“But the last love is entirely something else,
like the autumn flower, it’s often superior to the first love,
it doesn’t call for aimless passion, nor childish desperateness
or savage voices…”
Starting with this little quote, I’d like to talk about love in My Ahjussi, only from Dong Hoon’s perspective, since despite my young age I can still very much sympathize and relate to it. Contrary to the belief and all the official statements, how the drama wasn’t romantic and its focus wouldn’t be on love, it still was ever present throughout the whole series, making it hard to ignore. Seeing how the main leads became so very depended on each other and just essential parts of each other’s life were truly magnificently conveyed to us in a subtle and beautiful manner. Ji An was the bolder one, always ready to vocalize her feelings with a passion so close to youth, while DH just made many viewers riled up with his closed-off demeanor and incapability to return the feelings freely. Many shippers were left exasperated, calling him out for being cold and dull. Well, with this little insight, I want to advocate for DH and explain why it was natural for him to act like that, but still, his love was none the less what JA felt for him.
We all were witnesses of what kind of life DH led: diligent, straight and lawful. He did things that were expected of him, what his family, friends, and society expected. DH is driven by the brain, he doesn’t get carried by heart’s cravings and whatever they may be, they are ignored, “it’s no big deal”, but you can ignore it for so long until it grows too big and you can’t hide from it.
Indeed, it is ironic, how actually DH himself would be the last man to even think about falling for another woman. I imagine, he had been very reserved for the 15 years of his marriage, not even taking a glance at another woman. With JA it all happened unconsciously. She just entered his life, not asking for any permission. After living so dully for years, DH would never think that he might start forming feelings for anyone, let alone a girl who’s 20 years younger. These feelings both bothers and inspires something deep within him, he just becomes a better person. DH went along with everything not putting too much thought about the fact that his feelings might not be pity but something more than that. And the minute, our humble engineer comes face to face with his feelings, everything just crumbles down, he is surprised and sad and maybe relived as well, but for a pragmatic person like him, who is past his prime, feelings like love for the young girl is unacceptable, unexpectable, he never planned it. It’s a natural reaction, the first thing he will do, of course, is to deny, to ignore and control it and it’s not that hard since he isn’t a teenage boy with hormonal problems.
People who have experienced a love that wasn’t meant to be or seemed unnatural will definitely relate to DH. That’s exactly what kind of situation he found himself: A married man, with a wife and a son falling in love with a far younger girl is not exactly what people expect from him, or what he imagined would happen. DH would probably never have accepted the love if he couldn’t find the “inner strength” in himself – the want to do not what others tell him but what his heart desires, to balance the line between his logical brain and the heart that wants to fly away.
Undoubtedly, the love that he found in his second spring helped him through all the hardships and the journey toward healing, but only after learning self-respect and getting rid of all the past toxic experiences would DH be able to let the love to guide him. And that’s exactly what we saw at the end of the drama: healed DH is ready to pursue JA and acknowledge his love. The old DH was physically and mentally unable to process the feeling he had for JA let alone reciprocate them in any way.
Going back to the fact that MA wasn’t about love – quite right, it’s about beautiful journey of the soul toward happiness and it was absolutely beautiful watching DH grow as a person and be able to accept and give out love freely and without any remorse.