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Rescue Me: Episode 1

Balancing the creep factor of a religious cult against the sweet bond of a group of young friends is a tricky task, but so far, Rescue Me seems to be pulling it off. There’s enough heart in the core group to keep me wanting to learn more, and enough restrained chills from our cult leader and his followers to keep me nervous and on the edge of my seat.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

It’s 2014. A truck travels down a desolate, rainy highway through the countryside of Muji County at night, while inside, a family of four looks out at the landscape, their faces somber.

At the top of a nearby hill, a man we’ll come to know as Father BAEK JUNG-KI (Jo Sung-ha) leads a rousing sermon at his religious compound with the help of one of his devout followers, KANG EUN-SHIL (Park Ji-young).

Father Baek promises that belief in “New Heaven’s God” will free his follows from disease and misery, and the people raise their hands, chanting back, “We believe! We believe!”

We cut back to the family of four on the highway when their tire suddenly blows, leaving them stranded. Dad IM JOO-HO steps outside to assess the damage, while Mom KIM BO-EUN shields them both from the elements with an umbrella.

At the compound, Father Baek introduces his congregation to a man, Mr. Park, who he claims was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Father Baek announces that since Mr. Park was cruelly turned away by leading medical professionals in Seoul, he’s come to them seeking help.

A pair of motorcycles pass the stranded Im family, only to swiftly turn around. The four riders dismount and approach on foot, their faces obscured by dark hooded ponchos. The Im family is apprehensive, and Dad nervously urges his wife back into the car with the kids.

Meanwhile, Father Baek continues with his sermon, promising that while modern medicine may turn this man away, New Heaven’s God would never allow Mr. Park to die, and the crowd cheers while chanting, “Our wishes will be fulfilled!”

At the same time, the bikers get closer to the Im family, peering at the flat tire, and Dad finally sees their faces. These are no tough bikers—just four gawky high school students.

The shortest of the boys, WOO JUNG-HOON (David Lee) notes the flat in a long drawl and asks if everyone is okay. From inside the van, Dad’s daughter IM SANG-MI (Seo Ye-ji) rolls down her window to assess the boys as well. The boys get a glimpse of the new girl, each of them craning their necks for the best view.

Broody-looking SEOK DONG-CHUL (Woo Do-hwan) looks particularly interested, while our hero HAN SANG-HWAN (Taecyeon) observes his friend’s reaction before glancing back at Jung-hoon and their fourth bumpkin bike gang member, CHOI MAN-HEE (Ha Hwe-jung).

Jung-hoon calls a car repair shop for the stranded family and promises the driver will be there in thirty minutes, right after he finishes taking a dump. The boys chuckle to themselves at the toilet humor and this seems to break the tension completely, as Mom and Dad even allow themselves a grateful smile.

Mom and Dad offer to repay the boys somehow, and Jung-hoon starts to name his price before Sang-hwan cuts him off, assuring them that no repayment is necessary. The boys head back to their bikes reluctantly, all of them casting lingering glances towards the mystery girl in the car.

Sang-mi watches them as they leave, and then reassures her shaken older brother, IM SANG-JIN (Jang Yoo-sang), that everything will be all right. Sang-mi ominously promises that nothing will happen here, and though her brother denies that he’s worried, she holds his hand reassuringly anyway.

We return to the religious compound to see that the demonstration has escalated: Mr. Park now lies on a table in front of the congregation with Father Baek standing over him.

Father Baek preaches over Mr. Park that New Heaven’s God will help remove “this dirty and ugly piece of cancer” while slapping the man’s bared abdomen with his hand.

Father Baek strikes several times, until a splatter of blood appears in-between his hand and Mr. Park’s stomach. He raises his bloody hand up to the congregation to show the piece of “cancer” that New Heaven’s God has allowed him to “cleanse” from Mr. Park’s body.

Meanwhile, the bumpkin biker gang has retired to a restaurant for some food and drinks, taking bets over which of them had caught the eyes of the new girl from Seoul.

Dong-chul spots a governor campaign poster on the wall and asks Sang-hwan if his dad will win this time. Sang-hwan stays silent while Jung-hoon answers for him that of course, Sang-hwan’s dad is the only qualified candidate.

Jung-hoon calls for more drinks, and the waitress delivers four mugs of… soda. Jung-hoon tries to complain, but the surly waitress lets him know she won’t be serving them alcohol just to have them end up at the police station like last time.

Jung-hoon’s still grousing, but Sang-hwan tells everyone to just pretend they’re stouts and drink up. They go to toast, but Man-hee beats them all to the punch by finishing his glass in a single swig and belching loudly.

On the highway, the tow truck finally shows up. The long day shows on the pensive, exhausted faces of all of the passengers as they’re towed along. Mom turns to reassure Sang-mi, but she doesn’t sound confident as she promises only good things from here on out.

At the car repair shop, Dad eyes the delivery jjajangmyun with hungry eyes. He pays the mechanic for the finished repairs while the deliveryman wonders at him moving from Seoul on such a rainy day before handing him coupons for jjajangmyun.

At the religious compound, Guseonwon, Disciple JO WAN-TAE (Jo Jae-yoon) emcees an outdoor party for the congregation. He chants the group’s “Our wishes will be fulfilled!” mantra with them before starting to sing karaoke.

Away from the boisterous crowd, Father Baek gazes at a tree that has been split in two. His devout follower, Eun-shil, pushes Mr. Park’s wheelchair out to the father. Mr. Park says that he would like to thank Father Baek for his services earlier, and since he heard from Eun-shil that Father Baek wants to build a church, he’d like to give money for the cause.

Father Baek smiles at Mr. Park and then looks back to the tree, calling it the “Belief Tree” because it is a miracle of New Heaven’s God, having lived for 500 years even though it’s hollow.

Father Baek turns back to Mr. Park then and tells him that he needs no payment. He only asks that Mr. Park thank New Heaven’s God for showing him a miracle today before he walks off solemnly.

Back at the karaoke party, Disciple Jo watches as Eun-shil accepts the gift of money from Mr. Park.

The Im Family finally reaches their new home, but the house is dilapidated and abandoned. Dad tries to contact Sung-ho, his friend who coordinated this move, but his wife seems a bit quicker on the uptake and wonders if they’ve been scammed.

Down the road, Police Officer CHOI receives a call on her car radio of a drunken disturbance in town. She’s on it, but has to first take a moment to wake up Officer WOO CHOON-GIL (Kim Kwang-kyu), who is sleeping under his jacket in the passenger seat.

At the scene, the drunkard stumbles out into the road in front of the police car. He threatens to smash everything and aggressively crawls up onto their hood. Ignoring the officers’ warnings, the drunkard stands up and begins to pee all over their windshield.

Officer Woo exits the car to bring the man down, but the drunkard pivots toward him, his stream of urine directed right into the officer’s face. Oof. (And eww.) Woo struggles to drag the drunkard from the hood, getting a kick to the face in the process.

Meanwhile, the bumpkin gang debates what else they should do for the evening, since it’s after 11:00 p.m. on a weekend. But they’re soon stopped by sirens, and it turns out that Officer Woo is Jung-hoon’s father.

Officer Woo warns his son against drunk driving and then yells at the boys to study instead of goofing off. His tone changes noticeably, however, when he asks Sang-hwan how his father is doing, praising him as the only man of that caliber in town. Dong-chul casts his eyes down at this while Sang-hwan haltingly accepts the praise.

The apprehended drunkard saves everyone from the awkward exchange by vomiting in the car, and the officers speed away, not to the police station, but towards Guseonwon, where the party is still going strong. But Disciple Jo’s expression changes when he sees the flashing lights.

Loyal follower Eun-shil serves the officers tea while they wait for Father Baek, and Officer Woo compliments her youthful appearance. Eun-shil credits a spring on the grounds that they call “the living water” that gives Baek’s followers youth. (What’s curious, though, is that Officer Woo already knew the name of the water.)

Father Baek arrives, and Officer Woo apologizes for disturbing him so often. But Father Baek demurs, saying only that he appreciates them guiding lost souls back to New Heaven’s God. Officer Woo is grateful too, since Father Baek’s arrival has helped clear the area of the homeless.

Father Baek offers the officers a gift of herbal medicine, but Officer Woo doesn’t want to take a bribe. Disciple Jo insists that it’s just a neighborly gift, but both officers remain reluctant, even when Eun-shil asks about Officer Choi’s mother’s recent injury. She insists that this isn’t from the compound but from New Heaven’s God, taking care of those in need.

The tension breaks only when Father Baek says that it’s fine if they don’t want to accept because they are uncomfortable. He says that he won’t insist, and Officer Woo laughs that too many eyes are watching for him to screw up by eating things he shouldn’t.

The boys have decided to go to the jimjilbang for the rest of their evening, and by coincidence, the Im Family is here as well, though not so much by choice.

Dad has finally reached his “friend” by phone and confirms that he has been scammed, his money gone to his friend’s gambling addiction. Sang-mi calls her father then, and he spins around, seeing that she’s heard the whole conversation.

The boys spot Sang-mi from across the room and rush to spy on her from behind a bookshelf. They wonder why a family that appeared to be moving would stay at the jimjilbang, and when Jung-hoon guesses she’s been kidnapped, the other boys smack him for his nonsense.

They duck down as Sang-mi turns, then they rock-paper-scissors to decide who will stand up and speak to her. Jung-hoon is the only one to throw scissors against everyone else’s rocks (Dong-chul: “Jung-hoon, real men throw rocks.”), and the others throw him out into the open. But Sang-mi is already gone.

The next morning, Dad is out looking for work with the cattle farmers. Sang-hwan’s father, HAN YONG-MIN (Sohn Byung-ho) is also there to campaign. Yong-min’s campaign promises are to support the cattle market and help those without work, and Yong-min shakes Dad’s hand vigorously as he says this.

The campaign crowd marches off, leaving Dad gaping. But just then, a farm hand calls out to him, asking if he was the one looking for work.

Meanwhile, Father Baek visits a home for the elderly, laying on hands and clutching their legs to help “heal” some of the residents as he promises them “clean new bodies.”

At the same time, Disciple Jo delivers some of their herbal medicine to the residents, and Eun-shil serves them coffee, pouring from a (seemingly empty?) vial to add a little something to the beverages.

The bumpkin boys have their own plans for the morning: getting revenge on a rival biker by spray-painting his bike. The guy catches them in the act from a window, but the boys make their escape on their bikes.

Dad gets a job working with cattle, and when the job comes with board, Dad asks if it’ll be all right if he brings more than one person along with him.

It’s okay with his boss, but the family arrives at their new lodgings to find that it’s nothing more than a single room in a small container on the boss’s property. Sang-mi is the first to speak, declaring the place “not bad” as long as the family can be together. Cheered by Sang-mi’s sentiment, the family unloads their belongings.

Unpacked, the family sits around a table outside the unit to eat some kimchi stew. Dad is still feeling down, and seemingly sensing this, Sang-mi doesn’t relent in her optimism and says how grateful she is to enjoy the fresh air and even hear cows while they eat.

Sang-mi’s forced enthusiasm works, and her family begins to eat and laugh with one another. In the distance, we see Father Baek is there, creepily observing the family. Eun-shil joins him, and he asks her, “They look very happy. Don’t you miss it?” Her face hardens at that.

Behind them, Disciple Jo finishes speaking with Dad’s cattle farmer boss and gives him an envelope of money.

The boys are out again, this time at a bullfighting arena where they watch two bulls lock horns and fight. Sang-hwan’s bull loses, and he accuses Dong-chul of rigging the fight since his bets are usually smarter. Dong-chul sagely tells Sang-hwan that fights are won with intuition, not brains, and Sang-hwan points out that that must be what keeps getting Dong-chul into trouble.

Sang-hwan has to treat his friends to karaoke as punishment for losing, but on the way out, they run into the biker whose bike they painted, along with his cronies. The biker goes to hit Jung-hoon, but Sang-hwan demands that he stop.

The two groups square off, and then the fight starts with Dong-chul delivering a kick to the biker’s chest. The room turns into a giant jumble of khakis and uniform jackets until our boys manage to break away and flee.

They make it to their bikes, but the other biker gang still manages to surround them at the exit. Sang-hwan turns to Dong-chul to ask if they should keep running or stay and fight. Of course, Dong-chul’s answer is that real men fight, and the boys dismount.

Before the brawl can begin again, a higher-ranking boy in the rival biker gang arrives, demanding that they stop. He turns to the bumpkin boys, asking if he’s speaking to Sang-hwan.

Sang-hwan stands his ground, asking what he’ll do if he is, and the boy laughs at him for coming on strong and tells him to have fun before leading his guys away.

The boys all seem disappointed to miss out on a fight, Sang-hwan in particular, and Jung-hoon says that even with Sang-hwan’s dad’s protection, he doesn’t think he can hang out with them anymore. Sang-hwan’s fine with leaving him behind, but Jung-hoon is reminded that they’re headed for karaoke and hops on the back of the bike after all.

Dad’s boss checks in on him at work and tells him he has kind eyes “like a cow,” and that he’s also very lucky, because the father of the community’s church has chosen Dad to join them this evening.

Dad isn’t sure what to think, but his boss insists that he join him for the church service later, and he agrees to go.

Deep in the compound, Disciple Jo walks down a hallway covered in plastic. Heading past a door marked “under construction,” Disciple Jo descends further until he reaches a locked door, the sound of muffled cries from the other rooms accompanying him. Unlocking the door, he stands over the drunkard who was dropped off the previous night.

Disciple Jo calls the drunkard “Brother” and leads him to the bathroom to help clean him up. The drunkard is having none of it and throws Disciple Jo’s hands off, asking if he’s in the police station.

The drunkard asks if Disciple Jo is into men and trying to cop a feel, and when Disciple Jo continues to try to help, the drunkard throws his hands off, calling him a dirty bastard.

This seems to trigger Disciple Jo, whose patience turns to cold malice. He picks up the shower head and bashes the drunkard in the face repeatedly, asking him, “Who do you think you’re calling dirty?” He turns on the showerhead, steam rising as he sprays the man down.

“I brought you here to make you a new person,” Disciple Jo grinds out as he continues to spray the drunkard, and we see blood begin to trickle down the drain.

Washed, dressed, and bandaged, the drunkard sits nervously across from Disciple Jo as they await the arrival of Father Baek in his office. Now that they’ve cleaned his body, Disciple Jo tells him, they need to clean his soul.

Father Baek arrives, and the drunkard shifts uneasily before dropping to his knees and begging the father to save him from Disciple Jo. Eun-shil barely hesitates as she brings tea in for their guest.

Handing the drunkard a cup of tea, Father Baek tells him that his sins must die so that his soul can live. The drunkard asks what he means, and Father Baek says, “Please don’t be afraid of dying.” This scares the drunkard even further, and he throws the hot tea into Father Baek’s face and braces for the retaliation he expects to receive.

But Father Baek just says that the tea spilled and refills the drunkard’s cup. The drunkard trembles violently as he drinks, and Father Baek tells him that New Heaven’s God knows his sins, while behind him, Eun-shil drops to her knees and responds, “Our wishes will be fulfilled.”

Father Baek demands the man’s confession, promising that after he shares him sins, his new cup will be filled with his new soul and he’ll become a new, clean man. The drunkard breaks down and kneels before him, begging forgiveness for his sins.

The boys have gone their own way for the day, and Dong-chul finds his father drunk in the street. Dong-chul tells his father that his grandmother wants him home, but his father pushes him away, saying that just looking at his son reminds him of Dong-chul’s mother.

Dong-chul’s father drunkenly berates him more, saying that he shouldn’t have been born and that he wishes that he had just died.

Forced to return home without his father, Dong-chul can hear his grandmother lamenting over Dong-chul’s father forgetting Dong-chul’s birthday. Aww.

But Grandma hasn’t forgotten and has ordered Dong-chul’s favorite, jjajangmyun. Dong-chul wishes that she hadn’t spent her money on expensive noodles, but his dismay is short-lived as he lunges to prevent his sweet, elderly grandma from tripping over one of the many piles of junk lying around their home.

Dong-chul tells his grandmother that she’s his favorite person in the world, so she should never feel sorry for him. They eat together companionably, with Grandma lovingly doting over her grandson.

At the hospital, Sang-hwan meets with his own family for dinner. His mother lies in a hospital bed, comatose, while Sang-hwan’s father spoon-feeds her.

When Sang-hwan takes over the feeding, his father asks if this is hard on him, but Sang-hwan shrugs and says that it’s only hard on his mom. He tells his father to go home and get some rest.

Dong-chul has made his way down to the river to sulk on his motorcycle, while Sang-hwan assumes the same position in front of the hospital. Sitting on his bike, Sang-hwan sends Dong-chul a text asking if he wants to go for a bike ride.

Meanwhile, the Im Family heads to Guseonwon by car. Eun-shil and Disciple Jo greet them at the entrance, where Dad’s boss praises the two and the church (“This is paradise indeed!”) before heading inside, the Im Family trailing behind.

As the children climb the stairs, we notice for the first time that Sang-mi’s brother, Sang-jin, has a significant limp.

The family sits for tea, and Dad’s boss interjects that this isn’t just normal tea, it’s made with “life water” touched by their spiritual father, Father Baek. Eun-shil responds to the family’s puzzled looks, saying that Father Baek is more of a spiritual father than a mere priest to his congregation.

Disciple Jo lures Dad’s boss away to play cards, leaving Father Baek with the Im Family. The father is eager to learn about the Im siblings, asking their names and ages. Mom shares that they are both seventeen and twins, and Eun-shil remarks that their spirit energy seemed similar.

Father Baek says that New Heaven’s God’s kindness is surprising, and Eun-shil agrees, giving the siblings a strange look.

Eun-shil walks the Ims out to their truck in the evening, promising to stop by the next day to congratulate them: It seems Father Baek has offered to find housing for the family. Just like with the police officers, Eun-shil insists that this generosity is part of the church’s belief to treat everyone like neighbors.

Sang-mi takes a moment to glance back up at the compound before she gets into the truck, and finds Father Baek staring down at her.

At the same time, on the dark roads, Sang-hwan and Dong-chul are still blowing off steam racing each other on their motorcycles.

In the Im Family truck, Sang-mi’s mother says that she’s uncomfortable with the free housing, especially since Guseonwon doesn’t feel like a normal church. But Dad wants to accept the offer, stating that he thought Father Baek and his followers weren’t strange people. Oh really?

Sang-mi voices concerns as well, so Dad asks Sang-jin, who surprises everyone with his favorable opinion of Father Baek. He says that he specifically liked when they prayed together.

In flashback, Sang-mi recalls the prayers Sang-jin mentioned, remembering how Father Baek had laid hands on Sang-jin’s legs and prayed to allow his crippled leg to heal. But then Father Baek had laid his hands on Sang-mi, and her eyes had widened in shock when his hand slid up to her thigh as he called her “beautiful” and “fragrant.”

Up ahead, Dad spots headlights coming directly at their truck. He lays on the horn, but the lights keep coming, and we see that it’s Sang-hwan and Dong-chul, driving in the wrong lane to pass a car. The family’s eyes widen together as they anticipate the impending crash.

 
COMMENTS

We’re off to a pretty solid start. I was worried that this drama might be all serious and no fun, but the warmth of the bumpkin boys takes the edge off each chilling scene without straying too far from the overall dark and heavy tone of the show.

The arrangement with the police and Father Baek’s compound is so troubling. Not only is Father Baek preying on weak populations who feel abandoned by society like the sick and the elderly, but the local police are already complicit, not so much because of corruption, but because Guseonwon offers an easy solution to a tough social problem. I have no clue what the cult’s end goal is, since money donations don’t seem to be Father Baek’s major focus. He seems to be seeking numbers and loyalty, which could be a truly scary combination. Baek’s fixation on Sang-mi, Disciple Jo’s obsession with being “clean,” and Eun-shil’s belief in eternal youth draw the curtain back from the group’s supposedly selfless facade, hinting at the very personal stakes at hand.

I’m guessing that Sang-hwan’s governor-candidate father and Jung-hoon’s police dad will be important connections as we delve deeper into the corruption of Baek’s cult, and the strength of the relationship between these boys and their fathers may help or hinder their efforts to find help.

As for me, I’m a sucker for Dong-chul’s character already. Sad tough boy with father hangups and an endearing love for his grandmother is the perfect drama catnip for me, so I’ve pretty much declared my allegiance to Dong-chul as we head towards the rivalry and friendship fallout that I suspect is coming soon.

That said, Taecyeon’s take on Sang-hwan isn’t unappealing so far. I find that Taecyeon is at his most likeable when he gets to play a slightly goofy character who cares deeply about those around him, and while we’re still scraping the surface when it comes to Sang-hwan, I think the potential is definitely there.

My only quibble so far might be that dramatic cliffhanger felt a little contrived, as though no one could think of a better way for the boys and the family to encounter one another again. This town isn’t that big, so I feel like opportunities to run into each other are abundant without the need for a crash, but we’ll see how the consequences pay off soon enough. Otherwise, the mood of the show is enough to keep me looking forward to more.

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Thanks for the recap! I'm loving this show so far. I'm studying religious anthropology in school, so this is right up my alley.

-The cult is already giving me Jonestown vibes. I feel like it would be easy to make the cult elements less believable and more overdramatic, but so far there's a lot of restraint (but still a lot of definite creepiness).
-I already love our four boys' rapport with each other.
-DC with his grandma made me tear up. I'm already liking the overall sweetness of our main characters with their families and I'm hoping it will lead to good conflict down the road.

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Yes the cult is really creepy.?

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We need many more offensive How-Dare-You-My-Religion posts.
Cult is dangerous and that woman assistant surely believes in Creepy Baek. She also knows what is wrong with each of them. That hairy guy is less in Baek and can better deal with cult but he is also somewhat in for what he feels is his. These people surely need mental treatment.
I don't think Baek gonna lust over our Pure Heroine. It is more linked to his mental state. So any physical abuse is more than lust matter.

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Jonestown, Waco, Chikdren of God, and Heaven's Gate all came to mind while watching the cult. I seen some saying that some if it is unintentionally funny (like people really wouldn't do that) and yes yes they would. I mean have people not seen vids of people "getting the ho,y ghost' speaking in tongues and putting on a show a church. I agree the drama is doing a good job if giving a restrained, realistic to a point, display of cult hood.

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I really liked it- the cult is alternates between good acts and being incredibly creepy and menacing. I find that more unsettling than if they were evil 100% of the time. Taecyeon playing a high school student is quite distracting- he looks at least 25 to me.

It premiered to pretty low ratings. I hope that improves.

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Lawl, It was amusing to me when the boys jumped into the jimjilbang bath together and you just see Taec's upper bod and he's so friggin' huge compared to the others. I was like, "Dude! You're a grown man! Not a high school boy!"

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Yes, same here when I saw that. I keep getting kicked out of the world they inhabit knowing he is almost thirty. I'm also probably just used to seeing tall skinny sons of b****es in school dramas that seeing him all buff feels like he has been a senior in high school senior ten times already.

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Right?! He's as wide as an ox! It's as if So Ji Sub was playing a college student... just totally implausible visually.

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LOL I loved that part too! It's funny--when you compared pictures of Taec now to him like in 2009, I really don't think he changed that much over the years...but put him next to his friends it's like "ok there, ajusshi..." I don't know. Maybe it's the ears. They're just that much less pronounced now.

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I do not know where this drama will bring me, but I'm fully prepared for this ride. A good start for a drama, I must say. OCN is still the master when it comes to thriller drama. The set up of the characters are also done well. I wanted to see a different kind of plot in thriller drama, and cult religion as a drama theme is something new in kdrama. I also get that this kind of plot might be unpopular one - but hopefully the rise in rating in epi 2 (still below 2%) means the rating will keep rising.

I think by not checking the teasers and other promotional materials before this drama start, made me enjoyed the first two episode more since I had no expectation at all.

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If this drama becomes popular I hope it will inspire other writers to have use of dark themes.

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Yes, I'm quite bored with just the standard thriller drama with the murder, drugs, corruptions etc. Want them to explore and be more darker.

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I find Korean movies darker than most, the dramas are slowly getting there.

I don't yearn for dark themes and I am most peeved when a drama tries to be dark but gives nothing more than gratuitous violence and over the top villains.

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Same! I want more dark and creepy, which we don't see much of. Instead we get blood, gore and gratuitous violence as you said.

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I love Korean thriller movies because they don't hesitate to be disturbingly addictive. It's good to see more dramas taking this route.

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Ooh, I thought I was the only one noticing the lack of true thrillers in Kdrama. I know OCN produced many of them, but they still don't feel thrilling, scary, dark, and ominous. I'm looking for a Hannibal Lecter, or the villain in Sherlock; those are the villains needed in kdramas. I don't want a villain who turn soft in the end. maybe this Father Baek will be just what I'm looking for. Please, be evil till the very end.

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Same! I haven't been following the teasers for this show so I didn't know what to expect other than dark and creepy. And I was instantly drawn into this strange world and the mysteries behind it. Even though I promised myself I wouldn't start this drama now...lol

And this is still in the 2014 timeline isn't it? I wonder where our characters will be in 2017...

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Oh god... I forgot about the year. Things... things could get much worse in three years...

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Exactly! I don't want to even think about it! ?
I think this is one show where I have to watch it with all the Beanies! I can't watch it alone and have no one to discuss with!

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Or better! As in Sang-mi's hairstyle. I'm aware that I'm probably being insensitive and silly, and this is totally irrelevant to anyone else, but I really hope that Seo Ye-ji will be sporting the same lovely hair that she has in the promo photos, rather than the not-so-flattering hairstyle that she has atm. I noticed that her hair is MUCH shorter than her Moorim School days (the last drama I saw of hers), so I wonder if she really chopped off a good chunk of her beautiful long locks irl? *sniffs* It was so long and pretty!

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I think until 4th epi? Maybe from 5th epi it will be 2017 timeline.

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Ah ok..so the boys wouldn't be high schoolers then?
Time to go back and read all the promos lol

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Yay! That means TAEC won't be a high schooler anymore! Yay, yay!

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Hahha yep! How can he go back to high school after being a college student in Bring it on, Ghost?
I guess it's ok since it won't be for the whole drama..

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@ravennightstar Don't forget Lee Min Ho was also went back to be a high school student after 4 years lmao ??

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Based on the previous articles and promo materials for this drama, I'm sure they'll be much deeper involved in the cult, for sure. Especially Sang-mi's family.

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Yep definitely. With just the first two episodes I can see that it won't be easy to escape from the cult's clutches.
I'm hoping things actually get scary from now on because it's been a while since I jumped at something lol. Yep I want to get scared. Don't tell me I'm the only weirdo here?

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I really like how Sang-mi is the strong one in the family, reassuring her brother and parents and comforting them. This show carries the creepiness throughout the whole episode, interspersed with light moments from the four boys. I am curious about the cult and their seemingly innocent facade hiding more sinister motives and their tea which is surely drugged (right?). This is a new plot in dramaland and I am in for the ride! Also Dong-chul has won me over in the first episode itself so I am doomed to have SLS for the next 2 months! ?

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Totally drugged! That holy water thing that they keep on adding to it had enough close ups to be suspicious.

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Yes I am also wondering what that tea does to the people?
And what are the motivations for the cult? Is scary to know what their goal will be because if it's not money then what could it be.

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Of course! Duh, me! ??‍♀️ Huh. Now I'm gonna be freaking out whenever they offer their "living water" or herbal medicine to people--especially Sang-mi's family. Eep!

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The cult literally has everyone drinking the koolaid with that tea ?

I'm not ruling out bribery either though. I don't buy that the Father's two lackeys are really "believers", they're definitely there for their own agendas.

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Yes, what could be in that tea.
So far though I cannot tell what is it that the cult wants.

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The drinks must make people hallucinate. They looked in trance at the ceremony.

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And brainwashed. And something that makes 'em believe everything the cult tells them. That's why cults are so scary to me. They're capable of ultimately controlling all these people and having them at their fingertips.

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Finally! I was waiting for this recap!

I usually avoid OCN dramas because they are too graphic for me. This one has been good so far and I love the kind of creepy it brings on the table. The concept is refreshing and I think the foundation was set well in this first episode.

I am also wondering what the cult's goal is. I do think they're quite in it for the money though. The Father said all those stuff and rejected the money but Eun-shil still received the money later on. However, there's probably something else, something darker deep within the organization.

I already love the four friends! They're so cute together (when they're not doing crazy stuff like riding a motorcycle straight to a car!). The family is strange too like they're hiding some scars of their own. Kyaaaaa I can't wait to watch more! Thanks for the recaps!

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Yeah, I also found the family a little strange. At moments it almost seemed like Sang-mi was the head of the household. But as though it was from a position where she was the only person with enough fight left in them after some serious emotional baggage. I am curious to learn more.

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Sang Mi is the glue of the family. She's the only with enough sense to question the cult's intention.

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Yes, it's really kind of unreal how gullible the rest of the family is. But, maybe they have their own tea. I hope that point isn't taken too far, because I think not only gullible people are sucked into cults. Cults one way or another offer something that attracts their members.

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The first ep was definitely more eerie than scary. I'm expecting the creepiness will increase as the eps go on, so I'm ready to see the cult at their worst. There's definitely more to the cult, especially that underground that Disciple Jo went to to retrieve the drunkard. I wonder about the cries coming from all the other rooms.

I'd like to know more about what happened to Sang-mi's family, too. What was the traumatic incident that caused them to move and start a new life? Whatever it was, I think it might have to do with Sang-jin's limp/injured leg. Poor Sang-jin. I have a feeling he's gonna die, too... me and my pessimistic self at it again.

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I think it's not the first time Dad was scammed. He looks easy to fool and Sang Jin being bullied are most likely the reasons why they moves out.

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Yeah, I can see that from Dad. Eh, I haven't watched ep 2 yet, but the previews at the end of ep 1 made me feel even more bad for Sang-jin. And Sang-mi. Their sibling relationship will definitely hurt my heart. That, and Dong-chul.

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Prepare your heart for episode 2 !

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@mango I know... *sniffle*

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I have only ever had mild cases of second lead syndrome, but I have a feeling this show (and Dong-chul in particular) may be a trial by fire for me. I already love the four lead boys and their camaraderie. Any possible rifts that may break them up are dreadful to consider.

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Yep, definitely have SLS here, no doubt. If it wasn't for Taecyeon being the obvious male lead here, I'd much rather have Do-hwan be the first male lead since he's such a charismatic actor, especially compared to Taec. I'd seriously rather have no romance than to have it get in the way of the boys' friendship.

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Same! I have a feeling I would watch this drama even if there was no romance in it, the main story with the cult seems like it has enough punch! And I hate when romance gets in the way of friendship!

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Oh yes, i have seen both episodes and SLS confirmed. Those eyes did it for me. Woo Do-hwan is very striking to look at. He caught my attention in that crapshoot of a show "man living in my house". His character is much softer here (also fulfilling the classic strong and silent type trope). Dong-chul is a standout for me! Looking forward to more.
When I watch young upcoming actors, really warms my heart. I love the 3 lead kids in school 2017 as well. It's exiting to see what they will bring in the future.

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*exciting. I am terrible at typing on mobile

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Same here, same here! School 2017 and leads here are fun to watch.

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What a juggernaut of a pilot. Character and world building was done subtly and superbly, a rare occurrence in dramaland. Love how the show isn't attacking all at once, but building a slow sense of dread as it eases along. Cinematography is A+++, totally feels like movie.

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Agreed, and well said!

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Yes! Well done to the show. Totally exceeded my (low) expectations

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I'm rooting for our boys to help and rescue Sang-mi, her family, and the rest of the town from the creepy cult, but I, too, pledge my allegiance to Dong-chul in regards to the romance aspect of the show. I honestly don't even need romance in this show, but if we're gonna have an OTP, then I'm definitely rooting for Dong-chul and Sang-mi because HE LOOKED BACK TWICE, Y'ALL! . I still can't shake the feeling that he might end up dying on us later on... eep!

Ha, if @abirdword didn't point it out, I wouldn't have realized (until I finally watch future eps, of course) that David Lee was the shortest among the boys. David's portrayal of Jung-hoon is just so fun to watch and is definitely one of my favorite parts of this show so far. He's such a scaredy-cat and is mostly all talk, but David's so charming that he makes his Jung-hoon character endearing. I love the friends' rapport and can't wait to see them continue to work together to bring all the bad guys down.

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Even in promotional posters he's in the back looking scared HAHA Good portrayal indeed.

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Everything is pointing me to Second Lead Syndrome Land with Dong-chul. I'm going there anyway, and had my bag packed at the second glance back at Sang-mi.

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it's so dark... but i'm watching for Woo Do Hwan's character... he's interesting in his dark, moody ways...

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Literally! The color palette in this show is so dark and moody. And blue!

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I'm on the WDH ship, even if I'm 99.9% certain it's gonna sink. What an interesting character already!

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The first episode was really creepy. Still wandering what the cult is after.
And what is in that tea?
And if there is others who are helping the cult.
Thanks for the recap.

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What if Sang-hwan's dad is somehow connected to the cult? There's mystery as to how his mom became bed ridden too. This is just an assumption but I hope it's not true. It will break Sang-hwan apart if ever.

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That'll will be terrible for Sang Hwan. I did suspect the mother's condition has got to do with the cult and SH & Dad is none the wiser for it.

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Well that was downright terrifying and creepy but I'm craving more. I'm really curious as to how the idea of a cult even started and where each of our members fit in. This show really feels and looks like a horror movie. But I'm enjoying every moment of it. That scene in the beginning where he "rid" the person of liver cancer left me nauseous and confused but everyone in the room seemed to believe it. And I was so astonished. As someone who isn't religious and side eyes pastors I couldn't believe that they just blindly believed whatever he said.

#DongChulProtectionSquad. I can already tell he's in for a lot of hurting during this show. *fingers crossed they don't kill off his grandmother*

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Nooooooooo!!! Not Halmoni!

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It must be the tea! It could also be mass delusion. Everyone around you is being like that, you can't be the only normal one! It's also easy to prey on naive people like Sang-mi's parents. They were helped and they automatically think those people are heaven-sent.

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@giocare, I couldn't agree more with you on the cult. I get all squint-eyed everytime the cult is on-screen. I steer pretty far away from religion, too.

I didn't think about Dong-chul's grandmother being in danger, but now I'm worried! Hopefully this pair makes it to the end of the series. He seems like a sweetheart.

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So far it is following pretty closely the evolution of several real life cults. That "cancer" scene was taken right out of real life fakery.

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Don't you know the rule in dramas? when someone declares they love their mother/grandmother/father/grandfather etc more than anyone - it means a death sentence?
At least that is what I thought immediately when he told his halmoni how much he loved her. sigh....
this show is TOTALLY creepy - and I'm all in!

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If creepy is what they're going for, then they've definitely achieve it. I watched the trailers a lot while waiting for this to come out but the creep and disgust is still there when I watch the priest grabbed Sang Mi's thighs. This might be a difficult watch for me but I'll keep on so I could see the four boys rescue everyone from this cult.

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The getting-rid-of-cancer was unbelievable but making the impossible possible is the cult's intention. At least that's what people think.

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Yep that's what makes it all the more appealing. Something that even doctors can't cure is being done by the Spiritual Father. Of course people will think that it's because of God and his divine blessing upon the Spiritual Father to be able to do this.

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Just to go YouTube and search "fake healers exposed". There are hundreds of videos exposing that same kind of junk, but yet people still buy into it all the time.

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Rescue Squad : Sang Hwan and Dong Chul are the closest in their squad because they understand each other parent issue I guess. SH's mom is the hospital but he seems to have a good relationship with his father even if they're not often together. DC has his lovely grandmother (aww jjajjangmyun for his birthday was so sweet) and his alcoholic father that rejects him is horrible. I've already asked in on the fan wall but did SH gave him his motorbike or did he buy it with money he earned doing part-time jobs ? He can't realistically afford it but again we're in dramaland. Jung Hoon is full of bluff LOL He's the police chef's son but it doesn't restrain in of doing stupid things with his friends. The same goes for SH. We will learn about Man Hee in upcoming episodes I think.

Im Family : They must have moved out because of a friend of dad scammed him and it doesn't seem like to be the first time. It's no wonder he actually trusts Spiritual Father and the church. Mom is more cautious but still follows dad. Sang Mi tries to look at the bright side but doesn't fool herself (errrk at that thigh gripping !). Sang Jin is mentally weak I presume due to previous bullying. The family is loving and supportive I hope nothing too bad will happen to them.

Creepy Cult : The fact that the police chef dropped the homeless man off with the cult and that Im family was solicited to pay them a visit like an official visit shows that they have a deep control of this town and its authorities. Spiritual Father might be more important that the mayor.
Jo Wan Tae aka Creepy Assistant is not doing digs purely for God's love. I shiver only thinking about him. Spiritual Father and Too Nice Woman once lived happily like the Im family. Father asked her if she misses those times sometimes. So what happened to them ? Why do they live like this ?

On a superficial note, Dong Chul's satoori is sexy. I'm a goner.

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Oh, the beginning gave me the Twin Peaks series vibes! They were so crazy, creepy and fun to watch. Please don't spoil it with the traditionnel k-drama schematizatoin...

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i got the major creeps when the crazy put his hand on sang-mi's thigh at the end..ugh

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Dong-chul, take my heart.

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This show creeped me out but also has me intrigued on what the cult exactly wants/ does. Is it money or are they doing some more nefarious. Jo sung ha is amazing as the cult leader. When he said “They look very happy. Don’t you miss it?” it actually scared me!
Looking forward to read your take on ep 2.

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I'd been waiting for this drama ever since they announced the news because to me, it's really interesting plot to explore the darkness of cult. The first episode doesn't really 'wow' me, but it still intrigues me to want to know what's going to happen to Sang Mi family since the Father Baek said "the family looks happy." I'm ready for the emotional ride on this drama!
Btw the four bumpkins are so cute ❤️ I love their friendship and of course Dong Chul caught my attention. I came to this drama for Taecyeon, but sorry oppa, Woo Do Hwan caught my heart real fast.

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I wasn't planning to watch this, didn't even catch the teasers so I was pleasantly surprised at how gripping it is.

The show has done a marvelous setup for all the characters, making me curious to know more. I am totally won over by Dong Chul. It's such a common bad boy character in kdrama but this actor is pulling it off so effortlessly with a nuanced but powerful performance. Plus he has the kind of look that chungmoro prefers, I gonna bet a bright future in movies. The other two boys are good too, only Taecyeon stands out in a wrong way.

This is the first time I'm watching Taecyeon and now I know why he had received criticisms for his acting. First, he doesn't look like a student. I am surprised that the actors playing Dong Chul and the twins are at least 25 yrs old but I have no problem believing they are students. Secondly, he seems to be playing himself. I can kinda see him being the same in other dramas.

Sang Mi’s parents are simple and naïve. I can’t imagine how they survive in Seoul. I am intrigued by Sang Jin’s limp. Was it caused by bullying or was he bullied because of it? I like this actor too, very subtle and convincing. The twins are more perceptive than their parents but Sang Jin is too broken and afraid. He needs help more than anything else. The burden falls squarely on Sang Mi’s shoulders. I was got so frustrated with the parents especially Dad when they couldn’t see how the wary and afraid the children were of Father Baek, Eun Shil and Disciple Jo.

If a cult’s motive is to cheat people of money and assets, it’d be much less creepy than one who isn’t. Even though Eun Shil accepted a donation, what is the cult doing in this rural and impoverish place? The people may be more gullible but what can they give to the cult? And why is the trio so interested in the twins? I can’t say they are interested in youths when the congregation are made up mostly of the elderly. Father Baek is one character which can go over the top, I like what Jo Sung Ha is doing here. I am even more delighted with Park Ji Young, she has definitely grown on me.

Is this the first drama to feature a cult that’s obviously pseudo Christian? For a country where Christianity is predominant and no stranger to cults, I wonder what’s the reaction towards this show? Is the low ratings a sign of disagreement or indifference?

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I agree with you about Woo Do Hwan. A great future in Chungmuro is awaiting him.
The parents are too easily influenced. Sang Min is on her own facing the cult.
I consider the ratings a good start since it's not a common theme used in dramas. It might rise if the plot develops well.

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That's what i noticed as well. He reminds me of Ryu Jun Hyeol of Reply 1988. (Did I spell it correctly). That intense gaze belongs to Chungmuro.

Wish him all the success.

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Is South Korea predominantly Christian? For some reason, I don't see it in their kdramas. Confucianism and Buddhism is more like it. Also, when I visited South Korea, few months ago, I didn't see many churches.

So, I think for many Koreans, this is new. So, it is possible that this show is saying don't fooled by people doing these kind of generous things. That Not all of them are nice.

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South Korea is around 30% Christian. That's a significant amount of the population and there are almost as many people who identify as Christians as there are Buddhists. There are some K-dramas I recall that feature Christianity. In Page Turner, Shin Jae-ha's character hilariously thinks that Kim So-hyun's accident is an act of God after he prayed in a church. Park Shin-hye's character in You're Beautiful was a nun or something. I also recall nuns being featured in some other mid-00s drama... My Girl? I remember Sung Dong-il praying in a church after he was in the hospital in Answer Me 1997. Oh, and Jin Se-yeon's character in Gaksital was very religious (Christian).

However, Christianity is obviously a newer religion and isn't as deeply rooted in Korean society as Buddhism and traditional Korean religion. It gained more traction in the country after the Occupation and grew rapidly.

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I knew that significant % of the population are Christians but to confirm, I search online. I am not sure if this is an official website http://www.korea.net/AboutKorea/Korean-Life/Religion
The stats are 2005 though. If you lump Protestants and Catholics together, they outnumber the Buddhists.

Read about cults in S. Korea http://www.todayonline.com/world/asia/south-korea-cult-history
The most famous was the 'Moonie" cult - the Unification Church.

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Thank you for the articles!! I wasn't aware of how prevalent cults were in south korea

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thanks for the links @outofthisworld. This show so far has me hooked, but at the time it's bringing back many memories of the cults that were so prevalent in the 70s and 80s - at least here in the Pacific Northwest in the US.
Not only did we content with Reverand Sung Yung Moon (or the moonies as we called them) but there was a town overtaken by the Baghwan Rajneeshees cult. They are scary things.
The only thing that keeps me watching this show is that I know all the evil folks will get their dues. Or they better in this one.

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Thank you for the recap! Such an interesting show! Dong chul is such a cutie.

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I'm happy that Teacyeon is effectively playing his adorable character from Cinderella's Sister all over again.

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The first episode is looking good so far. I am captivated by the ploy, the characters and how they would eventually come together into one cohesive plotline. Most importantly, the cult is creepy, and what is the spiritual father's end game? I am intrigued.

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There are so many interesting back stories to explore. What drove this obviously broken family to leave the city in search of some escape from their pain? The father and son seem particularly vulnerable.

What motivates this cult? Father Baek asked Apostle Eun-Shil if she "missed those times?" What life did they lead before all of this? I almost get the feeling that they want to destroy the happiness around them. It was that observed moment of familial bliss that brought the Im family to Father Baek's attention. If not to destroy happiness, do they want to somehow partake of that happiness (even if pain and destruction results)?

And all of this talk of beauty is somewhat unsettling. Eun-shil is praised for her beauty by the Church's supporters, and Sang-mi's beauty is remarked upon by Apostle Jo and Father Baek. And I see the way that Eun-Shil stares at Sang-mi. I wonder if age (growing older) and beauty will somehow play a dark role. Sorry, was that a coherent thought? LOL

Apostle Jo is another character whose background will be interesting to explore. Kudos to Jo Jae-yun for his performance.

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Correction: "even if pain and destruction result...."

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The father does not seem very bright, and the mother just seems to follow along passively.

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Thanks for the recap. Dong chul reminds me of jung hwan (reply 1988). Will keep watching. :)

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And Bok-dong from angry Mom!

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I figured many Beanies would make that connection. I even asked about this on my fan wal, lol.

I remember how many people loved Jung-hwan's character. :)

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The four goofball gang is a favorite thing, but Dong-chul is my favorite already. I know I'm headed for major SLS pain, but bring it on, show! Thanks for recapping this series!

Also, that cult is creepy and flat-out scary. I caught myself squinting at my TV anytime they showed up on my screen, as I don't trust anything they do.

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I've seen both episodes and the pace picks up significantly in episode 2 while maintaining both the creep factor, mystery, tension and sense of danger lurking out there. I won't comment much on the Im family. Good people who have done nothing wrong that has been cheated out of their money. Sang Mi and Sang Jin, the twins are their universe while Sang Mi, who tries to ease her parents while trying to protect her fragile brother and keep the spirits up for their family. It breaks my heart what will happen to them in the coming episodes.
The four boys perfectly represented the tortured youth of a town away from City but full of life. I am suffering a case of extreme second lead syndrome. Dong Chul as a character and Woo Do Hwan as an actor outshines Taecyon's Sang Hwan. Taecyon's doing fine and fits the role but he is no scene stealer as some of us already expected. Seo Ye Ji is doing exceptionally well.
Now, the cult, it gives me People's temple vibe and Spritual Father Baek seems to have been written while drawing significant inspiration from Jim Jones. He is enigmatic, manipulative and knows enough tricks to keep his followers belief intact on him. Dispicle Jo, he isn't in it for the beliefs of salvation. But I am guessing Baek and Jo have a common thread of interest that has them bound together. Eun Shil on the other hand is somebody who is so blinded by Baek that she possibly overlooks their wrongdoing as long as she gets to be with him like one of the Partners of Manson family. I see extreme jealousy on her part in the future when Baek gets Sang Mi totally wrapped up in his cult family. I felt like I needed a shower after he ran his hands up her thigh. So, disgusting and creepy. I am still unclear what the cult believes. Illegal things do happen but whatever happens the law enforcement seems to have some sort tacit agreement in place. I am not sure where the Police father and the aspiring governor will fit in this scenario. Are they good or bad ones?? At any rate, the devotion the entire Muji community have for the church and the way things are as of now, it'll be a difficult task for our boys to rescue Sang Mi.

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I was anticipating to watch this drama before its premiere but now that I've read the first recap I don't think I will be able to. The creep factor of a religious cult with hints sexual abuse abound is hard for me to watch. I'm already scared just by reading the recap, what more if I wacth it. Thinking of where the story may lead in future episodes made me decide to just follow this drama on recaps and not watch, because I think its going to be more frightening than any ghost stories.

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I didn't expect to pine and root for a second lead and suffer the pains of second lead syndrome in a drama about a cult...but here I am. I also swore my allegiance to Dong Chul as soon as I saw his character amidst the boys. He is definitely neck to next with Mori for Bad Boy 2017 of my heart.

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I feel the same way about these two.

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The first two episodes are soooooooo good!!!!!! The guy with the curly hair is so creepy omg and SLS anyone? xD

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Yeah, Jo Jae Yun excellent actor, here he really creeps me out)

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SLS is strong with this show.

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Thanks for the recap, abirdword!
So far acting is good, the plot is definitely intriguing, chilling and intense and i'm hooked.
But ratings((

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Thanks "abirdword" and DB for recapping this drama. A little creepy for me but I am in for Taecyeon and the boys! TY is a giant next to the younger actors and I hope the time lapse will come sooner. He does not look good in a school uniform anymore.... I have to go back to Dream High to rewatch his slimmer face and cool vibe.... hehe...

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I'm in love. There is so much there. So much potential (I will be so mad if the drama doesn't divulge into parallels, questions, doubts, and similarities between cult leader/cults followers and politicians/political parties. I sensed a hit in episode 2 of that to cone so I pray they go there). Please drama don't blow it. Two EPA in and you living up to my hype. Please let the Dong and path there be good.

Dong Cheol. My Dong Cheol. He peaked my interest in stills and previews and with 10 minutes of ep 1 I was in love and ep 2 sealed the deal on let-me-love-you-forever-you-precious-thong-that-must-be-protected-please-don't-die-like-all-my-stole-the-show-for-me-side-characters-tend-to-do. His character is exactly my type of catnip. I melted when he kissed his grandma,

Taec is a meh actor and although he's better and SH has the potential be a very interesting hero. He doesn't do it for me.

I looooove our heroine. You can see her grit, strength and fortitude in like the first 10 minutes of the episode. She's obviously the backbone and "parent" in the family. I adore her spot on intuition and hope at some point she stops sacrificing herself for the better of her family. YOU IN DANGER GIRL!! I need you to tell your family to miss you and run cause dad done drank the cool aid.

Thanks for the recap.

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I really, really like the show. After so many corrupt prosecutors and incompetent cops, this show's themes is such a breath of fresh air. Yet there's something timelessness about it - the bromance between the four boys hark back to so many great shows, the brewing love triangle, the epic 2nd lead ship, and the big bad in the form of the scary shady cult - are already setting the stage for a great set up.

It's so effectively scary and horrifying. But there's also moments of warmth and humour, and that helps to keep the audience invested. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Dong Chua - ooof my heart.

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*Dong Chul - Dammit

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The bumpkin bike gang has me sold on this show.

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Also, thanks Father Baek...I never ever ever want to hear the word "fragrant" in any language now...

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I started this drama and was only supposed to watch 1 ep but it was so good I had to watch all of it. I love this drama, the plot is unique, the characters are interesting and the cinematography really adds to it's thriller aspect.
I have a thing for dark dramas idk why lol.

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I came here to give Dong-chul some love but apparently the comments are already throwing a Dong-chul party. LOL

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