It may seem easy to condemn Joon Young and Yoon Hee’s trysts because of the obvious, physical nature of their affair.
But were Dong Hoon and Ji An innocent because they held back and did not cross the physical line? Or did they engage in one of the greatest emotional affairs?
According to @ccl82, theirs was indeed an emotional affair. What’s more, it parallels Joon Young and Yoon Hee’s physical affair in several ways.
First off: Why do we call it an “emotional affair”?
Because Dong Hoon and Ji An fit into these descriptions to a T.
- “An emotional affair is sometimes referred to as an affair of the heart. An emotional affair may emerge from a friendship, and progress toward greater levels of personal intimacy and attachment. What distinguishes an emotional affair from a friendship is the assumption of emotional roles between the two participants that mimic of those of an actual relationship – with regards to confiding personal information and turning to the other person during moments of vulnerability or need. The intimacy between the people involved usually stems from a friendship with confidence to tell each other intimate aspects of themselves, their relationships, or even subjects they wouldn’t talk with their partners.” (Source)
- “Ask yourself, [Dong Hoon]: Am I doing things or talking about things with this person that I don’t do or talk about with my spouse? Am I going to complicated lengths to arrange time with this person? Am I either downplaying the relationship to friends or family members, or keeping it a secret altogether?” (Source)
Moving on… The parallels between the two affairs:
The blue phone booth
(Check out the rest of the ‘farewell’ phone conversation here)
The waiting / sleeping on sofa
Ignoring their apparently sleeping spouse
It still bothers me that they simply walked straight ahead without bothering to cover each other with a blanket, at least. You wouldn’t want your loved one to be cold, would you?
Confirming the “affair” via the phone booth location
In Yoon Hee’s case, this confirms her affair with 95% certainty (the next episode raises that certainty to 100%). In Ji An’s case, Dong Hoon shows the depth of his feelings for her and how unconditionally he loves her – even her wiretapping is “no big deal” to him.
In which case do you sense urgency?
12 thoughts on “[GIF] Parallels between the two affairs”
This is so well done, hoping you could post more about this parallel! Thank youuuu
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Thank you, Ann! Noted. Do keep an eye out for upcoming posts. 🙂
The firt consideration I would make is that the two situations are not comparable. His wife had already broken their vow, and so now he does not owe her anything: I would have been perfectly fine with him having a full blown, actual physical affair. Not sure I would even consider it a betrayal, in light of the fact that the vow had been broken and therefore I don’t feel he owes his wife any loyalty. This is apart from the fact that there is not actual agreement on what even constitutes an emotional affair (or, as can be ascertained through a look at the internet, in the words of therapist and commentators alike, whether the notion itself even make sensense). Certainly people have a variety of opinion on this, ranging from Mike Pence’s “not dining with a lady without my wife” rule, which was widely ridiculed, to San Francisco poly community.
I must say that I find the notion of an “emotional affair” fairly fuzzy. Where the line gets drawn is very subjective, going from reasonable notions to insecure/possessive/controlling/repressive ones. You can go from a Mike Pence that considers having dinner with a female that is not his wife without the latter to be out of bounds, something for which he was widely ridiculed, to couples where one has a close friend of the other sex… the point being that contrary to an actual affair, there is not really an objective boundary in terms of actions and we enter thought-crime territory: going to the movies would have been okay if he had no romantic feelings, but not if he did, despite not only the action, but the *intention* being the same -to merely spend time together with no intention to escalate to something romantic, rather than to see it as a date that migth lead to romance-? Reminds me of the discussions on where jealousy is warranted on Black Mirror’s “The Entire History Of You” episode (in that case, it was a “are you really paranoid if they are actually out to get you?” situation). But I could see as reasonable uses of the term, for example, your partner spending time with someone that hurt you or that they had cheated with, where there is a reasonable fear of things escalating, or at least it’s understandably disturbing. But, on some level, I wonder if labeling it as an “affair” is helpful.
We should also note that it’s not even clear what the nature of the relationship between DH and JA is, with half the people thinking it’s purely platonic, etc. Certainly, he set down clear boundaries and they merely hugh by the end of the drama. It’s not clear to me that he even realizes what he feels, and in any case I find the idea of condemning the guy for what is essentially thought crime fairly repulsive (given that he is adamant he won’t be having any romantic relationship with the girl, and makes it explicit to her multiple times). Post time skip things might or might not be different (again, the show is intentionally ambiguous). By contrast, no ambiguity about his wife’s affair, both in terms of what happened, and in terms of whether the public would consider it an affair. Again, incomparable not only due to it being an actualy, full blown physical affair where she was planning not only to divorce him, but to leave him jobless (future success cannot be used to predict past success: he lacks the capital and experience managing people at a higher level, not to mention the confidence and peace of mind of not having to support his whole family with very little funds… in the present, his wife was telling him to mortage his house and plannig to leave him for his worst enemy as soon as she could get him out of a job, and the discovery of the affair would have left him devastated right when he needed to focus on the startup phase: it would have been an obvious disaster). Keep in mind that she knows that he is depressed (and yet still trying to do his very best for his family), as she mentions to her lover. Almost suicidally so, wanting to let himself freeze to death even before discovering the affair, and looking down the bridge after the discovery: he says he wishes he was never born, and that he is continuing to live merely out of duty -don’t recall the exact phrase he tells the monk, actually, but it was something along those lines-.
Quite frankly, most of the people fo his neighbourhood are former bankers or directors that were left out of a job, and his own brother had a similar experience and never recovered. And the plan would have been for him to go into debt risking it all on this. With teh prospect of being fired for sleeping with a subordinate, and her lover certainly not being inclined to give him a good reference (if he didn’t mess with his business like he did whith his career, when he moved him to another team when he was in line for a promotion as the ace of his previous team). The idea that he should take this risk at this point is frankly insane (he had supported his family, who just started a new business, and has very little money), and she is only suggesting this because she does not want to feel bad about herself: she tells this to JA explicitly in the love apartment scene, where she says that this is not about her anymore, since she broke up with her lover, so she doesn’t care whether DH even keeps his job (this is a contrast to the completion of her character arc, which culminates in the rooftop scene). This without even getting into how when he asked her for help, she didn’t provide him with any, telling him to just wait and see (after all, it was just his job and the financial fate of the rest of his family on the line), while milking him for information and ratting him out to her lover.
For that matter, her lover was mistreating him at work (ignoring him, his goon humiliating him, see the restaurant scene where he is made to pour drinks like a servant; humiliations that she uses to manipulate him into quitting his job, playing on his supposed sense of insecurity) and basically kneecapped his career… DH does not make it a secret that he hates the guy. None of which matters to her, just like her lover trying to get her husband fired with the help of an accused murderer is not a deal breaker, but him lying to her about camping iand talking behind her back is. And she has the courage to talk about priorities and putting DH first. After decades of marriage and a child together. By contrast, DH defended her when his brother questioned her having to work (and missing her own niece’s wedding to be with her lover… her own niece is not family either?), and even against her lover, calling him out for not wanting to marry her when he had just found the glove and was imagining them together. He responds with kindness to her treating him shortly and curtly and gaslighting -accusing him of things she is a billion times more guilty of-. He prepares porridge and nurses her back to health. He even puts up with her completely unfair and unempathetic refusal to give him space, despite knowing he knows of the affair, and agrees to meet her in the middle and see his brothers and friends less, a compromise she spurns, despite the fact of her having been the one to raise the issue -only to backpedal when he points out that he does not want to come back to an empty home-. This fact that she knew about the conspiracy to get him out of a job and she didn’t tell him anything, but milked him for info and ratted him out to her lover, not leaving him even when knowing that he wanted to get him fired, was very important to DH, to the point he asks her lover about it during the confrontation at the campsite.
In short, there is not comparison between the two situation, and there wouldn’t be even if he had an actual, full blown physical relationship with another woman, since she had already broken her vow quite thoroughly, and he owes her nothing. But he does not have an affair, and until the end, quite frankly, it looks like he is trying all he could all he could to save his family, from compromising and meeting her in the middle, to telling he he is going to be back soon when he is celebrating his promotion. Not that he should: on the differential reaction of the two brothers, I am decidedly on director brother’s side. And in this, I agree with the monk that he does not have any obligation to sacrifice himself. Factually speaking, she is unworthy of his trust, and there are other people, like JA or his director brother’s gf, who don’t mind the neighbourhood or the brothers meeting up, and actually like their friends and the place, and want to spend time with them. DH would have never betrayed his wife in this manner, as evidenced by the fact he never did (like his older brother’s wife never betrayed him, even after he lost his job and went into debt, but honestly asked for a divorce), despite being even more unhappy -almost suicidally depressed-, and objectively in a worst place, between the stress of having to sustain his family financially and being tormented by her lover and his goon on the job, clearly stating that unhappyness is not a sufficient condition for betrayal, but lack of any shred of respect for your partner is a necessary one, and that she could have asked for a divorce: he deserves someone which would similarly never do this, and for which this would be beyond the pale. His wife is, factually speaking, not that person, she is the kind of person that would do exactly this, given that she did. His director brother is right: he has one life, he should give his affection and trust to people that deserve them (his wife having willingly abused said trust not being one of them).
No equivalency, moral or otherwise, between what she did and anything he could have done after she broke their bond in terms of affairs, even if he had a full blown physical affair, which he did not.
This article begins with a strawman, namely that there were two affairs, which is manifestly not the case.
DH was not exactly telling her the various gory details, but YH knew enough about how horrible working for a junior he hated was, and how badly he was mistreated at work -she used this very fact to try to convince him to quit his job-. His brothers knew about it as well, and so did his mother (she knew of him being “demoted”, and YH is not as ignorant as the old woman, as she clearly demonstrated when she showed JA in the “love nest” conversation they had that she was fully aware of the “war” going on between her ex lover and DH). Not that JY tried to hide this side of his character: he openly mocked the chairman in front of her, he told her he wanted to fire DH with the help of an accused murderer… none of this was a deal breaker for her, neither having an affair with her husband’s boss, knowing he hated the guy, and that his life at work was *already* a living hell -one could just imagine in light of her affair-.
DH tried to savage his marriage, asking his wife to spend time with him, being ghosted in favor of her lover,, then nursing her back to health and caring for her as she suffered through the breakup, and being willing to compromise with her, which she nitpicked and spurned, not offering a compromise of her own, despite having just acknowledged DH’s point about spending time with brothers and friends because she was not around or was in the studio, and he didn’t want to be alone. It was massively unfair on her to gaslight him and not give him space. Bottom line, JA was the only person that truly understood him, he needed space (despite forcing himself to spend time with his wife), and he certainly couldn’t have had these discussions and healed talking with his wife, given that she was a big part of the reason why he felt so hurt and depressed, and that in any case he didn’t want to tip her off to the fact that he knew of her affair. In other words, on one hand she couldn’t know he knew, on the other hand this would be like looking for consolation from the very person that heaped this emotional abuse on his head, when merely looking at her car caused him emotional anguish. A non starter, and this is even without considering how self centered she was: she was willing to gaslight him even in the middle of a supposed apology, right after he told her she made him feel worthless. JA thankfully was listening and told him he was a good person.
Above I might have used the word “innocent” to convey the fact that DH always shut down any inappropriate behavior on JA’s side and set down clear boundaries for her and -my guess, though show is not clear about their feelings-, for himself. However, it was clear that she was basically the only person that could truly empathize with his suffering and was instrumental to saving him from the brink of suicidal depression. Not unhappiness, like his wife: the guy was ready to let himself freeze to death, or jump off a bridge. As his wife told her lover, the guy didn’t feel like he should have been born in their world: she was perfectly aware of his depression, as she proceeded to deceive, hurt and humiliate him, and basically destroy his life in a spiral of physical, financial *and* emotional betrayal (a superset, so even just mathematically…). Trying to depict it as something low and inappropriate is repulsive, and i feel I should cue JA’s answer to the board, making exactly such an allegation, here. Even if they had feelings for each other, as JA told YH, she was not owed anything after what she did to DH. Loyalty is not always positive: you shouldn’t be loyal to a wife beating drunk, and you shouldn’t be loyal to someone that is not loyal to you. At the very least, they should be ready to give as much as you yourself are willing to put on the line.
Incidentally, a perusal of Quora answers on the topic of emotional affairs left me with two observations: people should definitely iron out what the boundaries are, and the very fact that nobody can define what is in and out should prompt some sense of proportion when discussing the topic, because in terms of signaling, a breach might not indicate lack of importance given to the relationship, but simply different expectations. Not so with YH’s actions, where nobody was under any delusion that what she did constituted a total physical, financial *and* emotional betrayal (even she didn’t try to evade this fact, and the impossibility of even the chance at plausible deniability clearly sends a message as to what this means as to how low the father of her child was on her scale of priorities).
I mean, the issue with this picture is that there has been only one affair. JA and DH’s interactions are just so innocent and constrained, not only physically but emotionally, in terms of boundaries DH sets for himself and them -while, of course, he correctly doesn’t punish her for her supposed feelings by making her lose her job for a thought crime-, that they don’t even hug until the last episodes, and even in their reunion they merely shake hands. I would say intentionally so from a writing perspective, as is the fact that even until the ending they remain ambiguous about what their future will be after the time skip reunion -this is not Kar Wai’s movie where at least the fact that they love each other is made explicit, in My Mister even just that fact is kept ambiguous… probably for DH it’s just not a feeling he would even allow himself to entertain while he is still with his wife, while after the timeskip there is the possibility that he will let himself love Ji An, thought of course their relationship, like his relationship with his wife, post timeskip, is not made clear-.
I would also say that there is such a thing as a sense of proportions. I cannot compare Backstreet Rookie’s ML’s gf kissing another guy with My Mister’s wife carrying on a year long affair with her husband’s boss, lying to him, not providing help when he came to her for the bribe issue, but rather spying on him and ratting him out to her lover, not considering the boss tormenting him and wanting to fire him with the help of an accused murderer a deal breaker -like, say, lying about camping or talking s**t-, and not caring whether DH even kept his job once it didn’t have anything to do with her (on top of trying to manipulate him into getting into debt, risking his house and quitting his job when it did, in order to make herself feel better by pretending it was his choice). DH asking JY whether she knew about the bribe was something he made sure to ask during the campfire confrontation. And so on. I don’t subscribe to Mike Pence widely ridiculed opinion on dining with a lady absent his wife, in any case cue sense of proportion and the non indifferent fact that his wife broken their vow, so he does not owe her anything. I would have been perfectly fine with him having a full blown, actual physical affair. Not sure I would even consider it a betrayal, in light of the fact that the vow had been broken and therefore I don’t feel he owes his wife any loyalty. Cue Ji An’s completely correct statement on the rooftop: “Lady you have done much worse”. Amen, you go girl.
Actually, I think it might have been “Lady you have done much worse, you have no right to complain”.
On the same line as her not considering her lover trying to fire her husband with the help of an accused murderer a deal breaker, and not even caring whether he could keep his job when it had nothing to do with her anymore, consider for a second the way YH reacted when DH came home beaten up. She left him to tend to his own wounds -when he couldn’t even take off his sweater without pain-, going to another room and being on the verge to call her lover with her husband in the other room… stylistically, I see also a connection with her later action of uncaringly telling her lover that it didn’t matter whether DH knew they had met up a few more times, because he knew of the affair -of course, the idea he might be hurt or humiliated by the knowledge they had met other times after their breakup does not enter the equation for her, just like she didn’t care that he was in the next room and could have overheard-.
Contrast this with DH taking care of her when she was hurt over the breakup and then got sick, preparing her porridge and staying with her despite the fact that he was at one point even unable to enter the apartment, after seeing her car downstairs. Priorities. In her case, the priority being her self image, what having her lover beat up her husband would mean in that respect, just like she tried to get him to quit his job (by mortaging the house to finance it through debt, at a time when he had so little money, might I add) by manipulating him, because pretending that it was his choice -not having all the facts, and being unwilling to do it, clearly meant that he was not giving informed consent to this, he was being manipulated and deceived by her- to make herself feel better, and then didn’t care at all about the outcome when she felt that the fight was not about her anymore.
Bottom line, JA was 100% correct in telling her that even if she and DH had slept together YH would have had no right to complain, no leg to stand on.