Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! It’s surreal to think that we are at the end of this journey. Thank you for joining me, in enjoying this very special, beautiful show. ❤️
Some announcements, before we begin:
1. There is no Spoiler Zone this week, since this is the final Open Thread. You can discuss everything about the show now, without spoiler tags!
2. If you’d like to check out my review of My Mister, you can find it here.
3. I’ll be putting up a brainstorming post on what we should watch next as a community, you can check it out here, and share your inputs too!
What a pivotal episode this works out to be, not only for our story, but for Dong Hoon and Ji An as characters.
The moment Dong Hoon starts to reach out to Ji An, to acknowledge that he knows about her wiretapping him, everything starts to shift.
As much as Ji An is addicted to the sounds of Dong Hoon and his life, the amount of guilt and shame that she appears to experience, at being found out, feels equivalent in measure. And the closer Dong Hoon gets to actually reaching Ji An, the more panicked Ji An is, at the prospect of him possibly finding her.
Although it’s a complicated situation where Ji An is running from the law, it seems to me, that her primary reason for wanting to avoid being found by Dong Hoon, is the guilt and shame that she feels, for doing him wrong. The urgency with which Ji An packs up and runs, is so visceral; I can feel it through my screen.
And it feels like the more she runs, the more the guilt mounts – until she breaks down in the middle of the street, eking out her ten apologies, the way Dong Hoon had once told Manager Kim to apologize. Oof.
The way she cries, is so raw and vulnerable. In the context of how impassive and stoic Ji An’s shown herself capable of being, this feels particularly momentous.
At the same time, the more elusive Ji An is, the more determined Dong Hoon becomes, in reaching out to her. I feel it’s a deep-reaching decision that he makes, to discuss it with Yoon Hee, to agree to being candid about her affair, all to set Ji An free from the burden of being on the run indefinitely.
I mean, Dong Hoon had once been determined to live with this secret, telling himself over and over, that it’s nothing, as long as nobody knows about it. And now, for Ji An’s sake, he’s willing to let everyone know about it, because he wants to set her free. That’s really sacrificial of him, isn’t it?
I’m also struck by the fact that, in Dong Hoon’s conversation with Yoon Hee, the overall tone of their conversation about Ji An, is that of compassion.
Even when Yoon Hee talks about picking up on the fact that Ji An likes Dong Hoon, and that it was likely the sound of Dong Hoon’s voice, that kept her going, there’s no anger, hatred, jealousy or judgment. Instead, I find compassion for Ji An, as a fellow human being, and I like that a lot.
It’s all so.. serene and calm, like Yoon Hee’s finally at peace, now that she and Dong Hoon have decided to come clean about her infidelity.
The urgency growing in Dong Hoon, as time passes, and he still doesn’t hear from Ji An, feels like a big deal, because Dong Hoon is typically so measured and easygoing. I found it poignant to see him randomly talking to his phone, with increasing urgency, because he wants to find Ji An that badly.
When Cleaning Ahjusshi calls Dong Hoon, out of concern for Ji An, who’s injured, and refusing to eat or drink, the way Dong Hoon takes off running, says so much. Even though he knows where she is now, it’s like he doesn’t want to wait an additional second than absolutely necessary, to see her.
That moment when Dong Hoon enters that room where Ji An’s huddled, feels so complex and nuanced. The look in Dong Hoon’s eyes is filled with what looks to be a mix of relief, trepidation, and.. pain, like it pains him to see Ji An like this. On Ji An’s part, the moment she realizes Dong Hoon is right there, she looks terrified, guilty and ashamed.
This is so different from the Ji An whom we’ve come to know, that it honestly throws me a little.
Of course, in typical Ji An fashion, she goes for the offensive, because, with everything stripped away, that’s just the kind of feral cat that she’s learned to be. Attack, or be attacked; that’s how she’s survived all these years, and that’s what she defaults to, now that she feels threatened.
Dong Hoon, however, isn’t even fazed by this, and attacks in his own way – with kindness and compassion.
“Thanks. You listened to everything going on in my pathetic life… and yet, you took my side. So thank you. Thanks. I shouldn’t want for anything else in my life now.
I can’t… stand seeing you in pain because you pity me. And I… can’t stand the fact that you’re so pitiful. How could someone as young as you… How could someone as young as you… feel so sorry for an adult like me… That… breaks my heart too much for me to bear.
If I can’t show you that I’m living a happy life… you’ll continue to be in pain because of me. And when I think of you, in pain because of me… I will be in so much pain, that I won’t be able to go on.
So, just watch. All right? Just you watch! Watch and see just how happily I live my life. None of this is a big deal. Being humiliated? People gossiping about how my life is ruined? None of that is a big deal. I can live a happy life. I won’t be broken. I will be happy. I’ll be happy.”
It’s profound, the way Dong Hoon cuts to the heart of the matter, to the things that are really important. It’s because Dong Hoon cuts through all of the excuses and pretense, to the heart of it all, that Ji An meets him there, “I really want… you to be truly happy, Mister!,” and then breaks down sobbing, all her defenses gone. 😭
I’m so glad that Dong Hoon brings Ji An to Jung Hee after having her arm treated at the hospital, because Jung Hee really is the warmest, most welcoming person that I could have asked for, to take care of Ji An.
The way Jung Hee plays it, it’s like Ji An’s doing her a favor, by staying with her, and I love that. I love that Jung Hee looks genuinely glad to have Ji An with her, and takes her under her wing so naturally. If not for the fact that Ji An needs to get things sorted out legally, I’d actually like Ji An to stay with Jung Hee indefinitely.
The scene where Ji An deletes the wiretapping app from her phone, feels so profound. She’s so used to hearing Dong Hoon’s footsteps, and the sound of his voice, and his breathing, that it feels like she’s cutting off a lifeline, in uninstalling that app.
Her world literally goes silent, the moment she deletes the app; it feels like she’s cutting off a crutch, and now has to learn how to walk on her own, all over again.
I really like Chairman Jang. He’s so wise, and above all, so kind. Even though Dong Hoon tells him everything over lunch, and expresses his decision to resign from his post, Chairman Jang won’t allow Dong Hoon to do something so hasty, and insists that they think about it for a while.
Not only that, he also earnestly instructs Dong Hoon to get Ji An to call him, once she’s done paying for her crimes.
Ahh. He’s a good man. I really, really like him.
This episode, Kwang Il finally gets to confront his complicated feelings for Ji An, a little bit, when he listens back on the recordings, and finds the one where she talks about his complex feelings for her, and her, for him.
“He used to be a kind person. He used to be nice to me. And sometimes, when his dad used to hit me… he tried to stop him, and he would get hit instead of me. Back then… the look in his eyes wasn’t the same as it is now. Kwang Il.. He…is being tormented by his memories of the time that he liked me… and I… am tormented by the memories of when he was nice to me.”
Ji An’s words summarize it all, and hit Kwang Il right in the heart, it seems, from the tear that spills from his eye. It feels like this single sentence makes him feel seen, perhaps too seen, and that’s why he tries to seek Ji An out so aggressively afterwards.
At the same time, when Kwang Il begins to realize that he’s lost all traces of Ji An, and may never actually find her again, there’s a sense of loss about him that feels deep and raw. Ji An’s been a part of his life for so long, and means so many complicated things to him, that it feels like he might not know what to do with himself, without the assurance that she’s there, if he needs to see her.
On a tangent, I have to confess that I found it endearing, that Ki Hoon and Sang Hoon would take it upon themselves to live somberly, because of the hard time that Dong Hoon is going through.
It’s a little ridiculous and extreme, sure, but it’s also kinda sweet, that they care this much about Dong Hoon, and feel that it’s only right that they feel pain, if he feels pain. Aw. The solidarity!
I like the scene where Ji An sits with the gang at Jung Hee’s bar, and is treated like one of them.
To them, this feels like the most natural thing in the world, and to Ji An, this is likely one of the most precious experiences in the world. She’s never had a community to belong to, and now, just like that, she has people who are so warm and kind to her, without her having to do anything but be herself.
It feels like such a big step forward, when Ji An tells Jung Hee that if she were to be born again, she’d like to be born into this neighborhood. I mean, Ji An had previously talked about not wanting to be reborn; she’d been so jaded with life.
And now, Jung Hee’s telling Ji An happily, that yes, they will meet in the next life, and just thinking about it makes her happy. Ji An’s forming connections and finding comfort in those connections, and that.. comforts me.
Ahh. What a beautiful, beautiful ending.
I don’t know if it actually crystalized for me the same way, during my first watch, but this time around, watching this finale, it was a lot clearer to me, that this journey, for our characters, was one of coming to a place where they could find healing and comfort, for themselves.
There can and should be people to help you along the way, but the most important part of the healing, has to happen on your own, from within.
What we see in the first part of the finale, is still not yet the part where our characters start to heal on their own.
I love, so much, how Dong Hoon and his entire community come to Ji An’s aid, when Gran passes away.
Sang Hoon’s gesture, of spending his savings on making Gran’s funeral as grand and full of pomp as possible, is so kind, and it’s endearing to me, that he gains so much satisfaction from doing this.
More than that, though, it really feels like Dong Hoon’s community has absorbed Ji An as one of their own. It feels so important and so precious, particularly at such a vulnerable time in Ji An’s life, when she’s lost the only family that she has in the world.
I also love how Dong Hoon basically drops everything, in order to be there for her, from her going to the morgue to identify Gran’s body and hold her, one last time, to supporting her through the entire wake and funeral, and even helping her to find a crematorium and columbarium.
In asking Ji An to call him, when Gran passed, Dong Hoon had pledged his complete support, and it’s so touching, really, to see it all play out.
I also wanted to say, I loved that Ji An touched her forehead to Gran’s urn, and then touched her forehead again, to Gran’s niche, because it’s always been her signature bonding thing, with Gran. It feels comforting to know that she’s still able to find a way to express her love for and closeness with Gran, even though Gran has now passed. So poignantly beautiful, I thought.
On Kwang Il’s side of things, it appears that hearing Ji An’s honest, non-judgmental words about him, has really awakened him to the part of himself that he’s lost. And, seeing as how he works so hard to get those recording files to Dong Hoon, for Ji An’s sake, he wants to reclaim that part of himself, finally.
That is encouraging to see, honestly.
And, jumping ahead a little bit, I also just wanted to say that I’m glad for Ki Hoon as well, that he does eventually find his way back to his passion for film, after stoically avoiding it for so long.
I love that Ji An texts Dong Hoon to ask him to buy her a meal, and they meet at their now-regular bar-restaurant. This has become their little place, and I like that idea of familiarity and regularity, between them. I also like that the tone of their conversations is, as before, friendly and matter-of-fact.
It’s sad that Ji An is moving to Busan, but on further thought, it makes sense to me, that she would want a chance for a fresh start, in a place where she doesn’t have any history, so that she can write a new history for herself.
The goodbye is teary and poignant, and it feels like there is a lot that Ji An and Dong Hoon might want to say to each other, but can’t. However, I’m glad for that hug that Ji An asks for, and finally gets, and I’m also glad for the watery “Fighting!” that they say to each other.
It feels like they are each cheering the other on, to the next stage of their journeys; a stage that they can only take alone.
Ji An needs to heal alone, and Dong Hoon does, too.
In that scene, where Dong Hoon starts crying in his living room, after Yoon Hee’s left to go to the US, I’d wondered for a bit, why he was crying. And I came to the conclusion, that he’s crying for himself. His whole life, Dong Hoon’s been measured and placid, almost always bottling things up, so as not to worry others. And now, I feel like he’s finally crying for himself.
And that’s the first step to healing, isn’t it? While it hurts my heart to see Dong Hoon weep, it also feels necessary and cathartic for him.
I feel like the time skip is essentially time for both Dong Hoon and Ji An to heal, on their own, and rebuild their lives, in ways that would support their desire to live happy lives.
I’m glad to see Dong Hoon set up his own company, just like Yoon Hee had once encouraged him to do. He really does look happier doing his own thing, and what a bonus, that he confirms that he does actually make more money now, than when he’d worked for Saman E&C.
I’m also happy to see Ji An settled in her new job, and getting along well with her new colleagues. It’s nice to see her finally not have constant bags under her eyes. She finally looks fresh and well-rested, not just from a rough couple of nights, but from many rough years in her life.
I think it’s perfect, that the way Ji An finds Dong Hoon at the coffeeshop, is by picking his voice out of a crowd, and following it.
That’s from hours and hours of listening to his voice, and becoming familiar with the timber of it, such that, even in a crowded coffeeshop with many different voices speaking at the same time, she can’t help but single out his voice, from among them all.
Like Ji An had talked about before, Dong Hoon looks genuinely glad to see her, and she, to see him.
It’s so poignant and warm at the same time, how Dong Hoon asks to shake her hand, just once. And she, in turn, tells him that she’d like to buy him a delicious meal, just once.
Show leaves it open to interpretation, in terms of what happens next, for Dong Hoon and Ji An, but y’know what, where I am right now, it doesn’t even matter.
I know that they are deeply, warmly grateful for each other, for the other person having been there, for the most difficult and trying times of their lives, and being that guiding light and helping hand, when they’d each felt their most lost and hopeless.
That’s precious, and enduring, and can never be taken away from them. I believe that whatever happens, they will always be precious and special to each other, and that this connection will transcend whatever necessary – circumstances, definition, obstacles – so that it will not be broken. ❤️