My Ajusshi: Episode 9
Ji-an may not realize it yet, but she’s already been profoundly changed from her association with Dong-hoon. She’s spent her entire life taking care of herself, burdened by the mistakes of others and unable to get out from under the crushing weight of adult responsibility that no child should ever bear. But Dong-hoon is showing her that those things don’t define her, and that she can still make the choice to be a good person.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
On his train ride home, Dong-hoon recalls DP telling him that he needs to take Joon-young down personally. Ji-an watches him, having been instructed by Joon-young to get Dong-hoon to date her, and he’ll use the situation to destroy Dong-hoon. She’d wondered if Dong-hoon likes her, and Joon-young had told her that, by his actions, he believes he does.
When Dong-hoon gets off the train, he finally sees Ji-an, but she doesn’t get off with him. He starts to call her as he walks home, but he changes his mind. When Ji-an does get off the train, she runs to catch another one back to her own stop.
Dong-hoon stops by the supermarket and tries to contact Yoon-hee to see if she needs anything, but she doesn’t respond. He leaves the store and sees Ji-an as she’s putting in her earbuds, unaware that she’s planning to listen to him through his phone. She sees him standing across the street, and she takes out her earbuds as he approaches.
He asks Ji-an if she’s heading to her part-time job, but she says they only call her in when they’re really busy. She asks him why he’s walking in the direction of her neighborhood, and he says that he has an errand.
Ji-an tells him, “Make sure you become a director. You can do it.” Dong-hoon doesn’t think Joon-young would stand for it, because if he becomes a director, Joon-young will lose his job.
He’s worried that Joon-young will start doing crazy things if he’s backed into a corner, but Ji-an repeats for him to become a director and get his revenge. She adds, “I want to see that bastard Do Joon-young crumble pathetically.”
Dong-hoon asks why she hates a man she’s (supposedly) never even spoken to, and Ji-an mumbles, “Because you hate him, Ajusshi.” He asks her to call him “Manager” instead, before splitting off at Jung-hee’s bar to drop off some groceries.
Afterward, he meets with his brothers for a fancy sashimi meal, courtesy of Ki-hoon, and they even pose for hilarious selfies with the fish, hee. Ki-hoon waxes poetic about how much he loves his new cleaning job, feeling useful for the first time in his life.
At the same time, Ji-an gets good news — Grandma’s disability benefits have come through, and she’s been assigned to an assisted living facility. Ji-an assures her that it’s free, and a nice place, telling Grandma that the ajusshi who piggybacked her helped her with this. Grandma cries, overcome with gratitude.
Over drinks and sashimi, Sang-hoon tells his brothers (again) that his primary worry when things went bad for him professionally was that mom would die and he wouldn’t be able to throw her a nice funeral with a lot of mourners. Ki-hoon snaps at him to stop talking about Mom’s funeral.
But Sang-hoon argues that if Mom did die now, the only people they know who would attend are their neighborhood soccer club. He gets weepy as he thinks about Mom being lonely when she passes away, and Ki-hoon yells at him to stop ruining the evening.
Dong-hoon softly entreats them to stop, so they stop fighting but continue talking about funerals. Sang-hoon tells Dong-hoon for the zillionth time to keep his job at the company, no matter how bad it gets, and he bursts into guilty tears to be asking this of his younger brother.
Dong-hoon shocks his brothers by announcing that he’s a candidate to become a director. Over the moon, Sang-hoon calls for a bottle of fine liquor while Ki-hoon calls Mom, telling her that Dong-hoon is a director.
The whole neighborhood is celebrating by the time the brothers get to Jung-hee’s after dinner, and nobody listens when Dong-hoon says he’s just a candidate, not a director. Mom calls and tells him to just say he’s a director already, and he groans that he may not even get the promotion. He tells the guys that they’re going to do tons of digging into his past, but they all agree that he has the cleanest past of them all.
Meanwhile, Mom talks to Yoon-hee on the phone, telling her to take care of herself since she works so hard. When they hang up, Yoon-hee sees that Dong-hoon tried to call her.
When they leave the bar, Sang-hoon imagines the street as the hall of a funeral home, filled to bursting with flowers and mourners. He tells Dong-hoon and Ki-hoon to imagine it, but Yu-ra joins them and shatters their little reverie.
They all file back inside for one more drink, and Yu-ra learns that Dong-hoon is up for a promotion. She says that Dong-hoon has a more reliable look than his brothers, but he ignores her congratulations.
Ji-an listens to them discussing Dong-hoon’s shyness until he says he needs to go home. She jumps up and runs to the bar, passing it as she looks for Dong-hoon. She finds him and follows him all the way to his business, still listening as he calls his wife and she tells him to come home.
Ki-hoon walks Yu-ra to her ride, and she on the way she tells him that she got a callback for a second audition, and that the director wants to help her overcome her anxiety. She’s confident she can do it, now that the guy who messed her up has promised to help her straighten back out again. She mentions his failure again, and how it gave her the courage to ask for his help, and she thanks him.
Ki-hoon, who’s been silent while Yu-ra chattered, sends her in with a muttered, “Do well tomorrow.” Yu-ra tells him with a grin that those words make her feel a tiny bit more straightened out.
Kwang-il had been following as Dong-hoon walked Ji-an home after work, and he’s still obsessing about it. He recalls that it was Dong-hoon’s name on the envelope when Ji-an attempted to pay off her debt with the stolen gift certificates.
At the office the following morning, Director Yoon fires one of the other director candidates in an attempt to avoid splitting the votes. Later he talks to someone he’d tasked with digging up dirt on Dong-hoon, telling him that since he didn’t find anything, to create something instead.
Joon-young calls Director Yoon ignorant for thinking he’d find anything in Dong-hoon’s past. He points out that there’s nothing in Director Yoon’s records either, though he’s far from clean.
Director Yoon joins Dong-hoon’s team in the cafeteria at lunch, asking if Dong-hoon is excited about the possible promotion and who people think will get the director position. They’re clearly uncomfortable, but when Director Yoon says that the subordinates should get to decide these things, Cheater Girl starts talking.
She says that Dong-hoon is practically perfect as a boss, but that he’s too nice to contracted workers, sometimes even taking their side over permanent employees. She tells Director Yoon about Ji-an, skipping over the kiss scandal, but Director Yoon picks up that something must have happened.
He runs to find the man in charge of the temp workers and gets Ji-an’s resume, then sends it to his spy to see what he can find. Cheater Girl overhears them discussing Ji-an, and when Deputy Kim berates her later for gossiping to Director Yoon, she protests that everything she said was true.
Dong-hoon gets a call at work from Kwang-il’s loan shark partner, who asks about Ji-an and the bribe envelope which went temporarily missing a month ago. He tells Dong-hoon that Ji-an owes him a lot of money and that she brought the bribe to him in an attempt to pay him back all at once. He acts as if he nobly turned her down since the gift certificated were in an envelope with his name on it, so Ji-an ran away with the money.
He warns Dong-hoon away from Ji-an, and Dong-hoon is preoccupied for the rest of the day. He ignores Ji-an on the train ride after work and grumbles at her to go home when they arrive at their stop. She asks him to buy her dinner, looking hopeful, but he turns her down.
She goes home and makes an instant coffee, then listens to her recording of Dong-hoon from today, when she’d noticed he was agitated while on the phone. All she can hear is Dong-hoon’s side of the conversation, but he’d sounded anxious and had glanced over at her after hanging up.
Dong-hoon is upset to have learned that Ji-an didn’t take the bribe money to help him as she told him, but to pay off her loan shark debt. When Yoon-hee comes home he says he’s going out and asks if she needs anything. She just snaps that he’s always asking her that, “But you don’t even know what I really need.”
She asks when he was planning on telling her that he’s a director candidate, having heard it from Mom. Dong-hoon says that he’s not sure he’ll even get the job so he was waiting to say anything, but she points out that he told his mother and brothers, unsatisfied with his simple apology.
Kwang-il gets a call from Ji-an, who knows he was the one who called her office and demands to know what he said to Dong-hoon. Kwang-il says that they told him she’s a thieving bitch and warns Ji-an to know her place, and to stop running around being in love and make money or he’ll kill them both.
Whenever Ki-hoon lets Sang-hoon drive the cleaning van, he tries to take that corner on two wheels and tips it onto its side, ha. According to Ki-hoon, he’s also prone to sitting and watching dramas instead of cleaning, and he wonders how his brother lasted in the business world as long as he did.
Yu-ra shows up just as they’re about to start throwing punches, and she announces that she’s on her way to an audition, but she’s scared and wants to run away. She begs Ki-hoon to do something, so with a glare towards Sang-hoon, he tells her softly that she looks pretty.
He says he wants her to be successful, because he wonders what it would be like if she became a top star and came to see him. He says that he thinks about how it would be if he clung to her, so he needs to send her off to spread her wings.
Ki-hoon adds that it would feel lonely to see her on TV or in a movie, but that he’d still be happy, and his own life would feel a little like a movie. Feeling better, Yu-ra says she’ll call him later and leaves.
Mom visits Jung-hee at the bar and helps her clean up. Jung-hee asks where she went yesterday, but instead of saying that she went to visit the monk, Gyeom-duk, Mom is deliberately vague. Jung-hee smells incense on Mom’s clothing and guesses that she went to the Buddhist temple, asking if she prayed for things to end up well for Dong-hoon.
When Mom doesn’t answer, Jung-hee grows agitated and calls her cruel. She screams, “How could you go where that bastard is??” Mom just says that if she’s going to a temple, she’d rather go where there’s a familiar face.
Jung-hee storms up to her room, and Mom follows soon after to apologize. Jung-hee asks if Gyeom-duk said anything about her, but when Mom says he did, she calls her a liar. Mom says that he asked how Jung-hee was doing, but she tells Jung-hee that it’s pointless to ask such questions.
Director Yoon takes Ji-an’s resume to Joon-young and tells him how Dong-hoon hand-picked her despite the fact that there were many temp workers with better educations. He’s proud to tell Joon-young that he’s got someone looking into her, but Joon-young reminds him angrily that he ordered him to stop looking into people.
He tells Director Yoon to have his person stop digging into Ji-an’s past immediately, but he also asks if the employees are gossiping about Dong-hoon and Ji-an. He tells Director Yoon that he wants to wait and see what the nature of their relationship is, instead of making their own moves and possibly warning them.
It may be too late, as Deputy Kim tells Dong-hoon that Director Yoon was asking about him and Ji-an, while Ji-an secretly listens in. He tells Dong-hoon that it felt like Director Yoon was trying to get Cheater Girl (finally we have a name for her — Deputy Jung) to say something strange, but that Deputy Jung didn’t say anything revealing.
Dong-hoon is still distrustful of Deputy Kim and asks what he said behind his back. Deputy Kim insists that all he said was that Dong-hoon and Ji-an live in the same neighborhood. Dong-hoon isn’t comforted, because now his enemies can twist things around to say that he knew Ji-an before she worked there, and that he’d promised to choose her for a job if she applied.
Deputy Kim complains that Dong-hoon didn’t fire Ji-an when he said he would, and when he asks what drew Dong-hoon to her, Ji-an suddenly becomes very attentive. Dong-hoon just says he doesn’t know and apologizes for making the poor decision to keep Ji-an.
Ji-an deflates at his answer, and she takes out her earbuds and leaves work early without permission. After her part-time job, she walks past Jung-hee’s bar on her way home, and although Dong-hoon is standing outside and tries to talk to her, she just ignores him and keeps walking. Once she’s away from him, Ji-an stops to blink away the tears welling in her eyes.
At work the next day, Dong-hoon visits the temp worker manager’s office and asks about the janitor, Choon-dae. Dong-hoon is given Choon-dae’s address and finds him living in a makeshift shanty. Choon-dae invites him inside, where Dong-hoon spots a photograph of him with a young girl who looks a lot like Ji-an.
Meanwhile, Yoon-hee packs up her office (did she quit her job?) and calls Ji-an to meet with her. She asks how she got DP fired, then inquires how she was planning to have Dong-hoon fired. Ji-an tells her honestly that she was planning on staging a scandal with herself.
Yoon-hee next asks why Ji-an betrayed Joon-young, and Ji-an answers, “Because he’s a disgusting piece of human trash. Do Joon-young is trash and Park Dong-hoon is pitiful.” Yoon-hee asks what she’s going to do now, and she offers the same amount that Joon-young was going to pay her to quietly leave the company.
She promises to help Ji-an disappear so that Joon-young can’t find her, but Ji-an says he’ll just find someone else to get rid of Dong-hoon. Yoon-hee says it’s fine, because now that he’s a directorial candidate, one of them would end up fired no matter what, and she wants to let things play out naturally.
Ji-an mutters that it looks like Yoon-hee is planning to stay with Dong-hoon, but Yoon-hee says it’s none of her business. She tells Ji-an that she’s uncomfortable that someone who knows all her secrets works with Dong-hoon, adding that the things she’s doing are stupid and scary.
Narrowing her eyes, Ji-an asks if Yoon-hee is afraid she’ll tell Dong-hoon everything. She tells Yoon-hee to stop trying so hard, because he already knows that she cheated with Joon-young.
Dong-hoon learns from Choon-dae that when Ji-an was young, her mother racked up a mountain of debt then ran away. She and Grandma were constantly harassed by creditors, and they never saw Ji-an’s mother again.
They don’t know if she’s even alive, but her creditors thought that her mother would come to Ji-an’s elementary school graduation, so they’d all come to the ceremony. Her mother hadn’t shown up, and Choon-dae, who worked at the school, had given the lonely little girl some flowers.
Ji-an inherited her mother’s debt when it was confirmed that she died, and she tried to repay but never made a dent in it. She owed the largest amount to Kwang-il’s father, a loan shark who beat up her grandmother on a daily basis and worked Ji-an to the bone.
Choon-dae only says vaguely that the loan shark died, and that his son is now doing the same things to Ji-an. He tells Dong-hoon that that’s why Ji-an stole the bribe money, but that she was forced to return it when Kwang-il figured out that it was stolen.
After listening quietly, Dong-hoon bows to Choon-dae respectfully and asks where “that bastard” Kwang-il is now. After he leaves, Choon-dae calls Ji-an to tell her that Dong-hoon came to see him.
Dong-hoon heads to Kwang-il’s loan office, thinking about Ji-an the entire way. He confronts Kwang-il and asks how much Ji-an owes him, but Kwang-il just scoffs when Dong-hoon says he’s here to pay her debt. Kwang-il sneers that Dong-hoon has lived a straight-laced life and tells him to fuck off, but Dong-hoon asks again how much she owes.
He tells Kwang-il that her life story moved him to tears, asking why Kwang-il isn’t touched. Kwang-il says angrily that it brings him to tears too, and starts making threats of violence, so Dong-hoon warns that he’s one of three brothers. He says that three boys in a family learn to fight young, but that they stop fighting around age twenty because they realize that they could seriously hurt or kill someone.
Kwang-il laughs and throws the first punch, and Ji-an hears it through her earbuds as she’s running to stop Dong-hoon. Dong-hoon gets Kwang-il in a headlock and yells at him for beating up a girl. Kwang-il wrenches free, punches him to the ground, and screams, “Because she killed my father!”
Dong-hoon freezes, shocked by this part of Ji-an’s story. Ji-an stops running, but then she hears Dong-hoon say, “I would have killed him, too, if I were her. I’d kill anyone who beat up my family!” He pulls himself up and lunges at Kwang-il, and they continue fighting.
Ji-an listens to them, crumpling to the ground as tears stream down her face, and she starts to sob helplessly.
What a great cliffhanger! Ji-an crying as Dong-hoon fights Kwang-il, both of them so evenly matched that I have no idea who will win this round (I have a feeling this is just the first of many confrontations between them). I’m actually glad that Ji-an cried, though I don’t think it’s because she’s scared for Dong-hoon — I think it’s because she just realized, for the first time in her life, that there’s someone who cares enough to cry for her and to fight for her. Dong-hoon basically just referred to Ji-an as family (“I’ll kill anyone who beats up my family”), something she’s never had beyond a grandmother who was barely able to care for her. But more on this later.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the office politics portion of the drama hasn’t become either boring or tedious, and I think it’s because the writer isn’t trying to make it unnecessarily complicated and hasn’t allowed it to take over the plot. I’ve dropped so many dramas when the human part of the story began to take a backseat to political maneuverings, a sure way to make me lose interest. But in My Ajusshi‘s case, we only get just as much office scheming as is necessary to support the growing relationship between Dong-hoon and Ji-an (or the deteriorating one between Dong-hoon and Joon-young), and I’m impressed with how well-balanced everything still is, halfway through the show’s run. I really appreciate it, because there’s nothing worse than getting invested in a drama’s characters and caring about their lives and relationships, then having the focus shift to the office when that’s not what I’m there for.
So far, we don’t know much about Jung-hee, who owns the bar, but I find her fascinating and want to know more about her. Mostly what we know is that she seems to be in love with someone who never visits, and this episode made it pretty clear that it’s Dong-hoon’s monk friend, Gyeom-duk. He’s the friend that Dong-hoon told Ji-an about, who grew up in the neighborhood and whom everyone thought would be successful until he became a monk. There have been previous clues that Gyeom-duk is the man Jung-hee loves — she left Thailand because there were too many monks, and she glared at Sang-hoon when he joked that she always ends up with monks. Then in today’s episode, Jung-hee grew very upset when she learned that Mom visited Gyeom-duk. He seems like an interesting person too, and I hope he gets more screen time soon so we can learn more about him and Jung-hee.
I’ve mentioned before that at first, Yu-ra annoyed me, and I have to admit that a large part of that was because I felt as though Nara’s portrayal of her stuck out like a sore thumb. Yu-ra was much too perky, too cheerful, and she didn’t fit with the rest of the characters and the dark, subdued tone of the show. But I think I unfairly blamed the actress when I should have known better and trusted the director — I’ve seen this director pull masterful performances from actors, and this drama is no different (as we can see from any one of IU’s scenes). I’m beginning to understand that Yu-ra’s character is not in this story just to be a source of humor or a potential love interest for Ki-hoon. Under that overly cheerful demeanor, there’s a strong undercurrent of sadness, desperation, and loneliness, and you can see it in Yu-ra’s eyes if you look closely, particularly when she smiles. The more she talks, the more I think she’s practically a prophet, because she will often say something that’s so profound, you almost miss it among the otherwise meaningless chatter.
I feel so bad for Ji-an after today’s episode — well, worse than usual. She’s never had someone fight for her, and to hear Dong-hoon fighting Kwang-il on her behalf just broke her. I don’t envy her the tough position she’s in. She desperately needs the money she’s been offered by Joon-young to frame Dong-hoon (and now by Yoon-hee to disappear), but by getting a glimpse into his life by listening through his phone, she’s gotten to know that he’s a good man who doesn’t deserve what Joon-young has planned. And if that isn’t bad enough, she’s developing feelings for him. She has an impossible decision to make… protect herself and her one remaining family member, or do the right thing for a good person that she cares for?
I do love seeing the positive change Dong-hoon is having on Ji-an, although he doesn’t seem to know it yet. She doesn’t look defiant and angry when she’s around him these days, and when she asks him to buy her food, it no longer sounds like an order, but a hopeful request. I’m glad that Dong-hoon was able to work through his anger with Ji-an for stealing the bribe money once he learned her reasons, and I hope that he’s as open-minded when he discovers that she’s been helping Joon-young try to get rid of him.
- Premiere Watch: My Ajusshi, Let’s Watch the Sunset
- Lee Jia joins tvN’s My Ajusshi as Lee Seon-kyun’s wife
- My Ajusshi cast lineup secured with Lee Seon-kyun, IU headlining
- IU to romance Lee Seon-kyun for My Ajusshi?
- Lee Seon-kyun considers becoming My Ajusshi for tvN
- Signal PD and Oh Hae-young writer team up for tvN’s My Ajusshi