Kim Dong-wook and Moon Ga-young in a drama together as the leads? YES PLEASE!
Korean drama ‘Find Me in Your Memory’ recently aired its first episode and I just knew I had to tune in. The drama stars Kim Dong-wook (The Guest, Special Labor Inspector Mr. Jo) as Lee Jung-hoon, a TV news anchorman who is known as a ‘gentle tyrant’: someone who seems calm and gentle, but is also very bold and daring with his job. He acts opposite Moon Ga-young (Welcome to Waikiki 2) who plays Yeo Ha-jin, a popular actress whose every move creates attention. The drama will revolve around Jung-hoon “who suffers from hyperthymesia, a condition that gives people the ability to remember an abnormally vast amount of their life experiences in vivid detail, and Ha-jin who has forgotten the most important moments of her life.”
I’m a fan of both actors so I knew I had to at least give the first few episodes a try (best believe this drama was what caused me to return from my k-drama blog slump)! Other actors to round out the cast include Kim Seul-gi (Love With Flaws) and Yoon Jong-hoon (Extraordinary You).
Find Me in Your Memory: Episode 1 Recap
The room begins to dim, a man starts to count down, and TV news anchorman Lee Jung-hoon (Kim Dong-wook) makes his way to his rightful place: his seat stationed at a table directly in front of the camera. Things seem to go as normal as Jung-hoon reports about a fire in Gangnam, Seoul at a department store called Hwarang Department Store via the teleprompter. However, the teleprompter suddenly freezes and stops working halfway into the reporting. Though panic ensues from the control room of the news station, Jung-hoon remains calm and confident. He reassures the entire team that he will try his best without the teleprompter, AKA, he’s got everything in control.
As the team attempts to fix the teleprompter as soon as possible, Jung-hoon remains fastened in his seat and waits for his turn to report. As he waits, he picks up his pen that he’s accidentally dropped onto the floor. It’s during this time that certain memories resurface in his brain and he states in a voice over,
The law of time is fixed. Time only moves forward, and you can never rewind it. But there is one way to go back in time: it’s through your memory.
Scenes of Jung-hoon with his mother as a young kid as well as adult Jung-hoon witnessing a woman fall to her death in front of him replays in his mind. Jung-hoon snaps himself out of his short but intense trance and he’s back on the air to report another story. As Jung-hoon himself states, unfortunately, he remembers one too many things.
The episode returns to when Jung-hoon was eleven years old. He’s in a room with his friend, Yoo Tae-eun, and Tae-eun’s father who’s studying Jung-hoon’s amazing ability to remember everything. Little Jung-hoon specifies that this ability only came about specifically on February 11, 1990 when he was six years old. Since then, he’s been able to remember little details including stories that he’s read in newspaper ads or watched on TV. Though his mom thinks of it as a blessing, Jung-hoon feels otherwise. Yes, he can cherish all the good and precious memories in his life, but he also remembers all the bad ones as well.
In the present, Jung-hoon walks back to his desk after completing another successful day of work. Along the way, he finds out from junior reporter Jo Il-kwon (Lee Jin-hyuk) that he’ll be interviewing popular actress Yeo Ha-jin (Moon Ga-young) to help her promote her upcoming movie. But first, Jung-hoon and Il-kwon has more important things to take care of such as Chairman Oh Taek-won, the owner of the Hwarang Department Store that caught fire in Gangnam, Seoul. He’s the next person to be interviewed by Jung-hoon.
Upon getting home, Jung-hoon is greeted and confronted by his friend, Tae-eun (Yoon Jong-hoon), who has now inherited his father’s position as Jung-hoon’s neurologist. Jung-hoon makes it clear and obvious to Tae-eun that he has no plans of getting any check-ups for his condition. He’s come to accepting things as is and assumes things will stay this way for the rest of his life. Before heading to sleep, Jung-hoon does some research on Ha-jin to get to know her a little bit better before his interview with her.
As Jung-hoon will eventually conclude, Ha-jin is quite the popular type. Everything she does is trendy and she’s always in the headlines for some reason. On this particular day, Ha-jin is once again in the news, but not for a good reason: she was supposedly caught two-timing with male celebrities.
Of course, Ha-jin isn’t too shocked or surprised at the news. She explains to her manager and sister, Yeo Ha-kyung (Kim Seul-gi), that she was simply just catching up with both male celebrities. For idol Yeo-min (played by Rowoon of Extraordinary You), she simply just grabbed some coffee with him. While for Seo Gwang-jin (played by Kim Sun-ho of Welcome to Waikiki 2 – YAY FOR THE WAIKIKI REUNION!), they simply grabbed some dinner together. However, photos of Ha-jin with both guys depict another story so Ha-jin suffers the consequences. Upon returning to her company’s office, she is swarmed by tons of angry and upset fangirls. She manages to get inside the building without any scratches or bruises and utilizes her SNS account to clarify any misunderstandings. It’s clear that out of Ha-jin’s management team, Ha-jin is the only one not stressed out about the entire situation. Haha, too funny.
Back in the newsroom, Jung-hoon is warned by his Director, Choi Hee-sang (Jang Young-nam), not to mention anything about the Hwarang Department Store Fire during his interview with the store’s chairman, Chairman Oh Taek-won. It doesn’t help that Chairman Oh has already reached an agreement about it with their Chairman as well. Jung-hoon agrees to not discuss anything about the fire during the interview, but Director Choi is still wary of what Jung-hoon has up his sleeves.
As a routine prior to the interview, Jung-hoon visits the guests in the waiting room. However, he is instructed by Chairman Oh’s assistant, Hwang Seo-hoon, to wait outside in the hallway as Chairman Oh is quite not ready yet. Jung-hoon doesn’t take offense to this; instead, he manages his time wisely by conversing with Assistant Hwang. Jung-hoon notices that Assistant Hwang’s had to replace his eye glasses many times throughout the years. Though Assistant Hwang downplays it as him just being clumsy and breaking his glasses often, it seems like Jung-hoon knows there’s more to his story.
The initial interview between Chairman Oh and Jung-hoon is civil. As promised, Jung-hoon doesn’t dive into details on the fire at the department store. In fact, Jung-hoon brushes past the topic to get into what he really wanted to discuss with Chairman Oh: his acts of abuse towards Assistant Hwang throughout the past few years. Chairman Oh is obviously caught off-guard, but Jung-hoon has no plans of stopping his story. Three years ago, Jung-hoon was witness to Chairman Oh physically and verbally abusing Assistant Hwang in front of not only him but many other employees. This could explain why Assistant Hwang’s had to replace his eye glasses so many times throughout the years. Though it’s taken a while, Jung-hoon finally had the perfect opportunity to address the issue with Chairman Oh thanks to Assistant Hwang’s courage to speak up.
Jung-hoon pressures Chairman Oh to come forward and speak the truth, but time runs out and Chairman Oh is given a free pass. He escapes just in time, but the damage has already been done. Before leaving work, Jung-hoon assists Assistant Hwang by referring him to a lawyer for the potential lawsuit that is to come.
While exiting the work building, Jung-hoon notices that it’s snowing outside. He stops in his tracks and the snows causes him to recall both good and heart-breaking memories of his first love Jung Seo-yeon (Lee Joo-bin). Jung-hoon can’t help but be reminded of the moment he discovered years ago of Seo-yeon’s body laying lifelessly in front of him as he was driving his car in the snow. He also remembers the first time he interacted with her when he was younger and how her innocence and kindness was what compelled him to fall in love with her. It’s times like these where his ability to remember every little detail in life is both a blessing and a curse.
It’s Ha-jin’s last day of filming for her drama. Though Ha-kyung remains pessimistic about filming thanks to rude and disrespectful female lead Go Yura (literally played by Girls’ Day Yura), Ha-jin goes into shooting her last scene with a positive mindset. However, things turn sour quickly when Ha-jin is forced to change her outfit after wearing the same exact one as Yura. Additionally, Ha-jin is slapped in the face by Yura which wasn’t originally included in the script nor communicated to her by Yura. Everyone is taken aback by the impromptu move, but Ha-jin remains optimistic. Aww, poor Ha-jin.
Tae-eun’s father, Papa Yoo, proceeds with giving class lectures as a professor at a university. During the lecture, one of his students follows up with him on the case of real-life subject, H, who Papa Yoo interviewed for his thesis. Papa Yoo claims that he has no additional information about the person and their current condition so he calls his son, Tae-eun, after class for updates on “H” who is none other than Jung-hoon.
It’s the big day! Ha-jin’s team helps prepare her for her interview with Jung-hoon. While Ha-kyung, Ha-jin’s management CEO – CEO Park-, and Assistant Moon-cheol are nervous about Ha-jin’s appearance on the show, Ha-jin is the opposite. She’s quite excited, especially after watching a video of Jung-hoon grilling Go Yura when she made her appearance on the news show.
As usual, Jung-hoon makes his way to the waiting room to visit Ha-jin to give her some tips about the interview. He advises that she shouldn’t pay too much attention to the list of questions that she’s been given to which Ha-jin finds relieving as she hasn’t had too much time to read it over. LOL. She also offers him a cup of “coffee” only for the both of them to discover that the coffee isn’t just coffee: there’s some alcohol mixed in it. It was originally meant for Ha-jin to help her relax before the interview. OMG, LOL. Jung-hoon is reassured by Doctor Tae-eun that alcohol won’t affect him and his live broadcast at all and that he will be fine. Hmm, that’s got me thinking: why was Jung-hoon worried about drinking one sip of alcohol? Or maybe I’m just overthinking it?
The live interview is about to start so Jung-hoon and Ha-jin get settled in their seats. Ha-jin peer pressures Jung-hoon to change his tie since it doesn’t seem to match him so seconds before he is to go live, he changes into a new tie like how Ha-jin requested (LOL I love how he listens to her and does what she actually wanted). Of course, the change in tie doesn’t change Jung-hoon’s personality and just like he did with Chairman Oh and Go Yura, he confronts Ha-jin with challenging questions. Nobody is given an easy pass when sitting across from Jung-hoon for an interview.
Jung-hoon accuses Ha-jin of being inconsistent, especially given all the social media posts she posts on her SNS account. As a celebrity, shouldn’t she take more responsibility and accountability in the kind of posts she makes online knowing just how influential she is? Is there a specific reason as to why she is indecisive and keeps changing her opinions and thoughts on things? Why the inconsistency? Though Ha-jin claims that there is a reason for all the changes and switches on her SNS account, she can’t seem to recall or give a specific reason why. Maybe then it’s her honesty that she’s using to cover up for her irresponsibility Jung-hoon attacks. But Ha-jin thinks differently and it isn’t until she defends herself with a specific phrase that Jung-hoon is the one frozen during the interview.
Ha-jin is a very simple person; she wants to live a life where it’s as simple as counting up to numbers five or six. This causes Jung-hoon to freeze in his tracks for the sole reason that it was the same exact phrase and mentality that his first love, So-yeon, carried with her and shared with him when they were still together.
Jung-hoon is unable to move or process Ha-jin’s response after hearing the specific phrase exit from her mouth. Nothing the back room does can get him to escape his trance. It isn’t until Ha-jin stands up and puts her hand on his arm that Jung-hoon finally moves and reacts. He firmly places his hand on top of hers and the two stare into each other’s eyes as everyone watches.
EEEEEEK, I LOVE IT I LOVE IT! I love Kim Dong-wook and I love him even more in romance dramas!
I mean, there wasn’t anything too romantic yet with this first episode, and I admit that I haven’t watched many of Kim Dong-wook’s projects other than ‘The Guest’ and ‘Along With the Gods.’ He’s a spectacular actor, but those projects I’ve watched him in were more serious. You can probably see why I was so excited upon discovering that he would be in a romance drama opposite Moon Ga-young (who I also love and am a fan of). He’s so good in whatever role he plays, but I especially love seeing him in love and being so soft and all that good stuff. I hope there’s definitely more in this drama!
Moving on to the actual episode itself, I thought this premiere episode was an interesting first episode (and I’m saying this in a good way)! I felt like in the first half of the episode, the drama was trying to find this balance between a dark, sentimental, and serious tone with Jung-hoon’s story and then a quirky, silly, and funny mood with Ha-jin’s reality. I understand that the drama needed to build a foundation of some sort to introduce our two leads who live such opposite lives which could explain for the sudden shifts in mood and tone throughout the episode. One moment, you’re engrossed in feelings of sadness, mystery, and sentiment watching Jung-hoon witness his first love die in front of his eyes and then the next second, you’re watching Ha-jin get attacked by fangirls for supposedly two-timing on male celebrities. Though the sudden shifts in the tone was not my favorite, I could see why the transitions were necessary in this episode. I do like how the drama ended the last few minutes of the episode in a tone that was matching to Jung-hoon’s storyline: mysterious and serious. Maybe and hopefully the drama will continue to follow this route to stabilize itself a little bit more that way.
The first episode did a wonderful job in introducing to us in the least complicated way possible Jung-hoon’s underlying condition that is hyperthymesia. From a very young age, he’s always been able to remember every single detail and things haven’t changed since he’s gotten older. It’ll be interesting to see how that compares to when he gets to know Ha-jin better who the drama hinted to be quite forgetful not to her choosing, but maybe because she too is suffering from a condition that the drama has yet to explore (or I might be wrong: maybe she is simply a very simple person and chooses not to be defined by others). It’ll be even more interesting if somehow, for some reason, Jung-hoon begins to forget his memories (but of course, let’s hope it’s not because he gets run over by a car or a truck or anything along those lines).
As we saw in this episode, Jung-hoon’s condition of hyperthymesia causes him to remember both the good and precious memories in his life as well as the horrible ones that breaks him. He also uses these memories to bring about justice, such as was the case with Chairman Oh and Assistant Hwang. I’m all for Jung-hoon using his memory to advocate for those who might not be as powerful or those who don’t have the opportunity to stand up for themselves. It’s even better that Jung-hoon has already established himself to be known as a strong, confident, and bold person who speaks his mind. No one will be caught off guard when he goes off script and instead, they somewhat expect it from him which will aid him in his journey of seeking justice. I also wonder if the drama will continue to do special case-by-case stories like these or if the drama will simply choose to focus more on Jung-hoon’s developing relationship with Ha-jin and his backstory. I wouldn’t mind if the drama did a combination of both and continued to show us the awesome ways in which Jung-hoon’s memory aids others and himself.
It seems like snow was a big theme in this first episode and seems to be the biggest trigger yet that causes Jung-hoon to recall certain memories related to his mother and first love. It’s interesting to see just how complex his condition is: the snow reminds him of happy and warm memories he’s experienced with his mother, but it also reminds him of the tragic death of his first love. I’m loving the backstory and the small little hints and previews we’ve gotten of Jung-hoon’s background in this first episode and I definitely can’t wait to see more.
I can’t speak too much about Ha-jin just yet. She seems like your typical clumsy, ditzy, and silly actress whose every action is recorded and uploaded online. There’s nothing too much about her just yet that stands out to me; however, I do like her positive and carefree attitude (especially after the whole mess with her drama filming) and her take on life. Yes, she might be indecisive and inconsistent at times, but above all of this, she remains honest about everything.. maybe too honest about things at times (*cough cough* her SNS post clarifying that she wasn’t two-timing after all).
It’s been a while since I’ve watched Kim Seul-gi in a drama (the last one I’ve seen her in was ‘Oh My Ghost’ which seems so long ago now that I think about it) and I’m reminded again of how good she is. Kim Seul-gi is so good in this drama and is absolutely owning it as the sassy and protective manager/sister that I kind of feel like she’s too good to be playing this type of role. This isn’t to criticize the specific role she’s playing because I love manager/assistant type of characters in dramas, but I wonder if the drama is going to give her something more to do other than be the person who nags at Ha-jin but also support her as her number one fan. She plays this role so so well I want to see her do more. If the drama doesn’t plan on doing anything with her, I’m totally fine with that too. Kim Seul-gi is great and good regardless of what she’s given.
The writer of this drama has penned works ‘Nine: 9 Times Time Travel’ and popular ‘Queen In-hyun’s Man’ so I’m not surprised that the topic of ‘time’ was mentioned in this drama. The writer’s known to incorporate the idea and theme of ‘time’ in their dramas so I wonder what the writer has up their sleeves for this drama. Meanwhile, the director has dramas like ‘Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo’ and ‘Two Cops’ under his belt so I have a feeling that the drama will be pretty to watch (and hopefully easy to understand as well). I especially loved the scenes of Jung-hoon’s first love Seo-yeon. They were shot so prettily and I absolutely loved the smooth and effortless transition from Seo-yeon on the streets (picking up some apples) to her on the stage as a ballet dancer. That transition and switch from one scene to the other was so beautiful and soft and it was great overall.
(okay but how can I not talk about Kim Sun-ho’s cameo in this episode?! Watching his short cameo with Moon Ga-young totally gave me ‘Welcome to Waikiki 2’ feels and while I was so happy to see them two together again in this episode, it also made me sad. Hopefully they’ll reunite again in another drama in the future!)
“Find Me in Your Memory” was an exciting drama to watch based off of the premiere episode. Of course, not everything was perfect, but I did enjoy watching all the various moving parts of the episode. Ha-jin and Jung-hoon are so different, but it is also these differences that will pull them closer to each other and I am so ready to witness all of this happen. My memory will definitely remember these moments when they unfold in the upcoming episodes.