Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Ji An’s headlining our post today, because her wistfulness, as she continues to listen in on Dong Hoon’s life, and as she contemplates cutting herself out of his life, is just so palpable. 💔
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, it feels like certain things are starting to unravel, and that’s pretty unsettling, because it makes me wonder what’s going to happen to the core things that are now starting to come together.
As Dong Hoon ponders how Ji An basically saves him from being maligned, with her testimony, it feels like he’s letting her in, to a new depth.
The fact that Dong Hoon walks slower, as he walks her home after their dinner together, is a pretty big deal, I feel. Typically, if you walk slower with someone, that’s when you actually perceive the person whom you’re with, in a personal capacity. If it’s all business, you’d tend to walk faster.
When Ji An asks Dong Hoon why he’s walking slower – a first for him, while taking her home – he answers, “It’s not cold out.” While it might sound like a vague weather-related excuse, to my ears, it feels like a symbolic truth. Dong Hoon feels warmth in his heart, from knowing that he has Ji An in his corner, with him.
That warmth, I think, mirrors the warmth that Ji An had talked about, in her testimony about Dong Hoon, and how he had made it such that it made her feel warm, just to look at Saman’s logo.
I really like this mirroring effect.
When Ji An asks to hug Dong Hoon to give him energy, and he declines, saying that he’s already energized, I do think that he’s trying to draw a platonic line between them. At the same time, I also don’t think he’s lying, when he says that he’s already energized. I do believe that the solidarity that he feels from Ji An, is enough to give him a boost of inner strength.
While this connection is strengthening, however, other things are threatening to unravel, and it is admittedly hard to watch, because it feels like contextually, a lot of things could happen to destroy this bond between Dong Hoon and Ji An, which feels like it’s just starting to take proper root.
Like the way Joon Young threatens to take Ji An down, for blackmailing him and taking his money. And the way ex-Director Park’s got that ex-detective on Ki Beom’s tail. And the way Yoon Hee’s infidelity is no longer a secret from Ki Hoon and Sang Hoon. ALL of that feels dangerous to the bond between Dong Hoon and Ji An, I feel like.
It’s smart and sharp of Ji An, to threaten Joon Young right back, with the recording that she has of him, instructing her to approach Dong Hoon, so that he can be framed for an improper relationship. However, this seems to only provide temporary relief for us, narratively speaking, because there’s so much else going on, at the same time.
One of the biggest things, is how Ki Hoon and Sang Hoon come to know of Yoon Hee’s infidelity.
I think it’s quite telling, that Yoon Hee feels unable to keep up the charade, when Ki Hoon’s questions, aimed at testing the waters, make her feel uncomfortable. She basically admits her guilt via her silence, and this tells me that Yoon Hee really is experiencing a crippling amount of guilt, for what she’s done. It doesn’t make what she did any more right, but it does make a difference, to my eyes, that her remorse is genuine.
The other thing that really strikes me about this situation, is how deeply and viscerally Ki Hoon and Sang Hoon feel Dong Hoon’s pain. They literally don’t know what to do with themselves, because their hearts hurts so much for their brother.
That scene, of all of Dong Hoon’s past words and actions, now with so much more added meaning to them, all flooding into Ki Hoon’s mind, and making him feel so anguished, is very powerful indeed. I find it so moving, really, that these two brothers feel Dong Hoon’s pain so acutely.
Of course, they each handle it very differently, because of their very different personalities, and that in itself is interesting to see. Ki Hoon becomes a roaring beast, wanting to beat up whomever’s hurt Dong Hoon, while Sang Hoon becomes a teary-eyed puddle, reproaching himself for not having done better, as the eldest brother, to make life easier and better for Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee.
Both Ki Hoon’s and Sang Hoon’s reactions don’t exactly help Dong Hoon, as we see from the scene of them sitting together in that eatery, and Ki Hoon literally yelling at Dong Hoon for not letting his tears out (although, I do think Ki Hoon has a point, about it being unhealthy for Dong Hoon to keep everything bottled up).
What Dong Hoon says in response to his brothers, is so painfully poignant, “Remember what Father always used to say? “It’s not a big deal.” “It’s not a big deal.” There isn’t anyone to say that to me. And that’s why I say to myself… “It’s not a big deal.” “It’s not a big deal.””
He must have felt the weight of the world on his shoulders, with no one to tell him that “It’s not a big deal,” or the more literal translation, “It’s nothing at all.”
So, how astute of Ji An, to send him that text, wishing him well for his directorship interview the next day, and add, “It’s nothing at all.” It’s literally what Dong Hoon needs to hear most, in this moment, and Ji An gives that to him.
Sure, Ji An only knows to send him that message, because she can literally hear his every word, but, invasion of privacy aside, she sincerely wants to help him feel better, and her words do reach Dong Hoon in a place where he needs it most.
And, it’s so poignant, that Dong Hoon can’t bring himself to text Ji An his thanks, because he doesn’t want to give her the wrong idea, but she hears him anyway, because she’s tuned in to the sounds of his world.
It’s so momentous, that Dong Hoon is able to articulate to Ki Hoon, that the mere fact that Ji An cheers him on as she does, helps him breathe. And it’s so momentous, too, that Ji An gets to hear this, even though Dong Hoon feels unable to communicate this to her, “Thanks… for being by my side.”
Given that Ji An has been portrayed as living an almost.. meaningless sort of existence, prior to meeting Dong Hoon, it feels like a Huge Deal, for Ji An to know that she has made such a deep impact on someone’s life.
The way Ji An weeps, at hearing this, is so affecting, particularly because she’s kept such a stoic, impassive sort of facade, for so long. This glimpse into just how deeply her connection with Dong Hoon has touched her life, is very moving indeed.
On a side note, I kind of do enjoy the dynamic of Ki Hoon giving Yoo Ra coaching on how to handle the PD of her drama, who’s tormenting her for much the same reasons that he himself had once tormented Yoo Ra.
Even though Yoo Ra’s not able to do the swearing bit at the PD, the part where she follows his advice to assure the PD is quite hilarious. It’s totally counter-intuitive to basically turn around and treat the person who’s yelling at you, like a frightened child who needs encouragement, but it seems to work, which I kinda love.
I mean, the PD does run off with a roar of frustration, but it gets him off Yoo Ra’s back, and I suspect that Ki Hoon really is right about where all the nitpicking is coming from, and I’m thinking that that’s why the PD’s so frustrated as well. He feels seen, now, and is humiliated by it.
Also, it’s rather amusing to me, that Yoo Ra successfully practices her swearing on Ki Hoon, for ignoring her calls all night, when all that coaching on the swearing, had come from Ki Hoon himself. Pfft. I don’t know why, exactly, but I’m finding these two much more amusing this watch, than on my first watch.
As for Jung Hee and her visit to the temple to see Gyeomduk.. I’m assuming that she knew in her head, that nothing she said would actually get Gyeomduk to turn around and abandon the monk life that he’s embraced for so long, but couldn’t stop herself anyway. I feel like she probably has to feel like she’s tried everything, in order to be able to move on – and confronting him, face to face, and calling him out for leaving her, and asking him to come back, is something that she hasn’t done.
I am guessing that now that she’s done this, she might finally be able to make peace with herself, that she’s done everything she could have done, and perhaps, this will be the thing that will allow her to finally put her relationship with Gyeomduk behind her.
As we close out our episode, I love the way Dong Hoon fields questions for his interview. The way he shows up as really competent, is really nice to see. I love how the tables are turned on Director Yoon, who’s trying to show that Dong Hoon’s incompetent – but ends up looking incompetent himself, next to Dong Hoon’s calm, thorough expertise. YESS.
More than that, it’s so stirring, to see the way Dong Hoon speaks up for Ji An, when her past is brought under scrutiny.
He doesn’t hesitate and he doesn’t hold back, and he doesn’t seem to care who he’s speaking to, and whether they have more authority than he does. He just tells it as it is, and it’s completely mesmerizing.
“If you were her, you would’ve done the same. And I would have, too. And that’s why she was judged to be not guilty, by the law. So, why… does Ms. Lee Ji An have to be judged again, here? I have no idea. The law was trying to protect her… by ensuring that her criminal history wouldn’t be exposed so she wouldn’t have to suffer through something like this.
So why did you have to go to such lengths to dig up someone’s painful past? Isn’t it only humane to try and let others forget their past… as much as we want to forget our own?” … “Do machines work at a company? No! Human beings work here!”
DANG. Give the man a standing ovation!! 🤩
At the same time, I can totally see why hearing this spiel would move Ji An to tears. This must be the first time she’s heard anyone speak up on her behalf, with such passion and conviction.
For someone who’s been so isolated for so long, it must feel like such precious, sweet relief, to have someone stand so vocally on her side.
And yet, it is hearing this, that seems to strengthen Ji An’s resolve to disappear. I feel like at this point, her disappearance is as much for her own safety, as it is for Dong Hoon’s.
But – look! – she’s left behind a pair of new slippers for Dong Hoon, just like he’d demanded, and – oof! – it’s such a hit to the gut, that this is turning out to be her farewell gift to him. 😭
This episode, it’s all about Dong Hoon and Ji An, for me.
I mean, yes, other stuff happens, like how Dong Hoon helps make some calls, because Gyeomduk reaches out to ask about Jung Hee, but through it all, Dong Hoon’s clearly distracted, because he’s worried about Ji An, and wonders about her whereabouts.
And, he does everything he can to find her, even calling the assisted living facility where Ji An’s grandmother is staying, and also, going to Ji An’s home, to see if she’s there. That tells me that this episode, it’s all about Ji An, for Dong Hoon too.
That said, I suppose it’s fitting for me to go on record to say that I think of the connection between Dong Hoon and Ji An as that of platonic soulmates. That is to say, I feel that what’s growing between them is a deep, almost spiritual sort of connection, and I find it utterly moving, but I don’t see it as a romantic attachment, even though Ji An does have romantic feelings for Dong Hoon.
I understand that some of you may have a different way of looking at it, and that’s ok. I just personally find the idea of platonic soulmates very moving, and because I have a platonic soulmate myself, I identify with this a great deal. No shade on anyone who chooses to see it differently. Just.. putting it out there.
The look on Dong Hoon’s face, when he realizes that Ji An’s quit the company and has moved away, seems to be filled with a sense of loss. I feel like, even when Ji An hadn’t shown up to work and he couldn’t find her, Dong Hoon wouldn’t entertain the thought that she might possibly have left the company without telling him.
This moment, when Jung Hee tells him about her encounter with Ji An in the morning, where she learns that Ji An’s quit her job and is moving away from the neighborhood, feels like a bit of a bombshell to Dong Hoon.
And Dong Hoon looks.. quietly sad, as he processes this new piece of information, and how his reality will shift because of it. Aw. Poor Dong Hoon. It really feels like his heart is being slowly ripped out, this episode.
It took me a long second to figure out why Ji An chooses to call Dong Hoon from a payphone instead of her mobile phone, and I realize belatedly, that she must have done that, in order that their conversation wouldn’t be recorded – and therefore wouldn’t be at risk of exposure, if and when the recordings are ever secured as evidence.
Dong Hoon: “I thought that you were a strong person. I thought that things like that wouldn’t affect you at all.”
Ji Ah: “I’m just so sick of… people who get a kick out of laughing at me.”
Dong Hoon: “I’m sorry.”
Ji An: “Why would you be sorry, Mister? You were the first one… who was nice to me more than four times. To someone like me. A person I liked. It… doesn’t matter to me anymore whether I am reborn or not. I’ll be able to be reborn again. It’s okay. If I run into you by chance… will we greet each other, and act like we’re happy to see one another?”
Dong Hoon: “Yeah. Call me if your grandmother passes away. Be sure to call me.”
What strikes me about this conversation, is how Dong Hoon doggedly guns for a long-term connection with Ji An. Even when he realizes that she doesn’t want to come back to the company because she doesn’t want people to talk about her, he insists that she call, if her grandmother passes away – so that he can be there; so that she won’t be alone.
Afterwards, she looks brokenhearted, and he looks rather bereft, as he continues on his way. It feels like a very big adjustment that they both need to make, and it definitely feels like neither of them is willing to make it, if at all possible. They are each still very important in the other’s eyes.
When Ji An goes to see Joon Young, it’s to negotiate leaving the affair out of it, if she’s ever caught – so that Dong Hoon wouldn’t be hurt by it.
And when everyone celebrates Dong Hoon’s promotion to Director (the way Mom is so happy to hear the news, that she flail-whacks her other sons, is the most adorable thing), Dong Hoon smiles through it all, but later, quietly sends a message to Ji An that feels like it’s more important that all the other celebrations combined: “I became director. Thanks.”
And later, when Dong Hoon tries to call Ji An’s mobile and gets the recorded message that the number is no longer in service, man, the look that flashes across his face, is so gutting.
This is the moment that it’s first occurred to him that he might have lost his connection to Ji An, for good, and that glimmer of tears in his eyes is unmistakeable. Of course it must be an earth-tilting sort of thing for Dong Hoon, since, in his words, the knowledge that Ji An’s next to him, cheering him on, is the thing that makes him feel like he can breathe.
The final arc this episode, made me feel a sense of dread in my stomach, because everything’s basically coming together, so that Dong Hoon finds out that Ji An’s been wiretapping him all along. How cruel, for Dong Hoon to have to find out, that the person whom he’s been feeling so grateful to, has actually been eavesdropping on his life, all along? 😭
It’s just like Dong Hoon, to notice that when all the fragments of flashbacks come rushing back to him, indicating that Ji An had indeed been listening in on his life, her actions had only been to build him up, rather than to tear him down.
And it’s just like Dong Hoon, to confront Joon Young about it, and take him to task, for what he’s done to Ji An. Dong Hoon might be very much shaken, but it feels like through it all, his trust in Ji An remains fundamentally intact. Also, his confrontation with Joon Young only confirms his instinct, that Ji An had indeed been on his side all along.
I love-love-LOVE that final moment of the episode, where Dong Hoon picks up his phone and addresses Ji An directly. “Lee Ji An. Lee Ji An. Call me.”
Ji An looks flabbergasted – and this whole scene gives me chills. Because, I know that Dong Hoon’s reaching out in love, and not judgment, and that’s just beautiful. ❤️