Scandal – A review [Ep 1-5]


Hello again folks! This time, I’m dropping by to review the series ‘Scandal’. I had my eye on it from the moment Kim Jae Won signed up (After Can You Hear My heart, can anyone not love him, hehe?) Put in an interesting premise-man’s son dies because of another man, he kidnaps that man’s son, raises him as his own, and I am sold! I’d actually intended to follow the series as it aired but didn’t get around to seeing it until a few days ago. And the first two episodes made me cry my heart out.

Our father number 1-Ha Myeong Gun is raising his two kids by himself after their mother has died and his relationship with his son, just five years old is the most adorable thing ever. The boy refuses to sleep at night from fear that his father may also die like his mother and leave them all alone so he promises his son he won’t die. What I love most-the boy is such a cutie, lol!


On the other hand, father number 2-Jang Tae Ha doesn’t even know about the existence of his five year old son-Jang Eun Joong, because his wife-Yoon hwa Young, left him ages ago without letting him know she was pregnant. Since he disliked her and only married her for her money, she took the first chance she could to get away after her husband took over-more like stole, her father’s company. She spent the past five years in America, only now returning and setting up her own law practice firm. A colleague urges Hwa Young to take the boy to see his father, or at least tell the father but she refuses.


Her mind changes however, when Joo Ran, her husband’s live in mistress and mother of his illegitimate child Jang Joo Ha, shows up and demands that she divorce her husband so – can marry him. She hands over a tape of one of their ‘nights’ together and tells her to use this as evidence to frame him for adultery. – watches the tape, much to her disgust and finds her husband talking about her father. With renewed resolve, she changes her mind.

So she goes to see her husband and asks that they live together from now on-for their son’s sake. He’s ecstatic to learn of his son’s existence and immediately agrees. As a condition to moving in, Hwa Young decrees that he remove his live in mistress first. Tae Ha complies immediately. Mistress of course, does not take it well.


Myeong Gun drops his son at his preschool in one of the Tae Ha constructed buildings, with plans to pick him up later, making his son promise he will wait for him and not go anywhere. Unknown to everyone, the building is currently undergoing severe construction damage-due to faulty construction and is threatening to collapse if left unnoticed. When the news reaches Tae Ha, he brushes it off and doesn’t do anything. Unfortunately, the crisis gets worse and this time, Tae Ha decides to blow up the building to cover up that his firm did faulty construction.


The whole premises is evacuated under the ruse of a ‘bomb threat’ which sells since the Olympics are happening in Seoul. Everyone leaves the premises, except Gun Young, who stays at the spot, waiting for his father as per their promise. After a hard day’s work, Myeong Gun goes home, showers and gets ready to go pick up his son. But as soon as he arrives at the site, the building crashes in front of his eyes.


And his son-Gunyoung is still inside! When the building was collapsing, the poor boy ran around, trying to find a way out, crying and calling out to his father to come again and again! He’d even reached a door, but was locked inside! *I can’t watch it again! The scenes between these two made me cry-every one of them, and each time I think to myself, how can someone be as heartless as Tae Ha?!* His son finally takes refuge under a door lying sideways.


Tae Ha acts the perfect part of the grieved person whose building was targeted by ‘terrorists’. He appears sympathetic to people’s plight about their loss-especially assuring Myeong Gun that he’ll do everything to save his son, only to go above and beyond them to get a license for excavating the site-without even trying to recover Myeong Gun’s son. The worst part of it is that his son is alive and calling out to his father to help him-that he is in pain and afraid. And Myeong Gun tries everything-from trying to remove the rubble himself to begging everyone around to show some humanity and save his son. He manages to enter the building through an open pathway and calls out to Gunyoung again and again. Then he hears a voice, “Daddy, I’m scared!” *My eyes are bawling at this point!*


Myeong Gun manages to locate his son –who is a level below, but if the rubble is moved carefully, he could be rescued easily. He tries removing the rubble but ends up injuring himself. All the while Gunyoung calls out to him again and again, “Daddy, I’m here. Daddy, I’m scared.” But an injured Myeong Gun loses consciousness and is sent to the hospital.


Once he wakes there, he rushes out immediately-he has to save his son but a shock awaits him as he gets to the site. The rubble is being removed carelessly, being taken away for dumping. He tries to argue but a legal order allowing the move is thrust into his face. As planned, Tae Ha is clearing the site so that there is no evidence left to support the faulty construction claim. He seems slightly bothered that he might be responsible for a child’s death but gets over his conscience and tells himself, “If I save his life, I’ll be doomed!”


What makes it worse is that in reality, Gunyoung is still hanging onto life with the hope that his father will come. He’s lying there in the dark, going over memories with his father, waiting. And he keeps smiling, thinking of his loving father.


Myeong Gun tries to get the workers to stop-or at least help him but is viciously thrown off property. Here, he sees a dump truck taking away rubble out of which a show falls. And it’s a shoe he’s seen loads of time-it’s Gun Young’s. He rushes after the truck, running after it until it stops and asks to see the rubble inside. All the while a reporter, Joo Pil is trying to undercover the truth about the bomb scare, sure that there is another story hidden beneath and the evidence he collects brings him closer to the truth. He also sees Myeong Gun begging to see the rubble.


The truck driver allows Myeong Gun to check the contents of the truck and Myeong Gun goes up trembling. Moments pass until he sees a familiar sight. It’s his son’s hand, sticking out from a pile. It breaks him as he reaches over and touches his son, holding his hand as he cries and mourns his son. *Heartbreak*

From the sidelines, Joo Pil watches, looking horrified.


Myeong Gun learns from Joo Pil that Tae Ha was covering up faulty construction and probably blew up the building himself so Myeong Gun confronts Tae Ha who coldly tells him to being evidence and not just small talk. Joo Pil vows to let the truth out and Myeong Gun works with him doggedly pursuing clues and building up a news article. The day before it is to go print, Tae Ha calls over Joo Pil and buys the man’s silence. Myeong Gun is left defeated, his son’s murdered going scot free. Joo Pil does come and beg him for forgiveness for not being able to fulfill his promise to expose Tae Ha, but it’s a moot point now.

So he decides to take matters into his own hands and heads to Tae Ha’s house for revenge. Tae Ha, however is away and waiting for him at home is his wife and son. When Myeong Gun is hiding outside by the gate when Eun Joong walks outside.


Seeing Myeong Gun, whom he thinks is his father, Eum Joong fires his pretend pistol at hi. It causes Myeong Gun to remember Gun Young, who’d play the same game with him. So when he bursts into tears there and then, Eun Joong hugs him, calling him Daddy and begging him not to cry.

That causes Myeong Gun to think and seeing a car coming-Tae Ha’s, he makes a split second decision and walks away with Eun Joong.


Tae Ha goes viral when his son is missing and rightfully suspects Myeong Gun. Hwa Young is also consumed by grief and watching her mourn her childs disappearance touches Myeong Gun’s conscience but Tae Ha’s actions spur his anger further. He threatens Myeong Gun, asks the police to investigate him-which they do, but when nothing works, he tries pleading and begging with him. Untouched and still angry, Myeong Gun leaves the city after resigning from his job. Tae Ha tries to follow him-even going so far as to jumping onto the train at the last minute, but Myeong Gun evades him by jumping off in the middle of nowhere, leaving Tae Ha with no clue as to where he’s gone.


And so he spends the next three years raising Eun Joong, who still believes he is his father and is so extra sweet to his younger sister that it touches your heart. Myeong Gun is not even awfully kind to Eun Joong-he’s rather harsh at times, especially when Eun Joong reminds him of Gun Young-by talking the same way and showing concern for him, so Myeong Gun would lose his temper at him but Eun Joong remains devoted to him and his younger sister. It’s worse because you can see his heart break every time his father scolds him considering how eagerly he always tries to please him!


The Jang household is still the same as ever. Joo Ran takes advantage of the situation to move back in and promote her own daughter to Tae Ha, all the while belittling and torturing Hwa Young so that she leaves. She goes so far as to burn every last thing remaining of Eun Joong but Hwa Young refuses to budge, unwilling to leave until she has her son back. Tae Ha, obviously aware of how cut up she is from guilt and hurt, chooses to let her suffer as punishment for losing their son, finally telling her to move out. Joo Ran meanwhile, decides to make it easier by sending Hwa Young an anonymous letter that her son is dead from the kidnapper.


Tae Ha tries to find Myeong Gun by watching Gun Young’s grave but Myeong Gun has help from a friend who helps him and the kids evade Tae Ha’s minion at the graveyard. At the same time, Hwa Young gets the call about a prospective child in an orphanage who may be Eun Joong because of the scar he has on his leg. Hwa Young goes there and sees the child-who she knows is not Eun Joong, but also reads the anonymous letter about Eun Joong being dead. The shock causes her to faint.


Joo Ran follows her there and Hwa Young sees her just before she is about to tell the kid she is not his mother. But remembering the injustices she has suffered for the past three years at her husband and Joo Ran’s hands, she makes a decision and tells the boy he is her son.

Joo Ran protests that the boy is not Tae Ha’s real son and asks for DNA testing to be done. Hwa Young, not to be deterred agrees when Tae Ha says the same and sends in the real Eun Joong’s first tooth-which she’s saved all this time for the test. As a result, the DNA test comes back positive.


Myeong Gun is meanwhile working at a construction site where he is arguing against the bad construction being undertaken. When he comes home, he finds a letter and medicine left for him by Eun Joong and although it sparks anger in him for a moment against Eun Joong’s care, he seems to get past it. Hwa Young burns the fake letter.


Myeong Gun finally makes a decision to let Eun Joong attend school-something he had been forbidding before. That day, Eum Joong and Tae Ha come face to face in the construction site and Myeong Gun worries, seeing them together. However, the immediate danger is a pile of construction goods that are about to fall over them both. Tae Ha gets out of the way in time, and Myeong Gun jumps in to save his son. Tae Ha doesn’t see Myeong Gun and  hands the other workers money for hospital fees and asks that the two be taken to the hospital. Everyone is surprised by the kind act by Jang Tae Ha.


Eun Joong cries to see Myeong Gun hurt and admits that he’s happy his father saved him but sad that it’s caused him hurt. Myeong Gun just tells him that he’ll send him to school and before it’s too late, “I’ll put you back in your place! I’ll do that for you. I’m sorry. I’m… your dad… is the one who’s wrong, Eun Joong.”


He packs Eun Joong’s bag and takes him to his old neighborhood-intent on returning him to his rightful place, but where they run into the new Jang Eun Joong. Myeong Gun is surprised to see another boy here in Eun Joong’s stead and doesn’t know what to do so he takes Eun Joong back with him.


However, inside, Jang Eun Joong tells his mother how he ran into a kid with the exact name as him and she runs outside, sure that it is her son but by then, both father and son are gone. She heads back inside and checks the CCTV footage and one look at Eun Joong-her son, confirms her belief that Eun Joong really is alive and she cries tears of joy.


As Myeong Gun and Eun Joong walk away, for the first time ever, Myeong Gun smiles at Eun Joong himself and holds out his hand. The boy smiles back and takes his father’s hand.


Years later in 2013…

Jang Eun Joong, son of Jang Tae Ha is a famous and capable lawyer who wins his cases easily. After one such case, he goes excitedly to see his mother Hwa Young and gloat about his success, proudly remarking again and again, “After all, whose son am I?” He doesn’t pick up on her discomfort or evasiveness as she changes the subject.


Ha Eun Joong, son of Ha Myeong Gun is now a detective and chases a thief through the streets. He’s dogged in his pursuit so that even a car hitting him isn’t enough to stop him. But he loses the thief when he bumps into a woman’s selling cart and he holds him back, demanding payment for the damages he’s caused.


He asks for her identity card number and name instead, reminding her that she’s doing illegal work. She tells him to go ahead and report her, “Be a tattletale” if he wants but to pay her first. She changes her tune though, when he reveals his badge.

Except, that is when she doubles over from pain in her stomach and asks that he take her to the hospital since she’s pregnant. He thinks she’s faking it and forces her up, only to find out she has actually fainted.


So he takes her to the hospital and finds out that she really is pregnant. When the nurse asks if he’s with the woman, “Woo Ah Mi”, he says no but then asks her what woman she means-describing Ah Mi in detail. This shows that he has a keen eye for detail and looking deep into things which others would normally just pass by.


He helps Ah Mi check out of the hospital once her check up is done and she’s allowed to go. She tries to slide past him without notice but when caught, appeals to his sense of chivalry by offering to be taken in for ‘obstruction of justice’ and ‘illegal activities’ and then tries to wheedle him to buy her a drink by turning puppy eyes on him. And he just stares at her.


Short Comments:

I am enjoying this series a lot because in the first few episodes you get to see so many human emotions and actions that it is truly a cry fest. I cried a lot when Gun Young’s arc was being told-I cannot even imagine the pain of losing a child-it is that immense so it came as no surprise to see even the great Jang Tae Ha becoming humble in the name of his own child-a child he had yet to meet. But that’s the power of love, especially a parent’s-it is infinite, and it is always there as protection. My favorite part is yet to come-the whole question of family when Ha Eun Joong will discover the truth and how he will handle the balance and choice between both his fathers. I love the way he’s grown up-grumpy and unconcerned with others, but totally considerate and caring for his own family (Spoiler, I’ve seen ahead up to Episode 10). He is a reflection of Ha Myeung Gun in his beliefs, values and concern but what will happen when those ideals crash when he learns the truth about the man he calls ‘father?’ Undoubtedly, this is one series I am totally going to follow and review if anyone shares my liking for it and wants to read my review so let me know what you guys think of it!


About hitomiakiko

Architect and Aspiring Writer

Posted on August 1, 2013, in Asian Cinema, Entertainment, Korean Cinema, Potpourri, Recaps, Written Excerpts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I’ve been a big fan of your recaps/reviews since I started reading your Heartless City ones. I hope you pick this up whenever you have the time. I ❤ KJW and the story!

  2. i have been following this drama since it started.
    I usually hate MAKJANG genre but this drama just bounds me to it every saturday and sunday. LIttle EunJoong and LIttle Gun Young was amazingly casted.
    can’t believe kids that young can act that much, Gun Young crying and calling his dad was just heartbreaking.
    Its the drama I’ve religiously followed with Heartlless City and Monstar and I am loving every moment of it.

    One thing that is a concern to me is that, I feel nothing between Ha Eun Joong and Woo Ah MI or even with the second lead Jang Eun Joong (the fake one)
    What I find amazing and perverted is that the tension between Jang JooHaa and Ha EunJoong scorching.
    If SCANDAL adds them as the alternative OTP, then we are full on MAKJANG trifecta (birth Secrets, affairs and incestuous relations). And since this is 36 epsiodes I will not be shocked if someone has amnesia or cancer along the way.

    BUT even with all those happening (I usually vomit the first sign of affairs and incest) but with SCANDAL I am pretty hooked. I have sunk with its great narrative, the visual directing, heart thumping chemistry between the father-son, with badassKim JaeWon and sassy KIm Gyuri, whatever the MAKJANG Crap they are planning I think I’ll be in for the ride all the way through….

    • Yes, the child actors were so well cast! Gun Young is by far my favorite-those moments he was under the rubble-the times he spent with his father-there’s no words to describe just how heartening they were! 5 year old Eun Joong was so innocent and lovable, while the 8 year old Eunjoong was just as lovable, but same parts mature and innocent and your heart breaks every time you see him making a gesture towards Myeong Gun that would land him in trouble. 😥

      I hadn’t actually read up on the drama much so I had no idea it was makjang. 😐

      So far, I don’t feel there is much of a romantic connection between any of the leads-except, like you said, Joo Ha is intrigued and curious about Ha Eun Joong but I so do NOT want this to go the incestuous way-that would put me off the show totally! I find Joo Ha much more cute and workable with that teacher guy of hers who’s now her fiance. Now that’s an equal match-however much the two seemingly dislike each other, there’s hints that the guy doesn’t dislike her as much as he’d want her to believe.

      I do, however, like all the leads-from both Eun Joongs to Ah Mi. They’ve all got such compelling and emotional stories going for them. I’ll write on this in detail in my second review, but I also adore the fact that Ha Eun Joong is totally acting like a guardian for Woo Ah Mi. I’m sure this is the road that leads to their romance and I am so waiting to see how it develops! 😀

      • Yup, those kids are just AMAZING!
        My eyes would not stop with that scene, when he was under the rubble.
        Aiiisshhh… It gave me goosebumps…
        I can see Yoo SeungHo, Kim YooJung and Yeo Jingoo in them.
        I want more flashbacks for these guys. for GunYong with his dad and for EunJoong with his mom and fake dad.

        just finished ep11 and now I feel a budding line between Ha EunJoong and Wo Ah Mi, but it is still to early for me to jump on their OTP ship. I’ll be waiting for their development.
        Today’s episode is totally heartbreaking for Jang EunJoong, to have that confirmation is totally cruel.
        Can”t fault Hwa Young for taking in the fake EunJoong, it was cruel on the part for the fake EunJoong but it was her self preservation instinct coupled with revenge plot against that monster TaeHa and his mistress that made her do it. So it was especially heartbreaking for me to see when she saw the real EunJoong on the screen talking with the fake one. The son you love slipping by your hands and you can’t look for him in public because of the lie you made.
        And now years after, she still can’t fully love the son she has because she knows she still has a son out there.
        If I were EunJoong, I would hate my fake father/kidnapper for one thing, making my mother suffer so much by taking me.

  3. abey teri was the first thing I said, I also started watching this but I m behinddddddddddd, I need to catch up fast The synopsis is amazing and so is Kim Jae Won.
    I m already scared of the secret and the timing when it will come out, and I m sure the timing will be bad like really really bad. What would happen? misunderstandings, confusion, betrayal, hatred, tears, blaming, love, trust, death.

    me need tissues TT

    • I had to pause writing my review so many times in the first two episodes because I’d watch a Gun Young scene, or see Myeong Gun trying desperately to save him and I’d tear up. 😥 The first time I saw the episodes, I actually forwarded some of those parts cause I couldn’t take it-they did an amazing job and now that the adults are in the game, I’m biting my nails anxiously, wondering when the shoe will drop and how things will work out-I don’t know how much angst I can take!

      • I cried too when Gun Young died. and yelled at my screen when Myeong Gun treated Eun Joong badly – muhabbat nahi kar sakte they toh laye kyun they-
        Sometimes – make it everytime he pops on my screen- I want to hit Tae Ha.
        The child actors are cute, like very very cute.

  4. Normally, I avoid weekend drama because they have very long episodes which i don’t have much time to watch it. So, thank you for recapping this. I will wait your next recap to decide should i watch it or not. For now, i’ll stay with Empire of Gold starring Go Soo. It is also revenge drama :p

    • How is Empire of Gold? I have been wondering whether to check it out yet but havent heard anything about it at all.

      • At first, i wanna see this drama because of Go Soo. I’ve watched until episode 4. Then, i postpone it because can’t watch other dramas than Heartless CIty. Now, after watching HC, i think Empire of Gold is a bit boring :p The plot is not interesting that much. I haven’t decided yet should i continue to watch or not. But probably i will give another chance and watch 2 more episodes before i drop it for sure or continue 😀

  5. I’m also up to episode 10 and would love to hear your thoughts on this show. I was reluctant to start watching this b/c I have a low tolerance for revenge dramas, but I adore Kim Jae Won and so decided to give the show a chance. I am really glad I did and I find it really touching and compelling so far. Many things I want to discuss from episodes 6-10, but those will have to wait 🙂

  6. Yay! Another drama to comment on! For a weekend drama, which I normally clear of after May Queen almost scarred me for life, I really like Scandal. I like Kim Jae Won’s Ha Eun Joong, he has this amazing human quality to him while at the same time displays a tenacity and cheekiness I quite enjoy.
    I’m glad you’ve reviewed it, (I’ve seen up to episode 10 as well), so would love to see you continue this!

    • Hehe, even though May Queen had KJW in it, I decided to forego it-because it was a weekend drama and I’m not very fond of Jae Hee as an actor. Then when it was airing, some bad reviews showed me my choice saved me! 😛
      Have you seen Can You Hear My Heart? I LOVED KJW in it and it explored my favorite topic-family and blood relations in such a wonderful manner!
      For now, Saturday night can’t come soon enough for me-its what I’ve come to look forward to on my weekend!

    • I actually haven’t seen Can You Hear My Heart in it’s entirety. I know, I need to, but I feel like I also need to be in the right mood for it. It also probably doesn’t help that I pretty much know the entire storyline already before even starting to watch it. But I will give it a go again :).
      Haha, I know! It’s nice that there’s something good on the weekends now!

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