The Golden Spoon: Episodes 1-2
In a world where wealth determines hierarchy, poverty can drive a person to make extreme decisions. When our impoverished protagonist is offered a mystical tool that can turn his life around, he grasps it like it’s his last lifeline — but all things come at a cost.
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP
The Golden Spoon opens with an introduction to our young golden spoons — our protagonist LEE SEUNG-CHEON (Yook Sung-jae) surveys his classmates, assigning ranks to them based on their net worth. One student stands out as the richest of the rich; that’s the chaebol son of Doshin Group, HWANG TAE-YONG (Lee Jong-won, yay!).
Even education is a luxury to someone like Seung-cheon, whose only chance of getting prized study notes is by swiping them when he delivers food to an academy. Seung-cheon is the epitome of a dirt spoon, and he works a second part-time job at a convenience store.
A customer rudely demands a pack of cigarettes, refusing to show his identification card, until Seung-cheon twists his arm — HAHA, it’s his friend! PARK JIN-SEOK (Shin Joo-hyup) greets his pal with a wide grin on his face, showing off the fancy new sneakers his mom bought for him.
Of course, when a drama starts out with an adorable friendship, you know it’s going to pull the rug out from under you. Mired in the debt caused by Doshin Group’s forced redevelopment plans, Jin-seok’s parents take their own lives, and a devastated Jin-seok follows suit.
Outside the funeral hall, Seung-cheon gets shoved around by bully PARK JANG-GUN (Kim Kang-min), who sneers that Jin-seok’s suicide tarnished their school’s prestigious reputation. He eggs Seung-cheon on to punch him, but Seung-cheon holds back — if he hits Jang-gun, it’ll cost him money. Money that he doesn’t have.
Unlike Seung-cheon, Jang-gun can afford it. He slaps Seung-cheon hard, then tosses a fifty-thousand won bill down at Seung-cheon’s feet to cover the cost. Ugh, that’s so demeaning.
Noticing the confrontation, Tae-yong walks up to the group, and the bullies immediately stop to bootlick him. LOL, Tae-yong gets both Seung-cheon’s and Jin-seok’s surnames wrong, looking adorably confused when one of the cronies corrects him. Hey, at least he managed to defuse the situation?
Left alone, Seung-cheon has no choice but to swallow his pride and pick up the crumpled note — and it’s witnessed by Tae-yong’s father, CEO HWANG HYUN-DO (Choi Won-young).
Not only is CEO Hwang a snob that thinks Tae-yong should only spend time with people on his level, but he also holds little empathy for his son. When Tae-yong doesn’t live up to his expectations, CEO Hwang harshly calls his work trash and warns him to make the most of the chance he’s been given.
It sends Tae-yong into a panic attack, causing him to hyperventilate so badly he can barely reach for his medicine bottle. He downs a pill to calm himself, suggesting this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, and he slumps against the cabinet as his legs give out from under him. Oh, Tae-yong…
The next day, Seung-cheon heads to Tae-yong’s house, having been called there by Jang-gun to pass him the assignment he wrote for him. Seung-cheon passes by a roadside peddler selling antique wares, and a golden spoon catches his attention.
Supposedly, the spoon can make him rich — the old lady tells Seung-cheon that he just has to eat three meals with the golden spoon, at the house of a boy the same age as him, in order to swap parents and switch lives. It’s a tempting offer, given how deep in debt his family is. Despite his skepticism, Seung-cheon ends up buying the spoon.
When Seung-cheon arrives, Jang-gun humiliates him yet again by handing him his payment in full view of everyone. Except Tae-yong has a good heart, and he invites Seung-cheon to stay for a meal, to the disbelief of both his stepmother and Jang-gun. (Ha, Tae-yong cocks an eyebrow at them, as if daring them to disagree.)
Haughty Jang-gun instructs the housekeeper to give Seung-cheon stainless steel cutlery, instead of the gold ones everyone else gets. That’s the cue for Seung-cheon to brandish his own golden spoon, and as he tucks into his meal with gusto, the golden spoon glows for a brief moment.
At the school library, Seung-cheon notices Tae-yong struggling to understand the reports his father assigned to him. Heading over to his table, Seung-cheon easily explains the concepts to Tae-yong, impressing him. Before long, he’s teaching Tae-yong and helping him with his report.
That report earns Tae-yong a rare word of praise from his father, and he can barely hide his relieved smile. Tae-yong invites Seung-cheon out for dinner, putting food on his plate and beaming as Seung-cheon eats heartily. Aww, their budding friendship is so cute — give me more smiley Lee Jong-won, please!
At Seung-cheon’s convenience store job, there’s a new part-timer — it’s NA JOO-HEE (Jung Chae-yeon), a bright-eyed girl with an equally radiant smile. It’s clear she’s developing a budding crush on gruff but good-natured Seung-cheon, and it’s adorable.
Tae-yong pays Seung-cheon a visit outside the convenience store, and he gives him an envelope of money as a token of gratitude for his help, explaining that he didn’t know what gift to get him. Seung-cheon attempts to refuse, but Tae-yong insists, calling him his friend. Yay! Tae-yong declares that he knows how to differentiate what’s real from what’s fake — and Seung-cheon’s a real friend.
Unfortunately, Seung-cheon’s suffering never ends. He narrowly edges out Jang-gun for the last spot in the elite Eagle Class, which has a furious Jang-gun smacking him around and spitting on his uniform vest.
His resolve to escape his current life renewed, Seung-cheon heads to Tae-yong’s house, fibbing that he’s hungry and asking for a meal. Aww, Tae-yong notices the bruises on Seung-cheon’s face and worriedly asks if he got into a fight.
Supper is served, but CEO Hwang arrives home before Seung-cheon can take a bite. Terrified of his father’s wrath, Tae-yong quickly ushers Seung-cheon out, apologetically asking him to go home.
However, Seung-cheon can’t give up. He rushes back into the dining room just as the housekeepers are clearing away the dishes, grabbing his bowl back and slurping down the noodles — only to look up and see Tae-yong’s parents gaping in shock and disapproval. Ashamed, Seung-cheon hastens to leave, almost leaving his spoon and its case behind.
Calling for him to stop, Tae-yong’s stepmom gingerly picks Seung-cheon’s belongings up with the tips of her fingers, as if they’re ridden with germs. She holds the items out to Seung-cheon at arm’s length, declaring that she hopes he never returns to their house. Utterly humiliated, Seung-cheon angrily tosses the golden spoon into a garbage heap on his way home.
Tae-yong gets called to his father’s office, where CEO Hwang reveals that he knows Seung-cheon wrote his reports for him. Having received a tip-off from Jang-gun, CEO Hwang is furious that Tae-yong let himself get caught. He pulls his son into a terrifyingly patronizing hug, saying that Tae-yong needs to be punished for his wrongdoing. Should he send him back to the States?
Just the mere mention of that is enough to send Tae-yong into a near-catatonic state of panic. A flashback reveals glimpses of dead bodies, a gun, and a young Tae-yong in a state of shock. Back in the present, Tae-yong falls to his knees, begging his father that he’ll do anything else instead. Sobs, the fear in Tae-yong’s eyes is heartbreakingly palpable.
Without a shred of compassion for his own son, CEO Hwang orders him to deal with Seung-cheon, then. Ugh, if he’s trying to run for the Worst Father of the Year award, he’s got it in the bag.
Oh no, Tae-yong’s fear of his father drives him to lie that Seung-cheon extorted money from him. As they walk out of the parent-teacher conference, Dad falls to his knees to beg Stepmom to show mercy.
Dad crawls over to Tae-yong, grabbing his leg in desperation and pleading for him to let Seung-cheon off the hook. Their classmates spill into the hallway and record the scene on their phones, and it’s an awful situation all around — Tae-yong’s clearly wracked with guilt, and all Seung-cheon can do is watch in tearful fury as his dad humiliates himself for his sake.
That night, Seung-cheon calls Tae-yong out to a bridge, confronting him about the lie. Tae-yong admits it easily, but he acts like he was just using Seung-cheon all along. Playing the part of the entitled rich boy to a tee, Tae-yong scoffs that he could never be friends with someone as poor as Seung-cheon.
Except Seung-cheon isn’t fazed — he’s recorded their entire conversation, and he’s going to reveal the truth to the school. Terrified of the potential repercussions, Tae-yong lunges for the phone, and it escalates into a tussle that ends with Seung-cheon skidding over the edge of the bridge.
Tae-yong instinctively scrambles to grab hold of Seung-cheon, all pretenses forgotten, but the rain causes Seung-cheon’s hand to slip from Tae-yong’s grasp.
Frantically, Tae-yong rushes down to the river, searching for Seung-cheon and dialing emergency services. The operator’s voice snaps him out of his panic, though, and Tae-yong goes silent — and then he hangs up and leaves Seung-cheon behind. Nooooo, Tae-yong!
As Seung-cheon slowly sinks deeper into the lake, he almost resigns himself to his fate, but then the magical golden spoon appears before him like a mirage. His determination renewed, Seung-cheon fights his way to the surface, then digs the golden spoon out of the rubbish.
He rushes straight to Tae-yong’s house, smelly and dripping wet, and resolutely asks for a meal. Tae-yong’s parents are repulsed, but they grant his request anyway, and Seung-cheon swallows his pride to eat his meal under CEO Hwang’s watchful eye.
Meanwhile, the guilt is eating Tae-yong alive. Unable to bear it any longer, he pleads with his bodyguard-cum-chauffeur JANG MOON-KI (Sohn Woo-hyun) to pull over, and he sprints down the highway back towards the lake.
Then all of a sudden, Tae-yong comes to a halt in the middle of the road, as if a strange wave of dizziness has suddenly washed across him. The golden spoon glows in Seung-cheon’s hand, and Tae-yong stares blankly as he’s illuminated by an incoming car’s headlights.
Back in the house, Seung-cheon tentatively calls CEO Hwang “Dad,” but CEO Hwang responds in bewilderment. Confused that the spoon didn’t work its magic, Seung-cheon apologizes for his misstep, then leaves.
Only, he runs into Joo-hee in the hallway, who greets him with a slap and yells that he, Hwang Tae-yong, is a terrible jerk. She saw them outside the convenience store, and it certainly wasn’t extortion.
Ooh, the magic worked! That was a fun fakeout; turns out CEO Hwang demands that his son address him formally as “Father,” hence his surprised reaction towards Seung-cheon’s informal use of “Dad.”
To everyone’s relief, “Seung-cheon” is in the hospital, having been found passed out on the road. Seung-cheon rushes to the hospital, searching for Tae-yong, until he’s stopped short by someone calling out his real name. He turns, and it’s Tae-yong, who’s supposed to be “Seung-cheon” now. Omg, does Tae-yong remember??
It almost seems like he does, but it soon becomes clear that Tae-yong is just confused and disoriented. Most of it seems to be an unconscious instinct bleeding through, at least for now. Tae-yong’s previous memories have merged with the magically fabricated ones, leaving him unsure of what actually happened.
The next day, Seung-cheon wastes no time putting his newly-acquired power and status to good use. Not only does he retract the extortion case lodged against “Seung-cheon,” but he also puts the bullies in their place when he catches them terrorizing his two friends.
Seung-cheon also splurges on luxury goods for his real family, since it’s the only thing he can do for them. Of course, to them, it comes across as him trying to buy their forgiveness for what he did to “Seung-cheon.” Maintaining her dignity, Mom returns all the items to Seung-cheon and turns down his proffered check too, to his dismay.
Over a fancy dinner, Seung-cheon learns that he, or rather “Tae-yong,” is engaged to Joo-hee. He’s barely given a minute to let that sink in before Joo-hee announces her wish to call off the engagement, since she wants to live as herself, not as someone else’s daughter or fianceé.
Joo-hee leaves for her convenience store job, and Seung-cheon follows. Ha, he ends up teaching her how to do her job properly, resulting in a very perplexed Joo-hee wondering how “Tae-yong” is so familiar with a convenience store of all places.
They leave work together, but Joo-hee trips over her own feet and falls right into Seung-cheon’s arms, HAHA. The pair quickly right themselves, though it’s clear the moment flustered them both.
Oh no, turns out Jang-gun’s father is abusive, and he delivered a brutal beating when he found out about his cheating. Mistaking “Seung-cheon” as the whistleblower, Jang-gun gets his revenge by dragging Tae-yong to his house and viciously beating him up.
Of course, that’s not enough to satisfy Jang-gun, who takes his father’s rifle off the wall and aims it at Tae-yong. Noooo, his gun trauma! Tae-yong falls to the ground in terror, fearfully cowering away from the muzzle, all while the bullies cackle and film his reactions.
Just then, they’re interrupted by the doorbell — it’s Seung-cheon! A flashback reveals that Jang-gun once terrorized Seung-cheon using the exact same rifle tactic, and Seung-cheon’s not about to let it happen to Tae-yong, too.
Seung-cheon doesn’t hold back, loading a bullet into the rifle and turning it around on Jang-gun instead. All his posturing gone, Jang-gun grovels and snivels for Seung-cheon to spare him. However, Seung-cheon is determined to teach the cocky bully a lesson, and he doesn’t realize Tae-yong is quivering in fear just from the sight of the gun alone. Sobs.
It’s only the first week, and I’m already loving The Golden Spoon — it’s so much fun! Admittedly, I was already predisposed to liking the show since Lee Jong-won is a favorite actor of mine, but within just two hours I’m already immersed in the world and invested in the characters.
The show does a great job at balancing its lighthearted humor with its heavier themes, and it often has me bursting into peals of laughter. There are blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hilarious moments interspersed throughout, like the bully clutching his hand in pain after punching Tae-yong, or chauffeur Moon-ki awkwardly averting his eyes when Joo-hee trips into Seung-cheon’s arms.
So far, The Golden Spoon seems to be offering a nuanced take on wealth inequality. One scene that stood out to me was Jin-seok’s funeral, where their creditor was wailing in despair that they ought to have at least paid her back first before dying, because she can’t live without that money.
On the surface, it’s a callous remark, but it goes to show how even creditors themselves often subsist on the money they squeeze out of the poor; it’s a vicious cycle. Poverty is a losing game in which there are no winners.
Joo-hee is a winsome and endearing heroine, and I like that she’s got spunk. It turns out she got expelled from her UK school for starting a fight with a group of racist British girls, and if she hadn’t won me over already, that would have sealed the deal. Plus, Joo-hee stands up for Seung-cheon because she admires him for supporting himself, unlike her and Tae-yong who can coast comfortably on their parents’ dime.
We don’t know much about OH YEO-JIN (Yeonwoo) yet, but there’s one interesting tidbit about her. Yeo-jin was middle school friends with Joo-hee, but she hides the fact that she was sick for a while in middle school. Worse yet, she’s a hypocrite; while she’s friendly to Joo-hee’s face, once Joo-hee’s back is turned, Yeo-jin accuses her of killing their friend. There’s definitely more to this story, and at the moment, I’m inclined to distrust Yeo-jin.
Of course, the main stars of the show are our spoon swap duo. Tae-yong is unexpectedly endearing — I love the running joke of how he can never get people’s surnames right, as well as his extremely picky taste in luxury goods even when he’s become “Seung-cheon.” Some things never change, ha.
It breaks my heart to see the extent of the psychological damage Tae-yong’s father inflicted on him, to the point that he’s developed an anxious habit of picking at his finger until it bleeds. It’s particularly poignant that despite Tae-yong’s privileged upbringing, he calls Mom’s homemade kimchi stew the tastiest food he’s ever eaten — because it’s the first time he’s eaten something prepared with love.
Seung-cheon’s steadfast mettle had me rooting for him from the very start, and it’s clear he has a mature and empathetic heart. His circumstances have forced him to prioritize pragmatic decisions, but that doesn’t make him unkind — in fact, it’s quite the contrary. I’m excited to see how he continues to use his newfound power to help the underprivileged, since he knows exactly what it’s like to be on the bottom rung of society.
I think it’s interesting how Seung-cheon has good intentions, but he doesn’t always choose the best methods; for example, he wants to pamper his family by buying them all the things they can’t afford, but he doesn’t stop to consider how it might feel like a burden from their perspective. Similarly, it’s satisfying to see him fight back against Jang-gun, but it doesn’t solve the root of the problem.
Seung-cheon and Tae-yong’s friendship is lovely, albeit short-lived, and I can’t help but hope that they’ll reconcile soon. What Tae-yong did isn’t excusable, but it clearly stemmed from fear rather than malice. Tae-yong’s deeply traumatized by his father and his time in the States, and the abject terror on his face whenever he expects his father to lash out at him is so heartwrenching.
Now that he’s finally embraced by a loving family, it’s beautiful to see Tae-yong’s pure and unfettered smile — the same smile he lets slip around Seung-cheon. On the contrary, Seung-cheon’s already beginning to feel the pressure of CEO Hwang’s greed and the strained relationship Tae-yong has with his stepmother. I suspect it won’t be long before Seung-cheon begins to have second thoughts about his decision, and I’m interested to delve deeper into the dilemma that will follow. Seung-cheon has three chances to switch back, in a month, a year, or ten years — will he take any of them?
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