Soompiers revisit the unsettling scene in Ep 14 when Dong Hoon hit Joon Young. What made Dong Hoon lash out like that – Joon Young? Ji An’s betrayal? Or himself? Was it his confusion, frustration, hurt and anger all being unleashed at once?
I was quite surprised when he cried in front of Joon Young – you don’t just express yourself in front of the enemy. So when Joon Young said all those things about Ji An and how she still wanted to hide the most important thing to Dong Hoon, that is, the reason of Dong Hoon’s humiliation [his wife having an affair with his boss / the person who hates the mere presence of him], it made him cry. At first, I thought him beating up Joon Young was a bit unnecessary, but seeing how the subs are not right for these scenes, I can see he just couldn’t take Joon Young speaking ill of Ji An.
And I think he also got the confirmation that was quite clear in his mind after he got to know about the wiretapping… that Ji An always wanted to protect him above and beyond anything else, and the final words from Joon Young made it crystal clear.
If he was feeling betrayed by Ji An, he wouldn’t have asked, “What did you do to Ji An? Where is Lee Ji An? Where is she?“ Rather he wouldn’t want to meet her at all. But since he figured out the final piece of the puzzle, he would do anything to save her – not caring about his humiliation story being exposed anymore, which was quite a big deal for him even some days back.
My take would be that Dong Hoon’s reaction is a mix of many things – it would be hard to say exactly which part made him cry and lash out on Joon Young. Dong Hoon is clearly hurt and in major pain, knowing that Ji An betrayed him at some point and listened to him during his most vulnerable moments, but at the same time he faces the new revelation from Joon Young – Ji An gave up money and rejected Joon Young for Dong Hoon’s safety and didn’t let him use the recordings against Dong Hoon. Moreover, she’s running away to keep all of Dong Hoon’s secrets safe because she knows how much it means for Dong Hoon if certain things go out in the public. “It’s nothing unless others know it” – Dong Hoon knows that the words are woven into her heart. I think that he wasn’t actually that mad at Ji An. He immediately recalled all the moments where Ji An used the words she heard for Dong Hoon’s good.
Briefly put, Dong Hoon is sad, relieved, angry and betrayed – all at the same time. The moment he hears Joon Young say, “Who’s the sleazy one now?” – Dong Hoon is actually angry at himself. If I remember correctly, someone from Soompi pointed out that Dong Hoon projected all his angry emotions onto Joon Young, once he realized that his emotions for Ji An are no longer just his secret, someone else also knows it and “it’s not nothing anymore“. With violence, he tries to unwind all his bottled up emotions. His fists are not specifically directed at Joon Young – “poor” guy just happened to be the one to suffer the consequences of Dong Hoon’s emotional awakening.
Here’s my take: I think he wept because Joon Young’s words confirmed his greatest fear after finding out from Director Park that Ji An tapped his phone, which is that Ji An has indeed been betraying him all this time.
I think he refused to accept this possibility even when Director Park laid down the proof of the wiretapping to him. That’s why he also wept immediately after he found out about the bug in his phone.
He was thinking back to those times when he felt that Ji An knew his mind and heart so well that, whenever he needed her, she would somehow appear. Or when there was something he wanted to hear, she would say the right words to him. To Dong Hoon, those moments with her felt genuine so to find out that it was because she had been essentially spying on him probably made him feel like he’s been played for a fool by Ji An. However, what makes it worse for him is that, despite the facts, his heart probably still refuses to accept that she could do that to him. And there’s the rub, as they say.
I think Dong Hoon’s violent reaction afterwards wasn’t really so much about Joon Young anymore but about himself. It was him taking out all his confusion, frustration, hurt and anger on Joon Young. Notice the way he looked in that instance.
There was an almost maniacal anger in his eyes, as if he wasn’t really seeing Joon Young anymore, but something else beyond him. It’s as if he’s beating up Joon Young because he probably felt that by doing so, he would be able to beat his fears into submission and make everything go away. Because honestly, I think Dong Hoon in that moment finally realized just how much of a big deal this relationship with Ji An really is, despite his rationalizations otherwise and it’s something that can’t be contained any longer within those moments of their train rides and walks together. And he probably wanted to beat himself up more than anyone else for being so naive all this time.
Other posts on Dong Hoon’s emotional awakening and violent impulses:
Differences in Dong Hoon’s reaction to two betrayals: Yoon Hee’s affair versus Ji An’s wiretapping