Drama Recaps
Bad Guy: Episode 1
by | May 27, 2010 | 79 Comments

At long last, after several scheduling switches Bad Guy made its premiere on SBS this week, and got off to a promising start. I’ve been itching for something darker, more serious, and thriller-esque for a while now, because I’d been getting a little bogged down in romantic comedies. But there just aren’t as many thriller dramas as trendies, so this has been a long time coming. I wasn’t in LOVE with the premiere episode, but I did find myself intrigued by it, and am hoping that this proves to be a solid offering. I’ve been excited by the idea of Bad Guy ever since its preview came out, because it seemed dark, stylish, and mysterious. The first episode hits those notes and hints at more to come, if the writing can manage to steer clear of some contrivances.


Bad Guy OST – “가시꽃” by Jung Yeob [ Download ]

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Usually I start first episodes with an explanation of the characters, but in thrillers and mysteries where details are unfurled in pieces — and particularly when one key element of the drama is identity — it’s easier to just dive right into the plot:


A woman stands on the rooftop of a tall building. She looks up at the sky peacefully, until a figure appears at the staircase and heads toward her. His body is shrouded in the dark but she recognizes him (and so do we — it’s series star Kim Nam-gil, although his face is not revealed to us), and immediately she is thrown into panic.

She drops something — a folded paper crane — and yells at him to stay away, backing up until she’s at the edge of the roof. In her anxiety, she presses herself against the rail, and her feet hover at the ledge — and then lose their balance. She slips through the gap and falls to the pavement, many feet below.

A car travels along a street a few blocks away, its driver trying to hold back her tears. This is MOON JAE-IN (Han Ga-in), who has just suffered a mighty indignity at the hands of her not-quite-ex-boyfriend’s mother. Jae-in is, by the snooty woman’s estimation, intelligent and accomplished (but born poor!), and therefore should have no trouble understanding that she does not suit her fancy, well-born son. Rich Mom has decided that her son has moved on, and so should Jae-in.

The mother hands over an envelope of money to sweeten the bitter aftertaste, telling her with false generosity not to worry about the expenditure — their company regularly donates large sums to needy causes. Thus she effectively reduces Jae-in’s existence — and place in her son’s life — to a pathetic charity case.

The memory of the degrading encounter prompts more tears to fall, and Jae-in’s vision is obscured by her crying. Thus she’s late to react when a pedestrian steps into the intersection — against the walk light, although I suppose that isn’t the point. She screeches to a stop, but not fast enough to avoid impact. The man hits her windshield and falls to the ground.

Alarmed, Jae-in gets out to check on the man and dials the emergency number.

Again, we’re only given glimpses of him but we can see that this is Kim Nam-gil — let’s call him by his character name now, SHIM GUN-WOOK — and we can make out little clues. For instance, even if we had not recognized his silhouette, he wears the same brown shoes of the man on the roof. And when he moves, Jae-in sees through a tear in his shirt that he has a scar running down his back.

As Jae-in connects with the emergency dispatcher, Gun-wook gets to his feet with some effort, still dazed from the impact. The sound of a scream nearby diverts Jae-in’s attention in the other direction, and when she turns back, Gun-wook is gone.

That rooftop woman’s body is discovered, and the area is cordoned off as a possible crime scene. The main investigator, at right, is paired up with the new guy (they have names, but for now I’ll call them Old Cop and New Cop), and New Cop is nonchalant about the whole thing. He wants to go for the easy answer — suicide — and wrap this up quickly.

Old Cop, however, finds the paper crane nearby, now stained with the victim’s blood. He sees little inconsistencies in the case and until he is satisfied, he cannnot declare this either a suicide or a murder. One lead is the woman’s boyfriend, and they look into his identity.

Jae-in arrives in a park where several couples are having wedding photos taken. Among them is her ex-boyfriend, who sees her and immediately pushes her away to talk in secret. How dare she come here and humiliate him this way?

Jae-in retorts that she called him dozens of times to spare him this humiliation, if only he’d bothered to actually respond. Touché. She’s full of righteous anger at the cowardly way he has dumped her, and tells him that she has no problem with a relationship ending — but what did she do to merit such debasing treatment? Was it such a crime to be born poor? Or to dare to dream of marrying him someday? She throws his mother’s money at him and says that she’s upset with herself for loving a man who turned out to be so pathetic. She congratulates his bride on her nuptials, then storms off.

Aww, yeah. This is the send-off many a dumped woman has longed to deliver to an unworthy ex, and Jae-in earns my favor on this scornful diatribe alone.

Up in the sky, a man leaps from a plane and freefalls. It’s Gun-wook, and he’s clearly practiced at this, from the skillful way he guides his parachute over the water, aiming for a yacht landing.

Standing on the deck of the yacht is its young owner, HONG MO-NAE (Jung So-min). She looks up curiously as the skydiver heads for her boat and lands heavily on the deck.

Mo-nae’s curiosity morphs into admiration when Gun-wook removes his helmet and she sees just how cool and dashing he is. He talks to her casually and orders her to help him with the chute, asking whether she got his descent on film.

She doesn’t know what he’s talking about but it doesn’t dim her wonder, and Mo-nae isn’t the only one immediately smitten — so is her niece, little SO-DAM, who looks up at Gun-wook and calls him “Angel Ajusshi,” or “Mister Angel.”

Not so HONG TAE-RA, Mo-nae’s older sister and snooty rich bitch extraordinaire. Actually, I suppose I shouldn’t slag her too much in this scene because Tae-ra’s coolness is warranted — he DID just land on their yacht — but I hate her so (SO) much in this episode that I can’t help stringing along extra adjectives (haughty, hateful, shrewish) whenever she’s mentioned.

It turns out that Gun-wook landed on the wrong vessel, and his crew motors up in their own boat to claim him.

Jae-in is an art consultant and is currently freelancing for another hateful shrew, Madam Shin. Unsurprising that she should turn out to be Tae-ra’s mother. She’s got the same pinched attitude toward her inferiors as her older daughter, though much uglier hair. The chaebol family heads the Haeshin Group, and Madam Shin is opening a museum. As Jae-in is headed down to Jeju Island for a working trip, Madam Shin casually mentions that she should drop by Mo-nae’s birthday party.

Jae-in doesn’t consider it seriously until Madam Shin’s much-abused assistant whispers to her that the notorious HONG TAE-SUNG is supposedly going to show. Apparently his arrival from the States has Mommy Dearest on edge; Tae-sung (played by Coffee Prince‘s Kim Jae-wook, though we don’t see him yet) is actually a lovechild of President Hong, though now he’s Haeshin’s heir. The assistant/friend tells Jae-in she ought to seduce Tae-sung, marry him, and then flaunt that in her worthless ex’s face.

Although Jae-in dismisses it, the idea sticks in her mind. She decides to drop by Mo-nae’s party, which is no small commitment because it requires her to buy a gift, and what do you buy an heiress? The answer is a ridiculously expensive fountain pen, for which she must pay on an installment plan.

Arriving at the hotel on Jeju Island, Jae-in walks along the lavish grounds and crosses paths with another woman — literally — which sends both of them falling to the grass. As she gets back up, she finds herself in the thick of a gangster fight.

Gun-wook is being chased by several thugs, and sports a stab wound in his side. He fights off his pursuers and grabs Jae-in for cover, then holds a knife to her side and instructs her to be quiet. The men throw a suitcase at his head, which breaks them up, and he gets back up to engage again.

Jae-in reaches for her phone and dials the emergency number to ask for police assistance… which is when a loud voice yells, “CUT!” A director strides toward her angrily. What’s the actress doing, going off script like that?

It turns out that the woman she’d bumped into was the person Gun-wook was supposed to grab, and this is part of the action movie for which he is stuntman. The other woman hands her the box she dropped — Mo-nae’s present — not noticing that the pen has fallen out, which later gets picked up by Gun-wook.

The action director tries to convince Gun-wook to go topless for a scene in place of the actor. To the dismay of fans everywhere, Gun-wook firmly declines. The pressure him into agreeing, as he’s got the best physique, and one stuntman lifts his shirt to prove it. But that reveals the scar running down his back and they drop the subject, unsure if it’s a sore subject.

Jae-in sees Tae-ra arriving at the hotel and approaches enthusiastically. They’ve never met, but Jae-in recognizes her from photos and introduces herself as the consultant working with her mother, who suggested that she drop by for Mo-nae’s birthday.

Tae-ra is civil enough to skirt outright rudeness, but she has no interest in talking to Jae-in, who is not doing a very good job being supplicating. Or maybe she’s doing TOO good a job, and her eager-to-please behavior is transparent.

Mo-nae and So-dam spot Gun-wook heading into the hotel and eagerly go off in search of him. However, they end up following the wrong guy — the actor for whom he is doubling (hence the similarity in looks). So-dam spots Gun-wook off in the distance and leaves her aunt to follow him, and when Mo-nae looks around, the little girl is nowhere to be found. She calls Tae-ra, who is immediately sent into a panic and orders a search.

Catching a glimpse of So-dam in the elevator, Mo-nae follows it upstairs.

Gun-wook arrives on the rooftop and finally asks how long the girl’s going to keep following him. She calls him Angel Ajusshi, asking if his “wings” have dried off after dropping into the water, meaning his parachute. Gun-wook talks to her affectionately and plays along with her Angel questions.

When she asks him to fly for her, he humors her by standing on the ledge with his arms outstretched, which is the pose he’s in when Mo-nae finds them.

So-dam declares that the Angel Ajusshi is going to fly for her, and then — omo! — gives him a push. Mo-nae screams as Gun-wook falls off the ledge.

Thankfully, he had barely managed to grab onto the rails and grasps Mo-nae’s hand. She pulls him back onto the roof to safety, falling to the ground with the effort. So-dam, not registering the danger of what just transpired, asks why he can’t fly.

Instead of being angry, Gun-wook ruffles the girl’s hair and answers that his wings must still be wet. He’s about to help Mo-nae to her feet when a man rushes up and shoves him against the railing, hand pressed to his throat. He’s the family’s driver, and had been looking for the missing girl with Tae-ra when they’d heard Mo-nae scream. Naturally they assumed the worst. Not knowing this, Gun-wook swiftly counters and shoves the man away.

Operating on her own misconception, Tae-ra stalks up and slaps him in the face, breaking the skin with her jewelry. She orders her driver to call the police, jumping to the conclusion that Gun-wook lured the girl here to make ransom demands or otherwise leverage her safety for money.

Mo-nae speaks up in his defense, but Overbearing Sister refuses to listen. She accuses Gun-wook of following them here from the bay, as though he orchestrated the run-in from the start.

I wouldn’t say Gun-wook doesn’t care at all about her false accusations, but he doesn’t let them ripple his calm, and in fact steps closer. This makes Tae-ra even more skittish, particularly when he raises a hand… and slowly reaches toward her chest… where he plucks off a stray hair. She slaps him again. There’s a lot of antagonism here, but the air fairly crackles with tension. Which makes me suspect that it’ll turn into sexual tension soon enough.

Mo-nae forcibly drags Tae-ra away, saying that he almost died because of So-dam. She orders the driver not to call the police, and apologizes to Gun-wook.

One gets the sense that Tae-ra has a habit of disregarding her kid sister, because she doesn’t believe Mo-nae until So-dam speaks up, proud of finding the Angel Ajusshi first and following him up to the roof. Mo-nae tells her sister she was out of line to accuse him of following the family when he’s clearly here to shoot a movie. Just because they’re rich doesn’t mean she has to eye everyone suspiciously, assuming they’re after money.

Some people ARE thinking mostly of money, though, and Jae-in entertains her friend’s suggestion to snag Tae-sung. She runs the idea by her sister WON-IN (Shim Eun-kyung, who apparently put off her big move to America to shoot this role). While not an outright delinquent, it looks like Won-in has a habit of breaking school rules, like ditching class to go buy snacks. She also scoffs at her sister’s question, finding it insane.

Won-in doesn’t think her sister’s capable of it, and to be honest, I don’t think she is, either — Jae-in’s not a smooth liar and she’s not very practiced in this manipulation game. We see this firsthand when she visits Mo-nae and tries to angle for an invite to the birthday party. (Mo-nae treats her with friendliness, but they’re not exactly friends. I’m going to guess that perhaps Jae-in was her tutor. Mo-nae’s probably not old enough for them to have been schoolmates; she’s on her way to college now, which makes her around 20.)

When Mo-nae opens her present, a prop knife falls out. Jae-in realizes that it must have gotten switched during her run-in on the movie set and starts to apologize, but Mo-nae finds the blade fascinating — it’s one of those fake ones where the false blade slides into the handle.

Jae-in starts to ask about the party and the people who will be present. Mo-nae confirms that Tae-sung will be there, but warns Jae-in not to speak of him to her mother or sister. It’s a sore topic. When Tae-ra drops by, Mo-nae asks to include Jae-in in the party tomorrow night. Tae-ra says no in her coolly polite way, saying it’s only a family gathering. Hiding her disappointment, Jae-in says it’s fine.

While Gun-wook dozes on the rooftop, he’s assailed by a flood of disturbing memories. They don’t mean much to us now, but depict an unhappy childhood — we see a rich boy, an accident that led to his back scar, a DNA test, and a boy crying out plaintively to be let inside. And also, curiously, a nametag that reads “Hong Tae-sung.”

He jerks awake, and is soon joined by the movie’s star actress, CHOI HYE-JOO (played by Ha Joo-hee, whom you may remember as the hilarious bimbo from Soulmate). Hye-joo has taken note of the mysterious stuntman, and although her words are pretty innocuous, we can see that she’s angling after him.

The conversation is cut short by her stylist, DA-RIM, who trips and falls on the clothing she carries. That earns her a slap and a harsh scolding — out of Gun-wook’s presence, of course. Hye-joo can be a mean bitch when provoked, and spews spite at her clumsy stylist.

While reading over his script, Gun-wook rips a page out and fashions an origami crane out of it, which flies off the railing and flutters down to the ground below. Jae-in picks it up and looks up, where she sees Gun-wook walking away.

Meanwhile, back in Seoul the other crane is being examined by Old Cop, who wonders what it means. He scolds New Cop for playing games on the job and sends him off to check on the whereabouts of the victim’s boyfriend.

Mo-nae goes out to dinner with her fiancé, EOM SE-JOONG. They’re on friendly terms, but it’s an arranged relationship and Mo-nae wonders why he wants to marry her. Shouldn’t marriage require stronger attachment?

Just then, she’s distracted by the arrival of Gun-wook at the bar. When he gets up to go to the bathroom, she hurriedly excuses herself and follows. Boldly, she presents herself before him in the men’s room to apologize for earlier. He tells her it’s fine, adding that “It’s not something for you to feel sorry for” (implying that Tae-ra should).

A man enters the bathroom — Se-joong — which sends the two of them to a bathroom stall to hide. I’ll admit, it’s pretty hot, as far as forced hiding scenarios go. For a moment it seems as though they might kiss, and Gun-wook tilts his mouth down ever so slightly toward her… but then Se-joong exits, which is their cue to leave as well.

Before she goes, Mo-nae asks for his name, and immediately drops the stuffy-sounding “ajusshi” to call him “Gun-wook oppa.” She tells him her name, so he won’t have to call her “Miss” anymore.

Making this world just a bit smaller, we see that Se-joong and Hye-joo are dating. Not seriously, but enough for her to grope his thigh suggestively while she drives. That proves enough of a distraction that she reacts late when a motorcycle darts out into the intersection. The vehicles have a minor collision, which sends Hye-joo diving for cover — she’s a star, and this will look bad for her.

Se-joong steps up to take charge, getting out to deal with the motorist while Hye-joo hides behind the steering wheel. As coincidence would have it — of course! — the biker is Gun-wook.

Se-joong shoves money at him to buy his silence, and for a moment it looks like Gun-wook is going to throw it back in his face. Despite her cowering, Gun-wook recognizes Hye-joo in the driver’s seat, though he doesn’t comment. He takes the note — somewhere close to $10,000, it appears — and allows the couple to drive off in relief.

That night, Gun-wook sits on the dock and plays with a lighter, flicking it on, off, on, off. He takes the banknote and holds it up to the flame, as though to burn it — feeling the indignity of being bought off by a rich bastard — but pulls it away before it catches fire. The screen fades before we see what he ultimately decides to do, though I’m going to speculate that he didn’t burn it. He’s got bigger fish to fry, and that small gesture isn’t going to right the wrong burning in his memory. But more on that later.

(Also: I laughed to see him playing with a lighter while he had a lollipop stick in his mouth rather than the obvious cigarette. It must be their way of invoking the cigarette imagery without actually showing him smoking.)

The next day, Jae-in comes to the film set to ask about her lost pen, wondering if anyone saw it. The director calls out the question to his crew, and it captures Gun-wook’s notice, but he doesn’t speak up. He heads to the hangar to gear up for the skydiving shoot.

He’s immediately suspicious when he sees Da-rim hurriedly walking away from a parachute. He doesn’t see her messing with the knife and cutting one of the cords, but he’s sharp and knows what she’s up to. Coolly, he points to the cords on the parachute and indicates that she cut the wrong one — if she really wanted someone to die, she should cut the others.

Da-rim struggles to break free of his grasp, and in so doing slashes his hand with her knife. Her eyes widen in shock to see the blood dripping, but she fires back petulantly that he doesn’t know what a horrible bitch Hye-joo is! She tramples all over people, slaps them, and curses them. Da-rim screams that she wishes Hye-joo would die.

Gun-wook yells at her to pull herself together. And this is why I think he kept the money:

Gun-wook: “Would Choi Hye-joo’s death change your life? If Choi Hye-joo died, another Choi Hye-joo would come along to trample over you. Would you kill her every time, like you’re trying now? Killing is easy — want me to show you how easy it is to kill a person? You know what’s harder than killing someone? Stepping on Choi Hye-joo as you rise above her. And making sure nobody ever steps on you again.”

Goddamn, he’s sexy.

Now for the jump. While prepping, Gun-wook gives Hye-joo a last tip — a jumper can mistake the water for the sky and get flipped around, resulting in an accident. But if she keeps her head, she’ll be fine. Before they jump, he adjusts the frequency on his walkie-talkie (after radioing to his team below), and also adjusts Hye-joo’s.

They dive. It’s exhilarating, and everything goes smoothly. Gun-wook takes the moment to ask about her companion last night. Their walkie-talkies enable them to talk to each other and the changed frequency keeps the exchange private — while also getting picked up by a third one below, on Mo-nae’s yacht. Curious, she listens in on the conversation, finding it all very amusing.

Gun-wook asks what their relationship is. Hye-joo answers that it’s not a big deal — they’re just dating briefly and he’s actually engaged. Gun-wook says he knows the guy — it’s Eom Se-joong, right?

He has engineered this specifically so Mo-nae would find out about her cheating fiancé, and she hears the name just as Se-joon presents her with a birthday necklace. He tells her, “I love you,” and moves in for a kiss… and she vomits on him, feeling ill.

Now for the chute pull. The two divers separate and pull their ripcords. Gun-wook’s deploys correctly, but Hye-joo’s fails to open fully and she continues to free-fall, screaming in panic. Gun-wook yells at her to get a grip — she has a reserve — but she’s so scared that she can’t do anything but scream.

Thinking fast, Gun-wook releases himself from his chute and dives for Hye-joo. He cuts her free of the failed chute and deploys her backup, then spins off in another direction. Below, everyone looks up in horror, screaming at Gun-wook, who continues to fall. As warned, the spinning makes him confuse sea for sky, and he tries to focus and straighten himself. He manages to release his chute, but because he continues to flip in the air, it doesn’t slow him down as quickly as it should and he crashes into the water.

Back in Seoul, the two cops finally locate the whereabouts of the victim’s boyfriend: He’s in Jeju.

Gun-wook’s team fishes him out of the water, all the while his memories are unleashed again. This time we get to see some of the flashes we’d caught earlier, only now they have some context.

And curiously, in his memory, his name is Tae-sung, not Gun-wook.

As a young boy, he had lived a very happy — if poor — life with his mother and adopted father, who was deaf. They couldn’t afford a hearing aid, but his doting father assured him that he didn’t need one. Young Gun-wook had promised to buy him one anyway.

Then came the day that his heartbroken parents had to tell him that he was actually the son of a very rich man who would take him in to live as his rightful son. Gun-wook/Tae-sung had protested, but was dragged off screaming for his parents with only his dog for company.

His new parents, President Hong and Madam Shin, had told him that he was home now, but he had refused to speak, which frustrated his stepmother. She made the (false?) promise that if he was a good boy, they’d make sure his parents became rich and came to get him.

So young Gun-wook/Tae-sang had spoken — but before he would bring himself to call President Hong his father, he had struck a deal with Madam Shin. He forced himself to say the word “Dad,” and Madam Shin told her husband that their son had asked for a hearing aid.

Thinking back now, Gun-wook tears up at the memory.

Meanwhile, at the museum, Jae-in finds another crane on the ground, which she retrieves. The printing resembles a page out of a script, and she unravels the crane to find handwritten notes on the paper — the names of the Haeshin group family members.

So what does this mean? Is Gun-wook really Hong Tae-sung? He had been brought into the family as the new brother — does this make Tae-ra and Mo-nae his sisters?

But no, we’re not in THAT drama. Not much time had passed before young Gun-wook was thrown out of the house. He’d sobbed for them to let him inside, not understanding why they changed their minds about wanting him, but they’d turned a deaf ear. Now the DNA test makes sense, because there was another little boy in those memories, and tests must have shown that Gun-wook was not Hong’s son. He’d been cast out — and been thrown onto glass, which gave him the scar — while his dead dog had been left out in the rain.

In his moments in the water in half-consciousness, Gun-wook sees these memories flash before his eyes one more time. The dialogue spoken by his character in the script — which Jae-in reads and Gun-wook recalls in his memory — echo the situation now:

Gun-wook: “In the night, my entire body is in darkness. I don’t know where the heavens are, or where the ground is. Is the light from fire, or from the stars? I can’t tell. Where is it I’m going? Is it heaven? Or is it hell?”


Generally speaking, I liked Bad Guy. I was hoping it would be good, and I wasn’t disappointed in the directing, acting, ambiance, or tone. I’m intrigued by the premise — it seems set up for a revenge upon the Haeshin Group — and there are mysteries on top of that, like the woman who dies in the first scene. But while I’m definitely in for at least another few episodes, I’m not 100% sold on this drama yet, because there are a few things that give me pause.

The story itself is something we’ve seen before — another chaebol, another takeover/revenge plot, another switched identity mystery — so I consider the premise serviceable, not novel. The directing and pacing, however, manage to wring out suspense from the setup anyway, and I find myself invested enough to want to know what the deal is with the two Tae-sungs.

A few story points seem pretty contrived, such as Jae-in’s decision to go for Tae-sung. I was trying to think up explanations that support this, and I came up with one or two (like her dumping providing the impetus to get a rich husband to spite her ex), but ultimately I didn’t find them convincing. If she had mercenary tendencies from the start, I’d find her decision more credible. But she threw her ex’s mother’s money back in his face, only to turn around ten minutes later to begin Operation Gold-Digging. If she’d accepted the money at the start, albeit grudgingly, I might have believed her decision — imagine her taking that check to buy Mo-nae’s present. That would be more fitting, wouldn’t it? So in the end I don’t really buy her decision, but as it is one of the pillars of her story arc, I figure I can just express my disappointment here, then move on and accept it as fact.

Then there’s the matter of Gun-wook getting hit by TWO drivers. Man, they’re just adding fodder for the Asian woman driver stereotype, aren’t they? The first time I’ll buy. If they show that he planned the second encounter — which is possible, if he’s planning his own scheme — I’m back onboard. But if they were just two coincidental collisions, this is another example of something I’ll just dislike and move on from.

Acting-wise, there has been a lot of talk about two of the leading ladies: (1) How much Han Ga-in has improved, and (2) newcomer Jung So-min‘s impressive portrayal of Mo-nae. Han Ga-in is the surprise, and I was glad to revise my prior opinion of her (pretty but blank), although I still think she could do better getting into the emotional side of her character. But it’s a marked step up from her previous dramas — perhaps she’s been hard at work training over the three years since she last acted.

I personally find Kim Nam-gil and Oh Yeon-soo much stronger — and their brief moments are loaded in chemistry — but they were expected to be amazing. In particular, Kim Nam-gil is so charismatic that he commands your attention. This is the first role where I feel like he gets to be his real broody and serious self, which may be a total misconception on my part but also speaks to how naturally he has stepped into this part and inhabited Gun-wook. He’s a mysterious person, but you don’t feel that the mystery comes purely from the plot (which is what I felt they did to Park Shi-hoo in Prosecutor Princess) — it comes seeping out of his very essence, too.

There are several ways in which Bad Guy reminds me of 2008’s La Dolce Vita, and not just because Oh Yeon-soo is in both. Or because a possible rooftop suicide starts both series. But to my relief, I like this one better (even though I know La Dolce Vita has a fierce fanbase and was well-regarded as a suspenseful dark thriller). Maybe I’m in the just mood for the genre now and wasn’t then? Maybe the warm summer sun appeals to me more than the winter snow? Maybe Bad Guy doesn’t seem quite as pretentious to me as La Dolce Vita? Plus, despite the fact that this is a drama with a dark side, it doesn’t seem quite as cold and hard as the other.

In any case, I’m eager to wrap this up so I can move on to Episode 2.


79 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. WOW

    I like Han Ga-In, I will give it a try!

  2. Mina

    Does anyone get the feeling that Bad Guy has similar elements in plot with the jdrama A Million Falling Stars starring Kimura Takuya?

    • 2.1 browsguy

      I found this post because I googled the two show names together to see if I was the only one who made the observation you made.
      The answer to my question is no! You made the observation before me.

  3. loveydovey

    well i don’t know about the drama, but i’m definitely checking out the ost lol.

  4. Rosaida

    Thanks a lot for the recap!!! I am just about to watch the first episode and having you write the recap makes me more excited.

    I might leave a proper comment after I watch the episode.


  5. kaedejun

    WOOOO! Bad Guy! i’m glad that you find out gun wook’s past in this episode, because it’s clear they’re not going to drag out the melodrama of birthright.

    i found it kinda weird though that gun wook just so happens to be a stunt guy – i mean, two instances when he involves an innocent female bystander in the film. i thought that his scene wit monae was contrived – that he planned for that to exactly happen so that he could meet her. but then to do it to jae in as well – i wondered why he had to involve her since she’s not involved in the revenge plan at all.

  6. Pully

    Duh, I’ll watch anything with KNG in it.

  7. ginabina

    thanks so much for the recap dramabeans! i just watched episodes 1 and 2 today and was hoping you would pick this drama up. having never seen any of his previous work, i didn’t understand the appeal to kim nam gil…until now! i also hope that han ga-in’s character gets a little bit more development beyond ‘operation gold digger’ (hilarious and accurate description) and the preview for episode 3 is giving me some hope. thanks so much again!

  8. son ye jin &han ga in fan

    han ga in looks like son ye jin.

    they seem to share the same hairstyle(with bangs) recently .

    • 8.1 Curious16

      Yea,yea,I agree!!!When I saw her for an instance,I was like : Is she Son Ye Jin? Until I saw the names,and I realised it wasn’t,haha!LOL!

  9. Amg1

    JB, thanks for your hard work!
    I like the tone of the drama so far lets hope stays that way!!!!!

  10. 10 zara

    I watch the first episode already and I really like it, keeps you guessing,

  11. 11 momosan

    YEAH! JB is recapping Bad Guy!

    My thought on the second accident was “dude, you are having a bad bad day!” But I think that at least one of those was planned, because even for a stunt dude, it’s hard to really get hit by a car while riding a donor cycle and come out so pretty.

    Normally I jettison any drama that gratuitously kills a kid’s dog (Triple, I’m looking at you) but I’m going to give this one a pass for a while, if only because said kid (in the form of the sexy KNG) is out for revenge.

  12. 12 fadedjean

    Funny you should mention it, but they did show that Gun-wook planned the second accident. In a quick flashback, you see him pause and look out for the car, and then go forward on his motorcycle. Until I saw that, I had the same disgruntled feeling about him getting hit TWICE, but then it made sense.

    On another note, I don’t know if you watch a lot of Japanese dramas, but the feel of this drama is very similar to “Sora kara furu ichioku no hoshi” (roughly, “One Million Stars Falling From the Sky”) starring Kimura Takuya. There are some overlaps in terms of plot, but it’s mostly the feel of the drama. Kimutaku was the same kind of dark character as Gun-wook, and I can’t help being reminded of it every couple of minutes.

    Thanks for the great recap. I’m looking forward to Kim Jae-wook’s appearance.

  13. 13 ripgal

    I totally agree with you on Ep 1 of Bad Guy DB. It wasn’t brilliant or fantastic, but it was definitely enough to catch my attention.

    The plot is definitely one which we’ve all seen before, but I don’t really dislike it for the reason that the direction made everything really intense and fast-paced enough. Just in Ep 1 we got almost everything, from the backstory of Gun Wook (or rather, Tae Sung?) to his plot/scheme and to the set-up of his relationships with the 3 (or 4?) ladies? I liked how it moved so briskly and by the end of the episode, it’s pretty much a done deal that Gun Wook’s totally in for it.

    And you’re totally spot on with KNG and Oh Yeon Soo, they were the ones who commanded in this episode. And it didn’t help when they clicked right away (I mean in an intense way)… I know that things will not end up well between her and Gun Wook, but I do hope for a lil passion between them?

    As for Gun Wook and Jae In, time will tell as they haven’t had any scenes yet. Han Ga In was decent enough, but I don’t really care about her as for now.

    Last, doesn’t anyone think that the actress who plays Mo Nae looks INCREDIBLY like Yoon Eun Hye? In certain angles, she was totally YEH to me. o_0

  14. 14 jons

    I just watched the last 10 minutes of bad guy. It was very intresting but I’m not sold yet either. I think I’ll follow it slowly to see where it takes me. Speedy and wonderful recap-hitting all the main points.

  15. 15 sallynally

    Was I the only one who thought the second car accident was not an accident, but that Gun-wook purposely jumped into the car knowing who were in the car?

    I agree that I was pleasantly surprised by Han Ga-in’s improved acting in the show. Hopefully, she can keep it up!

  16. 16 estel

    Yay! Such excellent timing — I’d just finished up the first episode and popped over here to see if our lovely JB had anything to say about it, and here it is! Thanks much for turning out such a high-quality recap so quickly. 🙂

  17. 17 pabo ceo reom

    Sounds interesting but not enough for me to follow. I think I might just read the recaps like I did with Oh My Lady (if I have the time!)

  18. 18 shiningmoon

    First things first, thanks JB for the recap, I like this drama, but like you I’m a little cautious, anyway I love the main actors, and they look sooo sexys, hope the mistery keep going and the drama doesn’t get to sticky…

  19. 19 fancia

    I think Jae-in decision to go for tae-sung didn’t really based on money alone. Deep down she wanted to revenge his ex-boyfriend by marrying rich husband (richer than her ex-boyfriend).

    I think initially, she didn’t really care about the money but because of the raw scar given by her ex-boyfriend and the assistant’s whispering to her; thus, the decision to pursue Tae-sung.

  20. 20 more

    Oh Yeon-soo should have been the lead in my opinion. She did an amazing job in La Dolce Vita.

  21. 21 belva

    I was checking back here just for this! Thanks for the recap, been waiting for it. Hope you can continue as it really helps clear up some confusions (the walkie talkie on the yacht, the DNA test, the scar etc) also the details you point out like the lollipop kinda made the drama more stylish in a way ^^

    From Jae-in crying in the car over her lost love says that she really did love him, not for the money, so naturally she wouldn’t accept the mother’s “charity”. It was after that that she chanced upon the idea of seducing a Chaebol and decided to give it a try to I believe, spite her ex. So I’m guessing she isn’t a gold digger initially.

    I was surprised by Shim Eun-kyung’s role, a butch?! awesomeness. lol. Loved her since her little Sujini role in The Legend

    I watched La Dolce Vita’s first 2 Ep but the slow pace of that drama made me stop. I was looking for a mystery thriller but the details of that came in too slowly, maybe I’ll get back to it when I’m feeling patient.

    KNG is so sexy in this role, totally digging the bad guy image. You’re right, charismatic is the word for him as GW. From what I’ve read he’s not a serious person but jokes around a lot on set. As said he’s an amazing actor who can get into his role so well <33

    I'll be waiting for your next BG recap! Thanks in advance! =D

  22. 22 pat

    Never been one to drool but KNG is sooooooo Hot I can’t focus on the not very original plot but will enjoy his performance. just reading recaps will miss the sizzle.

  23. 23 hpn88

    I was sold after the first episode. I really enjoyed the dark feel of the story. It might be a revenge plot but I have faith (I don’t know why I do, but I do) that they will do something interesting with it.
    ALSO Kim Nam Gil is hot, so yeah…

  24. 24 anastassia

    Oh Sarah. Thanks babe.


    I can’t describe how much I waited for this recap. I haven’t been this eager not even once since I read your blog like 4 years? Most anticipated drama ever for a long time surpassing Road No 1.

    Thanks so much again.

    @ 2 & 12:

    Yes. Indeed. It does remind me of Million Stars Falling From The Sky. It didn’t remind me of Dolce Vita, MISA or Devil. It goes beyond that. I even had mention on the post about this drama trailer that this drama reflect a lot of Kimutaku’s drama. My all time fav drama until now.

    I think tough the premise offered seems something that might we see before but it was very different in many ways and I don’t know how to say it just it was so same with Million Sky.

    I think you describe it best in this phrase:-

    “He’s a mysterious person, but you don’t feel that the mystery comes purely from the plot (which is what I felt they did to Park Shi-hoo in Prosecutor Princess) — it comes seeping out of his very essence, too.”

    I think what made Bad Guy different and I love it i have to say is the subtleness, the many layers, dynamic, the woman and evil persona, seducing woman through his subtleness unlike others revenge drama. He didn’t do nothing and people knew he has something on his sleeve but attracted anyway. He didn’t have to do much.

    Well, with great scenery, amazing cinematography (for my liking) and badass and sexy soundtrack I’m in.

    My complain, maybe as you mentioned I just hope Han Ga In can immense in her emotions characters more deeply. But I didn’t mind to hope.

  25. 25 anastassia

    Oh, I have watch ep 2 raw and funny enough this drama didn’t have any of my fav actor/actress that I have finish watching their drama but the plot and the directing hooked me away. Just hoping some scene as you mentioned getting hit by a car. I don’t buy that and one more scene (don’t want to spoil it) but anyhow, I’m drawn.

  26. 26 haj

    I can believe Han Ga In’s gold digging. Its not so much that she is a gold digger for the money, I think. She’s just reaching for the unattainable, the thing that others say she can’t have. why CAN’T she be with a rich guy? Is that so wrong to dream about? Her character doesn’t seem to be one that would marry without love, so she’s not a conniving manipulator. I don’t think she wants a rich man so that she can buy pretty things and use up his money.
    I imagine it more like the way a girl might date a man because he’s an athlete, or a smart man, or a bad man- its a characteristic that she’s looking for and she expects to have feelings for him, eventually. Just because a woman picks a man because of a characteristic doesn’t mean she won’t like him.

  27. 27 acerLene

    ..i want BAD MAN in my Life..

    ..i BADLY need it..

  28. 28 langdon813

    Just finished Ep 1 (without reading the recap first, yay me!) and I didn’t realize until I watched it, but Bad Guy is EXACTLY what I was in the mood for. Not rom-com, not sageuk, but dark and twisty revenge, with a super hot guy who drags girls into bathroom stalls and totally invades their personal space. Gave me the chills, in the best way…KNG IS A SEXY BASTARD! 😀

    Thanks JB!

  29. 29 dramajunkie

    ty so much for the recap
    i love ep1
    dont worry about the car accidents, the 2nd one wasnt an accident. GW planed it. near the end of ep 1 it shows him waiting on the side, put on his helmet when he saw the car and drove out (but it’s easy to miss since it all happen in a single second =D)

    and i wish JI did use the money her ex-boyfriend’s mother gave her to buy the ridiculously expensive pen (that’ll be so awesome)
    but she did gave the money back before she knew about MN’s birthday and who is TS

    cant wait for ep2 recap

  30. 30 sallynally

    I re-watched ep 1 and realized that Jae-in’s ex-bf works for Haeshin Group. This explains that Jae-in is not simply a gold-digger, but she wants to get revenge on her ex by appearing as the wife of his boss.

  31. 31 Yumi-chan

    La dolce vita was really good in my opinion. I actually just finished watching it about two months ago on tv.

  32. 32 maria


    jb, any news on whether you’re gonna be collaborating with girlfriday again? …i miss you two together. 🙂

  33. 33 HoneyCo

    i was waiting for your recap since it aired… i keep on checking this site waiting for the recap coz i yet to find a site to watch the first episode… but today is my lucky day… finally found the watch online site and your recap as well…

    mmm… i’ve been following kim nam gil since he was still using Lee Han as his screen name that was 2006??? me and my mom watched Lovers because of his sex appeal… and i patiently watch Queen Seon Duk coz of him…

    he’s really good since he started and it’s been a long wait… finally watching him in the lead role… it’s a success but not to be lonely again since he’s entering the military… i’ll definitely keep this drama a memory for two years…

    as for the drama,,, i’m drawn not because of the drama, the plot or the characters… i’m sold because of Kim Nam Gil… Han Ga In was okay.. i didn’t watch her previous dramas so i really don’t know the girl… Oh Yeon Soo, the bitch is effective.. i was waiting for the coffee prince guy but he wasn’t in it yet…

    over all,,, LIKE!!!

  34. 34 Retta

    love the song! huge fan of BrownEyed Soul/Jung Yeob….

    will definiteyly be watching Bad Guy…and looking forward to the re-caps.

  35. 35 Kristina

    I’ve loved Kim Nam Gil ever since No Regret . Some of these captures are godlike. Will watch this drama for sure!

  36. 36 lettuce

    i’m liking this. boy kim nam gil is smoking hot, that screen cap where he tears up after the flashback alone is enough a reason to watch this drama. but boy, didn’t they all try too hard to make him look cool. and how many injuries caused by females (yes, even the little girl) does he have to endure per episode? leave him alone, he already is cool. effortlessly.

    han ga in? pretty as a doll. she’s decent but i don’t think it’s a good idea to hide the eyebrows of person who needs to be more expressive with bangs. the other females though, i like.

    heheh, whatever movie they’re filming in jeju, i’m not interested. the stuntman outclassed the main actor so much.

  37. 37 Fiona

    Thanks for the awesome recap 🙂 I was anticipating this recap, and it came by so quickly! 😀

    Anyway, my initial reason to watch this drama was solely because of Kim Nam Gil, but after reading your recap I think it might be worth watching as a drama itself.The first episode certainly looks promising, but it’s not the same without subs.

    I definitely agree with you on the toilet scene, that was sizzling!

  38. 38 Marres

    Hey, that was a good episode i thought. Kim Nam-gil is hot! a tearing up KNG is soooo hot! and a snoozing on the roof top KNG…..damn hot!
    I have actually always like Han Ga-in. I watched her in Terms of Endearment (man was that long and twisted….) and i liked her in Witch Amusement and i like her still, i don’t know about her acting chops but there’s just something about her that i just like. As for Jae-in’s motivation to go after Tae Sung (cannot wait for KJW to make his appearance! hawt!), i don’t attribute it to gold digger status nor do i really think it has to do with a “revenge against the ex” motivation, the links there are weak i feel. For me, when i consider it, i kinda think it has more to do with the “cause your so po-ooooor” insult rubbing her raw enough that just maybe the idea of going after RICH Tae Sung becomes appealing????? IMHO anyway.
    [email protected] chick from soulmate. She was so funny in that!
    Looking forward to next couple of episodes.

  39. 39 supah

    Javabeans: OMG! I’m so happy this is being recapped (hope it’ll be for the full run). I wasn’t really expecting recaps for this, especially since there are already two recaps in progress, this is such an awesome surprise, thank youuu!

    What I love about this show is that it is deliciously hostile, yes, I never knew hostility could be so delicious. There is no burden of feeling empathy or pity towards any of the characters (hurray!), yet I’m hopelessly addicted to (most of) them and I feel compelled to continue watching and seeing what becomes of them. The mood of the show isn’t heavy (yet), right now it feels potent and ready to burst.

    I love HGI as Jae-in, she has a lovely aura, a laidback and earthy vibe about her and the closest thing to humanity on this show. But I like that she isn’t being touted as your average good girl and that her priorities in life are somewhat skewered, they manage to fit the twisted mood of the show. Here’s where I’m also really glad I hadn’t seen her in anything else before and was able to maintain an open mind about her. She’s great here.

    Kim Nam Gil, is excellent. I love how intimately we get to see him at play, yet in spite of knowing everything we need to know about him, he’s still so distant and such a stranger to us. Someone on OT (thanks Belleza) has likened his Gun-wook to Leslie Cheung in Days of Being Wild, which has to be the best comparison yet (imho), I found that film and Leslie’s character as deliciously bad as I’m finding GW’s Bad Guy. However there is still a substantial amount of difference (whew!) and dismantling Haeshin is an epic-scale task, and that’s why this is a 20 episode series and not a 2hr movie.

    I’m not supposed to leak anything Ep2-related here but I’m also so impressed with Kim Jae Wook’s Hong Tae-sung. He is so much better written than I’d expected. I was expecting a WHIB-esque poor little rich guy, as was played by Jo In-sung. I loved JIS in that but wouldn’t want a repeat.

    There are some flaws but because I’m enjoying the overall feel of the show and so happy with the main leads, I can let the flaws slide. Though I do feel they could lose a couple of the women in this show, not too fond of Monet but understand why she’s needed in the show… but that wench of an actress, what on earth is she doing here? I hope she isn’t going to stick around. Maybe they’ll lose her once they shift the show to Japan and begin to concentrate solely on the leads.

    Has anyone else noticed how all the women in this show (except Monet) have physically injured GW? Quite severely too. Is that meant to mean something?

    Oh and Shim Eun-kyung I was assuring myself it’s just someone who looks a lot like her, as surely she’s enrolled in some school in the US and taking a break from acting. This is such a cool discovery.

  40. 40 diane

    @39 suprah

    “Someone on OT (thanks Belleza) has likened his Gun-wook to Leslie Cheung in Days of Being Wild, which has to be the best comparison yet (imho), I found that film and Leslie’s character as deliciously bad as I’m finding GW’s Bad Guy.”

    Being a huge Leslie Cheung fan, I may break down and watch this.

    I loved Days of Being Wild and also loved A Million Stars Falling from the Sky.

  41. 41 Ladymoonstone143

    Thanks Javabeans..your recaps make me so excited to watch this. Have a great weekend…

  42. 42 jeonjihyun

    Mo-nae looks like a younger version of Jeon Ji-hyun when she first started out in movies like Il Mare and Happy Together.

  43. 43 iviiih

    hm, i guess your recap is ok. well i agree that the main actor has this type of personality, well at last a bit. or he has or he really is good at acting, because it really feels natural; like he has his dark side, lol. and yeah i think you missed the part that he planned the second accident, didn’t you see in the quick flashback? he planned that LOL. i agree with 12@ fadedjean…
    oohh and it must be me thinking that but i think that the girl that died at the start of the drama was the old girlfriend from the real HONG TAE-SUNG… yeah i think that because at the end of episode one, showed one picture of the actor that play Tae sung with a girl that really looked alike with the girl that showed at the 1º episode. and plus it would give the reason of why he killed that woman (or forced her to kill herself) so with she is TAe sung lover that makes so much sense.. he killed the girl from the guy who stole his place in that family, plus he wants everyone to suffer.. so he forced the girlfriend from Tae sung to die.. and when the cops are seeing the recording videos they talk that her lover never showed. so they doesnT suspect that it was Gun-wook.. and when the cops said ‘ her lover is in jeju island.’ ohh i bet they are talking about tae sung that went to her birthday sister…. well and even that we know that he is the men that killed the girl at the start of the drama, for those who might think that he isn’t the drama Itself give us all ‘ the origami, the scratch in her waist (i think that it’s his mark.. since he has it in his waist too..) and he was in the place in the hour that she died.. he suffered a acident and showed his scratch that makes everything clear. … i’m loving this drama^^

  44. 44 YouKnowIt

    I find it strangely similar to Sora kara furu ichioku no hoshi or One Million Stars Falling From the Sky. Same anti-hero, femal character suicide……

  45. 45 pat

    KNG. I just found you and now the army gets you? NOOOOOOOO

  46. 46 eclipse

    Finally Bad Guy is here! KNG is hawttt!!!

    I kinda regret i read your recap before watching it…somehow it loose its element of surprise…lol.. Anyhow i`m so happy you`re doing recap of this drama…Thanks, JB!!

    On a side note, i was wondering, on the beginning eps. when Jae In hit Gun Wook by her car, and then she get distracted by the sound of something had fallen and a woman`s scream. I was thinking, hey…he already came down from the building, and then the girl jump off from the roof. Is the sound effect wrong? Or maybe he didn`t kill the girl, someone else did??

    About Jae In, i don`t really think she`s a gold digger, because she even told her sister about it, in a play mood kinda way. So, my guess is she not THAT seriously thinking pursuing Tae Sung for the money, just the idea of getting a rich BF to show off to her ex. Well, i only saw the first eps. Let`s see how things going.

    Bad Guy, fighting!!

  47. 47 LadyIgraine

    Viikii won’t let me watch it! Can someone tell me what other sites I can view it?

  48. 48 DIANE

    this only chinese

  49. 49 DIANE

    I am glad you did recap , i only watch in chinese version on wubisheng
    and with your recap made more clear, i can only read body language and guess about 75 % thanks for recap.

  50. 50 supah

    @40 -diane
    Oh you must watch this when you can!
    Lies and deception have become so overused in shows of this genre that I’m happily welcoming this new approach.
    I haven’t seen Million Stars and never intend to, since I read the spoilers revealing the big twist at the end, which just killed my interest dead. I have no doubts about the quality of the show nor the acting with its fabulous cast.
    However, I’m sure since Million Stars has a mystery theme that there will be some form of deception at play, yet Bad Guy contains many things but deception (so far!).
    That’s why my excitement with this drama is growing, Gun-wook is everything but a liar. He’s clear about what kind of person he is, he is laid bare right in front of you, the drama title tells you what he is, the drama synopsis tells you exactly what he’s up to. — He does not mask his true self. Yet, he still has an unfathomable air.
    That has the Leslie Cheung of DOBW stamp all over it and since I’m a huge fan of that film and since it was the first and only film where I fell in love with a complete bastard — I’m never usually the forgiving sort– but he really was an exception. He completely drew me towards his character, he was so alluring.
    There’s always a challenge about him; ”hey, I am this, this, this and this, but what can YOU possibly do about it?”
    Kim Nam-gil is flawless here, not everyone can pull this kind of character off, and of course to give him credit there are still significant differences to be able to set him and LC apart.

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