Welcome to the Spoiler Zone, everyone!
This is for those of you who want to discuss spoilers, from a “I’ve seen the show and WOW now I’m noticing all these other details in retrospect” sort of angle.
Here’s a Spoiler Zone for you to dig as deep as you’d like, into spoiler territory, WITHOUT the need for spoiler tags or other warnings
My only request is, PLEASE BE EXTRA MINDFUL OF WHERE YOU ARE COMMENTING. Meaning, please don’t get mixed up, and start talking spoilers in the Open Thread, which could seriously mar the watch experience for a new viewer, OR, a viewer who would really prefer to have the rewatch feel as fresh as possible.
Other than that, READER BEWARE: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
For the main discussion of episodes 7 & 8, which only deals with spoilers up to the point of the group watch, go here.
ENJOY YOUR SPOILER ZONE, MY FRIENDS! ❤️
These last two episodes reminded me why I loved this show so much the first time I watched it! They are so rich and complex – like a brilliant novel.
My take on Kwang Il is that he is in love with Ji An and has been for some time (probably since they were children), but he abuses her because he is ashamed of his feelings for her, someone he knows he is supposed to hate (and probably does on some level, since she did kill his father). His actions remind me of those of both a classic domestic abuser and also of a self-hating, homophobic gay man – someone who lashes out at the thing he most desires to prove to himself that he is stronger than his impulses and not an object of perceived disgust. Not to justify Kwang Il’s unpardonable actions, but you can understand why he is tormented. How can a person accept that they are in love with their father’s murderer? Ironically, I think his unaddressed psychological trauma probably leads him to cling to Ji An even more.
In terms of the Dong Hoon – Ji An romance line, I fall into the camp of those who think that Dong Hoon’s glances at Ji An’s nape and ankles are more from curious interest rather than erotic attraction. To me, Dong Hoon is transfixed by Ji An, much in the same way that lovers are, but with a different timbre. Throughout the show, Dong Hoon has been struggling to redefine himself and identify what those “internal pillars” in his life really are because the ones he thought were there are now crumbling. He is stuck in the confines of what his family (and neighborhood) expects from him – steady job, steady wife, steady income, steady behavior. When he received the bribe, I thought he would take it not just because he needed the money, but also because he was wondering if he could be a person who does something that crosses the line. His brothers seemed to feel zero compunction purloining wedding gifts. What would happen to him if he, too, strayed? I think he is mesmerized by Ji An because she is helping him redefine what those internal pillars are that help him withstand the external forces in his world, which is giving him the confidence to explore aspects of his personality that have probably lain dormant for decades, at the very least. This need for connection and growth fuels his attraction to her, IMO, not romantic lust. (FWIW, I think she sees the wisdom of his “ignorance is bliss” mantra, but also the danger of being downtrodden and mocked while your head is in the sand. I think this is why she told Yoon Hee about Joon Young’s comments.)
On Ji An’s side, I wasn’t entirely sold when she told Kwang Il that she had feelings for Dong Hoon. She’s clever enough to know that by confirming Kwang Il’s suspicions, she’s wounding him while also asserting her right to protect Dong Hoon. I think she has some sort of feelings for Dong Hoon, but I don’t think she really knows what type of feelings those are since she’s so emotionally stunted. She might think any sort of affection must be, by default, a crush. I interpreted her reaction to Joon Young’s take on Dong Hoon’s actions less as her searching for confirmation of reciprocated feelings and more as her trying to determine where the truth actually lies.
(On a completely separate note, I feel more chemistry between Dong Hoon and Jeong Hui than between Dong Hoon and Ji An. I would totally watch a prequel of Dong Hoon and Jeong Hui’s high school and college days with their friend who became a monk.)
Totally agree with you that MM is like rich, good literary fiction! The more I watch it the more I find so many details and beautiful moments.
And when I first watched the first few episodes of the show I felt like you, that Jung Hee and Dong Hoon had more chemistry than Dong Hoon and JI An. However, one of my favorite moments is coming up – the beginning of Episode 9, where Ji An misses her metro stop. When Dong Hoon crosses the crosswalk to come to her, and when they stop in front of each other….that was the first time I was like, Dang! The chemistry between these two! Even their goodbye phone call in Ep 14 was so loaded with emotions. Now I just love watching them onscreen together. 🙂
wow, i am so amazed that somebody can feel almost identical to how i feel and see these characters and their relationships. you truly put it out here with such a profound understanding, with such an deep introspective dive into all of it – thank you. i also feel that kwang il is desperately infatuated with ja, to the most sickening degree, and i already commented on it in the “comments” section. and i think ja is pretty aware of it, and knows how to manipulate him, in her own way.
i am also on the same page with you in regards to ja and dh romance, which i commented about in the “comments”.
but it is always satisfying to find anybody thinking the same as you, almost completely.
The conversation Ji An had with Joon Young in the car in ep 7 seems to show she is already firmly on Dong Hoon’s side. She already tried to pull out of the deal by suggesting that Joon Young can’t fire DH anymore, but JY instructed her to stay put and gave her more money. I think she’s just playing along to lull JY into complacency, to make him believe he still has a solid plan in place to fire DH. As she would say to Yung Hee in ep 9, JY would only think of another way to fire DH if she would quit abruptly.
Not sure if you guys get the same vibe, but as early as her conversation with JY at the tail end of ep 5, right after the piggyback, the dinner slapping, and the running towards DH in the snow incidents, she seemed to already balk at working with JY. She just cannot bolt out abruptly and we’d know her reasons eventually. The way she hesitated a bit before approaching JY in that instance speaks volumes. And her facial expressions and overall demeanor in their conversations have changed as well.
And their conversation at the bar at the end of ep 8 was one of my favorite scenes.. With their 20-year history and with DH perhaps even being a past (and present) rival for Yung Hee’s affections, JY knows DH quite well. So there is some credence in him saying “if DH eats and drinks with you means he likes you.” DH at this point might not realize it yet, but his curiosity and interest towards JA is starting to go deeper.
And I like how JA reacted in disbelief at what she heard, as she had this notion of “What kind of nutcase would like a girl like me?” And now she’s grappling with the thought that her growing affection towards DH seemed mutual after all.
Yes to all of this! DJY knows DH so well after a 20-year frenemy relationship, and he tells JA what he believes is the truth, that if DH is eating and drinking with her it means he likes her. It’s so hard to believe, for both JA and for us, but I think at this point DH is unconsciously doing it. In other words, JA doesn’t repel him, and she’s always asking DH to treat her for a meal, so DH responds with a yes. He wouldn’t have been able to verbalize that his eating and drinking with her means he likes her. But for some reason the show has DJY state this unequivocally to JA – and to us – as early as Ep 8. Dong Hoon is the last to know, haha.
And I agree with you, JA is trying to pull out of her deal with DJY. And when she tries to do it in DJY’s car in Ep 7, and when she is hesitant to date DH at the end of Ep 8, DJY keeps pulling out envelopes of cash. He knows she needs the money, and he commands her to keep listening to DH and date DH with that money. He’s always pulling out money with perfect timing.
I am a married man, no chance in the world I would have private dinner and drink with another unrelated, non-family girl/woman for multiple times, not even for once. That’s affairs! And that’s common sense. Can anyone disagree?
Of course when Yoon Hee already known to have affair (by both DH and Ji An) and actually spending more evening with her love one pretty much openly, there is totally nothing wrong with any dating between DH and Ji An.
Excellent points !
Before her conversation with JY JA definitely thought that DH pitied her. All that food, etc. What JY’s said almost shocked her and gave her hope: DH is doing it not just for her, but for himself too. He wants to spend time with her.
Also, I always thought that there’s more to DH’s and JA’s relationship than a father /daughter platonic friendship. He misses her, keeps looking for her. Do men in general behave this way towards young women who are not their daughters? I know that DH is special, but still… For me, DH calling JA a crazy bitch and smacking her in the head so hard that she fell to the ground was the final confirmation. You just don’t do it to a young girl/boy who has a crush on you. You go: “There, there. You’ll get over it.You’ll meet someone else and be happy. I’m too old for you.” Add to it DH’s general politeness and self control, and the situation looks fishy. It almost looked like DH smacked himself in the head.
“It almost looked like DH smacked himself in the head.” LOL. It shocked him as well, didn’t it? And I agree with you, that in all the times she told him she liked him (Eps 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 – I can list them all out if someone needs me to 🙂 ), he never addressed her feelings all that clearly. Instead, he kept spending time with her, walking her home, and saying nice things. There were also a lot of longing looks he threw around, either looking at her or looking for her, as this article pointed out: https://givemeslippers.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/gif-ahjussis-longing-looks/
And chingu @actionscript has noticed the times Dong Hoon was staring at Ji An’s nape. 🙂 (Can you give us your thoughts here, chingu?) That speaks to some physical attraction to Ji An on Dong Hoon’s part I believe. It’s hard to swallow at first, but the more I watch the show the more convinced I am that Dong Hoon is intrigued by and attracted to Ji An (even when he shouldn’t be). These clues of his attraction, combined with his actions that show deep love for her and her well-being – opened my mind to the possibility that he really loved her in every way. But only on subsequent watches!
Yes that revelation from Ji An definitely shook him. Only Ji An knew they were being tailed, so she‘s aware that for Dong Hoon, it was a full confession of her feelings. Dong Hoon’s interest started way back (more on that below), and though he’s passively aware at this point of his attraction and growing fondness for her, perhaps what he didn’t realize was the full extent of how Ji An’s feelings for him has grown. That night in his bedroom, the next day at the office and at Jung Hee’s bar, he had that empty gaze as he couldn’t stop thinking about her. From here on, her gazes towards her or her seat at the office intensified and became more frequent. Obviously the fact that it has affected him this much means Ji An’s feelings are not unrequited, but he is now grappling with the fact that he is still married. Ji An’s confession might have prompted him to visit his monk friend (when he texted him “My heart longs to go somewhere else..”) which happened a couple of days after.
“With their 20-year history and with DH perhaps even being a past (and present) rival for Yung Hee’s affections, JY knows DH quite well.” You are so right! They know each other so well and they hate each other. After looking at their relationship for the past few weeks I wrote an analysis of their relationship here, if anyone is interested in reading it:
Jotting down some of the discoveries to keep the discussion here 🙂
Other characters frequently and consistently talk about Do Joon Young and Dong Hoon. They’re the only characters that are the objects of constant commentary. And we find out a lot about DJY and DH from other people, such as that DJY covered up his poor past and then only lasted a year in a chaebol’s home when he was married. DH is consistently referred to as a nice guy and a person with integrity, whereas DJY is consistently called out for his greed and general acting like a jerk.
Dong Hoon and DJY have known each other for 20 years, so they have very accurate takes on each other. We take seriously what each man says to the other (especially in Episode 7 when they have two showdowns – one at the campsite and one on the Saman rooftop), and we can tell that they’re speaking truth to each other since neither of them refutes the other. In fact, I think the show wants us to take as truth/ take at face value what DH and DJY say about each other.
DJY is painted as being nervous and pitiful, and the more nervous he gets, the more badly he behaves (hiring a private detective, hiring a photographer, etc). He’s an anxious villain, not an assured one – which is really fascinating.
I love the breakdown and the insights you wrote in your analysis! It really threshed out Joon Young’s character and his relationships. One more parallel I could add between JY and DH by the end of the story – they are both divorced.
The nape stare scenes have been summoned.. 🙂
Dong Hoon hit the ground running.. 20 minutes into the show, he got a glimpse of Ji An in the train, and her bare ankles caught his attention. His gazes were drawn to her only exposed body parts – the ankles and the nape. (Damn winter!) That’s where most guys would be drawn to if they’d see what would seem like a reasonably attractive girl. The fact that he’s tipsy with lowered inhibitions probably pushed him to gaze a tad too much.
These were followed by more gazes throughout the show probably to her entire face, hair, but with a bit of emphasis on the exposed neck/nape areas..
And even in the last scene when he looked back, the camera zoomed in from Ji An’s whole back to just focus on the hair and nape areas.
Nape/neck = erogenous zone = physical attraction
No way are those gazes the father/daughter, mentor/mentee, or even just the platonic type. If they were.. EEEW!
I tried attaching a gif in my previous reply but it seemed to not work.. So I’m attaching it here instead.
I don’t think it came through…what is it of?
I made a gif of all the face & nape/neck stares Dong Hoon made on Ji An. 😂
I think it will work if I tried a smaller-sized gif instead..
“I made a gif of all the face & nape/neck stares Dong Hoon made on Ji An.” Ooh, please post on the Soompi Forum!!! 🙂 🙂
This little scene says so much. 🙂 Thanks for the gif.
Here’s the first one on the train..
I’m allowed to post only one per post.. This one is one of my fave. Ki hoon had to give DH the glasses as DH has been too obvious..
Here’s the one on the last scene.. He seemed really looking forward to more of that nape, with that smirk..🤣
🙂 <3 Thank you for all of these!
And of course the one on the taxi..
Remember when the team coached DH how to behave during the interview, that manager said: ”Thank God she is not pretty, otherwise we’d have a problem.” When DH was asking the bartender whether JA had stopped by, he described JA as “that pretty girl who dresses lightly. “ The beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. To DH, JA is pretty.
True! Though I think there is some level of a meta joke thrown in on that scene as well.. First is the use of what seemed like a mug shot of IU in that resume. And then IU, the k-pop superstar, not pretty?!? ;p
She is so pretty in real life, and besides the mug shot in the show they actually manage to still make her attractive. Maybe because we get to watch Ji An’s inner beauty come out as she cares for Dong Hoon? The mug shot makes me laugh though – she really looks like a drowned rat in it. That green sweater she wears is flattering.
Thanks for the nape summary 🙂 🙂
Yes, Dong Hoon’s eyes in that scene with the other Directors is so telling. They say she’s going to get fired anyway, that she’s not pretty, that she’ll claim to be a victim, etc. And we see him totally disagree with them in his facial expressions. And later in that episode Dong Hoon runs after Ji An to say that he’ll see her complete her contract term (instead of get fired) and that he still wants her in his life. He’s a dutiful employee, but he’s not an obedient one – he doesn’t always go along with the other Directors. He has his own mind and it’s great to see.
Yes, that’s a great parallel! By the end they’re both divorced, if we’re to follow the clues in the show that point to how Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon’s marriage is dissolved.
There is a moment in the show, when DH was coming back from a hockey game with his younger brother in a car, thinking about what had been said between him and his wife during the confession scene. How should they end their relationship after being together for 20 years? A few moments later the car stops at a red light and JA appears on a sidewalk. She looked like the answer to his question.
Also, I’ve read somewhere, that because of a backlash in South Korea to the possibility of a romance between the two main characters, the director had to review every scene very carefully and to remove any evidence of attraction between DH and JA (the director wasn’t happy about it). But a few hints are still there. Like DH watching JA’s lips, while she is drinking coffee in the office.
In the coffee scene in the office, I feel like his attraction to her is palpable. And his visceral reaction to Ji An appearing on the sidewalk while he’s in the van in Episode 12 as you mentioned. I also like how they framed/ directed the scene where he finds Ji An in the shack. She’s sobbing over wanting him to be happy, and they show Dong Hoon’s eyes going to her hands and then looking away. He obviously wants to hold her or touch her, and comfort her…but he has to restrain himself. That’s what makes the handshake at the end so special and lovely.
by the end of the show i got the impression that it could go either way. it is not uncommon that after horrible betrayals, a couple can find a way to reconcile. sometimes it fails and sometimes the relationship endures and becomes even stronger. (bill and hillary clinton). so the future is up to our imagination and speculation.
When I first watched the show, I also thought it was not laid out clearly. But the show dropped hints that were too glaring to ignore. First, throughout the show, it never failed to focus on the family photos comprised of the three of them (DH, YH, and son) at home and also at the office desk of DH. Then in the end at his new work desk, there is a stark difference in the photos – this time it’s just Yoon Hee and the son, and where is DH? Well, he now has a photo with his brothers, the people he still considered as family, the very thing Yoon Hee was complaining about.
Second is that throughout the show, DH has referred to Yoon Hee as “wife.” But in the last scene, in his coffee shop conversation, he referred to Yoon Hee as “my kid’s mom,” the first time he did so throughout the show. (The Netflix subtitle translation was said to be erroneous.)
Third is the fact that the wife is now staying in the US.
Any one above would have been inconclusive, but combining all 3 factors would have painted a more definitive picture.
although i appreciate your attention to such details, still…
But the show dropped hints that were too glaring to ignore. family photos... although you might be right, but i still think that those photos are not enough evidence. we know the wife is in usa with the son. this happens quite a lot in asian families (seen it in other dramas and also know it from life), when one parent goes to be with child to a foreign country and the father stays behind to work in their own country (korea in this case). for dh and wife it can also be a cooling of period. so it is not unusual that she would take a picture of her and the s0n in usa and sent it to dh. so he puts up the latest photo of them. next to it is a photo of 3 brothers. they are ALL his family – wife, son, brothers. that’s a different scenario from what you assume. may be right, may be wrong.
“my kid’s mom,”- many times a man would refer to his wife as “my kid’s, my son’s, my daughter’s mom”, i do not find that to be a confirmation of them being divorced now. he could have said “my ex-wife” – if the show wanted us to know that this is the outcome.
wife is now staying in the US. – i already addressed this above, it is pretty common for one parent, usually mother to go and stay for the duration of child’s education or may be only period’s at a time with child.
so again, for me the question remains.
Regarding the way he addresses his wife, it’s significant to note that he has called her ‘wife’ throughout the rest of the series. It’s a minor detail, but the fact that it’s different from before is what makes it significant in my opinion.
It’s the same thing about the family photo. Throughout the show, we are repeatedly shown a photo of the three of them together, both at home and in the office. The photo of the three of them together being missing from his office post time-skip, is again, significant.
Lastly, the main thing that makes me believe that they do divorce at the end is a scene where the owner of the bar that Ji An and Dong Hoon goes to has a conversation with Dong Hoon about his experience with an affair in a marriage.
He states something along the lines of ‘It may take five or ten years, but the pain of the affair will always be there, and at some point you wont be able to bear it any longer’. This scene was put in there for a reason, and I believe it’s an accurate reflection of what Dong Hoon is going through.
Finally, I think it simply doesn’t make sense from a narrative standpoint for them to not get divorced. Dong Hoon’s entire arc is about learning to not sacrifice himself and his own happiness just to keep others happy, and staying in a broken marriage just to keep his mom and son happy goes entirely against that.
to note that he has called her ‘wife’ throughout the rest of the series. yes, you have a point here, i guess i was not paying attention to this, but i agree, this might be some sort of indication that she’s not his wife any longer.
i disagree about the photos, people update their photos with more recent ones all the time. and it might be that these are just the last photos of his son and mother from usa. just saying.
He states something along the lines of ‘It may take five or ten years, but the pain of the affair will always be there, and at some point you wont be able to bear it any longer’. this is heavy, and so true (been there, done that), the lingering pain will most likely destroy the future if dh and wife decide to try to work on the marriage. what if his wife begs him to give it the last chance? after all she was sincerely apologizing and asking for forgiveness. dh being a kind and considerate man might agree (even that it will most likely fail in the future) so i am not a hundred percent convinced that that’s what the drama wants us to think, but rather leaves it an open question (although i am now leaning towards the conclusion that they probably got or getting a divorce).
I just finished the show and was puzzling over the ending too! I thought there was some hope for reconciliation with Yoon Hui – after saying farewell to Ji An, Dong Hoon asks Yoon Hui “Do you need anything?” as usual, and she pauses. Instead of saying no need as usual, she says “Beer”. Which I took to mean she was going to spend time chatting with DH when he got home. But then later, after the phone call with his mum where she is critical of Yoon Hui going to the US and leaving DH alone, he cannot control his tears. That’s when I thought maybe it’s not just her accompanying the son to study, this may be effectively a separation of spouses.
Hi eda harris!
In my opinion, if we know the symbol of the tree, then combined it with the beer theory, we will realize they divorce in the ending.
love, love the symbolism. and beautiful lyrics on the tree and pain. thank you for bringing it to us.
there is just one thing, i am not sure i can agree, that “they ask for beer when they ask for a divorce”. remember in one of the previous episodes, sang-hoon is speaking about drinking in general, and i do not remember exactly his words, but it goes something like this: he (or men in korea) drink when they are upset, when there is a happy occasion, when they are bored, to connect with friends, when the wife nags too much or simply when they miss the taste of alcohol (or being drunk). so it is safe to say that they really do not need a reason to drink in korea, it’s almost a solution to or an answer to any situation in life or lack of situation.
I actually saw that subway scene differently. I thought DH just noticed that some girl in front of him wasn’t wearing socks, and her ankles were bluish from being cold. He looked up, the girl looked kind of familiar, so DH tried to see her reflection in the glass door to make sure that she is indeed the girl from his office, the one who killed that ladybug. After they got off at the same stop, he realized that they lived in the same neighborhood.
Yup, that’s largely what that scene wanted to convey. But in the same vein that Dong Hoon would bother to try to strike small talk with Ji An in the office (asking her what’s the worse she has killed), those extra gazes at the back of her head in the train means he finds this new temp worker interesting. Definitely just innocent gazes at this point, unlike those in the latter episodes where we know that they have grown into longing looks.
i do not and did not feel this “sexual, erotic” or whatever else you want to call it that you see in his glances, i agree with maria that he just saw a girl poorly dressed and probably cold (that’s what i felt seeing her naked ankles and no scarf and a light jacket in the middle of what looks a very cold weather. i just noticed it and kind of felt uncomfortable on her behalf. and i think dh felt something similar.
and even later, i definitely saw the developing affection, care and both of them warming up to each other, opening and connecting on increasingly deeper levels. but did he look at her ankles or neck specifically out of some kind of “lust” – not likely, at least not in my interpretation. i think their relationship is truly special, even i could call it unusual, it encompasses a lot of complex emotions, impulses on both sides, but more so in dh’s heart. i think the beauty of this relationship is that it WAS entirely platonic, and that is the only WAY dh would have it. it is clear to me that he does not see her as a lover, not now and not in the future. whether his heart skipped a bit sometimes while seeing her or thinking about her – that might be. in real life we do experience such i would call it irregularities in our hearts, it’s sort of special chemistry with another person, and it can have different colors, different sensations, unexplainable pulls and draws. does it mean it goes somewhere? most of the times not, we either do not allow it, do not consider it a right move, or simply do not need to go there. that is how i see dh’s and ja’s relationship. although it definitely develops into a very valuable and special friendship, that truly warms my heart.
That I guess is one of the reason this show is so brilliant.. no matter how you see the relationship between DH and JA unfolds, it is definitely heart-warming and the impact of the show to its viewers remains undiminished.
yes, it is one of the most brilliant shows and different aspects of it is up for different interpretations by different viewers, you are right about that. but isn’t any good drama like this? that is why we have our comments that are not of the same mind and that is the beauty of it.
the reason i disagree with the assumption of dh sort of “lusting” for ja is because i see him as a pure heart. if i could think of the way he thinks, i think he would see something like this as less than appropriate on many levels, and so he would never allow himself to go there. if we listen to what other people say about him, we learn from history (which we should never disregard) that he never strayed, never had an affair. although his best friend became a monk, dh himself exhibits a “monk-like” behavior in regards to women. why would it suddenly change? and when he supposedly looks at her neck, may be he’s looking at her head in general (can you really draw a straight line from his eyes to her neck specifically?) – it is just someone’s speculation, nothing else. in addition, he’s hit with this horrible revelation about his wife. after such a discovery, one can hardly think of a new romance, especially if there is no precedence to such. and it takes time to recover, real time, for that reason i do not think that he has any romantic feelings toward her. yes, he cares, and looks at her because he genuinely cares about her and her situation, he’s a caring compassionate person in general, and she “gets him” and he “gets her” – that is rare for both of them. they both learn to appreciate it and value it. they are simply friends, that is how friends should be.
Hi Eda, I think throughout the show, up until the time skip, DH does think of it as a platonic relationship, and that’s the only way he would have it. He’s a good, married man after all. However, I do think he’s drawn to Ji An, for example in the van in Episode 12 when he sees her on the sidewalk. After the time skip, IF in fact Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon are divorced, then I think he would be free to pursue Ji An if he wanted to…. We already know he thinks Ji An is pretty, and he says she helps him breathe.
When I first watched the show, I thought Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon stayed together at the end. That was before I found out Netflix’s subtitles were inaccurate. And now, having watched the show many, many times, I think there are quite a few clues that the show put in on purpose to show that Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon are no longer together. Also, that look that JI An has on her face when she sees Dong Hoon turn around in his chair at the coffee shop at the end…she still loves him. Upon my 9th (??) re-watch of that scene, it hit me – Look at Ji An’s face! She still loves him! She’s going to get her happy ending; otherwise why would the show put in that scene on purpose?!! 🙂
Ji An and Dong Hoon have proven their love for each other all throughout the show, by fighting for each other and doing things for the other’s good. Good friends do this as well, of course. But if DH is attracted to her as well – which I think the show also gives evidence of – and if he’s a free man after the time skip, then I think a case can be made for Dong Hoon and Ji An pursuing a love relationship in every way. But I know not everyone agrees with that! (And that’s OK. I enjoy hearing everyone’s insights here.)
of course, i only saw this drama one time and am now rewatching it following the group schedule. but i am still not convinced that dh and ja can become a romance.
for example in the van in Episode 12 when he sees her on the sidewalk. if that would have been his best friend, the monk, he would have still have the same reaction – to a close friend that gets him and he gets the friend. that is very special, and ja and dh are lucky to have it in their lives. she helps him breathe. i think his monk friend also helps him breathe, i am pretty sure about it. it is not sexual in any way. it is a deep understanding and ability to be a pillar that a friend can lean on in hard times. again, it is a bond, a special kind of friendship that does not happen very often in human lives, but when it does, it is a blessing.
that look that JI An has on her face when she sees Dong Hoon turn around in his chair at the coffee shop... for ja dong hoon opened the WORLD for her, as she grows older and will be able to analyze or may be even go to therapy, she will be able to understand her own emotions on the deeper intellectual level and she’ll be grateful for this encounter, friendship may be even spiritual connection with dh for the rest of her life. she is just starting her life, and will meet a lot of people, connect with people. i do not really see her hanging on and going into a romantic relationship with dh, especially that dh will need time to heal (and i mean TIME).
and for dh… remember what his younger brother said about him at the beginning of the drama: “when he (dh)is caught between desire and conscience, he leans toward the latter.” that is his core personality, his brother knows him well. that is his essence, and that will not change. i do not think that dh will consider ja right for him, or him right for her, for many reasons. therefore i can not see them together as a couple in the future, although it is my wish that they will stay very close and be in each other’s lives for many years to come.
Ki Hoon’s words on DH choosing righteousness over desire and Ji An’s “you (DH) are struggling through your life sentence of earnestness” are exactly the predicament that DH’s character had to deal with, develop, and heal from. That’s why he was suicidal in the first part of the show. His monk friend also put it quite well: “You should make yourself happy first. And stop thinking you should sacrifice yourself.” “Just be brazen and think about yourself. You’re allowed to do that.” His epiphany came when he realized he never hugged himself, on how he had been nice to everyone else except himself.
He was always passive, content with putting up pretenses of what society demands and expects from him — a good job (where his bosses bully him and wants to fire him) and a happy family (his wife is cheating on him with the worst person possible, and has conspired to get him fired). To be brazen and make himself happy first, to break free from his life sentence of earnestness, to choose desire over righteousness – sometimes it is necessary to break free from society’s hypocritical conventions that people sometimes get trapped in. That’s the healing journey that Dong Hoon’s character arc is meant to traverse. If by the end of the story, he is still In the same place — still afraid to defy society’s conventions, still not going after what will make his heart happy — then there was no healing and character development that occurred. And that would have defeated the message of the story.
yes, dh has to work on himself, agree. his overblown self-sacrifice is a character flaw, self-imposed, number one. his lack of understanding of it in himself is number two.
he has to find the happy middle ground, not entirely giving up his compassion and consideration of others, but take care of his own happiness in life without sacrificing the happiness of the people he loves. can he throw away his own moral code in the process? i doubt it, and it is a good thing.
“if you want others to be happy, practice compassion. if you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – dalai lama.
Eda I’m impressed by your insights after having only watched the show once. It took me a while to come to some of the things you’re thinking! I thought it was interesting you brought up “middle ground” here for Dong Hoon. Reminded me of this article: https://givemeslippers.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/dong-hoons-middle-way/
Also – I don’t think Dong Hoon throws away his moral code during the show. Even IF he were feeling deeper things for Ji An than a deep friendship from episodes 1 through 1/2 of 16, his integrity doesn’t allow him to do anything with her other than take her out to eat and walk her home. But, if he is indeed free after the time skip and if he really were attracted to Ji An, then I think he would pursue what makes him happy 🙂
hi sweetroad, i kept thinking about all the for’s and against’s the ideas that you guys bring up here. and one thing is kind of rolling in my mind: the true jewel of the crown of this drama is precisely that the element of sweltering attraction is MISSING. but that is the main or one of the main ‘attractions’ for us, the viewers. it keeps us guessing, thinking about it, giving more and more attention to THIS drama and not any other, almost to a degree of being mystified by it. there are plenty of great productions with OTP’s that we are swooning. not here. don’t you think that it is intentional? and then why would the drama present it this way?
oh, and thank you for the article. although i am not a buddhist, i feel buddhism has the closest to the all encompassing TRUTH about human deepest nature. or may be that is the most comprehendible to me, although many paths would lead to the peak of the mountain, if one is willing and able to climb.
For me, this drama is so moving because we get to see a deep unconditional love play out between DH and JA, who really will do anything for each other. In that sense it is a healing drama, as the producers started marketing it.
From what I’ve read and heard, though, they were portraying it differently in the beginning – they were touting a romantic love story more openly. (See this *official* English-language trailer from TVN network, starting at minute 2:53 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMmSP2bUSw8&feature=emb_logo )
Then backlash and controversy happened because of the age gap. My Mister fans who have been around from the live airing in 2018 (of which I am not – I only watched it in April 2021) believe that the director intentionally kept the ending subtle to please the public, since the backlash was so harsh before and during the first few episodes of the show.
There are still hints that DH and JA become romantically involved, though, which Koreans would pick up more than I would as a non-Korean.
For example, the very last line is DH saying, “Ji An. Have you reached your comfort?”
The fact that he called her “Ji An” instead of the more formal “Ji An-ssi” or “Lee Ji An” was a clue to Korean speakers that their relationship changed to be more intimate, and that this was probably something DH said to JA in the future. Even if it were telepathic, like I first believed when I watched it, a married Dong Hoon wouldn’t call her only “Ji An.” Friends and acquaintances don’t call each other only by their first names in Korea, as I learned from this article (another piece of data that helped me understand the show) https://givemeslippers.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/when-dong-hoon-called-her-%ec%a7%80%ec%95%88-ji-an/
Details like this are small, and seemingly minor, but when put together I think there’s a case that their narrative arc is romantic love between them. However, if DH and JA are believed to be platonic friends in the future, that will be a very special relationship as well. Either way their friendship and connection keep us here, talking!
I was exactly where you were after I watched it the first time, Eda. Exactly!! I thought it was laughable that people saw something romantic there. I didn’t see it at all, and even found the idea slightly repulsive. However, then I stumbled upon some articles and writings that opened my eyes to the clues and breadcrumbs littered throughout the show. Like Lamenteuse said above and I totally agree with, the show is like rich literary fiction.
I re-watched it, keeping in mind some of the analysis and clues people had pointed out that I had completely missed the first time (understandable). I’m a data person; I’m not very emotional (if you can believe that after my comments here, LOL). But I am a logical, data person first. I re-watched it objectively, holding loosely both possibilities of platonic and romantic lovelines. And my mind was worn down and changed over time by the data. Now I definitely see the possibility that DH and JA end up together…and I had to laugh at myself for coming to that conclusion.
All that to say – I totally hear where you’re coming from. Hopefully this gives you a taste of where I (and others who see a romantic take) are coming from, too :). I never imagined I’d be here, months after first watching MM, talking like this. The show so gets under the skin, however one sees the ending.
I should clarify @eda harris – I was exactly where you were after I first watched it, in that I thought DH and JA just had an extremely special friendship, that JA was like Monk to DH, and that yes, DH had completely changed her world but she would grow more mature and move on from lingering romantic feelings for him.
I didn’t mean to imply you find a romantic loveline laughable or repulsive….those are just my own thoughts 🙂
i do not find romantic lovelines here or anywhere else laughable or repulsive… quite to the contrary. but somehow i can not see what you see here, so far, for reasons i explained before. if this relationship is romantic or erotic in any way, it looses it’s “specialness and uniqueness”, and i do not think that the drama would want that. but i watched it of course only one time, and rewatcing it again now with the group. i’ll keep my mind open. i’ll see if anything changes for me.
I thought he was curious why she wasn’t feeling cold, and was she so poor that she couldn’t afford socks. He thought she wasn’t wearing socks at all. Later he found out that millennials like to wear low-cut socks that don’t show.
You’re right, he was curious. Ji An sparked some level of curiosity and interest in him. Definitely nothing much at this point, but that curiosity and interest will slowly build up as the show progresses. In ep 3, just before Dong Hoon asked Manager Song about not wearing socks among the younger folks, he was seen to be distracted, thinking about something, before Manager Song interrupted him. What could he be thinking? Then he saw Manager Song’s short socks, and asked him about it. Then the camera shifted to Ji An at work listening to this conversation. Obviously, the show wanted us to know JA heard that DH was thinking about her. Definitely nothing romantic yet at this point, but for him to be remembering about her socks in the middle of field work.. I think that’s the purpose of that short sequence. The show is littered with such short, fleeting moments. It’s the show’s subtle way to convey what’s happening, on what’s slowly building inside the very stoic DH. Those are not filler scenes for sure.
DH’s looks and gazes on JA’s face, hair, and neck are not meant to be erotic or lustful.. It’s meant to show that he sees her as a woman, as a “pretty” woman. In the same vein the show doesn’t have scenes where DH is looking at Manager Song drinking coffee in the pantry, or have DH glancing longingly at his empty seat if he’s not there.