It’s finally here! The drama we’ve been all waiting for has finally arrived: ‘Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter.’ I’d just like to thank the K-drama Gods for bringing three of my favorite actors to act in a single drama together.
The drama stars Moon Chae-won who plays Sun Ok-nam, a fairy who was forced to stay on earth after a visit from the heavens went wrong. While going for a swim with her fairy sisters, her clothes get stolen by a woodcutter so she is forced to stay on earth without any way to return to the heavens. Ok-nam then marries the woodcutter and starts a family with him, but he passes away unexpectedly. Heart-broken, she waits 699 years for him to be reincarnated in hopes of reuniting with him and her fairy clothes.
Two possible contenders as Ok-nam’s husband are Professor Jung Yi-hyun (Yoon Hyun-min) and Teaching Assistant Kim Geum (Seo Ji-hoon) who Ok-nam both encounters at her cafe in the Gyeryong Mountains. It’s then that she contemplates and investigates which one of the two was her former husband and follows them to Seoul to confirm her suspicions.
Rounding out the cast is Ko Du-shim who plays the older and interchangeable version of Ok-nam. Meanwhile, Kang Mi-na plays Jeom-soon, Ok-nam’s daughter.
Note: Moon Chae-won and Ko Du-shim both play the same character so I’ll be using the term “Grandma Ok-nam” to refer to Ko Du-shim’s portrayal of the character. Otherwise, the regular name ‘Ok-nam’ will be referring to Moon Chae-won’s portrayal of the character. Hopefully it’ll make more sense in the recap >.<
Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter: Episode 1 Recap
The first episode begins with Jung Yi-hyun (Yoon Hyun-min) sleeping in Doctor Lee Ham-sook’s (Jeon Soo-jin) office. He awakens a few seconds later and is rushed out of the office by the doctor. He suffers from insomnia and has trouble sleeping at home, but finds himself comfortable between the four walls of the office. Before leaving, he asks Doctor Lee for some coffee, but Doctor Lee rejects his request. Caffeine isn’t good for him; she hands him a bottle of melatonin pills instead.
When Yi-hyun exits the office, he becomes suspicious of his surroundings and takes a look behind him. Though nothing catches his eye, someone is recording his every move from a corner not too far away. When Yi-hyun arrives home, he immediately washes his hand and cleans his teeth with mouthwash. His peace at home only lasts for so long though. Just a few seconds after settling down, Yi-hyun receives an unexpected visit from his teaching assistant, Kim Geum (Seo Ji-hoon).
While Yi-hyun is more concerned about the fact that Kim Geum still hasn’t memorized the 8-digit code to his apartment, Kim Geum is more occupied with something else: the road trip to his hometown which he wants Yi-hyun to accompany him on. Although Yi-hyun originally refuses to go, he eventually gives in to Kim Geum’s request. Kim Geum’s guilt tripping gets to Yi-hyun so he changes his mind. It’s only for two days, it shouldn’t be that bad right?
On the way to Kim Geum’s hometown, the two make a stop for some coffee at a cafe in the Gyeryong Mountains. The cafe is called ‘Fairy Cafe’ and the barista is an old woman named Sun Ok-nam (Go Du-shim). Our two boys are surprised and flustered at her appearance and the names of the drinks on the menu. Two villagers wait impatiently in line behind our two men who attempt to grasp the situation and which drink they want to purchase. They quickly order some coffee and also meet the cafe’s cat, Jeom-soon, afterwards.
When Grandma Ok-nam serves the pair their coffee, Yi-hyun quickly becomes dissatisfied. He complains about the fruit fly in his drink. Instead of re-making Yi-hyun’s drink, Grandma Ok-nam simply takes out the fruit fly with her fingers. This of course doesn’t fly (hahaha, see what I did there?) with Yi-hyun and he demands for a new drink. Grandma Ok-nam listens to him the second time around and returns to make his drink again.
Yi-hyun and Kim Geum leave after trying some of the coffee. However, things get confusing for the two and they get lost while driving further into the mountains. Eventually they are forced to get out of their cars and to wander around in the woods. They discover a stone tower near a trail so they follow the trail in hopes of finding Kim Geum’s house. Though Yi-hyun is exhausted, the trail feels familiar to him. He feels like he’s been on the trail before.
After a few hours of running, Kim Geum and Yi-hyun take a break. They first stop to notice the full moon up in the sky which Kim Geum notes symbolize the presence of spirits and ghosts. Afterwards, the duo find themselves in an awkward situation: they witness Grandma Ok-nam going for a swim near the waterfall. The two guys quickly divert their eyes elsewhere, but Yi-hyun notices something different. The Ok-nam in the water has long almond hair, not the grey hair that Grandma Ok-nam sported in the cafe.
Kim Geum’s foot accidentally slips on a rock and makes a noise which grabs Ok-nam’s attention. Kim Geum and Yi-hyun panic when the young woman notices them watching her not too far away. The woman in the water is a much younger Ok-nam (Moon Chae-won) and she flies toward the two guys upon seeing them. She accidentally knocks them both out unconscious and only feels a little guilty afterwards when she realizes that they were customers at her cafe earlier that day, lol. When the two men wake up, they find themselves back inside of their car. However, Kim Geum’s neck is sprained and the two have switched seats. Additionally, the stone tower leading to the trail has now fallen.
Yi-hyun and Kim Geum eventually make it to Kim Geum’s house safely. That evening, they discuss with each other the situation earlier in the mountains. Kim Geum reasons that Ok-nam could be a nine-tailed fox. She did transform from an old woman to a young lady. Yi-hyun assumes Kim Geum is just hallucinating and imagining things.
The two guys then eat dinner with Mom. Mom’s glad to meet Yi-hyun and is even happier at the sight of the whiskey bottle that he brought for her. Just as she’s about to get up from the dinner table to place the bottle on a shelf, Yi-hyun volunteers to do the work for her. The two go back and forth until Yi-hyun accidentally pulls Mom’s pants down which causes both her and their entire table of food to tumble to the floor. Lol.
After eating, Yi-hyun and Kim Geum head to a lantern festival afterwards. Mom takes pride in introducing her son to other villagers and his plans of becoming a professor. While Yi-hyun is more occupied with buying himself a corn dog (LOL he reminds me of me), Kim Geum notices Ok-nam walking around at the festival. They eventually reunite and Yi-hyun snaps at Ok-nam for the situation earlier at the waterfall.
While Yi-hyun makes snarky accusations against Ok-nam, Kim Geum is more apologetic and calm. He apologizes for interrupting her swim earlier in the mountains. A man approaches the trio afterwards and stands up for Ok-nam. The man – Teacher Gu (Ahn Kil-kang) – threatens both Yi-hyun and Kim Geum to leave Ok-nam alone. His anger worsens when the ketchup on Yi-hyun’s hotdog lands on his shirt.
The tension between Teacher Gu and Yi-hyun heightens, but it’s unfortunately Kim Geum who suffers a blow to the face as he defends Yi-hyun. Ok-nam immediately worries for Kim Geum while Teacher Gu and Yi-hyun resume with their threats. Eventually the quartet split up and go their own ways, but it’s obvious Kim Geum has fallen for Ok-nam.
Yi-hyun and Kim Geum relieve themselves of their thoughts that night by drinking some whiskey and eating some snacks. Back at the festival, Teacher Gu shares with the same two villagers at the cafe about his recent incident with Yi-hyun and Kim Geum. The two villagers – Fairy Oh (Hwang Young-hee) and Mountain God Park (Kim Min-kyu) – are impressed with Teacher Gu’s fighting skills. They resume to discussing about their wishes for the new year. Similar to Ok-nam, Fairy Oh’s wish is to find the woodcutter who stole her fairy dress.
The next morning, Yi-hyun wakes up and is fascinated at the fact that he slept well throughout the entire night. He didn’t even take the pills Doctor Lee gave him either. When Kim Geum awakens, he suggests they go for a coffee run so the pair head to the same Fairy Cafe they visited the day before. When they arrive, Grandma Ok-nam kindly welcomes them into the shop although it’s supposed to be closed because of Chuseok.
While Kim Geum plays with Jeom-soon the cat, Yi-hyun grinds some coffee beans and then visits the restroom afterwards. He’s easily amused by how unique and cool the restroom is which makes it easier for him to do his business. Lol. Grandma Ok-nam overhears Yi-hyun in the restroom and grows alarmed at the noise he makes while inside. She notes that he sounds similar to the noise her husband made every morning 699 years ago, but she reminds herself to not be fooled. They simply can’t be the same person.
However, Ok-nam’s doubts and suspicions increase when she overhears Yi-hyun yell at Jeom-soon the cat for drinking from his cup of coffee. How did he know Jeom-soon’s name? She never mentioned it in front of Yi-hyun before. Plus, Yi-hyun’s sounds in the restroom sounded similar to the sounds her husband would make centuries ago. Ok-nam bursts into tears upon confirming her doubts and hands Yi-hyun the flower that was resting in her hair. She rushes to her room afterwards to grab the same outfit her husband wore 699 years ago in hopes of presenting them to Yi-hyun. However, the two guys have already left and it’s too late for Ok-nam to stop them.
Jeom-soo the cat transforms into human Jeom-soo (Kang Mina) who points out to her mom Ok-nam that their egg Jeom-dol has cracked. Speaking of the egg, Kim Geom and Yi-hyun also talk about it during their car ride. Yi-hyun is confident Ok-nam is a nine-tailed fox like Kim Geom had predicted. That’s probably why she has that egg that Kim Geom had accidentally touched and broke at the cafe.
Teacher Gu, Mountain God Park, Fairy Oh, and Ok-nam surround the broken egg back at the cafe. They discuss whether Ok-nam has finally reunited with the reincarnation of her late husband from 699 years ago. Ok-nam definitely has her suspicions, but she needs more time to gather evidence. She plans on finding Yi-hyun in Seoul and reuniting with him again to investigate matters.
So Yi-hyun communicates the details with her daughter Jeom-soon. They’ll be traveling to Seoul in search of Yi-hyun who Ok-nam believes is Jeom-soon’s father. The mother-daughter pair eventually make it to Seoul and greet Cho Bong-dae (Ahn Young-mi) upon arriving at her coffee shop, a deity in charge of the district in Seoul where they’ll be staying.
Introductions are brief and short-lived as Grandma Ok-nam notices Yi-hyun and Doctor Lee out on a walk near Bong-dae’s coffee shop. Yi-hyun explains to Doctor Lee the situation with Ok-nam that he experienced on the trip. However, Doctor Lee teases him about it and reassures him that he was probably just hallucinating things. Of course, Grandma Ok-nam keeps her eyes on Yi-hyun the entire time and even uses binoculars to observe him.
Yi-hyun finally reaches a conclusion on why he slept so well the past few days: it must be because of Ok-nam’s coffee. When he and Doctor Lee leaves, Grandma Ok-nam and Jeom-soon return to the coffee shop. We learn that Ok-nam and her late husband used to have such a loving and wonderful marriage which is why Ok-nam wants to desperately find her husband again on earth. However, Bong-dae warns Grandma Ok-nam that things could get dangerous if she resumes with her investigation. Plus, chances are Ok-nam’s husband is probably a completely different person even if he has been reincarnated.
Grandma Ok-nam won’t give up though and she requests to work at Bong-dae’s coffee shop during her stay in Seoul. Ok-nam wins Bong-dae over with a cup of coffee that she brews herself and is hired on the spot to work for Bong-dae.
Back at home, Kim Geum cares for his plants and pets. He decides to head out to grab himself some ramen noodles. Meanwhile, Yi-hyun is still occupied with thoughts of Ok-nam and grows curious as to what her identity is. Grandma Ok-nam and Jeom-soon prepare to sleep for the night at the park and even utilizes Teacher Gu’s magic wand to keep themselves warm.
Just when Grandma Ok-nam is about to sleep, she encounters a confused and flustered Kim Geum standing right across from her. He invites her to sleep at his place until she eventually finds herself a home. Grandma Ok-nam is hesitant in sharing a space with Kim Geum and Yi-hyun, but Kim Geum is more than happy to let her use their space.
Kim Geum shows Grandma Ok-nam his room and cleans up a little bit. However, he gets distracted when Grandma Ok-nam revives his dying plant and grows amused at how she was able to bring his plant back to life. Is Grandma Ok-nam possibly a nine-tailed fox? However, Grandma Ok-nam responds with ease that she’s not a nine-tailed fox like Kim Geum assumes, but rather that she’s a fairy.
This drama is so weird. SO SO WEIRD. But I also like how weird it is. It’s quite different from your typical dramas with it first being both a fusion between a modern and historical drama. However, more than that are the characters themselves. From fairies to Mountain Gods to cats, there’s a little bit of everything in this drama that makes the show an interesting watch. Of course, this weirdness is distracting at times and makes you scratch your head (like the egg or the tacky CGI effects), but that’s also what makes the show fun and different.
I couldn’t help but think about how some aspects of the show reminded me of ‘Surplus Princess.’ I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that makes the two dramas similar (other than actor Ahn Kil-kang acting in both dramas LOL), but I also felt like both dramas are odd and quirky and contains mystical characters. The overall vibe and tone of both dramas are similar to each other as much as each drama is their own show.
I love how we’re just going right into it though with the whole husband search in Seoul. I assumed we were going to get a little bit more context and background story on Ok-nam’s relationship with her husband and then transition into the modern time afterwards. However, we started off first with our two male leads encountering Ok-nam which was a surprising but pleasant start. I assume (and I definitely hope) that we’ll get more glimpses of Ok-nam’s life as a fairy and what happened to her 699 years ago. We received some details and insight in this first episode which was nice because it added an extra touch in explaining her situation and how she ended up in Gyeryeong Mountains after so many centuries. You also saw short and brief scenes of her and her late husband (which was played by Yi-hyun by the way) so that was also interesting and intriguing. Obviously, we’re not going to get everything right away and hopefully the drama will show us more as the drama progresses, but I’m hoping we also get something.
It’s too early to make any assumptions and to worry about anything, but I hope the drama learns to balance out the husband searching sub-plot with the sub-plot about Ok-nam’s fairy life. I understand that this is primarily what the drama will be centered around and I already enjoy it so far. I think it’s going to be fun when Ok-nam investigates whether Yi-hyun was her former husband or not. The similarities are there and she definitely has reasons to be cautious and suspicious of him. It’s going to be fun observing them spend time together and interact with each other now that Ok-nam is also living in the same space with Yi-hyun. I can’t wait to see Yi-hyun and Ok-nam eventually fall in love with each other through it all.
However, like I mentioned earlier, more context on Ok-nam’s life as a fairy, how she ended up stuck on the earth, how she and her late husband fell in love with each other, how he died, why she’s still waiting for him 699 years later, and much more would be awesome to know about. I’m just as intrigued by Ok-nam’s background story as I am about her search in confirming who her late husband was. I know the drama is based off a fairytale/historical myth so you can make some assumptions about Ok-nam’s life based on that, but I want to see the drama execute and provide us with these details itself.
The drama is making both Kim Geum and Yi-hyun as the two possible contenders in being Ok-nam’s former husband, but I think it’s a little bit more evident and obvious which guy the drama is leaning more towards. I’m really hoping the drama won’t pull a ‘Reply 1988’ on us and trick us into thinking one guy is the husband when really the other guy was the one all along. LOL. I’m not so sure how I would handle the plot twist, especially if the drama did a bad job in setting up its framing device and in providing us with hints. I’m assuming (and hoping) that Yi-hyun is the former husband based off of the historical scenes we saw of him and Ok-nam 699 years ago. I’m assuming he was her late husband and has just undergone reincarnation almost seven centuries later.
The cast was the primary reason why I decided to watch this drama and I’m loving what we were shown so far in this first episode. I was a little worried at first about Seo Ji-hoon because I know he’s much younger than Moon Chae-won in real life so I was worried that the age difference would show through the screen. It doesn’t help that he’s also acting as her love interest and has a crush on her. While I still feel a little iffy about the romantic relationship between the two, I’m assuming the drama is playing it safe and is setting Yoon Hyun-min as the end game with Moon Chae-won so I won’t have to worry so much. Plus, it seems like Ji-hoon and Kang Mina will probably end up together in this drama based on how easily they gravitated to each other in this first episode.
I love Yoon Hyun-min and I’ve been a fan of his since his appearance in ‘Cruel City.’ The same applies to Moon Chae-won who I’ve always loved, supported, and been a fan of. I’m really hoping that this drama will be much better than her last project ‘Criminal Minds’ (which shouldn’t be too hard) and that this drama will be a success in general. I also love Seo Ji-hoon since I first saw him in ‘Signal’ which he was amazing, great, and scary in. His works afterwards weren’t bad, but they also didn’t bring him the attention and praise that he deserved. Hopefully this drama will be it for him and serve as that breakthrough role for the young actor. I’m also loving the bromance between Yoon Hyun-min and Seo Ji-hoon in here. How great is that our first glances of the bromance and their characters was of them in suits? They looked SO good.
‘Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter’ has some big steps to fill after the huge success that was ‘100 Days My Prince’ (I miss the drama T___T), but it seems like things should be fine for the drama. With historical and modern elements based off of a mythical folktale as well as a well-rounded cast, ‘Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter’ should make for an entertaining watch.
Bonus: Extra screenshots from the first episode 🙂