Come on in, take your shoes off, and make yourself comfortable, because this recap is going to be demonstrably long. It is T-minus 48 hours until we find out what happened after that epic ending to episode 8. EPIC ENDING. I can’t even, that ending was just too good. It was so good that it inspired me to go back and re-recap the first 8 episodes with all my love. So friends, lovers, shippers…gather round because I have a round 1 recap to tell.
Fight For My Way is love. It should sleep on rose petals and bath in wine because it is sheer perfection. We have already done a full episode 1 recap with pictures, but that was my first recap attempt and I went picture crazy. Plus, I wanted to get it out pretty fast so I couldn’t really get into the nuances of the story (I do love that recap though by the way). However, I wanted to get into my emotions, so here I have a full episode 1 recap with all the nuances and Easter eggs that the writer and production so skillfully kissed into the show.
But let’s rewind for a moment. Before FFMY aired I wrote about news on upcoming shows in Korea. While writing about the news on FFMY I had a gut feeling it would be great because the writer put so much thought into the actual name: Ssam My Way. I thought, wow, this person gave that much thought to the actual name of the drama, they must have given a lot of thought into the drama itself. As teaser after teaser came out, it became more than apparent, an afterthought even, that this writer and production team knew what they were doing.
Teaser 1: The fight and the ssam mai
One of the definitions of Ssam is to argue or fight which was on full display in teaser 1. Also on display in teaser 1 is the definition of Ssam mai or “retro-throwback” but in a cool updated way. Think Tarantino or Wes Anderson, though I would say Fight for My Way is leaning more Tarantino-esque. Not only was the actual video shot with a retro throwback vibe, but the actual clothes that the production used for the stars was also retro in all of its 70/80’s glory. When I saw this teaser I thought, ah, so they are going to do a kind of Kung Fu Fury style TV show with bro-style-besties-turned-lovers? This might be cool.
Teaser 2: The food and the ssam mai
The production took it a step further to deliver to us yet another definition of ssam, which is a type of food similar to a lettuce wrap yet not the same. The gloriousness of teaser two is not to be understated. Here we have three (possibly 4, but I’ll get into that later) definitions of ssam mai on display. We have the retro-throwback look of the characters, the arguing/fighting between our leads, and the actual food that they are eating. Be still my heart.
Teaser 3: The cheap and the ssam mai
And finally, the last definition of ssam is cheap. After teaser three aired it was apparent that our leads are poor and just trying to make it. Can life just throw them a bone already? You could argue that this definition was on display in teaser two as well because ssam can be a pretty cheap meal (but alas, I don’t want my heart to explode with slimy red everlasting love all over your screen, so I’ll leave it out. But I will stick it right here in teaser three so it can have it’s own happy little space to tell us all about itself). From teaser three we see that all of our leads are just trying to make it in life. They all have full-time jobs yet only one is on a career path (Joo-man). The rest are just pulling themselves up by their bootstraps as they take each day as it comes while still enjoying all the fun little things that life has to offer.
Teaser 4: The music and the ssam mai
Teaser 4 continues showing us little tidbits of our characters lives, but one thing the production throws in is a song that exactly fits the ssam mai way vibe. The song is from a group called Rose Motel and the name is ‘Old lover.’ It’s basically a group of retro looking guys in 70’s suits overacting as they sing about their lover. IT IS THE BEST. The song is super catchy too, just try not to get the chorus into your head. I like quirky music like this so it’s right up my alley. Plus, using this song really solidified my thoughts that the production and the writers were putting a ton of thought into even the tiniest nuances of this drama and made me want to scream I LOVE YOU PRODUCTION TEAM.
Teaser 5: The real and the ssam mai
The last teaser (the long one) continued to give us little bits of what to expect in the first several episodes, which was a realistic yet playful depiction of slice-of-life at it’s best. After watching the first 8 episodes I have to say, the realness of FFMY just gets me. The everyday-ness and the simplicity is what makes it so beautiful. Show, can I back hug you?
THE BEGININGS OF SSAM MAI IN KOREA
Let’s go back a little farther. The beginnings of the Ssam Mai wave in Korea can be traced back to an underground internet-movie named Dachimawa Lee (다찌마와리), which was released in 2001 online. It was not expected to do much, it was only like 35 minutes long and probably took no time to make, yet it became such a huge underground hit that it was actually remade into a full-length movie-movie in 2008. Everyone loved how it looked like it was made in the 60’s or 70’s (even though it was made in 2001), all the overacting, and all the references to famous movies from the past. It struck a serious chord and is where this ssam mai love exploded from.
Loving throwback-retro stuff isn’t new or specific to Korea, come on now. I mean just look at Tarantino and Wes Anderson, they have made careers over it. Heck, look at the hipster movement that is basically the zeitgeist of the time. Throwback is in and some could say it has always been in. Yet right now it is in-in, like really in. It has swept over pop culture and will quite possibly be what defines this decade or time period in our life, much like how bellbottoms and V-neck suits were in in the 70’s, track suits, colors, and poofy hair were in in the 80s, and shoulder pads and black were in in the 90’s. Throwback is just in and Ssam mai takes it all and plays with it equally. The only catch is, you have to upgrade it to look cool (yet not too cool). Got it?
So back to Fight for My Way or Ssam Mai Way or Ssam, My Way. The writer put all of that background into the title of the drama and added the English phrase My Way to go along with it as a nice play on words with the added meaning that they are going to do things their way. I mean, what! I just love this title SO MUCH. I want to have its babies.
Ssam and Ssam mai are sprinkled all throughout this drama. The writer and production team are giving us so many hints to it, it’s ridiculous. So in this recap, we are going to try to find them all ! We may miss some though, so if you know of any then let us know and we will add it in. (We’ll also try to add in other details in the drama like music, pop culture references, and filming locations).
FIGHT FOR MY WAY RECAP, ROUND 1:
He was Ong-Bak, She was Baek Ji-yeon
Straight out the gate we have our first throwback moment with the most famous scene from the most famous Thailand fighting movie Ong-bak (2003). Ong-bak was a crazy big hit that took over the world on the underground. Seriously, it was huge. The elbows, kicks, and stunts in this movie had never been seen before on an international audience, so it spread like wildfire. Everyone did their own stunts in it too, which made it all the more cray. It is a cult hit that spawned two sequels, so if you haven’t seen it you might want to check it out.
I was a little taken aback with the Ong-Bak opening (in a good way!), I loved this movie and I was a bit startled that they loved it too. I wanted to squeal. While showing us the Ong-Bak scene, the production cuts to 2006 where Dong-man and Joo-man are secretly watching the movie at school on an old PMP player. Ah, so now we see our main stars. It is apparent that Joo-man and Dong-man are not the best of students as they would much rather be watching a movie (nay, watching and acting out all the moves in a movie) than paying attention. It bit them in the butt though because the final elbow of the scene caused their PMP player to go crashing, thus alerting their teacher that someone was up to no good. They must always be getting in trouble because their teacher knew exactly who to throw chalk at: the man-man brothers. “Come get you licks,” he tells them. But he did give them an opt out if they could answer a pop question. “50%,” Joo-man said confidently. Hilariously, the teacher acts like the answer they gave was right and calls them to the front before letting them know that they failed miserably. Moo-bin, the resident teacher’s pet, answers properly and the teacher dishes out 50 hits to Dong-man and Joo-man for their troubles.
Cut to the countryside of Seosan where Sul-hee and Ae-ra are getting into trouble themselves: Ae-ra, for bringing her toy microphone to school and Sul-hee for wearing a hair band. Their teacher had already given them a few licks and tried to give them some advice on studying more. Ae-ra and Sul-hee are not too concerned, in only the way youth is, as Ae-ra wants to be an announcer and Sul-hee wants to be the ultimate homemaker. Who needs good grades? The teacher just sighs and calls them by their class rank and tells everyone if their items were taken then they need to stay after school and clean the auditorium. Oh nooo’s! They gots plans! They can’t be doing all that today! The plot thickens.
Cut back to Dong-man and Joo-man’s school in Seoul where we are introduced to the resident bad-ass-B, Bora. Everyone is doting over her as she takes all their money from a schoolyard game. Moo-bin is there too and tries to get on her good side with a present of some coffee-milk (the sign on the coffee milk says: To Bora). But Bora is just annoyed, she does not like Moo-bin one little bitty iota and turns down his offer for a study date saying instead that she is ditching class and going to Gangnam. However, when Dong-man and Joo-man round the corner doing their Ong-Bak moves, Bora perks right up. She is crushing hard on Dong-man.
Dong-man is clueless and heads back to class with Joo-man. Coffee milk is waiting patiently on his desk, this time it says: from Bora. Joo-man is talking about how the food doesn’t smell right and how the side-dish shop owner is no good (a hint to his perfect palate). He then gets on Dong-man about wearing a countrified shirt to school. “Can you be even more obvious that you are not from around here?” Joo-man knows how to blend in, but Dong-man is clueless. He should have a name brand shirt and a wolf cut, tsk tsk. Above all else, he can’t wear that shirt for his big confession to Bora. Dong-man is all like “Huh? Confession?” Joo-man explains that Dong-man is the ruler of the boys’ opposition party (the non-studying party) and Bora is the ruler of the girls’ opposition party, so they should unite and have a strong alliance against the ruling party (the kids who are great at studying, basically Moo-bin’s party). But to do that, Dong-man needs to have a cool confession. To help a brother out, Joo-man convinces Dong-man to trade shirts with Moo-bin (a hint to his negotiation skills). They offer up the coffee-milk as collateral. Poor Moo-bin immediately recognizes it as the coffee-milk he gave to Bora. His little puppy dog face is confused AF.
This scene introduced so much to know about our characters. First off, Dong-man is in his own world most of the time and doesn’t really care about the hot things of the moment. He is just himself and likes what he likes. Joo-man, on the other hand, has a firm grasp of how things work in society. In addition, they alluded to his perfect palate and his negotiation skills, which will serve him well in the future.
Meanwhile, back in Seosan, Aera and Sul-hee are trying to get out of their after school suspension so they can see Dong-man’s match. They try everything they can think of, which is basically feigning sickness or injury, but their teacher is no spring chicken. She cuts down all their attempts, leaving Ae-ra and Sul-hee sulking in the hallway. But the universe gives them an in as the teacher’s car alarm goes off. Now is their chance! They conspicuously invade the teachers’ lounge, grab their things (hairband and microphone) and hightail it out of there with their teachers chasing after them. They-have-to-watch-Dong-man-fight, and getting it tomorrow is the least of their concerns. through hell or high water, they are getting to that tournament.
Cut to the tournament. Sul-hee and Ae-ra made it! They have their posters at the ready! Their poor little country raised Dong-man has to have a cheering squad! Fighting! But then they see a huge crowd with signboards walking into the stadium chanting: KO DONG MAN – KO DONG MAN – . Their country faces are shocked, to say the least. But they snap out of it as the camera cuts to the match and we see Dong-man in his element. His coach is yelling at him to use his feet, but it looks like Dong-man isn’t paying him any heed. But then Ae-ra yells “USE YOUR FEET! KICK! KICK!!” and the entire stadium and competitors turn around to look at her. Even Coach-nim turns around in dismay, “That crazy girl is here again?” But it seems like Dong-man listens to her as his next moves are several kicks,
In the audience, we see that poor Moo-bin has skipped out on his tutoring class to see Bora. Did she give Dong-man the coffee milk he gave her? Say it isn’t so Bora! But Bora just kicks him to the curb, breaking Moo-bin’s little ol heart. Meanwhile back on the floor, Dong-man is peeping his competitor’s movements, it looks like Dong-man has a knack for judging balance, distance, and timing. He sees an opening when his competitor shifts his weight onto his back leg. Dong-man quickly does his signature 540 spinning kick and knocks the other guys out. He won in stunning fashion! Whoo hoo! the crowd goes crazy, his coach goes crazy, Ae-ra and Sul-hee go crazy, everyone is going crazy (except Moo-bin, who sulks).
Dong-man runs to the sidelines and he coach happily extends his arms for a bear hug. The love is flowing! But Dong-man just runs right under his coach’s arms to the cheering crowd. He takes off his shirt revealing Moo-bins chic Seoul style shirt underneath and throws his taekwondo uniform into the crowd. Ae-ra just knows he is throwing it to her, he happily opens her arms and nods with every movement Dong-man makes. As he throws it, she reaches her arms out and pulls it from the air. It’s for her! She has it! But instead of addressing Ae-ra, Dong-man points at another girl, “Bora! Whenever you go anywhere, tell them you have a boyfriend!”
Side eyes all around as Sul-hee and Ae-ra stare at this girl who Dong-man just gave his love to. But Dong-man in typical Dong-man fashion adds, “Now we have an alliance!” lol. I really don’t think he knew what was going on here. Joo-man just shakes head as if he just heard the stupidest thing ever, “Ah, that’s not it at all…”
Coach slaps Dong-man upside the head for throwing his Taekwondo uniform and embarrassingly drags him out by his ear. Ae-ra gives it to him as well as crazy Ae-ra comes out in full force against this girl, she didn’t send him to Seoul for women! The girl flips her hair, annoying Ae-ra to no end. Then Moo-bin gets into the mix. How can she date Dong-man! He gets hit by the teacher during class AND wears red devil t-shirts, AND can’t even do probability! Whyyyyyyyyyy!
“Because he’s the best,” Bora says back to him. Poor heartbroken Moo-bin storms off. If Ae-ra wasn’t already annoyed by Bora, this sends her over the deep end. It annoyed her enough in fact, for Ae-ra to “accidentally” hit the girl with her bat looking balloon as they got up to leave, “Oh, sorry, sorry-ya,” she says feigning innocence. But Boram ain’t no punk. She wants a real apology and steps to Ae-ra.
But Ae-ra steps right back at her, “I said sorry!” Nobody puts baby in the corner.
As much as I wanted to see this all go down, we then get a nice little voice over sending us to the future. Whatever happened to those legendary crazy kids? Did they become true legends? Well no, not really. Aera isn’t a chic commentator, just an information desk girl. Sul-hee isn’t a caring mother, just a phone girl. Joo-man isn’t an amazing negotiator, just a pushover. And Dong-man isn’t a super athlete in a high rise condo, he’s just it’s cleaning man. Their lives didn’t quite turn out the way they wanted which is how they became the not quite fantastic, Fantastic Four.
The first Fantastic Four members present life we dive into is Ae-ra’s, who is holding it down as Lucky Department stores information girl. She is a bit distracted though as she continuously sneak texts her boyfriend. Why isn’t he answering the phone? Oh, no’s, did he fail again? She doesn’t get the answer though because she gets spotted by an old college friend and has to immediately look busy. We’ve all been there, right? “Choi Ae-ra?” her friend says inspecting the information girl. At first, Ae-ra feigns ignorance and plays it off like she doesn’t know her (hmm, it looks like Ae-ra is a little embarrassed by her job). But she has to come clean because this old college friend, is not going away.
Cut to the VIP lounge where her friend is taking foodies and selfies and posting them all over Instagram. She even pushes Ae-ra’s information girl hat away as not to sully her picture. Then she says it’s her first time there using her fiancé’s card and how it’s probably Ae-ra’s first time there as well even though she works there, don’t be uncomfortable about it though! Her friend clearly married up and wants to rub it in Ae-ra’s face. She basically says, “Our weddings expensive, my ring is expensive, Our home is expensive, our honeymoon is ~ tee hee” But Ae-ra ain’t no punk. She quickly responds with a shrug, “It sounds like you’re rapping.” Sigh, Ae-ra, I love you, let me count the ways…
Across town, Dong-man is on a blind date (sogeting) and is still clueless about social situations. He is talking too loudly and being too boisterous; His poor date looks so embarrassed, but she is trying not to let it show. I feel like this is the worst blind date of this poor woman’s life. She tries to make conversation, but whatever she asks Dong-man manages to look bad. She asks him what he does and he answers like he is a dermatologist, but when she says “Dermatologist right?” He then beeps the alarm on his car as if she is the one who is dense and says he is an exterminator. But to make himself look even worse, he starts singing Oppa cha): “Oppa’s car, is coming now, hurry up and come out, whoo!” he says he can give her a ride in it, but she immediately says that’s okay that’s okay! and bows her head like she wants to melt into the floor. But she sticks with it and continues to try and make conversation.
However Dong-man continues to be dense and talks about how rent is expensive, he feels like he is getting ripped off. She must hate paying it too right? But she says she has a jonsae (which means she pays a huge chunk of money at the beginning, like $50,000, and then she will get that money back when she moves out). Dong-man is impressed. “Wow, you much be rich!!!” lol. You just don’t say that to a person. He is just so lovably unaware.
She changes the subject, that’s right, she heard he was really good at something when he was young, a sport ~. But instead of answering in the affirmative, Dong-man just sobers up and says that he wasn’t good at anything, and nods like he wants to appear happy even though it seems like he isn’t.
This is a good time to cut back to Ae-ra as we see her and her friend continuing their conversation in the VIP lounge. One of Chang-sook’s comments cuts deep though when she asks if Ae-ra gave up being Baek Ji-yeon(the first lead female news anchor at MBC) or failed becoming like Baek Ji-young. Oh, no she didn’t. Ae-ra responds that Chan-sook said she was going to be the next Kim Joo-ha, why is she depending on a man to buy her things? They start to go back and forth shooting jabs at each other and our EASTER EGG pops out. This sequence is in homage to the super popular arcade/video game Street Fighter. The production uses this verbal sparring session like a Street Fighter match and whenever one of the women gives a deadly blow the signature move of one of the Street Fighter characters pops up on screen.
Ae-ra – Why wasn’t your fiance’s age on the announcement? Does it start with a 3 or a 4?
Chang-sook – He looks young for his age…
Ae-ra – Ohhhh, he must look really young, mmmm
Chang-sook – You should get married, Ae-ra, lower your standard, find someone at your level, you’ll get married fast. They say even cheap shoes are in pairs…
Ae-ra – Oh, that’s right, Chang-sook, is that guy coming to your wedding? That Sang-mo guy?
Chang-sook – Wuh, Why would he come?
Ae-ra – Oh, that’s right, you thought I was flirting with him right? I care about looks. He is just at your level looks wise.
Note: Sangmo is the guy that rolls his head around in a traditional Korean group/dance, that is why Ae-ra rolled her head the way she did.
Ae-ra clearly won this battle as she sits back comfortably in her chair. All Chang-sook can stammer is that she is prettier than her now! But the camera zooms out and shows everyone in the room looking at her like, “Um…?” The moral of the story: DO NOT STEP TO AERA.
SUL-HEE AND JOO-MAN
We get a little break from Ae-ra and Dong-man to take a little peek into the lives of Sul-hee and Joo-man. Sul-hee is working hard for the money as she tries to calm an irate customer down over the phone. She is hopeless at it though so the supervisor has to step in to fix the situation. Afterward, Sul-hee gets pulled aside to have a talking too in the conference room.
Joo-man see’s her and sighs, it must not be the first time Sul-hee has been reprimanded. But in this case, Joo-man can do something about it. He springs into action and notices an intern (Ye-jin) preparing some paperwork. He tells her he knows a secret to getting the paper to slip and starts to help her out, all the while looking in the direction of the conference room. Ye-jin looks taken by Joo-man and smiles like a little bunny rabbit at him. He doesn’t notice a thing, he’s trying to help out his girl Sul-hee after all!
While in the conference room, Sul-hee’s supervisor basically tells Sul-hee to get married so she doesn’t have to do work like that. But before the conversation can get going, Joo-man interrupts them, explaining that they have a meeting in there. Joo-man outranks the supervisor at the company so the supervisor quickly apologizes and leaves. Sul-hee looks pretty bummed, but when Joo-man playfully bumps her hip, she goes right up to Joo-man and gives him a big bear hug in thanks. They’re lovers! Yay! Joo-man is initially taken aback by it, they shouldn’t be doing that hanky panky stuff at work, but in the end, he relents and gives her a cuddle. However, what Sul-hee really wants is exactly what her supervisor said, she wants to get married and just stay home. “What if I get married…” she says to her beau. He dodges the question, leaving Sul-hee sulking. They’ve dated for 6 years already, why not…? I feel you Sul-hee.
AE-RA AND DONG-MAN
Ae-ra is on the terrace of her department store reading Chang-sook’s wedding invitation and looking bummed. Even though she won the battle against Chang-sook, it likes like she is losing the war; I mean shoot, she wants to get married too, dang it! To alleviate her somber heart, she calls her law student bae. He doesn’t do anything to make her feel better though. He failed his exam and doesn’t seem too concerned about it. He’s going on a cross-country bike ride after all; to get his mind right! Ae-ra is just annoyed, he should get his mind right AFTER passing his exam. She hangs up, sigh, she was going to buy him rib eye if he passed…
Dong-man is wrapping up his blind date and is still not able to take a hint. “I know this killer noodle place nearby!” he says. But this woman just wants to get out of there and says as much in as polite a way as possible. “I can give you a ride!” Dong-man says running to his car. The woman takes off for a taxi instead, “TAXI” she yells. But Dong-man still doesn’t get the hint and quickly stops the taxi, how about another date – I bought now, you can buy later – how about soju – there’s a street restaurant in Shilim-dong with the best gizzard – . The poor woman had to drop her polite speech. She slapped some money in Dong-man’s hand, said they’re even, and drove off. Dong-man was left wondering what just happened. But he didn’t wonder for long because Ae-ra called (It’s an error). He answers annoyed, “What? What do you want?” But his tune quickly changes when she says she will treat him to rib eye. Cut to him looking around for Ae-ra at her department store.
Ae-ra is nowhere to be found though so Dong-man heads out. Chang-sook is heading out as well and yelling at her husband to get hair plugs, lol. She then pushes the revolving door (which has a sign on it that says do not push) and it stops, locking her, Dong-man, and some other women inside (why that many people want to go through a revolving door at the same time is beyond me). No-one reads the sign apparently because Dong-man also tries to push the door open leading to this hilarious romantic slow motion scene where Chang-sook looks up at Dong-man like a night in shining armor. She sees “Doctor” on his jacket, but more than that, she notices that Dong-man has a lot of hair and faints for a moment, “You have a lot of hair,” she tells him as he steadies her. LOL.
They all meet up outside and Ae-ra uses this moment to chide Dong-man for being so late, but Dong-man just spits back that he was on time, she wasn’t at her desk, what’s up with that yo! He doesn’t say all that, but you know, that’s what he meant. Chang-sook is clearly taken by Dong-man, so Ae-ra uses this as an opportunity to get a few more digs at her college friend. She tells her Dong-man is just some average looking guy that she keeps around, he’s nothing compared to her lawyer. The friend is like…wuuuuuut? He’s average? No way ~. Ae-ra just reminds her that she likes looks more than anything else and Dong-man doesn’t fit the bill. But Dong-man likes her so she keeps him around. Another battle won for Ae-ra.
Inside the beef place, Dong-man is geeking out about eating meat. That is until he sees some fellas coping looks at Ae-ra’s legs. He promptly tells her to switch seats with him. “It’s too bright, my eyes, let’s switch, hurry up.” Ae-ra reluctantly switches seats and complains that it isn’t even bright, but then—she sees Chang-sook looking into the window at them. Ah, another opportunity for a dig! She quickly tells Dong-man to pet her hair. Dong-man’s like, huh, pet your hair? She says, Yes, just like in dramas when the guy pets his girl’s hair, do that to me. Dong-man refuses, it’s repulsive until Ae-ra says she won’t buy him any meat. He quickly changes his tune and runs his fingers through her bangs in the most abhorred unsexy way possible as if her bangs will make his fingers smell like chitlins then fall off. But it works as Chang-sook goes off in a huff once again.
Ae-ra orders an impressive spread of food causing Dong-man to think that her boyfriend finally passed his test. But when she orders alcohol he knows he failed. The conversation turns to Ae-ra’s boyfriend. Dong-man thinks he’s a little punk kid who can’t even pay Ae-ra back for all the money she’s given him. he should at least get a construction job or something. But Ae-ra.Aint.Having.That. Don’t nobody can talk bad about her boo except for her. She hits back at Dong-man, her boo shouldn’t work hard labor. But Dong-man just makes fun of Ae-ra for being such a doting “wife” by standing and bowing at her as if she walked on water. Ae-ra knows exactly how to shut this down though and yells, “Hey, I’m not buying you any meat!” Dong-man quietly sits back at the table.
Afterward, she buys her man a bike for his cross country trip. Even though she is annoyed with him, she still wants to do nice things for him, she is his sugar mama after all. While leaving she sees a sign for an add about joining the KBC team as an announcer. She dreamily says the vowels a-e-i-o-u, before snapping herself out of it and hoping on a bus, bike in tow. She trucks the bike all the way to the poor side of town (hills mean poor) where her fella should be studying his but off at a goshiwon. When she gets there she sees one of the local residents and says hi, but this guy just freaks the F out and takes off right back inside the building screaming that 208 is there 208 is there. All the other residents freak the F out too as they scatter from the kitchen like roaches, one of them quickly knocks on Moo-gi’s door.
It takes Ae-ra some time, but she gets the bike up the stairs just as Moo-gi comes out looking all kinds of sleepy. “Oh, you’re here, why did you suddenly stop by?” Ae-ra is all like, why didn’t you answer my phone calls? Love her. She gives him the bike without fanfare (or a thank you, to her slight annoyance) and notices something is amiss with Moo-gi since his clothes are inside out, plus he’s acting strange, but she just tells him to get it together. However, the strangeness continues as they go to the kitchen. An older ajumma is there fixing food for some of the residents and Aera recognizes her as the neighborhood woman with the radish kimchi.
But something isn’t right, she’s awkward, and the people eating are laughing at weird moments, and Moo-gi is standoffish. Then she notices a hairpiece in the woman’s hair that looks exactly like the one she owns. It couldn’t be? But all the signs are there as the woman freezes and Moo-gi’s leg twitches uncontrollably. Plus, are they wearing the same clothes? Crazy Ae-ra’s face turns on as she moves in close to the woman and gives her a sniff. This B smells like Moo-bin. Oh hell to the naw! You needn’t say but a word as Ae-ra wastes no time taking off her purse and whopping Moo-gi’s ass all up and down the hall. Another EASTER EGG pops out as this sequence is in homage to a famous fighting scene from the Korean movie Old Boy. It has the same 2D camera angle and colors and everything.
Afterward, the place is in shambles, food is everywhere, and Ae-ra is sitting in the kitchen surrounded by her destruction. Moo-gi is on the floor with the trash and the ajumma is at the edge, where the hallway meets the room. Fitting spots for everyone. Aera cannot believe that she did all these things for her boyfriend. She thought he had a good heart because he bought her that designer bag even though he didn’t have any money. She cherished that bag and thought that she would support him her entire life because he had a good heart. But now he does this, and to add insult to injury, he does it with an old poor lady! But the ajumma just politely raises her voice a tiny bit, “Um, actually…”
It turns out that this ajumma isn’t a poor ajumma, she is a rich ajumma. A richy-rich ajumma. Her kimchi restaurant is a hit, she drives a Land Rover, she wears designer clothes (when she’s not wearing Moo-gi’s), and she bought Moo-gi a super expensive bike with a million gears! There was no way Ae-ra could compete with that. Ae-ra realizes her defeat but saves some face by yanking her Minnie Mouse hair piece from the ajumma’s head. “This.Is.Mine,” she says before flipping her 8 gear bike around and flagging a taxi. But alas, no taxi can get that bike to fit and Ae-ra doesn’t know how to ride a bike, to begin with. Does she really have to trek it all the way back home after she just trekked it all the way here? Moo-gi and the ajumma look at Ae-ra with pity as they whisper back and forth about helping her.
DONG-MAN AND COACH-NIM
Here we have the first introduction to coach=-nim in the present and the production team gives him a lovely ssam mai EASTER EGG introduction by playing Everybody was Kung-fu Fighting, as he pulls out his knives and the camera trails across his body showing off his Taekwondo-Korea patch and martial artist tattoo. But instead of killing it with some martial arts moves, he cuts up some soondae instead and throws it over to Dong-man (hee hee).
Coach now runs a martial artist soondae truck (yes Lord) and always goes to Dong-man’s neighborhood. They have some playful banter back and forth, but when Dong-man forgets himself and talks to Coach-nim like a friend, Coach-nim quickly corrects him, “I’m your coach. Once a coach forever a coach! Once a martial artist, forever a martial artist.” Get it right Dong-man. He tells Dong-man to stay fit and make a comeback, but Dong-man is all like, “Who’s making a comeback?”
Dong-man tells Coach-nim to stop coming to his neighborhood and selling soondae in front of a soondae restaurant. Coach-nim tells him it is a battle of David versus Goliath. In addition, Coach-nim is the coach of a slim and trim lightweight David. Dong-man just reiterates that he isn’t going back to Taekwondo, he will be thirty soon and the National team won’t even want him. But Coach-nim is all like, “Who’s talking about Taekwondo? You should do MMA. You’re in your prime for MMA! Don’t you want to fly again? You’re a champion, don’t you feel crazy seeing all these marks flying around trying to be like you?” But Dong-man doesn’t want to hear anything about it and says he’s never fighting again. That champion died November 7th, 2007, so drop it (dang he remembers the date and everything).
But his coach tells him to drop it, to just get over what happened on that day. But Dong-man wants to squash Coaches dreams for him for good and tells Coach-nim he never liked sports (aka Taekwondo). It was hard and embarrassing and he will never do it again. But coach comes back with the question of all questions, “So, are you happy now then? Are you content with your life?” Dong-man doesn’t have a response as he just looks at his coach for a moment before looking away and hanging his head. His coach knows Dong-man isn’t living the life he wants to live or that he could live, and tells him to go away (with the soondae of course). Dong-man grabs the soondae and storms off leaving his coach staring off at him and sighing in frustration. I so feel for Coach-nim, he has a person who is so talented, who is a once in a generation talent, but one mistake messed up their entire life. Coach just wants Dong-man to get back on track with the life he was born to lead.
We cut back to Aera in her own fresh hell as her boyfriend and his mistress are driving her home in their Range Rover with her busted bike next to the mistress’ top of the line bike. I can’t even. Ae-ra is too embarrassed to even open her eyes, leading them to think she is sleeping. But in actuality she is so angry she can’t even see straight. But a breaking news article snaps her right back to attention. A famous news anchor, Park Hye-ran has divorced her millionaire husband after 3 years of marriage. It is the news story right now.
Dong-man hears the news too as he stoically stands at a crosswalk. Either this news or the conversation he had with his coach, is weighing on his mind enough for him to almost miss the light change. But he catches it at the end and starts to cross the street.
Back inside the car, Aera has hopped up from the backseat, “What is this,” she says as she tries to grab the cell phone from the ajumma’s hand. Moo-gi is all like, “Hold up,” as Ae-ra gets aggressive towards his woman, the only one actually watching the street is the ajumma as she yells, “A person! A person!” Moo-gi quickly slams on the breaks sending the car screeching to a halt. he immediately gestures toward the ajumma’s belly. Oh noooooos, she’s pregnant! Ae-ra’s fresh hell just got a lot fresher.
Outside Dong-man is looking like he almost had a heart attack. He yells that he had the light, but then he sees Moo-gi and yells, “You’re here to see Ae-ra? Ah, what’s with the car, why so expensive?” This situation is super awkward as Dong-man thinks the ajumma is Moo-gi’s aunt, then mother. Ae-ra gets out of the car and pretty much tells Dong-man to collect as much insurance money as possible. Dong-man thinks Ae-ra is tripping, because she’s acting cray and sobbing and speaking nonsense. But Ae-ra finally gets out that Moo-gi had a baby with this woman! He took my money and made a baby with a kimchi restaurant ajumma-a-a-a. It takes DOng-man a moment but when he gets it, thunderbolts and fire shoot out of Dong-man’s head as he stares volcanic acid heat into Moo-gi. Moo-gi is about to get beat the F up.
But the ajumma comes on strong and goes crazy woman on Dong-man, “You can’t touch my Moo-giiiiii!!! She powers over Dong-man and takes the upper hand, pushing him back.
Cut to Dong-man and Ae-ra walking home with Dong-man asking if he has a cut, is his tooth loose, was she an athlete or something, she was crazy strong, geez! Ae-ra said her strength came from making all that kimchi all day every day. But hey, wasn’t he a Taekwondo athlete or something? Dong-man just tells her he couldn’t be mean to a pregnant woman. Can’t she not get dumped by a student though? They keep talking back-and-forth hit-for-hit but Ae-ra changes the mood by telling Dong-man that Hye-ran got a divorce. This shuts Dong-man up as he stops for a moment, then rides the bike ahead of Ae-ra and starts heading down the stairs alone.
Ae-ra follows, telling him to get it together, but he ignores her. That is until she breaks her heel on one of the steps. But instead of seeing if she is okay, he just looks off annoyed and yells at her about buying fake cheap knockoff things, she should buy quality sturdy Korean made things (which is a nice metaphor for her relationship with Moo-gi, which was fake). He kicks her cheap shoe and it flies off the stairs. The whole day comes crashing in on Ae-ra as she sobs and yells at Dong-man to stop kicking her things.
We go to Moo-gi and the ajumma back in their car and the ajumma asks about Dong-man, is it her brother? Moo-gi said it is Ae-ra’s longtime Man-friend, not her brother. He lives right next to her too. They hilariously talk about how weird that is and the ajumma asks if Moo-gi bought her a real bag or a fake bag? Moo-gi says where would he get the money, only it looks like he might be lying about it. But then he says it was a knockoff and they both have a hearty laugh.
Cut to Ae-ra’s bag strap breaking, sending it falling to the ground. She dusts it off as if she still cherishes it, but Dong-man tells her to just throw it away, it’s a knock off, why carry something around that A-hole got you anyway? She says she is going to fix it and sell it for alcohol (while she is currently holding a bunch of alcohol), but Dong-man just yanks the bag away and takes her over to a stand. He tells her to pick out a bag, any bag, he will buy it for her.
Ae-ra’s all like, “Um, you’re buying me something?” Dong-man ignores her and picks one out for her. He demonstrates how sturdy it is and tells her to put rocks in it when she wants to beat fools like Moo-gi up again. It will never break. Ae-ra actually looks touched and tells Dong-man she will carry this bag until she dies. Dong-man is pretty happy to hear that and tells her to go ahead and pick out some shoes as well.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a mysterious woman is hauled off in the car outside Dong-man and Ae-ra’s apartments. She sees them walking down the street, but when they pass right by her, she doesn’t get out to confront them.
Ae-ra is pleased as punch about her shoes, they’re super comfortable and her bag is super sturdy, she could fit a lot of soju bottles in there if she wanted. Dong-man tells her it’s not for that, but Ae-ra just gives him a thumbs up and tells him he is a pro at buying bags. Seeing Ae-ra happy makes Dong-man happy and he pets her on the head like a little puppy. Ae-ra says, “This is it, this is what I wanted you to do earlier! Girls love it when men do this. It makes our heart race.”
Dong-man laughs and takes a seat on the bike as he faces Ae-ra. “Really? This makes your heart race?” he puts his hand right back on her head. Knowing what we know now about their backstory makes this scene so much better and it was already good! Ae-ra denies that Dong-man would make her heart race, but he just says, “Then why is your face all red?” And puts his hand over her cheek causing her to jump the tiniest bit. She denies it all and looks away, but Dong-man just pulls her chin back to him and says “You – ” Ae-ra looks at him intently (or intensely), as if she is hanging on his every word, but he just adds, ” – should stop drinking.” and casually rides off on the bike leaving Ae-ra to catch her breath. “That’s right, I should stop drinking,” she says. She wonders why she is feeling some kind of way as she catches up to him. They then walk up the Namil stairs with Dong-man carrying the bike up and Ae-ra trailing behind him.
We see what happens at the end of the Taekwondo tournament! Ae-ra and Boram did get into it with enough of a skirmish to make the evening news. Dong-man is in the middle of it, trying to pull the two girls apart. He finally gets them separated and yells at Ae-ra for causing trouble. But then he sees that she’s hurt! Oh, no’s. He turns to Boram and says she shouldn’t scratch! That’s going too far! He then inspects Ae-ra’s wounds and immediately tells them they have to go to the hospital right now. Ae-ra turns and gives Boram a nice hair flick as Dong-man pulls her away. I love this epilogue because it shows that Dong-man really stands for what is right. Ae-ra shouldn’t have picked a fight with Boram, but Boram shouldn’t have undercut Ae-ra. And in the end, he was on his friend’s side no matter what. In the epilogue we see one star turn to pink as one episode is up (and possibly indicating that Aera is starting to fall for Dong-man).
Stay tuned for episode 2’s full recap coming up shortly (though possibly not until after episode 9 & 10’s live recaps. All of the little nuances of the drama that we found over here are below, but only as they relate to the first episode. If you can think of any others then let me know and I’ll add it.
SSAM MAI EASTER EGGS
 Ong-Bak movie, not super-duper old, but I think it qualifies
 Streetfighter video game
 Old Boy movie
 Kung-fu fighting song
POP CULTURE REFERENCES
 Teenie Beenie shirt and Wolf Haircut – Joo-man told this to Dong-man in high school
 Oppa Cha song – Dong-man sang this on his blind date
 Baek Ji-yeon and Kim Joo-ha – Barrier breaking female news anchors in Korea, they are mentioned during coffee when Ae-ra and Chang-sook are talking
 Sangmo guy – Korean traditional dancing person who swings his head, also mentioned when Ae-ra and Chang-sook are talking
 Goshiwon – Where Ae-ra’s boyfriend lives
 MMA – mixed martial arts
 Yeouido Saetgang Pedestrian Bridge [샛강다리] – Sul-hee walked across this bridge
 Shinsegae Department Store [신세계백화점 본점], Main Branch – Ae-ra’s workplace
 Cafe Between [카페비트윈] – Dong-man’s blind date
 Seoul Metropolitan Library [서울도서관] – Where Ae-ra calls her boyfriend
 Shinsegae Department Store [신세계백화점 본점], Rooftop Trinity Garden café – Where Ae-ra and Choong-sook were talking
 Namil Apartments, Busan South Korea – where the characters live
(Most of these locations are sourced from Korean Drama Land)
BEHIND THE SCENES CLIPS
King Kong Entertainment Clips [Kim Ji-won’s management company]
 Teaser Montage [[배우 김지원] 드라마 ‘쌈, 마이 웨이’ 짧은 영상 첫 번째]
 Yellow poster photo shoot [[배우 김지원] 드라마 ‘쌈, 마이 웨이’ 짧은 영상 두 번째]
 1st Press conference highlights [[배우 김지원] 드라마 ‘쌈, 마이웨이’ 제작발표회 현장]
 1st teaser BTS [[배우 김지원] 드라마 ‘쌈, 마이웨이’ 티저 촬영현장]
 Blue poster BTS [[배우 김지원] 드라마 ‘쌈, 마이웨이’ 포스터 촬영현장]
 Episode 1 trekking bicycle scene BTS
KBS World TV teasers and making clips
 1st press conference
 Another press conference clip
 1st Teaser
 2nd Teaser
 3rd Teaser
 4th Teaser
 Making Film 1 (first few episodes)
 Making Film 2 (first few episodes)