Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Level 7th Civil Servant Episode 1 Recap


I didn’t plan on watching this drama but, according to my roommate, I need something fun and light to balance “all the darkness” in me. So here we are. The drama isn’t that bad and neither is the chemistry between the two leads Joo Won and Choi Kang Hee. We also get a glimpse at Uhm Tae Woong’s character, which is definitely a plus. The episode is the basic introduction one, where we get to know our main leads a little better. One point the drama really wants to drive in is the differences our OTP have in both personality and background. Joo Won's character is shown to be the typical spoiled rich boy. Though there are moments when we get to see a little more depth in him. Hopefully, those moments will get fleshed out in later episodes. Choi Kang Hee's character is shown as frank and hardworking, though I'm betting that there's more to her past than shown. Uhm Tae Woong's brief appearance is wonderful and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him. I'm not too convinced by the romance yet, but I'm saving my opinion on that for later episodes.

Note, Choi Kang Hee’s character’s birth name is Kim Kyung Ja but it later gets changed to Kim Seo Won, so I will be calling her Seo Won. Same with Joo Won. His character’s real name is Han Pil Hoon but it later will be Han Gil Ro, so I’ll be using that latter.

Episode 1 Recap:


The drama begins with a shot of our heroine, Kim Seo Won (CHOI KANG HEE) running hurriedly through the streets. Alternatively, our hero, Han Gil Ro (JOO WON) is leisurely strolling, listening to music, and even do some poses, to the amusement of bystanders (and me). The two characters had their first meeting when Gil Ro accidentally trip over Seo Won, but she rushed off before he could say anything.


It turns out that they have the same class together. Though it’s one of those huge lecture classes, so it’s not likely they’ve met. They’re both taking notes and studying the same thing (most like for the civil exam) but Gil Ro is doing so using a tablet whereas Seo Won uses the old fashioned colored pens and paper.


After class, Seo Won once again rushed off. It turns out she is rushing off to her part time jobs, one after another. Gil Ro, on the other hand, is doing some shooting practice and car racing. He loses the race and demands a rematch, using his car as bet. In case you haven’t notice, the drama really wants you to see the differences between our OTP.Seo Won is at yet another part time job, when her friend drops by. The said friend wants to introduce Seo Won to another job, which apparently pays well and gives her an opportunity to meet men. Hmm, I wonder what kind of job that is. Seo Won immediately refuses but her friend is adamant and leaves the business card before leaving.


To drive the point home of what a hardworking young woman Seo Won is, we are shown her in another class and then studying hard at home, to where she has to put on a head patch and blows her bangs Eun Chan style. Then to once again highlight their differences, Gil Ro is seen walking happily into his home (which is very nice and very big) at 3 am.Gil Ro’s dad was waiting for him. Here we get some information about Gil Ro’s family background. He is obviously wealthy, as evidenced by his house, car, and tablet. It turns out Gil Ro’s dad has his own company and wants Gil Ro to enter the family business. Gil Ro refuses. It’s evident this is an old argument as Mom soon shows up and helps her son escape.


Gil Ro is in his room, where we see a poster for the movie 007: Tomorrow Never Dies (and a robot). We flashed back to a young Gil Ro watching the movie for the first time, obviously mesmerized. Umm, not to burst your bubbles kid, but that’s a really bad way to choose a career. It’s like wanting to be a doctor after watching Grey’s Anatomy. Reality is definitely nothing like dramas.


Gil Ro’s parents are still discussing his future (or lack of). Despite their roles as the rich, disproving parents, they obviously adored their son and are more comedic than malevolent. Mom states that she went to the fortune teller, who told her that the way to help Gil Ro is through a woman and gave her a list of qualities of such woman. The next morning, she tries to get him to go on a blind date stating that he doesn’t have to get marry, just meet the girl (uh huh, I heard that before). She tries guilt tripping him, which doesn’t work, then bribing him, which does work. She promises to buy him a car if he goes on 5 dates for 2 hours each. Gil Ro happily agrees.


Seo Won is at one of her many jobs when her mom calls, saying that her dad had been injured. At Seo Won’s house, we see many certificates and pictures of her posing with trophies. It also seems that she has a younger brother. Seo Won and her dad fought with each other over his not staying at the hospital. Despite their harsh words, it’s obvious the two love each other. Seo Won’s mom tries to get her to stay and eat, but she just brushes her off. Seo Won gives her mom some money and yells at her to stitch up her clothes. A fan of tough love this father and daughter pair. She then leaves. Her mom ran after her with some food but she ignores her. Why does this makes me sad?


Gil Ro goes to the dates as promised, but he ignores the girl and proceeds to study on his tablet, sometimes even singing (with headphones in, very off-key). Predictably each girl he meets gets angry and leaves. Seo Won finally decides to accept her friend’s job offer due to the lack of money and extensive loans. The job is, of course, to go on blind dates. At home Gil Ro’s mom yells at him about his attitude on the blind dates. Seriously, woman, what do you expect? Do you not know your own son? Wait, don’t answer that. Gil Ro just shows an indifferent attitude, stating that if they're fated, the girl would have stayed (hint, hint).


The next girl Gil Ro has to meet turns out to be Seo Won. He takes a look at her and laughs, mocking her fashion. Seo Won is about to introduce herself when she remembers how her friend had advice her to give a fake identity. Therefore, the name Kim Seo Won is born. Per usual, Gil Ro plugs in his headphones and concentrates on his tablet. Seo Won, seeing that, takes out her book and starts studying. Intrigue by her indifferent behavior, Gil Ro begins to look at her differently. Cue cheesy pink lights and cheesier music.


He takes interest in what she’s studying but before Seo Won could answer his questions, the two hours is up (she timed it). She starts to leave, but he, not used to being rejected, asks for another date. She isn’t very interested but he agrees to her time and they decide to meet again tomorrow at the same place. Seo Won’s friend is excited about the prospect, stating what a catch he is but Seo Won clearly just sees this as a job (and study time). Back home, Gil Ro thinks about how Seo Won brushes him off and gets annoyed. He then thinks of her studying (again with the pink lights). Oh, my man-child.


At the NIS center, we are shown the agents answering calls much like a hotline. One in particular, Kim Won Suk, got annoyed at his caller who asks if he can get money for catching the bad person. He tries to hold it in but finally can’t and yelled at the phone. Unfortunately, this is when he gets caught by his superior, Oh Kwang Jae. Though Kwang Jae reprimands him, it’s clear the two has a good relationship. Over lunch, Won Suk tries to persuade Kwang Jae to bring in the new recruits because he can’t handle these calls anymore.


Seo Won and Gil Ro meets again. She takes out her books but this time Gil Ro isn’t interested in his tablet. They decide to quiz each other. After, Gil Ro asks her why she goes on this date. Seo Won is giving her reasons when Gil Ro interrupts and states it must be because of money, since his family is rich. She denies it but he doesn’t believe her, saying he hates her kind of woman the most. Gil Ro shows a bit of his naive, romantic side when he says that people meeting each other is fate, she must have planned it.They argue back and forth until Gil Ro states he has to go. Since the two hours aren’t up yet, Seo Won tries to stop him. He tells her, if she wants, she can go with him.


Seo Won rides in his car and Gil Ro is smug, stating that she must like him. She denies it and at his prodding, gets her book out to study. He inquires after family and she answers accordingly. He has a little too much fun teasing her and she turns to him asking why he’s not using honorifics (speaking in banmal). He apologizes but states that it’s because he’s older (an oppa) and it’s more comfortable. She starts using banmal too, which annoys him so he retracts his statement and have them speak with honorifics.


It turns out that Gil Ro is going to his car race. For some reason, he decides to let Seo Won stays in the car with him while he races. She naturally freaks out and starts hitting him. When that isn’t enough, she pulls his hair, causing him to crash into the resting area and loses. Crying from fear, Seo Won stalks out of the car and slaps him, yelling that he’s a brat who thinks he can mess with people just because he’s rich. She then walks off. Gil Ro starts after her but is stopped by his opponent who reminds him to hand his car over. The guy drives off with Gil Ro’s car but stop when he sees Seo Won, telling her he won this car because of her. Seo Won and Gil Ro both has to walk home but Seo Won is smart and calls for food delivery and asks for a ride. Gil Ro tries to run after her but fails.


Kwang Jae is seen asking a man for a favor. We realize what that favor is the next scene when Won Suk treats a group of NIS agents to dinner. He promises to do well but everyone is skeptical. We flash back to five years ago, when Kwang Jae’s sunbae was shot in front of him by an assassin (UHM TAE WOONG). Kwang Jae angrily admits  that his sunbae died because of him and leaves. He then comes back, bows to the room, and asks for a chance to redeem himself and catch the murderer.


The said murderer, Choi Woo Hyuk, has arrives in Korea with a woman, Mi Rae (KIM SOO HYUN), following not far behind. They get picked up separately by the same cab driver. The three know each other as the cab driver calls Woo Hyuk “hyung.” Woo Hyuk checks the cab despite being reassured by the others that it was already checked for cameras, etc. It appears he has some deep hatred for Korea, which means that he came back because of something important. Woo Hyuk looks down at his tablet, where several pictures, including one of Gil Ro, are shown.


Gil Ro and Seo Won are both taking the civil exam, but missed seeing each other. After the test, Gil Ro is heard talking on the phone, asking for a compensation for his car. Seo Won gets yelled at by her friend about the incident, though Seo Won reassured her that Gil Ro won’t be able to find her. She then returns the money from the blind date, stating that she doesn’t want to live like that.


Kwang Jae is conducting the NIS interviews which include a man who hiccups, one who just acts weird, a woman who tries to be seductive, and another who receives a call from her husband in the middle of the interview. Gil Ro happens to see Seo Won passing by but is called in before he can confirm it's her. Gil Ro gets interviewed by Kwang Jae, who asks why he wants the job. Gil Ro: I want to be cool. Naturally, Kwang Jae isn't too impression and points out Gil Ro's bad grades. Gil Ro tries to get by by stating his life experiences are more important, but it doesn’t seems to work. Seo Won didn’t fare that much better. She gets caught for repeating someone else’s answer and messes up on the next questions. The two leaves their respective rooms, discouraged, which was when they see each other. Both stares in shock.



I’m not too impressive by this episode but then again I didn’t expect to be. I just feel like I’ve watched this drama before. A rich but spoiled man-child attracted to the poor but hardworking girl because of her spunky attitude (no one else treats him such!). Granted there’s the whole spy thing thrown in, which will hopefully keep the story from getting too repetitive. I don’t like Joo Won’s character that much. Gil Ro is kind of like Ma Joon in Baker King, but less dark and less interesting. After Gakista, I feel like this is a step down for him. Despite my misgivings about her, I found myself enjoying Choi Kang Hee’s performance. Seo Won is such a straight forward, matter a fact character that you can’t help but like her. I do cringed every time Joo Won refers to himself as her oppa, though. There are a lot of actresses who don’t look their age (see Ha Ji Won) but Choi Kang Hee isn’t one of them. Also, what is this obsession k-dramaland has with giving their leading ladies terrible haircuts and fashion? Just because the girl is poor doesn’t automatically means she has bad taste. There are plenty of clothes that look good and flattering without being brand name, but they insist on dressing her in clothes which makes her look like his aunt. Nothing much happens in this episode but I’m hoping that since we got our introductions out of the way, the story will move at a faster pace. I’m also interested to seeing more of Uhm Tae Woong’s character, who I have a feeling will become my favorite in this drama.

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