Episode 2 of Prime Minister and I sealed the deal for me. I have a date with you for the next 7 weeks, m’kay? Not every contract marriage drama works for me even if I do have a inexplicable fondness for this set up. Sometimes its just so stupid or the two leads make no sense to be together, whatever the reason the situational romance feels forced and the narrative fails to overcome the inherent ridiculousness of the very basis that two people would get married on a pretense. Well, I suppose it does happen when someone wants a green card or some sort country’s residency permit, but let’s suppose that normal people wouldn’t even contemplate fake dating much less fake marrying. So why does this set up work in limited drama constructs, and when it does it works so well? It’s because the writers create two characters that are interesting in their own right but seem to lack the impetus or opportunity for romance, but throw them together by forces beyond their control and it’s the perfect recipe for believable romance to blossom. I am so in love with Yoona here, both her performance and her character as Nam Da Jung. I pray she doesn’t turn into a weepy wet blanket in the second half of the drama, but so far she’s smart and sensible yet wickedly brash in her drama queen way. She makes a perfect foil for the stern and staid Kwon Yul, dragging out his warm and funny side when he looks at her like she’s some crazy alien from another planet.
It’s a relief that tthe drama doesn’t pile on their mutual dislike and misunderstanding, instead letting them quickly realize each other is a good person and someone respectable. So their fake relationship is built on mutual trust and agreement even if they bicker in harmless ways. They are already aligned together right from the start, so all that is left is letting the seeds of a natural attraction grow into a love that will surely leave me swooning. The OTP chemistry here is off-the-charts, and its not always of the passionate kind but the acting chemistry is stellar in every scene whether they are arguing or talking candidly with each other. It’s a little sad for the rest of the supporting cast that they really are all supporting the two leads whose journey together is the complete basis of this story. I frankly don’t care about any other character other than Da Jung and Yul and that’s fine with me. As long as the writing for all the characters and what happens to drive the plot forward remains believable then I’m cool with even Yoon Si Yoon playing second fiddle here. The cast seems to be having fun and their infectious energy translates onscreen to create a story that has come alive in two quick episodes and is primed to kick start my Mondays starting next week when the OTP get hitched and start their “married” life by cohabiting together. I can’t wait for the fake marriage but real love hijinks to start.
Episode 2 recap:
Da Jung goes to see Kwon Yul and tries to avoid being detected by all the reporters gathered in the building lobby. Reporter Byun appears to spot her and she quickly scurries off. Thankfully Kwon Yul pulls her into the stairwell and they stand there to eavesdrop on Reporter Byun’s gossip with another reporter.
Discussion turns to the woman in the picture being paid off. Da Jung is incensed and Kwon Yul claps his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. The two reporters don’t know who paid off the girl but Reporter Byun wonders if this is a intentional leak by Kwon Yul’s team to deflect attention from the minor girl scandal.
Yul drags Da Jung up to the roof and asks if she’s using her brain? How could she come to the very place where all the reporters in Korea are gathered? Da Jung can’t sit still now that the picture has been printed and she’s upset to be painted as a gold digger. Yul says that won’t happen and he’s already said no. Da Jung catches what he said and accuses his team of float that idea and it’s her turn to scoff at him for being sleazy and pretending to be all upstanding when he’s setting her up. She tells him that he’s not going to be the next Prime Minister if she has anything to do with it. Yul says she can do what she wants and he’ll do things his way.
Hye Joo is responding to reporters about the girl being paid off and saying they are still investigating. She heads back to the office and runs into In Ho who accuses her of leaking the paid off information despite Yul prohibiting it. Hye Joo says the other option is to do nothing and get taken down.
Hye Joo goes to see Yul but she hesitates outside his office. He walks out and tells her to go with him to the press conference because he’s made up his mind. Hye Joo hears that he’s going to decline the appointment and Da Jung arrives and hears this as well as she hides behind the stairwell. Hye Joo refuses to let him give up and says there must be another solution. She can’t let this minor problem destroy what they’ve worked so long for.
Yul says the reputation of a woman is not a minor problem. Nam Da Jung did nothing wrong and she’s just a victim, so even if he’s doing this just to clear her name it’s worth declining the appointment for. He is going to decline the appointment and Hye Joo keeps crying that they’ve done so much to get here. After they leave, Da Jung wonders to herself what to do? In Ho walks up the stairs and sees Da Jung there.
Kwon Yul walks into the press conference and apologizes for causing a scandal. The reporters don’t want to let him talk and ask him to identify the girl. Yul won’t but says the girl is not a minor. Reporter Byun gets up and says he knows the reason Yul won’t identify the girl – the girl is a reporter for Scandal News and she got an exclusive with Kwon Yul. It’s the same girl.
Da Jung arrives at the press conference and loudly admits the girl is here – in the picture and also the reporter for Scandal News. She walks up the dais and joins Yul as the cameras all go off. She addresses the reporters and says that she is in a relationship with candidate for Prime Minister Kwon Yul. She asks Reporter Byun if that was what he was planning to say? Reporter Byun quickly confirms it and all the reporters rush forward and now the news reports are all about the romance of Kwon Yul.
Yul confronts Da Jung afterwards and asks if she’s crazy getting involved and creating such a lie. Da Jung doesn’t mind and can handle it for the time being, it’s what the entertainers do in a scandal. Yul asks if she doesn’t care what people think and she does but this is better than being labeled a reporter who did something dirty to get an interview. She did this for herself so Yul shouldn’t think she likes him. Yul knows this idea didn’t come from her brain but she says it did. In Ho speaks up and says he came up with this idea and asked her to do it. Yul asks Da Jung to leave the room.
Yul tells In Ho that his rule for his own political career is not to take bribes, not to lie, and not to be influenced by others. In Ho has turned Yul into a joke and he’s going to decline the candidacy still. In Ho asks if Yul’s principles are really that important? Important enough to give up everything? Important enough to let everyone down and the people who are depending on him? If he goes out now and clears things up, Da Jung will become either a mistress type or a loose woman. Compared to that, isn’t it better for her to be the heroine in a love story with the Prime Minister?
In Ho leaves Yul’s office and runs into Hye Joo outside. She slaps him before saying thanks. Da Jung sees this.
Joon Ki gets a report from his staffer that this little twist has turned the tide of public opinion back towards Yul. Joon Ki is impressed Yul’s gotten smarter in politics.
In Ho brings Da Jung to a conference room for her to spend the night until the news dies down. She notes that usually she’s chasing people for interviews and its weird to be on the receiving end. She asks how his face is doing and In Ho admits he saw stars for a few seconds. He wonders how she’s holding up and she’s still trying to process having to pretend to be the girlfriend of the strange and hard-to-please Kwon Yul.
Da Jung asks if Yul has agreed and hears he’s still thinking about it. In Ho thanks her but she thanks him for coming up with this solution. And if things goes wrong, In Ho offers to take responsibility for everything. He hands her a blanket and leaves while Da Jung wonders how he plans to take responsibility?
Yul sits in his office and thinks about what In Ho and Da Jung said to him. He’s especially concerned about Da Jung’s reputation now being at stake as well as being the President’s right hand man as the Prime Minister and doing good for the country. Yul makes up his mind.
Da Jung is sprawled on the sofa fast asleep. She turns over and falls off the sofa, opening her eyes to see Yul standing over her looking very disgusted. He’s incredulous that for this kind of woman he’s going to have to lie to the people of Korea. Da Jung asks if he’s agreed and he has for the time being until after his confirmation. Then she will have to tell the world that they have broken up. Da Jung agrees and starts to call him “chagi-ya” i.e. honey. He tells her to stop and she can leave now. Da Jung tells him to save all his exclusive interviews for his girlfriend her. Yul says no way and he’ll make sure she reads the headline for their breakup in the news.
Hye Joo tells Da Jung the rules – she’s not to talk to reporters and must keep this a secret from everyone including family and friends. Especially her work place Scandal News. Da Jung assures her that she’s a fantastic actress. Hye Joo asks if she’s borrowed money, has a record, or dated before? Da Jung says no to all the above. Hye Joo asks her to behave with grace and class during this time period as she’s the girlfriend to the future Prime Minister.
Da Jung asks for Yul’s phone number since he’s her boyfriend. Da Jung calls Yul and asks him to save her number as the first speed dial before hanging up. Hye Joo warns her not to mess up before storming off.
Da Jung is wondering how to leave the building when In Ho comes by. He promises to sneak her out if she waits for him but she tells him not to worry and she’ll sneak out by herself since she’s Nam Da Jung from Scandal News. Da Jung successfully sneaks out and In Ho notes that she’s a very interesting girl indeed.
Yul’s three kids are in his living room and daughter Na Ra is pissed that it’s her birthday and she can’t even leave the house with all the reporters gathered outside. She asks older brother Woo Ri whether he thinks dad will marry that girl. Woo Ri doesn’t know and doesn’t care. Man Se likes the girl because she’s very nice. Na Ra says nice doesn’t matter, she’s dressed very dowdy so she can’t marry their dad.
Uncle Joon Ki comes by saying he’s here because its Na Ra’s birthday. Woo Ri asks if he’s not here because all the reporters are here. Heh. Joon Ki notes that Woo Ri is becoming more like his dad. He hands Na Ra her present and finds out their dad hasn’t come home yet. Yul and In Ho are heading home and discussing the high public opinion towards Yul now. Da Jung’s interview of him is also well-received and Yul reads it and them hollers about her including the on-dit that he wears briefs. He crumples the newspaper and throws it away.
Joon Ki speaks with the reporters outside and says he’s more interested in congratulating his brother-in-law on his new romance and a possible step-mother for his nephews and nieces than whether Yul gets confirmed as Prime Minister. Yul comes him and asks what Joon Ki is doing here? Joon Ki is here for Na Ra’s birthday and then whispers to Yul that he doesn’t care if the romance is real or fake but forgetting his kid’s birthday is the wrong thing to do.
Da Jung finds reporters gathered outside Scandal News headquarters. She gets a call from her dad who read the newspaper and demands to know what she is doing dating the future Prime Minister! How can she find a guy who already has three kids! He doesn’t care who this guy is, he wants to meet the bastard so she needs to bring him over!
Da Jung is being grilled by her editor who asks if it’s a lie that she’s dating Kwon Yul. Da Jung tries get Hee Chul to back her up and reminds him that her phone has a speed dial for “my man”. Da Jung says “my man” is Kwon Yul. Editor isn’t so easy to fool and wonders why Scandal News was barred from Yul’s building that one time.
Da Jung makes up this hilarious story that she asked Yul to do it so the reporters can’t learn of their relationship. This involves her being dragged out while Yul is all verklempt and has to be restrained from going after her. Yul cries to his staff to be gentle with his woman otherwise she might shatter. Hee Chul wonders why Yul would have her tossed in the police station and Da Jung says it was because she asked to break up with him because of their vast differences.
Da Jung imagines a rainy scene reconciliation where they both admit to be wrong and they can’t break up. Cue romantic ballad and a kiss in the rain. Da Jung finishes her story and Hee Chul buys it because Da Jung prevented him from tracking the kids and also got an exclusive with Yul. Her editor tells her to call Yul right now then.
Yul is in a meeting and answers Da Jung’s call where she aegyo’s “honey, it’s me!” Yul tells her that she dialed the wrong number and hangs up. Da Jung says she dialed wrong and calls back. Yul answers again and Da Jung says “honey, it’s me, Da Jung!” Yul is all like “who?” before remembering her and asks if she’s crazy. Da Jung asks him to come pick her up after work because her co-workers want to meet him. He tells her to stop being ridiculous and if she dares to call him again she’ll have to deal with the consequences. Da Jung tells her co-workers that her honey is too busy to come and now both of them don’t believe her again.
The Scandal team leave work and Da Jung keeps trying to explain that she is not lying and her honey is just upset at her for going to the press conference. Her coworkers tell her to bring Kwon Yul then if they are to believe her. Yul speaks up and asks if someone is calling him. Everyone turns in shock to see Yul standing there.
Da Jung runs towards Yul and they put their arms around each other. Yul takes Da Jung away leaving Hee Chul and her editor gaping that their romance is real.
Da Jung is in the car and positively ecstatic that Yul magically showed up right on time. He warns her to pipe down since there is a driver also in the car and they need to keep up pretenses. He then warns her that she’ll get it if she calls him “honey” one more time. Da Jung glares at him and mutters about who wants to call him “honey” anyways. She asks why he came and he reminds her that she told him to come. He knows that the Scandal News team is very perceptive and he doesn’t want them to suss out the truth so he came.
The driver hilarious turns on romantic music and tells Yul and Da Jung to not let his presence keep them from chatting. He’ll listen to music and they can talk, and he offers to turn off the lights in the back seat for them. Da Jung suddenly notices the Scandal Team following them and her co-workers want to get an exclusive on the Prime Minister’s late night date. Da Jung directs the driver to evade the Scandal News car by driving through the alleys and lanes that she is familiar with from all her reporter work. The driver turns left and right sending Da Jung and Yul flying into each other. Ahahaha, I love it. They shake off the Scandal Team and Da Jung wants to get off at the next light but Yul tells the driver to take them to a hotel.
Yul and Da Jung are walking to a hotel room and she’s not willing to go so far. Yul tells her they have to make it look real and then drags her off to the room. Da Jung is playing the role of the reluctant virgin when she turns around and sees a room full of Yul’s staffers staring at her. She gets up and smiles sheepishly before going to join everyone. She asks why Yul didn’t tell her where they were going and he said that he told her they were coming to a hotel.
Joon Ki hears that Yul’s team is all gathered at a hotel and he knows its to write the script for his upcoming confirmation hearing. He wants news leaked of Yul forgetting his kid’s birthday because he was too busy in love.
Yul is memorizing all of Da Jung’s personal information like age, blood type, favorite things, education. et. al. He gets stuck on when they first met and then tosses his script yelling about why he needs to memorize all this stupid stuff. Hye Joo says he might be asked about it but Da Jung thinks there are more important things to ask Yul about during the confirmation. In Ho says Yul is clean everywhere else so he can’t be grilled about it.
In Ho grabs a cup of coffee and Hye Joo joins him to apologize for slapping him earlier. In Ho notes that she apologized earlier than he expected. Hye Joo says her thanks was sincere and his decisiveness was impressive. In Ho reveals he’s been following Yul’s career for a long time and is actually a member of his supporter’s club since its inception 10 years ago. In Ho drinks his coffee and has a very interesting look on his face. Don’t turn out to be a baddie, In Ho!
Da Jung goes outside and finds Yul standing alone thinking. He senses her and turns around and she tries to sneak off but he asks what her parents think about this? He then remembers that she only has a dad left and asks if he’s not worried about her doing this? Da Jung admits her dad has been telling people she’ll be getting married soon. She tells Yul not to worry since her dad forgets things soon after saying it. Yul thanks her for helping him and after this he won’t be needing her help anymore.
Yul asks why she wants to help him? Da Jung remembers Yul saying that she did nothing wrong and is a victim, and for that one reason alone he would decline the appointment. Da Jung says she’s just an average citizen but if she can help him become a Prime Minister who helps the average person and not the rich. If he makes this promise to her then its worth it. Yul asks her to make a promise with him that she will become a good reporter. He didn’t approve of what she wrote but her writing has potential so he’ll watch as she becomes a good reporter one day. The time is late and he tells her to go home. Da Jung asks him if he knows what his son Man Se’s favorite movie is now?
At the confirmation hearing, Yul is asked what Man Se’s favorite movie is? He doesn’t think its an appropriate question but the congressman grills him on everything concerning Man Se like Da Jung asked him in the interview. Yul is silent for a few moments as the congressman asks if he’s too busy for his kids but not too busy to be in love. How can someone like him be their next Prime Minister?
Yul speaks up and and answers all the congressman’s questions about his kids – their favorite things and what they want to be when they grow up. He knows Man Se hilariously wants to be the president of a bread company. But then he admits he learned all of this last night and he is definitely is a dad who doesn’t know all the details about what his kids like or dislike. He doesn’t even know how he fell in love but he wants to protect a woman and that is his answer. In the future he might still be a dad who gets zero points but he will be a Prime Minister who gives his all for the nation. To become a better dad, he will work on it after this.
Da Jung watches the confirmation hearing on TV and hears Yul saying that he wants to protect a woman and admitting he’s not a good dad but will be a hardworking Prime Minister.
Yul gets confirmed and the President congratulates him and asks if he’s set a date for the wedding. Yul needs a wife and his kids need a mother. Yul leaves the Blue House and mutters to himself and he can’t get married but can’t say he won’t get married. His staff greets him and congratulates him on getting confirmed. In Ho introduces him to the Prime Minister’s new security detail. Yul gets into the car and he’s driven to his first appointment with all the trappings of his position including police escort.
Da Jung leaves Scandal News and Hee Chul tells her to just go take bride classes rather than coming to work. Da Jung says she has her own life and Hee Chul wonders if she’s breaking up with Yul and if she is then he needs to get the exclusive. Da Jung gets a call and her face falls. Da Jung rushes to the hospital crying as her dad is covered by a blanket like a corpse. He gets up with a laugh and she’s upset he played a prank. Dad wants to meet Kwon son-in-law and asks why he hasn’t come when he learned his father-in-law collapsed. Da Jung yells at her dad for playing a prank such a collapsing because this is not a funny joke.
Da Jung runs into the doctor outside who says her dad didn’t joke about collapsing. Her dad has brain cancer and at most 6 months to live. The doctor suggests her dad be happy and stress free for the remaining time left. Da Jung gets a text from her dad to stay warm and bring Kwon son-in-law next time because he and her mom want to meet him. He ends the text with “I love you, daughter”. Da Jung collapses on the street sobbing.
Yul is getting briefed about the confirmation party and In Ho points out that Da Jung is not on the guest list and shouldn’t she be included since she was a major help. Hye Joo says no need since they are breaking up soon. Yul sides with Hye Joo and says not to keep using her.
As Hye Joo and In Ho leave Yul’s office, Hye Joo asks if In Ho is so concerned about Da Jung for his own reasons? In Ho thinks about it and thinks it might be and asks if there is anything wrong with that. Hye Joo says nothing is wrong but be prepared to end up in the headlines. She walks off and In Ho wonders if there is no reason to see that interesting Reporter Nam around in the future.
Da Jung is drinking her woes away and remembers Dad’s greatest wish to walk her down the aisle as a bride. She then remembers the doctor saying he needs to be happy for the remaining time he had left. Da Jung gulps down her soju and swallows back her sobs. Guh, I’m hurting so much for her. Yul sits in his office and remembers Da Jung asking him to become a Prime Minister who fights for the weak and sticks up for the average person. He gets a call and rushes out.
Da Jung is passed out drunk in the police station while the cops tries to wake up her. She calls them her editor while they try to get her to go home. Da Jung promises to get a headline and falls back down again. The cops discuss having called her boyfriend who was speed dial #1 on her phone. They wonder why Da Jung looks familiar and then places her right when Yul walks in.
Da Jung jumps up when she sees Yul and tries to run away. She says she doesn’t know this guy but Yul fairly drags her out as he thanks the cops for taking care of her.
Da Jung is vomiting by the bushes as Yul watches and has to refrain from getting grossed out. Afterwards they talk and he says its not even worth yelling at her for making him go to the police station. She apologizes and he asks why even call him if they are planning to break up after the confirmation. Why is his number still #1 on her speed dial. He tells her to delete it and she goes to grab her phone. Yul mutters about how annoying it is that he’s being pressure to marry.
Da Jung’s eyes light up and she grabs Yul’s arm and asks if they can’t get married for real? Yul goes “WHAT?” and Da Jung slips down his leg and begs him “Prime Minster-nim, can’t we get married for real?” Yul stares at her as Da Jung gives him her most pleading puppy face. Just marry her you dolt! She’s so hilarious your life will be a billion percent better with her around.
Thoughts of Mine:
It is with great pleasure that I get to revise my opinion of Yoona. I never like having to “dislike” an actor or actress because his/her acting sucks, but I also can’t lie and say otherwise. I think acting is a skill, and those who have a natural aptitude can learn it quicker and those without may struggle until the switch flips. I sincerely think the switch flipped for Yoona in this drama, whether its by virtue of working with an amazing co-star or having a great character to play, at least she’s firing on all cylinders and we all get to enjoy the results of this improvement. Da Jung is so adorable I could squish her, and she’s not cute in the cutesy dim-witted but kind way. She’s smart and sassy, always daring to say what is on her mind but not in a self-absorbed way. Her conversations with Yul always make laugh or nod my head along with her, because she’s not a silly reporter who doesn’t know any better. She can easily connect the dots such as figuring the leak about her taking money after the compromising picture was released might’ve come from Yul’s camp after he said that he already kiboshed the idea. I loved that she threw “sleazy” back at him when she accused him of throwing her under the bus, I love my leading ladies to be unafraid of standing up for herself. I also appreciated that she was just as quick to join his side when she learned the truth that he was indeed a good man who was not going to throw her under the bus. Hooray for an OTP who can bicker but not be weighed down by simple misunderstandings. I think what tickles me most about Yul and Da Jung’s relationship growth is that they really are strangers from completely different backgrounds tossed together due to circumstance but not created to butt heads for the sake of manufactured conflict. They can admit their mistakes to each other and convey respect for each other’s strong suits. If this isn’t a great recipe for a grounded romance then I don’t know what is.
There is already more sizzling romantic potential as well as comedy in the first two episodes of PM than in all of Marry Him If You Dare combined. Sadly the ratings are off to a slow start with yesterday’s episode 1 clocking in at 5.9%. All I care about is how much this drama makes me happy and I hope the ratings improve just so the network releases more goodies so I can immerse myself in this story. I also thought the drama did a wonderful job of creating a compelling reason for Da Jung to want to get married. She helped Yul with the fake relationship because she saw his goodness and thought this solution could help both of them. But getting married requires an even more serious motivation and making her sick dad’s biggest wish come true as he nears death is as compelling as reason as any. Da Jung’s scenes with her dad have already gotten me misty-eyed and I was teary when she got that text from her dad. It’s even better seeing in the preview that Yul finds out about her dad’s illness and together with his own marriage pressure decides this really is a contract marriage that benefits both parties. I want them to see each other’s strengths as well as support each other’s weaknesses. It’ll be fun watching her win over his kids as well as seeing how the Prime Minister’s young wife might actually make him a better politician and father. I also hope Yul helps Da Jung become a respectable and impressive reporter through his wisdom and encouragement. If this drama requires a giant leap of faith to accept all the twists and turns it took to bring Da Jung and Yul together, at least their romance is off to a start where the falling in love part between these two characters already feels probable.
Click here to watch Prime Minister and I.