If You Wish Upon Me – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Episode 1

Episode 1 of If You Wish Upon Me starts inside prison with Yoon Gyeo-re leaving after serving his time. On his way out, Gyeo-re bribes another discharged ex-convict to change outfits with him. As the man leaves, two goons start following him under the impression that he is Gyeo-re only to learn that Gyeo-re had fled in a taxi whilst they were giving chase.

Gyeo-rye receives a call from one of the two goons – Seok Jun – who asks Gyeo-re about the $320,000 but Gyeo-re shuts him down and ends the call. Gyeo-re then visits his old acquaintance Jin-goo’s veterinary clinic to collect his pet dog and his bag full of cash. He learns from the vet that Sonny (translated from a word that means Son in Korean), Gyeo-re’s pet dog is terminally ill.

Sonny will not be able to recover even with surgery. Jin-goo hands the dog bag back to Gyeo-re. Gyeo-re hands Jin-goo a few wads of cash for his help but the vet refuses to take the money from him. The two bicker and it is here where Gyeo-re mentions meeting Jin-goo at the orphanage. Jin-goo mentions Ha Joon-kyung but Gyeo-re the clinic leaves with Sonny.

With nowhere to go, Gyeo-re checks into a hotel and hands wads of cash to the receptionist who doubted him when he requested to stay in a suite. Inside, Gyeo-re offers a huge sum of money to the bellhop.

Later that night, Gyeo-re is celebrating his birthday by using more wads of cash as cake but he eventually breaks down realizing that he doesn’t even know when he was born. He notices Sonny is lethargic and not eating his meal either, leaving him upset and lonely.

Kang Tae-sik is cheerfully greeted by everyone at Woori Hospice Hospital. When a visitor mistakes him as a doctor, it is revealed that he is just a volunteer worker. He freshens up and goes to the cafeteria to grab a meal prepared by the hospital lunch lady.

Tae-sik and the lunch lady – Soon-ja – talk about Mr. Yoon who is on his death bed. Soon-ja suddenly asks about Seo Yeon-joo, the hospital nurse. Tae-sik mentions how she is possibly working out. As Tae-sik bathes Mr. Yoon, nurse Yeon-joo as well as the rest of Woori Hospice’s staff start using artificial snow sprays to fulfill Mr. Yoon’s last wish.

The group of people called Team Genie grant the last wish of the patients of the hospice and today is Mr. Yoon’s turn. Mr. Yoon is the man who founded Team Genie and a former doctor at Woori Hospice. Tae-sik asks Mr. Yoon to plan a Christmas party with his wife since it is snowing. Gyeo-re is sitting at the bus stop when he decides that he needs to go to the ocean in order to cheer Sonny up.

At the hospice, Chi-hun is the resident doctor who has feelings for Yeon-joo. He asks the nurse out to celebrate her birthday. Meanwhile, the staff at Woori Hospice are preparing to bid Mr. Yoon a farewell as they set up a Christmas Tree in the middle of summer. Tae-sik is taking Mr. Yoon out in a wheelchair when the patient takes off his watch and hands it to the volunteer worker.

Mr. Yoon states that his time was over now, which sets the volunteer worker off to realize that Mr. Yoon was about to pass away soon. Yeon-joo and Chi-hun join Tae-sik as they leave the hospice in order to visit the grave of Mr. Yoon’s wife. Soon-ja hands out some food to be offered to Mr. Yoon’s wife’s grave while Chi-hun contemplates taking a patient so far when he is in a critical condition.

Yeon-joo says that this was something he dearly wanted which is why they were doing it. The rest of the hospital staff bid them farewell. At the same time, Gyeo-re buys a second-hand car by making a payment in cash. The car dealer notices the rose tattoo on his arm and alerts Seok Jun about it.

As Gyeo-re is on the highway in his sports car, he is being chased by Seo-jun and his goons. On the other hand, the Woori Hospice Ambulance is on the same street where Mr. Yoon’s pulse suddenly starts dropping. Chi-hun refuses to review the patient as Mr. Yoon had signed a directive beforehand to refrain from reviving him.

Yeon-joo however performs CPR and revives him in order to successfully fulfill his final wish. Tae-sik speeds up the ambulance but as they are on the highway, Gyeo-re causes an accident that fractures Tae-sik’s ankle. Tae-sik pulls Gyeo-re out of his car and forces him to drive the ambulance to its destination because he had rendered Tae-sik unable to drive.

Gyeo-re fears Seok Jun will catch up to him so he agrees to drive the ambulance. He drives the Woori Hospice staff to The East Sea. Gyeo-re throws some money into the street to cause a commotion as people rush to pick the money up. As they arrive at the grave of Mr. Yoon’s wife, Chi-hun notices that the patient’s pulse is slowly dropping.

Mr. Yoon thanks Tae-sik, Yeon-joo, and Chi-hun and finally breathes his last breath holding onto his wife’s gravestone. Gyeo-re and Sonny are at the beach where Gyeo-re contemplates drowning into the ocean with his pet after he suffers a trauma attack.

Gyeo-re recalls being in a room that is under fire with his sister. As he is about to go further into the ocean, Tae-sik grabs a hold of him. He takes Gyeo-re to the police station to report the accident and discovers that Gyeo-re is homeless and has a wound on his back. Gyeo-re also does not know who his father is. Tae-sik grabs Gyeo-re by his collar as he left the station to inspect the scar and realizes that Gyeo-re is his son.

At Mr. Yoon’s funeral, his son and daughter-in-law make a scene in order to push their guilt of negligence over to the hospice staff. They accuse Tae-sik of theft for wearing Mr. Yoon’s expensive watch but the volunteer worker calls them out for neglecting Mr. Yoon when he was alive.

As she is leaving the funeral, Yeon-joo and Chi-hun discuss the death of Mr. Yoon and the doctor states that he did not approve of what Team Genie was doing in order to fulfill a patient’s last wish in their final moments. A few days pass but Tae-sik hasn’t returned to the hospice. He is with his homeless friends as he rests with them on the skywalk.

The homeless men joke that Tae-sik still comes to visit them even though he isn’t homeless anymore. At the hospice, Team Genie discusses how they will go about the future mission with Tae-sik injured since no one on the team can drive. Just then Tae-sik returns from court. He recalls the hearing of Gyeo-re’s road accident where his fined $5,000 or ordered hours of community service work for the damages he has caused.

Despite having the money, Gyeo-re is against paying the government. That night, Gyeo-re returns to the hotel to find Seok Jun and his men asking around about him. Recalling how Sonny is still in the room, he exchanges clothes with the bellhop and escapes the hotel with Sonny who appears to be in pain.

Gyeo-re takes Sonny to Jin-goo’s clinic and finally convinces himself to euthanize the dog in order to end his suffering. As Jin-goo tries to take the dog away, Sonny moves closer to Gyeo-re’s feet. This makes Gyeo-re rethink his decision and he takes Sonny back.

In his car, Gyeo-re receives a text message hinting that he fulfill community service at Woori Hospice instead of paying a fine to the government. Woori Hospice staff is excited to have a new volunteer candidate but Gyeo-re does not show up for hours together.

As the staff members grow impatient, Gyeo-re zooms by in his bright red convertible. All of a sudden, Yeon-joo calls him. Her scrubs are covered in mud as she runs towards his car, kicking his rear-view mirror off. 

The Episode Review

The show felt like a fun comedy K-drama from its trailer but there seems to be a lot to unpack with this one. From Gyeo-re’s loneliness being an orphan with nowhere to go, he probably sees himself in his terminally ill dog, Sonny.

To have a big revelation like Tae-sik revealed to be Gyeo-re’s father within the first episode seems pretty shocking. In my opinion, it is possible that Tae-sik is the employee that Gyeo-re’s father was beating up. It is quite possible that Gyeo-re had been assaulted by his father as a child which is the same wound Tae-sik noticed on his back.

Going by the philosophical story of the Dutch driver who started fulfilling the wishes of his patients who were on their deathbeds, the story promises one patient after the other to have their wishes fulfilled by the Genie Team.

With each wish fulfillment will come one death which is the only downside to the premise of ‘If You Wish Upon Me’. However, seeing how the dying – in this case Mr. Yoon – had already come to terms with his time on earth being over, the show promises to be a wholesome healing show that takes fans on a wild ride of emotions.

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