El Condor Pasa (If I Could) – Dong Hoon Yearns to be Free

A Soompi member looks at Dong Hoon’s longing to be free through the lyrics of El Condor Pasa (If I Could).

by @africandramalover

I rewatched episode 11 around 2 AM last night and found some interesting things. Around minute 16, Dong Hoon is at the subway headed to work. He hears and watches the train approach. There’s a text bubble that pops up between him and the Monk…

DH: I’m forcing it.

DH: I’m forcefully holding on to a heart that wants to fly away.

At this point it is easy to assume that he’s talking about forcing Yoon Hee to stay with him…( In the preceding scenes, Dong Hoon overheard Yong Hee talking to Joon Young and telling him that they should just meet because Dong Hoon knows anyway.)

Monk replies: I feel sorry for your heart. If I were you, I’d let it fly away.

forcing it

It would seem like Monk is telling Dong Hoon to let Yoon Hee go.

The doors of the subway close but he doesn’t get on. He walks out of the station and we see him in a bus.

I almost spaced out in this bus ride scene, since I knew he was going to the Monk for consolation. However, this is not a filler scene!

There’s a shot of some birds in the air…

Screenshot (192)

I noticed the birds because they gave me Alfred Hitchcock vibes from the movie The Birds. Then I noticed the strange music that’s out of style with the regular soundtrack. I checked that my Shazam is on because you can barely hear the mumbling. I didn’t think Shazam would pick anything…..

Shazam picks the song in like two seconds flat. It’s a song called El Condor Pasa (If I could) by Simon and Garfunkel.

“Condor? Those big birds? that song title is so ominous!! The director has this song here for a reason!!”

I pause the video and Google the song lyrics.

I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail
Yes I would
If I could
I surely would

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail
Yes I would
If I could
I surely would

Away, I’d rather sail away
Like a swan that’s here and gone
A man gets tied up to the ground
He gives the world its saddest sound
Its saddest sound

I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet
Yes I would
If I could
I surely would

Then I realise BAM! Dong Hoon was obviously texting Monk about wanting to be freed from the marriage. He is forcing his heart to remain in the marriage!

The song lyrics juxtaposed against Dong Hoon staring out of the bus at the flying birds explains Dong Hoon’s emotional state  to a tee, especially this part:

Away, I’d rather sail away
Like a swan that’s here and gone
A man gets tied up to the ground
He gives the world its saddest sound
Its saddest sound

It reinforces his clear longing to be free, not just from his marriage, but from the expectations and weights holding him down. The poor man is desperate to be free but he is so weighed down he probably cannot even lift himself off the ground. He has slumped forward, trying to catch his breath, on two occasions I can remember.  His heavy breathing sounds like someone who is trying hard to find the energy within himself to take off, but he can’t, like a dead engine.

According to Google, the condor is “a very large New World vulture with a bare head and mainly black plumage, living in mountainous country and spending much time soaring on massive outstretched wings.”

A bare head? Like the monk? Spending much time soaring? like the monk, who freed himself from society and found his peace?

This drama is like a well written thesis, with each idea leading to the next, and the next. It’s like a mathematical puzzle that I should deconstruct because every scene, from every character, adds up to the whole equation. It is as simple and as complex as E=MC2.

Check out other theme songs here:

Ji An and Dong Hoon’s theme song “Dear Moon”

Dong Hoon’s love song to Ji An “A Very Distant Place”

Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee’s Theme Song “The Sound of Silence”

Yoon Hee and Joon Young’s Theme Song “Blue Alert”


8 thoughts on “El Condor Pasa (If I Could) – Dong Hoon Yearns to be Free”

  1. I am truly amazed by the details, from the writer to the PD and also, the resident writers of this blog. To be able to notice the details and decipher the meanings is incredible and I am sure, this is how PD-nim wanted his viewers to watch this drama. Exercising some intellects and as ones have said it over and over again, My Ajusshi isn’t just a brilliant drama, it’s a work of arts.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes, I think the director would be very happy to know that many viewers are noticing and understanding these little details he planted in the show. Someone said in the Soompi thread that he is speaking in code to us, and we understand because he himself has taught us the code.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Omg, awesome analysis!
    I also think that he realised that she deserves to be happy as well, and he needed to let go of her… Would be a seflish act of him to try to hold on a person just because he wanted to pretend to have that “perfect” family life.

    I’m having this thought for a couple of days, so I’m just gonna write here lol: I think it’s on ep15 when Dong Hoon goes with Ji An to Jung Hee’s bar to let her there.
    And then Ki Hoon calls him to tell that Ji An is there, DH says that she called him to tell him that she was going to Jung Hee’s bar.
    And then, when Jung Hee explains why Ji An is there, she says that Ji An was wandering neighborhood and she “picked her up”. And as she is saying that the camera focus on Ki Hoon but he is just silent.
    I think that was the momentwhen Ki Hoon knew it. Eell, not what was going on exactly but he knew that something was happening. (simple thought but I wanted to share)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your insight on episode 15. I am a slow re-watcher but I’ll try to remember this when I get to that part. I do think that by episode 16 Ki Hoon knew for sure there was something going on.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Super late to this but I’ve been rewatching and it seems that this song no longer appears in this scene, at least not on Viki or Netflix. Instead it’s the title track by Kim Jun Seok. I wonder if there was a licensing issue?


    1. Yes, I think it’s a licensing issue, which is too bad because that song fits so perfectly. I have noticed the same thing happen with other dramas on Viki.


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