That picture up there is basically the relationship between our two leads, heh. Even though there’s a cancer diagnosis in this, this drama doesn’t mope around like a teary sad sack. After all, life is too short to waste, especially when you’re a successful writer who has to work around the limited acting abilities of an “Acting Eunuch”.
Fantastic Episode 1:
Fast heavy beats open the episode, clearly an introduction to an action filled thriller. In an abandoned factory, a lady tied to a chair stares at her captors, her eyes full of rebellion. A dainty damsel in distress she is not, because she proceeds to kick ass, taking all those men down easily, five to one.
But while she fights, another figure in black, covered from head to toe, enters the fray and kicks her off the suitcase she’s interested in. They take their disagreement to the top of a huge machine with some fancy flips. He matches her, move for move, but in the end, it’s her who has the upper hand and she trips him off the machine.
They end up on either side of a divide and stare at each other, eye to eye, the lady full of fierce determination. The man in black removes his mask and suddenly, the lady’s face falls, while he gives her a flirty wink. HAHAHAHHA.
“The bastard Ryu HaeSung is not it!” protests our lady. She is writer LEE SO-HYE (Kim HyunJoo) and currently, she’s in a pre-production meeting, fending off her drama director’s insistence that Ryu HaeSung is a good fit for the lead of her drama, titled Hitman. SoHye complains that he’s old and he can’t act but all her director cares about is that he’s a Hallyu star, and a little detour shows us that it’s true.
Over in China, a mob of fans crowd the entrance to a building, and the moment RYU HAE-SUNG (Joo SangWook) steps out of his celebrity vehicle, they scream. Pfft, one of them screams that he’s really handsome and our vain little star stops right in front of her. Using questionable Mandarin, he asks her to repeat herself.
Fan: “I said that Ryu HaeSung is the most, most, most handsome!”
Ryu HaeSung: “I know. I just wanted to hear that again.”
PWAHAHAHHA. He pats her head, to her ecstasy, and the moment he’s in the safety of the building, he lets out a loud, pompous laugh.
HaeSung’s popularity and ability to draw in the investor is what the Assistant Director says their drama needs. In fact, he’s so popular that just based on his name, they were able to pull in a $3 million investment, but on condition that Ryu HaeSung is the protagonist and that he appears on the drama A LOT. In order to further persuade SoHye, a member of her staff lets slip the titbit that Ryu HaeSung really loves the script.
Cut to HaeSung throwing the script and declaring that he won’t do it. In fact, he won’t do any Korean dramas. His manager (Jo JaeYoon) insists that it’s the perfect drama for him – he doesn’t have many lines and he doesn’t have to do much acting. Heh, the universally-known terrible actor asks if his manager is making fun of him and whines that there’s no reason for him to face embarrassment in Korea when he’s doing so well in China.
He ignores his manager the moment a call comes for him and suddenly he’s speaking in baby-speak, calling the other person “gwiyomi” (cutie). That’s his grandmother he’s talking too, pfft. She whines for him to do a Korean drama already, so that she can watch him on her screen and with that, HaeSung gives the script a chance. The name Lee SoHye catches his attention and he demands to know if this writer really wanted to work with him. “Of course”, says his manager.
Back in Korea, SoHye snaps that she totally hates the idea of working with him. He’s an actor with no saving grace and her director does everything he can to make her agree to it, from calling her a magic writer to assuring her that she’ll get a raise if this drama becomes a hit. She resists, retorting that HaeSung’s well-known nickname is “Acting Eunuch”. Pffft.
But in the end, it seems like HaeSung accepts the job and SoHye gives in, because a mob of reporters soon come up to ask him to explain about his new drama, Hitman.
He heads into a washroom and lets out an incredulous laugh. With a sigh, he flips a coin when he gets out, letting it hit the ground. It comes to a stop when it rolls against another person’s shoes – SoHye’s. With a smile, HaeSung greets her, noting that it’s been twelve years. But SoHye isn’t up for playing nice and coolly ignores his outstretched hand. While she stalks off, he looks after her, wistful. Hmm.
They both go into a press conference for their drama and one reporter notes that the writer-actor duo have a long history. Apparently, SoHye was the one who discovered HaeSung and gave him the opportunity to be who he is today. They spit out pleasant sounding lies bald-faced, like “I took the drama without knowing who wrote it” and “I wrote it with Ryu HaeSung in mind”, heh, and smile for the camera. But the moment the cameras are away, HaeSung is back to irritating SoHye on purpose. Hahaha.
Her director comes to save her from his antics and directs her to a surprise birthday celebration just for her while HaeSung looks on from his corner. The director asks her to join them for dinner but SoHye begs off, since she has something on.
She heads to her car, with HaeSung following right behind her like a puppy. Luckily for the production, the person she was supposed to meet calls for a rain check, which means that she’s free to attend their dinner. Too bad she’s stuck because some fool has parked his car inches from hers, meaning that she has no way to get into her driver’s seat.
She calls the number displayed on the offending car and gets a recording that it’s a roaming/ international call, meaning that the car owner’s not in the country. HaeSung offers to get the car out, which he easily does because the offending car is his. The recording was his pre-programmed personalised ringtone. HAA! With a cheeky smile, he tells her to follow him, since she wasn’t informed as to where the dinner-gathering will be.
She ends up at his house. He explains that his chef graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and it seems like he told the truth because the rest of the production team joins her. While the others roam around the mansion place, HaeSung drags SoHye to his walk-in wardrobe.
It’s filled with luxury items that he’s willing to use for their drama, mostly in an attempt to cover up his lack of acting abilities, though he insists that it’s because it’s ridiculous that the hero only wears one outfit – black – throughout the whole series. SoHye calls it for what it is, though she does it in the harshest way ever. It takes HaeSung aback and even though it hits his ego, he says that as an actor, he has the right to contribute his ideas to the script.
The word actor has SoHye flaring up again and she throws his embarrassing nickname (Acting Eunuch) back at him. Ooof. Since she knows all that, he wonders how she could write her script like so; to demand what he certainly can’t deliver. He asks if this is revenge for “what happened in the past” and SoHye pretends ignorance, but then snarls that she remembers that a newbie was blinded by money and success, so he threw faith and loyalty out the window. Oh, interesting.
HaeSung tries to explain the situation but SoHye isn’t interested in hearing him out. That’s the last straw for their collaboration and they break it off. HaeSung orders his manager to get a ticket to China while SoHye tells her director that it’s either her or HyeSung.
After that showdown, HyeSung locks himself in his bedroom, heavy hearted. SoHye’s words clearly hit where it hurt.
Somewhere else in Seoul a doctor, HONG JUN-KI (Kim TaeWoo) sighs over an X-ray. SoHye comes in, much chirpier that she was earlier and they seem to be good friends with the easy banter they have. He’s her consulting doctor, the one who checks her script for medical inaccuracies (it should be a law that all writers have one) and because she’s researched so much, with one look, SoHye can tell that the patient whose X-ray is displayed on his computer has a really bad case of breast cancer. It’s even spread all the way to the lungs.
SoHye jokes that she’s half as good as a licensed doctor but JunKi doesn’t return her smile. She knows that something’s not right and her smile fades the moment she reads the name of the patient: Lee SoHye. That’s her name.
JunKi tries to act like it’s fine and suggests another test and targeted treatment but SoHye is lost in her feelings, muttering that she has to rewrite the scene in her drama where a character hears about his/her cancer diagnosis. Tears well up in her eyes, but she pulls herself together and turns talk to her script. By the time she leaves her doctor’s office, it looks like she’s back to normal.
Still, the moment she’s in the safe confines of her car, she reels from her diagnosis, sitting there for a good long while, even until the skies turn dark. It’s her elder brother who breaks her out of her reverie, calling to congratulate her for getting work on a new drama. She tries to bring up her diagnosis, but her brother cuts in first, asking for money.
She swallows her grief and asks how much he needs – $10,000 – and promises to come up with the money.
After a long day, she arrives home, only to be greeted by her elder sister. She’s here with side dishes, claiming that it’s because it’s SoHye’s birthday. But further talk reveals that there’s trouble with Unnie’s finances. Her husband had signed away their house as collateral and they now have to move out. SoHye nearly breaks down into tears at more bad news and takes issue with Unnie’s side dishes.
Unnie knows that something’s wrong with SoHye but her worries about her family’s living condition worries her more. That’s too much for SoHye to handle and she finally bursts out in anger, asking her sister if she can’t ask after her instead of always treating her like an ATM. She chases her sister out, but she doesn’t fail to note her sister’s worn out slippers.
Once she’s finally alone, SoHye stomps to her kitchen to get something to eat. But it’s like the world is against her and she cuts her finger while opening a can. That’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back and she cries, her heart-wrenching, loud sobs reverberating throughout her lonely place.
The next morning, she has a visitor, someone who works with HaeSung. SoHye sighs that she’s not interested in talking if it’s about HaeSung but the lady is not here for that. She’s just here to inform SoHye that she’s taken over SoHye’s production company. That’s means that SoHye either does the drama with HyeSung or pays the damages for not going through with it. By the way, she’ll be selling the place that SoHye lives in, since it belongs to the company. What is this no good, very bad day?
HaeSung arrives at a nursing home, arriving with presents and the command to his manager to get a ticket to China, even if it means that he can’t ever work in Korea ever again.
He runs into his grandma’s arms and it’s adorable how taken he is with her. But once alone with his grandmother’s doctor, he learns that his grandmother’s diabetes is getting worse. In fact, she’s already lost most of her sight and is set to lose even more, with no other way to cure her. However, because she wants to watch HaeSung in a drama, Grandma’s been doing everything she can to ally her symptoms, even refusing to eat any kind of sweets.
HaeSung holds back later with a heavy heart, hiding round the corner and watching on with a heavy heart as his grandmother crows to her friends about his new drama that she calls “Heaterman”, ha.
SoHye does some thinking of her own too and eventually decides to do the drama. She comes up with a contract for her production company’s new boss, CHOI JIN-SOOK (Kim JungNan) demanding an upfront payment of $100,000 and immediate payment of the remainder of her fee the moment she hands over the last script. After all, JinSuk is famous for not paying her writers. She gets a deal.
She explains that she has to get out of the poop-bucket she’s in as soon as possible to prevent getting poisoned when asked why she changed her mind and JinSook the crazy laughs that it’s such a loser-like explanation, to degrade the richer and better person (she means herself) as dirty and powerful. In any case, the deal between them is done, but they still have to catch HaeSung, who, to JinSook’s knowledge is heading towards China right this instant.
That gets SoHye speeding straight to HaeSung’s house and proposing that they work together for the drama. She apologises for going too far the other day and HaeSung barely hides his little smile. He insists on knowing just what exactly she’s apologising for and tries to get her to promise to never call him “Acting Eunuch”. Pfft, when she doesn’t immediately answer, he calls his manager, telling him to cancel the ticket to China (that hasn’t even been booked) and ups the ante, acting like he had to pay a lot to cancel the “private jet” he’d booked just so that he can take up SoHye’s offer, heh.
They agree on only one change in the script and SoHye answering all of HaeSung’s calls. He asserts that he needs that 24/7 contact for acting advice because he’s going to throw all of himself into this project. Heh, he eagerly grabs her hands, to shake on it.
With that over, SoHye heads home and downs a bottle of water. But even there, she doesn’t get a break from HaeSung because once she looks down at the bottle, HaeSung’s face looks up at her. Ha, he endorses the water she just drank.
In a fit of frustration, she throws the bottle at a stack of books, toppling them over. While putting them back, she finds a picture of herself and two other friends, back when they were in high school.
It sends her back into a reverie about her younger days, where she was the only one who paid attention to the literature teacher. Her other two friends only come back to life seconds before the end of class, mainly to prettify themselves. For her birthday that year, BAEK SEOL (Park SiYeon), the rich one of the clique, gifts SoHye a laptop, waving it off when SoHye protests about the gift being too expensive. Seol knows just how much SoHye dreams of becoming a writer and encourages her to use the laptop to write her way to success.
But some brats that had been hanging round the other side of the school’s fences sullies her new laptop with a well-thrown packet of milk. It’s soon an all-out brawl between the girls of the school and the guys from outside the school. Life is good and our trio head off to celebrate SoHye’s birthday at a nearby eatery, taking a photo to remember the moment.
That’s the photo grown-up SoHye now fingers fondly.
As declared, HaeSung throws his everything into SoHye’s drama, practicing for it back at home with his manager’s help. Pfft, it just ends up looking like a child playing with a toy gun and even HaeSung’s manager can’t help but laugh. HaeSung complains about the “ridiculous” demands of the script, declaring it impossible to act solely using one’s eyes. Uhm… I’d like to direct you to Park BoGum. But he insists that he needs CG and is determined to change the character to suit his needs.
That’s how SoHye gets calls after calls from him, though she thoroughly ignores him.
She heads over to Unnie’s food shop and demands for Japchae, this time with meat instead of the fish cakes that she’d made a fuss over the other day. While eating, she remembers back to the day when their parents died in an accident. Unnie notices that she looks a lot worse for the wear and wonders, of all things, whether she’s pregnant. Pfft.
That’s sends SoHye into peals of laughter, though it sounds more sad than amused. She lies on the ground and tells her sister that she has wired the money she’d needed. Unnie apologetically thanks her but SoHye has already fallen asleep. Aw, Unnie sees the new slippers that SoHye had bought for her and nearly cries.
SoHye’s next stop is the police station, and she’s friends with the officers there, who are her drama-script-consultants too, for anything related to detective work. Ha, she’d put in a favour to find someone who’d gone off with her money but that’s just a dramatic excuse to get them to find her old high school friend, JO MI-SUN (Kim JaeHwa), who now works at a barbers’.
MiSun is thrilled to see SoHye again and runs home to the fields screaming for her husband, who adorably asks if she missed him that much. Turns out, MiSun’s husband, PilHo, is SoHye’s friend too and he owns a lettuce farm (along with other kinds of vegetables…). (If I didn’t’ see wrongly, he’s also the guy teenaged Seol had thrown a milk packet at during their brawl. If they really stayed together all the way back from when they were teenagers, aw, that’s so cute.)
Talk turns to Seol, who’s now the daughter-in-law of a rich traditional family. Her mother-in-law from hell is uptight, like the Han family from Heard it Through the Grapevine. You know what, even the house looks like it came straight from there. SoHye gets criticised just for exclaiming when she hears from an old friend and has to rush off to her room to continue the conversation.
She’s elated to hear from SoHye, MiSun and PilHo and wishes that she could join them for their feast. However, she can’t because of her in-laws and promises to make time to meet up soon. But the conversation gets cut short because she has to act like a glorified maid for the family’s visitor, Assemblywoman Lee, who’s also her politician-wannabe husband’s boss/mentor.
LMAO, the rich people basically talk out of their asses like they’re all that. Oh, nasty JinSook turns out to be Seol’s sister-in-law and even when Assemblywoman Lee praises Seol for being a good cook, JinSook has to take that from her, cutting in that it’s all due to the their family sending her for cooking class.
The uppity people splurge on $29,000 wine for their guest and share pompous laughs between themselves. When Seol goes to get fruits, her in-laws talk bad about her, even though she can hear everything. They talk like they’re gods for putting up with her, after her family’s fortune went bust and even though she’s barren (or so they say). Excuse me for a moment. I think I’m suffering from air embolism because my blood just boiled.
Meanwhile, HaeSung works out and decides to put in a video-call to SoHye. Pfft, she throws her phone away the moment she sees who’s calling and instead, changes his name on her phone from the very plain “Ryu HaeSung” to the very descriptive “Foot acting”.
Her rejection doesn’t bother HaeSung much because he has a bigger problem to solve. He’s too handsome, what is he going to do?! PWAHAHAHAHA. His solution is to take a steady stream of selcas, even though he “doesn’t want to”.
Seol entreats her husband to help her sneak out of the house past his mother’s watchful eye, long enough for her to visit her friends. He tells her not to hang out with other women, because she’s the future first woman.
But I guess he must have given in because Seol’s mother-in-law is under the impression that she’ll be out due to a couple’s gathering that night. Even then, she takes issue with Seol spending a whopping $38 on one item last month and complains about Seol’s mother’s yearly nursing home fees (which are cheaper than the bottle of wine she’d just served the assemblywoman). JinSook comes in complaining then, because there’s no one to pick what I guess must be her daughter from school. And then Seol’s mother-in-law tells her not to go out in the future, because “it’s burdensome for everyone when the one who does housework goes out”. Urgh. I already hate them so much.
SoHye gets a visit from her director, who knows all about HaeSung calling her. But one call from him comes in just then and she picks that one up. He offers to give her some real expensive presents and ignores her rejections… and sends her a barrage of his selfies. Pffft. He’s hilarious.
When SoHye rejects HaeSung’s next call, he’s there to confront her about it. She’s on her way to visit her friends but since she says nothing of the sort, he assumes that she’s going on a date. Ha, he offers to give her a lift, since he’ll be going in the direction she’s going anyway, that being wherever she’s going to. No, the place beside it! Ha.
In the car, he appeals to SoHye the charm of having “multi-dimensional” characters, which in his dictionary means having a killer become a cutie pie. SoHye shuts that down pretty quickly, because that sounds more like multiple personality disorder to her, heh.
He’s not daunted and proposes having an agonized cutie pie. *Facepalm*
Seol arrives at her husband’s law firm (that really looks like it came from the set of Heard it Through the Grapevine) to pass him a document and finds him fooling around with the Assemblywoman. What the hell.
Upset, she runs straight for her car, her husband chasing after her. He manages to stop her but can’t get to her because she had locked the doors and on the other side, the Assemblywoman righteously demands for Seol to get out so that they can speak. Having had enough, Seol just backs her car and zooms off, losing a side mirror to a pillar.
Still stuck in the same car, SoHye has to endure HaeSung’s new proposal – what if they give the hero a daytime job? Then he copies those of Spiderman, Batman, Superman and Iron Man. Ha. He sighs that his ideas are Hollywood level and SoHye just leaves him to rant because she’s reached her destination.
HaeSung laughs to see that it isn’t a man she was meeting but MiSun. Pfft, he gets out to introduce himself and guesses that MiSun is SoHye’s unnie. No, her aunt! Pwahaha, it turns out that they’d met in the past before, when MiSun gave him a huge “hole in the head” while styling his hair.
He notes that she “hasn’t changed much” and refuses to leave, especially when MiSun offers to buy drinks for them all.
At the same time, Seol mad-drives, her husband hot on her heels and horning at her the whole time.
She turns round the corner and slams straight into HaeSung’s car. He instinctively body-wraps SoHye but the moment they come to their senses, he gasps at the damage done to his “Baobei” (his car. Also, “darling/precious” in Mandarin).
While MiSun calls for the ambulance, SoHye checks on the driver of the car… and is shocked to recognise Seol.
Damn, way to open with a bang, Fantastic. And what a literal bang that was.
I find myself really liking Joo SangWook as the goofy, air-headed actor who has an insecurity regarding his lack of acting talents and I adore Kim HyunJoo’s strong, no nonsense SoHye. It’s clear that there’s some sort of misunderstanding between the two characters with the way SoHye gets mildly repulsed every time she sees HaeSung while HaeSung just looks after her, always wistful and hoping to get her attention. He’s really like an eager puppy when he does that. I really want to know that it was that tore them apart and maybe it’s just some minor miscommunication because it seems like HaeSung wants to explain but SoHye never lets him.
How sad was SoHye’s no good, very bad day? And it had to be her birthday of all days. I really felt for her when she cried and was actually a little surprised that she got out of her funk so quickly. Maybe this is the denial stage, where she hasn’t really registered that she’s in deep trouble. But at least the shock pushes her to reconnect with her old friends and that’s always a good thing. Why do we only treasure what we have only when we’re about to lose it? Wouldn’t it be nicer if we all stop assuming that we’re invincible and seize each day like it’s our last? After all, we all have a deadline.
I liked this premiere. Nothing’s too bad, though nothing’s note-worthily awesome either. Maybe I’ll have something more to write by the second episode because I really like where this is going.
Cute, goofy guys and strong sisterhood in one drama? Count me in any time.