Heartless City Episode 1 Recap


It’s been ages since I loved and anticipated a crime drama this much! Seriously, who doesn’t want to see the baddies get outsmarted and outworked by one of their own? And if the baddie is as hot as Park Sa, there’s no way you’ll not enjoy watching him! The way he carries himself-that clean and spotless look in the suit, that aloof and thoughtful air and the soft way of speaking makes him seem more dangerous than if he were shouting or dressed to the T’s as a gangster. The best part-even the baddies have to call 911-or 119, as it is in Korea to try and get rid of him!

Episode 1 Recap:

The series opens with a man named Cho walking quickly and looking over his shoulder again and again as if he’s afraid of someone following him. He ends up in a shadowy alley, calls a senior officer-Assistant Comissioner Min Hong Gi, who tears up a certificate of honor in his name. Oh, are you a bad guy? The man passes on some important intel- Jo Oh Ri is having a meeting tonight (until I find his name correctly, that’s how I understood it) and also requests to be pulled out of this mission-he’s sure he’s been suspected already and wants to get out as soon as he can. Hong Gi agrees and asks him for the place where the transaction is taking place.

Meanwhile, police rush to the place and search it out from one end to another but find nothing. As soon as they exit and wonder what went wrong with their info, a body falls down onto a car behind them. It’s the same man who’d called with the info. Up on the roof, Park Sa makes a call as he looks at the scenery of Seoul ahead of him. “It’s done.”


The funeral for Cho-in reality an undercover officer is a somber affair where the rest of the officers watch the proceedings in shock-they’d thought he had gone abroad. Hong Ki watches as a man approaches in civil clothes and turns to him, “You came!” Hong Ki says he thought they were already close to catching Jo Ohri. Now he’s making a new department for special affairs whose only task is to hunt the man n catch him. Whatever he wants, he’ll get it. As he gives him more info on the subject, he adds, “This is the reason I called you.

That night, Officer Lee meets the man-Hyung Min, for dinner and is surprised to hear he’s decided to return to the police station and asks that she welcome him back. She wonders why he’s coming back-he’s already on his way to being a prosecutor and says she prefers him that way but before he can answer, they’re interrupted by a call on her cell and they hurriedly head out. Unknown to her, he had created the elaborate dinner scene to propose to her.


They arrive at a modeling house where Yoon Su Min is meeting up with a friend. Lee thinks the worse of her friend-that she’s here as a model and Su Min looks like she’s about to explain but catching sight of Hyung Min in the background with a frown, she suddenly gets angry and throws off her jacket, telling her friend to leave as she has to prepare for her show. She calls Lee ‘Unni’-as in big sister. Lee looks like she’s about to fight more but Hyung Min drags her away and Su Min controls her angry tears.

The next day, Hyung Min is introduced at the police station and assumes his office.  Their agenda-catch Jo Oh. But first, they have to catch Kom Bom and Park Tae Sun-his right hand men who run things for him. Officer Lee and another officer aren’t too happy to have him there. She’s probably not happy that he’s coming back into the line of fire, but the other guy, we’ll have to wait and see why. Hong Ki looks on in approval seeing Hyung Min work.


Meanwhile, Jo Oh is playing golf when he receives visitors-President Kim and his son. The President seems to have been late in delivering something-money probably and asks for one more month but Jo Oh decides to practice his golf club on the man and beats him to death as his son looks on. And his son throws up right behind his dad’s dead body. Jo Oh lets him go with the warning that he’s next if he doesn’t deliver.


Hyung Min and company are sitting outside a warehouse near the docks waiting to catch someone. They catch sight of the target exchanging drugs for a little girl whose dad drops her off as collateral! Damn evil dad! Lee rushes in before the others and corners the man in the elevator. A fight ensues and she easily brings the man down. Hyung Min meanwhile races up the stairs trying to catch the elevator so he can help Lee but girl’s got good spunk and she literally has the man on the ground while she comforts  the little girl. Later, they have a heated argument in the hospital where she has her arm wound treated. Hyung Min asks her to quit the force-he can’t continue seeing her in danger like this but she holds her ground and storms off.


Meanwhile in the police station, the man is being interrogated for a crime but he refuses to talk. A prosecutor walks in to take the man out for interrogation himself and the officers have no choice but to let him go. Hyung Min and Lee make up that afternoon and she tells him she became a police officer because she thought, “If I smile, the world will smile with me.” Moods now restored, they head off to retrieve their suspect… who is currently kareoking.


The prosecutor is outraged at the interference and realizes he fell straight into Hyung Min’s trap and tells him not to be so full of himself. His dad’s a high prosecutor but isn’t likely to help him now that he’s a police officer. Hyung Min tells him they’ll try it out anyway and gives him a day to meet his demands-give over everything about Park Chung Mo and Jo Oh. Of course, he has it the next morning.


The prosecutor wants to know what he wants and Hyung Min tells him they have to get rid of trash like the prosecutor so their kids can have a happy life ahead. That night, Lee and Hyung Min look out at the Seoul skyline as he tells himself he wants to look at the nightscape together with her again once they’ve rid the city of its drug traffickers and child traffickers. Meanwhile in the night, drug making and trafficking goes on underground. It’s distributed here and there, from club to club and given to people willing and unwilling. In one club, a girl falls the floor-unconscious or dead and no one pays any attention.

A delivery man comes to a restaurant where he leaves his keps on the table. The restaurant lady takes the keys which are then delivered along with the car to a man. Meanwhile, a man is seen walking through an underground garage and different floors until he come upon a room where a phone is ringing. He’s Park Sa. And this my dear, was the moment I squealed… in my mind! The man who received the keys and car calls him up asking what to do with the delivery. Park Sa tells him to leave it. The other man asks if it’ll be okay-Jo Oh won’t let this pass. Another phone rings and Park Sa answers it.


Park Sa goes to see Jo Oh who takes him to task for not delivering the drugs by hitting him in the head with a glass. Park Sa tells him to buy Park Sa’s men some meat, they seem to be having a difficult time and Jo Oh laughs at the outrageous demand. Park Sa simply stands there, taking his abuse and is saved from clubbing when Jo Oh’s son comes up. Jo Oh tells him to deliver-or he dies. Park Sa looks on with a stoic expression as the other man laughs and heads out with his son.


And of course he doesn’t deliver. He buys himself some bandages-coincidently from the same shop where Su Min works. Not having any change, he pays with a cheque and leaves without the change. But she’s too engaged on her own cellphone to notice it until he’s gone and does not get a good glimpse at him though. Park Sa broods in the park as he waits for a phone call, remembering Jo Oh’s words. Jo Oh gets the word and tells his men to get rid of Park Sa and find a replacement.


Chung Mo and Tae Sun discuss it between themselves and decide to use Soo to their benefit-If he won’t side with them, it gives them the chance to kill two birds with one stone. Soo asks for some time to think it over. That evening, he stands with Soo on a rooftop and wonders what they’re gonna do next. “You already know! If you don’t wanna die, you have to kill! We should see it to the day” Park Sa tells him. Soo worries since their opponent is Jo Oh. But they’ve no choice anyway and Soo stands by his friend. He calls up his men who raid Chung Mo’s entertainment of the night and capture him. Okay, gotta say this, I like the fight scenes in this drama!


Soo asks Park Sa what’s next and tells him he’s believing in him and following him. In response, Park Sa looks out at the lively and busy landscape and tells his friend, “That street… let’s eat it all up!” Well, no one can say your aim and ambition wasn’t grand enough, Park Sa!


And so they raid Jo Oh’s place. This is one of my favorite scenes, where Park Sa is nonchalantly walking on while the fight goes on around him. They discover Jo Oh isn’t there though and have no way of knowing where he might be.As Park Sa walks out, he levels Jo Oh’s chair to the ground.


Back to Tae Sun it is! He buckles under the pressure and calls up Chung Mo for the location as he claims not to know it himself. Turns out he’s headed to one of their abandoned factories to pick out Park Sa’s replacement. Park Sa raises an eyebrow at that as if to say “Really? You guys thought it’d be that easy?” Tae Sun begs for his life in return for the info and Park Sa tells him to leave and never come back. The minute he does, he’s dead.


Tae Sun runs, but fails to notice the police on his trail and gets cut on the road, and abducted by Hyung Min in broad daylight. Hyung Min drags him to an abandoned place and starts to go down the torture road by beating Tae Sun up to ask where Jo Oh is. Before he can go too far, the police burst in and apprehend both ‘suspects’ but only after Tae Sun reveals Chung Mo would know where he is. So the police decide to make a move on Chung Mo.


Soo tells Park Sa Tae Sun’s been caught and asks what to do next since the police is bound to be there. Park Sa tells him to send everyone back and retire for the day since there’s nothing that can be done. But once everyone else turns back, he goes straight to the factory. He seems to be more angered by Tae Sun;s words that his replacement was to be picked tonight.


So while the police are already set outside the factory and in wait for Chung Mo, they make no move when they see Park Sa approaching. Makes sense to crash the party, when the whole party is there. Park Sa, meanwhile, seems to realize there’s already company in the area. Chung Mo and his men aren’t far behind in arriving but they have trouble identifying whether the target is there or not until Chung Mo takes out his phone, thereby allowing light to fall on his face. Hyung Min tells everyone to make preparations to move in, but not until he orders it.


Chung Mo has barely gone far inside the factory when he and his men are attacked by Park Sa. One by one, Park Sa takes out his men with the help of a jacket and radio. He finally switches to a knife and takes out the last two men, all without breaking a sweat. Chung Mo is wise to look a little frightened.


The police team moves in after they hear a gunshot and a man stumbles out with wounds, only to find all the men inside also on the ground, knocked out cold or dead. Well, Park Sa was thorough. Hyung Min asks one man where Chung Mo is-he’s the only one who seems to be conscious and runs in the direction he points to, only to find Park Sa driving away with Chung Mo. A count of the men inside shows two men are missing-Chung Mo and one more. Hyung Min interrogates one of the men who says Park Sa took Chung Mo away but can offer no further info as he doesn’t know who Park Sa is.

On the highway, Park Sa drives away with Chung Mo unconscious in the backseat. Meanwhile, Hyung Min and Lee wonder how one man could have taken on all these men and gotten away. Hyung Min concedes that the narrow corridor helped, but wonders how he could have managed it in 20 minutes. They puzzle over who Park Sa is and why he would take away Chung Mo? He arrives at the correct conclusion that Park Sa must be after Jo Oh.


The person in question, Jo Oh meanwhile is on an outing with his son who is drooling as he watches women dance. Ewww. Worst parent ever! Thankfully, their evening of fun is cut short by the door being unceremoniously shoved open by Soo, who drags in the cat Chung Mo and pipes up “Long time no see!” Chung Mo apologizes but before Jo Oh can deal with him, Park Sa walks in.


Jo Oh stands up to face Park Sa as Park Sa stands in front of him and asks impassively, “Finished listening to the music?”



Like I said above, I had FUN with this episode! It;s been ages since I enjoyed such a dark drama where the characters are so wonderfully played. I am enjoying Soo and Park Sa’s dynamic the most-they’re the ones I’ll keep an eye on for more bromance. While some things weren’t set up as well- Officer Lee’s charater (Sorry, I still don’t know her full name) or Hyung Min’s background, I think we can expect the latter, if not the former to pop up more in the future. We have yet to get a proper glimpse of Su Min as well, but I’m surprised and happy to say I’m not complaining. Park Sa has kept me busy enough for the hour and it’s been fun watching him come back from the underdog as the man on top for today. Seeing the kind of power Park Sa yields, it would be fun to watch him go full scale against the crime world of Jo Oh and his organization and whatever other people may be allowed.

I’ve seen the actor playing Park Sa before in Time between Dog and Wolf and Smile, You and enjoyed both dramas for a variety of reasons, him being one of them. For this drama, it seems I’ll enjoy it mainly thanks to him. Watching him as the shrewd and calculating crime lord is fun and engaging. You can sense the dangerous air from the man in his soft speech pattern and his cold eyes. I came into this drama with no expectations-I’d only read the overall story as described at dramabeans once  and had almost forgotten about it. Thankfully, there’s not much to watch on my plate right now which means Heartless City takes the front seat for this ride. I just hope it stays such an engaging ride throughout.

P.S. The ost is also nice with a touch of dark and hard tones, especially in the fight scenes! If you’ve time, do check out the drama and its ost! If not enough to watch it, check back for more recaps! 😉

About hitomiakiko

Architect and Aspiring Writer

Posted on May 30, 2013, in Asian Cinema, Entertainment, Korean Cinema, Potpourri, Recaps, Uncategorized, Written Excerpts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. though am just starting to watch this movie i think it will be interesting cos i bought it when i saw park sa on the pack.i have watched one of his movie “princess jamyung”where he played the role of prince hodong.i just like him

  2. Sorry for bothering you. I translate subs to that kdrama from English to Russian, but i know a little bit korean and i think they are wrong in translate the dialog between Kyung me and Soo Min in sul jib. Exsactly the third phrase Kyung mi? Is she said that Soo Min didn’t go to study, but she goes in sul jib? I right or wrong? It’s just driving me crazy…

  3. I am loving this drama so far! Just what episode 1 over the weekend and read your recap to understand things a little better.
    The female cop seems so stereotypical of most non-lead female cops in dramas it seems. I really love the dark and brooding Doctor and his relationship with Hyun Soo who seems equal parts hired muscle hothead and “the big boss” Such a crazy drama. I’m really interested to seeing how it will play out.

    • Hehe, Soo and Park Sa are one of my favorite aspects because of their ‘bromance’. It’s not jsut Soo who’s loyal to Park Sa, but rather a two way bench-Park Sa looks out for him just as much and that has got me squealing the minute they come onscreen together! They just go together SO WELL! Can’t wait for more! ^_^

  4. Oh my! I’m so happy you decided to recap this! Hahaha, I didn’t read your post (except for the comment section) since I haven’t seen the drama yet. I’m watching too much lately and I’m checking out how quick the subs will come out. Anyway, seeing how much you loved it, I’m pretty excited to see!

    Jung Kyung Ho <333 I really loved him in Time Between Dog and Wolf. It's great to see him in another great dark drama. I wasn't planning to watch until I saw stills of his sizzling hot chemistry with Nam Gyu Ri.

    • Yup, it’s going really exciting n I’m totally loving it!! It’s a little hard to recap though, since my korean lags at places! But I’ll do what I can!
      Ah, I havent seen the promos with the ‘sizzling’ chemistry yet! Since youtube wont work here, I’ve no way to check them out so everything is kind of a surprise for me, hehe!! ^^ Do check it out when you have time-I’m watching just this and Lee Soon Shin nowadays so I’ve got loads of time!! 🙂

      • Oh that sucks. I can try finding non-youtube links for you although I think it’s a good idea to be pleasantly surprised instead 😀

        I’m also watching Lee Soon Shin! I’m really loving Jung Ho and Soon Shin. Included in that list is Gu Family Book, Mandate of Heaven and Shark.

        I’ll probably watch this drama on October. Maybe then, we can have some awesome discussion on it 🙂

      • Hehe, I’m most interested in seeing the supposed sizzling chemistry between Park Sa n Soo Min in the previews so I hope the drama delivers on it fast too!! ^^

      • Ok I guess I don’t to look for it anymore if it’s the preview! Yay I’m glad we’re going to have that chemistry early on 😀

  5. I love dark and this is dark!! Of course, Jung Kyung Ho as Jung Shi-Hyun was definitely the reason I am watching and Nam Gyu Ri as Han Soo-Min is an added plus because I loved her in 49 Days. The fight scenes blew me away! I will definitely be looking forward to this next week.

    • Same here! I’m LOVING Jung Kyung Ho as Park Sa n can’t wait till he lights up the screen along with Gyu Ri! I am so hoping this drama turns out EPIC! I am so expecting it to be so!! ^^

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