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Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey): Episode 1

Seung-gi’s back, rejoice! More to the point, Seung-gi’s back with perhaps the most perfectly cast role, which is a promising way to kick off one of the big buzz projects of the year.

This hasn’t been the most thrilling drama season (or seasons), so it’s a bit of an understatement to say I was pinning a lot of hope on Hwayugi (or the faintly generic-sounding A Korean Odyssey) to lift me out of my doldrums, while also trying to keep my expectations to a minimum.

It’s rather early to draw conclusions, but if you asked me which Hong sisters we’re getting with this drama, I’d say it’s much more of the Master’s Sun Hong sisters vibe, and not as much the Big/Warm and Cozy vibe. The source material is rich and plentiful, and I think the Hongs do much better when there’s a lot to riff off of and reinvent, rather than starting from scratch. And the casting really is spot-on.

(The drama does, it must be noted, follow in tvN’s infuriating pattern of shows coming in at ungodly lengths—you want me to watch TWO 90-minute episodes a week? I can barely watch one 90-minute movie a month! As a result, I started drinking to help me get through the exhausting length, which on one hand sped up the watching process but on the other hand vastly slowed down the writing process. You win some, you lose some.)

 

 
BACKGROUND

In anticipation of Hwayugi’s run, I’ve been reading the (English-translated, unabridged) Journey to the West for the past several months, because knowing the Hong sisters’ style, I knew they’d be throwing references left and right and I wanted to be able to catch them. Moreover, Journey to the West is a story that I’ve seen referenced a lot in pop culture, but is not really explained—it seems one of those things that is so generally well-known that it’s assumed one is already familiar with the broad strokes of the story. I felt it was knowledge worth having, and so I dove in.

I’m only 700 pages into the book (…it has a LOT of pages), but I feel pretty confident in understanding the setup and characters and feel of the world. Journey to the West is, in an overarching sense, a story that starts Taoist and ends Buddhist, and can be seen in some ways as a religious masterwork, although it’s not really “religious” in a straight sense. It’s more folkloric with rich fantasy elements. I wondered whether a 500-year-old classic, seminal literary work might be rather stodgy through a modern lens, but was happily surprised to find Journey to the West funny and irreverent—it really does feel like a rollicking adventure romp.

At the core of the story is our Monkey King, who was born a troublemaker. Carved out of stone and given life by spiritual beings, he learns ancient Taoist magic and grows into a being that’s too powerful for his own good—he isn’t overtly evil or malicious, but he is hot-tempered and supremely selfish, so anytime he has an impulse he acts on it. Anytime someone tries to reason with him, he just fights them and wins and does what he wants anyway. After running amok in the heavens for centuries and defeating anyone who tried to challenge him, the Monkey is finally subdued, his powers bound, and his body trapped for hundreds of years.

When he is finally released from his prison, he is given a chance at redemption by accompanying a virtuous human monk on a spiritual journey to collect scriptures in the West. Since Monkey is inherently impish and flighty, he is made to wear a golden circlet that brings him immense pain when the monk recites a sutra, which keeps him in check whenever he’s tempted to go off the rails (which is often). Even as a reborn spiritual disciple, Monkey is frequently mischievous, proving that you can’t change who you are, just what you do! Along the way, he picks up companions—monsters who have all gone astray in their prior lives, have been punished, and are given the same second chance at redemption.

Characters:

Sohn Oh-gong: The Koreanized name of Sun Wukong, our Monkey King. At one point before he was imprisoned, Monkey styled himself “the Great Sage, Equal to Heaven,” and is sometimes called this by other characters.

Woo Mawang: Woo Hwi is the name he’s been given, but “Woo Mawang” is the direct translation of Bull Demon King, and the writers are being punny here by making Woo his surname and Mawang his nickname, aka Devil. The supernatural characters mostly call him Mawang, while the humans know him as CEO Woo. As far as I can tell, the Bull Demon King is a pretty minor character in the original novel, so I’m expecting particular liberties with this character.

Jin Sun-mi: Descended from Monk Sam-jang (aka Xuanzang), Jin Sun-mi is a name that basically means beauty. (For instance, jin, sun, and mi are the designations for first-, second-, and third-place winners of beauty pageants.) In the novel, the monk is known for his virtuous nature, but rather wimpy in the face of the dangers of the journey, necessitating the cadre of protectors.

PK: Full name Jeo Pal-ke (Zhu Bajie). To be cheeky, they’ve restyled the idol as PK, rather than Pal-ke. The surname means Pig, and the character is ruled by lust, gluttony, and laziness. The rest of his name means Eight Precepts, which refer to the temptations he ought to resist (greed, lust, etc.). In the novel, Monkey often calls him Idiot as a name.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

In an ornate mansion, an eccentrically dressed man watches a news report of a mountain fire in the Gangwon region. Then we hop over to Gangwon Province, where the arrival of a young girl at school spurs classmate taunts of her being a ghost.

She’s JIN SUN-MI (Kal So-won), and she quietly takes a seat at her desk, which has been defaced with slurs telling her this is a school for people, not ghosts. She ignores them and looks up as the teacher enters and asks the kids brightly to stand up. Sun-mi stands… and then realizes that none of the other kids have seen the teacher. Ack, shivers!

The teacher-ghost grins widely to see that one child can see her, and zooms up to Sun-mi’s face (ack! Stop that!) to taunt her. As her classmates eye her in confusion, Sun-mi unfurls her umbrella at the ghost, and a talisman flashes on its surface to repel it.

The real teacher walks in and wonders what Sun-mi is doing with her umbrella out in the empty classroom, while Sun-mi whispers for the ghost to leave her alone.

After school, the teacher-ghost haunts Sun-mi’s walk home and gets angry at Sun-mi’s repeated rebuffs. The ghost grabs Sun-mi’s umbrella and looms menacingly, just as a man shows up wielding an umbrella with a black bull’s head for a handle. One slam of the shaft onto the ground sends the ghost flying, then bursting into a cloud of black smoke.

Sun-mi looks up at the man—the eccentric from our opening, WOO MAWANG (Cha Seung-won)—and he smiles at her. She asks how he chased the ghost away, and he slams his umbrella down, causing leaves to blow away. She tries the same with her own umbrella, and is disappointed when it doesn’t work.

She guesses that he’s not human, and Mawang replies, “So you won’t get scared, let’s call me a fairy.” LOL.

Sun-mi tells Mawang that she doesn’t find him scary, unlike when she sees evil ghosts. He deduces that she can see things that aren’t human, saying that he’s been searching for a special human like her to do him a favor. She agrees to help if he’ll swap umbrellas, and they shake on the deal.

Mawang leads Sun-mi through the forest toward a house, where he needs her to retrieve a special fan for him. A fire has been raging in the mountains, and he needs the fan in order to stop the fire. Once she gives him the fan, he’ll give her his umbrella.

Sun-mi cheerfully agrees and starts to head off. Mawang issues her a serious warning to grab the fan and leave immediately, and to not acknowledge anything else, no matter what she sees or hears.

The forest grows increasingly gnarled and ominous, until finally Sun-mi comes to a house perched precariously on stilts overhanging a cliff. As she approaches the house, we hear her earlier question to Mawang, regarding why he needed her to do this task. He’d answered that the house was invisible to humans, yet only allowed entry to humans.

Inside is a house worthy of Escher’s dimension-warping designs. Sun-mi follows Mawang’s instructions to the fan, grabbing it out of midair.

As she looks around, suddenly a gold rod slams onto the table, held by a stone-faced man/being/spirit (Lee Seung-gi). He asks Sun-mi how she came to be here, and Sun-mi recalls Mawang’s warning and pretends not to hear him.

The man, SOHN OH-GONG, picks Sun-mi up by her backpack and sighs to himself that there’s no way a human child could hear him, wishing he could drink when he has such a tasty snack in front of him.

He lets her go, and Sun-mi continues on her way out. But Oh-gong calls out to her again, noticing when she flinches in response. He asks again why she took the fan, and this time, knowing she can’t fake not hearing him, Sun-mi replies that the fairy ajusshi asked her to do it.

Oh-gong guesses that he was tall and had a mustache, and Sun-mi explains that they made a deal. Oh-gong asks if she signed a contract, tsking that she’s in trouble now.

Oh-gong says that she could get attacked the second she steps outside, and offers her his escort. He asks her to blow out the five rainbow-colored candles on the centerpiece while he changes his clothes, then watches—rather too eagerly—as she moves to do it.

Sun-mi’s a sharp cookie, though, and guesses that he can’t do it himself. He admits that he can’t leave until the candles are put out, showing her the tattooed shackles on his wrists, ankles, and neck, which bind him here. “If you extinguish the candles and release me,” he promises, “I can leave and protect you, understand?”

Sun-mi asks for a contract. HA! Oh-gong agrees, and asks what her stipulations are. Sun-mi requests, “Please protect me. I see very frightening monsters.”

He tells her his name, adding, “If you call my name when you’re in trouble, in danger, or scared, I’ll appear and protect you.” He holds out his hand, and they touch palms to seal the deal, whereupon a ball of light rises from his palm.

With each candle that Sun-mi puts out, one of Oh-gong’s tattoo shackles disappears. Finally freed, Oh-gong gasps in relief, and immediately the house vanishes around them, leaving them standing in a field outdoors.

Thrilled, Oh-gong thanks Sun-mi and declares that the first thing he’ll do is drink liquor and tries to hurry away. But she grabs his hand and reminds him of his promise to protect her, and asks her to deliver her home to her grandma.

Oh-gong starts to think of a way around the deal, and tells her that like the bad men locked up in prison, he’s a bad man. But he concedes that he’s unfortunately unable to renege on a contract with a human, so anytime she calls his name, he has to protect her.

But when he asks if she recalls his name, Oh-gong snaps his fingers, and a tiny ball of light leaves her memory and floats in the air. He sends it flying away into the sky, while an indignant Sun-mi watches it helplessly.

Oh-gong delivers more bad news: For helping him escape, Sun-mi will face punishment of her own. He takes the fan, ignoring Sun-mi’s pleas not to leave her, and flies off into the clouds.

In tears, Sun-mi tries to remember Oh-gong’s name but fails.

Twenty-five years later.

An employee of a real estate company, LEE HAN-JOO (Kim Sung-oh), views an empty office space and chats with the landlord couple. He brags of his boss’s skills in this field—she’s young, but has an incredible sixth sense about properties—just as said boss enters.

It’s Jin Sun-mi (Oh Yeon-seo), now an adult, and she ignores the pleasantries and opens her umbrella in the landlords’ faces, sending them reeling back.

Sun-mi asks Han-joo to confirm how many people are in the room, and when she counts an extra set of feet, she tells the couple she knows why they charge cheap rent and guesses that many businesses have gone to ruin here.

The couple swears that there’s nothing wrong with the building, and Sun-mi agrees to contract with them. As paperwork is signed, Sun-mi looks around the office and is particularly interested in a file cabinet. After the others leave, she sees wispy smoke emanating from the cabinet as a ghost emerges, Ring-like, clawing its way toward her.

Sun-mi throws a handful of red beans (known for ghost-warding properties) at the ghost, who yelps in pain and retreats.

A short while later, the subdued ghost sits with Sun-mi, who ties her hair out of her face and calmly listens to her grievance. The girl starved to death after dropping 30 kilograms to audition as a singer, and Sun-mi sympathetically offers her a granola bar to eat. (Ghost lore commonly has it that ghosts can only eat offerings left by humans.) As the ghost eats, employee Han-joo pokes his head through the doorway and shudders at the odd sight of his boss talking to nothing. He decides he’ll have to quit as soon as he can afford to.

Sun-mi asks the ghost if she knows any fairies, explaining that she made a bad deal with a bad fairy once. Her memory of his face is growing hazy, and she wonders if it wasn’t all a dream. But the ghost doesn’t know that fairy.

Meanwhile, a taping of an audition show is underway. One judge is Kim Hyung-seok (a songwriter and entertainment CEO), another is singer-songwriter Kim Yeon-woo, and the third is Woo Hwi (Mawang), CEO of Lucifer Entertainment. When the other two judges fail the contestant, Mawang very dramatically plays up the moment, prods the contestant to show her sincerity, and passes her.

His dramatics get the crowd hyped up, and afterward he’s praised for being a “ratings fairy.” Mawang’s face turns dark, and he says sternly, “I am not a fairy. I am a devil.” Then he turns jokey and plays it off as something he read in the netizen comments.

The contestant he spared from elimination drops by to thank him for giving her a second chance. He tells her to leave the body now—and the girl’s body falls over as the ghost (who was just with Sun-mi) exits. With a nod of thanks, she disappears into the ghostly hereafter.

At his office at Lucifer Entertainment, Mawang’s competent SECRETARY MA (Lee El) congratulates him on a job well done, satisfying both a ghost’s lingering wish and a human’s aspirations. I love how Mawang insists he can handle criticism but is obviously miffed to hear that his co-judges think he’s overdoing the showmanship.

Secretary Ma offers to kill them so he can eat them, heh, but Mawang reminds her that killing is prohibited if he wants to become a Taoist immortal. “Then shall I beat them?” she offers. Ha, I like her. Mawang declines, though, determined to avoid trouble to achieve his immortal aims.

Secretary Ma points out that his roommate keeps stirring up trouble, and hands over a speeding ticket incurred by someone driving a car with the plates “5050”—numbers that, in Korean, read “Oh-gong-oh-gong.” Hee! (He was going 190 kmh in an 80 zone.)

Sohn Oh-gong drives up to a house wearing a priest’s collar, and is escorted inside by a grateful couple just as a window shatters. Ha, are you an exorcist now?

As furniture flies out the window, the parents explain the change in their child. Oh-gong picks up a baseball bat from among the discarded items, and uses it to hit a baseball into the room. It comes flying back out and embeds itself into a tree.

Oh-gong heads into the kid’s room, where a boy is tied to his bed. The demon shows itself and flings curses at Oh-gong, calling him “monkey bastard” and sneering at him for being so high and mighty when he himself was confined for a thousand years. Oh-gong barks back that that’s why he’s “amassing good deed points” by defeating demons now.

Oh-gong looks around to see what item the demon has attached itself to, and spots the ventriloquist’s dummy. He raises the bat to smash it, but the boy-demon begs to be spared.

Desperate to survive, the demon blurts that he saw a human carrying the bloodline of Monk Sam-jang, and that eating Sam-jang’s flesh and blood would make one incredibly powerful. To prove it, the boy-demon bites down on his arm and shows the mark it leaves, which he also left on that human.

As the boy-demon talks, the dummy stirs behind Oh-gong and reaches for a sharp metal compass, raising it to stab him…

Oh-gong whirls and slams the bat into the dummy, defeating the demon.

As Oh-gong leaves the house, the parents are so overjoyed at his success that they don’t even question why another priest has just showed up for an exorcism. Oh-gong tells the father that he packed his own token of gratitude—a bottle of liquor he took from the house. Ha.

Oh-gong drops by an ice cream shop and chats with the proprietor, who knows of his heavenly identity and refers to Oh-gong by his self-styled name “Great Sage, Equal to Heaven.” Oh-gong’s goal is to reinstate himself in the heavens, and he eyes the liquor longingly because he won’t be able to drink till then. He has been collecting thousands of bottles in anticipation of that opportunity.

The ice cream man wishes him well in his quest to re-enter heaven. Oh-gong notes that “Frosty” is doing well in his rehabilitated life as a human—nobody would know he was that troublemaker who turned everything into a wintry wasteland all those years ago.

Oh-gong asks Frosty about this human carrying Monk Sam-jang’s bloodline, and while Frosty has heard of the human “whose blood smells like lotuses,” he’s never seen them. They’re not sure if it’s true that eating that human would make a monster strong, but it certainly would make the human a target by many demons.

Frosty asks if Oh-gong is still living with Mawang, and Oh-gong says that it’s convenient, even if Mawang nags too much.

Mawang likes the living arrangement much less, and is greatly put out when he comes home and is made to carry in a congratulatory wreath for Oh-gong. Moreover, the security guard complains of the douchey sideways parking job of his roomie, which takes up three spaces.

Mawang mutters numerous curses at Oh-gong, and grumbles to see Oh-gong has tossed his coat on his bull statue. Worse, he’s brought in a monkey statue of his own.

Mawang complains to Oh-gong, who’s busy watching TV and points out that Na PD’s Kang’s Kitchen is on track to overtake Mawang’s show. Mawang points out that his ratings are double, but Oh-gong predicts a shake-up.

Turning his attention to his congratulatory wreath, Oh-gong looks forward to his “promotion” back to heaven—it’s not a done deal, but he’s meeting with the Patriarch (Subhuuti) tomorrow. He even offers to exert his influence once he’s back in heaven on Mawang’s behalf, noting that it’s really Mawang’s doing that he was released in the first place.

Mawang denies it up and down, calling it a mistake and accident. He does exult at the idea of Oh-gong leaving his house, while Oh-gong merely thinks Mawang is being sensitive these days because his show is attracting negative comments.

Across town outside a shop selling all sorts of curios, a dummy wearing a bridal gown perks up in interest when a woman tearfully leaves a phone message for her negligent boyfriend. The woman is intrigued by the doll, which starts to twitch as she gets nearer and draws her in a trance. And then, the woman’s face takes on the doll’s manic look.

The next day, Oh-gong has his meeting with the Patriarch (Sung Ji-ru), who is essentially his middle manager to heaven. Patriarch looks over Oh-gong’s recent reports of exorcised demons and points out that the dummy he defeated was a bridegroom—one of a pair, meaning the bride counterpart is still at large. Oh-gong offers to capture her as his last job on earth.

But Patriarch informs him that there has been no decision to reinstate him in heaven—his results are good, but the reviews are bad. Oh-gong tamps down his indignation over the unfair evaluation, but Patriarch points out that his methods are imperfect; sure, he exorcised demons clinging to cars that cause accidents, but smashing an overpass in the process doesn’t look great to the humans.

Oh-gong nearly loses his temper when he’s told he won’t get his reinstatement this time, and reminds Patriarch through clenched teeth that he’s been good ever since he was released. Patriarch tells him better luck next time, but Oh-gong breaks the table in half in a rage, done with accruing points—he’ll just eat Monk Sam-jang.

Patriarch freezes and asks how he knew Sam-jang exists in this world. Which just confirms for Oh-gong that the rumor was true. Patriarch realizes his mistake and says quickly, “Nope,” but Oh-gong isn’t fooled and declares he’ll eat Sam-jang and grow powerful. Worried, Patriarch decides to seek out Mawang for help.

At a concert arena, a singer performs before a packed crowd. He’s PK (Lee Hong-ki), and as he sings, spirits fly through the crowd and head for the crystal ball mounted on a bull figure. Aha, the concert is put on by Lucifer Entertainment, and afterward as Mawang meets with Patriarch, he looks over his collection of crystal balls, each from a different concert.

Patriarch guesses that all of Mawang’s hit stars are monsters of some kind. Knowing that PK is one, he guesses Jang Nara is too. (“There’s no other explanation for her not aging!”) (Mawang admits to considering surgery to age her up, LOL.)

Mawang declines to divulge more secrets, but when Patriarch admits that he’s here because of Oh-gong, he gets testy, thinking it’s about Oh-gong’s promotion. Then he gets positively gleeful when he hears Oh-gong isn’t going back to heaven, which is hilarious. Patriarch shares about Oh-gong’s quest to eat Sam-jang, and recalls that Mawang was the one who sent the human child who freed Oh-gong. Mawang protests that he totally didn’t intend to free him, and that he already paid for his mistake.

Patriarch reveals that the child is Sam-jang—she was given Sam-jang’s fate of confronting demons as punishment for freeing Oh-gong. Patriarch asks Mawang to find her and protect her.

Meanwhile, Sun-mi arrives at the house of the family who exorcised the dummy-demon. The family had wanted to sell the house and move, but now that the boy is cured, they’ve decided to stay. The boy apologizes for having bit Sun-mi the last time (aha, leaving the demon’s identifying mark), and Sun-mi notes that he’s back to normal.

As Sun-mi leaves with employee Han-joo, he recoils at the sight of a scary-looking woman nearby—the woman possessed by the bride-dummy. The Bride says to herself, “It was this house.”

Oh-gong makes his way to that curio shop where the bride dummy was, and picks up a nearby pitcher. As it emits smoke, he sees a vision of the woman meeting the doll that possessed her and offers to buy the pitcher.

Told it’s a very valuable item, Oh-gong makes a call to demand money from SA OH-JUNG (Jang Gwang), who happens to be a CEO of a large corporation (ha, and this drama’s incarnation of Sha Wujing, aka Friar Sand or Monk Sha, the most loyal of the disciples). Obedient CEO Sa agrees to send money immediately.

Oh-gong drops in on Frosty next, and explains that he’s really only looking for the Bride because she’s connected to the Groom, who knew Sam-jang’s identity. Frosty asks if he’s giving up on point-earning, and Oh-gong declares that if he eats Sam-jang, he doesn’t need points.

He offers the magical pitcher to Frosty as repayment for all the ice cream he’s eaten, saying that the reason Frosty has no business is because his energy makes it too cold. The spirit inside the pitcher supposedly has kept it warm for a hundred years, and will bring his shop more warmth. Aw, I like this friendship.

While Han-joo drives, Sun-mi spots a menacing evil presence attached to a car ahead of them. The car starts to swerve as the demon causes the driver to drowse, and Sun-mi orders Han-joo to pull up alongside the car.

Sun-mi shouts at the driver to get his attention, then swears at him to wake up and watch where he’s driving. The driver takes offense, but Sun-mi turns her attention to the demon, yelling at him to get lost, and finally the demon gives up and flies off. Of course, that leaves one angry driver swearing at them, but she ignores that.

As their car stops at a red light, Oh-gong steps into the crosswalk and Sun-mi’s attention is particularly drawn to him, and his to her. After crossing the street, Oh-gong turns to look back at her, and her mind flashes to the contract from 25 years ago.

Oh-gong makes a fan-waving gesture back at her, echoing his fan-waving farewell years ago, and her eyes widen in recognition. She darts out of the car and goes running after Oh-gong, and although she loses him in a courtyard, he sends a boy to lead her to a nearby garden.

Oh-gong waits for her there, and when she joins him, he refers to her casually as “kiddo,” noting how she’s aged. She replies in clipped tones that he hasn’t aged at all, and that he scammed her and disappeared. He replies that he couldn’t appear because she never called his name, chiding her for not trying harder to find him.

She says she didn’t bother trying, since it didn’t seem worth it. That ruffles his pride a bit, and she adds that she was a kid who thought a fairy was something worthwhile, but that he was just a demon confined to a house. She tells him dismissively to go along his way, since she has no intention of calling his name.

He pokes at her pride by saying that Little Sun-mi who pleaded for his protection was cute, but Old Sun-mi is just kind of sad. He offers to give her a talisman and asks for her phone number, and when she asks if he really means to come when she calls, he agrees. But she surprises him by saying she doesn’t need a number for that, since she remembered his real name.

Oh-gong is a bit alarmed at that, and follows her out calling that a lie, though he doesn’t seem certain of it. He warns her not to lie, so she says she’ll pretend she doesn’t know, which of course bothers him even more.

Sun-mi tells him fiercely, “It doesn’t matter, because I will not call your name. It’s that I am not calling your name, not that I cannot call it. I grew up all on my own and protected myself quite well. And so, I don’t need to call a protector fairy’s name.”

Oh-gong seems quite put out by this, even as he talks like he’s glad of it. As he walks away, Sun-mi’s eyes fill with tears as she recalls being a child begging him not to leave her.

Mawang shows up at Sun-mi’s real estate office looking for her, and assistant Han-joo fawns all over the celebrity judge. Sun-mi’s not in, so he’s left to wait for her return in her office, where he looks at her photos and remembers their encounter when she was a child.

He thinks she’s lived a pretty normal life, until he spots a painting on the ground and uses special glasses to see inside the safe it conceals—and the piles of cash inside. Not bad for Monk Sam-jang.

He does, however, scoff at the sight of her ratty Pororo slippers… and then leans in to sniff them, knowing that Sam-jang is supposed to smell of lotus flowers. He can’t decide what he’s smelling, and buries his face in the slippers and inhales deeply.

That’s the strange sight Han-joo returns to, and he’s so shocked he drops the coffee he’d brought. Mawang tosses away the slipper and forces a dignified mien as he excuses himself, which lasts long enough for him to leap into his car. He’s so mortified that when Secretary Ma offers to kill the employee, he reflexively agrees, ha.

As Sun-mi crosses the street, she’s accosted by the angry driver from before, who raises his hand to smack her for swearing at him earlier. But suddenly his hands freeze midair, and then start slapping his own head repeatedly—prompted by Oh-gong standing at a distance, puppeteering his movements. Haha, that sight gag is hilarious.

The driver spots Oh-gong in the distance and quickly runs away before he sustains more damage, while Sun-mi remains befuddled at the whole encounter. Then she turns and sees Oh-gong there, who approaches to ask WHY, IF she remembers his name, she doesn’t just say it already.

He tenses in anticipation when she agrees to say it… but she gets a call and leaves him hanging. Then she tells Oh-gong that he may have felt at ease knowing that she couldn’t call him all these years, but now he ought to live with some anxiety at the thought that she could call him if she wanted.

He tells her to prove it by saying his name, and his eyes flash red as he warns that she’ll die if she’s wrong, saying she’s taking her joke too far.

So finally, Sun-mi tells him plainly that she was bluffing. But still, she asks, “Have you never once thought of me, who might have called you?” He says of course not like it’s the most obvious thing.

“I see,” she says with some disappointment. “Although I waited for you for twenty-five years, thinking maybe you might come to protect me. Hoping earnestly.”

She declares that her 25-year-long tortured hope ends today, and wonders why she waited. She walks away, and he watches her go.

Oh-gong goes to a bar that night, where the proprietor has Frosty’s pitcher, meaning she’s another ex-heavenly character. Oh-gong wishes he could drink tonight, explaining that he ran into someone who made him feel bad. He doesn’t feel bad about wronging her, but hearing that she waited earnestly for him bothers him greatly, even though he doesn’t understand what that feeling is.

The proprietor slides over a martini to demonstrate what an earnest desire feels like—something you can’t have, which makes you want it more—which, touché. Oh-gong decides he has to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling asap, which he’ll do by eating Sam-jang.

That night, Sun-mi walks up to her building not noticing that the Bride is parked in front. The Bride had seen her with Oh-gong earlier, whom she knows as the Groom’s killer. Hence: Sun-mi is the enemy.

By the time Sun-mi enters her home, the Bride doll is lurking inside. Spotting it, Sun-mi grabs her umbrella and watches the doll transform into a ghost, recognizing the resemblance to the ghost that bit her. The lights blow out and the ghost disappears from sight, lurking under furniture.

On her guard, Sun-mi looks around for the demon but doesn’t see it, and blocks a flying picture frame that shatters on her arm. She runs into a room muttering that bleeding is bad… while the drops of blood on the shattered glass start sending red fumes into the air, attracting demons from across the city.

Mawang catches a whiff of the scent too, and starts to twitch and roar uncontrollably as his eyes flash red.

Clouds of black demons swarm Sun-mi’s building, but one gets kicked back—by Oh-gong, who faces them down. Wielding his gold scepter, he flies through the air fighting demon after demon, defeating them easily and stylishly.

Inside, Sun-mi hurries to wrap her bloody arm while struggling to keep the Bride doll outside her room. Then, she musters her nerve and grabs her umbrella and a lighter, then quickly steps outside to confront the demon.

But she finds Oh-gong inside her apartment instead, disposing of the demon himself.

Eyes wide and tone hopeful, she asks if he came to protect her. Just then, Oh-gong spots a familiar red mark on her shoulder and grabs her close, revealing the Groom’s mark. Making the connection, he mutters, “Dammit. Are you Sam-jang?”

And then, Mawang arrives outside and sends the remaining demons dispersing. Twitching in frustration, he growls, “Damn it, the punk has found Sam-jang too.” He lets out a roar.

Sun-mi asks again if Oh-gong came to save her. He shakes his head ruefully, then replies, “No, I came to eat you.”

 
COMMENTS

Okay, time to unpack!

I liked this episode. I went into it trying to clear my mind of any thoughts or hopes, and found myself enjoying the lore, although I wonder if part of that is because I could recognize the source material. There’s always an extra bit of satisfaction in recognizing allusions and references, but that’s a separate issue from whether a story is itself compelling.

I think this drama should be fairly accessible to people who have zero background knowledge of Journey to the West, for several reasons: First, it’s a loose adaptation, and resets the world entirely by making it modern-day. There’s definitely new lore that is the Hong sisters’ own, so this is more like an “inspired by” story, not a remake or adaptation. And lastly, I think the original story is really pretty accessible too, as it’s mostly an adventure tale with a massive repository of monster characters and lots of exciting fights.

That said, I do like the way this show is adapting Journey to the West—it’s actually a cleverer adaptation than I thought it would be. There are the obvious traits they’ve worked in, such as Seung-gi’s monkey haircut (which somehow he makes work!), the tiger’s fur Oh-gong wears, his golden rod, and all the monkey and bull references (and, I assume also pig, once PK joins the party).

But there’s also the reinterpretation of the characters’ personalities, which I’m enjoying. Seung-gi makes the perfect Sohn Oh-gong, mischievous and hotheaded while at the same time betraying depth beneath the selfish surface. In the original story, I always thought the monk was the dullest character, being wimpy and whiny and constantly scared of monsters while his protector-monsters were flawed and entertaining.

But here, Sun-mi is shown to be brave in the face of her fear, and I really appreciate that while she has the power to see supernatural beings, she doesn’t have any superpowers. She’s still a weak human in a physical sense, but I see strength in her character that will provide a worthy foil for Oh-gong, which is a deeper relationship than I saw in the novel. And there’s a clever twist in making Mawang the actual protector, while Oh-gong is the one out to get her, which flips our hero’s role quite nicely from the original. The writers have put him in the role of someone she needs protection from, while also having set up this loophole where he becomes her protector. I dig that.

I’m hoping the rest of the mythology remains tight and compelling, and that the characters find their way into the quirky, sometimes-friendly, sometimes-at-odds dynamic that I think forms the backbone of this story. Well, that and kisses. I’m not going to be happy without some kisses.

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Firts?? Me? Oh...

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Wow, the recap is so fast, thank you @javabeans

But I'll save it for later until I watch with eng sub. Another drama with more than 1 hour for each epi? And it is for 16 epi? Heol~ I hope this is not the new trend because.. it's exhausting. Watching drama for our entertainment and to give us break from our boring daily life, but if it is also exhausted us... 😅 Some might don't mind as long as it is good, but not for me LOL. Even for one hour drama, I already pause in the middle regardless of genre😂

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But I love this kind of trend. One and half hour is like a gift to me... 😍

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Me too - for a *good* drama that entertains me, long episodes are NOT a bad thing for me!

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I’m excited for this drama based off the first episode! Please don’t let us down Hong Sisters!

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wow fast recap
I have not watched but better put my print here first. lmao

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I have just finished watching ...so damn good!!
Lee Seung Gi never disappoints me. Cha Seung-won is awesome!
looking forward to next episode.

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That Na PD and Jang Nara reference LOL.
I think I'm going to enjoy this drama. Hope it doesn't disappoint. Also I'm amazed how Seunggi is making his haircut work for him.

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The Jang Nara reference was gold! OK, I’ll take it that she’s a demon/monster instead of a vampire lol. The woman never ages!

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This is why we need dramabeans..amongst many other reasons... thank you.. subs r still in heaven... N it will take eons for them to travel to earth...
Also really appreciate d sincerityto read source material prior to recaps..

Lastly..setup of danger bro g protector is awesome

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I'm always the first in the line whenever kisses may be present but at this part of the story, I'm scared that kisses for Sun-Mi may be a little....um, dangerous? Like, would she have any lips left (and I don't mean that in a metaphor way.... *anxious sweat drop*)?

That thought is going to create a new level of romantic tension for my overdramatic brain!

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I only watched it raw so far, so I thoroughly enjoyed it -moreso with your recap to help me fill in some of the blanks! Thank you! My only quibble is the musical direction. I find the selection and placement really jarring at times.

I hope the long episode length is only for premiere week. I'm curious as to how tvn can just have varying episode lengths. How do you schedule the rest of your programming if you have a 1 hr and 20 minute episode one week and a 1 hr and 30 minute episode another?

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I was wondering the same because I also watch dramas from OCN and JTBC, and the episodes have varying lengths. 1 hour and 10 minutes, 1 hour and 15 minutes, 1 hour and 30 minutes.. I guess cable tv channels there aren't so strict about their programming schedule.

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this is one hell
of a reveiew. really appreciate you taking time to read the source material and making extra notes on the lore. i'm a seunggi fan and we have all been waiting for this for eons . only watched it raw and i love it . casting is perfect and otp is so swoony already . hopefully 1.30 min ep will be only for ep 1-2 and the rest will be 40 minutes.

shout out to seunggi's hyungs and na pd was hilarious . in mgig they plugged kang hodongs meat eating.

praying hwayugi will be the remedy for the drama slup with lot of kisses

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Thank you for the recap when there are no signs of the subs, we atleast have your recap. BTW why aren't there no subs? I thought Viki bought the rights too, will it air alongside Netflix?

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Viki does have subs. It just took them a while. I guess the extra long episode coupled with the holiday weekend slowed them down.

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It is on Viki and I watched it this morning with 95% subbed. yeah!
And I didn't even notice the length as it was so enjoyable!
CEO Woo is hysterical with his overacting and twitchy lips. This is going to be fun!
Thanks for the background @javabeans - this is very helpful to understand the background of the story, if even a little bit.

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Just found the trailer for this on Netflix here in Australia, as we're normally the laaaaast to get everything, i'm beyond excited that it will air the week following air time in Korea!!! wooooo, I can watch it with everyone else!!

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I think Jin Sun-mi is punny for Truth, Goodness and Beauty, which are qualities a virtuous person is supposed to have

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Is it me or does the lady at the bar look like Frosty? I'm pretty sure it isn't a female, maybe a trans actor???

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I think she's Frosty's sister who was banished from Heaven with him (based on the drama site's info). But the question is why does she have his face??

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I am sure it was the same actor who act "Frosty" and there is some story supposed to be...
Actually, another joy to watch this 1st episode was to discover all those favourite character actors, like, Sung Hyuk ("Frosty"), Kim Sung-Oh, Sung Ji-Ru, Lee El ...

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I loved kin sung-oh saying he couldn't fight. Because I loved seeing him in Fight My Way

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I was laughing at that line too ~

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Haha maybe Frosty and his sister were given the same body, which is why Frosty runs his ice cream business during the day and his sister her bar in the night!

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Thanks for the recap and background info on the source text Javabeans! Been busy with Christmas preparations in real life and I'm not sure when I'll finally have the chance to watch this (on top of the other shows on my list). Anyway, was glad to hear that the show's vibe is similar to Master's Sun. The visuals looked great too and the casting is spot on. Here's hoping that the show will continue being interesting and yeah, can't wait for the kisses too, hee.

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Delaying your viewing could be an advantage for you. This might end up being a Sunday-Monday series for me, if Viki's Monkey Minions deliver finish their translations the day after broadcast. Still, I enjoyed watching parts raw too. A sexy man inhaling slippers doesn't need captions.

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Especially if said sexy man is Cha Seung-won ahjussi, squee 😍

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Actually, watching twice - first raw and then with subs is rather helpful... as the visuals are so gorgeous and facial expressions of the main characters are worth observing then focusing on subs at the same time can diminish the impact of the episode...

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The bride and the groom dolls creep me out (but how the show ended the bride arc felt like an anti-climatic). The ghosts / super natural beings really step up their game in this drama compared to master sun.

I hope the drama keeps rolling with the eerie stuffs because for some unknown reasons I felt entertained (coming from someone that dislike watching horror movies) and I will be ready to scream with my popcorns.

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Wow, thanks Javabeans, this is real fast. I've just finished watching Ep.1, the latter half with sleepy eyes, and then your recap is already here.
I didn't have much expectation for the show because can't imagine how they're gonna adapt an ancient Chinese myth into the modern Korean world, and I didn't watch the teasers and promos. Am really impressed with this first episode and love everything so far. Lee Seung-gi is perfect for the role of Sohn Oh-gong. Cha Seung-won is awesome and hilarious. Oh Yeon-su and the young star playing her, and Lee El all are perfectly cast. Am so thankful to have a great show to look forward to now!

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Judging from the intro, I think Javabeans was even more excited than me for Hwayugi! 😂

Yay! Lee Seung Gi is back! But I must wait for subs.

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Was the TV series Monkey ever shown (or loved) in the US? That's pretty much my reference point for this, although I've tried dipped in and out of the book too. The theme tune is one of those persistent earworms!

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YAS!! So glad someone mentioned Monkey!! I watched the show when I was a kid which is essentially Journey to the West. I loooooooved it, with Pigsy, Sandy, Tripitaka, omg.. so many good memories for me from my childhood..
Can't wait to watch this drama!

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Why couldn't the ghosts be like Casper? Fluffy and cuddly? But other than terrifying ghosts, I loved the episode. The OTP has lots of chemistry and each character is important and useful in their own way.

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Wow! That's a lot of research, javabeans! Thank you! Sadly, I don't think the subs are going to be out anytime soon. So, will probably wait till atleast 8 episodes are out and subbed (hopefully) and then pick it up.

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the first episode got great ratings! hopefully it follows through for the rest of the series

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My only question is how long I have to wait for subs again :( I was so excited for this show but now the long wait is going to be tiring

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Love the characters, love the cheeky references and meta moments, but had such a hard time going through the ghost scenes a la Master's Sun. And the Bride doll is still lurking somewhere. WHY :/
(Scarred from watching Child's Play when I was younger. I feel squeamish looking at dolls like that, especially the typical ventriloquist dolls. So, possessed dolls, nope. Just nope.)

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I'm with you here. Just no! when it comes to animated dolls.

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Aah~~I want to watch (already had the 1st ep on my hard disk) but have to wait patiently for the sub 😄

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was so hyped for this drama and it didn't disappoint me at all
The ghosts and demons are creepy but Hong sisters really stepped up their game in this lol

I thought Lee seung Gi suits a cute female lead while Oh Yeon Seo always have this sassy charismatic aura that clashes with him but boy... i was wrong...
Their chemistry is sizzling<3 . Hot couple alert

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Wow—thank you for the speedy recap @javabeans! I've been lurking on Viki all day and watched the first episode raw with intermittent subs. I'm so grateful for your recap!

I'm excited and hopeful for this show but I must admit I was seriously put out by the creepy doll bride. I generally avoid the horror genre and I find possessed dolls deeply abhorrent. I'm happy to move past the doll and enjoy the series for escapist fun.

My mom used to read me stories about the Monkey King's shenanigans. It's a perfect moment to take a closer look at the stories with an adult's perspective.

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I have never been that interested in journey to the west, though I do know a bit of the story since it's so well known and because they gave out a kiddie version of the book to us back in primary school that we were forced to read. It was even in chinese(though dumbed down a lot) but being forced to read it made it a lot less enjoyable for me haha. Oh and I wonder if princess iron fan will actually show up, since her fan made an appearance. In the original she's the demon bull king's wife, and they even had a son so I do want to see how they will work her character in because I'm pretty sure that she will appear at some point.

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Dear javabeans.. couldn’t describe how much i miss your recap. And it turns out that it is Lee seung gi...and his drama comeback... T.T I’ll faithfully wait your recap

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The reason for LSg rocking that monkey haircut,fur and rod is..methinks because he actually looks like a monkey!! Not only he looks and acts impish and rascally,but LITERALLY. Not in an ugly way, but in a really cute and mischievous way. And that's a complement,really. It makes this role tailor made for him!

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I'm even more excited now that I've had a taste!

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Thank you for incredibly fast (yet excellent) recap!! And for the enquiring minds, Viki is at 80% subbed for episode 1.....they are excited too!

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Before proceeding further, I want some facts clear. Can anybody tell me whether Sun-mi is a descendant or actually the reincarnation of the monk? JB said in the beginning that she's a descendant,but then it seems like she's Sam-jang!
Is this a modern adaptation as in the-whole-story-happens-in-modern-day-and-nothing-at-ancient-China or everything-happened-and-everybody-meets-once-again way???
If it's the second one and if Sun-mi is monk, why does Oh-gong nonchalantly saying he'll eat his teacher?
If it's the first one...was Oh-gong imprisoned for the first time,as in JttW waiting to be rescued by monk,so in this version by Sun-mi?? ( This seems like the most likely version, and the one I'd like to see, where Hwayugi will be a "New" story instead of a continued/part 2 version.)
But if so...there's no way a character of monk has existed in a previous life because Sun-mi will represent the role now, but everybody talks like he is and know him, while acting between each other (Oh-gong and Mawang) as if they never had been together other than this life ????
Please, somebody set this straight?

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I think we're a little too early in the show to define Sun-mi's relation to Sam-jang. Maybe reincarnation is a better way to describe it. But as JB said, this is pretty much a story inspired by JttW, not a remake, so let's see how Hong Sisters roll out the backstory of all these characters.

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Yeah that confused me as well.

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Here are my two cents:
1. Sun-mi is the reincarnation of Sam-jang.
2. This is some-selective-plots-from-the-novel-happen-in-modern-day. The drama bases very loosely on the novel, just main characters, their relationships and the plots including them.
3. To minor gods like Son Oh Gong or Woo Ma Wang, Sam-jang is a legend, only appears in rumours running around that "his" blood, which smells of lotus flower, can strengthen their power.

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Ok, so you mean while Sam-jung existed in the past, none of them have met each other before and this is the first time,he was merely a legend and never journey-ed with Wukong!!
Yaaaa,that sounds great and even logical! As long as Oh-gong and Sun-mi don't have a mentor-follower history,a romance is of course welcomed.
Thanks, @nguyenhao0501 !!

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It feels like we're getting a Gobling like experience once again, a better one in terms of OTP relationship and plot-richness!!
1. It's tvn.
2. Super long episodes.
3. Supernatural theme.
4. Male leads living together grunting outside,bromance inside.
5. Male leads live in a gorgeous palace like house.
6. Girl can summon the main male lead at will.

But this OTP relationship seems healthier, and Sun-mi openly has her own agency,it's great!!!
I'm all in for thick plots that I can see through even the recaps!! \0_0/

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This is a good one, Peony! I'm also rejoicing that Sun-mi has her own company and is reputable in that industry :D

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*I'm all in for thick plots that I can FEEL even through the recaps!*
Blegh! My clumsiness always take the "punch" in my punch lines.

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Now I'm feeling bad for saying this after 3 comments, but better late than never.
Welcome back, Javabeans!! Sincerely hope for both your and our sake that the show will remain recaps-worthy!

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This is the type of drama that I have to read the recap for because I know some of the puns being used are going go over my head. Thank you for the explanations. I actually quite enjoy the first episode so far (big fan of all the JTTW adaptations), made me laugh a few times and same, I really like Sun-mi version of Xuanzang (I never care for him in any adaptations) in this and am rooting for her to tame Oh-gong with the magical circlet.

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Thanks a lot JB for the background and the pretty detailed recap. I was able to watch it unsubbed and know what was happening. I did not however, find it funny (ha ha), which I thought the show was meant to be. I found it unexpectedly weightier and a bit more on the dark side, rather than on the light. Perhaps I need the subs to appreciate some of the humour.

I notice that you're doing the Drama Viewership Ratings as well. May I ask, is Heads on leave? I kind of miss her. Cheers!

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Could the bar owner be Frosty moonlighting during the night? Though with sleepy eyes I didn't recognize a bit but I thought the presence of the pitcher should hint at it.

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Thank you for the recap Javabeans. A squee fest! The cast is fantastic. The episode was long , however, the story flowed smoothly. The Hong sisters are working magic so far. Looking forward to the next episode.

As far as Journey To The West goes, are there any drama series or films that folks would recommend ?

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Seunggi oppa is killing me with his eyes and slaying the role! Pls don’t fail me Hwayugi!

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I grew up with Journey to the West, watched all the TV adaptations, read the entire thing, listened to it on audiobooks, so when I found out that the Hong Sisters were doing a romantic adaptation of it, I definitely went “uhhhhhhhhh...hmmmmmm...” but decided to try it out anyways
Oh lordy. What a perfect cast! CEO Woo is just campy and weird enough for me. LSG looks like he’s having a blast, and I looove JSM already. Lee El is awesome too. I actually like the 90 minute episodes, especially for this series. It is an adaptation of a massively long and lore-filled epic, so I think the episode lengths are appropriate. However, that is only if they incorporate a lot of lore and actual STUFF instead of filler. Anyways, thanks for the quick recap @javabeans!

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Last 2 dramas of Oh Yeon Seo sucked and made Joo Won and Im Shi Wan miserable leads. i am sorry for feeling this way but not sorry at the same time. Other cast are awesome though.

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Sorry but Oh Yeon Seo never been cast alongside Im Shi wan?
So you should be sorry cos you're just spewing hates

Why blame her for bad drama? Can i say oh yeon seo got dragged because of the messy Yong pal

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i mean Yoona. They are very similiar and acting too. Still a bad actor for me. i also dont care u dont like Joo Won.

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You can't even differentiate her from Yoona lol
Just a pure hater

I like Joowon but his choice of works have been questionable too lol. And he was the one who signed on as the sole male lead for Sassy girl from the beginning...
Oh Yeon seo just replaced the girl who backed out.

Her versality in acting roles showed how good and underrated she is

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It's great to see someone is defending Oh Yeo-seo. I love her a lot and she was the best part of My Sassy Girl imo and it is so often she didn't get the credits for her peformance and acting ability. I remember some people just purely dislike her to act in movie CITT as well.

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i dont like certain actors or actresses when they act without sincerity and their eyes are just empty or when they over act. i am sure all people are same and all have actors they dislike. When they prove me they are getting better, i also learn to love them. Like IU, all of her works were strange and she was too awkward but after Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. I saw she is learning to act with her heart & eyes which is great acting.

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No No No ...No. While her "My Sassy Girl's" princess was over-dramatic the first couple of eps, if you saw any BTS takes, it was exactly what the director insisted on. As for her drama before MSG, she starred with Rain and won
SBS's 2016 Drama Awards Best Actress for "Please Come Back Mister"

Won "2014" 7th Korea Drama Awards-Top Excellence Award Actress" for "Jang Bo-ri is Here!"
2014 MBC Drama Awards-Grand Prize (Daesang) Nominated
2014 MBC Top Excellence Award Actress - Won - JBRIH

Won "2012 5th Korea Drama Awards-Best New Actress" "My Husband Got a Family" aka "Unexpected You"
2012 1st K-Drama St Rising Star Award-Won
2012 MBC Drama Best New Actress Award for "Here Comes Mr. Oh"-Won
2012 KBS Drama Awards Best New Actress-My Husband Got a Family-Won

Notice in 2012, she won "Best New Actress" in 2 different dramas, though I liked her in 2015's "Shine or Go Crazy". You may not care 4 her, but she's a wonderful actor.

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Forgive me javabeans...I know you rarely use your expertise 2 recap lately, but all Beanies appreciate it when you do. Merry Christmas All🎄

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Yoona maybe sucks but oh yeon seo? Her best actress awards say hi

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YES! Another crack drama on the way! Woo Ma wang is precious. I am seeing a bit of sweet Dook Go Jin (from The Greatest Love) in him though. The facial expression and the voice tone. Cha Seung Won is rocking the character either way~
Oh Seunggi my sweet ultimate forever oppa. You are finally on my screen!! I am so gonna watch this till the end, only for you. *praying that the drama will be good* Please don't let me down drama gods. The spooky theme kinda reminds me of Master's Sun, one of Hong Sister's drama that I did not manage to finish, sadly. The other being Warm and Cozy. Other than those 2, I am their loyal follower. I watched them all.
Hwayugi seems like a good drama so far. I wasn't bored by the end of the first episode and had not been inclined to fast forward the scenes so that's a good sign. Now, bring in Lee Hongki and let the hijinks begin~

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Anyone still waiting on the subs? No? Just Me? CURSE YOU DRAMA GODSS!!!

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What a great recap javabeans! Really loved getting to know about all the details, since like you said, I came with zero knowledge on the original story, so all these small tidbits were information too. I kind of love it too for the first episode, though after watching the chemistry between the monkey king and sun mi, I kind of wished, the bull demon character was not there. It's just too many characters within an hour duration, and maybe maybe, only one otp and their arc would do. I dig the simple and nonmakeup look that OYS is carrying, and it made her look sharper [and older, like the monkey thinks haha]. Though, have to say this, I have heard ' I want to kiss you, hug you or give you a piggy ride,' but I came to eat you? That's a new one in kdramaland hahaha. It's hilarious and ironical at the same time lol.

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"I came to eat you" - I keep thinking how sexy this line is. LOL

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I love dramabeans. This site is the best. And shows' recaps obviously are THE best :)

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OMG Just caught episode 1. I love it - these types of tales - magical realism? - are what got me into drama anyway; and Lee Seung Gi. Thank you Dramagods. Now, if the show can just sustain this, or get even better. ^^;

Shame about the mess re episode 2 though. Hope to catch it soon enough.

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I'm really curious what it's like producing dramas for Korean television and wonder what decisions TVN made that got them into this mess. The system looks hellish.

1. The live shooting schedule means obscenely long days for actors and crew
2. Actors are performing in winter conditions but dressed for warmer seasons
3. CGI takes time—How the hell can they live shoot two 90-minute programs a week? I would've expected they'd start with a few episodes in the can.

My fingers are crossed that they'll sort it out.

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Yup. Although actors and idols are the most visible, and therefore the most sympathised with - it's clear that there are a lot of over-stressed and over-worked people on insanely tight schedules in K-ent. I mean, it sounds like someone insisted that the program be aired despite incomplete editing - and the editors were fractically working on the latter half of the episode even as the first half went on air.

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Simone and Martina had a video about that (RE: Kdrama problems)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17KCGxU8wGE

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I found it so boring I fast forwarded through several scenes. Too cold. I didn't care for any of the characters. But having said that I won't give up just yet.

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Watched ep 1 with eng subs and I really love ep 1 so far! It makes me excited to keep watching this drama. And the power of actors and actresses in this drama is just awesome! I could feel Seon Mi's pain when she said she waited for the fairy 25 years, hoping that he would come to protect her, desperately. This is why Oh Yeon Seo is one of my fav actresses!

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I was so excited for this drama that I watched the 1st ep raw and loved it to bits. The cast are amazing, the story is promising, the cinematography is beautiful and the CG work is great. I was thrilled! The ep2 came and TvN screwed up big times. They'll rebroadcast the 2nd ep tomorrow so I hope we'll get recaps for the newest version ... the one aired today was a mess. If it were a song, the artist's name would be "Ads for products and other shows featuring Hwayugi".

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If it were a song, the artist's name would be "Ads for products and other shows featuring Hwayugi"

Heh. Oh, that's sad—and wickedly funny.

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Thank you so much for the recap. The hong sisters always include so man puns and as a non-Korean speaker I always feel bad that I missed out on them. I only got the ogong ogong part but I'm sure their lines are more witty as well, I look forward to understanding the story a lot better through your summer.

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Thanks, Javabeans, for recapping and providing all that useful background on Journey to the West. Even if I had the time or stamina to read it, I wouldn't be able to remember a cast of gazillions. Thanks for doing due diligence and filling us in on the gags.

I watched the first episode RAW and loved it. I could follow pretty well what was happening. Now that I've read the recap, I'll watch it with subtitles to get the whole story.

Even without subtitles, I was enchanted. And creeped out by the evil ventriloquist dummies. Creepy, creepy, creepy! The ghosts were pretty terrifying, too. Although the shade of the deceased singing contestant was actually pretty pitiful. Watching Sun-mi feed her a granola bar felt like I was watching someone tame a feral animal. Maybe this gives an inkling of how she'll fix Monkey King's wagon.

Cha Seung-won reminded me of a cross between the Mad Hatter and Takenaka Naoto's Franz Stresemann in NODAME CANTABILE. ROFLMAO! He was so over the top on his sendup of singing contest judges. I didn't know what to make of the shoe-sniffing scene. Lotus-scented blood, huh? Thanks for explaining one of the wackiest scenes I've beheld in a while.

Kal So-won did a great job as young Sun-mi, especially facing down the ghost in the classroom. Her venturing through the tunnel and Korean Mirkwood, and into Monkey's Escher-esque prison, was suspenseful.

Lee Seung-gi is terrific as the Monkey King. He oozes an air of devil-may-care rambunctiousness. He's got impressive moves when exorcising possessed puppets and fending off demons. I'm tickled that his comeback role is off to an auspicious start. It's what I was hoping for for Siwon in REVOLUTIONARY LOVE.

Thanks again for recapping. It's almost 6PM on Christmas Eve here in New Jersey. Wishing you and yours, and all Beanies everywhere, a Merry Christmas. "And to all a good night." ;-)

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Does anyone know what's the name of the song the girl sang in the audition?

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@Lynette,

"Does anyone know what's the name of the song the girl sang in the audition?"

I don't recall the scene. Do you know at what time the scene occurs?

I don't know much Kpop, but will take a listen if you supply the timing. ;-)

Please put @my name in the message -- that will trigger a notification. ;-)

Supplying the time info in your post will make it easier for other readers to follow up on your query. ;-)

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@pakalanapikake It is at 22:54 in episode 1

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Ya, @beantown!

I didn't know that was you! How are things in the Hub?

That scrap of music caught my ear, too. I know I've heard it somewhere, but I can't place it. I transcribed the English subtitles for the lyrics:

If you'd embrace me like you did today, it would be great. But now, I wish you'd be with me. That time and your laughter.

I've been searching, but no dice so far. I have a feeling it might be from Beige or Ailee, or an OST from an earlier show starring one of the leads. I've ruled out THE BEST LOVE, MY GIRLDFRIEND IS A GUMIHO, THE KING 2HEARTS, FAITH, and GU FAMILY BOOK (as far as I can tell).

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Hey🤗, @pakalanapikake ! It wasn't but I had to be a helpful beanie, because I was infected by that same earworm. I agree it's an OST, from somewhere! I'm going to go back and listen again.

All's well here! The town is prepping for SB Sunday by engaging in Dairy Wars with Philly; they've banned Boston Cream anything, and so we've retaliated with a cream cheese embargo.....(but a bagel is just not the same, you know!)

Are you keeping warm and dry in NYC or do you get to migrate to a warmer climate for the cold snap?

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@beantown, January 29, 2018 at 12:52 PM

ROFLMAO over the Philadelphia(TM) cream cheese embargo! By any chance was it tossed overboard from the good ship Beavah down in the hahbah?! Were Philadelphia lawyers made to walk the plank?! Has Philly cheese steak been Banned in Boston for the duration?!

As for this song, I also scanned the OSTs for: 49 DAYS, MY GIRL, SHINE OR GO CRAZY, SHE WAS PRETTY, THE GREATEST LOVE, and parts of THE CITY HALL.

It might turn up on IMMORTAL SONGS.

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@beantown
@pakalanapikake

Isn't it the main song from You Who Came From the Stars?

The singer was in the karaoke version of Happy Together recently.

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@pakalanapikake Ha!! Walking the plank and/or tossing the Philly cheese overboard is child's play. Boston knows how to really hit them where it hurts.......our classical stations refuse to play anything by Philly-based groups this weekend. Quelle horror!! That will hurt them ....where it counts!!

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@beantown February 3, 2018 at 6:20 AM

ROFLMAO! Eugene Ormandy as collateral damage in a Super Bowl pissing match!? O the humanity!

Check my fan wall for Jean Shepherd's take on rowdy sports fans -- in which he singles out Philly's denizens for their rudeness.

http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/383102/

Have a blast if you're watching the game. ;-)

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@vanity0326 January 30, 2018 at 1:38 PM

cc: @beantown, @ Lynette, a @seralovestteobokki

Thank you so much for your tip, @vanity0326! You made my day!!

I watched HAPPY TOGETHER as you mentioned, and Lyn was the second original artist in the karaoke segment at about 1:05:00 -- who sings many OSTs. Bingo!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79AaQ9CN2Wg

The tune in question:

"Back in Time" from THE MOON EMBRACING THE SUN, OST Part 2. No wonder it sounded so familiar. I watched it a couple of years ago. It makes me want to rewatch a couple of episodes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXi2hhfXn6w

What a blast to see some of those child actors who are now impressive young adult actors. I'd also forgotten that the black magic arc of MIRROR OF THE WITCH shared some elements (and actors) with the earlier drama. Jung Eun-Pyo as Eunuch Syung-sun stole the show with his mad gayageum playing. LOL!

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*cheers self* Yeah! I am glad I could help!

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