Dong Hoon and His Cigarettes
Dong Hoon goes to the convenience store, buys cigarettes, and then throws them away on two different occasions.
The first time takes place in Episode 2 when he’s lost the bribe. He goes to the store, buys it all, throws it all away, and then the next thing he does is visit Yoon Hee in her office and tell her what’s happening.
One thinks nothing of this until Episode 4 when he goes to the store, buys it all, throws it all away again, and then the next thing he does is visit the condo villa owner and force him to bring the fruit basket to Sang Hoon. Smoking supposedly gives Dong Hoon courage to confront the condo villa owner. Which makes me wonder if writernim wanted to convey that smoking was also supposed to give him courage to go to Yoon Hee and share about the bribe.
If this was writernim’s intent, it was an early sign that their marriage wasn’t as strong as it should have been. One would think Dong Hoon would feel comfortable telling Yoon Hee about the missing bribe without needing courage…but perhaps he didn’t.
Sickness and Heartache
In Episode 6, we see a curious scene where Dong Hoon goes to the pharmacy and seems to take a pill.
When Yoon Hee finds him at home later, she sees a pitcher of tea and a pharmacy packet on a tray:
She says, “Right. You only stop drinking when you are sick.”
The first time I saw this, I thought it was a strange, random scene.
Fast-forward to Episode 13 when Sang Hoon and Ki Hoon learn Yoon Hee has cheated.
Ki Hoon remarks, “Hyeong will get sick. I’ve heard there are a lot of people who’ve been cheated on and gotten sick from the heartache.”
So Dong Hoon actually was sick from heartache and now Ki Hoon gives the narrative of that curious scene! Writernim was ingenious for inserting that scene in Episode 6 without much comment, then bringing it back around in Episode 13 to tell us what had occurred.
Ki Hoon has the Key
In Episode 10, a seemingly random moment happens. Yoon Hee visits the brothers at the cleaning office for the first time and gives them a plant as a gift. As they go up the stairs Ki Hoon says, “I have the key.”
Inside the office, Sang Hoon and Yoon Hee catch up while Ki Hoon looks for a place to put the plant:
Ki Hoon finally finds a place for it in the corner:
And he likes what he sees:
Knowing that PDnim always has a reason for everything, what does this sequence mean? To me, when Ki Hoon says, “I have the key,” it means we’re supposed to pay attention to him. So we follow him around the office as he tries to find a good place for the plant. We’re happy when he succeeds and we’re content when he’s content with the “framing” of the “scene.”
Going deeper, though, even in this scene Ki Hoon is the “key” to Dong Hoon and Dong Hoon’s inner world. Yoon Hee is beautiful like the plant, as well as accomplished and intelligent. In many respects she’s the ideal wife.
Nevertheless, now that Dong Hoon knows she has cheated, he wonders what to do and where he should “place” her. At this point in the show he has made the decision to keep up the appearance of a happy marriage. Even though he’s dying inside, he’s content with the framing of the scene. (At least, that’s what he tells himself.)
It’s not until the following episode, Episode 11, that Dong Hoon finds out that Yoon Hee knows that he knows about her affair. After that their marriage really shatters open.
But in this moment in the cleaning office, when Ki Hoon tells us he has the key, he’s showing the viewers Dong Hoon’s current emotional situation and plan.
The Red Cross
Another poster previously mentioned Ji An and the red cross, the juxtaposition of the two symbolizing how she saved Dong Hoon during their months together. I noticed two other scenes when the cross is shown.
In Episode 8 when they’re walking home together, Ji An pauses right underneath the cross, reinforcing her relationship to it:
And in Episode 13 when Ji An stands outside her door at dawn before running away, the camera focuses on the cross and then blurs it out as it pans to Ji An:
Dong Hoon doesn’t know it yet but Ji An is leaving his side. The blurring of the cross (and Ji An) foreshadow the bewilderment and disorientation that he is about to go through. Poor guy.
When Dong Hoon looks for Ji An in Episode 14, he knocks on her door but doesn’t try to break in:
Compare Dong Hoon to Kwang Il who also looks for Ji An. In Episode 16, Kwang Il speeds over to her place and bursts in:
The contrast is startling. Even when Dong Hoon is desperate to find her he never violates Ji An’s boundaries. Yet Kwang Il constantly does.
Alone in a Circle
In Episode 15, when Dong Hoon asks Yoon Hee if she knows Ji An, his chair is set in a circular carpet. I thought it subtly, smartly represented how alone he felt.
Last but not least, after Ji An leaves for Busan and Dong Hoon has his cathartic breakdown, there are several ladybugs on the leaves outside Ki Hoon’s window!
Ladybugs begin the show, and they begin the time skip. New beginnings indeed.