Kwang Il’s Redemption

Because of one bad adult, two innocent lives were ruined.  Because of one kind adult, these lives were finally redeemed again.

@miracle525 from Soompi

I appreciate that Ji-an acknowledges how Kwang-il was never always an antagonist. More importantly, she recognizes that he was also suffering, even as his own pain does not negate the physical abuse which he has inflicted on her. While he could have been expressing his anger at her killing his father, he already knew deep down that doing so did not help matters at all. With this, Ji-an (inadvertently) offers Kwang-il the same understanding of the reasons behind his actions like Dong-hoon has done for Ji-an herself, contributing to his change of heart much later on.

Like Grandma and Choon-dae, Kwang-il has seen how much Dong-hoon cares for Ji-an and how much Ji-an herself trusts Dong-hoon. It was likely the combination of Kwang-il’s gradual realisation of the two’s strong bond and Ji-an’s empathy towards Kwang-il which contributed to Kwang-il’s eventual heel-face turn (TV Tropes). By relinquishing the audio files, Kwang-il essentially gives up his lifelong grudge against Ji-an; by sending these files to Dong-hoon, Kwang-il just about entrusts Ji-an to Dong-hoon. He finally releases his hold on Ji-an after so many years, and this induces a powerful sense of loss which emanates from within himself in this scene; no, really, just look at him here!

The following words are printed on the banner in the makeshift office of Yeongkwang Loans: “I was once in the same situation as you. I will help you as if we were family.” These words may sound suspicious considering Kwang-il’s status as a loan shark, but it seems that they ring true in this instance. I wonder if Kwang-il will ever find out that Grandma has passed away? I wonder if Ji-an will ever learn that Kwang-il had saved her this one time, like he had done for her all those years ago?



9 thoughts on “Kwang Il’s Redemption”

  1. The sun on his face… first time seeing the light after many years on the darkness. I hated him til death lol but this time doing something good made me think that maybe he has salvation, after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been thinking about what you said about the sun shining on his face. Up to this point we did not see much of Kwang Il in daylight, did we? I can only recall a very brief appearance in episode 2 when Ji An tries to get the bribe money back from his office. After that all his scenes have taken place at night. That sun on his face screams transformation like nobody’s business.

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  2. I was nearing the end of the series but I was still unsure if I’ll be able to see a good character development from him. But me being the intellectual I am (lol) I decided to spoil myself by reading this article…


  3. While LJA tough and had her bottom-line, we still wonder what she did in the past. LKI gave us some color. Despite the beatings, he also protected her in a sense. His deep affection for her made all the difference:
    From childhood to junior high (till she killed his father), LKI defended her even becoming her human shield.
    After the manslaughter, he became harmful beating her. Yet, he only made sure that she suffered a hard life doing low wage manual labor work (loansharks usually force females on quick bucks).

    Yes, LJA a street rat skillful in stealing, tracking/following, and even wiretapping. But LKI limited her scope of work. [The partner of LKI said LJA not a gold digger; When LKI, surprisedly, saw her close to a man (PDH) he did everything to break their connections;… And the farewell/restaurant scene: LJA was still in a position (good enough) to thank PDH for letting her to reveal everything.]… That’s why LJA not able to simply hate LKI.


  4. Don’t get me wrong. I am against all his abuse and violence. LKI a bad ass, despite of his redemption… My note above just attempted to add some color to LJA’s past through this character.


  5. Want to highlight two other scenes about LKI:

    After the fight, when LKI walks up the stairs, the very beaten up PDH still asking LKI the outstanding balance of LJA’s debt. LKI pauses. Maybe PDH reminds him of the old days that it was LKI himself taking the beating protecting LJA…. The devil was his dad; now himself.

    LKI’s final conversation with LJA: He says LJA never apologizes after killing his dad. In reply LJA asks him “Does it (ie all his hate and violence) claim your resentment?” He pauses, realizing LJA does feel guilty by taking all his beatings without fighting back.* This conversation (and the wiretapping record LJA telling PDH their childhood history and their respective pain) finally unties the knot in his heart.

    (*) herself and grandma the victim, how can LJA say sorry?…. Actually she seldom says thank you or sorry, due to her very cold/strong personality. (Very rare, only few times throughout the entire drama.)

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  6. My Mister is the first Korean drama I have watched. The revealing scene outside LJA’s apartment after her loan was repaid shows LKI’s vulnerability where LJA is concerned. He states “I don’t know whether to kill you or myself.” Tears in his eyes relate to his love/hate relationship.
    He looked upon his visits to collect money almost like a courting routine.
    This drama was made up of many characters being lonely and struggling to survive in difficult situations.
    I really liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

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