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I knew that somehow things would have to come to a head between Kim Seonu (Lee Hyun Woo) and Lee Jang Il (Im Si Wan) over the sins of their fathers, but I didn’t really think they’d go to such an outrageous place.  Though considering that in the first two episodes someone’s already been murdered all for the sake of college tuition, I really should have known better.  At least this crazy event happened at the end of the episode, so that we could have scenes of Jang Il playing sugar daddy to Seonu.

I think that so far Seonu’s orphaned life hasn’t been as tragic as it could have been.  This was obviously because they were planning way worse things for him later on, but for a short while things seemed quiet.  Of course he went through that brutal gang punishment/hazing and leapt onto a moving train, but he seemed fine after that.  Even took up some fine woodwork and stuff.

I guess I’m comparing his trajectory to that of Kim Tak Gu’s from Bread, Love, and Dreams, where that poor boy wandered around alone from the age of 12, not even getting a proper education.  And when I do, I tell myself that Seonu is at least smart and literate.

He was even reunited with his Master of Study costar, Lee Chan Ho, who told him that the police suspected foul play with his father.  I think Seonu was always going to keep trying to find out the truth, but this news seemed to give him even more reason to file that petition.  Watch out, he has a petition.

As Seonu was settling into his joyless life, Jang Il was moving up in the world as well as moving into his new spacious apartment provided by Chairman Jin (Kim Young Chul), his new best chingu.  I thought I would be angrier seeing Jang Il wallow in relative luxury while Seonu was being beaten half to death, but more than anything I felt uncomfortable thinking what he was going to do when he found out that the chairman was less chingu and more accomplice.

I find I sympathize with him a lot less when he’s being so awful and calculating in his love life (can you even call it a love life?).  It was indecent how excited he was at college orientation to see Han Ji Won (Kyung Soo Jin), raising his hand in class to pretty much confess to her (yes, he’s that kid who volunteers in class) and not even faltering when he heard her story about the boy with the rock (Seonu) who made such an impression on her and was just her type.  He quailed a little when he discovered her father’s company was bankrupt (way to stay on top of current affairs, future prosecutor) and that she was working three part-time jobs, but in the end her fallen princess appeal won out and he still pursued her.  Please don’t think he’s sweet, Ji Won.  I’ll think so much less of you.

Even though I wasn’t completely angry with Jang Il, I was still able to hate another character pretty forcefully.  Choi Sumi (Park Se Young) made some really awful choices in this episode, and she has emerged as kind of bad.  Or as bad as those morally ambiguous and self-serving characters usually are.

She is still all hung up on the totally not worth it Jang Il, humiliating herself in front of him as they took the train to Seoul together – and no, Jang Il, she didn’t stalk you.  Though honestly, Sumi, with those drawings you have of him in your room can you really get so angry over that accusation?  She was upset over so many things – her country perm that didn’t look anything like Julia Roberts’ (what complex issues she has), how Jang Il treats her, and then losing her purse in the big city.

I was inclined to agree with her dad, Choi Kwang Cheon (Lee Jae Young), when he just laughed at her for getting her purse stolen.  But he stopped laughing once she found out that he had been planning on blackmailing Jang Il’s father, Lee Yong Bae (Lee Won Jung), over Seonu’s father’s murder.  She told him in her annoying, bratty way not to tell anyone.  It looks like she’s planning something really devious (hell hath no fury, right?), but I was so angry with her.  This has nothing to do with you, Sumi – and don’t you care about Seonu, the boy who accepted you when no one else did?  She and Jang Il deserve each other.

Of course Jang Il was going to find out the truth on his break from school.  Nothing like a horrible revelation to start your college career and blight your glorious future.   Once again the drama went the very unsubtle route by leading up to his discovery in the worst way possible.  Jang Il seemed to be riding a tailwind, reveling in his new life of money and almost power.  He loved playing the rich boy to his down-and-out princess (making me sick as he did that – she should have thrown that dessert at his head) and referring to the chairman as his friend who’s really looking out for him.  I think he liked introducing Seonu to the chairman, too, though the chairman enjoyed that a little less – he could only see his hated rival, Moon Tae Ju (Jung Ho Bin – whoa, was the actor always that sleazy?), in the boy’s features.  So much for paternal instinct.

But what Jang Il loved the most, and what made me kind of wish he had never found out the truth, was treating Seonu to a nice suit.  Ok, it was a little weird seeing him so eager to pay (he wanted to pay) and trying to wheedle Seonu into moving to Seoul to go to school and generally hang out with him (he did say that the apartment was too big for one person).  I think he really loves his friend – the only person besides his father who makes him forget his rigid life goals and actually feel something.  Because calculating Jang Il would never have befriended anyone who wouldn’t benefit him.

But he had to find out – not only that his father and the chairman killed Seonu’s father (will he try to blame the chairman mostly before he finds out the whole truth?), but also that the chairman doesn’t really think much of him at all – mostly that he’s a country bumpkin who doesn’t know his place.  Jang Il understandably reeled from all of this, his first instinct being to go to Seonu and beg him to forget about his father’s death and move to Seoul with him – they’d be happy together!

When that didn’t work, he tried to stop new-suit-wearing Seonu on the rocky cliffs overlooking the sea.  He had told his father that he would take care of the petition, but I don’t know what he was planning to do with Seonu.  I’ll go easy on him and think that he wasn’t originally planning on bashing Seonu on the head and then heaving him into the ocean.  It just happened.  Now that Seonu has been left for dead, it looks like the drama won’t be staying in 1998 for much longer.

I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Jang Il since fate seems to have other ideas for him and Seonu.  I think his feelings for Seonu were some of the only sincere emotions he’s ever had, and it’s terrible that he had to watch that friendship become something almost cursed.  But murder?  Um, no.

We know Seonu doesn’t die, but how will he handle this – a betrayal by someone he saw as a brother?  He now has 4 more episodes to figure it out since the drama recently got an extension (from 20 to 24 episodes).  Also, I didn’t know the chairman had a stepdaughter who kind of doesn’t like his business practices.  And when will Moon Tae Ju actually show up and do something, instead of just calling Seonu and being rude?  That man has the worst timing ever.

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Man from the Equator: Episode 1

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