So it wasn’t really what I expected it to be although it was predictable. I can say that it was a fun opener after the first fifteen minutes. They certainly laid down quite a few tropes. But you know what, that’s cool. Just don’t throw the other half of the book at us later.
“Dreaming of you” – Lee Jin-sung/Monday Kiz (from the Fashion King OST)
episode 1 recap
We begin with Kang Young-gul at a runway show drawing sketch notes of the latest fashion and being generally adorable. He faxes his notes back to his shop and they get cracking on replicas. Rip-offs of the runway show show up everywhere.
Fashion designer Tory Burch makes a cameo as part of an acceptance committee for a New York University. They go gaga over an applicant’s work. Who is she? Female lead, Lee Ga-young.
Ga-young is working quietly at a boutique and preparing for a show amongst a gaggle of gossiping ladies. She peers out the window and spots the mailman speeding away. Racing down the stairs, she arrives moments after a black-gloved hand has taken the mail.
A rather snooty-looking woman is opening the mail, Madam Jo, and spots Ga-young’s letter. She uses a magnifying glass to read it. (Seriously? That’s hysterical, Cruella. Yes, she’s Cruella. She has black gloves, holds her monocle like a cigarette and has gaudy make-up. Oh yeah, she’s illegally opening other people’s mail. She’s bound to be evil.)
Madam Jo hides the letter when Ga-young comes in and replies coolly when Ga-young inquires after the mail. She is waiting for a letter from a university in the U.S. and if she gets in, she would like to borrow the money for the plane and the first semester – she will repay Madam Jo no matter what.
The admission incites Madam Jo who thinks Ga-young is only after money and that she kept her application a secret. If she gives Ga-young the money and she fails, what then? When Ga-young leaves, Madam Jo rips up the letter.
Wow, angry much?
A group of six saunters into Madam Jo’s boutique lead by Madam Jo’s daughter, Shin Jung-ah. She doesn’t really care if her mother catches her and the kids get to partying. (Oh, I sense mommy issues…but who wouldn’t have them with Cruella for a mother?)
There’s some alcohol and Madam Jo’s daughter is in the mood for some kissing, which eventually leads to some hot and heavy making out and a desperate search for somewhere private. Meanwhile, unsuspecting Ga-young is sleeping on her desk after a long day. The horny couple haphazardly discard a lit cigarette into a container holding several bolts of cloth and they catch fire.
The smoke wakes Ga-young up and she tries to put out the fire, to no avail.
Of COURSE, her boss shows up, and Madam Jo is pissed. She slaps Ga-young across the face and accuses her of setting the fire as revenge for refusing to loan her money. Another employee, Miss Go, tries to defend Ga-young, but is reprimanded. Ga-young denies setting the fire and Madam Jo kicks her out. She fed her, clothed her and sent her to school. She’s done enough. If Ga-young wants to go abroad to avoid her, then she should leave.
Ga-young agrees to leave, but thinks she deserves to have a part of the business since her parents started it. Madam Jo is shocked and replies that she should’ve just reported Ga-young to the police for arson. Besides, Ga-young’s parents owed her money so SHE should be the one asking for money.
Alright, she is Evil Boss. Ga-young needs to stand up to Evil Boss now. Oh no, she can’t. It’s only episode one and the tenacious heroine never learns to be tenacious a little faster until about…oh…episode 19.
Ga-young wanders around Seoul and ends up in the Dongdaemun Market where she sees a sign advertising for a sewing professional. She heads on over to the shop, named Young Girl and knocks on the garage door. A buxom woman, the head seamstress crawls out beneath the garage door. BWAHAHA!
She leads Ga-young to the president who is none other than Young-gul – at the moment, he’s taking a nap with his feet on the desk and snoring up a storm. Quite puzzled, she stares at him until a phone call wakes him up. It is the loan shark Hwang Tae-sun and Young-gul is suddenly very alert and quickly assures Tae-sun that everything is well. He, also has an amazing new piece. No, he’s not faking.
Young-gul hangs up and finally registers that Ga-young is there. He sends her out to test her skills on a sewing machine but she wants to know about room, board and salary. He’s not much interested in her questions and gives perfunctory answers. She, understandably, storms out to rock the sewing machine and impress the sewing ahjummas. When he comes out, he’s impressed, too.
Turns out he’s headed to a sauna where a bunch of fat, tattooed guys are getting sweaty.
Young-gul asks them all to leave but one who pointedly ignores him. He is Jang Il-gook, Young-gul’s friend and a lackey of loan shark Tae-sun. Young-gul is annoyed that Tae-sun called and then appalled that Young-gul has the gall to ask for a loan.
That’s the last thing Il-gook wants to hear because has suffered a huge pay cut and no promotions for three years because he vouched for Young-gul’s character to Tae-sun. No one has money, Young-gul moans.
Il-gook shoots him a sidelong glance. “What about Jung Jae-hyuk?”
Well, he’s sitting in a chair, pretty-as-you-please, watching a runway photo shoot with a sourpuss expression on his face.
He’s not impressed, but I am. He’s hot!!! RAWR! When does his broody shower scene air? For how long? Does he get multiple ones?
Anyway, Jae-hyuk stops the shoot and everyone is shocked, including the white haired Director Kim. Kim tries to explain the vision he’s been realizing for two years but Jae-hyuk doesn’t care. He wants him to do it again. Then he exits, doing a wonderful Chaebol strut and leaving Kim fuming.
Assistant Kim, Jae-hyuk’s lackey, thinks that the president will not be happy about this decision. They spent a lot of effort scouting him.
Jae-hyuk finds Young-gul waiting in his office, claiming they were classmates and staring at the secretary’s ass.
Okay, he’s a skirt chaser. Thanks dramaland for giving us another one.
When Jae-hyuk asks for his guests name, Young-gul gives him a card. With a smirk, Jae-hyuk notes that the shops in the Dongdaemon Market (where Young-gul works) are not doing well recently. Did he come here for money? If he wants to talk business, he can speak with a Manager Yang. But he doesn’t think Young-gul will get very far. Jerk. Hot…but a jerk.
Young-gul begins to take his leave, but changes his mind, strides back to Jae-hyuk’s desk and slams his hand down on the table. Actually, he’s here to ask for money, not talk business. But Jae-hyuk doesn’t have money for the likes of him. Young-gul is persistent in his sarcasm. Can he have $30,000? No, probably not. He’s not doing well either, is he? They’re in the same boat. *snerk* On his way out, Young-gul takes back his card and, glancing back up at the building, vows to buy it someday.
And here’s what we were waiting for: Young-gul goes back to the apartment above the shop and strips! YAY! Then he chugs a beer to dull his anger. He sits on the bed and Ga-young pops up. They scare each other and each of them demands why the other is there. She thought this was the lodging provided so he tells her to sleep there for now – in HIS spot.
He calls his aunt for money, but she smells a rat, even over the phone, and refuses. She brings up his mother who fell in love with a man and moved to America.
Cautiously, Ga-young picks up a piece of wood and takes it to bed with her -as protection against her psycho boss. Teehee.
The next day Madam Jo is meeting with a rich lady (to be known as Rich Lady, ’til I find out her name). She’s telling an altered sob story about the fire – it’s Ga-young’s fault. Madam Jo TRIED to treat her nicely and look what happened. All of her priceless pieces, full of her soul, were ruined. She can attach no monetary value to her creations.
Blah. Blah. Blah.
Rich Lady heard Ga-young applied to fashion school and wonders if Madam Jo’s daughter received admission.
Miss Go comes in with a new jacket Madam Jo tailored just for Rich lady. *cough*suckup*cough* It’s her best work. She also made one for her son. But, Rich lady hasn’t seen her son. He’s busy. Hrm, is Jae-hyuk her busy son?
A phone call brings great news: Madam Jo’s daughter and her friends were seen leaving the boutique last night and beer bottles and cigarettes were found in the burnt area. So off she goes to scold daughter Jung-ah whose singing Prince’s “Kiss” in the bathtub. Mommy Dearest informs her that Ga-young applied for fashion school. What if she gets in and Jung-ah doesn’t? It doesn’t matter, Jung-ah intones with annoyance. Ga-young won’t have the money to go unless she gets a scholarship. Hrm…
Evil gears are grinding.
Back at Young Girl, Ga-young is getting an earful because she altered an outfit from the original design. Buyers won’t by replicas if they’re not exactly the same. She needs to do what she’s told.
Ga-young wants to why he advertised for a creative seamstress in the first place? It was just something to put in the advert… She’s not impressed by his way of achieving the dream in the Mecca of Korean fashion.
In any case, if she does it again, he’ll dock the materials from her pay and she storms out. The look on his face, however, shows that he’s troubled by her words. He’s also puzzled by her efforts – she works through lunch.
So he takes her outfits to a guy who drools over them and wants to have the designer. He’ll even pay off Young-gul’s debt. They haggle over the price and Young-gul pulls the “I’m walking away from this” bit and the guy falls for it.
Both Young-gul and Ga-young are hard at work and this time Young-gul falls asleep at his desk where Ga-young finds him. She covers him with a jacket.
The shop’s replicas are a success! He brings the money to loan shark Tae-sun who bitches about people who don’t pay back their loans, but determines that Young-gul is a nice guy because he paid his loan on time. Tae-sun takes a call and instructs the person on the other end to find the man his girl is sleeping with. Of course, Young-gul shifts uncomfortably thinking about that poor man’s fate. I wonder who that man could be…
Tae-sun hands Young-gul ten bucks off the top for food, which Young-gul then hands to a relieved tattooed Il-gook. His reputation with his boss is now good.
Work for the day is over and, of course, the ahjummas gossip on their way out. Where’s the president? Probably with another girl. He’s so handsome, has a great body and the ladies love him. If they were younger, they’d seduce him. Ga-young listens while working. Then, the ahjummas turn their gossip-y attention on her and wonders if she’s seen his amazing body. She blushes and they laugh.
When they leave, she cleans up and then spots Young-gul’s computer. She opens her e-mail and sees an acceptance e-mail from the fashion design program she’d applied to. At that moment, Young-gul walks in and she quickly shuts the window. He’s immediately suspicious and thinks she’s a spy. So he makes her show him the e-mail, but he can’t read it because it’s in English.
She translates it and it says she’s been accepted on full scholarship. Eyes brimming with tears, she’s barely able to get through the letter and Young-gul’s ickle heart has been touched. After she leaves, he looks at the name on the letter and smiles.
A boy is watching a young girl beg a rich ahjumma for the necklace she is wearing. It was her mother’s. He performs a magic trick for her and reveals the necklace. She says her name is Ga-young.
Young-gul is fingering the same necklace, which is now hanging around his neck.
Chaebol daddy Jung Man-ho is going to send Jae-hyuk abroad for how he treated the Director of Design. Director Kim then enters and Man-ho forces his son to apologize and informs Kim that Jae-hyuk will be studying abroad as he suggested. Cue self-deprecating laugh. Guh.
We get some really bad acting by some Americans and Assistant Kim babbling to try and make Jae-hyuk feel better about being shipped off. Ga-young is remember how adorable Young-gul gave her a mysterious wad of cash for the plane to America. He researched the school and apparently it’s good. If she got a scholarship she should go. By the way, it’s a loan and she better pay him back. She cries and thanks him.
Young-gul is a goner for her. Or will be. And an idiot. I’ll give you one guess where that money came from.
Or I think he WILL be a goner in the future, ’cause just now he just had sex with a girl, Soo-ji. He’s trying to sleep and Soo-ji is admiring his watch and hoping to be boyfriend/girlfriend evn though her boyfriend is scary and will kill them if he finds out about them.
Loan shark lackies trash Young-gul’s shop. Hrm, I wonder who her boyfriend is…
Soo-ji hands Young-gul the phone and his employee tells him that Soo-ji’s boyfriend is none other than loan shark Hwang Tae-hun!
Young-gul quickly gets his ass in gear, dresses, sans one shoe which gets flung out the window, and then climbs out after it.
The main lackey finds him hanging from the window sill and throws him off the sill – into a pile of styrofoam. Young-gul bolts while Soo-ji hides under the bed. There’s some fun ska playing as part of the OST.
The poor lackey gets reamed by the boss, complete with letter opener flying at his head and sticking in the door inches from his face.
A pissed off Il-gook takes a call from Young-gul, but still tells him to hide for a while. Young-gul is already doing that but he has nowhere to go. He tries to escape as the lackies violently question a bar employee, but he gets chased as the OST plays music that could be from a silent film, replete with jovial strings and an accordion…or bandoneon…but probably accordion.
Hiding in a little dark alley saves him and Young-gul makes his escape to a house where a couple and a child are viciously fighting. Young-gul looks infinitely sad and leaves without entering.
Instead of taking a shower, he broods on a pier. He needs to find a new job so he can place to live stat – I want my shower scene. Damn loan sharks are always getting in the way of good fun! Anyway, he spots a sign recruiting sailors.
What? Sailors? Show, you confuse me. But I suppose it’s a good way to get him out of the country and to New York where Ga-young and Jae-hyuk have gone. I’m guessing all the good stuff happens in New York.
Ga-young is wandering around New York, much like she did in the Dongdaemon district, but this time she’s happy.
Jae-hyuk is running through Central Park. When will he run into her? I’m sure he will. There are enough tropes in this show that say he will.
When Ga-young goes to the school, she discovers that someone sent in a letter rejecting her admission and the blond lady at the desk won’t believe her. If you guys know anything about university, you’ll know that rejection can be revoked, but the scholarship money is LONG gone.
On a boat during a nasty storm, Young-gul is puking his guts out and failing at being a fisherman.
OMG. So happy both male leads are so hot. Look at the eyes on this one. And the lips. Two sets of LIPS. *drool*
Okay peeps. First episode is here. What kind of impression did it make on you?
I just need to point out the million and one tropes already introduced: poor girl who fights against the HUGE number of odds; moody chaebol son and his chaebol walk; lots of loan sharks; the cover up with a jacket when someone’s sleeping; the childhood connection; womanizing first male lead; people getting shipped off to America; evil mothers (we have several); requisite shirtless scenes.
Yoo Ah-in sure lights up a screen. Every scene he was in was interesting. If you scroll through my screencaps, you’ll see how much variety he gives the camera just with body language alone. On top of that, he’s spot on with dialogue.
Shin Se-kyung is okay. She’s cute and has a great puppy look, but it’s a bit monotone right now. Also, her character is a total wimp. We know she’s going to persevere so I hope her outward behavior mirrors her inward drive. Right now it seems like she’s merely riding the tide.
I did enjoy how the loan shark likes Young-gul at first. That was a nice little twist on the loan shark trope – then Young-gul sleeps with the girlfriend. It’s a funner reason to be chased than just for money.
White-haired (WTF?) Director Kim will be out to get Jae-hyuk. Too-much-make-up-wearing
Cruella Madame Jo will be after Ga-young.
All-in-all a bit predictable. I can handle predictable as long as a twist is put on it. But something fresh would be even better.