It was a solid first episode for the new Seo In Guk (WOOHOO!) drama Squad 38. And while Seo In Guk might have had less screen time than I expected this first hour, the reason for his character’s future actions was artfully executed. So join me as I chat Squad 38 episode 1 and do a ton of fangirling in between. Because what would a Seo In Guk drama be without Kmuse fangirling to the max?
For those of you just discovering our awesome blog, I am Kmuse, one of the main bloggers at “Dramas with a Side of Kimchi”…many of you know me from my previous blog “The Crazy Ahjummas.” A little about me: I am a mother of three and an avid kdrama watcher, in that I love to watch literally everything. There are very few currently airing dramas that I am not watching so if you have any questions about them (or really any drama since I have seen an insane amount) feel free to ask me in the comments. Or better yet come like our facebook page and ask me there. FB PAGE LINK For those of you who have not read my past recaps, I am one of those bloggers that really likes to just discuss my opinions on certain scenes or concepts of the drama. I don’t go step by step through the whole thing. So if you are looking for a complete recap you might have to look elsewhere (and then come back and read ours of course).
I am still unsure if I will do a creative format or such for this drama, but to start off I am going to do a basic character introduction and chat about the events that I think are key to our understanding of the drama as a whole. Also since Seo In Guk did not actually enter the drama until the last ten minutes or so, I will be throwing in random SIG (or Jeong Do as he is named in the drama) sightings as they occurred. It is truly amazing how the sound of his voice or a glimpse of his lips can heighten the anticipation of his arrival.
But for now, we will put Seo In Guk on hold and discuss Seong IL played by the always talented Ma Dong Seok. I am so used to seeing Ma Dong Seok play totally aggressive bad ass characters that it is slightly amusing to watch Seong Il who is the poster child for apathetic tax collector.
That’s right, Seong Il has mostly lost his spark for life. We first meet our local tax collector discussing mysterious stuff with a friend on the rooftop. His friend is indicating that they need to come clean and Seong Il is more tempered and says they should just wait it out and keep their positions. Next thing you know his friend is dead (supposedly from suicide) in a parking lot. There is not a huge jump to the assumption that this is maybe not a suicide, but I am sure that will come to play in future episodes.
Jump six years into the future where Seong Il is the head of one of the tax collector teams. Think middle management, not the worker bee, but not holding any real power either. As I watch this montage (expertly done with the perfect background music) of his daily work life, all I can think is that he is stuck in a never changing hell.
I want to take a moment and give a shout-out to the sound editors (I might have been watching too much Another Miss Oh to notice this) who really come through in several scenes. If you notice the moments that Seong Il is getting reprimanded or having breakdowns, the background sounds (food being slurped, computers being tapped, water being gulped) become louder. This results in making the viewer just a tad off center and emphasizes the annoying little things of Seong Il’s existence that are building up. It is just a really interesting side note that I thought should be addressed. Now back to the plot.
Joining Seong Il in this never changing hell is worker bee Cheon Seong Hee (Soo Young) who seems to be very efficient. That is pretty much all I can say about her so far since she only has a few on-screen moments. But so far I have only positive things to say about her character/performance. I also suspect she might have some kind of backstory with our future conman since she mentions that you only need to be conned once before you become wiser.
WARNING WARNING WARNING
We have our first hint of a Jeong Do moment when Seong Il goes into work and all his bosses/managers are freaking out over being conned out of some money.
Not only is Jeong Do
sexier than any living person should be a conman, but one with a twisted sense of humor (although I am sure there is more to it). It isn’t enough that he scams regular citizens… nope, he goes after the tax collectors as well. BWAHAHA.
Immediately after we see all of Seong Il’s coworkers freaking out, a set of lips comes on the screen. Is it possible to have a fangirl meltdown just at the sight of your bias’s lips? We are 14 minutes in and all we have seen are Seo In Guk’s lips and yet I swear my heart is about to burst with anticipation.
But we are not at the part where we get full SIG yet, so back to the life of a tax collector. Upon hearing that his team is the last in collecting money and they will be in trouble if they don’t step up their game, Seong Il decides to go after his big buck offenders. Enter one of our big bads who I will just term as Bankrupt Baddy since I have no interest in learning his name at this point.
Bankrupt Baddy owes millions in back taxes, has claimed bankruptcy, and is an all-around bad guy. But instead of living a humble life, he has a penthouse apartment and riches galore. Seong Il decides (without telling the higher ups) that he is going to collar the guy and jump start his group’s earnings.
The team arrives and is met with resistance right away. Mostly because Seong Il’s boss had called Bankrupt Baddy the second he found the team gone to give him a heads up. Even with a head start, our tax team manages to fight their way through goons to the apartment where they uncover massive amounts of loot. But just as they are about to cart it all away, Bankrupt Baddy arrives and announces that they can’t take anything since it has passed sundown. WHAT?
Quick question… is it really illegal for them to search a house after sundown? Why? Does that mean they get really short hours during the winter? I know here in Portland the sun can go down before 5.
Bankrupt Baddy then goes on a power kick by scattering all the auction stickers and making his poor old housekeeper ahjumma drink a half gallon of water for $1000 to prove that people only follow money. He then goes on to brag that he isn’t arrested even though he is totally crooked because “Money dominates the law… the law is for the rich.” Bankrupt Baddy goes a step too far when he pushes Seong Hee to the ground and Seong Il decks the jerk.
This, of course, is not going to go unpunished. Seong Il gets called into his director’s office and is reprimanded for his poor actions. Surprisingly, there is not a lot of yelling, just a mention of an internal affairs team looking into the occurrence.
A few minutes later we notice a picture in Seong Il’s desk with himself, the deceased friend, and the director all smiling together like besties. This might explain why he got off with just an investigation into his actions rather than being fired. Just taking a wild guess, but my bet is that this guy is 100% guilty of anything bad going on in the company, including his friend’s death. That actor always seems to play smarmy characters in these type of dramas.
Seong Il’s bad day is not done, even after work. Picking up his daughter from school, the sweet teddy bear is walking home when a car comes by and splashes rain water all over the two pedestrians. Sure enough, the inconsiderate driver is none other than Bankrupt Baddy who steps out of the car to continue his mocking of Seong Il. Refusing the money the jerk offers Seong Il starts to walk away when Bankrupt Baddy starts mocking his lack of a car to drive his daughter home in. Later that night Seong Il decides he is going to see if he can find a 2nd car for the family and starts searching the internet for ways to find cars cheap.
This is actually the only scene in the show that I really rolled my eyes at the forced coincidence. But I will let it go since my last recap was Vampire Detective and nothing could be worse than those plot holes.
WARNING WARNING WARNING
The next morning Seong Il gets a phone call at work offering him a good deal on a car. The price just happens to be exactly what Seong Il has. We see the silhouette of the sexy seller as he comfortably cons Seong Il into buying a car that doesn’t exist.
Jeong Do accomplishes this by doing a triangle con where he finds a guy selling a car and says his friend is going to be checking it out, but because of a falling out, he doesn’t want him to mention his name. He does the same with Seong Il saying that he is underselling the car and owes his friend money, so not to do the buy with his friend, but to wire the money after inspecting the car. Seong Il wires the money and Jeong Do watches from above taking the money out while the poor tax collector realizes that he has been scammed.
Now that my #1 bias has been introduced, lets learn a bit about his character. Jeong Do has just been released from prison for reasons unknown (so hot). We see another man inform Jeong Do that this is a list of people who took bribes from his boss and didn’t deliver. Jeong Do needs to con them all and collect what is owed, teaching them a lesson. Hence the sudden rush of conning at the Tax Office. Good to know that all of those government employees are on the up and up. Makes you just feel all warm and safe inside (we really need to develop a sarcasm font.)
I especially like how Jeong Do describes his life and why he scams people.
“The world we live in created guys like me. My teenage years were about bravado, and my 20s were about persistence. Now, I’m in my 30s, and all I do is con people. The principle is so simple, so why do people fall for it? The answer is simple too. It’s because people are simple. Every single human being wants the same thing. Money. At the expense of everything else. People judge others based on money. But they should look on the inside. Focus on the EQ more than the IQ. That’s a true conman. If you can do that, everything in the world will work the way you want.”
I am interested to see if there is anything behind that charming smile and smooth voice.
We close out the episode with an upset Seong Il gazing at the car lot after he had been scammed when a cheeky Jeong Do comes up to him asking for a light. Hahahaha. I can already tell I am going to enjoy this OTB (one true bromance) pairing.
After six years of living as a drama addict, I have discovered something very important. I need good plot development more than any other aspect of a drama. Sure it is a bonus if my #1 bias is highlighted or there is great chemistry between the leads. But without a plot, none of the eye candy matters and I will end up pissed off and cranky.
This is the reason why I don’t mind that it took over 40 minutes to see Seo In Guk because developing the circumstances of the con is much more important. I don’t think they could have really described the numbness and lack of power Seong Il feels in a measly ten minutes. But with forty plus minutes of working man hell behind us, I totally understand why Seong Il is going to jump ship and get his vigilante justice against the bad guys that are escaping the system. I always love a drama where the overly entitled bad guys get a kick of Kdrama karma, and it looks like Jeong Do is just the person to give it to them.
I am looking forward to sharing this drama experience with all of you fans out there #Heartriders4Ever. And I can’t wait to see what happens in episode 2 which will contain a bit more uncontrollable fangirling now that Seo In Guk has arrived in full force.
Til next time,