“Her Legend” is jTBC’s new Monday-Tuesday miniseries. Broadcasting started on August 5th. I decided to check it out for three reasons :
1) the plot sounds to have the clichés that I enjoy
2) it actually has good ratings, better than “Heartless City” which was broadcasted on this time slot between May and July. So far, ratings go like this
Episode 1 0.7%
Episode 2 1.4%
Episode 3 1.2%
Episode 4 1,3%
3) I wanted to try recapping in English at least once in my life. Summer is coming to an end, most of popular dramas are already being recapped elsewhere, so… Yeah, I tried.
Our story starts in 1997. On the shore, there is a small non-fancy cabaret called Laura’s House (or is it Lola ? Romanization of Western names, I never know). Eun Hye Jung (Choi So Rin) is performing for an all-male audience while her 8-year-old daughter Jung Soo (Kim Soo Hyun) watches her from behind a curtain. Hye Jung faints. The next day, we’re shown how mature and caring Jung Soo is as she insists for her mother to go to the hospital because she knows her mother needs surgery and not pills whenever she gets sick like this. (If you were still hoping by now, this pretty much crashes any chance for mommy to survive)
Mommy must be feeling her time is coming because she then takes Jung Soo to Seoul without telling her why, although Mom asks Jung Soo why she never asks where her daddy is. Jung Soo answers that it doesn’t matter if other kids look down on her because she doesn’t have a dad, she knows her mother will tell her when she’s ready to talk about it. (Our Jung Soo is such a smart cookie)
Cut to the Shinhwa (oh icwudt) Fashion company’s 30-year anniversary ceremony. Mommy won’t tell Jung Soo who they are waiting for, but it doesn’t matter because Jung Soo is too in awe with the expensive colorful bags she sees to actually care. Mommy wants to go inside, but a manager says she can’t unless she has an invitation card or an appointement. (Of all days she could have chosen…) There comes Director Choi Soo Ho aka Daddy (Jun No Min). Mommy makes one step toward him but stops when his wife gets off the car and Mommy turns around to hide. It’s okay, he hasn’t noticed her anyway. Mommy freaks out when she finally notices that Jung Soo is no longer by her side. We see that Jung Soo sneaked in and managed to find the showroom. However, she triggers the alarm when she tries to touch one of the bags and, of course, security comes and thinks she’s a thief. While security wants to call the police because items were stolen in a previous occasion, Mommy shouts that they’re no thief. The manager doesn’t know what to do and asks who she wanted to meet. After a long hesitation, which security guard takes as a proof her lying, Mommy says she’s here for Director Choi Soo Ho who happens to be walking by and asks what’s going on. Mommy has then a change of a heart, turns herself and Jung Soo around so Daddy can’t see their faces. Well, although he doesn’t say anything, Daddy seems to have recognized her and says to let them go.
Mommy and Jung Soo are leaving the building, but a staff member catches up with them and gives them a big bag, courtesy of Daddy. Mommy refuses the gift, which was one of the giveaways for today’s event, so the staff member gives the bag to Jung Soo. On their way back home, Mommy gazes through the bus window while Jung Soo opens the gift which his a cute pink backpack. There’s also a card with the sentence :if you can dream it, you can do it (Walter Disney) Jung Soo asks what it means.
Flashback to 1988. Mommy and Daddy are a happy young couple in love. They stand in front of Shinhwa’s company. Daddy swears he’ll work for this company and turns it into the best company in the world. Mommy just smiles as he uses Mommy’s lipstick to write the quote on the shop window, then they run away laughing before they get caught by a security guard.
Cut back to Mommy crying silently in the bus, looking out by the bus, then we move to Mommy pouring out her pain into the song she’s singing. Upstairs, Jung Soo models with her new backpack in front of the mirror. Cute moment with Jung Soo drawing a window on her wall and dreaming she’ll make the most beautiful bags one day.
Jung Soo is now asleep as Mommy is putting away some clothes in a drawer. She pauses to look at a good-luck tiny push bag. And then it happens. Mommy gets a big headache and keeps taking deep breaths and grunting as she tries to get her medecine. She knows it’s too late, so she reaches out for a pen and the Shinhwa card falls on the floor. When Jung Soo wakes up the next morning, she finds Mommy dead. On the card, is written the name Eun Ki Jung and a phone number.
Cut to Eun Ki Jung (Maeng Sang Hoon) who is sewing a bag while his wife, Kim Mi Yeon (Jun Soo Kyung) is nagging at him for making them live in poverty (they own a small bag business), for being a good-for-nothing etc. Phone rings. Wife answers. Hye Jung, Ki Jung’s little sister, is dead. Meanwhile, at a school ceremony. Eun Kyung Hee (Shin Soo Yeon), their daughter, gets first place in an arts and craft contest. Everybody claps. (Doesn’t she look adorable?)
Back at Ki Jung’s home. Ki Jung is getting ready to go to his sister’s funeral, but Mi Yeon thinks it’s best for her to go to work and finish their bags after work because they have debts to pay. After all, it’s not their fault if Hye Jung ran off years ago and never contacted them. Ki Jung is angry and leaves anyway.
Mi Yeon is at work. She’s one of those free food samples ladies in a supermarket. She keeps blaming her bad fate for being forced to do this kind of job. Kyung Hee comes because her father locked their house and took their key. Mi Yeon tells her he went to Hye Jung’s funeral. Kyung Hee didn’t know she had an aunt. Anyway, Mi Yeon is so proud of the new certificate of merit Kyung Hee shows her. Mi Yeon wants Kyung Hee to take home some free grilled duck samples, but Kyung Hee scolds her for stooping this low to get food. Mi Yeon tries to convince her and gets the manager’s attention. Kyung Hee saves the day by saying she’s here because her mother wants a refound on these samples because they smell weird. Manager says there’s nothing wrong with them, so Kyung Hee is like “okay, you eat them, bye”. She walks away. (Yup, Kyung Hee is evily smart). The plan doesn’t work because Mi Yeon pushes off the manager who has stepped on Kyung Hee’s certificate. Manager realizes the two are blood-related as he reads out loud Kyung Hee’s name and school on the certificate. (* le sigh * from her, not from me)
Uncle Ki Jung and Jung Soo are on a cliff, dispersing Hye Jung’s ashes. They look so lonely, just the two of them.
Cut to Woo Do Young (Kim Hye Sun) and her husband Kim Jong Wook (Kim Byung Se) walking out of a clinic. As she’s about to get in the car, she spots a happy woman with her newborn baby. Do you see what the problem is ?
Do Young apologizes to her father-in-law for being unable to get pregnant. He’s comprehensive and tells her it’s not her fault. In fact, her husband wants her to stop all these treatments and asks his father his permission to stop trying. Do Young doesn’t want to stop, though. Father-in-law doesn’t think he has his say in this, it’s their decision and if she’s tired, she should stop trying. Jong Wook also asks if he can move into the beach house they own in Yeong Jeong-do so Do Young can get back to painting and finally takes some rest.
Ki Jung is crying and getting drunk all by himself. He confirms with her if her name is Jung Soo as he keeps crying, holding her hand and Jung Soo doesn’t know what to do. Cut to them walking up the bus stop. A car stops to let them cross the road. It’s Do Young and Jong Wook’s car (ha! Here comes coincidence #1). Do Young and Jung Soo exchange a gaze in slow motion and Jong Wook drives off.
Do Young and Jong Wook are getting settled in their new house. Do Young is worried that Jong Wook will get tired to commute everyday to go to work, but he’s okay with that. Do Young tries to convince him to keep doing the treatment, but he refuses. He can’t no longer bear how it’s hard for her. Do Young just wants to be a mother, a good mother, she knows she can, if only she was given the opportunity to be one.
While Ki Jung and Jung Soo are riding the bus back to Seoul, Mi Yeon runs into Kyung Hee going home. Kyung Hee says she placed first again in a science competition. If she wins the state contest, the prize is a visit of the Japan’s science museum. However, since her parents don’t have the money to pay for the plane ticket, she decided not to participate since she wouldn’t be able to go anyway. (I actually feel bad for her in this very second) As Mi Yeon is complaining about how the school could pay for the plane ticket, Kyung Hee grabs her hand and forces her to hide. A couple of loan sharks are trashing their house and leave without noticing them. Kyung Hee asks annoyingly if they forgot to pay their debt again and stomps off.
So the house is a mess and Kyung Hee demands if they’ll always be living like this. Mi Yeon fires back that it’s too bad for her to be born in such family. Ki Jung arrives and scaryly tells Jung Soo to introduce herself. Mi Yeon and Kyung Hee are not pleased at all.
Mi Yeon and Ki Jung are arguing over keeping Jung Soo or not. Well, more like Mi Yeon is arguing, Ki Jung is more on the pleading side as he reminds her that Jung Soo is his niece and has no one else now. Mi Yeon isn’t actually THAT bad, she makes sense. They’re broker than broke. How can they take care of another child? But she’s being such a b!tch in the way she says it, like she’s blaming Eung Soo for their own misfortune. She storms out of the room and guesses that Jung Soo heard them arguing, but she won’t apologize about what she said. They don’t have the finances to feed another kid. Period. She thinks that Jung Soo would be better off with her real father and can’t understand that Hye Jung left no indication of who the father is. “that crazy bitch”, she mumbles… Jung Soo gives her a look and Mi Yeon clarifies “I’m talking about your mum, not you”. (well, blaming the dead surely makes it all much better) And Jung Soo says she knows, but she’d appreciate if Mi Yeon wouldn’t speak of her mother in such terms. Ha!
Mi Yeon is washing the rice, still cursing out loud Hye Jung. Jung Soo walks up to her and offers to take care of the beans because her mother taught her to earn her food. Mi Yeon is caught off guard for a second, which is understable considering Kyung Hee’s cold attitude. We are then introduced to the son, Kyung Ho, a wannabe-Seo Taiji who only speaks rapping. His impression must be good, though, because Jung Soo looks amazed and is like “oh you’re Seo Taiji ! “.
Dinner is tense. Kyung Hee sends killer looks to Jung Soo. Kyung Ho seems the only one happy to find out he has a cousin. He wants another bowl of soup but Mi Yeon is all “you better study as hard as you eat because we clearly have less food around here from now on”. Jung Soo totally takes the shades for what it is and puts down her spoon. Uncle encourages her to eat, but she’s all I’m okay, I’m not a big eater anyway. Kyung Hee has a despicable smile while Kyung Ho asks rapping if Jung Soo will stay living with them. We don’t get an answer as we cut to Kyung Hee stomps into her room and starts doing her homework while Jung Soo is in awe of all the certificates on the wall. The more she compliments Kyung Hee for being such a good student, the more annoyed Kyung Hee gets and ends up telling her to stop bothering her. If she keeps ignoring her, Jung Soo should get the hint and just leave her alone. She doesn’t want Jung Soo here. Jung Soo apologizes and goes sit in a corner.
Cut to Do Young drawing. She’s feeling inspired right now, so she tells Jong Wook to go to bed and not wait up for her.
Jung Soo can’t sleep. She keeps going back and forth to the bathroom. At one point, Kyung Hee even tells her to stop because she can’t sleep because of her. The next morning, Jung Soo is mortified to realize she wetted her blanket. She doesn’t know what to do and is scared it’d be just another reason for her aunt not to keep her. Jung Soo and Kyung Ho leave for school, Jung Soo stays in bed and doesn’t say anything to her uncle who comes to say goodbye before going to work. Eventually, Mi Yeon finds out what happened and is so angry that she refuses to clean because she didn’t sign up for this. Jung Soo should know better because she isn’t a baby anymore. So Jung Soo goes wash her comforter all by herself.
Do Young helps Jong Wook to pack his suitcase since he’s going on a twon-month business trip. He asks her to think about adoption while he’s gone. Do Young doesn’t want to hear it, she wants to give the treatment another try. Eventually, she gives in. She’s sad but promises to think about the adoption.
While Jung Soo is at the pharmacy to get some medecine because she has a fever and her stomach hurts, the loan sharks find Mi Yeon home. Since she can’t give them any money, they start trashing the house, again. They end up taking Jung Soo away. To Mi Yeon’s defense, she does try to protect Jung Soo as they shove the girl into the car. She spots Kyung Hee coming and signaling her to hide while she tries to take back Jung Soo. The loan sharks drive off.
Jung Soo says she needs to use the restroom and they accept to stop. She walks away, saying she needs some privacy to do her business. The man gives it to her because what a 7-year-old could possibly do in the middle of nowhere, right ? Wrong. As soon as he turns away, she runs for her life, loses one shoe in the process and the gangsters run after her. She gets to a road and stops the first car passing by. It’s Do Young (hello coincidence #2) who tries to figure out what’s going on as Jung Soo begs her to let her in.
“Her Legend” is your typical poor orphan nice girl whose life always gets more miserable every time you think it can’t until she meets Prince Charming through love at first fight. Thanks to her positive perspective of life and good deeds, she overcomes betrayals and rough times until she finally accomplishes her dreams… Or so I think, we’re still on the early stage, but except for terminal illness coming out of nowhere… No wait, it actually happens. Yeah, I’m not used to this cliché being used this early so I had almost forgotten about it. I think we can safely say the 4 first episodes of this drama sum up every cliché you can think of. While I can’t find a thing that this drama is original about, it can give you the easy-going, chill drama hour to cheer you up after the emotional rollercoaster other dramas may put you through.