A drama that I expected the least has turned out to be the one that inspired me the most. It isn’t a rom-com, but a career-maker drama with a hero that is not quite a prince charming type, and you may want to smack his face sometimes. And Yoo Ah-in is trying hard to make you forget that he looks good. Lee Je Hoon as a rich son of a fashion entrepreneur that looks so gorgeous in white suit, constantly steals the scenes from a hero.
Yoo Ah-in as Kang Young Gul
Shin Se Kyung as Lee Ga Young
Lee Je Hoon as Jung Jae Hyuk
Kwon Yu Ri as Choi Anna
The good thing is the four leads played their parts like each won’t let the others step on his/her toes.
Fact: Dongdaemun Market
Dongdaemun Market is located near Dongdaemun of which it takes its name. The market is divided into five shopping districts — A, B, C, D and a shopping town,with 26 shopping malls situated over 10 blocks, 30,000 speciality shops, and 50,000 manufacturers. The market sells all types of goods but notably silks and fabric, clothes, shoes and leather goods, sporting goods, plumbing and electronics, office supplies, fortune tellers, toys and food areas specialising in Korean cuisine. It also has many pet shops. (Wikipedia)
The opening scene.
At a Fashion Show; Young-gul gives out a satisfied smile, he starts sketching.
A fax is coming in, fabrics carefully chosen, materials are put together exactly the same as the fax. Young-gul gives finishing touches.
And just as the original dresses are being put on display…
Young-gul’s shop in Dongdaemun has them on display too.
Meanwhile New York Fashion School admissions committee has received the last application; it’s from Lee Ga-young. Her design portfolio impresses the committee.
Back in Seoul, Jo Boutique, Ga-young is eagerly waiting for her mail. Unfortunately Madam Jo takes all the incoming mail. Madam sees Ga-young’s acceptance letter from the institute. She hides it in a drawer and smoothes her curious face when Ga-young comes it and asks if there’s any mail for her.
Madam Jo interrogates, and Ga-young answers bravely that she’s applied to a fashion design school in the US. Madam asks how she will afford it. Ga-young says if she gets accepted, she would ask if Madam Jo could loan her the money for the airplane ticket and 1st semester’s tuition, she will take care of the rest and will definitely pay her back.
Madam Jo sternly asks how she could not discuss it with her first, then says she’s busy and tells her to leave. If she gets accepted, Ga-young asks, if she will loan her the money. Madam says if she gets accepted, they will talk then.
After Ga-young left, Madam Jo takes out the acceptance letter and tears it apart.
That night, Madam Jo’s daughter brings her friends to the shop. Her friends know that Ga-young stays here, she sleeps in the factory. As they party on, one guy carelessly drops a cigarette in his hand without noticing the fabrics occupied the place, fire breaks out.
Ga-young stirs awake from the smoke; she runs out and is horrified to see the fire. She tries to stop the fire as much as she could.
Madam Jo storms in her shop ruined by the fire, without asking she slaps Ga-young on spot. Madam accuses her of setting her shop on fire. “Do you hold grudge against me?” She asks Ga-young.
Ga-young tells her that she didn’t do it with tears in her eyes. Madam Jo doesn’t believe her one bit, “I fed you, raised you, sent you to school! You pay me back like this? I’ve done enough for you. You are old enough now. Get out!” Ga-young is shocked to hear that.
“You didn’t want to live here so you applied to a school in America behind my back.” Madam tells her she can pack her bags right now.
Instead of leaving right away, Ga-young says she will leave, but since Madam got this far by starting with her parents’ shop, she believes she has the right to a portion of it.
“So you want me to give you money?” Madam Jo retorts back that if the truth be told, Ga-young needs to give her money. She paid off all her parents’ debt, and took her in when she didn’t have a place to go. Madam tells her she should be grateful that she’s not calling the police on her. She tells her secretary, Miss Go, to take Ga-young out tonight, and if she won’t leave, call the police and report her for arson.
So Ga-young starts her journey from here.
She walks alone in Dongdaemun and see the ads, “Hiring seamstresses”. She finds the place and asks to see the owner.
She is allowed inside, it’s a small factory, and…the owner’s office…..yep that room.
The owner is sleeping in his own style, it’s Young-gul. His cell phone rings, he picks up with his eyes still close. When he learns who is calling, he gets up too fast; he falls from his chair to the floor, talking. It seems to be his creditor calling, so he talks nice and polite. He turns and sees Ga-young.
“Who?” He looks at her.
She tells him she called earlier; her name is Lee Ga Young. He remembers and asks if she said she knows how to use the machine. She says yes. Young-gul calls his manager and tells her to try Ga-young out with the machine.
Ga-young asks him if she can really sleep here. He mutters yes. She asks how much the pay is. He says it depends on how good she is. She insists to know the range, he just says as much as the others, and if she doesn’t like it, forget it. She gets out of the room. Young-gul turns to look at the door she slammed shut thoughtfully.
Ga-young shows her free-hand machine embroidering technique that impresses everyone, including Young-gul.
Young-gul meets with his gangster friend in a sauna. He tells his friend that his president called again. His friend corrects him that he is called the chairman. Whatever, Young-gul doesn’t care, but how he cannot take care of it and let his chairman call him directly. His friend says how much his chairman is upset to call Young-gul himself. He warns Young-gul to pay back the money before his chairman cuts off his hand.
Young-gul asks if he has money, his friend says because he’s his friend, he hasn’t gotten a promotion in over 3 years. And his pay is still only 800,000 Won a month. Then his boss takes out Young-gul’s interest payments from it, on top of that.
Trying to think of someone who has money, his friend suggests Jung Jae-hyuk.
Jae-hyuk is at his dad’s company watching a design team fashion show, he’s not satisfied. He tells the design manager to start over. If he doesn’t want to do it, look for another job. He smirks and leaves.
His secretary tells him that is quite a reckless move. The chairman (his dad) approved this collection himself. And the manager has many important ties in the industry, and it took much effort to scout him to their company.
Jae-hyuk doesn’t bother, he tells the guy to go see to his work.
When he comes back to his office, he is told that there’s a guess waiting for him.
It’s Young-gul, he waves at Jae-hyuk with a smile.
Jae Hyuk makes an uneasy face asking what grade they were in together. Young-gul assures him they were classmate though he didn’t go to school very often. Jae Hyuk asks his name. Young-gul shows him his business card, “Young Girl” (after his name hehe).
Then he flips the card over and his name is there.
“You’re in Dongdaemun?” Jae Hyuk asks.
“Yeah. If you look at it, we are in the same business.” Young-gul answers.
Jae Hyuk says he hears things are tough at Dongdaemun these days.
“What fashion business that isn’t struggling?” Young-gul smiles and asks, “Are you guys struggling, too?” Jae-hyuk lets out a cool smile then asks what he wanted to talk about. “You didn’t come to talk about money, did you?”
Young-gul couldn’t say the truth, “What?”. Jae-hyuk says sorry if that offended him but there are people like that sometimes. If he wants to do business together, he can introduce him to the person in charge. Jae-hyuk politely says he’s busy. Young-gul plays along that he can do that.
But before he goes out the room, Young-gul turns back and bangs on Jae-hyuk’s desk loudly, “I did come to borrow money. Do you have about 30 million won?”
“Do you or don’t you? Just tell me that.”
“I don’t have any money to give to you.”
They stare at each other.
Young-gul smiles, “You and I are in the same situation, with no 30 million won.” He sniffs, “I’ll get going.” Young-gul walks out.
When outside, Young-gul looks up at the building, he declares, “I’m going to buy this company.”
Young-gul gets back to his small factory, takes off his shirt, and drinks some beer. But when he sits on his bed, a woman screams. It’s Ga-young. He asks why she is sleeping here; she says he said she can stay here. She thought there was a separate living quarters for employees.
He tells her to sleep for now and they will talk tomorrow. He gathers his clothes to leave the room. She asks if he’s going to sleep here too.
“That’s my bed you’re sleeping in.” He says.
He goes out and calls his aunt for money only to get yelled back. His aunt brings up his mom; he asks if his mom meeting another guy and going to America is his fault. Ga-young tiptoes to get a baseball bat for her protection.
Jae-hyuk’s mom is a VIP customer of Jo Boutique. She is surprised to learn from Madam Jo that an outstanding girl like Ga-young would set the place on fire.
The mom thinks she must be pretty smart, she heard she applied to New York Fashion School. She heard it from Miss Go. She asks did Jung-ah (Miss Jo’s daughter) not apply there too. Madam Jo says yes, the mom asks if she’s been accepted. Their conversation gets interrupted by Miss Go carrying a new dress.
The mom tries it on and is pleased. Madam Jo tells her that she also made one for her son, she asks her to tell him to come by. The mom says blandly that she never gets to see him, he’s so busy.
Miss Go comes in and tells Madam Jo that the Fire Investigation office called.
Madam Jo steps on the accelerator thinking about what she was told. They discovered beer cans and cigarette butts at the scene. “Witnesses said your daughter and friends were seen entering the building that night.” Madam Jo shakes her head, “Crazy girl!”.
She storms in, Jung-ah is in a bathtub. Madam Jo throws away her headphones and asks if she knows that Ga-young applied to New York Fashion School. What if she gets in and she doesn’t. Jung-ah tells her not to worry, even if Ga-young gets accepted, how she can afford to go unless she gets a scholarship.
“Scholarship?” Madam Jo thinks hard.
Young-gul is trying to make her understand the concept, that the point of an imitation is how close it is to the original. “Think about it. Why would people buy an imitation that’s not the same? Would you buy it? Those women out there on the sewing machines, they’ve been doing this for 16 years. Don’t you think they have any ideas? You don’t think they know designs?”
Ga-young just looks at him. He says he has enough things to worry about these days. So she just do as he told her. He tells her to think about what these world-class designers were thinking and make them identical. Ga-young just keeps quiet.
“Look at this girl. You don’t want to?” He says.
She asks if making knockoffs pursuing your dreams in the fashion Mecca?”
“What?” Young-gul lets out.
She asks why he advertised for people with a special fashion sense. He says that is just advertisement. He tells her if she do this again, he will deduct the cost of the materials from her pay. He tells her to get out. Ga-young gets out and slams the door loudly, he’s startled.
But then he looks again at her design outfit, he peeks at her.
His friend sees the outfit and is amazed; he asks who the designer is. Young-gul says it’s a secret. His friend gives him an offer that if he gives him this design, he will pay off his debt to Chairman Hwang. Young-gul asks if he’s on drugs. Young-gul wants to take it to another shop. His friend stops him and they bargain. Young-gul settles with 60/40 with 30 million won up front.
They start the production with Young-gul checking the process. At night when he falls asleep on his working desk, Ga-young quietly puts a blanket over him and smiles shyly to herself (aww cute).
And the products go on sale and hit big.
Chairman Hwang counts the money and it’s right, including the interest up to today. Young-gul turns prim and proper in front of the chairman.
Mr. Hwang gets a phone call, he orders his man to bury someone. Young-gul gulps. Mr. Hwang tells his man that he heard his pretty one has some guy hanging around, “Find out who the bastard is and cut it off.”
After he finishes his phone call, he turns and praises Young-gul that he’s a really good person (to pay back on time). Young-gul smiles but just before he goes out, Mr.Hwang calls him back just to give him 10,000 won to buy something to eat.
His friend hugs him that he hit it big. Young-gul gives him the bank-note he got earlier and leaves.
The ajumma employees wonder why their boss hasn’t been here as much lately. They talk about how he’s popular among girls, and they tease Ga-young that they stay together here. Before they leave, they tell her to clean the place and lock the door.
Ga-young starts cleaning up the place. She gets in Young-gul’s room and cleans his desk (omg..I want that Superman Ah-in screen saver).
Then she decides to use his laptop to check on her NFS admission.
Young-gul walks in and sees her using his laptop; he asks what she is doing on his desk. He sits down and asks what she looked at. She says email. He asks why she’s looking at other people’s emails.
She corrects him that she was checking her email and says sorry. He tells her to open it, and accuses her of being a spy. He asks who sent it to her, and tells her to open it.
Ga-young opens the NFS’s letter. Young-gul looks at the letter, Ga-young already has tears in her eyes seeing the letter. He acts cool and tells her to translate it.
She starts translating, “Thank you for applying to our school. Your application has been…” She starts crying, Young-gul is surprised to see her reaction. “We are pleased to inform you of your acceptance. Furthermore, the scholarship that you’ve applied for has been fully granted to you. Please use the checklist below to prepare for your enrollment.” She cries.
He asks where the place is. She says it’s in America. He asks what her parents do. She says they passed away. He asks when, she says when she was young. He asks where she lived before she came here. She doesn’t answer right away so he says it’s not that important. He says she can leave.
After she left, he looks at the letter and sees her name, he lets out a smile.
A little girl is crying and begging a woman to give it back to her. A boy witnesses the scene. The girl wants the necklace back. It belongs to her mom. (I suppose the woman is the younger version of Madam Jo) The girl asks why she’s taking all of her mom’s belongings. The woman shakes the girl off and walks away. The young Young-gul follows her.
Omo…Young-gul is touching a pendant he’s wearing (the same one the girl was crying for).
The young Young-gul kneels down to the girl. He plays magic and drops her mom’s necklace from his hand. He asks what her name is. “Lee Ga Young.” She answers.
The boy plays his trick, the fire turns into a lollipop, he gives it to her. The girl smiles brightly.
Young-gul clutches the pendant as he’s recalling those memories. (omo…is Madam Jo his mom?)
Jae Hyuk gets scolded from daddy for fighting with the manager. Dad talked with the guy to stay, the guy wants dad to sent Jae-hyuk away.
Dad orders his son to go to some country for a few years and gain some perspective. Jae-hyuk is surprised.
“Building a world-class company takes more than a day or two. You’re letting your ambition get ahead of you.” Dad says.
The design manager comes in, dad asks Jae-hyuk to apologize to him. He looks at his dad, but when dad insists; his eyes turn bright and he apologizes to the manager as told.
So Jae-hyuk sits on an airplane heading to New York per dad’s order. He will be working at the New York branch.
And what do you know? Mr. Secretary sits next to Ga-young on the same flight. She sees a passenger walks in with her design outfit, she beams.
Ga-young thinks back,
One night, Young-gul comes to her and throws a bag of cash on her lap. He tells her to buy her plane ticket with that. He says he found out that it’s a great school. He thinks it’ll be good to gain some practical experience there, they’re giving her a scholarship and all.
“You like free things, don’t you? But this isn’t free. I’m loaning it to you. You have to pay me back.” Tears fall from her eyes. “Aren’t you going to thank me?” She says thank you. He mutters that he could have gotten away with just buying a meal. He tells her to get some sleep and gets out. Ga-young is still stunning by his kindness.
The plane takes off.
Young-gul is feeling sleepy still. The woman looks at his Rolex and compliments that it looks real. She asks if he has a girlfriend, he says no. She says she has a boyfriend. He says that doesn’t matter.
Meanwhile, at Young-gul shop, men barge in and demand to know Young-gul’s whereabouts. The woman says he hasn’t come in yet. The guy orders his men to work on the place. They start throwing things out.
Young-gul gets a call from his friend, he turns abruptly and asks her, “Hey, is Hwang Tae San your boyfriend?” She nods. He groans, feeling like dying. He tells her to get up, they are on their way.
The men storm in the room and see no one. One man looks out the window and finds Young-gul holding on the edge while his body is hanging in the air. The guy laughs and grabs him.
Young-gul lets go both of his hands and pushes himself downwards. His body flies down to the ground. He lands on top of some discarded foam boxes. Young-gul grabs his shoes and runs away. The guys follow him out of the room. The woman shows her face from under the bed.
Chairman Hwang tells his man to take care of them both.
Young-gul calls his friend; he tells Young-gul that he needs to go into hiding. But Young-gul says he doesn’t have anywhere to go. Then he gets chased by Hwang’s men, he hides behind a narrow alley and gets away.
He comes to his aunt’s house only to hear they are shouting and beating each other. He turns back and gets out of the house.
The next morning, Young-gul ends up walking alone by the dock, he sees the ads ‘Hiring boat crew’.
In New York, Ga-young is enjoying the nightlight.
The next day she comes to NFS, but the lady tells her that Ga-young is the one who rejected the acceptance. When Ga-young tells her that she never did that, the lady shows her the letter that she sent to them rejecting the offer. She is stunned.
In the sea, the boat that Young-gul is on board as one of the crew is facing a big storm, and he’s hanging on tight.
This episode introduces us to the main characters, each has his/her own unique view to fashion. Though there was hardships which might feel unbelievable or tiresome to some, these things do happen in real life. It’s just that people who faced the situation don’t go around talking about it. The path to become successful or to follow your dream always has something you need to sacrifice, you get some you lose some. All characters made me feel their eagerness, their strong will to survive this competitive industry which intrigued me. All four leads have good chemistry together which is important for the viewers to pull through 20 episodes.
Lee Je Hoon is shining against Yoo Ah-in, my first with him, love these two.