Pegasus Market: Episode 1
Sometimes the craziest ideas turn out to be the most brilliant, but most of the time, there’s a reason why fish flavored toothpaste isn’t a thing. But not at Pegasus Market! In a world filled to the brim with zany people and ridiculous situations, this show is a hilarious ride from beginning to end. Hold on to your hats because there’s no knowing which way this story will turn next.
NOTE: This is just a first-episode recap.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
This is the tale of “Pegasus Market,” a supermarket in Gyeonggi-do with no resolve to do business. Scenes from the original webtoon flip on screen like a book until the final picture fades into the real world. Planted straight into a campaign rally, singer Kim Yeon-ja performs a rendition of her hit Amor Fati to support Candidate Kim, complete with backup dancers and a DJ.
After the mini-concert ends, Candidate Kim takes the microphone and promises his constituency to revitalize their city. He points ahead and vows to remove the biggest stumbling block sitting right in their city square: Pegasus Market.
An employee of Daema Group (henceforth DM Group) burns the midnight oil and stumbles across a rare, unlocked file on Pegasus Market. He calls over Manager Park to show him the strange charts and sales numbers which clearly suggest something odd happening behind the scenes.
Manager Park quickly silences the employee and warns him to ignore everything related to that store. Whatever its purpose, there’s only one thing everyone at DM Group knows about that place—it’s the grave site for careers.
The leaders of DM Group meet in the morning, and Director KWON YOUNG-GU (Park Ho-san) eyeballs Director JUNG BOK-DONG (Kim Byung-chul) from across the table. Everyone rises when Chairman KIM DAE-MA (Lee Soon-jae) enters the room, but the chairman frowns at the sight of Vice President Kim Kab’s empty seat.
Addressing the room of directors, Chairman Kim reminds them that DM Group’s motto is innovation: “Everything but your wife and kids should change!” He brandishes a red container and calls it the new item that will represent the future of
The container is filled with car wax, but not any car wax; it’s wax that grows hair! The directors all turn their heads towards the chairman and then at the presentation of “hairy cars.” Their expressions scream disbelief, and they all think to themselves that the chairman has finally lost his marbles.
However, no one seems brave enough to oppose, and Director Jung jumps up first to praise the chairman’s intuition. While everyone else joins in, Bok-dong slams the table and pushes back against the chairman’s crazy idea. All the directors hold their breathes, ready for an outburst, but to their surprise, the chairman chuckles.
In truth, the car wax was a test to find someone bold enough to speak up, and Chairman Kim clasps Bok-dong’s shoulders, calling him his righthand man. Unfortunately, Bok-dong’s moment of glory lasts for a mere ten seconds as Manager Park rushes in to inform the chairman of their competitor’s new, hit item: a car wax that grows hair.
Since Bok-dong lost him the car wax, the chairman appoints him to oversee Pegasus Market, and Director Kwon celebrates in his office. Manager Park congratulates him on becoming the next chairman, and though Director Kwon denies it, his smile belies his true feelings.
While Bok-dong’s demotion is good for them, Manager Park worries over the chance of Bok-dong uncovering their secret at Pegasus Market. Director Kwon waves aside his concerns since knowing Bok-dong’s personality, Director Kwon is certain that his rival will quit before accepting his new position.
In a small apartment, 29-year-old MOON SEOK-GU (Lee Dong-hwi) wakes up and gets ready for work. He lives by the motto that embarrassment is temporary while gains are forever, which translates to squishing himself onto an overcrowded bus to make it on time for work.
Over the last decade, Seok-gu devoted every waking moment to studying and preparing for a job, and after all those grueling years, he finally got a position at the largest company in the country: DM Group. He happily stands in front of Pegasus Market as its manager and enters with a pep in his step.
Contrary to his cheery attitude, the store’s atmosphere is downright dreary with bored or sleeping cashiers, missing shopping carts, and rotten produce. Seok-gu gets distracted by a fly in the mart, and chases it around futilely until he slips on a banana and crashes to the ground.
While Seok-gu groans in pain, Bok-dong walks up to him, and without even introducing himself, he tells Seok-gu to get ready for their meeting. Seok-gu’s confusion turns to awe when Bok-dong catches the pesky fly in one try, but his awe becomes outright admiration when he realizes who Jung Bok-dong is.
Seok-gu’s imagination runs wild as he envisions himself as a new leader alongside Bok-dong and the chairman, even picturing himself as “Lee Jung-jae” from New World. He excitedly greets the director, but the latter immediately cuts to the chase and asks about the missing items in the store’s inventory files.
Seok-gu can’t answer his questions since the main company files everything for the store, and his laissez-faire approach befuddles Bok-dong. Even more surprising is the fact that Seok-gu has been working as the manager for 387 days when his predecessors only lasted three months. Bok-dong compliments Seok-gu for being a “competent” worker and orders him to hire more people like him.
Bok-dong’s pen runs out of ink while he’s writing, so he chucks it. The pen goes flying towards a painting of Chairman Kim and lands right on the chairman’s nether regions to Seok-gu’s horror. Soon after Bok-dong leaves, Seok-gu cleans the office, but he gasps at what Bok-dong scribbled on his dusty pad: curses against the chairman as well Bok-dong’s desire to kill him.
Late into the night, Seok-gu makes a flier for new job openings at their store, but when he prints them out, a few fly out the open window. In town, struggling musician JO MIN-DAL (Kim Ho-young) comes home to find his wife worrying about their rising rent. He assures her that his band will succeed soon, but his promises of a house with a yard sound foolish to her.
He trudges out of his home with his guitar, and burden by his inability to provide for his family, he decides to give up his dreams. In the end, Min-dal can’t bring himself to throw it away, and ends up on the floor in tears. Breaking the mood, a flier slaps him in the face, and Min-dal sees the notice about Pegasus Market. Before he can keep it, the flier flies out of Min-dal’s hands and moves on to its next target.
Chauffeur CHOI IL-NAM (Jung Min-sung) swallows his pride as his young, drunk passenger berates him for being a driver and not holding a stable job. As the passenger continues his tirade, Il-nam finally snaps and yells at the young man to get out of the car.
Despite Il-nam’s outburst, he’s the one who gets dragged out of the car, and he finds himself abandoned on the street with one less paycheck. He stops by a convenience store when he receives a text from his wife, telling him not to push himself too hard.
Il-nam breaks into tears at the message, and eats his bread to stifle his cries. However, no one’s safe from the mood-killing flier as it smacks Il-nam in the face as well. He lights up while reading the notice for new employment, but just as before, the flier slips out of Il-nam’s hands and goes on its merry way.
The next day, both Min-dal and Il-nam arrive to interview for the open positions, and while Il-nam hands in his resume, Min-dal didn’t even bring one. Bok-dong asks for introductions, and Min-dal goes first. He explains his occupation as a singer but starts to go off on tangents until finally derailing completely. Min-dal sobs in front of the others, and calls himself a leech to his poor wife.
II-nam suddenly gives his introduction and describes himself as a loser. He gives his sob story about being fired and not finding a job afterwards, and in the end, the two of them beg for the position. They both try to sound more desperate than the other, and start adding ridiculous descriptors to their garbage-like status (“I’m nuclear waste!”).
Seok-gu attempts to bring reason back to the room, but Gangster OH IN-BAE (Kang Ho-suk) kicks down the door. He accuses the mart for selling spoiled fish which gave him food poisoning, but Seok-gu calmly explains that their store stopped selling fish a while ago.
In-bae changes his story, claiming that it was canned fish that gave him the rashes, but Seok-gu tells him to send his complaints to the company that made the product then. In-bae refuses to leave without compensation, but when things start to escalate, Bok-dong fixes everything with a simple phrase: “You’re all hired.”
Everyone stares at Bok-dong flabbergasted, most of all Seok-gu. He reasons with the director that two of them were just crying and the other wasn’t even here for the job, but no matter what Seok-gu says or does, he can’t stop the inevitable. All three new employees gratefully accept the offer, and for their first task, they voluntary fix the door that In-bae broke.
Seok-gu chases after Bok-dong and asks for a convincing reason why those nobodies were hired. As someone who worked to the bone to get this job, he doesn’t find this situation fair, but Bok-dong tells him that he is different from them since he’s in charge. A new presence in the store distracts them, and standing in the entrance is a man and child dressed in ponchos brandishing the store’s flier.
Vice President Kim Kab (aka, the chairman’s grandson) finally shows his face at the company and meets with Director Kwon to talk about Bok-dong’s reassignment. Despite his initial intimidating appearance, Kim Kab is a whiny brat who’s all bark and no bite. He worries about Bok-dong finding out their secret use of Pegasus Market, so Director Kwon suggests planting a spy in the store.
Interviews resume at Pegasus Market as Pielleggu, the leader of the Bbaya Tribe, and young boy Jjiae “interview” for the job. Speaking in short phrases, Pielleggu explains how he and his tribesmen came looking for work to send money back home, but faced discrimination. Verdict? Bok-dong hires all ten tribesmen on the spot.
Bok-dong comes home much earlier than usual and finds his son studying by reading webtoons. (It’s Yoo-jin!) Since he’s usually never home at this time, his wife doesn’t have dinner prepared, so Bok-dong skips it. He washes up in the bathroom but numbly stares at his reflection with the faucet on.
It’s payday for Seok-gu, and after calculating his bills and savings, he has about a quarter of his paycheck left to use for living expenses. After work, he dresses head-to-toe in black and dons a hat, sunglasses, and a mask to hide his identity.
He sneaks his way into the neighboring supermarket to buy steak and debates over buying the expensive or cheaper beef—ultimately choosing the cheaper one. As he leaves the store, the two cashiers from Pegasus Market find him in his dramatic getup and comment on how he sticks out more that way. Heh.
On his way home, Seok-gu notices a grandma selling vegetables on the street, and though she tries to sell him all her lettuce, he only wants a little. Knowing that she’ll stay out until everything is sold, Seok-gu buys all of it from her despite his initial protests, and his beef party turns out to be more of a lettuce one.
Mom asks how work is lately, and Seok-gu initially describes his new boss as strange. He changes his mind and calls Bok-dong over-enthused instead, and Mom reminds him to listen to his higherups rather than act stubbornly.
In a junkyard, Pielleggu and the other tribesmen gather around a fire and remember how difficult it was for them to get here. Now that they’ve finally become full-time employees after ten years of searching, they vow to work hard at Pegasus Market.
Seok-gu merrily walks to work when Director Kwon suddenly screeches in front of him with his car and orders him to get in. He offers Seok-gu a chance to work for him, and if things go well, he promises him a position at the main company.
The chance for a reassignment raises Seok-gu’s spirits, but he immediately deflates when Director Kwon tasks him with reporting detailed accounts of Bok-dong’s every action, including his poop. Seok-gu wonders if keeping tabs on his bowel movements is necessary but still agrees to the conditions.
After dismissing Seok-gu, Director Kwon gives his best evil villain laugh, but Seok-gu interrupts his moment since he has a question. He asks if he should keep the assignment a secret from Bok-dong, and Director Kwon stares at him utterly baffled. In voiceover, future Director Kwon says that he should have reconsidered their partnership back then.
The new employees are already working when Seok-gu arrives, and the Bbaya people have volunteered to act as shopping carts since the store doesn’t have any. The strange sight gives Seok-gu a headache, but despite the odd setup, the place is looking much nicer than before.
Suddenly, the store darkens and lights flash in the background as the Bbaya people break out into song and dance. The other employees nod along, and even Seok-gu involuntarily claps to the beat. Once it’s over, Pielleggu firmly tells Seok-gu that they’ll work hard.
Il-nam and Min-dal promise to do their best as well, and to Seok-gu’s dismay, even In-bae has showed up to work. He was assigned to the customer service center, and Seok-gu warily makes his way down to see him. An angry customer arrives before Seok-gu, and confident that Il-nam failed his duty, Seok-gu giddily chases after the customer. However, his face falls as soon as he opens the door.
The customer service center is remodeled as a monarch’s room, and In-bae sits on the throne dressed as a Joseon king. He speaks to the now-placated customer in old-time speech, and Seok-gu’s knees go weak when the customer replies in kind.
Seok-gu asks what happened to the customer service center, so Il-nam and Min-dal tell him that Bok-dong ordered the change. He also decided on a new store motto: the employees are the king. Hence, the new work uniforms which are red polos with kingly designs.
The day has barely started, and Seok-gu already sends faxes to Director Kwon describing Bok-dong as a sunflower who turns others into flowers, too. Enraged, Director Kwon rushes over to Pegasus Market and confronts Seok-gu about creating preposterous lies. Right then, Bok-dong calls Director Kwon’s name, and when he turns around, he sees that his archnemesis really is a sunflower. (I can’t… my sides hurt too much.)
The other employees are also flowers, including Seok-gu who simply beams at the director. Director Kwon asks Bok-dong what he is planning with all these strange people and things. With a smile, Bok-dong shares his diabolical scheme: turn Pegasus Market into a big bomb and drop it on DM Group to bring it to ruins.
Holding true to the source material’s wackiness, this adaptation of a strange supermarket with even stranger workers is shaping out to be a hilarious riot. The humor is off-the-wall, and the translation from webtoons to dramas captures the heart of the original while capitalizing on the strengths of film. The jokes from the first few chapters of the webtoons are taken nearly word for word, but the addition of music and motion adds to the scenes, amplifying the humor in creative ways. Punchlines can be drawn out without dragging the pace, and gags can occur simultaneously in a moment without having to divide the screen. Alas, I have only seen the first few chapters of the original webtoon, so it’s hard to say how the show will compare to its source overall—but from this initial outing, it seems that the show’s creators are fans of the webtoon and know what made it popular.
Having said that, there is something about the original that I’m still wary about in the drama: the Bbaya Tribe. My initial reaction to the Bbaya people was one of uneasiness. South Korea’s entertainment industry’s rocky and insensitive history of portraying other ethnicities and nationalities provided me little comfort with how the show would treat a fictious group of people who are clearly supposed to be indigenous. While I can’t say that my worries are completely dispelled, I am more optimistic after this first episode that the show might not fall under the perpetual storytelling trap of thinly veiled racism and ethnocentrisms to garner cheap laughs. Pielleggu and his group are still odd, but within the context of the show, they’re no weirder than the other employees at Pegasus Market, Seok-gu included. Hopefully the show continues to portray the Bbaya Tribe humorously without mocking other cultures because, according to the fans and the creators, Pegasus Market wouldn’t be the same without them.
Truth be told, this show probably isn’t for everyone. It has a distinct brand of humor that is outrageous and head scratching. A scene will play out one way and then take a sharp left turn; but it’s these subversions of expectations that I love about the show. For example, we are introduced to Min-dal and Il-nam who are struggling in life, and immediately, the show throws us their sob stories. However, instead of lingering on their tears, the show takes us out of the moment by literally slapping the characters with a flier from Pegasus Market. The joke then continues as their sob stories are introduced again during the interviews. If this was a drama, Min-dal’s heartfelt confession could be seen as a touching moment, but not at Pegasus Market. Contrary to what other dramas might show, Min-dal’s earnestness is depicted as completely inappropriate, but what makes the scene so uproariously funny is how Il-nam joins in on the sob-fest to win over his competition for the category of “most desperate.” Add on to that Seok-gu’s growing anxiety and Bok-dong’s stone-faced expression and it becomes comedy gold. Yet what makes the show truly unique in its oddness is that the gag continues with the introduction of In-bae (the gangster from left field), and the final conclusion of Bok-dong hiring all of them is the cherry on top.
It’s not a stretch to call everyone strange in this show. The mere fact that hairy car wax is selling like hotcakes already establishes the rules of this world: things are weird but everyone eventually rolls with it like it’s not a big deal. There’s no typical “straight man” because, depending on a scene, someone will be the comedic foil in one but then in another, they’re the ones delivering the punchline. Take Seok-gu for example. He comes across at the observer—the one reacting to the ridiculousness of the situations orchestrated by Bok-dong (the master of the deadpan reaction)—yet Seok-gu is also the guy dressing up like a spy to buy steak at the competitor’s store and slowly going bonkers by the madness taking over his workplace. It’s really a credit to the actors that they’re able to pull off so many facets of these characters, and the comedic timing by everyone is great. Lee Dong-hwi and Kim Byung-chul are especially awesome, and whenever they’re on screen, they bring something magical to the moment that can only be credited to their charms as actors. Besides the acting, the director is also doing a phenomenal job, capturing the situational humor of the webtoon and making it work in the format of television. While comics control pace using space and layout, television has the ability to control time as well. The directorial choice to linger on a face or quickly cut to the next joke by adding someone to the scene sets the absurd tone of the show, and these temporal decisions add another dimension to the original story. Pegasus Market is definitely a different show from the usual crop of dramas, but it’s a fresh breath of (silly) air and a welcome addition to the landscape.