Ex-Girlfriend Club, Episode 1: Lions and Foxes and Cats

I’m jumping into Ex-Girlfriend Club (구여친클럽) mostly because of Byun Yo Han (변요한). It’s crazy to think that I hated him at first in Misaeng (미생)! Fortunately Han Suk Yool (헌숙율) grew on me, and I now have a new drama to watch.

I want to keep up my writing skills, and practice concision, so I’ve decided to do occasional episodic reviews for Ex-Girlfriend Club. I also want to practice typing in Hangul (헌글) on my keyboard, so I’m going to list drama titles and actor/character names in 헌글 at least once. (I don’t want to get used to reading romanizations, as it makes learning to read 헌글 that much harder).

Without further ado, my review!

The story begins with some flying ninja-like personages (???) heading toward a house down below. Inside there’s a Joseon-era party, complete with drinking, dancing, and women. The flying ninjas swoop in and start killing people left and right, while we see one woman following another to hide under a small table.

One addresses the other by name: “Baek Seung Hye (백승혜)! It’s Kim Soo Jin (김수진), from Jungin Films!” The two continue scrambling around what we now know is a movie set (as the cameramen that suddenly appear prove) and Soo Jin persistently tries to convince an initially annoyed Seung Hye to sign a movie contract. Soo Jin persuades the actress by saying she has a contract with a big name director.

Soo Jin returns to her office to tell her hoobae (her subordinate) the good news–as long as Baek Seung Hye signs the contract, investment money will come pouring in, and their currently bad financial state will be changed for the better.

But all is not well in film production. Apparently the big-name director is delaying the contract, and Jungin has already purchased the very expensive copyright for the script. The company president admonishes Soo Jin to wrap up the contract. Then he asks whether she’s looked at the web-toon he’s considering. She gives him a dismissive “No, I haven’t had time for that,” and throws out a resigned, “it’s not a weird R-rated web-toon like last time, is it?” He insists that it’s not.

She proceeds to check out the webtoon, all the while complaining to her hoobae that the story is unrealistic, because who would treat a nice man like this? Hoobae insists that the online comic has a wide readership because people relate to it. But Soo Jin gets even more skeptical once she finds out it’s based on true events. “Who would be crazy enough to make a movie out of this?” she says. Hoobae claims Soo Jin just doesn’t like romance, or have enough romantic experience. Soo Jin gets defensive and says that just because she makes human rights films doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy romance.

Later, Soo Jin enters a restaurant, where a boisterous group of people hails her, one seemingly her friend. He tells his guests to wait for words of wisdom from this person who has won some big awards at an International Film Festivall. Reluctantly, short Soo Jin stands on her chair and starts to speak. She’s interrupted by the abrupt arrival of Shim Joo Hui (심주희), an elegantly dressed woman–and based on Soo Jin’s distasteful glance, enemy–who steals the spotlight. She continues to put Soo Jin down throughout the dinner, implying that she’s a drunk, and Soo Jin continues to defend herself. Everyone leaves and Soo Jin goes to pay the tab. Joo Hui comes to taunt her, and says she’s seen Myeong Soo (명수). “You remember, that guy we gave a ride to one time. Are you two not dating anymore?” she smirks. “You used to go everywhere together.” Soo Jin doesn’t buy Joo Hui’s bull and tells her to just say what she wants to say.

Soo Jin returns home to her sister’s house with chicken and beer for her sister, brother-in-law, and nephews. Her sister can’t wait to see Soo Jin move out and pay back the money she owes, and Soo Jin insists that her company will be getting money very soon. She’s even started packing already. She takes several awards and plaques that she’s won and wraps them in newspaper. Just as she’s about to tie up one of the (numerous) stacks of books she has, Soo Jin notices an old photograph of herself and Myeong Soo, and she remembers the night they met. She and Joo Hui were on their way to a festival in the rain, when a young man knocks on her window. Soo Jin hesitantly rolls it down, and doesn’t want to give him a ride. But Joo Hui says what’s the harm, so they let him in.

Soo Jin returns to reality and continues to pack her things. The next day, she sits at her office computer, and her hoobae says she’s going to go to the bank to see why their account balances are negative. Soo Jin remarks that they’re always in the red, but hoobae points out it’s how much they’re in the red that bothers her. She mentions that they’ve paid contract fees to two writers: Ahn and Bang Myeong Soo. Soo Jin doesn’t hear past “Bang Myeong Soo,” and asks hoobae to repeat the name. “Oh, that’s the real name of the writer of that webtoon!” While hoobae laughs her way to the bank about Myeong Soo’s name, Soo Jin looks up the real name of the web-toon writer, horrified to find that it is in fact her Myeong Soo.

She recalls a time when she, Joo Hui, and Myeong Soo were out together discussing Superman. Myeong Soo and Soo Jin agreed that it was a romance, and hit it off very well–Myeong Soo even asked her to speak informally–and the two continue with a jovial, soju-infused conversation. Joo Hui just sits by in a blindingly red suit looking bored.

In present time, Soo Jin decides to read the web-toon, by turns laughing, squeeing, scoffing, and sighing at the events recounted there. Disturbed by Myeong Soo’s re-entry into her life, Soo Jin goes outside where her brother in law is smoking, and berates him for marrying her sister. He senses her distress and asks what’s wrong. She explains about the webtoon, and he asks if she’s going to work with him. Soo Jin cries definitely not–how could she do light romance when she’s won awards at an International Film Festival? Brother-in-law reminds her that she’ll probably show up in the web-toon herself eventually.

The next morning, Soo Jin paces around the office, pondering her dilemma. Hoobae breezes in and out, explaining the bank issues and that she’s going to meet with Myeong Soo. Soo Jin goes all deer-in-the-headlights for a moment before running after the girl. Soon she’s riding a bus and walking to a restaurant. She looks excited as she finds a table, and furtively checks her appearance in her compact mirror, all to the tune of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again (Naturally).

Myeong Soo arrives as she’s putting on her lipstick. At first he walks past her and does a double take, then gets right up in her face, until she looks away from her compact and sees him. She squeals and rises from her chair with a start, smearing lipstick on her face, while Myeong Soo greets her with a bright smile and a cheery, “Soo Jin!”

He wipes the lipstick from her face as she gingerly pulls away, and comments on how she’s done well, if the articles he’s seen about her awards are anything to go by. Myeong Soo even tells her he was just about to contact her. “For what?” she asks expectantly. “To treat me,” is his disappointing reply. Soo Jin inquiries how he’s living–is he still going clubbing? He says no, he’s living like an adult and “cultivating his moral sense.” Riiiiight.

Soo Jin sees something on his cardigan and says he should wash it. He waves it off, citing his innate laziness. And yet, he says, when he hung out with Soo Jin he tried hard, and went to every festival. The two reminisce about old times. Myeong Soo suddenly says that no matter what he does, nothing is ever as fun as it was when he hung out with Soo Jin.

And then he asks what exactly she’s doing at this restaurant, if she’s meeting someone–perhaps a man? Soo Jin plays it cool and evades answering. “If I am?” He then assumes it’s a man, and says he’s proud, because he thought she would die an old maid. Remembering his own appointment, he hurriedly says he’s got to go, but that he’ll call her later, as long as she hasn’t changed her number. She looks on skeptically as Myeong Soo pulls out his phone and dials. Her phone does not ring, so he searches through his contacts and tries another number.

Turns out, there are 3 Soo Jins. He tries to cover his ass by teasing her about having changed her number, but she won’t have any of it, and tells him to get to work. She stalks out of the restaurant, and he teases her that if he’d known it was her company he would’ve asked for more money from the contract. “Am I a discount coupon?” she rages. Shocked at her anger, he says he was just kidding. Soo Jin responds that he wasn’t funny. He continues to act silly (though getting somewhat upset) but Soo Jin fails to find him funny.

She tells him not to get his hopes up, because his webtoon won’t get a film adaptation anytime soon. It’s not worth it, and no one wants to see cats and dogs. They then get all up in each others faces (literally) about whether the male lead is a dog or not. Myeong Soo, interestingly, claims that it’s a cheetah.

Afterward, Soo Jin stays up all night making nasty comments on his webtoon. She groggily answers a phone call from Eun Hye the next morning, which quickly brings her to her senses. Rushing to the office, she finds two men looking to collect on a business loan the president made–all by himself without her knowledge. Soo Jin and Eun Hye go to look for the president, but he answers neither his phone nor his door. He finally appears with some expensive looking golf clubs, and goes to pieces when they begin to chastise him. He pleads for forgiveness, saying it was for his sick child.

Soo Jin and Eun Hye return to the office and begin wailing atrociously. The phone rings and Eun Hye answers, then slams the phone down and furiously types something. She sorrowfully shows Soo Jin an article on the script they just purchased, that says Shim Joo Hui is the team leader for the film. Soo Jin shows up at the writer’s place, begging to see him. Then she goes to see Shim Joo Hui, who graciously grants her an audience, and refuses to hand the project back to her. All she does is grin cruelly and infuriatingly, and says “A faster company will get better items. Your side joked around first. If it was that important to you, you should have done better. You act like you don’t care, not quite holding on to things and not quite letting them go, but making a fuss when somebody seems as if they’re going to take them away.” I don’t think she’s just talking about movie rights here.

Soo Jin returns to the office to drink with Eun Hye, then goes home drunk.The next day she eats with Myeong Soo, who apparently called her to meet—so he could return his contract fee. He lets slip that he heard about the company’s problems through Joo Hui. Oh, perfect. Soo Jin jumps on him, saying $3000 must be chump change if he’s working with Joo Hui. Tears being to roll slowly down her face and she laments that even Myeong Soo is a stranger to her.

Myeong Soo goes to meet Joo Hui to sign the contract. She assures him that working with her company is better, that small companies have lots of limitations and problems. He still doesn’t look 100% sure. Later, he gets caught in the rain and sits at a bus stop, reminding him of when something similar happened to him and Soo Jin and he ended up piggy-backing her to Seoul.

He walks into Soo Jin’s office, drenched, as she’s packing up her things, and the two go out for a meal. He says she’d better treat him well, and that he’s a fool for only taking $3000. Wait, so he took the contract back to her? He then makes her feed him a wrap, and beings to reproach her with the things she said about his webtoon when they met before. He takes his teasing and her apologies a little too far, then makes her drink.

She wakes the next morning with a very bad hangover, and goes in to find someone waiting in the office. A slightly older woman in pink, looking dignified as she sits in a chair. Soo Jin asks who she is, but the woman simply responds, “And who are you?” as if she belonged there and Soo Jin was the interloper. (Urgh, she gets on my nerves already. A bad sign.)

Turns out, when she and Myeong Soo got drunk, they called his three ex-girlfriends. I don’t know that they told them, but all three show up at Soo Jin’s company the next day–the classy lady in pink,and a precocious, voluptuous young woman, and a woman with a slightly crazed look and a hot temper.

My Thoughts:

So that was an interesting first episode. We meet our plucky, down-on-her luck heroine who’s struggling to do well in the film industry. She has a rival and friend-turned-enemy, a player (?) ex, and a dishonest boss. When the company she works for takes a turn for the worse, she gets saved at the last minute–by her ex. Except now she has to deal with his exes.

The one in the pink, the “classy” one, I’ll call her for now, seems more amused by everything than anything else. I can’t tell if she cares about Myeong Soo or not. The youngest one is clearly still interested and very…shall we say aggressive? in her advances. And the third is just plain angry with him, but possessive as well. What a mix.

And what about the guy they’re fighting over?

I can’t say I like Myeong Soo 100%. As of now, I have very mixed feelings. He seems like a big faker and a player. Not an intentional player, just one of those guys who doesn’t see the effects of his actions, the kind who’s too nice to girls and doesn’t realize he’s flirting. He might’ve been fun to hang out with in the olden days he looks on with such nostalgia–he was a bright, jovial, joker and appears to have been sincere. Now? Not so much: he has some sincerity, but it seems like most of it is hidden behind a bunch of fake. And the fact that in the webtoon he’s represented as a cheetah. Chee-tah. Cheat-ah. Cheater? Since this is based on his own experiences is this a reflection on his character?

And it’s probably just my rose colored glasses, but was he or was he not flustered by having Soo Jin all up in his business? I don’t know that he actually has any interest at the moment, although he was trying to flirt with her at least for fun (his body language: touching her face, pulling her chair toward his; and his words: talking about past times, saying he’s never had more fun times than with her).

Of course, other things indicate a certain level of interest: his nostalgia, the way he smiles at her when she isn’t looking, and the rather humongous (and practically speaking less advantageous) decision to return the contract to her company.

It really makes me wonder what broke these two up. Did he break it off? Did she? Is he a player? Was there misunderstanding? Was noble idiocy involved? Were his exes before Soo Jin or after? WHAT HAPPENED?? I WANT TO KNOW!!!!

You can’t really judge by first episodes, but one thing I can already say for this show, it really makes me curious to know more.

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