Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I wanted to have this shot headline our post today, because this conversation feels so important, for Ji An in particular. ❤️
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 feels particularly pivotal, to me, because this is the episode where we see Dong Hoon and Ji An begin to show that they are each sincerely and genuinely invested in the other person’s wellbeing.
And however you tend to see the connection between Dong Hoon and Ji An – ie, whether you see it as platonic, romantic or familial – this is stirring, emotional stuff.
I feel like, in a manner of speaking, this is arguably the first crescendo that our story’s been building up to, all this time.
What I find particularly attention-worthy, on Ji An’s part, is how she’s starting to show more and more strong and distinct emotion, when it comes to Dong Hoon.
From the time that we’ve met her, she’s mostly shown herself to be detached – almost apathetic – and that has felt like it was due not only to her actually being jaded by the world, but also, because this was her way of protecting herself from further hurt. After all, if you don’t care, then nobody can hurt you, right?
But now, that’s changing, in slow but sure degrees. Ji An may keep up the apathetic front a lot of the time, but when it comes to Dong Hoon, she often can’t seem to keep that apathetic facade in place.
First of all, it’s extremely unlike her to be so lost in thought that she’d miss her stop. Second of all, it’s also unlike her to care so much, that she’d missed her stop. The way she literally races from one train platform to another, just so that she can rush to catch up with Dong Hoon – just to walk home with him – says a great deal, about how important Dong Hoon has become, to her.
And then there’s how emphatic she’s become, in stating that she hopes that Dong Hoon will get promoted to Director, and get Joon Young fired. And, when Dong Hoon asks her why she hates Joon Young so much, her simple answer, which I imagine to be the essence of it all, when you strip away all of her own dealings with Joon Young, is, “Because you hate him, Mister.”
That’s a form of loyalty in itself, to stand with someone in their distaste for someone else, out of pure solidarity.
I’m pretty sure that Ji An’s statement gives Dong Hoon pause as well, because as brief and understated as it is, it’s a statement of loyalty and solidarity, and in that sense, it feels like Ji An is overtly closing the gap between them, to make their relationship something closer than it had been.
Notably, her use of the term “Ahjusshi” or “Mister” is less formal than the term “Manager,” which she should be using, and which Dong Hoon requests that she use.
Of course, I do think that part of it is because Dong Hoon’s shown an interest in Gran, and has offered Ji An advice that’s been practical and hugely helpful to Ji An’s situation. I love that scene where Ji An tells Gran that she’ll be able to move into an assisted living facility, and that it’ll be free.
Gran’s depth of relief and gratitude is so clear to see, and I’m so happy for her, that she’ll be getting the care that she needs, instead of making do on her own, while Ji An’s at work.
The fact that this was all possible because Dong Hoon had bothered to show an interest, make me appreciate Dong Hoon so much. And I’m sure that this makes Ji An appreciate Dong Hoon all the more, as well.
Before I talk about Dong Hoon’s side of things, I thought I’d take a detour, to at least give Ki Hoon and Sang Hoon a bit of attention.
This episode, Sang Hoon seems especially obsessed with the thought that they need to be successful, in order that Mom would have a decent turnout at her funeral, when she dies. It’s a highly dysfunctional way of thinking about things, but unfortunately, from what I can tell from other dramas, this really is A Thing, in Korean society.
So it’s not like Sang Hoon is just being kinda weird and crazy on his own. This is his way of wanting to be filial towards his mom.
With this way of thinking, I can see how and why everyone deems it to be so important, that Dong Hoon keep his job at the company. It’s because it’s only when you’re respectfully employed at a big company, that you can be assured of a decent turnout, if there were to be a death in your family.
However, I personally can’t help gravitating more towards Ki Hoon way of looking at things. It is morbid to keep talking about Mom’s death, when she’s perfectly strong and healthy, and it is better, to just live life and not worry about it, because worrying about it accomplishes nothing.
I have to say, Ki Hoon is really growing on me more and more, the deeper we get into our story.
I love how happy he is, to be earning his keep, even though it’s doing a cleaning job which most people would disdain. I love how much satisfaction he gets, from having a regular schedule to keep, and a reason to tire out his body. I love that he feels so gratified by the work that he does, and how much joy it gives him, to buy his brothers a nice dinner.
Additionally, I love how he’s putting his pride down, and doing what he can, to help Yoo Ra.
Objectively, I do wish that Yoo Ra wouldn’t dump all her emotional baggage on him, like in the way she just shows up, and expects Ki Hoon to do something about her sense of anxiety, because he’d promised to “fix” her. However, we’ve also established that Yoo Ra appears to be incapable of that, most likely due to how weak she’s become, emotionally and mentally.
And so, I appreciate that Ki Hoon’s chosen to be as helpful and encouraging as he can, even though she continues to blithely use insulting terms in describing him, like how he’s a failure, and even though she puts that entire emotional burden on him, which, objectively speaking, is unfair.
The fact that Ki Hoon’s able to look past all of that, and do what he can, to support her, strikes me as pretty mature.
As for Dong Hoon, from the fact that he actually asks for a cigarette outside Jung Hee’s bar, and how that appears to give his friend cause for concern, it seems that Dong Hoon’s pretty stressed. He may appear all calm waters on the surface, but when we lay it all out, there’s quite a bit of stuff that he’s burdened about.
There’s the whole thing where he knows that Yoon Hee’s had an affair with Joon Young. He may not have said anything about it, but even though he’s said that it’s nothing, as long as no one knows about it, it’s easy to conclude that it can’t be nothing.
Just the act of trying to bottle that up and keep the status quo on that front, is enough to cause an average person’s stress levels to shoot up.
On top of that, there’s the whole promotion thing. Not only is there a lot of pressure on the family front, where I’m sure he’d hate to disappoint everyone, the politics side of things has also amped up, now that he’s in the running to be promoted to Director.
Entangled with that, we have people in the office questioning Dong Hoon’s connection with Ji An, and why he’d hired her, when there were other, more qualified, candidates available.
And then, to cap it all off, we have Kwang Il and his crony getting involved, telling Dong Hoon that Ji An had stolen that packet of money from him, and had tried to clear her debts with it.
It’s A LOT.
I really appreciate that Dong Hoon doesn’t jump to any conclusions, and instead, seeks out Ji An’s cleaner friend, going so far as to seek him out, outside of the office, in a bid to understand Ji An’s side of the story.
The depth of Dong Hoon’s compassion and empathy for Ji An is earth-tilting stuff. Not only is he no longer concerned about the allegation that she’d stolen that money from his drawer in order to pay off her debt, he even goes to Kwang Il, to confront him. And what a confrontation that turns out to be.
My goodness. When Dong Hoon comes to the realization that Kwang Il’s the one who’s been beating up Ji An, the way he fights Kwang Il, on Ji An’s behalf, is just so viscerally moving. He’s throwing his very person in there, to fight for Ji An, and he’s even going so far as to say that he’ll repay Ji An’s debt. Oh my.
What knocks me – and Ji An – breathless, though, is his reaction, when Kwang Il screams that Ji An had killed his father. Instead of holding that against Ji An, Dong Hoon, having processed all that Kwang Il’s father had done to Ji An and Gran, tells Kwang Il that he would have killed his dad too, in Ji An’s shoes.
I believe that’s why Ji An breaks down sobbing, when she hears that. This is literally the first time that anyone’s stood in solidarity with her, on the matter of her having killed someone. How vindicating and liberating it must be, for her, to have someone on her side.
And what a perfect way to bookend the episode, come to think of it. We begin it, with Ji An showing Dong Hoon unconditional solidarity, and we end the episode, with Dong Hoon giving the same, to Ji An.
The thing that really strikes me, about the reaction of Dong Hoon’s gang, when they hear that he’s been beaten up, is how urgently visceral, it is.
In particular, Ki Hoon’s angry desperation, to find whomever did this to his hyung, is really quite amusing. I mean, it’s obvious that he’s overreacting, but it’s also so clear, that he’s overreacting because of how much he loves Dong Hoon. And so, his madman ranting and raving endears him to me, more than anything, really.
I also find it very sweet, the way Ki Hoon agrees to be the official reason that Dong Hoon’s ended up so beat up, from “playing soccer” with him. As we see, this subjects Ki Hoon to a lot of scrutiny and scolding, particularly from Mom, and yet, he willingly bears it, because this is a way for him to protect Dong Hoon, when Dong Hoon needs him. I find it all very endearing, honestly.
Even though Dong Hoon acts normal in front of everyone, Ji An hears everything that he goes through.
Not only does she hear the entire fight that he has with Kwang Il, she also hears how he suffers from body aches and pains afterwards, and how it’s hard for him to truly function normally – and yet, in spite of that, he continues to be as kind and considerate as ever, even to strangers on the train.
It’s no wonder her heart continues to go out to him, and it’s no wonder her loyalties are so firmly in his corner. After all that he’s done to help and protect her, without even telling her, it’d be impossible not to be moved, in Ji An’s shoes.
I’m glad she gives him the slippers, even though she has to couch it as a thank you present, for helping Gran get into the assisted living facility.
I’m also glad that Dong Hoon helps Ji An move Gran to the assisted living facility, taking her on his back, even though we’ve just heard him say that his body is being torn apart, from the fight.
He’s such a kind person, really, to go above and beyond like this, without a second thought for himself. And how thoughtful is he, to go and buy snacks to put in Gran’s little cupboard, so that she’ll always have something on hand, if she feels hungry. Aw.
It’s no wonder Gran is so grateful to him. Her thank you note to Dong Hoon is really sweet and heartfelt, but I can feel the burden that this puts on Dong Hoon, when he reads it.
I mean, it really must be quite startling, to have Gran suddenly tell him that she can die in peace, knowing that someone like him is by Ji An’s side. There’s a lot of assumption built into that statement, since it’s usually said of a marriage prospect, and not of a normal friend.
Gran’s moment with Ji An, where Gran silently assures Ji An that everything’s fine, is so poignant. I love that thing that they share, where they touch foreheads, without speaking. It feels so close and so intimate, like it’s a time when the two of them are one. I love it.
I appreciate how Dong Hoon tells Ji An to do stuff that she wants to do, and basically live well among other people, as they’re leaving the facility. Even though it’s clear that Dong Hoon feels rather burdened by Gran’s words to him, it doesn’t stop him from telling Ji An to call him, if she ever needs help.
And, when Ji An demurs, saying that she worries about what other people would think if they knew she’s killed a person, Dong Hoon’s words are so liberating, “If you don’t consider it to be important… than other people won’t either.
And if you consider it to be serious then others will think of it that way, too. That’s how everything works. You’re the one who decides that. What happened in the past… is no big deal.”
Essentially, Dong Hoon’s helping Ji An to set herself free from the judgment of others, and the limitations that she’s placed on herself, because of her past. He’s showing her a way where she can have control, and where she’s set free from the past, and it’s pretty huge.
It’s something that Ji An’s likely needed for a very long time, but hasn’t been able to find, on her own, and hasn’t had anyone to tell her different either.
This is the lifeline that she’s wanted and needed, and I’m really glad that Dong Hoon’s able to give that to her. Not only that, he’s offering his community to her, to be the surrogate community that she’s never had. That must be a pretty big deal to Ji An too, since she’s never had one of those.
As for Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon’s marriage, things are certainly not easy.
Yoon Hee’s wracked with guilt, now that she realizes that Dong Hoon’s known for quite a while, that she was having an affair with Joon Young. Logically speaking, it does feel rather hypocritical of her to cry now, just because she knows that he knows.
Meaning, why hadn’t she felt this guilty before, just because she’d been under the assumption that Dong Hoon didn’t know? Whether Dong Hoon knows or not, doesn’t change the wrongness of her actions, after all.
However, it does feel like a very human sort of reaction. I believe Yoon Hee’s not alone, in being a situation where she’s clearly in the wrong, but the guilt only truly hits, when she realizes that the person she’s wronged, had known all along.
On Dong Hoon’s part, it slowly becomes clear, that even though his intention was to just carry on life as normal, without ever admitting that he knows of Yoon Hee’s infidelity, it’s a lot harder in practice, than it is, in concept.
The way Dong Hoon spaces out, after busying himself with the housework, and also, the way he literally turns right around, after taking the elevator to go up to his apartment floor, show us how much he’s struggling to actually do what he’d set out to, to act like everything’s normal, and the past is nothing.
As the net that Joon Young’s camp sets draws closer around Dong Hoon, I really appreciate how Ji An works to protect Dong Hoon.
First, there’s the way she defends Dong Hoon in front of Joon Young, even though Joon Young’s the one whom she’s supposed to be working for. And then, there’s the way she sets it up such that Joon Young thinks that he’s being tailed, and his partnership with Ji An is at risk of being outed.
And when all else seems to fail, there’s how Ji An makes that split-second decision, to sacrifice her relationship with Dong Hoon, in order to protect him.
She clearly knows that he’s being tailed, and she also clearly knows that the evidence being sought, is that of inappropriate interactions between her and Dong Hoon. And so she throws herself under the bus, to cause Dong Hoon to push her away, in order to ensure that no such evidence will be found.
Knowing how important Dong Hoon has become to her, this is such a self-sacrificial thing to do, isn’t it? Even though this will protect Dong Hoon, this also effectively drives a deep wedge between her and Dong Hoon, with no guarantee that it will ever be mended.
That’s gotta hurt Ji An, I’m sure. 💔
I only started watching K dramas about a year back, so I haven’t seen that many. But I think this one has left the deepest impression on me. By the end of episode 9 I knew I would be watching this series multiple times just to take in all the details I might have missed during the first viewing. In one of the later episodes, Dong Hoon mentioned that just to have Ji An’s encouragement helped him breathe. In episode 9, when Ji An heard Dong Hoon tell Kwang Il that he would have killed his father if he were in Ji An’ shoes, it really hit her deep. When she finally started sobbing, it almost looks like she was able to breathe after such a long time. Really moving.
The only ‘drawback’ about this series is that it is really hard to move on from this and watch something else. It’s that good.
Theory out of left field (just thought of it and can’t go back to confirm), but I seem to remember that in the flashback we only see scenes from when dh discovered the truth… For example, we don’t see the scene of when she avoided meeting his family at the wedding event with an excuse, and never called dh all day, to spend time with her lover at the beach (first episode, where the lonely, avandoned dh closed in on himslef and swallowed his pain while bearing his suffering in silence, rather than snap back or bother her), or really any of the scenes where she deceived and betrayed him in the past. Was wondering if it was a significant detail, almoat like telling us that what she is sorry about is getting caught, that it’s not about her hurting and humiliating him, but about getting discovered, the same qay the kid with the cookie jar is sorry for being discovered, but would’t have spared a second thought jad he gotten away with it.
Point is that this was not even a one-night stand (which would have itself required an explanation), she cheated with him for a year and got to the point where she was willing to stand by the side of her lover while he tried to fire him with the help of an accused murderer, while attempting to manipulate him to get him out of his job herself.
Why didn’t she have, at any point (like after their first encounter), guilt or second thoughts that stopped her? She could have broken things off at any point (or even come clean). Why didn’t she?
I agree with the perplexities, but disagree with the last point about it being a “very human sort of reaction”: you don’t seem to be able to wrap your head around it, and me neither. She was able to go for years without a shred of guilt. Even after the breakup, despite having been ready to divorce him, she didn’t feel any urge to come clean and give him the option of making an informed choice, and stayed with him (as the fallback option?). No guilt until she knows he knows, and before Ji An revealed it she was quite happy to treat him shortly and impatiently, only to get scared once she knew he knew.
This is only one of the aspects that disturbs me -that had he not known, she would have never felt any guilt or need to apologize-. The other is that if her lover had merely been willing to fire her husband, enlisting the help of an accused murderer, she would have still been by his side. She did not consider that a deal breaker, but lying to her about camping was. I really can’t square that kind of guilt with this scene, just because now she knows he knows (and in addition to that, that she remembered all his kindness and her being short/impatient with him, or him nursing her back to health after her breakup with her lover, and all the while he knew of her betrayal).
The thought that if her lover had just conspired to hurt her husband, without lying about camping (maybe because her husband hadn’t confronted him) she would still be by his side, and the complete lack of remorse all these years while she was betraying him with his worst enemy, coupled with her lack of guilt or desire to be honest with him after breaking up with her lover, makes it kind of difficult for me to take this seriously.
The question comes to mind: is she really guilty about what she did to him, or is she only sorry because he knows? And if her lover had merely wanted to hurt her husband, she would still be by his side and we wouldn’t even have this surge of guilt at all. I would really like to see this disconnect address, because no, I don’t think that’s how people normally behave, I cannot relate to it emotionally because it’s so alien to how I would imagine I would feel in such a situation -wracked by guilt every day-.
One more thought that came to mind is that before their breakup, she was planning to divorce him to go official with her lover (someone whose side she was willing to stand by, even as he fired his husband with her help of an accused murder) and didn’t show any guilt at the thought that he would learn of her relationship with his worst enemy. So it is not even about “him knowing”, but about “him knowing” and her having broken off her affair because her lover had lied to her about camping (again, had he merely wanted to hurt her husband she would have still been with him, planning to divorce her husband, with no guilt at the thought of him knowing).
Basically, in both the following scenarios she wouldn’t have felt guilty. The first is her lover not having lied to her about camping (trying to fire her husband with the help of an accused murderer was not a deal breaker), in that case they would not have broken up and she would be preparing for divorce, with no guilt at the thought of her husband learning of the relationship with his worst enemy (plus the guy that fired him thanks to an accused murderer). The second is her breaking up with her lover (not sure if the anguish afterwards was guilt at anything she did *to her husband*, or rather at having *chosen the wrong lover* (here defined as someone that might have hurt her husband, but not lied to her about camping, pretty low standard) and her husband knowing of the affair (otherwise she would have been prepared to continue to live with him -the fallback?- despite having previously wanted to divorce him, without being honest with him and letting him come to an informed decision, in other words without bothering to treat him as an equal, but rather as property she can dispose of/take decisions away from as she wishes-.
I am frankly increasingly baffled at how self absorbed and self pitying/self righteous she could be, when she constantly gaslighted her husband about not caring for her, when she essentially wouldn’t have cared or felt guilty about this whole thing, including standing by someone that wanted to hurt him, unless she found herself in the very specific set of circumstances of her lover lying to her about camping and her husband knowing about it (frankly, her lover’s lies and her being made aware of it are a product of Ji An and her husband: without Ji An the husband wouldn’t have discovered the affair, which wouldn’t have prompted her to confront her lover, which wouldn’t have lied to her about camping; without Ji An, she wouldn’t have heard her recording and known of the lie about camping.
By contrast, even in the worst moment of betrayal, her husband was also concerned about her (confronting her lover about him not marrying her if she divorced him, because she was a lawyer but not from a good family). He was exceedingly loyal and put his family before anything, which is why it hurt so much when one of the people he trusted unconditionally, a member of his family, did this to him. I feel that it’s not incorrect to say that he deserves better than her, if we compare their two attitudes and Ji An’s loyalty to him. The wife continues to accuse him of the exact same she does, only a thousand times worse, when she really has no leg to stand on to question her care for her, while she did all this.
“And what a perfect way to bookend the episode, come to think of it. We begin it, with Ji An showing Dong Hoon unconditional solidarity, and we end the episode, with Dong Hoon giving the same, to Ji An.”
Beautifully said, kfangurl!
The fight with Kwang Il was so difficult to watch the first time I saw it….I thought Dong Hoon would get beaten to a pulp. But when he said, “I’m warning you…I grew up with three brothers….” I started to think, “Wow, he can actually take Kwang Il!” And to put himself on the line like that, to offer to pay Ji An’s debt and to empathize so fully with her when he heard she had killed KI’s dad, was such a powerful moment, both for him and for us the viewers. I really liked how he said he felt like every cell in his body had woken up.
By the way, one of my favorite moments in Episode 10 is when the policemen find Ki Hoon outside the convenience store and say, “Hugye Morning Soccer Club – go home already.” Hehe.
So much good stuff coming up in Episodes 11 – 16.
Just as it felt to me that Episode 9 was the culmination of the first part of this narrative, I feel episode 10, for all the drama of its climax, is the beginning of the part to follow. We are back to 80 minute format, the collection of scenes that both move our plot and various sub plots forward, but with more the sense that by the end of this episode, all parts of it are driving toward a climax of equal power and seeming significance as that of episode 9.
What grabbed my attention:
Starting with the opening scene, reiterating the closing action, a common enough structural trope in K Dramas, often by use of flashback providing information that clarifies what actually was occurring unbeknownst to the audience. My Mister eschews such a choice, rather focusing much farther in on Li Ji An and her reaction to hearing the fight. We see she had begun tearing up almost from the beginning. We see her gasp for air when she hears Gwang Il tell Dong Hoon that she killed his father. We see her breath go out of her with Dong Hoon’s response.
Aside–did anyone else notice the gigantic fool moon above the staircase where Dong Hoon and Gwang Il were fighting. That moon over Soeul–almost looks like pictures of Jupiter!
Our first real take of Dong Hoon speaks to the tightness of the neighborhood men in their active concern for him and the numbers involved, first as they search him out, then when they confront him–Dong Hoon true to character–it’s nothing, his sense of circumspection–other people do not have to know about this shameful experience, and if they do not know, it’ll die down to nothing. We feel the tightness of the community at Jeong Hui’s–outsiders turned away, and when Ji An passes by she is nonverbally rebuffed from entering if that might have been an idea in her head. Of course, we see the tightness of the most internal group of pals, but the numbers go beyond just those guys, and as Dong Hoon later explains to Ji An–everyone knows everyone, also implying as such, everyone has each others back. This makes me think about how Li Ji Ah plays Yoon Hui when she is at mother’s house or at Jeong Hui’s. Doesn’t it seem that she feels out of place?
Between this subtle, rising to my consciousness, only after some reflection, sense of alienation–not a matter of dislike or even snobbery, just out of place, Li Ji Ah portrays with Dong Hoon’s people, the gradual reckoning she is coming to for hooking up with the disreputable Do Jun Yeong, whom we now know should have known better–she knows she should of known better–driving her to greater seizures of shame, along with the way she goes at this prime number one example of what is known as these days as “toxic masculinity,” the ruthlessness at which she goes at him with the express purpose, this very female feeling female, of emasculating the sob at every opportunity–I am quite enjoying her performance myself. And once again, what can or cannot one say about the way Kim Young Min is projecting Do’s abjectly sweaty seeming sliminess. Even when he says stuff that seem to reveal a feeling person, Kim just makes the guy seem like such a weasel, at least I am right there with Yoon Hui, handing her the scissors, rooting her on.
Though not half as much as I did just how Ji An, that kid, is playing him. She has him coming and going. The first time, when she goes to meet with the fellow, knowing he has found out about the friendship between Dong Hoon and her, she sets up a way around his suspicions, by first out talking him, and then setting up that phony photo spy situation, in which she will seemingly save his bacon. Then, at the end of episode, when she sees how Do Jun Yeong has taken a page from her book and employed a stalker photographer, she comes up with this amazing on the spot plot to get the guy to not only see that there is no hanky panky going on but that Dong Hoon, with all his sense of propriety is likely to be outraged or at the very least very resistant to her making a move on him. The first deed of course was just our girl, three steps ahead of that wiseguy Do, who always thinks he’s so smart–a tiny bit of schadenfreude for Ji An there. The second, however, costs her, and she knows it will. Ah yes, Li Ji An is far gone for Dong Hoon, quite willing to sacrifice herself to his cause.
On the other hand, I know a lot of folks in the past have wanted our protagonists to hook up eventually. Soul mates, why not lovers. But when I see Lee Sun Kyun’s stupified reaction to Li Ji An’s love confession, it most certainly reminds me of the couple of occasions in which having misread the signals, I allowed myself to crush on a good friend, intimate friend, a friend one does not want to lose, who did not reciprocate my feelings. That look on his face of “Don’t. Don’t do this. Please. Don’t,’ implying a kind of double rejection, the first of a lover’s affection, the second of the possibility now that the friendly intimacy is also at profound risk from here on out. Dong Hoon really does not think of Ji An that way, at least right now, and part of that has to do with how deeply embedded his moral code of behavior inhabits his core. This is a man for no matter how unambitious he is who is profoundly committed to doing what by his lights is the right thing–a man of convictions.
But…it appears that his willingness to fight Gwang Il, more, his actual fight turns out to be the question he asked of himself and Do Jun Yeong in the rooftop confrontation. How far can he take this situation; well despite all lack of ambition, he is quite ready to take up the mantle of his candidacy, and devil take the hindmost insofar as Do Jun Yeong is concerned.
“That look on his face of “Don’t. Don’t do this. Please. Don’t,’ implying a kind of double rejection, the first of a lover’s affection, the second of the possibility now that the friendly intimacy is also at profound risk from here on out. Dong Hoon really does not think of Ji An that way”.
Would you have called a 20 year old, who had a crush on you, “a crazy bitch” and hit her so hard she fell? Would DH normally do that? Remember how he barely touched the back of his subordinate’s head.
Also, in an earlier episode JA asked DH, if he ever hit a woman. DH answered “No”. Well, now he has. So, it took a girl’s confession to make him hit a woman? Don’t you think he overreacted a bit? And if yes, did you wonder why?
In a word, no.
To begin with this is more than a girl with a crush. This is considerably more than a girl friend being aggressively affectionate (and the male in question responding by shoving her away in front of his mother). This is repeated sexual abuse, even after the sternest of warnings against such, with one’s workplace supervisor, and extreme emotional abuse, which threatens to ruin his career.
Dong Hoon is a man with a deep sense of boundary. He won’t even let his brother joke around about Ji An having a crush on him because of his sense of boundary. It would be like someone joking thus about his daughter having a thing for a man twice her age. Not appropriate. When Ji An refers to him as ahjussi, he tells her he is her boss. He has on so many occasions drawn this boundary between them, such boundary being transgressed at this point in the game must strike him as a complete and utter betrayal. He has when this arose once before almost fired her on the spot and told her if she did this again he would without question terminate her position. NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR!
But way more than this, consider Dong Hoon’s state of mind. Yes he goes out of his way to help Ji An out, but the two most pressing things in his life right at this moment are keeping his marriage together–think of how despite everything he is so kind to Yoon Hee when she becomes sick; think of how he is willing, desires in fact for her not to know that he knows of her betrayal, a man fiercely determined to keep his marriage together. Dong Hoon is a man who wants to stay married, whatever you might think of their lack of emotional and communicative connection. There is absolutely no evidence in show that he could possibly desire to have a sexual affair with Ji An, whom he constantly treats as someone much, much younger.
Secondly, he has committed to the candidacy at his workplace in which the single obstacle, something he has been warned of by the managers putting forth his nomination and his own staff, would be a sexual scandal with Ji An–for all the obvious reasons: age, position, him being a married man, the whole nine yards.
This is someone whom he as forgiven theft, risked his life on her behalf, assisted with her grandmother in a life changing manner, and whose sense of propriety leads him to wait in a hallway while she and grandmother have their tete a tete. He is stunned in the moment that this is happening because it is so obvious the concept for him of a liason with Ji An is beyond his whole way of being, and given all that, given his whole feeling for her being one of an elder, a mentor, a protector, and someone who has openly and in front of witnesses already in no uncertain terms rebuffed her advances, is in his already utterly stressed state of mind stunned by what he perceives as a complete betrayal of not only him but the relationship between them.
What’s more, he does not hit her to begin with. It only occurs when she physically jumps him. He is not beating her in the sense of their prior conversation about hitting a woman; ie the way Gwang Il is continuously physically abusive of her, or his father of her grandmother. He is beating her off of him. Yes, it is done with greater force than the slap on the head of Mr. Kim, but it is also done in self defense, quite different than the situation with Mr. Kim.
If one is not interested, how repulsive is that? Would you allow someone half your age from your workplace, where you are his or her supervisor to accost you sexually more than once? If your marriage was in trouble? If your job might be on the line?
As far as the “crazy bitch” comment goes, I am not exactly certain of the translation there. I know the word in Korean for crazy sounds very much to English speaking ears like “bitch,” but I do not know if bitch is actually part of Dong Hoon’s epithet. And from Dong Hoon’s very straight, very ethical view of behavior, Ji An’s behavior (why are you doing this?) remains for lack of a better word in an extremely dramatic situation, well…”crazy.” She is someone quite capable of extreme violence, quite capable of disregarding what other people are feeling, even if she has her reasons. And jumping him, then shouting that she will tell the world he has a thing for her, most certainly in the shock of the moment strikes him as crazy, and because he feels also betrayed by it, evokes a strongly emotional response.
I know a lot of people want Dong Hoon to have a romantic thing for Ji An, and I suspect you are implying that he reacts so strongly because he indeed does have such a thing for her (if so, may I bat my eyes); for me that is a complete and utter mis-take of everything I know about his character and has more to do with some sort of romantic wish fulfillment for our two protagonists. She is a kid to him; he says it over and over and over. In his life, while having some sort of special connection, for Dong Hoon any such romantic connection is completely off his radar (and for me that is also a part of his appeal as a human being–that it would not occur to him to get romantically involved with her), and, in fact, threatens him in very profound ways, threatens his job, threatens his marriage, threatens his entire world view, threatens the possibility of their actual and real connection.
Ji An for me is behaving heroically in this scene, sacrificing herself on his behalf, so that the photographer stalking them will come up empty because she absolutely knows how he will respond, and her character endears me toward her. She is doing her utmost to get Dong Hoon to react that way and not because she thinks he “likes” her, but because she knows in her heart of hearts that he does not consider her in that way, however much he cares about her, however much she cares about him.
BE, a 100%, no, 120%. you said everything i was drumming about before in many other comments about dh and ja.
This is not last time the term “crazy bitch” was used, and I’ll continue my post in the spoiler thread.
I’ll respond after we watch the next two episodes.
I agree. Dong Hoon’s affection for Ji Ah feels completely platonic. As you very well explained, a person like DH would find the mere thought of romance with JA exploitative and inappropriate. Even if the weaker part of his brain veered in that direction (because JA is a beautiful woman after all) I’m sure he would put those thoughts in check. He’s a grown up after all.
We don’t see any kind of conflict in Dong Hoon on that score, whereas we are seeing it in Kwang Il… and in spades. Talk about needing to grow up…
@BE – thanks for this. I had a hard time understanding Jian throwing herself at him, and I felt it wasn’t at all seductive or sexy in any way (but kind of awkward, especially given their height differences) if someone were trying to evoke another person’s like response. But if Jian’s goal was to make him feel attacked and she knew he would react the way that he did – that does make sense (and makes more sense for what we had been shown of both characters’ character and interaction up until that point). Thanks, BE.
art in general, especially theater and cinema, is a mirror of life, us and all that functions or dysfunctions in this world, all that builds or destroys. we humans like to see ourselves in that mirror, identify, hate, love, condemn, rejoice, cry and laugh… that is all human. that is THAT drama.
a few things that impressed me in those two episodes. you ra with her neurotic nagging demands comes to the brother’s cleaning business. and suddenly it looks like a strong wind blew in and opened the closed book of ki-hoon – he talks to her and he’s completely open (like an open book) and sincere and vulnerable “how would he feel if you-ra truly makes it as an actress on the big screen??? ” his words like a pure translucent stream coming down from the top of a mountain and spills on stunned you-ra. this drama is full of lessons. lesson here: if you are searching for a path to somebodies heart – the pure truth, sincerity is the way.
dh is talking to the old man, the genitor, who tells him ja’s sad story. question: why does the truth matter? answer: our hearts don’t move based on logic. the deep gap between heart and mind – that is the gap dh has to mend and reconcile by finding “the middle ground”.
episode 10. dh and kwang il are in the middle of a ferocious wild animals fight over ja. at the same time ja on the background of the city, a tiny ball of misery crouching on the bridge, city towering behind her as a symbol of her grief, as tall, as grey, as unyielding, as overpowering as all those tall big buildings, a huge concrete jungle. the juxtaposition – stunning visuals, that is called art.
acting: (here, but also throughout the drama) ja – she does not speak, but tells more than words can say. her acting is more than i can express in words.
her grandmother – little has been said about her here, but i truly appreciate this actress, i like watching her face, her micro expressions, from the very first time when ja is taking her in the shopping cart from the nursing home wrapped in a blanket, with only her eyes and her nose picking out and now, when she interacts with ja – so touching, so expressive and quietly impressive. again, no words, but no need for words – that is called acting. love it.
Son Sook is wonderful in this as Li Ji An’s grandmother. An interesting connection that just came to my mind would be yes how Li Ji An is so communicative with the barest of inflections, and her grandmother is mute. Was this conscious on the part of the writers, director, actors?
Son Sook is an old pro and suggested that I U do stage work to increase her range. She is wonderful in a speaking part in the special “A Jaunt,” which K has reviewed here: https://thefangirlverdict.com/2020/12/18/flash-review-a-jaunt-drama-special/
Yes I did think it was a good choice to have Ji An generally speak very little, it would make sense given that she was brought up by her deaf grandmother, she would be more comfortable in sign language. Not to mention her ordeal with her mother’s loan sharks and feeling neglected by “the system” 🙁
You have all said so much that all I can do, really, is nod, like, and agree. But I’ll mention one thing I brought up last week, which is that the last 5-6 min of Ep 9 are among the tightest written and best acted aspects of this or any drama. I know that many watchers do not like the use of flash-backs in K-dramas and I do understand why (although for me they are usually more helpful than not. But here they are masterfully utilized: Dong-Hoon flashing to his interactions with JI An on the way up those stairs (from noticing JI An’s injuries in the past, “Why did you slap him?/”Because he badmouthed you”….”Fighting!”). The run-up to the actual fight was as tense as the fight was inevitable. Dong Hoon making clear that he will not back down (those brothers!). And that beat when JI An – and ourselves – wait to hear how Dong Hoon will process the news about Ji An’s having killed Kwang Il’s un-dearly departed father. And finally Ji An’s short journey to breakdown.
My very favorite episode in the drama, because as you note K, all the little turns, all the nuanced changes over the course of the first eight episodes, crescendo with the climax of episode nine. From the fellows at their tuna to the fight scene in the end, the confrontation between Yoon Hee and Li Ji An, Sang Hoon’s vision of his mother’s funeral, the appearance of Yu Ra bringing the vision back to reality, and the many pov misunderstandings we as the audience are privy to, this episode, which also has a considerably shorter running time than all the previous episodes, packs an indelible punch, most strongly delivered by I U’s incredible performance in this episode.
One thing in this episode I would like to proffer an alternate take on is Sang Hoon’s desire for a grandiose funeral for his mother, his obsession with it. First of all, by inference it strikes me that Korean society has a deeply embedded Confucian sensibility to it, and read Confucious, nothing was more central to his philosophy than an appropriate, and in the case of one’s elders, profoundly filial observation of very ornate funeral rites, an observation in its contemporary South Korean iteration that is largely repeated but not so deeply emphasized in other K dramas–simply the de rigeur death photograph, for example. While Gi Hoon is clearly the most modern and sophisticated of the brothers, Sang Hoon is the most stuck in times past. And his whole pathos is contained in the reality that he has failed as a husband and as a son. When he speaks to Dong Hoon about this at the tuna dinner, he breaks down–not what the oldest brother should ask of a younger brother. For me, I can only say, there is something beautiful, and not morbid at all about a grandiose funeral with lots of flowers and food and folks giving their one last huzzah to family members about the life of a loved one. I know when my sister passed away, I was quite gratified to have so many people come up to me, and tell me what a wonderful person she was. I felt it was something she deserved, because, indeed, she was a wonderful person. There is no doubt mother is a simply wonderful human being in this, and aging. Sang Hoon is fifty so not quite so old, but nonetheless fifty does seem from my experience the beginning of the time of funerals, just as in my country the twenties commence a time of weddings. Personally, I love those funeral feasts I see in these shows, and love even more the New Orleans style wake in which musicians and mourners dance in the streets at a loved one’s passing. I do want people to dance at my funeral; a funeral should be the celebration of a whole life, and a final wave breaking at the shore. I get why it is so important to Sang Hoon, who in his cups is always so startlingly willing to touch upon maudlin topics (think of his commentary on drinking for example), which make everyone else feel uncomfortable (not unlike Yoo Ra if one thinks about it).
Another point I would like to pick up that I did not express in my discussion of the previous episode in which it is really brought to light for the first time is Li Ji An’s body language and facial expression when she is running, as she does on a couple of occasions in this episode. This is part of a directorial achievement as well, which I touched upon in my comments on the first two episodes. When Li Ji An walks, she has a tough girl strut to her, an attitude. It comes up again, when walking home after she has discovered that Dong Hoon has found out about the stolen bribe money and is certain from overhearing his conversations and his refusal to take her to eat, she is convinced that he has found her out, but it is a gait that IU never wavers from in her characterization. But when she runs, there is such an ernest expression on her face, so young, almost child like, and in her arms pumping. It is as she expressed to Dong Hoon over their beers, she disappears into her truer self. When folks who have not seen the show ask why IU gets cut so much slack early on, it is in part because Li Ji An when she runs is such a sympathetic character. As an older man in the audience, and I assume she brings this sympathy out in folks of either gender and every orientation and age each in their own way, I want to protect this fragile soul, who can only be herself when running to be with or protect the first person in her life whom she deeply admires. Of course, we see it as well, as with the screen shot shown in this post, with her grandmother, the two of them touching foreheads.
Watching this episode this time, I found one of its dramatic master strokes to be how we are consistently being shown how characters’ various points of view are all somewhat tunnel visioned. Li Ji An is certain she has been shown up for who she is once she realizes what Gwang Il’s partner has revealed to Dong Hoon. The despair she feels is written all over her face. And truth be told, since the audience has from the get go known about her theft of the bribe, but put it in its own rear view mirror, Dong Hoon’s immediate pause before after some time he goes to her janitor friend, is also quite striking. Maybe he does not jump to conclusions, but he does apologize to his workers, even Assistantn manager Kim, who has had a hard case for Ji An from the get go, for hiring the wrong person.
And of course, there is something pathetically comic about Supervisor Yoon’s take on the whole thing, but also a bit of a hole in Jun Yeong’s game for not really realizing that Dong Hoon has more stuff to him than he can imagine. Indeed when Ji An calls Dong Hoon ahjussi, he responds by telling her that he is her boss; part of Dong Hoon’s strength and pov is truly determined by his sense of hierarchy that seems so much part of Korean culture that it inhabits speech.
But where the greatest irony lies is with Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon. She has a legitimate complaint with him that he tells everyone but her about his candidacy. Of course, he spilled the beans to assure Sang Hoon from going off the deep end, and it snowballed from there, and the brothers were actually the ones that told their mother. But Yoon Hee is also feeling guilty, ashamed, because mother informed her while praising her to the high heavens as her son’s wife. Then we have Dong Hoon’s legitimate silence, because he knows she is plotting to have him quit, and start up a company of his own, in order to ease her conscience; because he knows that she knows everything about how Jun Yeong has been plotting to get rid of him too; because he is not yet aware that the two of them have completely broken off and Yoon Hee is bereft of shame for having had an affair with such a creepy guy; and because the fact is Dong Hoon is a naturally reticent guy, as likely to have kept this from her, as he had wished to keep it from his mother, in order to keep from getting anyone’s hopes up about a situation fraught with difficulties.
But even larger is Yoon Hee’s ignorance of Dong Hoon’s knowing, which prompts her to invite Ji An for a tete a tete. One can easily see the added shock that Jun Yeong was paying Ji An to perpetrate a sexual scandal by getting it on with Dong Hoon. She is so irate, she basically tells Ji An–look it kid, I will match anything Jun Yeong is offering, but butt the eff out of my marriage. And in doing so makes the big mistake of looking down her nose at Ji An as a lowlife creep. Ah, this other irony of Dong Hoon and Ji An, while Dong Hoon thinks sweeping things under the rug preserves the sanity of any situation, allows time to pass, people to change, Ji An, even despite being found out and seemingly heart broken at the upshot, believes quite the opposite. And she is po’ed with Yoon Hee. She wavers for a second and then just dumps on her–the subtext, listen lady, who are you to look down at me, your husband, whom you and I both know deserves better, knows everything about you and that slimy toad, Do Jun Yeong. What a fell swoop! Not enough is said about Li Ji Ah in this show, but this scene and what follows, my goodnesss!
The final scene of episode 9–what can one say? Episode after episode, IU just with the barest of nuances, body language, facial expression reveals her character, it’s changes, but in this scene there is no nuance to it. Her friend, the janitor, Chun Dae (who lives out his days in a shack of corrugated aluminum in what looks like a junk yard) says something true to Dong Hoon about the logic of affection. There are people we know, if we just looked at their behavior, and told others about it, they would find that person reprehensible, but because we know that person, we cannot help but feel sympathetic, affectionate. Dong Hoon represents that–the true friend, the person who loves us despite our failings. The one all of us, let alone a child/woman who has suffered and perservered through that suffering without such a friend, longs for. That is the kind of guy he is, and that is who he especially is for Ji An. That he risks injury, maybe even death, on her behalf, after she has betrayed him already in so many ways she above all is aware, oh, this girl whom we know cares so much about the ones she loves that she was willing as child to ruin her own life over, just broken down to the ground, sloppy and sobbing her face out, feeling for Dong Hoon, so that we feel it too, this fiction, as if it were real. What a scene! Bring out the kleenex; here we go.
BE – this show is masterful and so is your analysis of every episode. Your writing has given me a greater love for this show which I did not think possible! thank you for always sharing, it gives so much more depth and perspective to each episode.
Thanks for the kind words. I wish I could state things as clearly as K does. She is just indispensible, especially for the way one feels reading her comments, one is as she appears to be encountering the show as it goes on in real time, and one is right there with her as she lays it out. I like doing these rewatches and writing about them because it helps me focus, and also bounce off other people here who look at the show from a different lens than I do. These group watch posts are just terrific compendiums, and folks who come to these shows later can certainly benefit from, while going at our admittedly reined in pace, everyone’s takes.
BE – you are a master of detail. I come here (My Mister GW) only for your comments which are so very good BE. I notice that you have not posted (I did not check all the spoilers posts) for any episodes past here and I hope you are OK.
These two episodes were so emotional and gripping…. Where to start? The whole sequence in which Dong Hoon finds out about Ji An’s secret was very well written. It starts with the visit to the janitor’s place happening while Ji An is talking to Yun Hui (and we find out that Yun Hui is just a cowardly snobby one, who doesn’t really have her husband’s best interest at heart). Then Ji An’s backstory is narrated after Dong Hoon leaves the janitor’s place. The visual flashback is simple and elegant, recreating Dong Hoo’s POV after seeing a photo of young Ji An in which she is holding a bouquet of flowers. And finally Dong Hoon discovers that Ji An killed Kwang Il’s father during the most emotional and violent fight. The last scene is Ji An crying her eyes out. Her secret is out. Symbolically speaking both fighting men represent the duality of her feelings about her sin: Kwang Il is the devil on her shoulder, condemning her, whereas Dong Hoon is the angel, forgiving her.
We also find out in that sequence that Ji An did not know that she didn’t have to inherit her mother’s debts… So this puts to rest the debate we had last week about her being helped by social services when her mother abandonment and subsequent death: she wasn’t. It appears she had nobody advising her.
Kwang Il is still an enigma. He’s a piece of trash but his dad was even worse! Was it insinuated that he used to rape Jin An? That’s what I understood, that he used the grandmother to force Ji An to do “everything he wanted”… it doesn’t seem that Kwang Il has sexually assaulted her yet, but he does seem to be going in that direction…
I’m feeling slightly sorry for Yun Hui. She feels pushed out of Dong Hoon’s life and that’s probably why she had an affair. I mean, it’s obvious she and Dong Hoon are pretty different… What is imperdonable is her falling for that twerp… honestly, what was she thinking?
I am finally seeing how this show is making us feel Dong Hoon’s son’s absence: by having his photograph (either in focus or out of focus) in every scene shot inside Dong Hoon’s house. During any conversation, any silence, any pensive moment within those walls we see a photo of the boy. It’s subtle and I’m starting to feel more comfortable with this narrative choice. It is a reminder that these people’s existence is centred on this absent child, whose company their parents have sacrificed for a brighter future. Alluding to the boy’s existence in such a muted way adds to the melancholy and slight dystopian feel of this drama.
Great point about Kwang Il being the devil on Ji An’s shoulder mouthing blame and condemnation and Dong Hoon offering understanding, solidarity and acceptance. I found it amazing that Dong Hoon walked into the lion’s den to confront Kwang Il. There was a moment where he paused, then forced himself to go on. Amazing bravery and he was prepared to take a beating and give as good as he got! That suspenseful few seconds after Kwang Il revealed that Ji An killed his father – we see Ji An freezing, fearing this will finally make Dong Hoon reject and abandon her. But instead he says he would have done the same, the most cathartic acceptance and forgiveness, beyond what she or us the audience could ever have imagined! Dong Hoon has really taken on Ji An as family, his confrontation of Kwang Il echoes his confrontation with the condo developer who humiliated Sang Hoon.
Such confrontations are clearly not in his nature. The scene after his confrontation with the condo developer, where he breaks down, clearly highlight this. Him pausing is another reflection of that. It’s clearly something not in his nature but he forces himself to do it anyway, because he come to care that much for her.
It’s also notable that he doesn’t even have a concrete plan on how to deal the situation this time. He can’t take a hammer and knock on walls to get what he wants, and he doesn’t know how the confrontation will turn out, but he goes anyway.
And yeah, him saying that he would have done the same is just such a cathartic moment. It’s what Ji An really needed. She’s been struck with so much guilt and fear due to the murder. She doesn’t need someone to go beat up Gwang Il, what she needs is someone to fully understand and accept her, to tell her that she isn’t a bad person.
Yes, Ji An needed to hear the compassionate reaction of Dong Hoon’s about her killing Kwang Il’s dad. That girl is so isolated and in her own world that she has never heard a kind word from anyone… Dong Hoon’s being understanding about this issue was never a surprise to the audience though, as the janitor had given him all the context, so I personally was not so much moved about his reaction, but relieved that Kwang Il’s twisted logic was being challenged at long last. After the initial shock it was logical for Dong Hoon to have even more compassion for Ji An.
Sexual assault or prostitution definitely was a possibility, but it could also have been other illegal things (similar to what the she and her friend did to Director Park, I suppose). Hopefully it was the latter.
With Yoon Hee, the show does a really, really good job of humanizing her. She’s obviously wrong for what she did, but at the same time, we understand how she feels. It’s also a reflection of another problem with Dong Hoon’s personality of never wanting to burden his family with his troubles – it creates that emotional distance that led to this mess. She’s obviously still wrong for having the affair, but she’s not written to be a villain.
Regarding the photos, it’s definitely very interesting that the camera always deliberately focuses on the family photo of the three of them. It’s almost always after a tense / unhappy moment between the two of them, and I initially read those shots as a reminder of happier times. Do like your interpretation that it serves a reminder of their child’s absence though.
Yes, you make a very good point. The photos of the child do appear to serve as a reminder of happier times in sheer contrast with the harsh reality they are experiencing. A great example of visual storytelling.
About Kwang Il’s dad, it would be naive to think that he didn’t prostitute or sexually abused Ji An… I suppose that, because this drama is shown on Korean TV, there are certain aspects they want to leave vague or less explicit, but if one fixates in the realism of this show, this is the logical conclusion unless otherwise stated.
The show is making the character of Kwang Il slightly sympathetic, in spite of repeatedly heating Ji An, by giving him contradictory emotions and having a good looking actor playing the part. I’m ok with this, but what makes this choice more tolerable for me is imagining that his father was the worst and that kwang il was most likely abused by him too.
She’s obviously wrong for what she did, i do not know if wrong is the right word here. she had no way to bounce off her husband’s emotions, it is like there were none. the container of her emotions was either completely empty or almost empty (it’s a very lonely place to be in) she needed to fill it, and unfortunately came across the jerk, the ceo, the class-mate. and it happened. it can happen to anyone, even to the best of us. i’m sure she did not plan it, did not look for it. the truth is that even if she was not really thinking, analyzing the situation and the possibility of the destruction of her marriage, it would not really matter since there were not much of a marriage left anyway.
Maybe what she did wrong, more than falling for that jerk, is being cowardly about confronting her husband and forcing him not to ignore her? It is often the fault of some women’s upbringing, which conditions them to be submissive and not confrontational. If she had just hurled a couple of shouts to her husband instead of trying to please him all the time, things would have faired better for her. I blame the patriarchy 😁
gloglo, i hear you, but i doubt that her upbringing as a submissive woman (even if true) is the “blame” here. she’s very independent, educated, earning more money than her husband, a woman of the modern world – in one word (ok, may be a few words) – she’s no submissive missy in a pink apron in the kitchen serving her husband. and if “submissive” would have been truly ingrained in her, she would most likely suffer quietly, accepting her fate, and would not even dare to start an affair. and i did not see many signs of her trying to please dh. most of the time she locked herself in the other room and disregarded her husband’s existence all together (it just came to this state, both parties are responsible). and how would she confront her husband? “hei, i’m going to have an affair, your ceo is after me (and i like him), so you better get your act together, or else …” the reality is, in situations like this it is extremely difficult to confess about an affair on many levels, even if the goal is to break up. and simply shouting at dh as you seem to suggest – he will just apologize, he will not get into a fight, that is dh.
I see what you mean, but I still think that her fault was burying her head in the sand. I do agree that she’s a modern woman on paper: she’s independent economically and does not subscribe to the “housewife” kind of category, but let’s be honest, just because you’re educated and sophisticated, it does not follow that you’re going to be particularly strong or one to fight your corner in a marital relationship: she let herself be emotionally dependent on her husband, paid for her mother in law’s apartment instead of her own mother’s hospital bills… like, what?! She tries hard for Dh’s friends and family to love her, instead of kicking up a fuss and say: “I’m here, man. Give me attention. Don’t spend all of you spare times with your bros and bar buddies. Do stuff that I like with me!”. She didn’t do that. Instead she pretender or withdrew from it all. That’s not being open and upfront. She could, and should, have fought her corner before having the affair. She should have spoilt her soft and poised image to be more raw, difficult and honest. She just comes across as a product of patriarchal brainwashing, the “be a good girl” brainwashing.
For example, the older brother’s wife was a housewife but she’s a much stronger visceral woman: she left her husband when he took the money from her daughter’s wedding and also when she realised that he was avoiding finding a job according that fitted her standards ( even though, I know, she was perhaps too quick to dismiss the cleaning business due to some kind of deep rooted snobbery, but hey, she was clear and upfront. She did not go behind his back. That’s, for me, much more honorable.
I would also add that yes, perhaps DH would not get into a fight after being confronted, but at least he would have been forced to hear from his wife about her unhappiness and some hard truths… This is what communication is. At least, with this knowledge, DH could have understood his wife was unhappy and that he needed to do something to better the situation. Knowing this state of affairs, DH could have prepared himself for the eventuality of his wife finding another man, because the writing was on the wall, so to speak.
i have a feeling that she did bring it up in the past, i mean she complained that she does not like his drinking with his brothers and friends every day, she did not like it that he seemed to consider his own family above their little unit – her, him and son. she just got to a point of realization that nothing would change in his behavior. to communicate one’s unhappiness in a marriage does not have to be screaming, getting excessively angry (of course, depends on one’s character), and somehow it all went down the drain. she gave up, he did not make an effort to change anything.
and sang-hoon and wife were separated way before the wedding. they mention it a few times in the drama., i am not sure she loves him, the drama does not dwell on it too much, but i think it is more a matter of habit for him and for her. he does not want to be alone in his old age, and she would go back to him if he can be a provider.
It all depends on interpretation, really. I personally felt that she didn’t share her feelings about wanting to be a “family of three” until she was confronted about the affair by DH… there is a scene at the beginning where she gets angry at him leaving a bag of fish open in the fridge. That seemed to be her way of voicing dissatisfaction in her marriage, rather that speaking openly… It’s not a question of shouting, it’s a question of being upfront and clear. I also think that, if she had really felt she had played a fair and open game, she would not have felt so guilty and remorseful, and ready to make amends, when she was found out.
As for the older brother and his wife, at the end of the show it is mentioned they come back together. I do think there was love there between those two.
i think now, in episode 12, (no more a spoiler since the group already watched it) when they each share their grievances and what each of them tried to do for the other and the marriage, it sounds to me that she has been dealing with those issues for many years, and i feel that she tried to communicate (may be not insisting, not powerful enough), but for example she mentioned many times that she wanted to move away from this neighborhood. she must have had an explanation of why she wanted to move from this neighborhood. she also objected to get a bigger car (he said he wanted to be able to get his whole family in a van), but she explained that for her the 3 of them constitutes the family – she must have explained the basis of her objection. but according to her, dh just would not answer to her complains or requests or demands (call it whatever you want), so definitely they both made mistakes, huge ones, but it takes two to tango. in spite of all of this, i feel that there is some kind of undercurrent of genuine care for each other that is still existing. she clearly does not want to hurt him, she wants to protect him, she does express compassion for him, offering to do whatever he wants, and do it in a way that he wants – to stay or to go. dh also takes care of her when she is stricken with grief, in bed. and we get only glimpses of what is going on, of course, it’s an impossible, complicated, confusing situation for both of them. that is why i was thinking that there still might be a slight chance of getting back on a major repair , demolition-reconstruction deal. of course, we are left to continue this drama in our own heads. but at this point, i think that for dh it is irreparable.
Actually, I got the impression that Ae-Ryeon had separated from Sang Hoon way before the daughter’s wedding. Even when the brothers were getting fitted for suits, the way they talked about Ae-Ryeon suggested she was the ex-wife, but they can’t let their future son-in-law know they are not living together anymore. The stealing wedding gifts was just the latest action for Ae-Ryeon to get contemptuous of. Also, while Ae-Ryeon was ashamed of the cleaning business, I got the impression she felt empathy for Sang Hoon that he had to stoop to this. She wasn’t being contemptuous, she was crying for him.
Actually, I think you’re right. It’s clear the woman loves him… I just think she can’t put up with his lack of motivation any longer.
I think the debt thing was difficult, too, with creditors going after her address. But I agree – she clearly still loves him.
Kwang Il is the devil on her shoulder, condemning her, whereas Dong Hoon is the angel, forgiving her. seems like this is one of the center lines or THE center line of this drama: the black and the white, the cold and the hot, the good and the eveil, the god and the devil… each side is presented powerfully and moving. gloglo, i really like the way you described it. and the viewer is there to watch and judge what each side brings to the table, how it actually effects the forces involved and what effect it has on the society. so interesting and so multidimensional, slowly but steadily trap each of us into it’s most intricate web.
kwang ill is another example of the same opposite forces, but here it is going on within himself. he’s desperately infatuated with ja, since childhood, on the other hand he must avenge his father for being killed by this young woman, who lives free rent in his own brain and heart. he’s obsessed with desire and revenge, tough place to be. and he’s not very smart or able to analyze, so that makes double crazy for him. (i am not justifying him in any way).
I love these two episodes, and that scene at the end of episode 9 just kills me, every time. I’ve mentioned before how effectively the director has been in juxtaposing Ji-an’s eavesdropping on events with the effect of what she’s hearing has on her, and this is an outstanding example. That picture of her running as she realizes the confrontation taking place, how stricken she looks when Kwang-il screams that she killed his father, and how she crumples and just starts sobbing at Dong-hoon’s response.
The scene at the end of episode 10, I think you are right that Ji-an clearly knows about the tail (she sees them watching Dong-hoon at the little restaurant where they’ve eaten together before), and she knows they’re looking to get him on “scandal” grounds, and she is acting to defang that attack, by provoking him with a blatant come-on so that he angrily rejects her in front of the spy.
But the way I read that scene, I think there’s some more complexity to it as well. I get the impression that there are layers to what Ji-an is saying: she is speaking to provoke him, but ironically, she is also at least somewhat telling the truth. She is struggling with her feelings for Dong-hoon, it is causing her at least some internal turmoil, and maybe she does want him to forcefully reject her so she maybe she can get some clarity and find her way back to some calm and apathy or something.
(Here I am somewhat reminded of that iconic scene from late in Reply 1988,
Anyway, great episodes, and things are getting more tense and dangerous: for Dong-hoon, as he really enters the ring to contend for promotion; and for Ji-an, as the various factions become more aware of her and really start sniffing around her background and what she’s doing.
@Trent, I was also thinking of Reply 1988, although in a different context. The reaction of the ahjussy gang to Dong Hoon getting beaten up made me think that they must have been friends from early childhood. Dong Hoon also mentioned how close the whole neighborhood group is. The ahjussis are probably the same age as the characters of Reply 1988 and probably share similar experiences.
Good point. They definitely give off that same very tight-knit, known-each-other-forever neighborhood vibe.
There’s definitely a lot of truth to what she confessed, as the moments she listed were true – she gave him slippers which he hasn’t worn yet, and she’s obviously keeping tabs. She also did wander around at night to catch glimpses of him. And I also think she really wanted those feelings to go away at this point, as she’s aware it’s not appropriate. She is DH’s subordinate and their closeness is already being used against him, and DH is a married man. So I agree about the internal turmoil that must be bugging her. Kfangirl puts it perfectly – that she is sacrificing her relationship with DH in order to protect him.
For Dong Hoon who is not aware that they are being tailed and that it was an act, Ji An’s words were a candid confession of her feelings. And based on how he reacted, it was something that obviously struck a deep nerve and shocked him to his core. And I love the final moments — Ji An strutting away that exclaimed “mission accomplished,” while Dong Hoon was left shellshocked.
“For Dong Hoon who is not aware that they are being tailed and that it was an act, Ji An’s words were a candid confession of her feelings.” Yeah, IF Dong Hoon had had any inkling of her feelings before this, he could bury it. But now that she has said all this stuff out loud, he has to deal with it! You’re right, he doesn’t know that she’s putting on an act so he has to take everything she’s saying at face-value for now.
The way she struts away is so nuanced, too – it’s mission accomplished but she’s also sad that their relationship is now broken. Being called a “crazy b****” couldn’t have been nice for her to hear, from her dear friend Dong Hoon.
“The scene at the end of episode 10, I think you are right that Ji-an clearly knows about the tail (she sees them watching Dong-hoon at the little restaurant where they’ve eaten together before), and she knows they’re looking to get him on “scandal” grounds, and she is acting to defang that attack, by provoking him with a blatant come-on so that he angrily rejects her in front of the spy.
But the way I read that scene, I think there’s some more complexity to it as well. I get the impression that there are layers to what Ji-an is saying: she is speaking to provoke him, but ironically, she is also at least somewhat telling the truth. She is struggling with her feelings for Dong-hoon, it is causing her at least some internal turmoil, and maybe she does want him to forcefully reject her so she maybe she can get some clarity and find her way back to some calm and apathy or something.”
Very well put and I agree that it’s a pretty complex scene. She knows of the tail and Do Joon Young has just told her that she needs to produce “results” or “progress” in the next two days. But we can see she does have feelings for Dong Hoon and this scene is a confession of sorts.