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Mine: Episodes 1-2 (Review)

tvN’s mysterious chaebol drama Mine has premiered, and remains just as mysterious even after its first two episodes. The story is both well-drawn and well-told, but there’s a bit of opacity to everything about it. You get the feeling that you don’t know what’s really going on under the surface, even in the drama’s most blatant moments.

Note: This is an opening week review only.

 
EPISODES 1-2 REVIEW

The opening sequence of Mine just might be the strangest thing about it so far. It features super stylistic editing, and a nun who we’ll later know as Mother Emma (Yeh Soo-jung) yelling about a bloody scene she’s just stumbled onto. For a second I felt like I was watching a Darren Aronofsky film, and not a K-drama, but things level out (well, relatively) when we back up 60 days and meet the chaebol family that’s at the center of this story.

The family that owns Hyowon Group is nothing if not the 1%. They live the most privileged life you can imagine, and the drama shows us pretty quickly what this looks like. A family estate with several architectural mansions, expansive property with peacocks in gilded cages, and a family dinner that’s as opulent as the Met Gala, with a team of dozens creating a dinner party for the parents and the three couples that live there.

Their lifestyle compares to the pomp we see in Penthouse — but the tone is radically different. Think Penthouse with the lid on, an almost Hitchcock-esque element of suspense, and a convoluted and complicated hierarchy, not only within the family, but among everyone that lives and works there.

The family is more than wealthy and privileged and powerful, though — they’re also all pretty miserable. Whether we see that in how they treat each other, or how they behave, or even more so, what they reveal when the mask is down and no one is watching them — the drama doesn’t hold back from showing us that this life of privilege can also be a prison.

The one breath of fresh air in this rather suffocating household is SEO HEE-SOO (Lee Bo-young), who seems the closest to a reliable narrator that we’re going to get. She’s a retired actress that’s been married into the family for six years, and she knows its imposing power quite well. She also knows when she can push the edges of that line, and she does, when she can. One example of this is insisting she will not send her son to boarding school as is the family’s tradition.

Hee-soo married HAN JI-YONG (Lee Hyun-wook) for love, and not even knowing he was chaebol at the time. Her retelling and the quick flashback to their London meeting are quite cute — and really, what we see of them in present-day is also cute. Ji-yong is always smiling at her and attentive, he seems to respect her will, and they seem to be decent parents.

However, “seems” is definitely the hinge pin of this drama — because nothing is as it first seems. The drama is very skillful with holding back information, so rather than a quick succession of reveals, we just have this sense of uneasiness that something is wrong even though it looks right. This goes not only for Hee-soo and Ji-yong’s marriage, but the drama as a whole.

It’s quite a good bit of directing, actually, to smother us with this tone and string us along as we try to see under the surface. And indeed, it’s that element that keeps us watching, even while the drama moves pretty slowly.

Our other heroine is JUNG SEO-HYUN (Kim Seo-hyung), a woman who was already born into a chaebol family, and married into Hyowon Group. She’s married to the family’s oldest son, who’s a rather pathetic sort of scoundrel.

Seo-hyun is the one that keeps the facade of their marriage going, keeps the press out of the family’s affairs (literal and figurative), and is the calm and almost severe woman we would expect to be able to do that. But she too has secrets, and the drama does such a great job of cracking open metaphorical doors to show us just enough, and to confirm not to trust what “seems” to be true.

There are many more characters that play an important part in Hyowon Group, from the Chairman who’s still in love with his deceased mistress, to his wife, who’s brash, greedy, and miserable. Their daughter is not much different than her mother, and between the two of them, there’s more tantrums and fits of violence than you might think grown women are capable of. Never mind ones that are supposed to be from the upper crust. But again, that’s rather the point. Our characters act polished and together, but behind closed doors, it’s anything but that.

Another interesting character in the family is Seo-hyun’s son, HAN SOO-HYUK (Cha Hak-yeon, A.K.A. N from VIXX). He’s been educated abroad according to the family’s tradition, and when he comes back under the family’s roof, we see that he’s no better off than his other family members. Still, there’s something about him that seems like he might be a live wire underneath the suffocating pressure of his family, and his interest in the family’s new maid is definitely my favorite storyline.

Although we learn from the drama’s opening that there are two months of action to play out before we reach the violence we’ve gotten warned about, the point where the story opens is when everything gets set into motion. It’s excellently portrayed, this idea that new characters and who they interact with, and the smallest of reveals and insights, can start off a chain reaction that affects each member of this family.

For Hee-soo it’s the hiring of a new “tutor” for her son, who is suspicion level ten, and the drama’s biggest shortfall when it comes to its otherwise pretty subtle storytelling. The tutor is KANG JA-KYUNG (Ok Ja-yeon), and she lurks, creeps, spies, tries on Hee-soo’s clothes, and worse. Surely, there is some bad stuff about to unfold with this woman.

Hee-soo’s storyline gets piqued by the tutor, and for Seo-hyun, it’s finding out that the head maid had some footage of her on her phone that not only reveals well-kept secrets from her past, but could basically destroy her family in a few minutes flat.

The storytelling in Mine is pretty compelling, and again, this is mostly because of how it makes us feel, and not really what happens. It’s far less melo than I was expecting, and far more suspenseful and eerie — without actually being eerie, if that makes sense. Indeed, Mine does such a good job because it’s buttoned up, and because we’re in a world where appearances are everything, rules are strict, and every player is ruthless.

Despite enjoying the premiere week, and especially the drama’s tone and excellent direction, I can’t say I particularly like or trust any of the characters (except maybe Hee-soo, but she’s primed for a world of hurt heading her way). And in order to get behind the mayhem that’s going to be unleashed, I’m going to need a character (or maybe characters?) that I can get behind.

Currently, there isn’t much favorable light shed on the family members, and there’s a heck of a lot of foreshadowing, so it’s hard to anticipate who’s going to be at war with whom, or allied with whom, and if there’s anyone we can truly root for. That being said, if we’re looking at Hee-soo and Seo-hyun giving up their social niceties and joining forces to truly protect themselves and each other — please, Show! — then that’s a drama I can get behind.

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I watched the first episode and I wasn't convinced. I'm kinda tired by the dramas about outrageous rich people who deserved everything that happened to them...

Lee Bo-young looks gorgeous by the way.

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"Their daughter is not much different than her mother, and between the two of them, there’s more tantrums and fits of violence than you might think grown women are capable of. Never mind ones that are supposed to be from the upper crust."

If makjang dramas have taught me anything it's that there is no end to the tantrums and fits of violence that characters are capable of, especially the upper crest.

The episodes were well done, the clothes and set nice to look at, but I wasn't engaged by the characters or storylines.

Overall the plot was pretty predictable. These kind of dramas really love starting with a dead body. The anvils that the creepy tutor is really the "dead" mother of Hee-soo's son, back to claim what's hers, were pretty huge. The eldest grandson and maid are bound to start a "secret" romance. I was surprised by the Seo-hyun reveal, which earned the drama another week.

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These kind of dramas really love starting with a dead body.

Kaboom. It actually reminded me of Lady In Dignity which also opens with a dead body + both shows have other similar elements so I went and checked out the writer. Lo and behold, it's the same writer! Baek Mi Kyung.

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Do peacock in the cage represent Hee-soo and Seo-hyun? Those two are most compelling characters in the show , rest of them are standard rich K-drama chaebol family who deserve whats coming to them.

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I tried the first episode and just noped right out. I have seen it and in a more exciting way. As soon as she didn't fire the crazy nanny( Ok Ja Yeon, playing crazy again), I sighed and said not today or any other day. lol. It is too bad because I was looking forward to this.

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The nanny character really did not fit the drama’s tone. The idea she’s still there after being caught trying on HS’s dress is just absurd. I have to wonder if the creative team has a worthwhile reason for what and how they’ve shown us? I can’t think of one, but ...

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I was so looking forward to this but after I saw Lee Bo-young didn't fire that crazy tutor right there, just like what @kafiyah-bello said, I was like uh no...
Why would you want to keep that kind of employee in the house...?
And I kept thinking Ok Ja-Yeon is a level 2? level 3? Is she going to make peanut butter shake for the boy...? (The Uncanny Counter)

I love Park Won-Suk (mother-in-law). She is always fantastic.

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Exactly! You see her being a creep and prancing in your clothes, you fire her!

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Horse riding... Hee-soo's husband and Tutor Kang, ouch, or have I been too scarred by Love (ft Marriage and Divorce)?

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this is so weird and convoluted... i think i like it.
: D

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I loved what Hee-soo was wearing :)

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If this is a makjang with the two sisters in law fighting alongside each other and not against, that will be the one thing distinguishing it from the flood of makjang shows we have been getting and I would love to see how it plays out.

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One thing that immediately stands out in this show is the set. It just fits the story being introduced. Particularly, the houses. The homes are luxurious, but are heavy with mystery.

As expected, the leading ladies did not disappoint. And in a surprise, episode 2 gave us an unexpected reveal. Let's see where they go with that detail.

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The costumes here are intriguing; the colors are all so bold.

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I'll definitely keep watching. I want to see where it goes.

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This is moving too slow compared to my spoiled Penthouse ass. I can not understand how Hee Soo could keep the nanny after the frikkin’ incident?!?!??? 1% of Korea and it’s THAT HARD TO FIND A TUTOR?! Can not believe in that. Such an out of character move!

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I'm just thrilled for Lee Bo-Young (and us) that she gets to wear all the gorgeous/expensive outfits this time around. The last show, she had to wear flimsy clothes, old sneakers and endure broken heels, although she still looked great in it.

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It’s beautiful, in such an overwhelming way. There must be heavy symbolism with all the looooong hallways, loooooong entryways and so much stone. And the giant seashell-ish window. I always have to laugh when chaebol are pictured living in what are clearly commercial properties, or houses designed on the Las Vegas scale. I really had to laugh at the arched alcoves closet/dressing area where the clothes are displayed like a museum, which is bigger than my entire house.

The tutor story feels like it’s beating us over the head already so that’s boring. I like our FLs and am a bit intrigued about what happens next so I’ll keep watching despite the oppressive feeling this drama gives me. Btw, Mother Emma is carrying an Hermès handbag, I assume that indicates that she was once a chaebol girl herself 😉

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I watched the first 3 episodes back to back and I have to say it seems to be an interesting story on the surface, just plainly by how it is setup, but it is kinda boring and slow paced overall. So far the most interesting character is Mother Emma, the nun who carries around a Hermes handbag and seems to know a lot of the family's secretsl! Some secrets are kinda revealed already, I mean its obvious that Ha-Joon's Tutor is his real birth mother which kinda explains her strange behaviour. Seo-hyun seems to have had a lesbian affair in her younger days which she cannot let go of and in order to conceal this she married the eldest son of the family even though its clear that she cannot stand him. Lee Bo-young as Hee-Soo is brilliant, I'm rooting for her and hope she comes out on top as her world comes crashing down.

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This is the same screenwriter who wrote 'Melting Me Softly'. I got the impression (based on no actual info) that she was probably a 'hired gun' screenwriter brought in to write a script for an impossible premise under a terrible director. so it wasm't entirely her fault.

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Love this drama so far, even though I have yet to have any empathy for any character (maybe for Hi-soo a little) , very interesting has never happened to me before.

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