People With Flaws: Episodes 1-2
People With Flaws is exactly the show I need right now — it’s light and fun, quirky yet still offers the chance for some interesting introspection, and absolutely overflowing with gorgeous males. Our heroine has the good luck to live her life surrounded by beautiful men, but there’s just one problem — she can’t stand “flower boys,” and with good reason. Unfortunately for her, she’s about to meet one flower boy she can’t dismiss so easily, and this one has an axe to grind.
A young woman, JOO SEO-YEON (Oh Yeon-seo) trudges home from the store, loaded down with groceries and complaining about everything in her life that’s gone horribly wrong. She’s confronted by three women, one of whom accuses Seo-yeon of living with her boyfriend, and they don’t believe her when she tries to explain that he’s her brother.
By the time Seo-yeon drags herself home, she’s covered in her own groceries from the all-out street brawl she was dragged into. She sits her three brothers down and demands to know which one dumped her attacker, using their enormous pride in their looks to snap surprise pictures of them and threatening to post them online if they don’t confess.
Unfortunately, they all look gorgeous anyway, to Seo-yeon’s dismay, ha. Finally JOO WON-JAE (Min Woo-hyuk), her oldest brother, admits that he broke up with the girl because she was too clingy, and that he said he was living with another woman (“That’s a benefit of having a sister!” Wow, what a jerk.).
In flashback, Seo-yeon tells us that when she was young, her mother married a man with two sons, and that at first she was thrilled to have two handsome oppas. Later JOO SEO-JOON (Kim Jae-yong), her younger brother was born, and Seo-yeon was enchanted with him. Then when she got a little older, she started getting a lot of love confessions…to pass along to her brothers, HAHA.
Women and men — middle brother JOO WON-SEOK (Cha In-ha) is gay — of all ages and races had begged Seo-yeon to help them with their crushes, but her gorgeous brothers had been uninterested, making Seo-yeon’s life even more frustrating. She’s taken away one important life lesson from the experience…gorgeous men know they’re gorgeous, and she wants no part of them.
At the airport, our hero LEE KANG-WOO (Ahn Jae-hyun) sketches a faceless woman as he waits impatiently for his ride. He notices a pretty woman sitting across from him, sending him flirtatious looks while her boyfriend is busy on his phone. When the boyfriend goes to the restroom, Kang-woo gets the woman’s name and number, then promptly heads to the restroom and hands it to her boyfriend.
When his friend PARK HYUN-SOO (Heo Jung-min) finally arrives to pick up Kang-woo, he’s surprised at his lack of luggage, but Kang-woo says he won’t be in the country long.
Seo-yeon works at a high school as the physical education teacher, but when she tries to discuss the track and field budget with the vice principal, he’s more interested in polishing his orchids (not, I’m not kidding). Seo-yeon mentions that a particular student, Lee Joo-hee, is good enough to get a college scholarship, but Vice Principal Park says that she’ll never get into a top school, so Seo-yeon may as well drop it.
Out in the hall, Seo-yeon grumbles that her contract is up in a year then she’s outta there, shadow-boxing and kicking the air angrily…until she spots school physician LEE MIN-HYUK (Goo-won) watching her. He doesn’t say a word, he just walks away from the crazy lady, hee.
In her office, Seo-yeon tries to call her student Joo-hee, who didn’t show up to school today. The call goes to voicemail so she leaves a worried message. Suddenly the sound of shrieking leads her to the girls’ locker room, where she finds her youngest brother Seo-joon dancing on a table for the track team (to BTS’s “Boy With Luv“), who scream and take pictures.
Just as it’s about to turn into a strip show, Seo-joon spots his big sister and falls off the table in surprise. She drags him outside by the ear, after busting fellow teacher KIM MI-KYUNG (Kim Seul-gi) in the crowd with her phone out, too. LOL.
Seo-yeon makes Seo-joon sit with his arms raised as punishment, while he whines that as an idol trainee, he was just rehearsing (and starts dancing again, this time to Seventeen’s “Very Nice“). Her entire demeanor changes to sugar and rainbows when she gets a call from her boyfriend Jung-tae, inviting her out to dinner tonight.
She pulls Mi-kyung into the bathroom and starts trying to undress her, saying that she needs something nice to wear for her date — Jung-tae has invited her to a restaurant that’s famous for romantic proposals. When Mi-kyung hears this, she trades clothes with Seo-yeon, happy for her friend though she obviously doesn’t think that Jung-tae is as dreamy as Seo-yeon does.
While she waits at the restaurant, Seo-yeon moons over videos and pictures of herself and Jung-tae, who is completely average-looking. But the man who shows up is drop-dead gorgeous (cameo by Kang Tae-oh), and he explains that he’s Jung-tae, he’s just had a lot of plastic surgery in the month since they last saw each other.
Seo-yeon is disappointed, but she tells herself that he’s still the same guy… except that the change in his looks has also changed Jung-tae’s attitude. He breaks up with Seo-yeon, saying that he wants a woman with looks that match his new ones, and that Seo-yeon just doesn’t measure up (has he looked at her recently??).
Seo-yeon ends up at the bar where eldest brother Won-seok is a bartender, grooving to Celine Dion while the bar patrons glare at her balefully. She insists that men find her attractive, but her attempts to flirt with the men nearby only get her more rejections (Won-seok: “This is a gay bar…” PFFT).
Won-seok says that Seo-yeon’s problem is that she categorizes people based on their looks, assuming that all handsome men are jerks and all ugly men are nice. He points out that she hasn’t been able to summon up any tears, which means she didn’t really love Jung-tae, she just liked that he wasn’t handsome.
Later, Won-seok puts Seo-yeon in a taxi and sends her home. He notices a male student nervously hovering around the bar entrance, and he watches until the boy eventually leaves.
When she’s dropped off, Seo-yeon embarrassingly vomits into the gutter beside a shop named “Prettier than Flowers.” She tries to work up a good cry but fails to produce a single tear. She accepts an invitation from Mi-kyung to have another drink, this time at a convenience store.
Mi-kyung loyally curses out Jung-tae for dumping Seo-yeon, but she tsks at Seo-yeon for keeping a picture of his new face in her phone. Seo-yeon says it’s a reminder that good-looking men aren’t trustworthy — Jung-tae was nice when he was average, but he turned into an ass when he became handsome. Mi-kyung says that makes no sense, but Seo-yeon is convinced that his new looks changed him.
Kang-woo’s place is nearby, and as he gets ready to go out for a jog, he obsesses over a tiny speck of dirt on his shoe, unable to go out until he cleans it off. He jogs past the “Prettier than Flowers” store and stops to take a selfie with the sign, as if it describes him, hee.
Just then, Seo-yeon comes out to clean up her vomit, and the dirty water runs down the gutter and over Kang-woo’s precious shoes. He completely freaks out, and he ends up falling in the water, making the situation even worse. He runs off shrieking and yanking off his soggy socks, hee.
The next day at school, Seo-yeon asks Joo-hee’s homeroom teacher if he knows why she’s still not coming to school. Her teacher says that he doesn’t care, because Joo-hee isn’t interested in college, which makes her a bad influence on his other students.
In her frustration, Seo-yeon kicks the table where Vice Principal Park keeps his precious orchids, knocking his favorite to the ground. She panics when its only flower flutters to the ground, and sure enough, there’s odd duck Min-hyuk again, witnessing her worst moments.
During a meeting later, a distraught Vice Principal Park storms in, brandishing the broken flower like it’s evidence of a premeditated murder. He demands to know who did this, but Seo-yeon hides behind Mi-kyung, hoping to escape the blame. Unfortunately, Min-hyuk can’t keep his mouth shut despite a valiant effort, and just as Seo-yeon is about to confess, he blurts out that Seo-yeon did it. To Seo-yeon, this is just more proof that hot guys can’t be trusted.
Meanwhile, Hyun-soo calls Kang-woo, trying to convince him to sign a three-year contract with his talent agency. Kang-woo refuses the terms of the contract (though he does agree to read a contract with different terms), and he also refuses to agree to go with Hyun-soo to their middle school reunion this weekend.
Kang-woo finishes his workout and goes to the fridge for some water, then spits it out when his dad is lurking behind the refrigerator door. He escaped from the house when his dad slips and falls in his spilled water, but his mother is waiting outside to ambush him.
Kang-woo’s mother mother tells him that his grandmother knows he’s in the country and expects him to visit her, but Kang-woo is aware that she’s trying to rope him into working for the family business and whines that he doesn’t wanna. He threatens to leave the country immediately, but his grandmother is way ahead of him and is prepared with false evidence that he’s been embezzling in case he tries to skip town. LOL.
Seo-yeon’s oldest brother Won-jae works at a car dealership, and he and a coworker marvel over a young kid whose rich parents are buying him a brand-new expensive car. His coworker says that Won-jae should have been a celebrity with his good looks, and Won-jae admits that he was scouted, but he says he wasn’t interested because it’s easier to make money leeching off rich families.
A woman walks in, alarming Won-jae’s coworker with her ratty clothes and unkempt hair. He steers her right back out the door, so she wanders off to the park, wondering what good her huge bag full of cash is doing her.
At the school, Min-hyuk asks Mi-kyung if Seo-yeon is mad at him for tattling on her. She assures him that Seo-yeon doesn’t hold grudges (HA) but he knows that’s a lie, and he agrees with Mi-kyung that he should have kept quiet.
Seo-yeon looks for Joo-hee at home after school, but she’s been kicked out for not paying rent. Seo-yeon asks Seo-joon — who’s a trainee at Hyun-soo’s agency — to see if his friends know where Joo-hee is these days (they went to school together). He calls a friend with connections, and says they’ll have an answer in a few minutes.
Fans begin screaming as PARK SEOK-MIN (Shin Ji-hyun), a famous idol with the agency, arrives. Seo-yeon gets excited when she sees him… because she wants the expensive cake Seok-min is carrying, lol. Seo-joon gets an answer on Joo-hee’s whereabouts, but Seo-yeon has to steal his phone to get her answer, which appears to be shocking.
Kang-woo reluctantly shows up for dinner at his grandmother’s house, along with his parents and his older sister, Kang-hee. Mom wheedles CHAIRWOMAN HAN (Kim Young-ok) to let them grill some Hanwoo beef for dinner, but Chairwoman Han says it upsets her stomach… then allows it, and proceeds to gobble it all up herself, ha.
The final family member arrives a bit late — Min-hyuk, who happens to be Kang-woo’s cousin. Chairwoman Han doesn’t approve of Min-hyuk’s life choices, either, thinking that he should work for her company if he’s not going to be a real doctor. She tells Kang-woo to choose which department he wants to work in, making it clear that this is not optional, and Kang-woo can’t bring himself to argue with his tiny little granny.
The cousins go out for a drink after dinner, reassured that at least they’re equally disappointing. Kang-woo fixates on a tiny dot of wine on his cuff, and Min-hyuk looks nervous when Kang-woo asks if he’s interested in anyone. Kang-woo quips that Min-hyuk can’t lie to save his life, which explains the tattling, and Min-hyuk nods at Kang-woo’s frantic attempts to clean his cuff and says he hasn’t changed, either.
Min-hyuk jumps up when Seo-yeon walks into the bar, and when the owner tries to kick her out for wearing sweats, Min-hyuk says she’s with him. Seo-yeon says that she heard Joo-hee works here, but the owner claims he had no idea she was a minor, and that she quit two days ago anyway.
Min-hyuk grins when Seo-yeon threatens to come back if she finds out the owner didn’t pay Joo-hee what she earned. Min-hyuk apologizes for telling on her and offers her a ride home, but she leaves alone. Yep, he’s definitely crushing hard.
The next day, Hyun-soo brings Kang-woo the revised contract (and scares the bejeezus out of poor Kang-woo by letting himself in). This time, instead of a three-year exclusive contract, it’s one year and Kang-woo has total freedom, but he still wants to read it before signing (To Hyun-soo: “Would you trust yourself??” He’s not wrong).
Hyun-soo tries to talk Kang-woo into coming to the reunion tonight, saying that with his body and face, it’s a perfect chance to get revenge. He whispers Kang-woo’s old middle school nickname, Butthole, as well as “pants-pooper” and “extremely obese,”and the old taunts send Kang-woo right into a flashback.
Awww, Kang-woo was the fat kid back in elementary school. He’d had an accident on the bus one day, earning his horrible nicknames, and now he has to shake off the hurtful memories as he insists he’s not interested in the reunion. But the memories also kick off another tummyache, forcing him to stagger to the bathroom in agony.
He decides to get some therapy, bursting into DOCTOR KIM’s (Seo Dong-won) office unannounced and demanding a session right that moment. Doctor Kim is convinced by the thick stack of cash Kang-woo offers him, but he’s a bit nonplussed by Kang-woo’s problem.
He notes the faceless girl that Kang-woo is sketching again, but Kang-woo says he doesn’t know who she is, he just subconsciously draws her. Doctor Kim decides that Kang-woo needs to confront the cause of his trauma-related irritable bowel syndrome by facing his bullies head-on.
That evening, Seo-yeon and Mi-kyung attend their reunion, though they have no interest in their old classmates, they’re just there for the food. It’s no surprise that Kang-woo shows up, having been in their class, though HW doesn’t show because he thought Kang-woo wasn’t going.
Kang-woo heads inside anyway, determined to confront his demons, and his looks draw the attention of the entire restaurant. Only Seo-yeon is unimpressed, but Mi-kyung refreshes her lipstick and goes to ask the gorgeous newcomer his name. When he tells her, she gapes that the infamous Butthole could have turned out so pretty.
He ends up at a table surrounded by admirers, very much enjoying the attention and adoration from his former bullies. But every time he tries to brag on himself, Seo-yeon bellows for more food, and Kang-woo gets increasingly agitated. Eventually he blows up, and he storms over to Seo-yeon’s table to ask her who she is.
Blinking up at him, Seo-yeon says bluntly, “I’m your first love.” Kang-woo connects the dots — this is the girl who, when he’d confessed to her, had snapped that she didn’t like him because he was fat and ugly. Suddenly he realizes that Seo-yeon is the source of all his insecurities, and the faceless girl he’s been drawing for all these years, as his tummy starts to gurgle loudly.
First of all, I don’t want to bring down what is about to be a very positive review of this hilarious new drama, but let me address something before I get started… you may have heard that actor Cha In-ha, who played Seo-yeon’s middle brother Won-seok, just passed away on December 3, 2019. I don’t want to bog down this recap with speculation and sadness, but I mention it because it’s a tragedy that should be recognized as such.
As for the show itself, I really liked this premiere episode. I laughed out loud throughout the entire hour — the bathroom humor isn’t really to my taste, but it doesn’t linger on it for long, and mostly I appreciate how the jokes just toed that line of funny without going over-the-top. Seo-yeon is an interesting case of a trope being turned around on itself, and I hope the show explores her prejudices a little beyond using them as a source of humor. People do tend to assume that good-looking people are nicer, smarter, and more talented than average or below-average people, but Seo-yeon’s experience with three gorgeous brothers has caused her to make the opposite judgments. She liked Jung-tae because he was average, then when he became handsome, his true colors showed. But instead of realizing that he was a jerk all along, Seo-yeon assumes that it’s the new face that made him that way. I predict that she’ll make the same assumptions about Kang-woo, who’s also had a dramatic transformation.
I really like Kang-woo’s character, too… he’s vain and a perfectionist, but you almost can’t blame him once you learn that he used to be horribly teased and bullied for his looks, so now he uses his attractiveness as a shield against the world. He’s as flawed as Seo-yeon, stuck in the past and unable to live a normal life because of the twisted values he’s adopted to make his disappointments in life look like conscious choices. There’s a lot of juicy psychological fodder to be mined from Seo-yeon and Kang-woo’s psyches, and again, I hope the show actually digs into that, because getting to the root of why people are how they are is one of my favorite things. If they show can balance out the humor with some real soul-searching within our leads, I think it could be a lot more than just a standard-fare rom-com.
But I’m also looking forward to more of the funny, which the interesting set-up between Seo-yeon and Kang-woo can definitely deliver. They’re both complete opposites of who they were in school — she now likes ugly men and hates handsome guys, and he’s no longer overweight and unattractive. Unfortunately, their turnarounds have put them in the same incompatible positions as they last time they saw each other. It should provide plenty of fuel for some hilarious misunderstandings, as Kang-woo assumes Seo-yeon will be blown away by his fancy new looks, while she keeps her distance precisely because he’s now good-looking.
Beyond that, I really love the ensemble characters, and I’m impressed how we got such a comprehensive feel for both Seo-yeon and Kang-woo’s family situations in just one episode. Seo-yeon’s brothers are adorable, and they each got a decent set-up, along with Kang-woo’s quirky, controlling family. Kang-woo and Seo-yeon both have a pretty solid yet entertaining best friend, who I’m very excited about, being a particular fan of both Kim Seul-gi and Heo Jung-min. I love the way the episode flew by at a smooth pace, letting each character breathe and tell their story and not lingering too long on any scene. It’s a good example of how, just because a drama is a rom-com, it can still be well-crafted and offer a pleasant, balanced watching experience. This, more than anything, makes me look forward to seeing more, and I hope People With Flaws lives up to its premiere and continues on this path to the end.
- Premiere Watch: People With Flaws, Chocolate
- Frolicking in pink fields with Oh Yeon-seo, Ahn Jae-hyun
- First look at teachers Kim Seul-gi, Goo Won in People With Flaws
- Oh Yeon-seo is out on the track field for People With Flaws
- People With Flaws holds script reading with Oh Yeon-seo, Ahn Jae-hyun
- Casting news for beauty-oriented rom-com People With Flaws