Ji An = Female Version of Monk Friend?

@noor1 from Soompi is our resident most objective viewer. She started out standing outside the romantic ship until the moment she had not choice but to jump ship because she logically followed where the show led her. Then she was in heart and soul, but never at the expense of checking her brains at the door 🙂  We love @noor1 and her “amusing pessimism.” (as @h2ogirl calls it)  Here are her thoughts after the conclusion of the show, in chronological order.  Do you agree with her that Ji An is just a female version of Dong Hoon’s monk best friend and nothing more?

The last scene was such a beautifully shot and enacted thing. It depressed me and made me happy at the same time.

HOWEVER, I’ll have to disagree – even though trust me, I really really hope and wish you are right. BUT listen, remember, when DH told Ji-An (in that ‘what did you do with my slippers‘ conversation) that he is the type of person who would meet anyone warmly once he had gotten to know them and their family and even if he met her 10 or 20 years later, he would greet her warmly and be happy to know she is doing well.

And what Ji-An said (in the goodbye phone call) lamenting whether they would be happy to see each other and that she didn’t care whether she was reborn (which was basically one of her endless confessions, hoping he’d reciprocate and long for her too, which he didn’t or didn’t reciprocate).

So this scene shows what they’d do and did when they really did meet after some time apart.

He was happy, she was shy. They are both flourishing as individuals and as professionals. Both don’t know what else to say. And soon enough it is time to say bye – at which point Mr. Passive says ‘let’s shake hands, just once’ – indicating he thinks this is the last time they’ll meet so they may as well part on a formal goodbye. He holds it a bit too tightly though. And says ‘thanks‘ (for all that she did for him). So technically, unless and until Ji-An asked him out for meal (dinner) he would have just left – remember, he had only invited her to the office. (seriously, I don’t know how this guy got married the first time!)

The grateful DH, the nostalgic DH, looks down at their hands again. He is grateful that they can meet again, like they used to before.

That’s gotta be THE biggest grin I’ve ever seen. -h2ogirl

That’s all there is to it. He did his part, she did hers. The voice over says ‘did you find comfort’ (live up to your name) and she responds ‘yes’. He”s happy she’s doing well. And she’s happy that the accidental meet-up went well. Mission Accomplished.

Heck, even the lead playing the role of DH (LSK) did not think it was anything more than two unlikely people meeting and healing each other [he was PHENOMENAL in this role btw]:

Lee Sun-Kyun (Park Dong-Hoon) in tvN’s last BTS of the show: “I hope that from now on, the many Lee Ji-An’s and Park Dong-Hoon’s in the world can communicate, comfort each other, and cheer each other on, I hope our society becomes more like that. Thank you.”

And Lollypip @ Dramabeans wrote lovely paras over Ep.15: 

“I can’t even describe it, but there’s something very pure and genuine about Dong-hoon’s aura when he’s with Ji-an. It’s like he’s not truly himself unless he’s with her, like she’s the only one he can be himself with because he instinctively knows that she won’t betray him. Around everyone else, even his brothers, Dong-hoon always has his guard up — and they know it. It’s the thing Ki-hoon was complaining about when he said that Dong-hoon never shows his emotions. But with Ji-an, Dong-hoon is nothing but emotions, and I hope that what he takes away from their friendship is that he can relax around people and that he’ll be okay.

“……….I melted when he told Ji-an that he’s not angry with her because he knows her too well. And again when Ji-an revealed that by listening to the sounds Dong-hoon makes, she felt as though she learned what a human being is. I believe that these are the reasons they’re in each other’s lives, because they each had something to teach the other. Because Dong-hoon holds himself so apart, he never knew how it felt to truly, deeply know a person. And because Ji-an has been pushed to the sidelines by society, she never learned what human beings are really like.

“I said before that this is not a romance story, but it’s most certainly a love story between Dong-hoon and Ji-an. It’s just not a love story in which the people involved are meant to share a life — it’s the kind of love story where their love is so pure and real that they genuinely just want each other to live happy lives, whatever that means. It doesn’t mean that they “fall in love” and get married and have a family, that’s much too simple for these two. They just want to make the other’s life better however they can. For Ji-an that means seeing Dong-hoon in the job he deserves, with the life partner he deserves. And for Dong-hoon, it means helping Ji-an move beyond her past and being seen and loved by others for who she is now, not what she did once before.”

And what @fauna said before:I think the main point of this show is not will they or won’t they get together. It is pointing out that everyone can heal each other if they go out of their way to be kind to each other and understand each other. They can form a connection no matter what their age, gender, occupation, and social standing are. Not even your past matters. What’s done is done.”

I don’t believe their relationship is father/daughter, teacher/student, or mentor/mentee. They both were suffering and depressed, and they both saved each other. They are equals, and they both had a lot to learn from each other. I also liked how they were both so considerate of and careful about each other’s feelings……Neither of them wants to take advantage of the other.

I am so happy that they will continue to be in each other’s lives. They are so good for each other. I think their love for each other will continue to grow. But others who want to keep their relationship platonic can imagine it that way too.

Cue the last scene of the drama…….the colors are full of hope and life and energy, they are both unburdened and free, and happy that the other is doing well and they’ll have a dinner somewhere soon. That’s about it. I am done reading more into their interactions! The sky may be the limit with these two, but not my patience!

(P.S. For me, it’s one of the all-time great dramas – in ANY language!)

I have a question: So DH has a separate business (just like YH wanted); he has a new personality too (just like YH wanted him to be, alive and all – ‘look at how other men your age live’); And DH is not shown in JH’s bar after one year time leap (so maybe he doesn’t go there that frequently?); And her pictures with their son are there on his office desk. So whose to say that YH and DH will not get back together after she returns and sees this new and changed and improved DH?

Trust me, I’m not thrilled over the idea. But just checking what everyone here thinks. He was happy and proud to see Ji-An, thrilled with the meal invitation and relieved that she was back in town BUT he has done everything that his wife said she wanted to change about him! (And that crying-in-apartment scene was about marriage breakdown and overall catharsis at being left alone). So what’s the future?

I actually was looking forward to a full-blown kiss – so a handshake and a look back and a voiceover and a smile depressed me to no end! I loved the ending but it took me 2 days to replay it without crying! Till of course I got back to my senses and appreciated the gorgeously subtle, blissful and reaffirming resolution of one chapter of their lives (the one covered in the series) and the simultaneous wonder of all future possibilities (both personal and professional). And knocking my head over what the actual purpose of the story was: the writer/ director and cast were successful in making us believe that two unlikely people can become each other’s refuge and savior and change each other to live better, taking charge of their fates, because they deserve better. A little bit of attention, kindness, empathy and selflessness went a long way in this one!

In that last scene, DH and Ji-An’s contentment as individuals was contagious and the screen was lit with so much brightness, in contrast to their previous dark moods and claustrophobic pathways, office / subway / neighborhood. It was magical and real and sublime. They have come such a long way! As for what lies ahead, one lives in hope, doesn’t one? After all, they certainly do! (DH’s reaction certainly gives hope). If nothing else, they’ll have that dinner, maybe more than once, just to stay in touch. Out of all the endings and open endings that could have happened, this one was well-thought out and one for the ages.

Truly one of the greatest stories ever told!

Thanks to all soompiers here who, with me, passionately discussed every twist and turn and silence and action! It was crazy, melancholic, hair-pulling, fun. May all of us be happy too! Bye!

I have a query, yes, couldn’t resist being back for a bit: But first let me get this out of the way: PEOPLE, THE TIME SKIP WAS A YEAR – THAT’S IT – IT WAS SHOWN IN A VERY COOL WAY AS 4 SEASONS CHANGE VIA KH-YURA ON-OFF RELATIONSHIP DRAMA. JI-AN AND DH MEET NEXT SPRING, PERIOD. I don’t know why people are calculating how long it takes him to establish a career or her to have a makeover – the time skip was of a year. It’s one of the clearest uncomplicated things in an otherwise happy, eventful but unclear ending!

Okay now to my problem, have been thinking: the drama could have been called ‘My Mixed Signals Ajusshi’ because of the way writer / director kept DH’s personal life unresolved / non-committal till the end.

I think the writer / director gave in to viewer’s demand to have YH out of the picture physically but placed her in THREE PICTURES metaphorically to retain a realistic balance of DH’s loyalty and YH’s regret and futuristic hope for their unit as a family, while also giving viewers what they really wanted: DH meeting Ji-An again. Because the last scene or the last episode didn’t really solve any ground reality for DH or Ji-An or YH.

In that great thespian moment in the apartment, he cries looking at the large picture of a happy family: over demise or failure of a marriage and also, the fact that both son and wife are gone far away from him, and he is all alone, and all that he has been through in past year or months. So he lets it all out (in a brilliantly acted scene).

A year later, he is a changed man – he’s doing his own thing, but has THREE photographs of ‘kid’s mom’ with the kid – and none of the kid playing solo or doing something on his own. Initially at his manager desk he had a photo of him with his kid, even though I think he had one with his wife and kid too in one of the earlier episodes; At the director’s desk he actually wiped off dust from the picture of him with the wife and kid (taken in U.S.). So as CEO of his own company, one picture of ‘kid’s mom’ with kid would have sufficed. Why have 3? Not 1, not 2, but 3. And that too in front of colleagues who know about the YH-JY affair! Nothing in this drama is without purpose and everything is shown, not told / spelt out. So either it was done to show present status of his life (hanging out with the brothers) and her life (hanging out with the son), or clearly he is missing both of them and is now in a good healing place with her – or why would he have THREE pics of both (two taken the same day)? People can always change and they can always come back together, once son’s college (or her own) is done. Who can say they won’t be happy together after some time apart? And we all know, DH isn’t the type to let go (cue the THREE photographs), though he is referring to her as ‘kid’s mom’.

Enter, Ji-An at the cafe’: He is ecstatic, he is proud, he can’t believe his eyes, he has obviously missed her, shakes hands, doesn’t let go, comes across as needy, is very open about his pleasure, gets a meal / dinner approved, looks back to confirm it’s the former-badass Ji-An now all demure and fluffy and well-adjusted, and walks off happily – happy in the knowledge that he could help her achieve comfort as well as the dinner plan that assures him he’ll see her again. All suggesting he is free and looking forward to their meet-up later. Though it could also mean he is happy his selfless loyal cheerleader is back in town – looking prettier than ever – the one who still wants to see him after their time apart! When Ji-An looks back at him, wistful and sombre, she still has feelings for him. So what has changed? After all he WAS having meals with her even when he was married – now they have better, livelier stories to share. The meal does not mean anything in itself, other than more of the same.

For a formerly passive introverted person, this is as good as it gets. He does not know nor care to make moves and it is safe to say, he does not want to make moves on Ji-An, happy to watch her from sidelines, having feel-good dinners.

To me, it seems like, for DH, Ji-An is the female version of his monk best friend – because the only other time he smiled this brightly was when he saw his friend (at the mountain, at the bar).

Dong Hoon lights up seeing his friend Sang Won back in his neighborhood

My perennial problem with the golden DH has been, how can a man be this evasive and not make it clear either ways or not be with someone when he looks at her the way he does or as relaxed as he is around her! The only explanation I can come up with (and no, it’s not that he was married, or unavailable), is that he always thought of Ji-An as a little girl that he fell for – a friendly loyal girl who understood him – but has a hard time reconciling those feelings at his age and stage in life and acknowledging them or thinking they should lead to something more. He loved her enough to be there for her for everything, but not enough to be with her – apart from the meal thing. That’s friendzoning 101. She’s his female monk friend, and he’s hers (even though she entertained and shared non-monkish thoughts about him to everyone, including him, which he has explained away as her gratitude and loyalty to the first person who made her feel like a human being)!

Ji-An on the other hand, in that last line ‘did you find comfort’ (which could also mean ‘did you live up to your name’) says ‘yes’ – I think it meant that she is happy DH met her warmly (as promised) and is reciprocating an interest in her openly (something new). That gave her comfort. But he was just expressing an interest in retaining their (meal-time) connection together! I did not see anything else (should I take out the hankies for her?) Or the dialogues could mean that she can move on now in life, having crossed the big emotional barrier of what if, what will happen when I see him again? After all, she IS crossing the road – junction. And now she knows, and can move on, leaving DH behind.

The writer / director broke stereotypes with this drama – but did it by showing these people would go to any lengths for each other but could get nothing more from each other, because it’s beyond common man-woman super-human love, and DH is not that kind of guy, Ji-An knows it, others do too. They are back to square one, the only square they’ll ever be at!

Don’t get me wrong. I loved the hopeful ending. It’s better than any other alternative that could have happened – and the atmosphere was so blindingly bright, it was infectious! How could one not be happy for them – or be optimistic about them together. The smile on his face and smirk on hers gives hope for something more. But what does it really signify: that they met each other warmly and will meet each other again, some time in the future. He still has his own life, she is now independent too. Did DH look happy at all the possibilities for their future together or just a meal together, or happy that the cafe’ meeting went well?! I don’t know what to think. I think with them, a meal is as good as it will ever get. And I blame the writer / director for having their cake and eating it too: they did not want DH to divorce, wanted to show that a wife can repent and appreciate the husband, the husband can be understanding of the wife’s foibles and miss her from the great beyond (the THREE pics), and both can get together after some years apart, and in the meantime, he can look forward to meals with a love-struck young woman justifying it as an emotional out-of-this-world connection! Same old DH. Of such stuff heartbreaks are made! It’s a shame that the writer / director did not have courage to show that two people who shine so intensely together like these two, deserve to at least try to be together like normal couples.

Or did they?

Can someone just tell me, it’s no big deal, it’s okay and I should be counting my blessings that they can still see each other?

Do our readers agree with @noor1?


5 thoughts on “Ji An = Female Version of Monk Friend?”

  1. When I started to watch My Ahjussi I really thought that was a healing relationship, even though their looks to each other, the way he was always thinking about her, and talking to others about her showed otherwise. But then I changed my thoughts bc I felt a bigger feeling behind all that strange relationship. But I couldn’t give a name or define it very clearly because wasn’t lust, wasn’t an affair, was bigger than that and complex. Was cure, a healing process, a friendship (but I couldn’t classify as such bc I don’t act with my friends the way that he acted with her and vice versa), love seemed to be not enough… was a lot of names and I couldn’t choose only one. So I came with the conclusion that what they were experiencing was something that we humans are always trying to search for —- which is: true love in his purest form. Soulmate. Is that kind of love that is friendship at the same time. I know a quote that says: my best friend is my love. So I think that’s DH and JA’s case.

    I’m not trying to romanticize this story. Please don’t get me wrong. But I do believe that some love stories can and will begin with friendship or with one trying to help the other and so on. JA fell in love with DH gradually. She started to know his true self and his beauty inside and out. In DH case is a little bit more complex due to his complex life (he is a introspective guy who is married and with a child). But I have to say the obvious: His marriage couldn’t be saved. The problem wasn’t him, I mean, I know that every marriage if fails its bc both parts were failing too, but is not that that I’m talking about. The problem was his wife.
    – Let me explain: I was reading a lot of comments saying that he loved his wife and that they could’ve been together again (even at the end), but none of them were seeing his wife clearly in the entire drama, or what she wanted! The problem was her bc she moved on first.
    She wasn’t happy. And most important: she wasn’t in love with him anymore. Her affair wasn’t driven by lust. She truly fell in love and got sick with the break up. She had a relationship inside her marriage. She was living another life inside her previous life. What I’m trying to say is: she knew that she has moved on although for others she was still married. And she knew that her and DH weren’t a good match. They can’t even speak comfortably or the same language. She wanted a devoted husband, since the beginning, to her and her son. And he loved them but ALSO his family (and friends), he wouldn’t abandon that or give up 100%. To be a family man is not something that you build up, you’re born with it. It’s something that you can change a little, but you can not erase totally from your essence. I know that bc I’m just like DH on that matter.

    So I don’t think that she went to the states to give them a time and then to get back together. They ended for good. They’re friends. They share a eternal bond (their child). But there’s nothing (love) left worth enough of trying. And ofc it’s sad. Before that episode that he confronted her I really thought that would’ve been a slice of hope for them, because we’re all humans and we deserve (sometimes) to be forgiven… but he was deeply hurt. The marriage was deteriorated and beyond DH’s reach to fix by himself and he gets it later, and he just let her go (just like his monk friend said to him to do). It’s sad when a marriage ends, but what I don’t get from some viewers is that persistent thing that they think that they were still together despite all the hints, like they treat a divorce as a horrible thing that can never happen.

    I do have to say that I support a divorce IF both parts tried so hard to make it work again but failed or they realize that their marriage is dead. And whats the problem to divorce anyways?

    We are on this earth for a short amount of time. We have to deal with so much pain and dissatisfaction, we have more unhappy times than happy ones. So whats the problem to divorce in order to be happy?

    There is a poem that I like it very much, and one specific part says:
    “I’ll be able to say to myself of the love (I had):
    May it not be immortal, since it is flame;
    But let it be infinite as long as it lasts.”
    I believe that’s DH and YH’s case, and its not a problem at all. They loved each other very much, in a infinite form, as long as it lasted.

    Ps.: YH realized since the beginning that powerful feeling going on between JA and DH and she was jealous (she was jealous of the feeling that he was capable to feel). Jealous bc she wasn’t able to make DH love her (or care for her) the way that he’s so naturally with JA. And driven by some wounded pride of all that situation, she offered money to JA to quit and go away.

    And yes, he found in JA a soulmate. But they found each other in a horrible time, to both of them. They needed to grow as individuals. They needed to recognize themselves. Because DH always lived by the others, by his family and friends expectations. He thought that doing as they wanted he would be able to achieve happiness and a comfortable place, but no, he found himself as 40yo and very unhappy not knowing who he truly was. And JA always lived carring her mother’s problems and helping her grandmother, she was also living someone’s life and annulling herself. They were both equals (giving themselves to the others) but with different (problems) at the same time. Their bond started there, when they realized how patethic both were. And they fell in love with each other in the process. So growing separated was a good thing. And I liked that they weren’t looking for each other so desperately after the farewell. Was like: they knew that they would find each other sometime, so they were fine with that. This, not to worry about the other or where he or she was, because you know that you’re gonna find them at some point, to me, is a clear indicator that they were soulmates and loved each other (in a romantic way).

    Ps2.: I recognize myself in DH sometimes, when he is shy and introspective, so we saw him talking in a very relaxing mode at the caffe with his friend so we can see him different and changed, BUT a shy and intropective person will NEVER be 100% extrovert. So, to me, is not strange at all to see DH inviting JA to go to his office and not inviting her to eat or drink something. Not like that. Not after 1 year without seeing each other. I wouldn’t have done this either. I would’ve waited more. I have almost sure (just saying that bc we cannot be 100% sure of nothing in life), that he was shy at that moment. But gladly they complete each other, because JA is a straight forward person and she invited him first. When he is shy she is not and vice versa. We could see that their feelings were still intact bc this kind of love only happens once in a lifetime. They match each other. They’re soulmates.

    Ps3.: May contain some english and type errors haha sorry. xx

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Yes, I fully agree with you that those who insist that the marriage is on the amend are not watching very carefully. Although not explicitly shown, the signs are all pointing to Dong Hoon and his wife’s separation, but she will remain in his life as his child’s mother. I also really like your pointing out that during the time that Ji An leaves Dong Hoon’s circle, neither one seeks the other out, and you believe it’s because deep inside they know they’d find each other again. I would also add that they have such deep respect and wish for the other’s happiness that they would sacrifice their own while giving the other the space and time to heal and find his/her own happiness. Like you said, soulmates.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. The monk vs PDH

    The monk says self-sacrifice not a solution. I don’t disagree. But what he did actually very self-centered and “me first”. That approach is very much himself. And the well being of the others not his biz (hurting his parents and JH really bad).

    What PDH and grandma say are *different in essence* (from the approach of the monk): your own happiness is (not merely for yourself but also) for the well-beings of your loved ones (as well as to repay people in your life).

    PDH knows the well-beings of himself and LJA have merged into one (a circular dependency) and become indistinguishable. While he emphasizes the pain/suffering side, he acknowledges he needs to be happy for the well-being of LJA (in parallel with grandma tells LJA needs to be happy for hers).

    The characters of the monk and JH are written to tell the different possibilities and outcomes.

    Liked by 1 person

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