Open Thread: Money Flower Episodes 1 & 2

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Thanks to all you OG group watchers on the final Chuno thread; I wouldn’t be rewatching Money Flower right now if it weren’t for your many, very infectious expressions of enthusiastic admiration for Jang Hyuk, and man, am I glad to have Jang Hyuk as Pil Joo on my screen again, heh. 🤩

I hope you guys are ready to chat about Money Flower episodes 1 & 2! Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:

1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. I repeat: no spoilers for future episodes please! We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.

2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 1

Ahhh. I’d forgotten how complicated, dark and swirlingly delicious this drama world feels. I feel sucked in, all over again, and very quickly, too. Immediately, practically the minute that Show opens, we get the sense that this is a complex world where there’s a lot of history involved, and therefore, nothing is what it seems, on the surface.

In particular, it’s clear that Pil Joo has an agenda born of a likely convoluted and painful past, and does not have an issue with adopting shady methods in order to achieve his goals. What strikes me about Pil Joo right away, is how Jang Hyuk plays him. He comes across as so controlled and yet so languid, at the same time. There’s a sense about him, that he’s holding back, like there’s a coil of strength and potency that he’s keeping in check, that he can unleash at his leisure in sharp, lethal and exacting ways.

Having just come fresh off our Chuno watch, I’m even more impressed than before, at the way Jang Hyuk controls his voice as Pil Joo. If this is your first time watching Jang Hyuk, I can assure you that this isn’t his normal speaking voice. What strikes me about the way Pil Joo uses his voice, is that it gives off that exact same vibe that I described above. It feels like he’s speaking from the back of his throat, and just like everything else about him, he’s only using a fraction of his full voice potential to communicate. The result of that, is a voice that sounds muted, but still vibrates with a lot of latent power.

I will talk about other things soon, I promise, but one last thing about Pil Joo I want to point out, is the entire way he carries himself.

His every move feels considered and controlled; there’s nothing careless about the way he moves. The same vibe comes through again; I feel like there’s a lot of strength and power that’s hiding behind the unhurried, deliberate way that he moves, and that, when unleashed, that power can and will come through with an intensity and accuracy that can lean dangerous – and even threatening.

Like how Pil Joo deals with the reporter who’s trying to blackmail him with the photos of Grandpa Chairman’s random hidden son threatening to jump off a building. The way Pil Joo walks into the room is all business, and the way he then kicks and hits the reporter is violent and unrelenting, yet also calculated and precise. And then, he’s smoothly pleasant, as he threatens the reporter right back – before handing him a makeshift icepack, to ice his wounds. So smooth, and so scary, at the same time.

Through the cloud of that polite and potentially savage air, I can’t help but find Pil Joo completely magnetic and mesmerizing. 🤩

Plot-wise, it’s immediately clear that Pil Joo has A Plan, from the way he’s putting so much effort into planning Boo Cheon’s match with Mo Hyun, to the way he requests for prison time from the prosecutor, who, startlingly, seems ready to defer to Pil Joo, in terms of how to proceed with the case. What kind of power does Pil Joo have, to be able to do that? Is this power because of the fact that the case has to do with the Cheong A Group, or is this personal power?

I gotta say, I don’t like Boo Cheon very much, from this first episode. He seems a little sorry that Pil Joo is going to prison for him, but he also doesn’t seem that sorry, really. I’m irked by his flippant manner when he visits Pil Joo in prison, making jokes about whether Pil Joo’s eating well, and gloating that he’s managed to tease a slight smile from Pil Joo. And then later, there’s how he makes fun of Pil Joo for being out of form on the squash court, like he’d been beaten up in prison. Uh. That seems like a strange attitude to have towards someone who’s taken the fall for you, I say.

Also, I’m very unimpressed with how Boo Cheon’s shown a preference for shirking responsibility, even from a young age. First, there’s how young Boo Cheon tells young Pil Joo (Jo Byung Gyu! Eee! It’s great to see him on my screen so soon after The Uncanny Counter!) that he doesn’t want to look bad in front of his cousin, and then there’s how he denies stabbing the Hyung who was with Pil Joo, AND, there’s how he’s so pleased to see his family lawyer, because he knows that, in Cheong A tradition, his crime will be blamed on someone else. Ugh. Did not like.

With all this as context, I’m already rolling my eyes at Boo Cheon’s behavior in the present. The way that he manages his affair with the reception staff seems quite reckless, with the way he basically makes out with her in the company library, where anyone could walk in on them. This is going to become troublesome, I can just smell it.

Clearly, Boo Cheon is nothing like his mother Mal Ran, who kinda-sorta reminds me of Pil Joo, in the way that she is unfailingly proper and polite, but does not hesitate to exert her power to set someone in their place, if she feels the need to do so. Like the way she firmly reminds Ms. Han that she is not and never will be part of the Cheong A family, even though Grandpa Chairman chooses to have her for a companion.

One of the things that I can’t help but notice, is the way Show hints that the relationship between Mal Ran and Pil Joo isn’t just pure business. There are subtle but definite shades of them relating as a man and a woman, rather than simply as a superior and her subordinate. There’s the way he takes off his own jacket and puts it on her shoulders, when he exits the prison, and the way he addresses the driver instead of her, and asks why he’d brought her, when it’s chilly out. That’s exactly the kind of thing I’d expect a master to ask of his servant regarding the lady of the house, but Pil Joo is clearly not the master of this house.

Additionally, there’s the way he’s allowed to access her bedroom without permission. When she’s all up in a twist over Grandpa Chairman’s plan to give Daeil Distribution to Yeo Cheon, and his instruction for her to move out of the family home, no one is allowed into her room, and yet, it’s considered perfectly normal for Pil Joo to be given the key, to let himself in. That feels highly intimate, and like the kind of privilege only accorded to a lover. The connection and potential power play between Mal Ran and Pil Joo promises to be very interesting indeed.

I do feel sorry for Mo Hyun for being selected as the unwitting pawn in the grand plan to make Boo Cheon Chairman of Cheong A, particularly since I don’t think much of Boo Cheon right now. It’s not like she’s ever expressed an interest or desire to get married to a chaebol prince. She seems like a sweet girl with an innocent and caring heart, whose parentage just happens to make her a prime target. And now she’s slated to fall in love with a pretty losery guy. Poor girl.

Ironically, her desire for a fated love seems to point towards Pil Joo right now, since he’s the one who’s coincidentally present at Cheong A Hotel, when she’s duped into a blind date by her mother. That’s not something that Pil Joo planned, so perhaps fate really is at work here, somehow.

It’s very interesting to me, that we see young Pil Joo kneel before young Boo Cheon, asking Boo Cheon to be his friend. In contrast, in the present – despite all the “dog” labels and the fact that Pil Joo’s had to take the fall for Boo Cheon more than once – it’s Pil Joo who wields power over Boo Cheon. Boo Cheon himself complains to Mal Ran that Pil Joo looks at him condescendingly.

Mal Ran is cognizant of Pil Joo’s power too. She tells Boo Cheon that he will never become Chairman of Cheong A without Pil Joo’s help, and Pil Joo definitely knows this as well. It’s clear that he deliberately removes himself from the picture, so that Boo Cheon will have no choice but to come running to him, begging for the help that he’d once refused. After all that we’ve seen Boo Cheon do to Pil Joo, though, I can’t help but feel quite gratified at this role reversal, where it’s now Boo Cheon kneeling in front of Pil Joo.

Episode 2

Ooh, a lot of things – backstories, motivations and agendas – are becoming somewhat clearer this episode, and it feels like the stakes are amping up, alongside. It’s all very heady and absorbing, and I feel quite glued to my screen. Of course, part of the reason I feel glued to my screen, is because I am mesmerized by Pil Joo – but you guys already knew that, yes? 😉🤩

Pil Joo is proving to be adept at a lot of things. Not only is he a cool-headed master strategist, who understands the likes of Grandpa Chairman as much as he understands the likes of Mo Hyun, he’s also a sharpshooter and skilled fighter. I’m suitably wowed, heh.

Honestly, if Boo Cheon had followed Pil Joo’s instructions down to a T, he would have left a much cooler, much more suave impression Mo Hyun, I feel. Once he takes the earpiece out and does his own thing, he comes off a lot less charming, and you can even see Mo Hyun becoming a bit uncomfortable. It’s true; Boo Cheon is basically nothing much, without Pil Joo’s guidance.

Also, even though Pil Joo is the one orchestrating this “naturally fateful” marriage between Boo Cheon and Mo Hyun, he clearly does care about what actually happens to Mo Hyun. When Boo Cheon talks about all the women he plans to have on the side while married to Mo Hyun, Pil Joo is disgusted enough to punch Boo Cheon in the face, in order to make his point and get through to Boo Cheon. Given how whiny Boo Cheon is so much of the time, I hafta say I got a fair bit of satisfaction that he gets punished for talking smack.

We learn a fair bit of backstory this hour, the first chunk of which is that Pil Joo’s adoptive father had died while Pil Joo was serving his time in prison. Poor Pil Joo. He’s so torn up by the loss, and seems so alone in the world. His desire to die seems to be driven by a combination of those two things.

Of course, in kdrama tradition, it has to be Mo Hyun who’d saved him, but importantly, it seems that Pil Joo hadn’t known that Mo Hyun was the girl from his past, when he showed care for her wellbeing. So far, it feels like Pil Joo’s attitude towards Mo Hyun is a mix of a concession of compassion, mixed in with a bit of personal interest. His in-depth, well thought-out analysis of the kind of woman that she is, mixed with the occasional leaked tiny smile, is what gives me that impression.

And there’s also the way he steps in to fight off the two guys who were trying to take advantage of a very drunk Mo Hyun. You guys know I love it any time Jang Hyuk gets to show off his fight skillz, and as always, I am not disappointed. The fight scene is short, but that only shows how efficient and effective Pil Joo is, at taking down both men. His blows are sharp, quick and dismissive, and I watch it all with glee and with stars in my eyes, hee. 🤩 The fact that he does this all in a sharp suit without getting even a wrinkle in his clothes, is just extra cool. 😍

Afterwards, I love how gentle he is, as he carries Mo Hyun back to her house, and then catches her sleepy head on his shoulder and then sits with her, silently. This feels like such a great metaphor for how he will likely continue to take care of her – silently and anonymously.

Everyone in this drama world seems to be a shade of gray – well, except for Mo Hyun, who seems innocent and pure – and so I can’t say the way Pil Joo gets rid of Boo Cheon’s girlfriend Seo Won is very nice at all. But, what I will say is, to Pil Joo, this is business.

To Boo Cheon, who’s been all sweet on her and taking every opportunity to make kissy faces at her, I’d expected a little more.. humanity? It’s clear that the phone call that Pil Joo makes to Boo Cheon is unplanned, and yet, in that moment, Boo Cheon bites out that he doesn’t know her. Wow. That’s pretty awful, yes? I mean, I’d be crushed in Seo Won’s place.

Also, Boo Cheon really doesn’t seem very effective at business either; it’s Pil Joo and Mal Ran who have ensured the success of Daeil Distribution. I can’t say I actually blame Grandpa Chairman for not wanting to name Boo Cheon as his successor. I mean, if I had a conglomerate of companies, I wouldn’t want Boo Cheon at the helm either. Not that I actually think Grandpa Chairman’s a great example for how to run a business either, given his shady way of handling the takeover of Daeil Distribution.

We finally see a big piece of Pil Joo’s backstory; as Show reveals that Pil Joo’s father had been Mal Ran’s husband, and after his father’s death, he, his mother and younger brother had been thrown off a boat to die. Ugh. That’s shocking and awful, and it’s no wonder Pil Joo appears to have a vendetta against the Cheong A family.

On a tangential note, in this last scene, we see that Pil Joo comforts Mal Ran by pulling her to himself in an embrace, and not only does she allow it, she even clings to him. This is very much a picture of a relationship between a man and a woman, rather than a superior and a subordinate – and it occurs to me that Mal Ran is technically Pil Joo’s.. stepmother of sorts..? 😳🤯 How very spellbindingly twisted. 🤭

86 thoughts on “Open Thread: Money Flower Episodes 1 & 2

  1. Pingback: Announcement: Dr. Romantic Group Watch! [plus bonus Money Flower Group Watch!] | The Fangirl Verdict

  2. astrorainfall

    Thanks for the recap. I’ve actually watched eps 1&2 TWICE in a bid to start Money Flower but never wandered beyond so the recap is very handy indeed. I’m done with ep 3 and wow, it is a WEIRD show. Lots of questions marks over surprising turns in the plot. Still not on team JH yet but can see his infamous micro-expressions at work.

    Reply
  3. Kay

    You’re so right, Money Flower just pulls you right in from the start. And Jang Hyuk is just masterful with being restrained yet so powerful. It’s easy to get pulled into Pil Joo’s story and revenge. An exciting ride for sure!

    Reply
  4. Dhi

    Watching this show for the first time, just caught up with the first two episodes.. If not for the group watch voting, I would not have come across this show. The plot is intriguing and all the backstory is definitely gripping. I am curious to know what is the relationship between Mal Ran and Pil joo, was the embrace at the end of episode 2 just a hug to a person who is defeated or is it something else? I have watched Jang Hyuk only in Voice so far and liked him in that, and this role is very different from that. Also recently finished watching Uncanny counter , and so good to see Byeong Kyu again in this drama.

    Reply
    1. Georgia Peach

      Dhi….I wrote this in a comment further down. Hope this helps you understand their relationship. This is my second watch.

      And I’ll take an opportunity to comment on the relationship between PhiJoo and his stepmother….I think his thoughts as he consoles her at the end of episode #2 says a lot. This hug and back pats were certainly not consolation…for her they were…but he’s not forgetting what she’d done in the past. He’d like to tell her those thoughts….’You can’t become weak now…you have to remember what you’ve done (having your husband’s mistress AND children killed) to get where you are’. His desire for revenge is so deeply embedded in his heart that it allows him to caress the very object of his revenge. Chilling 🥶

      Reply
      1. dhivya raveendran

        Georgia Peach, thanks for the reply and your take on that hug. It makes sense, he doesn’t want her to get defeated even before he starts taking his revenge. I am intrigued and looking forward to the next episode..

        Reply
        1. Georgia Peach

          The dynamics between these two characters are mind blowing! And I believe you are correctly seeing his entanglement with her. It only gets more so as PilJoo’s plot for revenge thickens. PilJoo is also using his half brother BuCheon to get revenge on the whole of the family. What kind of regrets if any will PilJoo have for using him and what are his real feelings toward this needy, whinny and fearful half brother? What part did he play in making BuCheon this way? So many questions yet to be answered…..

          Reply
      2. Drama Fan

        Im caught up and once again fascinated but also WOW I think I had “forgotten” just how twisted all our characters are! My Piljoo is so tragically twisted! I agree with the commenter who said that he craves love. It is so palpable in that scene when he lets drunk Moo Hyun sleep on his shoulder. And as a contrast the lengths he is willing to go through for his revenge. The closing scene of Ep 2 still gives me the chills. The way he caresses Mal Ran, is he disgusted or is he savoring the moment? Its so perverse. He is in such a dark place. Ahhh the acting is so delicious in this drama. Its all about the eye acting and tiny but powerful reactions. Lee Mi Sook is also a master at this. I also really enjoy Jang Seung Jo’s neurotic gestures. Yes, I also feel sorry for that bastard. And why do I love Grandpa? He is such a bad person but the actor is so fun to watch.

        Reply
  5. MC

    Oh! Guys, I’m so glad that Money Flower got picked as the additional group watch. It was one of those shows that I told myself one day I should watch it but that one day… never came. Haha but now that I’m committed to the group watch, I started watching it and DARN, ITS SO GOOD. It’s just the first 2 eps but I LOVE IT. It’s so cracky that I stayed up late till 1+ to watch it (I almost never do this anymore) and every other show feels so boring now. It’s struggle to keep to only 2 eps a week cos I JUST WANT TO KEEP WATCHING! But if I keep watching then the rest of the week will feel so long without new episodes to watch. Haha. I’m going to love this show, aren’t I?

    It’s my first Jang Hyuk watch and – what an actor. Now I’m starting to see the hype and love for him. He’s so good. He reminds me of Baksa (my favourite Jung Kyung-ho) in Heartless or Cruel City. Languid and chill on the outside but you just know that he’s like a coiled up panther ready for the right time to unleash the full force of his fury and might and power anytime. I had no idea that was not his usual speaking voice – very impressive that he modulated it to fit the character so well. When I was watching him I really thought the man is so mesmerizing and magnetic and magnificent.

    The show is pretty well done too I must say. Just 2 episodes in and they’ve covered a lot of ground yet you know there’s so much more to come. The music is very effectively haunting and the other actors are gold. I did also get the lover vibe from Kang Piljoo and Mal-ran which was disturbing since she’s semi his stepmother. Very effectively communicated by both actors.

    I can’t wait for the next 2 eps and for us to discuss again in a week’s time!

    Reply
      1. Georgia Peach

        Ask me if I loved that drama? I was really into Jung KyungHo after watching Prison Playbook. Thinking that this drama (Heartless City) wouldn’t be much since it was from some 7+ years ago I watched anyway for him. JKH’s performance so outshone everyone else….mercy he was good! Agree with the character comparison also.

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        1. MC

          @Drama Fan, I couldn’t finish Heartless City cos it was just so dark. But JKH is so brilliant in it. Really going against type. And high five to you and @Georgia Peach for sharing the JKH love – have you all watched Life on Mars? He was also very good in that!

          Reply
          1. Georgia Peach

            MC….I have not seen Life On Mars. Should I watch it right away? I’m some 9 episodes into Mr Queen and I just never drop a drama…but I’m not getting into this one. Liking Kim JungHyun. But the story is too goofy 🤷🏻‍♀️ So a good drama with JKH would be grand.

            Reply
            1. Drama Fan

              I was HATING Mr Queen but for some reason I continued watching and now Im loving it! Since you are already on 9, try maybe until 12? But yes, its goofy, I had to adjust to the tone

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              1. Georgia Peach

                Okay, Drama Fan I’ll continue on your recommendation. Like it can’t decide whether to be comedy or a serious sageuk. I’ve always enjoyed how the writernims can turn on a dime from some comedy to serious melo, aka It’s Okay That’s Love, but this has been jarring!

                Reply
                1. Drama Fan

                  I know exactly what you mean though. The drama is “weird”. It definitely requires some major lense adjustment to get into it. I have strangely fallen for both leads now (separately and together) but I will totally understand if you don’t because it is indeed such a weird drama lol

                  Reply
                  1. beez

                    @Drama Fan @ GeorgiaPeach – I love, love, ❤ Mr. Queen and all because of Shin Hye sun. She’s my favorite actress and to see her get to show off her chops in this is a bonus of enjoying the character and enjoying seeing her pull off the character. We always talk about Yoon Eun-Hye in Coffee Prince and Oh Yeon-Seo in Come Back Ahjusshi (both well deserved praise), but Shin Hye sun completely embodies a 21st century “playa” complete with an appreciation for women.

                    Wherever this show comes up, I mention that in episode 19, she proves she’s the equal of Jang Hyuk and Yoo Ah-in in intensity although the moments are brief. (Y’all know that’s the highest praise that I can give anybody.)

                    I can’t say enough about her and her craft. From her bringing to life a ballerina despite her height and size and making me believe she could really play a violin to carrying an entire show despite her co-star being considered automatic ratings poison in My Golden Life.

                    Reply
                    1. Drama Fan

                      Im having a total fangirl crush on her. She is the reason I kept trying with the drama despite it being too weird for my taste but there was also the fact that the character of the king is very endearing. She sorta carries the drama but he was the one who provided the emotional engagement for me first, as soon as we started learning about their past. But soon I started to feel for the couple. But anyway, going back to her as an actress, yes, I can see she is very special. Its not only about having range or skills, she has that extra charisma or “it” factor (so I agree with your JH comparison and you know thats also high praise from me 🥰 As opposed to the other actresses who played females pretending to be males, she is a male in a female body and is completely convincing. I even “see” Choi Jin Hyuk when she is performing lol I had only seen her in Stranger/Secret Forest before, but Im thinking of checking some of her other shows

                    2. beez

                      @DF – I actually wrote you something here that got lost while I left the page to check on the spelling of some Korean names. Oh well, although I was explaining something that I emailed to you. You’ll see the email and,hopefully, the link will speak for itself.

                      As to Shin Hye sun’s charisma – she’s got that likeability factor. The first time that I saw her was in She Was Pretty. Her type was that of a golddigger, planting herself in the bed of who she thought was the chaeboul. If any other actress had played that role, my reaction would’ve been curling my lip but I couldn’t be mad at her. I could only laugh at her. Likewise, in that mermaid show with LMH and Gianna Gunn, I normally would hate that character that tries to come between the OTP. No matter what she’s just likeable! 😄

                  2. Georgia Peach

                    Drama Fan and Beez….I did.. at y’all’s urging.. finish Mr Queen. So glad I did, because the drama finished strong. The characters fell in place, the resolution of the plot was good, and I did start caring for the characters..which in the first half I was only frustrated with. Watching Life On Mars now and really like it.

                    Reply
                    1. Drama Fan

                      Awesome! I had the reaction to that drama. I went from being frustrated to really caring ☺️ Life on Mars is on my list

                    2. Georgia Peach

                      For sure LOM needs to be. Both actors and their supporting actors are superb and the drama itself is unique and different. I’m having to watch it on Kissasian. Couldn’t find it anywhere else 😑

                    3. beez

                      @Georgia Peach – I’ve thought about watching Life on Mars (mainly for Go Ah sung) but I didn’t finish the original British version so I don’t know…

                2. dhivya raveendran

                  @GeorgiaPeach, don’t drop Mr. Queen it get better and better. It is one of my first sageuk though I have watched countless Kdramas. I totally loved Mr. Queen though, all credits to Shin Hye for doing such a gret job

                  Reply
            2. MC

              @Georgia Peach – yes! Putting aside my bias cos I love JKH so much, LOM is a good show. Thought provoking, generally well-written, well-acted. I really enjoyed Park Sang Woong and Go Ah-Sung. It takes a (or so I’ve heard) good British show and makes it it’s own, while still retaining the flavour of the original. But you do have to be prepared that it’s an OCN show so there’s blood and violence, haha. It’s one of my favourite shows! If it helps, Kfangurl likes it too 🙂 She’s reviewed it here too. I can’t comment on Mr Queen coz I’ve not watched it but if you’re in the mood for a solid, more serious type of show, LOM is a good choice 🙂

              Also seems like people here are liking Mr Queen. Hope you enjoy it, if you do continue!

              Reply
              1. Georgia Peach

                MC. Some are telling me to hang in there with MQ. Perhaps I will. LOM sounds good for my taste and, yes, OCN does love the blood and all that goes with it! 😉. Thanks for the recommend….it’s now on The List.

                Reply
              2. Georgia Peach

                MC, thank you ever so much for your recommendation of Life On Mars. I’m watching it now and am totally hooked. What a drama!!! Loving me some Jung KyungHo and Park Sung Woo. They do play off of one another well. Liked them in When The Devil Calls Your Name. Thanks again. 😊

                Reply
    1. beez

      @MC- when you’re done with Money Flower, please make your next Jang Hyuk show Chuno aka The Slave Hunters. That’s nothing like it and nothing compares to Jang Hyuk’s performance in it for which he won Best Actor.

      Reply
      1. Drama Fan

        whispers I love JH in Chuno, but I find his acting in Money Flower, My Country, Bad Papa, FTLY, Beautiful Mind and Tell me what you saw just as good, if not even better (blasphemy) but yeah cause there’s more of “subtle” JH in all of those. Honorable mention, Robber.

        Reply
      2. MC

        @beez I know!! I tried to join the Chuno group watch but life and I Hear Your Voice stole me away. Haha. I haven’t really had much success with a saguek type of show but I have heard that Chuno is soooo good. I shall give it another try soon!

        Reply
        1. beez

          @MC – when you get around to Chuno, post your thoughts as you watch is the Chuno episode threads. I know I’ll be interested in your take and watching for them.

          Reply
  6. j3ffc

    First-time watching, as well, here. Another show that is not my usual cup of tea but coming along to further my drama education.

    Only a couple of things to add. Like Trent, I found it weird to see 21st century Jang Huyk, especially since I watched “Tree With Deep Roots” and “Chuno” back to back. So far, he seems a little too restrained, but expect that will change. I’m not quite as impressed as his violent streak as some you (cough! KFG) but I did notice that he does seem to be very precise – meting out exactly what he things he needs to get the job done, then moving on (even offering a little comforting hanky or ice-application to his victims). I totally missed the connections noteed during the critical drowning scene and will have to rewatch it to make the connection.

    Finally, I thought the opening was specific and nicely atmospheric. So far my favorite element of the show.

    Reply
    1. phl1rxd

      Hi j3ffc – I missed the connections as well the first time I watched. The good thing is that when it first aired there was a drought of good dramas and I was so memorized by MF that I would re-watch episodes that had aired while waiting for a new episode to drop. I then caught it on my second go-round.

      Reply
  7. phl1rxd

    It looks like Jang Hyuk is shooting at the marsh with a Canon Mark II or Mark II and with one of my favorite lenses – the EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6. Great equipment to do some undercover photos and kudos to the prop manager for making that selection.

    The Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Incheon is home to the Cheong-A Group family. From the start we see Pil Joo getting the wrong end of the stick. Some of the scenes are painful to watch.

    I had to shake my head at his golden post-prison tofu, served on a silver platter no less.

    The family dynamics are so seriously dysfunctional. It is chilling to see them behave on this level and especially when Mal Ran says “In the end, he’s still a servant and you’re the master”. Poor Pil Joo – the family’s attitude to him is pretty degrading.

    FWIW – It is really hard to believe that Lee Mi-Sook was 57 years old when this was filmed. She is really gorgeous and plays this part to perfection. So nasty! Lee Soon-Jae scenes with Jang Hyuk are quite a treat – 2 tigers in the same room.

    I recognize the room where Mal-Ran meets Assemblyman Na. It is the same room (even the same blue leather couch) used in the first few minutes of What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim E1. Note to self – you may be watching too much drama. Anyway, I feel like her father is somehow turning his back on his daughter for a deal for money and position and it is just sad to watch. Will this come back to haunt him like bad instant karma?

    That look in Jang Hyuk’s eyes at the very end of E1 takes your breath away. Full stop. There is so much going on behind that look. It made the punch in the car so much more rewarding.

    Then in E2, after he so efficiently whups the thugs, when he is piggy backing Mo-Hyun up the stairs you can see his heart just getting shredded. He so craves love – it is so sad that he has to plan her marriage to someone who clearly does not deserve her.

    One thing I find very special about this drama is the Prometheus-like OST. It is really effective in enhancing the dark undertones. This is a re-watch and this drama is just as good as the first time I watched it. I loved Hyuk in Chuno and other dramas, but I appreciate him most in this role. This role fit him like a customized hand sewn glove. IMHO this is Hyuk at his finest.

    Reply
    1. Ele Nash

      The music does darken the scenes in interesting ways. Love it! And agree the acting is amazing. Obviously Jang Hyuk, I feel like Pilju’s quiet determination was made for him too. Maybe I’m especially drawn to understated characters, but there’s something so immersive about the subtle shifts in expression that Jang Hyuk does in this that I can’t get enough of. Like when he tells Mal Ran, Mohyon wants to marry for love and she replies bitingly that such a foolish girl should become a Jang, the expression on Pilju’s voice barely changes yet somehow it conveys his hatred that Mal Ran thinks wanting love is foolish. It’s these non-verbal reactions, most often to Mal Ran, that are genius 😍
      Agree Lee Soon Jae is extraordinary in this too. He plays the role of powerful, ruthless chairman with such seemingly careless ease. And I want to give a shout out to Sunwoo Jae-duck, who plays the surviving son, Jang Sungman. His sharklike smile is ever-present and completely cut-throat. I love the way he plays it.
      And as for Lee Mi-sook’s Jang Mal Ran, she starts off a bit caricature but really quite quickly becomes a force to be reckoned with and ultimately masterful. She is brilliant and very watchable. The weird interplay between her and Pilju – is she like a master to him, a mother, or a mistress – is so horrible and dark and all kinds of wrong, yet I can’t look away 😳

      Reply
      1. Snow Flower

        The minimalist brilliance of the music is another element that makes the drama memorable. I have a question: When PJ was following MH in the restaurant and overheard her talking about her first first love, was he aware that she was his first love? Or did he realize this when his buddy showed him the picture of teen MH holding the burned textbook later? I liked how JH said “Mo Hyeon” with a sweet little half smile and a touch of tenderness in his voice…

        Reply
        1. Ally

          Snow flower, yes, I’m sure he’s aware. He’s basically been stalking her for 20 years, I’m pretty sure. I think that crush is mutual.

          Reply
        2. Georgia Peach

          SnowFlower, I was thinking the same as I rewatched these first two episodes…did PilJoo know MoHyeon was THE girl from his past? Ally says yes, but I’m not so sure. If he’d been stalking her for 20 years…why would he want to bring her into such a perverse situation? She’s the person who saved him from killing himself. Does he hate her for that and want revenge on her too? I’d missed/forgotten that the connection between them was relieved so early. As I rewatch…perhaps writer-nim will make this clear. I only remember a portion of their relationship and I’d not want to say any spoilers.
          And I’ll take an opportunity to comment on the relationship between PhiJoo and his stepmother….I think his thoughts as he consoles her at the end of episode #2 says a lot. This hug and back pats were certainly not consolation…for her they were…but he’s not forgetting what she’d done in the past. He’d like to tell her those thoughts….’You can’t become weak now…you have to remember what you’ve done (having your husband’s mistress AND children killed) to get where you are’. His desire for revenge is so deeply embedded in his heart that it allows him to caress the very object of his revenge. Chilling 🥶

          Reply
          1. Ele Nash

            @SnowFlower @GeorgiaPeach This is my third watch of Money Flower and it’s the first time I got that Pilju DIDN’T realise Mohyeon was the girl from the lake. It was only when he saw the photograph with the book that he put it all together. Which I think is why he so tenderly then says her name, as he’d not before known it in connection with that girl. I imagine also in that moment he’s recalling the blind date conversation he’d eavesdrpped on, where she talks about him – although by the wrong name so he hadn’t then understood the connection. It kind of makes them fated, doesn’t it? Also, isn’t the opening shot of Pilju lining up photos of women then aiming a gun him choosing which girl would most benefit Cheong A if Bucheon married one? I might be wrong on that.

            Reply
            1. Georgia Peach

              EN…I agree. You aren’t wrong. PilJoo didn’t know MoHyeon was the girl at the lake who saved him when he made his selection. (I do believe he’d fallen for her as he continued to watch her.) The name on the book was what threw us. It was a second hand book which bore the name Jo InHo. Hearing that name at the restaurant didn’t ring a bell with PilJoo at the time. He’d not remembered the book nor the name on it. Only when he saw the downloaded photo made by MH from years ago did he make the connection. And we must remember the locket MoHyeon picked up at the lake side which she still has in the box with the book. I have watched episode #3 and #4….this wonderful, well scripted, well acted drama is just beginning!!!! And things are so much clearer now…in this second watch. So glad I’m in on this 😊

              Reply
              1. Snow Flower

                @Ele Nash and @Georgia Peach, I think you are right. He realized that MH is his childhood love after he put his revenge plan in motion. Had he known her identity before, he would probably not get her involved in the revenge scheme. It is too late now…

                Reply
      2. phl1rxd

        Hi Ele – I agree that those smiles were so swarmy (the chuckles as well). Yes, Hyuk’s reactions are ever so subtle and deadly lethal at the same time. The amount of control he has over his emotions is substantive but I am glad we are able to get a glimpse of his struggle when he carries her up the stairs. That family puts the dis in dysfunction. Love your last sentence.

        Reply
      3. Drama Fan

        To me its like Jang Hyuk decided one day, enough with people seeing me as this full of energy action (sometimes OTT) actor. Lemme show I can do micro expressions and Boom! He became the master of micro expressions for this role. I always loved JH but with his acting in Money Flower he showed a new style of acting, he increased his repertoire and he made me fall all over again for him. And he was sexy OH so sexy in this. BTW I still have to catch up! Ill be back with more swooning later lol

        Reply
        1. Snow Flower

          He did use micro-expressions for some of Daegil’s scenes in Chuno, but the role in Money Flower is so subtle, it hinges on micro-expressions. JH delivers, of course.

          Reply
            1. beez

              @DF and SF – I just happened to see a clip yesterday of the press conference scenes from FTLY and I didn’t remember from my original watch the subtle longing in his eyes purposefully playing underneath the facade of pushing her away. 👏

              Reply
          1. Georgia Peach

            SnowFlower, I’ll ask you and the others to pay attention to episode #3 starting at 8:28 for the most subtle of mico expressions. Masterful! Have watched it over and over…

            Reply
              1. Georgia Peach

                I thought at first I was imagining a change in expression because of how I knew the story line and how much pain PilJoo had experienced. I rewound and then I saw the slightest lowering of the chin, a tiny turn of the head and the eyes seemed to go out of focus. 🤯🤯

                Reply
    2. beez

      @phl1rxd – Lee Mi sook is my girl crush. 😆 I fell in love with her in East of Eden where she’s a total b*tch (not in the way Mal Do ran is), but her sheer will and determination for her family to survive and thrive leaves no room for casual life/living.

      Here’s a photo shoot of her with Top from Big Bang. I don’t know the background of this shoot, but she’s clearly cast as the cougar. Top in the bathtub, fully clothed, is a bit disturbing as he looks like a 10-year old boy in that pic. https://1drv.ms/f/s!AvE2-hpAQD16gZUlcE8f_LSpjY_2ew

      Mal Do ran’s heart 🖤 is blacker than that swamp water that she threw Pil joo’s family into.

      Reply
      1. Ele Nash

        Yikes, those are some photos! I thought it was fascinating seeing her in Wok of Love, especially playing Jang Hyuk’s character’s estranged mum. She’s very versatile and love she’s not afraid to look far from glamourous!

        Reply
      2. phl1rxd

        @Beez – I still have East of Eden queued up and one day, one day I will get there. 😆 Ok, so Beez, that photo shoot is pretty daring…and she is smoking (in more ways than one). I cannot believe you found these. The fact that she is 57 in this drama is amazing. Last sentence = perfect analysis.

        Reply
        1. beez

          @phl1rxd – I have no idea how I came across those photos. But whenever I see something interesting (to me), it gets stored on my Cloud so I can whip it on y’all. 😄

          Reply
    3. Ally

      Those cameras were probably PPLs. Product placements—but done really well. You don’t even realize they’re trying to sell them, but I was all like “Dang! That’s a nice camera!” 😂

      Reply
      1. phl1rxd

        Hi Ally – yes that is some nice equipment for sure – the camera is about $6000.00 new and the lens is around $2500.00 new. I use ‘new’ here as most folks tend to buy re-used due to the price. Top quality PPL there!

        Reply
  8. Ally

    I’m fresh off Fated to Love You and what a 180 degree difference Pil joo is from Lee Gun. Pil joo is soft spoken, a shadow lurking behind the money, but has all the power, the anti-hero, while Lee Gun wears his heart on his sleeve, is loud and obnoxious, but with a soft heart, with money and power. And does anyone in the family know who he really is? Do they know he’s possibly the illegitimate son, probably the rightful firstborn son and heir to this whole conglomerate? Because he is, right? I’ve not read or seen anything about the actual plot, so it’s going to happen, right? I’ve loved Lee Mi Sook since Love Rain, and omg is she beautiful here. I am legit scared of her too. I remember her speech at the 2017 MBC awards where I vowed to watch this, and now I am! Thanks for letting me tag along! I did get heavy soap opera vibes from the first two episodes, maybe too makjang with the mistress being sent off with a passport and plane ticket and probably a few million won as well. How much do you want to bet she shows up pregnant or with a kid in nine months—episode 10-12? I’d bet that plane ticket.

    Some things that I recognized: the cottage house from Goblin where Gong Yoo and Kim GoEun stay for one night smack in the middle of Seoul is seems, and then the shady abandoned building from Lookout, where Kim Young Kwang faces off with Solomon Park for what seems like hours because the scene started with sunlight and then filming went on after the sunset, which made it lose a lot of intensity.

    I’m done rambling now! Glad to be participating!

    Reply
    1. phl1rxd

      @Ally – glad you mentioned the recognized locations. I did one myself above plus I believe the riverside attempted suicide location was also the location of the suicide in E2/3 of Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life. We should write in and add them on the Korean Dramaland blog site which lists all the locations that are used over and over in KDrama. You know, those ones where you are looking at them and going “Hmm…I swear I KNOW this place. but what the heck was the name of that drama?”. 🤣😂😁

      Reply
      1. Ally

        I recently had that happen in Hello?It’s me! The front of the CEO’s house is definitely used in other dramas. I think it was in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? But not sure. Someone needs to tell me because I think about it daily!

        Reply
        1. phl1rxd

          Hi Ally – The yard is Parasite-like but different windows. Got what you are saying about the front of the house. It is Mansion Pyeongchang-dong No. 466-14 and was featured in Hello, Me! (2021); More Than Friends (2020); My First First Love (2019); Clean With Passion For Now (2018-19); Lookout (2017) and probably more. Source: Korean Dramaland blog site. Its front facade is also very similar to other chaebol homes in other dramas.

          Reply
    2. Ele Nash

      Oh, Ally, Kang Pilju is like the antithesis of Lee Gun and thank goodness! I am a huge Jang Hyuk admirer but always feel out on a limb when I say Fated to Love You / You Are My Destiny hurts my ears and eyes. I only liked the miserable parts 😆 Give me introverted Jang Hyuk over extrovert – and here, in Money Flower, he’s unhappily but happily for me, quietly, as kfangurl excellently puts it, pent up like a coiled spring 😍

      Reply
      1. Ally

        I really loved FTLY. It was the first show I saw with JH as the lead. I had seen him prior on My Country as Bang Won—my “man with the fan”—in all his intense gloriousness though. Anyway, between the sound track, the crying, and Jang Hyuk’s over the top but sensitive portrayal of Lee Gun, I was entranced. And dang if he didn’t make me cry every time he talked to his dead unborn child. My heart can’t take that.

        Reply
  9. Snow Flower

    Yay for more Jang Hyuk awesomeness! I think it is easier to like Daegil from Chuno (despite his flaws) than it is to like Pil Joo. The cold, calculating, and manipulative side of this character make it difficult to side with him. And yet, after finding out his identity and backstory, his quest for revenge just draws us in.
    Besides Jang Hyuk and Lee Mi Sook, I am seriously impressed with Jang Seung Jo as Boo Cheon. The actor really brings to life a character who is so pathetic, petty, and pitiful, and yet not a caricature. Truly masterful acting!

    Reply
    1. Ele Nash

      I may have to start a defence for Bucheon in a similar way to Commander Hwang in Chuno 😊 I feel sorry for him! Am I a sucker? His mother is all like, “you’re Pilju’s master” but in the same breath, tells him to just “do whatever Pilju asks, no questions”. How horrible is that? What kind of master does their dog’s bidding? In fact Bucheon reminds me of a kicked dog. The only time he actually looks comfortable is when he’s with Yoon Seowon – who, incidentally, must really love him as she doesn’t die of embarrassment when Bucheon makes a train noise 😆 And, urgh, that “fight” scene with cousin when he was basically losing until Pilju told them he’d back whoever wins and that made him really try. Like schoolboys trying to impress the cool kid. It was all kinds of desperate which makes me feel so bad for Bucheon. It’s like he’s a lamb in a cage of tigers. And it’s his own mother who’s locked him in there. 😳

      Reply
      1. Shyama

        @ Ele Nash
        I really really want to like this character. I’ve admired this actor in Chocolate and Encounters. He’s sad and broody in both. This is an entirely new avatar. Let’s see what he does with an immature, shallow character.

        Reply
      2. Drama Fan

        I feel both annoyed and sorry for Bucheon, he is the definition of spoiled, weak and pitiful. Notice how he acts careless but he is also always a nervous wreck. Jang Seung Jo is great in the role!

        Reply
  10. Shyama

    This is my first sighting of Jang Hyuk. I decided to join this group watch, first, because of all the superlatives used to describe JH, here and elsewhere. Also, this is not the kind of drama I usually choose to watch.
    I must say, after the first two episodes, I do find Jang Hyuk quite crush worthy. The story shows promise, twisty and dark.
    Hope it doesn’t turn out too stressful.

    Reply
    1. Ele Nash

      Shyama, you are in for a treat! On paper, I’m not sure Money Flower would entice me but it is totally compelling, unpredictable, and the cast are excellent. And, yes, Jang Hyuk delivers Kang Pilju with devastating subtlety 😍

      Reply
  11. BE

    Hi guys. As much as I would love to confabulate with you all, after rewatching the first two episodes, I had an utterly adverse reaction to show and had to rub myself down with a whole bottle of calomine lotion after. Thus I am begging off as I don’t really see how my contributions would enhance all you MF fans or the new folks. I will leave, however, my one reaction to all my friends here. For anyone who tells me Jang Hyuk is better in this than Chuno, I have about fifty scenes per episode of Chuno for every scene anywhere in the ballpark during the entire series here. I do think the boy playing Kang Pil Joo is not bad. Yuk.

    Reply
    1. phl1rxd

      I am really sorry this is not sitting right with you BE. The best thing then to do is step away. Not every drama is for everyone. I myself found this drama to be cracktastickly (if there is such a word) delicious. Catch you over at Dr. Romantic!

      Reply
      1. BE

        @phl1rxd, Jiyuu, Ele Nash
        Hey thanks. I have seen it before. After two episodes on the rewatch, I just felt that I did not want to spend hours and hours with that group of characters again. And I pretty much felt that my commentary would be so negatively critical that it would dampen everyone’s enthusiasm. As with music, there is so much out there to really like, why bother with the stuff we don’t and why bother folks who do like it with negativity. That kind of thing simply reduces to trolling, and who really wants to be a troll? Have fun breaking this down with one another, having interesting differences of opinion, and relishing what you enjoy about it.

        Reply
    2. Jiyuu

      Aww, BE. Is this a rewatch for you or a completely new watch that you can’t stomach? Everyone has complicated feelings about Kang Pil Joo, he brings out those kinds of emotions. I wouldn’t say his performance here is better than Dae Gil, just a character with very different motivations, portrayed from the opposite end of the spectrum.

      Kang Pil Joo has such a quiet and controlled intensity, romance is the very least of his concerns. He barely has any good friends around. Dae Gil, on the other hand, has his swagger and overwhelming passion visible for the world to see, with love as his driving force, and friends (as well as frenemies) to support him.

      I still wish you’d finish watching MF (if it’s your first time) with everyone. It’s Jang Hyuk after all, his scope as an actor is so vast and the characters he chooses to portray are always a rich kaleidoscope of emotions. Even the most unlikeable ones.

      Reply
    3. Ele Nash

      Fair enough, BE. Jiang Hyuk is certainly playing a much tighter-lipped yet equally emotionally wrecked character than Daegil here. Daegil is for me a better character too (god, he is the character to beat all others) but Pilju really is incredible and the story of Money Flower and the acting of the rest is an inch above Chuno for me – and, you know, I adore Chuno so this is high praise for me 😊 See you over on Dr Romantic where I know your comments will help me understand it better. At the mo, two episodes in, that show has me baffled!

      Reply
  12. Trent

    Okay, so that was a lot to absorb in the first couple of episodes, but I think I’m provisionally hooked.

    It’s very interesting to see Jang Hyuk in modern drag, as it were, after following him through Chuno. Very different, and yet as you spend some time pointing out, he is still a very intense presence. There are those that seem quiet yet inert, and others who seem quiet yet coiled and intense, and to my eyes, he’s definitely in the second category. I was not at all surprised to see that he has retained his Daegil fighting skills. He was so economical when he took those two thugs down.

    I spent a lot of the running time of these episodes trying pin down who was who and slot everyone into relationships. I think I have the major players, but from your comments, I might have missed the import of that flashback in episode 2. It seemed to me that it was saying Pil-joo’s mother was in a relationship with Jang Soo-man (deceased eldest son of the chairman), and had the two illegitimate sons with him, while Mal-ran was his actual wife, and had Boo-cheon, which would make Boo-cheon and Pil-joo actually half brothers (and Pil-joo the grandson of the chairman?). And then there was that newspaper article that Soo-man had died, and it was implied that the chairman had decided to dispose of the illegitimate branch, and hence the tossing-in-the-river scene. Did I get that chain of events wrong?

    A couple of other points. As always (this isn’t just unique to this show), I am very skeptical when someone’s grand strategy or plan relies upon the actions of an independent third party for an essential element, especially when such action goes against the independent agent’s nature or known interests and desires. So the fact that everyone–Pil-joo, Mal-ran, Mo-hyun’s father–are all staking everything on Mo-hyun falling in love with the creepy, dissolute, two-timing (in principle if not yet in fact) Boo-cheon, when she doesn’t seem interested in dating at all, and especially not in rich spoiled chaebol heirs. Man, that’s…asking for a lot of suspension of disbelief from me, Show..

    Right now, Pil-joo is the very cool, calculating man with a plan, and this is billed as a revenge drama, so I take it we can kind of assume that he is contemplating grinding Cheong A into the dust. I’m going to be really focused on seeing if he remains hollowed out by revenge until the very end, or if he will show himself capable of grace, empathy, and/or love (to give and receive) by the end. That’s what I’m going to chiefly be interested in, I think. (No Spoilers!).

    Finally: yes, Jo Byung-gyu looks very very different here than our good boy So Mun! Good for him…

    And, Han So-hee is establishing quite a niche for herself as the beautiful young mistress character, no? (to be fair, this role did precede World of the Married).

    Reply
    1. Snow Flower

      @Trent, you are right on the money (pun intended) in your reconstruction of past events and Kang Pil Joo’s true identity as Chairman Grandpa’s eldest grandson.

      Reply
      1. Trent

        @SnowFlower Aw, thanks for the confirmation. It’s not even a spoiler since I laid it out right there based on what I thought I saw in the flashback…I thought I might have been reading things wrong, though. It really kind of needs the blood/family tie connection to increase the intensity of motivation…

        …also, as KFG points out in her episode comments, I agree with her that there’s definitely a man-woman relationship vibe between Pil-joo and Mal-ran, even if it is pretty subtle (for right now, at least), which definitely heightens the twisty quasi-incest aura since she was the wife of his father.

        Yeah, this is going to walk some dark paths, I’m thinking. Looking forward to it.

        Reply
        1. Snow Flower

          This is my second watch. I remember the gist of the story, but not all the details. I think the writer and director laid enough backstory clues in the first 2 episodes though, so there are no spoilers in our comments.

          Reply
    2. Ele Nash

      Yes, you were definitely paying attention, Trent! And – while I really love the dark twisting plot of Money Flower – I do agree with you that Pilju’s plan is flawed from the get-go and is unfortunately weak. I don’t know if it’s intentional, if Pilju kind of wants the risk, the chance it will fail. The fact Mal Ran leaps at it like a viper shows her total faith in Pilju’s cunning.

      Reply
  13. Michele

    Yay! Great recap! Watching Jang Hyuk in these first two episodes was like watching a panther, or other big cat, stalk its prey. Calm, measured, calculating. Only, Pil Joo has not yet effectuated the kill…but you know it’s coming and is inevitable. I was not expecting the drama to come out of the gates with so much intensity. To your Mal Ran stepmother point, by the end of episode two I was eyebrow-raising over the thought that Pil Joo and Boo Cheon might possibly be stepbrothers. I would say the plot thickens but after just two episodes, it’s already pretty thick.😳

    Reply
    1. Ele Nash

      Ooh, yes, Michele! I know kfangurl has said before Jang Hyuk moves like a panther, and that prowess is so effectively on display here as Kang Pilju 😍 The reveal that Pilju and Bucheon have the same father is brilliant, I think, and twists an already tangled storyline even tighter!

      Reply
  14. seankfletcher

    A very nice, introductory overview kfangurl! Money Flower is one of my all time favourite shows. Although, I haven’t rewatched these episodes because they are so etched in my memory, for my mind, this is Jang Hyuk’s finest role, despite some amazing performances before and after. I also think Lee Mi Sook puts in a very fine performance here. She is such a versatile actress and even when watching interviews with her, she is a pure delight. Awesome 😊

    Reply

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