Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I wanted to have this shot headline our post today, because this scene feels like the first time Dong Hoon and Ji An are connecting in a more personal sort of way, which I find such an important milestone.
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! ❤️
This episode, we see both Dong Hoon and Ji An in the “taking action” space a lot more, and this is eye-opening, I feel, because it allows us to get a better sense of what’s going on, on the inside, for each of them.
I’m not entirely surprised that Dong Hoon’s decision, is to do everything he can, to protect the life that he has with Yoon Hee. While their marriage has its struggles and difficulties, I don’t doubt that he’s sincere in his commitment and regard towards Yoon Hee, and I can see him wanting to preserve the marriage, despite this devastating realization, that Yoon Hee’s been having an affair with Joon Young.
This also fits with the impression that I have of Dong Hoon, that he doesn’t ask for much, in life, for himself. And therefore, even though it sucks that his wife’s been cheating on him, I can believe that he would decide that it’s ok, as long as he manages to keep the boat from rocking, and maintain the status quo – even if it kills him on the inside.
I do like the fire that we more and more of from Dong Hoon, this episode. It feels like that fire increases measure by measure, each time he faces off with Joon Young.
I kind of love how shocked Joon Young is, when Dong Hoon seems to swoop in out of nowhere, and abruptly stops him from texting Yoon Hee, telling him that if he does, he’s dead meat. Ahhh. I kinda love it when Dong Hoon doesn’t mince his words, and says exactly what he means.
Still, even as I relish Dong Hoon’s display of assertiveness, which I find refreshing, my heart also aches for him, as he makes each new connection in his mind, about Yoon Hee’s involvement with Joon Young. That moment when he finds her glove in the tent, and remembers her saying that she smells of smoke because she’d eaten food cooked by the campfire, is so heartbreaking, honestly.
I feel really bad for Dong Hoon, because, naturally, his thoughts are going everywhere, and his imagination is running wild, with various possible scenarios, of what Joon Young’s been up to, with his wife.
I do take some consolation in the fact that Joon Young, when confronted, is noticeably jittery and jumpy. He’s not so cool after all, is he?
I have to wonder exactly what Ji An is thinking, though, as she reacts to hearing Dong Hoon tell Joon Young to break things off with Yoon Hee. Is she taken aback by Dong Hoon’s loyalty to his wife? Is her mind reeling from the implications that this new development has, on the job that she’s supposed to do for Joon Young? Is she.. hit by a sense of guilt, perhaps, for what she’s supposed to do, to this very decent, loyal person?
I find it really quite poignant, to see Dong Hoon go home, and act so normally, talking to his kid on the phone, and promising to do a 1-minute showcasing his special talent as homework. I imagine this must be taking a lot of self-control from Dong Hoon, since his mind and heart are probably in a mess, from trying to process everything about Yoon Hee’s affair. 💔
This episode, we also see how little regular folks in mid-life tend to have, as Dong Hoon and his brothers puzzle over what sort of special talent he could possibly showcase, in that video. It’s something that rings true, in the sense that most people pour so much of themselves into work and family, that they have nothing leftover for themselves. They don’t have any special hobby or skill to speak of, and that’s.. kind of sad.
At the same time, Show also spins this point of view, via Yoo Ra’s explanation of why she likes the fact that everyone at the bar is a failure. Yes, she sucks at articulating herself in a manner that isn’t offensive (it’s so easy to misconstrue, “I like you because you’re a failure,” after all), but there is an echo of truth in her words too; that it’s a comforting, assuring sort of thing, to see that people who have failed in life, still manage to be happy.
I guess it all comes down to what you make of it, yourself, and this episode, we see that Jung Hee’s starting to do a little something for herself, to draw the line between work and home, even if home really is still just a room above the bar.
The barriers are starting to come down, this episode, between Dong Hoon and Ji An, and this is truly one of the highlights of the show. That moment in the train, when Dong Hoon asks about Ji An’s parents, is the first time that Ji An answers without being suspicious or defensive. When Dong Hoon explains that he’s wondering about Gran, Ji An answers his questions honestly, without pushing back.
This definitely feels like an important milestone. She’s letting him in, a little bit, and this single interaction actually leads to a large outcome, because, until Dong Hoon said it, Ji An had had no idea that there was a way she could get government assistance, in caring for Gran. Aw, yay. I’m glad that Ji An learns so quickly, that there is value in trusting Dong Hoon, and being open with him.
I also really like that instead of simply saying goodbye after the train ride, Ji An asks Dong Hoon to buy her food, and this time, he agrees readily, no longer making excuses that he’s worried about what other people would think. And, this time, the conversation leans more honest as well, which I always appreciate.
I mean, it’s true that Dong Hoon fudges the truth a bit, but the fact that they can now openly talk about Joon Young trying to get rid of Dong Hoon, is a milestone in itself, I feel. Plus, Dong Hoon’s asking Ji An not to tell anyone about it, which means that they have a secret between them, now. All these little signs that their bond is growing stronger, is stuff that warms my heart.
Also, how loyal is it, that Ji An asks Dong Hoon if he’s like her to kill Joon Young for him. I mean.. with Ji An, you never know whether she’s actually serious about something as extreme as that, but in this case, it doesn’t even matter. The fact that she asks, means that she’s positioning herself on Dong Hoon’s side, and I love that idea.
I also love how Dong Hoon thinks to buy some takeaway for Ji An to take to Gran. He’s so kind and thoughtful, in all these little down-to-earth ways.
On the surface, it still looks like Ji An’s working for Joon Young, but those little digs that she takes at him, like, “Do I have to tell you that I know you were humiliated?,” are pretty great.
I do worry slightly for Ji An, though. Joon Young strikes me as a petty man; what if he tries to hurt her in the future, for embarrassing him..?
I can’t deny that the scene where Dong Hoon drags Joon Young to the roof, gives me a bit of a thrill. Joon Young’s shock alone, at the way Dong Hoon takes charge of the situation, is enough to put a grin on my face, heh.
And while Joon Young’s angry spiel is full of wild bluster, I love unintimidated Dong Hoon stays in the face of Joon Young’s accusations. He’s willing to put everything on the line, to go to head with Joon Young, and I’m pretty sure that’s not a reaction that Joon Young had expected.
All this time, Ji An’s been mostly listening in on Dong Hoon’s conversations, but hasn’t actually acted outside of the boundaries of the job that Joon Young’s given her. Meaning, even when she’d acted on her own, it had always been in service of the job that Joon Young’s given her.
I think this is the first time that Ji An’s actually doing something that’s directly against Joon Young’s wishes. Joon Young’s expressly said that he doesn’t want to break up with Yoon Hee, and yet, Ji An hunts down Yoon Hee, to let her listen to precisely the reason Joon Young keeps seeing her.
It’s like she’s nudging the situation in the direction of Dong Hoon’s wishes – for Joon Young and Yoon Hee to break up – in order to help him, even though she’s on Joon Young’s payroll. That definitely speaks of personal loyalty, doesn’t it?
Plus, there’s how Dong Hoon asks the bar owner about Ji An, and upon hearing that, Ji An breaks into a run, so that she and Dong Hoon can sit and drink together, for a while.
That moment when they keep on drinking, trying to be polite to the other person, before they break into smiles, is the most relaxed I’ve seen them, period, and it’s really heartening to see that they’re bringing this kind of warmth into each other’s lives.
Uh-oh, though, that Kwang Il witnesses this, and does not look happy about it, in the least. 😬
The more I see of Kwang Il and how he responds to Ji An, the more convinced I am, that he likes her. I don’t know if he’s even cognizant of it himself, since he’s made it his mission to make her life miserable, but from the way he reacts, when he sees Ji An smiling with Dong Hoon over beers, I feel like he just might actually like her, and therefore is feeling jealous that she’s spending time with another man, and looking so happy about it.
Of course, there’s also the thing, where he’s very likely livid, that she could smile like that, when he’s gone to such lengths to make her life a living hell, after what she’s done, to his dad.
I don’t know. I don’t think Show is very specific about Kwang Il’s feelings towards Ji An, if memory serves, so I feel like Show is leaving it up to us, to come to our own conclusions. And my personal conclusion is, it does kinda feel like there’s jealousy mixed in there.
The important point here, is, I realize that Kwang Il’s not above dragging innocent people into the picture, if it means he can make Ji An’s life more miserable.
The way he trails Dong Hoon, and then picks Dong Hoon’s pocket, in order to learn more about Dong Hoon and his connection to Ji An, makes me feel like where Kwang Il is now, in relation to Dong Hoon, it’s just one step away from harassing Dong Hoon, to help pay back Ji An’s debt.
On that note, it must be miserable for Ji An, to know that all her relationships and connections are essentially vulnerable to Kwang Il’s exploitation. When Kwang Il wants to know more about Ji An’s relationship with Dong Hoon, he tracks down Ki Beom and then beats him up, to try to get some answers out of him.
That must suck for Ki Beom, who was just minding his own business, only to be hauled up for questioning and a beating, just because he’s friends with Ji An. It’s pretty awful, and I imagine that this must be one of the reasons that Ji An herself isn’t keen to form relationships with others.
The conversation that Dong Hoon has with Ji An, as they walk home together, feels thick with meaning, with Dong Hoon talking about how buildings need to have enough strength to withstand external forces – and by extension, people also need to have enough strength to withstand external forces that come against them.
“And life, in a way.. is a struggle between internal and external forces, too. No matter what happens.. you’ll be able to withstand anything if you have sufficient internal forces.”
“Everyone struggles for their whole life, trying to have things. So they live their entire lives trying to prove themselves to everyone but nobody truly knows what they are gaining by doing that. And, even if you do end up getting what you want if the things that made you feel safe.. and the things that made you “you” start getting fractured.. it’s impossible to withstand it. And you crumble.”
“And, when the things that you thought made you who you are.. and the people you thought were pillars in your life.. don’t actually seem to provide you with any inner strength.. and that nothing.. is what it seems..”
These are such deep things to talk about, particularly when we see that as he talks about these things, Dong Hoon’s thinking about the developments in his own life, where his family – the thing that he’d believed to be the foundation of his identity – is the thing that’s getting fractured, which causes him to crumble, and throw down the gauntlet, with Joon Young.
Such deep reflections, about where we ought to root ourselves, in life, and where we ought to draw our strength from.
I do find it interesting, that Dong Hoon’s aim in life, appears to be limited to withstanding the external forces; there’s nothing in there (so far, anyway?) about opposing those external forces. That’s so in line with what we know of his personality. He’s not one to stir up trouble; as far as it’s up to him, he’d like to live at peace with the world around him.
On Ji An’s side, the way she tells Dong Hoon that she feels like she’s 30,000 years old, and wonders why she keeps getting reborn, feels startlingly personal, for someone who’s usually so private and reticent. That sense of jadedness definitely comes through, and is in line with what we’ve come to understand of Ji An.
How significant, though, that as they say goodbye, Ji An turns back to call out to Dong Hoon, “Fighting!.” It’s feels like it’s completely out of the blue, but it really is what Dong Hoon needs to hear, in the moment.
And we see, later in the episode, that in his private moments on his own, after talking and laughing with his family and acting as normal as possible, he almost collapses to his knees, gulping for air, and the only way he can think of, to get himself to keep his head up and keep going, is to repeat that single word to himself, “Fighting.”
Oof. That moment hit me hard.
It really made me see with more clarity, just how much Dong Hoon’s attempting to process, on his own, while pretending that everything’s fine, and life is as normal. Yoon Hee’s affair alone is enough to throw him seriously off course, but there’s also Joon Young at work, and the pressure on him to rise to the occasion and run for a promotion to Director, in order to participate in the political factions in the company. On top of all that, there’s his family, who continues to depend on him, not only financially, but also, to be the steady shining star of their family.
Dong Hoon’s done such a good job of keeping himself going, that it’s only when he has a moment of weakness like that, that it all comes into focus for me. Poor guy. And yet, through it all, he continues to be as decent a person as possible. I can see why Ji An can’t help but soften towards him.
The way she quickly realizes, from hearing Kwang Il’s voice in the recording, that Kwang Il’s stolen Dong Hoon’s wallet, and the way she goes out of her way to get that wallet back from Kwang Il, says so much, about where her loyalties now lie.
Like Ki Beom says, now that Kwang Il knows where Ji An works, he’s only going to create trouble there. Instead of worrying about her own position, though, Ji An focuses her attention of getting Dong Hoon’s wallet back to him – anonymously, no less – and even warns Kwang Il not to mess with Dong Hoon, or she’ll really kill him.
Also! How coolly badass is Ji An, to answer so nonchalantly, when Kwang Il asks if she likes Dong Hoon. She doesn’t even hesitate, before saying, simply, “Yeah.” Ahh. There’s something really attractive about how matter-of-fact she is, about admitting her feelings for Dong Hoon.
How very complicated, though, that Joon Young is now asking Ji An to fake-date Dong Hoon, so that they can implicate Dong Hoon in a scandal. We don’t see whether Ji An agrees, but.. she does need the money, so maybe she’ll agree, but double-agent it?
Significantly, Ji An appears to be quite struck by Joon Young’s statement, that Dong Hoon’s not the type of person to eat or drink with someone, unless he likes them.
I’m personally not getting any romantic vibes from Dong Hoon, towards Ji An, but I do think that, given Ji An’s feelings for Dong Hoon, this is definitely a soundbite that’s of special interest to her. I mean, if you like someone, of course you’d be intrigued at the idea that there’s a chance – no matter how small – that he might like you back, right?
The way Ji An looks at Dong Hoon, at the train station, feels so.. complicated, like she can’t quite make up her mind what to do next. Will she waver in her loyalties towards Dong Hoon, in the face of Joon Young’s offer?