Korean Drama

My Ajusshi: Episode 6

Dong-hoon and Ji-an’s growing not-quite-friendship is so interesting to watch, because unlike conventional relationships, it’s not necessarily something that makes either of them happy. Still, they’re unable to deny anymore they somehow understand one another, as unwelcome as it may be to have a stranger know your most shameful secrets and deepest fears.

 
EPISODE 6 RECAP

After he investigates the source of the number that frequently calls Joon-young’s phone, Dong-hoon’s team member calls to alert him that the audit team is ransacking his office, but he says to let them continue. He sits in a cafe, thinking about how he was set up with a fake bribe, and how his wife keeps telling him to quit his job.

He’d discovered that the pay phone is right outside Yoon-hee’s office building, and she’d come outside to meet him. They’d gone to lunch, but Dong-hoon hadn’t spoken much, and Yoon-hee worried something was up. She’d asked if he’d thought about starting his own business, promising to help him raise the money.

She’d seemed genuinely concerned for him, aware that he’s miserable at his job. But now he watches from a window as she calls Joon-young from the pay phone, telling him not to fire Dong-hoon because she thinks he’ll quit soon.

After she’s gone, Dong-hoon goes out and calls Joon-young’s number from the pay phone, and Joon-young answers as if he knows exactly who’s calling. It confirms Dong-hoon’s worst fears — that his wife is likely having an affair with the man he despises.

Mom has Ki-hoon call Dong-hoon to invite him to dinner, and when he says he can’t come, she gets on the phone. She notices that he sounds depressed and tells him to come pick up some soup.

Dong-hoon remembers once finding an unfamiliar parking pass in his car, and he goes to the building it’s from, where he sees Yoon-hee using that same parking pass to get into the garage. Soon after, Joon-young also drives into the same garage, and Dong-hoon is too stunned to answer a call from Director Park.

He calls Yoon-hee, who lies that she’s working late. At the same time, he uses a borrowed phone to call Joon-young’s number, and he can hear Joon-young’s phone ring in the background of his conversation with Yoon-hee.

Director Park contacts Executive Director Wang to tell him that he gave Joon-young’s call history to Dong-hoon and that may be what the audit team was looking for in his office. Executive Director Wang advises him not to contact Dong-hoon for a while so that they don’t suspect that Director Park is involved. But Director Park says that he thinks Dong-hoon found something.

Back at home, Dong-hoon recalls the day that Joon-young was suspiciously friendly, and how he’d felt that Joon-young had wronged him somehow. Now he knows his gut feeling was correct, and that Joon-young is sleeping with his wife. He pretends to be asleep when Yoon-hee comes home and goes straight to the shower.

The next morning, he meets up with his brothers and their friends for some neighborhood soccer, but he walks right by them and goes straight to the men’s room. He thinks about Yoon-hee berating him this morning for drinking too much and telling him to go out and experience life a little.

Jae-chul, the guy who sold Ki-hoon and Sang-hoon his cleaning business, yells at the men for drinking so early in the morning and tells them to get up and play some soccer. They all have excuses, but Dong-hoon grabs a team vest and heads to the field.

As he plays, he recalls another time when Yoon-hee was angry with him, saying that she and their son Ji-seok should be his primary familial concern, not anyone else. On a different day, she’d complained over dinner that she felt like his body was with her, but his heart was still at home with his mother and brothers. She’d noted that he should’ve been born in Joseon times.

Once, when their son Ji-seok was a baby, Dong-hoon had been at his mother’s house, where Ki-hoon had been impressed that Yoon-hee recently passed the bar exam on her first try. Mom had snapped that she was sorry to be an unemployed mother, and that being a lawyer just means that people come to you when they cause trouble.

Dong-hoon had thanked his mother for taking care of Ji-seok while he and Yoon-hee pursued their careers. Mom had said that even the most successful woman will be judged by her husband’s success, and had urged him to keep getting promotions because Yoon-hee wouldn’t settle for him being unsuccessful.

In the middle of the soccer game, Dong-hoon gets frustrated that nobody is passing him the ball and stomps off the field. Sang-hoon tries to call him but Dong-hoon doesn’t answer or come back, and Ki-hoon fusses at the younger players for not allowing Dong-hoon to play, getting into a fight with one of the players, who seems resentful of Dong-hoon’s fancy job.

As the fight dissolves into an all-out brawl, a teacher uses them as an example for some middle-schoolers as to why they shouldn’t risk their potential soccer careers by playing on the same field as ajusshis who are drinking on a Sunday morning. One kid confesses that his father called them here, and as the police arrive, he calls out to his dad, who’s helping Sang-hoon and Ki-hoon escape.

Sang-hoon rips his coat on a broken fence while trying to sneak away, and he and Ki-hoon do a slow-motion badass strut down the street, trailing a cloud of feathers behind them, ha.

Listening in through Dong-hoon’s phone, Ji-an can hear him breathing hard as she runs to catch a bus. She tracks his location to a bridge overlooking the river, which makes her panic. When she gets close, she jumps off the bus and races to where he’s walking. But just as she finds him, so do his brothers, so she turns and walks the other way after letting out a big sigh of relief that he’s okay.

Joon-young and Yoon-hee take a little camping trip, though Joon-young admits that he only goes camping because Chairman Jang likes it, and even Chairman Jang mostly just likes it for the campfires. A call comes in on his secret phone, which he says is just spam, and Yoon-hee asks who called the other night when he ran out on her.

He confesses that it’s the girl who’s helping him get Dong-hoon fired (and interestingly, he refers to him here as “Dong-hoon sunbae”). Yoon-hee asks if it’s the same girl he had her look into, the one who committed a murder, and he says it is. She’s alarmed, thinking that he may as well have put out a hit on Dong-hoon, but Joon-young says that Dong-hoon will be quitting soon so all he has to do is quietly get rid of Ji-an.

Former actress Yu-ra brings Ki-hoon some snacks, and this time she’s not only brought his former assistant director, but someone else he used to work with. She calls him to come out, but when he hears the others mocking his Hollywood dreams that landed him in the cleaning business, he hangs up on her.

He’s at a pojangmacha with Dong-hoon and Sang-hoon, and he grumbles that he’ll show them in his next life. Dong-hoon asks if he even wants a next life, and Ki-hoon vows that he’ll be reborn and be super successful and trample them.

Dong-hoon points out that these are probably the same people he said this to in a past life, making Sang-hoon laugh. Dong-hoon concludes, “Crush the people you meet in this lifetime, in this lifetime. And let’s please stop being reborn.”

Sang-hoon thinks it would be a shame to stop being reborn, because then they’d be bored. LOL. He chuckles that this life is sorta fun, he just doesn’t have money to enjoy it. Ki-hoon quips that Sang-hoon is lacking a lot of other stuff and gets bopped on the head.

A hopeful Yu-ra shows up at Jung-hee’s bar looking for Ki-hoon, but Jung-hee says he’s probably with his brothers. Jae-chul spots Yu-ra and yelps her name, thrilled to meet a semi-celebrity. He asks if she still drinks a lot (referring to her habit of tossing her cookies in the stairwell), but she says she doesn’t drink much now because she feels good even when she’s sober.

Jung-hee correctly guesses that it’s because Ki-hoon is a failure, and she says that there’s a guy she also hopes will fail and come crying to her one day (Dong-hoon, I’m guessing, by the way she always looks at him). Yu-ra holds up a hand for a high-five, which Jae-chul slaps instead of Jung-hee, and all three of them chuckle.

Dong-hoon is approaching his apartment building when he spots Yoon-hee coming home just ahead of him. He runs to catch up, staggering and a little disoriented, and she marvels that he’s just now getting home after leaving to play soccer early this morning. On the elevator, Dong-hoon asks why she smells like smoke, and she lies that it’s from grilled food.

Kwang-il shows up at Ji-an’s apartment, wearing a suit and carrying a grocery bag. Ji-an is listening to Dong-hoon’s phone and doesn’t hear him pounding on the door, so he picks the lock and lets himself in, scaring Ji-an and Grandma half to death.

Seeming drunk, he greets Grandma nastily and ignores Ji-an’s order to get out. Terrified that he’s discovered her grandmother, she attacks him, but he easily tosses her to the floor. He sits down and tells Grandma that it’s his father’s memorial day: “The day your granddaughter killed my father.”

He’s brought food for the memorial rites, which he offers to Grandma, telling her to live a long time so that Ji-an will suffer for a long time. As he forces the food into Grandma’s mouth, Ji-an grabs the bottle he brought and tries to hit him with it, but he’s too fast.

He yanks it from her hands, asking if a father and son should share a death anniversary, and he beats Ji-an while Grandma screams. Later, Ji-an sits on her steps outside, looking bloody and defeated, and replays her recording of Dong-hoon saying that she’s a good person, over and over again.

At work on Monday, Dong-hoon is questioned by one of the auditors about what he was doing the day he was calling people all night from the company phone. He asks if Dong-hoon was checking the numbers in the CEO’s call log, admitting that they got a report that he’s been digging into Joon-young, but they can’t find any evidence.

He says that regardless of whether they continue investigating, things will look bad if word gets out that a subordinate is investigating his boss. He urges Dong-hoon to tell him if he’s found something, but all Dong-hoon says is, “Who in their right mind would tell the internal audit team, that works directly for the CEO, a secret about the CEO?”

Of course, Joon-young learns about Dong-hoon trying to dig up something on him from Director Yoon. He thinks Joon-young should just fire Dong-hoon, but Joon-young tells him firmly to let the auditing team handle it, otherwise they’ll end up looking bad.

Director Jung (who’s on the same side as Director Park) stops Dong-hoon in the hall to ask why he was called in to be questioned. They’re interrupted by Joon-young, who tells Dong-hoon that if he has any complaints, he should bring them to him instead of checking on him behind his back as if he’s trying to frame him.

In the copy room, Ji-an pisses off Deputy Kim (the team member she slapped at the company dinner) by kicking open the drawer when he asks for more paper. He kicks the drawer closed, loud enough to make the whole office jump, and orders her to do it again. He’s yelling at her for being disrespectful when Dong-hoon returns, and everyone scurries back to their desks.

A couple of employees, including Cheater Girl, complain to Dong-hoon that having Ji-an around is disruptive and bad for morale. He asks his subordinate why people are so upset when Ji-an always opens the drawer that way, and his subordinate asks why Dong-hoon recently told Ji-an to quit, then changed his mind.

Dong-hoon tells him to get to the point, so he tells him how Ji-an slapped Deputy Kim at the dinner, supposedly for spitting in a cup, though he thinks it was for what the deputy was saying about Dong-hoon.

After work, Dong-hoon finds Ji-an at the subway stop and scolds her for hitting someone, saying that only people in dramas do that. He asks what Deputy Kim said to make her slap him, thinking he probably insulted or hit on her. He’s shocked when she says, “He insulted you. He said that if he were you, he’d have quit already, and that it’s difficult working for a superior who’s being abused. He said this situation isn’t Do Joon-young’s fault, but the fault of pitiful Manager Park.”

They ride the train side-by-side, Dong-hoon lost in thought. When he gets off the train, he calls Deputy Kim and tells him that he heard about him getting slapped, and why. Deputy Kim claims he doesn’t remember, but Dong-hoon calls out the lie and orders him to apologize ten times right now, because he doesn’t want to be angry over this. Deputy Kim bellows about thirteen apologies in the middle of a restaurant, sobbing by the time he’s finished.

Dong-hoon finds Ji-an, who’s waiting for him nearby, and says angrily that everyone talks about people behind their backs, even him. He asks why she told him and what she expects him to do. He heaves a heavy sigh and says he’s sorry, then thanks her for hitting Deputy Kim.

They go to a bar, where Dong-hoon tells Ji-an that if she hears someone talking about another person, not to tell them. He says that they may start avoiding her because it’s hard to be around someone who sees you in a vulnerable moment.

But then he says that it’s fine so long as nobody knows, because if nobody knows, then it’s not a big deal, thinking about Yoon-hee and Joon-young. Ji-an counters that the person might be scared someone will find out, thinking about how she killed the man who was attacking her grandmother.

She says that they’ll always wonder who knows, and when they meet someone new, they’ll wonder how long until they find out too. She continues, “Sometimes I wish I could have it displayed on a billboard for the world to see, instead of living in such fear for the rest of my life.” She imagines seeing herself on a huge screen, killing the man on the nightly news.

Dong-hoon says, “I’ll pretend I don’t know. No matter what I hear about you, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear it. So promise me that you’ll pretend you didn’t hear. I’m scared because I feel like you know everything.”

Yu-ra shows up at Sang-hoon and Ki-hoon’s store, making them both uncomfortable as they try to eat their lunch while she stares. She says that she used to sleep the days away because she was miserable, but lately she wakes up early, feeling like it’s spring in her heart.

Staring at Ki-hoon, Yu-ra says cheerfully that she feels as if she’s watching the downfall of a brilliant genius, and Ki-hoon snaps. He asks if she’s ever been hit by a man, saying that he’d deserve this if she’d become successful, but that she has no right since she’s a terrible actress.

Starting to yell, he says that he failed because of her, screaming in frustration when she smiles at him. He chases her out, then follows to tell her never to come back.

The audit team manager reports to Chairman Jang that Dong-hoon was investigating Joon-young, probably because he suspects Joon-young of sending the fake bribe to take him down. He thinks Dong-hoon found something, but he wouldn’t tell him what it is, even when he said he works for Chairman Jang.

Dong-hoon goes to speak to Joon-young, but he’s out of the office. He runs into Chairman Jang, who seems eager to spend time with him and ignores Joon-young until he’s done talking to Dong-hoon. Joon-young tells the chairman that he’s prepared the campsite, reminding Dong-hoon that Yoon-hee came home smelling like a campfire last weekend.

In his office, Director Yoon sneers to Dong-hoon that Chairman Jang likes seeing people move up from the bottom, since he himself came from humble beginnings. He says that when Chairman Jang pats your shoulder, he’s ensuring that you’ll lay down your life for the company, as we see him doing just that to janitor Choon-dae.

But he also says that he’s seen the chairman change his opinion of someone for the slightest reason, telling Dong-hoon not to get too excited over nothing.

On his way home, Dong-hoon calls Yoon-hee to ask if she wants to have dinner together. She’s with Joon-young and says she already ate. Joon-young asks her if Dong-hoon is really quitting soon, since he doesn’t act like someone who’s about to quit his job.

She says to give him time, and Joon-young observes that she sounds like she still loves Dong-hoon, which upsets him. Yoon-hee asks what he’ll do if Dong-hoon is unfairly fired and decides to retaliate, and says this is the best strategy for everyone involved.

Yu-ra sits with a whole group of people who used to work with Ki-hoon, listening to them badmouth him. She gets fed up and tells them to stop, complaining that they always talk crap about Ki-hoon whenever they get together. But she reminds them that he was actually successful at one point, while they’ve never been.

She leaves and goes to Ki-hoon’s storefront, sitting on the steps in the rain to wait for him to leave. He knows she’s there and deliberately stays inside, but he eventually goes out to tell her to leave.

Instead, she says that she wishes artificial intelligence existed, because an AI being would be the best at everything. She says that if people could no longer act as if they were great at anything, they’d all be free, and humans would only need to love one another.

She continues, “I’m so sick of this world filled with people who act like they’re all amazing. I’m not good at anything, and I feel like I want to die.” She turns sad eyes up to Ki-hoon and whines that she wants to come here, but he just goes inside without a word. But then he comes right back outside and buys her a coffee from the vending machine.

At home, Yoon-hee makes a crack about how Dong-hoon only stops drinking when he’s sick, seeing the medicine on the table beside him. She asks if he saw the information she emailed him about loan rates to start a business, but he barely responds, just sitting there looking miserable and staring off into space.

The next day, he takes a bus to the country and gets off at a remote stop, and starts to walk up the nearby mountain. He walks until he finds the campsite where Joon-young took Yoon-hee, and sees him there now with Chairman Jang. Chairman Jang spots Dong-hoon as he strides over to them.

 
COMMENTS

The first thing I noticed about this episode is how much brighter everything was during most scenes. This show uses light and darkness in some really interesting ways — put simply, the darker the scene is emotionally, the darker the scene is literally. Ji-an’s moments with Kwang-il are so dark that we’re watching then in near-total darkness, while the neutral office scenes are lit in neutral, washed-out tones. So I found this episode almost startling with how much light and color were suddenly present, now that Dong-hoon and Ji-an are beginning to connect. It’s as if just by knowing each other and beginning to care about what happens to each other, their lives are becoming brighter and more colorful. It could come across as a really heavy-handed way to illustrate the change in their lives, but it’s filmed so beautifully that it just feels natural and right.

I really love the way humor is used in this show, and how it pops up in unexpected places. Dong-hoon sighing that he can’t die because he’s not wearing expensive underwear nearly broke me. I was highly amused by Yu-ra’s delight that Ki-hoon is a failure, and her tendency to bring around former coworkers just to show them how far he’s fallen. Little things like this keep the show from getting too depressing, but they’re not distracting and they remain within the tone of the show, often even turning dark themselves as Yu-ra did. It’s a very difficult form of humor to pull off, to make your audience laugh and lighten the mood a bit without trivializing the genuinely traumatic and horrific realities of the characters’ lives.

I don’t know how it happened, but I almost felt bad for Kwang-il in this episode. Almost, but not quite. Obviously, the things he’s done to Ji-an are absolutely unforgivable, but when he went to her house to hold his father’s memorial I could see how much pain he’s in. Even if his father was a horrible person, he was still Kwang-il’s father, so I feel bad for his loss even while I think he’s disgusting for the way he deals with it. I don’t think he’ll ever become a sympathetic character — and I hope he doesn’t, because he doesn’t deserve sympathy — but it’s still sad that the past has turned him into such a cruel, violent man.

I’m getting worried for Dong-hoon, because he’s starting on a downward spiral that could very well destroy everything stable in his life. His connection with Ji-an isn’t necessarily a positive thing for him at this stage, because something about her reckless way of living is making him feel reckless, and he’s losing his iron control over his feelings and behavior. On the other hand, he’s giving her a reason to crawl out of her dark life and think about something other than her own problems, which is having a subtle but undeniably positive effect on her. It’s interesting how they’re slowly switching roles, and I’m curious to see how this plays out as they gradually get to know one another.

I wish, I wish I had some insight into what Ji-an is thinking, even though the simple beauty of her character is that she holds everything so close to the vest. She’s still trying to maintain her aloof demeanor, and she’s supposedly still working to get Dong-hoon fired, but it’s also obvious that he’s gotten under skin pretty badly. Twice now we’ve seen her fear for his safety and run to (possibly) help him, only to stop once she sees that he’s in no real danger. I hope that we get to see her actually make it to him one of these times, because I’m dying to know what she’ll do if she actually gets to him.

 
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