By @ninaanin from Soompi
On DH’s “thank you” to JA: directly and indirectly.
Preamble: I need to say that, to me, from the very beginning, DH was intrigued and drawn to JA. When the bribe event occurred, aside for being intrigued he became also unsettled by and upset with her. After the resolution, he became still more intrigued and drawn to her, but also grateful and ashamed because he thought ill of her; this happened in episodes 1 and 2. During episode 3, he was grateful, uncomfortable, unsettled, upset, perturbed by her, and still intrigued, drawn to her and bewildered by her capacity of insight; in this episode happened the kiss and “The Train” – he was here also “physically” challenged by her. From episode 4 to the first half of episode 7 their friendship begins, he begins to let down his guard and became comfortable around her, it is also when he gets a better insight and understanding of JA. At the end of episode 7, DH is unconscious (but clearly) falling in love with her; and this unconscious process keeps on until episode 10, when JA confessed and he is forced to look at it. From episode 11 to episode 13, it is the “denial” phase of DH: he denies his and her feelings, when he can’t deny her feelings he tries to downgrade it as pity and/or crush; it is a time when he is also busy with his marriage and office battle. In episode 14, with his office problems and marriage troubles relatively settled, he can’t deny his feelings for JA anymore. Episode 15 and also ¾ of episode 16, I think that, despite his feelings for JA, he has decided on not act upon it because his baggage (and what it implies): here he gives prove of his great willpower. At the end of episode 16, he is free and ready to begin a new life.
1. The first time DH said “thank you” directly to JA was at the end of episode 2 (1: 10’ 24”), in the train. Earlier, he tried to invite her (to eat/drink) as a means of “thanks”, but she brushed him off. After that, he gathered with his brothers. Here, something (that I had forgotten) very interesting happened: KH said seriously that JA liked DH (due to her help with the bribe), SH joked about that; but, later on KH still serious said to DH he should “keep your distance from her”, because girls were reckless. He also said that if it was him, it wouldn’t be a problem, but “if you’re corrupted at all, than you will die”. After that, JA calls him to eat, and then came the “thank you”.
2. The second time that he said it directly was in episode 6 (52’ 07”). He scolded JA because she hit the office guy, however he also said “thank you for hitting him”. After that, it was the first time that they went to “their bar” and for the first time JA let her guard down in front of him.
3. The third time that he said “thank you” directly to her was during the first half of episode 7 (34’00”), when he invite her to drink and eat at “their bar”, and he said “I’m treating you to thank you” for her help with the bribe case. He even bought food to her grandmother (a gift!!).
4. From episode 8 to episode 12 he didn’t say “thank you” to her anymore.
5. In episode 13, he said two times “thank you” to her, but now in an indirectly way. First in the car, after she messages him; then near the train line, when he said “thank you for being by my side”. It is here also when he said that to say it directly he knows how it could be understood.
6. In episode 15, DH said three times “thank you” directly to JA, after meeting her at janitor’s house. It was a very emotional encounter.
7. During episode 16, when meeting at “their” bar, it was JA who thanked DH, and it was then that he made the “clearest” confession to her, albeit being DH (ambiguous). I think it was also an indirect way to thank her, so I included it here.
8. Finally, at the end of episode 16, he said looking into her eyes “thank you” (directly).
Conclusion: Why, during episode 13, DH gave so much weight to say “thank you” to JA? It is implied that he won’t say it because it would/could be seen as a confession. But why? If we look at the first 7 episodes, he said “thank you” to her often and without embarrassment. He even invited her to eat and drink to thank her. Furthermore, nobody could argue that then it would be innocent, because:
a) the first time, he said thank you after KH clearly said to him that JA likes him, and then KH even alert him to keep his distance from her – if SH was joking about JA, KH wasn’t.
b.) the second and third (with dinner) times was after the attempted kiss, and after the “slap face”. Both actions could be seen as she liking him, so saying “thank you” could be easily misunderstood by her (or anyone) as more than that.
My argument is that, from episode 1 to episode 7, DH didn’t feel or see himself as emotionally deeply attached to JA. He could see her as an interesting and intriguing person, someone with whom he could talk and be friend(ly), but any other kind of attraction arising, he could still easily brush away as nothing: so, he could say “thank you” directly to her as a friend/colleague says “thank you” to another, because he didn’t see himself emotionally attached to her. However, from the end of episode 7 to episode 13, even if he doesn’t acknowledge it and/or didn’t permit himself to think about it, deep down he knew that something was happening to him, that he couldn’t brush away his emotional attachment to JA anymore: from this point on, say “thank you” to her implied and meant more than a friendly sentiment of gratitude, it would imply a confession. It would imply and mean an expression of love; it would mean expressing a deep feeling of gratitude towards the loved one. Therefore, when DH said he couldn’t say directly “thank you” because how could it be seen, it wasn’t because JA could misunderstand him, but because she could get him right, even more due to her ability to understand him. It was for his protection and not for hers; it was because he couldn’t be free to acknowledge it; it was because he couldn’t confess to her and particularly to himself what was going on with his feelings.
Episodes 14, 15 and ¾ of episode 16 was when DH finally acknowledge (only) to himself his feelings (but the others – brothers, YH and JH – knew or felt what was going on), but he decided to keep it to himself and to endure his current life. The “thank you” here came during his unclear/ambiguous confessions to her, and as making part of those (no)confessions: if he was saying so much (even if not enough), saying “thank you” wasn’t dangerous anymore. It is interesting and very important that, for the most part of the moments they were together during these two episodes, DH’s body was very stiff and keeping distance from JA, as a way to counterbalance his (no)confessions. I think that, as he had decided to not give in to his feelings, he had to send a message to JA that clearly stated that, and his body countenance was the medium. So, with words, he made (ambiguous – maybe yellow sign?) confessions, with his body he put a red sign in front of her.
Therefore, when at the end of episode 16, holding her hand and looking deep down in her eyes, he said “thank you” to her, this was the green sign that JA was waiting for. That “thank you” with everything that came together: smile, eyes expression, holding hands with that intensity (with no sign of repression in his body), doesn’t wanting to let go of her hand – means his confession, his “now, I can go to you” answer. To DH, being thankful to JA is an essential part of his love for her. So, DH saying “thank you” to JA means a confession.
JA understood his last “thank you” clearly and hopefully.
A response by @akhenaten from Soompi:
Your analysis of how much expressing his thanks to Ji An means to someone like Dong Hoon is excellent. It explains a lot why he felt so conflicted saying it to the point that he actually had to bring it up to his brothers. And they both understood where he was coming from because they know him very well.