I read with some mild interest at how viewers went up in arms at Young-ho’s remark before he kisses Joo-eun in ep6. Yunno, the one where he said “your body is mine, so you can’t resist”… To be honest, I didn’t find it particularly offensive, given the context and that the lady in question hadn’t protest.
In retrospect though, it is possible the writer slips in this phrase on purpose. And the purpose, I suppose, is Young-ho’s character build up. While Joo-eun may be less privileged, and comes from a single parent family (we learnt her dad died in an industrial accident in ep7 and his ex-company happily pushed the blame on the victim), she is more well-adjusted and emotionally balanced than the strait-laced Young-ho. Joo-eun’s family although poor, (and she has a younger sib that rely heavily on her financially), genuinely loves and respects her. She shares a cosy relationship with her mum, and her reliant younger brother isn’t such a horrible bloodsucker. He knows it’s wrong to continue to depend on his noona, and does try his best to repay her.
In contrast, the more well-to-do Young-ho seems to suffer from a dearth of familial love and affection. After his mum died in an accident, his dad somehow shuns him. I don’t really understand why he’d do that to his only son, even if he views him as “competitor” to the throne. But my guess is, his dad never really loved his wife or the family he is wedded to. Although Young-ho’s granny dotes on him, that doting is also tinged with a calculated purpose. She knows with the death of her only daughter, Young-ho is the only heir to Gahong and I assume she makes it very clear from Day 1 when Young-ho’s dad enters the household. In a way, Granny is entirely ok with breaking up any sorts of father-son bond, as long as Young-ho finally gets to sit in the Chairperson/ CEO position.
With so much baggage, it’s no wonder our hero attains adulthood without fully opening himself up to anyone, trusting anyone, much less love someone properly. Indirectly, his standoffish-ness gives him an aura of mystery, which he further cultivates by the pseudonym of Star Trainer “John Kim”. Unfortunately though, he is so used to keeping his identity under wraps that when Joo-eun finds out who he is (in the worst possible way), she flips. Unlike Young-ho, Joo-eun hates liars in her personal relationships — even people who lie to themselves (as she easily sees through current Soo-jin).
And to make matters worse, our rather low EQ Young-ho has to rub it in by questioning Joo-eun’s reason for her anger — he hasn’t proposed to her, or committed anything to her. (oh dear) Further proof that our brooding, secretive hero doesn’t really know how to love.