Sweet Munchies Episode 1
Kim A Jin (Kang Ji Young) comes to the eatery run by Chef Park Jin Sung (Jung Il Woo). He pours her a cold beer. She sighs her pleasure at the cold brew. She declares she’s drinking tonight. He prepares the perfect side dish for the liquor he chooses. She eats with relish. Ah Jin stares at her badge and grouses the she’s still a contract worker after 4 years. Jin Sung makes her dinner and declares it is on the house. She dives in with delight. Two other customers arrive looking forward to a yummy meal from Jin Sung.
Jin Sung takes the bus home late in the evening.
Jin Sung arrives at a church or orphanage and tells his father he’ll take over preparing the food. He dons his vest. He and his father joke and enjoy each other. After lunch, Jin Sung gives his father a new pair of sneakers. He says his father spends his money on others, so he’ll spend his money on him.
Ah Jin prepares a proposal for a new program called Sweet Munchies. The computer reboots and she loses her work. The IT department tells her contract workers don’t have dedicated computers and directs her to dig an old one out of the pile. She’s not happy.
Jin Sung suggests his father needs a new car. His father isn’t interested. Jin Sung persists the old car could break down anytime. Sensing his son’s concern, his father agrees to consider a new car. He sings for his son.
Ah Jin grouses about the lack of good equipment for contract workers. She retypes her Sweet Munchies proposal. Coworker Noh Jae Soo (Park Sung Joon) gives her the task to bind a large stack of documents. Kang Tae Wan (Lee Hak Joo) notices the Sweet Munchies proposal. He notes contract workers can’t submit proposals. Tae Wan states Ah Jin should concentrate on her duties and leave the real work for the permanent workers. Tae Wan tells her to get him a cup of coffee ASAP, and get working on binding the documents. Ah Jin isn’t happy.
Ah Jin gives her proposal to Director Nam Kyu Jang (Yang Dae Hyeok). He invites her to the team dinner tomorrow.
Jin Sung enjoys a meal before the evening meal service. He leaves a message on In Deok’s phone to stop by.
Ah Jin finishes her work for the day. Friend and coworker Yoo Sung Eun (Kim Yi Jung) invites her for drinks.
After drinking, Ah Jin stops by Jin Sung’s eatery which he’s closing for the night. She talks him into opening it so she can have a beer with him. They chat and chuckle. They leave together. Ah Jin asks Jin Sung if he’s walking her home. He says he isn’t. It turns out they live in the same building on the same floor! They are shocked. They introduce themselves as neighbors. They laugh and head into the building.
Once in her apartment, Ah Jin smiles.
Once in his apartment, Jin Sung smiles.
Jin Sung’s father sings while driving. His car starts to act up. The brakes fail. He dodges cars and ends up ramming into a barrier. Blood runs down his face.
At his eatery, Jin Sung gets a call from his father’s phone. He gets the news his father was in an accident. Jin Sung rushes out of the eatery.
At the hospital Jin Sung learns his father had bleeding in the brain and surgery was required. He finds his brother (?) holding vigil by his father’s bedside.
Jin Sung is surprised to learn his father didn’t have car or liability insurance, so no monetary compensation will occur. Jin Sung calls In Deok, but no answer. Jin Sung’s bank account doesn’t have much cash.
At the bank to get a loan, the loan officer is one of his customers. Unfortunately, the eatery lease isn’t in his name and Jin Sung doesn’t have collateral, therefore a loan isn’t possible. Jin Sung leaves the bank. In Deok calls. Jin Sung rushes to the eatery to meet him. In Deok tells him he’s leaving the partnership. Jin Sung is shocked. Jin Sung tells In Deok about his father. He asks In Deok to reconsider. In Deok says he’s in a tight spot too. He leaves stunned Jin Sung behind.
Jin Sung considers a loan shark.
At the team dinner, everyone drinks and eats. Manager Cha Joo Hee (Kim Soo Jin) tells the team their show proposals were awful. She tells Ah Jin that food shows are a dime a dozen. Ah Jin counters that the gay chef will give great advice on her show. Manager Cha scoffs the public won’t be interested. Ah Jin speaks up for herself, much to everyone’s surprise. She gives a passionate summary of why this show would work.
Jin Sung visits the loan shark. Goons watch him while the offer of $4K is made at a 47% interest.
Manager Cha discounts Ah Jin’s words but agrees to give her a chance. If she brings a chef within one day that she likes, the show can be made. Ah Jin sputters one day is too short. Manager Cha says that’s all she’ll be given. Ah Jin declares she can do it. Manager Cha declares if she doesn’t, she’ll be fired. Ah Jin has no choice but to accept the offer.
In the bathroom, Ah Jin can’t believe she agreed to such an offer.
Director Nam tells Ah Jin that was a stupid move. He tells her not respecting hierarchy in a company is a hard lesson to learn.
Manager Cha tells another coworker that other channels are airing American shows which she is loathe to do. He asks why she gave Ah Jin such a tight timeline. He asks if he’s proposal was any good. She retorts it was garbage. He asks her to reconsider.
Jin Sung enters the hospital and sits next to his sleeping father. He listens to his father’s humming and cries. He falls asleep. His father wakes. He calls to Jin Sung who wakes. His father is immediately concerned about the cost of the hospital. His father says hospitalization isn’t covered by his insurance. Jin Sung urges his father to get well, that is the priority. His father apologizes for causing this mess.
Yoo Sung Eun chastises Ah Jin for talking back to Manager Cha. Ah Jin is sure she’ll find someone to satisfy. She presses Sung Eun to help her. Her friend agrees while teasing Ah Jin for the amount of trouble she causes.
Jin Sung finds the lock on the eatery changed. He calls In Deok, who doesn’t answer. He stares in the window at the eatery, his lifeline, now blocked.
Flashback…Jin Sung remembers the time and effort into getting the eatery ready. In Deok loved his food. They were sure they’d be a big success. Jin Sung promised to pay In Deok back with success.
Ah Jin posts looking for a chef. She wants to make this happen. This is her chance. If it doesn’t work, she doesn’t know what she’ll do.
She’s shocked to find Jin Sung’s eatery closed. She calls out his name, but he’s not there.
Jin Sung tries instant lottery cards to no avail. He puts his head in his hands.
Ah Jin spots Jin Sung outside a convenience store as she walks home. She rushes to him asking why the eatery was shut. She sees he is drinking alone. Jin Sung says he’d like to be alone. Ah Jin rises and leaves. Jin Sung looks at the worthless lottery cards. Ah Jin stops and returns to Jin Sung. She asks if he’d know any chefs. Jin Sung is taken aback. Ah Jin explains the concept of her TV show – a chef that cooks and dispenses advice. Jin Sung isn’t in the mood. Ah Jin declares the chef would earn good money. That gets Jin Sung’s attention. He asks what the chef would need to do. Ah Jin replies cook food. Ah Jin begs him to help her find the right chef. Jin Sung considers.
At home, Jin Sung reviews Ah Jin’s show proposal.
Ah Jin is dismayed to learn from Sung Eun that no chefs have arrived to audition. Ah Jin declares she’s on her way to an institute that might be able to help.
Jin Sung is shocked to find buyers inside the eatery. He claims he eats there regularly and knows there are cockroaches. The owner demands to know why he’d say such a thing. Jin Sung falls to his knees and begs her not to sell the eatery. He swears he’ll get the deposit money.
Sung Eun and Ah Jin wait but no one shows. Jerk coworker Noh offers to clean out her desk. She waves him away. She decides to go find a chef. Then a chef appears to audition. Ah Jin and Sung Eun are thrilled.
The chef auditions. Manager Cha isn’t impressed. Ah Jin demands to know why this chef won’t work. Manager Cha claims he has fat hands and won’t appeal to female viewers. Manager Cha tells her to beg for another day. Ah Jin asks for another day. Manager Cha declares if she needs an additional day, she’s lacking. She tells Ah Jin she has 4 hours to find the right chef.
Jin Sung arrives at the studio. He bumps into Kang Tae Wan. They lock eyes. Jin Sung rushes away.
Outside the studio, Ah Jin wonders what to do next. She gets a call from Sung Eun that another chef has arrived.
Ah Jin rushes into the studio. She surprised to see Jin Sung. They stare at each other. Jin Sung tell himself as of now I am not myself. He puts on an apron and begins a showy cooking of a meal. Ah Jin loves it. Sung Eun loves it. Manager Cha is intrigued. Jin Sung has flair! Jin Sung tells himself to hide his identify and get the job done…its’ the only way he can survive. Starting now…he’s the gay chef for this show!
The “why” was set up in this first episode. Writer Park Seung Hye made it clear; Jin Sung needs money due to cover his father’s accident costs. This is a standard kdrama issue, but healthcare costs can be crippling. Ah Jin needs this show to earn a permanent position and end her contract worker status. The mistreatment and low status of contract workers has been explored in several kdramas I’ve watched (Feels Good to Die, Romance is a Bonus Book). This is a 12-episode run, this series will be short and hopefully sweet. Let’s see what the next episode brings. So far, I’m interested.
Chef Park Jin Sung (Jung Il Woo) had 2 blows that forced him to audition. His father’s accident and subsequent hospital bills. He went to get a bank loan, but his lack of collateral earned denial. The loan shark interest rate of 47% was a bitter pill. Then his business partner exited the partnership with a vague explanation and put the building up for sale. Jin Sung begged the building owner not to sell and give him a chance to earn the deposit money. Ah Jin offered an option, she needed a chef for a cooking show. Strapped for alternatives, Jin Sung decided to pretend the audition was theatre and cooked with showmanship.
Kim Ah Jin (Kang Ji Young) was willing to risk her job to gain permanent status. Manager Cha made it an all or nothing choice. Ah Jin took the risk. Jin Sung arrived to audition much to her surprise. The initial interactions between Jin Sung and Ah Jin were friendly. I had to chuckle when they both walked home only learn they live on the same floor of the same building!
Kang Tae Wan (Lee Hak Joo) was a jerk to Ah Jin. Will he improve with time?
The first song of the OST is “Love with You” sung by Lee Jin Ah:
I rank this episode as decent, 6 on a 10-point scale.