Byun Yo Han and Song Ji Hyo Charm in Shortened Cable Drama Ex-Girlfriend Club

[Hey peeps, let’s give a big welcome back for jomo, who spent all of summer 2014 writing lovely heartfelt recaps for My Spring Days, and is back with a first impressions take on cable drama Ex-Girlfriend Club. I hope her schedule looks good this summer so she can share more of her insightful caring drama analysis with us. xoxo Koala.]

TvN‘s Ex-Girlfriend Club is my standout favorite drama this season. It hurts my heart that it has been shortened to only 12 episodes.  Mostly I just want to post adorable photos of Byun Yo-han (Misaeng) as cartoonist, Bang Myung-soo, playing around with a glowing Song Ji-hyo (Emergency Couple, A Frozen Flower) as film producer, Kim Soo-jin. They just seem to be having so much fun all the time.

Not a lot happens in EGC. Directed by Kwon Suk-jang, (Miss Korea, Pasta) he chose a pace that’s more a meander through a quiet neighborhood than a race to the OTP finish line. The writer is a newcomer, Lee Jin-mae. I like the balance of the introspective scenes with the slap-stick. It is lovely spending time with the characters as they discover things about each other and realize even more about themselves.

What compels the audience to keep watching is curiosity about the past as we see the pair negotiate a possible future together. Who are these folks? How did they get here?

At times it is uproariously funny – elbows, sneakers and curses flying in every direction – exactly what you would assume happens when ex-girlfriends meet and unite against a common enemy. The quieter more intense moments are in contrast to the chaotic noisy ones. In some ways, this romance feels like Office Girls. So close, and yet so far. She’s afraid of being played or hurt. He just loves her sooo much.

Byun Yo-han excels here. You can read each thought as it passes across his face.

The story revolves around the excitement and set-backs in getting our hero’s popular webtoon –  one that chronicles his past loves –  made into a feature length film.

She has to persuade the three ladies Myung-soo dated to allow the film to be made. In chronological order, the Cat, Na ji-ah played by Jang Ji-eun (Tree With Deep Roots) drips with money and status. Her wardrobe in one episode is worth more than one year’s of Myung Soo’s flannel and jeans. His first love, sophisticated, sleek, always wearing an enigmatic and dangerous smile.

The Lion, Jang Hwa-young is played by a no holds barred, Lee Yoon-ji (King 2 Hearts.) She is fierce, stubborn, snobby and has the most to lose if her connection to the webtoon writer is revealed. Mostly because she wants to hide her own bat-shit crazy obsessive behavior from her chaebol fiancé who definitely would not approve.

My favorite is the slightly youngest, the Fox, Ra Ra, played by Ryu Hwa-young. The gorgeous, voluptuous “actress” with a few risqué films on her resume, is ambitious in spite of her lack of talent. Her fans cannot know she had any sort of relationship that wasn’t one sided and innocent.  I have a huge girl crush on this Park Shin-hye look-a-like who has a comedic talent that has had me guffawfing the second she appeared on screen.

It turns out our film producer counts herself as one of his ex’s as well, though feels slightly intimidated by their glamor compared to her own relaxed style. An award winning producer in her own right, she is talented and driven, witty and intelligent, she has no business feeling that way!

The rest of the ensemble cast is as fabulous. Each actor stands out in his/her role – there is no blurring of the characters. Each one gets room enough to make a strong impression. And do they ever.

Soo-jin’s loyal coworker, Song Eun-Hye is played by Kang Soo Jin. I love her out-spokeness.  Go Hyun plays Myung-soo’s roomie and fellow cartoonist Lee Jin-bae, resident thorn-in-side, and putty in Ra-ra’s  hands.

Shin Dong Mi plays Soo-jin’s bossy big sister and wife to doting father played by Jo Jung-chi.

There are main two saviors and supporters of Soo-jin’s film, famous director, Jo Gun, played with prickly abandon by Do Sang-woo (Legendary Witch) and his good friend, investor and future husband to Hwa-young, played by ever so naively by Kim Sa-kwon (Can We Love?)

Ironically, the webtoon’s appeal, its sincerity, is what the Ex-Girlfriends want to hide from the world. Appropriately any attempt to obscure the truth or block uri OTP results in disaster, usually cringeworthy, that mortifies them more than if they had been honest in the first place.

Our genius director threatens consistently to reveal the truth; his presence irritates everyone, especially Myung-soo, as they both are interested in wooing Soo Jin.

Little by little we learn about the women who love Myung Soo, and about the man himself. We find out that whatever happened that ended each ex’s relationship, they still love him. They regret losing him and most important, they don’t want anyone else to have him. Ever.

So how does this jeans and sneakers guy have any past at all with these sleek high maintenance ladies?  His easy smiles hint at his social position with these stunning women. Men who appear unapproachable, think Darcy types, have more apparent status. The proud, unattainable man is the one all the women are programmed to want. Smiley guys just aren’t worth as much.

Ji-ah Noonah and Hwa-young ended up with the boardroom types who can provide all the material gains they need. Beautiful sexy Ra-ra also treated him like a stepping stone. Her goal to be an actress didn’t include a young, unemployed man, albeit an adorable one. Sure he is nice to look at, attentive, generous, sweet, but they considered him boyfriend material not husband.

The writers chose not to reveal Myung-soo and Soo-jin’s s history all at once. We get a peek or two each episode to some of their past interactions. His wistfulness about their time together tells us there is a lot more to the story than SHE is aware of.

There were quite a few surprises, deftly handled, that had me “Ah-hah!”-ing, too. Our hope is Soo-jin will NOT make the same mistake the Ex’s made, and hold on to this unique, sensitive man. The main theme is that telling the truth, as difficult as that can be, is the key to happiness in relationships. The refrain of the drama’s fun and catchy theme song reminds us: “I want to give you what you want, so tell me the truth.”

All the music is sensational. Whether we are hearing the OST, or Vaya Con Dios, a Belgian blues singer, or The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace or a 1950’s Trot song, the selection always sets the mood and highlights the emotions perfectly. (If there is a list somewhere I would love to download all of it.)

Cinematography and set design are also first rate. We get beautiful shots like this,

and this:

One of my favorite touches is the crayon drawings on the wall in Soo-jin’s living room. I smile each time I see the rainbows and other art her nephews scribbled and that the parents allowed to stay.

I look forward to the rest of this drama, though it disappoints me we have less time, we get less breathless moments between our hesitant OTP. I want MORE LOL’ing with the Ladies Three.  Who else is watching? What do you all think of the show and the reduction?

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Byun Yo Han and Song Ji Hyo Charm in Shortened Cable Drama Ex-Girlfriend Club — 41 Comments

  1. I feel much like you, really funny at times and strong,warm characters. Not much plot but down to earth story,characters are worth it. I like the way their past was told little by little over the time. How MS have more depth of feelings than you expected. I like the theme of telling the truth, the way the OTP are friends first and talk through everything.

    It sucks to that it is cut down because its fun,breezy drama that i would rather watch than generic by the numbers rom com that usually have better rating.

  2. im still devastated about the cutting news. excuse me while i cry in a corner. Great mid-review/recap, btw. Thanks.

    Also, youre right. I love the music choices they use in the drama.

  3. I love it too. Sad to say even though I’m a big fan of the Hong Sisters, I’m enjoying this more than Warm & Cozy even if I like that too. All the characters seem so much ‘more’ even if the minor ones can only be seen a few minutes per episode. I mean who else doesn’t love the love-to-hate Director Jo than the boring Ji-won in W&C?

    The revelations being doled out made me squee, Soo-jin and Myung-soo’s interactions are awesome, Ra-ra’s my new girl crush, and I really love the catchy BGM/OST. I’m sad that it got shortened, but 12 episodes is actually better storywise so the angst won’t get dragged out unnecessarily. I’m just gonna watch Emergency Couple again after this ends.

    I love Song Ji-hyo and don’t understand the hate she gets because of her ‘acting’ in this drama. Anyway, lovely post jomo. I enjoyed it and glad some people are enjoying this too despite the lukewarm reception from SK & tvN.

  4. I feel like I have been writing long treatises about this show because I really do love it so much, and I feel like not enough people are watching and/or appreciate these women as annoying as they all are, but they all have depth unlike most second female leads. I want to give a shout out to Lee Yoon-ji who is playing the heck out of this crazy character. When she comes back to drama land after her baby is born; she should only do physical comedy because she is so funny–she is letting it all out with no reservations. I can see why the writer had her in mind for this role. I also agree on the supporting cast and the writing for them. It proves that you can have small supporting roles that are clearly drawn without being stereotypical. This cut is just going to make me relish what is left even more. I also wonder if more dramas will (or should) start out with 10 or 12 eps in mind. Lots of Japanese dramas are that short and quite good. We all know plenty of American shows that really should only be min-series or even better movie-of-the-weeks.

    • Waaaaaaiiiii?! I need more Rara, more Myung-soo. More crazy Lion.

      Well, if the hopeful folks are right, it could go out with a Bang (get it?) rather than a whimper.

      Then we can count down the days till we see BYH in 6 Dragons, or I can rererewatch Misaeng.

  5. I’m really enjoying this one too! You described it perfectly. There is 1 character though that I just can’t come around liking. That is Ji an. She’s too manipulative. I love Rara’s straightforwardness, even more straightforward than Soo Jin.

    I love how down-to-earth the characters are, and the lead guy is so refreshing. He’s so chill and caring. I also love how we got to see the the characters’ flaws. I love the confrontation between the leads in episode 7, that shows the reason behind why things didn’t go well in their past. Obviously I see there were faults from both sides but I love the attention given in writing these characters.

    As for the episode cut, I don’t know if I’m happy or sad about it. I hope it doesn’t need to rush but I’m happy we’ll have less time for angst.

  6. Rara is T-ara Ex member(the alleged bully victim). As an actress, I think she is doing a wonderful job. This is my favorite drama so far this year. Really sad about shortening the drama. I feel it is Na PD fault. Since his variety comes after their show. Everyone goes to do house chores and everything else, so they can sit and enjoy his show. Back to the drama, the emotions are so raw, and any scene with all the exes are fun. The interaction between MS and SJ is to die for. I ship them so much. I love how comfortable they are with each other. Gary has a competition in BYH.

  7. I absolutely agree with you too.
    I was so sad and angry to learn they cut down this drama, the sweet genuine dramas like this always have less episodes, but dramas that are bad from beginning to end end up with freaking 20 episodes.. its upsetting ;/

    I am absolutely loving all the characters and story development, MS and SJ are so adorable together, great chemistry. My favourite ex is the Lion, she is bash crazy, temperamental and her lines and reactions/faces are just sending me on fits of laugh every time.

    I look forward to each episode!

  8. I actually mourning over the cutting down drama. this drama isl light, breezy, fun but with plenty of hearts. I definetely annoyed with 2 exes. namely Cat and Lion. but they are relatable wit a bit exxegeration. and Song Ji Hyo excel in acting like she doesn’t know that she’s pretty and attractive though not glamorous as the other exes.

    Byun Yo Han is heart. his mega-watt smile is warm. not typical maind lead in k-drama. and second lead is like typical main lead in k-drama but he’s not clueless and straight rude. he has his own perspective and being objective even to Myung Soo. he wants to woo SJ but she carefully observe whether SJ thinks MS as friend or more.

    I totally loveee the drama. i don’t usually watch rom-com. but this drama is more than rom-com. It is life! so, i wish director, writer, actor and staff still delivering good quality with a little episode is given. because It is great drama

  9. I was really taken aback to see the cut! This drama is more warm and cozy to me than Warm and Cozy as I hate the leads on Hong sisters drama being together. I love the side characters but shouldn’t we love our OTP as we can in EGC? I had not known that Song Ji Hyo was being hated on as she was loved in EC and I had serious issues with that OTP and in general. I love how funny this is and I will be sad to see it end. Please please do not ruin the end because it is cut short! What is my most scary thought are the ones that are can be just cut off and I hate the end. I am not thrilled with dramas that end like Faith. Or like Gu Family Book….please take the time now to make a cozy ending we can truly enjoy.

    • Oh so agree with you about warm and cozy!! I started watching it to unwind and relax through a stressful time. I thought i don’t mind watching leads bicker with the refreshing scenery of jeju island. What did I get? My blood boiling! The lead guy is both stupid and jerk beyond belief! (Its been dropped :P) Thankfully I stumbled on this and got exactly what I was looking for. Whats funny is the synopsis makes it seems like the lead is this player with maybe a jerkish side but what we get is a sincere guy full of heart.

      Oh yes about EC I also didn’t see why they should end up together but here it’s so different! It’s that instance if they finally settle their past and get together they would really make each other happy! I hope it has a good ending though.

  10. I am seriously so sad that ExGC is ending so soon! Why tvN, whyyyyyy?! I literally thought it was a cruel joke, but I can’t believe it’s really ending. 🙁 I have come to love this drama so much. I love the refreshing story line and each character have their own personalities and gimmicks that just makes them more genuine than your average character. Song Ji Hyo, sometimes a bit dull, is really doing her best in this role. It’s a character we can all relate to. Someone who’s been hurt and is vulnerable and nervous to jump into a relationship afraid of reopening past wounds. I’m sure we’ve all been there before, so I can really relate to her. And Byun Yo Han, what can I say?! He is absolutely adorable and he is kicking ass in this role! I love his character so much! It’s so nice to take a break from the common heartless chaebol heir/poor girl storyline and just have an average joe who’s struggling and trying to make ends meet. Myung Soo’s personality is just so caring and sweet, which makes it a plus! I seriously love this series. Hopefully everything will be rounded up nicely in the remaining 4 episodes that’s left! Fighting! ^^

  11. This is the best drama right now. So sad that it’s ending at only 12 eps.!! We need to do an online petition or something.

    • Is it possible to do a petition online? it’s such a pity that EGC is being cut :/ seems very abrupt to concise it all in the next 2 episodes 🙁

  12. We felt sad on this news, since the Romance Teamwork of BYH & SJH had given a great impact to the viewers, they are totally compatible with sincere rapport, compassionate and awesome. Too bad it was cut short, because we’re all looking forward to its airing every week. Hope we’ll be seeing them in their future project. Keep it up!

  13. I’m sadden by this news! Hopefully the cast/crew don’t take it personally, non-viewers are missing out on this hidden gem! It makes me sad they’re cutting 4 episodes, but I’m desperately waiting for the next 2 episodes each week so I know there won’t be as much makjang since 8 episodes have aired so I only have to wait 2 weeks to see the OTP happily together. This is the first kdrama I’ve watched in a loooooooooong time from start to finish.

  14. Looking at half glass perspective, at least it will also cut uncessary angst?

    But everything else you said, I agree. The story itself, thin in plot but full with interesting characters that move this drama along. Its slice of life drama and I enjoy it.

    Each scene is somehow relatable and I love their conversation. Like when those three ex meet and talk about Soo Jin and Ra Ra pointed out how great her own body is. The other’s face is priceless, lol.

  15. i fell in love with this drama and with the otp.. And for all the reasons you mentioned.. The fact that myeongSoo has those feels for SooJin(his eyes when he looks at her sometimes break something inside) and how he hasn’t said ‘all’of it even now.. The intensity gets too much when he just states or asks simply for her reactions.. The almost hesitance on both their parts and mostly his, almost does me in.
    I am so heartbroken that it’s shortened.. Yeh I loved every bit of it.. The camera angles, the unhurriedness , the underlying tension, the playfulness between them despite that tension.. And the unstated expectation and even hope of more.. Oh what I would have given to have it all played slowly as planned:(… I have seen such mediocre and worse series finish , why not this gem!;(( ah the heart..

  16. I am totally in love with this drama! It is cute, reflective, funny, and a bunch of other stuff. I can not believe out of a lot of shows that they continued….BLOOD, BIG, DR. JIN and STRANGER…I am enjoying her family, the characters are flushed out….I find myself laughing when I click on the new episode because I know that the trio are going to have something crazy going on. I am thankful for a drama that makes me smile.

  17. I love this drama. It’s the only one that I actually stuck to and watched every minute of it weekly without FFing it. Everything else, I dropped or am FFing or just waiting until the entire run is up.

    I was so disappointed to hear that it had been shortened although I sensed that it was going to happen. 🙁 What if they keep the angst and cut the cute instead?! I will be hopping mad.

    Something about BYH and SJH’s acting just run a big bell with me. They just seemed down and earth and real in the way that I would want to be friends with them and help them out in their relationship. 🙂

  18. Thanks Jomo, you finally got me interested, having a major kdrama slum! Am downloading now. Much thanks ockoala and warmest regards. Cheers

  19. I haven’t checked out this drama yet, as I was waiting to hear reviews.. Thanks for this review jomo!! 😀 This drama sounds absolutely wonderful! 😀
    I’m so sad it is being cut.. But hopefully the great writer can tie the story up nicely anyway

  20. I totally agree with everything thatbis said in the post and in the comment section. It was too heartbreaking to hear such news after watching the last episode whichbis the bomb in all the feels a viewer has stored in her kdrama life.
    It maybe a good thing to cut down the angst but noooo. I am not ready to say goodbye to this wonderful drama in two weeks time. I watched this out of curiosity witout expectation. And i never thought i would abticipate every episode. Huhu. Can they just post the songs they used to compensate our brokenhearts?? And thank you jomo for the wonderful take on the drama! :))

  21. I didn’t choose that drama and from the pics you sent , I have no regret .Song Ji Hyo has been depressing me every time I ‘ve watched her ( her face is so dull ) so now she is a no for me . I feel she is the contrary of Han Groo who always rejoices me . I must admit your boy is full of life . I always appreciate your comments since they come from the heart.

    • A very, very bad comparison!These two female actors have nothing (zip,zero)in common. Don’t get me wrong,I love HG but SJH has made her coffee in the industyy since a long time. They come from different generations of actors respectively and that’s what makes this comparison so unfair for the both of them. They’re not on the same level and, even though HG is super-talented, she still has a long way to go. Not a very gogood fanservice, imho.
      If talent is depressing, so let’s all get depressed, by all means. If a face with (least possible ps) should be considered “dull”, that’s fine by me.
      Thank you, miss Jomo for the vivid mini-recap and your thoughts!

      • song ji hyo is a mediocre actress, even kim jong kook is better at acting than she is

      • @21c
        That seems a bit far-fetched and biased, imho. I can totally relate to “de gustibus et de coloribus” motto but the firm statement about SJH’s acting skills even after her cinema career is a bit too much. None of us is a critic (at least, I know I’m not) and everyone has their own personal tastes.
        However, comparing KJK and SJH is beyond unfair. SJH has been an actor before becoming a variety persona. KJK is fun but SJH is an artist before everything else.

  22. awww, this rom com is so light, i need a break from watching too much angst drama and ExGC one of my exception. I always laugh when I watch the 3-ex bickering or just talking (and then bickering again) can we give 2 thumbs up for these girls? the fox and the lion are my fav!

    and myungsooo ya~, how can you not love him? even he’s just a cartoonist, wear flanel shirt and sneakers, but his smile makes all the worries gone. too bad this drama didn’t get good rating, one of underrated drama in 2015 🙁

    and OST! remind me of It’s Okay It’s Love, the BGM and OST just perfectly fit with the scenes

  23. Like everyone else, I am also a little sad that this drama is getting shortened. While the plot pacing is slow, I actually find the mundane ups and downs in the character’s lives refreshing and entertaining in their own way. I love the 3 crazy ex’s and their frenemy relationship…I loved the actress that plays the Lion in the King 2 Hearts and its great seeing her go all out OCD. The soundtrack which sounds a bit like a childhood rhyme is also so spot on in creating a quirky comedic atmosphere.

  24. Hello Jomo, welcome back! I love your writings back in my spring days’ moments.
    And i love your take on EGC, i just started watching this and BYH got me hooked instantly! He’s awesome and i can’t wait for his next project.

  25. Welcome back and you got my feelings for this drama spot on. I’m so sad it’s been cut but I’m hopefully they are able to close it well like the rest of the dram unlike Surplus

  26. Thanks for the review Jomo!

    Really enjoying this series, it’s too bad that it’s being shortened. With Let’s Eat 2 ending, EGC is the only show I am watching. I don’t know what to do now!

  27. sobsss…. this drama is such a gem its such a shame to cut it short just because of the low rating. BYH is so sweet. I can understand why a woman easily fall for him even at the outside, he just an average guy. He is caring and warm with super sweet smile, who girls will not fall for that!! I like his long gaze toward Soo Jin and we can really feel that he got such a feeling towards her but the timing is always not right for them. For Ji Hyo, its not that she look dull but i think her character make her as everyday women outside there with independent, and average woman. The drama is such a life and i can find that BYH totally kill it for his role with other exes.

  28. This show is a victim of circumstance. TvN shouldn’t have tried to run this so close to Producers. People were probably sleeping on this show because they were anticipating Producers and Three Meals. Had EGC been aired earlier in the summer or after Producers and 7000 days, it probably would’ve have done much better. It’s ironic that this show is becoming a victim of the Industry.

  29. I’m a reluctant kdrama viewer and was never really impressed with SJY’s acting in whatever little I have seen her in (and that means close to nothing), but even I have to admit that’s she has tremendous onscreen presence in Ex-GF and her acting gradually improves in each episode. In one of the early BTS vids I saw on youtube, I noticed how BYH nurtured her acting by helping her improv. I’m glad he was the one paired up with her because he drew out her best. I remember seeing an episode in Running Man (car wash epi) where the other actresses clearly outshined her with their improv skills, and she seemed a little lost and shy. So I get that she’s not good at ad-lib. Yeah, I get that she’s not the greatest, BUT damn these two are sweet together. It was the ultimate epitome of cuteness hearing her shyly refuse to acknowledge things she said to him. Was Ji Hyo’s voice always that sweet? /MELTS

    Anyway, I hardly watch Asian tv dramas, but when I do, I think shorter is better. I hate filler and unnecessary drama. I am definitely sad that this drama will end because I love it so much, but I feel that 12 epis sounds just about right.

  30. I really really love Ex-Girlfriend Couple so much that it made me cry when they shorten it. If Philippines would rate this, we will give it 8 out of 10… 20 of my colleagues love this drama so bad. The plot was fun, heartwarming, and definitely not boring.. we were looking forward watching it every week, why did it have to end? is there a way they can release the full 16 episodes online, though?

  31. I love this so fast. Everyone is so charming in their own right. So sad it’s being cut short. Hopefully they can wrap up everything nicely regardless.

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