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! ❤️
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. 💔
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.