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Monthly Magazine Home: Episode 1

It’s a literal battle between the haves and the have-nots, as two very different people meet and find themselves on opposite ends of the property ownership divide. But a dramatic first encounter is obviously not the end for these two, and they find their lives entangled to a degree that dismays them both.

 
EPISODE 1: “A man who buys a house, a woman who lives in a house”

As we look across a city, in voiceover, YOO JA-SUNG (Kim Ji-suk) describes the disparity between the increase in salaries versus house prices in the city—always a losing proposition for the average worker. Rewind to three years ago and we see him buying out an entire neighborhood of town homes, as he narrates that to him, houses represent one thing: Money. What a peach.

We see the town boom as it grows up until the present, property prices having tripled—and of course Ja-sung is the king of this very shiny hill. As well as the force behind the eviction of NA YOUNG-WON (Jung So-min), who was traveling and never got the message that the property was sold.

She’s refusing to leave, despite suited men trying to physically force her to, when Ja-sung shows up and takes her to lunch. As she tells Ja-sung over lunch, she was renting a house whose owner defaulted on their mortgage and was auctioned off—and Young-won, taken by surprise, has nowhere to go.

She’s lost her rental deposit and her job, since she returned home today to find that the magazine she works for is shutting down. She asks Ja-sung for some time until she can get another job and a place to live.

Feeling assured that he understands, she cheerfully follows him back to the house—only to find that Ja-sung’s men have emptied out her stuff onto a truck while they were at the restaurant. She feels betrayed, but he says he only agreed to talk. He tells her to take the cost of the food as her moving fee.

In a total rage, she beats him up with her takeout bag of boiled pork. Good girl. Nightfall finds her still stuck on the side of the road with the moving truck, with no destination.

In the morning she finds her way to cheap, broken down apartment that looks barely livable—but she tells herself not to lose heart, completely transforms the place, and starts to ask around about work.

Three months pass, without a single job prospect. And then, her sunbae YEO EUI-JOO (Chae Jung-ahn) recommends her for an interview at Monthly Magazine Home, and she gets in easily.

Editor in Chief CHOI GO (Kim Won-hae) introduces her to the others: Eui-joo’s fellow editor NAM SANG-SOON (Ahn Chang-hwan), and assistants MI-RA (Lee Hwa-kyum) and JOO-HWI (Lee Ji-won). She’s just settling in when she hear’s Ja-sung’s signature, “Stop.” He’s the CEO. Of course he is.

Editor Choi introduces her, and she mumbles her name, cringing away from him—but he doesn’t recognize her. Eui-joo tells Young-won that he’s their new CEO; he owns a real estate investment company worth tens of billions, and makes vlogs.

Young-won soon finds out that she was hired as Ja-sung’s exclusive editor, and her job is to write articles to market the houses he’s putting up for sale. He takes her to the first one, a fancy mansion, but she makes a gaffe due to her lack of real estate knowledge in front of the homeowner. Ja-sung warns that she’d better study up and write a good article, or she’s fired.

Eui-joo tells Young-won that the last five hires quit because they didn’t want to write advertisements for Ja-sung’s properties—and now it makes sense how easily she got the job. They needed someone desperate enough to sacrifice her pride, and Young-won, though it stings, needs the money.

Ja-sung takes Young-won to a photo shoot for the house she’s writing up, except that he has to track down prodigy photographer SHIN GYEOM (Jung Geon-joo) first and force him to join. Ja-sung chases him close to Young-won and tells her to grab him, and she tries—only to trip and collide with him instead. Ja-sung warns Gyeom that he’d better start working as he promised.

Young-won goes to Gyeom’s studio to select photos, and then as she helps him unpack, learns that Ja-sung used to be his tutor—they’re as close as real brothers.

The magazine office is tense as they approach deadline. Even worse, Ja-sung rejects draft after draft of Young-won’s article because it has too much humanity and not enough commercialism. Can I just say that my soul is wilting along with her.

The others are worried she’ll quit, but Eui-joo assures them she won’t. Young-won has endured all kinds of humiliation and even physical pain in the past, always with a smile for her awful superiors, until she finally made to editor through sheer grit.

Young-won stays late at the office finishing, but Ja-sung unexpectedly returns while she’s in full relaxed mode with her bun and glasses. She hides, worried he’ll recognize her, but he sees her anyway—and this time recognizes her immediately as “Boiled Pork.”

She forces out an apology and pleads for him not to fire her. And besides, she points out, it’s not as though he can easily find a replacement now that everyone knows what a bastard he is.

He spitefully calls her Na Zero-won and tells her to go home. She worries he might actually fire her, but he grudgingly approves her draft.

The magazine comes out, but Young-won’s not exactly excited to see her byline. That evening Ja-sung agrees to a company dinner so Editor Go will stop bugging him about it, but imposes a one-drink, two hour limit on the gathering.

In a quiet moment, Young-won asks Ja-sung if the homeowner liked the article she wrote, and he agrees that the article he dictated was good. “Don’t write what you want from now on. Write what tell you,” he tells her. Ugh, can someone just give him a nice hard slap upside the head?

Back at the table, Young-won finishes her beer and asks for another, telling Ja-sung she’ll pay for herself from here on. “Do what you want, Na Zero-won,” says Ja-sung, and Editor Go laughs, though Eui-joo stands up for her.

Young-won ends up totally wasted, and since Ja-sung’s the only one who didn’t drink, her co-workers leave Young-won for him to drive home. Young-won gets out of his car, insisting she’ll take a taxi…only to return and treat him like a cab driver.

She comes to her senses and gets out near her place, embarrassed, but soon sees a man following her in the empty street, and trembles in fear until she realizes he’s her neighbor.

Relieved, she goes into her home—but this time there really is a man waiting to attack her. Oh no. He pulls a knife on her, when suddenly Ja-sung appears and subdues him.

At the police station, the man’s mother—Young-won’s landlady—defends her son as just “wanting to look in on a tenant.” Puke. Ja-sung points out that’s trespassing, with a weapon to boot, but the woman tells Young-won to get out. Young-won retorts that she has no intention of staying anyway.

Ja-sung returns her phone, which she’d dropped in his car (which is why he followed her) and says he’ll drive her somewhere she can stay temporarily. “And then what?” she asks. “Will a comfortable home just appear?”

Young-won finally breaks down, crying that she’s done nothing but work hard for the last ten years, and yet she hasn’t gotten anywhere. There are so many houses out there, but she still doesn’t have a home of her own. Ja-sung silently takes her to one of his empty apartments and tells her he’ll charge rent but not a deposit.

The rest of the magazine staff are still drinking, and they wonder how Young-won’s survived until now. Mi-ra, who’s a big fan of Young-won’s, says it’s all in her Single Household Living series.

We hear the secret in Young-won’s voiceover: her home was her refuge at the end of the day, where she sought comfort and relieved her stress. “Although I didn’t own it, because I had a place where I could be myself, I was able to hold on all this time.”

She has confidence she can do the same in this new apartment, and wonders how extravagant Ja-sung’s home must be if he can easily rent a place like this to her with no deposit. But we see Ja-sung go home to a spacious but completely bare apartment.

Meanwhile, someone tries to enter Young-won’s new place as she’s in the middle of watching Ja-sung’s vlog. A comment under the video warns, “Don’t be fooled by this bastard.”

 
COMMENTS

I’m so glad to see Kim Ji-suk back on my screen, although his character is fully terrible right now and will have a hard road to hoe his way into my good graces. And Jung So-min is always wonderful. I found this first episode, entertaining though it was, so full of old-fashioned tropes that I was rolling my eyes a bit. A heroine so poor she’s literally homeless; a hero who not only was instrumental in kicking her out of her home but now is her boss and her landlord. Like the male leads of yore, Ja-sung spent almost the entire first episode tricking her, humiliating her, ridiculing her and threatening to fire her. Not to mention that he miraculously swooped in to save her from that attack in a very old-school alpha kind of way. I’ve honestly lost a lot of my taste for these gigantic power gap romances in recent years, but Kim Ji-suk and Jung So-min are charismatic enough, and so far have a good enough spark of chemistry, that I’m willing to bite.

I do like that this drama directly tackles the topic of housing insecurity and scarcity that’s facing not only urban Koreans but so many people who live in rapidly gentrifying cities across the world. In real life, a predatory house flipper who gleefully uses the law to evict people and increase his gross piles of money with no care for any homelessness he might be contributing to would the villain, not the male lead—but I suppose we’ll set that aside for now and accept that the premise of the drama is Ja-sung’s development into a slightly less cold-blooded person. There’s also the backstory about his humble beginnings and that weirdly empty apartment that hint at something more complex. (Grasping at straws here, okay.)

The heart of this drama so far, though, is Young-won in all her misery and sheer downtrodden bloody-minded determination to survive. (Presumably part of that is the family she’s been financially supporting since she first started working.) She put up with so much to claw her way to a job where she had a creative voice and a modicum of respect, only to lose it all and face the professional nightmare of writing recycled commercial dreck at the behest of a boss who doesn’t acknowledge her talent or her efforts. I was cringing in secondhand embarrassment when Ja-sung called her Na Zero-won in front of her co-workers. No wonder she drank so much.

Casually giving her one of his spare apartments to rent without a deposit is not nearly enough to make up for anything he’s done to her so far. And it’s yet another way that she’s now become dependent on him. But Young-won is tough and, as Eui-joo pointed out, has survived far worse—I’m sure she’ll find a sneaky way to get back at him. I don’t love that the drama has thrown every misfortune but the kitchen sink at Young-won over the course of the first hour to show us how energizer-bunny-like she is, but it does mean that we got to see more aspects of her character than the so-far one-dimensional Ja-sung.

Apart from Eui-joo, who seems like a decent (if sometimes too blunt) friend, I’m not sure how to feel about the other Monthly Magazine Home staff quite yet. They seem friendly, but they’re also fine leaving their new, very drunk female coworker for their unpleasant CEO to deal with. They acknowledge her talent and grit, but they also pretty openly pity her. But we don’t know much about anyone yet, and so far the drama has been so busy setting up this workplace dynamic, and especially the antagonism between its leads, that we haven’t gotten a chance to get to know anyone but Young-won and Ja-sung.

It seems as though one this drama’s themes will be about what a home means to different people. Not just the basic dichotomy of living vs. selling in Young-won and Ja-sung’s conflict, but why it’s so important to have a place to go home to at the end of the day. For Young-won, it’s a place where she can let out all the rage and frustration of her job, because she lives alone and doesn’t have to worry about keeping up appearances in front of anyone—not her coworkers, who she has to be professional with, and not her mother, who she never shares her problems with. (I would have done more than just shout curse words into a mirror if someone CUT OFF ALL MY HAIR for a job I didn’t even end up doing.) Having a home is a basic right of life that’s denied to so many. I’m not under any illusions that this fluffy rom-com is going to address the real problem of homelessness, but there’s a hint of melancholy in this drama’s more contemplative moments that I like a lot. (Much better than Young-won’s forced eviction being played for laughs, that’s for sure.)

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I loved this first episode and not just because I love Jung So-min. In fact I like both of our lead characters.

I can actually see how our two lead characters fit. They share much more than you might think. Our female lead is far from helpless even if circumstances made her momentarily homeless and jobless. She had to give everything she had to get where she did- but materially it came to naught. But she is in fact very good at what she does, even so.

Kim Ji-suk' s character is no Chaebol Heir either. He too had to scrap, scrimp and fight to get where he is. He never lets his eye off the bottom line. What is unnecessary is never even purchased- his home is nearly empty and not intended a a permanent dwelling- for the right price he will sell it in a heartbeat. He is a true self-made man and he too has paid a huge price for that. In short- he has made money but he too has gotten no-where in life. Is it really even material success if you do not even own a couch?

Yes, it was kind of him to rent her a place but I think the response was even deeper. Subconsciously he recognizes a kindred soul. These two are very different in many ways and yet they are also alike.

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Maybe I'm too pessimistic because I don't think KJS's character rented the apartment out of the goodness of his heart. I think he has an angle. At this point in the drama, he's too calculated for it to be anything else.

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You half-way got my point. No this was not a kind man doing an act of charity. But on the other hand, I do not believe that there is an angle in the sense of a scheme.

The truth is actually deeper- so deep that if you were to ask him he would honestly not know the answer himself and would not be able to do more than offer same lame excuse about her being able to concentrate on her work now (and he does plan to collect rent after all- this is not a freebie and the apartment was empty- and some return on an asset is better than no return on an asset). What has really happened here is a subconscious response, not a conscious plan.

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I understand your point, but right now, I also think it was mostly a calculated move to rent a property that could not be rented, and for a long time. There was a short sequence with the guard at the apartment building commenting “how could anyone live where that happened…” That being unspecified at this point.

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I must have missed the comment by the guard.

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@oldawyer

My error. Next episode.

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Based off the first two episodes, I’d say this is a show where the charm and brilliance of the actors brings the characters to life - especially character traits that have been recycled throughout the history of dramaland. (In comparison, My Roommate is a Gumiho contrastingly is a drama where the larger than life characters have been embodied by actors giving disappointingly underwhelming performances thus far, in my opinion, but that’s a different story for another post…) All that to say, JSM & KJS are fabulous as usual and give the somewhat cliched scenes gravitas and pull and is what makes this show worthwhile. No matter what character Jung So-min plays, I can’t help but root for her!

The comedic moments are actually real funny (“face stamp”! Lol) especially in its singular moments that make for great short clips on social media, but I’d like to see the humor blending more seamlessly into the whole narrative in the future as it feels a bit bumpy so far.

I find that the actors themselves are naturally quite humorous in real life after watching the behind the scenes clips and their appearances on variety shows - this is especially true for Kim Ji-suk (he has good comedic chops & seems the perfect MC material if he ever needs a side job!), and think that they should’ve just created a show based off of their natural offscreen chemistry and fun personalities! :)

But I can definitively say that this is loads better than “Soul Mechanic/Fix You” thus far so I’m optimistic and looking forward to next week’s episodes!

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SOUL MECHANIC was an absolute waste of Jung So-min's talent.

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The first two episodes felt familiar but not in a good way. The eviction scene felt very reminiscent to the first apartment scene in 'Because This Life Is My First' and it didn't help that the apartment complex looked identical. Jung So-Min is a writer again and she was assault while transitioning into an apartment... And, there were several other similarities too. I hardcore loved BTLIMF and am always down for a co-habitation drama. Like ALWAYS down for a co-habitation drama but nothing really felt fresh here. I want this drama to work and I will hold on because I expect Monthly to be great. I'm just not looking for a carbon-copy of something done several times over.

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popping up to say that I love it based on the first 2 eps.

yes, the trope galores made me rolling my eyes for several times. however, I really like:
1. the actors and their potrayal of their characters (aside from the OTP, the 3 main coworkers did a good job too, they're growing on me).
[note: I'm glad that the 2nd ep gave me a clearer narrative of the hero's POV on his action in ep 1 where he almost like kicking out the heroine from her house]
2. the animation for the drama opening (so cute)
3. stint of social commentary on housing deficiency among late 20s regular workers
oh, I'm so feeling it!

hence, looking forward to the 2nd week eps!

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After rewatching the first episode, I actually appreciated the show a lot more in its ability to balance the realism with the silly.

Given that I’m around the same age as Na Yong-won & facing the same housing issues as her (minus the eviction), her monologue while crying outside of the police station really hit it home for me & made me teary-eyed because oftentimes in life you try your damn best everyday and just want to go home to relax and be yourself, but some people don’t even have the luxury of having a stable roof over their heads.
I think a lot of younger viewers will be like “oh, what’s the big deal?”, but with the way the economy is barreling downhills nowadays, you just wait and see….you’ll understand what Yong-won is griping about in a few years! (That is unless you’re lucky enough to smooch/live under your parents house until you marry or get a full time, high paying job right off the bat after graduating college! Sounds easier said than done - trust me.)

The above coupled with some random rodent-under-the-ramen-pot shenanigans thrown in the mix and I’m lovin’ this drama so far!

I know I said this before, but JSM is just such a natural actress that it deserves heaps more praises. So many other actors try so hard to be funny that I swear to god you can see the literal wheels turning in their heads as they try to plan every minute facial feature that they want to make in front of the camera ahead of time. But with JSM, it seems completely effortless. She’s such a joy to watch onscreen!

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I agree about the fact we got a lot of typical old tropes. I can accept the cold ML if he is professional. But in this case, using such a surname on his employee was really not nice and very unprofessional.

When FLs will learn not to drink too much at a work gathering?

I like the theme of home and I'm excited to see how they will develop it.

I like both actors and I'm sure we just got the traditionnal introduction but the rest will be better.

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First episode was full of horrible k-drama trope - awful, heartless, borderline cruel male lead and downtrodden, helpless female lead.
It was quite difficult to watch, but drama hints that it will deal with very real life problem - lack of affordable housing and burden , suffering it brings to ordinary people.
It also raises questions about meaning of home. Is it just an investment as ML states it or Is it your own domain , a place where you can be yourself without any fear.

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This drama #monthlymagazinehome is worth watching for, as you will LAUGH, CRY, LEARN and REALIZE that there is something important in life. I wish youngsters will watch this drama as this has a lot more to offer to the viewers. Aside from the funny moments that we are always looking for in a drama, there are so much lessons to learn like the importance of money saving while we are still young so we can avoid misfortunes in life. No one would like to be poor that cannot even buy the basic needs of being a human esp a home. Thus we need to save even the smallest amount like that of ATM bank charge, etc...

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Already watched the whole premiere. Won't say I loved it, but I don't hate it.
I also didn't like she is now so dependent of him, or that he is such a jerk, but well... there is room for improvement.
Colleagues are most of the time gossip, or useless and their dialogues are boring (at least for me), but... at least they are not rude or trying to make her fail. On the contrary, they seem to respect her a little bit, and I am sure they will turn supportive, even though they pity her or abandoned her with meanie boss.
On the other hand:
I also want to comment about the theme of owning, buying or selling a house.
I felt identified with Jung So min's character a lot, although as an adult I haven't been left homeless yet (it could still happens), I have bitter and sad and even tragic memories as a child being evicted with my mother and siblings, because my mother never paid the rent (she also never worked), and of course we have never ever owned a house, because we were (sadly still are) very poor. My dad basically abandoned us, so there you go. I know by heart what it is to have to move so many times that you forget how in how many places you have lived. I also bought my first bed ever, with decent mattress barely four years ago. I don't say this so that you guys will pity me too, it is just to share how much I feel this show tells part of my story, except that I am not that pretty as Jung So min 😅
Anyway...
I also feel paying a mortgage for a house is almost impossible, and if it's bad for a girl in her thirties, like her, how worse could that be for a girl starting her forties like me? I don't have any hope in this system to own a house, nor I will have anybody to inherit it because I don't have children nor will I have ever.
Of course I wish I never had to pay more rent, and I wish I wouldn't have to feel weary about becoming old, but with my health I suppose I am simply kind of sure I will die young.
I feel the system is too much evil, for poor people to be able to buy a house, not only me, because I had very irresponsible parents, but also many other people in the world.
This is a sad story, but I know it is not unique. I have friends already in their 50's and they don't even have a decent room where they can sleep, or they are paying for their children, so that they survive, or they are looking ways to migrate to a better country, where most likely they will work cleaning places. At least I still have the hope to get a better job and live in a decent small place before I die, but my friends... they have it really hard.
Even in different countries, the situations are all the same. 😖

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There's a lot about this ep that drove me crazy, and a lot that gives me hope for where it will go.

As many have said, the ML is twitch worthy on many fronts in this ep. They could have made the ML a hard liner on money matters, but not quite so jerky personality as they did. It seems like they only made him so outrageous as an excuse for the gossip to explain the FL struggles and why she won't quit the job no matter how much of a jerk the ML is. Is the gossip better than the alternative of flashbacks? In my opinion, no. I'll touch more on this in the ep 2 recap.

As someone that has also spent a fair portion of my life trying to deal with income and housing uncertainty (partly due to health issues in a country where health care is hard to come by and even harder to pay for) it did echo memories I have lived through myself. I too have put up with craptastic bosses just to keep a roof over my head.

Because it's a Kdrama with the lighter comedy tone, some day she too, like me, will likely finally have her forever home. I just hope watching her path there is not as painfully deliberate as this first ep. More Rom Com antics and less insane weird circumstantial character building please! (The landlady's son thing was just...where's a good ol' TV brick when you need one?)

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dangit...how did I miss that..

"partly due to health issues in a country where good health care is hard to come by and even harder to pay for"

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Are you from the U.S.? Because that one line basically describes our health care situation here...if you can even call it "care"....more like "good-luck-fending-for-yourself-in-this-thousand-dollar-ambulance-ride-that-you--can't-afford!"

That rant could go on forever...but to get back on-topic...I agree I would love this drama so much more if the ML was written much more differently (I touched on this in the ep 2 comments), but I also do like how relatable the FL's struggles with housing are. Even if the writer hadn't made her suffer through 500 horrible things in one day, I still would've related to her because I've been through the exact same employment and housing issues as her during that age when no else really sympathizes with you and just expects you to try harder the next day.

I would actually be okay if the FL never found or bought a home at the end of the drama, because that to me would also be realistic (I definitely don't see myself buying/affording a house in the near future), as I think if she found any type of dwelling that symbolizes and embodies a home for her that would be good enough - whether that be in a studio, tent, rooming with the ML, etc. - any place that she can find comfort in.

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Yep, U.S. resident here.

I'd also be ok if she doesn't buy a home too, but I'm bracing myself for this ending up feeling like a weird new Candy trope twist where she marries the boss and he finally lets an investment be an actual home with stuff inside that holds meaning.

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Oh, and I meant to add, I totally get the anger at the entire system of health case. Got a tetanus booster two years ago, and my insurer denied coverage because "you didn't have a rusty nail in your foot or anything like that to really -need- it". 😔 The ENTIRE POINT of keeping up with boosters is because once you contract tetanus, there is no cure--you have to just suffer through and hope for the best. And since I do a lot of DIY home and garden stuff, I could catch it from any number of ways. Nope, no preventative CDC recommended health care for me.

And then there was the X-ray billing insanity once...nope...better just stop here.

Yeah...I could rant about American health care for way too long.

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Oh, yes, a great example of how the health "care" here really is meant to do everything but prevent you from being healthy. Sometimes I'm convinced that the frustration with dealing with insurance companies and the hours spent on the phone with them could induce more heart attacks than eating Big Macs for a decade would. I have had major anger management issues akin to Jung Woo's character in "Mad For Each Other" after dealing with insurance companies on the phone. Whenever I see Blue Cross Blue Shield or Aetna ads, I shudder & swear at the TV.

Back to the drama - the ending you described is actually exactly how I think things will go. The CEO will finally find a home with Na Young-won, and she'll teach him to buy new furniture that will make it a real, comfy home that they can both settle in, etc etc...a bit cliched but as long as they give me some good laughs on the way to getting to that point, I'm all for it. I'm just hoping for a breezy, easy watch from this drama and it's delivering thus far...

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@chungkingpineapples A friend once described American health care for the 80% as "Just enough to make more babies and keep the labor pool alive a bit longer."

Back to the show...I'm actually SUPER relieved with one reveal I won't call out because this is recap for ep. 1. I'll try to find time soon to remark on it in the appropriate thread.

I'm all for any breezy, easy shows right now. Real life is crazy enough. I think it's safe to say we're all a bit tired of living in interesting times. 😅

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Its odd, it feels like Jung So-min is in a role that was originally written for Hyeri. I'm not complaining, Ms. Jung is the only reason why I'm watching this drama.

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I have no deep insight to add, only - how ugly was the brown suit he was wearing for the last section? It distracted me every time I saw it.

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