kdrama

laurel tree tailors eps 1-20

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Title: 월계수 양복점 신사들 Since 1917 / Wolgyesu Yangbokjeom Sinsadeul Since 1917
Also known as: The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop / Bay Tree Tailors
Genre: Family, drama, comedy
Episodes: 54
Broadcast network: KBS2
Broadcast period: 2016-Aug-27 to 2017-Feb-26
Air time: Saturday & Sunday Night 19:55

Synopsis
‘The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop’ talks about men’s love, success and family. Suits have always been the symbol for men and their class. What the characters from the drama have in common is that they all work for Wolgyesu Tailor Shop. They share their friendship as well as love at their workplace. –KBS World

Main Cast
Lee Dong Gun as Lee Dong Jin
Jo Yoon Hee as Na Yun Shil
Cha In Pyo as Bae Sam Do
Choi Won Young as Sung Tae Pyung (Sung Joon)
Hyun Woo as Kang Tae Yang

First impressions (Episodes 1-20) 

Since this is a long weekend drama, thought I’d break this down in parts. First off, this story is about a small but distinguished tailor shop that has been passed down from generation to generation and the current family that runs it. The grandpa (and Master Tailor) is Master Lee, a really nice man who is sad that no one (esp his only son) wants to take over his shop, and with his soon-to-be deteriorating health, he decided to close his business for a while to finish his bucket list (before it’s too late). The matriarch is played by the beautiful Kim Young Ae (Rest in peace – as she succumbed to cancer last week), whose character spends a lot of time whining and depressed because his husband just went away and has not returned, angry because of her daughter’s foolishness, sweet to her son and takes her of everyone around her.

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Master Lee and grandma has two children: Dong Jin and Dong Sook. For the first few episodes, Dong Jin seemed like the complete opposite of his father – he was very career focused, married into a very wealthy family and equally cold wife. He came off as very cool, doesn’t let anyone get too close to him. As the next few episodes unveiled, we would understand why he became like that, and it was mostly because he lived with his wife’s family, who treated him like her butler and/or manager who will take care of her family business (Meesa Apparel) while she is busy shopping and being a socialite and who was not close to his family. When he lost his place in his father-in-law’s company as CEO by his scheming brother and mother-in-law and finding out about his father’s condition; he resigned from Meesa Apparel and decided to take over his father’s company until his father comes back.

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Dong sook, on the other hand, has been divorced several times, a good daughter to her mother, has an adult daughter, and owns a small comic book rental shop. I didn’t really think much of her other than she was pretty and seemed like the type who was a hopeless romantic and sometimes a fool when it comes to love. More on her later as I introduce the other gentlemen.

We have a lot of extended family characters who are integral to the story. First is Master Lee’s apprentice, Sam Do, who is very handsome (too handsome maybe) for his thuggish wife Sun nyeo (played by the funny Ra Mi Ran). I say thuggish because as the background story showed, she didn’t finish school and spent more time causing trouble and has a quick temper, especially when she sees other women flirting with her husband. I like this couple – it’s obvious that despite the issues they have, they love each other very much and is quite a team when they don’t fight with each other (mostly when Sun Nyeo behaves) – but sometimes I feel like Sun Nyeo is very selfish and annoying and wonder what Sam Do saw in her. They mostly fight because of Sun nyeo’s insecurities. Sam Do really wants to be a tailor but Sunnyeo wants a normal life selling fried chicken at the market. Eventually, when he started rebelling against her, she was forced to give in and agree to move to Seoul to help out in the tailor shop. Sam Do sacrificed his dream for her, and when it was his time to try to achieve his dream again, Sun nyeo was very angry – I didn’t like this part of her because I thought Sam Do was already begging her just for a short time, while waiting for Master Lee to come back and she couldn’t even support her husband. Another big no-no for me was for Sun Nyeo repeatedly forcing her husband to have sex and get pregnant. I understand her desire for a child, but Sam Do already agreed once, she got everyone’s hopes up and told everyone she was pregnant the day after they had sex (of course it doesn’t show overnight lol!) and had a phantom pregnancy. Then when she found out she wasn’t pregnant, obviously Sam Do is very furious. He agreed to have another go at trying for a baby, you made him hope then disappointed him. Not only that, he hasn’t even getting over the disappointment and she is nagging at him to try and try and try. No wonder Sam Do shouted at her and got drunk. I think Sun Nyeo was wrong – she kept saying that she should be the one who is angrier but she didn’t even apologize to him for the ruckus she caused! and Sam Do told her, let’s not talk about it, but she just kept pushing and pushing him. I seriously wanted to go into the tv and slap her silly. I’m also sad she has no other friend that she can talk to or advice her on these things – heck she is confiding to a guy who is a loser – more on him later.  I have a feeling they will eventually have a child and be happy. But for now, I hope the next succeeding episodes will focus more on her and her amazing cooking skills (maybe open a shop and be successful).

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Next character I will introduce is a very important character as she is the leading lady in the show. Her name is Yun Shil and she is an employee of the tailor shop. The story did not mention if she came from the province or city but the episodes show her as very sweet and cheerful young lady, who always has a smile on her face and helps the people in their neighborhood. She is also not well off, as her father was sick and because of that, a local gangster (Ki pyo) took notice of her. The first episode was actually of everyone preparing for her wedding to Ki Pyo – and everyone trying to warn her or change her mind. Why would a nice girl marry a gangster out of gratitude or debt? She didn’t have to go that far to express her gratitude of helping her father (who still died anyway). And while I agree with them (she can pay him off instead of getting married to him), I could understand her simple thinking. Eventually, they did not get to complete the wedding ceremony because halfway through it, the police interrupted the wedding and arrested Gi pyo. For the next couple of episodes, she faces a dilemma of whether to continue the marriage (wait for Gi pyo to get out of jail after 6 months) and act like a dutiful daughter in law to an awful awful Gi pyo’s mother (who I so badly want to go down for treated Yun Shil so badly) or take this opportunity to get out of the whole marriage and gain her freedom (and possibly face the growing attraction between her and Dong Jin).

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Speaking of Dong Jin, he and Yun Shil met at the worst circumstance, when she was running after Gi pyo and bumping into Dong Jin. During this time, they have never met each other and did not know both were connected to the tailor shop. The next couple of episodes have them fighting at each turn, getting into coincidental (and very cringe worthy – at least for Yun shil) situations and misunderstandings; all the while, slowly getting to know each other and realizing that their first impressions were the exact opposite of their real selves. Dong Jin thought she was a stupid and manipulative liar when she was actually honest and caring. Yun Shil thought he was such an arrogant jerk but was actually as warm hearted as Master Lee. I’m already in Episode 20 and the attraction between the two is starting to show – mostly coming from Dong Jin – like buying her a pair of shoes, always driving her around and walking her back home. There was this funny scene when Yun Shil asked him straight, “Do you like me?”and Dong Jin was so startled, he dropped his tea and vehemently denied it. At this time, Yun Shil is still “almost” married to Gi pyo, who I think will be a force to reckon with when he gets out of prison, while Dong Jin has recently divorced his wife, Hyo Joo. I think it’s just a matter of time before they get together and I hope they will be sweeter and will work hard to bring success to the tailor shop. And some kiss scenes please since they recently confirmed the actors are dating in real life.

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Next up is Dong Jin’s ex-in laws. Hyo Joo is the ex-wife, there’s not much scene with her except for the sulking and the bitchy remarks to her stepmom and stepsiblings. She was such a bitch to Dong Jin and demanded a divorce, but I felt a little twinge of hurt for her when Dong Jin immediately signed them and left. In a way, I think she was scared – she lost her father, her wealth and now her husband, who she thought betrayed her. I think their marriage was more of a business marriage than for love, but I guess eventually she fell in love too, except there was just too much distance and less communication that their marriage crumbled. I’m glad to see her trying to at least gain some ground in her family’s business – I hope they she eventually finds happiness in managing her family’s business and maybe find her own love. Her stepmom is Eun Sook, who used to work for Master Lee’s shop, supposedly seduced Hyo Joo’s wealthy father (who was very much married at that time) and succeeded to marry him once the wife died. We could understand why Hyo Joo would hate her. Eun Sook, on the other hand, is partly scheming, mostly she is just fighting for her children’s rights, and partly motherly , as despite how Hyo Joo treats her, she still tries to make sure she doesn’t make bad decisions and just wants them to all get along as a family. The stepchildren are Hyosang and Hyowon. I honestly think the actor playing Hyosang looks too young to look like a CEO of a huge company (his eyeglasses look too fake on him) and to fight against Dong Jin, but he did win and got hold of Meesa Apparel. I think he’s not that bad, he really just wants to take the company from Dong Jin, I guess he feels that he should inherit the business since he’s the real son, and Dong Jin is just the in-law.

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Cue in Hyowon, who I dont really like as a character because she is ditzy and annoying. They are trying to portray her as sweet (like trying to befriend Hyojoo) and caring for Tae yang even if they didn’t know each other but she is batshit crazy!! Yells at Tae yang (more on him next section) for no reason other than she feels jealous (and she feels entitled to just because she took care of him and paid for his bills) and totally screaming at him for the girls she misunderstood as his girlfriends. Add to the fact that no one wants to be her friend in the office and even her in laws (Dong Sook’s daughter) doesn’t like her and she is trying to force her to be friends with her.

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Tae yang, is Yun Shil’s friend, who used to go out with Ji Yun – she used to be poor but became a popular TV announcer and become so mean to Tae yang and broke up with him to be with Hyosang. At this point, i dont know if Ji Yun really likes Hyosang or she is just using him for the money. On the other hand, Hyosang is a playboy who knows the history between Tae yang and Ji Yun and uses it to play her by hiring Tae Yang to work in Meesa Apparel. The truth was eventually revealed that Hyosang knew all along about their past, Ji Yun getting angry at Hyosang for going on a blind date and still trying to ruin Tae yang’s life. I hate Ji yun – i hope Hyosang drops her – at this point, I dont know if Hyosang really likes her or just playing with her – how could you like a girl that manipulative – though Hyosang has not seen the real Ji Yun – who is super mean to everyone and fakes the niceness. Or maybe they deserve each other because they are both manipulative? another twist to this whole confusing connection is that Tae yang works in Hyowon’s team, who is starting to fall for Taeyang and hates Ji yun – they have several bad encounters where Ji yun is too arrogant and refuses to apologize to Hyowon. I would love to see Ji Yun’s face when she finally realizes Hyowon is Hyosang’s sister – and that she should have been making friends with her instead of fighting her (Clearly she didn’t do her homework or she would have known who she was). As for Taeyang, I love his puppy dog look, he is hardworking and smart – I dont really want him and Hyowon to get together at this point because he is too good for Hyowon, but I think Tae yang will be the good influence to Hyowon to teach her about life while Hyowon can teach him about loving for a second time (this time where his love is appreciated and returned).

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One last major character, whose story is the least that I care about and I mostly fast forward, is Sung Joon. he is a hasbeen rockstar (won rookie award way back when) and has one stupid hit song (Susana’s handkerchief) that he keeps singing practically every episode that makes me want to ban this song forever!! (LOL) I dont’like him because he doesn’t seem to have grown up at all. he still believes in his fantasy that he will be successful again one day but I dont see him do anything about it. He doesn’t write any songs, he doesn’t do auditions, he doesn’t study the current trends in music. he is busking in the streets but uses his old songs (who would listen to him if he keeps singing old tunes). He is partly using Dong Sook to get money from her and lost it through fraud (argh!! how stupid and desperate he must have been)! The last few episodes has him actually doing some work (even though it’s for a community, it’s a small step to gain back this purpose/meaning in life). I dont know if there’s a plan to make him work in the tailor shop too but for now, I just hope he starts cutting his hair, fixing his fashion sense and working towards his music dream (if he really wants to). As of Dong Sook, hay.. she is too old to be so lovesick for a guy. I could understand wanting to help him, but to steal your mother and your daughter’s money for a guy who doesn’t even want you is LOW. if I were him and she really believed in his dream and talent, I would have lent him money and become his manager. at least she knows where her money is going and can openly support him. She even sold her comic book store.. jeez! i thought she could have used her comic book store rental to promote him and his music. plays his songs, let him stay there, talk to people, hold like weekly live music sessions, etc.

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Whew! That’s a whole lot of characters and side storylines to follow – for now, I like the pacing of the story, it’s not too fast but not too dragging (except for DongSook/Sung Joon) romance. I also like that the story is not doing the usual makjang and is more a feel good family story. The soundtrack has not been a hit though – there are no songs that really stick out. I love the comments on the tailoring as I feel like I’m learning something about the business. I love the actors playing the characters, I love the overall mood or feel of the drama. Hoping the next couple of episodes will get even better!

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