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Come Here and Hug Me: Episodes 1-16

Thank Drama Gods for pre-emptions, allowing us to catch up to Come Here and Hug Me. It’s the newish Parent Angst drama from MBC with a twist: It doesn’t focus on revenge or digging for the truth. The past is fixed, leaving us free to explore the fallout of one man’s crimes and how people, even the innocent, deal with their guilt. The show isn’t saying anything new in terms of “the sins of the father are not the sins of the son,” but what if the son is a bottomless pit of remorse who refuses to forgive himself? We’d better stock up on hugs because these characters are in for a world of hurt.

 
EPISODES 1-16 WEECAP

We first meet the protagonist, CHAE DO-JIN (Jang Ki-yong), in 2011 during his police university admissions interview. His reason for joining the force is “personal atonement,” making the panel wonder if he ever had a brush with the law in the past. In lieu of Do-jin’s answer, we get a short flashback to five years ago when a younger Do-jin (played by Nam Da-reum) huddled in the snow and shakily told two officers that he knows the murderer: his own father.

Outside the interview room, fellow applicants avoid Do-jin when word spreads that he’s the son of famous psychopath serial killer, YOON HEE-JAE (Heo Jun-ho). Do-jin catches some guys gossiping about the case but makes no attempt to defend himself or his dad. Rather, he dispels the rumors that the victims willingly went with the good-looking psychopath in a fancy car. He then smiles and asks them to help stop misinformation as it hurts the victims’ families. He’s unnervingly sweet about it, making the guys uncomfortable even when he assures them that they won’t catch psychopathy by sitting next to him.

Elsewhere, aspiring actress HAN JAE-YI (Jin Ki-joo) stutters through a script about a family murdered by their neighbor. The audition judges lose interest in her except for one. That panel member approaches Jae-yi afterwards to let her know of an acting opportunity. He recognized her as the daughter of famous actress GIL HYE-WON. The PD recalls how great her mom was and how unfortunate that she was murdered. Jae-yi smiles through her tears, admitting that she uses a stage name now to avoid being recognized. Her real name is GIL NAK-WON.

And if we had any doubts as to Jae-yi’s and Do-jin’s connection, Do-jin watches Jae-yi’s TV ad and imagines himself as the guy she’s smiling at. He hears the younger Jae-yi’s promise to like him forever and he calls her by her secret name, Nak-won (also meaning paradise).

We jump back to the events leading up to the murder circa 2006.

Nak-won’s family is on their way to their new house in the countryside, passing by a boy carrying his little sister on his back. The family’s dog Lucky barks out the car window and spooks the little girl. Nak-won leans out to apologize, only to be stunned by the pretty boy. Heh.

This is the young Do-jin, called YOON NA-MOO in this timeline. The little girl is his step-sister SO-JIN. Na-moo is So-jin’s favorite step-oppa. She wants them to be a family forever. Well, half a family. So-jin doesn’t care for their older brother YOON HYUN-MOO because he beats up Na-moo, while she’s scared of her stepdad whom she describes as “a ghost with no emotions.” At this point, we have yet to see actual proof of Yoon Hee-jae’s crimes, though we get suspicious circumstances, creepy looks, and hammer-gripping scenes.

Yoon Hee-jae and CHAE OK-HEE (So-jin’s mom, played by SEO JUNG-YEON) have only been married for two years, but Ok-hee grumpily fusses over the boys as if they’re her own. You’d think she’ll only be upset by the older Hyun-moo who gets into fights at school, but she also worries about the kind, stoic Na-moo who never complains or asks for help when he’s hurt. This is on top of her worries that her new husband is the charming town flirt, as some ajummas report seeing him driving around with a different lady.

Meanwhile, Nak-won’s family seems pretty much untroubled with a tenderhearted actress mom and a goofy lawyer dad. Her oppa GIL MOO-WON is adopted, a survivor of a family murdered six years ago. He seems well-adjusted apart from a slight over-protectiveness when it comes to Nak-won who is wont to get into harmless scrapes at school, like getting punishment laps on her first day and doggedly trying to befriend the unsociable Na-moo. Most of the actual trouble comes from Lucky who runs away one rainy night and is picked up by Yoon Hee-jae.

Nak-won follows Lucky’s trail right into Hee-jae’s creepy basement, off-limits even to his sons. She finds Na-moo there, hammer in hand, trying to bust the lock on Lucky’s cage. Hee-jae catches both kids trespassing and lets everyone go (including Lucky, whew). His words are friendly as he apologizes for not finding Lucky’s owners sooner, but it’s telling that Na-moo keeps putting himself between his dad and Nak-won even when Dad is just complimenting her. Na-moo takes Nak-won’s hand and pointedly tells Dad that she’s a friend and he knows where she lives, so he’ll walk her home now.

Meanwhile, in school, Moo-won calls an ambulance and stops Hyun-moo from further beating up a classmate. Hyun-moo blusters that he doesn’t care if he kills someone, but Moo-won gives him pause by describing the disgusting feeling of knowing that a person died because of you. That’s dark, coming from a well-adjusted boy.

Nak-won makes Na-moo stop during their walk home to bandage the wound he got from saving Lucky. True to his habit, Na-moo refuses help, claiming it doesn’t hurt. Nak-won launches into a tirade about his martyr complex—from the way he put the umbrella on her side, to taking punishment with her at school, to getting wounded while helping Lucky. She tells him to speak up if he’s hurt. Then she follows it up with an apology for trespassing and being scared of his seemingly nice dad. Upon hearing this, Na-moo asks her to do three things: forget what happened tonight, stay away from his house, and pretend not to know him forever.

Nak-won agrees to the first two but refuses the last because she’s decided that she likes Na-moo. She likens him to a tree. It’s the literal translation of Na-moo’s name, also used to describe someone steadfast who makes you feel safe and comfortable. Na-moo finds such sweet unpretentiousness a revelation. He meets her family which is more of the same: trusting and friendly and normal. Only Moo-won doesn’t take kindly to this new guy for keeping Nak-won out late and making them worry.

Na-moo comes home to find Dad waiting in his room. He reminds Na-moo of his lessons as a kid: humans are animals who prey on each other, you must be strong to survive, you can only trust your own blood. He coos over his favorite son and leaves him with a gift. As Na-moo opens it, he recalls Dad’s promise that came with the lesson: to get rid of any “weakness” in his son’s way. And by weakness, he means emotional attachments. Is it too much to hope that the hammer Na-moo unwraps is a promise of carpentry lessons?

The next day at school, Na-moo is standoffish, still unused to Nak-won’s brand of in-your-face friendship. She holds his hand to check the wound and he’s shocked that a girl would do that in view of everyone during lunch hour, heh. But we know he’s keeping an eye out for her because he swipes the glass of water someone was planning to throw in her face and drinks it all in one shot.

Tired of the rumors of Dad having other women, Mom decides to check on his workplace. It’s an isolated shed where he farms dogs. She couldn’t have picked a worse time to spy on him. Earlier that night, Dad knocked out a woman and dragged her to his car. It’s the first time we see him actively harming someone, though we know from the 2011 intro that he’s a serial killer. Too bad Mom didn’t get the memo. She spots Dad with blood on his face, throwing the woman’s clothes and purse in a furnace. Mom barely escapes from being caught and legs it home, packing her and So-jin’s things to leave. The sight of Na-moo’s books gives her pause but the sight of her husband’s jacket scares the regret out of her.

Due to Moo-won’s statement, Hyun-moo is locked up for beating his classmate the other night. Na-moo brings him a change of clothes (this is the night Mom was spying on Dad). Na-moo sees his strong hyung looking small and scared inside the detention cell beside tougher-looking ajusshis and it makes him reevaluate the definition of strength. He comes to the conclusion that Dad’s lessons are wrong. Humans aren’t animals. Having people you care for isn’t a weakness, it’s a source of strength. He sees Nak-won in the morning being bullied for refusing to steal from her mom and thinks that he found it. The first person he wants to protect. He vows to be strong for the people he wants to protect.

That new resolve is tested immediately when Na-moo finds Mom running away from home. He looks lost as she begs him to let her and So-jin go. She doesn’t want her daughter growing up related to a murderer. When Mom collapses in fear after a truck looking similar to Dad’s drives by, Na-moo snaps into action and promises to stall Dad so she and So-jin can escape to where Dad can’t find them. Mom can barely meet his eyes from guilt as he thanks her for being a good mother and assures her that she’s doing the right thing. I don’t know where she gets the strength to pull So-jin away and leave a tearfully waving Na-moo behind.

There’s a gap in our knowledge of the past after Mom left, aside from Hyun-moo being sentenced to two years of prison labor for violence towards his classmate. The next we know is part of the events of Christmas Eve 2006. Nak-won’s parents are dead on the floor. The house is dark except for the lights on the tree. Hee-jae surveys the blood-spattered family portrait as Nak-won cries on the floor nearby. He shushes her and promises to send her to her parents soon. Na-moo arrives just as Dad raises the hammer. He shields Nak-won with his body and tells Dad he called the police, giving it ten minutes before they arrive. “I’ve had a lot of practice getting hit. I’m sure I can last that long. Want to try me?” *chills*

Thankfully, we’re spared the details of the fight for now. We only see a glimpse of Dad moments later, blood dripping from his temple, looking oddly proud that he got hit. He compliments Na-moo for being “Yoon Hee-jae’s son.”

The next thing we know, Na-moo is huddled in the snow, telling the cops that his dad is the murderer. Nak-won stops the police car driving her and Moo-won to the station and walks over to Na-moo. She hugs him and tells him it’s not his fault. She then makes him promise not to blame himself and to endure things and survive.

Yoon Hee-jae is eventually caught after a car chase. He laughs as the officers cuff him because “You didn’t catch me, my son did.” You sure pick weird things to be proud about, Dad. Are spelling bees too mainstream for you?

Dad is incarcerated for twelve counts of murder, with Na-moo bravely testifying for that of Nak-won’s parents.

We have one more pit stop before we catch up to the present. It’s 2015. Do-jin is about to graduate police university with top honors. Jae-yi landed a side character role in a popular drama. Moo-won is on track to be a prosecutor while Hyun-moo is still in prison, the same one as Dad’s.

Dad has just released an autobiography titled “I’m Not Unlike You” which is as controversial as you can imagine, coming from a famous psychopath. His agent announces that part of the proceeds from the book will go to his and the victims’ families, stirring even more controversy around the book.

One particular reporter manages to track down Mom and So-jin who have been living quietly in an island with their tiny restaurant. Mom throws the reporter out but the damage has been done. Neighbors and strangers alike start harassing them about their relation to Dad despite Mom not having any contact with him and refusing proceeds from the book. Mom and So-jin decide to leave the village and move to Seoul.

News of Yoon Hee-jae’s cop son leaks as reporters try unsuccessfully to get photos of the good-looking Chae Do-jin to feed the public’s morbid interest. The school does a great job of blocking the reporters, but Do-jin himself wades into a group of reporters when he sees Jae-yi in trouble. She was holding a harmless press conference about her show when the reporter who was trying to stalk Do-jin recognized her as Gil Nak-won. The reporter kept questioning Jae-yi despite the latter’s discomfort until she started having a panic attack. Do-jin catches her before she faints and surprisingly (for dramaland), Jae-yi recognizes him as Na-moo right before she loses consciousness. Do-jin leaves Jae-yi in the infirmary after hearing the fainting is psychological, triggered by memories of her parents’ murder.

Do-jin agrees to give the reporter a statement to get rid of her. She wants to know his thoughts on his father’s book, specifically the part where he exhibits a rare emotional attachment to his son. Do-jin maintains that his father is a monster and they should stop humanizing him. When pressed to consider his father’s troubled past, Do-jin makes them consider his troubled past as he looms over the crew and turns their logic on them: with half his childhood spent under a psychopathic Dad and the rest hiding from the mercenary media, will he be justified for doing “something terrible” to them right now? The reporter puts down her recorder, speechless, as Do-jin walks away after making his point. It’s so much win in one short speech. I bet Yoon Hee-jae is wiping proud dad tears in prison right now.

Jae-yi wakes up and runs around campus looking for this Chae Do-jin guy. A student tells her to wait in the cafeteria where Do-jin usually hangs out. Jae-yi sits there and finds a vending machine with her face on it—the same one that Do-jin talks to sometimes. She waits as long as she can, until the media is literally on her heels after finding out that she’s Gil Nak-won. Do-jin who knew where she was all along throws himself in front of the speeding cars to stop them from catching up to hers. She sees him from afar but can’t turn back, though she’s now sure that Do-jin is Na-moo. Do-jin goes back to his dorm and stares at Jae-yi’s vending machine, remembering his promise with Nak-won to live well no matter what happened and to find each other in the future.

The next day, Do-jin marches into Dad’s publisher’s office and offers another interview. This time, he tells everyone that the book is full of lies. Dad’s goal is attention, not atonement. Buying the book is tantamount to contributing to the suffering of his victims. Meanwhile, Jae-yi gets sick of hiding too and agrees to her own interview. She addresses Yoon Hee-jae who claims to be cheering her on and the reporter who says the publicity will be good for her. She basically tells them to stuff their support where the sun don’t shine cause she’s going to be famous without their help.

The media frenzy doesn’t die down by the time Do-jin’s graduation rolls around. Unable to get at Yoon Hee-jae in prison, the other victims’ families crash Do-jin’s graduation in a group protest. Do-jin bows to them in apology even as they grab him and pelt him with eggs. Jae-yi watches from afar, in tears as reporters watch and take pictures of Do-jin silently accepting the insults. Ok-hee and So-jin arrive, having been late to Do-jin’s graduation, and scold the families for venting their anger on him when he’s a victim of Yoon Hee-jae too. (I’m just glad we got confirmation that Do-jin is still in contact with Mom!)

Jae-yi catches Do-jin alone and hugs him for comfort, which is how reporter PARK HEE-YOUNG (Kim Seo-hyung) finds them. I suppose we should talk about her for a bit.

Park Hee-young is both agent and publisher for Yoon Hee-jae’s book. She’s a reporter who specializes in showing the criminal’s side of the story. She wrote a sympathetic article about Dad’s fatherly love for his sons that garnered attention during the trial in 2006. Combined with the 2011 book, it painted Dad in such a different light that some people even formed a Yoon Hee-jae fanclub. (Yes, humans can be disappointing, even in dramaland.)

Her stake in chasing the “other side” of the story is purely professional. Personally, she has no sympathetic bone in her body. Once, when Yoon Hee-jae pressed for her opinion on his actions, she admitted with a smirk that “Some people shouldn’t have been born.” She also told Do-jin in one of their confrontations that “You knew your dad was a monster but you still chose to make friends with Nak-won. You have no conscience like your Dad. Nak-won’s parents’ murder is your fault.” That alone should tell you what kind of person she is.

For now, she fails to write about Jae-yi and Do-jin’s tragic love story because Moo-won (played by Yoon Jong-hoon now) catches her taking pictures, breaks her camera, and compensates for it on the spot. I like him. He then punches Do-jin for daring to show up in front of his family. Okay, I don’t like him anymore. He takes Jae-yi back to the group of protesting families. The sight of their parents’ faces in a banner is enough to remind Jae-yi that hugging Do-jin is a bad idea. And with that, our leads are now back in guilt-landia.

When we catch up to 2018, Jae-yi is a larger star and Do-jin the ace detective of the Violent Crimes Unit under the wing of jaded ajusshi CHIEF GO (Jung In-gi). Chief claims that working as a cop has put him off people (and marriage) forever, but we all know he fell in love with Mom after watching the heartfelt way she came back for Na-moo during Dad’s trial. She begged forgiveness for running away and promised Na-moo that she’ll be his real mother. Na-moo noble idiot-ly drove her away but she knows his M.O. so she just clung to him and hugged him until he cried and called her omma for the first time. (He’s always called her the more formal omoni in the past. It’s like the difference between mom and mother.)

In the present, Chief Go regularly drops by Mom’s new shop in a market in Seoul. Mom scolds him every time Do-jin is injured on the job. Do-jin shushes him when something dangerous happens at work. So-jin swears him to secrecy so her job woes won’t bother Mom. Basically, Chief Go is henpecked by the whole family and he’s happy to oblige. You know who isn’t happy in 2018? Hyun-moo.

Hyun-moo has just been released from prison. Mom kept in contact with him but he never answered her letters. Now that he’s out, he stalks her shop often and notes this ajusshi hanging around, being chummy with Mom and So-jin. Hyun-moo has always exhibited this yearning to be part of their family in the past but never gave in to it. It’s the same in the present. He doesn’t approach them after being released. Instead, he gets busy being Dad 2.0, bashing random people’s heads in with a hammer and angry-watching Jae-yi on television in his free time.

Do-jin is on stakeout for this same Hammer Attack case when he gets stabbed by a different perp one night. Do-jin being Do-jin, he ignores the wound and keeps coming at the perp like a terminator. Only until the perp is caught does Do-jin take himself to the E.R. and pass out.

He wakes up in his hospital bed and discovers that his dream of Jae-yi being in the adjacent bed was true. He watches news of Jae-yi collapsing backstage after receiving an award. Thinking of Nak-won’s promise to be famous so he can reunite with her in the future, he races around the hospital and finds her besieged by reporters trying to figure out the reason for her collapse. Do-jin steps in like he did three years ago and shields her from the media. Only Park Hee-young looks like a very satisfied cat as she recognizes Yoon Hee-jae’s son. To everyone else, Do-jin acts like he’s just Jae-yi’s fan.

The real reason for Jae-yi’s collapse is a box sent to her dressing room. It contained a bloody hammer similar to the one used to murder her parents years ago. Do-jin asks to be assigned to the case to protect Jae-yi. His words are businesslike as he takes her statement but their eyes speak happiness at seeing each other again and worry at how much it’ll hurt the other to be dragged back into the past.

Do-jin traces the hammer back to Hyun-moo. He tells his team to investigate his own hyung and gives Jae-yi a traceable watch with an emergency button linked to his own phone.

Meanwhile, Hyun-moo finally drops by Mom’s shop and shows himself to her and So-jin. Mom nags him for not contacting her right after his release but he’s just here to deliver a message from Dad: “Regards to my darling Ok-hee and my youngest Princess So-jin.” I’m not sure if it’s Dad’s message or just Hyun-moo trying to step into Dad’s wicked shoes. In any case, there’s no message for Na-moo, just the promise of death for dating the younger sister of the guy who put Hyun-moo in jail and being so “in love” with Nak-won that he reported his own Dad to the cops. Mom defends Na-moo for doing the right thing but it only makes Hyun-moo angrier. In his eyes, Mom abandoned him and Dad but took Na-moo back, like she’s cherry-picking the good parts of his family.

He kicks down a chair and Mom notices blood on his sneakers. She grabs his hand like she did back in high school, worried that he’s in trouble. Hyun-moo looks shaken at how much ajumma still acts like his mom. He makes a twisted joke about her being too nice and ending up dead just like Nak-won’s parents. Mom slaps him for making fun of such a topic and you can see that 0.001% of humanity in Hyun-moo’s eyes flicker out. He proceeds to trash the shop until So-jin holds on to him and begs Oppa to leave her and Mom alone. Miraculously, he does.

Jae-yi is shooting a sweet Christmas scene (with Do-jin on guard duty unable to look during the kiss, ha!) when the lights fail on set. The dark room with Christmas decor reminds her of the night her parents were murdered. She panics, gripping her co-star tightly even with the lights turning back on. They send her home to film another day, but she receives a message to go to the filming site that night.

She arrives to find the place dark except for the Christmas set. When she steps inside, someone locks the door behind her. She enters the set to look for a staff member and freezes when she hears Rockin Around the Christmas Tree. It’s the same song playing the night her parents died. As if that’s not cruel enough, her family’s portrait is now hanging on the wall. The same portrait Yoon Hee-jae was looking at before he promised to send her to them. A guy in a cap and mask similar to Yoon Hee-jae’s enters the set, carrying a hammer. Jae-yi is unable to run as she’s assaulted by horrible memories. Just like in 2006, she can only watch helplessly as the stranger takes his time walking towards her. As the guy gets within striking distance, Do-jin’s car crashes through the set walls and floods the room with light.

Do-jin was examining the CCTV earlier and found Hyun-moo hanging around the site. He checked Jae-yi’s tracker and saw her en route back to the site. When Jae-yi’s manager confirmed filming was cancelled, Do-jin drove like a madman to the site. He got the alarm that Jae-yi pressed the help button and unable to find a way in, he drove straight through the walls.

Now he runs in to find Jae-yi curled up all alone. It takes some time before she can even register that she’s safe. Jae-yi dreams a different version of that night twelve years ago, one where Na-moo died too. She “wakes up” in the present to find she’s talking to the younger Na-moo and realizes that this is another dream. One where she’s free to show how scared and unhappy she is and ask a hug from Na-moo. It’s partly a dream as the camera pans around to show that she was talking to Do-jin. His team shows up to find a dead-eyed Do-jin hugging a sleeping Jae-yi. They look like kids still trapped in a horrible nightmare. He barely responds when her manager gingerly suggests taking Jae-yi home. Do-jin’s team vows to find the culprit before he does. For whose safety, we’re not sure.

Jae-yi regains full consciousness at home and asks Do-jin if he’s protecting her out of guilt. He says it’s not that, it’s because she asked him to. “Then what about your promise to come find me?” she asks. He says he’s too guilty to come find her, but we see a flashback of him spending a whole day looking at one of her posters at a bus stop. Awww, he’s been “finding” her all these years in all sorts of places! Jae-yi, angel that she is, knows Do-jin is wallowing in guilt again and tells him “Even if your brother is responsible for what’s happening, I’m still glad that I got to meet you again.” Girl, no wonder the boy loves you. Only your bottomless reassurances might cure his bottomless guilt.

Moo-won arrives and tells Do-jin out of Jae-yi’s earshot that he’ll transfer the case to someone else since the primary suspect is Hyun-moo. Do-jin refuses since he’s what Jae-yi needs right now—someone who can be a Do-jin or a Na-moo, or even a Yoon Hee-jae when the situation calls for it. Why is that reassuring and sad and terrifying all at the same time?

Hyun-moo calls Do-jin and promises to kill him, just after he makes Nak-won and Hyun-moo suffer. The threat of hurting Nak-won makes Do-jin put on his Yoon Hee-jae face as he vows to stop Hyun-moo at all costs. Hyun-moo looks thrilled at the chance to prove who’s better, and we see him jealously eavesdropping years ago as Dad taught all his grand lessons on strength and ruthlessness to Na-moo alone. See? This is what happens when your dad isn’t content with spelling bees.

It’s still uncertain if Hyun-moo is behind all of this. A short flashback shows him receiving an anonymous letter with pictures of the hammer sent to Jae-yi and the recreated set of her parents’ murder. Do-jin assumes it’s Hyun-moo because only Nak-won, Na-moo, and Yoon Hee-jae knew what record was playing that night and Dad could’ve only told Hyun-moo. Do-jin doesn’t know that someone else is visiting Dad in prison and a guy dressed like Na-moo with a copy of Dad’s book visited Mom’s shop. It doesn’t help that when Do-jin and his hoobae raid Hyun-moo’s apartment, he left behind his hammer and Jae-yi’s mangled pictures.

Park Hee-young is excited to hear that Hyun-moo could be behind Jae-yi’s current problems. It will create more buzz for the documentary she’s producing about the hazy parts of Yoon Hee-jae’s book. But she’s not interested in Hyun-moo. Her focus is on how Yoon Hee-jae was caught. It seems no one, not even Dad, wants to talk about his injuries that night, though Park Hee-young has a pretty good idea who did it. Oh no, is she going to paint Do-jin as a ruthless monster like Dad?

Do-jin watches over Jae-yi’s house and remembers Nak-won confessing to him in the rain. Jae-yi catches him being rained on outside her house and she shares her umbrella, making small talk about him being tired and waiting for the rain to stop. Jae-yi’s actress sunbae SE-KYUNG arrives and assumes they’re dating in secret. She scolds the “rude model hoobae” for not greeting her, heh. When Jae-yi introduces Detective Chae Do-jin, Se-kyung recognizes him as the son of Yoon Hee-jae and the guy who always saves Jae-yi.

Se-kyung (and anyone with eyes) can tell that these two still like each other. She tells Jae-yi that just like how she pursued acting to find happiness, she should go on pursuing what makes her happy. Se-kyung also tells Do-jin that everyone gets hurt in relationships anyway… the implication being if he and Jae-yi are going to get hurt, they might as well be hurt together.

Se-kyung has no idea how quickly prophetic those words are. As soon as she leaves, Hyun-moo tries to bash in Do-jin’s head with a hammer. Do-jin easily stops Hyung as the latter struggles to gain the upper hand. In voiceover, we hear another one of Dad’s lessons. “Once humans’ hands and feet are tied, they’re out of answers. But us, we have another way. When our hands and feet are tied, we bite. That’s what makes us animals.”

 
COMMENTS

Do-jin will hate me for saying this but isn’t Hyun-moo a pitiful character? He works so hard to gain Dad’s approval when Dad is a murdering psychopath who doesn’t care about him. It’s like the more he struggles, the more Dad scorns him for wanting to be liked. Even after spending time in prison with him, Hyun-moo is still just an afterthought. And if it’s true that Dad can’t even trust him with the revenge on Jae-yi… that makes Hyun-moo the most pathetic character in this universe. It would be great if he can develop his own set of morals like Na-moo did and break away from Dad, but that takes a certain amount of strength you can only get by accepting people like Mom and Jae-yi into your life. Too bad following Dad’s lessons isolates him from such people.

One thing that I keep thinking about is how much did Na-moo and Hyun-moo know about their father’s crimes before he was “outed?”

Hyun-moo took note of Dad’s toolbag and the news that a couple was murdered while he was visiting Seoul. He also reacted jealously when he found out Dad gave Na-moo his hammer. Na-moo is always extra wary of Dad, going as far as isolating himself at school so there’s no “weakness” for Dad to get rid of. But the most telling clue that he knows Dad is a monster is he didn’t even ask Mom for details when she called him a murderer.

Now here comes the hard part. If they knew, and Na-moo at least certainly did after Mom told him, why didn’t they turn him in? Mom ran away around spring and Na-moo reported Dad in winter, only when Nak-won was in danger. Was it fear of Dad that stopped him from doing it sooner or did he just not care about anyone else outside his small circle of protection? That sounds a bit ruthless, if you think about it.

I know he was just a kid and it’s hard to break free from years of Dad’s horrible lessons. Plus Do-jin is probably beating himself up about it already. I just hate that it gives Park Hee-young’s narrative a ring of truth to it. That they’re just a family of monsters in their own way.

Speaking of monsters, I’m not sure where I stand between Do-jin and Park Hee-young. Is she correct that monstrosity is in the blood and some people shouldn’t have been born? But not all psychopaths are murderers and not all murderers are psychopaths. How can you tell who doesn’t deserve to live until they actually commit murder? Then there’s Do-jin’s stand that anyone who kills someone doesn’t deserve to be called human. What does that make of Moo-won then? We still lack details but he either killed his own parents or (most probably) the guy who murdered his parents. By Do-jin’s definition, he’s less human than Hyun-moo who hasn’t killed anyone (that we know of).

What I’m sure of is Jae-yi is an angel. How can a person have so much love and forgiveness after suffering all that? I love that she isn’t nice to the point of stupidity either. There’s understanding mixed in with her kindness, allowing her to differentiate between Na-moo’s guilt and Dad’s fake remorse. That will come in handy in not dying later when Yoon Hee-jae starts being more active, because you just know he and Do-jin are not yet finished with their, uhm… philosophical debate.

If it were up to Jae-yi, I’m sure she’d happily ignore everything to be with Do-jin. But I think she knows that he’s crippled with guilt every time he looks at her, and it’s impossible for him to move on when his family is, y’know, actively trying to kill her. All she can do for now is not let him vanish again and stop him from feeling too sorry. You have to feel bad for her though. Her parents were murdered, the murderer’s son is out to get her, and her not-a-boyfriend only hugs her when she’s in grave danger. Maybe the writer is the real monster here.

 
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*runs around excitedly*
Thanks a lot @mary!!
You are an angel! <3

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Wow @mary kudos for actually so nicely putting all 6 eps in one post!

That whole "family of monsters in their own way" narrative gives me goosebumps! But yes you are right, I figure they already knew a lot abt their father, so why did Na Moo say anything? But we also know the answer to that.. He is a kid trying to survive the horrid lil life he has been given- dad a psychopath and a hyung least concerned abt being a hyung n almost seems enamored by the idea of violence... Who can he trust? The tiny lil (dysfunctional) family unit would be gone too if he says anything... Jae Yi seems like the first person he wants to protect n yes that does make him flawed but that's quite a human characteristic..

Also I am really waiting for the story to tell us what actually happened with their mother... Did the father kill her off? Did the 2 brothers see that happening? Or did sth else happen?

I have already ranted elsewhere abt that horrible journalist so I won't do that here but gotta say, I HATE her!

Oh n the actor who plays the father is such a great actor! He played a wonderfully complex character in Beautiful Mind too!

I want to say more but I need sleep!

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I think it was mentioned somewhere that Ok-hee is their third stepmom. That’s why I’m worried that his sons have an inkling of how dangerous Dad really is but stayed quiet out of fear or loyalty.

Or maybe they feel trapped too and they’re not used to trusting adults. It’s like having Count Olaf as your dad.

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Wow. That's a good analogy. I totally felt the danger. Like he'd disguise himself and follow you everywhere you go and keep at it for 13 books. *shivers*

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Pssst @mary it says : EPISODES 1-16 WEECAP instead of 1-6..

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:O what do you mean?

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Oh wait I was confused! Mian! I thought this weecap was supposed to be just for the first 6 eps, not 8 and had also forgotten the half hour format! Hence the confusion!

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Hasn’t it been mentioned that one of his wives (perhaps the mother) died in a fire. It could have been a traumatic event for the boys by revealing the depths of their father’s callousness.

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You're right! There was something about the third wife's death in a fire and insurance.

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Maybe he thought the police wouldn't believe him. It seems, at least from what I've seen in most dramas, the police wouldn't believe a teenager, especially that he might not have any concrete evidence and it seems, although the drama doesn't say, the father didn't have a previous criminal record. The police might think that the father and son had a fight and the son is retaliating.

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Ah, I forgot how frustrating dramaland cops can be (except when they’re the hero or villain of the piece).

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There is also the whole Confucian set of ideals about how you are supposed to treat your father that Na-moo has to kick before he can turn Dad in.

There are enough things stacked against Na-moo turning his dad in that I am inclined to give him a pass. But I can totally see the guilt of not doing so sooner eating him up.

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It's here!! Yay! Thanks @mary!

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Are monsters born or created? White Christmas also brilliantly posed this question. There's no black and white answer to that, I don't believe. So happy to see Jang Ki Yong in this sweet, yet layered character role after the darkness of his character in My Mister. He certainly stole the show in every scene he was in there. I think we will be seeing a lot of him, I hope.

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I love the Nature VS Nurture themes in this. Hello Monster tackled the same question, but oh so differently. Here, Namu is haunted by his Father, and terrified that something will spur him to be the same. Thus, he works harder than anyone else to be perfect, to be the sweetest person alive and to never want the things he shouldn't have. He's the most sympathetic lead I've seen in a while.

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It's also amazing how there are two sons who lived under a serial killer father (of course with some variance like favouritism) and turned completely different from each other.

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True true... I wonder if it’s Dad’s “strength training” that gave Na-moo the guts to break free and fight back. That would be ironic.

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Yes! The question is, what is supposed to differentiate them?

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Exactly! There was a case in IRY in which the son of a serial killer asks SIG if he'll turn out like his father. But in the end it's the son of one of the victim's who kills a person and the son dies while trying to protect him.

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Re. the nature vs nurture debate, I once watched a documentary where this question was posed and how this was used as justification for capital punishment of serial killers. That there are people that you can't rehabilitate and that they will continue to kill, if given an opportunity, because of how they are wired up inside. I keep thinking of that documentary (the title of which I can no longer recall) while watching CAHM.

I also like how the pillars of support of and those considered family by Namoo and Nakwon are people that are not related to them by blood.

I don't want to get ahead of the recaps but I also liked how the drama brought up topics like forgiveness and redemption in the latest episodes. While the drama has makjang-y elements, I applaud how ballsy the writer is in raising many questions.

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YES. @mary!!! You saint! You bringer of all things good!

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Or bringer of bad! This show is all paaaaain, all the time. 😭

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I honestly think its the best show airing, and I'm a sucker for sadistic dramas anyway. XD

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Oh my goodness, this is both terrible to read (because of the events) and wonderful (because of the way it's told). Thank you @mary for all the work that went into this! Now I finally have an idea what all the hugging and crying is about.

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Come be a tree-hugger with us

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I'm tempted. I love trees! Especially if they look like JKY.

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It’s very tall and tragic tree :’(

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LMAO I teared my eyeballs reading this mary, u r such word crafted witch

as u can see my name, I cant bear watching my tragic tree bleeding, will wait for his romcom nexttt

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@mary, you are a genius. I propose that we fans of the shows officially call ourselves "Tree Huggers." Peace ✌️

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Done and done! Where do I sign on the dotted line? ;-)

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@mary thanks for recapping.

I'm thinking Na-moo didn't know his father was a murderer only that he was very dangerous. Even when he heard from his mother that he was a murderer, to give him the benefit of the doubt, he may have believed she was exaggerating. As for Hyun-moo, he may have known, but wanted his father's affection so much that he didn't care what he did.

Jae-Yi is an angel and I am beyond happy that she doesn't blame him for his father's evil because it is not his fault.

Moo-won is creepy and half in love with his sister. Mind you he is not creepy because it looks like in flashbacks that he killed his parents, although that is creepy, but my ick factor soars whenever he is around his sister.

Na-moo the sweetest boy in the world.

That reporter, refuse to say her name, is TRASH, she is an awful woman who is preying on these strategies. Ugh

Serial Killer well he is a serial killer. That's all.

That being said na-moo, jae-yi, Hyun moo all need hugs, but mostly the leads.

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I know I said I don’t like him but I feel bad for Moo-won. His parents were murdered, he got nice new parents who were also murdered, and he can’t tell the girl he loves that he loves her (in that way).

I don’t think he can help how he feels. He’s had such a dark life and Jae-yi is such a bright spot in it, it’s hard not to fall in love with her. But he’s too honorable to do anything but protect her so I don’t find him icky for now.

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You mean he likes Jae-yi as a woman???? Why didn’t I notice it?

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It isn’t confirmed hehe I just think he does. But don’t trust me, I’m a serial shipper!

I even thought at the start that the cop hoobae was adult So-jin and she’s gonna have a crush on Do-jin without knowing it’s Na-moo 😂

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@mary Even I though the same during earlier episodes when she wanted help to learn from Na Moo. :D I was surprised also when I found out she's not. :D

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@mimu1234 I bet the writer is laughing at our makjang mindset XD

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It's an interesting take. Personally I didn't see it as a man-woman like either @giegie, but we don't really know enough about him yet to say tbh.
He's a bit of an enigma. One that makes me squint but out of delightful curiosity. Can't wait to find out more about him and whether he's just possessive of his sister or ... if the makjang exists like Mary and others have brainstormed hahaha

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@mary @sicarius I really think he loves her as a sister. I’d be overprotective of her too if I were him after what happened to their parents, and now Na-moo’s brother is also threatening to hurt her. Correct me if I’m wrong but Jae-yi does not know he’s her biological brother and that psycho reporter is threating him to expose his past, both his adoption & his family’s death.

Haha that is sooo makjang! I ship cop hoobae & Jae-yi’s brother. :D *

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@giegie0384 I think she was old enough to know. Moo-won was orphaned in 2000. Jae-yi was 15-16 in 2006. She’s at least nine years old when Moo-won came to their family.

I don’t know if it’s good that none of them mentions that he’s a step-brother. It could mean that they accept him completely. Or it could mean they avoid mentioning it because they’re trying too hard to make it look like it doesn’t matter. Shouldn’t a healthy relationship at least acknowledge it?

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@mary @giegie0384
Or the fact that he's adopted has ceased to be important to either of them since they're the only thing each other has since their parents, adopted or real died? *shrugs*
At this point I'm not putting too much weight on what their relationship is or isn't. THe most concerning thing is obviously how far either of the men that love her, platonically or otherwise are willing to go for her, and I think the reporter biatcxh is gonna have a field day if and when one of them cracks. In fact, I think that's her very point. *ger* *shakes fist*

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@mary @sicarius Me and my memory! Preemptions are messing with my brain cells.
Or maybe their parents and them agreed not to mention his adoption anymore?
She wants to see more blood, vampire psycho!

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I might be wrong and really like makjang lol, however the way he looks at her and the way he says certain things to her make me believe their is more than platonic love there. For instance in the last episode he said I can't live without you and stared intently, to be fair it may have been the translation, but it upped my ick factor. Hopefully im wrong, brcause no one should have that much tradegy around them.

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@kafiyah-bello
I hadn't actually watched the last 30 minutes of it when I first read this and so when I did I couldn't not think of your and Mary's comments!! haha
Those lines in particular definitely make me see why you think that. Guess we'll just have to wait and see

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I don’t think they knew what the father was a murderer, I think they knew he was a “monster”, but I think they did not know the extent of the situation. Anyway I am loving this drama and the best thing of is that she doesn’t blame him for what happen, she knows that him is not guilty of the crimes of his father and she doesn’t try to push him away because of this, as has happened in several times in kdrama. And the story of both healing through what they feel with each other, is really beautiful. And also the story has several other good points and I hope it stays that way until the end.

And what can I say about the acting of the lead actors? God, they simply manage to show how sad they are by the eyes, it's great and very sad, especially Chang Ki-Yong, but Jin Ki-Joo is also acting excellent.
And because of that, I’m immensely happy that Suzy and Nam Joo-Hyuk have rejected this roles, because I don’t think they would be able to play equal to these actors. Because for me the heart of this drama lies in the actors acting.

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I like the story but I would like to see the relationship between the heros in the present and not in the past. The present plot is very slow.

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I'm waiting for Dad and Park Hee-young to stir things up. Hyun-moo is just not threatening enough. But no one tell him that, he's already got a complex about his non-threatening-ness...

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I'm beginning to wonder if Hyun-moo is involved in the latest hammer attacks like Do-jin thinks he is? Why was he sent those pictures of the bloody hammer? Who was that creepy guy with the white sneakers in Mom's restaurant? Is someone framing Hyun-moo? Don't get me wrong, he IS beating up people like when he stole that man's car, but is someone stirring him up on purpose?

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I dont think he is because as a plot point its just so obvious. I think he is only trying to kill her because he got the pictures at his door, not because he is actually capable of murder, which I dont think he is, its probably why his father doesnt favor him. He recognizes that although Hyun Moo is violent, he is not murderous violent. Na-moo on the other hand is capable of murder, just for different reasons.

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I think the journalist looks suspicious about the recent events.

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I agree that he isn't the murderer. His goal seems revenge, so it doesn't make sense that he would be attacking random strangers. But he's definitely out to get Na Moo and Nak Won.

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LOL at his complex! Poor baby is actually a timid guy inside and just needed a loving household to grow up in.

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This drama is the perfect blend of thriller and melodrama. Both genres are handled so well and interwoven in such a seamless way that I'm almost positive I'll be able to sit through the entirety of this without wanting to pull my hair out in frustration.

Nam Dareum is fantastic in everything, but he is particularly exceptional here. Ryu Hanbi too. There is such a perfect harmony between the child actors and their adult counterparts. I'd never watched Jang Ki Yong in anything before this, but holy shit, he is PHENOMENAL. He's knocking it out of the park, portraying Namoo's delicate devotion to Nakwon and his guilt-ridden, self-destructive search for atonement. The history that ties the OTP together hurts my heart so much, I can't wait for them to overcome it all and live their happy ending (accompanied by tonssss of therapy, of course).

Re: Namoo's awareness of his father's killing sprees, I got the distinct sense that Namoo knew he was a monster, but didn't know the specifics or the extent of his depravity. His discomfort and wariness seemed to be more informed by what he didn't know than what he did, so it makes sense that he couldn't and didn't report his dad sooner. He spoke up when the truth hit him plain and square in the face, and by then, it was too late. We are still missing key scenes from that night though, so we'll see exactly what prompted him to call the police.

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I'd never watched Jang Ki Yong in anything before this, but holy shit, he is PHENOMENAL.

*slides over Go Back Couple and My Ajusshi towards you*

Please watch. They're great.

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YAAAAAAAAS both those shows are excellent. My Ajusshi especially.

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I' watching Beautiful Mind at the moment, and he's a nurse in that...

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"There is such a perfect harmony between the child actors and their adult counterparts."

I couldn't agree more, especially with Nam Da-reum/Jang Ki-yong and the actors for Hyun-moo's character, Kim Kyung-Nam and Kim Sang-Woo.

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I love your writing style mary. Thank you for this recap💃💃💃

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The show that haunts me all week.

I second @obsessedmuch, it is definitely a skill to succinctly condense the first several weeks into this one post so nicely. I am hesitant to call it a weecap since it has so much info in it.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, you're only a daaaay aaaaaaa waaaaaaay.

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I thought there’d be an episode last night because there are two this week! I forgot it’s 30 mins per “episode” 😭

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There is a rumor on DC forums that it might turn into a Thursday only show. Just a rumor, but OMG don't do that to me, show!

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WHAT

T________T

I'm worried how that'll affect the pace.

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Hugs for @mary!!
You did it! Yay!!! 💕💕

I am now actually enjoying the reporter track as well, its really interesting, for public interest and need to know. I loved how they keep on evoking this! How much do we need to know? At what cost? Whose point of view we need to know? And why do we need to know? Its like a meta on the show! Its great!

Also its amazing to think of it in terms of choosing a genre for your book: its based on true incidents, fiction, fact, documentary or biography or autobiography and story telling.
Its amazing to see the reporter work so hard to find out the facts but her objective is really high on the gray scale. In the prison scene, i almost felt she made our serial killer look pitiful!
This is a lovely show! Kudos!!!

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Yayy @mary this is so well written. I have missed the first few episodes but you have covered it all and now I do have a sense of things I didn't know like Moo Won's backstory. Moreover, can MBC start airing normal episodes again. The music at the end gives me life but we hardly get a single episode each week plus it doesn't help that the plot currently is slower than before.

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“Are spelling bees too mainstream for you?” LOL
Thank you, @mary!

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I don't know, those spelling bees can get pretty brutal...

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Ikr.

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Someone tell Dad there’s a better use for his ruthlessness.

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Yup, give crazy reporter some hammer lessons maybe? :D

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I LOVE THIS SHOW! There is so much to say about it. The acting is phenomenal, the casting is spot-on (esp. with the 2 actors playing Hyun-moo, they even look alike), the characters are so well written with so much depth (except those reporters, they're just pure evil like Dad). I love Mom and how she came back for Na-moo, I love little and big So-jin and her love for her younger oppa, I love Jae-yi's unwavering faith in Do-jin, I love Do-jin and his dogged determination to protect those he loves, I love Chief Go and how he gets yelled at just like one of the family. I even like Hyun-moo's complexity because you can see he has a soft spot for So-jin, from when he walked her to Mom's restaurant when she was 9 out of concern for her safety to when she back-hugged him in the present. You could see the softness in his eyes whenever he looks at her. He always wanted to be a part of the family. I just love everything. Even the questions that arise, such as, how much did Na-moo know before Nak-won's parents were murdered? If he knew, what stopped him from saying something? What exactly happened the night Nak-won's parents were killed (because some pieces are still missing)? Are monsters made or are they born (the eternal question about serial killers)? I just love it and can't wait for more. All I know is there better be a happy ending because for goodness sake these characters deserve it (except for Dad and the reporters). Heck, I'd even be happy if Hyun-moo got a chance at redemption because the poor guy needs it.

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I like Hyun-moo's complexity too. The young and adult actors are doing great in showing him wavering on the edge of good before lashing out.

I know he was a bully to Na-moo because of Dad's favoritism, but he was nice (and annoying, like a normal oppa) to So-jin. When he laughed after taking a peek at So-jin's drawing of "Mean Oppa" and when Mom almost called him a pet name (Hyunnie?) and when he was almost skipping happily in prison while showing Dad some cigarettes... how lonely do you have to be to miss jail because you can't talk to your abusive Dad anymore?

He deserved a better family. That's another "monstrous" thing Dad did, raising him to be this dysfunctional.

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I really hope he gets a worthy character arc *please show you're doing pretty great so far* because I'd love to see him come round in in a 180... or even a 90 degree turn... idk die for his brother or something just SOMETHING.

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“die for his brother” hahaha that escalated quickly! He’ll probably do so for So-jin though.

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Hahahah I KNOW! I was going all Lookout on everything *again* *lmao*
Probably. Oooh so many delicious character things to uncover. hehe I am excited.
Even though I swear this show raises my heart rate like no other show has in a LONG WHILE and I am not easy to do that with tbh, when watching something.

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He really cares for So-jin, eventhough she likes Na-moo more than him. ^^

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@giegie0384 oh I agree. I just want more of it. ;)

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@sicarius Right? He needs to be around So-jin a lot more. I really loved their bickering when they were younger.

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Yay!! Thank you so much, @mary! You are every bit as sweet and wonderful as our Jae-Yi!

I don’t have articulate thoughts right now, so I’ll just leave with :

This show needs 900x more hugs than we’re getting right now.

In the meantime, I shall be off. Hugging a tree.

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Only 900x more hugs could ease the pain.

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Truth.

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mary is jjang!

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@mary I love you for recapping this!!

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I subbed a couple of Behind the Scenes, you can find them on my fanwall :-)

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Thank you! I saw you posting them and wanted to look so badly ;___; but I’m trying not to spoil myself because it might affect the recap. The good thing is I’ll have those goodies to stare at when the show ends :)

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Thanks Mary for your insight into these troubled characters, like you I feel Hyun-moo and his search for recognition from his family unfortunately he chose the wrong way to go about it. It might be just me but I think the reporter is pulling the strings behind the scenes and controlling Hyun-moo, I also think she set up the scene at the studio and was the person who came in to get a reaction out of Jae-yi. During the course of the show the cameras have focused on the reporters white sneakers a few times so I'm thinking she has more to do with what's going on.

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Her sneakers weren't white like Hyun-moo's and the stalker's but maybe that's just 10+ years' worth of dried blood :O

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Are my eyes deceiving me?????????????
Is this for real????
THANK YOUUUUUUUU @mary!!!!
CAHM fans are thrilled!
I certainly am, because I left the rice and beans I was cooking to read this, in its entirety. And you got me that last sentence!

By the way, you should join the Mom's Brigade, created by the wonderful @bammsie ... We support our need-the-most-hugs protagonist & frequently hug each other (digitally) ... while waiting for the next beautifully shot, marvelously acted and deeply grasping episode.

THANK YOUUUUU!

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Yes, @Mary! We love being Tree-Huggers but we also want to shower our boy practically militantly with hugs and love and bread and affection!

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*happy dance*
As some of the other commenters have said- I don't think the boys knew EXACTLY what their father was up to. Just knew that he was dangerous.
Currently my take on it is that they knew but most likely only suspected their father's atrocities but had no concrete proof. And, Nam Woo being a smart lad, would know he would NEED concrete evidence to turn his father in. Perhaps he knew what he was up to but didn't have enough to prove it off a gut feeling,a probably overactive imagination and a philosophical debate. When he was there the night of Nak Won's parent's murders, he was literally a witness, so that's a pretty high level of evidence.
Fear could've also come in to play of course. The kid was only what... 15? Did very well to act rationally given all circumstance tbh.

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I think if you grow up in an environment with an extremely dangerous individual in your family you learn to dissociate your family life from outside life, I think the kids were most likely vaguely aware that yoon hee Jae is a danger to others but rather than awaken the monster they tiptoe quietly around him. With regards to the 'if they knew he was a murderer why not say something'...i would point to the fact that if hee Jae was not physically abusive to his sons (which I think that he was given that na moo says he can take a beating) he was psychologically and emotionally abusive and that sort of thing can warp your mind, so that you think you can control things if you keep it hidden within the family, take the abuse yourself in order to save others... But of course that doesn't work... Then there is also the troubling notion that it appears as though hee Jae was attempting to groom his son to follow in his footsteps which adds a whole other dimension of f***ed upness

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Even if Psycho Dad didn't beat up Na-moo, hyung could have.

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Na-moo’s brother used to beat him up, which is why he said he could take his father’s beating.

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Wow! A MONSTER recap! Thanks @mary this is so worth the wait.

I love how you encapsulate everything into this recap, capturing the important details, the highlights, raised questions and your wonderful quirky humor - "See? This is what happens when your dad isn’t content with spelling bees."

I love this drama except the pace is darn slow and we have been getting flashbacks with little new information revealed in them. What's keeping me from dropping the drama? It's the Tree. He has gotten me wrapped round his huge and solid trunk.

I will go as far as to proclaim(as if I haven't already!) that Jang Ki Yong is gonna be huge. How do you emote so much when you keep a stoic face? How do you say everything with your eyes without widening them or furrowing your brows as lesser actors do? How do you cry so convincingly when you cut out all the dramatizing? Yet, Jang Ki Yong is more than all these.

Who else had the thought the Na Moo could have a inner monster within him? If anyone could make me want to cradle him like a baby and curl in fear when he lashes out, it's Jang Ki Yong. He's just as capable at playing a hero as he is as a villain.

I'd better stop before I build a shrine at this tree.

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I'd better stop before I build a shrine at this tree.

Indeed! He embodies this show. And I need to see him in many more dramas in the near (very near) future. However, there's no doubt that the supporting actors + the artistic direction, elevate his acting to the heavens and beyond.

And I would build a castle, a temple, a national reserve, you name it, around this tree!!!

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Wow, this show is even more intense than I thought. It's been on my watch list for a while but I'm afraid to start it. Thanks for the awesome recap, I'll know which parts I should skip when I get my courage up!

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Can I just say the word soulful eyes have never me at anything to Mr until this guy ... I don't know what it means to act with your eyes but he sure can... And for once I actually feel it...

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actual plot of this drama: Young man too pure teams up with too precious young woman. Existentialism ensues.

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LOL

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Plenty of existential despair, that is. ;-)

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Omg is this for real?! Thank you!

It felt like my love for this show is starting to cool down because of the preemption EVERY WEEK then this thread came to rescue me. Yay!

I agree about Hyunmoo. Tbh, it's Jang Kiyong that made me watch the show but I'm now more invested in Hyunmoo. Of course, his actions are his own decisions. However, it is heavily influenced by his traumas as a child. I hope he realizes sooner that instead of pushing his remaining family away, he can just let go of everything and ask for a hug. I know for a fact that Mom would gladly hug him and never let go.

Nakwon is indeed amazing. Just to not hate the son of the man who killed your parents is amazing enough but to love him still is another level of forgiveness. I just want them to be happy by the end.

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Thank you so much @mary for this post!
This drama has a free pass to my tear gland and I don't know how to stop it!
"Maybe the writer is the real monster here." >> yeah, maybe she is. I had to admit her professionalism whilst working for the autobiography, but I also wanted to give her a slap on the back of her head. She had no compassion at all!
On the side note of Hyun-moo, I still believed that Soo-jin is his weak spot. He once (kind of) escorted little Soo-jin to Mom's workplace at night and he stopped the wreck-trashing at Mom's restaurant when Soo-jin holds on him. I doubted that he resents Mom for leaving his dad, but he definitely resents her for taking Na-moo in her family registry (change his name to Chae Do-jin) and sadly this makes him hate Na-moo more.
"Are monsters born or created?" >> I have to agree with Do-jin that monsters are a matter of choices. In this case, I think Hyun-moo is blinded by his desperation of Hee-Jae recognition. That's his only goals (for now).

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Oups I meant the drama’s writer who makes everyone suffer 😂

But yeah, Park Hee-young is a monster in her own right. Not all psychopaths are murderers... some are opportunistic reporters just waiting for the next tragedy to milk.

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When I first read the synopsis, I thought that this would be a very cheesy drama, where the Dad is actually guiltless and the son is trying to get a revenge for the people who turn Dad into a murderer (because that's always the case with Korean Drama). So I was surprise to see the different turn this drama takes, where the Dad is truly a psychopath and a murderer with no remorse at all (whether he truly kill Nak Won's parents or not, he's still a murderer through and through)

I did enjoy this drama a lot because I think that they did everything beautifully. I see a lot of people with damage that felt so real. I could see why Do Jin always felt like he's responsible for everything because if I'm in his place I think I will do the same, always thinking of the "what ifs" scenario

This drama might not be perfect but I think that it's much better than what Korean drama usually offer and people couldn't catch up to this trend yet, as proven with the low ratings. Or korean citizens refused to watch a drama that's not a total makjang with a twist. I seriously think that this type of drama will be successful in UK or US rather than in Korea

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Ratings are nice but they’ve always been weird for the past couple of years. Maybe it’s not that people aren’t ready for it, maybe they’re just tired of the painful premise? The real world is kinda tiring right now...

But back to dramas! I also went “eh” at the synopsis. Especially after hearing that Jang Ki-yong is the lead and Heo Jun-ho is the psycho dad. I thought this would be another one of those shows where the younger pretty actors mope prettily while the veteran villain moves the whole plot by themself. But here, everyone is doing well living their story.

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Maybe? I always think it weird that no-good shows actually receive more viewers than it ought to be. Or maybe it's just me, since my taste had always been strange. I've always been anti-mainstream after all

Me too. Not that I don't like younger and pretty actors, but some of them (let's be realistic, almost all of them) couldn't truly act. I hate to see the villains become more enigmatic because the veteran actors are always amazing. But I love the lead actor here, seriously. I cried when he cried and I'm sad when he's heartbroken. Love it that there are still young actors out there who's a lead actor material and could carry out the burden of being the main character in a drama

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Tears of joy for another drama being recapped! 😂😂😂

Thank you @mary

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Hi!
(Not new to the site but I just registered so this is my first comment).

Thanks, @mary for this recap! I just started the drama today and was so happy to stumble upon this! :)

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So happy to see this post, as I’ve longed to read the thoughts of other beanies. Add me to the Jang Ki-yong fanclub - the man can act. He and his younger counterpart, Nam Da-reum, have the similar behaviors, looks, and mannerisms down pat too.

Right now, I am most curious about Moo Wan and want to know more about his backstory. Did he kill his parents? Could he be a part of all of this somehow? (In stories like this, I tend to get carried away and look for possible twists so imagine all sorts of things.)

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Love Nam Da-reum and Jang Ki-yong. They are the perfect Na-moo/Do-jin combination.

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The children and adults counterparts in this drama are amazing tbh. All four child actors and adult actors are matched not only the face but mannerism and everything.

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This show is such a gem. I'm not a big fan of melo shows but this one just called to me (actually it was JKY's handsome face, but I am so glad I started this). I love that the past is not a mystery and the present isn't full of twists around every corner, It actually makes me enjoy the slow pace of the show.
While I don't believe that Na Moo knew the extent of his father's evil, it's clear he had an inkling. But the way the victims families treat him is so infuriating and heartbreaking, and it doesn't help that Na Moo goes out of his way to be berated by them. The extent of his guilt does ask the question about how much he knew about his father.
I think Moon Woo killed his parents killer, in the flashback he had the last time you could see someone in black jacket and black hat (read: killer) lying on the floor. While his scenes with Nak Won does seem a bit creepy, I don't think he's in love with her. I think losing two sets of parents and her being the only family he has left brings out a protectiveness towards her which borders on being creepy.

All I want is for Na Moo to let go of the immense guilt he carries around one day and live a happy life with his paradise. It's gonna be along road but here's hoping we get there.

P.S: Am I the only one who hopes that if Dad ever gets out of prison the first person he personally goes after is the reporter?

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Yes, please someone go after that reporter. She makes my skin crawl.

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Nope, maybe it's the little psychopath in me, but that woman is awful. Story above all

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When will they kill the journalists lady I swear I can't wait for that hammer to land on her head. Sorry but this lady is one greedy. selfish woman. If she can get a taste of the pain she is busy causing others, then maybe she'll wake up from her dead bed and write her own story then that will be cool 😣😣😣😣

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The reporter does nurture all kinds of murderous feelings in me. I cannot help but feel that there is a misstep in writing and/or directing with her character. There doesn't seem to be any complexity in her motivation other than greed and fame in a show in which the serial murderer feels if not more human at least more understandable.

PD-nim, please no more close-ups of her smirks. I only have so much hair on my head left to pull!!

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She mentioned in one scene that she likes to be on the opposite of the public perspective and give voice to "people who don't have one". There are people like that who get their kicks out of being the devil's advocate. Also probably a twisted way of justifying her greed for fame and money.
But props to the actor though, she does her job so well in making our blood boil.
That being said the writing of the media in this show does seem a little off, I don't think they'd be allowed to do and get away with half the things they do here.

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@zrn1210, I'm with Jae-yi in that scene. It sounded like Reporter Park is just using the "other side's voice" as an excuse.

But I don't want her to die. She's interesting. Her talent is needling people and poking at their weaknesses. She's the only person who makes Dad uncomfortable.

Is the media too much in this show? They're like normal reporters digging for gossip to me. Maybe I should watch less dramas and look at real-world reporters...

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@zrn1210 Kim Seo Hyung is a veteran antagonist. She has been responsible for many bald patches, broken screens and increased blood pressure of victimized viewers.

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I hate he evil smirk.
I don't understand this reporter! She has a whole storyboard room set up and is manipulating things, setting up the story lines herself. Why is she purposely harming the victim? How is she such a despicable person?
And the book deal, this makes me even more upset with the reporter for giving a serial killer a platform to spread his philosophies.

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Oh god yes, is it wrong to talk about wanting someone to be killed in a discussion about psycopath drama? It is.
Is it wrong to talk about wanting reporter lady to die in the most hurting way possible? It is not.

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Thank you, @mary! I just finished watching WHITE CHRISTMAS -- another show that deals with the genesis of human evil. Imagine my utter delight to find your weecap for eps. 1-16 of COME HERE AND HUG ME. Manseh!

The preemptions have been driving me batty. But I feel much better about them now that I know they bought some time for your dandy weecap. I've been enjoying this low-key drama immensely.

The Reporter From Hell strikes me as a bigger monster than Psycho Dad. She is despicable beyond words. The character reminds me only too well of a similarly beastly reporter in DIE VERLORENE EHRE DER KATHARINE BLUM [THE LOST HONOR OF KATHARINE BLUM], the stark 1975 West German film adaptation of Heinrich Böll's 1974 novel of the same name.

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Lady reporter is the queen of monsters I swear!

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I love the design of the drama’s poster shown in the top banner. Like an old photograph telling tales from our past, the crinkles divide up the three protagonists as they live in 3 different worlds. The crease does seem much deeper since dad (so far) is kept away from our young lovers even though he still has a strong hold onto their lives. Is he also desperate for Na-moo’s attention? The poster effectively illustrates how Na-moo always keeps his gaze on Nak-won and longs for their reunification.

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Wow, all the loves for the leads <3 Thanks for this post, mary~~

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Let's keep our fingers crossed for our puppies! It breaks my heart when I see him looking at her poster to enjoy her smile for hours.

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One thing I don't understand is what type of prison visiting room has that many candles.

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LOL! I had the same thought. They could start a fire without trying. And then I saw the church-like, calming effect, metaphor they were going for and I was like .... ah, nice! :)

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That visiting room has DRAMAAA written all over it. 😂 Maybe Reporter Park is actually a priest and they’re in a chapel for confession.

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The visiting room doesn't seem real. In another sort of drama, I'd wonder if it was an in-between place (like the team room in Goblin) or dad's imagination helping him cope with incarceration by inventing a room where he can go to talk to his people.

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*tea room, obvs

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Indeed! With stained glass windows and all! :P

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The Wall O' Votive Lights surprised me, too. I was looking for the Grim Reaper and his tea cup collection, along with the Stairway to Heaven. The candles must be battery-powered tea lights because I cannot imagine any public building allowing open flames, especially one housing convicted murderers and arsonists. Sheesh.

Aside: While watching GOBLIN, I was a nervous wreck with all those pillar candles arrayed in masses on overhead shelves and pseudo chandeliers. They were supposed to look stylish -- but made me want to call a fire marshal to report a hazard since they should have been setting off the smoke detectors – and weren't. Yikes.

As for the visiting room's stained glass windows and barrel-vaulted ceiling, it looks like a small chapel that is used for multiple purposes. Perhaps it has been replaced by a larger chapel during a prison expansion. I've seen the exact same type of windows in Korean neo-Gothic churches in other dramas such as MAWANG / THE LUCIFER. Speaking of which, that drama is a dandy examination of good and evil, revenge and forgiveness. Its use of light, darkness, color, and music is terrific. Discussion thread here:

http://www.dramabeans.com/2007/04/devil-mawang-wave-of-japanese-support/

@lolita, I agree that the candlelight conveys a lovely calming effect. In the gloom, the candles also cast a warm glow, which stands in contrast to Psycho Dad's coldness and brutality. There's also the symbolism of Light vs. Darkness, with all its psychological implications. Not to mention the subtext of John 8:12 (New International Version), which is apropos given how Psycho Dad is hell-bent on turning Na-moo into a monster, and already has corrupted Hyun-moo.

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Dad makes it sound as if he's trying to help Na-moo achieve his full human potential. But he himself is more like a walking black hole, from which no light can escape as he devours his victims (body and soul). As elemental as his urge to kill appears to be, it's troubling to see that Evil Reporter is capable of manipulating him. In my book that makes her even worse than he is. She seems to derive pleasure from egging on the basest of human behavior -- just because she can.

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In episode 13 @30:45, Jae-yi's manager, Pyo Taek, rolls up his left sleeve to reveal four characters tattooed on the inside of his forearm. Could some kind Beanie translate, please? Many thanks!

I've been enjoying Park Soo-young's performance. I first saw him in the role of Shorty the Mat Salesman aka Yeonsangun's cagey eunuch, Kim Ja-won. He investigated Hong Gil-dong's alleged powers and may have been a "mighty child" himself in REBEL: THIEF WHO STOLE THE PEOPLE.

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It says 난 놈. I think the literal translation is "I'm a guy", but (take this with oodles of salt, please!) the word "nom" is like a bad/useless guy? I don't know if that makes sense haha... I just always hear it appended to insults. Like this crazy nom, this useless nom.

I think we'll learn more about it in latter eps. I have a theory that Mngr Pyo used to be a thug or something and he owes a favor to Jae-yi's family, that's why he's so loyal to them.

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Thanks, Mary!! Would it be amiss to think of it along the line of "I'm a badass"? The irony cracks me up because he is so soft-spoken. ;-)

I have a feeling that Manager Pyo might have worked for one or the other of Jae-yi's parents. He could have gained background in contract law from working with her father, or practical experience as one of her mother's managers / personal assistants or bodyguards.

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Yeah, it could be he's one of their saved souls. Nak-won's parents seem like they like to "adopt" wounded people into their circle and give them a better chance at life?

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When an unidentified sicko has just sent you the murder weapon used to kill your parents, shouldn't you be at least a little skeptical of a late-night text message announcing an even later meeting at the film studio? Instead of replying with a text, call up and confirm by voice. And what about informing your manager? That's why you pay him. I'm sure he would have smelled a rat, or at least been aware that filming was completed for the day. Or would have gladly accompanied her. This wasn't Noble Idiocy. It was garden-variety idiocy. It's not in keeping with her character.

I was ready to tear my hair out when Jae-yi arrived at the main gate of the film studio -- unlit and without cars in the parking lot -- and got out of her car and entered through a conveniently open door. Hello?! It really bothered me that she left home without her brain. Please, Writer-nim, don't make Jae-yi do stupid stuff.

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Oh yes, that was a huge moment of frustration for me, i.e. "oh no, the Writer is now making the heroine one without common sense to manufacture a scene for the hero to save the damsel in distress."

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Same, especially considering how Nak Won was never portrayed as a weak character. Vulnerable at times and traumatised, yes, but also full of strength, compassion and shrewdness.

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The writer did give some weakass excuse for the phone thing. Do-jin's team says Jae-yi's phone was hacked. Maybe that's why the battery ran out right after the PD's text message? And the PD said he wanted to consult her about the script, not film anything, so the staff could've gone home. Still, I would have taken a peek from the doorway and ran instead of stepping inside...

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If only the acting of the leads from Hold me Tight is as good and passionate as this show. And the directorial too.

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How was the writing for that one? Every time I watched a clip, all they do is stare and cry. I like Han Hye-jin better with the Doc. At least with him she was honest and sassy and vulnerable.

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For me the writing is good. It's just the actor can't bring something complex to a character which would be memorable if given to a more capable and passionate actor. Han Hye Jin is the only leads performances I enjoy. Quite dissapoint with Kim Tae Hoon too. I agree though Han Hye Jin has more chemistry with Kim Tae Hoon.

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I think I only want Yoon Sang Hyun in comedies. In more melodramatic dramas, he made me hate the character.

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YSH at least is trying, I will give him that.

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THAAAAANKKKK YOUUUUUU @mary !!!!!!!!! OMG I've been waiting to talk about Come Here and Hug Me somewhere :(((
I can't believe I actually spend almost an hour to read every comments HAHA
And tbh not until this recap mentions on why Namoo didn't report on his father that I actually started thinking about it. I think it's more about how Namoo still believes his father is A father nevertheless of what he did, and a SON couldn't betray his father like that. The incident with Nakwon totally brought him to realization that his father is not even worth to be called human and that was probably his turning point (on how he finally testifying and everything). But sadly that also brings misunderstanding to Hyunmoo that he did it, reporting their father, because of a girl. Because idk why but I got the feeling both brothers know what their fathers were up to and both knows that each other knows about it but they have this silent-agreement just not to talk about it.

This will be a page long essay tbh asdfghkjl;l

But tbh I was utterly disgusted with that evil inhuman reporter when she said "some people shouldn't have been born" okay maybe that's you?????????
And Hyunmoo.... gah.... I don't know what to say. If this drama made me empathic to someone who had done harmful things to other people then, I did. Everything he did were all motivated by wanting to be recognized and loved and he totally tore my heart to pieces. And I'm such a sucker for a hard headed person with a specific weakness that could crumbles all those defenses, in Hyunmoo's case : family. ALL HE WANTED WAS/IS FAMILY FOR GOD'S SAKE
If anything the only person I could never give my sympathy to is Dad. He is a psychopath, murderer, and manipulative piece of not-human that not only kill strangers for fun but also use that manipulative ability to drive his children to follow his steps. LIKE DUDE WHY????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Last, but the most important, I have said this a thousand time but bless everybody in this drama, bless Nam Joohyuk and Suzy for rejecting, and bless Jang Kiyong and Jin Kijoo for accepting, thus make these leads happen. Because, if this were played by anybody with a tad less acting skills AND a tad less chemistry than Jang Kiyong and Jin Kijoo, I will definitely not be here writing a long-ass essay about a Drama instead of doing my actual essay assignment.

But real talk though, how many of you actually believes Moowon loves her sister? Like loves LOVES? I mean.... might be the actor... might be overprotective-ness because he literally had nobody but her... but still... it gave different feels......

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@Mary. It isn’t so easy for a child to turn their parent in, to the police based on just a suspicion. It was only until his father brutally murdered Jae yi’s parents did Na Moo have proof that his father was a murderer. Until then he only suspected this.

Same thing with Na Moo’s stepmom. She had a niggling feeling about her husband that made her wonder if her hubby was having an affair; when she was faced with proof of his killing, she fled taking her daughter; abandoning her stepsons, but still didn’t turn her husband into the police. Does that make them both monsters? I think not; family ties are the very first bonds a person learns and breaking them without consideration is what makes us monsters. The fact remains that after consideration, Na Moo did turn his father in.

I think the treason why psychopathic dad loves and respects Na Moo so much, is because of Na Moo’s strength of his convictions, which Hyun Moo fails to have, and that’s why the father despises his first son so much. The strength of Na Moo’s convictions is what makes him never look back and continuously atone for his father’s actions. Personally, I strongly believe it is not Na Moo’s fault. Why should he atone for his parent? We don’t get to pick our parents and have little influence over them while growing up under their care. Why should we be held responsible for their actions?

To me the biggest monster and villain in this drama is Ms. reporter. She constantly stirs up things when things have gone quiet and the victims are trying to heal. Even if they tried to forget their pain and move on with their lives, the constant news coverage hardly helps matters. I wish someone would do a background research on her and splash it all over the news so she can be on the receiving end of her particular type of poison. Turnabout is fair play, after all.

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So I noticed Do Jin has this real smooth way of talking sometimes, and I thought that was just the way Jang Ki-Yong spoke. But I guess it's a dialect? I know, I know, I've been watching dramas long enough I should be able to pick it out. But I really like the way it sounds... Anyone know which one it is?

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I've been watching a long time and I couldn't pick them out either XD So-jin calls Do-jin "oppa-ya," I wonder if it's the same as the Answer Me 1994 dialect?

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The only reason I even suspected was because of comments the actor made in an interview: “I lived in Ulsan until I was 20 years old and came to Seoul to go to college. After speaking in the Seoul dialect for seven years, there are times when I can’t remember satoori [dialect]. It was my first time using satoori while acting in a drama. It was a bit awkward in the beginning and wasn’t easy.”

I did some googling and I guess all the Gyeongsang dialects are pretty similar (Ulsan, Busan, etc). I've only seen Answer Me 1997 of the franchise so I guess it's similar to that one.

I feel like I heard it more in the beginning of the drama, so I don't know if he dropped it after the time jump..? (Since he'd been a detective in Seoul for a while by that point)?

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He didn't drop it after the time jump. Though he talked in Seoul accent for a bit in the hospital and Jae-yi teased him about it when she showed him the bloody hammer.

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@mary: thank you! :)

Marathoning this serial after had read your recap, bawling my eyes, and my nose was hurting from snorting. :).

The pain is too much for Nak-won, Na-moo, Moo-won, Mom, and So-jin to handle - well, even for Hyun-moo. Watching the last few episodes made me sympathetic to Hyun-moo character. I agree with other Beanies if Hyun-moo is someone who missed a fatherly (or motherly) love. His father favoured his younger brother, and the Mom only came back for Na-moo when she left with So-jin. This poor boy was neglected, and he wanted to show to Dad that he's the one who inherited Dad's monstrous behaviour. He only wanted Dad to look at him that he's a better son!

Everybody knew that the Dad is the evil. But he's in jail. Another real evil who's running around outside is Reporter Park. Duh, she clearly did everything to get the news. She has no emphatic at all to Nak-won, Na-moo, and even to Moo-won. I'd only wish, Dad will break from the jail and give her deserved lesson. If I watched Dad in the last few episodes, he has plan in his mind to Park Kija.

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I just binge watched all the episodes that are currently out this weekend and I am loving this drama. It's a very complex story with complex characters. I also love how the story is being told. We didn't have 2 episodes of the young characters just to then move to the present day. We got some exposition at the beginning and the rest has been spoon fed to us as the present day story progresses.

I also am in love with Jae-yi. She is so sweet but not to the point of unbelievability. She is understanding and striving every day to be a happy person. She sometimes slips but she gets herself back up to try again.

Poor Do-jin feels like he needs to take the weight of the world on his shoulders. He takes it all stoically in but you can see cracks and moments of weakness where he needs his support group there to help him through it (his mom, sister and Jae-yi). Do-Jin and Jae-yi deserve happiness and lots of hugs.

Thanks for the recap!

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I'm almost a year late to the party, but it's better late than never, right? Because I'm loving this drama. Though I have to admit that binge-watching it is probably one of the surest way to make the hateful characters' scenes easier to digest (yes, I'm looking at you Reporter Park Hae-young, whose every appearance always made me asking "Are you even human??" and "What makes you any different from Yoon Hee-jae? You killed people with words just as thoughtlessly.").

Now, on to the many aspects I love in this drama.

The first one would be Chae Do-jin, who is such a tragic character not because of how much the traumatic incident changed him, but exactly because I can't see any difference from the teenager him and his adult self. While other characters started living in their personal hell 12 years ago, Do-jin has been shouldering the burden far longer than that. It's heart breaking to see young Na-mu (which is played perfectly by the wonderful Nam Da-reum) instinctively suppressing his feeling, clearly too mature and stoic for kids his age. It's a wonder how he can withstood Dad's twisted teaching and wisdom for all those years, and then to see him still being crippled by guilt that's not even his in the first place... I just wanted to wrap him in a bubble and give him lots of hugs.

And then there's Jae-yi who stand on the opposite spectrum from our hero. I'm glad to know that she still retained her streak of sunny optimism even after going through all that trauma, and I love how understanding she is without being a completely naive person (I especially enjoyed her unexpected budding friendship with that senior actress, which is an unrefutable proof of how kind she is). Her ability to see past people's facade is a perfect foil for Do-jin who kept resolutely shouldering all the unwarranted guilt and blame. I always felt like intruding on a very private moment whenever they met each other and I can see from their eyes how they seemed to finally find themselves home after a long and arduous journey.

It's probably not a secret anymore how much I love unconventional family. And this drama is doing a great job with it. I felt my heart melt everytime Mom and So-jin is on screen. Mom is like the epitome of a perfect mother: warm-hearted, strong, protective, and has no limits to her love. A less compassionate woman would probably have completely cut ties with her serial killer husband's families. But she refused to remove herself from her sons' lives and I really hope Hyun-moo will see that soon. Because I think there's nothing that would make her happier than having her families intact again to shower them with never-ending love and forgiveness. Plus, Hyun-moo~ya, don't you miss your little sister So-jin?

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