My Ajusshi: Episode 15
Dong-hoon and Ji-an have been such influential presences in each other’s lives, it’s hard to imagine that their story is nearly over. But their struggles may be just beginning, as they face the consequences of their actions and the people they’ve harmed. Hopefully they can find their way to the other side a bit wiser.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
After beating Joon-young to a pulp for blaming Ji-an for this entire mess, and for suggesting there’s something inappropriate between him and Ji-an, Dong-hoon goes back to the movie theater where he left his phone so that Ji-an couldn’t hear. He picks up his phone, remembering all of the times that Ji-an used the conversations she heard to support him, cheer him up, and help him.
He says into it, “Lee Ji-an. Lee Ji-an. Call me. I heard everything. I know that you’re listening in on everything I do. It’s okay. Call me.” Listening as she always is, Ji-an jumps up and runs to a pay phone. She calls Ki-bum, but his friend answers and tells her that he was arrested, leaving a message for her not to get caught.
Dong-hoon waits for Ji-an’s call until long after the move is over. Eventually he remembers her saying that her phone broke, and he calls the number she called him from that day. It’s unavailable, so he guesses it must be a pay phone.
When Ji-an starts listening again, she hears him calling to find out which pay phone uses that number — the very phone she’s standing in front of. She hears Dong-hoon hail a taxi and ask to be taken to her location, so she runs to her tiny room and gets her things. She’s long gone by the time Dong-hoon gets to the phone booth.
But as she flees, she remembers when Dong-hoon caught his deputy gossiping, and all he did was make him say “I was wrong” ten times. Her determined expression crumples and she collapses, whispering, “I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong!” She gasps out the words over and over, her voice sounding more lost and childlike with each repetition.
Dong-hoon arrives home late, and Yoon-hee can tell something is wrong. He goes to bed, then changes his mind and, laying his phone down, he heads to Yoon-hee’s office. She senses that he needs to say something, and she tells him that she’ll go along with whatever he wants.
He asks if she knows Lee Ji-an, so Yoon-hee tells him that Joon-young once asked her to look into the girl. She says that she only found out later what Ji-an was doing for Joon-young, adding that it was Ji-an who told her what kind of person Joon-young really is, and that she even told Yoon-hee to go back to Dong-hoon.
Yoon-hee says that she felt that Ji-an liked Dong-hoon, so she advised her to cut ties with Joon-young and quit working at the company, and even offered to pay her. But Ji-an refused, saying that if she left, Joon-young would just use someone else to get Dong-hoon fired. Yoon-hee says that Ji-an has been fiercely protecting him, which made her so miserable she wanted to die.
She asks if Joon-young fired Ji-an, but Dong-hoon says that she’s running from the police over what happened to Director Park. He adds that she’s vowed not to get caught because if she is, she’ll have to reveal why she did all this, and Yoon-hee’s affair will be out in the open. “She knows what torments me the most. She knows.”
Yoon-hee says they should just tell everyone so that Ji-an won’t have to be on the run forever. She apologizes tearfully that this has all happened because of her, then she talks to Ji-an through Dong-hoon’s phone.
She offers to go with her to the police station, promising that she and Dong-hoon will tell everything and make sure she goes free. Dong-hoon sighs that Ji-an may not hear the message, but Yoon-hee is confident she will, since it’s Dong-hoon’s voice that’s given Ji-an the strength to get this far.
Ji-an is hit by a car as she runs, but she rolls to her feet and limps away. The driver calls for help, but Ji-an quickly disappears around a corner.
Ki-hoon shows up at Jung-hee’s to drive Yu-ra home, and Jae-chul complains that the brothers are acting weird since Dong-hoon became a director. Ki-hoon points out that it’s only been two days, ha. Jung-hee threatens to kill them if they’re drinking somewhere else, muttering that she won’t be betrayed by a man twice, making Jae-chul bark that Sang-won is a part of their treasured memories.
On the drive home, Yu-ra chirps that Ki-hoon is sexy, but he objects to her cheerful attitude since Dong-hoon is so sad lately. She says he must love his brother, but he snaps, “No! Absolutely not. Never. I’m just used to him, is all.” He says that Sang-hoon cries all the time, but when Dong-hoon cries, something is seriously wrong.
He waxes poetic about how he feels when Dong-hoon cries, making Yu-ra grin, “So you do love him.” He vehemently denies it, but she doesn’t believe him for a second.
When Ki-hoon drops her off, Yu-ra tries to kiss him. He leans away, saying that he’s commiserating with his brother today, so he has to break up with her… but only for three days. At her pout, he amends it to two days, then caves entirely. HA, so much for the solidarity breakup.
When Ki-hoon gets home, Sang-hoon wants to know why Ji-an quit, but Ki-hoon sighs that Dong-hoon isn’t exactly a detail guy. Sang-hoon starts talking about how hard it was when he lost everything, and decides that he wants to create a moment in which he turns his life around.
He imagines the brothers all suited up, drinking wine and laughing together, and riding around in sports cars like in old Hong Kong films. He wants to take his brothers on a three-day spree, and Ki-hoon rolls his eyes and asks if that’s what the money under the floorboards is for, grumbling that Sang-hoon sucks at keeping secrets.
Upstairs, Mom tells Sang-hoon to wipe down the floor of his room. She catches him picking up his money stash and says blandly that she wondered when he’d take it out of the floor, hee. He defends that it feels good to put the money under the floor, and when she huffs and leaves, he starts picking it up again.
In the morning, Dong-hoon goes to the police station to visit Ki-bum, to ask where Ji-an is. Ki-bum refuses to talk, so Dong-hoon tells him that when he’s released, to tell Ji-an that it’s okay and to call him, “…and that it’s no big deal.”
The anti-Joon-young directors marvel that Joon-young used a temp to do his dirty work, and they wonder if they should all check their phones for bugs. Director Jung wonders why Ji-an spoke so highly of Dong-hoon when she was supposedly working for Joon-young.
Director Park listens thoughtfully, rolling his eyes when Director Jung wonders if Ji-an is a spy who loves her enemy. Executive Director Wang asks Director Park how Dong-hoon feels about Ji-an, and Director Park says that Dong-hoon didn’t know anything.
On his way to meet with the directors, Dong-hoon leaves his phone at the front desk, ostensibly to be charged but mostly so Ji-an can’t listen in. Executive Director Wang believes that Ji-an is still listening and monitoring the situation, and he tells Dong-hoon to pretend he doesn’t know so they can use this to take down her and Joon-young.
Another director warns that it might be difficult since Ji-an and Joon-young no longer seem to be on the same side. Dong-hoon says that Ji-an no longer contacts him, so Executive Director Wang tells the others that they’ll have to say that Ji-an worked alone to get Director Park fired and Dong-hoon promoted.
His plan is to make it look like they’re trying to demote and fire Dong-hoon, which should bring Ji-an out of hiding. He says worriedly that they don’t know what will happen if Joon-young’s people get their hands on Ji-an.
The other directors leave (and I don’t like the way Director Jung eyes Dong-hoon’s phone at the front desk), Director Park orders Dong-hoon to just listen when they enact their plan, so as not to accidentally tip off Ji-an that this is a ploy. Dong-hoon hesitates, saying that he was close with Ji-an, and he asks for a little time to convince her to go to the police with him.
But Director Park asserts that even if Ji-an was on his side, she committed a crime. He adds that he can’t sit by as Joon-young isn’t re-elected, and just watch him leave without being held accountable for what he’s done. He urges Dong-hoon to help him put Joon-young in jail.
Ki-bum is released, and he calls Ji-an from a phone booth to tell her that Dong-hoon came to see him. He asks how much Dong-hoon knows, but she says she doesn’t know, seeming weak and sick. Ki-bum doesn’t notice, and he yells at her when she croaks that she hasn’t been listening.
Ji-an confesses that Dong-hoon knows they tapped his phone. Ki-bum says that the police must not have his computer since they don’t know how everything happened, when they would know everything if they’d heard the recordings. He thinks Joon-young’s people took his computer, but Ji-an knows from things Joon-young’s said that he doesn’t have it, either.
She tells Ki-bum that she erased all the recordings of Joon-young from her phone, which makes him squeak in alarm, since without those or his computers they have nothing to use against Joon-young.
He hangs up, and Ji-an immediately nods off, only to jerk awake when the door opens. Oh whew, it’s just Choon-dae, her janitor friend. Ji-an is too sick to eat when he bring her food and medicine. Choon-dae wants to take her to the hospital, but she shakes her head no.
Kwang-il spends his time listening to the recordings of Ji-an on Ki-bum’s computer, while his sidekick does some research into Joon-young. Kwang-il gets to the recording where Ji-an told Dong-hoon about her history with Kwang-il, and how he would try to stop his father from hitting her, sometimes even taking the beatings in her place.
He remembers a time when they were younger, after his father had beaten her and another little boy. Kwang-il, also with a bruised face, had brought them some candy and carried Ji-an home on his back. Now Kwang-il hears Ji-an saying that he’s tormented by a time when he liked her, while she’s tormented by a time when he was nice to her.
At the office, Dong-hoon runs across Joon-young, who says to tell Ji-an to stay hidden or she’ll humiliate him. Dong-hoon orders Joon-young to shut his mouth, warning that soon, they’re both going to be utterly humiliated.
Dong-hoon goes to his friend’s bar alone and talks to his phone, telling Ji-an that it’s okay, she doesn’t need to run, that they need to take care of things. He walks to her old apartment, where the landlord is cleaning out Ji-an’s discarded belongings. He asks Chan-young, his neighbor friend, to hold onto them for a while.
Talking into the phone, he asks Ji-an how she’s getting by without even the basics. He grows upset, asking if she’s even listening anymore. Suddenly he gets a call from an unfamiliar number, and he answers anxiously, then sets off at a dead run.
He ends up at Choon-dae’s shanty, where he finds Ji-an still very sick. She cringes in fear when she sees Dong-hoon, then mutters that he thought she was just a murderer, but she’s also done many other terrible things. She snaps at him for being nice to her more than four times, calling him an idiot for being nice to just anyone and blaming his misery on that niceness.
Dong-hoon looks shaken, but he just says, “Thanks. You listened to my pathetic life, yet you took my side. So thank you.” He says that he can’t stand seeing her in pain because she pities him, or the fact that she’s so pitiful. His voice hitches as he asks how someone so young could feel sorry for someone like him, adding that it breaks his heart more than he can bear.
He says that if he can’t show her that he’s living a happy life, she’ll continue being in pain because of him, which will cause him so much pain he couldn’t go on. He challenges Ji-an to watch and see how happy his life is, because humiliation, gossip — none of it is a big deal.
As he speaks, Ji-an bursts into tears, and she sobs that she wants to see him truly happy. Dong-hoon promises her that he’ll be happy, which makes her cry even harder. He convinces her to go to the hospital, where her broken arm (from her car accident) is bandaged.
As she’s treated, Dong-hoon calls Yoon-hee, who says that since Ji-an was only an accessory to Joon-young’s crimes, she’ll only get probation if she cooperates and if Director Park agrees not to press charges. She says that since this all started because of her, she wants to make things right, and she offers to make sure Ji-an isn’t punished.
Dong-hoon takes the message to Ji-an. He says he’d like to visit her grandmother then take her to the police station. He tells Ji-an to tell the whole truth, because he and Yoon-hee have decided to expose everything that happened. Ji-an seems surprised, so Dong-hoon tells her that Yoon-hee said this all into the phone. But Ji-an says that she couldn’t listen once he knew she was listening.
Tentatively, she asks if Dong-hoon really doesn’t hate her. He says, “When you truly know a person, nothing they do bothers you. And I know you.” Ji-an whispers, “I know all of the sounds you make, and all of your words and thoughts, and the sound of your footsteps… all of it. It felt as if I saw what a human being was for the first time.”
Once she’s released, Dong-hoon takes Ji-an to Jung-hee’s bar, and Jung-hee is tickled pink and invites Ji-an to stay with her as long as she wants. Dong-hoon tells Ji-an to just rest here for a few days and not to go outside, and before he goes, Ji-an promises to delete the wiretapping program on her phone.
She lies down to sleep and puts in her earbuds just as Dong-hoon is approaching the train tracks. As he crosses the tracks, she deletes the program, his footsteps the last thing she hears.
Sang-hoon takes Ki-hoon shopping for the PPL sunglasses they’ll wear for their fancy blow-out weekend. Ki-hoon warns Sang-hoon not to let his wife find out about this and tries to talk him into the cheaper sunglasses, to no effect. Next they go PPL car shopping while Ki-hoon plays with a PPL app on his phone, heh.
Meanwhile, Dong-hoon finally lets Chairman Jang take him out for a meal. He tells Chairman Jang everything that’s happened, and Chairman Jang commends him for his honesty. He confesses that he thought something strange was going on when Dong-hoon showed up at the campsite that time, so he did some digging and discovered Joon-young and Yoon-hee’s affair.
He says that since Dong-hoon seemed to want to save his marriage, he decided not to say anything, and was impressed that Dong-hoon appeared to be doing so well. He’s disappointed that Dong-hoon finally agreed to eat with him only to announce that he’s quitting, and he asks him to think about it.
Dong-hoon says that he decided to quit since everything happened because of him, his wife, and Joon-young, and he thinks Director Park should have his job back. But Chairman Jang barks that he doesn’t want to lose Dong-hoon, so he offers to reinstate Director Park if Dong-hoon stays.
He even promises to ask Director Park to work things out with Ji-an, so Dong-hoon accepts his offer. As they leave, Chairman Jang tells Dong-hoon to have Ji-an call him when her punishment is over so he can repay his debt.
Unable to reach Ji-an on her phone, Kwang-il calls the office and learns that she quit. He drives to her old apartment, passing right by Jung-hee’s bar, never guessing that that’s where she’s staying, and finds her apartment empty.
Joon-young gets a call, and he hears his own voice telling Ji-an to date Dong-hoon then accuse him of abusing his power to a subordinate. Kwang-il’s partner is playing the recording, and he asks Joon-young how much he’ll pay for it and the hundreds of other recordings.
He tells Joon-young that he knows who he works with, guessing that he’d probably rather they didn’t give these recordings to “that guy.” He tells Joon-young to prepare the money and he’ll call him back.
Joon-young runs through the building to Dong-hoon’s new office, which is empty. He finally spots Dong-hoon hanging out at his old desk, but he just glares and marches back to his own office as everyone wonders what on earth that was about.
The neighborhood friends all show up at Jung-hee’s that evening, and Jae-chul immediately recognizes Ji-an. Sang-hoon and Ki-hoon both scramble to call Dong-hoon first (Ki-hoon wins, ha), but of course he already knows. Dong-hoon and Jung-hee both pretend that Ji-an is only there to hang out tonight.
On his way to the bar, Dong-hoon is nearly mowed down by Yu-ra, who’s running there at a dead sprint. When she arrives, they all invite Ji-an to have a drink with them, and Yu-ra notices that Ji-an isn’t wearing makeup and guesses that she doesn’t know how pretty she is.
She does a silly “spell” so that Ji-an will never realize she’s pretty, and invites her to be her dongsaeng. Ki-hoon objects, but Yu-ra says that Ji-an is definitely younger than her own 31 years. Ji-an mutters that she’s thirty thousand years old, then Jung-hee introduces herself as forty thousand years old, and one of the guys grumbles that they’re making his fifty thousand year old self feel bad, lol.
Dong-hoon arrives and pretends that he’s seeing Ji-an for the first time in a while. Someone asks if she knows that Dong-hoon became a director, and when she says yes, they marvel that she’d even care about a former boss. But Dong-hoon tells them that Ji-an got him the job, making them speculate that she must be the chairman’s daughter.
Alone later, Dong-hoon suggests to Ji-an that they visit her grandmother tomorrow, then go to the police station. The entire group of friends comes outside to bid Ji-an goodbye and thank her for joining them, then Jung-hee walks with her, saying that she’s sleeping at Ji-an’s place.
The brothers and Yu-ra walk with them, and soon Ki-hoon and Yu-ra peel off towards Yu-ra’s place. Jung-hee turns Ji-an down a side street and they head back to the bar, as Sang-hoon and Dong-hoon split up towards their homes.
Ji-an sits up later, unable to sleep. She tells Jung-hee that if she’s reborn, she wants to be reborn into this neighborhood. Jung-hee smiles and says they can meet again in their next lives, the thought making her happy.
Dong-hoon walks home, his footsteps echoing in the empty street as he breathes, “Let’s be happy.”
It’s so nice to see Ji-an hanging out with people who accept her, who tease her like she’s one of them and treat her like anyone else. I don’t think she’ll ever be talkative or open with people, but you can see that people will find her a likable person, and she’ll be able to make friends, if everything works out in her favor. It’s heartbreaking that just imagining Ji-an living a normal life is so moving, but she’s never had a normal life, or been accepted by anyone. It’s really all I want for her, and even though she doesn’t seem to know what to do with her sudden group of friends, I don’t think she has a choice in the matter. Just witnessing Jung-hee’s delight at having a new friend made me tear up for Ji-an.
I’m so glad that Dong-hoon is the kind of man to find out all the facts before flying off the handle. When he found out that Ji-an was tapping his phone, he went to Joon-young for answers. When he couldn’t find Ji-an, he spoke to Yoon-hee about her. His patience allowed him to get the real picture of what Ji-an has been doing instead of just assuming that she’s still listening to him for information to use against him. He learned that it started that way, but that her eavesdropping quickly changed into a way for her to help him and support him.
And I love that when Dong-hoon finally found Ji-an, he just seemed to relax into himself, as if even though everything had gone terribly wrong, it was all okay because he found her. I can’t even describe it, but there’s something very pure and genuine about Dong-hoon’s aura when he’s with Ji-an. It’s like he’s not truly himself unless he’s with her, like she’s the only one he can be himself with because he instinctively knows that she won’t betray him. Around everyone else, even his brothers, Dong-hoon always has his guard up — and they know it. It’s the thing Ki-hoon was complaining about when he said that Dong-hoon never shows his emotions. But with Ji-an, Dong-hoon is nothing but emotions, and I hope that what he takes away from their friendship is that he can relax around people and that he’ll be okay.
I melted when he told Ji-an that he’s not angry with her because he knows her too well. And again when Ji-an revealed that by listening to the sounds Dong-hoon makes, she felt as though she learned what a human being is. I believe that these are the reasons they’re in each other’s lives, because they each had something to teach the other. Because Dong-hoon holds himself so apart, he never knew how it felt to truly, deeply know a person. And because Ji-an has been pushed to the sidelines by society, she never learned what human beings are really like.
I said before that this is not a romance story, but it’s most certainly a love story between Dong-hoon and Ji-an. It’s just not a love story in which the people involved are meant to share a life — it’s the kind of love story where their love is so pure and real that they genuinely just want each other to live happy lives, whatever that means. It doesn’t mean that they “fall in love” and get married and have a family, that’s much too simple for these two. They just want to make the other’s life better however they can. For Ji-an that means seeing Dong-hoon in the job he deserves, with the life partner he deserves. And for Dong-hoon, it means helping Ji-an move beyond her past and being seen and loved by others for who she is now, not what she did once before.
If you’d told me before the drama started that this was the point of the show, I don’t think I would have been very interested. Words can’t describe this show, it has to be seen to be understood and fully appreciated. So keeping the show’s true message under wraps and allowing the audience to discover it slowly was brilliant, because watching My Ajusshi has been like opening a gift… I didn’t know what it was at first other than the general shape of it, but as I slowly uncovered each piece, I realized that it’s so much better than anything I ever anticipated. I’m starting to think that maybe we’ll get lucky and it won’t end in tragedy, and I’m so, so relieved.
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