Episode 1 articulates the lead character’s struggles as a single mother and the dire straits she’s in.
This recap of Netflix K-drama series Was It Love? episode 1 contains significant spoilers.
How does Was It Love? episode 1 open?
Episode 1 begins with Noh Ae-jeong practising at a job interview. They ask her if she’s got software skills and question why she dropped out of University with one semester left. We are then treated to a flashback at Christmas time — Noh Ae-jeong’s daughter is struggling at school due to children having to draw their families. Her father isn’t in her life, which is troubling for her daughter Ha-nee. In a nutshell, episode 1 articulates the lead character’s struggles as a single mother and the dire straits she’s in.
I raised my child
Back at the Thumb Film Employee Recruitment, she tells the interviewers that she became a mother at 23 and had to raise her child on her own so she couldn’t finish her studies. One of the interviewers is rude and cuts her off. When Noh Ae-Jeong gets home, the frustration boils over and she cries. Before she left the interview, she was asked why she wanted to be in the film department. This scene is indicative of how badly single mothers are treated and perceived in work practices. It’s almost like she’s at a disadvantage for not having a nuclear family
The year 2006
We are shown a movie theatre and the credits roll saying “Directed by Oh Dae-o and produced by Noh Ae-jeong”. Before she became a mother, Noh Ae-jeong’s dream was to become a film producer. In the present day, she states pushing pencils would be fine as long as she’s near a film studio. It’s then revealed she is crying because she got the job after all despite the harsh questioning by the sleazy interviewers.
Meeting and first day at school
A few years later and Noh Ae-jeong is now a film producer; however, the company needs a new investor.
At work, Noh Ae-jeong prepares for an important meeting. At school, Ha-nee is getting accustomed to her new place and rules. When getting heckled for not having her name badge on her, one of the teachers saves her and offers Ha-nee around the school. Later on in class, Ha-nee feels sorry for a boy who is getting bullied.
Back to the meeting and Noh Ae-jeong is pitching her film to the investor but she finds him distracting as he keeps messing with his lighter. She then learns the investor is actually the boss of a money lending company and the film company owes a lot of money. When her boss got her to sign the producer role contract, she actually signed a joint surety agreement, meaning if the boss is absent, Noh Ae-jeong owes the money lending company. Shocked that she has been set up and unable to bring the money, the money lending company starts threatening Noh Ae-jeong’s family — she has two weeks to pay the debt. It’s clear this is not a typical money lending company.
Noh Ae-jeong looks for her boss Mr. Wang who seems to have fled. She’s absolutely enraged by what’s happened.
I am the mother and father
It gets worse for the lead character who has the theme of a run of bad luck. Ah-jeong is called her into school because her daughter hurt another boy — the one that she saw was doing the bullying — and she begs the other mother to drop it so it doesn’t go to a School Violence Committee. When Ha-nee is asked about her father, she says fathers do not exist. The father of the attacked boy starts saying offensive statements about single-parent families. Noh Ah-jeong states she is the mother and father and offers to pay for hospital bills and compensation in a passionate speech. The proudness of single-motherhood shines through here, it’s nice to see in narrative form.
You never listen
At the midway point of Was It Love? episode 1, outside of the school, Noh Ah-jeong notices one of the money lenders company men and she is suddenly scared. Ha-nee gets upset that her mother never listens and they argue passionately with each other. Ha-nee is upset that she’s never had a father. Afterward, Noh Ae-jeong drowns her sorrows at the bar after a bad day.
On the bus the next day, Noh Ah-jeong bumps into her daughter’s homeroom teacher who stopped the bus for her so she could get on. He recognizes her from the past and he tells her he misses her.
Noh Ae-jeong meets the investor who never showed up at the meeting. He tells her no company in the world will invest in the company she works for. She also finds out the director left Thumb Film. Noh Ae-jeong begs the director to stay. He tells her she doesn’t have the ability to produce his work. In the office, Noh Ae-jeong is feeling she wants to exert revenge on Mr. Wang for leaving her in this mess.
We are saved!
The assistant Hye-jin finds a manuscript by the author Cheon Eok-man which gets her attention. She uses a wet wipe to see a name on the other manuscript from Mr Wang’s house and it’s the same author — Cheon Eok-man. He’s the best selling author. They think they are saved.
Noh Ae-jeong and Hye-jin head to the house of the moneylender boss and are chased into a corner by dogs. The man comes out with specks of blood on his white shirt and on his hands. She tells him she’d like to do business with him and shows him the copyright contract from writer Cheon Eok-man, the number one author that investors would be interested in.
Noh Ae-jeong is confident that she can make the money back with the film. The moneylender boss doubts Noh Ae-jeong can pull it off so she asks him if he’d be interested in making an investment. She’s risking her life and family for this investment. The moneylender boss agrees to the investment but on a few conditions — Cheon Eok-man has to deliver the project as a writer, Ryu Jin has to act in the film as he’s a fan. Noh Ae-jeong is flustered as she highly doubts she can get a Hollywood actor. If she succeeds it will settle the debt and the moneylender boss will invest ten billion won. She has eight days. This is clearly a risky move by Noh Ae-jeong who is making a dangerous risk in an underground money lending world.
Persuading Ryu Jin
Noh Ae-jeong heads to one of Ryu Jin’s promotional film events to try to persuade him to join her production for the film — flashbacks show that when she was younger, she wanted the actor to kiss her. Noh Ae-jeong wrestles through the crowd to try to get to him but she fails. She tells Hye-jin that her relationship with Ryu Jin was almost special. Flashbacks show her younger self playing a drinking game and she’s dared to kiss someone, so she heads outside to try to kiss Ryu Jin in front of everyone. As she closes her eyes, they hear one of her friends throwing up in the distance — her friend is throwing up all over her shoes. It was a “nearly moment” rather than a special relationship.
How does Was It Love? episode 1 end?
Late into the night, Noh Ae-jeong emails the writer Cheon Eok-man asking him to write on the film. She starts reading the author’s book that is a tragic Joseon history romance — she’s consumed by the story. The next morning the author emails Noh Ae-jeong and she is bursting with excitement. When she sees Cheon Eok-man she’s astounded by his appearance. Episode 1 has plenty of variety and it sets an impressive base for the rest of the story.
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