My Absolute Boyfriend: Episodes 1-2
Finally, My Absolute Boyfriend is here! This remake of a remake of a manga adaptation has been a long time in the making, but I have high hopes based on the solid casting and reliable writer and PD, and so far, the show strikes the perfect notes for me. If this show continues as sweetly as it started, we’re all in for a real treat.
EPISODES 1-2: “True facts”
A young woman cries, telling herself that it’s all over. She steps to a refrigerator-sized metal container and opens it, and her eyes go wide at what looks like a half-naked man inside. Fascinated, she moves closer, and raises a hand to touch the man’s face.
When she touches him, he falls forward into her arms. They twist as they fall, and the woman lands on top of the man, her lips on his. She raises up, still staring at him, as her voice says, “Meeting someone and saying goodbye can be decided by brief choices and chance. Then have we met now by chance? Or could it be fate?”
Beneath her, the man slowly opens his eyes.
Earlier, that same young woman, our heroine UHM DA-DA (Bang Minah) labors furiously in a dingy workroom with what looks like random body parts. She gets a call that someone needs more bodies, making her sneer in annoyance.
A different man stands on the spire of a church, his eyes flashing an inhuman blue, then he jumps to the ground, landing light as a feather. He busts into an underground bunker where a pretty woman is being attacked by several masked figures, and he calmly prepares to fight them — then the director yells, “Cut!”
HAHA, this is actor MA WANG-JOON (Hong Jong-hyun), a top star who’s getting annoyed with the many shooting delays today. The problem is that his costar Ruby’s schedule has been changed without notice, which is also the reason that Da-da, who is in charge of special effects for the drama, has been ordered to produce more bodies.
Da-da’s friend and employee, KYU-RI (Cha Jung-won) argues that it’s impossible to produce four dummies in ten minutes. Da-da explains that they can do it with one dummy and just have it “die” in different ways. She sends her script suggestions to the director and starts making four sets of fake blood, saying that every person’s blood looks a bit different, even though Kyu-ri argues that nobody will notice that kind of detail.
The PD gets angry when he sees Da-da’s changes, but his assistant PD says that if they don’t shoot now, they won’t be able to air this week. Da-da arrives on set with the dummy and the fake blood, and she studiously avoids looking at Wang-joon while he stares intently at her.
They resume shooting the scene where they left off, and every time Da-da steps close to apply blood to Wang-joon’s opponent, he seems a bit rattled. Da-da and her team utilize their one dummy creatively to look like several men, and the scene concludes with Wang-joon’s android character saving Ruby’s character then giving her a big dramatic kiss.
The PD tells Da-da that he heard that she inherited her studio, Real, from her famous father. He remembers her father as a legend in his field, and he asks why Da-da thought she had the right to give him a new script when even her father would never have done that when he was alive.
Da-da apologizes and says she only did it because it was an emergency, but the PD snarls at her not to damage her father’s reputation. He kicks over the bucket of fake blood, splattering it all over Da-da.
At a facility called Kronos Heaven, a man reads a children’s book to the young man we saw in the metal container. The reader, Bo-won, gets frustrated with the protagonist and asks the young man, whom he calls ZERO-NINE (Yeo Jin-gu), if he agrees. Zero-Nine says that it’s natural to want to give everything to the person you love, and when Bo-won says that love is about give and take, Zero-Nine replies, “But I was born to give love.”
Bo-won says that it’s difficult even for humans, so it will be even harder for Zero-Nine. But he tells Zero-Nine not to worry, because he’ll make sure he gets lots of love. He surreptitiously shows Zero-Nine a bedroom scene on his phone, saying that a man should be sweet during the day and sexy at night.
Bo-won quickly hides his phone when they’re joined by his boss, Director Go. He protests his innocence, only to have Zero-Nine repeat one of the lines from the scene (“Do you want to bathe together, or do you want to go to bed?” HAHA). Director Go just sighs like this happens all the time, and tells them to prepare for a test.
Bo-won gets excited, because this means Zero-Nine is going outside. Zero-Nine’s good looks and sunny smile attract a lot of female attention, and from what Bo-won and Director Go see through Zero-Nine’s eyes from a hidden location, this reaction is exactly what they want.
In Ruby’s dressing room, Wang-joon pats her shoulder familiarly and leans down like he’s going to kiss her, but instead he asks if she got plastic surgery again. He says that he knows her schedule change that caused the problems today are because she’s taking the day off to visit her regular clinic tomorrow.
He tells her not to get botox right before a shoot again, because she has no facial expressions. He says that acting isn’t about being pretty, and after he leaves, Ruby screams in frustration.
Kyu-ri is frustrated that the man she likes has changed his number again to avoid her, and Da-da’s other assistant, Yoo-jin, celebrates his success in building a small working robot arm. Yoo-jin yelps when Da-da tries to work the robot arm — understandably, as it almost immediately stops working.
Kyu-ri grumbles that Da-da is a genius when it comes to making things, but every machine she touches breaks. Da-da shoots eye-lasers at them… while putting on gloves just to use her phone, hee. Kyu-ri asks if she’s still waiting to hear from her boyfriend, and Da-da says defensively that he’s just extremely busy. Kyu-ri smirks that that’s why they’ve been dating for seven years and she’s never even met him.
The assistant PD comes in with a request from Wang-joon to remove his makeup. Da-da volunteers, and while she’s removing the green paint on Wang-joon’s neck, she says that his onscreen kiss with Ruby was too emotional for a robot. Wang-joon snaps at her to focus on her job, and she asks if he has a problem with her work.
Wang-joon complains that he doesn’t like that all Da-da did to portray his character’s anger was to paint green lines on his neck, but Da-da snaps that this is the concept they agreed on. Wang-joon tells his stylist to leave them alone, and as soon as she’s gone, they both grin. Wang-joon loudly pretends to keep yelling at Da-da while they laugh and snuggle, because Wang-joon is Da-da’s long-time secret boyfriend.
Da-da mentions an article naming Wang-joon as the most eligible bachelor, and they play-wrestle until they both fall onto the couch. Da-da mentions that they haven’t spent time alone together in a while, so Wang-joon says softly that he’s been thinking they should… break up. What?
He says that he’s tired of dating in secret, and at Da-da’s distraught expression, he laughs. She whines that she thought he was serious, but before he can say anything, his manager Yeo-woong walks in and Wang-joon dumps Da-da on the floor. He says they were just removing his makeup, but Yeo-woong knows about their relationship and isn’t convinced.
She’s here to talk about Wang-joon’s behavior in Ruby’s dressing room, which she lights into him for as soon as Da-da leaves. She tells him to get ready for tonight’s award ceremony, and when he’s alone, he seems to deflate. Da-da also feels unsettled about Wang-joon’s “joke” about breaking up.
While Zero-Nine is still doing his test, it begins to rain. He accidentally bumps into Da-da while he’s distracted by the raindrops, and he helps her pick up her things. She asks his help with something and reaches towards his hand, and from their hiding place, Bo-won squeals that this is like a scene from a movie.
But Da-da only wants Zero-Nine to stop standing on her disembodied prop hand, hee. Zero-Nine offers it to her with his foolproof charming smile, and Da-da smiles… because her bus is here. Zero-Nine frowns at Da-da’s lack of response to him, and LOL, I love this.
However, Director Go does not, and he says that Zero-Nine failed the likability test. Frustrated, Bo-won grumbles that whatever girl ends up with Zero-Nine, he hopes it’s not one like Da-da.
Da-da returns to her studio, which is also her home, and calls Wang-joon. Yeo-woong answers the call and says that she wishes Da-da and Wang-joon could go public with their relationship. She tells Da-da that Wang-joon is getting ready for an awards show and that she thinks Wang-joon will finally win Best Male Lead tonight.
Da-da heads downstairs to work on her pet project, a little model cake covered in small figures of Wang-joon as all of his drama roles. She remembers going to an amusement park with Wang-joon when he first started gaining success, dressed as a zombie bride and groom to hide his identity.
Wang-joon had asked her to marry him when he wins Best Male Lead, saying that he’ll claim her as his woman publicly. He’d bought them couple rings, but Da-da’s had been too small. She’d put it on her pinky finger, and that’s where she’s worn it for seven years, waiting for him to win that award.
Zero-Nine is also getting a cake — his first birthday cake, made of stacked chocopies with a candle stuck in the top. He takes a champagne flute filled with water and uses it to put out the candle, drenching the chocopies, and Bo-won declares that his birthday mode needs tweaking, ha.
Bo-won tells Zero-Nine that he’s completed his training, and next week he’ll be going to someone who will really love him. He says that Zero-Nine won’t remember him, but not to forget to give and receive a lot of love. Zero-Nine asks why he won’t remember Bo-won, but Bo-won just says that it’s the rules.
Bo-won is called to Director Go’s office, where he reports that Zero-Nine is ready — all that’s needed is for a destined woman to kiss him. Director Go warns him to make sure nothing goes wrong, and Bo-won notices something on his computer screen. He asks if it’s information about the woman Zero-Nine will go to, but the boss tells him to mind his own business.
Later, Bo-won hacks into Kronos Heaven’s database to see who Zero-Nine’s new owner will be. But his grin disappears when he realizes it’s Diana, a chaebol heiress who was recently involved in a rage scandal. Something about her seems to make Bo-won very nervous, and a note on her file indicates that her motives may be suspect.
Da-da uses her skills to make herself up as an elderly cleaning woman to sneak into Wang-joon’s house, and it’s not the first time. She brushes off the security guard, gets inside and takes off her makeup, then decorates Wang-joon’s living room and waits for him to come home so they can celebrate his win.
After getting rejected by Wang-joon’s cute little dog, Bbobbi, Da-da watches the highlights from the award show. We get a fun Yoon Shi-yoon cameo as last year’s winner presenting the award for Best Male Lead, and as everyone expected, Wang-joon wins for his movie “Zombie Train” (lol, a Train to Busan reference).
Da-da waits for Wang-joon to fulfill his promise to announce to the world that she’s his girl, but he just thanks his manager, Yeo-woong, and the zombies in the movie. Da-da wilts with disappointment, but Wang-joon suddenly says he forgot to mention his most important supporter — his dog, Bbobbi. Oh, you epic jerk.
It finally hits Da-da that when Wang-joon said he wanted to break up, he meant it. Adding insult to injury, Bbobbi pees on her dress.
As Wang-joon and Yeo-woong are leaving the award show venue, he’s approached by his agent, GEUM EUN-DONG (Hong Seok-cheon), who’s annoyed that he was left out of Wang-joon’s acceptance speech. Wang-joon steps away to take a call from Da-da, but he says he’s busy and hangs up on her.
Da-da tells herself not to make Wang-joon’s happy day all about herself, so she just sends him a congratulatory text. Yeo-woong notices that he looks unhappy, but he doesn’t tell her why.
Da-da cleans up the decorations she put up, but she’s still in the house when she hears Wang-joon arriving home with a crowd. She hides in the bathroom and tries to get Yeo-woong’s attention, while Wang-joon goes to his bedroom to call her, but her phone dies.
A guest wants to use the restroom, but Da-da holds the door closed until Wang-joon comes to investigate. He yanks the door open and she falls to the floor, and the reporters in the room ready their cameras for a dating scandal. Wang-joon says the first thing that comes to mind, that Da-da is his stalker, and she looks at him with an expression of utter betrayal.
At Kronos Heaven, Zero-Nine watches one of Wang-joon’s movies, a scene where he’s being a real ass to the woman who loves him. Zero-Nine shows no expression, but suddenly he puts his fist through the LCD screen, smashing Wang-joon’s face. HA, he tells Bo-won proudly that he just caught a mosquito, so Bo-won decides to adjust his arm strength a bit.
Da-da ends up at the police station, along with the pair of Wang-joon’s underwear she was clutching when she got caught. Unable to tell the truth, she just keeps quiet until the detective yells at her, demanding to know why she went into the house. She yells back, “Because I love him!”
She sobs that she just wants to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant with Wang-joon, or watch a movie in a theater, or just walk down the street holding hands. She bursts into tears, then wails that she thought if she couldn’t have those things, she could at least have a pair of his underwear. Awww.
Wang-joon requests that Da-da be released and meets her outside the police station to offer her a ride home, but she says it’s time they break up for real. Wang-joon just says he’s sorry, though Da-da was hoping they would argue about this so that she could ask why she has to feel guilty for loving him.
Instead she just walks away, thinking that she was able to endure everything because she trusted their love, but today that trust was completely broken. She goes home and takes off her couple ring, realizing that everything eventually grows old and breaks, even her old, worn-out love.
After getting an adjustment to his arm strength, Zero-Nine apologizes to Bo-won for breaking the expensive LCD screen. Bo-won says that he’s the one who’s sorry, though he can’t say why. He tells Zero-Nine to listen carefully, then opens a sealed envelope and reads out loud the words on the card inside: night sea, wave, moonlight, cloud, butterfly.
Bo-won’s voice shakes as he finishes the sequence, and Zero-Nine powers down. Bo-won apologizes again for not being able to keep his promise, as he remembers another robot, a female-model named Zero-Seven, who was returned to Kronos Heaven after being sent to Diana.
Zero-Seven was severely damaged from being constantly abused by Diana to test her loyalty. She had been beyond repair, and they’d been forced to destroy her, but until the end, Zero-Seven would only say, “Diana is a good person.”
Bo-won had argued with Director Go about sending Zero-Nine to Diana, but Director Go had said it was the head office’s decision. Bo-won tearfully reminded Director Go that he once said Kronos Heaven is a company that makes families, friends, and lovers for robots, but Director Go only countered that their job is to make the robot the client demands.
He’d said that it’s none of their business how the client uses the product, and warned Bo-won to stop getting emotionally attached to the robots. Now, Bo-won looks incredibly sad as he packs up Zero-Nine — but thankfully, he’s not planning to deliver him to Diana.
He sneaks Zero-Nine out in the middle of the night, ignoring Director Go’s increasingly frantic calls. Director Go hacks into the van’s black box and figures out where Bo-won is, but Bo-won sees that the office is connected to his black box and has to come up with another plan on the fly.
He’s pulled over next to a warehouse that’s loading up trucks to make deliveries, and he gets an idea. By the time Director Go finds the Kronos Heaven van, the container holding Zero-Nine is gone.
Bo-won is hiding nearby, vowing that he won’t let it happen again. He pulls out a device that’s tracking Zero-Nine, and he tells the robot to stay safe and until he comes for him.
In the morning, Da-da takes delivery of what she thinks is a new dummy she ordered from the U.S. She doesn’t get a chance to inspect it before it’s time to be on the drama set, so they just wheel the whole container to the set.
Da-da sends Kyu-ri and Yoo-jin to get things ready, while she reluctantly heads to Wang-joon’s dressing room to do his makeup. She runs into Eun-dong, who tells her that Wang-joon requested a different makeup artist starting today. She heads back to the office, where she cries that it’s really over.
We’re back to where we started as Da-da opens the huge container, expecting to see her new high-tech dummy. She’s amazed at how lifelike it looks, unaware that it’s not a dummy, but Zero-Nine inside the box.
When she touches him, he tips forward, and they land on the sofa with their lips pressed together. Da-da jumps off of Zero-Nine, cringing at the accidental kiss with a dummy, as behind her, Zero-Nine powers up and gets to his feet.
All the lights come on spontaneously, and Da-da turns to see Zero-Nine gazing at her curiously. He says, “Hello, my girlfriend,” and aims a gorgeous smile at her.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that I’ve been waiting for this show for six years, ever since I saw the Taiwanese adaptation with Jiro Wang and fell in love with the sweet robot who learned to love a human. I adored that version of the story so much that I couldn’t get into the original Japanese adaptation of the manga, so I went into the Korean remake with equal parts excitement and trepidation. Korean dramas, in my experience, tend to take the most liberties when remaking a story, and dramas today look very different than dramas did back in 2012, so I was scared that the changes would be too drastic and I wouldn’t like it.
And the changes are there, but so far, they manage to enhance the story instead of rendering it unrecognizable or unenjoyable. I actually found myself greatly appreciating rather than resenting the bigger changes, especially the fact that Da-da and Zero-Nine have briefly met before. She seems to be the only woman immune to his charms, which has already intrigued him (as much as a robot can be intrigued). His entire existence is aimed at loving and being loved, so being placed with the one woman who doesn’t immediately fall at his feet is a fun little twist, and an interesting challenge for Zero-Nine to learn about what love truly is. I also like that Da-da has a plausible explanation for Zero-Nine’s existence — she doesn’t know he’s a love-bot, as in previous incarnations of the story, she just thinks he’s a really, really advanced stunt dummy.
Another change I’m happy with is the fact that the second lead is no longer just a longtime friend with a crush on the lead girl, but an actual former lover, and a serious one at that. Wang-joon’s inevitable jealousy when he sees another man doting on Da-da will be a nice tasty bit of schadenfreude, because while I don’t blame him for breaking things off after seven years of secret dating (that’s got to be exhausting!), I do think that he did it in a really insensitive, cruel way. It will also make Da-da’s feelings towards the robot that much more complicated when she’s still hung up on her ex, but suddenly finds herself overwhelmed by someone/something who wants to give her all the love and adoration and attention she’s been denied for the past seven years.
I really enjoyed how thoughtful and heartfelt this first episode was — it’s been a long time since I saw the Taiwanese version, but my memories of it mostly consist of fluff and cuteness. And I think we’ll get that with this incarnation, but I believe that we’ll also see something very introspective and insightful, including some lessons on what it means to love and be loved. Honestly, my only disappointment in this episode is that there wasn’t much Yeo Jin-gu, but I think it was important to establish Da-da and Wang-joon’s history and their current emotional states, because that’s going to greatly inform Da-da’s reaction to her loving robot friend. Now that the set-up is mostly out of the way, we can get to the fun stuff!
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