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My Ajusshi: Episode 1

My Ajusshi, tvN’s newest melodrama from the PD of Signal and Misaeng and the writer of Oh Hae-young Again, starts out pretty dark and depressing, but in a good way, if that makes sense. This first episode does a fantastic job of setting up the main characters’ lives and the challenges they deal with on a daily basis, as well as the primary conflict that looks as though it will serve to both polarize them, and bring them together. I find the characters fascinating, and the plot, while simple so far, promises some very interesting revelations as we go forward.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

In a dreary office, employees go about their work listlessly until a high-pitched shriek rings out. A woman screams bloody murder at a tiny ladybug, and everyone reacts dramatically except for one young woman, who barely glances over before turning back to her work.

One team manager, PARK DONG-HOON (Lee Seon-kyun) gently reaches out to trap the tiny insect. The ladybug flies off and lands again on the arm of the bored young woman, but just as Dong-hoon is about to catch it, she squishes it with a book.

Dong-hoon heads back to his desk, where his coworkers tease him for having a soft heart. He deadpans that he’s killed pigs before, explaining that you can kill anything as long as you don’t feel bad for it.

They get busted for fooling around at work by their boss, Director Yoon, and we see him depicted as a pog game piece with red stars depicting his status, ha. He tells Dong-hoon that he should be a better manager for the thousand won per minute he’s being paid.

The woman who squashed the ladybug, LEE JI-AN (IU), seems to be a low-level employee, watering the plants and sorting the mail. She goes about her work dispassionately, not talking to anyone. At the end of the day, Dong-hoon sees her in the break room shoving handfuls of instant coffee in her bag, but he doesn’t say anything.

Another executive, Director Park (a blue pog denoting that he’s on the opposite team as Director Yoon), lurks in the security office spying on employees through the CCTV cameras. He spies on Director Yoon’s texts, then meets with two other blue pog executives, Director Jung and Executive Director Wang, to discuss their strategy for keeping the red pog faction on their toes before the upcoming internal election.

As we watch their pogs fighting it out on a baduk board, Director Park tells Director Jung that the red pog directors will be coming after him (it’s unclear why), suggesting he take a short leave of absence. ED Wang agrees, and he promises the nervous Director Jung that he’ll still have his job when he gets back.

After Director Jung leaves, ED Wang grumbles about DO JOON-YOUNG (Kim Young-min), a younger man who is now CEO of the company. Director Park goes to see Young-min (red pog), telling him that Director Jung unexpectedly asked to go abroad for a month and refused to say why. Young-min approves the request.

As he leaves work, Dong-hoon and his coworkers are forced to give up their elevator to Young-min and Director Yoon, who appears to be Young-min’s primary lackey. One employee wonders why Young-min is such a jerk to Dong-hoon, who was his sunbae in college.

Hilariously, the elevator doors accidentally open again. They all just stand there awkwardly for a long, uncomfortable moment, as Director Yoon frantically pokes at the elevator buttons.

Dong-hoon stops at an ATM for cash, then meets with his brothers at a men’s clothing store. He insists on buying his hyung, SANG-HOON (Park Ho-san) a new suit for his daughter’s wedding. Their youngest brother, KI-HOON (Song Sae-byuk), backs him up.

When Ki-hoon steps away to take a call, Dong-hoon quickly gives Sang-hoon some extra cash in case he needs it for wedding expenses. Sang-hoon tries to give it back, but Dong-hoon won’t let him, since his hyung is having a hard time after his wife left him. Dong-hoon claims the money is from his wife, who can’t make it to the wedding, though Sang-hoon seems suspicious of her excuse of a business trip.

While they wait for Ki-hoon, they discuss Dong-hoon’s job as a building inspector. Sang-hoon marvels that some building owners actually want a low rating, as it means they can get permission to renovate.

Joon-young’s driver takes him home, where he changes into comfortable clothing and heads back out again. He lets himself into another apartment, where a woman, KANG YOON-HEE (Lee Jia), confronts him for never answering his phone and making her worry. Joon-young explains that everyone at his company is upset that he got promoted over them, so he can’t risk their relationship being discovered.

Yoon-hee apologizes, and Joon-young assures her that he misses her all day, too. She asks him to take her on a trip, since she told her husband she was away on business, and everything is forgotten as they begin kissing. Oh no, she’s Dong-hoon’s wife, isn’t she?

The three brothers go out drinking, and Sang-hoon tells Ki-hoon that he should make at least one successful movie before he dies. He suggests a horror movie about a middle-aged guy who gets laid off, spends all his savings trying to start a business, then becomes a bum after his wife leaves him.

The brothers picture the main character (played by Sang-hoon, obviously), sick and alone and plagued by a set of injuries that leave him frozen, staring out a window at sunset. Sang-hoon gets carried away picturing the protagonist’s turn to revenge, then his heroic death. Dong-hoon says it’ll fail because there’s one crucial thing missing from this movie: a woman.

Ji-an works at her evening job, washing dishes at a restaurant. When nobody is looking, she bags up the leftover food on the plates and stashes it away for later.

On the subway ride home, Sang-hoon sees Ji-an standing with her back to him, noticing that she’s not wearing socks even in the cold weather. They get off at the same stop, and Dong-hoon trails behind Ji-an for a while. Eventually they take opposite turns, but Dong-hoon keeps looking back towards Ji-an with curiosity.

She heads to a dingy part of town and lets herself into a run-down apartment. She heats up water for her pilfered instant coffee and digs into her salvaged leftovers straight from the bags. She doesn’t even flinch when a light comes on, revealing a man (a loan shark?), KWANG-IL (Jang Ki-yong), sitting behind her.

Ji-an tosses him the money she made today, and he sneers that the tiny amount must mean she wants to see him more often, making it sound like a threat. Ji-an tells him that she hates when people intrude on her personal space, but Kwang-il just invites her to tell him more things she hates. She grumbles that she hates when people make her talk while she’s eating, and Kwang-il purrs, “Okay, I’ll only do those things.”

Her phone lights up with a call from her grandmother’s nursing home, but she doesn’t answer in front of Kwang-il. She goes to the nursing home in the morning, where she overhears a nurse bellowing to her deaf grandmother that she’ll be kicked out if she doesn’t pay her bill. Ji-an waits until her grandmother is alone, then she goes to see her.

Although Grandma frantically signs to Ji-an to leave, Ji-an instead makes a call to her friend KI-BUM (Ahn Seung-kyun). He ignores her calls and texts to come to the nursing home, too busy playing video games. So Ji-an packs up Grandma’s things, and after dark, she wheels Grandma, hospital bed and all, out of the nursing home and into the street.

She stops at a grocery store to grab some drinks and a shopping cart. She bundles Grandma into the shopping cart with a blanket and the warm drinks, and they wait at a bus stop until Ki-bum finally shows up. He’s startled to realize that the pile of old blankets is actually a person, and it’s cute how he politely bows to the elderly lady.

Ji-an and Ki-bum manage to get Grandma to Ji-an’s apartment, where Ji-an instructs Ki-bum to stop by twice a day while she’s at work, to look after Grandma. Ji-an explains to Grandma in sign language not to open the door to anyone but Ki-bum (Grandma signs, “I can’t even get out of bed!”), then tucks her in for the night. She stays up late, drinking stolen double-strong coffee and staring into space.

The day of Sang-hoon’s daughter’s wedding arrives, and Dong-hoon and Ki-hoon help out by collecting the monetary wedding gifts. After a while, Dong-hoon notices that something odd is going on — every few guests, Sang-hoon will rub his nose after greeting a guest, then Ki-hoon stuffs their cash-filled envelope into a separate drawer.

He asks Ki-hoon what’s going on, and Ki-hoon mutters that they’re only doing it for Sang-hoon’s guests. But he chuckles that it seems like Sang-hoon is signaling for him to pull the gifts from the guests giving the biggest amounts, and when Dong-hoon tells him to stop, he confesses that Sang-hoon promised him half. Wow, that’s so sleazy.

Dong-hoon tries to physically take the envelopes from Ki-hoon, and their tussle catches the eye of Sang-hoon’s ex-wife, Ae-ryun. Ki-hoon escapes, and she drags Sang-hoon into the stairwell to rip him a new one for stealing his daughter’s wedding money.

Their loud argument echoes throughout the lobby, humiliating the brothers’ mother. Ki-hoon tells her that Dong-hoon wasn’t involved in their scheme, and she makes him leave before Ae-ryun goes after him next.

Joon-young enjoys a romantic seaside getaway with Yoon-hee, Dong-hoon’s wife, who says playfully that when they’re old, they should run away together. She knows he wouldn’t do it if she asked now, but admits that she wouldn’t, either.

After the wedding, the brothers share takeout and Sang-hoon laments that nobody calls him anymore after his business went under. He’s upset that only two people from his former workplace came to the wedding after he went to their family events (and gave monetary gifts) for over twenty years.

Ki-hoon finally snaps at him to examine his life instead of blaming others. Amen to that. He blurts out in frustration that those people will all come to their mother’s funeral, and unfortunately, Mom comes home and hears him. She tells him to let her know when her funeral is so she’s not rude enough to live beyond that day, ha.

She storms out, and Sang-hoon tells Dong-hoon that he can’t lose his job until after she dies, so that there will be at least a few people at her funeral. He warns his little brother that the day he gets fired he’ll end up like his hyung, sending Dong-hoon and Ki-hoon into giggle fits at the dramatic pronouncement. Ki-hoon says that he’s always felt bad for Dong-hoon, who always chooses his morals over his ambition. That sounds ominously prophetic.

Yoon-hee asks Dong-hoon about the wedding after she’s back home, but he’s grumpy, and he makes it obvious that he doesn’t want to talk.

Dong-hoon and his team go to a jobsite to inspect a water tower, but their drone malfunctions from the cold. Dong-hoon climbs the ladder to measure the tower’s dangerous defects himself, and at one point he slips and drops his equipment while reaching out to inspect a crack in the cement.

They make it back to the office safely after everyone else has gone home. The office is empty except for Ji-an, who doesn’t even acknowledge Dong-hoon when he says it was cruel to kill the ladybug. He asks her what’s the worst thing she’s killed, and after a long pause, she says softly, “A person.”

Director Yoon nervously reminds Joon-young that CEO elections are in two months and that each faction has exactly five people who will vote. He’s scared that Director Park will try to get one of their people fired, and that he’s the primary target. He suggests they fire the least formidable person from the other side, then hire someone to be on their side, making the vote six to four.

Joon-young says that if they’re going to do that, they may as well fire the most powerful person from the opposite faction. Director Yoon makes a call to someone from another company that wants to work with theirs, to ask for their help.

Meanwhile, Dong-hoon’s mom decides they should help Sang-hoon open a small business like a snack shop. She wants to use her house as collateral for a loan, but since Dong-hoon technically owns the house, she asks his opinion. He tells her that they won’t get a big enough loan to make a difference.

At work later, Dong-hoon learns about a large building that has a lot of potential. But the building hasn’t passed inspection in a decade, so the homeowners are upset that they can’t renovate. Director Yoon assigns the project to Dong-hoon’s team since they have the fewest projects, even though Dong-hoon argues that they’re very large projects.

Dong-hoon runs into Ji-an again at a grocery store, and he notices that she’s buying adult diapers. She doesn’t have enough money, so Dong-hoon buys the fruit she removed from her cart and runs to give them to her, but she’s already gone.

Ji-an arrives home to find Kwang-il letting himself into her place, and she growls that she hates when people invade her space. Kwang-il retorts that he warned he’d only do things she hates. Ji-an lunges at him when he starts to go inside, and he backhands her away.

Furious now, Ji-an grabs Kwang-il and hauls him out of her doorway. But he’s much bigger than she is and quickly gets the upper hand, and he punches her in the face and stomach. He tells her that she’ll never be able to pay him back, so she may as well beg him to kill her now.

Ji-an just laughs, and asks if he likes her. She accuses him of using her debt as an excuse to see her, and says that he’s lying about wanting revenge. He laughs, then grabs her and starts punching again.

The next morning at work, everyone is staring at Ji-an, who has a split lip and wears dark sunglasses as she works. A courier arrives later (strangely, never taking off his helmet) and delivers an envelope to Dong-hoon.

Inside is fifty million won in cash (about $46,500 USD), and a note saying, “Please take care of the matter for us.” Dong-hoon stuffs the envelope, cash and all, into a folder and doesn’t say anything to anyone. He notices that Ji-an appears to be looking right at him, though it’s hard to tell with her dark glasses.

Dong-hoon hangs around after everyone else leaves, but Ji-an is still there. She startles him by popping up just as he’s about to retrieve the folder, but she just asks him to buy her some food. Dong-hoon is twitchy as they eat, anxiously waiting for Ji-an to finish so he can go, but she suggests they also go for drinks.

At the bar, she shows him the huge shiner that Kwang-il gave her. He assumes it was an abusive boyfriend and tells her to break up with him. Ji-an just asks if he’s ever beat up a woman, and she actually seems disappointed when he says he hasn’t, since she’d planned on asking him how it felt.

Seeing that she’s sockless again, Dong-hoon asks if her feet are cold, but she just stares at him. Noting his anxiety, she asks if Dong-hoon has somewhere to be. Outside, Ki-hoon wanders by and spots his brother drinking with the younger woman and sends Dong-hoon a text asking who she is.

When they leave the bar, Ji-an tells Dong-hoon to go straight home, then sets off on her own. Ki-hoon comes out of hiding along with Sang-hoon to confront him about the mysterious lady in sunglasses. They don’t believe he was just drinking with a coworker, and Sang-hoon threatens to tell on him when he barks at them and heads back to the office.

When he gets there, the elevators are undergoing maintenance, so he has to take the stairs. On the way, he passes the security office and notes the video displays from the CCTV cameras all over the building. He catches the eye of a security officer, so he darts away and leaves the building.

Ji-an goes back to the office, where she heads to the basement to speak with the janitor. He asks if she has to do this, and she says that Dong-hoon can’t report the envelope missing, since it was a bribe, so it shouldn’t matter who ends up with it. Ah, she did see.

The janitor shuts off the power to the entire building, and while it’s out, Ji-an runs up to Dong-hoon’s desk and grabs the bribe envelope. By the time the janitor turns the power back on, she’s returned to the basement. The security officers blame the elevator workers for the power outage, and Ji-an gets away with the theft.

Dong-hoon wakes with a start the following morning, remembering the bribe money that’s still (he thinks) in his desk. He checks the drawer when he gets to work, and he ransacks his desk when he finds the envelope gone.

Suddenly, he recalls Ji-an’s strange behavior the night before (asking him to buy her dinner, telling him to go straight home), only now it all seems very suspicious. On top of that, Ji-an isn’t at work yet, but nobody knows her phone number when Dong-hoon asks.

Up in his office, Director Yoon calls someone and asks if they sent the money, then makes another call to report that the money was sent. A pair of security officers receive a report of someone taking a bribe, but it’s not Dong-hoon who’s accused — it’s Director Park.

His full name happens to be Park Dong-woon, almost identical to Dong-hoon’s, and he was supposed to have been the recipient of the fraudulent bribe. But he says honestly that he never got any bribe, and the CCTV camera footage backs him up. The security officers investigate to see who the courier delivered the envelope to, and the trail points them straight to Dong-hoon.

At the same time, Dong-hoon realizes that the cameras posted everywhere probably recorded him taking delivery of the envelope. He goes to the security office, possibly to report the truth, but the sight of the officers milling around excitedly scares him off.

Director Yoon learns that his bribe failed because it was delivered to the wrong person, and he freaks out. He tells Joon-young about the mix-up, so Joon-young decides to go with it. He says they can claim that Dong-hoon was angry that his hoobae was promoted to CEO over him, so he decided to get whatever money he could, then leave the company.

Security officers find Dong-hoon at his desk and escort him away forcefully. He sees Ji-an exiting the elevator, but she doesn’t even look at him. Dong-hoon yells her name over and over, growing more frantic as the security officers hold him back.

As he’s dragged into the elevator, Ji-an finally turns around, but there’s no emotion in her eyes.

 
COMMENTS

I really don’t have much idea of what to expect of My Ajusshi, but based on the writer and director, I have pretty high expectations for the show to be thoughtful and to tackle some difficult issues. So far, I like the dreamy, contemplative feel, the wistful background music, and the soft cinematography. It has a similar feel to Misaeng — which I confess I only saw a few episodes of — in the office scenes, which is a good thing. But it’s not all serious — I love the cheeky way the show demonstrates how the corporate world works by portraying the managers as pogs, with their maneuverings playing out on a game board. It cracked me up just because it was so accurate. I hope that sort of dry sense of humor continues throughout the show, to temper the more traumatic events.

I was interested in the characters from the moment Ji-an casually squished the bug that Dong-hoon was trying so hard to catch. What a great way to introduce them and their personalities — he’s the guy who wants to gently handle situations with tact and compassion, while she’s no-nonsense and just does whatever needs to be done, with no room for remorse for those that get hurt in the process. That scene also took away some of my trepidation that this would be an unrelentingly melodramatic show, as the promos seemed to suggest, letting me know that it would also offer a quirky flavor of humor that I like very much.

Personally, I’m a big fan of noona romances, but I haven’t seen a lot of shows like this one where the roles are reversed and the man is significantly older than the woman. But I love the casting here — I’ve been a fan of Lee Seon-kyun’s since Coffee Prince, and IU is one of my favorite actresses because she consistently surprises me with how deep she’s willing to go for her characters. I think they’ll have amazing onscreen chemistry (whether things go into romantic territory or not) once they start working together and helping each other.

Ji-an is already breaking my heart, with the way she lives in crushing poverty because she’s paying a loan shark, even forced to eat others’ discarded food. I’m very curious to know what she needed money so desperately for, though I suspect it was for Grandma’s care. I’m also feeling as if there’s more between her and Kwang-il than just her debt, since Ji-an mentioned him wanting revenge (plus they have the same family name, though that could mean nothing). Ji-an seems as though she’s sunk about as low as a person can sink in life, so low that she can’t even muster up enough emotion to feel depressed over her situation. She gets in Kwang-il’s face and talks back to him, showing no fear, though it’s hard to tell at this point if it’s because she’s just that brave, or she just doesn’t care if he hurts her. But she also has something she cares about and is willing to fight for — her Grandma — which shows that she hasn’t completely given up.

Dong-hoon doesn’t have it so bad outwardly, but he’s got a mediocre job where he gets little respect, two brothers with money problems and a mother who looks to him to help support them, and a wife that’s cheating on him. And now he’s gotten tangled up in a corporate turf war, blamed for taking a fake bribe that wasn’t even supposed to go to him, and it’s going to be nearly impossible to set straight. Right now Dong-hoon and Ji-an are at odds, with Dong-hoon in trouble for a bribe he wasn’t even supposed to receive and Ji-an stealing the money just because she can. But hopefully that will change soon, because I like the idea of these two very different people each finding something in the other that they need, and helping heal each other’s emotional wounds in the process.

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Before I read, let me just say LollyPip, you are the ultimate Recap Queen! How do you manage all these dramas I will never know. Thank you for all you do.

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Thank you for this much needed recap. I still haven't watched Episode 1 and I'm hesitant because of the length but I'm so torn because this is from the PD of Signal (which is my fave drama) and writer of Oh Hae Young (which is one of my well-liked romcoms).
Do you recommended it?

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If it helps, only the pilot is 90 minutes. Episode 2 is 70 minutes, and the rest will also be that length.

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the first episode was lengthy, the second episode was shorter. I suspect it won't be consistent with the 1h30 episodes. (besides, on slow parts where characters are walking and such I tend to fastforward because i have time constraints as well). Show seems interesting until now, and I'll definitely be watching next week's episodes.... (keep in mind Im on a drama slump at the moment (and can only watch ongoing dramas, so it might be the reason why I'm holding on to it)

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*recommend
@mindy and @justme thank you!

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TBH, I was bored by the first ep and wasn't sure about continuing watching. BUT, the second ep sold me! I just love it when the female lead is clever and the writing is good. Watch the 2nd ep and, hopefully, you'll be hooked like me.

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Liking the show until now (finally something to fill up my wednesday-thursday slot). Cinematography is amazing. For some reason, (as I said somewhere else), I am getting strong 1984 vibes (the novel). The guy is older (like in the book) and is used to following rules. The girl (and younger) is spunky and has lost all hope (like in the book). There are cameras everywhere. Both actors did pretty well in their portrayal here, I felt nothing but pity for the male lead (how sad, he has this «perfect» life when it honestly feels like he's trapped), and the girl is trapped in her own way, unable to breathe from debt and from life treating her badly. Good lorddd!!! Did anyone notice Jang Ki-young (aka Nam Gil from Go Back Couple)?? took me a while to recognize him.

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Gosh! I got 1984 feels as well, mostly because of the crazy degree of surveillance.

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ah so that's where I saw him. I was thinking I saw this actor before and can't put my finger on it XD

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No wonder I feels so familiar about him. Is Jang Ki young will be take major in this role? Or it's just a minor role?

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He's also in a couple scenes from It's Okay It's Love (motorcycle boy with Lee Sung Kyung) & IU's music video, Let's Meet On Friday :)

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I recognized Jang Ki Young, and also how different he is in Liar and Lover, Go Back Spouses, and here

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I will repost my first impression, because I want to share it again:

I was anxiously awaiting the premiere of My Ahjusshi and I was very satisfied with the first chapter. Lee Seon-kyun is magnificent, as always, but IU totally surprised me because I know her for her cheesy roles and her performance here takes an impressive turn. This drama will be her hit, I am pretty sure. Lee Ji An is a deep character and IU is not playing with her, IU is making her be alive without speak, with an awesome facial expressions.

This will be an adult romance, so the choice of actors was the greatest success of the production. In addition, the range of colors and the dynamism of the camera give an incredible effect to the narrative. That's why the plot seems so dark, but extremely interesting.

I feel that the love relationships between the characters will not eclipse the deep nuance of realism that the drama has and I adore it. Like Misty, watching My Ahjusshi struck me because its protagonists are surrounded by an aura of despair, loneliness, rebellion and non-conformity to the circumstances of life.

By the way: I love noona romance, but this type of relationship makes me crazy too. Chemistry between IU and Lee Seon-kyun is pretty good, I feel a slight attraction between their characters, especially because this first approach was deeply gestural.

Thanks for recap! Waiting for more.

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IU mentioned on VLIVE that "our drama is not a romantic gendre one." ayamefan13 mentioned that on DISQUS

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Well, if there is not romantic.... I still think that exist an attraction. Maybe like @aisling says, they will be just a platonic partner, but also you can't deny the facts: something is there, the speechless comunication was brutal. And this is the type of relationship what I love more.

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You put into words what I sensed about these two. Do you often feel this strong connection between leads in other dramas?

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Yes, particularly when you a have a couple with age difference. This type of relationship require more cautious, because the old man/woman thinks he/she is doing something bad and the youngest wants burn in flames. There, pasion and love can be interpretated watching little details; the body language becomes in a radar.

To me, the best example about couples comunicating each other withouts words is Secret Love Affair, where literally you can see fireworks between Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae just by the way they play piano together.

But there are anothers series, less melodramatic: Descendants of the Sun, Mirror of the Witch, Father is strange (Lee Joon and Jung So Min), Oh My Venus, The Legend of the Blue Sea, Queen In Hyun's Man, I Need Romance 3... in those, couples are coneccted in some speacial ways.

I always try to understand the relationship between main couple, it has to have more than a beautiful kiss scene.

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I don’t understand all the bashing from netizens about IU acting. I’ve always liked her and she’s really good in MA.

Sadly, this isn’t a romantic drama, so their relationship is purely platonic.

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I don't hate IU's acting. I just was surprised, because I know her by other roles more sweet. Seeing her through Lee Ji An's character was a totally discoverment for me. I admidt: she was the best of the chapter, and probably she will become this drama in her hit.

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This drama is seriously so good! Darker than I expected but good, it has humor but more in the dark side. For its genre, is more like a thriller. First 20 minutes are kind of slow, like too much character introduction (those minutes could have been better) but after that, it became so interesting, specially because of JiAn. Anyways, I have to praise the PD for doing a good job even with the hurry of re-making scenes and editing because Oh Dal Soo was replaced by another actor (for the best). They have worked so hard (and seems that is paying because the ratings in TVN for the 2 episodes are on the good side, it even increased in second episode). IU is doing so well and this is like the first time she is having great acting since the start...because she usually takes some episodes to make the character her own. Not this time! She receives praises for her acting and is well deserved. I think the acting, directing, ost has been really good. Just finished episode 2 and while I won't give spoilers I have to say OMG I LOVE IT! Was so fast because I enjoyed it so much since the start.

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Repost from my fan wall. I wanted to write more but don’t have the time right now!

I’m liking episode 1 of My Ajusshi. Lee Sun-kyun is great as expected, as is Park Ho-san. I’m also liking IU’s acting so far. She’s doing a good job at portraying such a bleak character. I don’t think some people realize how hard it is to pull off stoic characters. It’s very easy for them to be boring in the hands of the wrong actor and she has me engaged so far.

I feel like it’s rare to get a drama heroine like Ji-an. Most of dramaland’s poor, struggling heroines are plucky Candys. It’s a nice change to get such a stark, jaded character.

What I’m really loving is the directing. Which, you know, of course. Kim Won-seok is fantastic. There are a few stand-out scenes, but my favorite was when Ji-an snuck her grandmother out of the nursing home (although I find it unrealistic no one would have caught them on their way out, and question why she took the whole bed instead of transferring her to a wheelchair). Such excellent use of silence and sound. I also loved the shot below with the moon. Oh, and I don’t know what the sound mixers are doing with the voices, but I like it. Lee Sun-kyun is a given but IU’s voice also sounded cool in some scenes.

Despite the general heavy tone, there are some nice moments of sort of black comedy. A lot like Misaeng.

Oh, and I like the OST.

Overall, I’m curious to see where the relationships are headed. Show me what you’ve got, drama.

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The OST, yes ! It fits perfectly with the mood, I can't wait to get them on my phone 👍

Also.. I hope she will get to sing at least one song for this drama 😊

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Why do all of Lee Seon Kyun's characters get cheated upon? This is my third Lee Seon Kyun drama, and yet again, there's cheating. Quite a pattern he's got there.

On another note, love this! Ji An stealing the money was a complete surprise - and that's what sold the show to me. Also, I wish it would go down the romance route because I think it would be interesting to see how it unfolds over the course of the episodes, but even if it doesn't, I'm in for a good and unusual friendship.

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LOL I was thinking the same thing re: LSK’s characters getting cheated on. Poor guy.

I love how amoral Ji-an is. I’m so interested in her.

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Only watch 1st episode. I'm surprised by IU performances to be honest. Well, turn out all she need is meet a good project and compelling character which take advantage of her acting chop.

Except few exception, I love almost all of the actor performances.

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I love her character here more than her other dramas.
The relationship between the leads has similar vipes to Won Bin and Kim Sae-ron's characters in "Man From Nowhere" a.k.a "Ajusshi" or "Mister."
I wonder if this was inspired by the movie. The title is also similar.

The heartfelt friendship between the leads balanced out the dark and violence. I'd love the same experience from this drama.

I love this kind of story. Yes it's brutal and it's violence against a woman (and men) but Park Joon-hoon isn't forced to get involved. He chose get involved instead of looking the other way.

I'm totally in for the ride and I'm glad the pilot didn't disappoint.

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maybe you are right. Maybe it's inspired by that movie... They have weird relationship, totally unpredictable, I have no idea where the writers will take us with their relationship. btw, After watching 1st and 2nd episode, the tittle can be changed as "Ajusshi who buys me food" lol >.<

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Perfect side dish for "Pretty Noona"lol.
Planning on watch the heck out of both.

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I’d b so uncomfortable if Ji An and Dong Hoon’s relationship turned romantic. Son Ye Jin and Jung Hae In don’t have that big of an age difference (only 6 years) whereas Lee Sun Kyun and IU have 18 years. Of course in both cases they are consenting adults but I honestly don’t think I want to see a fatherly figure having sexual or romantic feelings for Ji An. We already have that type of dynamic in various films and that’s enough for me...

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@megan : I'm suprised you take my post as them romantically involved like Pretty Noona who buys me food. Ajusshi who buys me food title for me is also can interpreted differently. Like No matter How bad her intention towards him might be turn out because of her survival instinct, His habit which always buy her expensive food make that bad intention faded and melt away, an expensive food she has been craved, she used to eat a leftover food in her part time job.

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I've been waiting for DB review this drama. Thank god its here!

Managed to watch halfway. The ambience is too dark for my taste so I left and wait review from here only. *please forgive me*

Totally agree with your comment, LollyPip. I wonder if there is something more happened between Ji An and Kwang-il. With all the talk about money and revenge. My guess? Ji-an said she did killed a person. Wondering if that person related to Kwang-il. Is it his girlfriend? So are we watching another Secret Love (played by awesome Ji Sung and HJE)?

I need a spoiler already...

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Yeah, i don't think Ji An was joking when she said that she killed a person. A plausible theory is Ji An killed one of Gwang Il's relatives (which i'm guessing was by accident), thus he wanted to seek "revenge".

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To be honest, I never planned to watch this show and I never thought I will.

Accidentally watched it and I was hooked. I find the characters introduction really done beautifully, enough to grab your attention and stirred your curiosity.

It's really a good thing that I happened to watch this show without any expectation. So here I am waiting for the next episode to see how the story unfold further and worried sick over the fate of Dong Hoon.

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This might be too dark for my taste, but the leads are so compelling, I might have to see this first episode at least. And LollyPip, are you the only recapper right now? I will likely be following just because you’re recapping this!

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Ally, you have to give this a try. I was hesitant to reply to you yesterday, but now having watched the second episode, I can recommend this without reservation. If the story remains tight like this, we are in for a thrilling ride.

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Join us, Ally. Join us! My new, super-cool-looking Ji-an icon compels you! Doesn't it make me look cool? Doesn't it make this whole show look cool? We're all cool here. You can become cool, too. Don't miss out on this golden chance. 😎

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The first thing that strike me was how beautiful and quiet this drama was. It got so much melodramatic stuff going on, but everything was told in a very matter-of-fact way that turned it into just another day in their pitiful, painful life. (Plus there are some great black comedy where I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry.) Also, the rawness of everything is just about to kill me. There were many scenes that made me felt like intruding into someone's very personal and embarrassing moment in life. Like that wedding quarrel between the oldest brother and his (ex??)-wife, or almost every scenes where Dong-hoon noticed something personal about Ji-an but chose to be quiet about it.

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Yes, I loved those moments you mentioned. Also, seeing Ji-an eating the food she took off the plates at the restaurant and making her coffee that she took from the office. So sad and so personal.

If Shopping King Louis hadn't already caused my Maxim Gold addiction, then seeing Ji-an drink it all the time definitely would've. I type this as I am drinking a nice hot cup of Maxim Gold. Darn you, PPL.

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After that first scene, I basically jumped up and down with joy. I only understand the implications after I read @lollypip translates the scene. but it was the show rather than tell part wowed me, even I don't 'get' everything right away.

Anyway, finally a damn good melo after Smart Prison Living.

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You want another good melo? You should watch Mother.

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I have fallen for this drama. IU is what sold me to it, I have seen some of her prior work, but in this drama I do not see IU but Ji-an in its place. The cinematography is beautiful, and the music only ads to the dark and bleak expression, as this tragic story begins to unfold before our very eyes.
I love melo's a lot, and seems that this drama wont disappoint us in the long run. Ji-an so far is my favorite character, dramas tend to choose man as the jaded anti-hero seeking revenge and redemption, but I cannot be more glad that this time is a young woman, the jaded one seeking if not to get even with the world, at least trying to get redemption in her own terms...... IU figthing!!!!!!!!

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thank you for the recap @lollypip, I kinda glossed over the few minutes when they were talking about office politics, finally I understood who's who in which group ha.

I was only paying attention when Dong-hoon and his brothers are on and also when they are showing Ji-an's story.

I can't wait to see how Dong-hoon will confront Ji-an about the situation now. Though hopefully, next episode Ji-an should be able to pay her debt with that money.

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Yeah the office politics thing went completely over my head so I was glad this was recapped.

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I thought the drama supposedly has no romance.

The first episode is okay but I have this things that also don't make me want to watch it.
It feels like a drama that pretending to be dark because of the mute filter, it they use brighter filter, it still the same.
It just too much,
lately I realised that tvn feel dull, the colour is dated and feel like wash up screen,
JtBC shall we kiss 1st and woman of dignity has the same vibe but it's brighter without look like washup,

two drama above is just comparison, visual wise.

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From IU's mouth "It's not a love story but a human story. We’re not making a romance or fantasy drama, but telling a story about reality and people. It’s not a story that says, ‘Reality should be like this,’ and it’s not a beautification of reality. Rather, it’s a drama that says, ‘There is this kind of reality. How should we live?'”
https://www.soompi.com/2018/03/22/iu-responds-controversy-surrounding-storyline-violence-ahjussi/
I love how bold she is in defending her drama.

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I LOVED reading that article. IU is so well-spoken (as expected of a great songwriter) and it's clear from those few words shared in that article alone that she has a good grasp on the story and her character.

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tvN dramas have always been on the "dull" or "dark" side. I first noticed it in Answer Me 1997 and I'd say it's true for about half of their shows. I kinda like it sometimes, to be honest. But other times it bothers me. I like it in this show.

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I watched the first episode and as a Lee Kyun fan, I’m so happy that I wasn’t let down. The story so far is gritty and very real but the lighter moments of camaraderie and the occasional witty banter between the brothers balance it out. My favourite part was when they sat in the bar and imagined the horror story involving the eldest brother. Lee Kyun is definitely the main reason that will get me watching the next episode, I’m still not sold on IU as an actor but her character is very reminiscent of Western Indy film quirky heroines and that is refreshing in a Kdrama. And the cinematography is so good, I feel like I’m watching a film made for film festival screenings – like a French film with gritty real characters who have that tiny bit of whimsy in the very real and hard lives. The use of sound is another thing that stood out for me – the soundtrack, the judicious use of dialogues and the silences which conveyed more than words – add to the bleak atmosphere which make the few instances of laughter between the brothers stand out even more. I had almost hit a lull in drama watching and this feels like the drama I have been waiting for. Fingers crossed that the rest of it delivers as well as the first episode!

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IU's character actually reminds me a lot of Han Yeri in Age of Youth or Kang Sora in Misaeng.

I used to think her Cindy character from Producer was sad but Ji Ahn feels like what Cindy would become if she lost all her innocence and hope and just lived like she's crushed under a rock.

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Does anybody knows where can I watch this drama? (English subs)
I search a little bit and didn't find a website.
I appreciate an answer. Maybe I will watch it alongside with the pretty noona, since I quit watching waikiki and Mother is over.
Thanks s lot!!

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Dramafever already has subs for episode 1 and 2.

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Yeah, but i live in Germany and here, due to licence or whatever, they don't allow us to watch new shows. Sometimes not even older ones. 😠😕😢

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VPN is your friend lol

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try myasiantv.se or kissasian

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I didn't see it in 😘assian, but I will try the other one. Thanks

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In K***asian it's listed as My Mister.

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it's everywhere called My Mister. You can watch it on ondramanice.io or fastdrama.co or dramacoolfirst.com

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All I want to say, i love melo without makes too much emphasis of character suffering and told again and again without much development, and focusing more on the real issue. So far so good, writernim

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Can we talk about how much flack this drama is getting amongst Knetz over the abuse scene with Ji An & Kwang il?

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What are the specifics of the criticism?

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They are just blindly hating it because IU is in the project. Most of them are just IU's haters that are not watching the show and create their own stories in their heads and telling everybody are "facts" + some people believing them. Seems that they don't have problem with other dramas that also had violent scenes...only this one that they are not even watching. Is a cable channel, not a public channel after all. I think the intensity of it is still alright for cable channel. Those commenters even said Kwang Il is the second lead and is her boyfriend, so they are putting violence in romantic light (is not the case). Seems that they are just blindly hating and mad because IU is receiving positive comments about her acting (not only her, but the whole drama and actors) so they can't use the acting card against her this time...but I am glad rating increased (and both episodes are good in rating for a cable channel). So, their attempt of making the show fail, is not working that well. Haters are working hard but it seems more people are noticing is a well done drama and are staying.

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Thanks! Yours and @megan's comments help explain it.

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In a way I understand why people get triggered because of violent scenes like that and why knetz criticized them. There’s something that i-netz couldn’t quite grasp. There are too many dramas with scenes that inflict physical violence against female actresses and they are oftentimes very graphic and the perpetrators rarely face any consequences in dramas.
The way I see it, it’s not about dating violence or romanticizing violence against women. It’s about how in media, arts and popular culture, violence against women or sadism is used in a way to create a shock effect. Less violence could have made the message go through just as fine. Though this drama has age recommendation (the usual, 15 and above can watch it) and this drama was from beginning marketed to a more mature audience. Let’s face it, this is a problem within the film industry where male gaze, unnecessary sex and violence scenes, sadism against women by directors, producers etc. is rampant and nobody questions that because of the sake of art. It’s not a coincidence that every film industry around the world has the same problem, and I’m not talking about what happens behind the scenes. The way women are treated in actual films needs to be addressed too. Of course most of us understand that real life is not all about sunshines and butterflies and it’s important to portray the gritty reality in the films too. Now, it’s important to establish rules and boundaries and make it clear what is okay and what’s not. These rough scenes are usually emotionally draining (even traumatizing if you work with a director like Stanley Kubrick) to both male and female actors who are doing these scenes. IU already addressed this in vlive so there shouldn’t be a problem in this aspect. But I totally understand if people get frustrated about unnecessarily violent scenes.

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I loved the first episode even though it was heartbreaking to watch some scenes. This was only the first episode imagine how much worse the episodes are gonna get before they get better.

I agree with @lollypip , I'm liking the low tone humor this show has, I hope they keep it up even when things get even grimmer because I have a feeling we're all gonna need a little bit of morbid laughter then.

I know that the premise of the show is not of romance, but I'm liking the chemistry between Ji-an and Dong-Hoon. (I'm probably in the minority here, but I really wouldn't mind a romantic relationship down the line between our two leads... as long as it's not between Ji-An and Kwang-il because even though I see the necessity of their relationship as a debtor and collector, it better not proceed from there. That beating scene was brutal and I really hope the writer(s) do NOT ROMANTISICE it further on during the show).

I love IU and I can honestly see how she improves in all her acting bit by bit. I think she's doing amazingly wonderful as Ji-An. And obviously Lee Seon-Kyun's amazing as ever. (I'm already starting to dislike the brothers though. Dude, stealing from your own daughter at her wedding??!! NOT COOL)

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Thank you so much for the recap. This is a Kim Won Suk drama so I know everything will be laid out in smaller pieces that eventually will become a part of a bigger puzzle. This PD is so into deep character connections that will motivate the direction of the story like a maze waiting to be solved as the story will unfold. Some of the scenes were violent and painful to watch particularly with Lee Jian's character but absolutely necessary to depict the struggles of people living in poverty.

Lee Jieun (IU) completely immersed herself into the character of Lee Jian. She is surprisingly cool. It is like a 360 degree transformation from her previous project. By episode 2, I already started seeing her as Lee Jian. I am waiting this one out guys.

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Our queen @lollypip has come. Thank you for your recap, I always enjoy your thoughtful insights. Let’s hope the show will be consistently good, so far I like what I saw.

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Have been waiting for this drama excitedly and I'm happy to announce that the drama didn't disappoint me 😄

I already felt invested to Ji An's character, I never knew that a simple activity like making a cup of coffee could made me so emotional. It seems like it's her only 'Me Time' when she can relax a bit (at least that's my interpretation of her coffee scene)

Wherever the PD and writer will take me, I'm on board with this ride 😉

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That coffee making scene broke my heart. Especially since she did everything very quietly in the dark. It felt like there is no room to breathe for her, not even in those 5 minutes recesses when she can enjoy her pilferage.

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had no idea what to expect, but having watched the first 2 eps -- this is a KEEPER! i'm in for the ride, and honestly, i am glad it isn't going to have a romance between the two leads...

boring office politics! intrigue! mystery! betrayal! backstabbing! silly crazy brothers! videogamer sidekick? this drama has it all...

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I am glad that Lee Sun Kyun and Kim Sun-ah (with ‘Should we...’) are making me watch non-Rom-com stuff. For me, K-dramas are stress-busters, especially these days. (Waikiki hits the spot!)

The first episode of this was already too stressful. But, I shall persevere. Hold my hands through this, beanies!!!

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I love that this is different though. I really don't think we need romance to tell and engaging story or we don't need romance to drive the story. That's one of the main reasons why I'm loving this and Live so much.

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your username reminds me of Lee Sun Kyun's line on Pasta.. "Aglio e olio hana! Vongole hana!" Man, His voice is smooth like butter, still leaves me feeling all tingly even after all these years XD

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That's the very reason for my username choice. Pasta was my first K-drama and LSK my first K-love. (I could never really watch the drama again because of the misogyny ... but wuv LSK.) Give me his Miss Korea avatar any day!

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@lollypip, thank you for the recap. Yay, I needed something to replace Misty and Mother and this delivers. I liked it. Ji-an is wily, like a fox. Can’t wait until next week.

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No wonder I loved the directing, Kim Won Seok PD!

I have no idea where this is going but I loved the first two episodes. Here's to hoping I won't drop the drama, I've been dropping a lot since 2018 started.

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The acting is good. The cinematography is good. Ji An is an interesting character. The plot has potential; I like dark stories with a bit of black humor. Still, not sure I'm completely sold. I found it rather slow; my attention wandered quite a bit. We'll see.

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I do like this show, but I wasn't glued to the screen start to finish either. For me I would attribute that to how ridiculously long the first episode was.

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Me too but I did notice at least one song on the OST that I really liked.

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Thanks @Lollypip for the recap! I hope you aren’t burning yourself out with all the recaps you’re doing. Pretty Noona is on the horizon and I was really looking forward to you doing that one.

This shows looks nothing like what I thought it would be, and I love that. I don’t like knowing much about shows before I start. I really liked this premier episode and that has me a bit scared. There is a ton of potential here with a lot of different storylines. The drama feels like it will be driven heavily by the many characters that inhabit the story. Thankfully, many of these amoral individuals are so well presented that you really want to know more about them and how they will affect Dong-hoon. Will our ajusshi be able to survive in one piece and remain the nice guy that he is, or will life change him for the worse—or maybe better?

Couple of additional things:
1. I felt so embarrassed when Ji-an was being assaulted by Kwang-il (lone shark) as I was thinking and hoping that ajusshi would miraculously appear and intervene. K-dramas have ruined me.
2. I really am impressed by IU’s Ji-an. She doesn’t say much, but her actions and few lines speak volumes. She seems like someone who has been beaten down by life but is a survivor all the same. I love how clever/resourceful she is!
3.

Ji-an seems as though she’s sunk about as low as a person can sink in life, so low that she can’t even muster up enough emotion to feel depressed over her situation.

I love this analysis of Ji-an.
4. Im guessing Ki-bum is a NEET (Japanese term for a young person who is no longer in the education system and who is not working or being trained for work.) I really want to know more about him and his connection to Ji-an. Why does he do as she asks?
5. Those brothers. Seriously. Stealing money from their own daughter/niece. I love how no where near perfect they are though and their relationship. That whole family has some relatable moments, especially with the mom thinking about her sons and vice versa.
6. Yoon- hee and Joon-young. Those two, I have no words.
7. You gotta love how Ji-an pulled off that heist.
8.

Dong-hoon doesn’t have it so bad outwardly, but he’s got a mediocre job where he gets little respect, two brothers with money problems and a mother who looks to him to help support them, and a wife that’s cheating on him. And now he’s gotten tangled up in a corporate turf war, blamed for taking a fake bribe that wasn’t even supposed to go to him, and it’s going to be nearly impossible to set straight.

That would be enough to send most people insane though. 🙃

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The cinematography is great. Misaeng is one of my all time favorite dramas. Although I didn’t like the writing of Oh Hae Young, I think Seo Hyun Jin did such a great job that she elevated the whole drama. I feel like this time, too, the success and impact of this drama will depend on the acting performance of the actors. So far Lee Sun Kyun and Lee Ji Eun are doing a good job by believably portraying their characters. My only problem with this drama is and will be the dynamics between the characters. The synopsis says that Ji An and Dong Hoon will only have a platonic relationship based on friendship. I do believe that men and women are capable of having purely platonic friendships but the way I see it, a way older man has no business in forming closer friendships with women their daughter’s age. Not just in films but in real life too, pure friendships have been unlikely. They always turn romantic or sexual at certain point and this comment would be too long if I discerned how this is actually unhealthy. Of course two consenting adult are free to do whatever they want. Though, I would have been more excited if the drama was titled My Ahjumma instead and there were some powerhouse actresses who would have been like mother figures to Ji An. I do hope that the ahjusshi will strictly be only fatherly to Ji An.

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Yeah, but then the name of the drama would not be 'My Mister', so some kind of romantic (even one-sided) thing will occur. I think netizens suffer from ageism! Everyone here is horrified like some 90-year old guy is about to date a 15-year old! Anyways, these 2 people have real dark issues to resolve - I don't think romance is on either of their minds! Let's see how it ends!

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The dark tone reminds me of "Signal". The office politics, reminds me of "Misaeng." I love the first episode. It's darker than I'd thought, but it's fine. The characters and their backstories are intriguing.

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Thank you for explaining the whole thing involving the corporate politics. Without your explanation I wouldn't have had nearly the same fun I did watching episode 2.

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I find it ironic how most (if not all) of the salty people complaining about the drama didn't even watch it. How would anyone think that Gwang Il (loan shark, i repeat LOAN SHARK) was involved romantically with Ji An and demonstrated dating violence is BEYOND ME.

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Thank you for the recap. I would love it if you guys recapped Live too. That's a real good one

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I liked the 1st two episodes. It's obvious Ji An (accidentally) killed Yang-Il's relative and he wants to make her suffer. She is making ends meet to take care of the debt and her brother and grand mother. She is not only burdened but is guilt-ridden. It is also obvious that Dong Hoon and his wife had a kid who is now dead. They have grown apart, she is having an affair with the hot shot classmate-turned-CEO, who is scheming up ways to rise the ladder and get rid of the husband! Whether the affair will last or not, whether she ends up back with her husband, remains to be seen. He has money problems of his own. But if the first 2 episodes are any indication, Ji An and Dong Hoon will join up against corporate conspiracy, help each other get over guilt over the deaths and take some control over their lives. I don't know why everyone over here is so opposed to the idea of them ending up together romantically - the age difference? - but the story is about not-so-perfect people trying to do the right thing at their second chance at life, so I would not mind a neat love story by the end. What's wrong with being happy?

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Who kills a lady bug?!? 🐞 😱

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I do believe you need to watch ALL of Misaeng, BTW - it is amazingly good, and totally relatable for those of us who spent their worklife in a cubicle LOL
I'm loving this so far - I understand there isn't supposed to be any real romance in it which is fine. It's more just humans relating to each other.

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You know what, this looks promising. I feel like I find friends who going through the same or even more depressing life. I can't relate those happy-go-lucky heroines, or dramas with heavy romance, Life is hard enough, we don't have any energy to feel anything else. So I feel her and him. Hah. Please be light with the romance PD nim

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Is it only me, but the office hall way (where the elevators are), looks so similllaaar to MISAENG setting. lol

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Yes, it really looks like the same building.

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You will be a good writer with those words that you used :D

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