Originally published on Dramamilk, March 20, 2018
My Ajusshi is finally starting, good Lord, it feels like it has taken forever. We are flying by the seat of our pants with this first live recap, so bear with us. It usually takes a couple episodes for us to figure out the pacing of a drama, the names, the best time to update, etc. But there shouldn’t be too many hiccups.
From the trailer, it looks like this drama will have a lot of quiet moments, which I can appreciate. This is one of the dramas I am most looking forward to of the Spring releases (and Pretty Noona) so my expectations are sky high. I know I need to bring them back to reality, but I don’t want to!
Shorthand (Shorthand Character Chart)
Park Dong-hoon DH | Lee Ji-ahn – JA | Park Sang-hoon – SH | Park Ki-hoon – KH | Kang Yoon-hee – YH | Lee Guang-il – GI
MY AJUSSHI / MY MISTER LIVE RECAP EPISODE 1
We open at a construction firm. People are looking at CAD drawings and working on their computers. There are a lot of screenshots of architectural designs on the computer as well as daily activities in an office. It all looks very real and there are a lot of cool blues and muted tones. Then we cut in on our main person park Dong-hoon. We also see that the person putting all the receipts together is Lee Ji-ah.
But then someone screams so everyone looks at her. There is a bug that is flying around. But is it a bug camera? We see things from the perspective of this little bug. It is a cute little ladybug that they are freaking out about, but then DH tries to grab it slowly and delicately. JA ignores all of this. The bug lands on JA but she ignores it. DH tries to carefully and considerately remove this bug from JA’s sleeve…slowly….slowly….but JA just kills it and puts it in the trashcan.
She keeps typing.
DH takes one more look at JA and everyone goes back to their seats with the girl who screamed saying how shocking it was. The men talk about bugs and how they can’t even kill one in their own car. They can’t kill rabbits or pigs. But DH asks them, if it bothers your mind then you can’t even kill a bug. He shows one of the people how you have to kill a pig, but then they get to work because their boss walks by with a stamp and stars circling his head. He is director Yoon.
Director Yoon tells them that it costs a lot of money every minute. Also, DH is a manager so he is more expensive then everyone else. He leaves and DH pulls out some bills, he tells one of his guys to give him his money.
JA sorts out more letters and starts handing them out to everyone with a stone face. The office is quiet and melancholy once again as she walks to all of their desks. But she gives the wrong letter to DH that he doesn’t notice until after JA walks away. He gets up, presumably to tell her, but he sees JA stealing coffee in the break room and sits back down. The CCTV caught her, but she didn’t know it was there.
Up in the video room, we see director park looking at all the CCTV. His face is illuminated with the circle stamp and stars as well, blue in this case. But Director Park isn’t concerned with JA, he is only concerned with looking at a text message of someone on the elevator. From his perspective, we meet all the higher ups in the building. The cell phone guy is in a meeting with Director Park and Executive Director Wang2. He says he was just testing someone. But they tell him to go to the US, his seat will still be here. Ah, so this is company power games. One of the suits wants someone (?) to go to the US so they are talking to JY, the CEO about sending someone to the US. Everyone thinks JY is an A-hole.
DH leaves and gets some quick money from the atm. Then he buys one of his brothers a new suit. His brother needs a suit for his daughter’s wedding but the older brother doesn’t want to take all his younger brothers money. DH says his wife won’t be able to attend. They argue about the suit money a little, but it is just brotherly banter back and forth. Meanwhile, the other brother is outside arguing about work-related things on the phone.
There is a building that didn’t pass the safety inspection. But something funny is going on, it looks like the building was okay but they didn’t pass it just so that they can work on it again get more money? (Not sure about this).
Cut to the CEO with a 2G cell phone on the run somewhere. He asks where someone is and takes a taxi somewhere. He goes into a hotel room and asks the woman waiting if she ate dinner yet. Ah, this is DH’s wife! Maybe they are having an affair? She doesn’t look happy, she tells him that he can call her at any time, but he doesn’t call her at all. The CEO says a lot of people can take his seat, he isn’t the owner’s son or anything, so his job isn’t safe. So, he has to be careful with his cell phone. If people figure out their relationship then it won’t be good. But she is crestfallen, she misses him and it makes her angry. He hugs her and says he knows. They talk about what they want to eat and YH says she wants to go somewhere far away because she told her husband she was on a business trip.
The three brothers drink and watch sports at a bar and shoot the breeze. The oldest brother tells the youngest brother to not do action movies, he should make a scary movie about Ajusshi’s. Then he starts to tell the tale of the Ajusshi story. Th ajusshi is in bed. No one comes to his mother’s funeral and he breaks his back and can’t move for 3 days, but no one comes. He tries to lift a cup, but his back breaks more. He can’t even blink and just looks at the sky and cries. It will be called: My Financially Broken Brother. The main character will turn into a bad guy and make a lot of money and slash all the people that mocked him! And he flies! Flies! and…dies. Wouldn’t that be cool?
KH says they have a legendary saying in the movie industry, your own story is only interesting to you. SH says it would be interesting, it would be daebak. DH brings up that you need one more thing…woman. One agrees and one disagrees.
Somewhere in town, JA is washing dishes in a restaurant. She also sneaks out the leftover food in a plastic glove and hides it secretly in her pocket. Then we cut to DH in a quiet subway train and the camera scans to the cityscape as the subway drives him home. It is a reflective scene as DH isn’t really looking at anything, but then he sees sneakers on a girl who has no socks. He looks up and sees JA standing in those sneakers. Hmm, doesn’t he know her? He leans to the right as he tries to see the side of her face….he knows her, right?
They get off the train and DH walks casually and curiously behind her, but their paths diverge at the street as he continues on his way and she on hers.
Ji-ahn walks to a poor neighborhood on the top of a hill. She goes inside her home quietly and pours some water into a pitcher. It is so dark in her house, it’s actually hard to make out what she is doing, but it looks like she is boiling some hot water. Then she takes out all the food she collected from the restaurant and starts preparing her dinner. She makes herself a cup of coffee with the stick coffee’s she stole and starts eating the stolen leftover customer’s food at her second job.
In the background is Lee Guang-il watching her.
JA doesn’t notice him there, or maybe she does and ignores him. He tells her that she eats that and survives. Why doesn’t she turn on the light? JA gives him some money without really acknowledging his presence. He tells her that she gives him little by little, does she wants to see him more? He hates coming to this place, he told her that.
She keeps eating.
Someone’s phone goes off, maybe JA’s phone? It looks like it is a phone call from the nursing home. Cut to the nursing home. One of the nurses is yelling at a halmoni and asking her if her granddaughters phone changed? This person is yelling, but perhaps she is just talking loudly because it looks like this halmoni might be hard of hearing.
JA is at the nursing home looking at her halmoni; Halmoni looks happy to see her, but Halmoni motions for her to leave, just go away. But she doesn’t leave. Instead, she calls a boy, but the boy doesn’t pick up. Maybe this is her little brother (got word in the comments that this might be a friend she helped out)? He is at a gaming cafe. JA texts him to come to the nursing home and then goes back inside to see about her halmoni.
Her halmae wakes up as JA tries to break her out. She rolls the halmoni away while she is still in her bed, like she is Michael in The Godfather, and pulls her halmoni’s bed into the elevator; she rolls it to the first floor, but she is almost caught by a nurse. She does manage to get it outside though and rolls her grandmother away from the nursing home, over speed bumps, and out into the night.
A car with its lights on drives by JA and her grandmom; it honks. A woman in the car sees this strange sight sees her leaving but JA tries to hide her face and look inconspicuous. Then we cut to JA buying drinks at a grocer. She has managed to transfer her halmae from the bed to a shopping cart and bundled her up so she is nice and warm. Then she sees her brother (the boy she called) coming up to them. He says he doesn’t have any money so he couldn’t come here, but then he jumps when he sees this halmae in the shopping cart.
Cut to the boy carrying their Halmoni all the way upstairs to their place. JA tells him to take her to the restroom twice a day and she can take care of everything else. Visit twice a day. But the boy says he has to do gaming, it is difficult to stop the game in the middle. JA tells their halmae that the boy will come twice a day. When he comes, go to the bathroom and don’t open the door for anyone. Halmae tells her that she can’t hear or stand up, so its fine.
JA goes to the tiny makeshift kitchen on the wall and puts 3 packs of stick coffee in a cup and drinks it all.
Cut to a bright wedding. It is Park Sang-soon’s daughter’s wedding and it is a big juxtaposition from JA’s life. The oldest brother is greeting all the guests and the two younger ones are collecting all the money. But it looks like something is going on with the brothers and the money? Are they hiding some of the money? SH touches his nose a lot so it looks like he is signaling something, but maybe not? Ah, when he touches his nose the younger brother needs to take that person’s money out. The brother’s wife doesn’t know the people whose money they take out, so she will never know it is missing. The older and younger brother are taking the money and splitting it between them, but DH didn’t know any of this and starts to ruin their plans. He grabs one of the envelopes and tries to keep the brother from putting it in their secret stash.
The older brothers wife notices and comes up to them, she opens the drawer and, lo and behold, a lot of money has been put aside. She sighs as if it isn’t the first time. Cut to her dragging SH out and arguing with him about this. He says it isn’t stealing because it is his own daughter’s wedding. Inside all the immediate family members hear them arguing. The mother of the three brothers looks concerned and dejected by her sons’ behavior as well. But she can’t kick the oldest out so she kicks the youngest out. The youngest says he wanted to eat dinner (the wedding food), but he leaves anyway. It seems like the wife is the breadwinner yet SH wants to take money from the wedding.
Meanwhile, DH’s wife and the CEO are miles away on their romantic date on the beach. They are the only ones around and enjoy their time strolling. YH says they shouldn’t think about anything, they should just go as far as they can go and then retire and go to the country. She thinks she is still young, but when she was in her 20s, she never thought she would say that she was young at 40. The CEO hugs her and tells her that they are still young.
The three brothers eat at home together. SH shoots the breeze about how no one calls him anymore (about a job?). He tries to go out and buy coffee, but he doesn’t have that money. He got embarrassed at his daughter’s wedding trying to make money, his life is difficult. The youngest said they will come for their mothers funeral and give the money back.
Omma comes in and basically ask-shouts, when is her funeral? She tells DH, don’t hang out with your brothers. If he also comes to her house then she will kill herself. Ah, okay, it looks like the oldest and youngest live at home? She goes outside and starts peeling vegetables.
Inside, SH tells DH that he should keep his job, as soon as he loses his job, he will become like him. Youngest says that is a scary thought and they laugh. SH says don’t laugh, they are three poor brothers. But KH says they aren’t all poor, DH is the poorest, he always chose the right patch and not his desire.
Cut to DH at home. His wife is there too and asks how the wedding was. Was the food okay? Are they angry that she didn’t come? DH doesn’t really talk to her about it and just drinks his soju. She asks him if he wants some steamed eggs, but he doesn’t answer.
Then we see him at a worksite. Some workers are trying to fly a drone, but it isn’t working. Perhaps it is too cold so it is broken. But if the drone doesn’t work then someone will have to go to the top of this tower that looks so high in the air. On top of that, its the kind of tower where the stairs are outside and 90 degrees vertical up. But DG is on the job so he sucks it up, he goes way to the top and sees a big crack in the side. this does not look good. He pulls out his walkie and starts telling them all the dimensions of the crack and everything pertinent. Everyone watches him from below. To check the steel rebar inside the concrete, he pulls out a tiny rolling machine and has to leeeeeean over to get the complete length of the crack.
But then he slips and drops it! It crashes on the ground in front of the other workers. DH breaths heavy as he looks at the crashed remains from his vantage point high above.
After their job, they go back to their company, DH tells his team to wrap up and he will see Director Park. While walking to see the director he sees a vision of his team working hard in one of the rooms. Perhaps he is remembering a happier time? From the character description, DH used to be an architect but became a safety officer. DH sighs and grabs himself a drink in the cafe, then he sees JA organizing the paperwork.
DH – You shouldn’t have killed that ladybug. How far have you killed?
JA – Humans.
DH – Sorry.
He walks off and we cut to the CEO. Someone is arguing with the CEO about how bad Director Park is. They need to move first and slash one of his people, then they should put their person in that place. The CEO says that would be a risk, they need to put the least dangerous person in that position. The man leaves and calls someone for help on the matter.
Then we cut to DH talking to his mother. Omma wants DH’s older brother to open a snack food shop, at least. His brother might break if he doesn’t work anymore. She wants to borrow some money and put the house up on collateral. DH says she bought them the house. Omma says she doesn’t want to touch that house, no one will give us money for that house. It looks like DH’s brother, SH, doesn’t want to have the security job that everyone wants him to take.
Back at the company, a lot of people are at a meeting and one of the suits at the head asks the people sitting, who will take over this troublesome job? Dh is with his team and the other team is on the other side of the room. It seems like this man might want DH’s team to take on this case. The other teams are taking on a lot of cases and DH’s team is only doing 15 cases. But it looks like DH’s team only has 4 people and the other team has like 50 people. Also, DH’s team takes on hard big cases and the other team takes on easy small cases.
Cut to a grocery store. DH sees Ji-ahn again. He buys a lot of soju (and only soju) while she doesn’t have enough money for all her food. She puts some back and leaves. DH adds it to his cart and then runs to find her. But she is already gone.
Cut to the loan shark, GI, opening her door, illegally. She tells him that she told him not to go inside her house. But he says he will do all the things she doesn’t want him to do. They fight and he hits her several times. JA falls to the ground. GI tells her that her life is over, she won’t be able to pay back his money and she will be tortured by him forever. She says that he likes her. He bought her debt and is following her around, revenge is just an excuse. He looks annoyed and says she is brave, does she want him to kill her?
Cut to JA picking up her grandmother to take her to the bathroom. Later on that night, grandmother sleeps and JA wipes all the blood from her face. She opens up some more packs of stick coffee and makes herself a drink.
But she coughs as if it is difficult to drink it.
At the company, JA sports a busted lip and wears shades indoors; everyone looks at her. Even the director notices, but no one talks to her about it. DH keeps looking over at her.
Someone comes in with a quick delivery and drops it off with Park Dong-hoon. He signs for it and opens it. What???? There is a lot of cash inside and a thank you note. He quickly hides it. Perhaps it was about the safety inspection? DH looks around to see if anyone is looking at him and puts the envelope in a drawer. But then he sees JA looking right at him, or maybe she is sleeping? It’s hard to tell with her shades on.
The day goes by, morning turns to night and everyone slowly starts to go home. DH stays. He just waits for JA to leave, but she is still there. DH thinks about something and then decides to open his drawer, but JA appears out of nowhere and stops him cavalierly, she asks if he can buy her some dinner, she is hungry.
Cut to them both eating dinner together and not talking. She still has her shades on. He stops eating and looks at her, but she continues. Finally, she finishes and he gets up to leave, but she tells him that they should drink soju. He says he has to go home early, but we cut to them at a bar.
They are awkward though, DH mentions that it is dark, why the sunglasses? She shows him her messed up eye. He creeps back and tells her to leave him, there are a lot of men in the world. She asks him if he has ever hit a woman and he says no, never. She just wanted to ask him what it felt like. He asks her if she is cold…her feet. Does she have long socks? He starts drinking fast and she asks him if he is in a hurry.
But then the younger brother walks by and sees DH and JA sitting together. Western standoff music starts playing. KH texts him, who is that next to you? DH turns and sees his brother at the window, he sighs.
They leave, JA tells DH to just go home today and leaves. Both brothers come out and ask DH who that person was. He says it is an employee. They tell him that you don’t do those things with regular employees.
DH goes back to the company, but the elevator is undergoing maintenance. He goes up the stairs but sees all the security cameras. Someone is watching him from one of the CCTV as well and wonders who he is.
DH leaves quickly.
While walking home, he calls his wife, would she like anything? She tells him that he can buy whatever he likes. They hang up and the wife starts working on some paperwork.
Meanwhile, JA goes to see the cleaner. She says it is bribery money so he can’t report it, it doesn’t matter who gets the money. The cleaner reluctantly turns off all the power in the building and checks his clock. Cut to JA running up the stairs on a mission. All the security team wonder, what is going on? They call the mechanical room but no one is answering. JW gets the money and runs back to the front. All the security People come out with their flashlights up and start inspecting the place. But then the lights turn back on and we see that JA made it back to the cleaners. They don’t greet each other when she pops back out.
Security is high in the building. DH goes inside and sits at his desk apprehensively. He looks in his drawer, but the money is gone. He even gets on his hands and needs to rummage through the drawer, but it isn’t there. This catches the attention of his colleagues, they ask him if he lost something but he says it isn’t anything. He keeps looking though. However, he comes to the realization that it is gone. Then he looks over at JA’s seat and thinks back to her telling him that they should eat together. He goes over to her desk and asks where she is. She hasn’t come in yet.
He asks for her cell phone number but no one knows it. Then DH starts going through JA’s desk to try and find her number.
Meanwhile, the company man asks if the money had been sent. It looks like they are trapping DH. DH is under Director Park so perhaps they want to trap director Park. The suit calls to report bribery money and we see some people go into Director Parks office.
They tell director Park that he received 50,000 dollars from CCTV. Ah, Director Park and park Do-hoons names are similar, so it looks like they delivered the bribery money to the wrong person! They check the CCTV and see that there was no package delivered to him. They quickly decide to follow the quick-service person on CCTV.
Meanwhile, DH is all kinds of nervous and looks at all the CCTV around him, he leaves his desk. He goes to the lobby on the first floor and sees the security looking around. This makes him even more nervous so he goes back to the elevator. But then he sees someone running out on the phone and watches him, frantic.
Upstairs the company man yells into the phone, It is Park Dong-oon, not Park Dong-hoon! But the CEO person is calm and says they can just make it Park Dong-hoon, it would make a good story. They can just fire him like that. (Plus the CEO wants DH to be fired since he is sleeping with his wife).
Two suits come and grab DH away. Everyone wonders what is going on.
Ji-ahn comes in at that moment and DH calls to her as he is being dragged out, but she ignores him. He yells at her, Lee Ji-ahn shi….Lee Ji-ahn shi!
Finally, she turns and looks at him.
The oldest and youngest brothers talk about ramen as they walk down the street.
Y’all, I don’t know. I don’t know what to think about this first episode. It is so dark and melancholy without much brightness to it. It is just sad. With Live doing the realistic tone and now My Ajusshi, I just feel like it is too much on the realism front for my drama watching. I want something magical to set it off and make it new and different. I am giving it a shot though, I won’t give up on it just yet.