Hello all, and hope you are well! I’m here with something different for a change. This is not the type of drama I usually go for, as the slice of life genre has never really been all too appealing for me. No hate, of course. There have been many profound contributions made in the kdrama realm courtesy of this genre. It’s just that I tend to gravitate toward more thrill inducing, escape reality type content when it comes to both my drama watching and reading. Watching My Mister happened merely on a whim. After giving up on Mr. Sunshine due to a snore inducing first three episodes—no shade at the beautiful cinematography and costumes—I felt pressured to make up for lost time by binge watching a different drama. I don’t know if I was in some sort of weird mood that day or what, but somehow, I picked something out of my comfort zone, and decided upon the highly praised My Mister. I’m happy to say that it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
[Be Forewarned: Spoilers Below].
Solid Acting and Characters: Lee Sun Kyun was superb as the downtrodden, but noble Park Dong Hoon. It’s difficult to play a reserved character without looking stiff as a board, but Lee Sun Kyun exudes such ease and authenticity, that Dong Hoon came across naturally. Thanks to Ji An, Dong Hoon was able to do a lot of growing and healing. He was able to find his voice, speak up about what made him uncomfortable, and stand up for himself when he was being mistreated. Prior to meeting Ji An, Dong Hoon let a lot slide, and was unaware of his own value or self-worth. As the only successful and independent member of the family, there was immense pressure for Dong Hoon to maintain an certain image and sustain his standard of living in order to keep his family at ease and allow their dignity to remain in tact. This challenge had such a drastic effect on his morale and rightfully so. Just because he was married to a beautiful woman while earning a decent check at a large company, didn’t mean his life was splendid. In fact, everything in his life was in shambles. People only saw what they wanted to see, and didn’t look beneath the surface to find out if everything was really as it appeared to be. When Ji An comes along, she recognizes how awful Dong Hoon’s life is, and validates his misery rather than preaching to him about what he should be grateful for. The two are able to cultivate a mutual understanding for each other’s hardships, which ultimately provides them with the strength to keep going. Aside from aiding Dong Hoon, Ji An also played a key role in helping Dong Hoon’s wife realize the worth of her husband.
IU did an outstanding job as Lee Ji An. I could feel how defeated she was through my screen. Just looking at her was enough to know that she was a woebegone soul. I was impressed with IU this time around, contrary to the disappointment and doubts I had following her underwhelming Scarlet Heart Ryeo performance, she managed to prove herself as an actress in this role. IU had full command of her character’s demeanor and delivered a convincing, satisfying portrayal of a young woman struggling to stay afloat in a cruel world. Ji An was a gratifying character. Despite everything she was going through, she trudged through with her all her strength, tough mentality, and independence. I could really connect with Ji An, who hustled to take care of her disabled grandmother. Her grandmother required a lot of monitoring and hands on aid. As someone who takes care of a physically and mentally disabled family member myself—one who also necessitates 24/7 care—this piece of her story really resonated with me in a special way. Dong Hoon is able to help Ji An just as she was able to help him. He not only recognizes the harsh predicament she’s in, but treats her well with no selfish motivations behind it. Perhaps the best gift he gave Ji An was much needed (non-romantic) love and acceptance. His non-judgemental attitude when it came to her background was crucial to her own healing. Rather than freak out upon hearing that Ji An had killed someone in the past, Dong Hoon refused to jump to conclusions, listened to everything Ji An had to say, and sympathized with her plight, knowing that it was merely and act of self-defense. His constant reassurance and insistence to support Ji An, helped to lift the weighty guilt and fear that had been lying on her shoulders all these years.
Jang Ki Young also had a notable performance as Kwang Il. He was very expressive and the pent up anger that radiated off of him was perfectly representative of Kwang Il. Obviously Kwang Il was not a stand up kind of guy. Beating the shit out of a young girl and harassing her for loan payments is extremely scummy. However, that was not all there was to this character, who even in his most violent moments, showed signs of conflict and trauma. Growing up with an abusive father was probably not easy, and can explain a lot of his volatile behavior. Nonetheless, this cannot excuse his actions. Not everyone who undergoes extreme violence and trauma turns into the same kind of monster. I do give Kwang Il some credit, as he clearly was not completely heartless or without morals. It is shown by the end, that he had actually taken care of Ji An a lot when he was a child, and protected her from his father. I assume that this all changed once she murdered his father in self defense. Even though he probably despised his father, it was most likely still a heavy loss, and a nightmarish reality to see that it had been done by Ji An. I also get the feeling that he was taking out the feelings he harbored against his father, on Ji An. I like that we leave without a totally negative view of Kwang Il, who has a bit of a redemption when he helps out Ji An by handing over the audio files needed to convict Do Joon Young. I would have liked to have spent more time with his character. A lot scenes were seemingly wasted on Dong Hoon’s two brothers. It would have been better to devote a chunk of that time to Kwang Il and his story as well, as he made for a more interesting character than some of the others, especially Ki Hoon and Yoo Ra.
Park Ho San always delivers, so I was happy to see him in this role. I felt like I was able to enjoy his character of eldest brother Park Sang Hoon, thanks to Park Ho San’s quirky antics. Had he been played by anyone else, I’m not so sure I would have felt the same. There is just something about Park Ho San’s performance that makes Sang Hoon lovable, despite all of his flaws. Sang Hoon’s growth over the episodes was amazing to watch. In the beginning, I worried that his character might be as much of a throw away as Ki Hoon, but I ended up enjoying Sang Hoon’s arc a lot more than I thought I would. Sang Hoon is arguably the most childish and dependent of the three brothers when the show starts out, but he manages to do a lot of maturing in a short period of time. The love that he had for his two brothers was quite evident, as he was the most emotionally open of the trio as well. My favorite Sang Hoon moment comes at the end. Sang Hoon helps Ji An take care of the funeral by investing all of the money he’d been saving up to fill the halls and altar with a plentiful offering. The most beautiful part about this scene, how it meshes with his own fears and dreams regarding his mother’s funeral. One of Sang Hoon’s biggest worries was that the brothers wouldn’t be able to send their mother off properly when the time came. When Sang Hoon saw that the barren hall and altar that he feared for his own mother, was a stark reality for Ji An and her grandmother, he realized he could do something to change that, even if it meant sacrificing his hard earned money. Not only was it touching, but it really marked a turn around for his character, and was probably my favorite moment of the entire show.
Lastly, Kim Young Min succeeded at portraying an absolutely detestable antagonist. I have probably never hated someone on screen as much as I hated this weasel. Do Joon Young was filth from beginning to end. A proper apology never crossed his lips and a sign of remorse was nowhere to be found. Kim Young Min had those greasy, instigative faces down to a science. Not a single moment passed by where I didn’t want to deliver this man a knuckle sandwich free of shipping and handling charges. He, and his henchman were two of the only characters in the entire show that refused to admit to their faults and bear the consequences of their actions. It was clear that if they had been able to get away with everything, they surely would have, and never would have owned up to any of it had they not been caught.
Nice Cinematography: The overall appearance of the show was slick, clean, and reflective of tone. The camera work was also reliably steady and it was clear to me that the production made use of a more expensive lens, which really upped the quality and is always a nice touch. This was an extremely thoughtfully directed show. I appreciated the gloomy tint that pervaded each frame until the use of light slowly entered the picture in the latter half of the drama. The use of light and dark here was magnificent. Most notably in the final two episodes, the scenes grew brighter and lighter as our main characters solidified their bond and lifted themselves out of the rut they’d been trapped in for a long while.
Perfect OST: Anyone who has read my reviews before is most likely aware of how ruthless I am when it comes to critiquing OSTs. When it comes to vocal tracks, I am even more unforgiving than I am with the instrumentals, because it is rare that I approve of them or find them appropriately applied to their respective scenes. My Mister pleasantly surprised me with its nonintrusive, delicate soundtrack. This proved to be an extremely rare case where I thoroughly enjoyed most of the vocal tracks on the album. I loved how subtle but fitting they were for the overall atmosphere of the drama. Rather than serving as a distraction, these pieces really complemented the mood the drama was going for. Most importantly, they were pleasant on the ear. My favorite tracks were “Dear Moon” by Jehwi, and “There is a Rainbow” by Vincent Blue. Both were soft, beautiful, and perfectly matched the tone the drama was going for.
Thoughtful Message: The rawness and authenticity of this drama and how it presents the unforgiving, harsh nature of life really resonated with me. It showed us that hardship is just as legitimate for those in their twenties as it is for those in their forties or fifties. Misery knows no age, and can plague just about anyone. There was something so beautiful about the relationships that developed between Ji An and Dong Hoon. I definitely would not deem it a romantic relationship. I’m not sure it’s something that could be categorized by words. The way the two of them loved, accepted, and supported each other without any selfish underlying reasons, was what made their bond so remarkable and prized. Regardless of their age gap, Ji An and Dong Hoon were able to show compassion toward each other, and find take comfort in the fact that they had each other to rely on as they plodded through their grievances. For me, Ji An’s grandmother made the most poignant remark of the entire show:
“If you think about it, each and every interpersonal relationship is quite fascinating and precious. You must repay them. Live a happy life. That’s how you can repay the people in your life.”
I think this messaged is embodied in the way that Dong Hoon and Ji An, his brothers, and his neighborhood friends all gathered together, cherished each other, and supported each other. They may not be living the most glamorous lives, or making the most money, but their love for each other is where happiness can be found. Life is not about the material possessions you have or the positions you hold, but instead about the people you meet, how you impact them, and how they impact you. If you can learn to cherish the people around you, happiness is possible.
Irksome Subplots: I absolutely hated the whole arc surrounding Ki Hoon and Yoo Ra’s character. It was incredibly irritating to watch it unfold, it was repetitive, most—if not all—of her dialogue was a cringe fest, and I think none of it contributed anything worthy or positive to the overall story. It could have been completely cut out, which would have made the drama a lot more enjoyable, and bogged down by a lot less filler. There wasn’t a single scene between those two that I found significant or entertaining. Nothing profound came out of her mouth. I found her character’s constant whining and blaming, extremely grating and her presence horribly awkward. Not that the director brother was any better, because I found his character to be a complete waste of my time when it came to these scenes as well. Even the eldest brother had a lot more to bring to the table, and he was a much more entertaining character to watch even if his scenes were filler too. I understand they wanted to show a transformation for Ki Hoon too, but I found the writing of Ki Hoon’s character and Yoo Ra’s pretty horrid and felt they could have done much better coming up with a better arc for the two.
Boring Office Politics: I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the drama circulating between the petty higher ups in the office with their competition to oust each other. Of course, I’m not ever a fan of politics in most modern settings if I’m being honest. I don’t enjoy hospital politics, I don’t enjoy office politics, and I certainly don’t enjoy police politics or law firm politics. The only setting where I’m unbothered by politics is the historical setting. Naturally, I was annoyed every time we revisited the angry middle aged men fighting over who should be the next CEO, director, manager, etc. All of that honestly bored me to tears. I understand why it was there, and that it provided the backbone of Han Dong Hoon’s hardships, but unfortunately, that didn’t make the subject any more entertaining. I found Lee Ji An’s arc a lot more captivating than Han Dong Hoon’s, and even though I am positive that there are many people who could probably relate to Han Dong Hoon’s office troubles story, it didn’t make for a very compelling watch on screen. I much preferred his scenes that were non-office related; the scenes with his brothers, Lee Ji Ahn, complications between his wife, etc.
This drama speaks for itself. Usually my reviews are long-winded in an attempt to find closure for myself or provide it to my fellow viewers. My Mister is unique in that it gave me all the closure I sought. I wasn’t left with a long list of scenes, ideas, or problems that needed to be worked out in a wall of textual analysis. It’s rare that a drama leaves me tongue-tied, but I really feel that no words of mine could do this thoughtful production justice. This is one of those dramas that a person just needs to see for themselves in order to understand the emotional gratification it has to offer. If you’re hesitant about giving My Mister a try, I highly recommend taking a chance. I promise you it will be well worth it.
Did you watch My Mister? What did you think of the drama? If you haven’t already, you can check out the preview for it here.