Smile, Donghae Episode 1 Recap
Romanized title: Useora Donghaeya
English titles: Smile, Donghae; Smile Again
Broadcast station: KBS1
Broadcast dates: 4 October 2010 – 13 May 2011
Cast: Ji Chang Wook, Do Ji Won, Alex, Oh Ji Eun, Lee Jang Woo, Park Jung Ah, Im Chae Moo, Lee Bo Hee, Kim Yoo Suk, Lee Joon Ha, Kang Suk Woo, Jung Ae Ri, Park Hae Mi, Lee Joo Yeon
Synopsis: The story revolves around Korean American speed skater Carl Laker, aka Donghae. He manages to join the national team and go to Korea where his girlfriend Saewa, an up and coming announcer, is. He secretly brings his mentally disabled mother along whom Saewa doesn’t really like. Of course things never go like predicted. Saewa sends her friend Bongi, who had just been recently jilted by her wealthy fiance, to the airport to pick Anna up. Lives become entangled, families are formed, betrayals are made, and new loves blossom.
We open with Korean American speed skater Carl Laker, aka Donghae, winning a competition which puts him on a team to head to Korea. Excited, he shouts that he is finally going to Korea and he also expresses his love for Korean girl Saewa. We then cut to Saewa who is rushing to get to the broadcast room to do her report. She runs into a fellow worker and drops her scripts. When she goes to deliver the news, part of the script is missing, but she pulls it off without a hitch.
After the broadcast, a fellow coworker congratulates her on her flawless performance and then asks about Karl Laker. He wants to bring Saewa and Karl Laker together as a foster family that was separated. Saewa tries to tell him that their relationship wasn’t like that, but it is announced that veteran announcer Kim Joon has been assigned to take over the broadcasters, making Saewa happy as she wishes to advance her career as far as she can.
Elsewhere, Gye Sun Ok is handing out flyers for a salon owned by her friend Byun Sool Nyeo. Sun Ok is not happy at all to be doing this on the day that her daughter, Bongi, is set to receive her wedding gifts. Sool Nyeo’s youngest daughter comes out and asks why Sun Ok is still there, and then offers to finish handing out the fliers so that Sun Ok can go make preparations. Sun Ok agrees and rushes into the salon to get her hair done. Meanwhile, Sool Nyeo is hitting up a customer to find wealthy, prestigious men for her daughter Saewa to hopefully marry. Sool Nyeo is less than thrilled when Sun Ok comes in asks to have her hair down as Sool Nyeo promised. Sool Nyeo refuses and Sun Ok gets mad and leaves. Sae Young scolds her mother for making ahjumma mad and we learn that Sun Ok used to be better off than she is now, it’s just that her husband’s kimchi factory went bankrupt leaving them poor and in debt.
We then cut to a hotel restaurant where chefs are busily preparing high class meals. Bongi is called out for making the rise too seasoned, thus making it useless to go with other food. Bongi apologizes and her coworker saves her by saying that it is the day Bongi is supposed to be getting her wedding presents. The head chef lets Bongi off and she rushes outside while trying to call her fiance who is not picking up the phone (never a good sign). Her dad is waiting for her outside and picks her up to take her home so she can prepare for the night’s event.
At home, Sun Ok is trying to take care of all the preparations while her niece watches on and her brother (in-law?) works out. It seems he took the day off from his detective duties in order to celebrate the impending nuptials. Bongi and her father Lee Kang Jae arrive home. Bongi goes to help with the dinner prep, but her mother urges her to bathe and get ready instead. Bongi does what she is told while the family wonders just why she can’t get in touch with her fiance to figure out how many people he will be bringing.
Back in America, Karl Laker also works in a restaurant (burger joint). His coworker congratulates him on being to go to Korea. You can tell just how happy Karl is to finally be going to Korea. Karl gets home and looks for his roommate Anna. He brings her flowers and her favorite dinner from the restaurant. He then talks to his long distance girlfriend, Saewa. Both are happy that he is finally coming to Korea. Saewa’s happiness is dampened when she hears that he will be bringing Anna with him. She puts two and two together and realizes that is why Karl started working all his odd jobs, to be able to bring her with him. Saewa worries that he will be too tired to compete, but Karl insists that he is fine. He is bringing Anna with him unbeknownst to his coach or team. This will be interesting. Especially since Karl doesn’t seem to realize that Saewa is less than thrilled to learn about Anna’s impending arrival as well.
His happiness is stilted when he sees his open luggage and a harmonica marked K J sitting on top. He grabs the harmonica and angrily barges into the bathroom where Anna is taking a bath. He scolds her for touching it and tells her to forget about the man who gave the harmonica as that man abandoned them and they are not going to Korea to look for him. K. J. – wonder if that stand for Kim Joon?
Saewa goes to work out where she is interrupted by Kim Do Jin. She is unhappy to see him, but he doesn’t seem to care. He has a membership at that hotel gym as well. He asks Saewa out, but she insists she taken (she technically is). Do Jin insists that she isn’t because her work schedule seems to say she doesn’t have a private life. Saewa calls security to kick him out, but to her dismay they won’t. Do Jin then says he wishes to jog next to her for half an hour everyday she comes to work out. Saewa is speechless.
It turns out that Do Jin is the son of Kim Joon. Makes you wonder if Saewa will soften up towards him later in interest of making her career? At the Kim home, it seems that Hong Hye Sook (Kim’s wife) walks on eggshells around her husband. She scolds a maid for touching her husband’s underwear (to clean with the rest of the familly’s). Seriously weird. Kim Joon then comes out of the shower and Hye Sook takes him down to dinner where he complains there is too much food for their small family. Hye Sook says it is in celebration of his recent promotion. Do Jin then comes in with a flower basket and congratulates his father on his promotion as well, saying it really reflects well on the entire family. Kim Joon states that with his new promotion he will not do anything to help his wife’s hotel. Hye Sook says she knows. Joon then starts in on his son, but Hye Sook says that Do Jin is doing well and was even instrumental in getting the speed skaters to stay at their hotel. This will be interesting since Do Jin likes Saewa who is currently involved with speed skater Karl.
Back at the Lee house, everything is ready for the wedding gift event, but no bridegroom to be seen. He is out in the car with his mother who says that he had dragged things on long enough and that she will now take care of the matter – uh-oh. Sae Young comes in as the Lees are getting restless. They want to know why she is there and why Saewa wasn’t. Turns out Saewa won’t be coming. Sae Young then says she met someone outside and it is Bongi’s future mother-in-law. She breaks the engagement and says it is ridiculous to think that her son would marry into such a family. This greatly upsets the Lees, especially when the woman insinuates that the Lees saw her son as a gold mine and would expect him to pay off the family debt. The Lee family then turn to Bongi and ask what is going on. Bongi rushes out to talk to her fiance only to have him apologize and run away. What a wuss.
When Bongi comes in and explains that Yonggi has broken off the wedding, Sun Ok collapses and asks her son (who is trying to pass the bar exam) what are they going to do with his sister now. It’s not like it is Bongi’s fault that Yonggi was such a mamma’s boy who couldn’t stand up to her and say that is the woman he loved (if he loved her at all). Pil Jae wants to go rough Yonggi up, but he is stopped. No good will come of it anyways. Pil Jae then says it is all Kim Joon’s fault. If it hadn’t been for the false report he made years ago, the kimchi factory would still be operational and thus none of this would have happened. And the plot thickens some more.
Sool Nyeo is looking at pictures of Saewa’s potential date/husband prospects when Sae Young comes in and delivers the news. Sool Nyeo is unhappy that Sae Young went to the party at all and then makes derogatory comments about how she knew things wouldn’t go well as soon as Sun Ok bragged about Bongi marrying a wealthy young man. Saewa comes home to this news and also hears her mother’s threat to never date. Sool Nyeo is going to make sure her daughters don’t end up jilted like Bongi and doesn’t want them to date on their own as she will pick out husbands that befit their current status (despite the two girls growing up fatherless). You can tell this displeases Saewa because she already has Karl. I feel bad for Sae Young because it looks like Sool Nyeo focuses solely on her eldest daughter and ignores her youngest. She tells Sae Young to make sure that no one knows she is Saewa’s sister. Ouch.
A week later the distraught Bongi jogs and tells herself that she is okay, that everything is all right. She will work hard and earn money to help pay off her father’s debts. She gets home where her upset father says that he knows this is hard on her and that she can hit him as he believes it is all his fault that she had to go through all of that. Bongi tells him that it’s all okay and that she loves him. She doesn’t feel it’s his fault at all. Kang Jae then tries to convince his wife to get up as she will only make Bongi feel worse. Sun Ok is still miserable, especially since Bongi was rejected in such a way. Bongi comes in with some rice porridge and Sun Ok apologizes and the Lee family get back on track to how things were before.
Do Jin and his mother arrive at the hotel to make preparations to meet Jo Pil Young and his wife Kim Mal Sun and to also make sure everything is going smoothly for the arrival of the speed skaters. Saewa is going to work. It seems she has a bit of a cold. While driving she sees Bongi selling kimbap on the streets. She pulls over and talks to Bongi who is (surprisingly to Saewa) not abashed by what she is doing at all. Bongi sees it as a test and practice for her cooking skills and also as a way to supplement her hotel income to earn more money for her family. Saewa tells Bongi that the restaurant would not like it if they found out about what Bongi is doing and refuses to buy or even take the free kimbap Bongi offered in concern to her cold. I am not completely liking Saewa at this point. She seems to have too many airs and prejudices especially given that she came from a poor family that used to rely on Bongi’s family. Now that the tables are turned, where is the reciprocation? Bongi tries not to let Saewa’s negativity get her down and starts selling again.
At work, Saewa’s coworker again brings up Karl Laker being an adoptee and trying to reunite him with his birth parents. Saewa then tells him that Karl is not an adoptee, his mother is. Apparently she was born in Korea and adopted overseas to an American couple. On the plan, Karl keeps anxiously looking towards the back. A fellow teammate asks if he knows someone on the plane, but he denies it (right, he keeps looking back to make sure Anna is doing okay). Anna is happily putting a puzzle together while a man across the aisle is making eyes at her. He keeps initiating contact, which Anna ignores. You can tell, especially from this scene, that Anna is not quite normal. The man chides her for playing with puzzles and when Anna accidentally drops a piece that roles to his feet, he won’t let her pick it up and even gets in the seat next to her. Next thing we hear screams as Anna is biting the man who was hitting on her. What a mess! The oily guy deserved it though.
Jo is playing the piano while his wife listens. They have pictures of a little girl all over their room. Who is she? Why isn’t she there with them? The Kim family then comes to visit. Meanwhile, back on the plan, Karl goes to confront the man and we learn that Anna is his mother. He wants retribution, but then Anna comes up and tells her son that it is wrong to hit people and that is where the episode ends.
I am liking this series so far and can’t wait to see what will develop next.