My Ajusshi: Episode 8
Every time I think things couldn’t get worse for Dong-hoon, they do, and I never see it coming. He’s starting to follow his instincts and stand up for himself more, but he’s got a long way to go before he’s capable of going toe-to-toe with his enemies. Hopefully some of Ji-an’s moxy will rub off on him in time, otherwise I’m worried that he’ll be devoured by the sharks.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Kwang-il follows Ji-an as she runs to catch Dong-hoon before he leaves the restaurant. He watches as they talk, sharing a drink and even smiling at each other.
The wind kicks up, so Dong-hoon checks some devices he’s installed that monitor the stability of the creaky old building. He tells the restaurant owner that readings are the table so the problem must be inside, promising to keep an eye on it.
Ji-an is surprised that Dong-hoon does free inspections for his neighbors. She worries that everyone will ask for free inspections if they learn he works for a construction company, so he corrects her that it’s a structural engineering company — one designs buildings, and the other determines how they should be built and what materials to use.
He explains that every building is like a struggle between internal and external forces, and his job is to make sure the buildings can withstand all the forces working on them. He says it’s a lot like life, where you can withstand anything so long as you have strong enough internal forces.
Ji-an asks what he thinks life’s internal forces are, remembering that he said she has “strong internal forces.” He tells her about his friend who was really smart, whom everyone thought would be really successful.
But as soon as the guy graduated college, he became a monk even though his parents were very sick. As he left, he said that everyone struggles to have things, but he wanted to try being a person who has nothing.
Dong-hoon says that even if you do get what you want, the things that made you feel safe can fall apart. With a sigh, he concludes that he subconsciously agrees with his friend, so when he saw a resume that said simply “running,” he thought it was better than the others who were full of useless information.
As they continue walking, Ji-an sighs that she hates winter. Dong-hoon says it’ll be spring soon, but she mutters, “I hate spring, too.” She says she hates all the seasons, because they just repeat endlessly. Dong-hoon notes that she’s young to be that cynical, but she says that she doubts she’s only been born once.
She continues, “Let’s say I’ve been born sixty times, and was reincarnated five hundred times. Then I’d be around three thousand years old, maybe.” Dong-hoon says it’s actually thirty thousand, and Ji-an sighs heavily.
Dong-hoon drops off Ji-an at the stairs to her building and continues on. She stops and calls out to him, “Fighting.” Dong-hoon turns back to stare at her, surprised, then he slowly keeps walking. He doesn’t realize that Kwang-il follows him all the way home.
At home, Dong-hoon finds Yoon-hee crying in her home office. She says it’s because of a trial, so he asks if she lost, but she says determinedly, “I’ll win.”
Out at a job site, Executive Director Wang asks Director Park what Dong-hoon said when they talked. Director Park complains that he thinks Dong-hoon found something, but he won’t tell him. Executive Director Wang says that Dong-hoon hates conflict and wouldn’t use a person’s weakness against him, so he doesn’t think he’s changed sides.
He decides they should be nurturing Dong-hoon while Chairman Jang is still alive, since after he dies his relatives will contest his will. He says that Chairman Jang knows this, so he’ll try to handle everything while he’s still alive.
Director Jung takes Dong-hoon to lunch and explains that the company needs ten directors for the CEO election, but with Director Park gone, there are only nine. He says that Director Park’s situation was Joon-young’s doing, and that he plans to put one of his men in the empty seat to skew the votes his way.
He tells Dong-hoon that he wants to make him a director and vote out Joon-young, and that Dong-hoon was next in line to become a director anyway, which is why Joon-young had him demoted to the safety inspection team.
Dong-hoon counters that he won’t be of any help if he’s promoted because he doesn’t know anything about managing a business and he’s no good at politics. He says that his work is fulfilling because he gets to teach others and use his skills, so his place is out in the field.
Director Jung asks if Dong-hoon plans to stay a manager forever. Dong-hoon points out that his superior was kicked out of that position and he doesn’t want it, but when Director Jung says that declining will mean seeing Joon-young as CEO for two more years, he hesitates.
Director Jung reports to Executive Director Wang and Director Park that Dong-hoon definitely isn’t on Joon-young’s side, and that he’s not interested in being made director. They decide to push him anyway, since they need a flawless person like him on their side.
At the office, Director Yoon is feeling smug that all three of the director candidates are on Joon-young’s side, but he freaks out when Dong-hoon’s name is added to the list without his permission. He confronts Executive Director Wang, who argues that he has every right to bypass Director Yoon and recommend Dong-hoon himself.
Director Yoon goes to Joon-young and vows to destroy Dong-hoon so that he’ll never be chosen. Later, Joon-young checks his phone messages and is surprised that Yoon-hee hasn’t tried to contact him today.
As for Yoon-hee, she’s shocked that the phone booth she uses to call Joon-young has been removed. She ignores several calls from Joon-young on her drive home, knowing that he’s at their hideout and has found all of her things gone.
She texts him that she went to the campsite yesterday, and he apologizes,knowing that he’s been caught lying to her about where he was. He wants to get together and talk, but she replies that she’s trying to think of a way that she can feel she’s won.
He keeps trying to call her, but she heads to Mom’s house for her birthday dinner instead. Dong-hoon notices her ignoring a call and turning off her phone.
Yoon-hee tries to pitch in, but Mom and Ae-ryun won’t let her. Ki-hoon tattles that Mom likes Ae-ryun more, and Yoon-hee says she already knows. Sang-hoon pipes up that Mom likes Dong-hoon best, so it all evens out, ha.
They all video chat with Dong-hoon and Yoon-hee’s son, Ji-seok, and Dong-hoon promises to send him a video of his special talent tomorrow. Ji-seok tells Sang-hoon not to give up on finding a good woman, and when they all gesture that Ae-ryun is listening, he gasps, “Oh my god!” He’s adorable.
After dinner, they bring out the cake. Ae-ryun says that if she ever takes Sang-hoon back, she’ll go live with him in the mountains because she can’t stand the brothers always hanging out like a pack. She asks if Mom likes it, and Mom reveals that they fought constantly as kids and only started getting along after they were old enough to drink.
Ae-ryun asks Yoon-hee why she’s not joining in the husband-bashing. Yoon-hee says that Dong-hoon wouldn’t listen anyway, so she’s given up. Ae-ryun informs Dong-hoon that the only decent middle-aged guys are the ones who prioritize their wives. Mom agrees, adding that she just wants to see her sons with good partners before she dies.
Sang-hoon tells Mom to make a wish before she blows out her candles, and she takes a long time wishing. As everyone cleans up later, Dong-hoon spots Yoon-hee by herself, furiously texting someone.
Sang-hoon gives Ae-ryun some money, and she grumbles that if he’d given it to her sooner, she’d have complained about him less. He and Ki-hoon both give Mom some money for living expenses, promising to do it every month from now on. Dong-hoon also deposited money in her account, and even Jung-hee sent along an envelope of cash.
When asked, Mom says that Jung-hee didn’t get her own place, but Sang-hoon says that she leaves the bar every night. Mom guesses that she walks around the block then goes back to the bar, making Sang-hoon sad for her.
Yoon-hee is pretty upset by the time she and Dong-hoon arrive home, and she says that she needs to go back to the office. He says she can do it tomorrow, but she practically bites his head off telling him to get out of the car.
She goes to the hideout, where Joon-young is still waiting. He tells her that someone found out about their phone booth trick, and that they should end things. Yoon-hee says she never could picture them actually getting married.
She says that she’s thought about whether she should just let the breakup happen, but that she’s decided to cause him some pain first. She calls Joon-young pitiful ever since college, the way he acted carefree so people wouldn’t discover he has nothing, but that they all knew.
She continues that she was happy for him when he married the right person and things went well for him. He was still anxious, but when he was with her, he seemed less anxious so she thought she meant something to her.
As she talks, Joon-young fights back tears. He tells her that he loved her, but the situation has gone bad. He points out that he wouldn’t risk losing everything for woman he didn’t like, and Yoon-hee asks what he almost lost.
She says with horror that she was going to get a divorce because of a jerk like him, and he asks if she could have betrayed her family of ten years. He says he knew she wouldn’t, and that it’s best for them to break up and go back to their lives. Yoon-hee asks in a tiny voice if he ever had real feelings for her, and he says this is hard for him, too.
Starting to cry, Yoon-hee says that she’s humiliated by the thought that she liked someone like him. She runs out, leaving Joon-young looking stricken, and when she gets home she sinks to the floor sobbing, wondering how to carry on through her humiliation.
Ki-hoon helps Dong-hoon record his special talent — making elaborate cocktails, lol. Their friends at the bar wonder how this will go over with Yoon-hee, not to mention Ji-seok.
Later, Dong-hoon tells Jung-hee that a girl told him she’s thirty thousand years old. Ji-an listens to him talk about her reincarnation theory, and he says that he knows why she keeps getting reincarnated — because this isn’t her home, but she keeps mistakenly thinking it is.
Jung-hee calls him an idiot for not knowing how to stop being reborn and go home. She says it will happen when there’s no hate left in your heart and you can love without reservation. She singsongs that she’ll find her home among the stars, and Ki-hoon walks past them muttering, “I’m not going to live in the stars. It’s no fun there.” ~snort~
When Jung-hee closes the bar, Sang-hoon says they should have a housewarming party at her new place. She just waves them goodbye and circles around the block, ending up right back at the bar. She sighs that she has so much love to give, but nobody wants it.
After Ji-an gets home that night, Kwang-il lurks outside her door, but for once he doesn’t let himself in. Inside, Ji-an hears a strange sound through Dong-hoon’s phone as we see him doubled over in the middle of the street. He gasps for air, then gives himself a weak, “Fighting…”
Yu-ra goes for a screen test, but she’s horribly bland and emotionless. In private, the PD tells Yu-ra that he really wants her for this project, and he asks if today is… but he stops when he sees that she’s crying. Afterward, she goes to the cleaning shop looking for Ki-hoon, but there’s nobody there.
Kwang-il discusses Ji-an and Dong-hoon with his loan shark buddy, assuming that Dong-hoon is the man she’s getting all the recent money from. The friend asks if they looked like they’re dating, and Kwang-il says it’s not like that.
He can’t stop thinking about them together, so he finds Ji-an’s friend Ki-bum in a PC cafe and gives him a beating when he refuses to say anything. Ki-bum calls Ji-an the next day to tell her that Kwang-il asked him about Dong-hoon. He tells her to quit the job at Dong-hoon’s company now that Kwang-il knows about it.
At the bar that evening, Yu-ra drinks heavily, then announces to the room in general that her mother was someone’s third wife. Okay then. She tells Jung-hee that she doted on her stepmother, who passed away when she was in middle school. She says she’s never cared what people think of her, and that she was naturally happy until ten years ago.
The guys grow uncomfortable and murmur that they should leave, but Yu-ra plunks herself down at their table and orders Ki-hoon to put her back the way she was, since he’s the one who made her this way. She says that whenever she goes to an audition, she gets scared that she’ll be yelled and and feels like she wants to die, but that she really wants to act again.
She starts sobbing, pleading with Ki-hoon to fix her. He just takes another shot, unsure what to do.
While on his way home, someone bumps into Dong-hoon and nearly makes him drop the food he’s taking to Yoon-hee, who stayed home sick. Ji-an hears it happen and recognizes Kwang-il’s voice.
Dong-hoon doesn’t realize until the next morning that his wallet is gone. Kwang-il stole it when he bumped into him, and he spends a long time looking at the contents. He calls Ji-an at work, slamming the phone down when she’s not there.
Then she scares ten years off Kwang-il’s life by popping up right under his nose at his office, ha. She says she came to him before he could show up at her workplace, pointing out that she’s paying him regularly, so she wants to know why he’s following her around.
Regaining his composure, Kwang-il says that he was curious how she’s making so much money. He asks if Dong-hoon is the guy she mentioned, and since Dong-hoon doesn’t seem rich, he assumes they’re working together to embezzle money from the company.
He leans right into Ji-an’s face and asks if Dong-hoon knows she’s a murderer. She locks eyes with him and asks, “Do you know I’m a murderer?” Shudder. Kwang-il backs up, actually looking scared as she says that he can’t kill her, but that she can kill him.
She does the math for him, saying that she works two jobs to pay him back so she won’t have to kill him, but if she loses her job because of him, then she won’t have a choice. A police siren wails, and Ji-an says that she reported seeing him steal a wallet, but that if he gives it to her now, she’ll take it and leave. Damn, she is such a badass.
Kwang-il laughs and holds out Dong-hoon’s wallet, saying that he knows who he is now, then tosses it out the window. Ji-an warns him not to go near Dong-hoon or he really will die, and something in Kwang-il’s expression changes. He asks if she likes Dong-hoon, and as she leaves, she tosses back a casual, “Yeah.” Kwang-il lets her go, too stunned to say anything.
Ji-an leaves the wallet at a cafe then heads to work. She goes to her desk without saying anything, so Dong-hoon asks if her grandmother is unwell. She mumbles that she just overslept, and he gives up on getting a truthful answer.
In the middle of a job, Ki-hoon suddenly drives off in the van. He goes to Yu-ra’s apartment and pounds on her door until she answers, then rapid-fires at her: “I’ll straighten you out. I’ll straighten you out really well. What do I need to do? What do I need to do to straighten you out?”
Yu-ra tries to close the door on him, saying that it’s fine. Ki-hoon apologizes and says he’ll be nice to her until she’s well again, and turns to leave. She stops him, begging, “Just once, can’t you hug me once before you go?” He goes back and gives her an awkward hug, then runs away.
The company executives fight over whether they should promote Dong-hoon to the director position, with Director Jung arguing that not only does he have seniority over the other candidates, but the skills to back it up. Director Yoon points out that he’s been questioned by the audit team twice in the last month, but Director Jung reminds everyone that he didn’t take that bribe, and in fact was framed by people who felt threatened by him.
He pointedly glares at Director Yoon when he says that “those people” are the same ones that got Dong-hoon demoted to safety inspection. Director Yoon loses his temper and insists that he put Dong-hoon on the safety team because he’s so talented.
That backfires on him hard when Director Jung says that even Director Yoon acknowledges that Dong-hoon has talent. He says that even if they exclude Dong-hoon’s best and worst employee reviews, he still ranks first among the candidates.
Later, Director Yoon tells Joon-young that he plans to have one of their candidates leave the company to avoid a split vote. Joon-young leaves the office and texts Ji-an to follow him.
Director Park calls Dong-hoon to tell him that he has to attack as soon as Joon-young discovers he’s a director candidate. He says that the only way justice will be served is if Joon-young is destroyed by Dong-hoon personally.
When they meet, Joon-young asks Ji-an why she didn’t use the photo of her kissing Dong-hoon against him, and she says that someone caught on that it was a setup. He asks how things are with Dong-hoon now, but she refuses to answer. Joon-young says that lots of girls liked Dong-hoon (in college), asking if Ji-an wants to date him.
He suggests that Ji-an spin her friendship with Dong-hoon as an unwelcome relationship forced on her by her superior. He tells her that all she has to do is date Dong-hoon, and he’ll continue to pay her to keep tabs on him. He gives her ten million won in advance, and she asks if he expects her to be physically intimate with Dong-hoon, too.
Joon-young tells her not to go that far or Dong-hoon will panic. All he wants her to do is keep “accidentally” running into Dong-hoon so it looks as if they’re dating. She asks tentatively if eating and drinking with her means Dong-hoon likes her, and Joon-young says it does.
She looks shaken, and she says that people also do that when they want something from the other person. He insists that for Dong-hoon, it means he likes them. He tells her to just do that much and he’ll do the rest.
Ji-an is thoughtful as she heads to the subway station. As she’s waiting for her train, she turns to see Dong-hoon standing nearby. She stares at him, thinking about Joon-young’s instructions to date him, but he doesn’t notice her.
Ugh, Joon-young is such a weasel. He’s so determined to destroy Dong-hoon, not just because he’s a professional threat, but over a woman. I appreciate that for once, the antagonist doesn’t have convoluted reasons for disliking the hero, just hating him because he hates him, but he’s just so disgustingly unrepentant about it. And now, not only is he offering to pay her enough money to get her out of debt, but he’s asking her to do the one thing she really wants to do — spend time with Dong-hoon. It would be hard for a young woman to resist a kind, attractive man under most circumstances, but Dong-hoon’s friendship means so much to Ji-an that she probably doesn’t know what she feels. It will be interesting to see if she’s willing to let go of him in order to keep his life from being destroyed, or if she’ll give in to her own feelings.
This show is brilliant at making small moments between Ji-an and Dong-hoon so monumentally important, when to anyone else, it wouldn’t even register as unusual. I could think of a thousand examples, but the one that really got to me was when Ji-an called out “fighting” to Dong-hoon. For one thing, she probably hasn’t been able to lift her head up from her own problems to think about encouraging someone else in years, so to offer him her support that way was a huge step towards making a connection with someone else. She’s purposely kept her world very tiny, just her grandmother and her friend (and unwillingly, Kwang-il), not only because maintaining relationships takes energy she just doesn’t have, but because caring about someone else opens her up to being hurt.
And as for Dong-hoon, he probably hasn’t had anyone genuinely encourage him for even longer, at least not without their own agenda. Yoon-hee encourages him to quit and start his own business, but she’s doing it because she wants him out of the company so she can divorce him to be with her lover. His mother encourages him to be successful in his career, but it comes from a place of her own personal pride, wanting at least one of her sons to succeed so she doesn’t feel like a failure as a mother. Even his brothers mainly encourage Dong-hoon because when Mom dies, someone will have to pay for her funeral and help support them the way Mom does. Ji-an’s “fighting!” is probably the first time anyone has given him support just because he needs it, and not because they want something from him. He didn’t say anything in that moment, but you could tell how incredibly moved he was, especially knowing what that one small word likely cost Ji-an.
I really loved Jung-hee’s theory about why Ji-an keeps being reincarnated instead of going to her soul’s home. It makes sense that the hate in Ji-an’s heart is cosmically holding her back, because it’s certainly holding her stuck in one place here on Earth. You have to let go of negativity to move forward in anything, so until Ji-an learns to do that, she’ll just keep being reincarnated to live crappy lives. But Dong-hoon has also said that he feels like he shouldn’t have been norm, and maybe that’s his own soul telling him that he should be moving on, but isn’t because he’s holding onto hate. He’s a good person, but I believe that he’s bottling up a lot of negative emotions instead of dealing with them.
This is getting pretty existential, but I have my own theory about Dong-hoon and Ji-an and what it means to be a good person. I believe that you can be a person who does bad things but still has a good soul, and that you can also be a person who does good things but has a dark soul. I think that Ji-an is the former, and Dong-hoon the latter. Ji-an lies and steals, and has even killed to ensure her survival and the survival of those she loves. But she does them for the right reasons, which is what makes her a good person. And Dong-hoon is the type of man who does the right things, but often for the wrong reasons. I’m not saying he’s really a bad person deep down, because clearly he’s not, only that his feeling of being misplaced may stem from the conflict between the things he does (like give in to keep the peace), and the things he really wants to do (like threaten a jerk with a hammer). Being around Ji-an and learning that being “good” isn’t just about how you act, could free Dong-hoon from whatever is tying him down.
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