Rating:
Average user rating 3.3
99

Mask: Episodes 1-2

SBS’s Mask is off to a strong start, with an assured sense of style, a brisk plot, and another top-notch performance from Su Ae as an ordinary woman who suddenly gets the chance to live a chaebol life. (Not to mention a second performance as the woman whose chaebol life she supplants.) There are a number of cliches in place, no doubt—swapped lives, chaebol takeover machinations, adulterous affairs, a poor heroine with a debt-ridden father, mistresses and illegitimate children—but presentation is everything, and Mask feels like a show that uses its cliches in an entertaining way, rather than as crutches to carry it through lazy writing.

I’m not as drawn to melodramas as an overall genre as I am to other types of dramas, but whenever a show is executed well, I’m happy to give it a chance. Mask is just the right kind of melodrama for me, full of juicy conflict and entertainingly interesting characters, but low on cheesy camp factor. It’s a fun kind of soap, the kind that moves quickly and keeps you engaged in the conflict without getting overwrought with pain.

 
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THE STORY

Episode 1: “3 Million Won Happiness”
Episode 2: “Girl Who Walks in Memories”

The series opens on an immediate hook: Our heroine dies. Okay, you have my attention. Continueeee.

We’re thrown into the thick of action as BYUN JI-SOOK (Su Ae) drives along a mountain road and swerves to avoid a collision, only to send her car crashing through the cable railing and down a rocky hillside. She’s saved momentarily by the cables that catch the vehicle, but only barely, and not for long.

Ji-sook is handcuffed to the steering wheel, and manages to grab her phone to answer a call from a mysterious “Crazy Bastard,” who pressures her into accepting his deal. Panicking and desperate, she agrees, only to have him declare that she must die.

Facing imminent death, Ji-sook takes out her phone and records her last messages to her family—her wastrel of a father, always plunging the family into debt and trouble; her long-suffering mother; and her troublemaking younger brother.

The cables give way and the car plunges into the sea, with Ji-sook still handcuffed to it. Her body is identified in the morgue, her distraught family mourns, and then we jump back to two days prior.

CHOI MIN-WOO (Joo Ji-hoon) is the successor to SJ Group, a chaebol corporation that owns department stores, for which he serves as executive director. Yet despite his high rank and chaebol status, his position seems far from secure, with his exacting chairman father constantly barking warnings that he won’t pass the company to an undeserving successor.

Min-woo seems like a nice guy living in a viper’s nest, populated by family members who are all operating under their own agendas: His father rules with an iron fist and won’t tolerate any mistakes; his stepmother makes barbed comments about his absent mother; his sister is in a loveless political marriage; and his brother-in-law seems to be waiting for his chance to usurp everything.

Min-woo is being steered into a political marriage of his own, into which he and his fiancee enter with jaded eyes wide open, treating it as a cold business deal. She’s SEO EUN-HA—also played by Su Ae—though her lot in life is the complete opposite of Ji-sook’s. Eun-ha is the daughter of a politician with presidential aspirations, and this marriage would give her father a financial backer for his campaign, while Min-woo’s father would gain a powerful political ally.

Eun-ha draws clear boundaries for their arrangement, where she’ll continue to see the man she loves, and refuses to have children with Min-woo. He’s fine with that, though he comments, “I feel sorry for him and for you—truly.” To which Eun-ha replies, “Do you not have someone you love? I feel sorry for you—truly.” Touché.

Min-woo suffers from OCD and hallucinations that are initially depicted in a humorous light, but the tone grows increasingly more grave as it becomes clear just how debilitating his condition is. It’s not just that he dislikes dirt; there are hints of a deeper problem, for which he’s been undergoing long-term psychological treatment. He seems to have come to a good place of calm and control, but any hint of instability shakes his composure, and we see that the cause is rooted in a childhood trauma—his mother drowned, and he experiences recurring hallucinations of bodies floating in pools of water.

Ji-sook works a sales job at a department store—Min-woo’s, in fact—where she’s the lowest performer and gets yelled at frequently. She essentially supports her family and struggles to scrape together money to pay off her father’s loan sharks, who dog her at every turn for exorbitant payments she can’t afford. And her ne’er-do-well father is no help, sinking into defeated depression while his family agonizes in constant stress. Dad has a tendency to pursue get-rich-quick schemes, while kid bro has a gambling habit.

Ji-sook goes to a reunion of former schoolmates, among whom she’s picked up the reputation for borrowing money. Her classmates snicker behind her back and one steps in to help—until it becomes clear he just wants to lord his privilege over her as a reason to pressure her into sexual favors. She rejects his advances, and he throws a wad of cash at her with contempt—but she’s so desperate she can’t refuse. It’s enough to pay off the next loan installment, and she takes it.

She gets drunk at a pojangmacha and lies down in the street, which is where Min-woo comes across her and mistakes her for Eun-ha. He ends up taking her to a hotel room, where she vomits on his shirt and passes out on the toilet, after first making sure to drunkenly tuck away her cash in a “safe” place—his bathrobe. Baffled and discomposed, he leaves her there to sleep it off and wonders why she acted so differently.

The two Su Aes come face to face in a chance encounter at the department store, where Eun-ha is the first to spot Ji-sook. In this show this is a telling sign, since we are told that where doppelgangers are concerned, the first person to notice the other one will die. RIP, Eun-ha.

Both ladies are startled to see their mirror reflections, and Ji-sook asks her mother about a possible twin. Her mother scoffs at that idea, and while I wouldn’t count out a twin possibility entirely, it does appear that the drama is approaching this as a true doppelganger scenario, where the two happen to look the same but aren’t necessarily related.

Ji-sook’s misplaced wad of cash is found by the servants in Min-woo’s robe, and it’s brother-in-law MIN SEOK-HOON (Yeon Jung-hoon) who intercepts it. Seok-hoon is a crafty son of a bitch, and while we don’t quite understand what his ulterior motives are, it’s patently clear that he has plenty of them. He hangs on to the cash, filing away that information for future use, while keeping a friendly face to most of the world.

Seok-hoon’s marriage to Min-woo’s noona, CHOI MI-YEON (Yoo In-young), is all sorts of messed-up, full of crackling tension and bald-faced lies. Mi-yeon appears to care more for her husband than their business arrangement allows, and looks at him alternately with distrust and longing. She knows he doesn’t love her and doesn’t believe his occasional sweet words, making sure to keep her protective shell in place.

And as it turns out, Seok-hoon is the man Eun-ha loves, making for a supremely awkward love square: Brother, sister, and two adulterous in-laws. There’s bad blood between the two ladies; it’s not clear whether wife Mi-yeon knows about mistress Eun-ha, but there are other reasons for the tension. The ladies make barbs at each other that end with Eun-ha reminding them that they need her in this marriage more than she needs them. After all, her father can find sponsors other than the SJ Group chaebols, but their father is on the verge of embezzlement charges.

Min-woo puts on a good front to his psychiatrist about being all better these days, even though he hasn’t been taking his medication. The doctor urges him to, but he’s read up on the dangerous side effects like heart failure and insists he’s fine. But that escalates into a full-scale outburst with him screaming at the man, “I’m not crazy!” First rule of crazy: Insisting you aren’t just makes it seem you are.

But when Min-woo hallucinates a body in the swimming pool, he’s spooked enough to take a pill.

Min-woo dines with Eun-ha (poolside with a full string ensemble, natch, lest you forget these people are rich), and a pill is dropped into the wine bottle before it’s served to Eun-ha. The next thing we know, Eun-ha’s floating in the pool, unconscious, and Min-woo’s gasping in confusion, collapsed on the ground.

Seok-hoon races Eun-ha to the hospital and is the only one privy to the doctor’s bad news that she’s essentially brain-dead, with no hope of recovery. He recalls Eun-ha telling him of her run-in with her doppelganger, which sparks enough of an idea that he starts looking for Ji-sook, just in case. In the meantime he tells the family that Eun-ha’s prospects for recovery are good—it’s important to him that she not die, not just because he loves her but because he needs something that requires her to be alive.

Ji-sook realizes she’s lost her cash and tries to get in touch with Min-woo. Through a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings—not least because he believes she was Eun-ha that drunken night—she concludes that he stole her money, while he suspects her of scheming to use that night against him, perhaps involving paparazzi.

After Eun-ha’s accident, Min-woo curiously can’t remember what happened, so his family turns to CCTV footage to fill in the gaps. He insists that he didn’t do anything but is anxious nevertheless, while his family look half-convinced that he did do something to her—that his mysterious condition has reared its ugly head again.

But that exact segment of the security footage is erased, which only makes Min-woo look guiltier. He swears to find out what happened, to prove his innocence to his family—and, frankly, also to himself.

Ji-sook’s family is terrorized by their loan sharks yet again, and the pressure mounts to scrape together a payment. Once again it falls to her—her kid brother (Hoya) means well but the extent of his brainpower is to try to rob a bank, which thankfully he’s too scared to actually pull off. So she redoubles her efforts to recover her money from Min-woo and arranges a meeting with him at the department store.

But scheming Seok-hoon hears of this just as he’s trying to locate Ji-sook himself, and he makes a mad dash to intercept her before she meets Min-woo and alerts him to the whole doppelganger situation. She’s wary of his secretary’s excuse to draw her away and manages to run away, hurrying to meet Min-woo.

But just before she gets there, Min-woo envisions his mother walking by in the crowd and fixates on following her, weaving through traffic to follow her car. But when he pulls up to her car, to his shock, the driver is a random man. He chugs down the water that’s in his car—and it becomes evident that the water was tampered with, making him woozy.

Ji-sook sees him driving off and follows in a taxi, and is nearby to witness Min-woo getting into a car crash. As he fades into unconsciousness, he realizes that the water must be the culprit and wonders who would have done such a thing.

Ji-sook waits by Min-woo’s bedside at the hospital, and Seok-hoon yanks her aside to show her the wad of cash, and also to make a proposal. He’s done the research and knows she’s deeply in debt and appeals to her dire straits, offering her riches and a new life—in exchange for impersonating Eun-ha. He’s open with her about the circumstances (though not his reasons): Eun-ha’s on the brink of death, and Ji-sook would be taking her place in the marriage to a chaebol.

“Even if a frog sits on a golden chair, it will jump into the pond,” he says, sneering that it’s because frogs are stupid. He urges her not to be a frog and to remain in her golden chair—but Ji-sook, after contemplating his offer for one hot second, turns him down decisively. She has no desire to get caught up in a mad scheme that could land her in prison.

Ji-sook takes the cash to the loan shark, and witnesses him in the process of beating up another victim/customer who hasn’t been able to make his payments. Pushed too far, the victim fights back and attacks the loan shark, but he’s quickly overpowered. The loan sharks turn on him viciously and beat him unconscious, until he’s lying limp. Dead.

The loan sharks panic about this unintended consequence and scramble to cover their tails, wondering how to dispose of the body and deal with their witness. They end up handcuffing Ji-sook and taking her along as they drive up a mountain with the body, not too persuaded by Ji-sook’s promises not to breathe a word.

Ji-sook sees that they’re not likely to let her go, so when she gets an opening, she leaps into the driver’s seat and screeches off without the loan sharks.

It turns out that the dead man isn’t actually dead, and when she pauses to check on him, a loan shark catches up to her and jumps into the car. That’s when she swerves to avoid hitting a deer, the car hurtles down the hillside, and Ji-sook finds herself facing death.

Seok-hoon then calls her to repeat his offer of a deal, having followed her here. He watches from a distance as the cables break and the car goes crashing into the sea. Ji-sook manages to uncuff herself but struggles to make it to safety, wondering if she’s going to meet her end. And then, a body dives into the water to lend a hand…

Min-woo undergoes hypnotherapy to try to uncover what happened at the poolside, determined to prove his innocence. Yet when the memories come back, he’s horrified to recall himself attacking Eun-ha, pinning her to the ground and strangling her. He comes out of the hypnosis gasping that it can’t be true.

He decides to hear the truth from Eun-ha herself and heads over to the hospital to see her. She’s lying in bed, asleep… then opens her eyes and looks right at him.

 
COMMENTS

Mask hits a nice balance for me, with melodrama and soapy twists that are engaging, but stop short of being off-putting in its excess. I knew from Secret (the writer’s previous drama) that this would probably be a well-made melo; the question was whether I’d like the plot, having found Secret just a little too crazy for my tastes.

I won’t argue that there isn’t a fair share of craziness or crazy characters in this drama, but I find them entertaining and within the realm of relatability. At least for the three main characters other than Yeon Jung-hoon, who is mad and evil—but that’s no detractor, since it’s rather delicious watching him storm around being all demanding and manipulative. I’ve never seen him being so outright villainous before, but he wears it well.

It doesn’t seem like the drama’s taking itself overly seriously, either, and I just about died laughing when he was in the middle of giving a dramatically broody speech to Ji-sook, who just hung up on him mid-rant. The drama isn’t actively funny, but it has its moments of self-awareness and levity, which I enjoy (such as Ji-sook and her co-workers joking about makjang tropes such as secret chaebols and long-lost mothers).

I feel like we didn’t get to know Eun-ha very well before she died (and I’m pretty sure that’s Ji-sook in the hospital bed at the end), and I wonder if I’d have found her a sympathetic character. (That’s one of the strengths in Who Are You—School 2015, where I found myself drawn to both twins, which was a nice bit of character work.) But that’s not hugely important since this is Ji-sook’s story, and one benefit to keeping Eun-ha a bit of a cipher is that we are watching through Ji-sook’s eyes as she fills Eun-ha’s shoes, and that confusion is intrinsic to that setup.

I suppose Ji-sook’s circumstances are pretty cliched, to the extent that I don’t really care that much about her family’s plight; this strikes me as just the basic trope necessary to propel us into the story proper. Maybe this would bother me more if we were dealing with a lesser actor, but Su Ae is so good that even when the character itself doesn’t do much for me, I’m sucked in by the emotional line in her performance.

Min-woo, on the other hand, is a fascinating character right off the bat, and I’m deeply curious what the hell is going on with him and his family. I’ve never been a huge Joo Ji-hoon fan (liked him okay in his movies, mostly), but I do like what he’s doing here as the confused chaebol who is scared of his own self, wanting to believe that he’s a good person but rattled by hints that he may not be. I’m more likely to suspect that he’s being gaslighted in a major way than that he’s suppressing a monster inside, since you’ve got all those pills—what’s with those pills? Is his doctor helping him, or a party to those working against him? I have no doubt Seok-hoon is plotting against him, but the burning question is why, and how. Why is Eun-ha so integral to his scheme, and what is he setting in motion? And why is somebody going around dropping pills into everyone’s drinks? What’ll it take to keep Ji-sook safe in Maison Roofie?

Given that we know a lot of the setup going into Mask, I think the first week did a solid job of keeping us on our toes even knowing the direction things were taking, and it’s that assured sense of pacing and directing that makes me feel at ease with the show. We don’t know all the twisted directions the story will be shooting off into (and I can guarantee there will be twisted directions), but when I feel like I’m in competent hands, I’m much more able to enjoy the ride, crazy and all. In fact, crazy is really a selling point in a show like this, where the setup is so extreme that you can’t really paint people with toned-down, muted colors—they’ve gotta hold up to the boldness of the plot. Here’s to hoping the crazy is the good kind. Or, at least, the fun kind.

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Omo i love this drama!! (or at least the first two eps of it)
It's like an extra dose of happiness when you just try out a new drama for fun (since there's nothing interesting out there) and found it to be good!
:D
I've never really liked JJH in anything else too, but here I just want Su Ae to cuddle and protect him ><

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Thanks For The Recap. I will give this show a try.

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Thanks for the great recap JB! I hope this means that you're going to go all the way in recapping this show. :)

I too liked the pace and the crazy and I laughed out loud over certain parts and suddenly found myself facing a melo which brought me up short. I like the setup and the mystery and for that alone, I'd have watched this show. As long as it does not get too 'plot-holey' and drops enough hints to let me have fun guessing at the mystery, I'm in.

As for Su Ae... I found her rather unrelatable in 'A Thousand Days' Promise' and 'Athena', but I'm glad to know that she is a better actress than those shows gave her a chance to be, and am happy to be impressed by her. In fact, I already am, just from Episode 1.

So happy watching to all of us and not least of all to you JB! :)

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GB you're here tooo :D

And omg I was laughing so loud literally with all his ocd moments so hilarious. Especially his moment in the hotel, when she threw up on him, he literally pushed her aside and ran for the shower rofl.

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Hi my dear ❤Turkish Rose Healer❤
IKR!
Joo Ji Hoon is sooooo different here from his early days in Goong. I found him pretty stiff before, but he is capable of panicky, funny faces here and I'm interested to see what more he can do. His is the one shower scene that got me thinking it was less a fan-service thing than a necessary scene for this character with his cleanliness mania. :)

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Awww I'm too happy reading you here Growingbeautifully! I love this show and its cast. But I haven't finished both episodes yet, don't want to be spoilt already.
Soo Ae is great, there are a couple of really good dramas with her you have to watch once this one wraps up. ;-)

*waves crazily to Turkish Rose* ?

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Fab (waves excitedly) I'm so happy to see you here :)

And Unfortunately, I haven't watched Soo Ae in anything before, but she reminds me so much of Yoon Eun-hye ( she looks exactly like her) but her acting so far is nice. I can't wait to watch more, to see how the story unfolds :)

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Thanks @fab,... Yes, I guess I should watch the shows where she showed more expression. I found in 1,000 days promise that I could not feel sad for her in her dementia, somehow. Maybe the illness kept her from being more expressive? LOL!

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I thought Su Ae was very good in Queen of Ambition, have not seen most of the others except "1000 days", which I also liked.

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Thanks for the recap.

Are you going to recap the drama or is it just a one time recap?

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YAY Mask is being recapped! Thanks Javabeans, I do hope that this is a drama that will continue

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to be recapped. I like Ji Sook, she's a tough, spunky heroine who can look out for herself. This drama started off with a bang. It's engaging and nail biting, and I am hooked!

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I loved the first two episodes and i hope this drama keeps up with this pace and occasional light hearted moments...

Is it just me or does JJH look like a thinner/skinnier version of nam goong min? Its distracting whenever JJH comes on screen because i keep thinking that he resembles some other actor but cant really come up with anyone other than nam goong min. Or maybe i have turned delusional after watching him in TGWSS resulting in seeing him everywhere now *shudders*

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@ -Liz-
I feel he looks like a much more gaunt and older version of himself. I had to stare at him a long time to make out the resemblances to his youthful self, he looks so different now. I can't think if he looks like any other actor though,... certainly does not remind me of Nam Goong Min, LOL!

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I really felt the same way too. When dramabeans released the first few stills of this show. I was like didn't the guy take rest, He just finished Sensory couple / TGWSS.

Also even when I watch the first episode. His intro kind of looked the same to him.

Now not that much, at first glance the hero kind of looks like the second lead of sensory couple.

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Thanks for the recap, JB!

I thought the first two eps were quick-paced and really drew my attention. I'm really fascinated by JJH's character and how Minwoo's childhood experience led to his current psychological state. I wonder if his mom had feared for her life and that's why she took him along and they were running away before drowning in her attempt to save him.

SA playing two characters is doing a good job so far and I can see why she was desperate enough as Jisook to finally agree to be Eunha when her life was literally in peril.

All the other characters seem to have their own agenda. Can't wait to see how the plot develops.

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I think his mother running away and drowning is another backstory here that has not really been delved into much yet. I suspect it will start coming to life once the ID shift takes place.

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Looking forward to that backstory. I'm thinking it might have something to do with Minwoo's dad since he seems to be involved in shady business, and that's why he was looking for political ally with Eunha's dad.

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lol Lisa, I see you in every drama I'm watching :)

I loved the fast pace too. Especially the opening scene, filled with so much mystery to grasp your attention. So far my favorite character is Joo Ji Hoo's character as well. And it's obvious his mother was running in fear, because there were people running after them.

It just so sad that he had to witness his mother dying trying to save his life. And that is the most traumatic thing, any child could ever experience in his life. It doesn't help either, that his evil step mother (she's been evil since her SECRET GARDEN days, won't she give up :) ) is putting things in his drinks to make him go more crazy.

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Haha! *high fives* I don't always comment though I read recaps here. But the dramas I've been watching these days are worth discussing with others. LOL

I feel that no wonder Minwoo's got issues when all he's surrounded by is evilness, from Dad to stepmom to sister... Poor guy. That hypnosis session was hard to watch when he thought he might have killed Eunha. And yes, watching his mom dying is so traumatic, especially it was for the sake of saving his life. So, it's understandable to have such long-lasting effects.

Oh! Was it his stepmom who had something to do with the drugged beverages? I thought it was his sister because she wanted to get Eunha out of the picture. So, I thought the sister got someone to drug the wine. Then, later it was to drug Minwoo's water since she also doesn't want him to inherit the mall. Anyway, didn't like the stepmom here since her Secret Garden days. She's always playing this kinda role. XD

I find this drama is really grabbing the audience's attention. At first, I wasn't sure if I should watch cuz I wasn't drawn to the main 4 leads besides JJH. But now I'm glad I gave it a chance. Was your heart pounding and feeling anxious in that scene when Jisook was trying to meet up with Minwoo at the mall and Seokhoon and his man keep on trying to prevent it from happening? I really wanted them to meet though I know that would defeat the whole identity swap story? =P

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Omg yess @Lisa, that mall scene was so intense I was literally holding my breath hoping they end up meeting each other, just the music and editing between the scenes, and the evil guy..whoaaa...that scene was intensified when the car chase and accident happened.

Anyhow for the life of me I couldn't tell what that evil guy might say or do while he was running down the escalator in order to prevent them from meeting each other. But luckily for him, our lead is crazy on his own, poor guy :)

But I was so shocked when we finally got to see the driver of that red car, after that crazy chase, to find out it's not even his mother. I felt so bad for him, how delusional is the guy getting for all this to happen?

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I guess he never quite recovered from that childhood drama. So, anything related to that such as body floating on water or even the jewellery resembling that necklace his mom dropped can cause him to feel this way. It's like part of him hasn't accepted her death. At the same time, I think those pills he's taking might be causing him delusions instead of supposedly helping him.

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Is it going to be a post marriage romance??? Oohhhh fun !!!! I admit I am not so interested in the mystery:P

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Thank you for the recap JB! ^^

I did not expect to like the pilot episodes of Mask this much but I loved it, cliches and all. I already feel bad for Min-ho for whaever his stepmom is doing to him and his sanity and I can't wait for Ji-sook to help him eventually. I think the doctor is working for his stepmom that's why he's not getting better. Performaces of the main leads are top notch and I can't wait for next week's episodes. Still waiting for Vampire Prosecutor 3 but it's nice to see Yeon Jung-hoon playing the villain.

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Giegie, omgggggggg you're here (big bear hug) I'm loving this drama too. It hit all the right buttons for me, and I think the main lead's life is so difficult so far. I am with you about that doctor, very obvious he works for that evil step-mom and crazy half-sister. And his father is ignoring the fact that his son might need help from those around him (the cliche chaebol father in kdramas lol :) )

Im loving all the actors, and I've never seen anything for any of them. Except Joo Ji Hyun (from Goong, but I didn't even like that drama)

Excited for this drama :D

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When Yeon Jung-Hoon came on my screen, I squealed, "Vampire Prosecutor!" Then proceeded to mash up Mask and VP in my head. Good times.

+100 for Vampire Prosecutor 3!!!!!

In the meantime, Mask and his icky haircut.

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I agree about the stepmom and doctor. They're using HYPNOSIS on him. I am sure they're playing with his mind.

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Oh thank you so much for recapping Mask Javabeans. Episodes 1 & 2 hit all the right buttons for me. Right now Mask is the most cracktastic out of all the Wednesday/Thursday dramas currently airing.

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@August I totally agree. It hit all the right emotions for me, I hope it stays that way. SECRET was one of my favorite dramas that aired, so I'm sure this one will be too, considering all the mystery and angst awaiting our main couple..

And omg I was laughing so loud literally with all his OCD moments so hilarious. Especially his moment in the hotel, when she threw up on him, he literally pushed her aside and ran for the shower rofl. literally had me on the floor that hotel scene..

The main actress, I've never seen her in anything before. But, so far she is doing a nice job. I feel so bad for her and her story too. But this drama so far, looks incredible.

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"Secret" holds a special place for me. It's first episode pulled really crappy ratings - in the 4.5 range. By the end it was topping all the charts, and was the only drama of that year to beat Heirs. I loved Su Ae in Queen of Ambition and "1000 days promise", even though I don't believe they were big hits ratings wise.

* Note - in fact Secret was so popular that for several weeks it pretty much took over the Friday OT discussion here, as it was not being recapped anywhere.

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Windsun33, :) I was actually a lurker here around that time. And I remember it was YOU windsun who convinced me to go watch it, and it became one of the most amazing dramas I had ever watched. It introduced me to Ji Sung, amazing actor.

I feel that this drama will do the same hopefully. So, looking forward to watching it :)

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+1 for all the Secret's madness, all the overused cliches that transformed the old melo into this overall original drama and the final winner in ratings ( the fat lady sang, ladies and gents!)
Mask can very well become our new guilty obsession...I have high hopes that this writer can be the Harry Potter of kdramaland!!^^

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Absolutely agree -- I am on this train to stay -- the 2nd leads have all the right tortured elements to keep me riveted through it all.

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yes AJK, I love characters that are complex with a long list of sad background story. So, far the main lead has all the right complexity to keep watching him and find out his real story.

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I loveeeeeeeeeeeeed this drama. So amazing, and wonderful and I started watching it because of the writer from SECRET. It's filled with mystery and sadness (background story of the lead is heartbreaking :( )

I believe the step-mother and his half-sister are trying to keep him crazy, and not help him. They are sneaking drugs to make him delusional, that he even though he knows he is not crazy but his actions tell him other wise.

But, I'm really excited about this drama :)

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Thanks for the recap! ☺
I love Joo ji hoon and Su ae. Loving the show already.

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Yeon Jung-hoon is so hot in this I'm actually rooting for him. He and evil wife make the best villain couple ever, not to mention their crackling sexual chemistry in ep 1. That intense kiss made me swoon so much!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The kiss confused me as well. How could he be in love with, and having an affair with another woman but still have such sizzling chemistry with his wife? It's obvious that his wife is in love with him. It's also obvious that she knows Eun ha and her husband have something going on. What else can explain the viciousness of her attack on Eun Ha and the evil looks she gave Eun Ha? I wouldn't put it past her to have drugged both Eun Ha and her younger brother, but I'm leaning on the stepmother as the culprit behind the whole fiasco. I suspect that the doctor is in on it as well.

Speaking of which, I find the actress that plays Choi Mi Yeon to be very, very beautiful. I first saw her in The Three Musketeers as Mi Ryeong and I was struck by her beauty then. She exudes this earthy sensuality that seems a hallmark of the roles I have seen her in.

I'm glad there are no 'Flower Boys/Girls' in this drama. All the actors and actresses are mature people which should be very interesting to watch and also appeal to a more mature audience.

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+1 "I’m glad there are no ‘Flower Boys/Girls’ in this drama.".

I am about burned out on the high school immature flower boy stuff ATM.

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I love Yoo In-young too. She does sexy-evil like no other. I am still terribly saddened that she won't get a round two as Mi Ryeong. That role made me her fan.

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Ah, TTM! Why tvN, WHYYYY??? So sorry for the awful crying but you've just reminded me that I'm still recuperating from the wound!

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The kiss? This guy seems to be such a manipulator. Maybe it's more his charisma that makes it seem like chemistry. I think he loves Eun-Ha and they have a history together, long before he got married, which explained why he was the one with her at the hospital, teary-eyed. I suspect he married for his own ambitions. His wife probably knows it but got along with the program out of love. It's not like he can "hide" how calculating he is for too long.

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This was a very entertaining recap to read... the plot sounds very interesting. Will check out.

Also, <3 Su Ae.

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Yay! So glad to see this post. Didn't expect you to cover it javabeans, but I am really glad you are.:)

I ejnjoyed the first two episodes and now I want more!!! Granted, some things make me roll my eyes, like the evil Brother in law, the crappy CGI and Joo Ji-hoon's overacting, but the plot is interesting enough to keep me tuning in and wanting more.

Su Ae's great so far, and I am so excited to see how she will pull of the masquerade!

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Thanks for the recap! This show seems good, darkish and full of intrigue. The first two episodes kept me in suspense, so this is the green light for me.

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*sing-songs*: "This is a madhouse, help us, save us! This is a madhouse, help us save us!" *claps giddily* I was thoroughly amused (though I admit to ffwd her "sad family" bits.) Liked all the familiar faces.

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Yes same here, It's very cliche I've watched that scene so many times where the loan sharks come and threaten the family, and break everything in the house. blah blah blah. So we didn't miss much from the real story :)

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I don't know, a part of me really wants to watch this drama because I did like Secret. But then the other side knows how crazy makjang it is going to be and I don't want to give it a chance....

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Go ahead, satisfy your guilty pleasure and embrace the melo!.

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lol Calzeralzer, if you enjoyed SECRET, then I'm sure we will enjoy this one. At least the beginning looks really promising. And it will def get makjang, but some makjang are better than others. I handled secret really well, but other dramas I couldn't take all the angst. I think the writer really knows how to balance all that melo out and tell a fast-paced story with great storytelling. :)

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My take so far:

1. The doctor is in cahoots with at least some of the evil family. I suspect that he may also be planting false memories and supplying some weird drugs to drop in his drinks.
2. The Evil Hot Couple are also teamed up, but may or not be for the same reasons or the same purposes. Hers might be revenge, his for money and/or control.
3. Evil Mother In Law seems to hate everyone but her own, and I suspect that she will do something really stupid and disclose a clue.
4. The "new" Eun Ha will partner up with the drugged guy (perhaps unwillingly at first) and things will get really melo.
5. Not sure how the fake one is going to convince the politician parents, unless she claims amnesia or something?

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Windsun I agree with some of the theories you came up with. But, I don't think the father is in on it. I think he is a cold father (who isn't really involved with his kids) he seems to get all his knowledge about his son's case from his evil wife and the rest of the family. They are making the son out to be this lunatic guy, and the father believes it.

2. Totally agree about the "hot couple" but i'm positive they are both in it for different reasons. At first I thought he might be playing both women and he is in it for money. But, it really looks like he cared about the real "soo ae" so it should be interesting how the story develops with watching the fake one by his side the whole time.

3. I think the step-mother is doing this for the sake of her daughter. She wants her daughter to inherit everything so she makes the son out to be this crazy guy who can't handle anything.

4. & 5 most definitely they will use the "amnesia" card. Because, I recall the doctor told that evil guy, that when someone drowns, they lose some of their memory or their brain is affected in a way.

But, I'm assuming the real one died so they can place her body instead of the poor one right?

I wonder what is the evil guy gaining out of that marriage that is supposed to take place between Soo ae and JJH?

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I am not so sure the real one died. If not, we might see her come out of her coma later, with interesting results.

But if this play out like Secret, there might be some 3rd choice there. And I have to admit I am a huge sucker for those hidden/lost twin plots.

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But @windsun didn't they show the rich one's body in the morgue before they cremated it in front of the poor family? I'm sure she is dead....But that would be shocking if they kept her alive

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Yeah, I am a bit confused on the timeline for that. Or perhaps all the family members know the real one died and the fake one is.. well, fake?

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From what I see, she's in the morgue and cremated right? I'm sure the real Eun Ha actually dies. Unless ofc, the crematorium actually didn't burn her and she's alive after all..
I'm open to many possibilities..

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The doctor is in with evil mom in law I think!!!

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One of the things I like about school 2015 is KSY played two characters differently but relatable teenagers while Mask's doppelgangers are so contradictory.

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Yes Amber, they are both opposites of the spectrum. The rich one is very cold, confident, and ruthless (but I'm sure her story is sad somehow, considering she mentioned that her mother ran away as well)

The poor one, is naiive, and very nice. Although I'm sure somehow she will change her personality to defend those she loves.

I'm loving School 2015 as well :)

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i love this drama! and Joo Ji Hoon looks super good, no plastered up hair making him look stiff and cold... he's adorably paranoid and OCD fumbly...

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lol @spazmo, the best part is about his OCD. He plays out his role so adorable and I can't wait to see more :D

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Haha, I really have to laugh, as I just finished the 2 episodes and googled recaps with my hopes very low... and was so shocked to find Dramabeans recapping :--)))

As a former Secret addict I of course had to check Mask. I do admit I used FF button during some cliche scenes (like with loan sharks)... but so did I during the first episodes of Secret before the setup was complete. Here we seem to be done earlier with the setup and I'm already looking forward to the next episodes with forced marriage and cohabitation :--)
(And to all those evil machinations and secrets ;--) )
Makjang done well... what a nice guilty pleasure :--)

PS Oh, and I'm so far loving the subtle humour they inject time to time... like the talk over the lost twin at lunch :--)

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I have to admit to some guilty pleasure when the loan shark guy fell into the sea.

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I also liked that the "more lively" music that was played by the musicians by the pool was from GAG concert, Monica and Maximus (Dance Chatter.) I'm sure it has a "real" classical music name, but I giggled.

And I liked the "I am your mom. I am your sister. I am a Chabol daughter checking out life as a worker" humor too.

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**Note that in no way am I advocating the killing of deer!**
But for once the "deer in the headlights look" wasn't by the lead female!

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But for once the “deer in the headlights look” wasn’t by the lead female as she was being kissed!

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It is not just lead females..

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Wow I don't know JB would recap Mask, I thought it's not her cup of tea but I'm glad :D
Mask is different than Secret, but I can't say which one is crazier yet. Story-wise, Mask is crazier. Character-wise, Secret is superior at this time. At least MSH is not cartoon evil. He's might even not the true evil one, I might say. He's greedy and manipulative, but I doubt he's the one who gives pills since it's impossible to give it to EH.
I agree JB, the leads do the job right. While Soo Ae is awesome, I'm also drawn to JJH (Prince Shin!)'s acting. My favorite part would be when he woke up by the pool, all confused, blinded by the sun, his expression... I like it. His acting could be passed with overacting by some people, but I find it okay.
And may I thank the writer for making Jisook has a fair sense of humor and easy-going personality ? I nearly gave up on Yoojung so Jisook is a fresh air.
I hope there are more for evil couple. Oh I'm sure they have many secrets, it will be fun to open them layer per layer.

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Ahh this sounds intense and great. I love a crazy melo like this. Secret was really fun to watch so I've got my money on this that'll be good, too.

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drama is cliche but it's good lol.
i find the guy who plays the loanshark funny. all his scenes are funny. maybe it's the hair.
soo ae is as awesome as ever. everyone is good in this show.
noticed that her parents are the same couple who played the parents to song hye gyo in 'autumn in my heart'. i think.

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The funniest scene for me was when the loan sharks were taking her in the car to take care of her along with the supposedly dead body. Once the dead guy was found to be alive still, one of the goons started spilling beans as to why a (police) car might be following them. It could be that old lady we killed last year, it could be that guy we took out, blah blah blah and each time Jisook had this look in her eyes as she denied having heard anything. Nope, I didn't hear that, I didn't hear a thing, I went deaf for the last 30 seconds or so, you know . . . So funny.

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Gosh I'm so glad this drama came along, I need some crazy drama in my life everything is too sweet for me these days. I loved Secret but it started very slow so it's good to see that this time around we're not wasting time or stringing the setup out, next week will be the real test. I'm not usually one who likes stories that revolve around a lie, I would have liked it if it had been JJH who found the doppelgänger and organised the charade but I guess that would have had less conflict when the romance starts. I hope they keep the humour going, it really lightens the drama especially once the crazy starts to heat up.

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That mommy from Secret Garden (and Heirs, I think) is always part of a chaebol story. Lol

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And often plays evil mother or mother in law.

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Since i heard that the writer is from Secret, i decided to give it a chance and I never thought that this drama would be good! It gave a quite strong kickstart. I don't really like melodrama but this whole doppelgänger thing is another thing which genre always interests me. I also was never a fan of Ju Ji Hoon and I only watched him in Goong, but it looks like his acting got better and i even laughed abit at the way his character Min Woo always rushing to change his clothes or to take bath because of his phobia of germs.

Anyway, not sure if it's just me or that the starting scene of first episode reminds of Vampire Diaries. And then whole doppelgänger thing also keeps reminding me of TVD.

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Oh.. I love it...
I think its makjang which is my guilty pleasure. . My heart beat pumps in every scene.
For me Mask can stop in 2 episode and still good.
But most of the time i will watch drama that i like when it finish.

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I'm really loving this show right now! Makjang's are a guilty pleasure of mine and I'm totally on board for all the crazy this one will have. I agree, while I know it's going to be a roller coaster (I mean, the male lead is literally going insane) I think the set-up is believable and it's totally outlandish.

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+1!
Let the games begin! I want them all: the emotional roller coaster and the really insane people on my screen. No "ifs" and "buts"... good old melodrama with a total make-over. This must be the writer's specialty!

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Okay officially drowning with dramas right now and it doesnt help that this one seems promising. I have never seen Su ae in anything before but I really like her performance here.

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This one looks like it's going to be a fun ride with good actors at the top of their form. It reminds me of those over-the-top melodramatic but superbly written novels by Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart and movies like Diabolique (the original 1955 French version, not the miserable Hollywood remake). Complete with a nice twist on the woman in peril role being driven insane by nefarious villains only this time it's a man in peril being driven insane. It really could be anyone in that dysfunctional house of horrors who is responsible for drugging Min-woo at this point.

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I gave it a try and surprisingly I enjoyed it a lot. :)

The plot is dense but so far it is also quite dynamic. The performances and the visuals are outstanding. And like JB, I find Yeon Jung-hoon perfect as a villain and a pleasure to watch. Su Ae is also charismatic and Joo Ji-hoon appealing and sexy, so what's not to like? If they do a good job, it will be a fun and addicting ride. :D

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Big fan of JJH here, and I felt so sorry for his character. The prospect of his healing (and them protecting each other) when he and Ji-Sook fall in love is quite romantic for me. When love becomes the only sane haven amidst the everyday crazy --- I'm all in!

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also JJH fan here. I loved him from MaWang/devil. His conflicted/sad expression is just best (so sad). I have feeling this drama will be hit in this time slot.

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I've been looking for a a copy of MaWang/Devil but I couldn't find any. Those that are in YouTube do not have English Subs, too. *sob* I've read great things about the movie and JJH's acting. What I like best about JJH is how he transforms himself into his character. I don't see a trace of Shin Goon or the real JJH in the 2 episodes so far.

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I loved the first episode instantly but am feeling a bit conflicted about the second one
it's interesting that javabeans says this drama is low on the cheesy camp factor because my thought especially during the second episode was, this is so campy! everyone is so over the top! but it's fun...
to be fair I haven't watched that many straight melos, but I found Secret to take itself much more seriously, so much paaaaaain! so the tone of this drama is kind of new for me, thus confusing...

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I love it. Time for a good, not old-fashioned melo. My only fear is the paranoia lurking in SBS and its choices resently, which is too bad since it used to be the most innovative and progressive of the major three networks. Plot-wise I love mostly everything. I adore our evil Yun Jung Hoon even without his adorable cheeks (yes, I have a thing for "pinchable" cheeks") and the reply to the line "You'll go to hell" with "I'll think about that when the time to die comes". It pretty much said everything. Bring on the... melo!

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LOL...+1. Yeeeehhh for the adorable cheeks and the line that said it all, korini!
I'm also scared of (the formely known as our beloved) SBS and the passing(hopefully) paranoia, as you have very well put it.
I was pretty much convinced KBS got smthing to do with Secret's initial script when the ratings had been awful (up till ep.4...)

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I love this drama from first episode its already make me hooked...gosh main lead acting just amazing + the plot and storyline sooo promising and this writer is secret writer (my number 5 favorite kdrama all the time)(":....and then Can this writer give this villain karma in this drama I know its still eps 1 and 2 But they are so Freaking annoying i always rolling my eyes when they come out(two face villain is my hateful character in kdramaland xD)like in the end they(villain)Dead by car accident or Become poor Person Lol anyway Looking forward next episode i hope rating will double digit

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I love Joo Ji Hoon in this role! Man, I love seeing him shows his vulnerable side!!
Min Woo is a tragic character and he really sells it well. Good job, Ji Hoon oppa!!

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Apart from the interesting plot and intense, good start, my love for Soo Ae alone is already enough for me to get hooked to this drama. I love her and her acting to bits!

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Such a good start! Can't wait to see how the story unfolds after this premise ^^
Can you guys recommend dramas as good as this one? But no high school stuff or excessive makjang :p

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@ Luna
It depends on what you feel is good LOL! That's a pretty wide criteria. What have you watched so far?

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I tend to follow recommendations made here but the last show that really got me hooked was Misaeng I tried to give a shot to It's Okay, It's Love, Heal me, Kill me and Punch but gave up halfway. Should I go back and finish those? lol
I think it's the writing that sort of has to 'click' in a way, a drama at entertainment value alone can't hold much of an appeal without a solid plot
Is 'Producers' any good?

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I did not care too much for kill me heal me and had to struggle to finish the drama. But I love love love it's okay it's love. Especially the last two episodes. Great acting on Jo In Sung!

Recommendations and this is just from my own preference and taste:
1) rooftop prince
2) the greatest love
3) fated to love you
4) healer
5) my love from another star
6)moon embracing the sun
7) shine or go crazy
8) my daughter seo young

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Mask is one of best drama that i have seen. I love the story and the acting of lead character are so so perfect.

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finally ! a classy drama! love the fast paced plot and excellent acting by Yeon Jong Hoon and Su Ae. is it just me or is the hero in danger of being usurped by the villian in this drama? YJH is conniving and convincing yet manages to bring across his sense of panic in certain scenes - when he sees Eun Ha floating in the pool, and when he realises that Ji-sook is seconds away from meeting Min Woo at the department store lobby. Enough of cool and emotionless villians already (remember Chef Won Jae Hee from the previous drama Girl who can see smells which recently ended? ) - Smooth operator villians who act with no facial expressions are a real turn off. His sneering face when he talks about the frog on the golden chair was also well done and not overly hamming it up - thanks be to the powers that be - or to YJH's acting chops, in this case. Love this cluedo/agatha christie style and mood - what's happening in this family? what secret are they protecting ? and why are they even bothering in the first place? (rubbing hands in glee... for the next ep.)

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I am really really love mask. it has an dramatic story and i can not wait to next episode so i hope i get success. Thanks to cast to make a good drama for everyone.

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Ive watched ep 3, oh my, mask is surely get stronger and stronger. Not really a fan of mello drama, but I think Ill settle with this one.

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Just watched the 1st 1 min 17 sec of episode 1 (I'm a little behind, so sue me) and I had to drop everything and run to post this.

Already a LITERAL deer in headlights and a LITERAL cliffhanger in just over a minute. That just can't be coincidence. Iv'e said before that kdramas are parodies of kdramas, but this takes the cake. Best starting 1:17 ever.

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