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Bubblegum: Episode 1

So very sweet. TvN’s newest romantic comedy Bubblegum premiered earlier this week, introducing us to one delightful and adorable friendship between a guy who knows everything about the girl who keeps some secrets close to the vest. Even though these two may bicker as the day is long, they’re also best friends who deeply care for one another.

Calm and serene may not sound like much of a hook, but the show’s mostly breezy tone makes this an easy hour to watch. There’s something nice about having a dependable friend who can be there for you at the drop of the hat, no matter how old you two are.

Note: This is just a first episode recap.

SONG OF THE DAY

Hong Dae-kwang – “답이 없었어 (No Answer)” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 1: “Still, You Should’ve Said”

As night falls in Seoul, a female radio host checks in with her listeners’ responses to a question she posed earlier in the show: When do you feel the loneliest? While she reads off the replies, the camera pans over the city to reveal our world, zooming in on a baseball that crashes into a window; above that a female student standing on a rooftop’s edge, ripping up a test into pieces.

Those bits of paper flutter with the wind down to ground level, atop a middle-aged woman’s car. In a different car, another woman looks somber at the taxi behind her.

At last the radio host arrives at the last response: “When it feels like the person’s heart is absent even though that someone is by my side. And yet, when that person is my everything.”

Saying that those are some depressing answers, she figures that those who claim to not be lonely wouldn’t be listening in at this hour. Brightening at her PD’s written suggestion, she asks for her listeners’ participation to turn their lights on and off in beat with the next song as a show of support for their lonelier listeners.

The radio PD is none other than our heroine KIM HAENG-AH (Jung Ryeo-won) who joins the host in finding a spot to view the upcoming spectacle. The restaurants to the nearby gas station all join in, and that somber-looking woman in that station rolls down her car window to watch.

The radio host grows excited at seeing any flicker of light in the cityscape amidst the darkness despite her sardonic coworker’s response. Just above them, the head radio director KANG SUK-JOON (Lee Jong-hyuk) stops working to watch as well.

It’s pouring out when we catch up with Haeng-ah later that night, getting drenched while moving her things using an office chair. She reminds the security guard that she lives in this building, breezing past the question of why her boyfriend isn’t helping her out.

That answer lies in the recent past when Haeng-ah had told Suk-joon that this place would be empty of her and her things when he returns. He had said they’d pick up this conversation later, but she had sought out to tie up any loose ends here—he may have been the one to end things between them, but she’ll take care of the rest.

So Haeng-ah returns the chair, waters his plant, and sets the matching pillows on opposite ends of the couch. Taking one last look at the place, she bids him well before heading out.

The apartment shows memories of Haeng-ah spending many nights here alone, often waiting up for Suk-joon, only to be disappointed time and time again. A voiceover narrates how a simple phrase like “I’ll call you” can be construed in different ways—one may take it at face value to talk soon while another uses it as a polite way to put a conversation on hold.

“Since neither knew that they were speaking two different languages, that’s why people break up,” the voice finishes. And as if to cement Haeng-ah’s departure, the pink smiley face pillow rolls off the couch.

Back in her own place, Haeng-ah stops unpacking and lays out on the ground. Sighing, she asks herself if she’ll crumble like this, then pushes the thought out of her mind. She slides across the floor to turn on the radio to tune in for the last few minutes of the current broadcast.

In a gentle voice, the radio host speaks of how rain is a result of the clouds unable to contain the amassed water droplets anymore. And when the rain falls, it’s as if the sky is crying on their behalf, reassuring the people below that it’s okay to cry and also okay if one can’t.

As for Haeng-ah, she attempts to pull herself together before heading out to the balcony, listening while keeping any possible tears in check.

Although we’ve gotten a few glimpses of him, we finally meet our hero, doctor PARK RI-HWAN (Lee Dong-wook) who arrives at the clinic bearing a package for Haeng-ah.

It turns out that baseball we saw earlier crashed through a window in Ri-hwan’s herbal medicine clinic, and the young baseball player sits nervously across from him, denying any responsibility in last night’s incident. Rather than some broken window, Ri-hwan cares more about why the youngster won’t play in his upcoming game.

A sudden sound of breaking glass prompts the boy’s mother to rush inside the office in alarm. Ri-hwan sends her back out with the reassurance that he, not her son, threw that glass, then lets the young pitcher have a go at it, too.

That shattered glass breaks the ice, as the young pitcher admits that it’s not that he won’t play but that he can’t. Playing for the baseball team requires money his family doesn’t have—plus, his mother uses cut-up pieces of pain-relieving patches for her aching wrist just to save pennies.

Ri-hwan tells him that he has two choices: either putting up with it in silence or become a better player and at the opportune moment, show everyone what he’s made of. Giving him hope about a future in baseball, Ri-hwan offers to treat his mother’s wrist for free… in exchange for an autographed baseball when he turns pro.

As Ri-hwan cleans up the glass, he declines an offer to eat with his carpool buddy. He has to head out to attend to a special patient, and is told by the security guard that Haeng-ah hasn’t picked up his food package for days now and doesn’t ever seem to be home.

Skeptical, he calls Haeng-ah to ask if something’s up. She denies that anything’s the matter and lies that she’s at home and has been all day. He asks if she’s eaten, and when she says she has, he replies she must’ve gotten the diced radish kimchi he left her then. I love how their casual back-and-forth says everything about their close friendship.

When she hesitates, Ri-hwan chuckles, knowing that Haeng-ah’s been caught in her own lie, then asks to meet up. Haeng-ah protests that she’s got plans — really important plans — and Ri-hwan doesn’t press the issue.

Too bad he catches her trying to run away from him as he’s leaving the restaurant Secret Garden. Haeng-ah sticks to her story that she was at home eating the radish kimchi until Ri-hwan pokes holes into that—it was cabbage kimchi, not radishes. Heh.

He runs through a variety of possibilities from getting beat up to going on a diet, crossing them off when Haeng-ah doesn’t react to any of them. Something feels off even if he can’t get a pulse on just what yet, and it’s telling that Haeng-ah seems surprised that he’s leaving so soon, though she quickly buries her disappointment.

Haeng-ah greets her father through a picture of him before the restaurant employees sit her down for a proper meal. It’s sweet how they all fuss and worry about all aspects of her life just like any family member would.

We see Haeng-ah revert to her younger self before them, and the restaurant family hangs on her answer that there was someone before she takes it back so as not to worry them. She returns to her adult self when she takes a call from work.

They’ve got a problem—their diva-like live radio show host can’t make it tonight because her dog is sick. Haeng-ah meets up with her co-worker and writer NOH TAE-HEE (Kim Ri-na) who is taken aback at Haeng-ah’s casual appearance in a pair of overalls.

After convincing the radio DJ to go through with tonight’s broadcast, they stop by the dentist’s office. Haeng-ah and Tae-hee are told to wait outside with the dog, and cross paths with a snooty and wealthy woman on their way out.

Dentist HONG YI-SEUL (Park Hee-bon) is the same gloomy woman we saw at the top of the hour. Her mother is the wealthy woman in pink, whose disapproval to everything fits the description of every chaebol mother in dramaland.

She’s here to talk about her daughter’s next seon (an arranged date with an intention of marriage), giving us a breakdown on Ri-hwan’s familial background: he’s an herbal medicine doctor, his mother is a fellow physician, and his father passed away before he was born.

It’s unlikely he’ll inherit his grandfather’s wealth, but he’s got a good job and there isn’t a speck of dirt on him either, so he’ll do. Yi-seul’s exasperated sigh is enough to tell us that all of this is routine, and so she lies that she has a patient to see.

When Ri-hwan visits the broadcasting station, he takes a quick selca with a banner of Suk-joon. Ha, a fanboy I see. Haeng-ah pops in just then, saying that she meant to see him but attending to the diva radio host’s errands kept her.

In any case, Ri-hwan pulls Haeng-ah aside to make sure she consumes her prescribed herbal medicine. He takes an opportunity to ask if everything’s okay when she immediately sends him on his way again. She denies it, of course, and he fusses over her checking for any symptoms: does her stomach hurt, is she not sleeping, or having bad dreams? Or did she faint from seeing blood?

Her voice gets louder and more defiant, especially when he asks if she has relationship issues. She tugs at him to leave when the elevator arrives, and when the doors open, her eyes grow wide.

This is Ri-hwan’s mother PARK SUN-YOUNG (Bae Jong-ok), who looks bothered at seeing the two looking so friendly. The reason? Years ago after her parents died, a teenage Haeng-ah was dropped off to live with Ri-hwan and his mother, and Mom had been prepared to send Haeng-ah away if she got too close to her son.

Although it appears like Mom and Haeng-ah get along enough to speak in banmal to another, there’s also an unspoken distance between them. When Haeng-ah mentions how she wanted to spy on Ri-hwan’s last seon, Mom cuts her off to say it’d be better if she and Ri-hwan didn’t appear so friendly in public.

Even if they practically grew up together under the same roof, people can misinterpret their closeness. His upcoming date (Yi-seul) has previously called off an engagement because of her fiance’s womanizing, so she may be more sensitive about her date having a close female friend. Haeng-ah tenses and quickly nods in understanding.

Tae-hee arrives to collect Haeng-ah just as Ri-hwan returns, divulging later that it was a lie to draw Haeng-ah away from that awful woman. Why would Haeng-ah be so scared of her when she clearly isn’t a threat in any way? But Tae-hee’s show of concern makes Haeng-ah smile and nuzzle up to her. Aw.

Haeng-ah reminds the radio host to keep her language in check for tonight’s broadcast before going live. We see Ri-hwan listening in while grocery shopping, and the host reads off a post entitled “You Won’t Read This Anyway.”

The listener writes that she asked for some encouragement on her upcoming exam, but never received a call back. In a chipper voice, the host reads on the dreary contents about how she failed the exam and was met with her mother’s disappointment until she stops short at the line about how the listener plans on killing herself tonight.

The rest sounds like a suicide note, and we see a pair of legs standing at a rooftop’s edge. Uh oh. The mood quickly turns dire as Haeng-ah mouths to get this listener on the phone, stat. While they call the emergency in, the radio host desperately asks the listener to call in.

She hurriedly says that one grade doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world—she ranked dead last in her class and extremely successful now. Haeng-ah chimes in that she was a great student, but earns a paltry salary. They keep trying to reach out, saying that all mothers say terrible things that they don’t necessarily mean.

She turns to Haeng-ah for help, and Haeng-ah agrees—she lost her mother at the age of five. Her father passed away too, and the unexpectedly honest and personal story leaves the radio host speechless.

The radio host redirects the pleas to a less morbid topic, and Haeng-ah adds matter-of-factly that she broke up with someone yesterday. Ri-hwan stops in his tracks at hearing that last statement, then leaves the groceries with his roommate (and fellow doctor), KWON JI-HOON (Lee Seung-joon) whose pockets are practically empty.

The staff finally gets through to the suicidal listener, and after confirming that the young listener — the same female student we saw in the first few minutes — is standing on the roof, the radio host prattles on about lighthearted topics, which are only met with chilling silence.

Panicked, the radio host calls out to the student screaming when there’s no response… and the student responds, to her utter relief. They can hear the paramedics calling out to the student, and everyone in the studio breathes a collective sigh of relief upon hearing that the student is now safe.

Now that the immediate danger has passed, a commercial break follows. Not too far off, an ajusshi runs up to the studio in his slippers; we’ve seen him a couple of times in this episode making remarks about the show in what looks like the station’s break room.

He’s general manager JO DONG-IL (Park Won-sang), who praises the crew for resolving the emergency, though he’ll expect that he’ll need to do some damage control for all the alarming personal stories their radio host shared.

He broaches the topic about Suk-joon to Haeng-ah before catching himself, then turns to Tae-hee about how well she handled all of today’s unforeseen events.

Inside the recording studio, the radio host asks after Haeng-ah’s confessions, which is nothing compared to everything she shared from her poor studies to starring in adult films. The realization that the information is out there finally hits her, but there’s nothing they can do about it now.

Haeng-ah jumps a foot when Ri-hwan appears out of seemingly nowhere when she arrives home. He argues that he should be more shocked because she told him that everything was fine. How could she tell the whole world about her breakup, but not him?

He starts with the endless questions again, asking if the guy’s a celebrity or something and adding that a million thoughts ran through his head. She even said on the airwaves that she spent her last birthday alone, cancelling the arranged plans with friends. And no, he won’t let her get a word in because she’ll just lie to him again.

But that’s the last straw for her as Haeng-ah asks defensively, “Why do I have to be scolded like this?”. She’s not one of his patients who lied about how sick they truly were, but he says it’s practically the same thing because she pretended that things were fine when they weren’t.

Haeng-ah concedes to apologizing for lying and having a tough time these days, but that only frustrates him even more. She points out his tendency to be overbearingly concerned about others, but that’s when they’re interrupted by the security guard, who asks if he’s here to help move her things.

Not missing a beat, Ri-hwan immediately pesters her about it until they get inside where he sighs at the still damp, unpacked boxes piled up in her place. She tells him to forget it, but Ri-hwan grabs the first box he sees, and Haeng-ah jumps in alarm to stop him.

But it’s too late and Haeng-ah’s jaw drops at the spilled bras and sanitary napkins. Ri-hwan stifles a laugh, but doesn’t shy away when she flashes the pad in his face. He takes it from her, which grosses her out. Seriously, these two are the cutest.

He runs away and examines her practically empty refrigerator. Haeng-ah freezes when her phone rings just then—it’s Suk-joon, isn’t it? Ri-hwan swipes it, and despite her best efforts (which includes climbing him like a tree), he answers it.

Sure enough it’s Suk-joon’s voice on the other end, and the calls drops when the phone falls out of Ri-hwan’s hand. He’s surprised to hear that Haeng-ah’s ex is none other than Kang Suk-joon, whose morning show he diligently listens to on his way to work.

It’s sad to hear Haeng-ah defending her ex and his busy schedule, placing the blame on herself instead. Ri-hwan immediately calls her out on it with his usual laundry list of questions—why break up with him if he did nothing wrong then? Why did she freeze when he called?

He asks if the rumors that she was in an abusive relationship were true, which she quickly shuts down. He says it doesn’t make sense to break up for no reason, and Haeng-ah finally bursts, “I broke up with him because I felt lonely! Because I hated being alone!”

“I’d be up waiting for a text that could never come, waiting for my turn after he attended to those urgent and important matters, driving myself crazy, growing sick and tired on my own… I broke up with him because I was tired of all that,” she says. The very idea that this vicious emotional cycle of waiting up for him the same way tomorrow would made her skin crawl.

“He’s… done nothing wrong. He didn’t ask me to like him, and he’s never been gentle with me. I was the one who liked him more, that’s all.” Her voice drops as she says all the rumors about him are false—he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Like everyone else, they dated for a while and now they’re broken up.

Ri-hwan gets up to leave a little later, though asks if she’ll be okay on his own. He gets worked up when he hears that she’s put her apartment on the market without first looking for a new place to live, and she doesn’t seem altogether worried about it.

There’s nothing worth stealing here anyway, and that’s when Haeng-ah realizes that she left her mother’s bracelet at Suk-joon’s place. He starts berating her before stopping himself and asks what apartment her ex lives in.

She tells him not to bother because she’ll go get it later, and when he says it’ll be weird if she runs into Suk-joon, she fires back that it’ll be stranger if her ex runs into him.

Speaking of whom, Suk-joon parks in front of Haeng-ah’s building before heading the other way. Watching him leave, we hear Ri-hwan narrate, “When two people break up, could only one of them be hurting?”

“The one who can say nothing is hurting all alone, and the one who doesn’t even know he’s hurting, will feel hurt later.” As we see Ri-hwan follow Suk-joon up in the elevator, the narration continues: “The one who neglected that hurt is in greater pain.”

Ri-hwan climbs inside before the door closes to declare that he’s here for the bracelet and to confront Suk-joon about doing nothing while Haeng-ah moved out. That confrontation is put on pause so that we can travel to the past learn about the bracelet’s origin.

Little Haeng-ah had gotten upset when Ri-hwan came in and admitted to playing with another friend instead of her (and scraped a knee, at that). She’d demanded that he get out, to which he had whimpered: “But this is my house…” Heh.

Haeng-ah’s father had found him sitting on the stoop, and tiny Ri-hwan said he and Haeng-ah agreed to tell each other everything. He had intended to give Haeng-ah this bracelet which was in his mother’s possession.

Later that night, Haeng-ah’s father had given her the aforementioned bracelet on Ri-hwan’s behalf. She could wear this like her mother once did, and little Haeng-ah says aloud, “Like Mom did? So this is Mom’s bracelet.”

And that same bracelet lies in a drawer in the present, waiting to be found.

 
COMMENTS

What an endearing opening hour for Bubblegum. For a show centered around a close, longtime friendship, I’d been looking forward to see what that interaction would look like between our leads. And I must say that there’s an inexplicable spark and an adorable chemistry that just works between them.

We’ve all seen so many dramas in the past where the friendship was cute, but rarely has any felt as natural and unassuming than between Lee Dong-wook and Jung Ryeo-won. Perhaps starring in a sitcom over a decade ago helps with that rapport, but right off the bat, Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah feel like true friends who have been together through thick and thin. I love that his character knows her inside and out, from her most endearing qualities to her oddest quirks. Moreover, he doesn’t take any bullshit from her either, although when he’s fussing over her, he barely lets her get a word in. Like any good friend, he cares for her and the people she cherishes, and calls her out whenever she’s trying to clam up.

So when they’re not supposed to have any kind of secrets in their friendship, I can understand that Ri-hwan would feel hurt that the entire world knew what was wrong with his best friend before he did. At the same, he wasn’t there to see Haeng-ah’s deep sense of loneliness. Those mostly silent sequences (often with a simple voiceover) did a wonderful job to tune us into Haeng-ah’s emotional state—that, and Jung Ryeo-won has this uncanny ability to draw viewers into the moment, whether that’s to make them laugh or cry. I could feel her heartache when Haeng-ah tried to hold back her tears and called up a smile in front of her co-workers.

It’s doubly hard when the woman who put a roof over her head after her parents died was prepared to cast her aside if something romantic developed between her and Ri-hwan. Hearing something like that would bound to leave an emotional scar, so I get it if that’s also part of the reason why Haeng-ah keeps certain things from Ri-hwan. Pair that with an emotionally absent boyfriend, and then it’s actually amazing to watch how Haeng-ah compartmentalize her emotions to get through each day.

Stepping back though, the visual roll call of minor characters in the beginning, though stylistically well-done, left me confused. Take Manager Jo for instance, whose first glimpse was as if I should already know who he was. As a viewer, I could watch that scene without much thought, but in a recap, I’m going to wonder why we stopped to highlight him in particular. Not every character introduction needs to use the same formula, but I wish I’d been shown somebody without the show presuming that I knew who they were from the start.

Still, Bubblegum certainly has its charm, rooted most importantly in the central friendship. Thanks to that flashback in the last few minutes, we can tell that where once little Haeng-ah was more bossy one, the roles have switched now that they’re adults. I do wonder how that bracelet will play out, but there’s one thing I’m completely sure of is that Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah are plain adorable. So I may not be there to write the words past this one-off recap, but I’ll be tuning in to watch every delightful moment between them.

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I freaking love girly bestie Lee dong wook Hahahah

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I know. I think this could be my favorite role of his yet. What can I say, I love the attitude and the fussing. It's just great.

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I should say, that nevertheless I adore when Wookie plays drama (Hotel King, La Dolce Vita), Park Ri Hwan has won my heart already. So cute, glowing and close to the earth guy

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"girly bestie LDW" LOL i never thought those words can go to together but they're today hahaha

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I really wish dramabeans will recap this show, please answer my prayers dramalords ;^)

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+1
I’m in love this show and it’ll be fantastic to have others squeeing along with me. Watching it alone just doesn’t cut it :(

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I was wanting a new romcom and this might be good for the moment. :)

I was not liking the first half hour to be honest, the main leads were being too exaggerated for me. Later after she became more honest and less fake cheerful I liked her much more, plus she's really attractive in a quirky way. I like how show managed to offer an explanation for her habit of pretending to be fine.

I don't like LDW but I can forget that if he's not too cartoonish, maybe the director can control him.

I liked the surly PD, the DJ and the anxious dentist but disliked the funny sidekick.

I hope Lee Jong-hyuk has a good character! He deserves a complex guy and not just a cold ex boyfriend who will be there just for jealousy scenes.

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Lee Jong-Hyuk's character is shaping up well... getting second lead syndrome already!

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I loved the first episode~! It was like sipping hot chocolate on a cold winter afternoon. The episode was calm and steady but there is something about the tone the show is taking that I absolutely loved. Lee Dong Wook and Jung Ryeo Woo's chemistry is palpable from the onset.

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Thanks Gummimochi for recapping this episode,,.
nowadays, it's hard to find a good drama,
so far i've been watching She Was Pretty and Love Me If You Dare,..
I try to watch the first ep, and i can't believe that Bubble Gum will bring a warm and interesting story for me,
I'm not a fan of both leads, and i watched this episode just to see if it can make my day better,
and i'm surprised..,
this drama can make me touched and sat calmly while watching the story,
I really love the turning on and off light scene, i like the DJ's dog. hehe,
and that suicide message read by DJ, i love that scene,.
Hope Dramabeans will recap this drama.
for me, Bubble Gum is worth to be watched
^-*

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Sorry, i mean to write my own comment, but ended up by replying others,..
Hehe..

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I love this show! Everything gummi said is right on -- thanks for the recap!

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So agree! And it is not only warm, but also very witty and literate. I loved it when he said that he had opened Pandora's Box (the cardboard box of bras and napkins) and she holds up the last remaining napkin in the box and says that this one must be Hope, then. LOL!

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And the hope have wings! *die laughing
I agree about the witty & snappy dialogue, reminds me of Ex-Girlfriend Club, and especially loving Tae Hee snippy retorts!

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+1
I'm in love this show and it'll be fantastic to have others squeeing along with me. Watching it alone just doesn't cut it :(

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+100000 haha.

this is one of my fave now, alongside with sassy go go, she was pretty and six flying dragons.

i watched this without any expectation but ended up loving the first two episodes... i have ton of reasons to love this drama. im glad that gummimochi made the recap.. thank you ^^

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I'm so sorry for pointing this out, but please just take it as constructive criticism. There were several grammatically incorrect sentences/phrases in this recap. I don't usually care about this, but some errors made it a bit harder to understand parts of the recap. Sorry.

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I loved it. I knew I would love it based on casting and premise alone, but the slow beats is something I didn't expect from the teasers and it gives a delightful realism to the show.

LDW was my second kdrama crush due to My Girl (first was Naheulee from Dae Jang Geum heh) and nothing can make me turn my back on him. He's like the only actor I can't give an unbiased review of. I know he tends to overact, but I will block my ears and cover your mouth if you say something negative oops. I'm glad though, the moment outside Secret Garden where he was trying to guess what was wrong with her was legit hilarious.

The radio's reaction to the suicide was so great. I don't mean professionally well done, but it was a good mix of something truly heartbreaking and hilarious because the dj actually was revealing all the sordid details she's kept secret her whole life, and then the pd would jump in with her SEE I WAS SMART BUT IT GOT ME NOWHERE I'M BELOW THE DUNCE SEE and her OH I HAVE NO PARENTS. Thnx gr888 advice.

Considering the quotes going around fb in Korean circles, I'm going to say that much of it did resonate with the audience. That speech she gave about being lonely? Killed me. Killed everyone else too by the looks of it.

And I say this because it's a one off recap, but the second lead's moment in the stairwell in the second ep? HELP. My breath actually caught in my throat and I knew exactly why she had fallen for him. (Even though wrist grabs aplenty in flashbacks ugh.)

Super devastated this is a one off recap, but I understand there's a lot of dramas on atm. Thank you for this one!

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I agree Kit.

Dramabeans - Thank you for the recap. That's the right word to describe the show - so so sweet. The chemistry between the leads sparkles and tingles. I always like both leads and it's great to see them hitting it off immediately.

I didn't expect the first episode to dive right into a confrontation between the lead and supporting actor. It's very obvious he is "more than a friend or brother to her". I am wondering whether RW likes HA or is aware that he likes her more than a friend. And does she like him? As a kid she seemed possessive of his "interest" and jealous of his time/attention - so so adorable

Visually, they are a great match even from teenage years so I can see why the mom was intuitively against any romantic possibilities.

Please continue recapping

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The good: I quite liked the leads – a genuinely nice guy for once! I haven't quite figured out JRW's character but she seemed likeable enough also – quirky, complex, not a candy but professional yet vulnerable. Plus a bumbling female second lead rather than the bitchy, drop-dead gorgeous stock character. All this seems promising – you could make a fresh story with that.

The bad: Then came the moms – Ri-Hwan's and Yi-seul's – and they are as clichés as can get, which is really disappointing. I can see they'll be driving many of conflicts, both in keeping Ri-Hwan and Haeng-ah apart, and forcing Ri-Hwan and Yi-seul into a relationship. I would love to see Yi-seul and Haeng-ah become friends, but I think Yi-seul will just become the usual love rival. (Can't we have something new? Like YS and RH being the OTP and HA sorting out her relationship or finding a completely new guy? And RH and HA being best friends – yes, girl & guy – forever? Why don't we ever get stories like that?)

I was also put off, esp. in ep 2, by preaching about a woman's looks (I would love YS to confidently wear flats & doctor's coats the entire drama and for RH to never care, but there were enough hints already it won't stay that way). Same with all the "an oppa can only behave in this way". No, guys/brothers/oppas can behave in all kinds of ways. Some won't do a thing. Some might occasionally do something. And others will do everything for you they can – with zero romantic intention. I really don't understand when dramas spout what they claim to be as if 'absolute truths' for everyone.

I'll watch a couple more episodes, but my hunch is despite RH, HA and YS all being interesting characters right now, the conflicts will all play out in the usual manner, which is just meh.

P.S. Kinda like Jo Dong-Il, running around in comfy sweats when in fact he's someone that is supposed to be fancily dressed in suits.

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Ah thank you for articulating exactly what I felt with my viewing. "The main characters are interesting right now, but the conflict will probably play out in the usual manner which is just meh". That's the impression I got as well and kept me from being swept away.

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It's such a pity though, isn't it?

It's like 99% of kdrama writers lack the imagination to come up with something different. I would love to be proven wrong, but the emphasis on both moms' goals & objections makes me so sure that they are going to drive the conflicts that will keep characters apart/put others together and will place Haeng-ah in a self-sacrificial zone of 'I like him but I'll never admit it because I would never betray his mom that way/make him sacrifice the much better life he could have with someone better'.

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Yes, the moms were boring in ep 1 already and the thing I never really understand is the dentist and the doctor are probably economic independent characters. I know in the korean culture it's supposed to be hard to clash with your parents if they are completely against your choice of partners but I hope the story will have more than that.

About the OTP I think it's pretty much set that RH and HA have a romantic interest in each other even if they are maybe both unaware.

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I know the OTP is set in stone, as always.

I was just musing alternatives, because I could absolutely cheer for bumbling Ms. Gloom who has probably only ever met arrogant chaebols that want picture-perfect wives for arm candy only... so Mr. Genuinely Nice & I-think-your-flats-are-pretty would be a lovely discovery for her. Plus, HA is obviously fine with having romantic relationships with others (nothing like in Producers, where GHJ's character dated but never quite seriously). Not clear yet though if RH has ever dated anyone else – or whether his heart has just always been full of HA only.

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While we get it that her mom is officially the stereotypical drama meddling Mother, there are a little too many judgemental eyes on YS to force her to pick up those high heel. It was sweet that Ri-hwan complimented her foot wear, but hey, if your boyfriend is taller, buy those sparkly heels.

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Well, or the sales ladies' comment about how she is nowhere near as good-looking as her brother is handsome.

I actually thought she was very pretty, just not super-styled! Which I really liked!

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And what is with a lingerie store that doesn't have her size?? She is pretty small, in what world is she bigger than average. So wrong.

I just realised this all happend in the 2d episode, so sorry for the >>>SPOILERS!

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Oh, don't even get me started on that. She looked like, max, a UK size 10 (that's US size 6)! What size do they store? Only zero???

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Haha, that actually is the case in parts of Asia actually. I lived in China for a couple of months, and almost always wore the largest or second-to-largest size they had in store, and I am UK 8.

One can find larger sizes, but it's almost always frumpier, old-fashioned stuff.

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It's funny how Park Hee Bon is considered "large" by Korean standards..she's played a similar character in Shut Up Family (in which she's absolutely hilarious) and her weight was touched upon many times (along with other things about her look). In my opinion, she's so unique and stunning - there's a certain quality about her.

I'm glad she's finally moved up to second lead status after a bunch of years of playing other side characters, she's such a great actress!

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The moms are meh, and I think they're just plot devices. It's a shame since the other characters are different from each other without being cliche or overly bad (yeah, even the radio announcer. I enjoy her antics!).
Overall, I like ep 2 more than ep 1. I definitely love the flashback at the end of ep 2, it managed to convince me that the writer knows what she's doing.

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Thank you for the recap!
I hope this show gets recapped. After so long we have LDW my first korean crush, playing such a lovely real character. I will watch it but with recaps understanding eps is easier. The show seems nice and warming to heart.. Lets see..

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It actually took me a while to get into the first episode, but, by the end, I found I really loved a lot about it. I think all the 4 leads are interesting and not your typical k-drama characters. That said, it does seem like there might be some somewhat typical plot points in place. But, ultimately, I think it will be a very sweet and comforting watch and that is all that I could ever ask for :)

Thanks so much for recapping the first episode!

I admit, at first I got excited because I thought you would be recapping the whole show, BUT I'm still just happy that it got any attention at all. I'd love if there could be a series review for some of these shows that miss out on getting recaps though.

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Hi Javabeans,
Just to let you know:
The rating box will not disappear while I try to read the comments. I can't get to the X at the top right corner. It'll only disappear if I scroll up above the comments section.
Does anyone else have this problem?

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Love the show :-)

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I so darn love this drama. It made me feel warm and fuzzy. Ended up teary eye at the end when they showed the story about the bracelet.
Thanks for the recap and I hope you keep doing it till the very last episode ?

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I like this! This interpretation of male/female friendships is so much better than anything I've seen in dramaland recently. I like how you can see that they are genuinely friends, but also that there's something that's brimming under the surface. I think Haeng-Ah has already decided that Ri-hwan is not a possible romantic partner and has already moved on and dated other people.

Ri-hwan I think does feel something for Haeng-Ah, but for now it seems rather supressed. I wonder how their relationship is going to become romantic, because right now they are believable as good friends who date other people.

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I love the new pop up thing for rating. I rated this episode 5. This is just the drama you would want to watch in c old wintry nights. Ah..I love my life. Thnks makers of bubblegum

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Yes! And I love him more than ever. He feels more real than his other roles.

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this year hasn't been all great for my in dramaland I have seen some terrible stuff so here I'm hoping this could be a good romcom the leads were great in the first 2 episodes. Jung Ryeo Won acts so natural I really like her even when I have only seen her in Salary I feel she is perfect for romcoms. I know LDW tend to over react and he is just awful sometimes but I really like him, and I loved him in My girl and Scent of a woman but I just feel like he really need some good direction here its seems good I really want him to have a good drama he really needs it after all the s***t he has been doing lately the cast seems to fit perfectly I hope they will continue with this and don't rush thing between the leads, their friendships seems genuine and they are really cute so I will watch this with as soon as the english sub are available.
Thanks for the recap it was fun to read.

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Love the OST... do we know the name and the singer yet?

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Lasse Lindh – Because I Lyrics

There’s a little story
of a night your star’s alight
It seems a little tired
Maybe it was just a dream
First time I saw into your eyes,
your eyes, your eyes it seized me
Like a dream
I’d never dreamed before
I’d never seen a rainbow
closing down my rainy days
Hate to see the shadows
fading on my weary eyes
You just come and smile again,
again, again, come save me
In the glitter of a spark.
I’m waiting here
In this moonlight on the ocean…
Don’t say it’s just my illusion.
Because I’ll love you
more than I need you, oh
Can’t you see my love?
Now I can get through the tides
with you in better days
Because I’ll never
let you down forever
Can’t you feel my faith?

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I have watched episode 1 and 2 and I am loving the show. I was hoping this would be recapped because I need somewhere to spazz about it.

I love the feel of the show and the I am hopeful for the whole series.

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+1

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I just read the recap.I'm sure bubblegum will become a hit.pls recap this drama.love it,pls dramabeans.

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I really like this show so far. Two friends who fall in love is a story that will always pull me in if done well. Episode 2 gives us a better idea of the two friends, and all I can say is how moving and heart-tugging they are being portrayed. They're great friends, but there's a feeling I get that tells me they mean more to each other than what appears. There's an invisible wall (and a very visible wall in Mom) between them that I feel they are hesitant to knock down.

Also, yay for the radio station for having women as a PD, head writer, and DJ!

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I am glad that JRW's character isn't typically downtrodden yet perky. Her resilience and cheerfulness don't come from an excessive lack of self-preservation, instead it's her defense mechanism.

The mood is nice, the pathos they created is relatable. I do hope we get some of the sly humor from the teasers though because the funny characters aren't funny.

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I like the cartoonish parts of Lee Dong Wook's character. The dramas I have seen him in he was mostly sad and broody. This is a nice change for me. Jung Ryeo Won is very natural. I like her but unfortunately I haven't been able to sit through a lot of her dramas. Not my cup of tea. Maybe this romcom would be good for the both of them.

Anyone else noticed the 'a gentleman's dignity' reunion? I thought it would be awesome of the nutty radio DJ (Kim Jung Nan) ends up with Jong Hyuk LOL

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Oh, YEAH! I just finished rewatching Gentleman's Dignity and that totally slipped by me, I guess because their characters are opposite what they were there. Cool!

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OHH how can I miss that one, KJN was my favourite characters in AGD! And yeah, they should totally get together, she may get him to erase that grumpy expression.

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Wow, I totally forgot she was in AGD! I loved her character there...

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Gummimochi, your recap is amazing. I have already watched 1st episode...3 times and I thought there is nothing more to think about it and investigate, but after your thought, I find myself thinking over dertails again.
This drama is super sweet and warm. As the light was switching in the beggining, the show will for sure switch on the light in many lonly hearts (and not only). And as RiHwan was healing people, for sure he'll heal HaenGa's heart. Simply adorable chemistry between them. Directing, quotes, ost - everything is incredible here.

Please, please, please, don't drop recapping this drama! I beg you!

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Oh no!!! How comes you won't recap this drama anymore? This drama is worth to be recapped till the end. And I have really enjoyed each word, that you have written.
And I agree with 95% you have pointed out. Btw, second episode even better then the first. Please, recap it! Please! Please! Please!

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Not enough recappers, not enough time! They are working hard here at Dramabeans but they haven't yet discovered the fourth dimension!

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Of course I understand, that it's such a big job to write such fundamental recaps. Just kindly asking not to leave this drama without attention. Maybe once in a few episodes will be a solution...*keeping it in my prayers*

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We can ask veeeeeery politely to get a review of the first half of the series. It happens sometimes when a recapper likes the drama to death but lacks the time to do weekly recaps.

Thanks for the recap @gummimochi! <3

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It's a little heavier than I expected. Leave it to me to not read the synopsis before diving in.
The primary leads Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah are so adorable together and individually great characters that I can't help but root for them. Friends turned lovers is my favourite kind of drama trope, but 9End2Outs is the only satisfying one so far, which is why I take the opening with the baseball scene as a good sign. :D

Here's to less screen time for the Mothers.

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I loved 9End2Outs. I hope that this would be a good series as well.

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I really hope you keep on recapping this show! It really pulled me in and had that slice of life feel. I'm a sucker for friends to lovers stories. Praying it doesn't end up like TTILY

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So, you give us a little taste of greatness, then rip it away from us just like that! ):

*sigh* I understand not having the time though. We really need to get some kind of time manipulator machine. One where we can either go back in time and just watch different dramas/episodes each time or something that will stop time entirely until we finish with our k-drama.

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For sure he will be. In Scent of a Woman he was tanned and he was freaking sexy. But it's Korea, they love his milky skin.

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The sad thing is the makeup shade used on his face doesn't match his neck and I'm guessing the rest of his body. I wasn't even watching in HD and could notice it clearly. Anyway, "milky" skin is overrated.

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I read somewhere he said he tried to tan his skin bcs he knows tan would be manlier. But he fail to do it LOL. He said his skin would get all red and go back to it original milky color haha P/S i don't think he looks tan in Scent of a woman. He's always this white

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Yes please recap this show..... Pleaseeeeee

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Thanks for recap. I really hope Dramabeans will hear our prayers and will recap this drama on a permanent basis. So far, I have completely satisfied with drama storyline, acting, characters, chemistry between two leads and directing. + supporting cast, background music and osts, cinematography...this drama should make hit if people will be open minded enough to understand this atmosphere of love, pain, friendship, denial and close to earth characters.

Dramabeans, please, take care of us

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To add one more thing which I forgot to mention...quotes and lines and thoughts. They're unique here. I completely adore them.
"The one who neglected the pain hurts even more." (c) Park Ri Hwan

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I've watched the first two episodes, and I have to say I like it more (like, a lot more) than I thought I would. The premise sounded cute, but the whole best-friends-to-lovers thing is always a hit-or-miss for me, and I can't say I really like Lee Dong Wook in anything I've seen him in. So I was super surprised when thirty minutes into the first episode I found myself really liking, well, everything.

There's something about Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah's friendship that I really love. I don't know if it's the way the characters are written, or what the actors bring to the roles themselves, but there's a naturalness to their dynamic that makes me believe that they truly are the best of friends. They're close in a way that's believable - while they seem to know each other inside out, there are still parts of their lives they keep separate. A lot of the first episode centers around their lives outside of their relationship, and I really appreciate that. This drama could easily go the this-friendship-is-so-amazing-and-wonderful-that-everything outside-of-it-is-basically-fluff route (The Time I Loved You, I'm looking at you), but I have a feeling there'll be much more to it.

Speaking of The Time I Loved You, I feel like Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan are pretty much what I wanted Han and Won to be. Their relationship was cute, but so devoid of depth and oddly childish for thirty-somethings who've been besties for how many years. There's a maturity to Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan's relationship, and I sincerely, sincerely, hope, that the writers don't let us down.

On a side note: can I just say that I completely adore Ri-hwan's character? He's quirky but grounded, and, best of all, NICE. Genuinely nice. He's kind in a fussy sort of way that I find endearing. Lee Dong Wook really makes him work (to my pleasant surprise), and with the variety of oddly charming male leads we've been getting recently (Sassy Go Go, Twenty Again) I'm hoping this means change is coming to dramaland.

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I have really enjoyed your recap! Greatly done. I completely agree with you, that Ri Hwan is absolutely adorable. He's so light, a bit naive, caring, selfless and...glowing. Lee Dong Wook for sure deliver his character perfectly. I alreay fall for RiHwan and completely understand why everybody around him love him. And what I enjoy the most, it that he (as well as other characters) are down to earch and close to reality personalities.

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I had the same hopes for the friendship in 'The Time I Loved You'. I really enjoyed Hana and Won's friendship at the beginning, but I blame bad writing for making them end up as friends who didn't really understand each other and who seemed to have a rather superficial relationship after 17 years.

With Bubblegum, I just love how Haeng-Ah is someone with a job and who has relationships with other men, but is also strong enough to pull herself out of a relationship that clearly isn't working for her. I think by the second episode it is clear that Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah are not exactly indifferent to each other as a man/woman, though I like how there's so much more to their characters and relationships. It's nice to have functional individuals and not just love-obsessed ones.

I'm excited. Best-friends-turned-lovers is one of my favourite tropes, but so hard to do well. 9 ends 2 outs was a wonderful drama and I see a lot of promise with bubblegum! (Please stay good!)

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You said it exactly...the best part of Haeng Ah's character is she realizes a BAD situation and consciously pulls herself OUT of it. I mean, how many times has a female character actually acted out RATIONALLY!? And that too..in the first episode!?

I'm not saying she won't get a case of noble idiocy at some point in this drama - it may as well happen - but if the writer keeps the character consistent enough, I think it'll make sense when they use that cliche. Because well - with two chaebol mothers in this drama - we all know a slight chance of noble idiocy is in the forecast.

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Sign me up! I'll be watching this one. Watched the first two episodes, and there's something different, even charming about this drama. Wish I had friends like these in real life. And I too could do without the witchy mothers!

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Nooo.. Please recap the rest as well... These are two of my favorite actors.. ❤

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Thanks so much for the recap!! When I first saw the news for this drama, my expectations went /sky high/. I was like... you have Wookie, Jung Ryeo-won (who was great in King of Dramas, even if Anthony stole the show), the director of Nine/Queen In-hyun's Man, the producer of Secret Garden/A Gentleman's Dignity... how can this be bad?

So I'm glad that so far, it's delivering. :P

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I'm a diligent reader of db's recaps (sassy gogo, 6 dragons) but haven't been motivated enough to watch anything since I Remember You, until now. Right off the bat I'm drawn to how organic their friendship is, maybe bc LDW has a sister in real life? Anyway, will keep watching. It would be nice if we can spazz here, but I understand that gummimochi like everyone else only has 24 hours a day :p *sigh*

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Thanks for the recap! Wow, this show is tropealicious. I'm planning to enjoy myself nevertheless. :)

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Thank you gummi for the recap (and include me in please-keep-recapping club), loving the vibe of the first two episodes, it's zippy and light but not lightweight. I watched because of Wookie, but finding all the characters so endearing. Can't get over the adorkableness of ajusshi from Seoul Station *squishhh. And want to grow up to be like Tae Hee...
There are a lot of elements that can go makjang, so crossing fingers that they will keep the same feel-good atmosphere till the end, not turn it melo and angsty later. Can anybody tell me whether this is a 16 or 12 eps?

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Yay! A recap of Bubble gum!!!

No!!! One off recap? Huhuhu.
I hope you continue to recap this show. There is something charming about this drama.

Please recap this show. Anybody???

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I watched both ep 1 and 2. Although i think the 1st half of ep 1 should be a little faster. Everything gets significantly faster in ep 2. So i'm hooked. I love how it's witty, quirky, light, warm and real it is. I really like how the breakup of HA and her cold ex bf being told. It's a very common reason we see everywhere. It's not too dramatic. But still very sad. Ppl date, get too busy with their own lives, and quietly breakup.

And the bickering between to leads are too cute. My favorite part is "My hope has wings" Seriously i LOL so hard.

Please continue recapping this drama. Please please please

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please continue recapping! i loved this :)

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I may be extremely blur, but after watching with subs nd reading the recap, I'm still not clear about how JRW's character came to live with LDW and his mum. Who's the guy who brought her there? I assume our OTP are not related...????

Who's that dad-looking fellow in the dad/bracelet scene. Is that Haeng Ah's dad? But that doesn't make sense, I thought both parents died so he was sent to live with LDW's family. I also thought LDW's character's dad died?

(Sorry I'm so confused, any answers - thanks in advance!)

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Haenga's dad has died because of cancer. He's the one in the braclet scene. Her mom has died even earlier because of cancer as well. The guy who has brought Haenga to Rihwan and his mom's house was her father's friend. You can see him nowadays as the owner of "Secret garden" restaurant.
Rihwan's father has died (tho I think there can be some secret there).

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@Stacy,

Thanks for your reply! But why was Haeng Ah living in Rihwan's house before her dad even died? ie. why was it here dad in the bracelet scene? She seemed to be living in Rihwasn's house in that scene already?

Wow how did you figure that the person who brought her over is the current Secret Garden owner. Hawk eyes indeed.

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@Stacy,

Sorry, answers to my own questions are in Ep 2. Thanks a lot for clearing things up for me.

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Wow, I love this drama already. Can't wait to be able to watch it here in Nigeria since constant recap of this drama is not sure. This has promise to be what all the romcom around are lacking.

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Loving Lee Dong-wook and Lee Jong-hyuk. But Dramabeans made a good decision recapping just Ep. 1. Pilot ep is very confusing. I am a bit lost about the character web and the relationships.

Daaaang, as much as I adore Lee Dong-wook, I SAY IT IS TIME that Lee Jong-hyuk be casted in lead roles, like Dating Agency Cyrano. He is one heck of a leading man-- smooth, hot, mature, confident. Big-3, you hear me yeah?

Btw, Lee Dong-wook is handsome here. And he is stretching himself to really act haha.

Jung Ryeo-won, while brilliant acting-wise, ain't ever my type. Though I won't remove the credit that she was cast in my favorite K-drama of all-time. King of Dramas though. Thank Kim Myung-min for that. ;-)

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Interesting... It reminds me of 9 ends 2 outs.. . true bestfriend from the beginning... Wondering to compare these two dramas...

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yay!! Finally, a recap! i love the tone and feels of this show!

Im only watching Achiara and Bubblegum, and looking forwards to oh my venus so please, please
Please continue to recap this dramabeans! :'/

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Much better than Ha Ji Won's drama The Time We Were Not in Love.

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