When Dong Hoon called her 지안 Ji An

Koreans almost never, ever, address each other by their first-names. Throughout the drama, Dong Hoon calls Ji An either Lee Ji An, or Lee Ji An-sshi. But in the drama’s final line, after they part at the cafe, he calls her simply: Ji An.

Ji An, have you found your comfort?”

@brose_stv explains the significance of Dong Hoon’s intimate address.

I think others have pointed this out previously, but here’s another reminder that Dong-hoon called our heroine “지안” (simply “Ji-an”) in the final line of the drama when he asks her if she’s found comfort. I’ll try to explain why this is subtly important. How you say someone’s name in Korean reveals a lot about your relationship with them, such as closeness and social hierarchy. Keep in mind that this is a huge topic, so I can’t cover all the different uses and nuances. I’ll just try to give you a general idea.

If I remember correctly Dong-hoon called Ji-an by her full name 이지안 (“Yi Ji-an”) throughout the drama. This implies distance and formality, and is typical of a boss calling their employee (though the boss could add “sshi” to the end to be a bit more polite). Also, when your Korean parent suddenly calls you by your full name, that’s when you know you’re in trouble.

On the other hand, to call someone affectionately you would add an “ee” or “ah” to the end (“ya” if the name ends in a vowel). You can only do this if you’re very close to the person. Typically, this is used by parents-to-children, older sibling/friend to younger sibling/friend, close friends of the same age, etc. It denotes closeness and affection, but a specific FAMILIAL type of affection. Lovers or spouses don’t normally use this form of address with each other. It’s awkward. It only works in certain relationships. For example, between lovers who were close friends before dating, who addressed each other this way in the first place. There are more nuances, but that’s the general idea. It specifically denotes a familial type of closeness.

Dong-hoon didn’t use either form of address in the final line of the drama. He called her simply “Ji-an”. It denotes a much closer relationship than before. Furthermore, he didn’t call her Ji-an-ah, so it’s NOT a familial kind of closeness, such as that of a father to his daughter OR EVEN an older friend to a younger friend. For me, the fact that he said just “Ji-an” and the way he said it came off as very, very, very intimate.

Also, maybe I’m overanalyzing the final scene, but after Dong-hoon asks Ji-an if she’s found comfort, the way the camera quickly jumps to Dong-hoon between Ji-an’s two “Yes’s” makes it seem like Dong-hoon himself is the comfort that Ji-an has found in her life.

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