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. 💔