My Ajusshi: Episode 4

It’s a terrible feeling, the thought that you’re alone in the world, that nobody knows what you’re going through. But that doesn’t mean that it’s welcome, when someone manages to see right into you and know exactly what you’re feeling. Right now, Dong-hoon and Ji-an feel safe in their isolation from the world, so as they begin to realize that there’s somebody who understands them, it feels more like a violation than a comfort.

 
EPISODE 4 RECAP

As Dong-hoon heads to work, he can’t stop thinking about Ji-an trying to kiss him last night. When he arrives, he goes straight to Ji-an and informs her that today is her last day. She barely reacts, then turns back to her work.

Director Park is out of jail and back at the office after his hit-and-run, looking shame-faced during an emergency board meeting. The other directors light into him for drinking so much that he missed an important meeting.

When they’ve yelled themselves out, Joon-young says that he’ll personally travel to China to tell the investors that Director Park missed the meeting because of his accident. He reassigns the project and tells Director Park that officially, he’s still in the hospital.

In private, Director Park pleads his case to Executive Director Wang, saying that he’s never blacked out from drinking, but somehow he woke up at the East Sea without his cell phone. They conclude that Joon-young must have somehow targeted him.

While walking to his office, Joon-young sees Ji-an sending a text, so he checks his burner phone as soon as he can. She asks for her ten million won payment (for getting rid of Director Park) today.

Dong-hoon approaches Director Yoon about firing Ji-an, and Director Yoon is insulted at having his time wasted, particularly by someone in Director Park’s pocket. Dong-hoon can’t be specific, so he says that Ji-an is badly-behaved, but Director Yoon just laughs that nobody at this company is well-behaved.

Frustrated at being denied, Dong-hoon pulls Ji-an into the conference room to speak privately. He opens all the blinds as the other people look on curiously, then he asks Ji-an if she thought he’d follow her like a dog because she saved him once. He accuses her of having fun with a middle-aged man, but she simply says she hasn’t kissed a man in a long time, so she just tried it.

She admits to being curious about how he seem be so bored with life while making a good salary, and why he pretends not to know that his college hoobae is trying to get him fired. She says that he looks like his life is as bad as hers, while she’s the most miserable person here.

She continues that she thought she might be less bored if she kissed him, but that it wasn’t fun. She asks how he feels, but he just sighs and asks if her parents know she’s living this way. He warns that if she acts up again, he’ll tell the whole truth and have her fired.

Director Park goes back to the bar to have a look at the CCTV cameras. He sees himself being practically carried out by someone who looks like a designated driver, and when he next checks the CCTV footage at the hotel where he woke up, they see the man going through his pockets.

He calls the designated driver company that he’d arranged for that night, and he’s told that he wasn’t there when they arrived to take him home. Director Park remembers telling Dong-hoon that they would go to the East Sea to celebrate once they took down whoever was trying to get rid of them. As he’s getting back in his car, he finds his phone under the seat and realizes that someone tampered with it.

He reports back to Executive Director Wang about the guy who took him from the bar, and how he hid his face from the cameras. They naturally assume that Joon-young and Director Yoon planned to have him abducted and hired professionals, and worry that they’ll even kill if pushed.

Executive Director Wang advises Director Park to take the blame and accept a demotion to Busan, and to look into Joon-young while he’s there. He wants to make Joon-young think he’s won while digging up dirt about him in secret.

Meanwhile, Joon-young meets with Ji-an outside the office, sure that this isn’t her first time doing this kind of elaborate con, and that she didn’t work alone. He passes her the money for getting rid of Director Park, warning her not to do anything else without his permission, but she says she’s already started work on Dong-hoon.

She tells him that she uploaded the picture of herself kissing Dong-hoon to a site visited by a gossipy employee, and that once the rumors begin, he can fire Dong-hoon. Joon-young worries that Director Park will be suspicious if it happens too soon after his own ousting, but Ji-an just says she needs the money quickly.

Joon-young goes back to the office and emails Ji-an’s photo and resume to Yoon-hee, asking her to look into the girl. Yoon-hee asks what happened to Director Park, but Executive Director Wang shows up so he hangs up on her. Executive Director Wang advises Joon-young that they need to get rid of Director Park, but they can’t fire him, so they should send him to Busan.

Dong-hoon’s mom holds a ceremony to bless Sang-hoon and Ki-hoon’s new cleaning business. The friend who sold it to them gives them some last-minute advice, including which chemicals never to mix, and he tells Mom that there’s no shame in honest work even if it’s a step down from what they did before. He says that Dong-hoon can start a business if he’s fired, but Mom snaps that Dong-hoon will work for his company until he’s seventy.

Sang-hoon’s wife, Ae-ryun, cries as she visits with Mom, who tells her that she felt better while watching the brothers go to work this morning instead of sitting around doing nothing. Ae-ryun asks her not to tell their daughter’s new husband about the cleaning business, since he doesn’t know she and Sang-hoon are separated, or about Sang-hoon’s debt.

She says that she still wants a divorce, but that she’s waiting until the kids are ready. Mom asks why she’s crying when Sang-hoon is working like she wanted, and Ae-ryun sobs that Sang-hoon will never pay down his debt with a cleaning job.

That night, Dong-hoon calls Director Park, who says that he won’t be there to help him anymore. Dong-hoon asks if Joon-young is responsible, but Director Park says that he just got drunk and made a mistake. Thinking about how he told Dong-hoon he wanted to go to the East Sea, then mysteriously ended up there, he tells Dong-hoon that he can’t trust him right now, and warns Dong-hoon not to trust anyone, either.

Loan shark Kwang-il lets himself into Ji-an’s old apartment, then calls someone to report that she obviously hasn’t been there in days. He says that she won’t leave the country because of her grandmother, and that she can’t get away from him, anyway. He starts to leave but finds Ji-an standing in the doorway.

He growls that he would have killed her if she hadn’t shown up today, and she angrily shoves the envelope with the ten million won at him. Kwang-il warns her to have some manners and taunts her about where she got so much money. Ji-an grabs his bag and drops a receipt book at his feet, ordering him to add a line: “I won’t break in ever again. If I do, she won’t have to repay the rest of her debt.”

She says that if he doesn’t, she’ll kill him. Kwang-il purrs for her to die so he can torment her grandmother instead. Never breaking eye contact, Ji-an calls him a dumb bastard and says that she’d kill her grandmother before she killed herself. She pushes the receipt book at him again and tells him to start writing: “I can’t stand you being anywhere near where I breathe. I’m afraid I might end up breathing in your air, and that man’s air as a result.”

Kwang-il slaps Ji-an across the face with the envelope of money, then tosses it aside and begins beating her.

Yoon-hee did as Joon-young requested and pulled up information on Ji-an, whom she discovers once stabbed a man to death when she was only in middle school. Yoon-hee asks Joon-young who Ji-an is, and he tells her simply that she’s an employee.

Kwang-il takes a break from punching Ji-an to spit at her that she’s not allowed to die so that he can torment her until she’s old. She yells back that she should have left his father alive so that she could harass him like Kwang-il harasses her. She screams that she was too nice by killing him right away, earning a fresh round of pummeling.

It’s snowing later when she staggers to her friend Ki-bum’s home, bruised and bloody. She pulls her grandmother’s bed across the room, ignoring her signed questions about her face, but Grandma asks if it was the same man who hit her. Ji-an reminds her grandmother that she killed that man. She gives Grandma the fruit she bought, then pulls her receipt out of her pocket — which includes the note saying that her debt is forgiven if he breaks in again.

Dong-hoon and his team go out for drinks, mourning Director Park’s demotion. They ask Dong-hoon why he tried to have Ji-an fired, but he just says that he feels sorry for her. He says that when people look tense, it gives you a clue about their past, and that he’s scared to know what happened to her. Ji-an, who’s listening in via her spy app, abruptly cuts off her feed in anger.

On their way out, Dong-hoon points out a building to his team. It was built in the same year he was born, and it follows the curve of the river so it can’t be rebuilt. “It will just disappear once it can’t hold up any longer,” he sighs. “It shouldn’t have been built here. Just like me. I also chose the wrong place. I shouldn’t have been born on Earth.”

The following day, Ji-an’s injured hand bothers her, so she stops to put on a bandage. One of the women from the office saw the picture of her kissing Dong-hoon, and even though her face wasn’t visible, the woman recognized her shoes.

She loudly mentions how if a woman goes up on her toes to kiss a man, she’s the one initiating the kiss, which Ji-an was doing in the picture. Realizing that she’s been recognized and about to be accused of seducing Dong-hoon, Ji-an calls Ki-bum and tells him to take down the picture and delete it.

Ki-hoon arrives at today’s cleaning job to find that someone vomited all down the stairs. A tenant says that it was a female tenant who lives alone, and that she tried to get her to clean up after herself but she pretended she wasn’t home. Apparently this happens often, and the woman always vomits in the same place.

Back at their office, Ki-hoon complains that Sang-hoon didn’t help clean up the mess, until Sang-hoon loses his appetite. His chin wobbles and Ki-hoon asks if he’s already ready to quit. Sang-hoon says he’s just having a hard time, but he leaves to cry alone.

The woman who saw Ji-an’s picture corners her and taunts her, saying that if she’d turned her in, she’d have been fired. She tells Ji-an to work harder instead of making moves on the boss, and to try being a bit friendlier. Ji-an just laughs dryly and says that if she gets fired, then so will the other woman, for having an affair with a married colleague.

Ha, it turns out that the woman (who’s also married) has been sleeping with a man from another department, actually in the office, and that janitor Choon-dae has seen them. Ji-an orders the woman to keep her mouth shut if she wants to keep her job.

After work, Ji-an goes to a pharmacy to have her injured hand checked out, and the pharmacist recommends that she go to the hospital. She notices that her other hand looks injured too, but Ji-an jerks that hand back. Ki-bum is there, and the pharmacist assumes he’s the one who hurt Ji-an and writes her a note asking if she needs help.

Later, Ki-bum asks how long Ji-an will let Kwang-il beat her up, mentioning guiltily that some of her debt is because of him. She just tells him to bring Grandma back to her place tomorrow since Kwang-il won’t be coming over anymore. Ji-an asks what he found out on Dong-hoon, and Ki-bum says that his son is overseas and his wife is a lawyer, so they can’t mess with them.

The cheating woman calls her lover, frantic that Ji-an knew so much about them. She revisits the website to find the picture of Ji-an kissing Dong-hoon, but it’s gone.

When Dong-hoon meets up with his brothers for a drink, it’s obvious that Sang-hoon has been crying again. He confesses that while he was cleaning today, he accidentally swept some dust onto the man who built half the buildings in the area, and he threatened to fire him unless he apologized.

Sang-hoon had to kneel in front of him, then when he got back downstairs, he found a lunch box that Mom had left for him. He told himself she couldn’t have heard what happened, but when he got home, she just smiled at him, and he knew she’d seen his humiliation.

Ki-hoon storms off to kill the man who belittled his brother, but Dong-hoon grabs him in a back-hug and holds him until he calms down.

In their secret apartment, Yoon-hee tells Joon-young that Dong-hoon should have married someone else. She says he’s hardworking and kind, but he’s also lonely, which makes her feel lonely because she can never make him happy.

She describes Dong-hoon as a man who feels like he’s lost something, though he doesn’t know what. She asks Joon-young why he never talks about his ex-wife, but he just says there’s not much to say, and gets ready to leave.

Ji-an tells Ki-bum to find something, anything, on Dong-hoon even if he has to make it up. She seems ill at work, sweating and clutching her stomach in pain. She passes out for a moment, falling out of her chair, but nobody goes to help her (they think she just nodded off) and she gets up and goes back to work looking weary.

Mom visits the temple to talk to a monk she knows, telling him that he’s better than all three of her sons and joking that she’s sending them to the temple in her next life.

Dong-hoon runs into Ji-an drinking a beer at a convenience store, and he notices her injured hand. He grumbles at her to take medicine if she’s sick, then goes to smoke his cigarette, but he throws it away unlit.

That night, Ji-an listens to the recording of the brothers’ fight, and she hears them mention the name of the man who humiliated Sang-hoon, Young-woo. She even listens to Dong-hoon telling her to take medicine, then later she hears him going to see Young-woo.

He’d taken the man a basket of oranges, saying that he was there about his brothers’ cleaning company. He’d told Young-woo that he’s had to kneel before too, and been slapped and cussed at, but that his family never learned about it. He’d said that whatever happened, it didn’t matter as long as his family never knew.

Dong-hoon had told Young-woo that you can’t treat someone like that in front of his family: “If you did, then it wouldn’t be strange if I killed you.”

As she listens, Ji-an flashes back to six years ago, when a loan shark had been beating her violently, and her grandmother came to her rescue. He’d turned his fury on Grandma, and Ji-an had run to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and defended her family. A tear runs down Ji-an’s face as she remembers killing the man.

She continues listening as Young-woo asks Dong-hoon why he’s here. Dong-hoon says calmly, “My mom saw it. So I’m capable of doing anything to you right now.”

Young-woo suddenly shows up at Mom’s house, looking chastened and carrying the basket of oranges that Dong-hoon gave to him. Ha, they weren’t for him — they were for him to give to Sang-hoon. He apologizes for his behavior, bows deeply, and quickly leaves. Sang-hoon finally begins to smile again.

Ji-an hears Young-woo on the recording in the past, refusing to apologize. Dong-hoon had then pulled a mallet out of his bag and begun tearing holes in the walls, pointing out the serious violations in the building’s construction. He’d asked if all of Young-woo’s buildings were built this way and threatened him with fines, then told him again to take the fruit and apologize. That. Was. Awesome.

Dong-hoon leaves the man’s office, and stops in the street to catch his breath. Sang-hoon calls to say that someone named Jung-hee is back from Thailand, and all three brothers hurry to Jung-hee’s bar. Jung-hee seems very popular with the neighborhood men, and she’s obviously fond of them.

Dong-hoon arrives to find Jung-hee nodding off from jetlag. He wakes her, and she gives him an affectionate slap, then drifts off again. As he gets drunk with his brothers, Dong-hoon recalls Ji-an’s words that he looks as bored as she is, as if he’s living out a life sentence day by day.

He tells Ki-hoon, as Ji-an listens in, “There’s someone who knows me. And I think I know her a little, too.” Ki-hoon asks if he’s happy, but he says, “I’m sad. I’m sad that she knows who I am.”

 
COMMENTS

I’d wondered what was going to bring Dong-hoon and Ji-an together, when their relationship began with Ji-an literally trying to destroy Dong-hoon’s life. I don’t think it’s that she doesn’t care what happens to him, but that her situation is so dire that she can’t afford to care. She’s literally fighting just to stay alive day to day, not to mention taking care of her disabled grandmother, and she’s so desperate that she can’t bother with things like morals or sympathy. But somehow, although they are in such different circumstances and facing very different challenges, there’s something that Dong-hoon and Ji-an recognize in each other. They seem to just get each other — like Ji-an said, she’s bored with life, and she saw that same boredom in Dong-hoon. Despite themselves, they can’t help but be drawn to the one person who instinctively understands them.

It’s interesting, because they really don’t seem to like each other very much. In fact, I’m sure that they both wish the other weren’t around (other than Ji-an needing the money she can get by getting Dong-hoon fired). But Ji-an’s plan to listen in to Dong-hoon’s conversations is backfiring on her, hard, because she keeps overhearing him saying things that reveal that he’s thinking about her. He’s a lot softer when speaking to others about her than he is when speaking directly to her, so it’s like she’s got a direct line to his emotions. She could use that against him, but it’s probably been a very long time since someone thought about her and worried for her, so she can’t help but be affected by his concern.

I’m really fascinated by Ji-an, who seems to have a lot of secrets. Her grandmother is her only family, but how did she incur so much debt? Is it her debt, or one she inherited? At least now we know a bit about why Kwang-il hates her so much — his father is the man she killed, apparently because he was abusing her and her grandmother. I find it very interesting that Kwang-il carries so much animosity towards Ji-an, but in the end, he bowed to her demand to add the note to his receipt. I think she may be right that he has feelings for her, probably against his will, but enough that even after beating her up, he still caved and did what she wanted.

As difficult as Ji-an is to like, I can’t help but like her despite her cold disregard for anyone but herself and her grandmother, because she could so easily just give up on life. But she fights back tooth and nail, even taunting a guy who’s twice her size and has already beaten her multiple times in the past. I don’t know if she’s pretending to be fearless or if she’s just truly not afraid of dying, but she still fights with everything she has when necessary. I think it’s that determination to fight that draws Dong-hoon, who seems to have genuinely lost any interest in life.

But the best part of this episode was when Ji-an overheard Dong-hoon defending his brothers, but doing it in a way that seemed, at first, to be gentle and respectful. Her tactic of defending her loved ones is (necessarily) violent, and she heard Dong-hoon handling a situation where she expected him to display his usual meek, apologetic demeanor. But instead, she saw something in him that she didn’t know he possessed — vengeance. A different kind of vengeance than Ji-an has ever seen, but one that was effective while still showing mercy to the man who wronged his family. It showed Ji-an that Dong-hoon is a lot more like herself than she believed, but that there’s a better way than hurting people, and he began to earn her respect. She won’t find it so easy to betray him now.

 
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