Drama Recaps
City Hall: Episode 1
by | July 9, 2009 | 121 Comments

(Note:  much gratitude and thanks must go to 0timelost, cleown, and mead33 @soompi, for their tireless efforts to edit my drafts, create screen caps, edit, do layout work, edit some more, comment, and then do more editing.  They didn’t want full credit, but since I am writing the recaps, I get to write that this project would not have happened without them.  Thank you so much guys!)

(Second note:  a humble and a very heartfelt thank you to Javabeans, for allowing this recap project to bloom).

INTRODUCTION TO CITY HALL.

Let’s get this out of the way: Forget what you heard or might have read about City Hall, the 20-episode SBS drama that began airing April 29, 2009 and ended July 2, 2009, with the irrepressible and incomparable Kim Sun Ah, she of the legendary drama series My Name Is Kim Sam Soon, and a relatively new face to the small screen – the very tall and instantly likeable Cha Seung Won.  My emotions with respect to this drama are all over the map, and I’ve never felt this way about any drama series I’ve ever watched.

Still, to be perfectly honest, the first few episodes of City Hall can be difficult to sit through, as the beginning may be a little choppy for some.  But for those with the patience to wade through the thickets of an entirely unfamiliar world of rural Korean politics, City Hall might end up being the fairy tale story that is worth waiting for.  Bear through these initial episodes and then strap in for one of the best dramas…maybe ever?

This story takes place in the land of the make-believe city of Inju, an unfashionable coastal city in Korea where all politics are indeed local.

EPISODE 1: The Beginning – A Rocky Start

City Hall Episode 1 opens with Election Day for a tiny village in the city of Inju. The village is voting on its Chief, and the vote is 25 to 24, with one abstention… we have a swing vote possibility! Who could it be?

We get our first look at our heroine, Shin Mi Rae, munching on kimchi pancakes.

 

“Hey, Shin Mi Rae! You haven’t voted!” Mi Rae, a junior secretary in the office of the Mayor of Inju, has learned from an early age that being completely neutral works for her, and she tries to do her best to become one with the food. The candidates immediately try to wheedle her swing vote, but fail to get her to vote at all, as the final tally remains 25 to 24, with one abstention. Mi Rae prefers the taste of fried spicy pancakes over the taste of power.

Civil Servant Rank 10 (lowest rank) Shin Mi Rae spends her days making tea and coffee for everyone at Inju’s government center, and does her best to keep out of the affairs of governance, which apparently, in Inju, means corruption as a daily routine.

But as Mi Rae is serving coffee to the City Council officials, she finds herself abruptly being questioned by irate Council members who are trying to get to the bottom of where Inju’s tax dollars went.  Teflon-coated Mayor Go Boo Shil greasily defends himself by stating that he doesn’t even know the meaning of the word “lobbying” (or the word, “chicken legs”) and plays dumb, which apparently isn’t too hard for him.

But with honest Mi Rae being questioned and struggling to find words that would neither implicate the Mayor nor lie outright… Min Joo Hwa, a City Council member and the chief brains behind Mayor Go’s corruption wagon – and honestly, quite a cutie in her own right – jumps in to save the day before Mi Rae is forced to spill the beans…

 …which then leads to the typical ending of yet another day in Inju’s City Council chambers.   What’s with Korean lawmakers and their penchant for “piling on”?

Following this near-debacle, Council Member Min Joo Hwa tries to browbeat Mi Rae, blaming her for nearly causing the Mayor’s slush fund, *ahem* budget, to be challenged.

But Mi Rae isn’t as defenseless as she appears to be.

“Hey! I may not have graduated from high school or finished middle school, and I may have been a Level 10 Civil Servant for 7 straight years without promotion, but don’t even think you can look down on me.”

Scary.

But with greater scrutiny over the Mayor’s slush fund coming, Mayor Go needs a new way to make cash to send to his political cronies.  The old “we’ll announce a bridge-building project but divert the funds” plan has been used too many times already.  City Council member Min Joo Hwa comes up with a new plan: to use the remaining budget for a beauty pageant, rig it so that an accomplice wins, and divert the contest’s prize! It’s a plan so crazy, it just might work…

With the new budget corruption scheme in place, two more characters are introduced, responsible for running the beauty pageant:

Mi Rae’s best friend, admin office worker Jung Boo Mi, a feisty ahjumma and mother of three, and Lee Jung Do, Director of the Culture and Tourism Bureau. Both are honest and hardworking, but are also cynical enough to know what’s really going on in the Korean version of Tammany Hall, and pragmatic enough to keep their eyes facing downward.

Rounding out the initial cast of characters are the mysterious and powerful BB, the man rumored to have handplaced the current President of Korea into the Blue House (the presidential seat of power, like the Korean version of the White House), and his number 1 protégé, Jo Gook

 BB is a man with incredible presence, intelligence and political influence. Jo Gook is his protege, who is working his way up the political ladder at the provincial level (one step above municipal, one step below national).  Jo Gook is drawn to BB for the same reasons that all ambitious men have – they are attracted to power… or so it seems?

From his Kennedy-esque compound, BB suddenly orders Jo Gook to go down to Inju and start doing… something.  Jo Gook is bewildered by the clear backwards step in his career (going from the provincial level back down to municipal level, and to a backwater municipality of no consequence like Inju at that), and argues against the plan. An annoyed BB dryly notes that he wasn’t asking, he was ordering. Jo Gook has no choice but to go.

With his rather ambiguous orders to stir things up in Inju, Jo Gook stops by the Provincial Governor’s office and secures a sizable increase to Inju’s budget. With that, he waltzes into Inju with the supplementary budget and a condition – he is to be the appointed Deputy Mayor of Inju, replacing the current deputy.

This part resonates with echoes of a John Hughes 80’s movie – a good-looking, all-star QB with dreams of the NFL is transferred to a hick high school for reasons he can’t understand, and begins by facing off against the class president, his gang of flunkies and the student council / head cheerleader, and meanwhile replaces the current QB, and has everyone asking, “Who is this tall, mysterious and good looking new guy?”

Below, the “gang” of the Mayor, first lay their eyes on Jo Gook, the transfer student star QB.

…and in the middle of all of this, you have your unpopular wallflower girl of integrity and a generous heart, who is stuck in a dead-end low paying job.

Yes, Mi Rae is pretty in pink! (And she thinks the new QB is a hottie!)

To add to the clichés, it appears that Mi Rae has multiple part-time jobs, mainly due to the fact that she, in her unlimited kindness, has agreed to be responsible for the credit card debt of a man who then dumped her. Among the odd jobs she does, some for free, some for pay: delivery person, collecting and delivery of food donations, wallpaper hanger, painter.

A few days later, Mi Rae finds herself being called on to do various home improvement projects on a nice looking house, but when she shows up…

Jo Gook is there. Coincidences of coincidences, it is his house!  And every time Jo Gook calls the Inju operator for another contractor, he is connected to Mi Rae. Ahhh, the perils of living in a small town.

So our first concrete story line is beginning to take shape.  Chief bully Mayor Go and his brainy cohort Joo Hwa need a new way to run tax money into their political allies’ pockets, and decide to create a rigged beauty pageant, the Miss Baendaengi Contest (baendaengi’s are a type of local herring).

To keep the newly-appointed Deputy Mayor in line, slimy brainy cutie Joo Hwa makes plans on entrapping Jo Gook by giving him the Miss Baendengi Contest to run, since the whole contest is just a money-laundering scheme anyway, and Jo Gook will be inevitably knee-deep in that conspiracy.

And Mi Rae, the poor wallflower who happens to be $16,000 in debt, overhears that the contest has a $16,000 first place prize… 

Looks like we might have our first contestant!

COMMENTS:

Now, I am a pretty big fan of Kim Sun Ah.  But I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed by this first episode. Kim Sun Ah’s character, in this first episode, does not seem to be much more than a bundle of clichés.  Poor girl with a heart of gold who works multiple jobs and who has but one parent?  Check check check.  Nevertheless, there is something about the way that Kim Sun Ah shows the inner strength of her character that is quite unique, just makes me want to be on her side and root for her. 

From a genre perspective, this Episode 1 has me a little confused as to what kind of drama this will be. Not quite a comedy, not quite a political drama… It is like the PD and staff started with a story of political corruption… but then to stop it from being terminally boring, asked Kim Sun Ah to make it lively.  The result is a big fish in a small pond story line, with Kim Sun Ah playing the part of an ungainly small fish who catches the eye of a big fish in all the wrong ways… how will the political story be developed, if at all, from that?

But overall, a choppy first episode is not a death knell for the series.  A lot of dramas start a little slowly, as they get caught either trying to do too much or trying to do too little.   City Hall seems to be trying to do a little bit of everything, and while it could have been smoother, there are hints at how much better this drama can get, just by looking at the characters.

THE ONES TO WATCH FOR IN THIS EPISODE: BB and Jo Gook.

The BB – Jo Gook relationship and characters are clear standouts in this Episode 1.  Both actors, Choi Il Hwa as BB and Cha Seung Won as Jo Gook have so much screen presence; when they are in the same scene together, it can be hard to take a breath.  As a point of reference, Choi Il Hwa played the very mild father of Choi Han Gyul (Gong Yoo’s character) in First Shop of Coffee Prince, but the difference between the two characters is startling, as BB just oozes a sense of power and authority here.  Just a spectacular job in character creation by Choi Il Hwa.

Finally, I have to add this extra point about Cha Seung Won paying the role of Jo Gook:  I’ve never seen a character like him in Korean dramas before. Ultra-smooth, confident and intelligent, arrogant but not arrogant at the same time, Jo Gook immediately draws attention to himself, but not quite in an egotistical manner.   It is about time that we had a new type of hero come along, one that doesn’t quite fit the mold of K-drama heroes past.

And best of all, Jo Gook doesn’t look to be the type who will be foolishly caught blind-sided by someone like the Mayor, which is refreshing to say the least, because then I can throw away many of the clichés that follow the lead characters in a Korean drama who blindly never see the blow coming.

ON TO EPISODE 2!

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121 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. bernadetteee(:

    thanks for the recap(: i was thinking of starting this but i was a little unsure after what i’d heard. after reading this, it really doesn’t seem as bad as i thought it might be. and even if it was, i dont mind waiting a little while before the True Amazingness Of A Drama kicks in(:

     (0)


  2. 12Dose12

    This was a nice surprise knowing that it already ended.
    Samsooki & Javabeans, you totally made my day! Thank you!

     (0)


  3. yes!

    the best korean drama is being re-capped!!!

    thanks so much for it.. LOL…

    Love KSA + CSW are the best couple ever!

     (0)


  4. langdon813

    WORST DAY EVER!!

    And then I come home to this.

    :-)

    Absolutely worth the wait, Samsooki! Wonderful recap! You’ve really set the stage perfectly and I can’t wait to read more. I’ve been holding off on a full rewatch until I could have the recaps as a companion to it. I think it may be even better the second time around.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

     (0)


  5. MEIKO**** ^-^

    I have to agree Samsooki, first few eps are…mmm……have to forced myself to watch….aaaahhh…..hehe ^_^

    But, i have to say, Kim Sun Ah is very much cuter here! love her hair!

    and Cha Seung Won…*grinning* , yup very tall and with much appeal, (and oh nice butt by the way)… him and KSA (thank goodness she is tall herself!) pair up well, there’s cute, hot chemistry going on, ….

    the only thing i am not fond of about CSW is, his hairstyle (sometimes that unruly part of his hairstyle makes me think of a bird’s nest laid on top of his head, covering his slanted bangs), and his well-defined high arched eyebrows (always makes me run to the mirror to check my own eyebrows!lol!)…and am not sure if he is using an eyeliner, sometimes it seems like it…. ^-^

    will be waiting for the next recap! ^-^

     (0)


  6. Anonymous

    Thank you for the recap.

    I’ve just started the drama after all the rave reviews in Open Thread.

    I actually found myself giggling at the delusional Mi Rae through Episode 1.

     (0)


  7. oi

    Glad that you are bringing attention to this drama. True: just sit through or even skip the boring parts, but make sure you watch until the end. Probably, also the best drama …ever ?….for me. It is a drama with the most funny parts, the most boring parts and the most romantic parts and the best love story..ever?… for me. Actually it gets better, when you rewatch it. It is less boring then, because what seemed boring at first watch, appears to have a meaning as well. Good luck with your recaps and big thank you to you and your “colleagues”.

     (0)


  8. annieee

    ty ty ty to samsooki, soompi team, and javabeans!! i have been excitedly waiting for this lol. great recap, and i loved city hall! im so glad this drama made its way into javabeans’ blog. good luck with the rest of recapping!

     (0)


  9. Janie

    Wow! Earlier than anticipated! Thank you! Off to reading it!

     (0)


  10. 10 mzpakipot

    short and sweet! You really get into the point of the story. i love it! Great job Samsooki and the rest of the team!

    Also, Big Thanks to Javabeans for this wonderful blog and for letting us spread some CH Love here. (I hope you’re not getting tired of us, JB?) ;)

     (0)


  11. 11 mzpakipot

    @MEIKO
    you’re funny, is he really wearing a manliner? He’s got long eye-lashes though. Yeah, he does have a nice bottoms.

     (0)


  12. 12 Sonam

    Samsooki! What a lovely surprise! I just started watching CH becoz of the fabulous KSA and the writer whose other work I enjoyed a lot …Lovers in Prague is my all time fav drama. The two leads were fantastic.
    The two leads in CH are fantastic too. KSA is so beautiful in this drama. And I have fallen madly in love with CSW. He is amazingly hot. So nice to be excited about a drama again after such a long time.
    Many thanks to Javabeans for making this happen.

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  13. 13 oi

    PS: I must say, that I found KSA very annoying, when she tried to act cute when watching this drama the first time. She can be funny, but not cute..IMHO. But second time watching, she did not get on my nerves anymore, because it is part of the story how a “simple” OL in a little town and a very ambitious and intelligent, confident man from the big city with a fiancee fall for each other. Can’t imagine, anybody but CSW as JG. So mighty glad that he got the part. The same goes for KSA actually.

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  14. 14 yola

    Reading the comments of those who have seen this drama already made me smile(:

    To be honest, I didn’t watch the first episode. It was on the day after Cain and Abel, and that drama was still in my mind.
    Then comes next week…
    ADDICTION!

    I won’t spoil things…just know if you decide to watch this, you will never regret it and you’ll probably end up thinking it’s one of your favorite kdramas.

    The cast is AMAZING. Cha Seung-won is perfect, Kim Sun-ah is perfect… (I didn’t actually pay THAT much attentiont to the others…sorry:P).

    #5 SMR + #5 JG always!

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  15. 15 MEIKO**** ^-^

    @11mzpakipot

    mmmm….am not sure if he is using one….
    but he’s hot though, tall and lean, with nice butt…hehe!! and oh yeah, his lips too… especially when he is looking serious…not smiling… hehe!

     (0)


  16. 16 rambutan

    True, this is one drama which many will put away after watching one, two, or even three episodes. But this is no different from how a few of my all time “greats” started:

    1) Damo – got interesting only at the END of the 4th episode, the cliffhanger. I would have abandoned it earlier if not for the rave reviews, and downloaded six episodes already. The series got better and better, and the ending was the climax! Life altering experience, as they say.

    2), Que Sera Sera – finished it a few weeks ago after abandoning it twice in the past two years. Couldn’t get beyond Episode 1. But I decided to pick it again, because almost every review that I read in the past two years was positive. And I was fed up with those kindergarten and highschool fluffy stuff (like BOF, which I like, actually!). And I was disappointed over big budgets Cain & Abel and East of Eden. Boy! Was I in for a surprise. The complexity of QSS’ male lead’s character, the story, the maturity and realism of the plot and its characters… well, everything was different. How refreshing! Then, as I was watching The City Hall, it occured to me this series is very close to Que Sera Sera in the uniqueness of its plot, its complex male lead and its realistic approach to love. The male character is difficult to fathom, the love story is complex and deep. The series, like QSS, is one of a kind, no cliches – no Cinderellas, no evil stepmothers/stepsisters, no fluffiness – guaranteed!

    3) Prince Turned to Frog. Again, I was getting impatient by the third episode. At that time, the series was the highest rated ever for a TW series. And I found it boring? Again, I had to continue, because I had already downloaded 20 episodes. But from the 4th episode, it got better and better… And I had a marathon, 12-14 hours, because I didn’t sleep that night.

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  17. 17 all4movies

    Step aside MNIKSS, you’ve just been trumped by City Hall.

    Congrats to Kim Sun Ah and my new favourite cutie, Cha Seung Won who was so wonderful in the movie Blood Rain. So glad the other actor didn’t stay with the project.

    Samsooki, i love your writing style. Thanks for bravely taking on this on and filling in all the parts that I glossed over. I will probably follow it even though I have already watched it twice (sort of) and am eagerly waiting for slo-mo when I get the series.

    I think I have become a die hard fan of CH. Yikes.

    btw, I love the first picture of MiRae. She looks so cute and innocent.

    Great summary of episode one. Your wit and comments are so interesting, it’s like watching CH all over again. Amazing.

    Totally worth the wait. Ch fans unite and let’s have another lovefest!!

     (0)


  18. 18 mzpakipot

    I apologize, what is up with the “chicken legs?”

    I guess it’s safe for me to say this Officially, City Hall is also my All time Fave now, MNIKSS is 2nd. Perfect lovestory, perfect dialogues, perfect couple, perfect OST, perfect Ending and of course those perfect kisses!

     (0)


  19. 19 Molly

    Wow, thanks for the wonderful recap! Although I’m relatively new to Dramabeans, I’ve always been interested in what you had to say in your comments to Javabeans’ posts, Samsooki, and this recap is a page full of good analysis! Funny thing is, on my way home a few minutes ago, my mom was telling me about a recent Kim Sun Ah drama that was popular with people she knows, though she couldn’t remember the name of the drama. Perfect timing! :)

     (0)


  20. 20 szeying89

    Samsooki and team, you did a great job!
    Ya, I agree with you that the beginning is a bit choppy. I feel especially the
    part of the election part in the village, it seems a little out of place. Though,
    I guess maybe the writer wants to show that Mirae does not care about
    political power but still a little out of place.

     (0)


  21. 21 bee

    thank you dramabeans! lookoing forward to more recaps on this show :)

     (0)


  22. 22 rambutan

    P.S. I have to make a distinction between QSS and CH, though. There may be similarities, but CH is much better.
    1) CH has a killer OST. Like Damo and Prince Turned to Frog OSTs, I played it over and over again.
    2) The chemistry between the two CH leads is electrifying. They left me breathless many times. In QSS, I didn’t like the female lead. Actually,
    3) In QSS, the two female leads are very so-so, or below average in acting skills. In fact, in the middle of the series, when one of them was dumped, I should have cried my eyes out. But what happened? I said: “Serves her right!” (I was that disappointed with her acting). If only they had cast female leads of Kim Sun Ah and Sang Mi’s caliber, QSS would have been great. In City Hall, the four or five leads are all awesome, and the supporrting cast, too! Not a miscast to be found here (if there is, I didn’t notice!).

     (0)


  23. 23 Samsooki

    @18 mzpakipot -

    When the City Council members are grilling the Mayor on where the Inju City tax money has gone, they accuse the Mayor accepting gifts in exchange for doing favors for Madam Jung (an owner of a brothel), i.e., accepting “lobbying.”

    The Mayor responds that he has lived his entire life without knowing the meaning of the word “lobbying.”

    They then ask him to explain the fact that he and Madam Jung secretly met at a mountain retreat and ate a chicken and rice meal together. They accuse him of literally accepting chicken legs from Madam Jung (figuratively, they mean that the Mayor accepted gifts).

    The Mayor responds very coyly that he has lived his entire life without knowing the meaning of the words “chicken legs.”

    LOL!

     (0)


  24. 24 cheonsa

    Thanks for the recap! Love, love, love CH! Two thumbs and two big toes up to this fabulous drama! The only k-drama so far that has got me so emotionally involved – it made me laugh so loud, cry so many buckets, swoon so much and bang table so hard. Mirae is the most loveable heroine ever, even with her smelly hair. A potent combination when mixed with the suave Jo Gook who oozes charisma out of every pore. They really sizzle! Awesome show that exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. Hang in there, once the beauty pageant is underway…the good times start rolling.

     (3)


  25. 25 jastinel

    Thanks for the recap samsooki, 0timelost, cleown, and mead33!
    You guys are totally awesome, I salute you for being dedicated and addicted to this drama City Hall, it benefits as City Hallers. I miss this drama already and I don`t know if I can watch other drama without Suna and Cha in it. I love Suna way way back MNIKSS days, I can say that her performance in CH topped her excellent performance in MNIKSS. I hope this drama will give her more awards and recognition. She never fails to amuse her fans and I know Suna fans are overwhelmed with all the praises from other people, who have been appreciative with her role in CH.
    This drama starts from being good, better and best.
    Now it`s number one to everybodys heart. I hope that many people will discover what this drama is all about and may be we can hear Javabeans views about this drama, if she get the chance to watch this.
    To those people who said it was the worst drama, i hope you will give this a try and I hope one day we can hear good reviews from you too.

    Happy City Hallers day to all!

     (0)


  26. 26 CoffeeLove

    Thanks for the recap! I was thoroughly confused by all the politics talk in the beginning episodes and that really detracted from my overall experience of the show. But it definitely gets better!

     (0)


  27. 27 epyc

    OMG! Our wish has FINALLY come true………………..I’m so emotional to see the City Hall re-cap finally turning up here.

    Javabeans, Samsooki, Otimelost, Cleown, Mead33 (and Alodia@Soompi) – THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    We City Hallers have now had something to look forward to during this very sad and hard withdrawal period!

     (0)


  28. 28 epyc

    FINALLY our wish has come true. You have no idea how emotional it is for me to see this re-cap on this site.

    THANK YOU to Javabeans, Samsooki, Cleown, Otimelost, Mead 33 and Alodia@soompi for making this happen. This is absolutely the best thing since CH ends for us City Hallers!

    I just wish that more people will come to enjoy and share the joy of watching this WONDERFUL drama through the generosity of JB and the re-cap project team.

     (0)


  29. 29 epyc

    Sorry for the double posts as I thought the first one didn’t go through – my apologies!

     (0)


  30. 30 GuMi

    “Finally, I have to add this extra point about Cha Seung Won paying the role of Jo Gook: I’ve never seen a character like him in Korean dramas before. Ultra-smooth, confident and intelligent, arrogant but not arrogant at the same time, Jo Gook immediately draws attention to himself, but not quite in an egotistical manner. It is about time that we had a new type of hero come along, one that doesn’t quite fit the mold of K-drama heroes past.”

    My sentiments exactly!! CSW got a very complex character to play and he did it brilliantly. The way JG carries himself : his expressions, body language etc. are unique. Never saw an actor portray a character like CSW did in City Hall and now I find myself comparing every other actor to him. and they all fall short…

    I enjoyed reading your recap, but it was too short :) Im addicted to City Hall and must find the time to re watch the first few episodes.

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  31. 31 Max

    Samsooki,
    If this is the best drama of all time, I have to know what other dramas you like and what rating you would give them. I know how much I agree with dramabeans, but I don’t know your tastes. Can you give a little hint at what other dramas you love/hate? Right now, I’d have to go with Que Sera Sera as the best drama (because it stopped my heart with THAT scene- still recovering!).

    Also, do you prefer ViiKii subs or the Band of Nuts subs for this series?

    Thanks for all your advice…I’ll have to try that steak recipe…

     (0)


  32. 32 simi

    Thanks for the recap! I have tried watching CH but can’t seem to get past ep.3. So I’ll just spend some time with Binnie and the Snow Queen. Then read your recaps and start with ep.4.

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  33. 33 Anonymous

    My mom keeps telling me to watch this but I’ve resisted. With your recaps now, maybe I will.

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  34. 34 asianromance

    Loved the recap!!! it’s definitely helping me cope with the end of such a wonderful series! I agree Jo Gook is unlike any other kdrama hero! and i doubt there will ever be a kdrama hero like him in the future.

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  35. 35 ockoala

    OMG, City Hall recaps on Dramabeans blog, is this heaven or am I dreaming? I just finished watching ep. 7 on LA18 tonight, it’s like my nth time watching that episode (and every other episode), but I still can’t turn away from the CH addiction.

    Samsooki, your recap was succinct and spot on, and thanks for all the wonderful commentary. I wonder if you will insert your (minority, but only because it is unpopular and not because it isn’t also spot on) opinion about a certain GGH, who has yet to be introduced.

    I wish you could have added a screencap of Jo Gook walking through the village in the first scenes of ep.1., initally I glossed over it, but upon rewatching to savor every second, it’s a lyrical and meaningful way to start the entire show, the wayward son coming back to Inju. JG has no desire to be there, yet you can feel Inju stirring him ever so slightly, and knowing the “typhoon” is coming and the changes about to be unleashed, it’s the calm before the storm.

    Also, it might be nice to share the hidden meaning behind each of the character’s names: i.e. Jo Gook means My Country, Shin Mirae means New Future, etc. I don’t know all of them, but I recall on Soompi someone shared the secondary meanings, and it was all so tongue in cheek. Love the writer, she’s got so many weapons up her mighty pen.

    Go forward, Samookie and recapping team, I wait with baited breath for the remainder of the episodes. Please be as fan servicy in screencaps as the PD has been to all CH watchers (i.e. more JG-MR scenes please!)

    Thank you for all the hard work and dedication, and allowing us all to continue sharing our love of City Hall with other k-drama watchers.

    Hubby is not totally jealous of my CH love and has taken to mocking JG’s outfits in ep. 7 (“he’s dressed like a New Jersey pimp”). But even he can’t deny CSW’s amazing charisma and screen presence.

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  36. 36 Kathy

    Thanks for the recaps. I love this drama! :D

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  37. 37 rambutan

    @35 ockoala

    Here’s what each character’s name means. Some describe exactly the person’s character or personality.

    Jo Guk = My Country
    Shin Mi Rae = New Future
    Ha Soo In = A Follower
    Lee Jun Do = The right path
    Min Ju Hwa = Democratization
    Go Bu Shil (former Mayor) = Highly Unreliable
    Bu Jung Han (Congressman) = Dishonest
    Maeng Hae Ra (Secretary wearing huge ribbons) = What a foolish
    Park Ah Cheon (Manager in Secretary’s Office) = Flattery
    Jo Yong Hee (Jo Guk’s mother) = Quietly
    Jo Rang (Jo Guk’s adopted son) = Pony
    Jeong Bu Mi (9th grade, Mirae’s friend) = Government rice; rice which goverment sells
    Go Go Hae (Jo Guk’s fiance) = Proud Loneliness

    courtesy of saturn, spot translator of The City Hall, B.O.N.

    I really salute the writer. Brilliant script. Her best, by far. I’ve seen all her drama works.

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  38. 38 omo

    Yipee! First Episode Recap! The wait is over!

    To Samsooki, with your Korean background and being a lawyer by trade makes you the perfect person to helm this recapping project for City Hall.

    And to Cleown, Otimelost and Mead 33, after reading all your posts at Soompi, you all have such a good grasp on this drama that would make this an awesome recapping team

    A big THANK YOU to all of you.

    It’s the first drama I have ever seen with the 2 leads so EQUALLY WELL-MATCHED in talents.

    Haha! Now that we have a place to reminisce on our love for CH, we will not swamp Friday’s Open Threads! :-)

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  39. 39 jusash

    THANK YOU!! for doing this, and looking forward to more interesting reads on CH.

    I am a newly-minted Cha Seung Won fan too, because of City Hall. ^ ^

    His Machiavellianish, diabolical look took some getting used to at first, but definite ditto on comments he totally delivered a very enjoyable Jo Guk!

    And yes – gorgeous OST too!

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  40. 40 movall

    Oh, a pleasant surprise. THANK YOU Javabeans for allowing the City Hall fever intruding your blog. Thank you Samsooki, 0timelost, cleown, and mead33 – the City Hall recapping team, you guys make my day :) Please keep up the good work.
    Wave to all City Hallers.

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  41. 41 celestialorigin

    Oh, so happy to see this recap here! I’d watched all my favorite scenes over and over and over and was ready to move on since this drama was preventing me from attending to my own small business and such. Now, once again, I get to re-visit the whole show here. Don’t know if it’s a good thing for me or not… Nonetheless,Thank you Samsooki and all others! I just love the show very much!

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  42. 42 mariouma

    good morning , it is been a while since i comment in your site java beans , since boys before flowers , so finally CITY HALL , i love this drama it is very funny and also theirs a romance between the tow leader , i advice you all to watch this drama .

    it is trues that i watch this before maybe 3 OR 4 time , but i will read your recap because i miss you very much
    THANKS .

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  43. 43 kathkath

    love this series and i have watched it 3 times at least looks like i will start on the series again! thanks for recapping this series :)

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  44. 44 ruthie

    omg! finally somebody have the heart to do this wonderful drama. im actually on episode 16 now and im totally like head over heels in love with it. its true, the first few episodes are kinda boring/less interesting coz of too much politics going on but dang, like they said people thAT have patience will be rewarded and indeed its true. im really glad that you guys are making an effort to do it. sun ah and seung won’s chemistry here is beyond anyone’s imagination~i we just didnt know that CSW is already married then we’ll be thinking there’s something going on between this two behind the scenes. sun ah, she’s amazingly great! u can never go wrong with her. CSW, omg! where have u been all my life?? *err maybe all this time im into kdramas and movies* this is the first time ive seen this guy (except for family outing, which his episode is on my top 3) and he leaves u speechless and helpless ahaha and the kisses, all his cute moments, and his heartaches u just wanna be with him in those times. okokok im talking too much. do i sound excited?? ahaha its a must see drama PERIOD>

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  45. 45 Yssa

    I LOVE City Hall! I’m so glad to see recaps. I watched it after I saw Cha Seung Won on Family Outing and now I like the actor and the character. I so agree about Jo Gook. He is such a refreshing character. Furthermore, the series itself is really INTENSE. That is just the only way I can describe it. The romance, the drama, the suspense, the funny parts etc. it was like they milked out every scene to get the emotion they wanted and they succeeded. So not like the regular series, where they only succeed in one or two emotions. Sure, you do have to move beyond the first few episodes, but then it’s just such a (great!) emotional rollercoaster. And another pluspunt, I now think I understand a whole lot more about the inner workings of Korean politics (although it’s sad to see how easy it is to be corrupt, but I’m just hoping that the drama was a bit over the top on that point).

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  46. 46 B.B.

    TO Samsooki and Team….Add in our wonderful JB, for the generous use of your blog for the team and all the other guest ReCappers…..Huge Thanks, made my day.

    Feel like a loner as I found the first few set up plot episodes to have depth behind the front gloss of sit com. placing the characters on the story map with a very careful hand.

    For all the new fans of Cha Seung Won, go have a drool over the topless, muscle man CSW in the movie Jail Breakers, not quiet as slim as now, but that voice still stands out, a mile and the eyes – if you can detract from the body. lol.

    Not only is the drama CH one of the best ever, some of the camera work is fairy tale brilliant. Latest desk wallpaper, CSW in the blossom of Mi Rae’s garden in the sky blue jacket…..

    Looking forward to No: 2 Power to the pen/laptop Samsooki.

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  47. 47 bspanda

    Ohh thanks Samsooki!

    Got my hands on City Hall DVD 2 days ago – and while I have not watched it as yet (suprised? hehe) am sure your recaps will come in handy if/when the subtitles go to hell.

    Looking forward to the rest of the recaps!

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  48. 48 sera

    Yehooo. Finally. Recaps are here. You rock samsook!
    Even though I watched the City Hall over and over already, it is pleusure to read your recaps and comments. Ku ma o or thanks :)

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  49. 49 Nom_Kitteh

    Whoah there, what is this I see? City Hall recaps on dramabeans? And just in time for my reviewing pleasures too!

    THANK YOU, SAMSOOKI! And to EVERYONE HERE for making City Hall such a fun group event.

    @47 BSPANDA: You have the City Hall DVD? FROM WHERE? WHAT ARE THE SUBS LIKE? I love the Bon and viikii subs so I am spoiled rotten. I have been waiting to buy the boxset so can you tell me what the quality of the print and of the subs is like?

    How can DVDs be out of this already?


    About EP 1, which I rewatched — there are some lovely gems in it. The opening scenes of JG walking through the village is symbolic and very apropos of the story to follow. He is like a lord, almost, surveying this quaint, rural town, trying to get its pulse, to figure out its weaknesses and faults for his own use. He walks around like he is the boss, in an arrogant but also observant way. It is a great, great intro to our man.

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  50. 50 epyc

    Samsooki, this is a very short and sweet re-cap which is appropriate for Ep 1. I particularly appreciate your highlighting the political bits that will help new audience to start this drama. Your comment on the BB-JG relationship is spot on which is among the main planks of this drama. Look forward to seeing the second instalment.

    To the new City Hallers, it is worth to watch the first few episodes in full because they will all make sense in later episodes up till the very last minute of the drama! This is the wonder of this drama and the most well-constructed and beautifully woven drama I’ve seen. You will be totally rewarded.

    @ 31 Max
    City Hall is the best drama of all time to me too. As far as Kdrama is concerned, I have to say it is head and shoulder above my other longstanding favorites: Coffee Prince, My Girl and MNIKSS. I like QSS too as I have never thought Eric Mun could move me but he did. If you are talking about the big scene of QSS, then there are A LOT of as, if not more, intense moments in CH, except they are done so romantically that brings the meaning of emotional rollercoaster to another level. I guess the big difference between QSS and CH, to me, is I can only watch QSS once and would not like to re-watch it. For CH, I have watched it from beginning to end three times already, plus numerous times over all my favourite scenes. With this re-cap going on, I will have my fourth ride and I am so looking forward to doing it AGAIN :D

    What sets City Hall apart from othe dramas are the script and the two leads. It is a perfect combination that makes everything work. I doubt CH will be as successful if without the KSA and CSW team – the thought of RSW in JG’s role makes me cringe … no offence to RSW fans.

    @35 ockoala
    I also love that very first scene of JG returning and walking through Inju. It is a prophetic scene of the long lost son coming home without his own knowing. BB among all his sins had done the right thing by sending JG to Inju.

    The KSA and CSW pairing is beyond praise! I am never a KSA fan until after CH. With CSW, all other Kdrama actors now pale into comparison…. Enough said, let’s start the City Hall journey again.

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