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Search Query: WWW: Episode 1

It’s finally here, tvN’s new business-romance drama, and Search Query: WWW makes an incredibly positive first impression. From clearly-drawn characters to a complex but fascinating business world backdrop, this show got my attention right away with its (somehow fitting) dreamy mood and clever dialogue.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

As we see a series of people searching things on the internet, a woman’s voice narrates that people start their days by searching the internet for the weather, the quickest way to travel, and other necessities of life. It’s a convenient way to find information, and the tool that provides this information is search engines.

She informs us that every Korean searches the internet at least once a day, and all of those search words are counted in real time by a server called Unicon. We see that this is a speech being given at a hearing by our heroine, BAE TA-MI (Im Soo-jung).

Behind her is a projection declaring the current top two searched keywords to be “Unicon” and “Unicon’s corruption” — Ta-mi is acting as a witness. She’s addressed by assemblyman JOO SEUNG-TAE (cameo by Choi Jin-ho), who asks how a public company like Unicon could manipulate keywords.

He smirks that the keywords haven’t changed since the hearing began — they don’t seem to be manipulating anything today. He accuses Unicon of deleting negative keywords referring to a presidential candidate in the recent election, but Ta-mi says that it’s normal for keywords to spontaneously disappear.

Assemblyman Joo demands to see their algorithm, but Ta-mi retorts that Unicon’s algorithm could be used to manipulate real-time keywords. Assemblyman Joo sneers that Unicon is already misusing it, when the internet should be a neutral place that holds no prejudices, and where people should be able to freely share opinions.

He asks Ta-mi one last time if Unicon manipulated the real-time keywords. She replies, “At Unicon, the real-time keyword ranking… is fabricated.”

Six months earlier.

On her way to work, Ta-mi notes how most of the passengers in her subway car are on their smartphones, many of them doing internet searches. In the elevator at Unicon, new hire CHOI BONG-KI (Woo Ji-hyun) greets her by name, though she barely recalls meeting him at his job interview and says frankly that she recommended another candidate, ha.

He’s the new senior manager of the media department, and Ta-mi warns that they’ll be very busy when the presidential election begins. She quips dryly that his lover will be upset that he has no time to date, and when he jokingly calls her old-fashioned for using the term “lover,” she just says she was being considerate since she doesn’t know his sexual preferences. LOL.

With a shiver, Bong-ki continues on to his meeting, where the main concern isn’t the presidential election, but the fact that Ta-mi took the subway to work today. There’s no time to explain to Bong-ki what this means before Ta-mi saunters in to discuss the fact that Unicon lost half a percent of users to their competitor, Barro.

The others cringe as Bong-ki says confidently that it’s not a significant difference, but Ta-mi disagrees. She says it’s easy for users to switch search engines because it costs them nothing, and what’s more, right now the most-searched word on Unicon’s site is “Barro.”

A man bursts in to tell Ta-mi that “Inju Fireworks Festival” is up at twenty-eighth place. This is significant because it hasn’t gone viral anywhere, which means the increase in interest is all from an advertisement on Unicon’s main page.

In her office, Director SONG GA-KYUNG (Jeon Hye-jin) tells Ta-mi that it’s their policy to delete any commercial keywords. Ta-mi disagrees with deleting it, since a fireworks festival isn’t a commercial event, but Ga-kyung points out that it’s the city of Inju conducting business through vendors.

Ta-mi brings up the Pyeongchang Olympics, saying that it’s discrimination to delete keywords based on whether the event is a popular one, but she concedes that that’s kind of a leap. She reminds Ga-kyung that they don’t delete keywords for festivals in other regions, but Ga-kyung counters that those were advertised in other ways, while this one was only advertised by Unicon.

She says that all keywords that make the ranking after being advertised on their site are deleted, so letting this one pass would be discrimination. Ga-kyung’s assistant reads (from his own internet search, ha) that in 2014, the Fair Trade Commission stated that allowing a keyword from a search engine’s advertisement can be considered unfair trade, so Ga-kyung officially orders it deleted.

Ga-kyung asks Ta-mi if she truly believes they shouldn’t delete it, but Ta-mi says it’s fine to delete keywords. But she says that Ga-kyung will delete too many without her challenges, which gives Ga-kyung food for thought.

She’s joined on the roof later by CEO NA IN-KYUNG (Yoo Seo-jin), who asks cheekily if Ga-kyung’s mother-in-law told her to delete the keyword. Ga-kyung insists that she acted by the books, and In-kyung reminds her that she’s not the villain. But Ga-kyung says quietly, “Helping the villain makes you one.”

Back in her office, Ga-kyung finds an envelope full of photographs of her husband, OH JIN-WOO (Ji Seung-hyun), cheating on her, but she just shreds them. She visits a club where she finds Jin-woo snuggled up with some hostesses, and she gives him a black envelope to give to his mother, saying that she won’t be home tonight.

Without being asked, Jin-woo’s companion explains that they just came here to discuss the editing in a movie that’s coming out next month. Ga-kyung tells them blandly to enjoy their meeting, and leaves. His friend asks Jin-woo if this is okay, but Jin-woo says that his and Ga-kyung’s relationship isn’t like that.

Ta-mi visits a coffee shop where she asks the barista how her job interview went. The barista says it went badly because Seoul-based companies aren’t interested in degrees issued from non-Seoul universities. She mentions the differences in the presidential election pages of both Unicon and Barro.

Ta-mi’s next stop is a solitary dinner, and when another woman is told that the samgyeopsal is only sold in two-person portions, Ta-mi invites her to join her. She pinpoints that the woman is from abroad since she doesn’t ask a lot of personal questions, and she didn’t know that restaurants don’t serve samgyeopsal in single portions.

Impressed, the woman says that she just moved back after studying piano in Germany for ten years. She admits that she doesn’t know anyone in Korea, and asks if she can call Ta-mi whenever she’s craving samgyeopsal.

They exchange numbers, and after dinner, they see some people dancing to “Pick Me” under a sign endorsing one of the presidential candidates, Seo Myung-ho. Despite being behind in the polls, Ta-mi seems confident that he’ll win.

We move to a debate that’s in progress, and where Candidate Seo is being blasted for being divorced. He says that there’s nothing wrong with being divorced, and retorts that Candidate Lee reportedly had an affair with a coworker.

At Unicon, the media team watch the debate and track the keywords on their site, which are currently all about Candidate Lee’s supposed affair (Bong-ki: “Yay, overtime!” hee). Ta-mi leaves for a hair appointment and continues watching the top searches, which are getting more inventive regarding Candidate Lee’s infidelities.

She refreshes the page, and suddenly, all mentions of Candidate Lee are gone. She hurries back to Unicon, but Bong-ki doesn’t know what happened either. All the phones begin ringing at once, but Ta-mi forbids anyone to answer them.

She goes to Ga-kyung, who says that keywords regarding adultery are slander — something else they always delete. Ta-mi argues that a presidential candidate isn’t an ordinary person, and it’s not Ga-kyung’s place to personally “protect” their human rights. She yells that keyword belong to the people who search for them, and when Ga-kyung starts to recite the rules again, Ta-mi snaps that she knows Ga-kyung is being pressured.

Ga-kyung accuses Ta-mi of slander, but before it goes any further, Assemblyman Joo (who is a member of the same party as Candidate Seo) arrives. Over tea, he quips that Unicon seems to heavily prefer Candidate Lee. He mentions that Ga-kyung’s mother-in-law is the chairwoman of KU Group, but Ga-kyung says that has nothing to do with this. Assemblyman Joo continues that Unicon is known for manipulating keywords, but that Ga-kyung should stop being a slave for her mother-in-law.

Ga-kyung says calmly that search engines may practice voluntary restraints, but Assemblyman Joo barks angrily that this is a presidential election. Ta-mi asks if they should break their rules just because it’s a presidential election, stating that they’ve always deleted keywords regarding an individual’s adultery.

Outmatched for now, Assemblyman Joo stands to leave, saying that once Candidate Seo is elected president, he plans to revisit this issue. Once he’s gone, Ga-kyung asks Ta-mi what she really thinks about whether they should have deleted the keywords. Ta-mi still says it’s wrong, and tells Ga-kyung to be prepared to deal with this since Candidate Seo will be president.

Ga-kyung goes to her mother-in-law, JANG HEE-EUN (Ye Soo-jung)’s art studio after work. Chairwoman Jang asks why there’s such a fuss when it’s just a few keywords, laughing at the politicians’ democratic posturing. Ga-kyung says they won’t be able to avoid a hearing, and that she warned Chairwoman Jang this would be dangerous.

Chairwoman Jang just asks if that makes Ga-kyung incompetent since she did it anyway. She tells Ga-kyung to choose someone to attend the hearing, and she’ll make sure that Ga-kyung and In-kyung aren’t summoned. When Ga-kyung says that she’ll go, Chairwoman Jang snarls that it’s not Ga-kyung she’s trying to protect.

On election night, Unicon is ready with a “congratulations” banner for the site the moment Candidate Seo is announced as the winner. Bong-ki wins a bet with the rest of the media team, who all thought Candidate Seo would lose due to poll results, but he says he bet on Candidate Seo because Ta-mi said he’d win because, a month before the elections, Candidate Seo’s name was suddenly being searched far more than Candidate Lee’s: “People become very honest in front of a search engine.”

Ta-mi goes to an arcade to play fighting games, and her opponent is a young man who keeps wanting to play despite consistently losing to her. He finally wins a game and gets up to leave, and Ta-mi sees his face clearly for the first time. She asks for another game, but he says she won’t be able to beat him today.

She asks about tomorrow and what she can do to win. He just says vaguely, “Try harder.”

Ta-mi stays another half hour practicing, and when she leaves, she finds the young man waiting for her. Ta-mi picks his brain for game tactics, and he tells her exactly why she lost. He says he usually plays at a different arcade but can only play at the local one now, and Ta-mi admits that she’s glad, because she was challenged for once.

Staring at Ta-mi intently, he says that she gets a certain expression when she wins. Ta-mi asks what her losing expression looks like, and he answers, “You looked at me. You only look at the people you’ve lost to.”

He scoots over to her side of the table to share his earbuds, and plays a song for her on his tablet’s piano app. She watches his face as he narrates, “A woman you’ve loved for a thousand years is locked in a castle. Only one enemy stands. If you win this final battle, you will save her, but it won’t be easy. There will be flashy skills and magic flying all over the place.”

The music swells, then it’s over. He asks Ta-mi if the music is too romantic for a battle scene, but Ta-mi says that if you’ve loved the woman for a thousand years, it’s not about how you fight, but the mindset you fight with, that matters. Still looking deep into each other’s eyes, Ta-mi says she likes it, and he says he likes it too, their words full of deeper meaning.

In the morning, Ta-mi wakes up in a strange bed… next to the young man from last night. Yikes. She quietly dresses and sneaks out, buying a new scarf and earrings on the way to work in an attempt to hide the fact that she’s wearing the same outfit as yesterday. But when she gets to her office and notices a run in her hose, she can’t help but remember the details of last night.

She’s summoned to Ga-kyung’s office and informed that, as the director in charge of the Search Department, she’ll be attending the hearing regarding keyword manipulation. Ta-mi asks Ga-kyung if she really has to do this, but Ga-kyung just asks back if Ta-mi is trying to appeal to her conscience.

Ta-mi quips that she asked a stupid question, and turns to In-kyung to ask if she can refuse. In-kyung says that the media will want to drag KU Group into this if Ga-kyung is summoned, though they all know that KU Group is involved. Ta-mi snaps that In-kyung should take responsibility but instead is pushing the blame onto her, and she refuses to do it.

In-kyung says clearly that this is not optional, making Ta-mi mutter that she’s being thrown under the bus. In-kyung answers placatingly that they wouldn’t entrust the future of Unicon to someone they could do without, and tells Ta-mi that she has one job — to make sure the corruption doesn’t show up on the search rankings. She even hints at a promotion if everything turns out well.

Later, Ta-mi goes for drinks with Bong-ki and asks if he’s a just person. He says he is, but that justice is hard to define. Ta-mi asks if it’s just to choose a lesser evil when confronted with two evils. She says she’ll be on TV soon, and wonders what shade of lipstick will look the most fierce.

That brings us back to the hearing (and Ta-mi’s incredibly fierce red lipstick), when Assemblyman Joo asks if Unicon manipulated the real-time keywords before the presidential election. Ta-mi honestly admits that they did, and tells him that in her ten years at Unicon, the words she’s deleted the most all refer to sex. She says that if deleting words in the interest of the public good is fabricating, then yes, they fabricate keywords.

Assemblyman Joo says she’s deflecting, but she counters that if the keywords relating to the presidential candidate accused him of an underage prostitution scandal, then they were allowed to delete them as slander if they were untrue. However, she has proof that Assemblyman Joo himself used a Unicon email server to solicit a minor a decade ago.

Assemblyman Joo leaps to his feet, screaming that it’s not true. Ta-mi says calmly that the authorities can check the information for themselves, and on the screen behind her, the real-time search results suddenly fill with searches about Assemblyman Joo and underage prostitution.

Ta-mi notes how quickly the results changed, and says smugly, “This, sir, is the internet.” Check mate.

A woman sits in her car watching the hearing on her tablet, and she tells someone on the phone that they have a real psycho on their hands. She’s outside the courthouse, and Ta-mi suddenly gets into her passenger seat and asks her to drive. The woman says she’s got the wrong car, but Ta-mi says she couldn’t exactly get into a taxi after making a cool exit.

She suddenly realizes that the woman seems familiar, and they realize that they’re competitors. The other woman is CHA HYUN (Lee Da-hee), who works for Barro, the next most popular search engine after Unicon. But she takes pity on Ta-mi and drives her away from the throng of reporters.

In-kyung is furious at Ta-mi, but Ga-kyung says she did what she was told — get rid of the real-time keywords regarding Unicon’s corruption. Ta-mi is a bit shocked at what she’s just done, and Hyun asks who gave the orders to delete the keywords at Unicon, KU Group or Candidate Lee?

Ta-mi doesn’t answer, so Hyun asks if replacing her company’s corruption keywords with keywords on underage prostitution makes her feel just. She tells Ta-mi not to think of herself as a hero when she’s not honest about Unicon’s problems, but Ta-mi snaps that she didn’t ask for Hyun’s opinion. She insists on being let out even though they’re still on the highway, so Hyun complies.

Hyun is a former judo athlete, and as she spars with a partner in jiu jitsu, we see that she hasn’t lost her skill. He tells her that she should go back to judo and try for the Olympics, but Hyun says she gave up on judo long ago. She jokes that her new dream is to be rich enough to beat up whoever she wants and just pay them off, ha.

In the break room, they see a news clip about Ta-mi’s testimony. Hyun’s partner says that Ta-mi did a great thing, exposing a predator, and Hyun just nods that Ta-mi made a clever move.

Ta-mi decides that her only alternative to going back to Unicon and facing the consequences of her actions is to off herself. She finds a bridge to throw herself off of, but actually doing it is way too scary, hee. Instead she huddles by the railing and prays for sudden destruction of the Earth.

Having failed to end it all (and since the Earth is still intact), Ta-mi bravely makes her way to work the following morning. Bong-ki comes to her office looking proud and tells her that her lipstick was super fierce, and that she did a great job.

He warns her that Ga-kyung is looking for her, so she decides to monitor a Game Department meeting for him as an excuse. In the meeting, Ta-mi recognizes the music being played in the background for a new game, but she can’t quite place it. Suddenly it comes to her — a rainy night, a handsome young man, and a story he told her through music.

The lights come up, and there he stands at the front of the room, staring directly at Ta-mi. He introduces himself as PARK MO-GUN (Jang Ki-yong), CEO of Millim Sound, and he asks for opinions on the music they just heard. Director Sohn of the Gaming Department suggests that the music is too romantic and sentimental for a fight sequence.

Mo-gun tells the room that at this point in the story, the hero is fighting for the woman he’s loved for a thousand years, adding pointedly that she’s not just a one-night stand as he tries to catch Ta-mi’s eye. He repeats her words from their night together, “It’s not about how you fight, but the mindset you fight with, that matters.”

Ta-mi finally looks up at him, and Director Sohn asks what she thinks. Surprised, she blurts out, “He’s handsome.” PFFT. At Mo-gun’s knowing expression, she clarifies that the lead character is well-designed. (I’ll say.)

She slinks out of the meeting and, distracted, accidentally walks into the men’s room. On her way out, she collides with Mo-gun’s chest, leaving a bright red lipstick mark on his white shirt. Mo-gun jokes that she has a habit of kissing him whenever they meet.

Mo-gun stops Ta-mi’s nervous babbling by wiping the lipstick smudge off her lips. Still on autopilot, she asks how old he is. He answers, “I’m not a minor,” flashing her the cutest grin.

 
COMMENTS

Oh, I love this. Mo-gun is adorable, and very insightful, and I just love how he throws the oh-so-poised Ta-mi right off her game merely by existing in her general vicinity. I’ve been dying to recap a show with Jang Ki-yong again ever since he caught my attention in My Ajusshi… the way he made a horrific character somehow relatable and even sympathetic was nothing short of masterful. So I’m very excited to be covering this show, especially since it’s such a different character. So far, I’m enjoying the show much more than I even expected, and it’s all due to the characters.

I think I fell head-over-heels for Ta-mi when she flayed the new hire, Bong-ki, with the comment about his sexuality — it said so much about her. She’s cold, but she’s brutally honest, and she pulls no punches even when her comments might be hurtful. That’s not the greatest quality and won’t make her many friends, but it’s admirable to be so unafraid of what people think of her, especially in the workplace. I love that she fights for doing the right thing within her company, and that she feels badly for what she did in the hearing, because it shows that she does have a conscience. She also has a softer side which she showed to Mo-gun, and it’s that side that I’m excited to see more of.

Mo-gun is also a pretty amazing character so far — it was great how he sized up Ta-mi so quickly just based on how she wins and loses a video game. As an avid gamer myself (seriously, if I’m not recapping, I’m gaming), it’s really true that you can learn a lot about a person based on how they win or lose, and it’s significant that Mo-gun noticed that Ta-mi only connects with people she’s lost to, as if they’ve gained her respect then. I find Mo-gun’s profession fascinating, and I can’t wait to learn more about what he does. In fact, one of the best aspects of the show is how the characters’ professions aren’t just a gimmick to push them together or background noise for the love story. Ta-mi and Mo-gun seem to be very personally entwined with their careers, which lends their characters a lot of depth and interest. I look forward to learning more about what they do, because it will tell us a lot about who they are.

I feel like I’ve gotten the bait-and-switch a lot lately with shows that were supposed to be light and breezy, but ended up much more serious… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not always a good thing, either. Even though Search Query: WWW seems to be going that same way, with this first episode much darker than the promos indicated, I’m not mad about it. If I had to choose one word to describe this show on first impressions, it would be “lovely.” The cinematography is gorgeous, with soft filters and beautiful lighting, and every detail seems lovingly chosen to set the perfect mood for each scene. When Mo-gun was playing the music for Ta-mi, I was moved by the fact that literally everything in the scene was soft and warm, from the lighting to the rain outside, to their dialogue and even their voices as they spoke to each other. Only thirty minutes into the show, and I could already sense how their romance will feel as it progresses. The only thing I’m still unsure about is how exactly keyword manipulation works and why a search engine would do it, but honestly, I don’t even care — I’ already willing to follow wherever this drama leads.

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So I watched Search: WWW EP 1-2 And while I was watching the episodes I couldn't help but get a weird feeling like I’ve watched some of those scenes before. It reminds me of the movie Miss Sloane. The whole trial thing and the whole plot twist with tricking the politician. At first I thought it was a coincidence but then something happened again in the next episode just like the movie. At this point I’m only watching it to see if there are more similarities. I guess the writer must be a fan😂
Has anyone watched Miss Sloane before?

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This drama is really stylish and edited so well. I love Im Soo Jung and all her previous works and I think I will be loving this one too. Her character, whatever revealed so far (I am just one episode in) is a girl-crush material.

And Jang Ki Yong. *sigh* I have so much to say… but then I get lost at “He is handsome.” *dreamy sigh*

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This really is the drama I never knew I needed. Why can't we have more female characters like this in dramaland? Working women in leadership roles, actually talking about work, their friendship or rivalries, instead of about men. They're older and unmarried to boot. As dramas can influence our own perspective, I wish this is a perspective that was shown to young women amd girls more often.

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Yes to all of this. Definitely my favorite thing about this show so far.

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My favorite thing about this show is the writing.
The dialoges are so sharp you can cut paper with them.

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THIS!!!!

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So much yes to all of this! I love that this is showing up in more dramas recently. Let's hope the strong female characters continue their path and don't suddenly get cut out of the plot in favour of developing romance (too much).

On a separate note, I just finished watching Jang Ki Yong in Kill It and am almost suffering whiplash from how different SooHyun and Mo-Gun are. Not a bad thing though, seems to be doing a convincing job so far

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I like it, but I don’t really like it like it.. does that make sense? The lighting and camera angles are a bit iffy.. but I love the women in this show. Especially BTM and Scarlett..

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I don’t know anything about lighting and camera angles, but I did laugh out loud at Mogun’s backlight when we first saw him. The only thing missing was the choir of angels.

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I was watching that with my olther brother and I explained to him,
" That lighting doesn't lie, THIS is the main guy"
LOL.

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I was half expecting the Libera song that variety shows often used

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I got a annoyed with the idea that their meeting had to begin with him one-upping her *cue eye roll* but as the episode went on, it made sense. At the end of the day it's just a video game, and it was made pretty clear that Bae Ta Mi is far ahead of the guy. I also got a bit annoyed that she's so flustered around him in that ending scene, but that's not actually far off from how many of us are around guys we like. I know I am. I hate it about me, but that's me too.

Frankly Bae Ta Mi reminds me of someone I knew from law school. Airheaded but completely brilliant, she was miles ahead of most of us. I didn't like her in real life, but I do like what she represents onscreen.

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For Bae Ta Mi - he is a totally new experience. She can handle problems at work but this is new. So I kinda get it why she is a bit flustered. She is doing things she has never done before. These new experiences can be quite unsettling.

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And the thing is Morgan has her figured out right off bat. He knows that they only way he could get her to turn her head to him was through winning a competition she’s participating. She lost the game and that made her want to see the face of who she lost to. Morgan, very calculating.

Morgan, although I’ve not fallen in love with his character yet so far, but I can see why he can get her flustered and a little bit over the place. He’s straightforward, smart, can handle conversation, and looks very very attractive.

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She was thrown off because he was not playing around. He flat out told her he was interested and wanted her. He played no games with her. Everything she threw at him he came back ten fold. I can see it.

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I think she was flustered too bc she’s dealing with a lifetime crisis at work and she ran into him while trying to hide from her problem. She was planning on a true one night stand and never see him again.

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>"The only thing I’m still unsure about is how exactly keyword manipulation works and why a search engine would do it..."

You must be new. To Naver.

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I pretty much do Dramabeans and Twitter and that's it :) And shockingly, trying to google information on it turns up NOTHING. Lol!

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BTM explained it herself? The top keywords are usually related to sex - not quite what they want to portray.

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But that was a justification and a deflection, she was waving a red flag in one direction to divert attention from all the OTHER deleting they do on a regular basis. They apparently delete other keywords all the time, for other reasons, and that's the part I'm unclear on.

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I believe the insinuation that Ta Mi was trying to make with that argument was that if the real-time search trends were 100% unedited, then it would be full of references to pornography and other sexual content since that is the one constant thing that is searched on the internet above all (a very snide jibe at the male population lol). I don't doubt that search trends undergo a certain amount of editing across a portal sites, but the show has definitely made a good point about it being a fine line that the editors are toeing between protection of freedom of speech and protection of personal/private rights.

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I do understand why sex keywords would be deleted. I don't understand why they would delete keywords for a festival that they advertised on their own website.

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re: festival, it was implied GaGyoung's MIL was behind it, so I assumed it was business related.

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Yes.

And I want to know WHY she would make such an order, and all the other orders she apparently issues.

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Re the festival keywords:

Just because the book said so. Korea has some weird advertising rules (like no advertisements in between drama episodes on the big 3 which is why we're getting 2 half hour episodes a night; tvN and JTBC are wholly privately owned, so those rules don't apply to them ) and allowing a search item to rank high (which means it pops up more in people's auto-fill searches and thus can garner more interest than usual) just because it was promoted on a search engine's homepage can be considered unfair to all the other advertisers who only managed to advertise elsewhere.

Eh, this case wasn't really such a big deal. TaMi also acknowledged that she fought back only because she felt like fighting more so to ensure her colleague doesn't go all China with keywords she dislikes. Which turned out to be futile because see what happened when a politician they like gets into hot waters.

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I think the festival thing may be more about maintaining neutrality and not influencing public opinion since the purpose of the search trends is to determine what issues/topics are currently most important to the public. I'm quite surprised they even allow ads on their main site to be honest. For instance, if Google put ads on its main search page I'm sure you can imagine how much revenue/attention that would generate for the organization the ad is about. I think deleting the search trends might be a trade-off to try to balance against that massive boost in exposure. Otherwise the portal site would have the ability to make any of its chosen sponsors into a matter of public interest just by adding an ad banner to their main page. I was half asleep watching this episode though so it's possible that I missed the explanation. This is simply the best way it makes sense to me.

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You can google "google censorship" and there is plenty of articles about it, internet search engines censor content in every country, we just don't pay any attention to it.

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Well. Well, well. Let me give you the example of the biggest case in Korea right now.

There was this club, which has the same initials as Bull Shit, that got into hot water thanks to prostitution, drugging and no-consent sex cams on their unknowing female clients for certain VIPs who "chose" them. It's linked to a certain someone from an idol group whose 4 members out of 5 are currently in the army and is from the company that rhymes with "Why? Gee."

People searched it up on Naver, left comments with upvotes of above 40k, and yet the articles are nowhere to be found and the keywords are nowhere to be found on that proud "Top Ten Keywords" list that Korean search engines like to put on their home page for whatever reasons. Over at Nate, that list looked very different.

Well, rumours are flying, because Naver apparently invested the equivalent of USD10 Million and holds a 10% stake in that entertainment company where the President's Son is a DJ in their subsidiary.

Media Manipulation isn't an unheard of thing in Korea, and a search engine is a powerful tool to use.

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Sorry, it was a $100 Million. Dang.

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Yes!!!! Burning Sun and Naver case was what I had in mind too when I was watching the premise. How fitting that a drama came about when this is hot topic

Hi @lollypip and beanies, I have written a reply to Moonbean’s comment post below on what Korean Search Portals are to Koreans

http://www.dramabeans.com/2019/06/search-query-www-episode-1/#comment-3473011

hope this information bit helps in understanding why these search portals are big deal to Koreans ^_____^

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I liked part of this opening episode. but really the romance introduction feel so superficial and empty. Sleeping with a stranger is not romantic to me it is just awkward. I think for me the biggest problem there is that there was not any scene introduction to Mo gun to us audience so we can know what kind of person he is. I guess because of this it leve their first meeting as hallow. also not know what kind of motive he have in approaching her make me wonder why he is so eager to pursue her... I think writer could have been smarter in forming them into gaming friends and develop their relationship from there.

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In my personal experience, and the society I live in, is very common that you meet someone, out with friends for example, an sparks fly.
You exchange numbers and ... things happen, maybe that night, maybe on the next date.
Again, in my VERY personal experience, they allways want more, dating, introducing me to friends, family... etc.
All this so called "superficial and empty" first encounters responed to a healthy mutual attraction, and that is as legitimate as any reason to start seeing someone romantically.
Seriously, that part was the most realistic and relatable part of the show for me.
I've lived similar experiences and all but ONE, (and that was very fun and positive), led to a relationship.
The big lie, in my expierence, is that guys just want sex and no emotional attachment.
Many men have romantic hearts, love hugs and think having a girlfriend is great.
Maturity and expierence helps you differenciate them from the thrill seekers.

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You are right about those point. It is maybe that I am mirroring myself as a very closed off person. So would respond to that kind of meeting with closing myself off even more because that person is a stranger. I have always needed time to get to know the person before opening up to them. So doing that is not in my bone. But sure people are different though and would respond different to different situation.

I see maybe calling it superficial and empty was harsh word to say. as you say it is a start on getting to know the other person. what I was thinking about is those one night stand that in most part just ending as one time meeting that is still shallow as you still do not know that person that you just got intimate with.

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When I was 17 my Mom told me: " only after sex you find out if the guy cares about you, and if you really, really like him".
She didn't intend for me to seep around, but intimacy tells you a lot about someone.
Does he cares about your needs?, are you compatible?, is he sweet, funny?, does he listens when you say something ?, is there breakfast the next morning?.
I'm very intuitive about people, and I know the type of guy I gravitate to, and I rarely drink, so I'm wide awake for my choices.
Actually, my worst relationship was with a guy I meet and flirted with for 6 weeks, and when we finally started dating he was a rude lover and a didn't respect me at all.
As in, didn't allowed me to drive, because it was "his thing", and commenting on the size of my belly and how he hoped I didn't "let my self go, now I was on a relationship"!!!.
He didn't talked like that on our dates.
But I was so invested on the relationship that it went on for a while.
For me the fastest I can find this tipe of things, the better.

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I have often heard "look at how he tread his friends and other people around him". this can tell allot about what kind of person he is and if you like that person he is in those settings. But what your mother said is an interesting observation to.

I do not have any dating experience myself, so interesting to hear how other people think about it. thank you for being so open and sharing your own experience :)

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"look at how he tread his friends and other people around him", I will ad waiters, sales clercks etc.
Great advice, I totally agree.
I'm in ahjumma territory myself, so its more common that I've seen things.
BUT! the trick is that my society is quite egalitarian, I've allways have male classmates and very close male friends.
And I live in a big city, so disscussin dating, sex and relationships is natural, and has no stigma.
Not all social circles are the same, so the safety and oppenness I've expirenced may not be the same in your circumstances.

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I understand. you get to hear and witness many thing after a while.

It is more on me as here it is common to talk about dating and stuff like that. Also talking about sex is not tabu. I have big insecurity about myself beside staying home more than going out and meet people. Also there is thing I have to tell future boyfriend about myself that I am scared on how he gonna react on knowing. So yes this have lead me away from dating...

Moving back to this drama. even with my first comment I would say it is nice that we get character with different dating experience :)

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Dear Sal, good luck with everything, and remember every one has issues...
Really.

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❤️

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thanks for the recap...i absolutely loved the ep 1 & 2, it was like nothing i had seen so far, atleast in kdramas. all these women in their power suits, the tension thick in the air with all the power struggles in the background and seems the story slowly unfolds the past whether its friendship or competition...all well done!...i also really liked all the interactions of Mo-gun and Ta-mi; he was able to figure her out and i felt like for him atleast it seemed like instalove (i could be wrong here ha ha!)...i'm excited to watch more of this show and see where it goes.

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Thanks for the recap, Lollypip! I’m enjoying this one. Feels very jtbc-ish.

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Thanks for the recap, @lollypip. I was completely glued to my screen watching this. I might even have 'Hah!'d during a scene or two. I love Ta Mi's blend of couldn't-care-less vulnerableness-- case in point,
being totally unfazed that her getaway vehicle belonged to the opposition. Lol.

Despite the undertones, I left off feeling like everything sparkled and popped with intrigue and sass, and nearly all the characters made me want to know more. Just so good. Can't wait to see how the stories start to unfold.

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I have been looking forward to this show.

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Am I the only weird one who's here mainly for the keyword search manipulation part of it and the business side of what they do? 😂 There have been shows about media organisations and how they deal with corporate pressure, political pressure etc but none that I can remember that deal with it from a technology provider's point of view. Who is responsible for the third-party content on a website and how do you reconcile your own business interests with "public good"? Well, I hope the drama gives us some insight into the South Korean thinking on of some of these questions especially since their tech players field is far different from global tech, which can see be seen in LollyPip's confusion on how keywords factor into this 😅 Maybe I should write a blog post on this 🤔🤔

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I'm there with you @minminfan- the story is interesting, but I find myself most interested in the background story of censorship on the Internet.
I hope they keep talking about it - who does it and why - and if it's fair to the rest of us.

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Exactly! It'll be fascinating to see if done well. Otoh, I'm also a little weary of who the sponsors of the show are. I couldn't find any obvious references to existing sites but I can very well see how a show like this might be used to further a certain company (portal's) view on this subject.

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I finally remembered what they call it here in the States:
Net Neutrality
and it's been an issue for some time...

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Net Neutrality is about access to the Internet equally, more on the infrastructure and not about the content itself. In SK, Naver and Daum, the biggest portals have a very close relationship with the media, where they pay them a certain license free each year to carry their articles within the sites. Unlike on Google, where a search result leads you to a news website, here the articles are carried in full within Naver. So it's almost like a media website but not quite. Similar to Facebook. What was done in the first episode is similar to if Google removed or made it really hard to find articles that were critical of Trump when someone searches for Trump (taking this analogy since we don't have the real time search ranking) And you're right. This has been an issue for some time - a lot of the concerns about Facebook have been around this 😅

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@minminfan - thank you for that explanation. Apparently I thought they were the same thing. Now I need to do more research.
Now that you explain it more clearly, I'm really interested to see what they do with this storyline. Let's hope they actually delve into it.

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yeah! I really hope they tackle this too!

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Nope. I'm pretty fascinated by all this too! Please.do that blog post!

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haha yes I've been thinking about it. Might be a good fit for HH right?

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The female characters did not disappoint. I had been looking forward to them from the promos, so I was happy they lived up to my expectations. I'm excited to see how their characters will develop and to watch more of their interactions. I'll reserve judgment of Park Mogun's character, since he hasn't been given any character development yet.

While I liked the episode, the one thing that really didn't work for me was the romance. It just felt awkward for some reason. The elements were there, but I didn't like the execution at all. But I did like that it started out with a one-night stand, even just for the fact that it provides a different angle on romance than the usual kdrama setups.

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totally agree. i mean i don't love the set up just because i want TENSION !!!! but yea it's so rare to see that so it makes me happy

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i'm sad that they slept together not because of propriety obviously. the fun part is watching people fall in like ~ or even lust lmao now i'm unsatisfied smh

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idk if i will watch more but it is interesting to see the ethics of using the internet to manipulate and track. and by ethics mean it is incredibly unethical and startups exploit lax labor laws so. but like...how will you change this? it's not being helpful, it's continuing to aid marginalization at the behest of the rich lol

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@boughtabride
In this case I think it is a necessity as now she can not brush their mutual attraction aside.

Without it Ta-Mi would have used all the reasons (age difference, Industry links, etc) to shut it down her feelings. Now she has to face her inner self...and all her preconceptions and pap responses fail to honesty....Nice twist for on-line world where deception and artifice rules.

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So excited for this show! I hadn’t no clue before coming in and delighted that I love it so much.
Love the main female lead. Her relationship with her Sunbae which seems to have taken the wrong turn. Am fascinated by all this.
And I totally get the whole ‘self-regulation’ in the world of internet. It’s a sketchy topic and it happens everywhere. I think it’s well timed to see a drama with this concept.
And Mr.Handsome is just so *phew.
I wish they went easy on the lighting. It’s too ‘in your face’ dreamy.

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I really like this show so far. I know people are not a fan of the romance, but I think the writers know that if they are doing a tech related drama the relationships needs to be 21st Century as well. Unfortunately more people meet on apps and one night stands. Not all relationships start dreamily. Most start super awkward and then become more comfortable. I think we will find that the romance will start happening once they get thru the awkward.

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The awkwardness for me was in the fact that the relationship felt contrived. I don't mind natural awkwardness that comes with the beginning of a relationship. I thought the writing of the romantic scenes was awkward. Also, I didn't feel any chemistry personally. Hopefully that'll change as the show goes on, since I think there's potential for it to done well.

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*be done well

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I get that. I do hope that Park has more character development so we can understand him better. Right now he’s just a cute guy with a hard chest ;)

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Exactly 😄

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i LOVE THIS DRAMA!!!!!!!!!!! Our heroine is fierce but not cruel and that is rare. I'm thankful i read this recap as well because i didn't see much special in the male lead but you've opened my eyes. Thanks for the recap.

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I liked it but ... I was exhausted! To me, it felt like it was too... I don't know... too perfect? It was as if the female lead and other women had to be strong, amazing, smart, etc all the time. I wanted a few scenes to breathe, soak in all the awesomeness...
For ex, Ta-mi finally had diner... Well, let's her eat alone at a BBQ ,restaurant, and meet another independent strong woman. Ta-mi finally ends her day and plays game to relax. Well, let's her be a very good player and meet the (perfect?) guy.

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I thought the plot was well written , RE: meeting another independent strong woman. The only reason they started talking is because the other girl was going to eat alone, otherwise BTM would just ignore her. About the perfect guy, I can see the meet cute making sense since she’s hanging out at the place where there are more men than women...although video game nerds don’t look quite hot so that’s the only “fictional” part

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I loved every bit of the female characters. I like Jang Ki Young, but if he left I wouldn't miss him. I'm here for the complex female narratives. I'm hoping it continues to be great.

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I like Jang Ki Young, but if he left I wouldn't miss him.

I loooooove Jang Ki Yong, but I would still have to agree with you on this one after seeing the first two episodes of this show. I hope his character brings in more to the table than just Ta Mi’s love interest because at the moment, Ta Mi’s male sidekick, the hoobae who wasn’t her first choice as Unicon new employee, but highly looks up to her so much is far more interesting than his character. 🙁

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I'm already loving Bae Ta-mi from this first eps. She is clearly a professional who is capable at her job. I like the fact that she is a demanding boss, yet also a good mentor. The various relationships she has with other people beside the 3 main leads made her more three dimensional than what I expected (and she handled conversation with complete stranger with such grace and poise that I couldn't even dream of possessing). She is cunning and resourceful, but not overly so (which is what usually happened in dramas about strong, independent women). She is simply relatable and very human, and I feel like I already know more about her than many other female leads I've seen before.

As for the romance, wow! I'm not really a fan of speedy romance, but the chemistry is off the chart, and I like the natural and mutual attraction between Ta-mi and Morgan. He is such a player! Cheeky, flirty, teasing, and attractive as hell. This will be a rollercoaster ride, and I'm ready for that.

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While it was not at all what I was expecting, I really loved this episode. I love Bae Tae Mi and the other two women seem equally interesting. I really like the workplace setting and found the keyword manipulation part interesting and relevant. The romance component worked for me too. I thought they had a lot of chemistry and like that it started with a ONS. I think it's the first time I was thinking "If this was real life they would totally sleep together" and it actually happened.

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I loved pretty much everything about these first two episodes- the directing was gorgeous and purposeful, the writing was sharp, and the characters... AHH, THE CHARACTERS. I love that the WOMEN are the bigwigs in this show! Also, that scene in the elevator made my bi heart so happy- like, YAS. get the f outta here with your heteronormative bs, pls and thank u!

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Am I the only one who found this show really slow and boring? I started watching last night and fell asleep around half an hour mark. Neither the third female lead (the one that looked the most interesting from the previews) nor the male lead had made their entry yet.

I use search engines all the time but had no idea what they were talking about. Is this like twitter trending keywords? Do people see what others are searching and look at that? In the real world is that really how people use search engines? Because I didn't understand I didn't care.

I will try to finish at least episode one because I have seen many a good drama not start well but it is a struggle. Nothing is grabbing me to stay yet and I am already watching too many currently airing shows.

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Oh darn it! One more to add to the watchlist. Unfortunately (!) the second half was much better. My favorite scene? Female lead stepping into her competitor's car cool as a cucumber and ask her to drive. LOL. I am looking forward to the interactions between these two.

I like two out of three women so far. I don't have a sense for the daughter in law yet.

I also don't know about Morgan yet. On the one hand he quoted her opinion which is praise, on the other referring to a one night stand in a work meeting was inappropriate and insensitive especially considering in most societies men are praised and women are judged for it.

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I use search engines all the time but had no idea what they were talking about. Is this like twitter trending keywords?

Moonbean, yes. Korean search portals - naver, daum, Nate to name a few have search ranking. You’ll know what is trending, the talk of the town, because of these search portals. I tend to base the drama I watch using naver’s daily ranking of dramas.

I also remember back in my Super Junior active fangirl days, it was crucial to go on different search portals and search up Super Junior’s name numerous times during their comeback to get people talking. You don’t only buy Super Junior songs on different music sites, but you also need to search their names and get them on top.

Almost, if not all, Korean websites have search ranking on their sites. They live and breathe it. Their search portals are far more interesting than our Google, and Korean netizens are obsessed, very very obsessed with the internet.

I think it’s very noteworthy to mention as well that South Korea has the fastest internet in the world and that their internet is one of the most affordable too.

It’s very fitting that this drama came in time now with all that’s happening over the Burning Sun’s case. Korean Netizens are criticizing one of South Korean’s biggest search portals, Naver, of manipulating their search ranking (like Bae Ta Mi’s company did) as they never saw any trending topics at all regarding YG or Burning Sun case. They were also saying it’s very hard to search up any related people on the case on Naver

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Thank you very much for the background information @13infamyss. It doesn't only help me understand this drama better but also some of the things I have seen in other dramas as well.

I can see the usefulness of having that, but I can also see the danger of it being so open to manipulation as well.

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Thanks for this. I'm used to Google - which does not have trending keywords or ads, but if I compare Barro and Unicon to Twitter, it makes more sense. Twitter doesn't have ads but it does have the trading keywords, and they often clue me in on what's happening. So that makes sense.

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You’re welcome Moonbean, Green! It’s really interesting how South Korean’s lives revolve around real-time events. And how these search portals affect their daily lives. The real-time rankings are helpful to know what is happening across the nation. Yet how easy can be manipulated when corporation has strong ties with search portals.

It’s a good thing that they have a variety of search portals to go to and can compare how legit these real time rankings are. In this drama world, Unicon and Barro are competitions on which portal site is more legit and easy to use. Google is monopolizing our search portal, hey? I mean there’s yahoo and bing but who uses them? 😂 Good thing Google doesn’t have that same real time rankings and that our lives aren’t too depended on it.

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Twitter does have ads. They may look like a tweet though.

Anyway.

Google doesn’t put it on their main page but they do have a trends page where you see real time trends or daily trends.
It’s a way to avoid influencing searches I believe. But the autocomplete on google search bar is still influential :)

I saw some screenshots search engines in Asia and their portal isn’t loaded with info and ranking
We are so used the blank google page :))

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You're right! The promoted tweets. I forgot about them.
Google has a trends page? Where/

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O-O thanks. I had no clue.

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did i say i had a problem with the noona age spread??? well, i take it back now.
: D

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eating my own words...
*nom nom nom*

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Love love this show and I’m having major crush on BTM! When was the last (or anytime) we have strong female leads in the opening episodes!? All three leads are complex and beautifully written. My two favorite moments 1) BTM bought a new scarf and earrings and own her walk of shame like a boss 2) BTM just get into a random car instead of calling a taxi to keep up with her cool act LOL. It’s so true, in other show, this part might have been skipped but it would be rather anticlimactic for her to wait for a taxi while reporters surrounding her or hop on a bus!?

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I called it the strut of shame, lol.

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Genius!

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Liked the business background and how it presents ethical and moral dillemas for the people in it. Show was fast-paced but like, suddenly go slo-mo, romantic mode on when the OTP met, I burst out laughing ><
Loved how quirky and super gutsy she is, and how inpudently charming he is, will definitely check next episodes!
And glad that Ta-mi has at least the support of newbie Bong-gi...

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Ep-01 was such a visual treat. The entire episode visually played with how the virtual world Ta-Mi had to fight to find gravity in her world.

The exaggerated elevational tracking shots, the repeated switching of angled framing as if her world is tossed by ocean waves, the blurring of edges and real world details (yes that is the overly fake lighting). Not to mention the gaming dept meeting where the physical space is totally distorted to the point where all sense of ground/of physical reality is removed.

I loved how Ta-Mi so often was short sighted and compressed in the frame - where no matter how strong her words, she is forever unstable...while Ka-Kyung is repeatedly shown with reflections (duplicitous).

This show started with such a strong exploration of K-work values via the 3 women.
- Turned to the dark side for success but clinging to a sense of their previous self. (Ka-Kyung)
- Knowing they work in a corrupt system but working justly (Ta-Mi)
- Yet to be tested by the choice. (Cha Hyun)

This visual treat and these character's political savvy is what I will really miss if this show tanks.

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Forgive me beanies, but I have to say this. jKY is still a killer in this drama. Except instead of bullets, it’s killer smiles. Ahem. Back to the drama.

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I am too attached already with this drama. Ep 1-2 are so great, acting, music, script, fashion/style, and even the filter. I like the lead women characters. They are bold and amazing. Not sure but I think romance is just a bonus right? It could be twist in the future TT, but who cares, cos the conversation between Bae Tami and Park Morgan is so dreamy and yet beautiful.

Bae Tami character is just too hot and cant wait to see more interaction between the other women.

After all, I am new to the internet things, that you can mainipulate 'most search' on the internet. Lets say its true. I believe the writer have good reference for that.

Cant wait to the next epi.

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Ohhhh I love this show a lot, I think it's worth my wait. I love the strong female characters, BTM and CH especially. In real life both character may be hard to like but nonetheless they're inspiring. Jang Ki Yong is my main reason to watch aside from the line up of actresses (don't get it wrong, I like them too!) but I think I'll root for and love the female characters' story a lot more onward. Haven't seen much of Director Song's backstory but I'm intrigued, will she be the character I root for or character I hate? Her condition seems complicated and I have lots of question. Anyway this show is becoming the show I'll look forward to each week. Please stay awesome 🙏

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What I'm happy about is that Mogun is far from the cheesy lovestruck boy in the teaser. He is his own person, a ceo of his own company, with his own set of skills, and not just incidentally a staff of Bae Tami's company she happened to sleep with. I'm excited to see more. i know we're just 2 episodes in but I'm really liking the characters so far.

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i find all the work part very interesting. The questions about ethitics and censorism, how to handle it, what are the limits, etc.

I liked the three women characters, strong women are the best!

For the relationship between PM and BTM, it was weird. I liked their encounter : the game, the meal, the night, etc. But in the same time, it made me feel nothing. I don't know why but I always found Jang Ki Yong weird in romantic scene with women. It doesn't feel natural.
The way that drama is filmed is very distracting.

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I love Im Soo Jung's role as Bae Ta Mi. Somehow ISJ keeps playing as a woman crush material. I first fell in love with her in her character in Chicago Typewriter.

Lee Da Hee is no exception. I kept liking her in the roles she plays even in Secret where she's a total baddie.

I first came for the romance because of JKY but I'm staying for the women power! I'm so in for this drama!

P.S. Isn't Bong Ki the total cutie pie?

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I've watched eps 1 and 2 of this, but I'm not sure if I will be sticking with it for the long haul... the reason being is that I don't care for the other two female characters. I only care for the heroine and JKY's character. I hope they give his character a good storyline arc as well.

The issues of search engines/portals and social media platforms having to be nuetral and not being biased to one political party/person or another (or trying to limit the free speech of those who post on their platforms), is actually very important and relevant to our modern world. But I'm just not interested in seeing two females competing against each other to make their rival platforms take the number 1 spot. I also found the slapping to be a bit makjang.

What I love are all the scenes where JKY appears, he has great charisma and this role fits him so well. I like how he keeps our heroine off her balance, despite her strong/hard facade. I also like the heroine's character, because I can always feel her vulnerability underneath her hard facade, and tiredness from always having to face adversity in her life/work.

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I LOVE this drama and I hope it stays the same till the end or gets better!

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This looks like this season's 'Misty' , which make me very happy, and even includes Jeon Hye-jin in the cast to drive home the point. The big draw to the series appears to be the strong, confident dynamic women at the top of a ruthless corporate hierarchy. Its not for nothing that they placed Cha Hyun in the middle of a tough jiu jistu match in the first episode.

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I love everything about this show. Cannot wait to see more of our badass heroines.

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Baek Ta-mi is so RANDOM; and Morgan is aware that he is handsome... :)

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This drama looks promising so far with its pilot episodes. Not sure how it goes but if it keep this pace with interesting character and plot development, I might stick with it. First time watching Jang Ki Yong's drama and he is good.

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i love im soo jung and her character. it seemed like she was imagining the hearing because she was being so fierce---we all know how dramas try to give us those fake outs. i was super glad it was not!

i hope this episode is reflective of how the rest of the drama will be. it's been a while since i've been on board a drama from it's very first airing...waiting for the next episodes will be agonizing

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the arcade encounter is the highlight of this episode! my heart skipped a beat when he was shown standing outside waiting for her after 30 minutes!

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Its ironic, considering the premise, that if you attempt a Google word search for the show name "Search Query: WWW" it yields scattered results.

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The bit - Ta-mi goes to an arcade to play fighting games, and her opponent is a young man who keeps wanting to play despite consistently losing to her. He finally wins a game and gets up to leave, and Ta-mi sees his face clearly for the first time. She asks for another game, but he says she won’t be able to beat him today.

I don't think that was what happened. She was playing an entirely different guy who kept losing and she advised him to go home then Jank Ki Yong put in his coin for the first time and won and immediately left advising she can't neat him today etc. He had obviously observed her ignoring the guy who kept losing, I rewatched it a few times, the first guy who continually loses is wearing an entirely different outfit.

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Beat not neat, I am not sure it is possible to neat someone.

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I'm unsure if this question has been asked before but does anyone know the opening song that is played in every episode?

I've been trying to find it with little luck since Google search is not cooperating with me.

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