Café Minamdang – K-Drama Episode 11 Recap & Review

Cha Seung-won

Episode 11 of Café Minamdang starts with Jae-hui explaining that she persuaded her parents to let her return to Korea to catch Jae-jeong’s killer, and she changed her name to live without being labelled as a victim.

Having handcuffed herself to Han-jun, she drags him through the café to show him that she’s serious about arresting him until he gives in and agrees to join forces.

Jae-hui demands to know the Minamdang crew’s next step. Han-jun wants to explore the possibility that Dong-gi is behind Tae-su. He’s come to it after considering that Gyeong-cheol and Tae-su used the Joyce Entertainment trainees for sexual bribes but weren’t fired despite their bad relationship with Jin-sang.

After Jae-hui leaves, the crew breathes sighs of relief, and Han-jun voices his intention to ditch her at the first opportunity. Hye-jun doesn’t see why they shouldn’t include her, but Han-jun doesn’t want to be responsible if anything happens to Jae-jeong’s sister.

That night is full of reflection as both Han-jun and Jae-hui look back over their interactions with fresh perspectives. Han-jun comes away with a newfound warmth and Jae-hui has rekindled her girlhood crush.

Jae-hui even applies extra makeup to meet Han-jun at Café Minamdang the next day. Much to Han-jun’s dismay, she’s also asked Do-won to come along. Han-jun refuses to work with Do-won until he waves around a list of Joyce Entertainment’s secret investors.

Included on the list are Myeong-jun, Pil-gu and Jeong-hyeon. In return for sexual favours and gambling trips organized by Gyeong-cheol, they invested in Joyce Entertainment. Joyce Entertainment then re-invested the money into Joyce Partners and the investors received 100 times their initial investments in dividends.

Jin-sang has been texting Han-jun like a lost puppy since he was electrocuted. Han-jun finally throws him a bone and replies, and Jin-sang is kneeling in Café Minamdang in no time.

Han-jun makes Tae-su out to be an evil spirit haunting Jin-sang’s father. His lips already loose to begin with, Jin-sang reveals Aunty Im, describing her as a shaman who caters to the elites in the political and business spheres. Jin-sang also lets it slip that Tae-su has been siphoning company funds, but he stops himself from saying more. Begging for help, Jin-sang offers Han-jun a huge sum to exorcise Tae-su.

At the police station, Detective Jang has found a record indicating that Tae-su was questioned in relation to a firearm incident five years ago. Since Tae-su was a witness for the victim and not the suspect, the incident did not come up in their earlier background checks. The victim now runs a lodge in Paldung Mountain, so the detective team plans to track him down.

Meanwhile, Do-won’s assistant walks him through her research into Joyce Partners, which has more than ten affiliated companies. Of these, Do-won takes an interest in KM Leaders, which could be a paper company established in the Philippines.

Do-won eagerly joins the detectives on their trip after getting a call from Jae-hui. They arrive at the mountain, where the owner informs them that Tae-su has been missing for five years. Tae-su went hunting in the owner’s place after the firearm incident, but then he went missing. When a body was recently found in the local hunting grounds, the watch that was dug up with it made the owner believe it was Tae-su. The police, however, were unable to identify the body at all.

Do-won points to the man we know to be Tae-su in an old picture of the District Model Forest Walkers and asks if he is the missing person. The detectives are shocked to learn that he is not, and prior to stealing Tae-su’s identity, he was known as Lim Yeong-ju. On their way back, Detective Jang remarks that he feels like he’s heard this name before.

Han-jun rents Café Minamdang out to the Taekseong Shaman Association to dig up dirt on Aunty Im after Hye-jun found no trace of her online. The gathered shamans share a strong dislike for her. One with a particularly bad grudge claims that Aunty Im killed her shamanic instructor when she and Aunty Im were disciples together.

While the Minamdang crew is preoccupied with entertaining their guests, one of the shamans snaps a picture of them and sends it to Tae-su, who then shows it to Aunty Im. She’s not too concerned because she already has a trap laid out for Han-jun.

Jin-sang forwards Han-jun information about an upcoming signing ceremony for a Sinmyeong land development project. All the Joyce Entertainment investors will be in attendance.

Han-jun keeps this information from Jae-hui, not realising that Do-won, who got a legitimate invite on account of being Cha Seung-won’s brother, is taking Jae-hui as his plus one so she can search for Tae-su.

Han-jun and Su-cheol are disguised as waiters at the signing when Do-won and Jae-hui arrive together, all dolled up. Han-jun is struck by Jae-hui’s beauty, and when she comes face to face with him, she’s struck by his duplicity.

Han-jun is saved from having to answer for his presence when the waiters are all called to welcome Seung-won upon his arrival. Han-jun and Su-cheol recognise Seung-won’s cologne from the funeral parlour and Han-jun profiles him as a man obsessed with his own sense of privilege.

Seung-won passes them to join the high-profile men that we’ve seen meeting with Aunty Im. Dong-gi assures Seung-won that he’ll become president at the next stockholder meeting if he can impress Director Park with this development project. Seung-won listens to this with disdain, finding it ironic that he needs to prove himself for a position that is, apparently, rightfully his.

Seung-won expression transforms into real enthusiasm when Do-won approaches him. Jin-sang tactlessly babbles on about how Seung-won should be bowing to Do-won in thanks for stepping aside when he was first in line for succession.

As the ceremonial aspects of the signing occur, the usual suspects head out to meet with Aunty Im. Han-jun alerts Jae-hui and Do-won before following. After Jae-hui catches a brief glimpse of Tae-su, she and Do-won split up to find him.

They don’t reach Tae-su before he informs Aunty Im of Han-jun’s attendance. It’s as Aunty Im expected, and she plans to make this Han-jun’s last day among the living.

Han-jun and Su-cheol disguise themselves as chefs, personally delivering dishes to Aunty Im and the others in their private dining area. Under one is a bug. Aunty Im doesn’t let on that she recognizes Han-jun, though she does give him a few frights.

Han-jun and Su-cheol make it back out of the dining area to begin eavesdropping. It distresses them to hear Myeong-jun discussing how he ended up killing Eun-hye while trying to give her a scare. They also hear Aunty Im’s plan to get rid of Tae-su after this project is completed.

The group falls silent as Seung-won makes his entrance. Before he can do more than apologise for the delay, Aunty Im brings a finger to her lips to silence the group. She lifts the plate closest to hear and picks off the bug, dropping it into her glass.

Hye-jun notices Tae-su leading a group of men toward Han-jun and Su-cheol, but her warning comes too late. They are knocked unconscious and dragged away.

The epilogue shows Do-won coming across the private dining area. His gaze lands on his brother at the head of the table and turns troubled.

The Episode Review

The cramps and stitches really started to kick in with this episode’s plateau. We’re too late into Café Minamdang’s run for the plot to dawdle like this, especially when the scandalous elites aren’t at all interesting to follow. Corrupt officials and businessmen are too tired a K-Drama trope to be stretching out into an 18-episode drama like this.

This had a knock-on effect on a lot of the humour, which either rehashed earlier gags or was just too excessive to thrust on an audience experiencing burnout.

Do-won is being primed for some time in the spotlight. His role was entirely negligible when we began and then turned bland as he pined for Jae-hui, but he has great chemistry with Han-jun. Their rivalry even turned out to be the highlight of this episode, and I can’t help but root for a friendship.

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2 thoughts on “Café Minamdang – K-Drama Episode 11 Recap & Review”

  1. Yeah, the main romantic plotline is completely forced, and the age gap is very weird (especially in the flashbacks when Jae-hui/Jang-mi is a literal child). It would have been better to see a focus on more of the platonic and familial relationships.

  2. The focus of the show should stick to comedy and crime. I ship the bromance of the actors and the second lead romance too. But please the main lead romance is trying too hard. It felt forced and out of nowhere. The main leads just lack chemistry and the show reminds me of the age gap. It is hard to forget what I saw in the drama earlier with a rather young teenage girl and her crush on (a grown up man that looks like in his twenties, male lead). I cannot pretend I did not see the age difference. The male lead should be Ahjushi (uncle) instead of oppa (brother) right?

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