Park Dong Hoon and Lee Ji An’s relationship is the most beautiful thing that I have seen in a Korean drama. I never thought I would see the day when I would be able to completely “feel” a relationship between two individuals – without the overly dramatic skinship that seems so shallow to me nowadays. There are no love confessions here – no kisses, hugs and hand holding. But somehow it feels more real to me than anything I have seen. Their relationship is something so unique from anything I have experienced, something that we as viewers cannot box into any stereotype.
Dong Hoon’s relationship with Ji An is not like family (his bond with his brothers and mother is not comparable to this); nor is it that of a colleague (as we see the dynamic with his co-workers in a different light). It is not like a spouse (contrast this to the broken relationship with his wife). I wouldn’t say that their relationship is strictly friendship either (like him visiting Sang Hoon once in a while, and catching up on each other’s lives). What Dong Hoon feels for Ji An is not romantic, no, that cheapens the depth of their relationship. His feelings for this girl roots from the depth of his entire being. It is as if he has been finally found. It is as if he cannot breathe without her. He just needs her by his side forever. As viewers, if we notice the subtle details in the story, we realize the uncountable times Dong Hoon looks for Ji An, waits for her, worries and thinks about her. Earlier in one of the episodes, he says, “There is someone who knows a lot about me. And I think I know a lot about her too. I’m sad, I’m sad she knows who I am.” Who I am. As humans, our most basic desire is to know and be known by another. Strangely, this is the most difficult and miraculous thing. But Dong Hoon has found his other half. And what he has found is irreplaceable – no other human (no wife, family, friends, children) can provide him this pure love that Lee Ji An has shown him.
I just want to cry as I think about all of this. I’m so overly emotional about their relationship. What is so absolutely beautiful to me is that these two people come from different backgrounds. They have grown up in different generations. Dong Hoon grew up with his family – he has a wife and a kid, a full time job. He is an average middle aged man. But then we have Ji An who grew up as a poor orphan, without any stable source of income. She is merely a kid who had to grow up too fast. Yes, I understand that there is a huge age gap and social taboo which I’m glad is mentioned quite a few times in the drama. But none of that matters. None of the social identities define the relationship between Park Dong Hoon and Lee Ji An. Their love is beyond anything of this world. And that is why it is the most beautiful thing to me.
Sometimes I think about Ji An as a character and I get so sad. This girl can’t catch a break, but she is so strong. And finally, after all these years, she is validated and adored by a man who wants to stand beside her forever. Someone who doesn’t judge her social status. Someone who sees through her complex actions and difficult personality. Someone who wants to see her grow and experience happiness together. Nothing, and I mean, nothing, is more beautiful than this sincere bond. The way these two broken people are able to comfort each other, and provide love without seeking any ulterior motive, without the end result of being a couple or whatever. It’s not about “will they get together? will they not?” It’s way more than that. It’s about fulfilling a basic desire that most humans never get to experience. It’s about finding true understanding and happiness from love. Not just any kind of love. But a deep love that is so completely pure and boundless. Love is such a complex emotion. It doesn’t care about social identity, age, gender, wealth, race, ethnicity etc. It’s about the deep feelings we share with someone who can finally get us. Love which helps us to cure the ultimate loneliness and pain of living. Love which helps us to find meaning in life. Love which helps us to keep going. To be honest, I have learned so much about true love from the relationship between these two. In the truest and most pure sense. I’m so happy that this love story exists.