My Ajusshi: Episode 13
This drama isn’t afraid to go to all the dark places of human nature, exploring the worst of what people can do to one another, or even themselves. Yet there’s a palpable sense of hope as its characters face their darkest selves and manage to come out the other side intact. This episode is full of a lot of surprises, as everyone confronts their worst fears and discovers that, despite what they may think, none of them is alone.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Ji-an is questioned by the directors of the company, and despite their trying to spin it into something sordid, she somehow manages to make her relationship with Dong-hoon sound as guiltless as it truly is. Director Jung excitedly gives Dong-hoon the play-by-play, including how impressed Chairman Jang was by Ji-an’s statements.
That evening, Dong-hoon takes Ji-an for a drink, where she tells him that he’s a truly good person and makes him smile. On their way home, she notes how slowly he’s walking, wondering if he walked quickly before because she made him uncomfortable.
When he drops her off at home, she tentatively asks if she can hug him, to energize him. He says he already feels energized and thanks her before heading home. He doesn’t notice a car at the bottom of the stairs, but we see the driver’s face: Joon-young.
Joon-young calls Ji-an down to ask about her and Dong-hoon’s relationship. Ji-an asks if he came here just for that, and Joon-young slaps her as hard as he can. He accuses her of betraying him after taking his money to get Dong-hoon fired.
Snarling that he didn’t do all this just to be CEO for two more years, Joon-young tells Ji-an to disappear. But Ji-an gets that defiant look in her eye and fires back that she won’t quit until Dong-hoon gets Joon-young fired.
Joon-young informs her that it’s her fault Dong-hoon is in this mess. He says that when people find out, they may think she and Dong-hoon planned all this together and wonders ominously whether Dong-hoon will take all the blame.
He claims to be Ji-an’s victim, saying that she blackmailed him. He tells her to keep quiet and quit, but Ji-an refuses to be intimidated. She pulls out her phone to play the recording she made of him telling her to seduce Dong-hoon so that he can have him fired for abuse of power.
She tells him to leave quietly while Dong-hoon is still being nice, and before she exposes the whole truth. As she walks away, Joon-young calls out that she must have a death wish, and the black look on his face hints that he means it literally.
When Dong-hoon arrives home, he only tells Yoon-hee that he had dinner with a friend. She offers him tea, and he accepts, though their interaction seems forced and Dong-hoon barely looks at his wife. Yoon-hee asks when the new director will be announced, certain that Dong-hoon will be chosen.
The next day, Director Yoon is criticized by the others on his team for calling Ji-an as a character reference without checking first to see what she’d say about Dong-hoon. But he says that it’s not over yet, and storms to Ji-an’s desk angrily.
Referring to her statement that Dong-hoon made her feel included by inviting her to the staff dinner, Director Yoon yells that if she wanted to eat meat that badly, she should have said so. He turns on Dong-hoon and his team, reminding them that recently, they’d wanted her gone.
Suddenly one of the team members steps forward to confess, “I like Lee Ji-an.” ~record scratch~ The entire office stares incredulously, and Dong-hoon’s expression clearly says that he’s all out of bandwidth for these shenanigans.
Director Yoon asks if they’re ganging up on him and yells that he hates their team. He stomps to his office like a pouty child from the playground, but Dong-hoon tells them all not to worry about him.
But instead of taking his own advice, Dong-hoon heads for Director Yoon’s office to confront him. His team member stops him, warning that it might look as if he likes Ji-an. Dong-hoon can tell by the loud silence throughout the office that he’s right, though he asserts that he’d stand up for any of them the same way.
Later, Deputy Jung (the mean girl of the office) asks Ji-an nastily if she kissed Dong-hoon because she “respects” him, having heard what Ji-an said in her interview. She coos that Ji-an may think she’s helping Dong-hoon get promoted, but she’s actually helping Joon-young get fired.
As she’s sauntering away in triumph, she gets a text that sends her flying back to Ji-an in a panic. Ji-an says that it’s proof of the affair Deputy Jung is having with a manager, and asks blandly if she should send it to the manager’s wife, or Deputy Jung’s husband.
When Deputy Jung grabs her, Ji-an rips away violently, breaking her ever-present earbuds. Deputy Jung asks Ji-an if Dong-hoon knows what kind of person she is, and Ji-an snarls that he even knows she killed someone.
Outside Yu-ra’s door, Sang-hoon sings cheerfully and deliberately wipes her doorbell so that it rings repeatedly, while Ki-hoon yells that she’s not even home. When he checks off the cleaning card for the day, Ki-hoon adds a note to the bottom: “Yu-ra’s the best!”
Yu-ra is on the movie set, being yelled at by Director Kim again. He’s afraid to curse her out lest Ki-hoon come beat him up, and he asks Yu-ra how they’re close when Ki-hoon used to say horrible things about her.
She says that Ki-hoon explained why he used to scream at her, and that Director Kim does it for the same reason. When he asks what she means, she pulls out a list of responses Ki-hoon gave for her to say to Director Kim. HA, the note is mostly curse words.
Saying softly that she feels awkward cursing, Yu-ra instead says that Ki-hoon told her that if Director Kim yells at her, to say that she’s scared. With a smile, she tells him to relax, and Director Kim just screams and runs off, and later, Yu-ra complains to Ki-hoon that his advice backfired.
When Ki-hoon gets home, his mom sends him right back out to take some food to Yoon-hee for Dong-hoon, though Ki-hoon whines that he doesn’t even love Dong-hoon. But he and Sang-hoon take the food over, Sang-hoon leaving the van next to a sexy red hatchback for a “date,” lol.
Ki-hoon notices the huge dent in the bedroom door (that Yoon-hee is having replaced) and guesses that it was made by a fist. He casually asks Yoon-hee if she and Dong-hoon had a fight, since the door looked like someone punched it.
Yoon-hee says vaguely that she did something wrong, and Ki-hoon breezes, “What, did you cheat on him?” He regrets the quip when Yoon-hee freezes, and to cover, he jokes that if she doesn’t say anything, he might think it’s true.
When she still says nothing, he pleads with her to deny it, but her whispered “I didn’t” isn’t convincing. Neither of them sees Sang-hoon in the doorway, having heard every word. He slowly backs out, leaving the food behind.
On the way home, Ki-hoon remembers the morning Dong-hoon showed up to soccer with an injured hand, seeming distracted and cranky. Sang-hoon also remembers, and tears fill his eyes.
Ki-hoon recalls Dong-hoon’s battered face after his fight with Kwang-il, though he probably assumes Dong-hoon fought with the man Yoon-hee cheated with. He screams wordlessly and slaps his own head in frustration, and Sang-hoon pulls the van over until they both calm down.
When Dong-hoon’s team gets back to the office after a job, he sends them inside without him. He goes down the street to see Director Park, who immediately asks about Ji-an. She’s listening in through a demo headset at an electronics store as Dong-hoon denies Director Park’s fear that Joon-young made Ji-an approach him.
He avoids Director Park’s attempts to discuss Ji-an further, asking how he’s been. Director Park says that he’s close to figuring out who drugged him and got him banished from the company headquarters, and Ji-an goes on alert. She steals a new pair of earbuds and rushes to see Ki-bum.
Ki-bum thinks there’s no way Director Park could track him down, having been extra careful on the night he kidnapped Director Park. But Director Park has a cop friend who uses CCTV cameras to follow Ki-bum that night. He was seen making a call, and the cop is confident he can use phone records to learn Ki-bum’s name.
Ki-bum warns Ji-an that if he’s caught, she will be, too. He thinks they should run away, today, especially with Joon-young basically threatening to kill her. Ji-an promises to go with him in one day, and she doesn’t answer when Ki-bum asks if her hesitation is about Dong-hoon.
Back at the office, Dong-hoon asks the other director candidate how his interview went. He chuckles that he got torn apart and advises Dong-hoon not to worry about what they say at his interview tomorrow.
Dong-hoon turns down an invitation from his team to go for drinks and takes a call from Yoon-hee. She tells him that Ki-hoon knows about her affair, and instead of going home, he goes to the cleaning store to find both of his brothers looking miserable.
Ki-hoon tells Dong-hoon to write down “that bastard’s” name, but instead, Dong-hoon turns to go. Ki-hoon grabs him and growls that if he doesn’t tell him the guy’s name, he’ll end up beating up Yoon-hee instead. Dong-hoon punches him, which just fires up Ki-hoon even further, but Sang-hoon bellows at him to stop.
Ki-hoon decides to go ask Yoon-hee herself, and when Dong-hoon stops him, Ki-hoon asks why he let the other guy beat him up. Dong-hoon punches him again, but Sang-hoon jumps between them to prevent from having an all-out brawl in the street.
Jae-chul is at the bar, getting concerned when his calls to Sang-hoon go unanswered. where Yu-ra is also trying unsuccessfully to call Ki-hoon, assuming that she’s being blown off after only three days of dating. But when Jung-hee can’t reach Dong-hoon, their friends genuinely start to worry.
Jae-chul tries to assure everyone that the brothers probably just went to eat tuna again without them. One friend runs all the way to the store and back to report that the van is still there, and they vow to all go eat tuna tomorrow without the brothers, lol.
Jung-hee jokes that she’s the bad luck black hole of the neighborhood, so nothing bad will happen to the brothers because there’s no bad luck to spare. She sighs that she’ll start a fire and get herself arrested tomorrow, since she’s been wanting to start a fire lately and only one bad thing can happen at a time.
The ex-detective visits Kwang-il again to ask about Ji-an’s friend who’s good with computers. Kwang-il ignores him, even when he desperately promises to catch and kill both Ji-an and her friend if Kwang-il helps him find them.
Having relocated to a restaurant, Sang-hoon tells Dong-hoon that if Yoon-hee apologized, then he has to forgive her. Ki-hoon worries that Dong-hoon will get sick from the stress, so he advises Dong-hoon to break up with her. Sang-hoon says he could still get sick, which just makes Ki-hoon worry more, so Sang-hoon reassures him tearfully that Dong-hoon will be fine.
When the waitress brings their food, Ki-hoon starts yelling at her because there’s so little of it. Sang-hoon apologizes, and Dong-hoon snaps that Ki-hoon is making him feel worse when he already feels like dying. He says that this is why he couldn’t tell them, because they’re acting like they’re more upset than he is.
Ki-hoon retorts that he wishes Dong-hoon would pitch a fit and cry, because Dong-hoon’s unemotional silence is breaking his heart. He yells that he’s terrified Dong-hoon will bottle everything up and die, so Dong-hoon stands, grabs Ki-hoon by the collar, and tries to drag him outside so they can all cry together.
Ji-an is at home, listening to their conversation as Sang-hoon calms the others down, and Dong-hoon remembers that their father used to always say, “It’s not a big deal.” He says that there’s nobody to say it to him now, so he says it to himself. Ji-an hears this and remembers him telling her to just think that upsetting things are no big deal.
Later, Sang-hoon calls Yoon-hee and apologizes to her, sad that she and Dong-hoon have both been suffering, though he adds that Dong-hoon’s suffering means that he loves her. Ki-hoon calls Yu-ra to wail that a man’s heart was broken today, and that his broke along with it. Aw, he’s so dramatic that Yu-ra asks if he’s acting.
He refuses to give details when she asks, which she interprets to mean that there’s something he considers more important than her. Having had her own bad day, she pulls out the list of curses he wrote for her and reads them all to him. When she’s finished, he gives her a round of applause, heh.
Meanwhile, Dong-hoon sits alone in silence. After listening for a long time, Ji-an types out a text asking him to call her, but she doesn’t send it.
While at a PC cafe, Ki-bum spots a cop that seem to be looking for someone — it’s the same cop who’s been on his tail for Director Park’s kidnapping. The cop dials his number and his phone rings, and Ki-bum makes a run for it. As he flees, he calls Ji-an and tells her to run, narrowly escaping himself when the cop trips and injures his leg.
At the same time, Kwang-il breaks into Ki-bum’s apartment and takes his computer equipment. When the cops arrive, there’s nothing they can confiscate as evidence. Wait, did he just help Ji-an? Interesting.
After the call from Ki-bum, Ji-an sends a text to Dong-hoon — but she only wishes him good luck on his interview tomorrow. She adds, “It’s no big deal,” knowing how badly he needs to hear someone say it to him right now. He murmurs a soft, “Thank you,” and Ji-an’s eyes flicker with surprise, as if nobody’s ever said the words to her before.
The sun is rising as the brothers walk home. Dong-hoon says that just knowing that someone is cheering him on helps him breathe, but that he can’t say it because of how it would sound. Ki-hoon says that thanking someone is nothing much, so Dong-hoon says again, “Thank you, for being by my side.” Still listening, Ji-an cries in earnest.
Yoon-hee is asleep on the couch when Dong-hoon gets home, but he doesn’t wake her. He just goes to the bedroom, and after he closes the door, she opens her eyes.
Jung-hee leaves the bar wearing conservative clothes and with her curly hair tamed. She checks the lighter she’s carrying, then goes to the temple where Gyeom-duk lives. He doesn’t recognize her among the visitors to his morning prayers.
He says that what’s important aren’t worldly things, but what’s in people’s hearts. He tells a story of a time when his own heart was full of pain, so he prayed at the temple for three days and nights, after which he was able to find beauty in even the most humble things. After prayers, he looks at Jung-hee as if he’s known she was there all along.
She tells him honestly that her entire body hurts, and that when she opens her eyes in the morning, they immediately fill with tears. She asks him to come home, begging him not to let her grow old and die alone.
When Gyeom-duk just invites her to eat, she yells, “You love baby goats and damned grass so much, so why don’t you love me?! You won’t find enlightenment here — you need to live with a pain in the ass woman like me to achieve it!” She threatens to set the temple on fire and breaks down sobbing, but Gyeom-duk never drops his mild, distant smile.
Unable to get through to him, Jung-hee leaves and cries the entire way home. Gyeom-duk lets himself remember the moment he realized she was there this morning, knowing that it was her even though all he could see was the curve of her jaw.
Dong-hoon is worried when Ji-an doesn’t show up for work. His team member, knowing that it’s time for his director candidate interview, promises to find her and tells Dong-hoon not to worry.
In the interview, Director Yoon wastes no time mentioning Dong-hoon’s transfer from the Engineering department to Safety Inspection. Director Jung snaps that they all know why Dong-hoon was transferred, but Director Yoon shushes him and asks Dong-hoon why he thinks he was transferred.
Dong-hoon says that he’d like to ask Director Yoon the same thing. He says that he enjoys safety inspection, but Director Yoon points out that his team has the worst performance. Dong-hoon reminds him that he has only four team members while the other teams have nine.
Director Yoon shows the directors the blueprints for a building that Dong-hoon designed, saying that it shakes at the slightest ground tremor. Dong-hoon says that it’s a resonance phenomenon and tries to explain, but Director Yoon chastises him for patronizing the directors.
Hilariously, one of Director Yoon’s own cronies admits that he doesn’t understand, ha. Dong-hoon explains that he deliberately designed the building to withstand high-magnitude waves, but that problems during construction resulted in it only being built to withstand half of what he intended.
In addition, a sports center was built inside, and all of the people running causes the resonance phenomenon. When Director Yoon scoffs, so Dong-hoon admits that it’s rare, pointing out that he requested that an anti-vibration mechanism be installed on the roof as soon as the shaking became an issue, but his request has never been accepted.
He says that he inspects the buildings he designed at least once a year, so Director Yoon brings up the apartment building that Dong-hoon refused to give a rating that it hadn’t earned so that it could be reconstructed. Dong-hoon replies that he makes correct decisions, not politically or financially motivated ones.
Director Yoon pulls out his trump card — Ji-an. He asks why Dong-hoon hired someone with a blank resume over others with great resumes. Dong-hoon says that historically, the temps with great resumes never stick around, so he chose someone competent who would stay and support the team. He says she’s intelligent, doesn’t take credit for things she didn’t do, and she’s a good person. Of course, Ji-an is listening as she walks alone, with only a backpack full of her things.
She hears Director Yoon say that he looked into her background and found that she has a criminal record for murder. The directors are all shocked, even Director Jung. But Dong-hoon says softly, “It wasn’t murder. It was ruled justifiable self defense.” He says that in her situation, anyone would have done the same, even himself.
Growing agitated, he repeats that the law found Ji-an not guilty. He asks why she’s being judged again, when the law tried to protect her from this very thing. He criticizes Director Yoon for digging up her painful past, asking if it isn’t more humane to allow people to forget their pasts.
Ji-an stops to listen to Dong-hoon’s defense of her. When he’s finished, she wipes her tears and resolutely keeps walking. When the interview is over, the first thing Dong-hoon asks is if they’ve reached Ji-an, but she’s still unreachable.
Instead of answering his team’s questions about his interview, Dong-hoon slumps at his desk, at a loss. He opens his drawer and finds a new pair of slippers inside, and he only pauses a moment before rushing out.
I feel like Dong-hoon’s speech about letting Ji-an move on from her painful past wasn’t just for Ji-an, but was also subconsciously for Yoon-hee. When he argued that Ji-an did what she had to in a dangerous situation and should be allowed to live freely now that it’s over, it felt as though his words could also apply to his wife’s mistake. Yoon-hee did a terrible thing, something that many would consider unforgivable, but she admits her wrongdoing. She regrets what she did and feels true shame and remorse, and while I’m not sure that I could forgive her in Dong-hoon’s position, it’s obvious that Yoon-hee won’t be making that same mistake again, and if nothing else, they’re finally being honest with each other about their struggles in the marriage. For someone with Dong-hoon’s forgiving nature, I can see how he would feel that she deserves to be given another chance.
It’s occurred to me before, but this episode seems to offer the best evidence that Dong-hoon already knows that Ji-an listens to his conversations. In fact, I’ll bet he’s known for quite some time. It’s like him to know and not say anything, and when he thanked her for staying beside him, I swear that he knew she could hear him.
I just love Dong-hoon and his brothers, especially when all three of them are together. It’s so interesting how their dynamic changes depending on which configuration of brothers is present. When it’s just Sang-hoon and Ki-hoon, Ki-hoon is a lot more volatile and Sang-hoon is more big-brotherly. But when Dong-hoon joins them, Sang-hoon sits back a bit and acts as more of a peacemaker while Ki-hoon becomes a lot more childlike, more worried about his big brothers. I particularly love how Ki-hoon grumbles that he doesn’t even love his brothers, yet the moment one of them is threatened, he’s the first to go storming off to beat up whichever jerk dared to hurt his family. They’re about as dysfunctional as it comes, but there’s no doubt that they’ll stick together no matter what.
This drama is a fantastic example of what happens when all of its parts come together so perfectly that they draw the very best results from each other. Often in dramas, there’s at least one leg of the writer/PD/cast trifecta that’s weaker than the others. But with My Ajusshi, each of these components not only does their very best work, but there’s a sort of resonance that can be felt as they become more than the sum of their parts. In this particular drama, it’s most noticeable in the acting performances, which are not only fantastic, but in some notable cases, miles better than anything the actors have produced in the past.
In particular, I notice this with two of the main actresses, Nara and IU. Both are known as solid, engaging actors, but whose careers (in my opinion) also include some not-so-stellar performances. I think that in the case of both actresses, their more lackluster roles had more to do with their direction and the character they were given than their talent, but that’s exactly my point — both ladies are proving here that they can be much more than just okay with access to the right script and director. For example, I found Nara to be serviceable but lackluster in Suspicious Partner… she did the job, but that’s about it. But there were moments when I saw a glimmer of something that made me wish there were a more inspired hand guiding her. Her portrayal of Yoo-jung was mostly bland, but I always felt that if she’d been allowed to be as badass as her first scene in that show (where she took on three thugs single-handedly), she’d have been exponentially more interesting. In My Ajusshi, she’s impossibly quirky and tragically endearing, proving that with the right character and a director who understands how to draw the best from their actors, Nara can be downright wonderful.
And that’s nothing compared to the change in IU from her previous roles, which generally seem to try to cash in on her perky adorableness. That that’s a bad thing, and I’ve liked her in quite a few roles, but I’ve always felt like the roles could have been played by any plucky young actress. She’s never embarrassed herself, and I’ve seen moments (particularly in The Producers) where I felt she could be better than the performances she was turning in, but she’s never had a role that really made me sit up and take notice. Well, all that is over now, because IU’s portrayal of Ji-an is nothing short of incredible. I was very nervous when I hard about her being cast in such a dark drama, understandable considering her cute, cheerful image. But again, there’s some sort of magic happening with this drama, and before the end of the first episode I couldn’t imagine anyone else in this role. IU plays Ji-an with a heavy blackness that’s often hard to watch, really digging deep to show some of the most horrific sides of humanity. And she’s handled the changes in Ji-an with a truthful consistency that’s been lovely to see. That’s something only the best actors can do, and it’s completely changed my opinion of IU as an actor. I won’t be surprised if this dramatically impacts her acting career from now on, and I fully expect to see IU turn in many great performances in the future, now that she’s been through this experience and has obviously learned a lot about how to really give everything to a role.
- 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