My Liberation Notes – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Mundanity Of Travel

Episode 1 of My Liberation Notes kicks off JTBC’s latest K-drama with an introduction to Mi-Jeong. She heads out bowling with her work colleagues, messaging her siblings to let them know she’s going to be late. On the way out the door her boss scathingly suggests she move closer to Seoul.

From one meeting to the next; Mi-Jeong meets her sister and they start eating barbecue together. While they’re there, Gi-Jeong begins badmouthing a guy called Tae-Hoo who just so happens to be sitting right next to their table. Gi-Jeong is incredibly embarrassed and eventually the sisters leave.

Just before they do, Tae-Hoo tells Gi-Jeong that while he probably should have got divorced, getting married is the best thing he’s done… because it’s allowed him to meet his daughter.

After a pretty awkward night, the two sisters prepare to meet their brother, Chang-Hee. He’s had a rough night too, getting into a heated argument out in the street with his girlfriend. Unfortunately she breaks up with him. Defeated, the three siblings head back to Sangpo via a taxi. I bet that cost a lot!

There are long stretches of silence here, as we see the mundanity of life in this little village. It’s a nice contrast to the bright lights and bustling metropolis, which is eventually broken up by Chang-Hee discussing his future with his father. He doesn’t have a car but believes he should get a small electric one so he can start winning over women. His father  is not exactly thrilled with the idea of his son taking out yet another instalment plan.

With the siblings all bemoaning staying in Sangpo and being far away, it’s Mi-Jeong who finds herself the most conflicted. She doesn’t make it into joining a club but interestingly, neither does Tae-Hoo who shows up afterwards. This disappointment is only made worse by Mi-Jeong being unable to attend any of the work events. This causes her to be alienated from others. Not only that, her boss completely berates her work, scribbling suggestions all over her printed presentation.

If that wasn’t enough, at work Mi-Jeong overhears the other workers mentioning how she’s bland and not very fun. Naturally, Mi-Jeong believes it’s because they’re all living in Sangpo and spend a lot of their time living a mundane life. Would things be different if they lived in Seoul?

A lot of the discourse here though revolves around marriage, believing this is the golden ticket for them to escape their mundanity. Both Gi-Jeong and Chang-Hee feel the same way as they trundle back and forth between places.

Back in the big city, Mi-Jeong receives an urgent message from the bank. She’s five days late paying back her credit and as a result, her loan balance is now 15.84 won. This works out to 1.5 million won a month. She’s going to receive a note back home very soon to confirm the full details, but Mi-Jeong is worried about the implications of this.

After another night in Sangpo, Mi-Jeong is about to get the bus but changes her mind. She decides to head back and see her neighbour, Mr. Goo, and asks him to pick up some mail for her. She doesn’t want her parents to know about the bank issue. He silently agrees, prompting Mi-Jeong to get the later bus to work, repeating the same cycle again.

The Episode Review

What is going on with JTBC at the moment? From the bungled release schedule of Snowdrop to the bitter disappointment of Thirty Nine, right the way across to the average-at-best Forecasting Love and Weather, this has not been a good year for the network. Looking to try and change that though is My Liberation Notes which depicts a breezy slice of life drama. While it nails the mundanity and repetitiveness of rural life and traveling… it doesn’t really do much else.

The characters aren’t that fleshed out – at least not yet –  and the screenplay is pretty bland. The ideas – while rife for exploration – have been done better in other shows. It also doesn’t help that this timeslot is also being taken up by Our Blues, which is already shaping up to be a much more promising and interesting proposition.

It’s still early days and this series may yet pull it out the bag but so far this show is trying to hit the slice of life angle without much of a plot and hook to reel us in. Hopefully things improve going forward.

Next Episode

You can read our full season review for My Liberation Notes Season 1 here!

  • Episode Rating

6 thoughts on “My Liberation Notes – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review”

  1. I’ve had to keep rewatching episode 1. I know I am going to like this drama, but I am so confused. I don’t understand who is who and am a little lost.

    I thought there were 2 brothers and 2 sister. But no? Who is the fatter guy who plays the guitar? Is he not a brother?
    I thought 1 sister walked past her sister at night, and then her brother in the morning, but they don’t talk to each other.
    Is that another woman? Not sisters? Not her brother?
    I am so confused.

    I think I need to watch this for a 4th time.

  2. Thanks for this review. As much as I would like to agree with how you see it but moreover, I found myself relating to the story in Episode 1. It felt like my story is being told.

    I hope you can find the song played on the last part of episode 1. 🙏

  3. This show is no ‘Home Town Cha Cha Cha’, but I’ve somehow been drawn into this Federico Fellini style film. In it’s dark and somber script and overall dark grey toned cinematography; there’s a certain magic to be found. I’m only to the part where the overdue payment statement for the $12,500. loan arrives, but I’m hooked. For those who think it’s a 20 out of 100, I recommend the luminescent and charming ‘Business Proposal’.

  4. Thank you Greg for your reply! I believe that the pacing will continue to get better. I just learned that MLN and Another Ms. Oh were both written by the same scriptwriter. This surely gave me a bit of assurance that the next episodes will be full of memorable scenes.

    I was impressed with Lee Min-Ki’s performance in Because This Is My First Life. I hope that he will be as good if not better with his portrayal of his role in this series.

    I look forward to your review of the 3rd episode of MLN.

  5. Hey thanks for commenting! Yeah to be honest I actually preferred the second episode, I felt the characters had a lot more depth. Really glad you enjoyed this one and appreciate your comment!

    -Greg w

  6. I don’t agree with your comments but thank you for sharing them.

    The 1st episode wasn’t bad at all! As a matter of fact, I didn’t expect that much because I wasn’t impressed with the trailer on Netflix. It may not be that coherent but I believe that it steered what is to follow, and establishes MLN’s tone and pace. The Yeom parents, siblings, handy man, neighbors are credible.

    Hope your review of the 2nd episode will include “MLN is a beautiful and well-told tv drama with talented actors. and I highly recommend it.“.

    Thank you.

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