Open Thread: My Mister Episodes 11 & 12

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I wanted to have this shot headline our post today, because this is such a life-giving moment, for Dong Hoon. ❤️

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:

1. ZERO SPOILER POLICY ON THE OPEN THREAD

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

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

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

2. SPOILER ZONE AVAILABLE

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

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

My thoughts

Episode 11

Things are boiling over, this episode, and it’s not pretty. Not only does it feel like things are falling apart, it also feels like people and relationships are on the cusp of falling apart as well.

This episode, we see that Ji An had been very cognizant that Dong Hoon was being tailed, when she’d provoked him to hit her for her love confession. Again, that drives home the point that Ji An’s willing to do a lot, and go very far, in order to protect Dong Hoon.

We’ve seen how much Dong Hoon means to her, and for someone as isolated as Ji An, her connection with Dong Hoon must provide her with a lot of solace and comfort. And so, for her to risk throwing it all away, by provoking him with a love confession – which is something that has a strong chance of causing Dong Hoon to distance himself from Ji An – it really shows how sacrificially she cares about him.

Everything that Ji An does in relation to Dong Hoon, this episode, lines up with that. Even though she tries to bluff Joon Young, that she’s doing what she can to bring Dong Hoon down, it’s clear, from how she tells Dong Hoon to fire her in front of everyone – complete with instructions on what to say – that she’s willing to throw herself under the bus, if it would mean saving Dong Hoon.

In the wake of this confrontation, it’s clear that Dong Hoon’s troubled by it, even though Ji An puts on her expressionless mask and goes about her work as usual. He keeps looking for her, as if to check to see if she’s ok. Like when he takes a smoke break outside Jung Hee’s bar, and looks into the distance, as if he expects to maybe Ji An walking home from work. Or like when his eyes linger at her empty desk, when she’s not at her workstation.

I feel like on top of being perplexed by her actions, he’s likely also worried about her, and is curious to know why she would suddenly act so strangely.

I do love that he takes up the matter of the slippers with Ji An, and basically tells her that there’s no way he’s going to cut her out of his life. His entire spiel is so detailed, and so great, at painting a picture of exactly how he wants to continue to have Ji An in his life, even if it’s uncomfortable.

“I’m too old to immaturely fire you for liking me and I feel sick thinking about firing you and then ignoring you when we run into each other in the street. I have plenty of people I feel uncomfortable facing. I can’t stand to have any more. I can’t, because I feel sorry for myself for putting up with people like that.

“Also, even if I didn’t talk to a guy while we were in school once I meet his parents and say a few words, we’re not strangers anymore. That’s how I am. I’ll be at your grandmother’s funeral, so you’d better be at my mother’s. So get over it. Don’t sulk over it. I’ll treat you the way I treat Chief Song and Deputy Kim, without any spite so treat me the same way.

“And be nice to people. Isn’t it basic etiquette to treat people nicely? Why do you act like that? Did someone commit an unforgivable sin against you? I know the other employees didn’t treat you nicely. I’ll make sure that changes, so do better from now on.

“I’m going to see you finish your contract term and I’m going to hear that you’re doing well at another company. And then in 10 or 20 years when I run into you again I’m going to greet you warmly. I won’t avoid you because I feel uncomfortable. I’m going to face you with a smile. Let’s do that. I’m begging you. Let’s do that.”

And, I have to love Dong Hoon’s parting shot, “Buy me another pair of slippers.”

Ji An looks completely moved, that Dong Hoon would fight this hard, to keep her in his life, and I love it.

Besides this, there’s also how Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon attempt to carry on with life as usual, and I find their conversation about him going to the bar because there’s no point in coming home to an empty house, and her coming home late because she thinks he’ll be at the bar, painfully relatable.

Not that I’ve found myself in a similar situation; it just feels like something that can happen to any couple. An unhelpful downward spiral of assumptions and lack of communication can lead to a serious eroding of a relationship, and I feel like that’s exactly what’s happened with Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon.

Neither of them can figure out how it started, but at the same time, even when Dong Hoon says that he’ll only go to the bar twice a week to hang out with his brothers, Yoon Hee demurs and tells him to just keep going, because it would be weird if he suddenly changed his habits. It feels like things have deteriorated to a point where an offer to do something to fix the situation, probably feels like too little, too late.

On top of this already difficult situation, we have all the political shenanigans, with Joon Young trying to dig into Dong Hoon, as much as Dong Hoon’s political camp is trying to dig into his life, in order to try to help him cover up anything that needs covering up. It just feels very invasive in general, at a time when he least needs it.

It’s no wonder Dong Hoon feels the need to step away. I can see why he’d go to the temple, to seek out his friend Gyeomduk, for some quiet company, and some perspective.

It’s pretty poignant, to hear Gyeomduk say that one of the reasons he’d decided to walk away from it all and become a monk, was because, watching Dong Hoon, he’d decided that that was all his life would amount to, too, if he went the corporate route. That’s pretty sad, honestly, that Dong Hoon’s lived so earnestly, and yet, it had always been clear that it would end up pretty thankless, in the end.

I’m glad that even though Dong Hoon doesn’t say anything about his troubles to Gyeomduk, Gyeomduk gives him that long, brotherly backhug. It feels like Gyeomduk’s imparting some of his serenity to Dong Hoon, almost.

..Until I realize that what Dong Hoon actually takes away, is the thought that he can think of himself and no one else, and it’s ok to do so. Because, that’s essentially what Gyeomduk did, when he walked away from it all.

And how that gets expressed, in Dong Hoon’s case, is his confrontation with Joon Young. I know it’s going to be an uphill task for Dong Hoon, now that he’s thrown down the gauntlet in such a fashion, but DANG, it was satisfying to see Dong Hoon punch Joon Young in the face. Joon Young’s way too smug and annoying to be let off the hook, yes?

On another note, there’s Ki Hoon, who’s basically building up to exploding point, regarding Yoo Ra.

The more we see him fidget with his phone incessantly, checking to see if she’s seen his texts, and texted him back, the more obvious it becomes, that he likes her. If it hadn’t been clear before, it’s crystal clear now, because you only do that with someone whom you like. And Ki Hoon clearly likes her.

The way rushes to her apartment, when he receives her text, saying that she’s home and abou to go to sleep, is cute at first. But when I realize that the first thing he does, is to clean up her vomit, so that she won’t have to worry about her neighbors complaining about it, I’m honestly really touched.

I mean, that’s true love, in a way, isn’t it? I’m slightly surprised, and yet, not really that surprised, when Ki Hoon blurts out to Yoo Ra that he loves her.

Sadly for Yoo Ra, this isn’t something that brings her any comfort, because, as she puts it, she’s all wrinkled up on the inside, all over again.

As it turns out, she’s a terrible actress even when she works with a different director, and she feels really stuck. I do feel rather sorry for her, that she feels so lost and so beaten down.

This episode, the biggest thing that blows up, is the situation between Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee. More than once, it seems like Yoon Hee’s girding herself up, to tell Dong Hoon the truth, and each time, Dong Hoon appears to studiously avoid the situation.

As he’s said before, he doesn’t want a situation where he knows about her infidelity. He wants to do all he can, to preserve things the way they are, and he just can’t see himself managing to do that, once it’s clear that he knows.

However, I can see how Yoon Hee feels, too. It’s hard to live with a guilty conscience, and the more she tries to carry on as usual, it seems that the harder her guilt bears down on her.

It gets to the point where it becomes unbearable, and the only thing you feel you can do, to get relief, is to confess your wrongs. It gets to a point where it feels like a physical need, to relieve your conscience, failing which, you feel like you literally won’t be able to breathe. (I know I’ve felt this way before, at least once in my life.)

Therefore, I can understand why Yoon Hee persists in wanting to tell Dong Hoon the truth, even though it’s clear that he doesn’t want her to say anything.

Oof. How completely heartbreaking it is, though, to watch Dong Hoon finally overtly process his pain.

The way he hits and breaks that door; the way he keeps hitting it, even though his knuckles are bloody; the way he crumples to the floor; the way he keeps crying out to Yoon Hee, asking her how she could do this; it’s all completely heartbreaking to witness.

And, I can imagine, it must be heartbreaking to hear, as well. Ji An bears witness to it all, as she listens in, and I’m sure it hurts her to hear it, as much as it hurts us, to see it. 😭

“Why did you do that? Why did you do it? Why did you do that? Why?”

“You’re Ji Seok’s mother. You’re his mother. As soon as you cheated on me with that bastard… you pronounced me dead. Because you thought it was okay for me to be treated that way. That was you saying that I’m worthless and that I should just die.”

Oof. That’s just so painful to hear. 💔

Episode 12

They say that it always takes two, in a relationship, and it’s also usually the case, when considering the breakdown of a relationship.

As we see Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee hash things out in flashback, I can’t help but sympathize with the grievances that Yoon Hee brings up. It can’t have been easy for her to deal with Dong Hoon’s enduring, constant connection with his friends and family, after their marriage, especially since she herself didn’t grow up in the same neighborhood.

In this respect, it does feel like Dong Hoon didn’t do enough to reach a workable compromise with Yoon Hee, that would allow him to stay connected with his friends and family, without alienating his wife.

That said, it does also feel like the two of them didn’t talk things through very much. Based on the bits and pieces of information that we hear in this conversation, it does sound like they tended to assume how the other person felt, instead of actually talking things out.

Like when Yoon Hee had hoped that moving to a new neighborhood would give her and Dong Hoon a fresh start. She says that she’d decided to give up, because of how quiet Dong Hoon got, each time she brought up the subject. In this case, I feel like if either of them had leaned into the discomfort of an honest conversation, it’s possible that they could have arrived at a workable solution that would have made their relationship happier.

But, neither of them did, and I’d say that when it comes to the nuts and bolts of what went wrong in their marriage, both Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee have a part to play.

All that said, I appreciate that even as Yoon Hee spills her tears and her guts about how she feels about all of these things, she doesn’t attempt to shirk her responsibility when it comes to the affair with Joon Young. She admits that she was in the wrong, and that nothing can change that. I do think that that counts for something.

Additionally, the way Yoon Hee tells Dong Hoon that she’ll do what he wants to do, ie, she’ll stay in the marriage if that’s what he wants, or she’ll divorce him, if that’s what she wants. That seems fair, since, in the case of the affair, Dong Hoon is the aggrieved party.

From the way this conversation keeps echoing in Dong Hoon’s mind, I do think that this has given him a lot of food for thought as well. I personally feel like this relationship may have suffered too much damage to actually be properly salvaged, but learning about your flaws in how you navigate a relationship, is always a good thing, I think.

This alone would be enough to preoccupy an average person’s thoughts to the point of distraction, but in Dong Hoon’s case, he still has the interview for Directorship to deal with, and all the politics around that. I can only imagine the stress that he’s under, as a result.

And yet, Dong Hoon continues to be a good manager to his team. I love the little detail, that after his “cram session” at the hotel, he goes back to the office, to work with his team on that report, so that they can finish earlier, and hopefully catch the last train home. No wonder he’s so well-loved by his team. I think I said this in my review, but honestly, the only thing that could have made Dong Hoon’s arrival back at the office any better, is if he’d shown up with food for everyone. That would have been perfect.

But still. Considering all that Dong Hoon’s going through, he’s being an amazing manager, and I just wanted to give him credit where it’s due.

That scene in the train, where Dong Hoon tells Ji An that the reason she likes him is because she finds him pitiful, just like her, and Ji An tells him that he likewise is kind to her, because he finds her pitiful, just like him, feels like a pretty great distillation of one of the foundations of their connection.

There is empathy and solidarity in this connection, because he sees her hardship, and she sees his.

It feels like a pretty big milestone, for Dong Hoon to introduce Ji An to his friends, when they meet outside Jung Hee’s bar. This is his way of opening up his world to her, isn’t it? This definitely takes their connection beyond the office, if there was any doubt before. I personally still don’t see this as a romantic thing; I just appreciate this gesture, of one human to another.

Like, I know you’re suffering, so let me share one of my key solaces with you, so that you can get some solace too.

I love how easily and readily the neighborhood gang embraces Ji An, and treats her like one of their own. The way they walk her home, making easy, cheerful conversation, as if she herself is welcoming and cheerful, even though she’s not, and the way Sang Hoon calls out to his friend Moon Chul, to look out for Ji An, all adds up to such a warm experience.

It’s no wonder Ji An looks almost stricken, from all the warmth and kindness. The way she calls out, “Thank you” to them as they leave, is so uncharacteristic of her, that it’s clear to see how much this casual act of kindness on their part, has meant so much more to her, than they might imagine.

As for Ki Hoon and Yoo Ra, I remember having felt perplexed by their arc on my first watch, but I find that I appreciate their loveline more, this time around.

The fact that Ki Hoon comes out and admits his shameful secret, for the sake of setting Yoo Ra free, says a lot about how he feels about her. Yes, it horrible that he’d ever treated her that way, and yes, it’s horrible that he’d knowingly used her and destroyed her self-confidence, for the sake of preserving his pride.

At the same time, knowing how much his pride in his reputation as a genius means to him, it feels like he’s making the ultimate sacrifice, for Yoo Ra’s sake, and that’s got to count for something.

I believe Yoo Ra gets that too, which is why she comes at him with such conflicting reactions. On the one hand, she wants to slap him for what he did to her, but on the other hand, she wants to embrace him, for what he’s now doing for her.

Jung Hee is right, these two are right for each other. And Mom’s right in estimating that Yoo Ra must be very weird, to be the right match for Ki Hoon, ha.

I appreciate that when Ji An contacts her, Yoon Hee does all she can, to get Joon Young to leave Dong Hoon alone. Despite all that’s happened, Yoon Hee does genuinely care about Dong Hoon, and doesn’t want him to be destroyed by Joon Young.

In fact, when she later calls Ji An to confirm that Ji An means what she says, when she says that she likes Dong Hoon, Yoon Hee looks both saddened and relieved.

Saddened, probably because it feels, more than ever, that she’s losing Dong Hoon. And relieved, I think, because she feels like someone else would give Dong Hoon the care, love and consideration that she’d failed to give him.

For the first time, I feel a measure of sympathy for Kwang Il, as he tells Ji An that he can’t decide whether to kill her, or kill himself. He looks genuinely miserable, like his life has tormented him as much as he’s tormented Ji An.

On a similar sort of note, I also feel sorry for Jung Hee, who’s still tormented by the fact that Gyeomduk’s decision to walk away from everything and become a monk. I feel really bad for her, because I’m sure she wants to move on, as much as everyone else wants her to move on. She just.. can’t. And that’s got to be a torture in and of itself.

Certainly, I don’t think that Gyeomduk realized just how much his decision would affect Jung Hee, and that guilt must be weighing on him, even as he lives the monk life, away from the troubles of this world.

That final interview at the end of the episode, where Director Yoon tries to play dirty by having Ji An take the interview instead of Seok Beom, is a great scene, because of how raw and honest Ji An is, in answering that question. It literally feels like she’s laying her heart bare, for the first time, and it’s all for Dong Hoon’s sake, because there’s nothing she won’t do, to protect him.

“In this kind of work culture… where people treat you based on your background I decided to work here quietly as if I’m not even here. I’d never been invited to a company dinner… with that kind of kindness.. until Manager Park invited me one night. Manager Park never treated me poorly… for being a temporary employee and his junior.”

“I like him. I respect him. I got used to being neglected… so I didn’t expect much from other people and I never tried hard to hear praise from other people. But now… I want to do a good job. I don’t know if the fact that I like someone… will produce an unfavorable outcome… but even if you fire me today… I’ve been treated like a human being for the first time. And I thought… that I could be a decent person after all while working here.”

“So I’ll always… be thankful to Manager Park. In the three months that I’ve worked here… I’ve felt warmer than I’ve ever felt in my 21 years. Whenever I pass by and see this building, I’m happy… and I’ll always… wish the best for Saman E&C.”

Her entire spiel is so heartfelt and sincere. I’d be surprised if the board were to find any fault with Ji An’s testimony, or with Dong Hoon as a manager.

The best moment of this episode, though, has to be the scene at the end, when Dong Hoon and Ji An sit together in that restaurant.

Dong Hoon tells Ji An that she’s courageous, but also, that he’s not as decent a person as she makes him out to be.

Ji An’s response, “You’re a really decent person. You’re a good person. Really,” feels like a literal balm for Dong Hoon’s soul, so freshly wounded by Yoon Hee’s infidelity and what that means to him. His watery smile says it all; Ji An’s words have comforted him, more than she knows.

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Snow Flower
Snow Flower
6 days ago

Awesome scene between Gi Hoon and Yu Ra in Episode 12! I find it even more powerful the second time around.

actionscript
actionscript
11 days ago

Great insight from @BE when he mentioned in the previous thread that ep 9 seemed to signal the end of part I of the show. If part I is about JA’s journey of healing, part II for me seems to herald her journey to empowerment and independence, as the events in episodes 10, 11, and 12 seem to underscore. From ep 10, we see that grandma is now in the care facility, and JA’s debt has been fully paid off. That’s a lot of burden lifted, as she can now start focusing on herself. In ep 12 we see her social circle get expanded thru DH’s bar friends, and that short exchange with Kwang Il at her doorstep seems to indicate a goodbye conversation. Her staying for OT work earned her brownie points in the eyes of her teammates, and her very articulate yet sincere answers to the harsh questions of Dir Yoon in the panel interview drew admiration and respect as well from the rest of the directors, most especially from the Chairman himself who seemed to have been touched by her answers.

Her brilliance was in full show in how she protected DH from all the corporate shenanigans. There’s the way she put on an act for the photographer trailing DH and her, and then the way she answered Dir. Yoon’s attacks in the panel interview not only deflected any harm that Dir Yoon intended to inflict on the reputation of DH, but it instead drew admiration to the kind of manager DH was in the eyes of the other directors in the panel. But what took the cake for me was the genius of her reaching out to Yoon Hee to put an end to Joon Young’s plans, as Yoon Hee was indeed in the best position to stop Joon Young. And in the process, she washed her responsibility of having to return the advance 10M that Joon Young paid her despite not being able to deliver her end of the deal. Such shrewdness! Despite her lack of formal education, it seemed that she is the smartest character in the show.

Last edited 11 days ago by actionscript
eda harris
eda harris
11 days ago
Reply to  actionscript

yes, ja is truly the brilliant “composer and conductor” of this entire story-drama. how she completely conquered our hearts!

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
11 days ago
Reply to  actionscript

Very good point about how now that her loan and grandma are both settled, two huge secrets weighing her down are now lifted, and she can begin to be a social person. Previously sullen and anti-social but now with Dong Hoon’s help and example setting the way, she begins to see how she can fit in. With the team, with Dong Hoon’s friends. The interview with the MDs was unreal in how savvy she was. She has had such little experience in speaking to others, let alone in a big intimidating session like that. And yet she never faltered, fearing she might say the wrong thing, knew just the thing to say to manipulate those hearing. Yet with enough truth and sincerity too! Haha.

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

She is so street-smart, AND good with words. That was such a great surprise, to see her turn a potentially vulnerable and mine-filled interview into something that reinforced Dong Hoon’s goodness, kindness, and worthiness of being a Managing Director.

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  actionscript

Beautifully said! Her journey is achingly beautiful, to think of where she was at the start of the show and to see her now at the end of Ep 12 with a new lease on life (no debt), halmeoni taken good care of (more than they could have ever dreamed), and becoming part of the Hugye gang, even just for an initial walk.

Gloglo
Gloglo
11 days ago

Ep 11

Dong Hoon’s monk friend makes a very good point about Dong Hoon sacrificing himself for the happiness of others. It’s obvious that this man’s main issue is an almost complete lack of self care… True that he needs to become a bit selfish and brazen to enjoy life a little bit more.

The monk’s story with the bar lady is such a sad one too… I feel they both need to find peace and happiness in their lives. I now realise why she has that carefree “free spirited” vibe, which I previously found kind of annoying. I have still things to say about this story line though, but I’ll leave them for when more is revealed about it in later episodes … As it stands now, I feel that the bar lady is emotionally destroyed and desperately trying to put a brave face. The pathos of that scene in which she hits her face on the sink and drunkenly washes her underwear saying she’s doing “just fine” because she’s still functioning really got me… I really felt so very sorry for her.

Ep 12

       Glad that Dong Hoon is saying a few hard truths to his wife in this episode… This woman had to be told that, as a mother and a wife, having a secret affair was just too cowardly. I’m not saying that Dong Hoon was blameless in this marriage. He was indeed a poor inattentive husband who closed the door on his wife many times, but wouldn’t it have been classier and better of Yoon Hee to pack her bags and leave him instead of having an affair with Dong Hoon’s boss? Because I do understand her frustration and sympathise with her predicament… I really do, but her manner of dealing with the situation is just too foolish and makes her come across as nothing but insensitive and weak.

Stylistically, I loved the way this whole exchange between husband and wife was told with the back drop of Dong Hoon and his friends talking about cars and playing football. One realises how important male company is for Dong Hoon… Being a person who lives too much in his head, keeping these friends close probably helps him to stay grounded. One can see how Yoon Hee would have been frustrated with him spending so much time with this rowdy bunch instead of with her…

And Ji An saying 감사합니다 after she was walked home by the whole Bar gang… I shed a tear there, I must admit. Ji An is finding out what it is to have support and connection and appreciating it. She doesn’t have to be on her own anymore. The look on Dong Hoon’s face when she said thank you was priceless. How shocked he is to realise how she’s starting to be more engaged with her surroundings. Is he perhaps also feeling a bit sad at the realisation that she’s starting to come into her own and therefore she will move away from him and his influence? Who knows.

It is satisfying to see Yoon Hee trying hard to do the right thing. It’s sad but right for her to give up on Dong Hoon and make things right for him to attain the position he deserves.

Kwang Il… What an incredible blend of guilt, hatred and anger! And yet it is difficult to completely hate him, even though he has done terrible things… He’s both victim and inheritor of the sins of the father. Will he be able to move pass the horrible things he’s seen and done? Prison seems to be the inevitable end for him…

I just love the story line of the bad actress and Gi Hoon. He finally confessed that he bullied her and destroyed her confidence. I’ve seen men doing that to women IRL, although not many admit they ever did it. .. Well done Gi Hoon for giving this girl the lift she needs to go on! 

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  Gloglo

Beautifully said, all of this! I also love how they told the confrontation of Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon through flashbacks, while he’s trying to focus on soccer.

Pixaiated
Pixaiated
11 days ago

The confrontation between Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee was long overdue, and a really powerful moment. You can really feel both of their pain in that scene. There’s one line in particular that stands out for me, which is when Dong Hoon says that cheating on him is equivalent to telling him that he’s worthless and should just die.

This line adds some additional context into what must have been going through Dong Hoon’s mind in episode 5, where he didn’t get up after falling near the train tracks and episode 6, when he stands for a long time at the bridge. Both scenes already suggested that Dong Hoon was to some extent thinking about suicide, and I think that this line makes it this even clearer. It just highlights how deeply hurt and broken he was and makes this scene that much more heartbreaking.

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  Pixaiated

Yes, to hear him say now that the affair made him feel worthless makes us feel so broken for him as we look back to how he was in Ep 5 and 6 when he found out. It really was an enormous blow to him as a husband and as a man.

MC
MC
11 days ago

This show is just so.. consistently good even on multiple rewatches, and that’s very very high praise. I may know the highlights and most plot points but I still gasp and feel with our characters. Everyone is so beautifully portrayed, even our “baddies”. Although Do Joon Young is slimy you can still kind of understand him, just a little.

This time I watch more for our side characters – our neighbourhood drinking bros and morning soccer club, Yoon Hee (who I agree with Trent has done an amazing job of humanising a difficult to like character), Jung-hee and Gyeom Dum (so much between these two, the air is so charged with meaning and longing and hurt and they’re not even physically together). And I didn’t like Yoo Ra the first time I watched her, but this time I realise she’s a lot deeper and wiser and sadder and compelling in her own way.

There’s so much to unpack every episode I can’t possibly cover it all, but the scene where Dong Hoon is in the van, looking out after the door smashing incident, and the other vehicles move away and it’s just Ji an staring not just at him but into his soul – that was so moving and such a good use of a pause and a long charged moment. And the other one that stuck with me was how in just a few words – not more than a line, really, our resident loan shark Kwang-il becomes this layered complex man with love and hate and guilt and shame burning in him all the time.

What can I say? I can’t put into words how I feel about this show. This show is such a masterpiece.

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  MC

Totally agree – it’s a masterpiece that never gets old no matter how much we watch it. And there are always new things to discover. These days, it’s the clues that are in Ep 10 and 12 regarding Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon’s marriage. I missed these the first time I watched the show, but now every time I watch it, these clues stand out. And I have to remember that PDnim puts things in for a reason.

There is a key moment on the rooftop in Ep 12 where we peek behind the curtain into Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon’s current state of marriage. Yoon Hee tells Do Joon Young, “You can’t imagine the hell we’re going through…I have to put up with Dong Hoon’s loathing…I’m going to wait until he doesn’t think that we’re getting a divorce because of you, but because of us.” (paraphrasing from memory 🙂 )

This echoes back to Do Joon Young’s comment to Young Hee when they meet at that cafeteria in Ep 10: “Sunbae knows that once you know that he knows about the affair, you won’t be able to live with him.” Once again Do Joon Young is so astute, knowing that Yoon Hee will not be able to live with DH once the affair is out in the open between DH and YH. He has known Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon for 20 years after all, and everything he says about them has been pretty accurate so far in the show.

And of course, this talk on the rooftop also calls back to Ep 10 when the bar owner says in a voiceover, “I hate my wife. I hate that she’s trying. Either I wait 3 years and divorce her, or 10 years and divorce her.” Yoon Hee tells Do Joon Young that Dong Hoon loathes her. It sounds like DH is having a similar experience to the bar owner of loathing a wife who cheated. (Probably because he, like the bar owner, also can’t stop thinking about his wife with the other man.)

Dong Hoon says something during the confrontation with Yoon Hee that’s pretty direct for him, too: “I have no intention of forcing you to live with me just to make my life easier while giving you a hard time. But after meeting you and living with you 20 years, how I have to end this, from what point do I have to turn this over…I just don’t know. I thought I could endure this if you didn’t know that I knew. But it’s become too difficult now. For you and for me, both.”

The weight of his broken marriage is heavy right now, and he’s already thinking about “how I have to end this” and “it’s become too difficult now.”

Also!! I had a revelation today!! Why did Yoon Hee stay in Hugye so long when she hated it? She passed the bar exam and had Ji Seok very close together. In her confrontation with Dong Hoon, she says, “After I passed the bar exam, I wanted to move out of this neighborhood.” There was a scene earlier in the show where omma is taking care of baby Ji Seok, and Dong Hoon tells omma thank you for taking care of the baby. Ki Hoon says he’s so impressed with Yoon Hee, that she had a baby and passed the bar exam, that she was an incredible woman.

Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon relied on omma to take care of Ji Seok while she was studying for the bar! If they had moved out of Hugye sooner, she wouldn’t have had omma’s help with a new baby while she was studying. So it was only after she had passed the bar (and after the baby had been taken care of for a while) that she started pushing Dong Hoon to leave the neighborhood.

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  the_sweetroad

Just to clarify – I had my mom’s help with my kids so I know how valuable and precious that is. It just struck me today that Yoon Hee was not pushing Dong Hoon to leave Hugye pre-marriage or early marriage, just after the bar and the baby. (They likely didn’t go into their marriage knowing that YH hated Hugye; it happened over time.)

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  MC

MC, I just realized I hijacked your comment with my own thoughts, haha. Sorry about that! Yes, the way we grow to have sympathy for complex Kwang Il is so well done. I love how the show peels back layers from the characters. They start out in our minds as one way, and by 3/4 of the way through the show we’ve come to understand them as humans/ people with their own baggage and demons.

Like you, I love the scene where Ji An is looking at Dong Hoon from the sidewalk, into the van. In context, they haven’t talked at all since he demanded his slippers back – and they won’t talk again until she stays late to help out Team Three – but it seemed like so much connection was communicated through their look.

And Yu Ra is hilarious to me. I love how she’s put up as a parallel to Ji An (for example, when she says in Ep 8 at her audition: “I will love you from now on, Department Head. It is my eternal regret I was born so much later than you. I have a loan to repay.” And how much comfort SHE finds from the Hugye gang is heartwarming. I really disliked her at first…but again, her backstory is so sad, and it’s great to watch her development in the show.

eda harris
eda harris
12 days ago

at the start of episode 11, ja takes away the slippers she gifted to dh. is seems she’s upset that he did not use it, even probably in a way insulted. but why? what is really behind it? did she really fell for him, and that is why it is of such importance to her? what’s confusing to me is the meaning of “like” and “love” in korean and chinese. every language i speak does not have this confusing take on such emotion as love, and if definitely differentiates between liking and loving. these two concepts are not interchangeable. so when she says many times in this story that she “likes” him, i do not understand what exactly she means, as in korean it has multiple meanings.
this drama is simply life itself with simple characters, no heroes, no fiction, no fantasies… this kind of drama, to be so pure, plucked out of life is quite rare. it presents us with true life lessons and equally complicated questions.
the meeting of dh and his old friend the monk is full with such lessons and questions. one of the most important ones is the question presented to dh by the monk whether parents should sacrifice themselves for the sake of their kids. and second question that comes out of this one – will the kid appreciate the sacrifice or “make him swear and feel like shit” – in the words of the monk, “or is it an excuse people make to feel better about their shitty lives.” this is a double edged sword of a question and answer in our modern society. it seems like the monk’s understanding of it is that every person is first and foremost responsible for his OWN life and HAPPINESS – your life you should be responsible to live it good and feel happy. but…how does one define “happiness” – that is also a fundamental question throughout the human existence. for the monk it seems – be one with nature, be one with spiritual self. what is happiness for his best friend dh? obviously, self sacrifice is not the answer, and dh is forced to learn this hard lesson and is suddenly getting to understand it. and the drama shows us the other side of this “sword-question” – is the path the monk has chosen brought him “happiness” ??? we see the monk driving dh back to the bar, where all their childhood friends and the monk’s girl-friend of long time ago all gathered in this bar and waiting for dh. dh leaves, the monk does not drive away, he stays in the car, looking at the door of the bar, trying to catch a glimpse of the life he could have been part of but decided to give up. his eyes, his expression feels to me like full of longing, missing something that was lost for ever. is he happy with HIS choice? was it the RIGHT choice? i am not sure he has an answer to this, and so can we have an answer to this question? and what is the lesson the story is trying to present to us? may be it is this: fate presents only choices, we make the decision. humans have only one life, no multiple choices, no turning back and changing choices made (this is not “one day someday” – we do not go back and forth).
now i want to move to this question that we have discussed up and down – is dh planning and going to end up with ja in the future? in the scene where ja wants to end their relationship (for the sake of dh, but he does not understand it this way), he of course does not accept it, and one of the things he tells her is “if we run into each other decades later, i’m going to greet you, i ‘ll be glad to see you again”… from this i personally gather that he has no intentions to stay with her (even staying in touch is questionable), but will keep her in his heart as something special, a close friend who truly understood him and stood by him, but no future lover or wife.
episode 12 is the most heartbreaking of all, the bottom line of dh’s marriage, so painful to watch, crashing for her and for him. i still want to think about it, especially that i have been there, i mean divorce, but no betrayal of any kind. it has been years ago, but the pain is still there, from the failure and loosing the relationship (in my case he was truly my soul mate, and although i left him, there were always residues of that love left, till the last moment when he passed, and it is still there, even that he’s no longer on this earth, although i am happily married to another man for many years now). sorry for injecting my own personal baggage…
and last, what stayed with me is the end of episode 12, the “inquisition table” – ja’s big eyes like two of the grand bright moons (the moon that we saw before) on her pale, delicate face talking to her grandmother, on top of the city, lighting the path for a human being. that is how her eyes look to me.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
12 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

Thank you for sharing, Eda. To share some of my personal baggage, some of that distance between YH and DH I can identify with, if I don’t take effort to stop what I’m doing and connect with my spouse. So My Mister is a cautionary tale for me. The confrontation in end episode 11/beginning episode 12 was long overdue, so painful, so real and raw. The writers and directors of this drama are really emotionally attuned and aware.

eda harris
eda harris
12 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

yes, each of us sees everything through the filter of our own life experiences, that is why we see things in different ways.

Pixaiated
Pixaiated
11 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I really agree with the sentiment that My Mister, especially with relation to Dong Hoon’s arc, is a cautionary tale. This isn’t solely related to his marriage woes, but also extends to his general approach towards life.

The conversation with his monk friend summarizes it pretty well. Dong Hoon’s tendency to self-sacrifice for the sake of others at the expense of his own happiness. It’s ok – and I would argue extremely important – to think of yourself sometimes.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
11 days ago
Reply to  Pixaiated

In fact, Dong Hoon’s self-sacrificial tendencies and burying his head in the sand only avoided conflict, it didn’t make his wife, his mother or his brothers happier. His mother went to the temple to pray for him cos she was worried about him. His brothers were also edgy, wondering how to make him happy. His wife wasn’t happy. He thought he could bear it as long as others didn’t know what he was suffering. But it leaks out from him, everyone can tell he is unhappy and stuffing his emotions, but they can’t help him if he doesn’t say what is the problem.

So in fact, although the monk friend didn’t put it as such, seeking your own happiness may cause short term pain for your loved ones but in fact liberates and helps your loved ones be happy too. So it’s not necessarily selfish to do so.

But indeed I love how monk’s advice is not delivered as a clean and simple solution. That scene as he lingers outside the bar – weighing the cost to himself, his relationship with his buddies, his past relationship with Jeong Hui. Man… It can be argued that by pursuing this path, he is being true to himself and became a source of peace to others, including Mom who went to talk to him earlier in the series, and Dong Hoon. But at what cost indeed? Love that show is not straightforward in offering easy solutions.

MariaF
MariaF
10 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Dong Hoon’s self-sacrificial tendencies and burying his head in the sand only avoided conflict.
Yes, DH does prefer to avoid conflict at any cost. But what has he sacrificed?

DH’s wife wanted him to stop hanging out with his buddies and devote more time to her. She wanted them to move.
Did he do it? Nope. He actually doubled down on playing soccer and drinking.

She also wanted DH to overcome his passive nature and to advance his career, to meet new successful people. Did he do that? Again, nope. He stayed with the company, even when he was under the constant threat of being fired. He didn’t even try to find a better job.

His attitude towards life, not his sacrifices, is the main reason he is miserable.

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

Interesting, Maria, so you think he didn’t sacrifice? Now that makes me think! Hmmm….I wonder if he thought that staying in a job he hated (in order to keep supporting his omma and brothers) was a sacrifice.

But I’m going to think on this some more – you bring up an interesting question! @Pixaiated can you see this? What do you think are concrete examples of DH’s sacrifices (in his mind)?

MariaF
MariaF
9 days ago
Reply to  the_sweetroad

Oh, sure. DH has made sacrifices. For example, as much as he hated confrontations, DH did go to confront that buildings’ owner for the sake of his family. Also, DH knew that his marriage is not working, but he was staying with his wife, supposedly for the sake of his mom, his brothers, his son, etc. His job made DH miserable, but quitting required courage and making choices, so he stayed. Again, supposedly, for the sake of his family. 
Leaving that neighborhood and advancing his career would have been really hard on him, so, instead of either confronting his wife or doing what she wants him to do, he chose a path of least resistance (which is his way of dealing with challenges) by hiding in that bar with his brothers and friends.
It’s like DH is stuck in a purgatory: not doing what would’ve made his wife and the rest of his family happy, but also not living his life the way he wants to live.

the_sweetroad
8 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

Thanks for clarifying. I can see where you’re coming from. 👍

eda harris
eda harris
8 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

maria, this is a very comprehensive break down of the dh’s internal turmoil – depending on which side you are looking from, yes, he sacrifices but also stuck in the “least resistance” mode, because he prefers to keep his head in the sand when faced with challenges. i agree with your assessment.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
9 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

I can’t argue with the doubling down on his buddies and drinking. On that score, when Yoon Hui said she hated the neighbourhood and wanted to move, but he just went quiet, it seems like he found it so much of a threat to his sense of being and belonging to his family and buddies that he could not contemplate it. I think the lesson is that Yoon Hui rather than blaming the family and buddies should have expressed her own needs. What did she want out of Dong Hoon, did she want romantic dinners once in a while? Did she want him to be home and talk to her? Expressing her needs in the form of an act of service that he could help her with may have gotten better results rather than making it a choice between her or his extended family. 🙁

As for the career, I thought he was extremely responsible as Team 3’s manager. Yes they always were given the short end of the stick, and he missed Design. But I think given the example of his brother and other friends who left their safe jobs to start businesses and failed, there wasn’t much precedence for a successful exit. And he had to support not just himself, but also Omma (buying house for her), Sang Hoon and Ki Hoon, and also Ji-Seok’s studies. So there was no way he could have left his job, at least not until his brothers earned a decent living. In Confucian culture, the younger generation is supposed to support the elder generation. So state welfare policies are extremely pitiful. Either you save up for your own retirement or you depend on your kids to take care of you. Dong Hoon had to take care of not just his Omma but also his brothers, the louts.

MariaF
MariaF
9 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

What did she want out of Dong Hoon, did she want romantic dinners once in a while?

I don’t think having romantic dinners once in a while would’ve cut it.
She wanted a different lifestyle altogether.
A better place to live, better company to keep, and, most importantly, she wanted to be sure that she was the love of his life.
As far as his job goes, DH’s wife wasn’t the only one, who wanted him to become successful professionally. His mother wanted the same thing. 

given the example of his brother and other friends who left their safe jobs to start businesses and failed, there wasn’t much precedence for a successful exit.

I’m not sure they all left their jobs, so they could start new businesses. I thought they were pushed out because of their age, and then started their own businesses. Also, these businesses weren’t exactly failures, just not prestigious. All the more reason to do something, while DH is younger than them. But he didn’t even try to get a better job…

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

In fact, Dong Hoon’s self-sacrificial tendencies and burying his head in the sand only avoided conflict, it didn’t make his wife, his mother or his brothers happier. His mother went to the temple to pray for him cos she was worried about him. His brothers were also edgy, wondering how to make him happy. His wife wasn’t happy. He thought he could bear it as long as others didn’t know what he was suffering. But it leaks out from him, everyone can tell he is unhappy and stuffing his emotions, but they can’t help him if he doesn’t say what is the problem.

So in fact, although the monk friend didn’t put it as such, seeking your own happiness may cause short term pain for your loved ones but in fact liberates and helps your loved ones be happy too. So it’s not necessarily selfish to do so.

Such great points, Elaine. We must take care of ourselves as well as the people around us. Tamping down our own desires/ needs doesn’t do anyone any good, and just causes resentment.

It’s great that Monk gives Dong Hoon permission to be happy and think about himself. You wonder if Dong Hoon had ever thought about being happy previous to Ji An coming into his life and telling him he’s living a “life sentence of earnestness.”

the_sweetroad
9 days ago
Reply to  Pixaiated

Agreed. Which is why it’s so gratifying to see Dong Hoon confront Do Joon Young in the CEO’s office after having Monk tell him to think of himself sometimes. And later that same day, to see him run after Ji An and demand his slippers back. Speaking up for himself is coming more frequently to him now; he’s not going to let things slide.

Also, it’s such a contrast to see him going after Ji An to demand his slippers back, and to give such a beautiful speech to her….and then to go home to Yoon Hee and have such a silent, awkward dinner. He pours out his heart to Ji An and won’t let her out of his life. But dinner with his own wife is such a painful thing for them both. It’s really hard to watch.

Trent
13 days ago

I feel like every set of episodes I’m saying “these were a great couple of episodes!” But I keep saying it because it’s true! And so it is with these two episodes.

Lots of stuff to highlight here; for instance, I always find that moment when Yoon-hee just can’t bear it any more and silently kneels in apology–you notice that she doesn’t even explicitly say what she’s kneeling for, she doesn’t need to, they both know what’s going on–to be very expressive and powerful. I think that whole kneeling to show sincerity of apology is very much a characteristically (although certainly not exclusively) an East Asian thing to do.

And just a note…I really respect the job Lee Ji-ah has done in a potentially thankless role. I really feel like there’s been some real complexity that she’s brought to Yoon-hee, and my impression is that she’s not a bad person; she made a bad mistake, and she’s bitterly regretting it now, with reason, but I also feel like she really is articulating some pretty reasonable concerns and things that caused her to feel frozen out in her marriage. Maybe not justification for running into the arms of a slick creep like Joon-young, but some legitimate grievances. (If I ever do end up with an overwhelming urge to indulge some makjang and watch The Penthouse, it will no doubt be in no small part in order to see Lee Ji-ah again).

One of the moments that really stuck out for me in these episodes, though, was that bit where DH introduced JA to the crowd hanging around at Jung-hee’s. And what struck me was what a powerful thing it was (is) to have a network, a web of connections, like that. Even if it’s just semi on-the-skids drinking buddies, this is still a neighborhood crowd with deep roots and at bottom they’re pretty solid. And I think it means more than can really be articulated for JA to be drawn, even tentatively, into the edges of an established network like that. Her shy, almost impulsive “kamsahamnida” there at the end, after they’ve already turned to go, is such a happy-making little breath of fresh air. How often has she had cause to interact with that sort of established web of mutual support, and to feel that spontaneous gratitude for being included? It’s a lovely little moment.

uyen
uyen
12 days ago
Reply to  Trent

I haven’t been rewatching but have loved feeling all the feels again with these open thread recaps. This was also one of my favorite scenes, when Dong Hoon’s friends meet Ji An — they’re just so immediately warm and welcoming and it made me so emotional knowing that’s something Ji An crave but didn’t readily get. They are so quickly interested in her and protective. I loved when Ji An said something about how they must have their stuff together, and all of them are around her and just smile faintly/knowingly because they have their own things they’re dealing with and it doesn’t necessarily get easier or they don’t always get wiser!

PP
PP
10 days ago
Reply to  uyen

Yes omg, you’ve highlighted the particular scene in ep. 12 I wanted to write about.

For context, the neighbourhood friends were discussing how Dong Hoon and Jeong Hui once travelled together to look for her former BF now monk, but remarked how Dong Hoon never laid a hand on Jeong Hui while they were together, despite being in their 20s (I remembered this because it is yet another proof of Dong Hoon’s righteous and upright character, despite all the allegations targeted at him to uncover signs of the contrary, in particular the conference room interview at the end of ep. 12). Jeong Hui later told Ji An how awful it is to be old like them, to which Ji An blurted she wanted to grow older more quickly so that life can be easier (major oof moment for me, knowing what we know about the lives of Dong Hoon’s brothers and the rest). The reaction from the middle-aged group is just the perfect response, especially for Jeong Hui who after silently gazed at Ji An, locked her arms wordlessly around hers for the rest of the journey.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
12 days ago
Reply to  Trent

Agree witb you Trent, each pair of episodes gets more and more awesome!