One thing I noticed during a re-watch was how often PDnim focuses on hands. He portrays an emotion and tells a story just by having us look at a character’s hands, and through this he encourages us to keep paying attention.
These moments of close-ups start at the beginning, with one of our first looks at Ji An being this one:
Our very first glimpse of Yoon Hee is this:
As the story progresses we keep seeing close shots of hands, especially of certain key characters: Dong Hoon, Ji An, Kwang Il, and Jung Hee. Here’s a sampling.
In Episode 6, after Dong Hoon discovers Yoon Hee’s affair, he heads to the soccer field but ends up sitting in the bathroom for a while. His hands convey defeat:
This is mirrored in his face as the camera pans up:
Later, when Yoon Hee finally confesses to the affair in Episode 11, Dong Hoon punches the door and then rests his battered hands on the ground. You know they’re in a painful conversation by just looking at this shot:
In Episode 13, the awkwardness of this moment, as well as the difference between Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee’s choice of drinks are highlighted here:
There are several close-up scenes of Ji An’s hands scattered through the early and middle episodes of the show. However, this particular moment in Episode 12 is always heartwarming to watch even if Ji An’s apprehension comes through. Jung Hee is just so effervescent and welcoming and Ji An isn’t too sure about it:
In the later episodes, as Dong Hoon and Ji An’s story becomes more ardent and entwined, close-ups of both of their hands appear more frequently:
When Dong Hoon finds out the truth about the wiretap in Episode 14, he has to keep it together and get his message across:
And Ji An, caught out, is so penitent (Episode 15):
Shortly afterward, Dong Hoon goes to the police station to see Ki Bum:
Another character whose hands appear in significant ways is Kwang Il.
In Episode 8, after Kwang Il sees Dong Hoon and Ji An sharing a drink together, he isn’t too happy as his partner asks him what’s up between Ji An and the new guy:
Later, Kwang Il is listening in on the wiretap recordings in Episode 15 and he can’t help but be affected. His hand starts out as a closed fist but by the end of the sequence his fingers are intertwined. He’s no less tense but he’s certainly feeling less hostile.
Running away from the private detective, Kwang Il eventually finds a place where he can send the USBs to Dong Hoon in Episode 16. In the end, the hands that repeatedly abused Ji An have the chance to do something to protect her and Dong Hoon. As Kwang Il walks down the street, his hands are loose by his side and he looks lost in thought, trying to remember the boy he once was.
Another relationship that PDnim decided to feature through hands is the one between Jung Hee and Gyeom Duk. Three simple frames tell a profound story:
There’s one thing Jung Hee holds onto tightly that she just can’t have (Epsidoe 13):
And Gyeom Duk is so rattled by Jung Hee’s visit that he needs days to recover (Episode 15):
Back in Hugye, in Episode 16, Gyeom Duk seeks out Jung Hee and they finally get the closure they need. This is a wide shot, but notice the hands:
So…what to make of all this? Why are there so many scenes of hands? I think PDnim wanted to draw us in, over the course of 16 episodes, to slowly but surely notice what people’s hands were saying. In doing so, we would gain confidence that we were understanding the emotions and inner life of these dear people. Sometimes the words are obscure and veiled, but the hands don’t lie. Defeat, discomfort, resignation, sorrow….the hands have shown it all in My Mister.
Someone else said earlier that we know the code because PDnim and writernim taught it to us. In the case of the hands, the show is telling us to keep paying attention because the characters’ hands are speaking significant things, and true things.
Which, by the end of our story, leads us to this truth:
Now that Dong Hoon has seen Ji An again, his love for her comes through boldly and confidently (albeit subtly!).
Interestingly, I didn’t notice many close-ups of Yu Ra or Ki Hoon’s hands. I wonder if this is because PDnim wants us to pay attention to their words instead, since Ki Hoon is a mouthpiece for Dong Hoon and Yu Ra speaks for Ji An.