Surprise surprise!! I never thought that I would be sucked so hard into watching The Equator Man..but after being thrown with intriguing teasers and (probably) my mind’s yearning for some melodrama and makjang, I think I have to put my watching experience into the recaps. Although it comes third in terms of ratings after the other two premiering dramas, it’s still early to judge the three of them, whether in terms of ratings and other things. Let’s just hope everything will improve as the story develops.
A large, round sun is shining with its blinding blaze, almost looking furious. Under the hot, blazing star, Kim Sun-Woo (Uhm Tae-Woong) drives in a white convertible. From the streets, it doesn’t look like he’s in Korea. Enters Lee Jang-Il, walking down the alleys with a determined expression and looks like he’s in a serious business. As Sun-Woo drives to an unknown place, Jang-Il meets some thugs who gives him his supply of arms. He chooses one small gun and leaves some cash for the payment. He arrives at his destination and hides the gun.
It’s a pretty villa facing the orange sky, with Chairman Jin No-Sik (Kim Young-Chul) sitting peacefully on the chair. He hears Jang-Il approaching him and starts to tell him about the pretty sky. He keeps talking about everything that will forever be in his possession while Jang-Il is preparing the gun. Jang-Il states that he has prepared the suicide notes for himself and Chairman Jin and aims the gun at him.
However, as he finishes saying his goodbye, Sun-Woo arrives there and tells him to stop. Tears of anger start to flow from his eyes, but Jang-Il is not going to stop there. He says that it must be nice if Sun-Woo was Chairman Jin’s son. Suddenly, Sun-Woo comes in between him and Chairman Jin,but Jang-Il chooses to steps forward and aims it at Sun-Woo.
The screen freezes on Sun-Woo’s face, and we jumped back to 15 years before, where a bag is flying in the air before falling onto the ground.
It belongs to a young boy with the name Kim Sun-Woo on his name tag (Lee Hyun-Woo). He lands safely on the ground after jumping from a wall. He looks back at the wall written with his own name and smiles proudly at the sight. Cute! I thought he’s going to ditch the school, but he’s actually going to his class, just using his ‘special’ route. While the latecomers are receiving punishment on the field, he walks by calmly like nothing happened.
In a class, a teacher is reading from a certificate of the recent National Mathematics Olympiad. The teacher gives the award to the boy, Lee Jang-Il (Im Siwan). He heads back to his seat, all smiling mightily and proudly. Just as he sits, Sun-Woo enters the class through the back door. He struts across other students and looks like the teacher is accustomed with his habit, though he starts to compare Jang-Il’s brain with Sun-Woo’s. He takes his sit behind the brainy Jang-Il.
The school ground receives some guests: men dressed in black and they don’t look that kind. They walk across the hallway, heading towards the boys’ class. The men, or thugs, enter the class in the middle of a test like it’s their playground. Sun-Woo thinks they are looking for him and tries to hide his face, but to his (and probably everyone inside the class) surprise, one of them calls for Jang-Il. All the students don’t dare to make any sound and the female teacher even gets dragged outside after trying to stop them.
Jang-Il can’t stand it anymore and breaks the pencil in his hand in the course of his anger. The man decides to take him as hostage until his father pays his debt to them. Jang-Il refuses to budge, earning him a kick before he gets dragged outside. Sun-Woo isn’t able to look past it and decides to follow them.
The helpless Jang-Il is about to get another blow when Sun-Woo comes to his rescue. The thugs even knows Sun-Woo and he starts to fight them in Jang-Il’s place. As Sun-Woo throws his kicks and punches to the thugs, Jang-Il walks back to the class. He tries to calm himself and treats like nothing happened, resuming to answer the test. Sun-Woo walks in with slight bruises and unexpectedly, Jang-Il shows him his answers secretly. He looks at the answer and the owner before Jang-Il glances back at him. Sweet!
As the smart guy is walking home, Sun-Woo is waiting for him. Sun-Woo asks why did Jang-Il shared his answer with him earlier. Jang-Il thanks him for what he did earlier and the answer was for him to return Sun-Woo’s deed. Jang-Il is going to share his answers with him if Sun-Woo agrees to help him with the thugs, but the boy refuses to do so Sun-Woo scoffs, saying that he doesn’t care that much about his grades before walking off.
That night, Sun-Woo’s father, Kim Kyung-Pil (Lee Dae-Yeon) is ecstatic with his recent results. Sun-Woo tells him not to be too happy as he just memorized the texbook because of someone (haha!). His father totally doesn’t mind about it and even kisses him on the cheek! LOL ^^ Sun-Woo’s father hopes he will continue to score, but Sun-Woo tells him not to put too much expectation on him as takes after his not-so-smart father. His father thinks he himself is smart, and Sun-Woo wonders if his mother wasn’t a smart woman. His father drops the subject and he clearly looks troubled. He wants to go out for a meal but Sun-Woo refuses, earning him some tickles and both of them engage in a tickle and pull-the-pants war around the small room.So cute.
They ride a truck to have their midnight snack and Sun-Woo sees a familiar figure on the roadside: Jang-Il and his father who looks slightly drunk. He doesn’t tell his father about them. Sun-Woo’s father advises him to quit giving troubles to his friends, but he doesn’t want his father to worry about him. Sun-Woo threatens his father that if he doesn’t go to hospital for a check up, he won’t go to the university. His father agrees, but something is bothering him.
Chairman Jin is having an event when Sun-Woo’s father calls him. He addresses Chairman Jin as ‘hyung-nim’, proving that they were once close with each other. Sun-Woo’s father tells him about his fiancee’s son who’s still alive, who’s also his son. However, Chairman Jin refuses to hear any further and warns him not to call him again. So..the child is Sun-Woo?!
Meanwhile, Sun-Woo is eating in a restaurant where Jang-Il and his father (Lee Won-Jong) are also there. Jang-Il’s father keeps stuffing his bowl with the meat and Jang-Il refuses to eat that much. His father urges him to eat more and promises to work hard for Jang-Il to enter the college in Seoul. He thinks it’s better if he studies somewhere near as they’re in debt right now. Their chat is interrupted when the thugs earlier have found them.
Jang-Il’s father tries to settle with them outside but fails. Jang-Il promises that one day he would be able to pay all their debts and the man humiliates him by pouring the soju on his head. Ouch. The thugs grabs his father and puts a hot iron on his hand as a warning. Jang-Il is unable to do anything and screams helplessly while watching his father being hurt. Sun-Woo tries to ignore all the happenings, but Jang-Il’s screams gets under his skin and he can’t stay still. He gives a good spank to one man with his chair and fights them alone.
Jang-Il wants his father to go to hospital, but his father worries that he might get hurt if he gets involved with the thugs. He ignores his father’s words and heads towards the place where Sun-Woo is already beaten by them. He starts to fight and kicks the thug like there’s no end. Sun-Woo is afraid he’s going to kill the man and stops him. They run away when more of the gang members show up.
The boys manage to escape the thugs and sit over a bottle of mineral water (they’re still underage, right? :P) near the lighthouse. Jang-Il isn’t that amused when Sun-Woo starts talking about his father, but then he opens up about his father: how he turns into an alcoholic after his mother’s death and starts to gamble, hence the debt comes into the picture. As people with no power basically cannot do anything, he wishes to become a prosecutor so that he’ll be able to ‘repay’ the thugs who made his father suffer. Jang-Il gets angry as Sun-Woo sees him as someone who doesn’t resent his father and leaves although Sun-Woo keeps apologizing. Suddenly, he collapses to the ground.
The next thing Jang-Il knows: he wakes up to find himself on a hospital bed with Sun-Woo snoring beside him. Haha! He tries to wake him up, but Sun-Woo doesn’t response when he calls him by his full name. Jang-Il, with his awkward voice, calls him “Sun-Woo ya!” and he wakes up at once. Sun-Woo quickly checks on him once he’s awake and the boys smile at each other, marking the beginning of their friendship.
Both of them return to school and Sun-Woo even asks how Jang-Il’s father is doing. He nods and smiles at Sun-Woo. However, things are not going that smooth: the discipline teacher barges into the class, searching for Sun-Woo. It turns out that the thugs beaten down by Jang-Il was severely hurt and Sun-Woo might being charged with assault. The boys freeze in their spots.
Jang-Il heads to the discipline room to admit his involvement, but he overhears Sun-Woo admitting that he’s alone although the teacher knows he’s joined by someone else. He refuses to involve Jang-Il in the matter although he’s possibly going to be suspended. Jang-Il leaves but his conscience is growing inside him.
He hangs out alone outside the school and sees Sun-Woo’s father coming to the school. Jang-Il goes to the discipline room to see Sun-Woo’s father kneeling in front of the teacher, begging him not to expel Sun-Woo. The other students are also watching the scene and as Jang-Il leaves, Sun-Woo runs into the room. He pleads his father not to humiliate himself just for the sake of his matter, but his father is persistent enough to do anything for him.
They walk towards the truck, and Sun-Woo holds his head so low and keeps apologizing to his father. His father knows that he’s not someone that would do that and apologizes for being such an incompetent father 😥 . Sun-Woo doesn’t want his father to think like that and apologizes to him. He wants him to believe that his life won’t end because of this matter. His father smiles and tells him to hurry up to eat at home. Sun-Woo silently complaints how his father is able to think about food at times like this. And unknown to them, Jang-Il is watching from afar.
Sun-Woo’s punishment is a 7-day suspension, and Jang-Il goes to meet him while he’s doing push ups. Jang-Il demands to know why he didn’t tell anything about him to the teacher and accuses him of wanting to be a hero. Sun-Woo keeps poking at his pride, and they soon engage in a fight. The teacher comes in when they are in the middle of the fight and after being sought why he came there in the first place, Jang-Il tells the teacher his intention to help Sun-Woo with his studies.
The tutoring takes place until night and Sun-Woo wants to go home as it’s way past the school hours. Jang-Il wants him to solve the problems first, but Sun-Woo wants him to stop pretending in front of him. Jang-Il says that he really intends to help him and Sun-Woo finally gives in. He throws a playful punch towards Jang-Il and laughs. Sun-Woo then proceeds to teach him how to fight.
Chairman Jin goes to see his villa under the renovation process. He is just planning to leave when Jang-Il’s father comes over and greets him. Chairman Jin notices the fresh wound on his arm. His secretary informs him about Jang-Il’s father asking about scholarships for his son.
Later, he goes to meet President Han and his family, including his elder daughter Han Ji-Won (Kyung Soo-Jin). Ji-Won overhears Chairman Jin talking with her father and how the chairman accuses him of using the company’s funds to support her studies. She looks very disturbed upon hearing it.
She walks out of the restaurant compound right after Sun-Woo hides in a car there. She searches for a specific car that belongs to Chairman Jin and searches around for a large rock. Ji-Won then begins knocking the front glass panel of the car with the rock, surprising Sun-Woo who’s hiding in the car. The brave girl keeps doing so until the glass breaks, breaking the boundary between her and Sun-Woo.
Some men pass by looking for Sun-Woo, but Ji-Won decides to cover him per his request. She directs them to another direction and Sun-Woo gets out of the car. He approaches her and takes the rock out of Ji-Won’s hands. She hesitates at first, but soon gives it to him. Sun-Woo slams the rock onto the glass and leaves after thanking her for saving him. He leaves but stops to catch another glance of Ji-Won.
As soon as he leaves, Chairman Jin goes out of the restaurant with his secretary. Ji-Won hides behind a pole but her satisfaction can’t be hidden. She flashes her smug smile to Chairman Jin, who sees her. Man, that’s a satisfactory revenge!
Sun-Woo lies down alone in his room, pondering about the peculiar girl he met earlier and sighs because he didn’t ask her name. He can’t help but smile.
It’s a quiet day at the school and Sun-Woo even sleeps peacefully in the half full class while Jang-Il is checking his answers. Suddenly, some boys enter, bringing along their buzz about a pretty transfer student coming to their school and she’s rumored to be the President of Boo Kyung Chemical’s daughter. Jang-Il then goes out with an umbrella as it has started to rain.
As he’s walking in the rain, someone unexpectedly joins him under his umbrella. It’s Choi Soo-Mi (Park Se-Yong), who wants to share his umbrella because she has none. Jang-Il steals a glance at her, but soon averts his eyes to another direction. Those two can’t help but look at each other with their close proximity.
They stop at a railroad crossing and Soo-Mi proceeds to her direction sans Jang-Il and his umbrella. He gives it a thought and decides to run after her, offering to share it with her. Another beauty appreciation moment, this time from Soo-Mi’s side and she smiles at him.
That evening, the boys hang out on the rooftop with the orange sky as the background. Sun-Woo suggests Jang-Il to further his studies in Seoul and he’s going to support him. Awww. He wants Jang-Il to go and meet people like him. When asked why, Sun-Woo feels that it’s his responsibility as he’s his only friend. Double awww. Jang-Il tells him to take care of himself first and Sun-Woo leaves.
Jang-Il meets Soo-Mi for the second time around: he looks at her from outside of the art class but his eyes are fixated on the bucket with the label Boo Kyung Chemicals. He doesn’t waste any more time and goes to meet her, praising her beautiful painting. She recognizes him too and he smiles when he gets to know that she transferred there on the rainy day. She happily brags about her excellence in painting before asking about a place she wants to go. Soo-Mi then gives Jang-Il a drawing and tells him to look at it later.
He opens the drawing: it’s actually a sketch of himself with her initials written below. He decides to return her gift by going to the place they talked about earlier with her. She wholeheartedly agrees to his suggestion, leaving him with smiles all day long.
Sun-Woo wonders what has gotten into him to smile like that but Jang-Il promises to tell him about it later. They run into a bossy uncle who is busy directing some workers to put his signboard perfectly in its position. He’s Choi Gwang-Chun (Lee Jae-Yong), a shaman who just moved into the neighborhood recently. Sun-Woo greets him and it turns out that they know each other. Gwang-Chun sees something in Jang-Il’s eyes and wonders if he’s really Sun-Woo’s friend. Jang-Il looks like he doesn’t like him too andwalks off as Sun-Woo asks Gwang-Chun about Soo-Mi. She’s actually his elementary school friend. He then says that Gwang -Chun is really bad at giving good impression of himself.
Sun-Woo’s father goes for a check-up and the results turn out to be bad. He asks about how long he’s able to live and proceeds to write a letter in his workshop.
On his way home, Jang-Il sees Soo-Mi and he’s just about to call her when he watches her walking towards a house. He decides to follow her secretly and she brings him to Gwang-Chun’s place. He witnesses the father and daughter getting into a small argument and the fact that his crush is a nobody’s daughter doesn’t sit well with Jang-Il.
Weighing between his dream and the drawing from Soo-Mi, Jang-Il decides to choose his dream and cuts every ties that might hinder his success, including Soo-Mi. He crumples the drawings with his own hands.
Soo-Mi, who is completely unaware of it, starts to prepare for their trip. She dresses prettily and waits for Jang-Il at the seaside, but he doesn’t turn up. Poor girl, she’s being stood up!
Sun-Woo and Jang-Il are at a bookstore in the neighborhood when Sun-Woo sees Soo-Mi walking past the shop. He runs after her and greets her happily, but she’s not in the mood after the recent happening. Jang-Il goes out of the store and sees Soo-Mi, but he ignores her and leaves the two of them. She wonders if Jang-Il has known about her father’s status as a shaman, but Sun-Woo isn’t sure about it.
A big surprise for Sun-Woo: his father is waiting for him on his way home from school. His father says that he wants to see his face and the father and son walk together. His father wants to walk while holding hands with him, but Sun-Woo thinks he’s being too cheesy. He just grabs his son’s hand and starts talking about Sun-Woo’s birthday. He wants him to go to a place with him as he is going to be introduced to someone important.
He means to have someone to be able to care of Sun-Woo. Sun-Woo is fast enough to know that there’s something wrong with him. He comes clean about his liver cancer. Sun-Woo tells him that he will be able to live a hundred years and he won’t die just like that. He promises his son to live and they hug each other.
Sun-Woo walks away, trying to hide his tears while his father is still pleading him to come with him on his birthday. He refuses to do so and his father slaps him before saying that this is the first and last time he’s going to hit him. He leaves alone as he cries and Sun-Woo runs behind the truck but he fails to catch up. He sobs alone, telling his father not to die.
Chairman Jin agrees to meet with Sun-Woo’s father and he shows up in a suit at the villa. They catch up with each other and soon move inside. They talk about Sun-Woo and how Chairman Jin suspected his fiancee cheated with a certain Moon Tae-Joo and abandoned Sun-Woo. His father pleads Chairman Jin to help the boy who’s his own son, but Chairman Jin accuses him of harboring one-sided love towards his fiancee. Sun-Woo’s father is getting angry and wishes Sun-Woo isn’t Chairman Jin’s son, but he knows that Tae-Joo won’t do something like that.
Sun-Woo’s father regrets his action of helping Chairman Jin to do all the inhuman things, thinking that he would change. He doesn’t want to tell about Sun-Woo’s whereabouts and won’t leave the man alone if he decides to do anything to the boy. He swears that he will tell the world everything about Chairman Jin, but the meeting takes another turn when the two of them start to fight. Chairman Jin gets to choke Sun-Woo’s father and strangles him to death.
Then, Chairman Jin realizes that someone is also there, witnessing what he has done: that person is Jang-Il’s father.
Jang-Il follows behind Sun-Woo, inviting him to his home for a birthday party but Sun-Woo can’t go as he has promised his father. He runs while Jang-Il is still trailing behind him, thinking that he lies. Sun-Woo hits something hanging in front of him and turns around to see his father, hanging dead from a tree.
[END of EPISODE 1]
Honestly, I’m freaked out during the first 10 minutes of the drama. The background music is a little bit too much and it disturbs my attention towards the drama. Luckily it improves as the story progresses. The same thing goes for the editing. It’s a little choppy and irregular at first, but nothing is flawless, right?
Despite the flaws, I really love the camera work. The surroundings blend with the characters and I as the viewer an’t help but get sucked into their emotions and feelings. Some of the scenes look very familiar to me and I realize that Director Kim Yong-Soo also directed White Christmas! So that explains the pretty cinematography..
Onto the characters…
It’s refreshing to see the characters who are so dark, even in their teenagers. Weird enough, Sun-Woo is the most innocent among the four although on the exterior, he’s the trouble maker. He’s a pure boy at heart who doesn’t know the dark truth about the world around him. He’s surely not going to lead an easy life after all the things happening in his life.
If Sun-Woo is an innocent kid, I think Jang-Il is a perfectionist: too determined to be rich and powerful. He’s too driven towards his goal to succeed and change his life, thus ignoring things that might hinder and block his path. His reaction towards Soo-Mi is just an example how he see things and how he’s completely ignoring people who can’t bring him any benefit. I really adore his friendship with Sun-Woo but fate is going to get in between the two boys really soon.
Soo-Mi, the poor girl who’s an outcast because of her father. She looks like she’s getting used to it but deep inside she must be hurting a lot, having faced too many rejections either from girls or boys.
Ji-Won made a brief appearance in this episode and all I know about her is she’s a brave girl and can do anything if she sets her mind on it. She’s the pretty transfer student the boys were talking about as they also start gossiping about her father. The four of them would probably meet since they are now in the same school.
Besides the four main characters, young and adult ones, I’m also thrilled to see some familiar faces in this episode: Kim Young-Chul, Lee Jae-Yong, Lee Won-Jong, and Lee Dae-Yeon. They are all wonderful actors and I’m looking forward to the next episodes! 🙂