There simply was no temptation… until now

A Soompi member wonders if Ji An is the very first temptation in Dong Hoon’s life, and contrasts the reactions of Dong Hoon’s brothers (as well the audiences) to Yoon Hee’s betrayal.


After seeing episode 13 with subtitles a few things stick out in this reader’s mind:

  1.  Engineer Dong Hoon is afraid to hug Ji-an, even once… At the beginning (in Ep 3) when his brother said that he has great moral self-control… He whispered to himself, “Because I have a lot of willpower, you think I haven’t gotten in trouble?… There simply was no temptation.”

    Fire = Temptation = Ji An
  2. Engineer’s phone need charging frequently (it’s being drained by the wiretapping).
  3. The three brothers are so different: The eldest brother Sang Hoon is emotional and has a good-heart. He also forgives easily. He takes responsibility for the failure of the three since he is eldest. Engineer Dong Hoon has great self control which has been tested by so many problems but he is near boiling point, which he tries desperately to hold in… The only reason he hasn’t exploded is because of some little girl (he thinks) whose words comfort him: You can’t die yet, Hwaiting, etc… and now she is gone, and he is at a loss as to what to do. The youngest film-director brother Gi Hoon is hot tempered and has no self control, but loves his brothers and take their pain personally. Of interest, the eldest brother said (like many Korean audiences) that Dong Hoon should reconcile with his wife, while the youngest brother said: Hell No (like many Soompi shippers??)!! Engineer was too numb even to think about this.
  4. Barkeeper Jung Hee has her confrontation with her old flame and realizes that the flame is gone, and now has to finish with her mourning so she can go on.
  5. Ji-an is head over heels in love with Engineer (almost every time she cries, it is because she witnessed his pain and suffering). She does not cry when she herself suffers, even physically. As has been said by Soompi members, half of the pair has reconciled as to their feelings.
  6. Engineer Dong Hoon thanks Ji-an privately after her (farewell) text wishing him luck in the interview, but did not have the guts to text her.
    Can you hear my heart?

    He is afraid and very confused about his feelings for her. Never in his life has he faced temptation and the desperate need for someone… certainly not his wife or family.

  7. When Engineer Dong Hoon was invited by his wife to drink, he reluctantly sat down, he with tea, she with coffee. They had some awkward forced conversation.
  8. When Engineer Dong Hoon came home after his confrontation with his brothers, he went straight to the bedroom. His wife Lawyer Kang Yoon Hee was on the couch and pretends to be asleep. There is absolutely no vibe between them… They might as well be strangers.
    Where’s the love?

    Does this scene remind you of something?


  9. Engineer Dong Hoon’s opponent in the directorship is a mid-level younger manager who obviously likes and respects him. Altogether a nice young man, but inexperienced, and as director he will be weak and manipulated by CEO’s side. Engineer Dong Hoon as Director however would not be easily controlled.
  10. Engineer Dong Hoon at the end of the episode gave a passionate defense of Ji-an.  He was much more animated (for him) on her defense than when Directory Yoon tried to unfairly smear his design of a building. Then he simply looks annoyed that a manager who is not even an engineer tries to critique his design… which was modified during construction, for convenience.
  11. At the end when Engineer Dong Hoon came out of the interview, highly upset by Director Yoon’s attack of Ji-an, found out that she was gone, and could not concentrate on his work.  He walked out after finding a new pair of slippers with the gift-giver gone… his face showing complete loss. It’s as if some one take some thing very precious to him and he is overwhelmed by its loss.

    What have I lost?

P.S.: It will be Lawyer Yoon Hee who files for divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences, not Engineer Dong Hoon.

And that will be her redemption.


8 thoughts on “There simply was no temptation… until now”

  1. 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). Long live the younger brother, as far as I am concerned. I get the feeling that he is kind of shipping DH and JA as well, from his questions in the ending episode.


    1. 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.


      1. Temptation? No, as was established in the series, DH was quite popular with the female sex. The bartender and his evil boss agree on this. JA is the only person that truly understood him and, despite knowing his story, rooted for him. “Temptation” suggests that it’s something forbidden and “shady” that ought to be avoided. The show points out that this is a necessary relationship that literally saves him from suicidal depression.

        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).

        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.

        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.

        To those that want to draw unflattering parallels and see DH and JA’s relationship as tainted or something they should feel guilty about, I would say listen again to JA’s defense of her actions to the board. And in general, for everyone, I would reiterate JA’s words to YH: even if they had slept together, given that she did much worse, she has no right to complain.


    2. I mean, the issue with this picture is that according to what they say in the show itself, there have been plenty of temptation (DH was quite a popular guy, but as demonstrated with him sleeping in the same room with his female friend without anything happening, he was completely trustworthy). There has been only one affair here. 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.


      1. In The Magicians, I fully approved of the ML’s girlfriend sleeping with another man, after the protagonist had betrayed her with one of her friends. He had broken their vow, now he had no right to complain.


  2. I mean, in addition to her not considering her lover trying to fire DH with the help of an accused murderer a deal breaker, and not even caring when it was not about her anymore (as she explicitly told JA when she met her in her “love nest” apartment), consider how she and DH handled taking care of the other when they were sick/beaten up.

    DH was at one point unable to even physically enter the apartment, when he saw her car downstairs, because he was hurting so much over her betrayal and couldn’t stop seeing her with her lover in his mind. Still, he nursed her back to health and prepared porridge to her, spending time with her. YH went to the other room and almost called her lover (a mirror of her later having a conversation with her lover when DH was in the other room and could and did overhear her telling him that it didn’t matter if he knew they had met up a few more time, since he knew of her affair anyway -him being hurt by the fact that she met up with her lover after their breakup being not even a consideration in her eyes-). DH was left to tend to his own wounds alone, when he couldn’t even take off his sweater without feeling pain.

    That’s pretty self explanatory in terms of priorities. They both had reasons to be uncomfortable and not want to face the other, but DH prioritized nursing her back to health, while she left him alone to tend to his wounds by himself, when he flinched at every movement, and was more -I would say basically entirely, whet it boils down to it even DH knowing about the cheating is in this category, as evidenced by the complete lack of guilt lying to his face for the past year, as she did when he asked about her smelling like smoke, and she effortlessly told him she had a barbecue- concerned about her self image and self perception -what it would mean if her lover had beat up her husband-. Same reason she tried him to quit his job and mortage his house -endangering his livelihood and even his ability to have a roof over his head, as DH correctly remarked in the “apology/confession scene”, making him take on debt and lose his only source of income when he basically didn’t have money saved up, as we see in the first episode, having been supporting the rest of his family, just to make herself feel better by pretending that this was his own choice, while she was merely deceiving him and depriving him of the ability to make an informed decision, by withholding information from him, namely that she was having an affair with a man that wanted to fire him with the help of an accused murderer that had already framed his boss, and that she was planning to divorce him as soon as she could get him out of a job, with predictable consequences for his new business, and, I would add, knowing the guy, provided that her lover didn’t use his influence to mess with the new entrant, as he did when he kneecapped his career-. When it was not about her anymore, she didn’t even care about whether DH could keep his job, as YH explicitly told JA.


    1. In light of this reality -JA hearing YH didn’t care whether DH could keep her job-, it’s not really a surprise she would tell her that DH knew. And she did manage to ultimately shame her into seeing that while she was betraying him with his worst enemy, when she was supposed to have DH’s back as his wife and family, JA was protecting him, despite having been explicitly hired to frame him by her lover -the man YH was willing to stand besides until she learned he badmouthed her and lied about camping, evidently deal breakers in a way that him trying to fire her husband with the help of an accused murderer that had already framed his boss was not-.

      So, 100% in agreement with JA when she tells YH that she has no right to complain even if her and DH had actually slept together, and that the very idea that DH owed her anything in that regard was so ridiculous as to be funny. Again, see my points above about The Magicians.


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