The Beautifully Undefined Relationship

by deantrblss from tumblr

I think some people were right when they said there wouldn’t be any romance; there’s nothing romantic about Ji An and Dong Hoon’s story.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t love and heartbreak.

The degree and types of love fluctuates as the story progresses, but it’s clear that Ji An struck a chord Dong Hoon never even knew he had with that confession.

I truly believe that Dong Hoon initially cared for her genuinely without any ill intent. When he was wailing on Kwang Il (”how could you hit a little girl??”), it’s clear that he sees her as a lost child, and Dong Hoon is a righteous man trying to protect that child. But even since the beginning, people have been questioning that care. His brothers are always teasing him about her, viewing her in a sexual light. All their co-workers are also raising their eyebrows at whether or not they’re having some type of romantic affair, etc.

Ji An may seem like a lost child, but my god, is she a strong woman. And this natural duality (because a human being is not just one thing), coupled with societal expectations of women/men relationships, is the catalyst for the blurred lines of their relationship. Each and every moment with them together is filled with this inexplicable energy between the two, and it adds a bit of ambiguity to their emotions– mainly Dong Hoon’s inner turmoil.

Because through Ji An spying on Dong Hoon, we see that her intentions have changed. She’s now made it clear that she’s going to protect Dong Hoon, but through her actions (her shyness and vulnerability) with him, her care for him is growing into something greater than those blurred lines. I might even be as bold to say that Ji An is experiencing a type of emotion she’s never experienced before.

Yes, the confession in episode 10 was obviously set up for the detective to see, but there was truth in her words. She’s constantly worries about him, looking after him in secret. She notices when his mood is down and couldn’t help but be upset that he didn’t wear the slippers she gave him. She even seemed a twinge jealous when she was eavesdropping on him and his wife in the car.

And now that she’s said all this to Dong Hoon, she’s clearly drawn the line.

He was shocked; surprised. because the feelings that were always up in the air– the ambiguity about their relationship– had been spoken. At least on Ji An’s part. He didn’t know how to handle it because Dong Hoon himself isn’t even sure how he feels towards her. It’s clear that although he may protect her like a he would his neighborhood family, there’s something he feels for Ji An that I honestly think will never be able to be defined.

I think what’s also telling is the director’s choice for showing particular shots– remember, every shot has a reason and I think the director and the actors have done an amazing job so far in showing the audience each character’s internal struggle. The scene in episode 11 when Dong Hoon and the directors are in the hotel room preparing for the interview, and they’re trying to figure out how to “deal” with Ji An, we get a sort of overhead-close-up shot of Dong Hoon’s reaction to all the ludicrous things those old men are saying. Dong Hoon has this unreadable expression on, but through his gaze he seems bothered by what they’re saying. (Especially when they say: ”at least she’s not pretty and the angle and look on his face??? Very interesting and deliberate direction.)

Screenshot (1138)

And the slippers.

Ji An got them for him because she wanted to express her gratitude. She saw that his work ones were all worn out and she wanted to get him something useful and nice. It took her a lot of courage to give them to him, she was very vulnerable in that scene. And she was so obviously hurt that Dong Hoon hadn’t worn them yet it was endearing seeing Ji An get all pre-occupied over those slippers. but why hadn’t he put them on? As LollyPip over at dramabeans put it, “it’s as if he instinctively knew that wearing them would send her a signal that he wasn’t ready to send.” And I agree with those words wholeheartedly. Like I’d mentioned before, I don’t think Dong Hoon even knows how he feels about Ji An in the deepest sense, but he does care for her. And when Ji An took them back and threw them away out of embarrassment, Dong Hoon was surprisingly upset. With everything happening in his life, he still made sure to let Ji An know how he felt, at least for the moment: that she better get used to having him in her life because he wasn’t going to ignore her like a coward just because she likes him. That they were pretty much friends and he only wished great things for her future. And Ji An is touched by those words, naturally. We can see why she likes him so much.

But the moment before he left and turned back around and pointed at her, warning her to buy him a new pair, I laughed. It was a silly thing for him to do, and the first time this kdrama felt like a kdrama– y’know when the male lead is being all tsundere to the female lead? It was a very cute moment especially coming out of ahjussi’s mouth like that. Childish and innocent, in a sense.

There will never be a romantic relationship between the two, because it’s really not realistic considering the fact that Dong Hoon is a righteous man and he really holds on to his values. But there’s no denying the unspoken things between them (especially on Dong Hoon’s part). At this point, given all the subliminal micro-expressions, a brother-sister or father-daughter ending would also seem eerily out of place. which is very surprising to me because I was 100% against a love-line before the drama aired because of the age gap. Not to say I want a love-line now— like Dong Hoon and Ji An’s relationship, it’s complicated, haha… But honestly, no matter the ending, I am so here to see their flourishing friendship and seeing Ji An, a girl who had lost all hope for the world at her tender age, fall in love for the first time.


20 thoughts on “The Beautifully Undefined Relationship”

  1. I pretty much agree with everything said on here apart I guess from the last para. But I respect that opinion/observation though. I guess looking at it from a third person’s view it’s impossible to have that kind of relationship. But again those micro expressions and unexplainable actions make for a blurred line, disabling us from truly making a firm conclusion completely dejecting the possibility of either side. I would have completely agreed but theres just something in the drama that makes me hesitate.

    It’s nice to still see posts in here after a long time. And I still rewatch some My Mister clips and listen to the osts. I have definitely been able to watch more dramas without comparing so much but My Ahjussi really have its own special place with me. Incomparable. ❤️

    Liked by 5 people

    1. By the end of the drama, the author of this piece totally thought there was something much more than platonic love. In her own words:

      “me @ ppl who say this is a completely platonic, one-sided story: yeah 👀👀👀 so platonic 👀👀👀 nothing more platonic than heavy breathing and furtive glances/ full-on stares 👀👀👀 omg this is so platonic 👀👀👀 wow dh deff does NOT get shook by ji-an at ALL 👀👀👀 like he thinks shes pretty and is super protective of her 👀👀👀 never states it clearly whether he likes her or not when she’s already said it tWICE 👀👀👀 he waits for her at bars and looks around for her on the streets absentmindedly 👀👀👀 but this is sO pLaToNiC gUyS 👀👀👀👀”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks for including this part.
        I think in the later episodes, PDH got more obvious about his feelings although he himself still in denial.
        Like, his brothers knew, Jung Hee knew, chief Song kind of knew… Yoon Hee definitely knew…
        The hints was there, but some people still reluctant to see, maybe because their large age gap…

        Liked by 3 people

    2. I also don’t agree with the final paragraph that there will never be a romantic relationship between them. Yes, DH is a righteous man, but I believe that the writer and director have made it crystal clear what the future holds for them. There are SO many clues given that viewers have overlooked. For example, his wife tells her lover that she will stay with DH until he realizes he no longer loves her, she owes him that. She has well moved on and is staying only until he’s ready to admit their marriage is over.
      Viewers have pointed out that he has pictures of his family at his new office; yes, he does, but there are no photos of him and his wife, and by the backgrounds they were obviously taken in the States where she’s been living. When JA hears him in the coffee shop he is saying that both his wife and son are probably staying in the US. That isn’t a marriage to hold onto.
      All his friends and family have known for a year that he cares deeply for JA; with the exception of his mother’s reaction it would not be hard for him to finally allow himself to “be happy” as he has promised her and himself.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry, out of the topic…
    Why I can’t like this post?
    I tried to click the little blue star at the bottom of the post, but it just open a blank page in another window…
    I can like a comment though…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate the thought you still put into this drama ever since it ended and although there may never be a season 2, this drama will be deep in my heart for as long as I can run. Fighting~

    Liked by 4 people

  4. considering that it’s 2020 and i watched this drama after crash landing and it’s been 3 weeks and i’m still rewatching my ahjussi, though vague i kinda understand how they feel, fighting!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I just finished watching this 2 days ago. I personally feel the love and romance between them. I mean anyone can be nice to you but their connection to each other is different. It’s like they’re soulmates. My heart hurts for them so much as i keep on watching especially the last episode but i regained hope watching the last scene.

    As for soulmate, it’s really hard for me to explain. I found mine some years ago but nothing happened. But we both know there’s something between us. It was weird for me because there’s this weird connection, tension, admiration between us. He nor me doesn’t need to say anything out loud, the other would just knew what we were thinking.

    As i watch My Mister, it made me nostalgic as I’ve been through it. How Dong Hoon felt like when he met someone that can see right through him. It’s actually very scary. You think you’re doing fine but your heart knows you’re not and that someone can see it too. And it’s not his wife, it’s Lee Ji An, this new temp at work. Obviously he’s scared, he distanced himself. But something is there. Love is definitely there and romance? That too. How can there be no romance when he keeps on thinking about her.

    Okay that’s toooo long but I LOVE MY MISTER. I’m going to rewatch today 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This whole blog is like heaven. For sure I’m late to the MA party but I’m so glad to be here and to read through all the amazing nuances that I would never ever be able to decipher on my own. My sincere thanks to all of you.

    PS. Among the pictures/gifs for site banner, those with the 4 characters (Ji-an and Park brothers) drinking together or hanging out on the couch together, laughing and grinning from ear to ear, those are not BTS, right? I think of them as snippets into the life-after-episode-16, as in Ji-an is now part of the Park family, being fully accepted and included, for being Dong-hoon’s partner in life. Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for dropping us a word. No, those are not BTS. They were “moving posters” if you will. And I agree with you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I just started watching My Mister a month ago and have already re-watched the whole thing two times, and re-watched episodes 11 – 16 many, many times :). I’m so glad I discovered this site, and glad that you, sadiesmith, are still responding to the comments! Thanks for putting all this together; I’m impressed by the depth of analysis and insight all of you guys had. After watching MM the first time, I thought I’d never watch it again. I also thought there was nothing romantic between them at the end, that they were just happy to see each other. Then I found this site! Now that I’ve re-watched MM keeping your analyses in mind – I think very differently. 🙂 So much deep love between PDH and LJA that was masterfully shown, not just stated.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. One more aspect of this beautiful undefined relationship: “Is it pity or love?” (a always discussed question in the MA forums?)…. “From pity to love” is a proverb in my culture describing that kind of development and transformation. The key is the transformation (not mistaking pity for love)…. [different but not unlike what SweetMochi posted on soompi, “We don’t truly love from a place of need, but only from an abundance of love in our own hearts.”]… LJA and PDH were reborn, and ready for their new chapter.

    Thank you so much to all of you who put together this site, and special thx to Sadiesmith who is still responding, although the party was over years ago (and I completely missed it).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi there, UnlikelyCouple1970s! Thank you so much for visiting this site and sharing your thoughts with us. I know you “missed the party” on Soompi, but you still can join lively My Mister “parties” elsewhere. I still frequently see new threads on Reddit and there is this guy on YouTube who is doing a lot of great analysis on the show. Search “Man vs. Drama.” Maybe I’ll post a link.


  9. I don’t understand those people who are saying their relationship is platonic. Like I felt PDH getting towards LJA from the very beginning. The body language, his behaviour, his actions from initial only. I want to point the out the part when in episode 3 after knowing that LJA really threw away the money he gets back to his desk, he sits there and turns to see LJA while sitting in his chair like a child, turns back to face his desk & again turn to see LJA. That part was so amusing to me & that happens in mere 3rd episode. He act childish & different from the very beginning around LJA. I never felt anything else but romance between them from the very beginning. They were soulmates made for each other to struggle, fight & overcome the circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My wife and I were confused after our first watch (too busy reading the subtitles and overlooked the (micro) expressions/gestures, while also slow/failed to understand the narratives from context). After rewatches it became very clear. As you guys said… that’s capital “L” Love right there….

    What platonic? … [“Platonic love” (“…in its origin this phrase denoted an absorbing passion for young men…”) is very “Greek”.]… I understand love between family, couples and friends etc. Yet, i don’t know what people are talking about when they say “Platonic love” (btn LJA and PDH). In East Asia “Platonic love” is very much a foreign concept. Yes we do borrow that term (a translation, with no local equivalent) but we usually refer to the love between a pair with relationship not progressing (for whatever reason), otherwise we simply say friendship…. Not sure if it’s the same for the Koreans, but maybe I am getting too far…

    Anyway, I read from MA “a love story minus the romance” (not unlike my wife and I, after 3 decades together. still superb).

    Liked by 2 people

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