Yes, this is a recap. I’m just dipping my toes in the water, but I’ll keep writing them as long as I’m able!
Liar and His Lover, Episode 1
- We’re introduced to our main cast: the idealistic, passionate composer Kang Han-Kyeol; the happy, hopeful HS senior musician Yoon So-Rim; both of their respective bands and the major music industry players. Also, a super cute grandma who looks waaay too young to be a Grandma.
- Han-Kyeol gains and loses a girlfriend.
- Our OTP meets, separates and then meets again.
Our episode begins with our hero, Kang Han-Kyeol, who wanders a crowded street. All noise is faded out and we listen in as he picks up different sounds: people complaining about the market, a girl picking up a banner, a child frantic for his lost balloon. A bicycle bell rings and the camera shifts again—but it’s not another sound, we’ve just transitioned to our heroine Yoon So-Rim as she finishes her vegetable delivery route. She stops in for a chat with her grandmother before grabbing a large instrument and heading out for an audition, singing as she goes. Ooh, I like her already.
Meanwhile a gaggle of young men playfully gang up on (is that possible?) Han-Kyeol at a stadium. Ah, they’re the band performing tonight, and Han-Kyeol isn’t happy with their voices in rehearsal. Well, they were goofing off onstage and being jerks before, and with only a few hours to go time I’d have acted the same. Except—the video playing behind the band as they perform features a fifth member, masked. Is that how it is? Aww it’s a cool band concept but I feel bad for the songwriter.
He leaves soon after and gets on the same bus as So-Rim, who’s just given up her seat for an old woman. His super hearing perks up at her voice (I’m assuming he likes the sound) and he searches the crowd but can’t find her before he gets a call from the band. They’re not happy he left before the concert started, although nobody’s really upset. They insist on doing their special cheer with him before the concert, and he resists until:
“Let’s Love! Let’s Kill! Let’s Die! Let’s Go!”
He yells it loud and clear, pfft and everyone wonders at the enthusiastic male fan. Han-Kyeol watches the concert on his phone, looking a bit wistful. So-Rim is listening to the same song recorded on hers, and I can only imagine he’s the one who wrote it.
It’s pouring as they leave the bus, and our heroine flusters over whether or not she should run with her guitar through the rain. Hearing her voice (I want that superpower), Han-Kyeol looks at her, taking in the instrument and cute attachment charm. And then—oh, this is possibly the smoothest, sexiest thing ever—he opens his umbrella, drops the handle on her shoulder and runs off. She has no option but to grab it before it falls and yell her thanks after him.
So-Rim arrives late to her audition, and it’s hard to watch as she fumbles around the stage, groceries at her feet and—then her guitar string breaks. Well, it looks like that’s the end of that.
It’s back to Han-Kyeol at a studio, recording a song—it looks like he’s in charge. That’s cool. From the way the session artist talks, our band Crude Play doesn’t do any of their own work—the man’s played for years as an “off stage” member. Han-Kyeol hates the way he’s playing the song, though, and the artist gets mad. I would be too if I had to keep repeating every line.
The scene zooms out on their fight and we follow a rather official looking fellow into the station, who hears the noise and steps in to cool things down. The angry artist is throwing accusations out about Han-Kyeol, his father and whatever else, and Han-Kyeol leaves.
Ok, so Han-Kyeol’s less of a good guy than I thought—he might not have the best spot in the band but he’s not the most patient either. He tells the official looking man (CEO Choi) that he’ll just record the song without a guitar until he gets what he wants. Choi’s not happy but goes back and takes Han-Kyeol’s side, telling the artist “he’s the one who makes money, so if you don’t feel confident giving him what he wants, then just make your own album that nobody listens to.” Ouch. There’s some talk of contracts and secret clauses, and that’s the end of the matter.
Except Han-Kyeol gets a text on the bus home, asking if he’s seriously doing this without a guitar. This is apparently a big deal, worse since it comes on the heels of another singer’s cancelled tour: Chae Yoo-Na… and ooh, it looks like Han-Kyeol has an interest in this girl with a broken voice.
Crude Play is at a photo shoot interview, and the lady asks if their trademark love songs are written from experience. The boys joke around about “producer K” (Han-Kyeol) and how many times he’s been broken up with, giving him “experience and maturity” in love. Ooh, and it looks like K’s spot was taken over by a new member, but the band quickly refutes “we just all found out what we were good at”. Not convincing, bud.
Changing scene, a woman has apparently “cut her hair and looks softer” Lol. Oh, these three are CEO Choi, Yoo-Na and the new woman is President Yoo, all discussing Yoo-Na over dinner in a way that makes me wish people were never objectified again.
Switching, it looks like the failed performance hasn’t dampened So-Rim’s spirits in the slightest. She arrives home to her grandmother Kim Soon-Hee, who’s sympathetic about the audition and supportive of her granddaughter’s musical passion. It looks like singing runs in the family, too, with a mother (out of the picture) who sang and also made her that cute charm on her guitar case. Later that night, So-Rim turns up some tunes and sings away any remaining blues, reminiscing about the man who gave her his umbrella. And oh, I hope this is Joy’s real voice, because it’s beautiful and means choosing an idol actress was a serious good move for the drama.
And now we’re back to Han-Kyeol, who arrives at Yoo-Na’s house just in time to watch the CEO drop her off. Inside, Yoo-Na takes off a wig—is that her real hair? That’s gorgeous. Somehow I don’t think the President will agree, though.
Han-Kyeol is mighty close with Yoo-Na, and assuages her fears that people don’t like her singing, just “how much clothing she takes off”. Yoo-Na’s not having it, though, and wonders if she should retire. Cue a major boyfriend misstep on his part, as he protests he loves that she’s a singer; he “loves who she is when she sings, and would hate to lose that”. Wow, he really is dedicated only to music. And now he just might have more fodder for love songs, because I think she just broke up with him. Lol. Still, the way they looked at each other a few times this scene makes me sad they’re already over.
The next day at school, So-Rim tries encouraging a young man with flowers who—pfft, oh dear—is about to confess his love for someone with their band’s music as a soundtrack. I feel a bit like I’m in a Kpop M/V as he gets shoved into the classroom, the music starts up and the students break out into synchronized dancing. Except… he hands the flowers to the only stone-faced girl in the room and gets totally shut down. Well there goes that idea.
The band gets pulled aside by their band teacher, but it’s another dirtbag professor who gives them the real earful, worst part of which is some criticism that her grandmother raised her. Are you kidding me? So-Rim leaves dejected, remembering just how badly her audition really went… and recalling a worse one with presumably the same boys when she was little. A few women had run out frantically but that’s all we get before her bandmates Lee Gyoo-Sun and Baek Jin-Woo arrive, band teacher in close pursuit. The boys offer snacks, but I think the teacher’s agency-hosted festival does a much better job of cheering her up. The apparently prestigious opportunity comes with a catch, however—if they fail this time, they give up and focus on graduation. The three agree, and cue transition.
Han-Kyeol wakes up with what looks like a massive hangover and leaves for a walk by the river to reflect on his argument with Yoo-Na, and to look over some nasty comments complaining that she should stick to being an objectified woman, not a singer. Blergh.
And it’s back to So-Rim, who’s singing and dancing energetically with the neighborhood ladies in perhaps the cutest way possible. I want to be her someday.
Ope, well I guess that last scene was random, since we’re back to Han-Kyeol now, growing ever more depressed as he receives a video of Crude Play’s interview yesterday: “you’d love a guy who can write music… but not a guy who can only write music”. The band calls then and joshes him around a bit, but his phone dies in the middle of the conversation and he’s left to reminisce by himself. (Have I seen that electronic flying thing-y somewhere before? Say, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon? Lol dramas.)
So-Rim is riding by on a delivery but stops, captivated by his “I’m feeling inspired and creating a song” moment. Suddenly, he opens his eyes, grabs her phone, starts to record a tune and—oh heavens I think I’ve read the manga this is based off of. Welp, I’ll look that up later.
After their mini recording session by the riverside he runs off (and her phone breaks when she drops it—major breakthrough for drama phones everywhere). We montage watch Han-Kyeol create a song, and I push back the impression that he’s a male, Korean Taylor Swift.
The next day at school So-Rim’s worried all her files—or maybe just one file—will be gone if her phone is broken, but luckily her friend Jin-Woo has her back; he swaps out his SD card for hers (you can do that?!) and loads her phone into his case. She snatches it away and listens to the recording, the rest of the room frozen and dreamy as “I’m falling in love” music plays softly in the background. Oof and dream Han-Kyeol’s there in a school uniform, and I have a new mini crush.The daydream ends abruptly when her earbuds are yanked out (I’d hate that!), and So-Rim declares she’s in love. It looks like Jin-Woo is nursing a crush on her, too, although she’s oblivious. They run off after school play music in a graffiti filled corner, looking on top of the world. This cues a music montage, and while I’m a bit confused by some of the scenes, I think I get the general “I’m practicing my music, but I’m also searching for mystery-recording man” message.
Jin-woo definitely has a crush on her, and So-Rim’s super dense about it. The band has a mini argument over how distracted she’s been (no heated feelings, though) and she goes home to practice for the upcoming festival.
Presumably the morning of the event, CEO Choi and Crude Play all receive a recording “Title”: Han-Kyeol’s latest song. The laid back, classy vibe gets a good reaction from them all, but I’m more astounded by the fact I think Han-Kyeol just took off his shirt for some untold reason and is dancing to the music. Lol dramas. The fun ends fast though, because “Title” actually means Han-Kyeol wants to scrap the title song for the band’s next album and use this instead, even if they have to start from scratch and pay penalties if they’re late releasing.
So-Rim and the band arrive at the festival, confronted with a crowd of aspiring musicians wearing everything from suits to plastic masks to geek getup.
Crude Play definitely isn’t too hot on the song switchup, and I don’t know whose side to take: Han-Kyeol looks over the moon about his great new song and thinks the band can pull it off… even if it means lip syncing to the release and the first band tour while they actually learn the song. Bro, that’s a bit steep for music. Chan Yoo, the newest Crude Play member, sticks around after the others leave upset, and gives Han-Kyeol some straight talk: music isn’t everything. Han-Kyeol might have left the band to pursue his music and all, but he’s not the center of the universe.
And that leaves Han-Kyeol alone in the practice room to reminisce, this time about when his music had first been cut out for a session musician’s. This inability to really perform spurred his decision to leave, and one of those very session musicians became the current Crude Play member Chan-Young.
So-Rim’s band enters the festival on the heels of a screamo group (what?), but she’s lost the special charm her mom made for her and looks reluctant to perform. In fact she can’t, and the band starts a second time while she’s swept back to that terrible performance when she was young. Those women ran out because they heard a subway had caught fire, and her grandmother later stumbles in crying. It’s clear that’s when she lost her parents. In the present, the announcer deals with disqualifying them for not performing, while So-Rim mutters, “It’s a lie. I’m all alone,” into her mic.
And then the elevator opens, and Han-Kyeol appears. Oh, please see him and sing! She does see him, but her band’s already gone and she’s stuck on the stage with no way to reach Han-Kyeol as he leaves. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and she leans back towards the microphone. Luckily, his way is stopped in the rotating doors by—what’s this?—her magic charm. (Lol, dramas). She starts to sing, but not her song—it’s his that he recorded into her phone that day. He hears it, stops, and they share a long stare as she grins through her tears.
Aaaand that’s a wrap! My first ever recap. ^^ Exciting, isn’t it? And what a great episode to start on! I totally wasn’t planning on this—wasn’t even planning on watching—but I think there’s just something about musical dramas that draws me in. And what a great first episode! I’m loving the relaxed, youthful directing vibe but also the characters and plot—wow at all the voices!
A few quick thoughts I had:
- I’m only saying this once: yes, Hyun-Woo looks a lot like Park Bo Gum. But They act very differently, and I’m looking forward to his performance for himself.
- Way to go, Joy! I like some of Red Velvet’s songs and I think she’ll be a real asset here if they’re using her real voice (I’ll have to check, but why wouldn’t they??)
- I can definitely see how the manga and drama are attached, it seems like a good adaptation so far (and I think I might like the drama better already).
- It’ll take a few more episodes for me to pin down anything concrete, but my initial impression on any deeper message is: priorities and passions. Both of our main characters love music, but So-Rim makes a real point of putting her grandmother and mother’s memory first. Han-Kyeol on the other hand seems to put music—maybe so far as to say his music—before anything else. It’ll be interesting to see what stance the show takes on what place our passions have in our lives and where they should fall in a priorities list.
And a few longer thoughts:
Undeniably my favorite part of this show so far has to be So-Rim and her sweet, sweet grandmother. They didn’t have buckets of screentime together, but I felt a real family vibe each time her grandma supported her, or So-Rim took off to help the vegetable business. Such a family makes me wary grandma’s going to die (such is the way of the drama), but I’m hoping she sticks around, because they’re what really brought a heartwarming feel to this first episode. Also, I’m suspicious of her grandmother being her actual grandmother, that woman looks waaaay too young for that. I could be missing something culturally, you never know.
Lastly, those band dynamics, though! At first I was all behind Han-Kyeol, who looked like he was tagging along as a masked, hidden member of the band. That was only reinforced by my bad first impression of the band and their near “hushing up” of how he’d really left. But by the end, I could really see there was fault on both sides, and maybe even more hurt on his bandmates side than anything. It was subtle that they felt neglected and unimportant when they called him out for ditching the concert at the beginning, but felt really reinforced there at the end, especially if Han-Kyeol really left the way he did to pursue “real music”. It can be easy to feel used like that, I’d think. I’ll be excited to see where things go from here, especially what dynamic our OTP takes on as they meet again.