After watching episode one, I was hooked. I was actually hooked from the very first moment: the closeup of Yang Kang-chil (JUNG WOO-SUNG) eating chicken in all its animalistic glory. The fantasy in the rest of the episode was so well-integrated it resembled the comfortable feel of the Spanish literary genre, magical realism. The score is amazing. It reminds me a bit of the Secret Garden OST. Lots of strings, and very closely tied to the emotional tone of the scene. It was as accurate as film scores, which you don’t often find in dramas.
I couldn’t stop myself from watching this episode even though it was two in the morning and I had to wake up at five. The show is THAT good.
“Fool for You” – Brown Eyed Girls (from the Padam Padam OST)
episode 2 recap
Yang Kang-chil relives the time from his car accident to his hanging again and again. Then he finds himself in the shower, his mind an omnipresent spectator of a scene he’s already lived. He has the marks of his hanging on his neck, which make him even more alarmed.
When only he and his younger friend Lee Gook-soo (KIM BUM) are the only ones left in the shower, Kang-chil unleashes his confusion: what’s wrong with me? I died. Gook-soo looked properly confused and a bit suspicious of Kang-chil’s state-of-mind. They go back and forth, Kang-chil explaining everything, and Gook-soo worrying for his health. Then Gook-soo tells him, “You didn’t die. You probably want to die.”
He goes on to say that Kang-chil is about to be released into the real world and is scared he has no power unlike in prison where he’s at the top of the food chain. But he wants to die so he’s letting Jin-goo goad him. You have the courage, Gook-soo says. Just ignore Jin-goo and live. He disappears into the steam of the shower.
On the field, Kang-chil finds he can’t control his body as it walks through the motions of a day already lived. Gook-soo gives him an angel talisman to protect him. Kang-chil fights his body, but it takes him through the exercises on the field again, and his fight with Jin-goo. His face is twisted in the agony of being completely out of control and conflicted – he scared to live but he wants to live.
Warden Kim (YOON JOO-SANG) runs towards him and it takes all his strength and willpower to fight fate. But he does it. As the prisoners are pressed against the fence, Kang-chil remembers his talisman, which begins to glow. He’s stunned and in emotional overload. The glow spreads upward and over the field where we see its actually a spread of angel wings.
Kang-chil glances at Gook-soo in awe and a bit of fear. “Lee Gook-soo. What are you?” Surprisingly, Gook-soo looks a bit unsure himself – then his face hardens in determination.
Jin-goo gets put in solitary and Kang-chil and Gook-soo watch Tae-min socialize with a smile, happy he’s not being terrorized. Well, Gook-soo is watching. Kang-chil is busy trying to figure Gook-soo out. Gook-soo thinks he’s an angel because his mother told him he was after he tried to steal money from an ATM to pay for her medical bills. “Are you angry that you’re human and I’m an angel?” Kang-chil looks incredulous and replies, “I’m better off thinking I’m crazy than you’re an angel.”
“I’m the angel I begged to become to make miracles happen.” Kang-chil only has two left because all changes come in threes. The first was living through the hanging and the marks disappearing from his neck when the light came out of the talisman. He earned it by fighting fate by sheer willpower.
Veterinarian Jung Ji-na (HAN JI-MIN) and her fellow vet, Kim Young-cheol (Lee Jae-woo), are met by a realtor who says her father swears up and down he didn’t list the house, thwarting her study abroad plans. In front of the police station, Detective Jung (JANG HANG-SUN) is on the phone with his daughter, trying to convince her to stay in Korea one more year and she can have rights for the house in Tongyung.
On the pier, Kang-chil’s mother, Kim Mi-ja (NA MOON-HEE) is selling fish. She doesn’t stop for food so Min Hyo-sook (KIM JI-YOO), Kang-chil’s ex, brings her noodles, calling her eomma and treating her well. Her neighbor fish vendor loudly coos in an ahjumma voice over eating with her son to anger Mi-ja.
At the Han River, place of all things bad, District Attorney Park Chang-gul (KIM JOON-SUNG) is meeting with some drug dealers. That’s Kosher. He’s being watched by a man in a ball cap, Oh Yong-hak.
Yang Kang-chil and Lee Gook-soo are finally released from prison. The warden watches from a window, misty-eyed. As the two friends make their way into the city, Gook-soo reminds Kang-chil not to forget that his miracle taught him: his will saved him. But we also see that Kang-chil was jaded by his sixteen years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Although the warden and Gook-soo believes the world is worth living in, he doesn’t and gets twenty black stars from Gook-soo.
Kang-chil notices a man trailing him and beats Gook-soo to the ground to prevent him from following and getting hurt by Kang-chil’s on-going problems. Gook-soo finds him anyway and tries to hard to stay with Kang-chil that he tries to drag him into the bathroom when he has to poop. But Kang-chil escapes again and manages to beat his stalker. Tell Park Chang-gul (the DA) that I’m going to be in Tongyung and when I find what he wants, we’ll meet again, he says and boards his bus while stalker informs DA Park.
Detective Jung sucks up to DA Park who had just taken all the credit for the drug bust Jung made. (DA Park had been a nobody when his son, Min-ho, was alive. This is vital to the story. I feel it in my gut!)
Gook-soo sees Kang-chil boarding a bus and sees a vision of himself riding beside Kang-chil’s son. “Who’s that?” he wonders.
Ji-na is driving with her dog, Tenggie, to her father’s house in Tongyung when her car makes a funny noise. She arrives early and peruses the pictures her father stole from her and had hung on the wall. The picture of her brother Min-ho triggers a memory.
Her father is severely beating a kid in handcuffs who is begging to be saved. Her mother comes to comfort her.
The bus drops Kang-chil off several miles from Tongyung and he starts to walk beside a beautiful sunset.
Meanwhile, a cheerful Detective Jung eats dinner with his sullen daughter. He drinks liberally and the waitress comments on the beauty of his daughter. As her father and the waitress talk, Ji-na gets more impatient. She just came for his stamp so she can sell the house. Detective Jung asks her to stay a year until he’s retired so he can help her move to America but she shuts him down.
Hurt, he demands to know if she thinks he killed her mother. He was grieving over the death of his son-like dongsaeng, Min-ho and her mother took the young killer’s side, even visiting him in prison and finding him a lawyer. Ji-na stands up, completely incensed and tells him its his fault her mother died – he knows how she gets bad asthma when she’s upset. He constantly yelled at her and when he called her one day, yelling, she was alone in the hot summer and died from an asthma attack.
He slaps her and then tells her to leave him like everyone else and she does, leaving him and the flowers he’d excitedly bought for her.
On her way home, Ji-na is stewing in the car. She flashes back to a fight that her parents had over Min-ho’s young killer. Detective Jung slaps his wife multiple times, demanding who she cared for more while a young, vulnerable Ji-na looks on.
It starts raining and Kang-chil finds shelter in a wooden shack. Ji-na’s car breaks down and Tenggie runs off towards the shack. (He is the pooch of destiny, bringing the future lovebirds together!) She follows him and seeks shelter on the porch from the rain. Kang-chil watches her with his flashlight lighting his face up ghost-story style and startles her when she turns around. He is so socially unaware that he’s confused as to why she was startled.
He builds her a fire and shyly invites her in, grinning like a teenage boy when she agrees. He leaves the door open and makes awkward conversation while peeling yams. With her, he’s completely different than the jaded ex-con we saw with Gook-soo. He’s eager-to-please, chatty, nervous, completely googly-eyed and all-around adorable in his attempts to be a gentleman. She can’t help but smile.
When she burns herself reaching for a yam in the fire, he stares, telling her that he thinks everything about her is cute because it has been so long since he’s seen a woman. We get our first “skinship” when he offers her a peeled yam and there is definitely some chemistry going on.
He makes more conversation, unable to stop, and discovers Tenggie the pooch of destiny is going to be a guide dog.
“We train him to have no fear of the world or people so he can become a guide dog.”
Kang-chil says that he needs that. She asks how he got there and in his explanation, he lets it slip that he was just released from jail – she completely clams up. I can’t blame her, but he knows something is wrong and gets “hot”. He takes off his outer shirt to fan himself and she sees his tattoo, growing more frightened.
Ji-na starts to ignore all of his questions and becomes really nervous when she notices him checking her out in awe of her beauty and delicacy. He chokes on his yam when he realizes he’s caught and she makes a move to leave. When he grabs her hand, she freezes, Tenggie rises and he feels awkward. So he leaves instead and she sends Tenggie after him.
On his way, Kang-chil notices the pooch of destiny following him. After a cute little go-around, Tenggie leads him to her car. With an boyish grin, he declares he can fix it and gets to work. By morning, he has stripped down to a wifebeater (sexay) and has successfully fixed the car. He celebrates with Tenggie but it is cut short by a stern Ji-na.
She tries the car and he grins at her, like a child waiting for praise. When asked how he opened the car, he innocently holds up a wire without thinking twice about the implications. The heat gets to him and he lifts his shirt to wipe his face
for a gratuitous ab-scene and she sees scars on his stomach – her face blanches.
Then he asks for a ride, since he fixed her car and all. He climbs in and doesn’t realize how creepy he seems. Adorably, he tries to wheedle his a “yes” out of her and by her reaction gathers that something is wrong, but has no idea what.
He keeps at it and she finally agrees when he says she’s not as nice as she looks. As they make their way towards Tongyung, he excitedly hollers out the window, happy to experience the freedom of a car ride.
Clever Ji-na stops at a police station and hands him some money. “Take that or go there.”
The fun-loving boy disappears behind the hard mask he wore for sixteen years. Without realizing, he lowers his speech as he declares that he hates being judged. She counters with, “How did you get in my car?” Finally, he realizes how creepy he’d been but fumbles with words. His intentions really had been pure. Fed-up, she calls for the cop and orders him out of the car in banmal. He is shocked by her rudeness – but he started it.
Stuffing money in his pocket, she calls them even. Insulted and disillusioned yet again, he climbs out of the car. She thanks him sweetly and he hilariously imitates her. As she drives off, the pooch of fate sticks his head out the window and stares back at him.
On a dock, Kang-chil remembers his hyung, Kang-woo, and how he took care of him and spent time with him. “Why did you die for a guy like me? Why I find a job I’ll come back with the crackers you like and soju for you.”
He takes a bus to the market and hears his mother fighting with a customer. Her bitchy ahjumma neighbor pilfers the customer as he walks up. Mother and son stare at each other. Then, she tells him to go away. She treats him like a stranger and they trade words. He’s hurt and angry. “Everyone is rejecting me!” It is the last straw. He begins to dump her fish on the ground and causes a scene.
Out of nowhere, Gook-soo jumps on his back and beats him to the ground. Initially, I think it’s in revenge, but his words tell another story: If you go to jail this time, it will really be the end. Then he runs away.
Hyo-sook drags Kang-chil away as the man in the ball cap watches with a smirk. She starts with banmal, which he says is inappropriate but as they are in Tongyung and within five years of each other, its fine. We discover they’ve known each other since childhood, she married, had a kid and divorced and they ‘dated’ when they were younger – she was eight when she crushed on him. She occasionally visited him in jail up until four years ago.
But the pressing matter now is that his face is bleeding and he’s in pain. He doesn’t want to go to the hospital just for some scratches so she takes him to a veterinary hospital where she knows the vet. Kang-chil is covering one eye with a handkerchief and the other with his hand so he doesn’t see that the vet is none other than his biggest fan, Ji-na – but she recognizes his voice and her eyes widen. Hyo-sook asks Ji-na to patch him up as a favor while he asks Hyo-sook why she divorced. “Are you going to beat him up and protect me like you did when we were younger? I’m glad you’re back.”
Ah, nothing like a well-placed conversation through the childhood-friend-vehicle to divulge important character information.
Anywho, Kang-chil is in pain and Ji-na looks conflicted over her past impressions of him and the new information she’d just heard. She’s scared, and attracted, and confused as hell.
She pushes all of her emotions to the side and monotonously orders him to remove the towel. Never mind. I’ll do it myself, he intones, aware of her hesitance to help him. She says she needs to see it to make sure that is all it needs.
He removes the handkerchief and she checks it out. Reaching out to him reminds him of a similar time, when a woman visited him in jail and reached out to him. It is Ji-na’s mother who we recognize from the pictures and her flashbacks. Ruh-roh, the fates have collided again.
The sudden memory startles him and he grabs Ji-na’s hand, unable to see clearly.
“Who are you?”
I seriously just want to discuss this drama night and day and run theories and theories by my fellow drama lovers. But, I won’t. I’ll keep this as concise as I possibly can…we all know brevity is NOT my friend.
I was unsure about the supernatural element and how it was going to be incorporated without turning this drama into a hokey mess. It makes the many coincidences less dubious. But what really does it for me is Lee Gook-soo’s reaction to the supernatural happenings. He is unsure of what’s going on but he knows that he has an important role in Yang Kang-chil’s life. At key moments, his destiny speaks to him and we see the “angel” in him, such as when he tells Kang-chil that he only has two miracles left. The supernatural bit is as much of a discovery process for him as it is for Kang-chil. THAT is cool.
Kim Bum as Gook-soo is just a-freakin’-dorable. I also admire him for dropping twenty pounds for the role. EEK. But Bummie is charming and riveting as the guardian figure. Gook-soo is a light-hearted youth with a mission. H doesn’t let the world get him down and has very startling moments of seriousness where he sees the world with unbelievable clarity.
And, you GOT to love the bromance he nurtures with Kang-chil. How cute is THAT?
Now, Yang Kang-chil.
He is a series of paradoxes that really is the crux of being human. At the core, he is a kindhearted man with a strong sense of justice who just wants a simple life. Circumstance jaded him, made him mistrustful, made him lose hope, made him feel helpless. He lives for the moment because living for more than that was too painful. The little things delight him, but the moment he is confronted with something big, he shuts down and we see sarcasm, violence and defensiveness, bogged down by the unfairness of his life.
With Ji-na, we see the delightful, childlike side of him that smiles, blushes, feels awkward and is eager to please. He is alive in the moments he spends with her and forgets hardships…until she turns on him. But me thinks that won’t last for long because her reasoning is logical and not bassackwards like being locked in jail for sixteen years for a murder he didn’t commit.
I see Jung Ji-na mostly in terms of her relationship with Kang-chil. As a stand alone character, right now she doesn’t do it for me. She has been burnt by her father, her ex-boyfriend and the deaths of her mother and uncle. Her defense is to turn into a silent ice queen.
Where she really comes to life is with Kang-chil – she smiles so easily around Kang-chil over the fire. The actors have such amazing chemistry that I can’t WAIT to see this romance play out. For Ji-na’s development, I expect to see Kang-chil’s fight against himself and fight against the injustices that keep him down to inspire her and rouse her to care for someone other than herself.
I hate Detective Jung right now. That sort of violence is unacceptable to me. He is a father and husband who needs to cherish his family. He is an upholder of the law who abuses his power. NOT COOL. He needs to redeem himself in a BIG WAY.
Who’s excited for episode 3? *RAISES HAND*