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Cafe Minamdang: Episodes 1-2

Things are off to a quick start in the endearingly quirky world of Cafe Minamdang. As an allegedly omniscient shaman continues to gain popularity by solving criminal cases, an up-and-coming detective relentlessly pursues every suspicious lead she can, and we happily bear witness to a whole lot of hilarious shenanigans.

 
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP

We first meet our suave swindling shaman NAM HAN-JUN (Seo In-gook) showing off his “spiritual” abilities at MK Hotel’s open recruitment, “reading” the candidates through a TV screen while jumping around chairs.

Despite his eccentricity, MK Hotel CEO LEE MIN-GYEONG (Hwang Woo-seul-hye) absolutely trusts him, even allowing him to barge in and conduct a shaman ceremony, complete with a huge fan and brass bells. After “sensing” a vengeful spirit, Han-jun zeroes in on the MK Hotel president. It turns out the president is guilty of sexually assaulting a former secretary until she took her own life.

Everyone’s in awe of Han-jun’s skills, but behind his shamanism is a hardworking team. His younger sister NAM HYE-JUN (Kang Mina) is a genius hacker always gathering intelligence, while former detective GONG SU-CHEOL (Kwak Shi-yang) takes care of on-ground investigation. Finally, as a former profiler, Han-jun can fill in the blanks and paint a complete picture of their clients’ lives.

On regular days, Han-jun sees his clients at Cafe Minamdang, which is always filled to the brim with fans hoping to see him and people seeking his advice. Good thing they’ve got part-time employee JO NA-DAN (Baek Seo-hoo) helping out. He’s not as in the loop as the other two, but he does occasionally assist the crew with their schemes.

Despite their small size, the Minamdang crew has a lot of power. For example, they can easily monitor if someone is fleeing the country, like the MK Hotel president plans to do. Hye-jun tips off Daeun Police Team 7, and the recently appointed leader HAN JAE-HUI (Oh Yeon-seo) answers the call. She gives chase, fights off armed gangsters, and successfully apprehends the escaping criminal.

After being mistaken for a rookie, Jae-hui finally gets to introduce herself. Her much older teammates DETECTIVE JANG DOO-JIN (Jung Man-sik) and KIM SANG-HYEOP (Heo Jae-ho) recognize her as Han the Ghost, who became infamous for allegedly taking down a drug cartel without any weapon or back-up. While gossiping about their new leader, the team gets shocked — the first of many — as she sneaks up on them like, well, a ghost. Lol.

Back at Cafe Minamdang, Han-jun gets a call from hotel CEO Min-gyeong, who is worrying about the weird behavior of her husband, Chairman SHIN GYEONG-HO (Kim Won-shik). Han-jun assures his VVIP client he will “consult the spirits” — by which he really means he’ll watch CCTV and dash cam footage.

As the Minamdang crew retrace Gyeong-ho’s trail, they learn that he was driving drunk, crashed into a motorbike, and buried the man’s body. The crew searches for the hit-and-run victim’s body, and after getting scared of a “zombie” at a cemetery, they find him alive — but barely.

Jae-hui decides to take on the case. Detective Jang warns her to be careful since many eyes are on her, but she shows little care about the higher-ups who want her out. After uncovering Gyeong-ho’s involvement, Jae-hui learns this isn’t his first rodeo with the police. According to Detective Jang, Gyeong-ho has already been accused of murder before, but after some bribery, his case was ruled as an accident.

This just encourages Jae-hui to continue pursuing the investigation, so she enlists the help of prosecutor CHA DO-WON (Kwon Soo-hyun), a.k.a. the Chatterbox, to secure a warrant, and he easily agrees.

Unfortunately for Jae-hui, Han-jun is out to foil their plans to take care of his VVIP chaebol client and her husband. After accurately deducing the events of the first murder, Han-jun tells Gyeong-ho to follow his instructions if he wants to be saved.

Using the technicalities of the law, Han-jun renders Team 7’s hard evidence illegal and useless after rookie detective NA GWANG-TAE (Jung Ha-joon) received the dash cam footage just one minute earlier than the warrant’s arrival. Even through the screen, I can feel the frustration coming off Team 7, especially Jae-hui.

After getting his client out, Han-jun smiles mockingly at Jae-hui. Yet outside the police station, he berates Gyeong-ho, kicking his shins and ordering him to help his victims instead. Angry and frustrated, Jae-hui follows Han-jun out to confront him, asking him if he’s doing this for money. He simply replies: “Who doesn’t like money? Why can’t I live chasing my base desires?”

Disappointed, Jae-hui is losing hope in the current Han-jun. She remembers how a younger Jae-hui inspired her to be a cop who protects both civilians and criminals within the rules of law. She reminds him of his own words (with a judo throw just for good measure) and demands that he stop what he’s doing — or else. “I’d rather crush you myself than see you end up being arrested by someone else.”

Feeling guilty, Han-jun tosses and turns at night. He resolves to hand over Gyeong-ho to Jae-hui, petulantly justifying to himself that that was his plan in the first place! He brainstorms with Hye-jun and Su-cheol to use National Police Agency Internal Inspector JUNG CHEONG-GI (Kwon Hyuk) as bait to lure Gyeong-ho out.

The Minamdang crew recalls how they’ve already failed to intimidate Cheong-gi before. In a flashback, we see a bound and blindfolded Cheong-gi kneeling on train tracks. Han-jun and Su-cheol threaten to leave him to the train’s mercy if he doesn’t answer their questions. But despite their threats, Cheong-gi stays mum and even triumphantly cackles after realizing there’s no actual train. It was just Hye-jun and Na-dan simulating one. LOL.

That’s why, in the present, a disguised Hye-jun approaches Cheong-gi to offer a huge bribe if he follows CEO Min-gyeong’s orders, while the crew leaves the cafe to put the rest of their plan into motion.

Unbeknownst to them, Jae-hui breaks into the cafe, where she finds their collection of dossiers. According to the files, her older brother Han Jae-jeong is a victim and a former prosecutor who released arsonist Choi Yeong-seop (this name again!) and was eventually murdered by him. Previously, Jae-hui was also shown investigating Choi Yeong-seop’s case, which seems to be the same case that got Han-jun kicked off the force.

Jae-hui’s realizations come to a halt when the Minamdang crew return. Hiding in the closet, she ends up accidentally peeking at Han-jun changing clothes (which includes him wiggling in bright red boxers). When it seems like she’s about to get away, her phone suddenly starts ringing, alerting Han-jun to her presence. As he’s about to open the door, Jae-hui throws a towel at him — and we end with that cliffhanger.

Clearly there’s a lot that connects our two leads, and in our epilogues, we get even more hints — but both bring tragedy, albeit on different levels. In the first epilogue, Han-jun sobs in the middle of a house destroyed by fire, while Jae-hui tears up upon seeing a heavily burnt body being carried out.

The second epilogue deals with lighter but still painful events for the young Jae-hui, who experiences her first heartbreak after realizing Han-jun is already in a relationship. More questions arise when her brother Jae-jeong approaches her, calling her Jang-mi. Uhm, what? Keep us hanging, why don’t you…

Before starting this drama, I didn’t have a lot of expectations. I watched the trailer, found the sneak peek hilarious and Seo In-gook still handsome and charming, and promptly forgot about it until release day. Now, I’m pleasantly surprised as I found myself giggling throughout; I didn’t even notice the two hours passing by. Whenever Seo In-gook brings out the fan and the brass bells while chanting or laughing maniacally, he never fails to make me laugh. He’s overly confident and adorably ridiculous as Han-jun, and I love it.

I also enjoyed the imagery of Jae-hui as a ghost complete with all the blurred surroundings and eerie murmurs. Paired with shaman Han-jun, I feel like it could be some sort of foreshadowing of how she’ll continue to ~haunt~ him as their relationship develops further.

The part I wasn’t prepared to see was the assault/murder reenactment. I’m not sure it was entirely necessary, since all it did was show how quick Han-jun’s mind works — but the show already did that so many times before. Still, I’m eagerly waiting more episodes and honestly can’t believe I’m looking forward to Monday again so soon after Business Proposal ended. But Cafe Minamdang definitely has me hooked right now.

 
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Took me a while to get accustomed to the tone but I'm enjoying it so far! Hanjun is reminding me a little bit of Louis (from Shopping King Louis) and Jeongdo (from Taskforce 38) with an extra serving of eccentric. The only other things that stick to mind right now are how damn attractive SIG looked in his orange cleaning apron & bandana and just COLOUR - there's so much of it and it's so striking.

Being totally honest, this show didn't quite hook me in completely per se (the way that Alchemy and Link did) - I'm not super duper invested in the plot yet and there were times when the comedy didn't quite stick for me BUT I'm entertained and intrigued by this first week to keep watching!!

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Is it just me or all KBS2 show that licensed to Netflix has this shiny, colorful, high production quality (which is very unusual for KBS)?

Both this show and King's Affection has very bright and colorful and eye-popping art direction that almost feels like on par with Netflix original shows.

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I've always wondered, is it significant to have a four-character name in Korean? Seeing Hwang Woo-seul-hye in this recap reminded me of another actress (a newbie I believe, can't remember who it was or where I saw her) who also went by four characters in her name. From Wikipedia it looks like Hwang Woo-seul-hye is not her birth name though.

I know in China some people have compound surnames, and we don't usually have four-character names but I knew a girl who was born with one. I've rarely seen it for Korean names.

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I am not an expert but I rather doubt it- there are also people who have two character names as well.

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Korean doesn’t have characters but uses an alphabet so the linguistic unit is a syllable in case you are interested in knowing this😊

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I'm loving the concept (In Guk acting like a shaman is freaking hilarious) and I like the characters: leads, second lead, siblings, detectives, etc; they're fun.
I'm ready for the ride.

The only thing I didn't get is the age. How old are they supposed to be? The kid kept saying "oppa" but In Guk looked like an ahjussi besides her. She looked really young and opa really old, but there's the epilogue of them crying, and she looked older but he still didn't remember her. Why?
Don't understand why he doesn't remember her and why the age gap seems so big when it isn't (timeline).

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I really hope Jung Man-shik remains good and bubbly here.

It will take a while to settle into this one. Except for the intro sequence that I found wow!, the rest didn't really hook me in anymore. It wasn't bland, it was fun. The police sequence just made more laughs than the Cafe's.
And Seo In Gook looks extremely ridiculous when dancing his shaman tirades. How do you manage to maintain a straight face?

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I adored Jung Man shik in entertainer, so... glad to have him back here with another light character. 🎉🎊😁

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In the dramas I have seen him in Jung Man-sik usually plays a tough guy and he is great at that. One of those great kdrama character actors.
A few months ago I watched him in the excellent film ESCAPE FROM MOGADISHU (2021) (Viki US). I was kind of in shock because he was cast against type and played a wimpy consular officer in the SK Embassy in Sudan. He was terrific.

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I began to notice him in Undercover, and Bad and Crazy. And in both he was a baddie. An eeevil lackey. In Undercover he was a light character in ep 1 and kaboom!, he was actually evil. So here's me praying he remains lightweight cause I like his portrayal of Jang Doo-jin.

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Count me in on that.
O/T. Last night he showed up in episode 7 of INSIDER. Back to be a baddie lol.

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Thank you, @meryl, for the weecap! I find myself watching fantasy dramas nowadays. Just finished Park Hae-jin's shaman role in From Now, Showtime! and now, Link and Alchemy of Souls also have their own kind of magic, so what's another fantasy show for me? Cafe Minamdang brings in the comedy amidst the seriousness of the story. I'm hoping Han-jun with his law background will succeed in putting Mr. VVIP in jail.

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Thank you as well for tuning in with me @geminirat! :)

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I liked SIG in this role, he looked great in three-pieces suit! He's really perfect for this kind of role. The others members of the team are a little bit too cliché for now. I hope they will turn down a little bit.

For the FL, I was very surprised to see she was around 10 years younger than the ML... Oh Yeon-Seo looked older than SIG. They should have chose one of them, OYS or SIG, and then chose the second actor corresponding to the right age. I didn't think she needed extra powers to be a good a great cop. I mean the runnng and jumping everywhere was a little bit exaggerated.

For now, we got nothing about the past. How a detective ends up as a fake shaman?

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In reality, Oh Yeon-Seo and Seo In Gook are about the same age with OYS maybe being a bit older. I was a little surprised that the flash backs show an age difference for the characters.

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Yeah, I know. So it's why I didn't have any issue at the beginning. But then, they showed us the flashbacks and she was really younger. So it didn't work anymore.

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Yeah the age gap was glaring. He really doesn’t look that much older to her.
SIG looks much younger.

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@kurama, This supposed age gap between Han-jun and Jae-hui is a bit disconcerting because the adult versions look almost the same age (as in RL).
However, back to the story. I loved the fight scene in the gym between Han-jun and little Jae-hui (being played beautifully by (Kim Min-seo). I can imagine director-nim telling the little girl to go and give it all you have against SIG and she did. SIG had his hands full and looked like he had a ball doing that scene. Kudos to both actors.

I loved the first two episodes of CAFE MINAMDANG and I am so pleased to get to see SIG on the small screen again.

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SIG is always a delight to the eyes. The scene in the judo court was great as well.... the age difference could have been avoided using another young actress, but anyway.... Let's imagine we understand

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10 years? Geezzzzz 😌
Due to 2nd epilogue and flashback (in ep 2)... the hype personally dropped for me.
18 eps will be a long drama to unfold all the mystery, I guess.
Second episode really ticks me off somewhere and my brain told me that this drama will not be as funny as per episode 1 anymore. I wish I am wrong 🤞!

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I don't know the difference of age. But he was in uniform as a student and she looked like 13 years old... Maybe it's less than 10 years.

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I wonder if the age difference was supposed to be smaller..like maybe inthe flashback, she was a 14 year old kid and he was 20 (international age; maybe by then, he has spent a year or two at the police academy). The actors are both born in 1987. I think he's supposed to be 33? And maybe she's supposed to be in her late 20s, but her rank and experience seems to indicate she should be in her 30s?

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There are different types of comedy like rom-com, dark comedy, parody, satire etc, but this one seems borderline slapstick but is not quite slapstick. It also goes for surreal humour with the FL's fight scenes, but then you can't tag the whole drama with it, which makes me wonder if "silly" would be the right word to describe the comedy. Stuff that kids would find absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, I do not like it and as much as I enjoyed SIG's shamanic stage play, the FL is doing nothing for me so, I have to drop another SIG's drama ☹

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@meryl Welcome to Dramabeans :) I'm seeing a fresh crop of recappers these days, which means more the merrier!

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Thank you for the welcome @emsel! :)

Sad to hear you'll be dropping the drama, but here's to hoping there'll be a future Seo In-gook drama to hook you in again!

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Thanks for the weecap @meryl!
I'm not 100% sold on this show yet, but it did have it's good points. The show strongly reminded me of Showtime Begins! As, for me, it has a similar set up, with a main protagonist with seemingly amazing skills, but who has a whole back up team making him look good. We even have the cop FL as the potential love interest. As I enjoyed SB, I'll hang around for this one for another while, but the humour felt a little forced and I'm not sure everything landed as it should. Now that the scene is set however, I'm hoping things improve from here.

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Thank you for watching with me @aoiffe :) Hope the new episodes were up to par!

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"Overly confident and adorably ridiculous" is exactly the tone of this drama that is very serious with his eccentric silliness.

Am I the one thinking "panty model" when Seo In Guk appared a second time in boxer ?

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Haha yes! Hopefully like in Sh**ting Stars, he might do a CF or become a ‘brand ambassador’ for a p-a-n-t-y……wait no ‘masculine underwear’ company 😁

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It was fine. I didn't love it or hate it. However I always enjoy SIG even if I don't like his dramas. So I will continue watching for that.

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Fun Fun Fuuuuuun! I needed something light and silly after marathoning a few intense dramas (Happiness & Money Heist). Anyway this show is a nice change of pace, crossing my fingers that it won’t get too angsty in the second half, let’s hope the tone remains this goofy and oddball with just a dash of murder on the side eh? 😉

I need to figure out how to gif, Seo In-Guk’s shaman dancing is too good not to watch on repetition lol, I really want the bts too, cause damn how do these people manage to keep a straight face 🤣

Also excited to see the different colour suits Seo In-Guk manages to pull off throughout the drama, any guesses for the next episode’s suit colour? (Honestly feel like this is going to be the true mystery week to week rather than the criminal cases)

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I am enjoying CM also. SIG may give Kim Min-jae a run for his money on who is dressed the flashier in a drama. The way KMJ was dressed in DALI was outstanding. SIG look great also.

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Seo In-gook, my beloved ❤️.

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I'm ambivalent about this one so far. I think I'm worried it'll turn out to be another "Tomorrow" for me--a show that had a great cast and premise, but which quickly grew to be a disappointing bore.

SIG is obviously ridiculously good looking and he practically oozes playful charm no matter what type of character he's playing, so he's the big draw for me here. But right now, his character seems to be more of a caricature, a kind of Sherlock Holmes, King Louis hybrid who is sometimes very amusing, sometimes very clever, always very attractive in jewel tones, but not yet believable as a "real" (fictional) person.

I also am loving both Kang Mina and Hwang Woo-seul-hye (especially nice to see him playing a lighter, non-sociopath type of role) but again, by episode 2, they were veering into caricature territory.

And the FL is intriguing, but in a show centered around a guy who pretends to have supernatural powers but doesn't, I'm not sure what to make of her characterization, either. Unless I missed it, the show offers no explanation for her gravity-defying jumps and super speed. Yet the crime elements are gritty and clearly not supernatural, either. So I'm not sure exactly what world I'm in.

The humor is less predictable and better than, say, "Tomorrow," but it's not blowing me away yet.

Finally, I'm not sure about the potential romantic pairing. It could be the sparky cat-and-mouse variety, but I'm not seeing the chemistry yet.

I'll stick around for now, but hope next week's episodes pull me in more.

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I like the show enough to stick with it a while, but I am glad that SIG is very capable of turning a broadly comic character serious if needed. And with the arson and murder background, that’ll come into play at some point.

Sometimes it’s just nice to see him having fun. He really seems to enjoy his profession, which sounds weird to say, but he feels like he indulges in character quirks with a delight that not everyone has. It’s a small thing, but he just really seems to like playing and leans into it with ease.

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ITA. When watching the third episode in particular, I was thinking that without SIG playing the lead, I wouldn't have bothered watching beyond the first five minutes. He does always seem like he's relishing the experience of being on-screen and he's so fun to watch.

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My wife loved the first two episodes.

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I am watching it was Ziggy. It’s so refreshing to see him in a light role. I did enjoy the quirky humor. But the legal/cop/chaebol arc didn’t work for me.
I am not fully onboard as some of you are. Hope the next two episodes work for me. Hope! I don’t want to drop another SIG drama. Noooooo.

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Un-lurked just to comment here 😁 I don't normally dig slapstick humor but due to some real life workplace chaos, I walked into this drama with open arms lol. I consider this my weekly laugh therapy - not to mention SIG love! - so I'm glad this show is getting a weecap!

PS hello Beanies!

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In Guk saves this frankly. His character shows some kind of internal agony, hesitation, spite, stubborness, and I hope we get the layers peeled off slowly. he has internalised this character to the bone.

it is wacky, but if they can hold on to the campy-ness and not get too serious, it can push through. a bit scattered tho. Maybe too many characters all at once. I would rather follow one or two more closely at a time.

it will probs be episodal, a la Hotel de Luna and Masters´ sun, without the actual supernaturalness.
I wonder how korean viewers will take the poking not even fun but a very cynical and straightforward stick right in the ribs of the blind faith in shamans and fortune tellers. Might not sit well.
maybe the ghostlyness of the detective should not be pushed in our face like that. looks like it "sounded good on paper" but doesnt quite transfer to screen.
But, we´ll see. Seo In Guk plays the character so well that I dont want to miss it.

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Seo In guk is amazing. 😍😍😍😍
How can he be hilarious yet serious, a genius and yet silly and a little bit of a coward?? He is playing the role of a shaman while he gets scare of sounds and pray to God... It's so funny. 😁
He can read people's story or inclinations because he was a profiler but he can read the girl he likes and instead he thinks she is crazy in love with him 😂😂😂😂😂

I love him, I totally love his character. It is like a mixture of different characters he has played before, including Louie, and I am happy to see a "piece" of Louie back. 😍😊😍
I also love that he has now a sister. Usually he is an only child or he has a brother.

Now in regard to this show in general, the palette is very dark, and I dont enjoy that so much. Murder, crime and conspiracy that they will face and solve.... I understand, but I also don't like that either. At least, I hope it will continue with the focus on team work and no on the baddies...

The humour is great. 😂😂😂

Big surprise with actor Kwak Shi-yang. He made me hate him with his characters in Chicago Typewriter and also a little bit in Fight my way, but here I really like him. Great acting.

In regard to Oh Yeon-seo... I have only seen her in Love with Flaws... (the drama was a little bit of a disaster), and I am ok with her acting. I hope she delivers in this show.

Kang Mina: she is cute... I also like her character...

With a charming cast and likeable characters, even murder or conspiracy plots are doable. Let's keep watching!!!!!!!🎊🎉🎇🎆🎈

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Hello Beanie!! I have been craving a good silly drama. And I think Cafe Minamdang is here to deliver. I’m here for Seo In Guk and all his charms. Even though his last two dramas were a bit of a disappointment plot wise. But this one has potential, even if it’s just a silly mess.

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I've been on a kdrama hiatus for a bit since nothing really caught my interest. This show was enjoyable enough so I'll give it a shot.

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I wanted to love this show but it didn't hook me. I could barely get past the first ten minutes of episode one. I don't hate it, or even dislike it (yet), but it doesn't have any appeal to me and I'll be dropping it 😭.

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Took about most of the first episode to get into it. The tone and pacing feel off. It's like they took a straightforward drama and then decided to adapt it into a webtoon right on the screen? I find the ML's not interesting enough so far to balance out his intended unlikability so far. I got into the rhythm during the second episode and am curious to see what happens next! I really like OYS's character. She bore those protective booties and gloves while breaking and entering into his home. More people should do that during B&Es!

it's weird watching this after Showtime Begins...I wonder what the shamans in Showtime Begins feel about the ML here pretending to be a shaman who obstructs police work, especially since there were entire scenes in Showtime Begins about the prejudice against shamans.

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