I Remember You: Episode 1
In its first installment, I Remember You briefly sets up our investigative team but delves deeply into the intriguing backstory of our profiler. I can see glimpses of the past characters Seo In-gook has played, yet he portrays a different kind of genius, a different delivery of comedy while exuding his characteristic charisma. Despite all the confusing contradictive adjectives that described this drama in the promos, it’s got a nice balance of genre fusion so far to keep us on our toes. The mystery, thrill, romance, comedy, dark, and light are all promising. I just hope that these promises are ones they intend to keep.
EPISODE 1: “All children’s stories begin with their parents”
A man looks through the Bangbae-dong murder case file, and he introduces the story with a voiceover: “Every story has a beginning and an end. What will my story be? A story that began but has stopped without reaching its end. But someone is asking that my story continue, and I intend to respond to that request without knowing who that someone is. So my halted story continues…”
An investigation team arrives at the site of another murder, which resembles the Bangbae-dong one. They discuss the possibility of a serial killer and mention that they’ll be meeting their new team leader on site today.
When they enter the room, a man stands with his back to them, and the team wonders if this is their new team leader. Then, he turns around, and our heroine — CHA JI-AN (Jang Nara) — instantly recognizes him and thinks to herself, “It’s that jerk.”
The supposed team leader suspects the team is here because of the connection to the Bangbae-dong murder, and he confirms that this murder is from the same suspect. There isn’t much evidence, but he claims this suspect has a signature — the team just needs to find it. He asks for the list of suspects, but the team comes up empty due to the lack of evidence and witnesses.
Continuing with his analysis, he identifies the murderer’s signature for the team: both victims had connections to people with yachts. In a scolding tone, he tells the team, “With this signature and clean swipe of evidence, the suspect is not some fantasy killer but someone with significant power.”
While the rest of her team dumbfoundedly listens to him rattle on, Ji-an silently watches him with an intent gaze, thinking, “I’ve waited and waited, and now finally, this man, Lee Hyun, is in front of me.”
We see a new suited man approaching the crime scene, and meanwhile, LEE HYUN (Seo In-gook) asks the team if they have any questions. They have plenty: How did he get the yacht information? What about the signature? There wasn’t anything in the Bangbae-dong case file, right?
Suddenly, Hyun stops the chatter and silently points to the roof. The team is wide-eyed and all ears, when suddenly a man greets them from behind. He’s the new lead detective for the Bonchon special investigative unit 1, KANG EUN-HYUK (Lee Chun-hee).
Confused, the team turns around to face the mysterious man with all the answers, but he’s gone. They don’t find him anywhere in the room, and Ji-an runs out to find him casually walking away.
The rest of the team wonder who this man was. Definitely not the team leader (to which Team Leader Kang interjects that he is the team leader), but possibly the suspect. They follow Ji-an out and leave one member to check the identity of this new team leader.
Ji-an sees Hyun leave in a taxi with a smirk and follows it on foot. Her team members wonder if they, too, have to run after the taxi. They should, but… running is hard.
Hyun sees Ji-an running after his taxi and asks the driver to change his speed. He slows down and speeds up upon request, entertaining Lee Hyun as he watches her in earnest pursuit. She shouts his name, and that catches him off-guard.
Ji-an runs around the corner and straight into Hyun. She looks up triumphantly then pulls away, realizing their proximity. Hyun pulls her back from falling, right back to their closeness, before she pushes away. Then he asks if she knows him, and this time, Ji-an smirks back at him.
Flashback to the past twenty years. We see young Ji-an and older Ji-an following Lee Hyun, and she narrates, “I’ve known this jerk for 20 years — no, I’ve been stalking this jerk for 20 years, and he still doesn’t know who I am.”
Back to the present, Hyun asks, “Is it you?” Ji-an slowly approaches him and swiftly handcuffs him, apologizing and saying that she doesn’t have any more energy to chase him. In the interrogation, Hyun explains that he received the Bangbae-dong case via email and was merely fulfilling a request for help on the case.
Still suspicious, investigative team member SON MYUNG-WOO (Min Sung-wook) asks why he fled the scene. He shrugs that his work was done and didn’t feel the urge to continue conversing with incompetent investigators.
Another member MIN SEUNG-JOO (Kim Jae-young) asks how he could analyze the crime scenes so comprehensively. Hyun responds that there are average people, then there are people above and — looking at Myung-woo – below. Heh.
Their final team member, CHOI EUN-BOK (Son Seung-woon) enters the interrogation room to confirm that Hyun is not their suspect. He flew in from the United States and has a criminal justice background — everything matches up.
The team tries to keep him for further investigation, but he has enough counts against them — arrest without evidence, the scratch on his wrist from the handcuffs — to be let free. Eun-bok asks one last question on how he found his way to the crime scene today, and Hyun matter-of-factly states that the Bangbae-dong evidence guided him there.
Ji-an insists that they need to investigate Lee Hyun further, but they run into higher authorities, who confirm Hyun’s release. Team Leader Kang tries to introduce himself again, but Ji-an follows Hyun and the team disperses before he gets the chance.
Ji-an slips into the elevator with Hyun and asks him the real reason he came to Korea. Hyun says that maybe he’ll tell her if she explains how she knows him. He looks carefully at her face, sensing some familiarity but not knowing from where.
She disses him for his weak memory as a profiler, and he comes back by saying that he probably had no reason to remember her. As he walks away, Ji-an warns him not to overstep his responsibilities as a consultant to the case.
Looking back at the building, Hyun ponders over her question, the real reason for his arrival. It started with an email.
We flash back to the first scene, Hyun looking through case’s evidence and sensing some connection to his buried past. He closes his eyes to recall the memory and recognizes it as the time when he lost his father and younger brother in his childhood. This case is an invitation.
Hyun takes the earliest plane to Korea, and upon his arrival, he sees the numbers, letters, and signs at the airport as codes. He realizes that the evidence from the Bangbae-dong site included flag signaling (semaphore), which translates to map coordinates that lead him to the next murder site.
He wonders, “Who is it? Who is sending me these messages? Could that person and that child still be alive?” This is why he’s returned: He has some homework to solve and a person to find.
He returns to his old home and relives some moments of his childhood. He imagines his younger self with his brother and father, and he also remembers his younger self discovering his dead father. “The place I grew up, the place I buried my memories, the place and pivotal time that shaped my soul. Here, I continue my story.”
Throwback to 1996. Hyun’s father (cameo by Jeon Gwang-ryul) finds him burying something under a tree and asks him to help unpack in their new home. His younger brother runs out and throws a small tantrum because he can’t find his sketchbook and crayons. Hyun gives his father a look and runs in to help his brother.
Curious about what his son was burying, he searches the area and finds an animal’s paw. He’s slightly taken aback and turns around to find little Hyun looking at him. Hyun explains that when he found the animal, it was dead.
In his professional attire, Dad walks to a prison. Inside a cell, a prisoner (cameo by D.O.) asks the guard to open the window, suggesting that he get new aftershave. The guard refuses, and when Dad enters the cell, he finds the prisoner opening the window with the handcuffed guard squirming on the floor.
Dad records the prisoner’s statement about his mother’s abuse, but he stops him. He replays the recordings from the past two weeks, which tell of a grandfather and uncle, but he’s never had any of these family members.
He anticipates that the prisoner will tell him his real story one day. The prisoner responds with an eerie smile, curious about what Dad is looking for. “I merely wondered why a person would kill another human and why that’s wrong. I was quite an ordinary child who wondered these things.”
On his way home, police officers recognize Dad as the police chief and greet him warmly. They warn him about a dog thief in the area, and a flicker of fear flashes in Dad’s eyes. When he arrives home, he finds Hyun sitting outside in the dark, giving him an emotionless stare. Then he jolts awake, having fallen asleep at his desk while doing work.
He’s surprised to see Hyun at his side with a mug for him. Noticing Hyun’s scan of the criminals’ photos, Dad quickly collects them. Hyun comments that they all look so ordinary, and Dad responds, “Evil hides in the ordinary.” As we see the handcuffed prisoner being led out of his cell, Dad continues, “The cruelest person could have an angel’s face, so be careful of strangers.”
Dad also requests that Hyun be more childlike and ordinary. To that, Hyun asks to go to the amusement park. From now on, he vows that he won’t clothe and bathe Min (his younger brother), nor will he drop off and pick up his brother from school. He won’t do housework, he’ll forget about the bills so that their energy and gas shut off, he won’t make his father’s coffee, and he’ll just play with robots in ignorance. Ha.
Regretting his request, Dad drinks his coffee and compliments his son’s barista skills. Hyun reminds Dad that he’ll be late for work, and he reminds forgetful Dad to take his jacket and briefcase. Before Dad leaves, Hyun asks, “Why would a person kill another human? And why is that wrong?” Dad’s face falls and heart sinks.
Back to the present. Team Leader Kang finally gets a chance to properly introduce himself, but the rest of the team pays no attention. Each member thinks about Hyun’s information: the Bangbae-dong evidence that led him to the next location, the signature, his profiling skills, his smirk.
Team Leader Kang finishes his introduction and claps for himself. He turns the focus onto the case and mentions Lee Hyun, which gets the team’s attention. Then he anticlimactically ponders who Lee Hyun was. Ha, I love this guy.
In his old home, Hyun looks through boxes and finally find the sketchbooks. The drawings are surprisingly gruesome for such a young age, and he finds the one that resembles a picture from the Bangbae-dong evidence files. Interesting.
In the office, the team continues to wonder about this mysterious person at the site. Myung-woo jealously undermines all the credentials attached to Hyun, but Eun-bok confirms that it’s all true. Hyun is a professor in criminal justice and even wrote a book on criminology.
Team Leader Kang suggests that they put down their pride and officially ask Hyun for assistance, to which Ji-an immediately agrees. She suspects that Hyun anticipates this request because he flew all the way to Korea. She volunteers to request his assistance.
Ji-an calls Hyun, who picks up while cleaning his house. He knows that she’s calling to request his assistance and asks if they gained any more leads. Before she answers, he suspects that they haven’t gotten anywhere, since she’s calling for his assistance. Ha, you smartass.
She requests to meet with him in person, but Hyun declines because… he feels like it. He asks that she request nicely, but when she does, he still declines. Ji-an swears for a second but holds her tongue. He quickly hangs up, and she vows to catch him the next time he trespasses a crime scene.
After the call, Hyun states the reason for his refusal, “Because I’m a visitor.” He walks towards the bookshelves and looks for his father’s notebook. It’s gone missing, but instead, he finds Lee Joon-young’s recordings.
Back to the past. Little Hyun cleans the house wearing the same apron and bandana. He notices Dad’s briefcase at home and calls him. Dad is at the prison talking to a police officer friend, who notices his downcast mood. She shares that she’s divorcing soon, since she’s been unable to balance work and home life. Dad doesn’t share his personal concerns and merely asks her to prepare Lee Joon-young to be transferred to the central office before his hearing.
At the central office, Hyun entertains the police officers with his genius math abilities, but he’s more concerned with finding his father. Dad takes a break from his interrogation with the prisoner, Lee Joon-young, during which Hyun finds his way outside the room. Joon-young smiles when he finds out Hyun is Dad’s son, and he invites him inside.
Hyun recognizes Joon-young from Dad’s photos, and rather than being scared, he’s curious. How did he become this kind of person? With a crooked smile, Joon-young asks what kind of person he is, and Hyun simply states that he’s a person different from everyone else.
Joon-young explains that ducks think the first thing they see is their mother. All animals have their critical periods during which their brain undergo significant development. Things learned, heard, seen, and felt during this period are not easily changed. For ducks, it’s a matter of hours, 1-2 years for monkeys, and about 10-12 years for humans. “That’s the critical period for humans, and I also call that the period in which your soul forms.”
Hyun asks what his critical period was like, but Joon-young turns the attention to Hyun. How is his critical period like? He seems different that most people as well. Isn’t it difficult? Do people understand you? Does your father trust you?
Dad’s police officer friend approaches him on his break and tells him that Hyun impressed all the officers, who are still counting to confirm Hyun’s genius. Dad hasn’t seen Hyun yet, so he anxiously runs around looking for him.
In the interrogation room, Joon-young unlocks his handcuffs and offers his hand to Hyun. He suggests that they each share a secret, and Hyun takes his hand. Dad walks down to the room and sees the two engaging in their secret exchange. He’s chilled by this interaction and quickly takes Hyun out of the room. But before he exits, Joon-young tells Hyun that they’ll see each other again, as promised. How unsettling.
Dad asks his friend to take care of Hyun, so she leads him outside. Having finished counting, the other officers confirm Hyun’s genius abilities, but Hyun doesn’t seem too fazed by their praise.
In the room, Dad packs up his things, saying that this was his last interrogation with Joon-young. As he leaves, Joon-young taunts Dad about his worries about Hyun, and the worrisome similarities between the two. Joon-young agrees that he and Hyun are quite similar, which puts Dad on edge.
Dad grabs his collar, but Joon-young continues: “Your thoughts, your suspicions about your son are true.” He voices Dad’s worries about his son becoming a monster like him, and that’s enough for Dad to hit him. He punches Joon-young multiple times, and Joon-young laughs.
In his notebook, Dad writes that he’s been observing Joon-youg, but Joon-young was also observing him. “He discovered my fears and planted suspicion.” Dad searches his sons’ room and finds the sketchbook with the ghastly drawings. He asks Min if his hyung drew them, and Min confirms but asks that he doesn’t tell Hyun that he told him. Min isn’t scared of Hyun, but he warns Dad not to trust Hyun.
Unlike other children his age, Hyun sits on top of the jungle gym and observes. Dad notices this difference, and he visits the doctor in fear that his son is showing signs of a psychopath, which include wetting your bed, arson, and cruelty to animals. He eventually convinces himself that Hyun is not ordinary and writes in his notebook that he’s afraid that his son is a monster.
Hyun discovers this notebook entry the next morning and reshelves the notebook, looking hurt. At night, Dad sits by Hyun and thinks back to Joon-young, who promised to escape and visit Hyun. Gripping his son’s hand, Dad vows to protect Hyun.
The next morning, Dad summons Hyun into the basement and tells him that he’ll spend his days here now. Other people think that Hyun is abroad and not at home. Dad admits that this was the only immediate solution he could think of. “This is to protect you from the world and to protect the world from y–” Dad stops himself and chokes up before continuing.
From now on, they’ll study together how the world is like and how ordinary people live. Hyun looks at his father with hurt in his eyes, and Joon-young’s words echo in his mind: “Does your father trust you?”
He thinks back to his interaction with Joon-young, who shared his understanding of the world. He believes that some people become beautiful because there are called that since birth; some people become stupid because they are told so. Same with monsters — some people are born monsters and others become monsters because they are told so. How does Dad look at you?
Hyun looks at his father with a mixture of fear and hurt, and Dad looks back at him with a similar fear and earnest worry.
What an interesting premise. With that ending, I understand why Hello Monster would have also been a fitting title, though I Remember You definitely takes the burden off of the central question: Are monsters born or made? I find that this ending, while not quite a cliffhanger, asks a complex and compelling question that makes me want to watch more. If it was a cliffhanger, I would only be worried about the next episode to relieve my anxiety, but I’m curious and hopeful to see how the drama as a whole answers this question. I’m impressed at how intricate this backstory is, and I actually appreciate the dense backstory for the introduction as opposed to having Hyun’s story be diluted throughout the episodes. It sets a good foundation for future episodes, though I worry that the story may run out of steam/content with this dense introduction. Hopefully, it just continues to build.
Going back to the title change, I do think the current title allows more room for the drama to direct the focus on the romance. I can clearly see Hyun being the emotional center and lead of this story, but I’m expecting Jang Nara and the other supporting characters to have a story as well, not just serve as plot devices. We got some teasers of the banter between our leads, and I think it’s safe to anticipate some good chemistry. I like the cat-and-mouse interaction between the two and while Ji-an is clearly the one chasing Hyun, you’re not quite sure sometimes. It’s a fun push and pull, and I’m curious to see how their relationship is integrated into the story.
The investigative team also has a great rapport, and the addition of Lee Chun-hee as their team leader completes their unit. While Chun-hee is great in most of his roles, I feel like he shines the most when he takes on heodang characters. He will always be heodang Chunderella to me, so his reprisal as such a character gives me life. To make a comparison to previous cop dramas, this team is not as explicit as You’re All Surrounded, which makes sense since the team isn’t the main focus of the story, but I enjoy the subtle humor in the team dynamic. This investigative team will definitely be the comic relief in our story, but once again, I hope the focus on our character won’t be so disproportionate that we exclude the stories of our supporting characters and merely use them in the plot.
The contrast between the past and present allows for an interesting exploration of the origin of monsters. Joon-young’s explanation about critical period and monsters still echoes in my mind, prompting an interesting discussion about who is or becomes a criminal. Clearly (or maybe just on the surface), the Hyun now is not a criminal. While he may have the intelligence and genius, if skewed, to transform into a psychopath, that is not who he appears to be in the present. With that assumption in mind, it seems that Dad jumped to conclusions, resulting in a tragically misunderstood son. But there seems to be no hatred for his misunderstanding coming from Hyun, even in the present. It adds a melancholy tone to the story, that being severely misunderstood resulted in hopelessness, not resentment. I think it’s these layered emotions that has me sold, and I hope that the show continues to capitalize in its potential.
- Press conference for KBS’s investigative rom-com I Remember You
- Another teaser and a half for I Remember You
- Oh Snap! Dating or investigating?
- Jang Nara and Seo In-gook’s icy partnership begins
- Jang Nara springs into action for I Remember You
- First stills from KBS’s I Remember You (Hello Monster)
- Hello Monster confirms leads and gets a new title
- Will Hello Monster finally find its profiler hero in Seo In-gook?
- Park Bo-gum in talks to join Hello Monster
- Lee Chun-hee in consideration for romance thriller Hello Monster
- Jang Nara considers Hello Monster opposite Lee Jin-wook