Rating:
Average user rating 4.0
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VIP: Episodes 3-8 (Series review)

Why is this drama so good!? In all honesty, I wasn’t planning on continuing to cover VIP after its premiere week. It’s not a happy drama, and not a happy story, and I kind of wanted to watch something happy. But VIP put its drama claws into me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s extraordinarily watchable.

To start off with fair warning, when you talk about VIP on paper it can sound like total makjang. Something like this: there’s this girl that likes this guy in college, but he’s not into her. He winds up marrying her friend later on and everything’s great until he cheats on his wife with someone else. Then, both the women go out of their way to expose his lies, but at the same time dealing with their mom problems, men problems, and debt problems.

Anyone watching VIP will know that while the above explanation is pretty factual, the quality of the storytelling makes it so much more than the cheap-sounding tale it could seem like. Halfway through its run, VIP has blossomed into this really rich, compelling story of several women, their workplace, their history, and their relationships.

It’s heavy and dark in places, but also one of the most addictive and watchable dramas I’ve met in months. And the midpoint point of a live drama is a great time to start tuning in (hint, hint!) and always be sure of new episodes in reach. Because trust me — this drama knows how to pull off the twists.

So, what kept me pulled into what started out as a pretty upsetting and realistic story of workplace adultery? These characters! As I mentioned in the opening week review, VIP’s story is built around some very compelling female characters.

These women are strong, fragile, hopeful, and heartbroken all at the same time — and it’s these characters that brought me back to this drama (after pretending to give it up), because I was just aching to hear the rest of their stories. And lucky for me, the drama keeps on delivering.

The other major strength of VIP is that it’s a wonderfully layered story. To use the good old onion metaphor, it really does have a whole new layer when the outer one is pulled away. The whodunnit mystery element has stayed at the core of the plot — but it’s less about a single instance of adultery, and more about the secrets that each of our characters is hiding. And as we learn more about them, twists and reveals abound! Sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet, and sometimes (like the midpoint cliffhanger at the end of Episode 8) moments of genuine shock.

These experts twists and turns in the storytelling keep us watching, yes, but they also call out a lot of depth and complexity. This isn’t your token happy-go-lucky drama where the world is black and white, and each character is either good or bad. Instead, this drama is full of nuance, questions, and unsurety — both in its story, and its storytelling. One of my favorite things about it is that we never quite know where it’s going, or if we should believe what it’s implying.

The relationship at the front and center of the drama is, of course, the marriage of Jung-sun and Sung-joon. In the opening week of VIP, Jung-sun caught her husband in a lie — and even though no one (in or out of the drama) wanted to believe that he cheated on her, it really does look like the truth… I think?

While we haven’t gotten 100% confirmation, everything points to the fact that there was indeed an affair. That being said, everything pointing towards something happening is not the same as something actually happening, and I really like how VIP leaves this gray space.

I’ve seen many a Jang Nara drama, but I have to say, I absolutely love her here, and it just might be my favorite role of hers to-date. She plays Jung-sun with the perfect balance of anger, heartbreak, sweetness, and desperation. She might cry an awful lot in this drama, but she’s also strong and resilient.

Rather than linger in the misery of suspicion, Jung-sun confronts her husband right away, and deals with the situation head-on. We see her agony, but we also see her hope. “I plan to try to forgive you,” she tells Sung-joon one night, and it’s an important look at her character.

A side-story with her estranged mother (played by the amazing Kim Mi-kyung) reveals a lot about Jung-sun. We understand that her abandonment by her mother has a lot of bearing on how she perceives her marriage. I want their marriage to be repaired for so many reasons, but as the drama unpacks its story, that reconciliation looks more and more impossible.

For much of the drama we follow Jung-sun on her painful journey, first chasing down her husband, and later the sender of the text message that started it all. Like much of VIP, one breadcrumb leads to another, and pretty soon we are up to our necks in history and backstory — but still guessing over what lies at the core of this drama. It’s amazing how the drama leads us on to solve this “mystery,” and instead of getting tiresome, it just gets more exhilarating.

Jung-sun’s old friend and coworker Hyun-ah is suggested to us as the adulteress early on, but it feels too easy of a guess. Sure enough, though Jung-sun first suspects her, she actually winds up confiding in her, and Hyun-ah becomes (or continues as) Jung-sun’s biggest ally.

I’ve been a fan of Lee Chung-ah since Flower Boy Ramen Shop, which feels like a century ago when you see her playing Hyun-ah here. This woman is tough, scarred, sarcastic, and absolutely golden underneath all of that — she quickly became my favorite character of the drama.

I love the way her backstory ties into Jung-sun’s (I won’t give away too much), but I equally love her present-day storyline: she’s running from creditors in a non-Candy fashion, burdened by family history and reputation, and completely closed off from a real romance. This makes her smitten coworker’s advances all the more sweet and delightfully watchable. *Ship*

Rather than give away all the delicious twists and turns this drama takes (we’ll save that for the end review when all is finally revealed!), it’s worth talking about the drama’s treatment of affairs and adultery. This aspect of the story has kept a lot of viewers at bay, I think, and that’s completely understandable.

What I appreciate about the treatment of the affair in VIP is that it’s not about the affair itself, but the repercussions. Sung-joon’s adultery acts as the catalyst that drives the drama forward, and there is absolutely nothing glamorous, romantic, or “positive” about it. Instead, VIP tells the story of an affair (actually quite a few affairs, obliquely) and how it destroys relationships, and wounds people to their core. Rather appropriate, that.

This brings me back to my opening thoughts on the drama. While at first I wanted to dismiss it as a story I wasn’t interested in hearing, I discovered it’s actually a compelling look at people and human nature. On the surface, the plot can seem soapy, but underneath, the drama has a rawness that cuts away at anything that might feel gratuitous.

On one hand, the story is as human and authentic as you can get, and watching people in their worst and most trying moments can make for difficult entertainment. On the other hand, though, the story is so deftly told, and with such an eye to being entertaining, that I’m caught between these two polarities. How does VIP they strike this balance so well? I’m not sure, but it’s that balance that fascinates me so much, and keeps me on the edge of my seat, waiting for the story to unfold.

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I am with you @missvictrix. I started this drama as a backup, since all my other current dramas were slowing down or ending. This is truly a well written story. I have been engrossed in the mystery and the characters development. The first few episodes actually gave me anxiety while watching Jang Nara's trust start to crumble. I could feel her hurt and loss. That happens very rarely while watching dramas. Here's to hoping this will continue in the second half.

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Yasssss, thanks for the recap. I so agree about Jang Na Ra, she is excellent this role. Honestly, the women are doing all the heavy lifting and they are doing it beautifully. Lee Chung Ah is also excellent here, I love everything about her character. I love her strength, her pride, and her confidence. She is not here for shenanigans. Lurve it.

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Thank you for the recap. I, too enjoyed this drama. I think the actors are great and how the story unfolds every episode is really interesting. I hope they wrap this well.

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So, since you didn't even mention Lee Sang yoon's name, except as "her husband" etc., he's a non-entity? As most females in most kdramas are only there to drive the plot forward, is this Lee Sang yoon's role in this drama?
Wow.

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LSY is actually great here! He's more reactive and in the wrong at this point, with the focus and sympathy with Jang Nara's character, but I think it's a great performance.

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You're making a good point with a rather harsh tone :) I dont think the reviewer deserves this kind of Internet confrontation.

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I apologize, I didn't realize it sounded harsh, and it wasn't meant to be confrontational. I don't know what else to say.

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I didn’t see the original comment as being confrontational or harsh at all? It didn’t even seem like it was directed at the article writer...

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I guess it depends on people because it did feel that way to me but honestly I almost felt guilty while reading @linda-palapala reply. Sorry for misunderstanding you! Really!

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The “wow” at the end of the comment makes it seem, idk, a bit sarcastic or less like an objective criticism. The whole comment could’ve done without it tbh.

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Wow as in I was gobsmacked a kdrama might actually make the male there to drive the plot forward (instead of a female).
Plus I think I picked up saying "Wow" after seeing so many interviews with Xiao Zhan where he says "wow" so much. It just stuck in my head.

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I read it in a harsh/ sarcastic tone in my head too.
Just came on dramabeans after visiting koalasplayground and I thought "another such fangirl" 😂

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Maybe, but more I think his character is so reserved and closed off its hard to see what's going on under the polished surface, si it's easier to concentrate on the more accessible characters the women even their cover is pretty deep too

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I'm still not totally convinced that Sungjoon actually had an affair. I think something else is going on, but he can't tell Jungsun. But I don't know what it is... that's what's sucking me in.

I like all the actors in this a lot. I'm glad Lee Sangyoon is in a much better drama than his last (About Time) although his role here is almost secondary. Thanks for the review!

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I agree this role is way better than in About Time. I could not finish that drama.

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That's what it seems to be pointing at, but no matter what the secret is the fact he won't open up to her will destroy the marriage as surely as an affair will

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I'm glad the we have potential mistress revealed, those shots trying to conceal it started to irritate me the second time they tried to pull it off. I'm not convinced the husband has an affair and I'm not exactly happy about it, I hope whatever he did has similar gravitas, because I would hate it, if all that angst would go to waste.
And I love all the women in that show, they are really well written so far, my fav is Hyuna, but Jang NaRa has really magical presence on-screen.

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I still don't think she is the mistress. I still think since Sung jun does a ton of clean up for the VP and that new hire, Yu ri, is a part of the clean up for him.

What is interesting is that Yu ri is still in the picture for the VP. He normally pays his mistresses off and have them sign a non disclosure. So that tells me maybe Yu ri is the VP's daughter and his wife does not know that.

I will say this, it was extremely stupid for him to blow off his waiting wife to go see Yu-ri. That is not going to end well for him, at all.

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It's possible, since he is ML after all, so they'll go for some noble idiocy on his part that look like affair from afar. But I had enough of the guessing game with the shots of women getting phone call or messages at the same time, so I'm glad that the cat is out of the bag, for now.

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Yup he's putting his job before his wife and marriage. Biiig mistake

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Finally, we have second reviews from @missvictrix. TQVM. I really wished someone would recap or review. Most of my friend refuse to watch VIP as it themed 'affair'. Now you reviewed I can pour my heart to spazzing here. But really, there are so much depth in this drama. The layer of secret and revelation to be told make me restless the whole hours. This is not thriller drama, but I was kept in angst, anxiety, anger, hurt and betrayal the whole time watching it. I occasionally felt Sung Joon doesnt really have much words to say. The portrayal of him being not defensive break my heart at the same time for both of him and Jung Sun. I feel as Jung Sun might be feeling - 'screamed back at me so I can get angry at you and I can hate you back of betraying me.' Urrgghhh!!! I don't know how the stories will be unfold. I half-heartedly wish the affair is real and I hope to see Jung Sun overcome the betrayal, and yet I half-heartedly hope there are more to it, the truth behind it. it would 60:40 to it. Heeeee. Anyway, Cha Jin Oh and HYun-ah ship have sailed.

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Thank you, missvictrix, for this interesting review!
I agree with all you wrote.
I'm loving this drama, and the way the last episode ended was really unexpected. I've thought about it for days! I'm still not sure about the affair, probably Sung-joon is doing something that could put an end to his marriage as well.

I like all the women, they all are layered characters.
Lee Sang-yoon is probably my favorite kdrama actor, and in some scenes it seems his acting suffers because he can't give us hints, but in other scenes he's great, like during the Tifone exibit, when it was clear that he cared about his wife.

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Thanks for the review, and I’m with you, @missvictrix , on the drama’s fascinating females’ characters, they all have a good written backstory that enrich the story.
I personally found the first 2 episodes were in a ‘trying too hard to be mysterious’ -side, what with all the leads looking at the phones screen at the same time, combined that with the sequence of the opening scene of the hotel/apartment room, I was not really thrilled with that, hehe..
however the second week episodes forward have revealed some character development that solidified my excitement to watch this drama. so I’m happy enough to continue watching it.
sidenote: I ship a romance between manager Cha with Hyuna too, he’s sweet, and attractive, and even the way he nod his head to hyuna as a way of respect to a colleague just win me over, I ship! ;D

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Just here to reiterate what a few others said: this drama was definitely not on our list to watch (typically hate hate HATE "cheaters" dramas), but it has rapidly become our "must watch" of the current cycle. Not normally a Jang Nara fan, but she's stellar in this, as are the potential cheaters.*

*SPOILER: We've seen the "reveal" but we're not convinced we're not being misled like we were in the episodes leading up to it. Would be a little bit of a downer for the male lead to not actually be cheating at all, I could go my whole life without seeing anyone else contract Noble Idiot again.

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Who do you think sent that text message about the husband's affair using her own computer? That could be no one else outside of their team.

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@lookie I've always thought that it was Hyun-ah, despite the fact that it doesn't look like it anymore. MAYBE IT WAS SUNG-JOON HIMSELF! To tip her off that something was wrong. Even though it wasn't an affair at all. Maybe?? This is all make believe. *No spoilers please*

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The most surprising plot twist for me concerns the male rookie..that was funny.

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@parkchuna I totally LOVED that moment too

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I'm not going to spoil the latest episode but I hope you continue writing about it @missvictrix. I honestly picked this up in a whim. Figured I'd give it a try cause I like Jang Nara, so I am surprised at how captivating this story is. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that it continues to be fire!

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@dramalava Stay tuned for a review of Ep 9-16! In the meantime we can all chat here... but not yet... I haven't watched 9/10 yet!! ^^

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I hope I will survive till your next review. After watching ep 9 and 10, I have a hard time sleeping. My heart is restless. I know it’s a drama and I even watched the BTS and actors were laughing and have a good time...but it is still affecting me. I can’t wait for Monday and Tuesday. I guess I should just take my calming medicine ....

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Thank you so much for the review, dear recapper. I started watching the show after reading the first paragraph of the review.
I was not going to, as I avoid shows about adultery like the plague, but your review made me want to watch it. And now I feel upset because I marathon-ed the 10 available episodes and i need to wait one whole week for the next episode :(

Anyway,
Can't wait to read your next review!

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Ha, @missvictrix, I hope you will review this regularly. First, I watched it because someone or some people in the internet said if you missed Search:WWW, tried to watch this drama. It isn't near Search:WWW at all..., it's darker and more personal. Since every single (woman) worker in this office may or may not represent what women face right now. I may exaggerate it.

However, you get someone who want to pursue her career to the max. But, you can't. Since you have two little kids already. And, you are about to have the third kid, but you don't (want the baby). Your life sucks so much and your crush married to your best friend. Other men may only want to have fun (sex) with you. And your family left you with so high unpaid debt, that you don't know how to make ends meet. You start to use company's property with hope that no one knows and you can pay both debt and replace the property before someone finds out. Worst it, once so called friend humiliated you publicly just because he couldn't have it his way (or better yet, couldn't get his whatever in your pants, sorry for my language).

And, you born out of wedlock and had a life so twisted (before your father acknowledges you) that as long as you happy, you willing to sacrifice anything, even other people's family/life/marriage.

And there's a happy go lucky employee too who love to gossip and whining, but since she isn't one of the leads, that's all about her... :) or the employee that doesn't get a chance to prove himself because he just an average person, without outstanding background, and not one of the directors' illegitimate child. Now, he torn between his friend and his supervisor who love the same man, and he finds out about it.

And the world keeps on revolving... who says the world is fair?

I once wrote a short story about a woman who wanted to have an affair because she thought her world just so boring. I published it online. Oh, the backlash that I got... hehehehe.

You right @missvictrix , watching people in their worst and most trying is not very easy. There were several times that I would just like to drop this series. It's too hard breaking. The only consolation is knowing that it's a drama, that maybe there will be a silver lining where the good gets their rewards and the bad gets their punishment. But, is it?

In the real world, we may not be that lucky. The victim must starts from scratch and the wound may not heal. The bad may live happily ever after, not facing any consequences at all.
However, we never know what tomorrow will bring. I wish we could live on with a small hope in our heart to move on. Hopefully... Enjoy the ride!

*endofrantsbecauseidonotwanttospoilfurther*

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