Drama Recaps
Equator Man: Episode 1
by | March 27, 2012 | 78 Comments

And last week’s drama premiere cup doth runneth over into this week, with Equator Man standing as KBS’ melodramatic addition to the Wednesday-airing pilots. If you can make it past the jarring musical choices you’re in for a cinematographically dark and twisty treat, with a premise that promises angst of the highest order, and actors who know how to bring the house down. It’s not the newest story ever told, but it’ll be a welcome one for those who want a drama that doesn’t wear a dress.

As far as its synergy with its score goes, though, Equator Man has all the subtlety of a slab of seared meat dropped in the middle of a Whole Foods tofu confectionary. Tune out the vegans crying around you and suddenly it looks way better than it sounds.


Dramatic orchestral music swells as two men take different paths toward the same foe, the scene bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun.

One stops to buy a gun from some shady-looking people, before he confronts JIN NO-SIK (Kim Young-chul), aka Chairman Jin (that’s not going to be confusing for Salaryman fans), who looks over the city from his fancy vista as if it’s all his own private empire. He lauds the beauty of his own house as our resident man-with-a-gun, LEE JANG-IL (Lee Jun-hyuk) tells him that he no longer owns the property he stands on.

Chairman Jin is unfazed, and claims that he’ll get everything he’s lost back, because he never gives up. When his back is turned Jang-il aims for his head: “I’ve written the death note. Both yours and mine.” Chairman Jin scoffs – doesn’t Jang-il owe his success to his helping hand?

KIM SUN-WOO (Uhm Tae-woong) finally arrives to put an end to the standoff. It shakes Jang-il’s resolve, but not by much. Sun-woo’s efforts to get Jang-il to put the gun down only receive a derisive smirk in response. Jang-il: “If Kim Sun-woo had been Chairman Jin’s son, how great it must have been for Chairman Jin. That’s too bad.”

When Chairman Jin challenges Jang-il by saying he’s as foolish and immature as his father (why are you taunting a man who wants to kill you?), Sun-woo finally steps in to force the gun away. Jang-il looks like he’s already dead inside as he aims the gun again – but this time at Sun-woo, who’s stepped between the gun and Chairman Jin. This silent motion is what gets Jang-il more than anything, and his face contorts in sorrow.

We jump back fifteen years to Sun-woo and Jang-il’s high school days. Sun-woo’s perm compared to Jang-il’s hair already tells us a lot about their personalities – Sun-woo is more of the wild child, with Jang-il being the straight-laced smart kid. (If the hair isn’t enough, look at the difference in uniforms. Guess who’s wearing a sweater vest and who isn’t?)

Their class is interrupted when a bunch of gangsters come looking for Jang-il. They try to take him hostage because of his father’s debts, only for Sun-woo to come to his rescue with flying fists. They’re not friends, but Sun-woo claims that he’s protecting his school’s smartest kid. The gangsters seem to know him as the “infamous Kim Sun-woo.”

And Jang-il, who knows that Sun-woo is having the tar beaten out of him, suffers some guilt but still returns to the classroom to take the exam. None of the other students seem at all affected by the incident, and it’s like nothing ever happened by the time Sun-woo returns.

As a way of thanks, Jang-il hurriedly scribbles the test answers down and displays them for Sun-woo to cheat from.

Sun-woo confronts Jang-il outside, who says that he’ll keep showing Sun-woo his answers until midterms are over if Sun-woo will keep protecting him from gangsters. Sun-woo is offended, “Did I ask you for anything?” Apparently he saved Jang-il from the goodness of his heart and nothing more, and couldn’t care less about his grades.

It seems like Sun-woo might have taken advantage of the free answers regardless, as his father later praises his son for improving his grades. They have a cute conversation that shows their close bond, and we find out that Sun-woo’s mother is long dead, which explains their very bachelor-like surroundings.

Turns out that Dad’s sick – and it seems like something serious (when is it not?). As father and son drive to eat some celebratory meat he sees Jang-il and his father by the side of the road – doing what, we don’t know.

Dad places a call to Chairman Jin, who takes the call even in the middle of a gala (it’s for a politician, which comes as no surprise that Chairman Jin knows people in high places). Dad and Chairman Jin certainly have a history, since Dad finally gets to the point once it seems like a face-to-face meeting is impossible: Chairman Jin’s fiancée may have died giving birth, but the child lived. “He’s your son,” Dad tells him.

Chairman Jin lets this register for a moment before he tells Dad never to call about this matter again.

Sun-woo ends up at the same restaurant as Jang-il and his father, LEE YONG-BAE (Lee Won-jong) who are eating some celebratory meat of their own. Yong-bae knows his son is smart and promises to earn enough money to send him to college in Seoul – but Jang-il knows their circumstances, and says that he’d rather go to a cheaper school.

The restaurant is crashed by the gangsters after Jang-il’s dad, and not even Sun-woo seems willing to lend a helping hand this time. In fact, no one in the restaurant seems remotely shocked or interested in the ruckus going on.

Despite Jang-il’s claims that he’ll pay back his father’s debt, the gangsters still have a lesson to teach to Yong-bae – and they teach it by taking a hot iron to his arm. It’s only then that Sun-woo intervenes.

Sun-woo and the gangsters take the fight outside while Jang-il’s dad tries to run away, completely content in letting someone else fight his battles. Jang-il isn’t the same – he knows Sun-woo is hurting because of him – and enters the fray to help. He goes to town on one guy’s squishy stomach, and Sun-woo is forced to pull Jang-il away before he kills the guy.

There’s a slow motion montage of the two running from their pursuers… to the dulcet tunes of Coldplay? (What? No.) They find the chase exhilarating, and laugh about it together once they’ve successfully escaped.

Turns out that Jang-il’s dad turned to loan sharks to pay off gambling debts he’d accrued after his wife’s death two years prior. Now we’re seeing the difference in the boys’ fundamentals – Sun-woo’s more willing to let things slide, but Jang-il sees what happened as an injustice due to the way people without money – and thus, power – are treated.

Jang-il says that he’s going to become a prosecutor so he can return the favor to the gangsters who branded his father. Sun-woo is more on the side of good, and tells his friend not to do anything for vengeful reasons – but Jang-il doesn’t want to keep living the way he is.

Sun-woo admires Jang-il for not resenting his father and just studying hard, which Jang-il takes as an affront to his pride coming from someone as equally poor as Sun-woo. He tries to skulk off with his pride intact, but the beating he took earlier finally takes effect and he crumples to the ground, unconscious.

Jang-il finds that Sun-woo spent the night by his bedside when he wakes up in a hospital room the next morning, and different name-calling methods don’t work to rouse Sun-woo from his sleep until he finally says: “Sun-woo-ya.” Aww, now they’re officially friends.

They can’t have a class go interrupted, as the principal comes bursting in to the classroom to take Sun-woo to task for beating one of the gangsters so hard he ruptured his intestines. He wants to know who helped Sun-woo in the fight as Jang-il stands outside, debating whether to go in and name himself or not. In the end he doesn’t, leaving Sun-woo to take the blame on his own. (Though it seems like he would have done so anyway.)

Even the principal seems to know that Sun-woo’s covering for someone, but it’s a no-go. Sun-woo will be suspended.

Sun-woo’s dad can’t accept it, and so he prostrates himself before the principal, claiming that he won’t stop begging until Sun-woo is forgiven. Father and son walk together later that night as Dad says that he promised to raise Sun-woo well and make him into a great man. Am I sensing connections to his earlier conversation with Chairman Jin?

Even Dad can’t believe Sun-woo would hurt someone that bad, but Sun-woo keeps his lips sealed. This prompts Dad to apologize that he wasn’t a better father, which prompts Sun-woo to say that everything was his fault. Either way, it’s not the end of his life. Jang-il may have run off earlier, but he’s waited outside for Sun-woo, and watches him from a distance. (Not as creepy as it sounds, I promise.)

The notice of Sun-woo’s seven-day suspension is up for the whole school to read. Jang-il goes straight to Sun-woo to call him out on his hero/martyr behavior – why is he taking the punishment alone? Sun-woo brushes him off, saying that Jang-il doesn’t owe him anything for the trouble.

Sun-woo: “Did your pride get hurt because you were afraid I wouldn’t think highly of you? Lee Jang-il, until now, you’v never helped anyone or received help from anyone, have you?”

It’s a telling question, because Sun-woo realizes how Jang-il’s lived his life until now. His laissez-faire attitude is enough to cause Jang-il to punch him in the jaw. “Your punch has improved!” is all that Sun-woo says after being hit.

In Jang-il’s mind, Sun-woo only helped him without asking for a return because he thinks he’s above Jang-il on a moral level. This ideological battle turns into a real one that lands both boys on the floor, ready to turn things into an all-out fight until the principal walks in on them.

Jang-il covers for Sun-woo and tells the principal that he offered to tutor Sun-woo to help raise the class average.

This forces both of them to stay at the school late into the night, since Jang-il has taken his tutoring job seriously. Sun-woo’s still in a fit over their earlier scuffle and refuses the help, until Jang-il explains that he’s helping Sun-woo because he wants to, not out of obligation.

Accepting this as a positive step for Jang-il, Sun-woo solves the problem he posed on the board without a second thought. Jang-il wonders if Sun-woo cheated somehow, which prompts Sun-woo to throw a punch that Jang-il catches. Impressed, Sun-woo starts teaching Jang-il to fight – so while one gets tutored in studies, the other gets tutored in street smarts.

Chairman Jin has come to check on a construction job, and one of the handymen is Jang-il’s dad, Yong-bae. Chairman Jin’s secretary explains that Yong-bae has been asking every day if there’s any sort of scholarship his son can receive for being first in his class. This isn’t news to Chairman Jin, who’s already heard about Jang-il’s mental prowess – though by the looks of it, Yong-bae will be fired once the job is complete.

He then attends an awkward dinner with a man who’s brought his entire family along under the pretense that they would be having dinner with Chairman Jin’s family – so when Chairman Jin shows up alone, the man’s wife and children can only sit quietly by the door.

They move their conversation to a private room, which gives Chairman Jin room to demean the man (who’s a stockholder in his company) with veiled embezzlement threats. The man claims his innocence while his daughter, HAN JI-WON (future Lee Bo-young), eavesdrops outside.

Suddenly Sun-woo is on the scene, scrambling from car to car in order to find an open one to hide in. Ji-won goes outside and takes a rock to what we can presume to be Chairman Jin’s car, and breaks the glass of the windshield to see Sun-woo huddled inside.

The men who’ve chased Sun-woo to this point come running, and Ji-won saves his skin by lying about his whereabouts. As a way of thanking her, Sun-woo takes the rock from her and adds a few more holes to the windshield of the car. They share a Meaningful Glance. He tells himself later that he should have asked her name – she was such a strange girl, after all.

It’s raining the next day, and Jang-il ignores his fellow students’ gossip that a pretty new girl has transferred to their school so that he can check over Sun-woo’s answers. While Sun-woo remains asleep in class Jang-il heads outside with an umbrella, and soon finds a girl with a sketchpad and art supplies taking shelter beneath it. She asks for his company (and his umbrella) until she reaches the main intersection, and he obliges.

It seems clear that she’s the new transfer student since she’s directionally challenged – and though she hasn’t been formally introduced, this is CHOI SOO-MI (future Im Jung-eun). He decides to walk her where she needs to go, and time slows down so that they too can enjoy a Meaningful Glance.

Sun-woo tells Jang-il that he’ll take care of the tuition costs if Jang-il goes to college in Seoul, because he’s confident in his ability to make money. “I’m going to make your dream come true,” Sun-woo says. When Jang-il asks him why, Sun-woo simply replies that it’s because he’s Jang-il’s only friend.

Jang-il thinks he’s joking, but Sun-woo is completely serious. He’s going to do it.

Jang-il comes upon the new transfer student, Soo-mi, painting alone in the room. When he tells her that she’s good at painting, she cheekily replies, “I’m the best at painting.” Ha, I like her self-confidence – and it’s not unfounded, she is pretty good.

She recognizes him as the boy from the day it rained, and asks about a nearby locale with nice scenery as a way to prod him into an impromptu date. He seems all for it as he tells her they can get there within an hour by bus, and she hands him a drawing – with the caveat that he look at it later to spare her embarrassment.

He does as she asks and goes outside to see it, and it’s a portrait she drew of him in the rain. He immediately goes back in and tells her that he’ll take her to that locale in exchange for her present. A Sunday date it is.

Sun-woo marks the change in his friend, and wonders if something happened to keep Jang-il smiling like a fool.

They come across an eccentric-looking man setting up a sign for his business – and his name is right on the sign, CHOI KWANG-CHOON (Lee Jae-yong). Sun-woo recognizes him immediately as an ajusshi who used to live in his same neighborhood, and now it looks like they’ll be neighbors again.

Sun-woo introduces Jang-il as his friend, which prompts a strange look from Kwang-choon. He wheedles close to Sun-woo as he asks, “Are you sure he’s your friend?” Like he’s seen something he didn’t like just by looking at Jang-il’s face.

Sun-woo asks after Soo-mi, Kwang-choon’s daughter. Jang-il is out of earshot by the time Sun-woo asks, so he doesn’t hear the name.

Meanwhile, Sun-woo’s dad finally sees the doctor and receives some grave news. Presumably left without much time to live, he sits to write a hand-written will and testament.

Jang-il happens to see Soo-mi arriving at her father’s house/new place of business. Kwang-choon is decked out in hanbok and makes a living as a modern shaman, and father and daughter bicker over her being out late. Seemingly distressed at her circumstances (being the daughter of a shaman isn’t the most prestigious family lineage, but it isn’t like Jang-il is the son of a CEO himself), he goes home and crumples up the drawing she gave him.

Unaware that anything is amiss, Soo-mi goes to the meeting place they agreed on for their date, only to realize she’s been stood up once she’s waited too long. Jang-il is instead with Sun-woo in a bookstore, but Sun-woo recognizes someone outside – it’s Soo-mi, who would rather Sun-woo not address her at all.

It’s not clear what sort of past they shared, though they’re interrupted once Jang-il sees Soo-mi, although he acts as if he doesn’t. Soo-mi asks Sun-woo if Jang-il knows her dad is a shaman, surmising that that’s the reason why Jang-il stood her up.

Sun-woo’s dad is acting strange on their walk home, and tells Sun-woo that they’ll be meeting a very important person on his birthday this Friday. “He’ll protect and provide for you from now on,” Dad says. Sun-woo doesn’t understand, and Dad explains that it was something he was going to tell him later in life – but he doesn’t think he’s got much longer, so it has to be soon.

Sun-woo doesn’t understand, so Dad tells him outright – it’s liver cancer, and it’s bad. He seems to register the fact that his father is sick, but refuses to believe that he’s dying and declares that his father will live for fifty more years. Both father and son know it’s a lost cause, but agreeing is easier than confronting the truth.

With tears in his eyes, Dad tells him to make sure to come on his birthday. Sun-woo fires back that he won’t go so he won’t acknowledge his father’s condition, which earns him a slap from his father. “This is the first and last time I’ll hit you. Come out tomorrow.” With that his father leaves him, and Sun-woo falls to the ground in tears, begging his father not to die.

Sun-woo’s Dad goes to meet Chairman Jin at his construction site, and the two exchange tense pleasantries before cutting to the chase – Sun-woo, who isn’t Dad’s blood son but one he found at an orphanage. He adopted him to make up for all the sins he committed working under Chairman Jin in the past.

The mother-in-question is one that Chairman Jin claims betrayed him with a man named Moon Tae-joo, though Dad claims that it’s all jealous nonsense. But Dad was forced to serve jail time with the aforementioned Moon Tae-joo because of Chairman Jin, which caused the rift between them.

Still, Dad’s willing to overlook it if Chairman Jin will help Sun-woo. Chairman Jin is convinced that the child isn’t his because his mother ran away with another man – and we can see that his jealousy problems are at dangerous levels, as he even accuses Dad of sleeping with his fiancée. He’s clearly thinking that his former fiancée was a loose woman, which seems to be a hell of his own making.

This is the turning point for Dad, who’s done begging. “I wish that child was Moon Tae-joo’s,” he tells Chairman Jin. “But Tae-joo wouldn’t do that. That’s why he loved your fiancée… he’s not a man like you.”

Dad gets hit, and realizes that Chairman Jin’s bad ways haven’t changed. So he changes his mind about handing Sun-woo over, claiming that it would be better for Sun-woo to be an orphan. Chairman Jin’s tune has changed as well – now he wants to find Sun-woo – and after some threats to expose Chairman Jin’s corruption, the two men end up in a brutal fight.

Chairman Jin gets the upper hand by putting Dad in a chokehold, and holds on until Dad stops moving. He notices belatedly that Jang-il’s father has seen everything through a window. Uh oh.

Our two boys are on their way for a birthday bash – or rather, Sun-woo is trying to ditch Jang-il to go solo. But as he walks the mountain trail he bumps into a hanging set of legs…

…And he looks up to find his father, hanging from a tree.


(Now that’s how you end an episode.)

I mentioned it in the opening but first things first: The music was a horror show. It’s everything you never want to hear in a drama, ever. At times overpowering enough to drown out entire scenes and at times so dramatic that it made the show seem like a parody of itself, it was enough to make some scenes nearly unwatchable. (Is there an award for the Most Egregious Use of Coldplay?)

The reason it’s upsetting is that the scenes are actually good if you imagine them on mute. I know, not the highest praise, but it counts. We’ve got actors working their bums off to deliver compelling performances, so I legitimately felt bad every time a bad musical cue instantly took me out of a scene and/or caused unintentional laughter. I wanted to be there with the characters – I just wish the music had backed off a little so I wouldn’t have had to try so hard.

That being said, bad music is fixable. If you remove it from the equation we’re not faced with any glaring problems, so the show is off to a good start. I’d been excited for Equator Man since we started getting sprinklings of press information, even if it wasn’t as hyped as some of its competitors. I pledged love for director Kim Yong-soo after White Christmas, which I watched only recently but was amazed at the moody, atmospheric visuals, and how he managed a feat like that with such a green cast. Now that he has a seasoned cast at his disposal, my expectations are high once we get to see more of the adults.

And as far as the adult cast we already have in place – Kim Young-chul! – so far, so great. To be fair, it’s probably hard to go wrong with him, and I already like that we’re seeing shades of psychosis that are so subtle I might be imagining them. Even if I am, the fact that I can read so much into a performance is a good sign. I’m also a fan of all the other veterans in this show, who consistently deliver.

As expected, the cinematography is in top form here. It’s beautiful without being overly self-indulgent (some slow-motion deep connection scenes aside), and grittier than your usual drama – Padam Padam is the closest I can equate it to as far as recent memory, but even Padam Padam had some directorial excesses. Here, the camerawork remains subtle, conveying the dark mood with an art house flair. I like.

The mood is consistent, and the production (sans the music, of course) feels assured. We’re in for a dark and revenge-y ride. I’ve been floating around without a show to really sink my teeth into since History of the Salaryman, so further recaps aren’t a sure-fire thing until we finish out the premieres (which is pretty much just Love Rain at this point). But I can already take a guess that the boys’ friendship, and their inevitable breakup, is probably going to make me cry like a little girl. I can’t tell if that’s something to look forward to or not.


78 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. MJP

    Thank you! *goes off to read*

    • 1.1 MJP

      Quote: “shades of psychosis”

      Hmm, I’m not sure I’m up for The Korean version of this quote. It can be pretty harsh. I’m more of a comedy/romance type of girl.

      • 1.1.1 Jules

        Yeah..this drama is going to be one of those going down a dark and windy path. Hopefully it won’t become schizophrenic along the way.

        • MJP

          Ugh, that makes me cringe. I’m weak that way.

      • 1.1.2 ~Feather~

        I’m also into lighter genres like comedy/romance. Melos are just not my cup of tea, so I’m afraid I won’t watch this (I nearly cried just reading the recap-yeah, I know,I’m overly sensitive.) BUT, I will continue reading the recaps if DB decides to do them.

  2. pink blush

    Thanks for the recap!

    • 2.1 MJP

      Did you watch the drama?

  3. Jules

    thank you for the recap. I’m liking the visuals and the grittiness so far…and I laughed when you mentioned an award for most egregrious use of Coldplay. Amen to that.

    • 3.1 Jules

      Just to add, I agree with you on the potential for this to be a drama you can sink your teeth into. The adult actors are mature enough and I hope the chemistry will be sizzling between the leads.

      • 3.1.1 Nida

        “I’ve been floating around without a show to really sink my teeth into”

        You took the words right out of my mouth, Heads. I was kinda getting bored with the rom-com, light dramas. I was looking for some heavier story so this is perfect for me.

        • subject

          Me too!

          Oh, HeadsNo2, I knew why you’re my favorite blog’s writer! The ability to observe keenly shape eyes, hold it and then digest and deal with it, makes you who you are, and that’s why you’re wonderful. Life is not just fun and enjoyment, they also sadness and pain. You can take the reality and understand it and not chooses to run away from her.

          I have so much to say about this episode, but those hours of work so I’ll be brief and say first thank you for the review and the rest in detail in my spare time.

          • houstontwin

            Yes, HeadsNo2 is a fantastic writer! What wonderful and witty descriptive language!

  4. lovin it

    thanks for the recap!
    “award for the Most Egregious Use of Coldplay” ha
    i was also taken aback when that suddenly started playing

    • 4.1 jomo

      We were just talking about this over at the other EM thread.

      So true- perfectly worded:
      “The music was a horror show. It’s everything you never want to hear in a drama, ever. At times overpowering enough to drown out entire scenes and at times so dramatic that it made the show seem like a parody of itself, it was enough to make some scenes nearly unwatchable.”

      • 4.1.1 trixicopper

        I am not a music wonk by any means so you know it was horrid if even I noticed how bad it was! 🙂

        • momosan

          Sadly, I am a music wonk (as anyone who suffered through Pasta with me knows to their regret), and the music almost drove me to violence. Not only Coldplay and Layla, but the violins of DOOM must go. Where did they find this music director, anyway? A monkey let loose in the CD section of Walmart could have done better.

  5. kilmenyanne


  6. pop09

    yay!!its here,i thought u wouldn’t give us a recap of these!!but here it is,thank you so much!!..honestly, i like this drama out of the 3 that airs on same date and time;)

  7. kbap

    Oh gosh, the music. Hope person in charge of the music gets a clue. And stop horrendously putting Coldplay in the most unfit scenes. But other than that I’m also excited for this show. Uhmforce! 🙂 And man I love all of the actors, both child and adult. Though Jang-il really never grows old, huh? He looks ’bout the same.

  8. faraz3500

    Oh all I can say is thank you thank you and thank you
    that day when I ask you to do the recap I wasnt sure if you are willing to do the recap but you did
    thank you so much for this I will keep looking for more of your recaps
    thank you♥♥♥

  9. jomo

    Thanks for the recap!
    I love those two boys. They are charming and sweet with each other. “Jang-il finds that Sun-woo spent the night by his bedside when he wakes up in a hospital room the next morning, and different name-calling methods don’t work to rouse Sun-woo from his sleep until he finally says: “Sun-woo-ya.” Aww, now they’re officially friends.”

    If you give me enough scenes like that, and the punching lessons and vows to pay for the smart one’s college. — What?! Now THAT’s a friend to hang on to! — I can make it through all the apparent conflicting actions and motives.

    I hope that passive JI, one who is willing to let SW take the fall doesn’t grow up to be a passive JI, one who is willing to let SW take the fall. Already, this is killing me.

    We cannot have a repeat of the loving and suffering Una, can we, heads? I won’t make it out alive, I swear to you…

    I have a theory about the music. The original soundtrack was all ready to go when some dunderhead erased it. With ten minutes to air, they split the 65 minutes up, and 7 people used stock iTunes playlist to fill up their segment.

    I just hope Korea is making as much noise as we are on this that they change it. IIRC, ep 2 was only slightly better…

    • 9.1 YY

      Next on the must-watch list: ‘Towel Man’. No soundtrack, just special-effects music when Towel Man wraps and unwraps his towel.

      • 9.1.1 jomo

        I’d watch it- especially the unwrapping part.

        • aoiaheen

          Me too! I’m guessing it’d get a 50% rating.

          • JoAnne

            That depends…It might go higher.

            ESPECIALLY if the ‘whoosh’ of the towel being unwrapped is followed by the ‘sproing’ of the, you know, previously wrapped.

            I’d go out and buy enough TVs to plaster all the walls of my house. I’m sure it would bump ratings over 50%.

          • aoiaheen

            *imagines the sproing of the, you know, previously wrapped*

            Jomo darling….how do you manage to make my day with just one sentence?

          • aoiaheen

            oopsies… I meant JoAnne darling! Though I’m sure Jomo is out there plastering her walls with tv’s as we speak in anticipation of the sproing.

          • Jomo

            That is ok, a, I knew you meant JoAnne.

            Now we have a new visual for:
            “Sproing forward”

  10. 10 Amadou Balde

    Thanks for the recap! its a great drama!

  11. 11 spoonie

    Just me or hyun-woo looks like (and even sounds like at times) G-Dragon?


    I’m not saying they’re twins or anything but the way Hyun-Woo acts reminds me so much of g-dragon and his hair reminds me of kwon ji hyuk from shut up. Lol, he’s like a hybrid perfection for me

  12. 12 MissMantin

    “At times overpowering enough to drown out entire scenes and at times so dramatic that it made the show seem like a parody of itself, it was enough to make some scenes nearly unwatchable.” You really hit the nail on the head with that one. During the first few minutes, I wasn’t sure if I was watching a parody or a really weird music video.

  13. 13 Nida

    Was I the only one who didn’t even notice the music? But then again, I hardly ever take note of the music being played in drama backgrounds, usually they just annoy me. The fact that I didn’t notice the oh-so-horrible soundtracks just shows how mesmerized I was by the story (and it’s just the first episode). I absolutely LOVED the cinematography. It just gives you a slice-of-life appearance, like whatever events are happening to the characters are extremely important to their lives, but when you glance at the scenario in the background with all those houses, the mountains etc, you get a bitter-sweet feeling, knowing that things like injustice, betrayal happens to everyone one way or another. And this show, even from the first episode, gives a resigned feeling, like we’re looking back at the story of two boys whose lives were twisted around to the point where they couldn’t even hold on to their friendship.

    Everytime Kim young-chul came on to the screen, I would always stare into his eyes and I would see no warmth whatsoever. How does he do that? Completely stunned by the way he takes on Chairman Jin’s his cold-heartedness and manipulative ways

    And lastly, thank you, HeadsNo2 for picking up the show. After watching it, I wanted somewhere to express my thoughts and feelings.

  14. 14 ash

    the plot seems a LOT more interesting than i thought it would be

    on a side note tho, lee hyun woo here reminds me soooooooo much of sung joon in shut up. maybe it’s the perm?

  15. 15 anotheraddict

    Awesome recap, as usual, H#2– I just won’t share it with my vegan friends!:D Totally agree about the music and, yes, there should be an award for the most egregious use of Coldplay. Some of the musical selections in this were just so incongruent with what was going on– it reminded me of the scene you commented about in Fashion King in which YAI was crying, feeling alone and hopeless… to the sound of circus music (WTF?).

    I also agree that there was some beautiful cinematography, but I didn’t dig the camerawork as much as you did. Granted, I’m just an unschooled rube, but I felt that the “artsy” stuff was tonally off, and I found myself being distracted by shots that were unnaturally tight, etc. Also, what was the deal with the opening sequence? A guy’s driving down a dark street with his headlights on, though the sun is in the sky, then it gets brighter and his headlights are off. So it must be dawn, right? But nothing much happens apart from another guy walks and staggers, buys a gun, arrives at a gate– with a completely dark sky behind him. So, it wasn’t dawn? But when he opens the gate, it isn’t dark anymore and he faces a gorgeous sunset. ?? Or maybe it was dawn, because the walk-staggering must have taken a long time since the guy’s hair went from being parted on the left, to the right, to the left, to the right, and then to the left again! I’m not sure it if was supposed to be artsy or maybe the continuity director sucks as much as the music director does, but I don’t like feeling confused in the first two minutes of the drama when nothing has even happened yet.

    However, I am a big fan of most of the cast and found the story to be quite compelling, and those elements are much more important to me. I’ve only seen ep. 1 so far and I’m not sure for how much longer I’ll stick with it, mainly because I’m rather emotionally squeamish when it comes to dark and twisted stuff. (Gritty I can handle– it’s the twisted that gets to me.) Maybe with some hand-holding (sharing the ride via the recaps and comments), I’ll make it through.

    One more thing. I read a comment elsewhere that pointed out that when Jang Il approached Soo Mi as she was painting, it was after he had noticed the red bucket next to her with the Boo Kyeong Chemical Co.’s logo. (The implication being that he had erroneously assumed she was the daughter of the President of the company, which is why he made the date with her then stood her up after learning the truth.) Jang Il is already so coldly calculating that he scares me.

    Thanks again, H#2, for this excellent intro to “a drama that doesn’t wear a dress” (haha!).

    • 15.1 nobodyimportant

      omg! i noticed about Jangil’s scariness too. n the red bucket that led to his misguided interest in her. he’s already inching to the evil side from the first episode, i was yelling in my head when he just let Sunwoo taking the fall most of the time…..Sunwoo is soo innocent…lol. n Soomi…sigh…poor girl…i feel for her.

  16. 16 Aliiiiiiiice

    Looks like someone borrowed the Scheduler’s hairstyle.

    That said, I almost stopped watching after the first 5 minutes because the music was so unbelievably horrible. It was beyond telenovela status. But I was eating lunch at the time, so I was a bit preoccupied.

    I’m glad I stuck through and I’m glad I’m not the only one who cringed when I heard Coldplay sound during the chase scene.

    Honestly, I thought the Carmen-themed music direction for Miss Ripley couldn’t be topped for the most jarring/distracting/buzz-killing, but Equator Man may take the cake.

    And, hopefully, like Miss Ripley, the music will become less distracting as the story progresses. (Not sure if I just got used to it, or the music director decided to lay off the hysterics and irrational, emotionally-charged choices.)

    From an acting and story standpoint, Equator Man is far and away a much more compelling drama to watch. Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s starring two dudes and not Lee Da Hae that guarantees that there won’t be too many over-the-top histrionics and victimhood going on.

    EQUATOR MAN — hwaiting!

  17. 17 Aliiiiiiiice

    Looks like someone borrowed the Scheduler’s hairstyle.

    That said, I almost stopped watching after the first 5 minutes because the music was so unbelievably horrible. It was beyond telenovela status. But I was eating lunch at the time, so I was a bit preoccupied.

    I’m glad I stuck through and I’m glad I’m not the only one who cringed when I heard Coldplay sound during the chase scene.

    Honestly, I thought the Carmen-themed music direction for Miss Ripley couldn’t be topped for the most jarring/distracting/buzz-killing, but Equator Man may take the cake.

    And, hopefully, like Miss Ripley, the music will become less distracting as the story progresses. (Not sure if I just got used to it, or the music director decided to lay off the hysterics and irrational, emotionally-charged choices.)

    From an acting and story standpoint, Equator Man is far and away a much more compelling drama to watch. Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s starring two dudes and not Lee Da Hae that guarantees that there won’t be too many over-the-top histrionics and victimhood going on.

    EQUATOR MAN — hwaiting!

    P.S. Now there are just wayyyyyyyyyy too many good dramas Wed-Thurs night. It’s like they stole all the yummy bits from the Mon-Tues time slots! It’s a freakin desert, Mon/Tues for anything interesting. That said, I think I’ll need a bump of coke Wed/Thurs to cope with the disjointedness.

  18. 18 via

    JB and GF, I want to ask about Fashion King recap, why don’t you recap the drama again now? I look forward on your recap for Fashion King drama, pleassseeeee… 🙁

    • 18.1 jomo

      They have already decided not to add it after giving it a try to the first week.

      With RP, K2H, and now EM all on the same night, FK didn’t make the “I am compelled by this enough to watch and recap.”

      It is a lot of work to recap a 60 min show you are interested in, it must be torture to spend all that time on something you aren’t.

      • 18.1.1 cocoonedsoul

        for good reason too. fashion king is all down hill from there on. such a waste of a good lead. *sigh*

  19. 19 canxi

    Ah the rough and tumble days of high school. Boys never bond over a shared sandwich do they? lmao

  20. 20 alexis

    I was wondering if Dramabeans would recap this since Rooftop Prince and TK2H recap were out last week and I’m glad you did. Thanks for the recap! 🙂

  21. 21 buttrcup


    I’m supposed to be totally watching/reading Rooftop Prince but I just couldn’t pass this drama first. And you know what? I’m absolutely glad I didn’t.

    I love this <3 Thanks for the recap hun, can't wait for ep 2.

  22. 22 Katy

    It’s actually a lot more interesting than I thought. I do agree, sometimes the music threw me off a little. But why do I have a feeling that the bromance between the Hyun Woo & Siwan is going to leave me heartbroken, I can just feel it. Lol. Thanks for the recap.

  23. 23 trotwood

    Is Lee Won-jung in every other show around? When does this man sleep?

    • 23.1 Jomo

      Yes, and not just dramas. He does a ton of films.
      Him and Lee Jae-young.

      My theory with these guys is not only can they act, but they must be really fun to be around.

      I don’t think there is a K movie or drama actor/director he hasn’t worked with. I would love to watch an interview with him.

  24. 24 Alice20

    Sunwoo needs to come up with his own dreams, and stop trying to fix Jangil’s life for him. That just takes away from Jangil any responsibility or determination to fix his

    • 24.1 aoiaheen

      I agree. Maybe I’m just jaded, I can’t see anyone promise “I’m going to make your dream come true” when they’ve known that person – for what – a week, maybe less?
      It must be the age. I think 17 is a good age to be.

  25. 25 Alice20

    -part 2-
    life of his own will. Sunwoo really is a martyr, and his behavior isn’t actually helping Jangil in the long run. Cuz we all saw that Jangil is kind of a coward, and most likely won’t ever pay Sunwoo back for all he’s done. It’s a lobsided friendship… So Sunwoo, don’t be a hero! People need to get their personal strength and willpower from within.

  26. 26 xyu

    Big fans of the actors in this drama! So glad you are recapping this! From this first episode, Im expectating a drama with lots of substance! Thanks!

  27. 27 nobodyimportant

    omg! thank you so much for recapping this drama. you have no idea how elated i am to come here when i was having a bad mood only to be greeted by evil-eyes-of-Siwan…xDDD

    n i’m just so proud of his growth…he has the most complex character so far….being morally conflicted while inching towards the evil side already. though at times, his good side won like when he decided to save Sunwoo instead of following his father to leave…i was so relieved….Jangil always had me on the edge squirming uncomfortably worrying that he’d make another ‘wrong’ decision that’d bring him another step closer to the dark side. breaks my heart because Sunwoo-Jangil bromance is too adorable(why is Siwan so good at bromance? lol. before this, it’s with Yangmyung(LeeMinho)..i guess next will be Ryujin? saw some pics of ’em..xD)

    Sunwoo bonding scene with his dad is so heartwarming. of all the characters, he seem to have the happiest family life n least daddy’s issues (as far as he’s concerned i guess) compared to other main characters. well, unfortunately not for long. Hyunwoo did very well as an emotionally expressive character in contrast with Siwan’s character. this drama is all about deceiving appearance…Sunwoo looking like the wild gangster kid but is actually the innocent one n Jangil who looks like the neat-freak perfect kid is too…dark. n Soomi who appeared like a rich reputable girl(or at least, that’s how it seemed to Jangil) but is actually not.
    for some reason i find it a lil hard to like Jiwon (even after watching 2 eps) but i already like Soomi n feel bad for her for being an outcast because of her dad’s reputation(or lack of) n saddest part is when she could already guess the reason behind Jangil’s sudden indifference, not even shocked.
    Jangil you jerk! (just had to throw it out)
    anyway, i agree about the beautiful cinematography. some scenes look so dreamy in a dark/pensive way..esp those involving Sunwoo-Jangil.

    overall, there’s nothing new about Equator Man but it’s a refreshing break from all the rom-coms…i love me some dark dramas…n is it just me who got “Bad Guy” vibe from the promos/trailers of this drama? that’s what drew my interest in the first place.

    ok. cheated. that n the fact that i’m Siwan n ZE:A fan. i’m just so excited to see him playing such a heavy role already. much more interesting than playing the Mr.Perfect without a flaw if you ask me.

    thanks again for the recap….much appreciated.

  28. 28 gem

    this looks so inviting but i have work! no, kdramaland! don’t lure me in again. no! nooooo!!! *continues to read recaps* T_T

  29. 29 anna

    LOL So this is what Tae-woong said is “FUN” when he promoted it on 1N2D? Really? TW-ah.. this isn’t fun in the least. Not my definition of it.

  30. 30 jojo

    You have piqued my interest…will give this a try.

  31. 31 cindy

    For me the war/hero music bothers me the most.

    The one when SW is getting beat out and there is this war/hero music like he is dying for his coutry or something LOL

    The same music also played when JI was doing his exam, and I was WTF? He is saving his coutry doing the exam?

    It is just a EXAM.

    • 31.1 cindy


  32. 32 kungfupigeon

    When the Coldplay chase scene went down (never thought I’d write that sentence ever) I could only think of one song that would fit.

    “Falling from grace was a big decision
    But you had placed in the competition ring

    Boltcutter…to break those bolts and chains
    You suffered more than anyone can take
    Another person’s come to take your place
    Another boltcutter”

    Sorry, I’m a total music nut, and think if you’re gonna use music with lyrics in the background for something huge, then you should definitely make it a bit narrative.

  33. 33 DBstalker

    I was actually intrigued… so I watched EM the music was well bearable for me… like “yea yea, I will just let it off” then comes COLDPLAY?! I really shouted WHAAAAT?! When I heard it… ahhhh~

    Thought everything was nice with BGM but with this one it just ruined the moment… but not the story of the show hehe


  34. 34 stee

    It really is a pity about the music. I wish there was a way to make them change the music director:/
    Actually, don’t drama producers often check out the comments on the official drama page/fan cafe to find out the public’s opinion and complaints? The Korean-savvy dramabeaners here could contribute by giving them a clue! In a not-too-mild way, preferably…

  35. 35 Diane

    “award for most egregrious use of Coldplay”

    No, there isn’t, because all use of Coldplay is egregious, surely??

  36. 36 Diane

    “award for most egregrious use of Coldplay”

    No, there isn’t, because all use of Coldplay is egregrious, surely??

    • 36.1 spoonie

      umm … no

  37. 37 hpn88

    The music was a little heavy – I think it got a better in the 2nd episode, but the slow-mo turn that Jang-il did with the Coldplay was about the funniest thing ever.

  38. 38 waterfight

    Fashion King, Love Rain, and Equator Man? I hope you get some rest, HeadsNo2! But thanks for recapping!

  39. 39 Alicia

    I’m a huge fan of this drama. The younger versions are sooooooo good. Usually I always feel like the older people disappoint, but I have a feeling that this time I won’t be as sad to see the younger versions “grow up.”

  40. 40 Alicia

    After watching episode 2, I’ve figured it out. This director loves film noir. You can especially see it when he does a close up on Jang-il’s father’s scar. That also explains the often too loud music and excessive use of sound.

  41. 41 malta

    I’m excited for this one. Such a great cast. Love the teenagers and the adults.

    The music was horrible, but it seemed to calm down towards the end so hopefully it will find a balance. I thought the whole first half was too condensed with too much happening at a with a super dramatic atmosphere that should only be reserved for a scene like the end. By the second half though it seemed to calm down.

    Most drama seem to do this especially if they are serious. The go crazy for the first episode, but then find their footing.

  42. 42 glace

    thanks for recapping! I liked ep 2 too. I’m afraid the kids are getting me hooked, so I’m dreading the time warp.

  43. 43 HallyuFan32

    i’m all about romance and comedy when it comes to the drama. i barely made it through What’s Up because of all the angst (mind you, i actually loved it for its sweet parts, so the angst was forgiven). but this………..seems like its going to get worse quick. this just seems like one of those dramas where everyone has to die at the end because really, it just doesn’t seem like it will end happy. in the first episode you have mobsters, corruption, murder, and then use suicide to cover it up? THEY ENDED IT WITH SOMEONE HANGING FROM A TREE!!!! yeah, there is no happy ending for this, and I, for one, am all about happy endings (think Flower Boy Raymen Shop).

    but…….i will give you one thing. And that is to say, your writing skills are very convincing (are you a lawyer or something). Because if this review, i’ll give it a shot. but if i’m cursing at you by episode 4, then it’s only because i’m really not the angst type. lol.

  44. 44 SilverLynx

    This is my style of drama. I like this type of human drama that draws upon the morals and how greed and desperation for something gives the character two choices: 1) to do the right thing or 2) the bad thing. The bad thing kind of takes form and changes them.

    Please keep recapping this show. I had to watch episode 4 raw because it was getting too good. Can’t wait to see more of Uhm Tae Woong! This angst and revenge drama is like that other dramas he was in one is Revenge (or Live Again) and the other is MaWang (The Devil/Lucifer). All good dramas…all revenge plot themed like City Hunter.

  45. 45 skylla

    I agree that the music is overdone. I cringed at the Italian song on the beach. Jovanotti? Definitely, needs better music choices.

  46. 46 gummimochi

    Awesome recap! This has to go on my list of ‘will-never-be-able-to-watch’ but I’m so glad that you are recapping it m’dear! *off to read more*

  47. 47 Lilian

    I don’t really like melodramas but so far it has been good in this episode! I have to agree though..the worse use of Coldplay! It was such a shock to me..

  48. 48 Min

    Am trying my luck here..I know the early years were filmed in Busan but does anyone know the name of the place where Jang Il tried to kill Sun Woo? The cliff with the long brown bridge and walkway…

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