[Important background information from @justamom:
Previously, he [Dong Hoon] always called Yoon Hee 집사람 (chib saram), literally family person or my wife (formal).
But now [Ep 16] he calls her 애엄마 (ae omma)! My kid’s mom! That’s an additional level of separation.
It’s a BIG CHANGE!
So she’s still family, she will always be family, but she’s the crown prince’s mom. Not his wife or the empress. Just the crown prince’s mom.
I really, really like how they showed that.]
We keep wondering if DH and YH got divorced or not. I don’t know for sure either, but I think there are plenty of clues spread throughout the drama for us to conclude that, by the end of the drama, they are separated, if not formally divorced.
This is especially true if we look at things from YH’s side. I’d say she is the one who called it quits.
Throughout the drama, YH and DH are on two different pages
YH and DH’s choice of drinks symbolizes their different worldviews / values.
YH = coffee = modern, Western values (like individualism, small family)
DH = buckwheat tea = traditional, Korean values (like tribalism, large family)
DH would often call YH habitually on his way back home – but either YH didn’t answer his call, or she would cut the conversation short (while being visibly annoyed).
“Want me to buy you something?” – the warmest words to JA, but the most infuriating to YH.
In Ep 9, YH snaps back:
Cue heavy sighs from DH.
YH has clearly been frustrated in her marriage. Why else would she search for an outlet in JY? As DH says, maybe she thought “it’d be easier to divorce [DH] if [YH] had an affair with him, had [DH] fired, and turned [him] into a homeless person”. Divorce has always been on her mind, and DH knows that. DH on the other hand has wanted to salvage the marriage, if only for Ji Seok and DH’s mom.
To be fair, YH prompts him to share his mind with her plenty of times, but he either evades it or doesn’t respond. Home should be the place where people feel the most at ease – but both YH and DH put their guards up around each other, and there’s a lot of tension in the air. YH seemed the most at ease around JY while they were still having the affair. And DH shared his thoughts the most when he’s alone with either Sang Won or JA…
YH doesn’t have DH’s photos either on her office desk or in her workspace at home.
It’s safe to say that to YH, “family” = Ji Seok. And that’s the family to whom she “fulfills her duties” till the very end.
YH feels stuffy in her marriage
This is shown visually when she opens their apartment’s windows / doors (more than once in the series). To those of you who think otherwise, and were even rooting for DH and YH’s reconciliation, I’d love to see your reasoning explained. I don’t remember much love or rapport or healthy communication shown between DH and YH, and fail to see how their marriage could have repaired itself.
Open: (just had a unilateral conversation about interest rates, trying to catch a breath)
Closed: (can’t bear to look at DH after he’s beat up – thinks it’s related to her affair and JY, feels suffocated)
This goes for DH as well… and I doubt it’s because he literally feels hot (it’s frigging winter in Korea).
YH’s thoughts during the confrontation
The scene where YH talks about how DH makes her feel lonely and never makes her his priority, it broke my heart. Every single thing she said hit the mark – how DH used to say he was having dinner with his family when his wife wasn’t even there with him. My heart broke for both of them. What a sad situation to be stuck in. Yes YH did a terrible thing and DH’s failings as a husband does not excuse her betrayal but it does provide a much needed context to the audience. As you correctly said the show is designed this way – DH and JA are the leads while YH is just a supporting character, so of course the majority of the screen time and sympathy of the audience will reside with DH. But those scenes in ep 12 are so crucial in understanding the depth of both YH’s betrayal and suffering. DH is a wonderful, decent human being but good god is he terrible at communication, at confrontation with anything that makes him uncomfortable. It must have been so frustrating and suffocating to live with someone like him for over 15 years. Yes YH could have handled this better and she should have asked for a divorce or something instead of having an affair with JY but it’s easier to say that in hindsight. We humans rarely do the right thing when given the choice.
I don’t know if there’s anything left to salvage their marriage, I don’t know if there’s enough love left. And even if it is, will that be enough? They clearly want different things and now finally it’s all out in the open.
YH claims that DH comes “first” to her, but we have evidence to the contrary
- Unlike DH, YH is someone who puts her own happiness first. During her affair, YH explicitly plans to get DH fired. To her, it’s an unpleasant but necessary by-product of her plan to be with JY.
- Just before she finds out DH knows, she doesn’t care whether it’s JY or DH who loses his job. She wants them to fight it out themselves. Wouldn’t a caring wife vouch for her husband till the very end?
- When DH comes home all beat-up, she breaks down in tears out of humiliation that DH knows (as evident from the flashbacks of JA saying, “Park Dong Hoon knows everything.”), not because he’s in bad shape.
- She doesn’t have the consideration to shut the door before calling JY in ep 11. DH overhears their conversation, and lets out the deepest sigh…Guess what the immediate next scene is?
It’s clear that he wants to call it quits too, but is forcibly holding on.
- JY tells her: “The one earnest request that Senior made to me was for me to make sure that you never found out about this! And he wanted me to break up with you, without causing a fuss. Because, on the day that you found out that he knows you would definitely stop living with him.“
And that’s precisely what YH did. She stopped living with him (i.e. separated from him albeit amicably).
After all, YH is someone who cannot stand feeling humiliated. What hurt her most when she found out JY’s true nature was humiliation, not the fact that he didn’t love her. Almost every time she broke down in tears after finding out that DH knows was because she felt humiliated… Do you think someone like her could tolerate living in the same society where everyone knows about her messy affair?
Remember the car scene in which DH and YH are guessing answers to a quiz show, and appear to be getting along well? That’s when they’re still ignoring the elephant in the room (i.e. the affair). Once it’s out in the open, things are very dry between them.
I think it’s crucial that the only time we see them having beer together, just the two of them, is when YH tries to bring up her affair. It makes sense that they have another serious conversation about their marriage when they have beer together in ep 16. That’s the logical inference, because in the immediate next scene, when YH comes up in conversation, she’s already in the US. (KH is more perceptive than Mom about his marital status, and goes as far as to tell DH to move in with them.)
YH waits long enough for DH to bring up divorce / where their marriage stands
In Ep 15, when DH sits down to talk, she seems to think he is going to talk about them… but then he brings up JA. And yes, like someone pointed out before, YH’s face falters when JA comes up.
Remember, if there was any chance of them getting back together: YH’s demand was that 100% of DH’s attention would go to her and her alone. Someone brought up Corinthians 13:4-7 to illustrate that true love is not selfish:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
… but YH’s “love” is envious; she is always measuring DH’s love for her… which is ironic because she doesn’t put him first herself!
As though it wasn’t enough that DH spares so much of his time and attention for his mom / brothers / neighborhood pals… How do you think YH feels that his thoughts are dominated by another woman now? Do you think she wants to salvage this marriage anymore?
In episode 14 during the directorship party for Engineer Dong Hoon at Jung Hee’s bar, Lawyer Yoon Hee already saw that she is the outsider.
She cannot fit in with these people… So she left with tears in her eyes. It was obvious that there is nothing to salvage… other than to somehow deal with their son. This is one of the reasons she is not angry with Ji-an, even though she knows how much Engineer Dong Hoon means to the girl, and probably how much Engineer cares for the girl (In Episode 15, she thought he wanted to talk about their non-marriage, when he surprised her by talking about Ji-an instead). She is the outsider, a stranger looking in. So there is no way she will continue to live in this poisonous atmosphere plus the scandal where people at the engineering firm found out about the affair. The news will spread if she stays, then how will she ever face mother-in-law??? So fresh cold air in the US is preferable, even if she has to learn the language and take the exam. She is a smart woman and can do it. Engineer Dong Hoon is lucky that both women who enter his life are that: smart and competent… and one has moved on…