Today’s Webtoon: Episodes 1-2 (First Impressions)
Quirky, zany, and full of heart — I love this show already! Given how much I like all three of our leads, I came into this show with excitement pumping in my veins, and I’m thrilled to say that Today’s Webtoon surpassed my sky-high expectations. It’s hilarious, hopeful, and heartfelt, all wrapped in one feel-good package! What more could I possibly ask for?
Editor’s note: Continued drama coverage will continue with weecaps.
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP
As a news broadcast narrates the recent spate of missing person cases, a masked protagonist rides her electric scooter through the neon-lit streets. She challenges her enemies to show themselves — and then she falls through the ground and into an underground lair, where the bad guy lies in wait.
Thus begins a fierce, heated tussle. They’re evenly matched at first, until our protagonist’s eyes glow with the light of the full moon as her nails grow into claws. She leaps up, transformation into a gumiho complete — to the delight of OHN MA-EUM (Kim Se-jung), our webtoon-loving leading lady.
Ma-eum’s name literally means “with one’s whole heart,” and it certainly shows in her spirited personality. A notification sends her traipsing energetically through the streets of Seoul on a scooter that’s unfortunately not electric, making fried chicken deliveries all over town.
Thanks to a judo upperclassman, Ma-eum scores a part-time gig at a webtoon event. LOL, the logo bears a strong resemblance to the Naver Webtoons logo, but the company’s called Neon. Ma-eum’s put on security detail, and she gazes dreamily at webtoon artist NA KANG-NAM (Im Chul-soo), the author of her favorite gumiho webtoon. (His name literally means “I’m a strong man,” haha.)
After emcee of the night JANG MAN-CHEOL (Park Ho-san) presents the awards, K-pop girl group Weeekly takes the stage for a congratulatory performance. Kang-nam jams to it with all his heart, breaking out his best dance moves. Except all of a sudden, he’s accosted by SEOK JI-HYUNG (Daniel Choi), who attempts to pull him away.
Ma-eum does her job a little too well, immediately dragging Ji-hyung out of the venue. She doesn’t recognize his face, but she certainly recognizes his Neon employee card when he flashes it at her in indignation, whoops.
Ji-hyung heads back in to yank Kang-nam out, and a chastised Ma-eum gets front-row seats to their confrontation. Turns out Kang-nam’s too busy enjoying girl group performances to deliver his manuscript on time, much to Ji-hyung’s ire… which is abruptly interrupted by a starstruck Ma-eum asking for Kang-nam’s autograph.
Haha, her timing! Ji-hyung offers his pen with gritted teeth and a polite smile that’s definitely 100% not forced, and Ma-eum gets the signature of her favorite webtoon author on the back of her phone case.
Ma-eum’s work isn’t done just yet, though. Back in the event hall, she judo flips a creep who had been harassing writer POMME (Ha Yul-ri), pinning the unrepentant man to the floor. Atta girl!
That earns her Pomme’s gratitude and Ji-hyung’s respect, and she winds up with Ji-hyung’s business card. An open recruitment advertisement and an impulsive application later, Ma-eum’s on her way to a job interview at Neon.
Also at Neon are Ji-hyung and Man-cheol, and when Ma-eum gets on the same elevator as them, her cauliflower ear catches Man-cheol’s attention. He proposes a bet to Ji-hyung — what sport does this lady play?
Recognizing Ma-eum, Ji-hyung answers judo, and he’s proven correct when Man-cheol surprises her from behind and immediately gets flipped onto his back, ha. Noting that Ma-eum’s here for an interview, he pulls out a coin and asks her if she likes heads or tails. Eh?
Ma-eum bemusedly answers heads, and Ji-hyung flips the coin. It lands on heads, and he offers her the coin as a good luck charm. Aw, that’s endearingly wholesome of him.
We’re introduced to GU JOON-YOUNG (Nam Yoon-soo) as he drinks his morning coffee in his spacious penthouse. Contrary to his affluent background, he’s surprisingly down-to-earth; he takes the subway to work, and even helps a little boy next to him beat the game level he’s been stuck at.
Joon-young ends up in the same interview as Ma-eum, where he impresses the panel of interviewers with his eloquent and insightful answers. In contrast, Ma-eum’s answer is simple but full of heart — Neon’s webtoons had been a source of comfort while she was recovering from the injury that put a hold on her judo career.
Earnestly, she explains that she wants to pay it forward and create uplifting content for others, too. Her sincerity impresses Man-cheol, but her lack of knowledge regarding industry jargon doesn’t earn her any brownie points with the other interviewers.
After work, Ji-hyung and Man-cheol unwind at a pojangmacha, where Ji-hyung helps his pal apply a pain relief patch on his back, LOL. He tries to subtly ask how Ma-eum did (the keyword here is “tries” — it’s a good thing Man-cheol’s oblivious), but things don’t look good.
Unsurprisingly, Ma-eum fails the interview; the company prioritized skills over passion. Joon-young is hired, but his friend comments that he should join any team except the Webtoon Service Team — they’re the company outcast because of their poor sales performance. They’re not even housed in the main building, oof.
The webtoon team has been understaffed ever since their producer took time off for maternity leave, and just one new hire won’t be enough to keep the team afloat. You know what that means — Ma-eum is belatedly accepted on a one-year contract!
Both Ma-eum and Joon-young end up in the Webtoon Service Team, to the former’s elation and the latter’s dismay. Ma-eum gets to shadow Ji-hyung, which means following him to an interview with renowned comic and webtoon author BAEK EO-JIN (Kim Gab-soo).
Writer Baek is humble and traditional, preferring to draw on paper and have his assistants digitize his art. He’s adorably out-of-touch with modern technology, leaving him bewildered when Ma-eum says she’ll leave an encouraging comment on his webtoon.
That seems to be the catalyst which sets off a spiraling chain of events — Writer Baek finally sees the outpouring of hate comments that his assistants have been hiding from him. Devastated and ashamed of his work, Writer Baek suddenly requests to have his entire webtoon taken down from the Neon site.
Ji-hyung and a guilt-ridden Ma-eum wait all night outside Writer Baek’s house, hoping to make things right. They’re met with one of Writer Baek’s assistants instead, who reveals the truth. Writer Baek learned about the hate comments from the other assistant who’s a total ingrate — he scorned Writer Baek and walked out on him for greener pastures.
It’s a harsh wake-up call for Writer Baek, who finally realizes that none of the heartfelt themes he’d woven into his story had been conveyed to the readers. He goes on hiatus, leaving the Webtoon Service Team to worry about the fate of their platform.
After a morose team dinner, Ji-hyung and Ma-eum wait for the bus home. Ma-eum may not have industry experience, but she has a mature head on her shoulders — drawing an analogy from her time in judo, she says that a good pacemaker would wait patiently till the runner’s ready to get back on the track.
Ji-hyung attempts to lighten the mood with another coin toss, but it lands on tails — not the option that has Writer Baek coming back. The pair stare at it for a long, heavy moment, before Ma-eum grabs Ji-hyung’s hands and flips them over.
It’s heads now! Smiling brightly, she reassures Ji-hyung that Writer Baek will return. Then she rushes off to catch her bus, leaving a stunned Ji-hyung behind. Aww.
After a long day of hearing out webtoon artists’ grievances (foisted upon him by his slacker of a supervisor), Joon-young has one last destination — Pomme’s apartment. Turns out she called his supervisor over to fix a flickering lightbulb for her, and Joon-young got sent in his place.
She drawls that this isn’t crossing the line; a real power trip would mean skipping a deadline and blaming it on him. Gosh, talk about entitled. She asks for his name as he leaves, clearly amused (and maybe even interested) — but while he does tell her his name, he’s thoroughly annoyed by her arrogant attitude.
It doesn’t get any better from there, since he next finds himself hard at work unclogging her toilet bowl (she somehow had the bright idea to flush her cat’s litter down). Ugh, she’ll have to go the extra mile to earn any semblance of good graces in my book.
Ma-eum spars with a friend at the dojo to clear her mind, and it’s only then that she realizes the dojo’s plaque is tilted downwards so the athletes can read its words easily. Add a conveniently-timed Michelangelo documentary to that, and Ma-eum has an epiphany — it’s all about the angle!
She races to Writer Baek’s house, where she explains that as he aged, his posture grew more hunched, altering the angle from which he viewed his art. To others, his characters had oddly elongated chins, but to him, they looked normal. There’s nothing wrong with his art style!
Right on cue, his previous assistants enter the room — grateful for all the guidance he’s given them, they’re back to help him through this setback. Touched, Writer Baek agrees to continue drawing. Aw, as they leave, Ji-hyung compliments Ma-eum on a job well done.
The team gather at the pojangmacha after work, where Joon-young gets teased for being a lightweight, aww. Ma-eum’s having the time of her life, which only adds to Joon-young’s awkwardness. So when Ji-hyung asks if he doesn’t enjoy get-togethers, he absentmindedly agrees, before realizing what he just said.
Flustered, Joon-young accidentally takes a sip from a colleague’s beer mug, and then he’s out like a light. HAHAHA. Omg, that’s adorable.
He remains passed out till it’s time to go home, leaving Ma-eum to solve the problem — she hoists him up onto her back with barely any effort at all. Have I mentioned that I love her?
No one knows Joon-young’s address, so he ends up on Ma-eum’s couch. Halfway through the night, he wakes up in utter confusion, only to come face-to-face with Ma-eum’s dad.
Since none of them can reveal Joon-young’s identity without exposing Ma-eum’s new job (which goes against her father’s wish for her to return to his dojo), poor Joon-young gets throttled by a furious papa bear. Oops.
Ma-eum barely has time to explain herself to him at work the next day, since they’re immediately tasked with moving countless bags and standees to a writer’s apartment. Joon-young struggles under all that weight, and Ma-eum ends up catching him when his legs give out, leading to a charged moment.
Ma-eum leans in, and Joon-young instinctively squeezes his eyes shut — but she’s just reaching over to take the standee from him, ha. Joon-young’s left blinking confusedly like an adorable puppy. Have I mentioned that I love him too?
They take the subway back, and Ma-eum notices Joon-young gazing at her cauliflower ear. He calls it a badge of honor that proves how hard she’s trained, musing dispiritedly that in contrast, all his accolades and certifications count for nothing in their team.
Ma-eum reassures him that his own badge of honor will shine eventually, so he just has to stay strong and cheer up. But Joon-young dislikes hearing such words — he’s already trying his best, yet he still isn’t enough? Then when will he ever be?
Contemplating his words, Ma-eum replies that perhaps saying such words became a habit of hers; having gained strength from those who cheered her on, she wants to pay it forward. Still, she acknowledges his interpretation, remarking that she should tone it down.
They reach Ma-eum’s stop before he can respond, but it’s clear he’s deeply affected by her words, as well as her thoughtful consideration of his perspective. Aw, she’s shaping up to be such a positive influence on our two leading men, and she doesn’t even realize it yet!
Joon-young’s already smarting from being treated like a mere errand boy, and it all goes downhill from there. His pride gets torn to shreds by the condescending, backhanded compliments from his nasty supervisor, as well the snide remarks poorly disguised as teasing from his supposed friends, and he finally decides enough is enough. He wants out — if he can’t get transferred to another department, he’s resigning.
Ma-eum overhears this, and she entreats him to stay, not realizing she’s slipped back into her habit of cheering others on until Joon-young’s lips curl up in a self-deprecating smile. He finally reveals the cold, ugly truth: the Webtoon Service Team is due to be disbanded within a year if they can’t pull up their performance.
Joon-young advises her to find another path, rather than waste a precious year clinging to false hope. His words are blunt, but they’re not without reason.
And so, our premiere week ends with Ma-eum’s entire world shaken up. She’s floundered for so long before finally discovering a passion she wants to pursue, only to have her bubble burst way too soon.
I like how realistic the drama is despite its comedic overtones; the webtoon team’s performance is declining not because the plot demands it, but because they’ve grown complacent and stagnant. Ji-hyung acknowledged this himself — they allowed themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security, which meant they couldn’t notice the nascent issues concerning Writer Baek and the negative feedback until it all blew up in their faces.
That’s why Ma-eum is such an asset to the team, since she isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Kim Se-jung does a wonderful job at portraying her gung-ho determination and optimistic cheerfulness without going overboard into cheesy territory, and I was already rooting for Ma-eum barely five minutes into the premiere.
For all her unabashed effervescence, she’s sensible and empathetic, and I particularly liked her quieter moments in the wake of her failed interview. Ma-eum isn’t immune to disappointment and self-doubt, which makes her resilience even more admirable.
Thankfully, she’s got a great mentor in Ji-hyung, played by the ever-charismatic Choi Daniel — excuse me, this is unfair, you can’t have me enraptured every time you’re on screen! The chemistry between Ji-hyung and Ma-eum is so captivating, since her hopeful idealism seems to be reigniting a simmered-down passion within him, and his rare compliments are exactly the external validation she doesn’t even realize she needs.
I love that Ji-hyung is level-headed, but has a cheeky side; his friendship with totally-not-a-boomer Man-cheol is adorable, and their banter is a joy to watch. Plus, the running joke of Ji-hyung always forgetting where he parked his car is hilarious, heh.
And last but definitely not least, Nam Yoon-soo!!!! I have such a huge soft spot for him, having watched him from his early web drama roles to where he is now. He’s grown so much over the years, and I couldn’t be more proud!
Joon-young may be stiff and reticent, but he approaches his work with an earnest diligence that has me sympathetic for his plight. Being belittled and disregarded like that does considerable damage to one’s psyche, and it’s clear all Joon-young wants is to do well and fit in — he just doesn’t know how to.
It’s no wonder that the imposter syndrome is chipping away at his spirit. Even though Joon-young knows he’s capable of so much more, everyone and everything around him seems to be telling him otherwise.
Still, if there’s one person I have faith in to restore his confidence, it’s Ma-eum. She has a way of uplifting people and spurring them to find strength within themselves; her words of encouragement aren’t mere rhetoric, because they truly come from her heart.
Ma-eum’s sincerity is what grounds this show, elevating it from a simple comedy to a slice-of-life that’s equal parts heartwarming and empowering. I’m definitely onboard for the ride — is it next week yet?