how it makes him sad… My heart! Ji An tearfully listening to this confession through Dong Hoon’s hacked phone is impactful. His words are sad yet hopeful, I think. Perhaps their connection will bring them together to fight all that injustice that surrounds both: together contra mundum. 

And that beautiful sondia song and the very ends… how haunting.

“It’s easy for rich people to be nice.” Ji An said in the preview for ep 5. She is too right… Even though the very fact of her uttering those words indicates she’s re-evaluating her own far from nice behaviour… Layered and classy writing.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Gloglo

“It’s funny how that photo with the fake kiss with Dong Hoon didn’t work out for Ji An in the end and how  she wants to take it down from social media…” she has to take it down since another girl in the office says that since ja is on her toes trying to reach dh for his lips, is proof that it was her initiative and everybody will understand that it was her wanting the kiss, not the other way around. so that will defeat ja’s purpose, that he is seducing her and needs to be fired.
in regards to the woman from thailand, she’s the owner of the bar that is a regular hang out of all the friends and brothers, and she will be a big part of the show. and i will not disclose anything else about it.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I have always thought this a bit contrived. How is a woman of the stature of Li Ji An to kiss a man of Dong Hoon’s stature, no matter who initiates the kiss, without getting up on her tip toes. I would be happier if Mean Girl Chae Ryung (played by Abel Ryu who in the very mediocre Run On is the best thing in it) had pointed out that if Dong Hoon initiated the kiss, Li Ji An might not only have been on tip toe, but also might well have been on one foot, the other leg bent in the air at the knee.
There are several contrivances in the show it seems to me already, but I am willing to suspend my disbelief because the acting and directing are so sensational.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

BE, i am a petite woman, but never had to rise myself to a man, and even had a boyfriend who was a professional basket ball player at some point- but the man always leaned down towards me. yap, seriously. hope that convinces you.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Thanks. It certainly helps; I would not have thought it was actually a deal; as a man not particularly tall, my experience has been kissing is a kind of mutual deal, wherein both parties move toward one another. Goes to show.

Natalia
Natalia
6 months ago

This show is very good indeed but I cannot seem to get over the spy stuff. They seem so out of character for 2 twenty year olds (unless they have had Healer’s training, I guess). I really need some kind of lens for that. Without asking for spoilers, could someone tell me if there are more spytimes ahead?

Pixaiated
Pixaiated
6 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

Nope, it’s not the focus for the rest of the show.

Gloglo
Gloglo
6 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

She’s a survivor with street smarts who does not seem to care or get stressed about anything. His brother is a hacker. Spy software is very advance. I cannot imagine that uploading an app like that would be difficult or time consuming. True, the scene is shot in a very Bourne Identity kind of way… but this is pretty common in kdrama: they do mix genres.

The orchestrated plan to drug the executive in the karaoke place was filmed in a very action-movie way too, but if you think about it, organising something like that would not be that difficult if you know the lay out of a place. The question that came to my mind watching that was: how often do brother and sister team up together for these jobs? In the first episode I thought Ji An’s brother was useless and a complete waste of space… These last episodes have demonstrated he certainly have his uses!

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  Gloglo

They are not brother and sister.

Gloglo
Gloglo
6 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

Oh really? That’s interesting… I wonder if the fact that they are not siblings is relevant… is the answer to that a possible spoiler?

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  Gloglo

They are friends. I don’t think it’s that significant. There could be some interpretations, but I’m afraid they would be a bit “spoily”

Gloglo
Gloglo
6 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

Get you! 👍

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Gloglo

street smarts is not enough to deliver this level of crookery, evilness, and i also have this question, where is this professionalism coming from.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

One supposes Ki Geom is quite the techno wizard, as he has no job, supports himself via nefarious techno wiles, and that as seemingly a subordinate in crime to Li Ji An, the professional, albeit I would rather say entry level pro, skills, especially given the show’s format, become believable. It is only Ji An and Ki Geom’s youthful appearance that make us question their behavior–we do not feel that way, for example, about Ki Yong, who appears to be of their generation. But for me, buying in then, their appearance makes them especially dangerous, as they both look so innocent. Characters such of this appear throughout literature, I am thinking of Dickens again, so this does not confound me that much, albeit, does anyone know if there is such a thing as a bug you can put on a phone that hears and records every moment the phone is actually on.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

Yes there are such apps which use your phone’s microphone to record your conversations, hence for sensitive meetings at work we must leave all mobile devices outside. They are designed to be undetectable by the victim, except for battery drain.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

elaine, but can they still record and listen if the phone is not open by the owner? do you know?

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Sorry Eda I missed your comment! As long as your phone is powered on, it can listen and record.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

I think, that while we are seeing the humanity of this show, for which it is so widely lauded, coming to the forefront, there is no doubt in my mind that the writer makes serious use of genre tropes, and I would not be surprised if such tropes continue throughout, albeit upended perhaps by the human interactions.

Pixaiated
Pixaiated
6 months ago

The scene where Dong Hoon confronts the condo owner is my highlight of these episodes, and it’s probably the moment where I first felt that this show was something really special.

It’s surprising given what we have seen of Dong Hoon’s reserved character till this point – yet it doesn’t feel like a stretch. He resolves the problem through his knowledge of structural engineering, which makes sense. It’s also clearly something that takes a lot out of him, as shown by how he looks and acts directly after the confrontation. I really like small moments like these, as it really humanizes the character. From this sequence, we get a much clearer picture of Dong Hoon’s character – despite his aversion to conflict, his family is something he is willing to fight for.

Oh, and as he’s knocking on those walls with his hammer, he is also metaphorically knocking on the walls that Ji An has built around her at the same time as she listens in. I really like how Ji An’s reactions were spliced into this scene. It was really well acted – she doesn’t speak a single line of dialogue, but a whole range of emotions are shown. Surprise that he’s even confronting the guy, understanding at where he’s coming from, shock that he goes to the degree that he does, and ultimately, some degree of concern for him.

the_sweetroad
6 months ago
Reply to  Pixaiated

Love your last paragraph and totally agree.

PP
PP
6 months ago
Reply to  Pixaiated

Yes, episode 4 is the turning point that solidify my expectations for this show, which is shaping up to be something comforting despite the melancholia, introspective despite the indifferent, reticent nature on the surface and beautiful despite the harsh but realistic conditions depicted.

Both Ji An and Dong Hoon are fully fleshed out leads by this point, I fully agree that they are as such due to how well their backgrounds, motivations and emotions have been written. The circumstances that happened were also written that supposed irrelevant or unexpected detail leads to a new development as the show progresses.

Up to this point, I had no strong feelings for Ji An except a little empathy for the life she has. Being poorly-educated, debt-ridden and living close to poverty heavily limits the choices one has on their lives, so she did what she could to live, not to seek power but forced by circumstances, deceiving and manipulating people around her. This speaks to her morally gray motivations.

Similarly, Dong Hoon being presented as a depressed, middle-aged office worker holding a dead-end middle management role made me feel a little empathetic for him. There is some truth to his circumstances, his brothers’ and his neighbourhood friends’, that people of their age in Korea might have pulled in a decent wage at a chaebol, but once they get booted out due to the mandatory retirement age or age discrimination as a result of the mandatory retirement law, find themselves unable to continue living comfortably as before. The national old-age pension scheme barely covers the average costs of living even as a retiree, so often people of their age sink whatever savings they have into starting small businesses totally unrelated to the role they once held, or simply living off someone who could provide their monetary needs.

As a result, their desperation that drives their actions and strengthen their resolves share the same root, the selfish need to protect their loved ones. Conversely, the love for their loved ones is inherently selfless, so the selfishness and selflessness scale tips accordingly to the situations thrown at them. I like the metaphor that Ji An secretly listening in to the walls of the tipsy guy’s office being destroyed during Dong Hoon’s confrontation dismantled some of her own emotional walls as well. In some sense, Dong Hoon could afford to be more selfless than Ji An ever could, so that’s Ji An’s perception of him until his confrontation with the tipsy guy. My turning point with the show is also Ji An’s turning point with Dong Hoon.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  PP

that is very sad to see that side of SK society, educated, able men, fired just because they reach a certain age. does anybody know what age is that? and how come they are not able to save any money for retirement, are their professional job’s salaries that low? what’s going on in SK?

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

The issue of class divide, job insecurity (On the Verge of Insanity, Misaeng), thus, the obsession with educational advantage is almost in every K Drama I have ever seen. It is a feature of all the recent dystopia shows for which K Drama has finally put its foothold in world tv viewing. But I think it is true for a great deal of the United States as well, where we have the illusion of great wealth available to everyone whereas such is not the case, and with the cost of higher education going farther and farther from the reach of even the middle class, is likely to continue. Young people in America do not think, it seems to me, that having the same job more than a few years is a possibility at any age. How much moreso, a small nation like South Korea, especially bordering next to one of the most poverty stricken nations on earth. No wonder folks get drunk after work on weekdays.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

and they have money to spend it on buckets of alcohol?

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

The alcohol thing really does confound me. I do not get the how. I do think there is a beer culture among youth in the US that continues for some, but at least on Korean television, those folks get regularly s-faced. They also can when it is set before them eat ungodly amounts of food!

PP
PP
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Hi Eda,

Thank you for taking a little time to read my comment. Here are two sources I found from my quick googling, which would hopefully answer the 2 questions you have regarding the problems faced by an aging working population https://ssir.org/articles/entry/tackling_involuntary_retirement_in_south_korea and alcohol culture https://books.google.com/books?id=lhXaDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA74 in South Korea. For the 2nd source, you can read the next few pages for more information regarding the policies, good or harmful, that have arisen as a result of their alcohol culture. In terms of affordability, popular choice and locally manufactured soju is stated to cost an average of just USD 1.15 per bottle, while having half the ABV as a bottle of vodka. So it is without question at that price point, alcohol level and tradition of alcohol consumption during social gatherings, many succumb to heavy drinking levels.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  PP

pp, i read ALL comments, isn’t it the reason we are all sharing our thoughts and enjoying the “enhancements of our brains”?
but i do find your additional articles helpful and educational, so big thanks for that. i myself have no knowledge of economy as a subject in general, but these articles did the job of answering my questions and made me even more sad for the koreans. i am now grateful for dramas like this that make the world look closer at those horrific problems. and why do they have to retrain the seniors (49+) for other jobs? why can’t they just keep them at the existing jobs, especially if they are good, professional and acquired knowledge throughout all the years of work or at least why don’t they try to find jobs for them in the same areas of their expertise? to me it is completely void of logic and even hurting their economy by having to spend some kind of funds for the retraining. weird, to say the least. hope they are going to get their act together sooner rather than later.
drinking. my god, i am actually surprised that it is a relatively low death percentage of death from this kind of alcohol consumption. or may be the poor people are not even part of the statistics, as alcohol destroys so many organs in a body, (liver in particular) but also causes mental problems, especially clinical depression. so basically, again they have to spend money on health services to deal with those problems.
and even if a bottle costs only something like a $1.50, if one drinks every day with almost every meal and socially, it can be $20-30, after all it accumulates. and so the poverty gets even a bigger problem. horrible.
i hope these dramas are not merely entertainment, but a “flash light” in the darkness.
thank you again for the educational articles.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  PP

Thanks for these. To this I will add my personal experience when moving to where I am now located, close to my grown children. When I first moved here, I applied for a number of jobs for which I was thoroughly qualified, the one standing out most was a job as a receptionist at a local branch of a combined community and state college campus. My resume includes working as a college instructor for twenty five years, as a former director of an educational outreach program serving 30 secondary and elementary schools, two community colleges, 3 public universities, and two private universities, experience working with faculties, counseling staffs, classified employees, and administrators of high schools, community colleges, public and private universities. They hired a twenty five year old woman with almost no experience working on college campuses whatsoever.
During that particular work search, I was also deemed too inexperienced for a dishwashing gig, despite having pointed out that as I was approaching 70 at the time I had about 60 years of extensive dish washing experience, lol. I could not get a job as a salesperson at the local museum, let alone docent, or, what I was really qualified for, having planned a great number of community events during my stint with the outreach program, a director of activities. All of this had to do with my age. All the jobs I applied for were taken by people much younger, from professional to menial.
Only a local pizza delivery joint with at the time a $7/hour salary, and that reduced while on the road making deliveries–the corporation ceding delivery person salaries to the vagaries of local tippers–to $3/hour. United States of America, most wealthy county in the state where I live. I remember commenting to a fellow delivery person…about forty five years younger than me…about a delivery I had made where the person I delivered to had big NO SOCIALISM signs in her front yard. She did not tip me. And as I pointed out to my colleague, the woman did not seem to believe in capitalism either.
One can easily aver that 7 years an old man stocking and running around a pizza store probably was the straw that led to my back requiring surgery. I write this not to draw attention to myself, but rather to point out there is a large swath of people even in very wealthy countries that once they become a certain age are economically cast off.
Here we have medicare for the elderly, which in our ridiculously expensive health care system, at least makes that part of our expenses within reach. Still to pull off my recent back surgery, I was fortunate to have a patron who helps me out as a friend and because he believes in me as an artistic personality. I can imagine many who even with medicare might have had to forego the operation for lack of money.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

this is pretty horrible to hear. but my guess would be that you were overqualified rather than inexperienced, or underqualified. i am quite familiar with this phenomena, although not my own experience. sorry to hear about your experience, truly sorry. how are you feeling now? and how’s your back?

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Overly qualified is what they say when they mean old. Lol. Who would you want to be a receptionist at a college other than someone who was familiar with all branches of a working campus? Who would you rather plan your activities than someone who had experience working with community organizations planning activities. But I bring it up because while us old folk are often invisible to younger people, we are quite visible to one another. My story is not unusual.

My back, according to my surgeon, will be months in the healing. Thank you for asking. Still in 24-7 post op misery but down from the 6-7 range into the much more manageable 4-5 range. I have just been cleared to start physical therapy. So that is good. As my surgeon told me, my ambition to be able to mow my front lawn by the end of next spring is a worthy one, and yes, my lumbar region fused, a sleeve screwed in to keep it in place down there, digging up garden beds for flowers and vegetables is in the permanent rear view mirror. It is hard for me to sit or stay in one place for too long, and so I have not been watching nearly the amount of television I had been when laid up for over a year previous to the surgery. Everything takes me forever, as I have to get up and move around every fifteen minutes or so. Fortunately for me, the years of my youth as a hippie taught me how to live on next to nothing and be happy, and my life as an artist who lives in the imagination and a solitary life has meant that I know how to keep my spirits up. The big plus is that I have started painting, something I used to do, but have not for over twenty years. The land of paint, so much fun. I do not really like to talk about my back much, especially since progress is glacial. But since you asked and I know others here have expressed their concern–a status report.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

glad though that you are on the other side of this nasty surgery of the spine. it takes time to get over it, it is truly slow recovery, but at least it seems you are progressing, and you seem to have a good attitude, so that’s half a battle. at least your brain is intact, i can attest to that.
but i wish you the speediest recovery possible and meantime take it easy. stay well.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

but the american president is close to 80, and the senate is even worse. i think there are still people way over 70, and they keep their jobs. isn’t it right?

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Some do, but youth is always going to be valued. Previous to the past 2 Presidents, anomalies both, we had a President elected in his forties. I was a college professor; before my back went out, I delivered pizzas; I suspect my fate more common than Joe Biden’s.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Pixaiated

IU is a champion in this. She just disappears completely and becomes Li Ji An; it’s uncanny.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

Absolutely, BE!

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
6 months ago

This is the first time I’m deliberately restricting myself to 2 episodes a week to keep to the rhythm of the group watch, normally I binge at one shot if I like the show. But watching ahead will affect my ability to comment without spoilers. So far I’m keeping to it. Enjoyable pair of episodes! I enjoyed the smart writing, little unexpected outcomes such as office Mean Girl figuring out what the tiptoes meant instead of broadcasting the scandal, trying to blackmail Ji An and then getting owned! Also very unexpected but very satisfying – Dong Hoon going to the developer’s office, at first we think he couldn’t possibly have it in him to intimidate the thug, then he very cleverly uses the leverage he has – to declare not just that building unsafe but calling into question all of the developer’s projects and bringing down the wrath and fines of the building authority on him – structural engineering as the new superpower indeed!!

Really enjoyed kfangirl’s insight that Dong Hoon is prepared to roll over in his own life but not when it comes to his family. And that this is yet another commonality he has with Ji An, protecting family comes first.

the_sweetroad
6 months ago

The show is always surprising us with something, and in these episodes I love seeing:

  1. Jung Hee’s bar and all the other men be introduced as a tight-knit, supportive community. The first time I watched the show I hadn’t seen that coming. Makes you realize that in the earlier episodes the Park brothers were just floating from bar to bar in order to be together, but they were missing out on hanging with their other homies.
  2. I LOVE Dong Hoon’s fire when he confronts the condo villa owner. Definitely did not see that coming my first watch, after having watched him be quiet and put-upon the first 3 episodes. When the camera focuses on him at home, with his hands together and just brooding, you know something big is going to happen. Then he goes to that office and relies on his structural engineering knowledge to “persuade” the guy to go with the fruit basket. Such a perfectly-constructed sequence. And then to see Dong Hoon’s joy when he sees Sang Hoon’s lightness and happiness at Jung Hee’s later is beautiful. It was all because of Dong Hoon and his willingness to fight for his brother (and mom).
  3. For Dong Hoon to confront Ji An after the kiss is mature and sets the tone for his character as well. He’s not willing to let her get away with it. But you can tell she totally rattles him. 😀Already, this is not a typical pujangnim – temp worker relationship!
Trent
6 months ago

Oh, and one more thing. These episodes are already giving such a lesson in the nuances of social hierarchy and relationships.

Like, it’s obvious what a titanic figure the Chairman is within the company; both as an elder, and as the founder of the company. And he goes wandering through the halls with the non-obvious but express purpose of asking Dong-hoon to go to dinner with him, a gesture to indicate (probably) a sort of apology and approval all at once (for the whole scary “getting caught up in this shady bribe scheme and doing the right thing” incident). And then Dong-hoon…just turns him down! You can just feel how that sort of thing just isn’t done, except he does it! (You can gauge by the various reactions that it’s the sort of thing where you’re expected to, if you have a prior “appointment”, cancel the appointment, unless it’s like, your daughter’s wedding or a parent’s funeral or something. Of course someone tries to laugh it off like “engineers, what can you do?” and the Chairman is like “yeah, I know all about engineers…”)

Or look at Mean Girl (sorry RA, luv ya, but it is the role). She’s clearly operating on an unspoken but very real hierarchy, where she’s a full timer with job security, so she can dump on the temp worker pretty much as she pleases. The member of Dong-hoon’s team seems to have a similar view of things.

Or the brothers and their cleaning service, the constant effort they and everyone are expending to tell themselves that it’s good honest work, set against the creeping disappointment of feeling how they’ve fallen so far–this is what they’re using their college educations for? Nobody spends more than 20 years at a big company anymore, before they’re fired or let go (a lament voiced by several of the neighborhood crew of middle-aged guys that we’ve met so far). (I get the sense that this must be a real issue with real resonance in SK in recent times).

I’m not doing great at describing it all, but I’m really struck on this watch, observing how everyone is acting, the subtle rules and norms that they are navigating, and it’s kind of fascinating.

Leslie
Leslie
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

I think you’re describing it just fine, Trent. Among other things, social hierarchy is why Dong Hoon’s family wants him to hold on to what he has, no matter how many fingernails he loses doing so. And it seems like an oppressive pressure on Dong Hoon to know that. I hafta say, though, I loved the twirl he took when he arrived at the bar to friendly huzzah’s for the man from the neighborhood who’s made it big. The initial smile on his face was dazzling, and I think authentic… until he began reflecting on how Ji An understands him.

Trent
6 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

I had the same thought about his smile when he entered the bar. It goes back to a comment a made last week: yes, there are heavy topics afoot, and a lot of darkness. But the show isn’t unremitting gloom, there are flashes of humor and good cheer and simple happiness sprinkled throughout, and I think that feeling that bubbles up on his face as he enters the clearly well-known and well-loved local hang-out where all these guys that he’s known for twenty years, if not longer, are having fun, is an indication that he can still know and feel companionship and happiness, no matter how fleeting. (I mean, that drunken slap Jeong-hui gives him is clearly affectionate, and seems to indicate that they’ve been friends a long time, too).

the_sweetroad
6 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

Yes, he’s under so much pressure to stay in that job and endure. He just looks so bone-weary sometimes.

the_sweetroad
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Very well put! So many rules in hierarchy and social dynamics to follow, and a need to save face. It’s wonderful that the three brothers and the other ahjussis have a place like the neighborhood bar to just be themselves, failures and all.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

You got it Trent. I think of course the reason Dong Hoon will not eat with Chairman Jang (the wonderful Shin Goo) is because he knows good and well he has done nothing to warrant such a meal. He did not throw the bribe away after all, and he does not want the uncomfortable tete a tete if that should come up in the conversation. Of course, this is just another way, we, the audience, get to sympathize with Dong Hoon who is perpetually misunderstood, by one and all.

Trent
6 months ago

Oh, and I forgot to say, the appearance of Jeong-hui there at the end of ep. 4! I think I like, more or less, all of the characters we’ve seen so far (that aren’t obvious villains). But Jeong-hui looks really cool — runs the friendly neighborhood bar, it looks like? Goes off to Thailand for a few months to chill, then comes back to tend bar some more? Cool, cool.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

I wonder if there is a bit of frisson between her and Dong Hoon! The sleepy drunken slap on his face, the brief holding of each other when they were twirling around… They seem about the same age, and she’s quite attractive. Maybe there’s a backstory there? This is my first time watching show so I absolutely cannot spoil anything! Just speculating.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Jeong Hui!

Trent
6 months ago
Reply to  BE

Ah, she’s so good!

When I first saw this, I wondered where I’d seen the actress before, and turns out she’s the youngest and flightiest of the four queen bee matrons in SKY Castle. A very different role, to say the least…

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

She is great in this. Enjoy.

Leslie
Leslie
6 months ago

In the scene where Dong Hoon confronts his brother’s humiliator, I harkened back to one KFG’s t-shirts, and to paraphrase, “Forget the cape, I have a structural engineer.” Dong Hoon is so badass in a middle age, middle class kind of way, and I loved that beat.

I’m still surprised at the explicitness of the violence between Ji An and Kwang Il. It’s not often that you see a woman being beaten in such a vicious way in kdrama, and now it’s happened twice – not counting flashbacks to when Kwang Il’s father beat her, too. What a life! It underscores why she is willing to do anything to escape this tormentor.

The final scenes in Jeong Hee’s bar are exuberant. This is the time these (mostly) men escape the dreariness of the lives they think are diminished (I’m haunted by Lee Jae Chul’s words to Mom, that menial jobs are the lot of men in their 50s who lose their corporate jobs), and become young and important again in fellowship with friends from the ‘hood. I’m curious again about Jeong Hee, this woman at the center of their revelry. I want to envy her respected status, but it’s hard not to notice right away her melancholy(?)

the_sweetroad
6 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

I almost dropped the drama in the first few episodes because the beatings were so intense. Thankfully you do get flashes of her fighting back and putting up with it. But it’s very hard to watch.

MC
MC
6 months ago

Really loved these two episodes. The show stands up well after multiple re-watches, I must say, because it’s focus is on the characters and how they react to things happening. While I do know the details of the plot and of course enjoy the scam/takedown of Park Dong Un, the best part is watching the characters react to each other.

Things that stood out for me:

  • That takedown of Park Dong Un: the club uniform bugs me everytime I watch this show. It’s too neat and a rare misstep by the writer, imo, but I let it go. I wonder why they sent him to the East Sea – was it an accident after listening to the recording? I feel sorry that Dong Hoon is implicated through no fault of his own, but this clearly reminds me and shows that Ji-an is on nobody’s side.
  • Sang Hoon’s humiliation hurts every time I watch it. And to be caught by mom.. ouch. And poor mom too, caught in a moment she can’t do anything about. She can’t charge in to save Sang Hoon and scold that man, nor can she comfort him as it would further humiliate him. As a younger parent, I never thought about how I would have to relate eventually to my son when he’s an adult but one day I will have to. I love how Dong Hoon stood up for his brothers though. It restored Sang Hoon’s pride and dignity while teaching the man a lesson. So well done.
  • ”I’m sad that she knows me”. How true that is. They’re both sad that the other somehow managed to cut through their mask and defences and saw right through them. It’s hard when someone sees you so deeply because you become so vulnerable, I think that’s where Ji-an reacted so angrily when she heard Dong Hoon say that she had a hard time in the past. That wiretapping is surely going to backfire right? It’s going to be hard to betray a guy who you know and knows you and is a nice, good, decent guy.
the_sweetroad
6 months ago
Reply to  MC

The actor who plays Sang Hoon is so good, isn’t he? Your heart just hurts for him. And you’re right, as a parent omma couldn’t do anything to help the situation. In a way it would have been better for Sang Hoon if she had taken the lunchboxes with her instead of leaving them there — then Sang Hoon wouldn’t have known she had seen his humiliation. That was a big part of why he felt so ashamed.

Ji An’s expression when she hears Dong Hoon say “I’m sad she knows me,” is so soft and genuine. That’s probably one of the first moments in the show I felt a real connection with her as a character (even if I could understand her before).

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
6 months ago
Reply to  MC

I kinda assumed the shiny waistcoat was a generic one that many bars used… to give show a pass! They only just located him so it’s not like they had cased the bar earlier and stolen/obtained the exact vest… So I’m choosing to believe that many bars use that vest heh.

But even though the operation was slick and effective, it was only short term effective. Joon Young knew that the higher-ups might well see through the ruse, it was too on-the-nose and not in keeping with Park Dong Un’s track record and character. Ji An and gamer dude are playing smart and dirty, but not strategic.

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Long term strategy is not their concern though. They want money.

eda harris
eda harris
6 months ago
Reply to  MC

 I wonder why they sent him to the East Sea  i think this is to plant discord and distrust between 2 friends for more than 20 years, the two friends that have similar names, dong hoon and dong un. nobody else knows about the conversation between them on the roof, about the east sea, so naturally there will be suspicion.

J3ffc
J3ffc
6 months ago

An continuing aspect of the show is the absolutely suffocating atmosphere when there are cameras nearly everywhere. Ji An and her brother have learned to become acutely aware of where the cameras are and how to manipulate their images when to their advantage: i.e., by citing them as an excuse for not returning the phone until it suited her, or to selectively “edit” the record of events to create a false narrative when necessary. CCTVs appear in so many dramas that I’ve taken them for granted, but here they are practically a character in the show, not to main a big component of JA’s toolbox.

Conversely, those living more comfortable lives essentially ignore the “staff”, like the janitor, which hands Ji An a very useful set of eyes to collect information, which she again uses as a defensive tool when needed.

One more quick point. Last time, I mentioned how tightly written the show is, and I’m still impressed. I typically struggle with plots that depend on corporate shenanigans or find them dull, but they’re clear enough here and there’s enough intrigue to back them up (what’s is Dong Hoon’s beef with Joon Young? And I’m kinda curious as to the motives of Chairman and son….) that I am definitely engaged.

Trent
6 months ago

Wow, really a lot packed into these episodes, and so far they are holding up really well on rewatch value–just as absorbing and interesting as the initial time through.

Ji-an is definitely morally gray, no question about it. She’s serious about earning her 20 million won, and since, as we see, she’s smart and gutsy, I’m…pretty worried for Dong-hoon at this point.

In fact, she and her friend work so smoothly together in executing the Director Park take-down that I seriously wonder whether or not they’ve run similar scams together in the past. My money is on probably so? I don’t think you get that slick and confident running that sort of operation of it’s just a first time one-off. (I had the same thought about his club waistcoat, both times I’ve seen this, and I still don’t have a great answer. Sometimes a slick scam comes off just because the writer is on your side).

Let’s be clear, Ji-an tapping Dong-hoon’s phone is wrong, full stop. It’s invasive and bad. But she does seem to immediately be learning things that she maybe didn’t expect to… I have a slightly different take on her hearing Dong-hoon say he pities her because she obviously had a tough childhood. I’m not sure she’s offended, so much as that he’s expressing an obvious truth about her (tough childhood/life), just as she did to him earlier in the conference room… and then he expresses compassion or understanding, and I think it throws her off, she doesn’t know what to make of it or how to deal with it, and she reflexively acts defensively, which comes out as abrupt anger and calling him a “bastard”. But now I think they’ve both got something to think about.

And one last thing (although there’s much more fodder here to chew over): I purely love how Ji-an cut down Ryu Abell’s office mean girl when she tried to play status games and petty blackmail her with that knowledge of the staged kiss pic. That’s the sort of ruthlessness I can get behind. It’s like mean girl showed up with some nasty snark, and Ji-an in effect pulled a knife and said “back off or I will cut you.”

J3ffc
J3ffc
6 months ago
Reply to  Trent

I agree about Ji An’s badass retort to Mean Girl’s blackmail attempt, but gotta give credit where it’s due: (1) To MG, for figuring out the meaning of the tippy toes and (2) JA’s strategic retreat when she figured out the direction that was going.

MariaF
MariaF
6 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

You are right. MG apparently knows a thing or two about kissing a man. Also, while JA is no shrinking violet and knows how to attack, she is smart enough to know when to retreat.