My Ajusshi: Episode 12
So many dramas focus on the relationships between people that it can be hard to stand out when it seems like every possible angle has already been explored. The beauty of My Ajusshi is that it doesn’t try to make the relationships between the characters unique—instead it focuses on the ordinary moments in life, and how those moments can actually be very extraordinary because of the people who experience them. The show allows its characters to be average and flawed, which is the very reason why we identify with them and love them so much.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
In the morning, Dong-hoon is still thinking about his fight with Yoon-hee last night. He’d crouched on the floor in front of Yoon-hee, hand bloody from punching the door, screaming, “Why did you do it? Why, why why?!”
He’d begged Yoon-hee to explain why she cheated with Joon-young, of all people. He’d accused her of thinking it would be easier to divorce him if she had an affair with his nemesis and got him fired, asking if she really thought she’d live happily with Joon-young. He’d asked if she’d even considered Ji-seok, their son, and how this would destroy his father.
He’d told Yoon-hee that he used to clean the house before she got home to make her happy, bought her whatever she wanted, and believed her when she’d said she was going on business trips. He’d sobbed that he thought she was just busy, never guessing that she was having an affair.
Yoon-hee had argued that Dong-hoon was always first in her heart, but that she’d felt like she came in second behind family. She’d cried that it broke her heart when she’d call him and he’d say he was eating with his family, even though she wasn’t there. She’d wailed that she hates this neighborhood and all of his friends, feeling that it’s unfair that they don’t know how lonely Dong-hoon makes her feel.
Ki-hoon drives Dong-hoon to the soccer field and asks if he and Yoon-hee had a fight. Dong-hoon says they didn’t, and Ki-hoon says that’s good because he’s going to have to fight a certain bastard later and needs to conserve energy. He even brags about how sexy he is when he’s spouting poetic words of hate, ha.
He knows that something’s wrong with Dong-hoon, but when he asks again, he just gets his head bitten off. He complains that Dong-hoon is always mean, and sighs that he’ll just pretend to believe that Dong-hoon hurt his hand at work.
At the nursing home, Ji-an helps her grandmother into bed, and she finds the notebook in which Grandma wrote to Dong-hoon that she feels at ease with someone like him looking after Ji-an.
Poor Dong-hoon seems doomed to relive the previous evening’s fight — and he recalls Yoon-hee saying that she wanted to move, but that whenever she brought it up, he’d go quiet and she’d give up. She’d admitted that she shouldn’t be forgiven for what she did, but that she’d wanted to die when she found out that he knew about her infidelity.
She’d said that she knows he’s not trying to keep the marriage together because he loves her, and that she’d go along if he wants to keep this from his mother and Ji-seok, or if he wants to end it. He’d said that he doesn’t want to make her miserable just because it’s easier for him, but that he doesn’t know how to end the relationship. He’d admitted that he thought he could get through it as long as she didn’t know he knew, but now that’s too hard.
As the guys all drive back to the neighborhood after the soccer game, Dong-hoon stares out the van window. Ki-hoon stops for a red light, and Dong-hoon realizes that Ji-an is standing on the curb, staring at him. He just stares back as they drive away.
Back at work on Monday, Dong-hoon’s team discusses the old shopping mall, which needs to have two points subtracted from its safety score in order to qualify for reconstruction. Dong-hoon refuses to fudge the scores, telling his team to focus on the structural evaluation and stay out of the political games.
He gets a message from Director Jang that they’re changing hotels today (for his director interview practice). He’d replied that he has a report to finish, but Director Jang fires back that that’s not a priority at the moment.
When Dong-hoon shows up at the hotel after work, Director Jang reams him out for punching Joon-young in his office. He orders Dong-hoon to tell them before he does anything else, to let them know if Director Park gives him anything, and to stop making it obvious that he’s Joon-young’s sunbae.
After their meeting, they all head downstairs in the elevator and run into Director Yoon and his team, also leaving after a meeting. Awk-ward. They all ride down together, and Director Jang cheerfully asks Director Yoon if they got in some good practice, ha. The directors leave, and Dong-hoon is left behind with his competitor, who seems friendly and says that he thinks Dong-hoon will get the promotion.
Dong-hoon’s team calls him to tell him not to bother coming back to the office because they’ll handle the report, but he goes anyway, and they all light up adorably. He’s surprised to see Ji-an there, too, and he learns that she practically volunteered to stay and help.
They all run together to catch the last train of the night with only seconds to spare, cutting it so close that only Dong-hoon and Ji-an make it onto the train as the door shuts in the team’s faces. Once they catch their breath, Dong-hoon quips that Ji-an is actually pretty good at running, lol.
He asks why she stayed late, and she mutters that she missed him. She tells him that his attempt to draw a line backfired, only making her like him more. Dong-hoon sighs that only she likes him because she pities him. She just asks why he was nice to her and whether that’s not the same thing.
She sees a man coming down the train towards them and rolls her eyes, grumbling that she thought she got rid of them. She asks Dong-hoon if he’s seen anyone taking pictures of him, and she quickly moves to another car when the man enters theirs.
The man has his phone in his hand, and he sits near Dong-hoon when he sees that Ji-an left the car. Dong-hoon asks to see his phone, but the guy just glares at him then follows Ji-an to the next car. Dong-hoon goes after him, so the man passes Ji-an and keeps going while Dong-hoon stands over her protectively.
They surprise everyone by walking past Jung-hee’s bar just as the guys are leaving. Dong-hoon tells them that Ji-an is a coworker that he’s walking home after they worked late. The guys bow awkward greetings, but Jung-hee chirps a cheerful hello to Ji-an.
She decides to tag along the rest of the way to Ji-an’s place, and pretty soon a perplexed Ji-an finds herself being walked home by all of Dong-hoon’s friends. They tease Ji-an that now she’ll have to find another route home in order to avoid running into her crazy boss outside working hours. Finally Dong-hoon tells them to knock it off, and Jung-hee says that Dong-hoon is perfectly safe.
She tells a story about how she and Dong-hoon visited every temple in the country looking for their friend who ran off to be a monk, sharing hotel rooms for two weeks, but Dong-hoon never made a move on her. She moves closer to Ji-an and asks if she’s scared to get old like them, but Ji-an says, “I want to get to your age as soon as possible. I bet life won’t be so hard.” They all stop to look at her, but with kindness, as if she’s just said something they can all identify with.
Jung-hee, Dong-hoon, Sang-hoon, and Jae-chul walk Ji-an all the way home. Sang-hoon calls out to a friend who lives in the next building over, introduces Ji-an, and asks his friend to keep an eye on her.
They leave Ji-an safely at her door, and as they walk away, she takes a deep breath and calls out, “Thank you.” Sang-hoon wishes her a good night and Jung-hee invites her to visit the bar. Only Dong-hoon recognizes what it took for Ji-an to thank them.
As they walk back together, Jung-hee tells the brothers that life wasn’t easy when they were young, either.
Ki-hoon wasn’t at the bar tonight because he’s with a friend who works on Yu-ra’s movie, watching the dailies. His friend tells him that they originally thought the role suited Yu-ra because of her crazy vibe, but over time she started freezing up. The director does seem hard on her in the videos, but to be fair, Yu-ra is pretty bad. Ki-hoon abandons his plan to beat up the director.
The next morning, Yu-ra shows up at the cleaning store looking for Ki-hoon. She asks him to kidnap her for a few months, because she’s too embarrassed to quit the movie. He refuses, warning her that if she keeps coming to him with tears in her eyes, she’ll end up married to him.
Yu-ra says that she doesn’t care so long as he kidnaps her, but Ki-hoon snaps at her to use that spirit to fight for her role. She bursts into tears and insists that she’s serious, so Ki-hoon tells her to just quit. He adds, “I took the blame the first time, but this proves that you’re part of the problem. That’s all you’re really capable of. If you want to become a top star, at least take the insults.”
He gives Yu-ra a gentle shove away and tells her to stop crying to him every day. She shuffles away, dejected, as Sang-hoon calls Ki-hoon a big jerk. As they drive past Yu-ra, Ki-hoon never even looks at her.
Ki-bum hacks into the company files again and finds pictures of Ji-an in an email. She tells him to delete it, but he warns that whoever sent it will just keep sending until someone opens the email. Ji-an tells him to monitor the inbox until she says he can stop, and she calls Yoon-hee as she rushes out of the office.
Meanwhile, Executive Director Wang and Joon-young visit Chairman Jang to name their choices for the open director position. Chairman Jang likes both candidates and warns them not to create negative feelings, as they’re both valuable to the company.
Joon-young meets Yoon-hee on the roof to inform him that she told Dong-hoon everything. She’s incredulous that he’s trying to create a scandal (she must have answered Ji-an’s call), ashamed that she ever liked someone like him.
Joon-young claims that he did those things to marry her, but Yoon-hee knows it’s a lie. She asks why he’s still trying to ruin Dong-hoon if that’s true, and he accuses her of blaming everything on him to assuage her guilt for cheating.
Joon-young is surprised when Ji-an joins them, and Yoon-hee says that she invited Ji-an here. She tells Ji-an to stop following Joon-young’s orders, stay away from Dong-hoon, and quit her job. Ji-an retorts that it will look bad for Dong-hoon if she quits now, ad she asks Yoon-hee if she’s scared that they slept together.
She laughs at Yoon-hee’s insecurity, considering that she cheated first, and she tells her that there’s a rumor in the company that she and Dong-hoon are in a relationship. Yoon-hee demands to know who started the rumor, and when Ji-an sneers in Joon-young’s direction, Yoon-hee catches the guilty look on his face.
Yoon-hee vows to tell the company everything the moment Joon-young frames Dong-hoon and Ji-an. She tells them to stop their scheming, but Ji-an laments that she’s already spent the money Joon-young paid her. Joon-young asks Ji-an if she’d stop if he told her to, and she says they should stop openly.
Yoon-hee wants to know what she means, but she just walks away. Joon-young snarls that Yoon-hee won’t be able to tell Dong-hoon that Ji-an was working for him, because she knows she’ll lose him if she does. He calls her a coward, and she spits back that it’s better than garbage. She says that she just wants Dong-hoon to blame her and divorce her.
Afterward, Yoon-hee thinks back on Ji-an’s call earlier, when she’d said that Dong-hoon was in danger and they needed to stop Joon-young. She calls Ji-an back to ask if it’s true that she likes Dong-hoon, and when Ji-an admits it’s true, Yoon-hee thanks her for her help, fighting back tears.
When she gets home, Ji-an finds Kwang-il waiting for her, growling that he’s missed her. Ji-an calls him garbage like his father for making up excuses to see her and beat her up just because he likes her. He looms over her, snarling that he beats her up because he hates her for killing his father.
She asks if beating her up makes him feel better, never breaking eye contact. Kwang-il looks away first and goes oddly calm. He says that the way to her house reminds him of the hill he used to climb, carrying her on his back when she’d pass out after his father’s beatings. Staring into the distance, he says in a hollow voice as a tear slides down his face, “I can’t make up my mind. Should I kill you, or should I just die myself?”
Dong-hoon’s mother asks Ki-hoon how things are going with Dong-hoon’s promotion, scared to upset him by asking. Ki-hoon tells her that Dong-hoon is mostly worried about disappointing her. She goes to Jung-hee to complain that she knows something is up because when one brother is upset, they’re all in a bad mood.
Jung-hee reveals that it’s Ki-hoon who’s having girl problems, and Mom asks what she’s like. Jung-hee just says that she knows Ki-hoon cleans for a living, and Mom is all, “Is she really weird?” Ha.
As Sang-hoon approaches their corner in the van, he gets a glint in his eye and hits the gas. Oh no, he’s gonna tip the van again. Ki-hoon screams for him to stop, and Sang-hoon slams on the brakes, almost balancing the van on its nose, mere feet from some pedestrians. Ki-hoon flies into a fury, and he jumps out of the van and goes looking for Yu-ra’s director.
He finds the cast and crew at a restaurant having lunch, and he plunks himself down right beside Director Ahn. He marvels sarcastically that there’s someone just like him, and he tells Director Ahn to stop targeting innocent people.
He says that he understands why Director Ahn is treating Yu-ra harshly — he realized too late that his script sucks, after they’d already started filming. He screams at Director Ahn for taking it out on Yu-ra instead of being a better director.
He ends up at Yu-ra’s place that night, telling her how the same thing happened to him. He didn’t notice that his script was terrible until he saw the scenes on film, and he knew he’d be doomed if the movie was released. But he was greedy to retain his genius reputation, so he’d taken it out on her, and the more she fell apart the better he felt because he could blame the movie’s failure on her.
He says that the worst part is that people like him can tell who is the most likely to crumble, and chose them as targets. He tells Yu-ra that the director targeted her to sacrifice to his pride, and he tells her to fight and not back down. He admits that after he destroyed her, he hated himself so much that he doomed himself to this life.
Sobbing, Yu-ra asks if Ki-hoon is blaming her for his failure. He just tells her to kill anyone who messes with her from now on, and he’ll clean up after her.
He goes to Jung-hee’s bar, where he tries to carry on a philosophical discussion with an oblivious Sang-hoon. Still crying, Yu-ra takes a taxi to the bar, marches inside, and slaps Ki-hoon across the face. She shoves him into a post, then buries her face and wails at the top of her lungs. All the guys hilariously pretend that there’s not a sobbing woman assaulting Ki-hoon just a few feet away.
Once things calm down, Ki-hoon and Yu-ra go outside to hammer out the details of their new relationship, which basically boils down to: “Dump me and I’ll kill you.” Ki-hoon says morosely that Yu-ra will definitely dump him, since she’s an actress and he’s only a cleaner.
She makes him pinky-swear that neither of them will break up, though she admits that it will be hard to get married. She tries to lay her head on his shoulder, while he irritably pushes her away, making her giggle. Oof, they’re so depressing — they’ll be together forever.
Inside, Sang-hoon wonders at their odd relationship, but Jung-hee says that love just happens all at once. Sang-hoon asks, “Ah, is that why you…” but he wisely shuts up and apologizes.
Ki-hoon and Sang-hoon have gone home by the time Dong-hoon shows up, but the guys fill him in on the romantic drama that unfolded between Yu-ra and Ki-hoon. Dong-hoon only half-listens, scanning the street for a glimpse of Ji-an.
Dong-hoon left his phone inside on the bar to charge, so he doesn’t hear when it rings. Jung-hee picks it up to answer, but she freezes up when she sees that it’s Gyeom-duk calling.
She peeks at the message when Gyeom-duk texts Dong-hoon to ask what he’s is doing, and Jung-hee sends a reply: “I’m drinking with Jung-hee. Don’t you think about her anymore?” Gyeom-duk answers that there’s no need, because he saw her when he dropped Dong-hoon off the other day, and she hasn’t changed. Jung-hee escapes to her room upstairs and sobs her heart out.
The company executives prepare to interview their candidates’ coworkers, and Director Yoon requests an addition to the interviewees at the last minute. Director Jang loudly objects when he sees that the new list includes Ji-an, but he’s forced to allow it when he’s accused of having something to hide.
When she’s called in, she tells the directors that because of the work culture that judges people based on their backgrounds, she’d never been included in a company dinner until the night Dong-hoon invited her. She says he’s never treated her poorly for being a temporary hire or his junior. Director Yoon asks if she likes him, and she hesitates for a long minute before answering, “Yes.”
Executive Director Wang’s team hang their heads in defeat, but Ji-an isn’t finished. She says, “I like him. I respect him. I got used to being neglected, so I didn’t expect much from people, and I never tried hard to earn praise. But now I want to do a good job.”
She’s interrupted by Chairman Jang, who surprises them all by showing up for the meeting. Ji-an’s vice gets stronger as she continues:
I don’t know if the fact that I like someone will produce an unfavorable outcome, but even if you fire me today, I’ve been treated like a human being for the first time. I thought that I could be a decent person after all, while working here. So I’ll always be thankful to Manager Park Dong-hoon. In the three months that I’ve worked here, I’ve felt warmer than I’ve ever felt in my twenty-one years. Whenever I see this building, I’m happy, and I’ll always wish the best for Saman E&C.
Executive Director Wang’s team look triumphant, but Director Yoon refuses to give up and he asks Ji-an how far he and Dong-hoon have gone, meaning physically. But she answers innocently that they’ve gone to her house, because they live in the same neighborhood.
She’s sent back to her desk, and a few minutes later, Director Jang comes out looking smug. He calls Dong-hoon to a private room and tells him that Ji-an did well, and that they’ve got this in the bag.
Dong-hoon and Ji-an go out after work for a drink. Dong-hoon tells Ji-an that she has courage, but that he’s not as decent as she thinks. She looks at him with respect and says, “You’re a very decent person. You’re a good person. Really.” Dong-hoon smiles, pleased, but Ji-an looks sad again as she remembers hearing him crying that when Yoon-hee cheated, she declared him worthless.
This episode was the first time we got to see Ji-an being strong and acting for a good cause — to help Dong-hoon. When she stood up to Yoon-hee on the roof, there was a true strength in her eyes and voice that’s not there when she’s putting on her tough-girl act, and it was amazing to finally see the positive effect that Dong-hoon is having on her. She’s gaining confidence and a willingness to fight for what’s right, and not just what’s easy and profitable. She’s still using her incredible ability to turn the most hopeless situation to her favor, such as manipulating Yoon-hee into fighting to protect her and Dong-hoon from Joon-young, which also shielded Ji-an from the danger that breaking off her promise with Joon-young would have caused. I knew that Ji-an would be a force to reckon with when she finally gained a sense of purpose, but it’s even more glorious than I imagined.
But my favorite scene of this whole episode (actually, it may just be my favorite scene of the entire drama so far) was when Dong-hoon and all of his friends walked Ji-an home. Such a simple, ordinary thing to do, but to Ji-an, it was practically life-changing. Just from knowing Dong-hoon, she suddenly gained friends, protectors, and an acceptance that nobody in her life has ever given her. That moment when she said she couldn’t wait to get to their age, and they all just looked at her with so much compassion, made me cry happy tears. For once, Ji-an was understood by people who aren’t that different from her, and I hope she learns the lesson that some people really are just good human beings who would love to know her, if she’d only let them.
Hearing the entire fight between Yoon-hee and Dong-hoon regarding her infidelity was so heartbreaking, because we were finally allowed to see Yoon-hee’s side in the breakdown of their marriage. From her perspective, she spent over a decade trying to become a member of Dong-hoon’s family, yet he’s always held her separate and favored his mother and brothers over her. It was difficult for Dong-hoon to hear, but if I set aside the fact of Yoon-hee’s affair, I can understand how lonely and unloved she’s felt for so many years. I’ve said it before and I’ll always believe it: There is no justification for cheating, ever. But I can sympathize with a woman who’s desperate for love but isn’t getting it, and how she got drawn in by someone who claimed to love her.
We haven’t seen Kwang-il in a while, so I was shocked at how his one small scene in this episode explained so much. There’s something about Kwang-il that is really haunting despite all of the horrible things he’s done to Ji-an. He mentioned that he used to carry Ji-an to safety after his father would beat her into unconsciousness, and that one sentence pretty much revealed everything about him. It sounds like Kwang-il and Ji-an used to be close, and that he cared about her enough to try to protect her from his father — she may even be his first love. Then when she killed his father, his feelings of love and anger and hatred became so twisted that fury and violence were the only way he could express himself. His saying that he can’t decide whether to kill her or himself shows that he wants revenge against his father’s murderer, but the fact that he also loves his father’s murderer makes him want to die. None of this excuses what he’s done, but it does make me wonder what kind of man Kwang-il might have been if things had happened differently.
I wish that words were adequate to describe the stark, painful beauty of this drama, but sadly, I’m just not that good of a writer. My Ajusshi is so deftly crafted that many scenes can’t properly be conveyed through the written word — the emotional trauma, the longing and loneliness just have to be seen to be fully experienced. One great example is the final scene of Episode 10, when Ji-an is screaming at Dong-hoon to hit her, and he finally does. I literally cried out when Dong-hoon did the one thing he felt violated Ji-an’s dignity as a human being the most, the thing he’d just fought Kwang-il over — he physically struck her.
Another beautiful scene is the one towards the beginning of Episode 11, when Dong-hoon is being asked if he ever texted or called Ji-an. With each question, he flashed to moments when those things happened. The quick flipping from moment to moment perfectly conveyed the guilt, desperation, and confusion that Dong-hoon was feeling in that scene, but as a recapper, I just don’t have the skill to adequately describe the wrenching feelings these moments give to the viewers. I hope that those of you who are just reading recaps (as much as I appreciate it!) do take the time to watch the show at some point, because it’s just so much better than what I can ever hope to put into words.
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