Scandal with Kim Jae Won: Big Stakes Makjang Done Right and Keeps Getting Better

There is a new drama rocketing up the addiction chart for me, and luckily it’s arrived just in time to swoop in and exchange out a drama I’ve just pulled the plug on because it’s official DOA. Weekends is the land of weekend makjang fare and occasionally one or two a year will rope me in for the long haul. May Queen last year fit the bill for me, and this year I thought I Summon You, Gold would be an equally entertaining and frustrating watch. I’ve had to call it quits with ISYG because it’s just batshit stupid now without even one couple worth rooting for. I’ve been quietly following along with Scandal: That Very Shocking and Immoral Incident for the last few weeks and finally with today’s episode 7 I felt like the light bulb switched on for me. The first 6 episodes felt like a complete re-make of East of Eden except with a smaller cast and set in modern times. Recall EoE being this sprawling period epic with two boys switched at birth, so Scandal seemed strangely like a baby brother of EoE that just showed up out of nowhere. We have the Big Bad corporate greedbag in EoE played by Jo Min Ki complete with shocking white hair after the time jump, and here we have the Big Bad corporate greedbag played by Park Sung Min complete with shocking white hair after the time jump. Both also subscribe to the over-act like your paycheck depends on it methodology. It’s truly amusing to watch, especially knowing what great actors they can be when they are asked to actually act properly. So Scandal deals with the story of how the Big Bad causes the death of the only son of a police officer played by the marvelous Jo Jae Hyun, who goes to kill the guy after he can’t get any justice, and ends up somehow abducting the Big Bad’s son. Suffice to say, he wrestles with his conscience but in the end raises the boys and manages to convince the authorities that he had nothing to do with the kidnapping after the Big Bad points fingers at him. It’s kinda like karma, except Big Bad’s wife played by Shin Eun Kyung is devastated that she lost her son. The son grows up to be Kim Jae Won as a cop, and it’s really the best character I’ve seen him play in years. I love the male lead in this drama, and with him as the focal point this whole story has heart and stakes. Plus the OST for this drama is crazy addicting and so so good. And with the ending of episode 7, I am so totally onboard the OTP ship it’s not even funny. When the male lead has to tell the female lead that the man she was planning to marry that very day, and the father of her unborn baby, is dead…..well that is some stakes and oomph right there.

Just watch below to catch up on the first 5 episodes of the backstory, and then you can dive in starting episode 6 and skip all the heavy makjang set up. It’s compelling stuff but can be too pot-boiled. I loved it since I initially watched this show because of my love of Jo Jae Hyun’s grounded and raw acting and he was truly mind-blowing in the first few episodes.

A video montage of what happened surrounding the kidnapping (start at the 11:40 mark):

Ha Myung Geun (Jo Jae Hyun) is a single father and police officer with a son in kindergarten. One day they are at a department store which suddenly collapses due to the shoddy construction by the owner Jang Tae Ha (Park Sang Min). The son dies and Myung Geun is devastated. He learns that Tae Ha is going to get away with it because of falsifying evidence and goes to his house to kill him. But Tae Ha has his own messy backstory – he lives apart from his legal wife Yoon Hwa Young (Shin Eun Kyung) and has a mistress Go Joo Ran (Kim Hye Ri) on the side. Joo Ran is ready to displace Hwa Young by going public with a daughter Joo Ha that she had with Tae Ha. But Hwa Young has a secret, which is that she actually gave birth to and is raising Tae Ha’s son Jang Eun Joong. On the night that Hwa Young brings Eun Joong to see Tae Ha, Myung Geun arrives at the house. Little Eun Joong mistakes him for his father and Myung Geun in the spur of the moment takes Eun Joong away. Tae Ha is furious to lose his only son while Hwa Young is devastated by the kidnapping of Eun Joong. Myung Geun considers giving Eun Joong back after he realizes what he did, but Tae Ha’s unrepentant attitude for the death of Myung Geun’s son leads Myung Geun to decide to keep Eun Joong. In his mind, he is living in a nightmare that Tae Ha created, therefore Tae Ha shall live in a nightmare that Myung Geun created.

A few years pass and Tae Ha brings Joo Ran into the house and raises Joo Ha like a boy. Hwa Young does not give up and keeps searching for Eun Joong. She finds a boy in the orphanage and brings him home as Eun Joong otherwise Tae Ha would divorce her and marry Joo Ran. A DNA test is conducted that Hwa Young manages to do a bait-and-switch with the real Eun Joong’s DNA so it passes and Tae Ha believes the real Eun Joong has been found, and only Hwa Young knows otherwise. Joo Ha is happy she doesn’t have to live as a boy anymore. Myung Geun’s conscience starts to eat at him in the ensuing years and he starts to lash out at Eun Joong, telling him to leave and not to call him dad. One day there is a construction accident that causes him to realize that he loves Eun Joong and therefore he will do right by him and take him back to his real rich family. When they arrive, real Eun Joong meet fake Eun Joong outside the house and Myung Geun realizes that for whatever reason there is now a “Eun Joong” with the Jang family. He leaves with his Eun Joong and finally his heart is free to love and raise this boy as his son henceforth. Then a time jump to 2013 where Ha Eun Joong (Kim Jae Won) has grown up to be a cop, Jang Eun Joong (Ki Tae Young) is a lawyer, and Jang Joo Ha (Kim Kyu Ri) works for the family company, and Daddy Myung Geun has quit being a cop and is now a construction foreman.

This is a drama where romance is really ancillary to the central narrative, though I’m feeling this strong sense that when it does happen with the OTP it’ll be really well worth it. What I’m enjoying is how the elders are putting it all on the line. Kim Hye Ri is deliciously batty and Park Sang Min’s over-acting has this veneer of control, like he’s doing it on purpose because that’s how he interprets the character of Jang Tae Hae. But it’s Shin Eun Kyung and Jo Jae Hyun that are on course for year end awards if they keep up the incredible displays of emotion and restraint that they are delivering so far. But once the transition happened and the adults showed up, I was surprised by how much I love the character of Ha Eun Joong and the performance by Kim Jae Won. I’m not his fangirl and usually find him too mealy for my tastes, but here he’s quite arresting and has this silent simmer that I love.

Jo Yoon Hee plays Woo Ah Mi, who Eun Joong first meets when he knocks over her stand when he’s chasing a bad guy. Ah Mi is a few months pregnant and about to marry her fiancee, who happens to work at the same construction project as Myung Geun and is his protegee. The fiancee finds out some wrongdoing and confronts Jang Tae Ha, who is still super evil and the fiancee ends up dead on the day of the wedding to Ah Mi. Eun Joong therefore finds himself investigating the death and gets tied up with the Jang family and Ah Mi. Hwa Young has been looking for the real Eun Joong despite having fake Eun Joong around, and she got a composite sketch of what he would look like now at 30 years old and the sketch shows that it’s exactly what Ha Eun Joong looks like. So this secret is probably coming out sooner than later, but then what happens? I looking forward to finding out. I really love the first OST song from this drama Position’s “Last Love of My Life”. Listen and download below.

Scandal OST Part 1 – Position “Last Love of My Life”:

Click here to download on Mediafire.


Scandal with Kim Jae Won: Big Stakes Makjang Done Right and Keeps Getting Better — 25 Comments

  1. I was seriously considering watching this right up to the point where the female lead is Jo Yoon Hee. She totally ruined Nine for me. I could have loved that drama were it not for her. Maybe it was just the character and not her but I hated her so much that I just can’t stand the idea of watching her as a lead again. Boo.

    • hahahaha..I kinda know how you guys feel basing from the first few scenes I saw her in Scandal. She somehow feels out of place, her character just seem to not click with the set up or with the other characters.
      But Jae Won is just so HOT in this drama that I cant let it slip out, even with her annoying presence and all.

    • Lol…. But i think she’s really a good actress. At first i felt annoyed too with her character in Nine but in the middle of series, her character’s got better.. And JYH carried that character so well.. At least for me she’s not over reacting and she can cry beautifully without looking so fake.. 🙂

  2. I couldn’t agree more, this drama is getting better by every episode and I hope it stay good like this through out too… all the actors ROCK! their role…

  3. im so glad someone else is loving this. this reminded me why I love makjangs so much (when done right)and kim jae won is seriously king of this genre. when I finished ep 7 this morning I was like nooooo why aren’t there more eps to watch already (since I watch subs). im hoping it continues to get better

  4. I just started this drama last night and I’m hooked. I marathoned the adult episodes. I’m loving Kim Jae Won in this role and feel for all the aged kids affected by the adults/parental problems. The surrogate son and daughter are both fighting for a mother’s love/affection, while being doted on by their bio-dad (well bio-dad for the daughter sort of adopted for the fake son). I can’t wait to see KJW’s character get into it with his unknown bio-dad since it seems like they have conflicting interests with him being a good cop and he being the big bad business man. I just hope that nurture wins out when all the secrets are revealed and that the fake son will find the love he seeks from his “adopted” parents.

  5. This drama was so great… I can’t keep myself still while watching it, eventhough the introduction took 5 episodes , the story was fulfilling and well told. Very detailed and thrilling. It’s heart breaking but entertaining at the same. All the cast had incredible acting. I coudn’t agree more about Kim Jae Won, i had watched all his previous drama and this one really made a difference and exceptionally perfect.

    I use to watch drama where i can guess what’s going to happen next, most of the time it’s predictable but not on this series. Everytime i guess this should be what will happen next..then after i watch it, it gives completely different idea and even much better.

    The love story haven’t start yet but just the way i look at them, the OTP are definitely worth rooting for.

    I love the part when Ha Eun Joong have to cover Woo Ah Mi ears so that the baby couldn’t hear the details of his daddy’s death. I love his character, he is thoughtful and sympathetic. He is also a good cop with no fears at all.

    I’m really looking forward for the next episode. I wish weekend will come soon.

    I hope koala’s playground could do recap on this series. I really like reading your recaps on other series. I hope you will do here as well.

  6. It had a slow start (those mandatory childhood episodes make me ZZZzz) but now it’s definitely getting better. KJW can’t do wrong in my eyes: Even in the crazy May Queen he brought his talent to the table.
    Seeing him with a more serious and “fire under the ice” attitude is a nice change. I can’t help but thinking that his personal life (pregnant woman at home) will be helpful here.

    • Definitely agree with you. I think having a pregnant wife in real life could help KJW on this series. I really feel pity on Ah Mi’s situation not but i feel relieve looking at Ha Eun Joong character taking extra care of her and her baby. I think it also help him realized how parents love their children. He may apply it once he found out what his known father Myung Geun had done.

  7. Sigh. I was purposely ignoring this hoping it would be bad.I was swearing up and down watching May Queen. Once Lee Soon Shin finishes I will catch up on it.I can’t handle 3 makjang dramas in one weekend.Yes Gold has gone to pieces.

  8. I watch this drama merely because I love the leads, both Kim Jae Won and Jo Yoon Hee. I never hoped this drama would be good or anything, since weekend / long and makjang drama is not my cup of tea. I didn’t even like Woo ah mi from the start (JYH is way better in Nine, IMHO), but after ep 7 & 8 I begin to love her again. That scene when she met HEJ, asking where her oppa was, so heartbreaking. And when EJ covers her ears… I cry along with her.

    • Yes, that scene when Eun joong cover her ears was so touching and heart breaking at the same time. Woo Ah Mi character was annoying at the start but im beginning to root for them as a couple. This two actors are doing a great job.

  9. btw, does anyone know what woo ah mi’s fiance has been in prior? he looks so familiar to me and its niggling the back of mind all week. thanks!

  10. Muchas gracias, Cap’n Koala! I picked this up again based on your rec. and am very glad I did. This is my kind of makjang, and I usually don’t like makjangs. What a great role for KJW’s comeback!

    And I agree that ISYG is a goner. Nice to have something that can take it’s place.

  11. I can’t keep myself from cheering for Kim Jae Won character on the scene on police station with Ki Tae Young and Kim Gyu Ri.

    When he sarcastically said “Don’t use you father’s money to get away on your crime, it doesn’t work on detectives, it only works on lawyers”.

    I had a big smile on my face watching and tell myself, money does work on other detectives, but on you. 🙂

    I’m loving KJW character on this series.. it’s just awesome.

  12. Dear Koala Unni, i wanted to ask your opinion about I Summon You Gold. I have been watching it on FF, i have to admit it, because it is just too slow and the parts where the main OTP shows up in the screen, it gets overly boooooring! Especially the fights between the two evil mothers, although Hyun Tea’s mother seemed to be nice in the beginning, but seeing her taking the side of MiNa just because of her rich parents and with the influence of Chongdamgiong Mother-in-law! 😉 But seeing that CDD MIL suffer in the hands of her second DIL is satisfying. Yet i don’t know or missed while fast-forwarding why in the first place Mong Hyun’s parents have adopted her, where her twin sister has disappeared to and if/when she will come to the play if ever? And why should we root for of support the marriage of the third son now? He has abandoned his lover of five years, he told his wife that he had a lover and that they loved each other, that he was marrying her just not to oppose his parents, so why did he start to have a change of heart and be loyal to his wife, just because they are legally bound to each other? I can understand the frustration of MiNa and i read it somewhere that they are showing us in the light of an intruder, so we curse at her and support the legal wife, and that the commenter was actually on MiNa’s side. So am I. Where MiNa is the one being left out cold in the open, she is being shown to be the bad one. If she ware from the family of the heroine, we would be expected to root for her. So this, I don’t understand the goal anymore. It is just frustrating and i needed to shake it off my chest. Seeing your comment on ISYG, i wanted share this with you Koala and your followers. Honestly, i have been stalking your blog for more than a year now, enjoying your recaps and posts tremendously. Would looooveee to hear your detailed elaboration on ISYG.

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