Level Up Episode 1

Level Up Episode 1

The CEO of gaming company Joybuster tells his employees the company is bankrupt. It is being purchased. Shin Yeon Hwa (Han Bo Reum) demands to know if the CEO can live with himself knowing he ran the company into the ground and everyone at risk. He retorts he does feel good and they’ll know their fate once new management arrives. Yeon Hwa agrees to head to Busan to clean up their booth. As she exits the CEO apologizes for the state of affairs.

At the purchasing company, CRC, An Dan Te (Sung Hoon) tells his team they’ve done well and he’ll see them on Monday. He promises a vacation next time. They aren’t excited. Manager Park (Danny Ahn) grumbles he still has to work and asks if anyone wants to join him. They scatter to enjoy the weekend.  Director An catches him grumbling.

At the manager’s meeting they maneuver Dan Te into restructuring Joybuster. Dan Te calls them on their obvious ploy and states the other managers aren’t as effective as he is. They don’t like it. Dan Te tells Manager Park to determine if he should apologize for his blunt words. Manager Park starts to confirm this, see’s Dan Ta’s warning glance and agrees that Dan Te is correct. Dan Te rises, apologizes if he offended and leaves Manager Park to deal with the irked managers.

Director An catches him grumbling about the situation. He tells Manger Park they are heading to Joybuster. They review Joybuster’s particulars in the car.  Director An is not happy to learn Joybuster is a gaming company.

On the train to Busan Yeon Hwa is confronted by a shareholder. He takes pictures of her.

Joybuster’s CEO gives Director An and Manager Park a tour. Manager Park is impressed with the amenities. Director An sees the cost of the amenities. The CEO shows a promotional video for the company in which Yeon Hwa appeared to be greedy for food causing unflattering images on the web and negativity on the message boards. The Yeon Hwa images from the train are uploaded. They all grimace. Director An gives the CEO the purchase agreement. The CEO implores Director An to save the company. Director An can’t promise the company will remain intact. Sighing the CEO signs the agreement. Director An comments their primary game was a one hit wonder. The CEO disagrees stating his team can produce another blockbuster game. Director An doesn’t believe him. He wishes the now former CEO well and leaves. Manager Park is left to mumble a couple of encouraging words before he leaves too. The CEO crumbles the signed agreement, frustrated that it has all come to this.

Yeon Hwa purchases lunch and a mask to hide her face. She gives a call from an anonymous man saying he’ll catch her when she gets to Busan. He hangs up. Another call comes in a similar vain. Yeon Hwa checks the message board and realizes her cell phone number has been posted. She is irked.


Director An meets with his boss and tries to avoid the assignment of restructuring Joybuster. Director An leaves to go on vacation. Manager Park tells the boss (his father) that Director An is nothing without him. Manager Park boasts he can convince Director An to take the Joybuster assignment. His father hands over the requested money. Then Manager Park declares no one can make Director An do something he doesn’t want to do. He splits leaving his father sputtering behind.

Yeon Hwa get on the train to Busan. Director An sits next to her. She gets ready to eat and he gets ready to read the annual report. He’s surprised that the report isn’t what the cover states but rather the Joybuster report (Manager Park switched the reports). Yeon Hwa comes to attention when he says her company’s name. She feigns a couch and wonders if he is a shareholder or one of the men after her. Not wanting to remove her mask, Yeon Hwa can only stare at her food and listen to her stomach growl.


Later Dan Te’s father calls…he ignores it. In the back of the train Yeon Hwa removes her mask and enjoys her food. She doesn’t sit next to him for the remainder of the trip.

When they arrive at Busan, Director An calls Manager Park and complains about the switched report. He asks how much Manager Park’s father is paying him. Manager Park comes clean without remorse. Manager Park tells him to answer his father’s phone call.

Dan Te’s father calls…he answers and hears his father remind of the anniversary of his mother’s death. Director An snipes that his father’s current wife might take exception to this. Dan Te states he’ll do the ceremony. His father says he’ll come to him and bring his step-brother Hoon. Dan Te isn’t interested and hangs up.

Later his father tells his wife he’ll go get soju.

Yeon Hwa complains to her friend she’s being followed. Her friend doesn’t believe her and hangs up.

CEO Bae Ya Chae (Kang Byul) picks up Director An. He’s only interested in business conversation.

As Yeon Hwa clears out the booth, a former coworker, GM Bon, working for Netbalpo, arrives as the next occupant of the booth. They discuss the decline of Joybuster. Yeon Hwa shares she doesn’t know what she’ll do.

The CEO of Netbalpo tells his team this launch of their latest game is important.

CEO Bae and Director An arrive and watch the boy band practice. It appears Director An used to manage them but CEO Bae does now. Director An holds the leader at a distance.

Director An walks around the exhibition space. CEO Bae calls and states she’ll come to him.

Yeon Hwa spots Director An and tries to hide. He sees the Joybuster booth and walks towards it. Yeon Hwa hides behind a sign. When he nears, CEO Bae calls to him. Director An raises his hand to wave. Yeon Hwa believes he’s going to grab her, throws the sign at him and runs. Director An falls to the floor and doesn’t understand what just happened. CEO Bae takes him away when she spies a cut on his hand. Yeon Hwa watches them leave.


When the booth is cleared GM Bon arrives with his team to set up their booth. Yeon Hwa and GM Bon agree to have dinner next time he visits Seoul. Yeon Hwa exits and calls her boss. She spies a sign for a coding session with Josep Lee and asks if she can attend. She agrees. A worker gives her the semi-repaired Joybuster sign. She slumps to her knees and cries.

CEO Bae tends Director An’s cut and tells him she’s in charge of his time during this vacation.


Yeon Hwa apologizes to the worker for her reaction. She explains the broken sign mirrored the broken company. He asks about the man she ran from. Yeon Hwa tells him her belief that the man is stalking her. The worker suggests she stay at his mother’s guest house if she hasn’t arranged for a hotel yet. The worker, Kwak Han Cheo (Baro), calls his mother to confirm availability.

Ya Chae takes Director An through the market. They browse and eat. She tells him to follow her.

Yeon Hwa is warmly welcomed by Han Cheo, his mother and other guests. As they eat, Ya Chae arrives calling to her mother. Dan Ta steps through the door. Yeon Hwa stares in shock. Dan Ta recognizes her from the video the Joybuster CEO showed. Yeon Hwa yells and backs away from the table.

My Thoughts

Just okay. First episodes can be difficult to get into the groove of the characters and where the writer wants to the story to go. Writer Kim Dong Kyu kept things formulaic, this was not full of nuance. The production and acting was also standard fare. I hope the second episode is better. The subs seem to be quite slow for this show, but that happens sometimes when the volunteer-based Viki does the subs. The second episode is at 11% complete. I watched this episode at 86% percent complete.

An Dan Te (Sung Hoon) is a bit stiff. He didn’t want to take over Joybuster, but his CEO wants him to. He didn’t want to have his father join him for the anniversary of his mother’s death.

Shin Yeon Hwa (Han Bo Reum) feared she was being followed. Who wouldn’t’ be bummed after being told their company was bankrupt? Yeon Hwa’s wide-eyed reaction to Dan Te and assumption he was following her a bit cliche.

I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as fair. My rating chart is below:

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Posted in Level Up
7 comments on “Level Up Episode 1
  1. Jane Tilly says:

    Yep, so far it does seem a little cliché … I wasn’t the least bit surprised that Shin Hwa and Dan Te ended up at the same guest house.

    Hopefully Sung Hoon’s character will loosen up and the plotline will deviate from a standard rom-com formula. Until then, I’ll just enjoy the scenery (Sung Hoon).

  2. beezrtp says:

    I’ve heard a lot of people criticize Sung hoon’s acting as being “stiff” but he’s usually called upon to play stiff characters.I didn’t find him stiff at all in New Tales of the Ginsaeng nor in Five Children (where his character was purposely over the top and hilarious).

    But what also makes me think he’s a better actor than we all have given him credit for is I sometimes watch him on the show I Live Alone. While watching, I often think his agency did him a disservice by booking him on that show because there’s no mystery (fantasy) left. I actually thought I’d never find him sexy or attractive again. lol But here he is being someone nothing like his (real life? ) or at least, variety/reality show self.

    I should say that I have heard some female fans say “seeing him as a regular guy is even more sexy”. But for me, I can see all the real, regular guys I want. I want to see the fantasy. I mean, we’ll never see Lee Min ho talking about having to poop or taking the bag out of a box of cereal and pouring milk into the bag of cereal and eat-drink it right out of the bag. lol but also 🤢

    • criticize Sung hoon’s acting as being “stiff” but he’s usually called upon to play stiff characters
      I find him endearing when he plays the stiff character once I warm up to the series.

      I can see all the real, regular guys I want. I want to see the fantasy.
      TV, movies, books are escape mechanisms built on fantasy.

  3. Jane Tilly says:

    I concur the character Dan Te 👨‍💼🔥 is stiff and appears to be a cold person. As the series progresses we learn that he has a heart ❤️, but doesn’t express himself very well.

    I tune in for the fantasy too Beez. I do find it gratifying when I find out that my bias is a genuinely nice person in real life, but let them keep their everyday lives in private.

    • I do find it gratifying when I find out that my bias is a genuinely nice person in real life, but let them keep their everyday lives in private
      I was thinking along those same lines JT.

      • beezrtp says:

        I’m too cynical because even if I see celebrities doing nice things, I wonder how much of that is planned as marketing. So my personal preference is to just enjoy their work and hope in real life they’re not a-holes. 😔

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