I’m always amazed and surprised at how smooth and well-executed a drama can be within just an hour. Somehow, this usually works with KBS’s Drama Specials – one-hour episode dramas that I always anticipate and look forward to watching every year. The first drama out of the ten that aired this year has finally been released with english subs so I knew I had to give it a try.
Titled ‘Review Notebook of my Embarrassing Days’, the one-hour special stars Jeon So-min (1% of Anything) who plays a high school math teacher. She’s called to attend a training camp for the College Scholastic Ability Test where she and other math teachers convene to write the math portion of the exam for test-takers. There, she encounters two men who she has interesting history with: her ex-husband Choi Jin-sang (Oh Dong-min) and Na Pil-seung (Park Sung-hoon).
The drama is only an hour long which makes me for an easy and nice recap. The drama itself is also fun, nice, and heart-fluttering so this one is highly suggested 🙂
KBS Drama Special 2018 Recap: Review Notebook of My Embarrassing Days
The drama starts off with math teacher Do Do-hye (Jeon So-min) teaching her high school students in class. After class finishes, she meets with the school principal to discuss about the College Scholastic Ability Test. The principal wants Do-hye to help create questions for the math portion of the exam with other math teachers at a training camp. Though hesitant at first, Do-hye eventually gives in and agrees to attend the training.
Do-hye sends her dog to her ex-husband’s place so that he can take care of the dog while Do-hye is away. Though divorced, her ex-husband Choi Jin-sang (Oh Dong-min) still expresses words of kindness and yearning towards Do-hye. However, his actions prove otherwise and his ex-girlfriend enters the apartment shortly afterwards. To get rid of the awkwardness, Do-hye volunteers to leave the apartment so that the two could talk and hang out.
That night, Do-hye writes in her Notebook of Embarrassing Moments and documents her embarrassing experience earlier at Jin-sang’s apartment. She reminds herself not to fall for his sweet words.
Chapter One: Probability of Reuniting with Love
It’s the day of the training camp. Do-hye wakes up on the bus and befriends another math teacher, Teacher Oh. After exchanging introductions, Teacher Oh shares her bottle of soju with Do-hye. They’ll be prohibited from drinking any alcohol at the camp so they must drink as much as they want now. Do-hye takes a sip out of the bottle before exiting the bus.
Upon arrival, Do-hye is strangely escorted by one of the officers at the camp into the main building where registration and security is held. She panics when she finds police officers at the training camp; she drank alcohol earlier before exiting the bus and can possibly get caught. When it’s Do-hye’s turn to show security her belongings, she attempts to hide the smell of alcohol coming from her mouth. However, the police officer notices and checks out the rest of her backpack for anything alcohol-related. Though he doesn’t find any alcohol in Do-hye’s bag, he does find her notebook of embarrassing moments which she snags from him right away. Lol.
The same police officer escorts Do-hye to her room. After signing a consent form, the man asks Do-hye if she remembers him. Though Do-hye feigns ignorance and pretends that she doesn’t, the man expresses that he clearly recalls who she is. Later on that night, Do-hye writes in her notebook and describes her embarrassing interaction with the police officer Na Pil-seung (Park Sung-hoon): the same man who ruined her first relationship.
The next morning marks day one of the training camp. Do-hye and Teacher Oh officially exchange introductions with each other and Teacher Oh even expresses envy in Do-hye. She’s jealous that Do-hye got to interact with Pil-seung. Whether it’s during morning exercises or breakfast, Pil-seung continually teases Do-hye for drinking alcohol the night before. Lol.
The professor representatives at the training camp assign all the math teachers a packet of questions to answer before their next meeting. With that, Do-hye gets right to work. Pil-seung pays Do-hye a quick visit one time to do security check, but she quickly avoids him after getting embarrassed.
In their next meeting, Do-hye makes a name for herself by impressing everyone with her thoughts and answers on the math questions. Pil-seung – who’s also at the meeting – watches Do-hye talk about math in awe.
Chapter Two: Properties of Memory Sharing
Our team all take a break by drinking some coffee outside. They get into a conversation about relationships and ideal types. Whereas Teacher Oh and Do-hye are divorcees, Pil-seung confesses that he doesn’t have a girlfriend. However, his ideal type is someone who’s good at math and has a notebook documenting their most embarrassing moments. This surprises Do-hye of course since she’s clearly the person Pil-seung’s referring to and she spits out the coffee in her mouth as a response. Lol.
We then learn about the shared history that Pil-seung and Do-hye has with each other. They met back in college and hung out with the same group of people. One night, they went on a trip with their friends and were playing some drinking games. While attempting to do a ‘love shot’ with Pil-seung, Do-hye accidentally puked onto Pil-seung and threw up all over him.
Do-hye wakes up from her sleep after recalling the embarrassing moment. She writes in her notebook and questions Pil-seung’s intention in referring to her earlier that day during the coffee break. She makes a trip to the trashcans to search for her journal pages that she threw away and finds Pil-seung there digging through the trash. Although Pil-seung was there to search for any notes leaking information and details about the exam, he instead finds Do-hye’s journal notes and teases her for it. He expresses content in reuniting with Do-hye again, but she doesn’t feel the same way. They agree that they’ll pretend to act like they haven’t met before in front of everyone at the camp.
The next morning, Do-hye makes her presentation about a specific math question she was assigned to solve by the professors. It’s obvious she’s intelligent and aware of what she’s talking about and she impresses everyone during the presentation, including an excited Pil-seung.
Chapter Three: Factors of Intersection of Flirting
Our team are on another coffee break when Do-hye begins to have trouble breathing. Pil-seung takes her to the hospital where she receives medical treatment. It turns out both Do-hye’s outfit as well indigestion was what caused her to have trouble breathing. Pil-seung carries Do-hye out of the hospital and transports her back to her room at the training camp.
Before leaving, Pil-seung advises Do-hye not to write in her journal that night. Do-hye has some questions for Pil-seung and is curious about why he hasn’t asked her about her divorce. However, just knowing that Do-hye isn’t in a relationship is enough for him. He adds that he’ll be taking special care of her from now on before leaving the room. Do-hye is love struck.
Chapter Four: The Law of the Triangle
Do-hye sneaks into the class session the next morning. There, she encounters ex-husband Jin-sang and screams at the sight of him. What is he also doing at the training camp?! It turns out he’s one of the exam reviewers and will also be at the training camp to help with the CSAT math questions. Do-hye and Jin-sang address the situation later on that night in her room. Do-hye’s worried about making things awkward if everyone was to discover the relationship between the two. However, before she can comment any further Pil-seung also visits Do-hye’s room.
While Jin-sang hides in the restroom, Pil-seung enters Do-hye’s room to reveal why he’s there: he wants to check to see if there are any bugs in her restroom. Teacher Oh complained about bugs in in her restroom so he came to check Do-hye’s room as well. Do-hye panics and manages to drive Pil-seung away by lying that her bathroom stinks. Lol. He backs off and exits her room afterwards.
Jin-sang pretends that the restroom doorknob doesn’t work as a way to get Do-hye’s attention. When she finally opens the door, she falls right into Jin-sang’s arm causing the two to hug. Do-hye’s had enough of Jin-sang for the night and kicks him out of her room, lol.
Do-hye and Jin-sang’s petty revenge antics against each other begin. When reviewing Do-hye’s question, Jin-sang criticizes Do-hye’s approach to answering the question and assumes she wasn’t concentrating enough. Do-hye gets angry with his assumptions and the two quietly bicker with each other in front of everyone in the room.
Later on that night, Do-hye recollects herself while doing some laundry. As she sits in the laundry room by herself, she’s soon accompanied by Pil-seung who seats himself next to her. Being in the laundry room with her reminds him of the moment when they were also doing laundry back at the college trip with their friends.
After taking a shower since Do-hye threw up on him, Pil-seung finds Do-hye sitting outside in the backyard next to the washer and dryer. He also sits next to her and the two are about to kiss each other until he dodges her kiss. Pil-seung reacts in disgust upon remembering that Do-hye threw up on him just earlier that night. Do-hye falls to the ground and smacks her face onto the pavement. When she gets back up, she starts to bleed and panics upon finding out. Pil-seung attempts to calm a drunk Do-hye down that night.
Back in the present, the two are interrupted by Jin-sang who wants to talk with Do-hye. She agrees to his request and leaves the laundry room first. Before also leaving, Jin-sang warns Pil-seung to stop talking with Do-hye. Interacting with her makes him look bad.
During his conversation with Do-hye, Jin-sang expresses that he can’t stand watching his ex-wife interact with Pil-seung. He attempts to make amends with her and wants a second chance at love with Do-hye. She’s uncertain as to how to react so she stays silent. Do-hye grabs the soda can standing next to her, but it explodes when she opens it. Do-hye leaves Jin-sang shortly afterwards once he complains about how clumsy she is. Lol, so much for that second chance!
Through a series of trial and error and many arguments, our team finally manages to successfully create the math portion of the CSAT. Yaaay! The team celebrates one last time with some drinks and a party.
At the party, Jin-sang is asked about his relationship status to which he responds that he’s divorced. As a divorcee herself, Teacher Oh takes the opportunity to ask Jin-sang if he wanted the divorce first or vice versa. With Do-hye sitting right next to him, things quickly get awkward but Jin-sang answers that he wanted the divorce first. So what about Do-hye? What was her situation? Thankfully, Pil-seung stops Teacher Oh from asking any more questions so Do-hye doesn’t answer the question.
At that moment, Jin-sang requests for a walk with Do-hye. Pil-seung grows jealous and wants to join them in the walk as well. To relieve everyone of the awkward tension, Do-hye opts out of the walk and encourages the two rivals to walk with each other instead. And so the two men eventually do take that walk together.
To up the competition, the two guys play a game of table tennis with each other. They eventually confront each other about the main person they’ve been wanting to talk about this entire time: Do-hye. Jin-sang comments that he’s going to confess to Do-hye first before Pil-seung can get to her. Do-hye peeks at the two guys and ponders over whether they’re arguing over her, lol.
The next morning, Pil-seung feeds Do-hye with some home-made food that his friend cooked for him. Since Do-hye had expressed desire in wanting to eat new food, Pil-seung arrived just in time to feed her something different. While eating in the library, Pil-seung wipes off some sauce on her lips and confesses that he wants to know more about her. He has feelings for her and wants to know as many things about her as possible. The romantic moment is interrupted when Pil-seung is called to work (NOOOO). He leaves a surprised but happy Do-hye behind in the library.
Do-hye learns through her peers that Jin-sang’s father has passed away and that Pil-seung has accompanied him to the funeral for security purposes. After wrapping up the funeral, Jin-sang returns to the training camp with Pil-seung. In the car, Pil-seung reveals that he’s confessed to Do-hye, but hasn’t received a response from her just yet.
Pil-seung accompanies Jin-sang back to his room, but the drunk Jin-sang wants to speak with Do-hye. He creates a fuss by calling out Do-hye’s name which garners the attention of everyone at the training camp. When Do-hye finally appears in front of him, Jin-sang jumps at her and hugs her. He wants a second chance with her and regrets having divorced her.
He questions why Do-hye never stopped him when he asked for a divorce. Furthermore, Jin-sang cheating on Do-hye and having an affair during their marriage was a mistake. He never meant it. Embarrassed, Do-hye attempts to stop Jin-sang from revealing any further, but he refuses. Do-hye’s had enough of Jin-sang and shares that her only mistake was also cheating on him just so she could get revenge on him. Jin-sang wants to make amends with Do-hye, but she doesn’t feel the same way. She leaves back into her room after the confrontation and packs all her belongings. Do-hye reminds herself that everything will be over after that night and that she’ll return to her house the next day once the training camp is over.
However, all the participants at the training camp are held in captivity for another week. Due to an earthquake, the CSAT has been postponed for another week so no one is allowed to leave the training camp until then. Do-hye returns to her room and avoids all interactions and outside contact with everyone. She especially ignores and avoids a regretful and shameful Jin-sang who waits patiently outside of her room the entire week.
Exhausted, Do-hye heads to the restroom to take a shower. However, she encounters trouble when she’s unable to open the door from the inside. Because she’s been posting notes on her door all week asking not to be bothered, it doesn’t seem like anyone will be able to rescue her.
Everyone assumes Do-hye has just locked herself up in her room which is why she hasn’t been out and about. Worried, Pil-seung visits her room just in case and finds her locked inside of her restroom. Thankfully, Do-hye is rescued by Pil-seung and she awakens after falling asleep. He prepares to leave the room so that she could get dressed, but Do-hye wants to clarify any misunderstandings with him.
She was eventually going to tell Pil-seung that Jin-sang was her ex-husband, but just never got around to it. Unsure of what to do, she asks Pil-seung for advice. Should she get back with Jin-sang? Pil-seung gives Do-hye the autonomy to make her own decisions; he wishes to no longer be involved in any of their drama. Offended, Do-hye snaps back that she’ll keep pushing Teacher Oh towards Pil-seung since it seems like he doesn’t want to be with her. Pil-seung leaves the room speechless. He doesn’t have anything to say in response to Do-hye.
When Do-hye exits the restroom, she discovers Teacher Oh right outside her door. She overheard the conversation between Do-hye and Pil-seung. Embarrassed, Do-hye rants to Teacher Oh about her life, but Teacher Oh cheers her up. Embarrassing moments aren’t always a bad thing like Do-hye thinks. Everyone has them. Plus, so what if you get embarrassed? You live and you learn from them.
So Do-hye takes Teacher Oh’s lessons and uses them when talking to Jin-sang that night. She makes her final call in Jin-sang’s attempts to restart things over with her. There’s someone new Do-hye wants to have a relationship with and it’s not Jin-sang. That new person is none other than our Pil-seung who Do-hye meets with in the library. She hands him her journal and gives him permission to read it. So that night, he reads her journal in the library.
Pil-seung meets with Jin-sang shortly after finishing the journal. He hands Jin-sang the journal and has a favor to ask him. The next morning, all our participants are eventually allowed to leave the training camp and to return home. Do-hye bids farewell with Pil-seung who acts indifferent to her. He doesn’t say much to her when they bid farewell which disappoints her. When Do-hye arrives back home, she immediately throws her notebook into the freezer and squirms in embarrassment over having confessed to Pil-seung. Lol, she’s too funny.
Whether it’s at the training camp or in the classroom, Do-hye continually embarrasses herself. However, compared to before, she doesn’t fuss over her embarrassing moments before and makes the most out of them. After class, Do-hye visits Jin-sang to take their dog back home. Jin-sang reveals that he’s going on another blind date so he needs Do-hye to take care of the dog. He wouldn’t want things to only work out for Do-hye and not for him.
Wait, what is Jin-sang talking about? Jin-sang reveals that he left five math questions in Do-hye’s notebook which he wrote the night before they left the training camp. Since Do-hye threw her journal into the freezer, she wasn’t aware of the questions. She runs back to her apartment to grab the notebook and to answer the difficult math questions.
Upon answering the math questions, Do-hye receives numbers to which she assumes is Pil-seung’s phone number. When she calls the number, a stranger picks up the phone, but comments that the phone number does belong to Pil-seung. He’s just a bit busy with work.
Do-hye visits Pil-seung at work and finds him arresting a drunk man outside on the streets. When he successfully arrests the man and throws him into his car, Pil-seung finally sees Do-hye waiting for him. He’s happy to see Do-hye even if it took her a while to answer the questions, but Do-hye feels otherwise. She punches Pil-seung in the stomach and complains over him leaving his cell phone at the police station. She searched for him everywhere.
Pil-seung hugs Do-hye to make things up to her. While the two flirt and talk to each other, the drunk man inside of the car continues to interrupt our new couple. Eventually, he stops and Pil-seung and Do-hye get some time to themselves. Standing across from each other, they happily cherish the moment and stare lovingly into each other’s eyes.
Teacher Oh and Jin-sang attend the same training camp again the next year. When they’re both asked by security about their journals, the two recognize each other and recall meeting at the training camp the year before. It seems like another couple will too be born at this year’s training camp. Hehe.
KBS’s annual Drama Specials are usually only an hour long so they have to be able to tell an entire story, the characters, the premise, the issues, and everything else in between in that one hour. ‘Review Notebook of my Embarrassing Days’ was one of those dramas that did all of those things right and so much more.
Upon finishing this one-hour special, I actually didn’t want it to end. A part of it is knowing that the drama is only one hour long so any attachment you have to the characters or to the plot is gone once you finish watching the drama. Any hopes of watching something similar to the drama disappears once you finish the one-hour special. However, the other part of me wanted this drama to continue because it was so fun and so good. More so, it was consistent and stable all throughout. I loved how everything connected so logically and that there was nothing spontaneous thrown at you.
I loved that math was the overall connecting factor to everyone and everything in this drama. Whether it was our teachers or the training camp or even love, everything was illustrated through math formulas or problems and I liked that. Math and love had common characteristics in this drama. Math was what allowed Pil-seung and Do-hye to reunite and fall in love with each other again. Math was the primary reason why the training camp was held. As math teachers, our characters were doing things related to math and that was nice. Though I might not like the subject so much myself, the fact that math was evident throughout the drama was nice.
The same thing can also be said about Do-hye’s journal which was another plot device that worked well with the drama. The notebook represented what she thought was her lowest and most embarrassing moments, but I liked that her outlook on the moments documented in her notebook changed by the end of the drama. Whereas before where Do-hye would write down her most embarrassing moments in her notebook, she was proud and confident of them by the end and even shared her journal for Pil-seung to read. She wasn’t as embarrassed of them anymore and instead learned to cope with these memories which she knew made a part of her. I loved the character development and growth from Do-hye in this drama and I think she grew at the end compared to the beginning.
The love triangle was of course what fueled the drama and made it as entertaining as it was. I was always rooting for Pil-seung from the very start, but you didn’t know for sure who Do-hye was going to choose until the last half. I liked how the drama kept you on your toes guessing and hoping until Do-hye finally sat down with Jin-sang to give him her answer. Teacher Oh’s advice about embarrassing moments in life was the final straw she needed to make the final decision in her love life. While Do-hye doesn’t hate Jin-sang or hold any resentment against him despite having divorced, she was ready to move forward with her life and to start anew with someone else. Though she didn’t burn her bridges with Jin-sang, Do-hye realized that she couldn’t keep going back and forth with him without any definite answer and with conflicting thoughts. She still had some feelings for Jin-sang, but she also knew that they weren’t good for each other and that their relationship belonged to the past. Thankfully, Pil-seung was there to help her cope with that and I’m glad she rekindled her long-lost love with him.
Of course, if this was your typical 16-episode drama, I would want to know how Jin-sang and Do-hye originally met, I would want to see more Pil-seung and Do-hye moments from college, and more rivalry interactions between our two guys. It’s such a shame that the most fun and interesting premises are cut short because I honestly believe that ‘Review Notebook of my Embarrassing Days’ was a great one-hour episode. Granted, it was only an hour long so the drama had to pack everything in only an hour which made the drama fun and entertaining. There aren’t any guarantees the drama would be as much fun if it had 16 hours to tell its story. However, for the one hour special that it was, ‘Review Notebook of my Embarrassing Days’ was great, reliable, and fun all throughout. I would love for it to transition into a 16-hour drama, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem like that will happen.
KBS’s Drama Specials have always been something I looked forward to watching and I’ve come to realizing that there are some real hidden gems among the many that have been released so far. This drama has established itself as one of those hidden gems, with everything from relationships to training camps to school to love evident throughout the drama, simply hidden in between challenging math problems and hundreds of pages in review notebooks.
You can watch ‘Review Notebook of my Embarrassing Days’ here.
Bonus: As usual, extra screenshots from this episode 🙂