Love on a Rooftop – E01

Welcome to our new two families! One runs a respected traditional tea manufacturing business, which is about to fall into oblivion due to the owner’s refusal to accept coffee! The other is a modern day nouveau rich family with a grudge against the tea family. Let the drama begin!

THE RECAP

We open up in a hospital where a young and talentless nurse managed to unsuccessfully stick an old lady with an IV needle several times. She declares that she’s leaving the hospital just in time for our heroine Yoon Seung-Hye (Seung-Hye) to arrive.

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Seung-Hye promises to pay for the grandma’s bills if she does not find the vein in one time. As the grandma asks if Seung-Hye has money, Seung-Hye successfully inserts the IV and laughs that she doesn’t. The newbie nurse promises Seung-Hye coffee as they leave.

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Meanwhile, our Lady Vengeance Yang Mi-Ja (Mi-Ja) , sits in a nice town car and watches her old flame (Yoon Dae-Ho ) wash the window. Her secretary / driver reports on Dae-Ho’s dying business… Dae-Ho refuses to sell to customers unless they tell Dae-Ho what they are going to use the product for and he’s satisfied… As a result, he’s basically broke and behind on his payments.  Mi-Ja comments that they need to finish this before her son returns.

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Mi-Ja’s driver goes in to buy a decorative storage box from Dae-Ho. True to rumors, Dae-Ho balks when the customer doesn’t readily answer how he’s going to use the box and refuses to sell even at double the price. Lucky for Mi-Ja, Dae-Ho’s wife (Han Dong-Sook a/k/a Dong-Sook) comes in and immediately accepts the offer.

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Of course, Dong-Sook has to smooth things over with her stubborn and naive husband afterwards over his mother’s team. She gently reminds him that she understands that his products are like his children and he wants to find a good home for each of them. However, they need to take care of their children with Candy paying for her sister’s academy’s fees.

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Soon, Mi-Ja’s son arrives in Korea. Looks like she’s a tiger mom, as her son Kang Do-Jin (Do-Jin) lies that he’s still in the United States studying to be a doctor. Yep, children do not grow up to fulfill your dreams parents… Let’s get the memo already.

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We pan out to find out that Mi-Ja runs a successful franchise restaurant. One of her VIP clients is in and Mi-Ja joins him for tea, which he praises as having no rival. He also mentions that he’s about to hire a young man, whose skill rivals hers… Here we go… The son’s cover is really precarious in the small borders of dramaland.

Time for our main couple’s first meeting! At Seung-Hye’s end of shift, she gets a call from her troublesome sister Yoon Seung-Ah (Seung-Ah). Seung-Ah begs Seung-Hye for help as she got herself into a wrong kind of filming – the erotic kind.

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Hearing this, Seung-Hye runs out of the hospital to her sister’s aid and bumps into Do-Jin. This causes Do-Jin to drop his coffee, on which Seung-Hye slips. Do-Jin sees this and chivalrously tries to support her…ending with both of them landing smack on the ground. However, Seung-Hye managed to avoid head trauma due to Do-Jin’s quick thinking and runs out after grabbing Do-Jin’s cell. Of course, he’s too slow to follow and she gets away.

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Seung-Hye arrives at the set right on time.  However, before she can run in to save her sister, she gets a call from Do-Jin.  She is about to answer it when her sister also calls and Seung-Hye ends up answering both calls unintentionally ally.  As a result, Do-Jin basically hears Seung-Hye tell him that he’s been conned.  His friend at the hospital also comments how stealing cell phones is the latest popular crime, aggravating Do-Jin’s stress as he has important files on his cell phone.

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Unaware of this, Seung-Hye is focused on saving her sister from this shady set.  At the same time, Seung-Ah had just refused to sit next to this half naked male model, who keeps making his man boobs dance. The director starts to threaten that Seung-Ah will never get a job in the industry when Seung-Hye arrives and accuses the director of illegally hiring a minor for an erotic commercial. The charge of Seung-Ah being a minor is serious enough that the two women are allowed to leave.

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Meanwhile, meet our tea house matriarch, Kim Soon-Im. Soon-Im rules her dying tea industry with an iron fist as shown when she makes an unannounced visit to one of the local tea cafes, which serves her tea. The owner is noticeably nervous as Soon-Im looks around with her daughter, Yoon Dae-Shil. They confirm that coffee is not listed on the menu and get ready to leave when one of the customers orders coffee! They check the menu that the customer is ordering from and see that it’s different from the one on display and has coffee!

The owner tries to explain that too many people asked for coffee, but Soon-Im is not having it. Dae-Shil goes and picks up their teas as Soon-Im reminds the owner that tea is experienced by sight, taste, and smell. Allowing coffee to be sold in the same space diverts from the tea’s aroma and she won’t have it!

They come home at which point we find out that due to Soon-Im’s strict rules, only two cafes are still allowed to serve Soon-Im’s teas even when more would love to do so. Like mother like son…

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Next, the two sisters duke it out as Seung-Ah has bought a luxury bag on her credit card. Seung-Hye wants Seung-Ah to return it or resell it and she will pay for the remaining balance. Yet, Seung-Ah adamantly refuses and even tries the pity tactic.

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She reminds her sister that she wants to be a star, but she can’t even wear tank tops during the summer due to her burn scar, which we assume is due to Seung-Hye. Seung-Hye is apologetic but firm.

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The fight gets escalated when their mother and grandmother enter. Seung-Ah lies to her grandmother that her sister bought her a bag and now is trying to take it back. She even has the audacity to whine that her sister told her to work!

Soon-Im chastises Seung-Hye for acting superior due to money and reminds her that is the worst that family can do. In contrast, their mom tries to ask Seung-Hye what Seung-Ah did this time… Hah! Seung-Hye doesn’t answer, as she doesn’t want to worry her mom and it looks like younger sis won this battle.

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Back to Mi-Ja’s house.  It turns out that Mi-Ja bought Dae-Ho’s box to host her mother’s ashes.  As she rests the urn, which holds her mother’s ashes into the box, she remembers her past… In a flashback, we see that a young and innocent Mi-Ja is thrown out of Soon-Im’s house with her mother…for the sin of having caught the young master Dae-Ho’s eyes and favor.  Mi-Ja’s mother begs for forgiveness and orders that Mi-Ja apologize, but Mi-Ja doesn’t understand what she did, which was so wrong.  Meanwhile, Soon-Im curses that Mi-Ja could even consider dating Dae-Ho.

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Returning from the past memories, Mi-Ja vows to avenge her mother.

MY TWO CENTS

On a first impression, this one seems less of a slice-of-life drama and more of a story.  I’m kind of glad at the change of pace as I’m ready for a romantic comedy.  Honestly, I can’t handle two Love & Secret-esq  melo-daily-dramas in a roll.  I mean Areum’s family completely deserved their happiness at the end.

Focusing on this drama, I am intrigued because the official description states that it’ll be about family and adoption.  Adoption is not commonplace in Korea yet, so, I am interested to see what issues this drama actually highlights for the main viewership.  It will also be interesting to find out which character is the adoptee.

Again, it seems that the issues that face this generation are rising to the front of drama plot-lines.  Similar to Mari in Unkind Woman, it’s clear that Do-Jin has decided to choose an unconventional path when he was accepted into a medical school.  Specifically, in Korea, there is a saying about the five prestigious “-sa” occupations.  Basically, lawyer, prosecutor, judge, doctor, and professor all end with the syllable “-sa.”  As a result, the older Korean populations used to say that it’s safest to get married to someone in a “-sa” profession, as you will likely be stable.  In Mari’s case, she was a professor who is now trying to find her path.  Here, Do-Jin appears to be kicking a future as a doctor to the curb to pursue some sort of culinary occupation.

As Do-Jin and his mother’s relationship seems to be very loving, I am not sure what her reaction will be when she finds out that he decided to choose a different path.  She also seems to be financially well off and successful as the restaurant’s owner so Do-Jin will not need to be a doctor for financial reasons compared to Seung-Hye, who is a competent nurse who is financially assisting her family.

Finally, I am not sure what the writers are trying to achieve with Soon-Im and Do-Jin’s quirk about traditionalism.  I wonder if it’s as simple as Soon-Im’s refusal to accept modern values is killing her business just as it ruined her son’s life or if it’s more of social commentary on the state of traditional products in Korea.

Notwithstanding the rambling above, I do think that the episode was interesting enough to continue and give this series a chance.

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