You may have seen or heard (or both!) the love letters Drama Geek and I have written about My Liberation Notes, the phenomenally written and beautifully filmed Park Hae Young drama that aired earlier this year. The complexity of the characters and the influence of their environment on their attitudes couldn’t be dismissed, and we reveled in the cinematic experience.
That experience made me revisit another Park Hae Young classic, My Mister. This post could have had so many other subtitles: Never Break the 4-Episode Rule, Why I Went Back and Watched My Mister 4 Years Later, This Writer Knows What She’s Doing, and many more. I wrote My Mister off four years ago, because after 2 episodes, I concluded it was a drama about two sad people and all the bad people doing selfish things to those sad people. I was right, but I was also wrong. Come see why My Liberation Notes made me trust writer Park Hae Young, and whether revisiting My Mister was one of the better uses of my time this year.
From MyDramaList.com: “Park Dong Hoon is a middle-aged engineer who is married to attorney Kang Yoon Hee. However, his life is not that happy as he has two unemployed brothers, Sang Hoon and Gi Hoon, who rely on him. Moreover, his wife is secretly having an affair with CEO Do Joon Yeong, his current boss and college junior.
Receiving an unexpected bribe one day, Dong Hoon notices that his co-worker Lee Ji An witnessed the incident. Ji An is a young part-time worker at Dong Hoon’s company who is drowning in debt and left alone to take care of her ill grandmother. Dong Hoon then gets entangled in his brothers’ struggle to get back on their feet and the company’s internal rivalry between the company’s CEO and the people opposing him, all the while unaware that CEO Joon Yeong wants to get rid of him and that Ji An is working for him.”
My Initial Reaction
Even this time around, four years after I had initially tried the drama, the first two episodes were difficult to get through. There are a LOT of forces working against our main leads. Everyone was horrible – the cheating wife and her smarmy lover, the C-level employees jockeying for a new position in the company and the minions supporting them, the obnoxious and unemployed brothers, the reluctant gamer cousin/brother/friend, the loan shark who kept beating Ji An up. The list was LONG.
There was also the fact that the writer didn’t just have Chekhov’s gun in the first few episodes – there was a freaking ARSENAL.
- Ji An’s loan shark wanted to send her to prison
- Ji An’s grandma needed assisted living and was most likely going to hold someone back
- the manipulative employees were framing whomever they can get their hands on, including Dong Hoon
- the brothers kept telling Dong Hoon that he couldn’t lose his job
And so forth. There were a TON of disastrous scenarios set up, and my poor nerves couldn’t take it.
What Made the Difference?
(Mild spoilers ahead.) HOWEVER, episode 2 resolved a lot of the arsenal, and in our leads’ favor. Ji An’s cousin wasn’t quite the deadbeat he was made out to be AND she paid on her loan while still clearing Dong Hoon’s name and letting him keep his job. The guns were now all in Ji An’s hands — she knew about the cheating wife, she knew the CEO was trying to get Dong Hoon fired, and she might have had a smidgen of compassion for Dong Hoon now that he’d FINALLY said thank you to her.
I was left with new questions: Would Ji An’s needs trump everyone else’s happiness? Would Dong Hoon finally have the blinders taken off? Would I ever like those immature brothers?
Having watched and loved My Liberation Notes, I knew the questions presented by Chekov’s Arsenal would be answered in a way that I didn’t expect, but that would make me love some of the most unlikeable characters. And it did.
Were episodes 3 and 4 any easier to watch? They were not, but by the end of episode 4, I was invested in the characters. I could finally move forward.
So what did it come down to? Trusting the writer.
And that’s what I did. My reward was watching two nice people – Ji An and Dong Hoon – move through their very, very sad lives, yet find happiness in little places. Just as Mi Jung was doing in My Liberation Notes, they were finding hope and support in bits and pieces, and it added up to a phenomenal ending.
Would I Recommend?
If you love deeply character-driven dramas or anything else Park Hae Young has written (My Liberation Notes, Another Miss Oh), then My Mister is for you. Be willing to wade through some hard stuff for 4 episodes, and then be prepared for the drama to quickly become compelling after that. I would give My Mister 9.5/10.
Until I break the 4-episode rule again, I remain –
Karie the Maknae
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi