My Ajusshi: Episode 14
Even as one part of his life is on the upswing, another part takes a definite turn for the worse for Dong-hoon. Luckily he’s got a fierce guardian angel on his side, willing to do anything to make sure nobody upsets his good fortune. But the truth is beginning to come to light, and her protectiveness could get them both into a lot more trouble if they aren’t careful.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
After his interview for the director’s position, Dong-hoon learns that nobody could reach Ji-an, who didn’t show up for work today. He sits down at his desk and finds a pair of work slippers she left for him, and he remembers telling her to buy him a new pair after she threw out the first ones she bought him.
Coming to a decision, he gets up and strides purposefully out of the office. As he tries to call her, we see that Ji-an’s left everything behind in her apartment, taking only what she could carry.
Jung-hee sits morosely in her room over the bar, depressed after begging Gyeom-duk to come home and being rejected. She ignores a call from Dong-hoon, who’s likely hoping that Ji-an took her up on her offer to visit. He calls his brothers next, and Sang-hoon answers, but Dong-hoon says it’s nothing and hangs up.
Dong-hoon tries the assisted living facility where Ji-an’s grandmother now lives and learns that Grandma is doing fine, but the nurse says she hasn’t had any visitors lately. Dong-hoon starts to put the slippers back in the bag they came in, but he settles them under his desk instead, readying them to be worn.
He gets a call from Gyeom-duk, who hems and haws before getting to the reason for his call. Dong-hoon calls his mom next to tell her that Jung-hee went to see Gyeom-duk at the temple and left upset, and to ask her to check on Jung-hee at the bar. When Mom gets there, the bar is eerily silent, and she finds Jung-hee lying upstairs in her room.
Jung-hee sighs that just changing clothes seems like a chore, and that whenever things are hard, she gets so upset that she wants to wreck everything. She starts to cry, so Mom tells her to pick any customer and just develop unrequited feelings for him, so that whenever she thinks of Gyeom-duk she won’t get so upset.
She fusses that Jung-hee and Gyeom-duk broke up twenty years ago, and that Jung-hee should have gotten married to someone else long ago. She asks why Jung-hee can’t let go of a man she can’t even date, grumbling that if this were the Joseon era, they’d erected in honor of her, ha. Later, Dong-hoon reports back to Gyeom-duk that Jung-hee is okay.
The women in the office, led by Deputy Jung, gossip about Ji-an and the fact that she killed someone. Dong-hoon is so worried about Ji-an that he even goes to see the janitor, Choon-dae, to ask if he knows where she is, but he doesn’t know, either.
Joon-young meets with the ex-detective and learns that Ki-bum has been identified as the one who drugged Director Yoon and made him miss the important investor meeting, which got him banished to a satellite office. But it looks like Ki-bum took everything and ran off (they don’t know that it was actually Kwang-il who took Ki-bum’s computers).
Joon-young worries that Ki-bum has some critical evidence that could incriminate him, so he tells the ex-detective to catch Ki-bum, no matter what. He also tries to call Ji-an, and he’s furious when she doesn’t answer.
Dong-hoon goes to Ji-an’s apartment to look for her. He finds the door unlocked and the apartment tidy but empty. As he’s leaving, Jae-chul’s friend who lives nearby asks why he’s here, and Dong-hoon fibs that he came to check on some cracks in the building. He heads to the bar and continues to make futile calls, while Jung-hee sighs and wonders why she has to keep living.
She tells Dong-hoon that she’s thinking of closing the bar and getting a regular job like everyone else. She says that she lies in bed every morning listening to people walking in the street outside, and it makes her feel lonely, as if she’s the only one not moving forward.
Jung-hee tells Dong-hoon that sometimes she sits outside just to feel like she’s moving forward with the people. She says that she saw Ji-an this morning, who stood beside her for ten minutes before going on her way.
She tells Dong-hoon that Ji-an said she’s moving to be nearer to her new job, and that she likes the new neighborhood, but that it sounded more like she was saying she likes Dong-hoon. Ji-an, of course, is listening, and she stops when Jung-hee says this, but Dong-hoon says nothing in response.
As he’s walking home, Dong-hoon gets a call from a strange number. When he answers, Ji-an says in a soft voice, “My phone broke. In case you tried to call me.” Dong-hoon asks where she is, and she lies that she has a new job in Gangnam.
He’s angry that she didn’t tell him she was quitting, so she asks, “If I’d told you I was quitting, would you have thrown a goodbye party for a murderer?” She says she knew she wouldn’t be able to work there long anyway, and that it’s not the first time it’s happened to her.
Dong-hoon says in a betrayed voice that he thought Ji-an was a strong person, but she admits that she’s tired of being made fun of. He apologizes, but Ji-an says he shouldn’t be sorry because he’s the first person who was nice to her more than four times: “To someone like me. A person I liked. It doesn’t matter to me anymore whether I’m reborn or not. I’ll be able to be reborn. It’s okay.”
All Dong-hoon can do is release a shaky breath, and Ji-an collects herself and asks whether they’ll greet each other if they meet by chance. Dong-hoon says yes, then asks her to call him when her grandmother passes away. Ji-an hangs up and puts in her earbuds just to listen to Dong-hoon’s breathing.
She goes to meet with Ki-bum, who’s been home and seen that all of his important computer equipment is gone. Assuming that the cops took it all, he warns that they’ll listen to the recordings and figure out everything, including that Ji-an was behind it.
He tells her to throw out her phone and disappear, but Ji-an argues that she has to keep listening to Dong-hoon to monitor the situation. Ki-bum says they can transfer the spy program to a new phone and tells her to call him when she’s got a new number.
Kwang-il and his friend do check out Ki-bum’s computer and figure out that Ji-an has been tapping Dong-hoon’s phone, and recording her conversations with Joon-young. His friend wants to blackmail Joon-young, but Kwang-il looks like he has other ideas.
Only seconds after leaving her an angry message ordering her not to get caught, Joon-young is surprised to find Ji-an on his doorstep. He asks what she’s planning to do, but she just says she’s still thinking. He says that all he did was have an affair, while she set up Dong-hoon then blackmailed Joon-young.
He asks if Ji-an is recording this conversation also, and she retorts she’s not planning on getting caught, either. She states that she’ll run until he’s safely fired because of Dong-hoon, since they won’t try to catch her after that happens. She says that this was all to get him fired, and that they should discuss what she’ll reveal if she does get caught.
Joon-young says again that all he did was get blackmailed, but he doesn’t sound so confident anymore. Ji-an says that she’s going to act like she did everything to get rid of the people he didn’t like. He asks if that’s in case this harms Dong-hoon, marveling, “Wow, you two must really love each other a lot.”
Ji-an doesn’t move a muscle, so Joon-young says that he’s fine being made out as the jerk who played with his sunbae’s wife, if it means that Dong-hoon doesn’t escape unscathed. That gets a glare from Ji-an, so he chuckles that she’ll just have to try her hardest not to get caught.
Ji-an’s eyes scan the room and land on a knife block in the kitchen. She says thoughtfully, “When I’m in a bind, the scars that I want to hide the most end up becoming my greatest weapon — the fact that I have killed someone. I didn’t even speak to people for a long time because I was scared they would find out. But, when I’m in a bind,” and she turns her gaze to Joon-young, “I’m the one who brings it up first.”
She whispers menacingly that a person who’s killed once can do it again, and that she’ll kill every bastard who messes with Dong-hoon. Joon-young starts to look nervous.
Kwang-il sits in the dark, listening to the recording of Ji-an and Dong-hoon where she tells him he’s a good person. He also hears the one where she asks to hug Dong-hoon, and he smiles when Dong-hoon declines.
Gyeom-duk removes all of his possessions from his room in preparation to meditate, and closes the door. He tells a fellow monk that he doesn’t know how long this will take, and the young monk locks him in.
From the office, Dong-hoon texts Gyeom-duk to ask if people born in 1974 are destined to face hardship this year. But it’s the young monk who answers, saying that Gyeom-duk is meditating. Dong-hoon answers, “Do well.”
Chairman Jang makes another visit to the office to confront all of the directors. He asks angrily if they fired Ji-an against his explicit orders not to, yelling that they keep doing things he’s told them not to do during the directorial selection process. He says that nobody wants to work for a company where the directors dig into people’s pasts and sully their names, and he orders them to find Ji-an.
Joon-young says that with the rumors flying around, it would be hard for Ji-an to work here. But Chairman Jang snaps that he needs to apologize to her at the very least, and give her a permanent job. He tells the directors that he can’t sleep because he feels so bad, so Executive Director Wang promises to find her.
Next, Chairman Jang asks why they haven’t decided on the next director, and every man in the room looks around sheepishly. After Chairman Jang leaves, Executive Director Wang says they need to make a decision by the end of the day.
On the way back to his office, Joon-young shoves Director Yoon away from him, snapping that it will look like he told him to do all this. Director Yoon is confused, and later at the voting meeting, he’s further upset when two of the directors who were supposed to be on his side vote for Dong-hoon. The vote comes in at 7-2 in favor of Dong-hoon being promoted to director.
The results are sent to Joon-young, who seethes, but he’s forced to sign off on the promotion. The results are sent out to everyone at the company, and Dong-hoon’s entire team erupts in loud celebration. Dong-hoon is thrilled, but he can’t help but look over at Ji-an’s empty desk.
Sang-hoon and Ki-hoon get to break the good news to their mother, who’s so proud and happy that she bursts into tears. Dong-hoon calls Yoon-hee and invites her to Jung-hee’s later to celebrate, and even Director Park calls to congratulate him.
When he texts his son Ji-seok, the little smart aleck demands a raise in allowance, ha. Dong-hoon even texts Ji-an the good news, and he’s disappointed when there’s no reply. He calls her, but the number is out of service.
There’s a party in Dong-hoon’s honor at Jung-hee’s that night, and everyone is there. Yu-ra tells Mom that she looks like Ki-hoon, only to learn that Mom hates when people say that, hee. Dong-hoon watches proudly as the guys all stand and chant for Yoon-hee when she shows up. But when Mom tearfully thanks Yoon-hee for supporting Dong-hoon, all three brothers look away uncomfortably.
As the party goes into full swing, Jae-chul tells Dong-hoon to invite Ji-an to join them. Jung-hee pipes up that she quit and moved, and the guys good-naturedly tease Dong-hoon for running her off. They mention the night they all walked Ji-an home, and Jung-hee recalls that she obviously liked Dong-hoon a lot.
While on a break at her new job in a shipping warehouse, Ji-an listens to the party through Dong-hoon’s phone. She lays her head on the table, looking despondent.
Before leaving the party, Mom hugs Dong-hoon in front of everyone, fighting tears again. Jae-chul notices Dong-hoon looking in the direction of Ji-an’s apartment and asks why she quit, but Dong-hoon just gives him a wry smile.
Back inside, Sang-hoon’s estranged wife Ae-ryun tells Yoon-hee that when she first met her, she knew that she and Dong-hoon would live different lives than the rest of the neighborhood. She admits that she’s jealous of Yoon-hee, but says that today she’s here to congratulate them.
Dong-hoon returns and Ae-ryun chimes, “Friend!” defending that since Mom is gone and she and Dong-hoon were classmates, she can call him that (instead of “Brother-in-Law”). She says drunkenly that she was more proud to become his sister-in-law than to be Sang-hoon’s wife since he was so popular in school, second only to someone named Sang-won.
As she’s extolling Sang-won’s many virtues, Sang-hoon digs a finger into her ribs to try to shush her, but she ignores him. She points an accusing finger at Jung-hee and calls her the reason that Sang-won is just a memory now. The whole bar goes silent, except for Ae-ryun, who reminds Dong-hoon that he lost his closest friend because of Jung-hee.
Ae-ryun wonders why they can’t even speak of Sang-won, which nearly brings Dong-hoon to tears. Jung-hee asks Dong-hoon if Sang-won is really a taboo subject, almost challenging him to say that it’s her fault. He says it is, and Ae-ryun tells Jung-hee to stop bottling it up, too, so they can all move past it.
Jung-hee declares that as of now, Sang-won’s name is no longer taboo, and she urges them all to say it loudly. She lifts her glass and yells, “Yoon Sang-won was a part of our good memories!” Jae-chul says it next, and soon they’re all screaming a tribute to their lost friend.
Only Dong-hoon can’t say his name, instead getting up and leaving the bar, though he gives Jung-hee a pat on his way out as if to say he’s not angry. Jung-hee calmly calls Ae-ryun a bitch, and Ae-ryun snaps back, “I know, bitch!” before they clink glasses.
Out of nowhere, Yu-ra tells Ki-hoon that she wants to marry him and be a part of this family. He sighs that that’s why Ae-ryun married Sang-hoon and they’re separated now, taking the wind right out of Yu-ra’s sails.
When Yoon-hee heads home, Sang-hoon shoots her a big arm-heart over his head, but Ki-hoon won’t even look at her. Everyone else stays for karaoke, interestingly choosing songs that are totally wrong for them (Ae-ryun and Sang-hoon sing one about how perfect they are for each other, while Jung-hee sings that love never lasts).
The newly-minted “Director Park” is urged to the spotlight, and he obliges with a song about having no regrets for leaving someone behind. Ji-an listens as she goes home to her tiny room and makes her favorite double-strong coffee drink.
Dong-hoon’s new office is filled with congratulatory bouquets on the day he starts his new job. The directors all come to welcome him, and outside the office, his old team members smile proudly. Later, Dong-hoon watches his former team as they work, and his eyes stray again to Ji-an’s old desk. He’s moved his slippers from Ji-an underneath his new desk, and for the first time, he puts them on.
Director Park rushes to the police station when he learns that Ki-bum was caught at an internet cafe. They watch him being questioned, but since Director Park never saw Ki-bum’s face while sober, he can’t remember if this is the right guy.
Ki-bum’s story is that he was at an internet cafe and overheard a designated driver accept the job to drive Director Park, but that the guy was immersed in his game so Ki-bum offered to drive. He claims that Director Park called him Dong-hoon and wanted to go to the ocean for soju and abalone, repeating details from the recorded conversation of Director Park’s rooftop conversation with the real Dong-hoon.
The cop questioning him asks why Ki-bum threw his phone away, and why he called someone named Ji-an while he was running from the police. Director Park calls Director Jung and asks the name of the girl rumored to be linked with Dong-hoon, and when he learns it’s Lee Ji-an, he demands her phone number. The number is a match to the number for the Ji-an in Ki-bum’s phone.
Director Park calls Dong-hoon and orders him to meet him immediately, and to bring his phone but to turn it off before he arrives. Dong-hoon does as he’s told, and he goes to the place Director Park indicates — a wiretapping specialist. Director Park tells him that Ki-bum’s testimony was suspiciously detailed, and that since his own phone is clean, they must have tapped Dong-hoon’s phone.
He gives Dong-hoon the benefit of the doubt, though he warns that if his phone wasn’t wiretapped, he’s in a lot of trouble. Luckily for Dong-hoon, the tech finds the spy program, and Dong-hoon stands shocked as Director Park instructs the tech not to remove the wiretap.
Outside, Director Park tells Dong-hoon that Ji-an is the one who installed the wiretap on his phone, concluding that Ji-an has been on Joon-young’s side all along. He tells Dong-hoon not to let on that he knows, since she’s probably monitoring the situation even now, so they can use this to catch their enemies.
Oddly, the first thing Dong-hoon thinks about is the time he told his friend that Ji-an has a pretty face. He also remembers how she told him “It’s no big deal” just after he wished someone would say it to him, and all of the emotional and embarrassing conversations he’s had with Joon-young and Yoon-hee about their affair. He’s frozen by the realization that Ji-an probably heard it all.
He goes to a movie, but he mostly sits staring at his phone in his hands. He goes to the lobby uses their phone to call Joon-young, then meets him in the parking garage. As soon as Joon-young parks, Dong-hoon grabs him, throws him to the ground, and demands to know every detail of what he’s done with Ji-an.
Joon-young snarls that Ji-an started all of this when she caught him having an affair with Yoon-hee. He reveals that Ji-an offered to keep her mouth shut about it, and to get Dong-hoon and Director Park fired, in exchange for money. He claims to be her victim, blaming Dong-hoon since he’s the one who hired her.
Dong-hoon listens, then asks where Ji-an is now. Joon-young says truthfully that he doesn’t know, but that she swore she’d never be caught because she’d have to tell everything, and she knows that having the affair become public knowledge is Dong-hoon’s worst fear.
He tells Dong-hoon that he’s a director now, and that soon he’ll get Joon-young fired, so he should just sit back and wait quietly. He says again that he’s the biggest victim here, having been blackmailed and then betrayed when Ji-an switched to Dong-hoon’s side.
Dong-hoon watches him with an expression almost like pity, then punches Joon-young in the face. He grabs him and asks, “What?!” but Joon-young sneers that he’s not the only sleazy one. Dong-hoon punches him again, and again, remembering how he told Ji-an once that as long as nobody finds out his secret, it’s no big deal.
He goes back to the movie theater just as Ji-an sits down to listen to his phone. He picks it up from where he left it in his seat, and says into it clearly, “Lee Ji-an. Lee Ji-an. Call me.”
YES. This makes me so happy! Finally Dong-hoon has decided not to just sit passively and let events happen around him, but to take action and do something about the situation. I’d rather him be angry with Ji-an than mopey and despondent, so even if he blames her for causing his recent troubles, it’s better than him just going on thinking she betrayed him and bottling it all up. But I think that he’s actually asking her to call him so that he can hear her side of the story, because he knows her too well not to know instinctively that she hasn’t truly betrayed him. And I think that this may be the reason Ji-an and Dong-hoon are in each other’s lives — to learn the lesson that they can’t stop shutting everything in and shutting the world out, but that they need to actively engage in their lives, even if it’s painful and difficult.
It’s so hard to know how to feel about Director Park discovering that Ji-an orchestrated everything (though I’m glad that he gave Dong-hoon a chance to prove that he’s innocent of Ji-an’s manipulations). At the time that she and Ki-bum drugged and kidnapped him, Ji-an absolutely intended for Director Park to be disgraced and for Dong-hoon to go down with him. And at the time, Ji-an was not a nice person at all, so if she’d been caught right away I’d have felt as though she got what she deserved. But she’s changed due to Dong-hoon’s influence and belief in her, and now she just wants to help him succeed — even if she’s still contemplating doing the wrong things, she’s thinking of doing them for the “right” reasons. But she still deserves to be punished for drugging and kidnapping a man, although it’s hard to think of that happening to her now. I’m scared that when Ji-an is caught, Dong-hoon will let himself be blamed just to take some of the pressure off of her.
I know that My Ajusshi was never billed as a romance, and I have never felt that Ji-an and Dong-hoon’s relationship was one of normal romantic love. But I believe that they do love each other, very very much — it’s just a kind of love that defies labels. It’s not romantic or familial love, but it’s so much more than friendship. It feels more as though they’re soul mates who just aren’t meant to be together in this life, but that who still recognized each other and were drawn together for a short time. They understand each other in some mystical way, but I love that they never try to define it or clarify it and just accept it for what it is. They’re only meant to be in each other’s lives for a little while, but they’ve tried hard to do what they can for each other while there’s time.
This episode definitely made me feel as though the clock is ticking on Dong-hoon and Ji-an’s time together, and that somehow they can feel it. In fact, both of this week’s episodes felt tinged with a sense of looming dread, as if something terrible is going to happen before this is all over. Honestly, I don’t see how this could end any other way, but I still don’t want it to happen. As I consider all of the tragic possibilities (Ji-an ending up dead or in jail, or Kwang-il getting killed in a too-little-too-late attempt to help her, being the worst of my imaginings) I think that Dong-hoon has the most to fight for. I hope that he’s exonerated and allowed to keep his new director’s position, and that he and Yoon-hee come to some kind of peace, whatever that looks like. But otherwise I’m bracing myself for all sorts of heartache, and I know I’m going to be a nervous wreck until the final episodes next week.
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