My Ajusshi: Episode 11
It’s getting harder for Dong-hoon and Ji-an to hide their friendship, especially since everyone is either worried or hoping that it will effect Dong-hoon’s shot at a promotion. But Dong-hoon’s primary concerns lie closer to home, as it gets harder for him to ignore what he knows. Things may seem like they’re going well, but he’s spiraling down hard, and Ji-an might be the only one who can keep him sane.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
After successfully goading Dong-hoon into hitting her, Ji-an goes home and makes her favorite coffee. She remembers that someone was watching and taking photos of their argument, which may have been her goal for starting it in the first place.
The next morning at the office, Dong-hoon is distracted, but Ji-an never even glances at him. While he’s in a meeting, Ji-an goes by Dong-hoon’s desk and takes back the nice slippers she gave him (that he never wore) and throws them away.
That night, in the hotel room where Dong-hoon is being prepped for his director interviews, Director Jung asks the exact nature of his relationship with Ji-an, promising to protect him no matter what. As he asks questions, Dong-hoon remembers Ji-an texting him to buy her dinner, piggybacking her grandmother up and down the steep staircase, and even beating up her loan shark abuser.
It’s as if it just now occurs to him how far things have gone, and how he’s done much more than a boss would for an employee. The worst part is how Ji-an yelled at Dong-hoon to hit her so she can kill her feelings for him, and how he got so angry that he actually knocked her to the ground.
Dong-hoon doesn’t say much as the directors discuss how to spin the situation to paint him as simply a caring boss who helped a struggling young girl. They still worry that the opposition will try to make it seem dirty, so Director Jung asks if there’s anything that could prove there was nothing wrong going on, like if Ji-an has a boyfriend, but Dong-hoon has nothing.
Director Jung asks Dong-hoon why he hired Ji-an when she was one of the least-qualified applicants. She happens to be listening in as he explains that the other applicants gained empty experience without knowing the purpose of their work, while Ji-an seemed like someone with confidence and the willingness to do anything.
The directors wail that that answer won’t convince anyone, and they discuss the fact that they need to fire Ji-an. But firing her now will just make Dong-hoon look more guilty, so they brainstorm for a way to fire her later that will keep her mouth shut.
At Jung-hee’s bar that evening, Sang-hoon grows morbid over his upcoming fiftieth birthday and the fact that he feels like he’s accomplished little with his life. Ki-hoon loses his temper and storms off to another table. Dong-hoon is barely listening as Sang-hoon vows to do something memorable before he dies, though his attempt at gravitas is ruined by Ki-hoon’s repeated trips back to the bar to grab snacks, hee.
Dong-hoon goes outside for a smoke, and he stares down the street where Ji-an usually walks on her way home. She doesn’t show up, and he almost calls her, but stops himself.
That night, Sang-hoon hides more cash under the floor of his and Ki-hoon’s room. Ki-hoon complains about his brother’s laziness and jokes that he’s going to fire Sang-hoon and hire Mom. She mutters that she’d probably fall down a flight of stairs and die.
When Dong-hoon comes home sober, Yoon-hee asks why he went to Jung-hee’s if not to drink. He grumbles that there’s no reason to come home to an empty house, and Yoon-hee says meekly that she comes home late because he’s always out drinking with his brothers. She sighs that she no longer remembers which came first.
Dong-hoon promises to only meet up with his brothers twice a week from now on, and Yoon-hee asks if that includes their soccer club on Sunday mornings. He says that doesn’t count because it includes his childhood friends, and Yoon-hee’s agreement carries a tone of resentment when she adds, “…all the people you care about are at Jung-hee’s.”
She immediately takes it back, but it still upsets Dong-hoon. He leaves the room, and Yoon-hee gets a message from Joon-young asking her to call him. She does, and Dong-hoon overhears her say that he already knows of their affair, so she doesn’t care if the company finds out.
Joon-young is concerned about the photos he saw of them together on the “spy’s” camera, unaware that it was only Ji-an and Ki-bum scheming to scare him. He tells Yoon-hee to lie that they accidentally ran into each other at the hotel the other day, reminding her that Dong-hoon doesn’t want people to find out, either. She asks how long he expects her to be so shameless in front of the man she cheated on.
As he waits for the train the next morning, Dong-hoon texts to his monk friend, “I’m forcing it. I’m forcefully holding onto a heart that wants to fly away.” Gyeom-duk replies that he feels sorry for Dong-hoon’s heart, and that if it were him, he’d let the heart fly away.
Instead of getting on the train, Dong-hoon travels to the countryside to visit Gyeom-duk. He finds his friend on the road, trying to change a flat tire on his truck, and he stops to help.
Joon-young hires a pair of men to search his office for bugs or secret cameras. They declare the office and his phones clean, and once they’re gone, Joon-young pulls up some photos on his phone — it’s Dong-hoon and Ji-an having their fight, including one of Dong-hoon slapping Ji-an.
Director Yoon interprets Dong-hoon’s sudden personal day as guilt for the things his side has against him, one big one being a shopping mall he inspected that’s experiencing tremors. He watches suspiciously as Ji-an leaves work early.
She delivers a lunch to Joon-young’s house, which she eats while Joon-young asks her why Dong-hoon didn’t come to work today. She says that he went to the temple because she told him she likes him, and Joon-young wonders if that’s when Dong-hoon slapped her. She says she had to do it because Dong-hoon is so busy preparing for the interviews that he hasn’t got time to eat with her.
Joon-young demands to hear her recording of the incident, and Ji-an seems uncomfortable as Joon-young listens to her confession. He wonders out loud why women like Dong-hoon when he seems like nothing special from a man’s perspective.
He asks Ji-an why she likes him, and she glares at him defiantly. But then her eyes go cold as she says, “I want to ruin him. Whenever I see a nice person, I want to kick them and make them cry. I have no feelings towards bad people like you, but nice people make me want to ruin them. Maybe I want to turn them into someone like me.”
She asks abruptly if she should sleep with Dong-hoon, since they’re running out of time. She offers to dose him with drugs and alcohol to make it happen, and this horribly avaricious expression comes over Joon-young’s face as he says that he wants to see her try.
Dong-hoon helps Gyeom-duk with his work for the day, and over lunch he asks why a monk is doing manual labor. Gyeom-duk explains that monks at small temples have to do a lot of things. He wonders why Dong-hoon came to see him, but he doesn’t pry.
Later, Dong-hoon asks why Gyeom-duk is here when he could have done anything with his perfect grades, but Gyeom-duk quickly shuts down that line of conversation. He asks how Dong-hoon is doing, and Dong-hoon mutters, “I’m screwed until my next life. I don’t know how to live anymore.”
Gyeom-duk says that Dong-hoon broke sooner than he expected. He confesses that Dong-hoon is the biggest reason he became a monk, because he knew he’d never be more successful than Dong-hoon and yet he also knew life would cheat his friend.
Dong-hoon says that he always thought that if he sacrificed himself, life would be fine. Gyeom-duk sighs that nobody wants their loved one to sacrifice for them, and that that’s just a rationalization for his crappy life. When Dong-hoon argues, Gyeom-duk tells him to tell his son to live that way, and he can tell by Dong-hoon’s expression that he hit a nerve.
He asks why Dong-hoon lives in a way he wouldn’t want for his son, then tells his friend that he has to be happy, too, and orders him not to use the word “sacrifice” again. He says that despite her cursing, their mother never feels heartache for Sang-hoon or Ki-hoon, but she worries about Dong-hoon even though he’s outwardly successful.
Ki-hoon flips through pictures of Yu-ra on his phone, and he gets choked up to see that she hasn’t answered his texts. He picks a stupid fight with Sang-hoon, and later he gets angry with Sang-hoon for goofing off while he does all the work, really upset that Yu-ra still isn’t responding.
Gyeom-duk cuddles Dong-hoon when he still looks morose, saying, “Let’s be happy, friend. This is nothing. This is nothing.” Dong-hoon strugglesweakly, but he eventually gives in and lets his friend hug him.
Ki-bum manages to steal the documents on Dong-hoon from the company audit department, and he reassures Ji-an that there’s nothing in there about her… yet. He advises her to quit and disappear, but she says that she’ll be fired soon anyway and tells him to keep looking.
By the time the guys get together at Jung-hee’s that evening, Ki-hoon is so cranky that he glowers and snaps at every little thing. Sang-hoon finally tells him to just go see Yu-ra if he misses her, instead of taking his bad mood out on him.
Ki-hoon actually tears up from frustration and embarrassment, and he stomps outside to calm down. He finally hears from Yu-ra, who texts that she’s home and going to bed. Ki-hoon runs at top speed to catch a taxi to her building, but at her landing, he sees that she vomited on the stairs again.
He stops to clean up the mess, and when he finally talks to her, she apologizes and says she was going to clean up later. She tells him that her director yells at her every day, crying that she hates waking up in the morning because she feels the way she did before.
Ki-hoon is at a loss for how to help her, so he just says the first thing that comes to mind: “I love you.” But Yu-ra says that the words don’t make her feel any better, so Ki-hoon leaves, rejected.
Sang-hoon calls Dong-hoon, who’s still at the temple. Gyeom-duk takes the phone to say hello to Sang-hoon, and although Sang-hoon tries to slip outside, Jung-hee grabs the phone from him. She thinks she’s talking to Dong-hoon and scolds him for not coming tonight, and Gyeom-duk goes very still at the sound of her voice.
He gives Dong-hoon the phone back without saying anything, and he struggles to keep his composure. He drives Dong-hoon back to the bar, then sits in the parking lot for a long time as if he wants to go inside. But eventually he takes a deep breath and drives away.
At work the next day, Gyeom-duk’s advice to make himself happy rings in Dong-hoon’s mind until he gets up and heads to Joon-young’s office. He locks the door, then he angrily reminds Joon-young that he wasn’t to let Yoon-hee find out that he knows of the affair. Joon-young informs him that Yoon-hee found out on her own and asked him about it.
The entire office jumps in shock when Dong-hoon bellows, “You should have said no!!” Ji-an quickly puts on her earbuds before she realizes that Dong-hoon left his phone on his desk. Not that she needs them — Dong-hoon speaks loudly enough that his voice echoes down the hallway.
He threatens to personally destroy Joon-young, but Joon-young sneers that it would be easiest to just tell the company everything. He yells that a mere manager dares to burst into the CEO’s office, and Dong-hoon snaps. He punches Joon-young just seconds before Director Yoon unlocks the door.
An emergency directors’ meeting is called, and Joon-young takes advantage of the situation to spin things his way. He insists that nothing happened between him and Yoon-hee besides two college friends meeting by coincidence, and accuses Executive Director Wang’s side of taking the photo of them, then sending in Dong-hoon to cause a scene to make it look like he did something wrong.
Once the directors leave, Joon-young glares at Dong-hoon triumphantly and gloats that he should have thought of this before throwing that punch. He says they’ll see who wins now, but Dong-hoon just fires back that Joon-young will be humiliated when he falls.
He heads back to his desk, where he finally notices that the slippers Ji-an gave him are missing from his drawer.
Confused by Joon-young’s reference to a photo with Yoon-hee, Executive Director Wang asks his directors who had Joon-young followed. They all deny it, but when Director Jung calls Director Park to ask if he did it, he snaps, “Yes, let’s say I did!”
On the walk home, Dong-hoon catches up with Ji-an to ask about his slippers. She says she came to her senses when he hit her, so she threw them out. Dong-hoon asks if he’s not good enough to receive slippers from her, but she points out that he hadn’t even worn them.
She tells him to fire her tomorrow in front of everyone. She says he should say that she tried to kiss him so he warned her away, but that she made another move on him. She says it’s all true, and the company wants to get rid of her anyway.
But Dong-hoon yells that he won’t do it, because it would be immature of him to fire her for liking him. He adds that the thought of firing her makes him feel sick, because he can’t stand to have yet another person who makes him feel uncomfortable.
What’s more, he informs Ji-an, he’s met her grandmother. He says firmly that he’ll be there at Grandma’s funeral, so she’d better be at his mother’s funeral. He orders Ji-an to stop sulking and be nice to people, promising to make sure the other employees are nice to her from now on.
He declares that he’ll make sure she finishes her contract and does well at her next company, and years from now when they run into each other, he’ll greet her like an old friend. He stops lecturing Ji-an and starts to go, but he turns back to bark, “Buy me another pair of slippers!” Ji-an finally looks at him as he walks away.
At home, Dong-hoon and Yoon-hee eat dinner in silence, though she sneaks peeks at him as if she senses something is different. She tries to talk to him as he watches TV, but he immediately interrupts and walks away from her, turning up the volume.
Joon-young’s ex-detective spy reports back with information on Kwang-il, whom he photographed fighting with Dong-hoon. He says that he and Ji-an have known each other since childhood and that Ji-an killed Kwang-il’s father. The detective says that he arrested Kwang-il’s father many times, so he wasn’t surprised that he was stabbed to death, and he tells Joon-young that Kwang-il came looking for him to ask why he’s so interested in Dong-hoon.
Yu-ra shows up at Jung-hee’s bar that evening, and she tells the guys that she’s jealous because it’s all over for them, and she wishes it were all over for her. Jung-hee sits next to her, more than ready for a “who has the most miserable life” drinking battle. She’s so drunk she can barely stand by the end of the night.
She stumbles face-first into the sink and gives herself a bloody nose, and she smears the blood all over her face, telling herself she’s okay. She’s still saying she’s fine as she does her laundry, even when she falls off her stool. She goes to bed, insisting that she’s perfectly fine, then bursts into tears.
At the temple, Gyeom-duk also gets ready for the night. But instead of going to bed, he sits up all night long, staring at the wall.
While shopping with Yoon-hee, Dong-hoon asks her to get a rag from the glove compartment to wipe the dashboard. When she opens it, a hotel pass falls out, and they both freeze. After a second, Dong-hoon takes the rag and Yoon-hee guiltily slips the pass back into the glove compartment.
After a silent drive home, Yoon-hee tries to talk to Dong-hoon again, but he just chatters about the groceries. She falls to her knees, gasping that she’s sorry, and after a long tense moment, Dong-hoon walks right past her. Yoon-hee calls after him, “I was wrong!” and he punches the bedroom door hard enough to smash a hole in it.
Ji-an is listening as Dong-hoon asks Yoon-hee, “Why did you do it? Why did it have to be him? Why him?!” He hits the door over and over, screaming, “Why?” with each strike. As he continues yelling, Ji-an drops her head into her lap.
In the morning, Ji-an visits her grandmother, who asks about Dong-hoon. It reminds her of the anguish she heard in his voice last night, sobbing to Yoon-hee that the moment she cheated, she declared him worthless and as good as dead, because she thought it was okay to treat him that way.
Ji-an’s chin wobbles as tears well up in her eyes. Grandma asks what’s wrong, and Ji-an recovers enough to tell her that Dong-hoon is doing well and asked after her. She says that he buys her food all the time and helps her at work, and that he’s getting a promotion soon.
Grandma says she’s glad, but she asks why Ji-an is crying. Ji-an replies that it’s because she’s happy to be close to someone like Dong-hoon.
Okay, I’m loving the new outspoken and “selfish” Dong-hoon. When he informed Ji-an that they’re friends now so she may as well get over it, I just wanted to cheer. She’s the one person in dong-hoon’s life who he feels connected to right now, and even though it’s not always (or even usually) a positive connection, it’s not something he’s willing to give up so easily. And Ji-an can’t tell him that by asking him to fire her, she’s trying to save him from Joon-young, plus she has her own feelings for him making it difficult for her to do the leaving. So I can’t blame her for being unable to follow through when Dong-hoon was being all I’m not going anywhere, so deal with it, because that was pretty intense for a girl who’s probably never had a real friend in her life.
It was interesting to see Dong-hoon and Yoon-hee negotiate to spend more time together early in the episode. It felt strange, like they knew they should really be discussing Yoon-hee’s infidelity but neither was ready. I think that figuring out a schedule that doesn’t keep them so separate was their way of admitting they need to do something about the distance between them, without actually addressing the reason for it. They still need to talk about the affair and the reasons for it, and while I don’t hold Dong-hoon at all responsible, I know he’s aware that he hasn’t done much to maintain his marriage, either. They have a lot of work to do if they want to stay together, and they need to get out all the anger and resentment first. I was glad to see them both acknowledge the affair later, even if it was painful.
I feel so badly for Dong-hoon, who has everything that society tells him should make him happy — good career, a beautiful, intelligent wife, a wonderful son — and yet he’s still so miserable. None of those things fulfill him or make him feel like his life has worth. It was interesting how, when his monk friend gave him permission to be selfish, Dong-hoon just took that ball and ran with it. He needs to stop looking outside of himself for happiness, because not only isn’t it working, but it’s making him feel worse when he gets everything he thinks he wants, but he’s still unhappy. It’s like he’s not just unhappy, but he feels like a failure for being unhappy, and it just becomes this awful downward self-hate spiral. It was healthy for him to confront Joon-young, then to claim Ji-an as his friend, and I hope he doesn’t stop there.
Speaking of which, I still can’t tell what, exactly, Dong-hoon feels for Ji-an. Clearly he feels bad for her and wants to help, and he’s done things that make it seem like there’s more, but I think that he’s so confused with his wife’s affair that he hasn’t really stopped to think about his true feelings for Ji-an. I know, I know, we’ve been told this drama isn’t a romance, but I’ll be damned if there’s not a whole lot of feelings flying around for a non-romance, so I can’t help but wonder. Dong-hoon’s reaction to Ji-an throwing out his slippers was pretty telling — he hadn’t even worn them, as if he instinctively knew that wearing them would send her a signal that he wasn’t ready to send. But once they were gone he was pretty upset, and on a day when he had plenty of other things that should have been more urgent to worry about. He ended up tossing a whole lot of honesty at Ji-an and then going home and deliberately ignoring his wife… something is definitely up.
I know I keep saying this, but I just can’t stop being absolutely fascinated by Ji-an as a character. There’s very little that’s likable about her other than her obvious love for her grandmother, and despite her terrible circumstances, there’s really nothing sympathetic about her on a personal level. She’s rude, she steals, she lies, and she admits that she shamelessly takes advantage of people who want to help her. Now she confesses that she even wants to ruin nice people like Dong-hoon, for no other reason than that she hates them for being nice. But then she turns around and cries to her grandmother, both for Dong-hoon’s pain and for her gratitude that someone as wonderful as him wants to be near her. No wonder she’s giving off so many mixed signals.
I feel like there’s so much potential beneath the surface with Ji-an, if only someone could get through to her. She has every right to be angry and defiant, to be furious at the world for handing her such a shitty life, and to want to lash out at anyone who isn’t as miserable as she is. But even though she seems to be working with Joon-young to bring Dong-hoon down, all of her seemingly harmful actions also can be spun to benefit him (such as getting him to slap her, which could look like a lovers’ quarrel, but it could also be seen as proof that they’re not together). It just proves how brilliant she is at playing both sides, and I believe that Ji-an doesn’t really want to harm Dong-hoon. She lowers her guard with him, and when she’s alone, she truly seems moved by things like his telling her she’s a good person. I only hope she’s able to make a breakthrough before it’s too late, when she still has time to actually help him.