Bargain – Season 1 Episode 1 “Bargain” Recap & Review


Bargain’s Episode 1 begins in a dingy motel room where Joo-young waits for her client. Hyeong-su soon knocks on the door, suited up in funeral clothes. It is clear now that Joo-young is a prostitute and Hyeong-su a desperate and lonely man looking for companionship. His requirements for the girl are reflective of his affinity for young females teetering on the edge of adulthood. He thinks Joo-young is a high school student who has just turned 18. She keeps up the ruse well, at first, but Hyeong-su gets suspicious. 

He questions her to confirm his suspicion and is confirmed he has been scammed when Joo-young isn’t able to correctly tell the name of the high school she goes to. Hyeong-su is miffed at having to drive to the countryside and being lied to. He did indeed make an excuse of going to a funeral to come to the motel. He waters down the payment for Joo-young’s services considerably but it does not deter her. She agrees to provide her services for a low price but asks that Hyeong wash himself first. As he strips and goes to the washroom, Joo-young takes another call from a prospective client.

Her formula is the same and she tries to woo him to come to the motel. After disconnecting the call, she goes into a room which turns out to be the dressing area for the girls. It is revealed that the motel is a ruse to lure in young men under the guise of young girls offering prostitution services. Once they’re in, their organs are sold to the highest bidder in a room full of those. Joo-young’s lack of emotion and expression tells us that she has done this before multiple times. She goes to the budding room where the group eagerly awaits the arrival of the victim.

Hyeong-su is tied to a stretcher, his eyes are covered, and he is still in his sparkling red underwear. The bidding process begins with his kidneys as Joo-y0ung sounds out a warning: “Getting the first one is crucial to getting the second one.” The bid goes up to a total of 100 million won when a young man desperately cries out for the bidders to stop. His father is sick and that is all the money he has to buy him a new kidney. Although most are in agreement and sympathize, one particular woman outbids him. His name is Geuk-ryeol, and even though he doesn’t have the money, he outbids the woman, who remains motionless. 

He wins the bid but the guards quickly realize he is 20 million short. Joo-young protects him and asks the guards to fetch the papers. The bid goes to the original amount and the lady is declared the rightful winner. Geuk once again raises a chorus, forcing Joo-young to announce that they also offer capital services. The loan provided to the bidders must be prepared within a week, otherwise, their bodies, which are collateral to the loan, will be legally available to bid for.

This time around, Geuk is successful. The bidders are then alarmed by a loud noise from outside, which shakes the entire room. Hui-sook, who manages the girls and the entire process on the ground, comes in to alleviate any safety concerns. He says that a tunnel construction project is going on in the city which is causing these noises. As Geuk celebrates winning the bid and finally having a chance to save his father, the loud noise once again emerges and this time, all the walls of the room are shattered, leaving everything in chaos. 

The Episode Review

The first uncut half-hour of Jeon Woo-sung’s Bargain is relentless, remarkably unassuming, and shockingly unhinged. Somehow, the runtime feels longer and more indulging. The choice of this story format is perfect to bring out the madness and chaos that overtakes the motel. Episode 1 defies expectations at every juncture.

Just when you think you have a handle on things, Jeon shakes it up in the most unimaginable way. Jeon Jong-seo already looks like a worthy lead. Although she is playing a morally compromised character, she is the kind of actress who can still make Joo-young accessible. She looks assured and confident in what she is doing. 

Chang Ryul and Jin Seong-kyu are also expected to play major roles going forward. It will be interesting to see where Bargain goes from here. Such is the beginning of creative thinking in the show that anything is possible. 


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You can read our full season 1 review for Bargain here!
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