Why Did Dong Hoon Turn Down Ji An’s Hug the First Time?

~ Discussion on the ambiguity of the drama’s central relationship by Soompiers ~


Would you deny a hug to your friend/sister/disciple after something awesome s/he did in your favor?


He didn’t hug her. It was not because he didn’t want to but DH knows the moment their bodies will touch, it will be game over. All of his defenses will come down and whatever feelings he is trying to control will come crashing down. It will never be about just a hug with them.. their longing for each other is way too much that one thing will lead to another.. So he must stop that from happening then coldly gave her a response and left.

@arctichare (replying to the bolded above):

Haha, that is just what I was thinking. Spontaneous combustion.

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He seems like the type of guy who, once he makes his intentions clear to a woman, he is all in. He’s not quite there yet, because he’s dealing with the messy fallout of his wife’s affair and a career-defining job interview the very next day? So he like, “Okay, let’s save this for later.” He also doesn’t know it’s the last time he will see her (at least for a while), but she does.

I guess I’m puzzled that there is any debate about whether DH likes JA. Him vigorously defending her in his interview was about as big and meaningful a declaration of love as anything. (I don’t know, is it just me that sees it this way?)


Why should anyone watch a show that does not know its own mind?

By the way, all that ‘looking and thinking’ (someone called it ‘longing’) can be explained away as that of a concerned kindred spirit, concerned manager, concerned friend, concerned older adult – and I am sure that is the way DH will describe it unless someone hits HIM over the head for a change! Remember, he told her that he will not allow himself to be uncomfortable around her, and see her doing well, even after 10-20 years. I’m not saying they should be shipping or non-shipping but at least ‘whatever it is’ should be clear. I also think ending will be open-ended – unless Ep. 15 gives a shocker of an intimacy that clears up the cloud of ambiguity – and they will still be walking neighborhoods at the end of it all, maybe in different jobs (that is of course if one of them does not die or get lost forever!). But it’s unrealistic and crazy.

I am unable to enjoy even the office politics because ‘Ji-An, Ji-An / are they, are they not’ drama is everywhere! I think this drama has focussed a bit too much on Ji-An’s character and too little on DH’s – Ji-An has been explained and lifted up into prominence while the guy (around whom the entire drama is focussed) is still a mystery.


I think the show knows its mind. I think the ambiguity of their central relationship is the point of the show.

It’s just that this is not what you’re expecting or want from the show.

Yes, exactly. Their interactions can be explained away. Different people will look at their relationship through different lenses. I think this is very much intentional by the writer/director. Remember when Kwang-il couldn’t describe what their relationship was like – were they dating? Was she his mistress?

I don’t find this relationship unrealistic at all, in fact quite the opposite. I think in life, we come across and become close to different people for a number reasons. Yes, sometimes those relationships can be easily categorized into neat little boxes but a lot of the times, that is simply not possible.

I believe this show is about the latter. Obviously not everyone enjoys this kind of ambiguity and that’s absolutely fine but a piece of art being ambiguous does not negate its value. Isn’t that what art is? It’s subjective. So many folks on this forum are convinced of the romantic nature of their relationship but if you check out Dramabeans or other forums, you’ll find people who only see them as platonic partners and are baffled at the thought of romance. People will see what they want to see.


If what DH said is true (it’s all right if nobody knows), he can’t be with her anymore, even for conventions (unless, the role of JA in DH’s life is to change his view about it to enable him accept his wife back). So there are many things against the chances to salvage their marriage: adultery, different views of life, different ways to understand family and marriage, different expectations, difficult in communication, family knows about the affair. I can’t see how, narratively, they can save their marriage: each episode they add new difficulties to make it impossible. (I even thought that YH telling the brother about the affair is a way to push DH to ask for the divorce, but who knows?!!)

BTW, people who thinks that JA is just kindred soul of DH and that he should get back with his wife are in fact creating as impossibility JA staying in his life. If YH is already unhappy with sharing DH with his family, how could she be happy with JA (the only person who really understands, comforts, supports unconditionally him) around DH? Impossible. No woman (rightfully) will be happy that his husband’s kindred soul (who in addition confessed her love to him) stays in his life, sharing his life.


This reader has female colleagues and staffs. This reader would often do neck and shoulder massages to the staffs, male and female, while we talk in a friendly way while we chat… but this reader would NEVER touch a female colleague that this reader feel some degree of attraction for!

Ajusshi is afraid to get too close to Ji-an, so no huggy at this point. Not until his mind is made up as to what to do with his life, work, end his marriage etc… If he hugs her he may be forced to declare… what is he going to say? Let’s get together the we’ll figure out what to do tomorrow? He is not the kind of person who jumps in head first then sort out the mess later…. Typical engineer.


2 thoughts on “Why Did Dong Hoon Turn Down Ji An’s Hug the First Time?”

  1. Hi’I’m a bit late in joining this conversation. Just rereading many of the posts here, and I’m speechless again by the intricacy of MA & the wonderful illumination comments here. I have also read “Give me slippers=I love you.”. Africandramalover pointed out the parallels between KiHoon/Yura and Dh/Ja pairings there. It made me realise that KiHoon had also refused to piggyback (they use the same word for hug/hold there – 안아). Kihoon said something like “if I hold you now, I will go to your house, then we will sleep, etc… do you really want to marry me?” Kihoon is a brash guy but he’s a gentleman. And so is DH.

    Later Yura asked KH again to hug her when KH went to her apartment to “straighten her out”. Yura and JA used nearly the same words:

    Yura: 한번 안아주고 가면 안돼요? Can’t you hug me once?
    JA: 한번 안아봐도 돼요? Can I hug you once?

    And both brothers obliged. So why did DH not hug JA at first? I think it is the same reason as Ki Hoon. He is being a gentleman.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts even months after the discussion. Lately I have been convinced that much of Yura and Ki-hoon’s dynamics serves to tell more about Dong Hoon and Ji An’s relationship, but we do have to dig deeper. That’s what I plan to do in my next rewatch.


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