Dong Hoon has been living his whole life as a passive observer, but he is now beginning to realize that his “no big deal” attitude to things isn’t always right. Some things actually are and should be a big deal. And sometimes one has to take the initiative because inaction can do more harm than good. ~ by @akhenaten
I realized that episode 14 is actually the moment when Dong Hoon’s catharsis is about to come to its climax. There were so many a-ha moments for his character, those times when you could almost see the scales falling from his eyes. Although this catharsis, to me, began from episode 10, it’s been going on since then. I do believe the final stretch of My Ahjussi is supposed to show his character’s transformation. As far as Ji An is concerned, I think her character’s cathartic moments were already shown in episodes 9 and 10. From that point on, she had been changed because for the first time in her life, she has opened her heart to someone other than her grandma. Though she remains as wily and cunning and smart as she’s always been, but there is a softness to her now, a vulnerability. And she’s now decided that, regardless of how Dong Hoon feels for her, she will continue to care for him and protect him for as long as she is able.
Dong Hoon, on the other hand, is still pretty much undecided on his own feelings. He’s actually pretty much undecided about where he wants to go with his whole life. Maybe because he’s been living it as a passive observer for so long. He’s always been reacting or not reacting, depending on the situation. He’s never been the one to take action or assert himself, not because he can’t, but he’s taught himself to just let things be, that everything that happens is no big deal and that what he does is okay and nobody’s business for as long as he believes he isn’t doing anything wrong. However, with everything that’s happened to him, Dong Hoon is now beginning to realize that his “no big deal” attitude to things isn’t always right. Some things actually are and should be a big deal. And sometimes one has to take the initiative because inaction can do more harm than good.
Take the case of his marriage. They had a problem and he knew it. But instead of addressing Yoon Hee’s concerns then (no matter how selfish they may seem), he decided to just let things be, hoping it would eventually resolve itself if he just did the little things for her. While that’s very laudable, but it still didn’t address the underlying problem in their marriage. But he didn’t want to trouble himself by confronting the problem and upsetting Yoon Hee. He probably thought no big deal, but look at the state of their marriage now (though of course Yoon Hee is just as accountable for its failure as he is).
And then there is his career. He thinks what Director Yoon and Joon Young did to him, i.e. demoting him and bypassing him for promotions, is no big deal and he just buckled down to work. But he failed to realize that it’s a big deal to his team and to the rest of the people in the company who work with him, because his leveling up would also translate into better career opportunities for his team. And if he gets promoted, then they too stand a good chance of being promoted. He didn’t think of how it affected their morale to see their boss being insulted. He just wanted to avoid conflict and keep his head down.
And of course, there’s Ji An. As far as he’s concerned, their interactions were innocent and harmless. He was just being kind and humane and doing what any kind and humane person would do under the circumstances. He failed to consider that the outside world may not view their interactions in the same light as he does and that it can harm her greatly in many ways. This he realized during the practice interviews, when he saw how every little act he did for Ji An can be seen in a different context by other people. Worse, he failed to consider that Ji An herself may not see their interactions the same way he does either. Which was actually the case, because she fell for him. Now, he begins to see that their relationship IS a big deal, because everyone around him, from the directors to his subordinates to his childhood friends, and even Kwang Il, notice that there is something going on between them.
You can see how in episode 14, Dong Hoon is starting to “make a big deal” about the things that truly matter to him, and in the preview for episode 15, when he told Joon Young that he’s prepared to be humiliated, he’s showing that he’s now ready to assert himself and take the offensive position when he has to. He’s taking charge of his life now and that can spell the difference in the end.