Sang Hoon – The “Head of Household”

Park Sang Hoon, the oldest of the three brothers, may seem immature and irresponsible on the outside, but there may be a profound reason driving his actions.  Soompi members discussed.

@kerfuffle_95

It sometimes ticks me off whenever Sang-Hoon speaks/decides for Dong Hoon, and how he always gets it wrong. He told Dong Hoon to stay at the company for a long time for the sake of their mom’s funeral, not knowing how much unhappiness Dong Hoon derives from that place. Upon learning about the affair, he told Dong Hoon to forgive Yoon Hee, to comfort her, to survive and endure the whole thing, not knowing that Dong Hoon feels extremely sad about that too. Sang Hoon even told Yoon Hee: “The fact that my younger brother didn’t tell anyone about this (affair) and the fact that he was suffering all by himself makes me so sad. But that means that Dong Hoon loves you that much.” Cue Yoon Hee and Dong Hoon in episode 12 flashbacks- Yoon Hee: “You’re not trying to keep this marriage together because of your love for me. Are you? (because of mom and Ji Seok)” Dong Hoon: “I don’t want to make you miserable just to make it easier for me. I just don’t how to end this relationship that we’ve maintained for 20 years.”

No wonder (and quite telling) in episode 15, when Sang-Hoon and Ki-Hoon saw Ji An at Jung Hee’s bar and both rushed to call Dong Hoon, it was Ki Hoon who got connected to Dong Hoon first. After all, Ki Hoon is the one more perceptive of Dong Hoon’s feelings (as many of you have pointed out already).

@chickfactor’s defense:

What Sang-Hoon did here is actually very sensitive and kind. So I want to defend Sang-Hoon.

One thing that is implicit, but never explicitly mentioned is about the brothers’ father. They mention him twice (that I recall). Dong Hoon talks about him in Episode 1 when he is laughing in the office about the biggest thing that they’ve killed (after Ji-An kills the ladybug), and he says that the three brothers held down a pig as his father chopped its head off.

The next time he talks about this is that his father would tell him, “It doesn’t matter” to comfort him, but that no one is there to tell him that now.

So my point is that their father has probably passed away, and has left behind a huge void, but they never speak of it explicitly.

This is probably why the three brothers are so close, and why Dong Hoon is unwilling to move away from their mother.

In Korea (as in many other societies, I’m sure), the “head of the household” role is a really big deal, and it is their duty to do whatever it takes to protect their family.

This is partly why Sang-Hoon is so down on himself. After their father’s death, he is the de facto “head” of this household, but he failed at this when he was laid off, and when the two businesses he opened with his severance pay failed, too.

This is why he *needs* Dong Hoon to keep his job at a “big company.” He knows what it’s like to try and open your own business and fail (twice), so it scares him, and at least one of the brothers needs to have that stability to protect their mother. Although it seems unfair that he is telling Dong Hoon that he has to remain at a job that’s making him miserable, it is the “head of the household’s” DUTY to try and think of what is best for the family.

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I also see Sang-Hoon fulfilling this role when he counsels Dong Hoon to try and stay with his wife, and even apologizes to Yoon Hee. First, it’s better in terms of social order that a marriage stay intact if possible, especially in Korea where the social stigma of divorce is still quite strong. He’s obviously not going to force them to stay together if they want to divorce, but it’s his actual job to at least pay lip service to the idea that they should work it out, if possible.

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Also, Sang-Hoon is taking the responsibility upon himself. He is saying that Yoon Hee cheated because HE failed at his role at being a proper “head of household” so he doesn’t blame Yoon Hee for straying from their marriage – i.e., he doesn’t blame Yoon Hee for being dissatisfied with THE FAMILY and looking elsewhere, because he failed to protect it.

So I don’t blame Sang Hoon. He comes off as a silly person, but he actually feels the great responsibility on his shoulders of being the “head” of this family, and I can see that.

In contrast, Ki-Hoon is the “maknae,” so he gets to pursue his artistic dreams and apparently be quite self-indulgent about it. He also doesn’t have a wife or child, so he’s able to refuse a job and punch people in the face because they don’t like his script.

Sang-Hoon never had the luxury to be that way because he became responsible for his family the moment their father died. So I will cut him some slack here.

Edited to add: more on this theme of Sang-Hoon is the “head of household” – that he helped Ji-An’s grandmother have a grand funeral is exactly the sort of thing that a head of household would do… for his family member.

He’s a goofball, but he steps up when it counts.


Other things on Sang Hoon:

The Park Brothers

He is the Super Ego to Ki Hoon’s ID

 

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