Naked Fireman Episode 2

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Synopsis

[Note – this is done purely by memory because I didn’t have time to rewatch the episode, so there may be minor errors, but the key events should be captured.]

We start off where we ended, back in Seong Jin’s room where Jin Ah has fallen down and injured her foot. Chul Soo looks on suspiciously, but doesn’t ask her anything; instead, he treats her injury and offers to bring her to the hospital. She refuses and tries to walk off on her own, but walking down steps in heels proves too difficult and may potentially open the wound. She thus relents and allows him to bring her to the hospital.

In the hospital, she makes up a story about why she fell down, which Chul Soo is unconvinced by but doesn’t probe further, simply teasing her for spending an hour to come up with the story. He then proceeds to ask her whether she’s really going to pay him $10,000 for the posing nude, because the deal just sounds too good. To his surprise, she passes him a cheque for $2,000 as an advance. He’s elated and brimming with joy as she heads back in a taxi.

In the meantime, we see Seong Jin and Song Ja up to suspicious antics, trying to crack open the safe in Jin Ah’s room. Seong Jin has arranged it such that Chul Soo will call him when he’s done with Jin Ah, so that they know when to stop. He takes a long time, but eventually manages to determine the six numbers in the code – once Chul Soo calls, he asks Song Ja to try all 720 combinations to find out which one opens the safe.

We then switch to a scene between Jeong Nam and Jin Ah, where Jeong Nam scolds Jin Ah for even trying to approach Chul Soo, whom he still thinks is Seong Jin. He warns her against doing so, and tells her to hand him over to him, so that he can do a full investigation on him.

Seong Jin then meets up with Chul Soo, who shows him the cheque he received from Jin Ah. Seong Jin is happy for him, but starts talking about the arson incident 10 years ago. Chul Soo seems uncomfortable with him raising it, but Seong Jin goes on, mentioning that it was the day he had to leave town. As they continue talking, Seong Jin mentions that there was something he saw that day, which he didn’t tell Chul Soo. After Chul Soo asks further, Seong Jin tells him he won’t say anymore and the secret will remain with him till he dies. Just then, Jin Ah calls Seong Jin to arrange for the next drawing session. They start talking about Jin Ah, and Chul Soo learns from Seong Jin that Jin Ah has lost her parents from a young age. Chul Soo feels extremely guilty because he had teased her earlier about her parents.

The next day, Chul Soo and Jin Ah have their next session and Chul Soo is evidently interested in Jin Ah. He keeps turning back, wanting to ask her questions. She’s so engaged in drawing him and so deep in thought that she breaks the lead of her pencil. This leads to a conversation between both of them, where she relates an incident where she stabbed someone with a pencil and the person called her a crazy psycho. They complete the session and Jin Ah invites Chul Soo to lunch, to thank him for helping her when her foot was injured.

They go in search for different restaurants, which are either full or have closed down. Along the way, they suddenly run into a man who keeps taunting Jin Ah, telling her to go with him or else he will upload all the photos he has on his phone. Although Jin Ah tells Chul Soo to leave, he senses that she’s in danger and he protects her when the man tries to grab her. Chul Soo asks the guy to pass him his phone, so he can erase the photos, but the guy flees in his car. Chul Soo gives chase, but as he does, his hand brushes against Jin Ah’s hand and her memories of the arson incident come flooding in. She realises he is indeed the boy who was at her house that day, but also recalls now hearing another voice that day.

In the meantime, Chul Soo is catching up on the man, who makes a wrong turn and ends up getting his car over-turned. He’s trapped in his seat belt, and the car is going to explode any time due to a petrol leak. Chul Soo goes to his rescue, and breaks open his window, but is unable to release him as the seat belt remains stuck. Just then, Jin Ah runs up to help him cut the seat belt and both of them carry the man away from the car, just minutes before it explodes. Before leaving the guy, Chul Soo asks him for his phone and starts erasing all the pictures of Jin Ah. He notices that in all the photos, she’s alone and starts asking her if she has friends or if she has ever gone dating. He even asks her if she’s interested to date him. They then go for lunch together before Chul Soo sends her home.

Just moments before Chul Soo and Jin Ah return home, Song Ja has asked Seong Jin over because she has managed to crack the code for the safe. He starts coming in to replace her paintings with fakes, but just as he’s escaping, they see Chul Soo and Jin Ah coming back. They quickly hide in the toilet of her room.

Chul Soo and Jin Ah share a moment of connection as she tries to clean his wound on his face. However, Chul Soo shrugs away awkwardly and asks he needs to go to the loo. In the loo, he sees both Seong Jin and Song Ja and tries to help them escape. In the meantime, Jin Ah calls Jeong Nam and tells him that the culprit cannot be Chul Soo, because she can sense that he’s a good person. Jeong Nam tells her that the criminal records speak for themselves and tells her to slip something expensive in his pocket, so that he can catch her.

The scenes with Jeong Nam get creepier and creepier as we realise that there’s a little girl behind him, holding on to a teddy bear and crying. As he puts down the phone, we see a woman who’s evidently been abused, asking him what he wants her to do. Both the woman and the little girl are crying. Jeong Nam looks angry. He goes towards his kitchen and pulls out the weapon from the arson incident that Jin Ah previously recalled, along with a newspaper article about the incident!

The episode ends with Jin Ah holding her necklace in her hand, deciding whether or not she should put it in his coat pocket, so that he can be arrested.

Thoughts

I’m quite surprised by how quickly I’ve warmed up to the pairing of Chul Soo and Jin Ah. Even though they only just got to know each other in the previous episode, this episode does a good job of drawing them closer by repeatedly putting them in situations where Chul Soo can be that everyday hero. We don’t get any scenes of him firefighting in this episode, but his strength, skills and heroic spirit are such a part of him that it comes through in everything that he does. The attraction between the both of them puts Jin Ah in a very conflicted position – the brushing of their hands makes her realise that he was indeed present during the arson incident, but what she sees and knows of him makes her sense that he cannot be the one who committed the crime. Is she being overly protective of him because of her attraction to him? Is she merely ignoring all that Jeong Nam tells her about Seong Jin’s crimes?

For a series with only 4 episodes, it would be understandable if the romance was slightly under-developed as the main storyline of finding the culprit for the arson and murder is sufficiently meaty. Yet the show has done a good job of developing both the crime and romance storyline in a very seamless manner, yet allowing both storylines to add tension to the other. I have to give credit to both Lee Joon-Hyuk and Jung In-Sun for portraying both characters and their budding romance in such a compelling manner.

I really liked how the episode ended with the revelation of Jeong Nam as the ultimate culprit. It was really a surprise, because his desire for her to stay away from Chul Soo also makes perfect sense. The shift in tone was also very well done as the truth of Jeong Nam’s identity is gradually revealed. It starts with the camera angle which shoots his frenzied, threatening look with such a dark background, and then we gradually see a little girl in the background. As the conversation progresses and Jeong Nam gets angrier, we see the little girl quivering in tears, but sitting still on the chair, holding on to a soft toy. Something is evidently not right as we see the entire house very dimly lit. Finally as the phone is put down, we then see the woman who’s been abused, holding on to her daughter, and the both of them shaking in fear of Jeong Nam. The whole sequence is done with such restraint and style, and puts every conversation between Jeong Nam and her previously in new light.

Then we’ve got Seong Jin, who hasn’t turned away from his criminal ways and has now brought Song Ja along with him too. Yet he evidently still cares for Chul Soo – what is that secret which he doesn’t want to say? Did he see Jeong Nam? Did Jeong Nam frame Seong Jin? Why is Chul Soo so concerned when Jeong Nam tries to raise that incident? With so many questions left unanswered and a well-crafted romance, I’m sure the final two episodes of this very brief series will be a worthwhile and exciting watch!

Naked Fireman – Initial Impressions

What an odd series this is – firstly, it’s only 4 episodes long and ends by next week with a double episode next Wednesday; secondly, there’s virtually no online publicity on it, or at least publicity in English; and thirdly, what a title! With a title like this, people googling the title will certainly end up at very strange sites. I’m also concerned about who I’ll be attracting to my site by blogging about this show.

I only watched this episode because I had some time to kill while waiting for the latest Legend of the Blue Sea episode. The first episode does look promising and with only four episodes to go, the premiere does a good job in setting up a very tightly knit mystery and introducing us to its key characters, their lives and their motivations.

Synopsis

The storyline revolves around Jin-Ah, played by Jung In-Sun, who is trying to find the culprit behind an arson incident that took place in her home 10 years ago when she was 13. Although she was at the scene of the crime, hiding in a cupboard, she’s suffering from amnesia and is attempting to piece together what has happened through hypnosis treatment. Her only clue is her memory of a scar that she saw on the back of the culprit; a scar that she also witnessed in a separate incident when chasing a young thief at her place.

In order to find this man, she hides under the guise of being an artist whose looking for men to pose nude for her – “nude” only on the top half – with some very specific requests. The candidates have to be in their 20s with a burn scar on their back. She offers a high price, $10,000 for 1 week, to entice people to come forward.

This is where our male lead, Chul Soo (played by Lee Joon-Hyuk), comes in. He’s been working hard at his fireman job, but a close friend of his, Kwang Ho, who also happens to be his captain suddenly contracts cancer and requires money for surgery. Chul Sol’s childhood friend, Seong Jin, and his girlfriend, Song-Ja, notify Chul Soo of Jin Ah’s search for a model, telling him that he fits the bill completely. Chul Soo decides to audition, but goes under Seong Jin’s name as he is concerned about being exposed, since he’s a civil servant. In contrast, we learn that Seong Jin is a criminal and has gone to jail before.

During Chul Soo’s first audition, Jin-Ah sees his burn scar and immediately starts to hyperventilate. She immediately suspects that he was the culprit and thus offers him the job so she can find out more. Concurrently, she asks her close friend, Jeong Nam, to find out more about him. Since Chul Soo goes for the audition under Seong Jin’s name, Jeong Nam’s investigation leads him to find out about Seong Jin’s previous crimes.

The episode ends with the first drawing session between Jin-Ah and Chul Soo, which Seong Jin has arranged to take place at his house. Prior to the session, Jin-Ah suddenly recollects that she also saw a weapon used by the arsonist. While Chul Soo is getting her a drink, she tries to find the weapon in a toolbox high above a cupboard. However, she falls and stubs her toe in a screwdriver on the floor. Just as this happens, Jeong Nam calls her to warn her about Chul Soo and Chul Soo walks in to the very suspicious scene.

Thoughts

Given that the show only has 4 episodes, the plot-heavy nature of the first episode was only to be expected, with the premise and mystery being set up rapidly.

I’m already finding the relationship between Chul Soo and Seong Jin to be very interesting and there’s certainly more than meets the eye. There’s an element of unresolved tension as Seong Jin tells Song Ja that Chul Soo betrayed him, so that he could be a good person. Seong Jin also seems too eager to sell this job to Chul Soo, even though he isn’t aware of Chul Soo’s financial needs. The most suspicious part was him getting Chul Soo to take on his name and arranging for the first session between Jin-Ah and Chul Soo to take place at his house. Did he do so to deliberately set Chul Soo up? Nonetheless, it almost seems too obvious that Seong Jin is the arsonist that there must be a twist somewhere.

I found the character of Jin Ah to be very well fleshed out within the first episode. She’s been a recluse after the arson event, with her life driven only by the one purpose to find out the culprit. She doesn’t socialise or date. She keeps pushing herself further during hypnosis sessions so that she can gain greater insight into what happened. The fact that she holds on to the past is even more detrimental because she cannot even remember that past which entraps her. Her line to Jeong Nam about how she would be acting like a 13 year old if she was asked to act her age captures her predicament so well. The fact that her memory of the past is fuzzy and uncertain definitely creates more tension.

Chul Soo, on the other hand, seems a little bit more typical – the brash, macho figure who does not stick to the rules, but does what’s best for the situation even if it offends others. He is a loyal friend, a true brother who will lay his life down for a friend in need. Yet we also learn that he had a dark past and was involved in gangs before becoming a fireman. His camaraderie with Kwang Ho is charming enough and I’m sure it will provide more heartwarming moments in the episodes to come.

Well, given that this series is only 4 episodes, I might just watch it till the end because I really do enjoy such whodunnit shows with mysteries to solve. Interestingly enough, given the short lifespan of this show, it will just add on to the list of shows that are ending within the next 2-3 weeks.