Now, We Are Breaking Up – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

A Fairly Neutral Start

Episode 1 of Now, We Are Breaking Up opens during K Fashion Week in Busan. Designer Ha Young-eun and coveted freelance photographer Yoon Jae-guk have a one-night stand. Despite the intimate encounter, they remain anonymous to one another, with Young-eun reasoning that they won’t meet again and neither having any interest in love or commitment.

Seok Do-hoon, the CEO of a fashion PR agency, returns to Korea to secure a sponsorship deal with iconic fashion brand, Olivier. Head of the brand, Olivier de Saint Sauveur, currently has his eye on the photographer known as Mr. J, who is none other than Jae-guk.

Young-eun is on the design team for Korea’s top fashion brand, The One, and they also have their sights set on partnering with Olivier. She’s waiting for a meeting with him when her CEO calls. He gives Young-eun instructions to get his daughter, Hwang Chi-sook, who is also the design team’s Director, to a blind date scheduled for 7pm.

This task shapes up to be a difficult one, with Chi-sook on the verge of a breakdown outside the hotel room where her lover, a model for The One, is currently cheating on her.

Young-eun does some major contract damage control while Chi-sook gets physical with the girl the model cheated on her with. Jae-guk, who is staying in the same hotel, is in the elevator when Young-eun and the model get on and mistakes them as a couple.

We learn that Do-hoon is already close to Jae-guk, and he conspires with Jae-guk’s mother to set up a blind date for Jae-guk at 7pm.

Young-eun is told that Olivier cancelled their meeting for today. The bad news continues when she’s alerted to the fact that Chi-sook is still at the hotel getting drunk.

Young-eun backtracks to the hotel to try and persuade Chi-sook to get ready. The pair clash over Young-eun’s cold commitment to her work and Chi-sook’s ability to act without care because of her family ties. In the end, Chi-sook gets Young-eun to go to the date while pretending to be her.

Jae-guk arrives at the restaurant and quickly realizes he’s been tricked into a date. He’s about to leave when Young-eun walks in and introduces herself as Chi-sook. She shows no sign of recognizing him and is about to cancel the dinner when she spots the delicious array of food. She stays, having had to skip meals all day, but keeps working as she eats.

Jae-guk tells her he’s a freelance fashion photographer and suggests that they could have met before. Young-eun simply says that she doesn’t remember encounters with no impact and cuts their time together short.

On Young-eun’s way out, she receives more bad news. None of their portfolio photos for Olivier have been printed and the original file is missing. Young-eun arranges an emergency photoshoot and petitions Jae-guk to be the photographer since everyone else is already booked for fashion week.

At the photoshoot the next day, Young-eun treats Jae-guk like a novice, believing him to be a rookie in the fashion photography scene. He quickly proves her wrong, taking charge of the shoot and producing great results. Young-eun still poses as Chi-sook, unaware that Jae-guk has seen Chi-sook’s social media and knows that Young-eun is not her.

At Olivier’s FW Trade Show that night, Nam Na-ri from The One’s design team arranges to have illicit photos taken of the clothes so that she can leak them online. Young-eun catches her and wants to know why.

As it turns out, Olivier already signed a contract with their competitor and avoided telling them, meaning the whole emergency shoot went to waste. Jae-guk, who accompanied Do-hoon to the Trade Show, discreetly listens in as Young-eun reprimands Na-ri for crossing the line.

Jae-guk attends Olivier’s afterparty at Do-hoon’s behest. As he enters, he accidentally causes Chi-sook to stumble and catches her before she falls. She’s left awestruck and looks at the ticket he gave the doorman to see Do-hoon’s name written there.

Jae-guk catches sight of Young-eun and follows her to the second floor where she’s meeting with Olivier to urge him to reconsider. Young-eun gives passionate responses to Olivier’s questions about the philosophy behind her work, but Olivier is more concerned with profit.

Young-eun gets a little teary just as Jae-guk enters the room. Olivier is ecstatic to see Mr. J, but Jae-guk informs him that by rejecting the photos Young-eun presented, he also rejected Mr. J.

Jae-guk buys Young-eun a consolation drink. She nonchalantly reveals that she’s known he was her one-night stand the whole time but didn’t find it necessary to delve into it. She doesn’t manage to stay ahead of Jae-guk on the scoreboard, though, after he reveals that he knows she’s not Chi-sook.

The Episode Review

SBS’s new melodrama Now, We Are Breaking Up has made a fairly neutral start. Our main leads are no strangers to noona romances, and so far their dynamic is unfolding similarly to Jang Ki-young’s pairing with Im Soo-jung in Search WWW, with Jang Ki-young playing the assertive Jae-guk in pursuit of Song Hye-kyo’s more level-headed Young-eun.

That’s where the parallels end and the biggest difference to the romance in Search WWW (a.k.a. way less chemistry) rears its ugly head. Not to mention, Jae-guk crosses enough boundaries that it’s a little concerning. Having him save Young-eun from her business meeting felt very old-school K-drama in a bad way.

The fashion industry premise was executed with more theatrics than are probably found in the real world. It also required some willful ignorance of our leads’ poor French and the more dubious performances of the actors playing foreign industry big-shots. However, it was nice to see an emphasis on our leads’ work, rather than any luxurious lifestyle that might come with the job.

Out of the supporting characters, Do-hoon shined the brightest in this episode. His sixth sense tingling every time someone said a name of interest at the afterparty was hilarious, as was his affectionate use of Jae-guk’s nickname “Cookie”.

On the whole, we got a lighter first episode that hinted at the melodrama to come.

Next Episode

Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!
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