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I am super excited to start on recaps of the classic Korean drama Full House.  Not only was it among the first dramas I watched when I stumbled into dramaland, it introduced me to my first and main bias RAIN! When I first toyed with the prospect of blogging about Korean dramas, there were those in my life who accused me of really wanting a vehicle to gush about Rain—so I consider it quite an accomplishment that I’ve been blogging four whole months without once spazzing out over my beloved Bi.  But now I have a legitimate reason to at least fangirl over screenshot after screenshot of my first K-drama love and this keyboard can barely contain my excitement.

I find it really unfortunate that Rain’s fashion in Full House falls on the pimptastically bad side of the scale.  Still, I’ll take what I can get, and I hope everyone enjoys the trip down memory lane over the next couple of months as we revisit 2004’s smash hit Full House.

DRAMA INFO

Title(s): Full House

Starring: Song Hye-kyo, Rain, Han Eun-jung, and Kim Sung-soo

Original air date(s): July 14, 2004 to September 2, 2004

Broadcaster: KBS

Episode(s): 16

Why It’s Worthy: Full House was one of the highest rated dramas of 2004. Topped only by Dae Jang Geum (MBC) andLovers in Paris (SBS), it reached national drama status (i.e. 40% ratings) by its sixth episode and solidified the star status of its two main leads—Rain and Song Hye-kyo.  In spite of the decade that’s passed since it’s aired, it remains a perennial fan favorite and remains atop my list of my most beloved classic K-dramas.

EPISODE 1 RECAP

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An alarm goes off and a sleeping male knocks it to the floor before groggily sitting up in bed. (He gives us the money shot right away—abs!)  As soon as he leaves his apartment, he’s greeted by paparazzi asking him about his relationship with a certain celebrity.  It’s Lee Yung-jae (Rain) and he’s currently involved in “another” dating scandal.

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Cut to Han Ji-eun (Song Hye-kyo) who is contently writing an internet novel from her (messy) home, Full House.  Her two friends, Shin Dong-wook (Kang Do-han) and Yang Hee-jin (Lee Young-eun), are at a clinic, having just found out they’re expecting a baby. They show up at Ji-eun’s house, congratulating her for winning a trip to Shanghai from her bank. She’s skeptical until Dong-wook, who works at the bank, convinces her that the trip is legitimate.  The trip includes airfare & hotel accommodations and apparently requires her to leave right away, so they rush to the airport to see her off.

Yung-jae is at the airport with an employee from his agency.  He is on his way to Shanghai as well to star in a movie.  Ji-eun and Yung-jae sit next to each other on the plane ride.  Ji-eun recognizes him and tries to engage him in conversation, but he rudely shuts down her attempts to converse.

Back at Full House, Dong-wook and Hee-jin meet with the same guy who was with Yung-jae at the airport, and they sell him the house.

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On the plane, Ji-eun annoys Yung-jae throughout the flight and then throws up on his shirt for good measure.  Once they arrive in China, paparazzi and adoring fans greet Yung-jae as he leaves the airport while Ji-eun finds herself all alone.  Her tour guide never shows up, and she must make her way to the hotel on her own.  When she arrives at the hotel, she learns she does not have a reservation for a room either.

As Ji-eun struggles to communicate with the hotel clerk, she sees a tall handsome stranger next to her. She thinks he’s Japanese and admires him—out loud and in Korean—unaware that he understands what she’s saying. She’s embarrassed when she realizes he speaks Korean but is thankful that he helps her get a room. 

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The handsome stranger is Yoo Min-hyuk (Kim Sung-soo), and he is at the hotel to see Yung-jae. They grew up together, but Min-hyuk does not stay long. He leaves after asking after Yung-jae’s family, particularly Yung-jae’s strained relationship with his father, and someone named Kang Hye-won.  He runs into Ji-eun downstairs and they introduce themselves.  She learns that he is not a guest at the hotel, but was there merely to visit Yung-jae.

Back in her room, Ji-eun calls her friends for the umpteenth time to no avail.  The next day she goes sightseeing while Yung-jae broods on the set of his film as he palms his cell phone. He calls someone (a woman) but hangs up without speaking.

Ji-eun returns to the hotel and continues to repeatedly call her friends.  She goes from angry to desperate to sad as she leaves them messages conveying what they already know—that she’s broke and hungry and has no way to pay for the hotel or make it back home.

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She sees Yung-jae’s shirt hanging in her room just as she is about to break down and gets an idea. He’d left the shirt on the plane and she’d taken it with her from the airport and washed it. She goes to Yung-jae’s room to return the shirt and asks him if she can borrow some money. He refuses until she asks for Min-hyuk’s number.  Yung-jae wants to know how she knows his “hyung” and Ji-eun uses their hyung-dongsang (big brother-little brother) relationship to gain entrance into his hotel room. Inside, she lies that she is Min-hyuk’s ex-girlfriend and is still sad over their break-up.  Her faux-tears do the trick and she returns to her hotel room with enough money to get home.

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Unfortunately, she returns home to a completely empty house.  She goes to the bank looking for Dong-wook and learns he has not worked there for a month. She asks the banker to check her accounts and is dismayed to learn they’ve been emptied.  She returns home and finally finds the note from her “friends” asking for forgiveness and telling her they’re expecting a baby.

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Yung-jae is back from Shanghai and he sits outside a high-end shop staring at a woman working inside.  He goes inside and greets her.  It’s Kang Hye-won (Han Eun-jung).  She’s a designer and stylist and owns her own clothing store.  Hye-won is happy to see Yung-jae and asks if he brought her a present from his trip.  They both seem a bit uncomfortable when he tells her he saw Min-hyuk in Shanghai and that Min-hyuk will be returning to Korea soon. They make dinner plans for the next day and Yung-jae pretends to be pleased when Min-hyuk calls Hye-won and she includes him in their dinner plans.

The next day, Yung-jae goes back to Hye-won’s shop to meet her for dinner, and he sees Min-Hyuk there.  He stands outside and watches as Min-hyuk hugs Hye-won. He leaves without going inside and calls Ji-eun.  She meets him thinking he wants his money back. Instead, he takes her shopping, buys her a dress, and they go to an expensive restaurant.

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When Min-hyuk & Hye-won arrive, Ji-eun realizes Yung-jae is trying to reunite her with Min-hyuk. Throughout dinner, Yung-jae encourages Ji-eun to make a move.  He’s pissed when Min-hyuk finally recognizes Ji-eun from Shanghai and it’s clear Ji-eun lied about their relationship.  After dinner, they get into an argument and Ji-eun head butts him when he threatens her.  They part ways—each determined never to see the other again.

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The next day, Ji-eun wakes up when movers begin moving furniture into the house.  She learns that Full House has been sold.  She goes to the police station but doesn’t have the heart to report her friends.  Instead, she returns home and walks around the grounds saying goodbye to the house and its memories.  Later that night Yung-jae pulls up to Full House and is shocked to see Ji-eun sitting on the front porch.

MY THOUGHTS

I first watched this drama about five years ago, and I’ve watched it many times since then. It’s hard to pinpoint what drew me in at that time. Perhaps Yung-jae’s clothes left me so baffled I had to keep watching in hopes that producers had fired the stylist or at least insisted said stylist get a lobotomy before continuing to work on the show. Shirtless Yung-jae was so much better than that pink and orange paisley mess of a shirt he wore on the plane.  However, I prayed for that shirt to make a comeback when he donned the (deep) v-neck lime green and purple sweater later at the hotel.  

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This drama spawned a slew of parodies and that sweater rightfully played a part in them all!

I was also baffled that Ji-eun did not report her friends to police or fight for her house. She lived there allllll that time . . . alone . . . and it was all she had.  Her reaction to her friends fraudulently selling it was to walk around and say goodbye to the memories, then sit at a bus stop for hours? What good is that cute face when you obviously have no brain missy?  Of course, if she had reacted rationally and done what any reasonable person would have done, we would not have had fifteen more episodes to enjoy.  So unlike others, who condemned her and gave up on Full House altogether, I decided to press on.

Besides, even the best dramas require a certain level of checking the logic at the door.  I’d never let a small thing, like common sense, interfere with my pleasure in a show.  This drama clearly required me to not over think things.  Once I realized that, I enjoyed it immensely.

Having said that, though, I cannot say I could make it through this drama now that it has been five plus years since I first got lost in dramaland.  That’s the thing about visiting this far away kingdom.  Your tastes change. Your expectations rise.  Small things, like common sense, do start interfering with your pleasure in a show that lacks it.  Even with its flaws, though, Full House is an emotional favorite of mine. And I can never hate a drama that introduced me to Rain!  This may not be his absolute best work, but I found his portrayal of the arrogant and foul-tempered movie star quite enjoyable, and he intrigued me enough that I began to dig deeper to find out more about him.  As a result, I became a life-long fan. To this day, ajikdo Bi saranghae!

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8 thoughts on “Full House: Episode 1 Recap

  1. MY EYEEEEEEES. THEY BURN. You are more generous than I. Had this been my introduction to Rain…well they say the clothes make the man yunno. The Buzz Lightyear sweater is something. I almost prefer the flower power shirt. Second lead wins by default lol. I hope Rain has gotten revenge on his coordi by now, else mega-fame is dead.

    • Lmbo!!!!! Between Rain’s clothes and Song Hye-kyo’s hair (she rocked that hideous side ponytail to death), I can only blame my ability to look past all that on the fact that this was one of my first dramas. If you turn a blind eye to the fashion (and Rain’s yelling all the time), which is an absolutely must here, the story can be endearing. There’s cuteness and some fun times peppered throughout the bickering to come.

  2. Exactly!!! Illogical decisions are the foundation of many dramas, without them we wouldn’t have 10+ episodes. You actually make me wanna watch this drama again. It was my very first Korean drama and what first struck me was the fashion sense. I just wanted to cry. I cringed so many times, I think that was the hardest thing to adjust to. Ironically, I got used to it and ended up loving it because I understood that it was part of the comedy.

    I agree that we change and expect more. I miss those days when i had less standards. But since I’m less details oriented that most of my fellow bloggers, I miss a lot of things, and unless someone mentions it I don’t see it. I notice stuff, but not as many as most people, and I don’t dislike it. Overanalyzing makes my drama session less enjoyable.

    Emotional favorite – you worded it perfectly!!!! I think this is why it became a hit, you couldn’t help but to connect with the characters, as imperfect as it was.

    LOL @ Rain yelling all the time (in your comment), that made them look like kids, especially him!!

    • Re: Illogical decisions. You’re so right. I’m watching one now that I am enjoying immensely but it is so irrational. Sometimes that’s not a problem for me (i.e. my love of The Girl Who Sees Smells). Other times it just ruins the whole drama (i.e. my dislike of Level 7 Civil Servant). I realized there has to be the right balance of illogicability (totally made up word but it fits) in order for a drama to remain enjoyable. Full House held onto it’s enjoyability in spite of the stretch in logic it required to believe the story.

      Re: Connecting w/the characters. I agree. I surprised myself and came to really love the OTP together. But I have to admit it took me a while. I think I’d watched this about four times before I finally stopped shipping Min-Hyuk and Ji-eun.

  3. I’m right there with you… I haven’t had the heart to go back and watch the original Full House but I have worked my way through a bit of the other remakes of it. Seriously though? How do you even go about selling someones house from underneath them without them receiving the money>>…. I wish they had fixed that little plot hole a bit better 🙁

    • This plot hole is pretty epic. I think if I watched this drama now, the plot hole would prevent me from enjoying it. But watching it as a newbie, I had an easier time overlooking it. I do recall being very upset when Ji-eun went to the police station but didn’t have the heart to report the crime. It drove me crazy for a couple of episodes until Ji-eun and Yung-jae’s relationship was enough of a distraction for me not to focus on it.

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