What’s to Blame for the Disintegration of Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee’s Marriage?

By @tiger457_stv and @40somethingahjumma from Soompi


In reality this reader feels sorry for Lawyer Kang Yoon Hee… They are not suited for each other, but probably by the time she came to realize that, they already had an infant son! At that point the instinct was to endure… for the next 9 years then… she succumbed to temptation. Unfortunately she does not seem to be able to redirect her needs toward her son either… altogether she’s a rather lonely woman!

In reality, this reader thinks that Lawyer Kang Yoon Hee is a more normal person in this relationship than Engineer Dong Hoon. He has a martyr personality which is quite rare, since most human is innately some what selfish (i.e. we need to think of our self first).  His lawyer wife is such a person. With her husband who shares everything with everyone, her piece of affection is too little! So we should not judge her too harshly… Everyone make mistakes (this reader included)!

Once they separate (which is almost certain) she should post a wanted add:  Looking for single 40-something man… without a suitcase!!


Where would the fun be in drama watching if we aren’t allowed to judge fictional characters harshly?


But the reality is that even though everyone makes mistakes… some mistakes have more terrible consequences than others. It’s the unseen kid I feel for. And loneliness can’t be a blanket justification for doing silly things. In her case the remedy would have been simple… invade his world and the people in it.

I don’t think DH’s really a martyr… at least not in the way I understand the word. He has a highly developed sense of responsibility to his family which is apparently not uncommon with middle children. There’s some justification for it. Everyone around him is living the way they want to and he can see that it leads to all kinds of nothing good. But there can be a kind of selfishness to his goodness to if he’s using to fill up the emptiness in his own life, to feel better about himself when he doesn’t know how else to make the people around him happy.

My main issue with him is not that he takes care of people rather too well but that he bottles things up in rather unhealthy fashion. It’s a surefire way of shortening one’s life and erupting like a volcano some time down the track.

I don’t think the show (nor I) place all the blame in the failure of this marriage entirely on YH’s shoulders. But adultery does tend to muddy the waters.

More discussion on Dong Hoon & Yoon Hee’s marriage here.


2 thoughts on “What’s to Blame for the Disintegration of Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee’s Marriage?”

  1. I don’t particularly like the term “mistake” referred to:
    – Deliberately deceiving her partner for one year.
    – Betraying her husband with someone that demoted him at work and had him humiliated by his good (not to mention, humiliated him himself, i.e. the way he made him pour alcohol like a servant), and planned to fire him (not a deal breaker for her, compare to how she was out of the door as soon as he badmouthed and lied to her about camping… twenty years and a kid together, so much for “priorities”).
    – When her husband went to ask her for help for the bribe issues, and his job was on the line, she ratted him out to her lover and kept munging him for information, spying on DH and reporting to her lover.
    – She self servingly tried to manipulate him into getting him out of his job because she didn’t want to think of herself as a “bad person” and wanted to make it appear as his decision, in order to avoid feeling responsible for what happened to DH. At a time where he had very little money, and his brothers had just started a new business. Using supposed insecurities related to his boss being younger and mistreating him. Not something she brought up before it became convenient for her, nor something she mentioned since she chose to break up with her lover. She wanted him to finance this in big part with debt and mortaging the house. When we have his brother as living example of the potentially disastrous consequences, and most of the directors/bankers in the neighborhood as examples of what losing one’s job in middle age might mean. All this, in the context of her wanting to divorce him for his worst enemy when he quit his job, leaving him devastated (he was already borderline suicidal) right when he needed to be focused on the startup phase. A disaster waiting to happen.
    – When she left her lover, as she told JA in the apartment, this was no longer about her, so she was completely indifferent to whether her husband kept his job or not.

    I frankly don’t think that this complete physical, emotional and financial betrayal is something that would be “expected” by most people as opposed to, say, divorce someone if you were unhappy being with them.

    Quite frankly, statistically speaking, cheating percentages for KR women are 10%, and in terms of the people DH cares about, the percentage of people that would similarly backstab him besides his wife is 0% (even JA was hired to betray him and couldn’t do it when she got to know him) -which in turn makes it kind of crazy to think he should have distance himself from them for the sake of the one person he cared about that turned out to be the kind of person that would have done exactly that).

    Again, as DH clearly pointed out, there is a difference between being unhappy and betraying someone. The first is not a sufficient condition for the second, while a complete lack of respect for your partner is a necessary one. Even if we chose to evade, minimize and excuse away, saying it was “easier” or she lacked “courage” to break things off, only moves the goal post, and begs the question: why was it easier? Worth investigating the self absorbed streak that would make the idea of deceiving her partner for a year not so repulsive after all. And even it if was, or if she was a coward, or any other reason you might put here, why should those considerations trump the basic fact that her partner deserved a divorce if she was unhappy? Nobody is saying she should sacrifice herself and stay with him. However, just as she deserved happiness, her partner deserved happiness as well. And to not have his trust betrayed.

    She stole one year from DH. One year where he could have found his own happiness as well, or at least searched for it. Her lover divorced. Her sister in law, who was even closer to her mother in law, was planning to divorce, and her son seemed perfectly comfortable with his uncle and aunt being separated. DH wanted her to divorce him, if he couldn’t make her happy. And she planned to divorce him as well. She was also a lawyer, so in that sense she was in the most privileged position possible for this, certainly it would be much easier than for her sister in law.

    Frankly, the fact that she chose to betray him is not a mere detail, it’s the key point of this whole thing. That she chose to do that instead of divorcing him makes all the difference in the world, and says something about her character, as does her completely self centered attitude and the tendency to gaslight and accuse him of things she did a billion times worse. Her asking for a divorce and treating him with honesty is not some outrageous request. It’s what her sister in law does, and everyone else in DH’s circle would have never betrayed him in such a way. Frankly, not to do everything I mentioned above, including the complete indifference towards him even being able to keep his job, well, *not* to do that, and to honestly divorce him, is not some outrageous request. It’s the bare minimum, a non negotiable. It’s not asking too much, it’s barely asking anything.

    Again, in regards to their marital issues, they did have communication issues, which were due to both their behaviors. DH keeping his suffering to himself, though considering he was borderline suicidally depressed should probably be taken into account to explain why he wasn’t this open and cheerful hypercommunicative person… on the other hand, she tended to assume how he felt, and to accuse him without taking into consideration what she herself did. A perfect example is him spending all this time with his brothers/friends, which turned out to be because he didn’t want to come back to an empty house. If he had snapped at her earlier like he did when she gaslighted him (while knowing he knew of the affair, and not showing enough empathy to give him much needed space), instead of putting up with it because he wanted to support her in her career, or if she had realized her role in this “vicious cycle”, this could have been addressed in the past. Though, between the two, he was the only one willing to offer a compromise, while she nitpicked and rejected his proposal: her “solutions” were never about meeting him half way (here she does not offer a compromise of her own, despite having been the one to raise the problem), it was about him compromising a core part of his values (moving to a different place, distancing himself from family and friends).

    It’s worth noting that she was perfectly aware that the guy was depressed and suffering -him being taciturn was not one of the problems she mentioned-, and told her lover she realized any other woman would have been satisfied with him, as he was kind and reliable, if a bit lonesome. She realized he was suffering and yet he tried to do his best for his family. Yet she callously told, jokingly, to her lover, that she cheated on him because JY was just too charming. This awareness on her part that the person she was deceiving was suffering from depression and trying to do the best he could, coupled by her indifference towards betraying and humiliating him, was rather revolting.

    Regarding the difference in values, I must say that I found her position rather hard to understand: his friends were very open to her (the cheers at DH’s party, the bar owner preparing food for DH to bring to his wife), her brother in laws defended her (KH in particular fought his mother’s old fashioned views), her sister in law called her a friend (and YH missed the woman’s daughter’s wedding -her own niece’s!-, to be with her lover, and didn’t even call to congratulate her). Her mother in law was embarassed because she was so grateful, but cooked her best meal when YH finally visited, and she after all helped raise their kid while YH and DH were busy with their careers (ep 6 flashback). They were not family, despite all this? Not even her niece? I would have liked DH to ask her whether she really thought their son, who she mentioned as a token, would have been better off without the close relationship with his extended family. Or whether it made sense to ask her whether she loved her son or husband more, or whether she loved her husband less now that her son was born, as she now loved him as well. We are talking about different kinds of love -familial, friendship, romantic-. Loving his brother does not mean he loves her any less. It’s not something that should be seen as a competition, just like DH did not take the fact that she was always at work, went to the studio as soon a she came home and missed family events (to be with her lover, not at work, it turns out) as a sign that she didn’t care about him (thought he did feel abandoned, but never bothered her about this because he understood that her career was important to her)… point is, he was comfortable with the idea of her life not revolving around her, while she was not. She didn’t accept that family and friends would take up space his life, something he never hid, and that she pretended to go along with in the beginning, acting nice towards his friends and family while biding her time for him to let her mold him into what she wanted, then stopping to pretend to care.

    Thinking about JA’s possessive boyfriend trying to get her to distance herself from her grandma because of his irrational insecurities, in order to feel like he was her “number one priority”, seems rather creepy.

    This is all besides the point though, because as DH said, he would have been more than ready for a divorce if he could not make her happy. So her betrayal was wholly unjustified -she has a clear alternative she could have effortlessly picked, and any reason no to should have been trumped by the fact that she owed some basic honesty to a guy that trusted her so much to tell his brother, who told him lawyers didn’t go on business trips, that “If she said it’s a business trip, then it is”-. That she did not, says something about her. As does the fact that, as soon as she was no longer the “reason” for the fight, she was completely indifferent as to whether he could even keep his job. Not something you can explain away with unhappiness, not when she fundamentally thought he was a good person trying his best, while struggling with depression.

    Again, this is all stuff she later realized and was ashamed by. Telling JA in the ending episode that she could come up with a thousand excuses/rationalizations, but she had no real/true reason for cheating on DH (as opposed to, say, treating him with basic honesty and divorcing him). A contrast with the scene with her lover, where she was tired to try to come up with excuses, and simply told him she cheated on DH because JY was just too charming. The disgust and ability to see her actions from the point of view of her victim, or an outsider like JA, were cathartic. They started when she realized how, despite being hired to betray DH, JA was willing to fight to defend him, while she, his wife, was betraying him with his worst enemy and was now indifferent as to whether he could even keep his job. And also when she realized he knew of her betrayal, and still responded with kindness to her hurtful words, and prepared porridge for her, while knowing of her betrayal. As she said, seeing JA defending him, while she was only concerned about herself and indifferent to whether he could keep his job or not, plus his kindness and the way he was always by her side, standing by her and taking care of her even when he knew of her betrayal, started her growth arc that concluded in her defending DH and JA like she explicitly *wouldn’t* have done in the past, where she was still operating in a self absorbed, self centered manner.


    1. It’s worth noting that the show itself clearly makes the point that DH’s self sacrificing tendency is not a good thing, and that he should think about making himself happy. That is absolutely correct. At the same time, the show also clearly makes the point that this does not mean that you have the right to deceive or use other people, as she did her husband. A clear example of this is in terms of “ambition”, where the chairman pursued it by providing value, JY by scheming and hurting people.

      The point made about her actions potentially hurting her son (certainly as far as hurting his father and having him out of a job, and with debt and mortaged house, as DH correctly pointed out) is true, but frankly also far from the only non-negotiable. Betraying her husband with someone that demoted him, had him humiliated, and planned to fire him. Not considering that a deal breaker. Gaslighting him and not giving him space, even after learning he knew of her affair, questioning his commitment and care (when by all means he had every right to question hers). Being completely indifferent, by her own admission, as to whether he could even keep his job, once it was not something that had to do with her anymore (as she told JA in her apartment).

      None of that is what a “normal person” would do if they were unhappy. Which does not mean she has to put up with being unhappy herself, no matter how unreasonable or possessive or irrationally insecure she might be (though her attitude towards her lover, their first scene together being a fight where she questioned his love and commitment, seems to me to clearly indicate a possessive need to monopolize her lover’s attention, and resembled quite clearly her argument with DH… given they have been seeing each other for a year and they are not even living together, it’s clear to me she was heading for a repeat of her marriage debacle, and that her problems are better discussed with a therapist rather than a partner-).

      Again, I think that the show, in JA and KH’s reactions, and in the general loyalty demonstrated by everyone in DH’s circle besides his wife, clearly makes the point that YH’s behavior was unacceptable, something she herself agreed with: factually speaking, this was non negotiable, and the show surrounded her with a divorced lover, and a sister in law even closer than her to her mother in law, that nonetheless was planning to divorce DH’s brother (who had lost their entire family fortune!), and even had her planning to divorce DH, and then to let him divorce her, if he wished, and even had DH actually verbalize that he would have been perfectly okay with divorcing her if he couldn’t make her happy, clearly drawing the distinction between wanting to break up and betraying him physically, emotionally and financially in such a complete, total manner. So it’s not between self sacrificially hanging around and what she did -not even caring whether he could keep his job, not being out the door as soon as her lover even mentioned wanting to fire her husband, etc.-, but there is a whole world of respect for her partner, the father of her child, someone she thinks of as a good person and someone suffering from borderline suicidal depression still trying to do his best to perform his family duties, in the middle. She should have divorced him, as he wanted. That’s not too much to ask, it’s a bare minimum non negotiable act. Her husband has just as much right as she does to be happy, and stealing a year of his life and violating his trust are not things he deserved. Again, between her and her sister in law she was in a billion times more privileged of a position. Pretending that this deliberate choice was in any way “normal” or “to be expected” seems to me a cynical evasion. Divorce was clearly an option, no self sacrifice required. it’s most definitely not asking too much (in any case, he has every right to hold her to the same standards he held himself, and not ask anything more or less than he himself is willing to give.


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