k-drama her private life

K-Drama Analysis: Her Private Life | Episode 1

k-drama her private life

What happens in the first episode of a K-Drama…Um… a lot! Just like when writing a novel there is a lot of character setup within the first episode of K-Dramas too. This week I’m looking at the K-drama Her Private Life.

Table of Contents
(Just in case you’re in a hurry!)

Heroine: Deok Mi
Hero: Ryan Gold
Side Characters
Romance Arc

Here is a quick synopsis from MyDramaList

A dedicated professional, Sung Deok Mi lives for her work as an art gallery curator. Devoting herself to her work, she is exceptional in every way, save one. Beneath that cool, professional facade, Deok Mi carries a dark secret. A secret she desperately wants to keep from the world. A secret that has driven lovers away. A secret that rules every moment of her personal life… Sung Deok Mi is the ultimate Cha Shi An fangirl. The devoted manager of a Shi An fansite, Deok Mi eats, breathes, and sleeps for Shi An. He is her sun, her moon. Her entire universe revolves around him. This is the secret Deok Mi must hide from the world. And hide it she does. At least until Ryan Gold, the art gallery’s new director, saunters into her life. A once famous painter, the former artist turned director considers himself an indifferent being, unconcerned with the lives of others. But when he uncovers Deok Mi’s secret, everything changes.


Just by reading the synopsis we learn some things about these characters.

Deok Mi’s career. Her dark secret: being a fan girl. We also know what Ryan Gold does and that eventually he will discover her secret.

Here is what I also learned from episode one:

K-drama Character One: Heroine, Seong Deok Mi

  • Art gallery curator (ep 1)
  • Kpop Fan Girl (ep 1)
  • Overlooked at work (ep 1) 

Problems: Her boss wants only the best artists while she wants new artists (similarly the hero looks for new art as well).

Secret From Family – Her fangirling apartment. She hasn’t let her mom see how bad her obsession is. 

As soon as she returns from China Her boss is being indicted for embezzlement. She and her boss are taken to the police station for questioning. 

When she goes to tell her boss she’s going to quit, her boss lets her know that Seong is being promoted to director and the boss is resigning. 

Seong discovers that she is NOT the new director. She also discovers the new job was already taken by someone else. She’s stuck. 

K-drama Character Two; Hero (Ryan Gold)

  • Art collector/critic (ep 1)
  • Artist with block (ep 1) 
  • Seeing a therapist (ep 1)

Problems: He cannot paint, he has a block. The idol loves art and has the painting Ryan needs in his collection.

MISUNDERSTANDING Ep 1 – He thinks that the BFF is at the hotel to meet with her lover (a woman) and that’s why it’s hard for them to meet up. He sees the BFF cuddling up and giggling with Seong not knowing the two of them are fangirling over Si An, the idol. 

In the hotel bar bathroom he chastises himself for being a douche and assuming she was lying. To make up for it he gives up the suite.

Side character: Heroine’s Mom

(You could have become an artist if you hadn’t gone to see that idol and broken your arm.) < backstory without flashback

Obsessed with knitting. Her husband was obsessed with rock collecting (therefore their daughter was bound to be obsessed with something too and that something was Kpop bands)  SHOWING FAMILY THREADS/GENETICS 

Side Character: Her Brother, Eun Gi

Warns her about keeping her fangirling secret from their mom

Brother knows the passcode to her house (Idol’s birthday or Idol’s debut date)

He left his sneakers at her house. (The reason why is his secret)

Side Character: Ryan’s Therapist

(I think the key to you not being able to paint has something to do with that painting. We need to get it back)

Side Character: The idol

  • Loves art (ep 1)
  • Collects art (ep 1)
  • Heroine FanGirls over him (ep 1) 
  • Heroine wants to gift him something for his birthday and on a video he says he really wants the original painting with bubbles. (Ryan has this painting)

Side Characters: Heroine’s Co-worker Girl and Boy

  • They talk to each other about how heroine is under appreciated. (Mouthpiece – Ep 1)

Side Character: Seon Joo (Seong’s best friend)

  • Seong drinks soju and unloads on her friend about the work situation. (We learn more about Seong who says she loves hanging paintings that move people) 
  • Shows friendship when Seon Joo cries bc Seong is crying
  • When Seong is having a job interview another character asks if Seong is on a blind date. Through Seon Joo we learn that Seong doesn’t date. 
  • After bitching about losing the job Seon Joo takes Seong to places her idol has been. (Set up for running into male lead again?)
  • When they are told the room has already been taken the BFF chases down Ryan Gold to try to convince him to give up the room he was just given.  


Meet Cute – Ep 1 – They are both at an art action in Shanghai. They are seated in the same row. He glances at her. When he looks away she is glancing at him. He seems to glow and she says to herself that he looks like her idol, Si An. She continues to stare. He then starts talking about himself as if he were a painting and asks if she wants him. She’s offended and says no. He leans in, arms crossed and tells her he thought she did since she was staring at him so much. She calls him a psycho. (Eye to body, eye to eye, voice to ears)

Tensions Raising – Ep 1 – They begin to bid for the same painting (the bubble painting). Giving each other side eye. He wins out. (Eye to eye)

She chases after him to convince him to give her the painting. She insults him (politely) and he then in turn insults her (politely)  (eye to eye, voice to ears)

Meet Cute #2- Ep 1 – She is at the airport waiting for her idol. She is taking pictures and Ryan Gold is blocking her view of her idol who is behind him. Someone spots the idol and he is suddenly bombarded with a stampede of fangirls. He is pushed out of the way and bumps into Seong who grabs onto his coat, rips it and topples on him. She is relieved that her camera is safe but Ryan is really peeved that his coat is ripped and a girl landed on him. When she apologizes he tries to take off her face masks. She flees and leaves behind her planner. (Cinderella moment) (eye to eye, body to body)

Adhesion (End of Ep 1) – She goes to work, ready to resign, fixes a lightbulb (on a ladder) and he comes in and asks “Do you work here?” She comes most of the way down and then stares at him. He asks, “Do you want me?” She falls off the ladder and onto the floor. 

As we can see there is so much that happened in this first K-drama episode. And it ended really well with a hook of her running into Ryan Gold again… or rather falling for him – literally.

I cannot wait to see how things play out between Ryan and Deok Mi when he tries to get the painting back from her idol. She’s got a huge obsession and I wonder if she’s going to have to give it up or if Ryan is going to be understanding and accepting in the end.

What do you think? If you can’t wait for my next update you can watch this K-drama on Viki.com with a Standard Viki pass.

Episode Two will be coming soon!

I’m thinking about doing real-time K-drama reactions and breakdowns on a Youtube channel. Is that something you might watch? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next week…

Want to see more Break Downs? K-drama Break Downs
Looking for writing help with a K-drama twist? Check Out The Kdrama Cure

just between lovers

Just Between Lovers Recap and Analysis Episode 1

just between lovers

Hold onto your seats, folks! This is a long one! This is my first recap and analysis of a full-length Kdrama episode. I’m going to try to sprinkle it with some pictures to break up the text but if you want to skip to the full analysis at the bottom go ahead and click here now.

Just Between Lovers Recap Episode 1

We are introduced to two little girls. One is younger and is getting her hair and makeup done by her mother. The other one, Moon-Soo, is sitting around pouting and complaining about having to go to the photo shoot for her little sister. Her mom says that she can’t be two places at once. Mom tells the older daughter , Moon-Soo, that she needs to reschedule the meeting with her girl friend. The older daughter texts the boy and the younger sister tattles on her. 

(Set up here by the Just Between Lovers writers. Little sister is the favorite. She’s dolled up and given a cellphone to use even though her older sister doesn’t yet have one.

Mom drops them off at the event. Moon-Soo asks her mom when she’s going to get her own cellphone and her mom brushes the question off, telling her they’ll both be late and then drives away leaving her daughters in front of the mall. 

(This reinforces that her mom has a favorite but doesn’t want to admit to it. Mom leaving little sister in Moon-Soo’s care shows that Moon-Soo is responsible and will step up when needed.

The younger sister tugs on Moon-Soo’s sleeve and points to the sky. “The weather is nice. Look at the sky.” Moon-Soo looks up and then shields her eyes. The sun begins to come through to clouds and she squints. 

(I have a feeling this is foreshadowing!)

Cut to the mall where there are glittering stars and moons in the open stair area. The little sister is getting her makeup redone. Moon-Soo is sweating. The makeup is done and the little sister hands the cellphone her mom gave her to Moon-Soo because she received a text from the boy. Moon-Soo goes to meet him, leaving her sister behind. She goes up one flight of stairs and pauses by an ice cream shop to put on lipgloss. The building begins to shake and then collapses. (It was here I had to pause and Google if malls collapsing was a common occurrence. This is like the third one I’ve seen mentioned in a K-drama. The Sampoong Group Mall Collapse happened in Seoul, South Korea in 1995. Very traumatic for the people of South Korea. I see now why it has occurred in so many dramas. Just like we in the States have taken traumatic events and weaved them into our stories, so too have the South Korean Kdrama writers. I’m bracing myself now for what’s to come!)

Moon-Soo, older now, wakes up at 3:59am, one minute before her alarm. It was a dream, she said, that has the same ending no matter what she does. 

Moon-Soo works at a Bath house. After opening she looks out at the city, taking a moment to enjoy the view and the breeze. 

We cut to lots of men who are standing around asking for their pay. The manager tries to explain and this one guy keeps interrupting. It’s our hero, Gang-Doo and he has a cut on his chin, a bandaid over his left eyebrow and tattered looking clothes. The manager tells him to step forward. The manager punches him and then harasses him some more. Gang-Doo only lets him get in one punch before doing a few of his own, demanding his pay. 

(We can get a sense already of Gang-Doo’s character just from these first few minutes.)

Moon-Soo is interested in architecture. She has blueprints on her desk and is making paper models during her spare time at the bath house. 

She goes to her mom’s room and wakes her up so that she can do some hair for a customer. When her mom walks out the older daughter finds empty bottles of soju. She recycles them and then heads away.

Gang-Doo is sitting hear the water’s edge, lip bloodied. A guy who seems to have special needs comes up, addresses our hero as Hyung and asks “Did you get in another fight again?” (The hero continues to be developed. He’s a fighter.) He says something along the lines of “If I look this bad, how do you think the other guy looks?” The guy shares his meat on a stick and then our hero gets a phone call and is called off to a job. The two go together after the guy says “You always work and never get paid. Play with me instead.” And he replies “I can’t. Because I don’t have a good mom like you do.” 

The young guy follows Gang-Doo to where he’s going to work. The streets are filled with scantily dressed women and foreigners. The guy says that this is a place his mom tells him he shouldn’t ever go because it’s dangerous. Gang-Doo says “Anything you can do making money is dangerous.” The hero tells him he should go home. He saves the guy from being conned by a scantily clad woman and then sends him on his way before ducking into a place called Mary & Club. 

Moon-Soo goes into talk to her boss. She explains that the blueprint is wrong and that built the way it is it could collapse and demands he have it redone. The boss says that’s not his job, his job is just to make the models and tells her to go do what she’s getting paid to do. She explains that the spacing on the support beams are too far apart and asks him if he’d want his kids living there. When he frowns she smiles knowing she’s won. She tells him she wants it redone and that no matter what she’ll get it done on time and then turns to leave.

When she’s gone we see another man come out from the office behind the bookshelves and looks at the blueprints. (I’m pretty sure he looks like second male lead material!

Back at home Moon-Soo is doing something on her laptop and her friend (and roommate?) Wan-Jin, is trying to draw her romance comic and is having writer’s block. (I think we are all about to relate) “How can I make them break up again?” She cries at Moon-Soo’s feet. “I wonder why I have to agonize over these two characters being lovey-dovey with each other.” 

Moon-Soo: Aren’t you going to make them get back together anyway?

Wan-Jin: Exactly, that’s what I’m saying. They are going to get back together but why would they break up? Why?? In other cartoons, people say it’s too chaotic since the main character acts as he pleases. But these two, they don’t budge.

Moon-Soo: Why do you need reasons? Is there a specific reason why people would get together or break up?

Wan-Jin: Don’t you know logical development? Don’t you know that the story has to make sense or it needs to be justifiable?

Moon-Soo: Forget about all that. You need to draw your main character more beautifully. Your online cartoon is a romance, but you’re being needlessly realistic. Make the main character a drop dead beauty. Then even if it’s not logical, everything makes sense. 

Wan-Jin ponders that as she goes back to her computer and drawing tablet. Moon-Soo gets a phone call and it’s her boss. Her boss says there is a good opportunity for her to work on Bio Town and she tells him that if they want a study model she isn’t going to do it. The boss tells her that they’re going to compensate her well. 

Cut to Gang-Doo and he’s at the back of a restaurant eating instant ramen. He asks a waiter why “she” isn’t there yet because “she” asked him there. “She” comes to the back, looking angry and asks for a glass of water. After she calms down he asks if she’s okay (character trait: caring) and then she explains that a guy beat up one of her girls. And then she mentions Bio Town is being built. She says the guy who beat up the girl is a manger working on the build. She tells Gang-Doo to go further up the ladder to the director of the company building Bio Town instead. She tells him to pretend that the girl that got beat up is his younger sister. She wants him to get settlement money. He says he’ll take 20% of what he gets.

He stares at the business card: Cheong Yoo Construction – Jeong Yoo Taek

Later that evening Moon-Soo sees her mom grabbing soju and tells her to stop drinking because she has to manage the bath house in the morning. Her mom asks Moon-Soo if she remembers what tomorrow is and takes the soju back and goes to sit down and drink it. The sister grabs some food and asks her mom to eat while drinking. Her mom pushes the food onto the floor. Moon-Soo drinks and eats the food her mom rejected. 

Gang-Doo is outside and lights a cigarette. He stares at the business card.

Flashback: His dad is trying to leave with Gang-Doo who is holding a soccer ball. His dad’s boss comes and tells him he needs to do more work before he goes. Gang-Doo is directed to go across the street and eat some ice cream while he waits. He is in the ice cream store when the mall collapses. (Is ice cream going to be significant later on? Second time it’s come up.

Gang-Doo goes to the director’s office and demands money. He sees Bio Town on the computer when he’s there. “Seeing the world from up here, don’t people seem like people to you?” Gang-Doo asks the Director. 

At her interview Moon-Soo is asked whether she knows the CEO personally, Seo Joo Won, the architect because he wants to work with her personally. He tells her she’s going to be working in the office full time. She seems taken aback and unsure until she sees a blueprint on the desk. Seeing the design she asks “When can I start?” 

Moon-Soo is walking around the office examining things and then the CEO calls and tells the co-worker he needs a blueprint. The co-worker looks at Moon-Soo, hoping she’ll take it to him.

Joo Won is at a fancy office building trying to get to his appointment but someone has used his name. When he arrives at the Director’s office he sees Gang-Doo standing over him. Joo Won carefully asks if he was too early. Gang-Doo says he’s done and as he’s passing by Joo Won grabs his arm and tells him what his name is. Gang-Doo slaps his hand off and says he didn’t ask. Joo Won says he thought he’d like to know who the name really belonged to since Gang-Doo used it to get in. Gang-Doo warns him not to touch someone he doesn’t know and then leaves. 

Moon-Soo arrives at the very tall building as Joo Won texts and tells her to meet him in front of the elevator on the 16th floor. We cut to her in the stairwell, huffing up the flights of stairs, the file in her hand. As she’s almost to the top she runs into Gang-Doo. He scares her, she almost falls back but he grabs onto her and pulls her foward, her cheek lands against his chest as she clutches onto his shirt.

Without looking at her face he says, “Look in front of you when you walk.” After a moment he says, “Are you… going to stay like this?” She quickly steps away and avoids eye contact as he steps around her and continues down the stairs. She catches a glimpse of his face then but he doesn’t look up. 

She finally makes it upstairs and introduces herself to Joo Won, through gasps for air. He thanks her and then tells her to take the elevator. She continues to gasp and shakes her head saying that the stairs are more comfortable for her. He stares after her after realizing that she just climbed 16 flights of stairs. 

Outside Gang-Doo is walking and stops, flexing his leg. He glances at the sky and then approaches a street vendor, asking if he has an umbrella. When he comes back with one he tells the street vendor to put them out front because it’s going to rain. The street vendor says it’s forecasted to be sunny. Gang-Doo opens his umbrella and walks away. 

Moon-Soo is walking with a cake box in her hand. It starts to rain and she runs for cover under a bus station. Joo Won honks as he pulls up to the curb and tells her to get in. She declines and he insists she gets in. Joo Won apologizes for making her run an errand when she isn’t officially employed yet. (Character trait: considerate) And he tells her that it was all for nothing because the meeting was cancelled. He apologizes again and she asks him to stop apologizing because it makes her uncomfortable. He is about to apologize again and then catches himself. He says it’s a habit. She says it’s better than never apologizing. He tells her that he overheard her comments on his blueprints and that’s why he hired her. He also mentions her walking up 16 flights. Why did you skip the elevator? She replies, “Just because it’s a bit stuffy not being able to see outside.” (This is a PTSD side effect from what happened to her at the shopping mall disaster.

Gang-Doo receives payment for his job and the boss lady asks him to work for her. He says no. Asks him to have a drink. He says no. Why? “There are no windows here. It’s stuffy.” (We can see that these two characters are suffering from similar PTSD symptoms.) Before he goes he asks the boss lady to help him get a job on the construction site of Bio Town.  Gang-Doo goes to a lady who runs an underground medical clinic. He gives her money and she gives him painkillers. She warns him not to take too many or he’ll ruin his liver. (Foreshadowing??) She takes what she needs from his money envelope and then hands it back. He says he wants the rest to go to his sister. She scolds him for giving all his money to his younger sister, but he insists and then leaves. 

Moon-Soo goes home and her mom isn’t there. She finds her mom arguing with ladies in the neighborhood. One says, “You should be ashamed! If you opened up your bath house with the money you sold out your child for, you should put your head down and live a diligent life. All you ever do is drink and go around all over the neighborhood. Aigoo, you’re shameless.” Blinking back tears, Moon-Soo gathers her mom, pays for her drinks and then brings her home. On the way back her mom asks “Do you also think I’m being unreasonable? Did I seem that way?” Moon-Soo says yes and asks why she did that. Her mom says, “So I won’t forget her. I should get yelled at so that I won’t forget that I had to send off Yeon Soo first. If I don’t, I forget that sometimes.” 

Moon-Soo: If you can, forget it. I really can’t remember it either. 

Mom: You and I are different. Mom needs to remember because this is all my fault. 

Moon-Soo: Why is it your fault?

Mom: It is. It’s the mother’s fault when the child goes first. If I live well, they’ll say I live well. If I destroy myself, they’ll say I couldn’t come to my senses even after letting my child die. If I laugh or cry, people will point fingers at me. So, even if I drink and throw a tantrum, don’t hate me too much. 

Moon-soo wipes away her tear and follows after her mom. Later she puts her mom to bed and then sits down with the cake, three candles on it. She starts to light them but hesitates and looks at a picture of her sister: “You don’t age anyway.” She takes out the candles and eats the cake. 

Flashback: Her mom is in the ER, she says she’s so relieved that Moon-Soo is alive. Then she realizes that her sister isn’t there and starts to freak out. The fact that Moon-Soo survived is clouded by the loss of her sister. After her dad confirms the body of her little sister her mom turns to her and says, “I told you to be together. I told you to be together!” 

The dad then turns to the mom, “What about you? Where were you, leaving your two kids behind? I told you not to go around selling out our daughter!” 

Mom: Am I the only one who did wrong? This is my fault? Who’s the one who didn’t even care for the kids because you were so busy outside the home? Where were you when I was going all over the place looking for our daughter? Where were you?

Poor Moon-Soo had to witness all of this. Her dad looks at her and says, “you still don’t remember? What happened at the time of the accident?” She shakes her head. He sighs. “Forget it. It’s not something pretty to remember anyway. It’s a relief that at least you made it alive. Despite everything, it could have been worse.”

There’s no such thing as being relieved because things could have been worse. Being unfortunate is just feeling miserable. 

Moon-Soo leaves the cake and goes to get noodles at her dad’s shop. He brings her water and she asks for noodles, spicy. They don’t look at each other. Moon-Soo asks, “aren’t you going to ask if mom is doing well?” He doesn’t answer. He serves her noodles and she tells him that he should’ve stopped by because it was her sister’s birthday. She puts in lots of spice and eats her noddles. He sits at a table nearby and turns on the TV while she eats. 

Gang-Doo is at home and he is having a PTSD nightmare about the incident. He wakes up, sweating and has to catch his breath. He goes to his painkillers and takes some, washing them down with beer. He looks at the scar on his leg from the rebar that went through in the mall. The neighbor down the hall is being loud while they have sex. He bangs on the door and tells them to knock off the noise and just do it already. He goes out and sees the construction manager eating noodles in a shop. He stops and stares at him. He knocks on the window. “Is it good? You feel like drinking when you fired me and ripped me off? I get all the suffering and you get all the fun?” When he sees the manager is ignoring him he begins to yell, “These days! Bad guys live well comfortably! What the crap is this?! Right? Old man?!” The manager gets up and comes outside “Why are you pointing at me?” Gang-Doo doesn’t back down, “Are you happy that you ripped me off, but you’re eating pork? If you’re old enough, act your age, you brat. Don’t rip people off, man.” A few big guys approach from behind and Gang-Doo realizes he’s misstepped. He’s outnumbered and they start to encroach on him. 

Moon-Soo is passing by as the gang is leaving. She pauses when she spots a lifeless hand in the alley. In the rain she approaches slowly and then sees him bleeding badly, she tries to get him to speak up, She asks him if he’s okay, gently tapping his shoulder. Bleeding, he grabs her arm and doesn’t let go. They meet eyes. 

She brings him to her dad, explaining that no hospitals were open and she couldn’t leave him on the street. Her dad gets a first aid kit but before he can help a customer comes, leaving the cleaning up and tending to Moon-Soo. Alone with him she stares at his face. She feels on his body for stuff and then finds his phone and a few dollars. She looks to see if he has contacts but he doesn’t. She stares at his old leg scar and then he begins to groan. She gets to work cleaning him up, starting with his face. 

When he wakes up he’s got a band-aid on his head. He groans as he sits up. Her dad comes out and updates Gang-Doo, telling him he briefly cleaned him up but he should get to the hospital and that his phone won’t stop ringing. Then the dad goes back into his room and shuts the door. Gang-Doo hobbles back, he’s in rough shape physically. He runs into his sister who throws the money back at him. She’s dressed nicely and he asks why she’s not at the hospital. She asks him questions about his face. They both ignore the other’s questions. She tells him to come home. He gives her back the money and tells her to go home. She leaves and he goes back to his tiny room. It’s the guy from before, he is a neighbor, it seems. He said a pretty girl came to see Gang-Doo and left crying. “You shouldn’t make girls cry. You’ll get punished,” he says. Gang-Doo looks away, “She’s not my girl, she’s my younger sister.” The younger guy asks, “is it okay to make your sister cry?” “No,” Gang-Doo says, “it’s not.” 

Gang-Doo relives the beating from last night. And the memory of a girl with an umbrella. Moon-Soo. He remembers her and then realizes he’s seen the girl before. 

Moon-Soo is cleaning out her new work area. (Hard working trait) A coworker asks if she wants coffee. While drinking the coworker coos about the CEO, Joo Won. He remodeled the office all by himself and picked out the materials alone and GEEZ he looks good in any clothes he puts on and he’s from a good family AND he owns his own studio with his name on it at such a young age. 

Moon-Soo pipes up to state the obvious: “He must be talented.” 

The confuses the co-worker and Moon-Soo explains that he had a hand in his success, it wasn’t just because of his family. 

Joo Won is having dinner… with the DIRECTOR (gasp). Turns out Joo Won’s widowed mother married the Director’s father. Joo Won isn’t favored in the sibling dynamic, of course. It’s mentioned that the sister Yoo Jin is coming back to take over Joo Won’s business. 

Gang-Doo is heading to the new construction site for his job. While getting a tour of he sees a memorial plaque for the Mall victims. 

The coworkers in moon-Soo’s office are talking about the memorial. He says “only 48 people died” and she corrects him “As many as 48 people died.” She realizes the boss was behind her and then she ducks her head and walks away. She’s searching the blueprints and documents. Then she finds a report about the disaster case study and articles about the incident. She collapses to the floor and becomes overwhelmed with tears. 

Gang-Doo stares at the memorial plague in the darkness on his shift. He destroys it with his sledgehammer. 

Just Between Lovers Analysis

Multiple times in this first episode of Just Between Lovers we have seen Moon-Soo looking up to the sky. The same is true for Gang-Doo who is outside except for the those few moments he’s cramped up in his tiny studio apartment. This, the nightmares, losing a loved one, and the event itself all form this base for our main couple. 

Moon-Soo is obviously obsessed with architecture because of what happened to her in the past. If only the architect had done things to code the incident wouldn’t have happened. She doesn’t want to see it repeated. Moon-Soo is also very observant and mature for her age. She speaks wisdom to her friend, her mom and her female co-worker. As I predicted, Moon-Soo is responsible and hard-working. She takes matters into her own hands and doesn’t complain when she has a lot asked of her. Her mother is handling her grief in self-destructive ways as an alcoholic. Her dad has left the family and works nearby in a noodle shop. And an Auntie was mentioned. So it’s obvious that Moon-Soo has supports in place, even if it’s not her mother. Yet there has to be this wound in her from the accident when her mother was yelling at her for not being with her sister because Moon-Soo is the only one who knows that if she had been with her sister that Moon-Soo would have died too because she left her sister downstairs. Heavy stuff! 

Now onto Gang-Doo. He’s completely the opposite of Moon-Soo in a a lot of ways. He left his family and struck out on his own. He doesn’t hold in his feelings, they come out in anger and flying fists. He makes money in less than savory ways. He doesn’t take care of himself. He honors his father, however, by doing construction work and sending extra money to his younger sister. He fights back when he feels mistreated by a boss, the way he saw his father being mistreated before his death in the mall disaster. Gang-Doo is also caring. He has befriended a slightly younger poor teen whose mother is doing the best she can for him. He sends his extra money to his sister when he barely has two bucks left in his pocket. And his unsavory business is defending victims. Oh, and I have to mention that I love that he knows when it’s going to rain because of his injury. (#KDramaCharacterQuirk) That’s a great quirk to have added. I hope the writers will use it again later in the series. 

I love that the two of them have already had TWO encounters. We saw the “OMG I’m going to fall down the stairs” catch and clutch. And then we had a Band-Aid First Aid as well after Gang-Doo’s fight. The romance arc is already starting off and I hope we continue to see nice growth there. 

The Director and the construction manager were set up to be the bad guys. Both representing the upper class and men in positions of power. 

The second male lead has also been introduced and he’s talented and a bit broken. He hasn’t had the same romantic moments that Gang-Doo has had with our heroine, Moon-Soo. 

The hook at the end of this episode was kind of weak, leaving it off with Gang-Doo destroying the memorial plaque. 

But I do have a lot of questions: 

Who is the sister?

Were Gang-Doo and Moon-Soo trapped together somehow in the accident since they were in a similar location when it happened?

How are the writers going to get Moon-Soo and Gang-Doo to keep running into each other? Is she going to be present on the construction site a lot? Will she get to boss him around? 

What’s the deal with Gang-Doo’s family? Why won’t he go home? 

Have you seen the first episode of Just Between Lovers yet? After reading the recap does Just Between Lovers seem like a drama you’d be interested in watching? I’d love to see your comments below! Episode two releases next week! Subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free Character Arc Cheatsheet and be reminded weekly when new blog posts go live!

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Kdrama Kiss Goblin Episode 12 Recap and Analysis

This is the very last episode of Kiss Goblin. If you missed any of the recaps you can find them here.

Let’s get to it!

The Goblin appears and apparently, he had the magical power hidden within him the whole time. Exorcist drops our heroine, the goblin’s power surrounds the Exorcist with this green blob of can’t move and then he punches The Exorcist and knocks him out. 

In the restaurant where they were working part-time together, Goblin asked her if she believed in fate and she tells him she does but she doesn’t want to rely on fate. She wants to rely on them. So she grabs him and pulls him in for a kiss and says “I want the future you and the future me to worry about finding each other again. We’re not going to leave it up to something else outside of us like fate.” He says he knows why he fell for her because she’s so cool and she says “it better be because I’m pretty” and he says “the future me will fall for you again for sure because you’re so cool.” 

They kiss. A lot. 

Time Hops One Year

He’s at university and she passes right by him. She takes a seat in class. And then he comes in and sits down. The teacher assigns a group project with two team members. The Goblin Queen comes by and swaps names so that they are paired together for the project. 

Their relationship begins, they meet in front of the library and she pulls him out of the way of a bicyclist, saving him. She says she knows immediately that she’s going to date him. He says she’s cool and thanks her for saving him. She asks if they’ve met before and he says he’s not sure. Maybe…


So super cute ending where both fate AND Goblin magic come into play. If this were a full length drama perhaps we would have gotten a more solidified ending where we could watch their romance unfold for a second time.

Below is the outline for the whole series where we can see the progression of the romance, the breakdown of our characters.

Kdrama Cure Outline – Kiss Goblin


• Quirks – She speaks her mind, hits people on the face a lot

• Hobbies – None. She works and goes to school. 

• Problems – needs to earn money, get good grades at school, recovering from a break-up

• Work – Works in a restaurant part time

• Contrasts – Human/Goblin, Clueless emotionally/very emotional, Student/Adult

• Motivations – School, Work, Helping Goblin complete his mission

• Wound – Cheating ex

• Need – Real love and honesty


• From Each Other: She was cheated on, (Midway) she is falling for him

• From Her Friends: She is helping a Goblin become a human, She is dating a Goblin

• From Her Family: N/A


• Quirks – Stoic 

• Hobbies -N/A

• Problems –  Needs to earn money, Exorcist is trying to kill him, Needs to kiss 10 humans to become human

• Career/Job – Works in a restaurant part-time

• Contrasts – Human/Goblin, Clueless emotionally/very emotional, Student/Adult

• Motivations –  Work , To not be lonely – become human

• Wound – None

• Need – Real love


From each other – He’s a goblin

From their friends – He’s fallen in love with a human

From their family – None.


• Sounding boards (Her Best Friend, Goblin Queen) 

• Put the main character into action (change of motivation catalysts/moves plot) – Goblin Queen, Exorcist

• Matchmakers (Her best friend to the second male lead)

• Defenders (her best friend defends against the ex)

• Love triangles (second male lead)



• Wrist grab

• Against a wall

• Heroine hurt – band-aid scene

• Ass kicking heroine

• Stoic male lead

• Crude man talk (not from leads)

• Love triangle

• Unrequited love (second male lead)

• heroine grabbing hero for kiss

• Knight in shining armor

• Princess in shining armor

• Kimchi slap (w twist – fried chicken)

• Head on the shoulder

• Falling asleep, head in lap

• Playground setting – vulnerability? Innocence? 

• Heroine in danger


• University

• Restaurant

• Her apartment

• His apartment

• Place they go to eat 

• Goblin Queen’s Lair

• Flashback setting: Hanbok Korea in the woods

• Playground – swing set

• Second Male Lead’s work

• Tunnel (danger scene)

• Underpass (danger scene)


1. Eye to body.  

(Ep 1)

2. Eye to eye.  

(Ep 1) 

glancing at each other at work after confrontation (Ep 8)

gazing while holding hands in bed (Ep 9) 

shy gazes (Ep 10)

3. Hand to wrist. (Kdrama special) The male grabs the female by the wrist, to keep her from fleeing usually.

(Ep 2, 5) 

4. Accidental Bumps and Brushes 

(Ep 4)

5. Back to Wall. (Kdrama Special) The male boxes the female in against a wall. Sometimes to intimidate her and get his point across, sometimes to protect her from danger. 

6. Voice to voice. You talk, call, text or email. This should be a pretty long stage. You start emotionally bonding. 

(Ep 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) 

7. Head to shoulder (Kdrama special) One or the other falls asleep and their head falls onto the shoulder. This is usually before feelings are confessed. 

(Ep 7)

8. Hand to hand. You hold hands. It may be an accidental touch that is kept in contact or deliberate. You are special.

full body protection – he is definitely special (Ep 5) 

he takes her hand and holds it while they stare at each other. (Ep 9) 

9. Hand to shoulder. You put your arm around their shoulder. This publicizes your relationship.

10. Hand to waist. Your arms around each other’s waist. You know this person about as well as you know your best friend, and you like what you know.

11. Face to face. 

she leans in close when asking about his feelings (Ep 8) 

the kiss! (Ep 12)

12. Hand to head. 

he touches her face (Ep 6)

she touches his face while he’s sleeping (Ep 8) 

touches his face when questioning his feelings (Ep 9)

she touches his cheek.  she pokes his dimple (Ep 10)

13. Hand to body. 

14. Mouth to body.

15. Touching below the waist. 

16. Intercourse.

Romance Required Scenes: 

Awkward First Meeting: Yes, in the alley he was kissing another girl. (Ep1) 

First Kiss: False First kiss (Ep 4) – She kisses him, but not out of desire. 

Real First Kiss: (Ep 12)

Locking Eyes:  (Ep 1, Ep 8)


Wrist Grab (Ep 2)

Embracing (Ep 4, 5, 6) 

Face Touch (Ep 6, Ep 8)


kind of from him (Ep 7)

kind of, from her (Ep 8) 

Full Confessions (Ep 9)

Break-up #1: 

he denies feelings and she goes to drink w another man (Ep 9)

Make-up #1:

in bed after his near-death they confess their feelings (Ep 9)

Selfless Giving: 

she saves him from the exorcist (Ep 9)

Final Test of Relationship:

he has to go back to the goblin world bc he doesn’t want to kiss her to pass his final test and risk them both never remembering or finding each other again in their lifetimes (Ep 10)

Happy Ending: 

Happy For Now – They meet again (Ep 12)

Couple Characteristics

Inside jokes – N/A

Talismans – N/A

Places they go – grocery shopping, work

Activities they enjoy  – Watching TV at home

Food/drinks they share – Breakfast. She likes to drink beer. 


Use character’s background, career, hobbies to dictate what these look like 


Showing thoughtfulness

• Goblin brings her chocolate milk after a bad customer experience

• Heroine grabs onto the exorcist to save Goblin

• Goblin touches her and removes her from danger w exorcist

• Goblin protects her and hides her (exorcist)

• Goblin gives her first aid on her hand

• Goblin confronts guys who made her cry

• Heroine protects Goblin from the exorcist 

• Goblin picks Heroine up and walks her home after work

• Goblin puts ketchup on her eggs

• Goblin hides her eyes from the bright new lightbulb he installed

• She allows him to sleep on her lap when he’s scared

• She makes him breakfast

• He offers to do the dishes

• She saves him from the bicyclist 

Want to learn more? Check out the Freebies page for lots of free goodies!

If you are ready to unlock the power of Kdramas and apply it to your next romance novel you grab a copy of my book, The Kdrama Cure.

Thanks so much for reading along with the Kiss Goblin series! I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or you can reach out to me via email: mariecolebook@gmail.com

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Kdrama Kiss Goblin Episode 9 Recap & Analysis

Only three episodes left! 

Missed one? Go here!

Let’s get to it!

Goblin get a call, his 9th kiss target is revealed and he needs to do it before 2AM.

Later he calls heroine and she ignores him. Instead of answering she guzzles down beer with the male friend. 

Goblin waits as long as he can and sends her a text to tell her where he’s headed. He kisses girl number 9. 

On his way home he experiences his new emotion: happiness. He thinks of the heroine and in his mind he says he’s experienced happiness with her and he wants to keep experiencing that. (is this the beginning of wanting to confess?)

The heroine is drinking and talks about happiness and love. You have that happiness for a moment and then it’s gone and you want to be happier and happier. (She thinks about her wound, trying to reinforce it in her mind, slipping back into her hurt self) She says she protects herself by cutting off the feelings before they get too deep. 

The male friend confesses his feelings to her. She’s shocked. 

Without heroine around, the exorcist finally has his chance to attack the Goblin. [The Goblin Queen did foreshadow this in the previous episode when she asked the heroine to take good care of the Goblin.] Goblin, while wounded, calls the heroine. Heroine sees the texts and rushes away to find him, a pan in her hand, taken from the restaurant she was at. 

The exorcist is about to do the final blow to the Goblin when the heroine comes in and whacks him across the face with the pan. (selfless giving) She sees the Goblin’s blood and freaks out. He asks her why she’s so late. She apologizes for not keeping her promise to keep him safe. He says he’s happy to see her and that he really missed her. And then he passes out. Touching moment with emotion as she confesses to him thinking he’s dying. (One party confesses.)

Goblin Queen arrives and see the exorcist. We flashback to her past. The exorcist is someone from her past. 

The Goblin Queen heals the Goblin. They take him back to her place and the Goblin Queen asks if she meant what she said about doing anything and tells her to take care of him. [More foreshadowing?]

The heroine tucks him in and lays beside him. She reaches out and touches his cheek. (hand to face intimacy) He wakes and pulls her hand away. He faces her and holds her hand. He tells her to stay by his side and not drink or talk to any other guys. And he confesses to her that he likes her a lot. She confesses to him too. [Both party confessions!]

Here we are with only three episodes left! We are about to go into the dark moment and the final test of their relationship if this writer is following the traditional romance arc.

In this episode we saw more intimacy building. Selfless giving on behalf of the heroine who ran into danger and struck down evil with a pan. There was more jealousy and realization on both parts that when they thought of the other they were happy. It took a near death scenario for the heroine to fully confess but by the end of this episode they both solidified their feelings, announcing them to each other.

If you’re interested in learning more about the romance arc you can Get the Kdrama Cure Ultimate Romance Arc Cheatsheet for FREE!

And if you’re interested in learning more about how Kdramas can enhance your romance writing you can check out my brand new book: The Kdrama Cure, available on many different platforms.

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Kdrama Analysis Kiss Goblin

Kdrama Kiss Goblin Episode 8 Recap & Analysis

Only four episodes left! 

Missed one? Go here!

Let’s get to it!

Showing kindness, Goblin saves a balloon for a little boy and chats with him.

The heroine’s unrequited love approaches and asks if she would like to have a drink. The goblins sees this gets jealous and goes over to intervene. [These are my favorite scenes where are the two boys are arguing over the girl and saying silly things to show who is better.] Information is revealed through the dialogue, the unrequited love has been her friend for two years. And the Goblin almost lets it slip that they are living together. Our heroine covers the Goblin’s mouth (touch). Goblin is mad that she wants to deny their relationship and walks away. 

She follows him home and confronts him. He gets snippy “Why are you home? I thought you were going to go have a drink with that guy.“ (a touch of jealousy)

And then he reveals that it bothers him that she doesn’t want to say that they live together and asks if she’s embarrassed by him. (Talking about feelings) She asks him if he’s jealous and he adamantly denies it and walks away. (He doesn’t want to reveal his feelings yet)

Later at work they are cleaning in silence but exchange glances. The Goblin Queen comes in. Asks heroine if she’s dating anyone or interested in anyone. (The side character is acting as a plot driver!) Heroine glances at Goblin but says no. Goblin Queen shares the next target, and tells the heroine to take care of Goblin and leaves. 

There is internal dialogue about how it’s obvious to others about who you like because you always look at the person that you like. (Yes you do! It’s one of the stages of intimacy) The heroine’s male friend talks to the female best friend about how it’s obvious when someone doesn’t like you because they don’t look at you as much as you look at them. (It’s obvious the best friend likes the friend.) She still helps him and encourages his feelings with her friend, our heroine. 

Our heroine comes into the restaurant and sees the Goblin kissing another woman. She goes upstairs so that she doesn’t have to watch.

At home she’s drinking and sighing and thinking about him kissing the girl. (Getting hard to deny those romantic feelings, isn’t it? We’re firmly in the denial of feelings in the romance arc.) Goblin comes running out of the bathroom and grabs onto her looking scared. She asked him was wrong and he says that the shower curtain moved by itself and he didn’t touch it. His new emotion is fear. She tries to explain to him that it was only the wind but he insists that he is still scared. He ends up laying his head on her lap and falls asleep (common Kdrama trope). While he is sleeping she puts her hand on his face. He wakes up and she pulls her hand back quickly. He thanks her for the comfort. 

(Talking about feelings)

She tells him not to look at her the way that he looks at other girls when he tries to get them to kiss him. 

He says he doesn’t like kissing the other girls but he has to. 

She leans into him and asked if he feels anything with her. 

Visually we see that he does and he turns his face away from her and says that he doesn’t know about those things. (Looking away is lying)

She grabs his face by the cheeks and turns them towards her (hands to face) and gets closer and asks him one more time if he feels anything and he says no nothing at all all.

She loses her temper and tells him that she doesn’t understand why he even came into her life at all because all he’s doing is confusing her. (semi-confession)

She gets a phone call and it’s the friend who asks her to have another drink and while staring at the Goblin she accepts the invitation and heads out.

Goblin is obviously distressed.

The romance arc is building, we’re getting to the point where these two are going to have to confess their feelings because the jealousy is getting to be too much. The writer is slowly working their way through the stages of intimacy with touching and direct eye contact. These two are also having intimate discussions that skirt around their true feelings. We also saw how the Goblin Queen was being used as a plot driver and perhaps as a foreshadowing agent.

If you’re interested in learning more about the romance arc you can Get the Kdrama Cure Ultimate Romance Arc Cheatsheet for FREE!

And if you’re interested in learning more about how Kdramas can enhance your romance writing you can check out my brand new book: The Kdrama Cure, available on many different platforms.

Kdrama Analysis Kiss Goblin

Kdrama Kiss Goblin Episode 7 Anaylsis and Recap

We are more than halfway through the drama now on episode 7. If you missed the other breakdowns you can find them here.

Goblin finished kissing the girl and our heroine asks him what emotion he got. He said he’s not sure because he doesn’t feel anything yet. Our heroine asked Goblin what he wants to do first when he becomes a human. Our heroine spots the Exorcist and tugs Goblin close in a hug to protect him. 

The 7th emotion is infatuation. 

The exorcist leaves.  Our heroine asks if Exorcist is gone and the Goblin says no he’s not and hugs her closer and she locks her arms around him a little bit tighter too.  He answers her while they’re embraced that the first thing that he wants to do when he’s a human is to be friends with her. Formally. 

And she knows friends means…. friends , platonic. 

Our heroine is eating lunch with her friend but can’t stop thinking about how sexy the goblin is.  She keeps this a secret from her friend. (Secrets, secrets)

The next morning the Goblin cooks breakfast for her before her class. (showing thoughtfulness) Homemade, no artificial seasonings because it’s healthier that way. And he grabs the ketchup and puts it over the eggs because that’s how she likes it. (showing thoughtfulness)

He is on the couch, folding laundry while she watches TV next to him. She laughs and leans into him, asking him if he saw that. They both pause, feeling tension between them. (romance arc building)

Later, he comes out of the shower and walks by and she sniffs him and asks him what shampoo he used. He said soap. And in her mind she called him handsome and then she slapped herself. (denying feelings that are trying to surface)

At work she’s watching him while he changes a light bulb. The light shines in her face and he covers her eyes with his hand. She gets flustered and walks away. (more romantic tension shown)

At home they’re together and she says they need rules. She says he’s still a man and he shouldn’t be walking around with his arms and legs exposed. And they should keep distance from each other unless he’s on a mission because if they accidentally touch it would be uncomfortable. He agrees but wants some rules too. He wants her to pick up her hair and clean a little bit sometimes. He then grabs her beer and swigs. He doesn’t drink so she questions him. He opens up and says he’s having a hard time lately. She asks why and he says it’s all the new emotions – he’s so confused. He says he tries to be cool but sometimes he’ll just laugh or cry at the things on TV randomly. And when he’s around her… he gets… “emotional.” He goes and sits next to her and says he keeps wanting to be nice to her and then… he passes out on her shoulder. (kdrama special – lean on me)

Then she’s back with her friend. She asks her how she knows if she likes a guy. Our heroine tries the method her friend suggests and is happy to learn that she doesn’t like him. But then she sees him helping a kid and realizes she does like him


Goblin is working up the courage to confess after his new emotion comes in. 

The once “always honest” Goblin lied to her to keep hugging her. 

She is waking up to his charms. 

The two of them are now clearly liking each other, what next? Will they let themselves fall?

This episode was packing in the romantic tension for these two. Clearly they like each other but they aren’t willing to admit it, not to themselves and definitely not to their friends. We saw another instance of food the couple shares together and two ways the hero showed thoughtfulness for the heroine.

Are you a romance writer? Get the Kdrama Cure Ultimate Romance Arc Cheatsheet for FREE