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One Dollar Lawyer: Episode 1 (First Impressions)

One Dollar Lawyer wastes no time with its premiere episode: we jump right into the tale of our low-fee lawyer, and see his eccentric ways play out first-hand. The drama excels at random offhanded moments of comedy, and that’s totally what I’m here for.

Editor’s note: Continued drama coverage is pending based on Beanie feedback.
 
EPISODE 1 FIRST IMPRESSIONS

First, in case you missed it, the animated opening sequence for One Dollar Lawyer is just sheer 80s anime goodness, so please enjoy it here. After watching the intro, my only thought was this: please take that fun energy and bring it into the drama! And sure enough, the anime intro seems like the perfect way to describe the quick-paced zany show we’ve got in front of us.

We meet our hero LAWYER CHEON JI-HOON (Namgoong Min) under some appropriately crazy circumstances. A desperate man is on the truss of a bridge and about to jump into the Han River. No one can stop him, but there’s someone crazy enough to saunter over, climb up the bridge, and then — pretending to be cool as a cucumber but internally freaking out from the height — secures his client’s safety. Oh, and his 1,000 won fee (about $1 USD).

It’s the perfect intro to our hero, but it only gets better once we see him interact with his reluctant yet also strangely committed helper, dry cleaning owner SA MOO-JANG (Park Jin-woo). Moo-jang still can’t believe Ji-hoon only charges his clients 1,000 won, and asks if it’s for the wordplay, since his surname, Cheon, also means a “one thousand.” But we quickly see that Ji-hoon is dead serious about the clients he takes on and protects. He’s equally serious about collecting the fee. And he’s even more serious about fighting for justice by whatever crazy and unconventional means it takes.

We see this play out with the case Ji-hoon took on the bridge, and we move through this case with speed and with humor — two things sorely necessary if I’m going to make it through a legal drama and enjoy myself.

Ji-hoon and Moo-jang camp out at a loan shark’s empty office, waiting for their return. In a perfect example of the show’s campy humor, Ji-hoon suggests they order jjajangmyeon while they wait, and the two scarf their food down regardless of situation or circumstances. It’s hilarious.

Then our trainee prosecutor BAEK MARI (Kim Ji-eun) marches in with a crew of men and the notorious blue boxes. She assumes that Ji-hoon is the loan shark, and it sets up quite the crazy scene of hijinks and misunderstandings between them. (Also, her all-white pantsuit is amazing!)

When the loan shark Fire Bear finally comes in (whom Ji-hoon hilariously keeps calling Fire Chicken instead), we confirm that Ji-hoon was a former prosecutor and that he’s there on behalf of the bridge ajusshi. But also, we learn that his plan — concocted on the spot — is to defend Fire Bear against the prosecution. He charges this guy an exorbitant fee (which we learn about later), and then reveals his cleverness by rendering Mari’s search warrant illegal. It’s a quick, packed scene, full of characterization and comedy — and actually, that description goes for the entire first episode as well.

Ji-hoon works his magic with his legal fee for Fire Bear and the bridge ajusshi’s debts, and despite only having three or so scenes of this story line, it’s somehow really touching — and satisfying — when Ji-hoon and his client bow to each other before parting ways. Ji-hoon has his 1,000 won; the client has his crisis solved and his life turned around.

Ji-hoon’s next case is right around the corner. A pickpocket with four convictions is being (wrongfully) prosecuted and Ji-hoon decides to represent him, seemingly convinced when he notices the man has a daughter who’s hospitalized with a heart condition. Dangit, I didn’t need to see Namgoong Min being all cute with this adorable little girl, but they went there, and I love it.

Important to note is that Ji-hoon visits the man in prison and confirms for himself that he’s innocent. We don’t get much insight into Ji-hoon’s particular brand of choosing clients yet, but it certainly seems he falls more on the help-the-downtrodden-and-wrongfully-accused side of the fence — especially those who are treated with bias that shouldn’t exist in the law. That equation makes for satisfying payoffs if you ask me.

While Ji-hoon is cooking up a plan for the pickpocket’s trial — which he requests by jury — we see the other side of the case. The prosecutor in charge is none other than Baek Mari, and though she’s all fired up over Ji-hoon’s unconventional ways and means, he seems to have the respect of everyone in the prosecution office.

Mari’s supervisor is PROSECUTOR NA YE-JIN (Gong Min-jung), and when Ji-hoon pays them a surprise visit, she speaks to him informally, and he calls her sunbae. The mutual respect is clear. It makes us mighty curious as to why Ji-hoon left the prosecution, but that’s probably the most interesting (and risky?) part of this first episode: we learn literally nothing about Ji-hoon. We observe the nature of his character by what he says and does, but we know nothing about him, and more often than not he’s hiding behind a pair of slick shades (and looking damn good, I must say). His backstory will likely unfold as the drama progresses, and it will be fun to see it come to light as we go.

In our first episode, the setup, characters, and world-building were quite well-executed, but it’s the drama’s cheeky and random humor that really lights things up. It’s impossible to explain with words the offhanded silly reactions we get from Ji-hoon, his penchant for dramatically ripping up papers when he doesn’t like what they say, or all the general goofy interactions between the characters, but it was the highlight of the drama for me, and I was giggling all the way through.

The first episode wraps up with a cliffhanger at the trial of the pickpocket. Ji-hoon and Mari are facing off in every possible meaning of that phrase. For instance, with the jury selection segment of the trial, Mari asks carefully-coded questions to pull out the individual’s politics; Ji-hoon asks them if they like their sauce on the side or mixed in LOL.

Ji-hoon really looks like he’s going to lose this one, but of course he’s got a plan up his sleeve. And in this case it’s a wrapped-up lunch box. Characters keep peering inside to see what he’s about to wow the court with, and by the time the episode closes, everyone knows what’s in there but us. I didn’t expect to be quite this invested in the contents of a lunch box, but yeah, I am.

All in all, it was a great first episode full of color and comedy. Far from boring, dragged out, or overly violent, the cases were more about helping people in need — the people who society discriminates against — I like that far better than the murder of the week.

Namgoong Min, of course, is just excelling and having the time of his life here, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Kim Ji-eun. My expectations were low, yes, but she’s more vibrant here than I’ve seen her yet, and I’m looking forward to more of their interactions as these two start working together, as our plot has promised.

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Sounds like a great show, I am a fan of Namgoong Min because in all the characters he played; crazy, serious, zany, angry, he always showed us the human side that gives the character depth and invite empathy from the viewers. I hope the recapping continues. Thank you.

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NGM was really awesome. I think KJE was overactive and her character is annoying. I like all the other characters though.

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I’m so sorry I must sit this one out no thanks to Big D, boo hissss!

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I hope you'll continue covering the show. For all the reasons you mentioned, it seems like a fun show to cover and talk about.
But those anime credits truly got me haha

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Namgoong Min is in his awesome self as always! He is such a versatile actor. The actors who can portray comedy and serious role with equal ease are the ones with real talent. Same for Kim Nam Gil. I am a fan and have huge crushes on these two super talented actors.

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Omg I'm the same! NGM and KNG are my all time favourite actors!

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I watch K dramas because once I have selected the genre I like I know I will be laughing and feeling warm and fuzzy. So, if I have done my research and yet end up watching a completely different show it’s hard for me to forgive and move on. That’s why I am so pleased that I was able o find this show on HiTV so I didn’t miss out.

This show was exactly what I thought it would be from opening credits onwards and I loved it for that. Just reading the weecap I was laughing because it evoked the images from those scenes and the feelings experienced when watching them. I hope the show can stay on this path without going down some random back alley with all the negatives that will bring.

There are certain objects that I am convinced only exist in K dramaland. The tendency to use envelopes of money when everyone else does electronic bank transfers and the lunch box wrapped and tied with a cloth. I am sure that is why his choice of this object as part of his case was so crucial. I am about to watch episode two and can’t wait to see how he will use it.

Whilst, I hope there are enough beanies showing an interest in this one for it to be weecapped I am mindful there are a number of legal dramas currently airing and we need to have a range of genres covered to represent the diverse interests of the Beanie community.

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I'm kinda mad that there's so many law dramas airing at the same time if that means this show won't be covered haha

I really enjoyed the first two episodes and just wanted more when the episodes ended. The recaps and discussions sometimes enhance the experience for me because they point out things that I didn't notice or might not have considered such as I didn't know/notice the lawyer's name and the fact that he charged 1,000 won had any type of connection.

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Where are you watching it? :-(

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HiTV app

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Let me check if I have it here. The issue is I am already paying for 4 streaming services! :-D So not sure if I want to add one more.

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Its free

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Namgoong Min is great and seems to be the only one that is good in this otherwise boring show. The cases were unconvincing to me, the FL was unimpressive and all the supposed comedy landed flat for me. This drama is definitely not for me. Bye!

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I've been waiting too long for crazy zany goofy NGM!!

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I enjoyed the first episode because of Nam Goong Min! He did well to differentiate this character from others. It was fun and the hour just flew by.
I have yet to see episode 2 but I do hope this drama gets weekly recaps!

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Nothing was original in this drama. But NGM was great as usual. For Kim Ji-Eun, she wasn't so bad but I could see her efforts to look badass. Her suits are very colorful for a prosecutor who is not one yet.

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I was determined not to watch but this really sounds like good quirky fun. I'll try a few episodes but I know I'm hooked once I start watching.

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There are quite a lot law based dramas going on - Law cafe, Empire (not exactly law based but we have law professor and prosecutor as main characters),May it please the court and I have not seen any element (yet) that makes this drama stands out.

NGM is good as always but to make it stand out it has to be exploration of it's title - one dollar lawyer. Why justice has to be tied to ability of accused to hire good/crafty lawyer (which ultimately question of money).

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I had fun and I like NGM as a lawyer.

I don’t know about how similar or different it is from other dramas but I think it has a Hyeana kind of vibe and am here for NGM.

It will aim for we need lawyers with a heart and it will hurt when justice proves that it is blind… but am sold.

I can’t really vote on whether DB should cover it or not but I think for all those who like NGM and some good arguments, they will see the show (today-tomorrow-next month-whenever).

Oh and I actually just realized it has been raining law in kdrama land!

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Boring drama. I wanted to watch it because of the actors, but the plot is boring, with forced humorous scenes. I watched episode 1. That's enough for me, I don't want to watch any more episodes.

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This show has had a better premiere than law cafe and blind in my opinion! Please recap it! Plus it’s not like you guys don’t love the sight of Namgoong Min playing wacky but stylish characters!

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Watching this for NGM. The plot is okay. It's not as goofy as I anticipated. I guess I had very high expectation for it. Of course NGM was great. Kim Ji Eun seems to be playing the same character she has been playing since Black Sun.

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The first episode moved along quickly without being manic. NGM is every bit as charming, clever, and quirky as I hoped. KJE is playing a stock character but is at least unobjectionable for the moment. Among all the legal dramas out now, this seems to be the pick of the litter and I'm going to keep watching.

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I thought the first episode was cute. As a legal drama fan, I enjoyed the jury selection the most even though the audience should have been let in on Ji-hoon's thought process during the questioning. What did that one juror's eating preferences say about him? If it wasn't entirely random, it could, for example, involve an interesting cultural tidbit. Here's hoping they might clue us in during the second episode.

I also hope that the show won't always feature such clear-cut cases that make it easy to root for the defendant. While it seems clear that Ji-hoon wouldn't represent an outright jackass (unless it gives him a necessary advantage), I feel the ambivalence of human nature always adds spice to justice-centered TV shows.

Last but not least: NGM looks very handsome and I dig his glasses.

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Whoever responsible for Namgoong Min styling deserves a reward. This hair + those suits are perfect for our stylish, yet unconventional, attorney at law.

As a whole, Namgoong Min presence and charisma really sell the show for me. I enjoy Jihoons antics and everything, from his behaviour to his way of talking, is captivating.

About Mari, the female lead... Let's just say I'm willing to give her another chance. Hopefully my opinions will change after ep 2.

Side note: I really enjoy Yejin (FL's boss/mentor). Her energy feels down to Earth, relaxed, and she has a natural sort of charm. She's really intriguing to me, and her chemistry with Jihoon is fantastic.

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