Choi Min-soo searches for his true daughter in Man Who Dies to Live
I wasn’t quite sure how Man Who Dies to Live would work out because of its fantastical premise, but I’m already laughing out loud at the wacky new posters, stills, and teasers. In this short 24-episode (12 hour-long episodes) MBC drama, Choi Min-soo (The Liar and His Lover) plays a forlorn father who left home a long time ago to search for his fortune in a fictional Arabian kingdom and comes back years later to reconnect with his now-adult daughter, played by Kang Ye-won (Baek-hee Has Returned).
Choi Min-soo’s character Jang Dal-gu leaves Korea in the mid-1970s and reinvents himself as the billionaire CEO Sid Fard-Ali, a cool confident single wealthy playboy with a reputation for being the George Clooney of the East. Living luxuriously like a caliph with his oil tycoon status, he racks up many scandals with his romanticist nature. However, all the while, he yearns for his little girl Ji-young back home. His strong desire to reunite with her again is the subject of the first teaser, where he waits in an arid field and holds out his arms to embrace his smiling daughter. She runs toward him, but ultimately turns into sand dust in his hands.
According to the second teaser, she could be one of two vastly different women. Possible daughter Lee Ji-young A, played by Kang Ye-won, is an ordinary ajumma whose life goal is to create a happy family. She’s had to endure much loneliness and she’s toughened up to become a pragmatist, especially because her childish husband, a lowly bank clerk played by Shin Sung-rok (On the Way to the Airport), keeps waiting for his big break instead of steadily working hard to achieve success. Despite her hardships, she’s forged on toward her goal of making a happy family and her career aspiration of becoming a screenwriter.
On the other hand, Lee Ji-young B, played by Lee So-yeon (Beautiful You), is a completely different character. She’s a chic careerwoman who doesn’t care about what anyone thinks of her. In the second teaser, she’s shown contrasted to homely Lee Ji-young A. Choi Min-soo says in voiceover as he looks at them: “Don’t forget that my entire fortune will turn to dust if we don’t bring Ji-young back.” Hmm… perhaps his motives to seek out his daughter aren’t entirely pure?
In the airport, Ji-young A slaps her husband’s butt, giving a sly glance at him while saying, “Let’s go a few years later as a family of four,” but he doesn’t look too keen on the idea. In the next scene, we see that Shin Sung-rok knows both the Ji-youngs, as he grabs Ji-young B by the wrist, saying: “Your father thinks I’m his son-in-law.” Then we cut to a soothsayer telling him that he has the fate of living like a rich man, and when he meets Choi Min-soo he thinks he’s finally gotten his big break.
However, in his voiceover, Choi Min-soo has already looked through Shin Sung-rok and judged his character as the type of materialistic husband that would make his daughter miserable. He takes him shopping for high-end suits and Ferraris, perhaps to trap him into helping him for the impending daughter-father reunion. And when the salesman asks Shin Sung-rok if the wealthy man with a cane is his father-in-law, he grins ear-to-ear as he says yes.
In the last scene, we have a glimpse at the first real encounter between the father and potential daughter Ji-young A. She’s wrapped around a tree, very possibly inebriated because that’s the only rationale I can think of to explain the ruined makeup and bizarre tree-hugging behavior. But he recognizes her as his real daughter, only to have her suddenly head-butt him in an epic K.O. that sends him falling with a comically pained expression.
Wednesday-Thursday miniseries Man Who Dies to Live will tell its heartwarming family story starting July 19, following the end of Ruler—Master of the Mask.