Are the societal barriers against Dong Hoon and Ji An too great to be overcome? There’s generational gap, socioeconomic differences, societal expectations, and crimes on top of that… But @chickfactor thinks that if society says that Dong Hoon can’t be with Ji An, then he will reject society. Because “it’s nothing.”
And in a way, Dong Hoon’s journey of defying societal expectations mirrors the show’s own journey.
I really don’t think those things matter to him. I think that’s been shown pretty clearly from the start.
Rewatching the first episode I noticed that he was very considerate to Ji-An even before the bribe money was delivered.
– After she killed the ladybug he tried to make small talk with her about the biggest thing she’s killed. (She shut him down by answering, “A person.”)
– He sees her stealing Maxim coffee sticks from the break room. He says nothing and looks apprehensively at the security camera, hoping she doesn’t get caught.
– Later that evening, he sees her in their neighborhood market. She has to ask the clerk to put the persimmons back because she can’t pay for it. He buys it for her and runs after her. (She’s already left.)
These actions may seem like nothing much, but to me they are heroic and radical. Because he is doing things for her and showing her consideration that no one else is showing. She’s built a wall around herself, but no one is trying to break through. But he’s different. Why?
Consider everything else he’s done after that: He invites her to the company dinner. He defends her when anyone complains about her. That entire moon-watching-sojourn sequence. Fighting Kwang-Il for her, punching JY out for insulting her, almost punching Director Yoon for the same thing.
And in the boardroom during the most important job interview of his life. Director Yoon pulls out his trump card, that Ji-An killed someone. Even Team Wang looks horrified. But DH doesn’t back down. He shouts that he would do the same in that situation and so would Director Yoon. The same thing he told Kwang-Il.
Someone who cares about “societal rules” would opt out of doing *any* of those things. Because of “how it would look.”
He’s not someone who ever cared about societal expectations. People think he is a conformist, but that is because so far, he’s never had any reason to act contrary to societal expectations. But he is only true to his personal code of conduct.
If society says that he can’t be with Ji-An, then he will reject society.
Because “it’s nothing.”
This is why I think Sang-Won (Kyeom-Duk) has become a very important character in the show. He is essentially a mirror of Dong-Hoon. He knew they both would suffer in modern society, so he chose to withdraw from it.
And significantly, Sang-Won is the one who told him those words that gives Dong-Hoon comfort: “it’s nothing.”
(This is how I translated it before, but I noticed that Dramafever writes, “It’s no big deal,” or “It doesn’t matter.” And I think they are all correct.)
We already have a clue in the Ep 15 preview. Dong-Hoon says (to Ji-An?): People gossiping about me saying my life is ruined? It’s nothing.
Societal rules do mean nothing. They only mean something if you let them. He’s never been a slave to societal rules. His life has been compatible to those rules so far because he’s never had a reason to violate them. Now he does, and now he will.
Now, I recall another conversation: I think he’s talking to his brothers? They say he will never step out of line, never cheat on his wife or anything like that. He replies, “It’s not that I would never succumb to temptation. It’s just that I’ve never been tempted.”
Anyway, it just occurred to me that Dong-Hoon’s journey mirrors the show’s journey.
In the beginning, they had to hold a press conference claiming that there is no love line. That this is a “healing” drama, a comedy, even. Because everyone in Korea is clutching their pearls over this, I guess?
But no one cares about that anymore. Now the show has everyone climbing the walls begging please, writer-PD-nim, let these two be together!
What’s brilliant about the production team is that they had the courage to have that press conference. I think it was because they needed to have it so that people would give this show a chance instead of burying it, but they were also confident that they would change enough minds by the time it ended. And I think they accomplished that.
It’s too bad that they even had to do that. But that is “societal expectations.” Ultimately, you have to be true to yourself, and if that violates expectation, well, then, that is what you do.
The show will have courage to end the way it is supposed to. Dong-Hoon will have courage.