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Goodbye Mr. Black: Episode 1

Over on MBC, Goodbye Mr. Black premiered today in what is at best an unfortunate position, up against two established shows, one of which is absolutely crushing the competition (Descended From the Sun). Still, I like that we have a variety of genres and options to choose from, and was hoping for Goodbye Mr. Black to offer up a refreshing, fast thriller.

To that end, I actually think it’s too early to tell, because as a revenge narrative, we have to first establish the setup before we can get to the central premise of betrayal and reversal. There’s a double challenge in here, to take enough time to get us grounded in the stakes and the characters’ relationships, but not to take too much time that we grow bored—it’s a hard balance, because we all know the way this story goes, it being such a classic premise and all. So far I’d say that the show feels a little uneven but easy to watch and briskly paced, with interesting characters. I’m going along for the ride.

SONG OF THE DAY

Baek Ji-young – “그렇게 안녕” (Goodbye like that) from the Goodbye Mr. Black OST [ Download ]

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EPISODE 1 RECAP

“CHA JI-WON!” The name gets screamed at a man wearing black (Lee Jin-wook) standing stock-still in the middle of a city square in Thailand.

Ji-won locks eyes with a sharply dressed man (Kim Kang-woo), eyes burning with angry tears. He runs.

The rest of the action comes in quick succession: Men pursue Ji-won through streets and back alleys. A woman (Moon Chae-won) hears the commotion and rushes toward the scene, coming to a rooftop where Ji-won stands poised on the ledge. She calls to him.

Sharply Dressed calls Ji-won a murderer and orders him shot—dead or alive. Ji-won makes a break for it, jumping off the ledge. The bullet hits him in the shoulder. A compass falls to the ground and shatters.

Later in a boat, Sharply Dressed loads another gun and takes aim. Ji-won, bloodied and ragged, thinks wearily, “Let’s stop now.” A gun is fired, a building explodes.

Memories flash through Ji-won’s mind: kissing his sweetheart, days when he was friends with his enemy, and the young woman who says, “You’re Black, I’m Swan.”

Ji-won closes his eyes. His voice narrates, “Cha Ji-won died, but I will live and come back, no matter what.” Fade to black.

We reopen earlier, as a naval unit embarks on a mock combat exercise: Soldiers advance toward the target and duck for cover in a trench. Their captain—Ji-won—orders his men to standby while he continues onward, reminding them that a vacation is their reward.

Ji-won darts forward alone, and although his superiors curse his maverick maneuvers and order him to stop, he advances anyway, infiltrating the enemy camp. He succeeds in making it all the way in, only to get “killed” by an enemy at the last moment.

But not before activating a bomb that goes off in the enemy’s face, which means Ji-won’s team still wins, and they celebrate loudly in their quarters.

The raucous celebration is interrupted by Mr. Sharply Dressed, MIN SUN-JAE, who bursts into the room indignantly pointing to the underwear Ji-won has stolen. Ji-won taunts him as they run around the room, and Sun-jae makes a grab for the underwear, whining, “Everything else is fine, but not the panties!

I’ll just leave this here for your enjoyment:

The appearance of their commander has everyone scrambling to attention, and Ji-won happily accepts the team win (while making gloaty faces at bestie Sun-jae, who pouts).

The commander concedes that the team has won their vacation—but declares that Ji-won is excluded for going rogue. Now it’s Sun-jae’s turn to gloat as Ji-won gets carted off protesting, “But you know what today is!”

Ji-won’s father, meanwhile, is the chairman of Sunwoo Group, and he’s been pushing off the surgery his doctor has been advising. Nor does he want to pull Ji-won out of the military to establish him at the company just yet. The doctor is insistent that he must amputate his leg soon, however, because the old gunshot wound from his army days has turned into a bone marrow infection.

The nurse sneaks out and informs a traitor-in-the making: Director Seo, a Sunwoo Group executive who’s preparing to act as soon as the chairman is laid up in bed. He’s teamed up with a shady-looking Teacher Baek, who’ll provide the funds, but the alliance seems shaky; Teacher Baek appears to be blackmailing Director Seo. Basically, both men want Director Seo to become the new chairman, but both men want to be calling the shots once he’s there. (Who finds it hilarious that Lee Jin-wook’s father and father’s backstabbing enemy in Nine have traded places here?)

Best Friend Sun-jae arrives at Ji-won’s family mansion, and is so close with the family that he calls the chairman “Father” and acts like a protective oppa to Ji-won’s sister. Sun-jae has come alone since Ji-won’s being punished, to the chagrin of Ji-won’s girlfriend, YOON MARI (Yoo In-young).

Sun-jae fishes with the chairman while the ladies set up a picnic, at which point Ji-won makes an unexpected appearance. He charges his friend with mock-anger, and they run circles around the laughing chairman and play-fight in the icy water, hamming it up to the enjoyment of the family.

It’s the chairman’s birthday, and when prompted to make a wish on his candles, he says contentedly that he’s got everything he wants. He tells the kids that being with each other when you’re cold and hungry is what friendship and family is about.

Ji-won takes that as his cue to announce that he and Mari will be marrying, since it’s Dad’s wish that they become family. He says it in his perennial jokesy manner and Mari looks up in surprise, embarrassed at the attention while Dad and Ji-won tease each other about it.

The family laughs, but Sun-jae’s heart sinks and he appears decidedly unhappy. In love with your best friend’s girl, are you?

Mari’s used to Ji-won’s constant teasing but wants a more earnest proposal, and Ji-won complies, saying he wants to see her all the time. Then he adds that he’s been waiting to meet her since his birth, thanking “noona” for being born three months in advance and waiting for him.

It’s not exactly the emotion she was seeking, but he seals the deal with a kiss. Sun-jae catches a glimpse of the scene and turns away with heavy heart.

Ji-won produces a ring (a flat golden band, like the kind marking a child’s first birthday) and slips it on her finger, saying he’d meant to propose when they were infants. Mari tells him he’d better not die before her, and makes him pinky-swear on it.

Ji-won gets called away then, arriving at an abandoned warehouse where an ajusshi cowers at the hands of gangsters. Ajusshi perks up to see Ji-won, saying that the gangsters are in for it now, and Ji-won reluctantly jumps into the fight.

Sun-jae walks Mari home, who sighs that her calls to Ji-won are going unanswered, and that Ji-won can be a pain. Sun-jae asks, “Then will you come to me instead?” He’s serious, but immediately plays it off like a joke, and asks who’d she’d choose if both he and Ji-won were penniless nobodies. He holds his breath for her answer, and deflates when she replies that she wouldn’t date either one.

It turns out that their commanding officer is Mari’s father, and he tells Sun-jae sternly to take care of his family affairs, handing over yet more legal complaint files. The commander warns that Sun-jae ought to prepare himself for the consequences.

Ah, our errant ajusshi is Sun-jae’s father, who has a decent heart but terrible judgment, constantly getting entangled in business scams. Ji-won warns ajusshi that his activity could endanger Sun-jae’s military career (hence Sun-jae’s stack of complaints), but Dad still wheedles Ji-won to use his chaebol connections to help him out.

Sun-jae walks in, overhearing the exchange, and delivers a punch to Ji-won’s face for stepping in today with Dad’s gangster situation. Sun-jae is beyond frustrated with his father’s behavior, and also with Ji-won for enabling it by helping him. Ji-won just points out that if he hadn’t gone, those gangsters would have gone after Sun-jae.

Sun-jae asks bitterly, “Should I be grateful for that? Don’t act so uppity.”

Dad hangs his head and mumbles that he’s sorry to his son. Sun-jae says he’s ultimately thankful—for showing him that there’s no point in sticking around and trying to make something of himself here, because it won’t happen. Sun-jae says wearily, “You don’t even have the right to hear my swears. You’ve never raised me, and you’ve never done anything for me. Do you still insist you’re my father?”

Dad gets indignant, but Sun-jae says today is the last day he’ll live like this, and cuts ties with his father. He walks off as Dad yells after him to remember how Sun-jae behaved when Dad sought him out 18 years ago, the day he got out of prison.

In a flashback, we see how Young Sun-jae had run away from his father to seek shelter with the Ji-won’s father, asking to be saved from the crazy man. Stung to be seen as crazy by his son, Dad had started growling like a feral animal, tears in his eyes.

Now, Sun-jae tears his nametag off his uniform and tosses it into the water. Ji-won finds him there, noting that he looks like he’s ready to jump in, and they end up sitting on the bridge with a bottle of soju.

Sun-jae explains that he’s decided to leave the military: “I thought this place would be fair—we’d all wear the same clothes, eat the same food—as long as I just did my job well. But that’s not true.” He wonders if he could work for the chairman after his discharge.

Ji-won thinks his friend is just venting, but Sun-jae says he already spoke to the commander, who didn’t try to convince him otherwise. Ji-won gets upset, but Sun-jae erupts, saying that he’s never done anything wrong in relation to all those complaints—why does he have to be the one to pay the price? Screaming at the sea, he yells that he’s going to live according to his wishes now.

Some time later, Sun-jae’s rejoined civilian life and taken a position at Sunwoo Group. He’s bashful about using his connections to get his job, but Little Sister JI-SOO (Im Se-mi), whom he appears to be dating now, assures him that having connections is a skill. The chairman sees the young couple and chuckles happily, while treacherous Director Seo views Sun-jae as an upstart.

Ji-won is pretty bummed to be stuck doing menial tasks rather than out doing active duty, having been selected by Commander Yoon (and prospective father-in-law) to be his aide, and asks if he’s done anything to upset him. He perks up to hear he’ll be sent to Thailand on a training mission, only to be told his duties will be take records of training activities.

In Thailand, we meet our heroine wearing a wig and being coached on looking cross-eyed to participate in a small-time scam. She’s reluctant to go along with it, but the boss, SUNG-MIN (Lee Won-jong), argues that it’ll earn her much more money than she can selling fruit juice, and that the target did illegal business in Korea and ought to be punished. He calls her Kaya, so for now that’s what we’ll use.

Their target arrives, and balks at the sight of cross-eyed Kaya, who puts on her best simpleton act. Sly Sung-min assures him that it’s not like she’ll be his real wife forever—the best way to launder his identity is to take a fake wife, and getting a simpleminded girl is ideal, because smarter ones would scam him and run.

The target pays up, just as cops arrive to bust up the scam in progress. While the men flail in surprise, Kaya bolts, grabbing the envelope of cash on her way. She tosses it into the shrubbery near the exit and ditches the disguise, leaving Sung-min to pick up the cash surreptitiously.

Kaya belatedly hears how much cash was at stake and realizes she got shortchanged by Sung-min, but he beats a hasty retreat and leaves her fuming.

Kaya notices boys running off with a stolen purse, and follows them to a slummy alley where they swipe the cash and dump the handbag. Kaya knows to look for something else, though, and pockets the Chinese passport left behind.

Then Kaya hears a sound—a fast, whizzing noise from a nearby alley. Looking around, she glimpses a man on the ground, bleeding, while a second man holding a gun makes off with his briefcase. The gunman confirms the papers in the briefcase, from a Morino Company with natural gas interests in Thailand.

Kaya stumbles in shock, alerting the gunman to her presence. He chases when she flees, and she barely has enough time to hide when she runs into her scam partner Sung-min, who doesn’t get out of her way fast enough. She climbs under the bridge just as the gunman runs up and demands to know if Sung-min saw a woman run by.

Sung-min recognizes the man and knows to be afraid of him, pointing him in the wrong direction. He warns Kaya that he’s a dangerous killer, though Kaya’s more concerned about going back to help the injured victim.

At Sunwoo Group, Sun-jae works hard on a project in development and is pleased to be put in charge by Director Seo—hm, we should be suspicious of that, I’m sure. The shady Teacher Baek tells the chairman of his interest in partnering with Sunwoo Group in the Thailand natural gas project, and offers competing bid information—the documents stolen by the assassin. The chairman stiffens, knowing they must have been procured illegally, and says, “We don’t do business that way.”

Teacher Baek acknowledges his misstep and exits, and Sun-jae hurries after him to return the documents. He catches up to him in the lobby, just as Ji-won also arrives and wonders why Teacher Baek’s aide smells like gunpowder.

Ji-won’s there to persuade his father into getting surgery, although the chairman is as reluctant as ever, saying he has to walk his little girl down the aisle. When Sun-jae checks a text message and excuses himself quickly, the chairman chuckles because he’s pretty sure Sun-jae and daughter Ji-soo are dating.

But Sun-jae’s actual reaction to the text is actually fear: Flashing back a few minutes, we see that he’d taken a detour before returning those ill-gotten bid documents. Tempted by the information in his hands, he’d been unable to keep himself from looking and taken photos in the stairwell.

Unbeknownst to him, Teacher Baek’s assistant had recorded his actions, and that video is what was just sent to him. So now Sun-jae sweats, while Ji-won just teases him about being a good boyfriend to his sister, since he’ll be watching.

Ji-won lands in Thailand and struggles to find his way, not noticing that he gets pickpocketed in the street. Kaya, meanwhile, is out selling juice when she gets trash tossed at her and angrily chases the car, only to bump into Ji-won and go sprawling.

She gripes about the juice she dropped, demanding payment, and when he offers to pay, he realizes his wallet’s been swiped. He sees her collection of passports spill on the ground and assumes she’s the mugger, grabbing her in a tight lock when she struggles.

Kaya’s ready to call over the police, but pauses when Ji-won points out that her fake passport will get caught too. Instead, she grabs the passport and runs. Ji-won follows, catching up in no time and telling her there’s no point in running when she’s so slow.

Kaya runs anyway, taking cover under the same bridge from before—except Ji-won’s apparently sharper than the assassin and joins her there. He’s keen to get his wallet back, and not about to believe Kaya’s protests that she’s not a thief. She shoves him back at one point and he falls back into wet mud, making his Navy whites look like he pooped himself. Haha.

But Kaya has an idea, and heads to the trash piles in her slums to look for his wallet, likely dumped here after the cash was swiped. He stands by while she digs through trash, but when she cuts her finger, he looks apologetic and insists on pouring his water on her wound. She balks at wasting precious water, but he says, “Your hand can’t be bought with money. It’s more special, and more precious.”

She’s moved by his care, and just as he tells her it’s okay to stop searching, she spots the wallet with his ID in it. He thanks her and asks her name, offering his first. For some reason, she hesitates to answer.

The underhanded Director Seo makes his move, telling the chairman that Sun-jae is suspected of misusing company funds. The chairman then gets a message containing the incriminating video, and reels in shock. He tells Director Seo he’ll handle it.

Kaya escorts Ji-won to his destination, evading his questions of why she won’t give her name. He guesses it’s Kaya, having heard it in the marketplace, and says it’s pretty, though she doesn’t find it a compliment.

A man pulls up on a motorcycle, and Kaya’s expression sours even further. Ji-won greets him as CEO Kim (Kim Tae-woo) and a longtime acquaintance, and CEO Kim calls them both people he’s happy to see. Kaya, on the other hand, refuses an invitation inside and grumbles that he looks “like a rotten mango.”

Ji-won finds her amusing, while CEO Kim says she makes him sad. He runs a children’s foundation that Sunwoo Group provides funding for, which explains their acquaintance.

Sun-jae makes his way to a secluded meeting spot, looking nervous as he turns on a pen recorder. He waits long hours, and is gobsmacked when the man who arrives is Chairman Cha himself. To the chairman’s eyes, this is confirmation of his suspicions, and he confronts Sun-jae with the video.

Sun-jae breaks down and admits to his mistake, swearing that he intended on owning up to it after he’d dealt with the situation. The chairman isn’t impressed with his decision to cover up his mistake with blackmail money, which he took from the company inappropriately.

The chairman asks how he can ever trust him again, and Sun-jae begs for forgiveness, saying desperately that he was trying to do a good job. The chairman calls his actions cowardly and tells Sun-jae to take the money to the police now, rather than letting the mistake grow.

But Sun-jae, trembling with nerves and guilt, asks, “I’ve only just started. You want me to end everything now?” The chairman advises that his life won’t be ruined for it, but Sun-jae bursts out that he was set up to fail by Director Seo, and that it was a trap that wasn’t his fault.

The chairman says, “You disappoint me to the last. I misjudged you.” He turns to answer a call, and Sun-jae grabs his arm and begs, asking pathetically if he’d act this cold to Ji-won.

The chairman says firmly, “Ji-won wouldn’t have done this.” When his phone starts to ring, Sun-jae pleads with him not to answer it.

And then, a gunshot takes the both by surprise. The chairman is shot in the side, and Sun-jae rushes to him while the unseen gunman slips away. The chairman’s phone picks up an incoming call—it’s Ji-won.

The chairman struggles to get the phone, but Sun-jae picks it up first and starts to answer the call… but no words come out. Ji-won becomes aware of something strange and asks, “Who are you?”

 
COMMENTS

If I’m pulling no punches, I’d call Goodbye Mr. Black a little cheesy and obvious, which is by no means something unique to this show. I can do cheesy and obvious; it’s just that if I could have things my way, I’d have wanted this to be a premium revenge thriller, all slick and dark and mysterious, more nuanced than hit-you-over-the-head dramatic. But I suppose there’s something of an untold rule that all Dumas tales just end up a little cheesy, isn’t there? This is more of an issue of direction that writing, but in neither case are we dealing with masters of fine subtle art. Just mainstream television—which isn’t a condemnation. I’m a big fan of mainstream television. Let’s just know what we’re getting into.

I suppose the rosy, happy days are a necessity of this setup, because Ji-won’s life has to be perfect and promising in order for the betrayal to make sense and land, and for this reason I don’t mind how simplistic the scenes of family idyll are. It also makes me look forward to Lee Jin-wook’s transformation, because while it’s fine watching him being the mischievous golden boy, we’re more interested in Dark, Broody Lee Jin-wook, right?

Same goes for our villain Sun-jae, who I thought was very well-developed; I’m happy with the characterization of his flirting with the dark side, because it feels real and born of something honest. I find villains dull when they’re purely there to muck up the works or wield their power evilly; villains are so much more fascinating when their actions come from a place of extreme weakness, which we see in Sun-jae. I like that he starts out a decent guy, and that we can understand why his background and a lifetime of putting up with his father would make him value certain things that happy, loved people like Ji-won wouldn’t. Money matters in a way that Ji-won can’t appreciate, and making a place for yourself is something Ji-won will maybe come to understand only after he’s lost it all.

So when Sun-jae caves to his inner dark side, I see that it’s the result of a string of bad decisions, and can see a way to sympathize with him while not liking what he does. The fact that the show managed to get that much across in the first hour is promising, because it’s quite a lot of character work to cram into such a short span, but it totally works.

Kaya is another intriguing character, and while I know we’ll come to know her as Swan later, I’m just calling her Kaya for now, since that’s how the show introduces her. On paper her traits could read as obvious as well, but I like that there’s a mysterious side with her, too, and I look forward to seeing how she fits into Ji-won’s transformation.

Overall, despite the uneven patches, I almost don’t even care that this story is so familiar because it’s the kind of thing that pushes my story buttons—it actually reminds me a lot of Green Rose, which was also a little obvious and on-the-nose at times but was a total addiction watch for me. I loved how the wronged hero lost everything and had to fight back tooth and nail, and ate it up when he built himself back up to reappear in his old life as a new man. We haven’t actually gotten to that point of this story yet so it’s hard to know if it’ll manage that conflict well, but if it can strike that right balance of conflict and payoff, conflict and payoff, it’s exactly the kind of story that can keep you on the hook all series long. That’s my hope, anyway. (That’s always my hope.)

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Moon Chae Won is so pretty...girl crush ❤❤❤

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Me too. She's one of my favs.

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Haven't watch it, still not sure whether I should watch it or not... Maybe I'll watch it after few episodes are out.

From the comments, majority netizens said that Lee Jin Wook is handsome...and nothing more. Erkk.. is that a good thing?
Many said that Kim Kang Woo carried this show all by himself...

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The handsome LJW is good thing, but KKW carried this show by himself is not true. KKW played his character really well, LJW too. Both of them bring out different taste of man that grown up in different background.
I love how cute and lovable Ka Ya in the drama. For someone who will go through hell of revenge, someone like Ka Ya is needed to bring passion of revenge more challenging.
I like the breeze of this drama. K drama style is always win me.

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First-half of the drama kinda a lil bit boring to me. And LJW kinda mild to me. Well, I always got problem with his vanilla acting maybe that just me.. KKW is awesome!

My conclusion: It's an okay drama, not bad at all but not something that I'll stay up waiting for new episode to come out.

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I tried, got bored halfway and haven't gone back. I'm just not feeling it.

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I don't think just by the first episode, we can decide who carried this show. It is one first episode, man...

I can see where this kind of comment comes from, because many of us already being so judgmental on LJW and favoured KKW. But to say KKW carried the show by his own, it is too early to decide on. ;)

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+1

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Opps, typo. one :only

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I think the reason people are praising Kim Kam-woo for carrying the show is more because he did have the more emotional, dramatic storyline this hour as he flirted with the dark side.

The reason people are calling Lee Jin-wook handsome is because he is playing quite the charmer at the start. But, I, for one, think his charismatic acting plays a part in how handsome he's perceived here.

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I agree. just finished watching ep 1. Kim Kang Woo's character certainly called for a greater depth and wider range of emotions, so in comparison, it seemed as if he acted 'better'. It's not fair to judge an actor solely on one ep just because you favour another.

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I don't know but I agree that KKW carries the show. It's just that he naturally has more charisma.

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Yaaay!

Mr. Black looks like a fun ride and I'm kinda happy that JiWon's father died/becomes incapacitated/goes off screen if only because the actor who plays him sucks. Remember the OoO? Oh man...

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True, true. That old actor sucked Big time in Nine times time travel, as the evil hospital director. Makes you wonder how anyone with decades of acting experience can suck so bad.

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(Just because someone is old(er) it doesn't mean that he has been in the industry for ages...)

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Jung Dong Hwan has been around since the 90s. :)

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i think his acting has become a bit comical in recent years. he's been playing a lot of these villain characters where he does a lot of the "bulging eye" thing. i didn't watch nine all the way through, but i did catch a scene of him dying or something in it, and the acting seemed god awful. i can't stand to see him doing the eyebrow raising thing and making his mouth go all round, like a cheerio.

i remember him a lot more fondly from autumn fairytale (and i think summer scent).

i don't know how long he's around, but i think i remember my mom telling me once that he was a major star back in his day. i could be mixing him up with another older actor.

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thats well said..n there are scores of other veteran korean actors who keep playing same kind of roles with exact same boring emotions and monotonous acting..best examples are cheon ho jin,yoon jo sang etc

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Peeps ~

For some reason your comment had me laughing so hard.

When an actor gives a performance that just pisses you off and you hate every second that their character is on the screen, lol, that is something.

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What a great intro picture.

I'm excited about this show, but I'm trying not to have high hopes for it. I want it to be slick and thrilling, not cheesy and over the top.

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I know, right? Just the kind of pic that shows up to embarrass one when one accidentally clicks the DB link at work!!! LOL!

Thanks JB!
I've a few questions...about some things not mentioned in the recap.

The Sunwoo Foundation Welfare Fund Budget received a blue envelope through Ji Won... but the envelope looked empty, (I gather it should have contained cash that Ji Won's father wanted to hand over to the foundation) and the Foundation's CEO Kim took the envelope off the paper clip with a puzzled air. Did I read this right?

There's no indication about time except I find it strange that soon after the scenes at the office in S Korea, it seems Sung Jae is in Thailand where he went (with was it a bag of money?) to make a payoff? The sign on the bridge he crossed was in Thai, I believe. Which means even Ji Won's father was in Thailand at the same time as Ji Won and Sung Jae. If it was a meeting set up to trap Sung Jae to show his hand, it did not need to be done away from S Korea. I find that strange.

There's something strange about the editing or it's a plot hole... how did Ji Won's uniform become immaculately clean, when he was still on the streets looking for his wallet.

I'd be interested to know if I missed anything. :)

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Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy I am sooo happy you are recapping this drama!! I am a big fan of yours!!
Revenge dramas usually take some time to establish its world and this story is pretty familiar. I feel like a few episodes in, it will gain its groove. It is promising so far and it is an easy watch. I want some more MCW on my screen as her character's backstory is fascinating to me. Hopefully, this drama won't treat her like Good Doctor in terms of writing because she is more than capable of carrying a character.
KKW was amazing but that's to be expected because his character was given the strongest arc in the first episode. LJW was charming as always and I love the chemistry between our leads
Here's to hoping the drama picks up in the second episode and we see an increase in ratings!

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Finally, a comment that echo my sentiments!

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;)

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+1000

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Is this a one time recap thing? I hope noooottt.

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ahh... Well although I don't want to base it all one the first episode, the beginning does set the tone. I guess I was looking for something a bit more slick. I am hoping for that once the setup is out of the way. Please, a villain as cool as Chae Do-woo.

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Ah Do-Wooooooooooooo!

That role and that series was so well written, and KKW nailed it. I still get chills thinking about what his face did in that show.

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The teasers and posters didn't draw me in at first, but I decided to give it a go anyway. I'm glad I did! Although, it did have some cliché moments, I think the cast brings a fresh element to their characters. I enjoyed the cheesy moments in the story because it serves as a pedestal that will definitely be teethered with once the revenge begins. The cheesy moments are necessary, so once the revenge begin, we can see how good things were before and revenge can destroy relationships that were once great. I am glad the cheesy moments aren't cringeworthy. They are cheesy, but not over the top.

I also like our main characters. Ji Won as the naive, careless boy who is full of life and has everything going for him-money, looks, a beautiful girlfriend, etc. Then, Sun Jae, who is the complete opposite, whose father went to prison and never really served as a father figure to him. Someone who's harbored feelings of discomfort because of his upbringing and no matter what has always been second best, after Ji Won. Can't wait to see how they will clash! Then we have Mari. She's the sweet girl that Ji Won grew up with and has always loved. There isn't much to go off on since her appearance was brief in this episode, but I'm excited to see how her character will unfold. Finally, we have Kaya, who is a tough, but spirited woman. I, like Java, find her intriguing. I want to know her life story and how she ended up in Thailand and how she will affect our hero.

Overall, I enjoyed the first episode. Second episode looks meaty, so I will definitely tune in!

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Yes i like the first episode, the first episode is describing jiwon as positve guy, his fun n smile will slowly fade away in the next episode, i'm waiting for that ,always like to see charracter transformation. I think all the cast doing good job.

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I loved Ep 1. There are a lot of grown ups acting in it. The grown ups are established, professional actors who I don't feel are going to be stunted by a narrowly focused story line. So glad to see LJW doing the kind of character he does best, intelligent, energetic and funny. OH, and there letting him be handsome in this one, Thank Goodness. If this and DFTS are on at the same time in Korea, that just isn't fair. Splitting this fan base is cruel and asinine. So glad I can just watch one right after the other by streaming. YIPEE.

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The video clip of the first ost already come out, we can see the scene from the next episode there, it was sad, i already cry watching the video

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Honestly, as a story, this interests me more than Descendants of the Sun, which I am mostly watching because of the charisma of the actors.

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I love a good revenge drama so hopefully this will continue to interest me. I think this is the first time in a long time that I liked all 3 dramas in a time-slot. Luckily, I don't live in Korea so there's no need to choose.

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It kinda funny that Descendants of the Sun have to compete with "ex's" of the leads at the same time.

I will wait a bit more before I decide to watch it or not, but I am curious how the ratings have changed from this new addition.

On side note china have potentially spoiled the ending of DotS so it might also have an impact.

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It got really really low ratings, only 3.9%

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It's funny that LJWs name here is Cha "Ji-won" knowing that his last drama partner was Ha "Ji-won" LOL ^_^

Thank you JB for the recap! I'll have to wait and see if this show is worth watching.

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I keep on thinking the name 'Ji Won' is a girl's name. .. because of Ha Ji won and Kim Ji won... but then I remembered Eun Ji won and a hell lot of other guy Ji wons. ..

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idk why people are saying KKW carried this drama by himself? IMO, i think everyone carried their own. LJW played the happy-go-lucky lead, KKW the conflicted BFF and kaya the feisty poor and fighting to survive girl.

tbh, LJW was the most uninteresting character to me so far but i wouldn't say it's because he wasn't a good actor, i think it's just how his character was written initially. KKW of course intrigues me more atm (i'm a sucked for layered characters) because i can see why he makes the mistakes/choices he does. he's not 100% good or bad and i like that.

overall, kaya has been my most favorite character. she's the most realistic to me so far. it also helps that MCW plays her in such an endearing way :)

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In the first episode, they just introduce cha ji won charracter which is cheerfull n good nature, his charracter will slowly change after they betrayal base on the synopsis, he doesn't have much conflict yet, i believe his charracter will become more interesting

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Exactly! While it's true that Kim Kang-woo carried the emotional weight this episode, that's more because his character is going through much more emotional turmoil throughout this episode.

Lee Jin-wook was great at being the charismatic and charming golden boy from the start and definitely has the capabilities to take things up a notch once the real conflicts begin.

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I have said this above, but I am wondering how ppl can decide who carried the show just by first episode.

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ALSO, i just want to add that i am totally SOLD on MCW x LJW chemistry. it's fire when they're onscreen together, i'm so relieved and excited. can't wait for the loveline to unfold more ^^

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Love the first episode. Hopefully the rating will be better soon.

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"Who finds it hilarious that Lee Jin-wook’s father and father’s backstabbing enemy in Nine have traded places here?"

I know haha, I bursted out laughing when I saw the actors
good casting choice XD. Also thanks Javabeans for the recap. :)

I was waiting for this show and while the premise has been done over and over again I just love a good revenge story. Besides the main actors are a plus, two of my favorite actors in the same drama.

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Oh wait! LOL, I caught that his father was his enemy, but not that his enemy was his father! (lol, confusing) Honestly it's probably good that the actor playing the villain is playing the deceased father now because I will never forget the acting he gave as the enemy in Nine (and that's a sad thing). He played a cool dad here though :)

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Excellent recap!! So on point!
How do you pick these things up without such a careful following of the script?

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I was waiting for this show since it was adapted from my fav novel. Well, Mr. Black is a good show but I find it a bit boring. Maybe the execution is a bit off. Somehow I agree that Kim Kang Woo carried the show. Sorry to say, but from the beginning, I was hoping Mr.Black was played by someone with strong alpha male actor. I mean, Mr. Black should be someone with both strong body and soul, a bit cold outside but heathing inside and 'full of fire' in his eyes. And I still can't see it in Lee Jin Wook. What I saw from episode 1 is kinda talkative version of his character in Spy Myung Wol, Comrade Ryu.

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Actually, the goofy happy guy is what his character was supposed to be. At least, from his character description. So, I don't think that has to do with LJW's acting.

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It is done anyway. You agree or disagree, LJW already being chosen as Mr Black. Besides, isn't it too early to decide who carried the show from 1st episode only? Well if you are already determined from beginning, you might stick to your opinion until the end.

Anyway, if it is too unbearable for you, you can only see parts that you want to watch (I have done before in Scholar Who Walks The Night and then later reading the recaps to understand the story, as a result I did not enjoy that drama).

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Is he supposed to be 'full of fire' in his eyes before he's even lost anything? That wouldn't make sense narratively. He's a happy-go-lucky charmer right now, but that's going to change so perhaps wait until his character's emotional turmoil kicks in before passing judgement? In Nine, I think he definitely proves he can carry the role of a wronged man out for revenge and justice.

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Hmmm... I didn't read the book so I don't know how to compare it. But, I agree that Kim Kang Woo is awesome. And I don't find something special about Moon Chae Won's character yet. Not a fan of Lee Jin Wook's vanilla actings. But I'll watch till at least 2 epsiodes to decide whether leave or continue.

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Love love episode 1 and so fun & ennjoyable drama to watch.!!! Great acting on the casts ^_*:)) Hwaiting

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This drama just started. I am all in for a good revenge drama. ;)

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Eh. Obvious and cheesy, yes. I also found it pretty boring and poorly set up- I could barely follow what was going on with Seon-jae's dad and the law suit, etc. I'm disappointed, but I'll tune in to see if the revengey revenge is worth it.

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whew~ this is cute. when i think men in suit is kinda mainstream and it makes men in military uniform looks super interesting.. we got another uni-men parade :D

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I will say I was not impressed with episode 1. There will have to be some more action and not just shots of Kaya looking confused. The male actors are really good, hopefully they won't be wasted.

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I definitely think I could like this series quite a bit, even if it didn't amaze me from the start. It all depends on how things unfold from here.

Sure, it's not the slickest, but I don't find the cheesy and obvious aspects to be over-the-top in any way. It actually really does have a similar charm to it that Green Rose does. I like the lead characters quite a bit. Honestly, it's the partner-in-crime romantic set-up between our leads (already love the chemistry!) that really has me excited to watch.

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I agree. I was disappointed in the directing and editing of the 1st ep - it's obvious execution wasn't done well.

However, despite a very choppy edit that failed to transition the story well, the cast is on point and in character. What I've seen so far shows a cast that has great chemistry - it just now needs the finesse of a good editing team to showcase this casts' talents.

Hopefully, this PD doesn't waste the wonderful cast and classic story. I do not want another CITT PD.

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Watched the first episode and it's just a tad boring.

But... Yoo In-young looks gorgeous with that long hair, and so sweet too. She really should get a lead role sometime soon. It's also kind of unconvincing that she's older that LJW's character though. I mean, look at the lines on his face!

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Thanks for the recap JB.

Thought the story sounded good. And now having seen Lee Jin-wook in the opening scene of the drama I'm sold. The man is definitely nice to look at. Ha ha.

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OK that was weird, cheesy doesn't quite fit. Big grown men acting like children, unfunny scenes. Just a bit strange really. Otherwise it set up the story nicely that's true. Moon Chae won is lovely as usual and it has a great supporting cast. LJW sure as hell looks purty in his clothes.

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Has anyone wondered how Cha Jiwon's uniform became clean so quickly? Wished they had shown him cleaning or something like that.

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Shirtless army scenes are necessary in all dramas I find as it helps move the plot along and shows in-depth character developments.

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LOL! Yes, absolutely essential even if there no reason to have a single soldier around! ;)

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Wait, that is DOTS's secret weapon, shirtless army guys!

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Yey! Thank you so much for recapping this drama. I hope that you would continue as the drama unfolds. I'm so excited for this show although I don't have to put much of my expectations as compared to DOTS. Hopefully this story would be great as a fan of Moon Chae Won, I would gladly watch this drama. I just love to watch the Wed-Thurs dramas this season. So much to look forward too! :)

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Thanks for the recap! I was more excited about this one than DOTS.

KKW's character was definitely the most interesting this episode, since he's the only one with any layers so far. And KKW is certainly magnetic!

I'm excited to see the change in LJW's character. He was almost annoying peppy and happy-go-lucky, so I'm hoping there's a pretty big swing towards the dark side for revenge. I was also something a little more slick/noir, but campy and cheesy can work too! Fingers crossed this is a good one and the ratings go up, for the cast and crew's sake.

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Glad I wasn't the only one who was not too crazy about the first episode. Some parts felt a bit forced too me ("look at how happy and perfect LJW's life/family is vs. watch poor KKW's angst"). I get that they were eager to have everything set up so they can dive straight into the revenge story line (which I am excited for) but sad that speed in this instance felt like it took away from the set-up. I wish things had built up a bit more naturally so I could really feel that emotional turmoil when everything goes to pieces but don't feel a connection yet with the characters. I might just wait until LJW starts destroying the lives of everyone who ever crossed him before I pick this up again...

(Also, how did no one notice KKW's reaction to LJW's proposal? Throw in some dramatic music/some serious inner monologue and we could be in a soap opera. )

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Not sure I'll be watching this, but I'll be reading the recaps. I love a revenge story and I love both these actors. Maybe I'll start watching again when the revenge is in motion. One thing I've learned from four dramas this season: When you take in a poor waif, said poor waif will always betray and use you when he/she gets older and be resentful for all the good you gave them. There is no gratitude in dramaland. Thanks for the recap.

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Oh wow :D Thanks for recapping this!

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Yeay, it's finally here!!!

Thanks JB for recapping it ^_^
(at least i have new drama to watch while waiting for another drama to be subbed)

My favorite scene in this ep is the naked half naked scene when they are fighting over panties, heheh,..

i don't want to judge anything until i watch next episodes,
it's just the beginning :)

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*Half naked scene..
:D :D :D

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Aah, the not to be long disregarded kdrama interest in rivalry over men's underwear, best served by yelling 'panties' at each other. A true sign of bromance that was, is or might have been. ;)

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That or they were about to start:

1) talking about boys;
2) do each other's hair;
3) have a pillow fight: and
4) practise french-kissing.

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I watched ep 1 but it did not really perk my interest... I really like the leads, MCW and LJW but I'm just not sure about this drama... It is kind of unfortunate that it airs on the same time as Descendants of the sun..

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BORING and NOT INTERESTING. I think just that Mon Chae Won deserves a more good rating but unfortunately for her, the rest of the cast seems not interesting viewers

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I don't know if its just me.... but there is something....a teensy bit gone wrong... directing?? editing...? or is it the subs...? I cant put my finger on the exact thingie... Everything felt like a single piece after reading the recap only...

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I thought the first episode of dots was cheesier. Love the entire cast in this one esp the leads.

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IMO, DOTS ep 1 was much cheesier, but the expensive cameras, beautiful shots, gorgeous actors, and slower romantic tempo of the episode tempered the over-the-top corny feeling.

GMB ep 1 wasn't over-the-top but rather haphazard. Poor execution can make any drama looks shoddy even with oversea locales, great cast, and decent writing.

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I think same, I only watch the two first episodes and what I liked most was SJK and his new body, her acting when she watch him fighting was unreal. A woman with 30 years was behaving as a 15. My cousin has 14 years old and say why is she behaving like that? I had to say this dramaland.

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wa I can say for sure that am gonna LOVE this drama ^^ and I love Chae won unnie :)

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Love men in uniforms!!! They make a fantastic trend. Let's have MORE!

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the best Count of Monte Cristo style of drama would be nirvana in fire!!

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I use dramabeans for my reviews, before deciding whether to watch a Kdrama. The ones with high ratings have all been brilliant, like Healer, My love from the star, Signal, etc. But the rating of this drama was so low and for the first time I don't really know why. It's not brilliant, but it's certainly not bad.It's worth 7,7 if just for Baek Ji Young's beautiful song in the romantic moments

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