Drama Recaps
City Hall: Episode 18
by | January 10, 2010 | 47 Comments

(written by samsooki, with 0timelost and cleown)

Episode 18 – “It’s not your fault I am leaving.


What does it take to break Shin Mi Rae? What her enemies just don’t understand is that Shin Mi Rae is actually two separate people: the protector and the woman. To break Shin Mi Rae, you cannot just put up a political filibuster or trump up false charges like what Joo Hwa has done. And you cannot just wave an engagement ring in her face like what Go Hae has done. To break her, you have to break both the protector and the woman. Jo Gook, sacrificing his own hope for happiness and love, has purposely only broken the woman in Shin Mi Rae but has left the protector alone – what he knows better than anyone else is that Mi Rae the Protector will now grow even stronger. And Jo Gook knows that Mi Rae will need every single ounce of strength to fight what is coming. This is a time for war, and what Inju City desperately needs is their Wonder Woman.


With Jo Gook on his knees before him, BB is stone-cold. Does he even care that this is his own son who is on his knees? BB is all about business. Jo Gook, you will be the mole for BB within the ruling party. Agreed. And you will stay away from Inju City. Yes. And you will marry Go Hae. After a pause and a swallow, yes. At least BB is consistent. BB has taught Jo Gook from Day 1 that to reach the top, one must step over and on top of others, starting with those closest around. Is it any surprise that BB stole any chance of happiness away from Jo Gook and Jo Gook’s mother?

Miles away, Mi Rae is back in her bedroom that she has had since she was a little girl. Her hands clasped together, Mi Rae cannot help but wonder why things went so terribly wrong. How can a man who professed so much love for her, suddenly dump her like trash? Didn’t they buy couple sneakers together? Didn’t Jo Gook say that the only reason he hadn’t yet let go of Go Hae was because he wanted to give Go Hae’s pride a chance to heal? Why didn’t Mi Rae get the same kind of respect? Is it because she isn’t as pretty, doesn’t have the same money or family background? No! Don’t think like that! Things will be okay, just wait until morning. Things will be okay…


But morning comes with confirmation of the worst kind. On the bench outside her home, an envelope was left during the night. The envelope contains the body contract that Jo Gook had Mi Rae sign, which gave him rights over her body. Just as Mi Rae had returned Jo Gook’s jacket when she had broken things with him, now it is Jo Gook’s turn. The return of the contract can only mean that Jo Gook is now through with Mi Rae. As Mi Rae now reads the contract one last time, we can see that the contract really amounted to a love letter, with Jo Gook wishing that she would only hold hands with him, only stay near him, only look at him, use her lips for food, speaking and that’s it (with other guys). Mi Rae smiles as she remembers how special their relationship once was.


And finally, we also see what it was like for Jo Gook to write this love letter, chuckling to his heart’s content. Jo Gook probably had never been happier in his entire life, than he was at that moment, writing a silly contract and laughing his heart out like a love-struck fool. It is the dumbest love letter ever written, but for Mi Rae, it is also the sweetest.


And as Mi Rae smiles, the pain in her heart starts to swell again. The hurt feeling radiates almost exactly from the center of her chest outward and upward, and Mi Rae clutches at her mouth as she gasps in pain, even reaching for a pillow to try to block the cries from escaping. Still, it is just as well that she cries here. Her time of grieving as a woman is almost over. From here on out, Mi Rae the Mayor must not be defeated by Jo Gook or by BB. The woman in her might be pining away, but the protector in her is stronger by far.


And at that very moment, Jo Gook is also hurting. But for him, pain is a good thing, as it lets him know how much he cares for Mi Rae, reminding him of why he sacrificed his love. And so he listens to Mi Rae’s sobs left on his voice-mail, over and over again. Because, even if Jo Gook believes that he did the right thing, the devastation over the breakup was still too much for Mi Rae to bear. For that, Jo Gook deserves all the pain he can bring upon himself. And so he replays the message again.


But even as the two lovers are hurting apart, both have jobs to do. Mi Rae continues her duties as Mayor, rousing the old folk with encouragement for exercise. And Jo Gook continues his meteoric rise with a sparkling political speech on how the politics of old have shut out the common folk in Korea. It is almost ironic that Jo Gook’s path toward political stardom has been paved entirely by the bricks laid by Mi Rae’s principle of helping those who need help.

That afternoon, through some trickeration by Soo-In, Mi Rae manages to finally meet up with Jo Gook. Jo Gook does not look happy to see her, however – I think he wanted to avoid seeing her until he could make things better. With nothing resolved yet, Jo Gook must continue to play the part of the jerk. Jo Gook invites Mi Rae to lunch, presumably to give answers.


At a very fancy restaurant, Mi Rae stares at Jo Gook with disbelief, as Jo Gook carefully tends to the wine-list rather than tell her what’s going on. Doesn’t he know that she has been dying inside? But when Jo Gook does speak, he is immediately rude and brusque.

Jo Gook: What are you so choked up about? …I have already booted you, Shin Mi Rae. I had all the fun that I wanted, and now you are no longer any fun.

Mi Rae: Why are you like this, really?


Jo Gook: Didn’t you say that you’ve broken up with men before? Didn’t you say you wept and carried on afterwords under a bridge? Well, you can do that again this time around. Which bridge were you talking about? Do you want me to bring you there?

Mi Rae: …

Jo Gook: I didn’t really intend to say this, but… my leaving, it’s not your fault.


Dude, that’s not right. I KNEW you were going to say that as soon as I saw you acting all rude, but that was the ONE thing that Mi Rae asked you never to say. It was her one wish, that even if the two of you were never to become a couple, that you would not treat her like trash and say those words. You could have said anything, you could have said nothing, but YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to say those words to her. You haven’t earned the right, not even with your groveling before BB.

Mi Rae cannot bear any more. She gets up and leaves. Jo Gook, knowing he crossed the line, runs after her. Mi Rae whirls around and says something actually really interesting.


Mi Rae: You want me to just forget you? You want me to just eat well and live well from now on? Don’t even dream of that happening.

Mi Rae: I’m not letting go of you. Until I breathe my last breath, I’m not sending you out of my heart. You can go if you wish. But even after you leave me, no matter where you go, no matter where you live or who you are with, you will always have two homes.

Mi Rae (pounding her chest): Because in here. Inside my heart here… you have a room. In this room, you and I will grow old together. And I will never let you go. Just thought you should know.


That’s a really surprising reply from Mi Rae, but on second reflection, I think it also makes sense. Mi Rae believes that Jo Gook is acting like a third-class jerk so that Mi Rae will hate him, allowing Jo Gook a clean conscience to go back to Go Hae and her money. But Mi Rae will not trash her memories of the Jo Gook that she cherishes, just so that Jo Gook can move on with his life in a free and easy manner. Mi Rae has learned to value herself more than that!

So the question is, really, why did Jo Gook choose this method of trying to make Mi Rae self-sufficient? Weren’t there easier ways? Personally, I think that Jo Gook acted like that because he really believed that he would never get back together with Mi Rae, and he wanted to give her the gift of freedom, and not imprison her heart forever (which would prevent her from ever finding love again). It is ironic then that Mi Rae’s response is contrary to that hope. Perhaps Jo Gook should have realized that since everything that he has learned about treating women he learned from BB, he should have just done the opposite of what his instinct tells him to do…

In a wonderful scene that follows, Jo Gook is standing in his yard, contemplating what just happened, when his own mom comes out and tries to shoo him away. This is her time and her place to be forlorn, and not Jo Gook’s. Jo Gook mentions that BB asked about her, but Jo Gook’s mom reply is bitter and sharp:


Jo Gook’s mom: You should tell him that I died. Next time he asks, just tell him that I died. It is true enough, anyway. I am here, living my life like a walking corpse and in the end, meeting real death.

Jo Gook: Do you hate him, even now?

Jo Gook’s mom: I hate him. Do you think it is easy for a talkative woman like me to go through life with my mouth shut? But as for right now, I hate you even more. You spent 10 months inside of me, but how come you are more like him?


What Jo Gook is seeing in his mother is the result of a life spent hating someone. Jo Gook’s mother never had room in her heart for anyone else, because all she kept inside was just her hate for BB. Incidentally, this is what would have happened to Mi Rae, had she been the same kind of person. Thank goodness that Mi Rae is no ordinary person, and refused to play along with Jo Gook’s plans, stating that she would only carry her love and her cherished memories of Jo Gook inside of her. And now perhaps we see why Jo Gook is like this. His only guide has been BB, and we can see how important it is for a father to teach his son how to treat people the right way. Who knows whether BB and Jo Gook’s mom were once like Jo Gook and Mi Rae, until BB pulled the same stunt…

Moving on, Mi Rae and Jung Do set up their meet and greet with the Dae Han Group and the beautiful and elegant Go Hae.


Really quickly, here’s what’s going on. In order for a project of this magnitude to be accomplished, there are many hurdles to pass. First, a MOU (memorandum of understanding – a contract) must be agreed upon between the Dae Han Group and Inju City (via the City Council). Second, the land that is owned by the municipality must be sold to the Dae Han Group and chartered for industrial use. Third, the Mayor must sign off on the plant building as executive authority to decide how the land is used.

Mi Rae ends the meeting and asks to speak privately with Go Hae, for reasons not quite clear. But the beautiful and elegant Go Hae uses this particular time to gloat:


Go Hae: Oh, and I’m not sure whether I should bring this up… but I hear some rather tragic news. And so I gave that man a stern piece of my mind, I did… I am truly sorry. I thought it would last longer… I didn’t think that the comma would come so early in the sentence.


Heh. I’m not going to comment on Go Hae. I know a lot of City Hallers have… strong feelings about her, but I’ve come this far defending the beautiful and elegant Go Hae, and I’m not stopping now. But Mi Rae has the best lines of the drama, as far as I am concerned in her reply:


Mi Rae: How much do you know about him? …to him, I am neither a period nor a comma. I am his parenthesis. That person’s hidden meaning, is me. The person that you know is much different than the one that I know. When we are together, we are happy. And he has such a romantic side to him. But even so, you won’t be giving up your help to him, because of childish jealousy, will you?


Wow, nice! Gotta love these little chats between adults. What separates City Hall from so many other k-dramas is that the feelings might be the same, but the responses to those feelings are different when you deal with people mature enough to handle those feelings.

And following up with that nice little chat, Go Hae meets up with Jo Gook at the jewelry store. It is wedding bling – buying time, but Jo Gook’s mind is clearly elsewhere. Go Hae realizes that she already has lost her man, and while it did not bother her before, it is bothering her now as it is clear that Mi Rae is right. Go Hae’s gnawing discomfort at having the body but not the man clearly shows on her face; Go Hae might be an ice queen, but even an ice queen is still a woman.


Jo Gook skips out on Go Hae, telling her that he has a meeting to attend. Jo Gook heads back to Inju City but rather than meet with anyone, he goes to his favorite eating spot in the whole wide world. Not because the porridge is that special, but because there is a picture of a smiling woman whom he loves. The close-ups of Jo Gook’s face, alternating between smiling and nearly choking and crying in his porridge is so moving, so awesome. There’s not much more to this entire drama than this one scene. If you had to show one scene to someone who hasn’t seen this drama before, I’d probably show this one. There’s no dialogue, just him eating, but really, that’s enough.



Also, I love how the people that run the porridge shop are there in the back, silently watching and empathizing with Jo Gook from a respectful distance.

The MOU between Dae Han Group and Inju City Council has been signed, and the next step is the selling of the land. For that, the residents who own interests in the land need to hear the details. And Jo Gook has created quite a stir, and has insisted on taking the credit for the whole deal. This is where it is a little complicated. Secretly, Jo Gook wants this project to fail and he will work to ensure that it does fail. He wants it to fail because (1) he knows its bad for Inju City, and (2) because he wants Mi Rae to win. So, by taking full credit for this, he is actually trying to shield Mi Rae from the political fallout, after his behind the scenes machinations to get this project deep-sixed are hopefully realized.

But Mi Rae doesn’t see this, and only sees how Jo Gook is crowing over this deal and pushing Mi Rae to agree. And given everything that Mi Rae has learned about Jo Gook and his shady operation in getting her elected, Mi Rae isn’t about to trust that Jo Gook has the best interests of Inju City at heart. She cancels the resident’s meeting, but Jo Gook un-cancels it and proceeds. As the meeting is ending, Mi Rae arrives to find Jo Gook and Go Hae leaving. His eyes squarely on Mi Rae, Jo Gook grabs Go Hae and brings her in tight, leading her to his car and opening the car door for her.


A furious Mi Rae then drops a bombshell. She will not sign the MOU without further research and study. She will not let this project get any further than it is now. Jo Gook is absolutely stunned. This is NOT how he had planned things to go.


No no no! This is 100% backwards now. And Jo Gook’s nightmare is coming true. It is Jo Gook who has the ability and the plans to blow things up. Jo Gook knows that if Mi Rae does not sign, then she will be in a world of hurt, and everything that Jo Gook has done to prevent that from happening will have been for nothing. This time, if Mi Rae fights back against BB, she will get crushed and this time, no amount of groveling at BB’s feet by Jo Gook will not be able to stop it.

Mi Rae MUST sign the MOU! It is the only way for Jo Gook to protect her.


And so Jo Gook sets up the MOU signing ceremony and then goads Mi Rae to attend, threatening an incensed Mi Rae with more interrogations and mud-slinging and the destruction of her career. Mi Rae is literally dragged to the ceremony where the beautiful and elegant Go Hae awaits her contract to be signed. Go Hae signs her name beautifully and elegantly, and then looks to Mi Rae, who picks up her silver fountain pen.


Mi Rae knows what is at stake, but even if she is put back through the ringer again, even if she loses everything, she cannot let her people get hurt if she can help it. She puts down the pen and rises.

Mi Rae: I am sorry, but today’s MOU signing will be postponed. I will initiate a review of The Dae Han Group proposal.



With those fateful words, there is bedlam at the ceremony, and Mi Rae has likely sealed her fate.


Jo Gook’s sacrifice, when he groveled for Mi Rae’s safety before BB, is now likely all for nothing, and by the look on Mi Rae’s face, there is little more than pure rage towards Jo Gook. Everything that Mi Rae has, she has now put on the line. All of her dreams for being Mayor, all of the hopes and dreams of the thousands of men, women and children who voted for her, who put their trust in her to protect them. All of her political capital and reputation. Her very future as mayor and even as a citizen, everything, now is being threatened by Jo Gook / Go Hae / BB / Joo Hwa. But even so, she would rather die than see her city get hurt.


And poor Jo Gook, he has underestimated the strength of Mayor Shin Mi Rae, once again. And this time, it looks like he has also lost everything. Not only has he fallen back with BB and Go Hae, but he has very likely lost the love of his life. Why is it that everyone always underestimates Mi Rae? Can’t you just have faith in her, just once? And what is most tragic is that Jo Gook, who tried so desperately to leave Mi Rae the Protector alone, choosing to only break Mi Rae the woman, is now going to watch helplessly as Mi Rae the Protector is about to get smashed.

Comments –

The acting just keeps getting better and better!!

I voted for City Hall as my 2009 drama of the year because of scenes like the one in the restaurant, where Mi Rae hears the words that she begged Jo Gook never to say to her. Acting can certainly be a tough business, as some roles require the actor / actress to stop “acting” and start living the character. As in My Name is Kim Sam Soon, where Kim Sunah literally couldn’t watch the drama for months, even years afterwards (she said later it was too difficult for her to watch), here in City Hall, she lives her character authentically, and those emotions translate freely to the viewer.

I think that most experienced k-drama viewers have pretty good BS meters, having sat through and watched a ton of dramas where the tears never end, and the contrived situational sobbing is on command and less than real. I think that what makes this particular drama special is the level of authenticity that Kim Sunah brings to Shin Mi Rae, and there’s no BS in her. What you see in KSA is what you get, and that is why Mi Rae is so real.

The scene to watch for in this Episode: Jo Gook, at the porridge shop.


Perhaps not to be outshone too much by Kim Sunah, Cha Seung Won brings his A-game to this scene.

The great javabeans herself said it in recent recap of hers, and I’m going to steal her thought and use it here – there’s something about eating that lends itself to expression of feeling. I think it has to do with honesty. People might be used to lying when they talk, but very few people lie when they eat. And so their faces reveal so much more when they have food in their mouths. It is like a window into their soul, and Jo Gook’s soul is wide open for viewing.

Even if he isn’t as smart as he thinks he is, even if he is too ambitious for his own good, and even if he can be a real jerk when he wants to be, I think his heart ultimately is in the right place, and if Mi Rae ever finds out how much Jo Gook sacrificed in order to try to protect her, maybe she will forgive.

On To Episode 19! Two episodes left!


47 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. shaz81

    Thanks for update i really look forward to your insight into City hall, makes me go back and have another look at the episode !!!!

  2. Lucille

    All I can say is that I LOVE THIS DRAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you.

  3. mememomo

    Thanks for the recap, just love this drama!

  4. all4movies

    Lovely recap. Sigh.

  5. M&M

    City hall is sooo good & heartbreaking too 😐
    But i knoe that it’ll only get loads better 🙂
    thank you for recapping!

  6. mintyboy

    The recaps make me wanna rewatch city hall all over again! EVERYONE in this drama is superb at acting out their characters. I would like some more spotlight on GoHae and JooHwa, please! They are truthful to their characters without being comical and stereotypical in their villian-acting.

  7. Laica

    Excellent job as always, Samsooki and Co.! It’s been a few months since I watched City Hall in a gluttonous rush of three days or so, but the recaps always bring back the love :).

    I agree with you about the scene in the restaurant – that killed me. And what’s so brilliant about this episode is that it takes those cliches we’re so used to – guy acting cold to the woman he loves, but it’s really for her own good; the couple is being blackmailed to split up because of some super-powerful elder; there is a More Suitable Woman who seems to have the upper hand… but it’s all done in such an authentic, layered way that it seems both plausible and heartbreaking rather than just unlikely and contrived.

    For example when Jo Gook says what he knows is the most hurtful thing to her, deliberately, Mi Rae gives a surprising answer – that he will always have a home in her heart. And while I wasn’t expecting it, it is so moving because it really rings true. The way their relationship has developed, the person she is, doesn’t allow her to just be like, “I hate you now.”

    Your comment: “What separates City Hall from so many other k-dramas is that the feelings might be the same, but the responses to those feelings are different when you deal with people mature enough to handle those feelings.”

    I agree 100%. This is what I love about CH. This is why it doesn’t feel like another emotional merry-go-round like most other kdramas, but instead is almost as affecting as if you’re actually there and experiencing it.

    Thanks for the recap!

  8. sukispop

    Great recap, Samsooki, 0timelost, and cleown, thank you!

    I really loved this drama, too. As much as I enjoyed Kim Sun-ah in Kim Sam Soon, I really adored her as Shin Mi-rae…what an amazing actress! And, of all of the dramas that I’ve watched so far, my favorite male lead just has to be Cha Seung-won. He’s a man’s man, being so tall and handsome(but not pretty), with a medium deep and silky voice. In so many of the scenes, where he’s just standing, he looks both powerful and elegant…almost like he’s an elite being from another planet.

    There was something really beautiful in that scene where he’s at the jook joint, quietly splitting his time between gazing at the poster of Mi-rae smiling, and choking back his tears and the emotions swelling up in his chest. I agree, Samsooki, that was the most powerful scene in the episode…and so moving. What Cha Seung-won was able to do, silently, and with his eyes…wow. I don’t know how well this scene would have worked with a less gifted actor.

    But, this episode had quite a few powerful scenes in it, didn’t it? What a wonderful episode it was!

  9. mzpakipot

    I personally can relate to the break up scene at the fancy restaurant that is why I most skip this episode when I do my CH re-watch, it felt like I was in Mi-rae’s shoe while listening to Jo Guk’s cold-cruel words, and my heart was breaking like hers. But in my own real world, I didn’t tell him that he’s got a place in my heart wherever he goes. SYKE! I shoul stop being too personal here..hehe

    Kudos to Sun-Ah unnie! She really portrayed Mi Rae to the TEE that it’s hard not to emphatize with her.

    I love Cha Seung Won, he’s a darn good actor!

    two more episodes to go–it seems like yesterday SBS just aired this drama. Thank you Samsooki and team for re-living each episodes!

  10. 10 mems

    “-there’s something about eating that lends itself to expression of feeling. I think it has to do with honesty. People might be used to lying when they talk, but very few people lie when they eat. And so their faces reveal so much more when they have food in their mouths. It is like a window into their soul, and Jo Gook’s soul is wide open for viewing.”

    I can’t express how much I agree with this. It’s hard for me to cry, sometimes even in the saddest kdrama scenes, but an eating scene where the character experiences emotional turmoil (and only when the actor is authentically living the character) always gets me. Every single time.

  11. 11 Snickers1015

    I remember watching this after BOF and right away i told myself to NEVER WATCH HIGHSCHOOL/TEENAGE DRAMAS EVER AGAIN (Unless of course, Dramabeans and recapers like you suggest it, and the acting is superb)… After watching this drama, and also WORLDS WITHIN, i realized that I’ve been watching dramas that are not at this Phenomenal Level!!

    i LOVE CITY HALL! i Love Kim Sun Ah! and its my 1st time seeing Cha Seung Won act and i fell in love with him right away!!

    i Cant give enough praises for this drama! i just Love it!

  12. 12 Icarusfalls

    Oh.. my poor Gookie. I felt so bad for himand Mirae in this episode! Fighting!

  13. 13 Taohua

    Wonderful recap as usual! This was one of my favorite episodes…both CSW and KSA did an awesome job portraying their emotions here. I’ve been reading, but haven’t comment much…seriously thank you for the recaps! They are always a pleasure to read!

  14. 14 Anonymous

    So why couldn’t Kim Sun Ah watch Sam Soon months after the filming ended? can someone elaborate?

  15. 15 xiaoSxin

    i watched and finished city hall last week in 2 days, after reading the year end reviews and the editor’s pick. I can’t believe I missed out on the best romantic drama of 2009 when it was aired. although i already read a lot of discussions from avid City Hallers, I never got caught on the frenzy. Boy, now I am glad I finally watched this drama.

    Love Kim Sun Ah here!!!

  16. 16 samsooki


    Oh, so if I recall correctly, a newspaper reporter interviewed KSA about a year after the stunning success of MNIKSS, asking about how she felt about the role, whether she could have predicted the success, etc.

    One of the things that KSA said was that, at that point (about 12 months after it aired), that the bittersweet nature of the Samsoon role was still really fresh in her heart and watching it would be like re-opening a lot of wounds, and so she hadn’t yet seen it.

  17. 17 jastinel

    This is the only recap that put me into tears, i love this episode, CSW and KSA had their moments.
    I just hate the fact that they didn`t get the awards that they deserve.
    Still, this drama serves as an evidence of their excellent acting ability.
    More power to the power cast of City hall!

    Thanks for the recap Samsooki team!

  18. 18 robotmatsuri

    Thank you so much to Samsooki, 0timeslot and cleown for another superb recap! This episode is one of my top favorites, because of the amazing restaurant scenes and Jo Guk’s kneeling scene.

    CSW’s silent scenes are really something–and what a beautiful crier he is! That pause before he agreed to get married to Go Hae was so painful–you can feel and see it in his eyes that he had to pull everything from him to mutter a ‘yes’.

    The restaurant scene with JG and SMR is my favorite in the episode. He’s deliberately saying so many hurtful words, but Mirae is smarter than that; she knows exactly why he’s saying those words. Though I agree with you, that it was unnecessary for him to say that one line that he promised never to say, that single line spurred the epic speech outside of the restaurant, that is so packed with emotion that it kills me every single time.

    P.S. Major props to the writer for making Shin Mirae such a smart, mature woman. When Jo Guk broke up with her, even though it was incredibly painful, she never did something immature like beg Go Hae to give him back. Instead, she tells Go Hae that Jo Guk breaking up with her was to save her and at the same time sorta insults Go Hae. She matter-of-factly tells Go Hae that when he is with her, Jo Guk is romantic and everything he isn’t with Go Hae. Love that woman! 😉

    There are only 2 episode recaps left and that makes me incredibly sad, but I’m looking forward to the last two. Thanks so much again!

  19. 19 bumper

    No awards for this drama? Hard to believe. Who beat them out?

  20. 20 Sherrie in HB

    I just love this drama. I watched it when it came out and now that I am reading your review, it makes sense a whole lot better. Thank you for your time in doing this and much appreciated.

  21. 21 sueyip

    Thanks for the wonderful recap, Samsooki and team. I was wondering why JoGuk wanted MiRae to sign the MOU and now realised the reason. Thank you. Love this episode as CSW really acted the role of that “jerk” real well. Also love the heartbroken but well controlled emotional scenes acted by KSA. They trully deserved the Best Actor and Best Actress Awards but like what Jastinel said, they both should be awarded the Top Excellence Awards too.

  22. 22 indri

    Thank you guys,.. another great job!! love your recaps….

  23. 23 gra

    Samsooki can you suggest which kdrama would be the same level like CH. Frankly speaking I am afraid to watch another kdrama since watched a beautiful and strong drama like City Hall then it will disappear all the scene that i kept on my mind.

    I just watched 3 K drama before CH there are : BOF, MNIKSS, and YB.

    Thanks again for a lovely recaps.

  24. 24 Samsooki

    @23, gra –

    hmmmmm… same level? Honestly, there aren’t that many that combine both a heart-warming story (a woman rising from nothing to saving an entire city) and awesome love story. City Hall as a drama has plenty of flaws and can be quite choppy, but as a whole, I think it is a great drama.

    My first recommendation is to check out javabeans’ ratings and reviews here: http://www.dramabeans.com/about/ratings/

    Matching her list with mine, I would say that you should check out (in alphabetical order):

    1. Bad Family (like CH, two stories in one – a heart warming story of family, and a love story – with Kim Myung Min and Nam Sang Mi, two of my favorite actors).

    2. Coffee Prince Store #1 (extremely well-done love story about a guy who cannot help but fall in love with a Go Eun Chan (what’s a Go Eun Chan? Well, watch the drama to find out), starring Gong Yoo and the adorable Yoon Eun Hye)

    3. Dal Ja’s Spring (wonderfully written love story about a slightly older woman and a younger man… perfectly cast with Lee Min Ki and Chae Rim).

    4. Delightful Girl Choon Hyang (a modern retelling of an old Korean folktale, great fun and interesting throughout, with Jae Hee and Han Chae Young).

    5. Goong (with absolute gorgeous costumes and interesting plot of what would have happened if Korea had a constitutional monarchy and then had a crown prince who had to marry a commoner, absolutely brilliant for about 18 of the 24 episodes. Had this been edited to be only 16 episodes, this might have been in the top 3 of my most favorite dramas ever, with Joo Ji Hoon and Yoon Eun Hye.

    6. Gourmet (multiple stories in one – a love story, a story to save Korean cuisine, and a story to find what is Korean cuisine, with Kim Rae Won and Nam Sang Mi.

    7. Hong Gil Dong (a favorite of mine, a retelling of a Robin Hood type of story, complete with awesome love story, with Kang Ji Hwan (mine) and Sung Yuri.)

    8. My Girl (probably my favorite non-Kim Sunah drama, it’s a love story about a girl who pretends to be someone she isn’t, with Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae).

    You cannot go wrong with those. =)

    I have a ton of others to recommend, and some to avoid. If you want more info, please join us in the weekly dramabeans open thread, where you can get great picks and clever commentary, recipes, happy and sad stories, and generally just meet some pretty awesome people. Please join the “Save Bora” group though, not the “Bora Must Die” group. 😀

  25. 25 mtoenlob

    If a proof is required to sum up the artistic aptitude of the leading actors, I would say there are two scenes in this episode – the break up scene in the restaurant for KSA and the porridge shop scene for CSW. I love how these two leads take full advantage of their eyes in conveying the emotional gamut in this drama. Little or no words are necessary, just the movement of their eyes, is enough to paint a picture of a thousand words. SMR in her parting shot to JG, unleashed one of the many memorable lines in this episode as her eyes brimmed with tears ready to flow and flow it did just at the right moment. KSA’s restrained delivery of her lines coupled with that pained look on her eyes hit all the right emotional buttons! In this kind of situation, others might turn ballistic and hysterics. I preferred KSA’s take on this. If I cried a bucket in this restaurant scene, my heart ached so much in the porridge shop scene. It killed me! If I have to pick a scene to best describe CSW skills as an actor this is it. That scene alone could have won him the Best Actor awards hands down.

    “I think that what makes this particular drama special is the level of authenticity that Kim Sunah brings to Shin Mi Rae, and there’s no BS in her. What you see in KSA is what you get, and that is why Mi Rae is so real.”

    I totally agree with you. KSA breathed life to SMR with conviction you absolutely believed in Mi Rae – the woman and the person with all her flaws and her goodness.

    @ 7 Laica
    “. . .This is what I love about CH. This is why it doesn’t feel like another emotional merry-go-round like most other kdramas, but instead is almost as affecting as if you’re actually there and experiencing it.”

    So true. Rarely do we go through with this kind of experience – feeling and affecting you as if you are really there and going through with those emotions – with other kdramas. Others hit you superficially – watching. . . feeling. . . done and gone. But with CH, it draws you in and put you right there not just watching but experiencing the moments just as the characters are experiencing them. There is that X factor that I seldom see in other kdramas – the ‘connection’ between characters and viewers. With CH, you cease to be a viewer. You are one with the character. . . You are the character.

    It helps so much that the actors in this drama are actors in the truest sense who did a splendid portrayal of SMR and JG. Coupled with the solid performances from the supporting cast, interesting repartee between characters, memorable lines and unexpected twists and turns, City Hall could come down as one of those unforgettable dramas in kdrama history.

    Thank you for another remarkable recap, Samsooki and team!

  26. 26 omo

    Samsooki, Otimelost and cleown,

    I cant thank you enough for this episode’s recap. I don’t remember crying that much when I watched this episode live. Funny how reading the recaps here made me bawl my eyes out. The power of reading recaps is that it gives you a whole lot of time to think and ponder.

    The introductory paragraph is awesome. The concluding paragraph is one of its kind. BS meter…ROFL! How true!

    JG might have told GH his first lie to her here. The scene where they were buying wedding blings, SooIn’s SMS come in on JG’s watch (how cool!) stating that this afternoon’s appointments have all been canceled. JG lied to GH and said he has other plans and walked off. I remember feeling this is the only time I felt pity for GH.

    Am I the only person who doesn’t want this recap to end?

  27. 27 gra

    again, Thank you Samsooki for the recommendation.

  28. 28 sueyip

    One question – is that the first time MiRae actually read that body contract?
    Apparentlly she just signed that at the restaurant without giving it a thought.

  29. 29 pabo ceo reom

    shows how much i know….i thought this drama was only 18 episodes lol

  30. 30 birdscout

    Another fantastic recap of a fantastic episode of a fantastic drama! Thank you so much! I could not have appreciated all the layers of this wonderful drama without your detailed and thoughtful recaps. That last shot of Jo Gook staring at Mi-Rae’s picture with his eyes glistening and his teeth biting his lower lip is perfection.

  31. 31 Rita

    The recaps make City Hall even more extraordinary. After finishing this wonderful drama, the recap is like the dessert that Mi-Rae must have during a meal. But going thru each recap and with only 2 more episodes left, I told myself , each recap can also be the full meal – the appetizer, the main dish, and the dessert followed by the best coffee!

    Thank you Samsooki and team. You guys are really wonderful!

    Hi to my sisters at soompi. Tarits

  32. 32 ockoala

    Thanks for a great recap, samsooki. This must have been very hard to rewatch, but I found it cathartic to watch because when someone’s acting is at such an organic level that it no longers feels like acting (like KSA and CSW), watching such difficult scenes becomes almost a “give me the pain so I can get to the love” experience.

    I love your commentary, on all the episodes, but this one seems especially poignant in the way you captured the very tenderness and happy/sad all mixed together moment of Jo Gook in the porridge house.

    City Hall is truly extraordinarily meaningful and moving. It makes me smile and cry all at the same time, and feel like my heart may burst with so much emotion that such a drama elicits.

    Hi to all the soompiers as well!

  33. 33 eiko

    Oh heavens……this was a killer of an episode….and I loved the acting which really came to “life”…..all I did was listen and watch their eyes! I wanted to slap Jo Gok and I cried with Mi Rae. There was love written in every expression….really gut wrenching dialogue!

    I have complete respect for Kim Sun Ah and the way she lives her role….what a beautiful woman she is! She makes me feel like I’m worth somethng….that it’s worth fighting for….

    Thanks for the great recap….this has been one drama I have shed a lot of tears! And I keep doing it even watching it over! 🙂

  34. 34 lynaq

    What can I say, another wonderful recap close to getting over to two more. I have other prerogatives in my life, but I’m stock in this drama City Hall. No regrets at all for my love and devotion to KSA who made me believe of her acting prowess and down to earth attitude, will support her all the way. Watched and experience many many kdrama and only her drama MNIKSS that made me dig and root for her. I made a comment that CH is way much better than MNIKSS but I’m taking it back, actually it is two different story plot. Her dedication and perseverance in adjusting herself whatever role she is in, is just amazing and unbelievable. She is vey unique and multi talented actress and the simplicity of her beauty, the more you see her, the more you are attached to her. Her acting is just so natural and effortless with and ease. I do not mind her acting of being cutesy, cause it is like a spice that adds to the flavor for you to savor, she is cute and good at it! MiRae’s line to Jo Gook, no matter where he goes and no matter where he lives or who he is with, he will always have 2 homes, I’m aware that is only a fiction in this drama, but in reality it is happening in real wide world. Do it in legal way, just sharing my observation in true life.

    @#25mtoenlob, I admire your existence, your post are very well said, my exact sentiments. Like reading your post and your analysis, went back to CH site, perhaps you are like albert einstein who is a multi genius, aside being a physicist and among others of his renowned talent.

    @#17jastinel, You are very correct, Cha Seung Won and Kim Sun Ah deserved more awards, with four words B-E-S-T and exellence that they are suppose and entitle to receive!

    As always, thank you so very very much Samsooki, Otimelost and cleown for your motivation in continuing the recap. Looking forward for the last two!!! May God bless and keep us healthy all the time!

  35. 35 nycgrl

    Ep 18 is my favorite ep in CH.

    KSA shines when she plays more of the tough lady. Her acting in this episode makes up for all the artful hamminess in the first few episodes.

    CSW acting in the porridge shop. Seriously good. I think this scene transformed my sister into a Jo Gook lover even after all the complaining about his hair and eyebrows.

    BTW I love Jo Gook’s mom. What a beautiful cold woman. She is like a beautiful prickly icicle. No wonder Jo Gook wants warm and comforting Mi Rae.

  36. 36 alodia

    @ 14
    Another interview was from Cine21: (my most favorite interview of KSA)
    “I still can’t rewatch the show, because the feeling is still too strong, but the important thing is that, through this show, I was able to show the kind of sincerity and feeling I was never able to in the past” — Kim Sun Ah (Jan 2006)

    On some interviews during 2008 and 2009 she mentioned a few times that she has watched MNIKSS.

  37. 37 lyd

    Thanks for your recap samsooki! I’ve been following your recaps for city hall faithfully, though I’ve never commented *bad me. I’ve finished the drama last week and I’m so glad to be able to read your recap on this episode, ‘cos suddenly alot of the plot misunderstandings I had were cleared up.

    For example, I never really understood the reasons why Jo Guk was so adamant on Mi Rae signing the MOU and taking the credit for it, when he obviously knew that there was smthg crooked with the deal in the first place. But after your recap, I get that he did it so he could take on the blame in the end, when the deal fell through. Now he totally gets brownie points in my book (haha, that is not to say that he didnt before….my love for Jo Guk is unconditional, regardless of what he does :P).

    I love reading your recaps and rewatching the episodes! I watched the whole series in 3 days so its nice to watch it slower and after your recaps ‘cos i tend to see alot of things I missed the first time round.

    Looking forward to episode 19 😉

  38. 38 robotmatsuri

    @36 alodia

    Thanks for the link to that interview, interesting read! It further cemented my love for KSA. ♥

  39. 39 alodia

    Isn’t it? My all time favorite interview – and boy I’m just so thankful that was translated in English! If I had known it that time, I would have bought the magazine. Up until know reading it can bring tears to my eyes – so I’m not reading it now… no I’m not… no no I’m not going to read it now – crap!

    “I still can’t rewatch the show, because the feeling is still too strong, but the important thing is that, through this show, I was able to show the kind of sincerity and feeling I was never able to in the past. For example, I used to think about a lot of ways of approaching crying scenes in the past, but I didn’t need that even once for ‘Sam-Soon’. Even without looking at the script, I could go on, and I’d still be Kim Sam-Soon. Through this character, I was able to let a lot of things buried within me emerge. I don’t know if people will relate to it, but when there was a scene that had Sam-Soon in an angry mood, I was really angry. And when we shot the scenes of her ‘talking’ again with her dead father, I couldn’t sleep later. Overseas promotion is just starting, so it looks like that feeling will linger on for quite a while. Maybe this show will have a strong effect on my career. Since many people watched it, even if I don’t do a complete u-turn in the future, people might still be able to feel a certain change. But that’s just a process you go through, so you can even think of closing your eyes and covering your ears, going straight towards your goal.” – Kim Sun Ah

  40. 40 epyc

    @ 26 omo “Am I the only person who doesn’t want this recap to end?”

    Count me in!

    When the CH recaps started, I remember clicking DB as frequently as I could despite I’m already a daily religious DB follower. Looking back, I am now very thankful to Baby Ji Hoon for extending our CH savouring time. Like @31 Rita said, every re-cap is like a three-course full meal. Dear Samsooki (and 0timelost and cleown), I can’t thank you enough for your most consummate re-cap that not just brings out the very essence of each episode but also your very incisive insight that re-lives and enhances our appreciation of what a great drama City Hall is!

    I surely DO NOT WANT this re-cap to end soon. Honestly, while I’ve been watching other dramas after City Hall and some are really good and enjoyable – none comes close to CH.

    Back to this episode…..the JG porridge scene is hands down the best to me! This is great acting at its best and I love your special mention of the ‘respectful distance’ of others – very well observed.

    While many of you love the restaurant scene which I certainly concur, I personally love the last scene when Mayor Shin Mi Rae dropped her pen refusing to sign the MoU. I actually stood up and clapped my hands when watching that scene live, and my heart was beating so fast that got me trouble into sleeping afterwards. It embodies the long and enlightening journey that this woman has travelled: from the flirty tea lady in Ep 1 to this courageous heroine?!. Kim Sun Ah has simply turned herself into SMR in full gear, making all the changes in and growth of this character so convincing and totally believable. I can’t imagine what this drama will be like should this role be in the hands of a lesser actress.

    The same can of course be said of Jo Gook. Could we foresee the formidable mover and shaker from Ep 1 to become a quiet eater in that little porridge shop for the sake of seeing a certain poster? This tale of two people at opposite ends moving towards each other to become a different person is a truly moving and romantic story that will forever stay in our heart.

  41. 41 sunahforever

    What can I say, such a fantastic recap of such a wonderful chapter….sigh…my eyes are still swollen fm the crying!!! Am so captivated by the beautiful KSA and her beautiful acting…not to be outdone is also our hero CSW. The pain they went through is like so unbearable…I just can’t imagine…so sad so sad…CH you are the best…and who else can be SMR and JG except our heroin and hero….hwaiting!!!

  42. 42 SADSTORY

    I love City Hall. I love Cha Seung Won more than Kim Suna. Cha Seung Won’s Cafe will never be so boring. I am not a big fan of Kim Suna.

  43. 43 shin mi rae


    thank you samsooki for giving us a man’s point of view. that scene where JG was listening to SMR’s voice messages over and over, i thought he was just being emotional. i never really thought that he was punishing himself with pain because he was a jerk to SMR.

    i also appreciate your comment on the restaurant scene. i couldnt understand at first why SMR said those lines about growing old together. at first i thought she was begging him to come back… but i like your take on that scene more… very deep.

    congratulations recap team!

  44. 44 Rossa

    What can I say ? I love KSA and CSW so mucchhhh…I never cried like I did when I watched the scene outside the restaurant when SMA pounding her heart and said those lines..it killed me and I really felt the pain..KSA she is such a great actor..Thanks for the very good recap. Fighting !

  45. 45 antonia

    tonight i’ll finish it (only 2 epis!!!) and i don’t know if i can let go this drama. it’s really amazing.
    i love ksa in MNIKSS, and i always have a soft spot for this drama because 1) it was 2 k-drama and the first drama that get me nuts and 2) because when I watched it I just ended a relationship with a guy who resembles sam shik so much, and oh how I wish I was like sam soon…
    But this city hall is more serious and completely awesome. The acting is perfect and KSA and CSW have the better chemistry ever.
    About this epi: until now despite my unconditional love to JG, I doubted his intentions. But right now, I’m 100% sure he is a good guy and will earn (cross fingers) MR forgiveness, and they’ll have the best of happy endings. You won me completely JG!!!! Fighting!!!!
    I don’t think I can cry more, after watching epis 15 to 18 in a raw, I need all the power from rewatching The Kiss in epi 14, to be able to get some sleep. I really hurt for them… they’re so real
    Last but no least: what a wonderful recaper you are!!! Thank you so much for you’re insights, I feel like I’m in the drama again while reading!!!!

  46. 46 gasenadi

    Samsooki, Otimelost and cleown, you’ve outdone yourselves. This was one superb recap.

    Your take on the scene with Mom was truly enlightening. I just thought it served to show the contrast between Mom’s hands-off style of dealing with JG versus BB’s. But YOUR analysis is so spot on: “What Jo Gook is seeing in his mother is the result of a life spent hating someone. …. Incidentally, this is what would have happened to Mi Rae, had she been the same kind of person. …. Who knows whether BB and Jo Gook’s mom were once like Jo Gook and Mi Rae, until BB pulled the same stunt…?”

    Which links this scene with little Gukie asking Mom for permission NOT to hate BB, something he’s been desperately trying to do all his life, despite the evidence to the contrary. Thanks for shining some light on that!

    Just reading this recap made me cry again. This re-watch, tho, was extra poignant to me because now I could sympathize with JG a bit more than previously. Poor guy had just broken up with her and now, at the restaurant, because of her doggone persistence, he has to be a jerk to her AGAIN? Well, he’s had enough experience doing that, so he brings it on, at a low setting. And with each of her queries, he ramps it up a bit more, getting nastier and nastier. Until he says THE thing she never wanted to hear. EXCEPT that, ironically, it IS true! “It’s not your fault I’m leaving you.” It’s not his fault, either. We’re witnessing the consequences of that political scheming mentioned at the very start of the series.

    THAT political scheming -when the cartel goes to her to “redeem” their JG-name-card coupons – is what finally gets MR to “connect the dots” about JG’s arrival to Inju. Her mind makes all sorts of connections. So that when she arrives after the Residents’ Meeting is over, she’s more determined that ever NOT be pushed around and manipulated. CSW’s “eye-acting” is phenomenal here, also. JG had asked to have her “report” to him, personally, perhaps to give her a clue as to what was happening. But now, with her new knowledge of his behind-the-scenes maneuvers, she’s not reporting to anyone, certainly not taking orders from HIM.

    And you can SEE in his eyes, how proud he is of her.

    When she adds that she won’t sign, either, he’s suddenly nervous and fearful for her – in his eyes. He insists she has to sign (really for her own safety, for her mayoralty) and she shoots him down with so many things. But, for me, the most telling is when she uses the same words HE had used to keep her from quitting her campaign: “Even if there’s only one person who chose me because that person believed in me, I’ll go all the way for that person, because SMR’s that one person’s mayor. Because that person’s hope is pinned on SMR. That’s why you should keep your mouth shut.”

    JD’s proud. But not more than JG! What a veiled look of pride, he even has to hide it from the livid GH! It’s like his very…

  47. 47 gasenadi

    It’s like his very best student has graduated with honors, even if it is to use her skills against her mentor. Just brilliant. As is the fact that she came up with “postponing” the signing at the last minute. Each time I watch CH, that postponement gets more and more indicative of SMR’s innate intelligence.

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