After watching the first episode I’ve settled on Missing Nine as my next kdrama recap. Jung Kyung-Ho (Heartless City heartthrob, Sorry I Love You extreme mama’s boy à la Oedipus), Baek Jin Hee ( I liked her in Pride and Prejudice), Lee Sun Bin (she debuted in 38 Task Force and won my affection), Choi Tae Joon (he’s recently made a mark in k-variety as a regular host on Hello Counselor and as a couple with Yoon Bo Mi on We Got Married), Chanyeol (EXO-lent!), and Song Ok Suk (another 38 Task Force favorite). It’s a nose dive into the first episode from lofty heavenly heights to the depths of the deep blue sea.
120 days after a private plane carrying members of Legend Entertainment crashed, news of a lone survivor who was found on a shore in China surfaces. Fans have kept vigil all this time with signs that say they will never give up hope. The news that Ms. Ra survived, is in good shape, and has been questioned by Chinese authorities is all over the Korean news. Jang Do Pal, president of Legend Entertainment, is on the phone fielding yet another call inquiring about the missing people – calls that have come in nonstop for 120 days. The news startles him. There has been no word for four months since the crash and suddenly the Chinese government announces it will return the survivor.
Ra Bong Hee appears wobbly and dazed as she is put on a plane back to Korea. Investigator Oh who has followed the case since day 1 sits next to Bong Hee on the plane. He seems unaware of how shaken she is and rattles on about the case and how it was closed up since no plane was found but now, here she is. The press, fans who have not lost hope for 120 days, and other interested parties wait at the airport to welcome her return. A well-dressed man observes her from a distance and immediately notices the necklace around Bong Hee’s neck. He makes a call to Prosecutor Cho and is clearly keeping close tabs on Bong Hee.
She recognizes her mother who meets her at the gate even though Bong Hee hasn’t been able to recall anything about the plane crash or where she has been or with whom she’s stayed for the past four months. Short-term memory loss, the experts say, is understandable considering what she has been through.
A woman – Jo Hee Kyung – steps up for a photo op at the airport and has a few private words with Bong Hee. She is the chairwoman of the Special Investigative Committee in Korea. Ms. Jo is all business and intent on impressing Bong Hee of the importance of remembering everything that happened. In fact, she continues, it is Bong Hee’s patriotic duty to remember and tell the Korean people on camera what happened, who survived, and who died. Chairwoman Jo tells Bong Hee that she holds the key to the Legend Entertainment plane crash. Now that Bong Hee has turned up, the Korean authorities are extremely interested in the last four months since the plane went down and the Chinese government is just now returning the survivor. There have been rumors that other celebrities who were on the plane have been spotted in China or Thailand. Was it a crazy ploy of Legend Entertainment to stage a plane crash for their 20th anniversary? Chairwoman peppers Bong Hee with these comments.
Bong Hee isn’t quite sure about anything just now. But as she sits there with Chairwoman Jo, thoughts flood Bong Hee’s mind and she begins at the beginning…
Four months ago
That day, Bong Hee excitedly packed her bag and held her passport as she waited for manager Jeong Ki Joon to pick her up. It was her first day of work as Seo Joon Oh’s stylist and her first trip abroad, and she thought it would be the happiest day of her life.
Seo Joon Oh is face down in the sand and reaches for an octopus. He is supposed to eat it deliciously, but the film crew is unimpressed and asks for more energetic and enthusiastic acting for the food show filming. Joon Oh seems to forget that he is a fallen star, and is as difficult as they come. Thinking this gig is too small for him, he refuses to shoot anymore and stomps into the seaside cafe for soju and snacks. His manager, Jeong Ki Joon, is on his way with Bong Hee. On the ride to the shoot he asks what kind of person she thinks Seo Joon Oh is and she quickly sums him up. He was the lead of the group Dreamers but is now a has-been who fell from grace three years ago in a drunk driving incident where he mouthed off to the police, lost fans, and got plenty of bad press. The Dreamers disbanded, everything that Joon Oh tried after that flopped, and in Bong Hee’s words, he became the epitome of failure. Manager Ki Joon is stunned at how much she knows about Joon Oh (and how unadorned and straightforward her description is). He unconvincingly tells her that Joon Oh isn’t as down and out as all that, and in fact is headed on tour with Legend Entertainment. Oh, and basically she got the job because no one else applied, he tells her.
When they arrive at the food shoot they find Joon Oh in a pissy mood. He is mad about the unglamorous job and even madder that he is a fill-in for Tae Ho, a former Dreamers member, who is popular and enjoying the limelight as a singer and highly sought-after celebrity. Joon Oh is upset with Manager Ki Joon and gives poor Bong Hee a hard time. He refuses to wear a single outfit she’s brought for the shoot and in the end fires her. (Joon Oh reminds me a lot of spoiled Choi Yune in Sorry, I Love You.) It is Manager Ki Joon’s thankless job to get Joon Oh to the airport for Legend Entertainment’s comeback tour in China. He convinces Joon Oh to give Bong Hee another chance; after all, he needs her help on the tour and it is her first day on her first job.
Next thing you know, Bong Hee is employed once again and they arrive at the airport where the media is waiting to interview the stars of Legend Entertainment. Who, I might mention, all have a history among them. Actress Ji Ah the other former Dreamers members, Yeol and Tae Ho, arrive and are met with flashing cameras microphones. Joon Oh is upstaged by everyone else and even though he might deserve it, ya gotta feel a little sorry for the guy.
President Kwang of Legend Entertainment boards the plane, too. He tells Jang Do Pal to behave himself. “There are no second mistakes,” he warns. Hmmm. What could that mean?
Bong Hee is giddy about her first ride on a plane – and a classy private one at that. She introduces herself to actress Yoon So Hee as Joon Ah’s stylist. So Hee immediately warns Bong Hee to be careful of Joon Oh. “He’s dangerous.” That’s an ominous start. When Joon Oh walks in, the atmosphere turns awkward. “Long time no see,” Joon Oh casually says to So Hee. “I liked your movie. I’m glad you’re doing well,” he tells her. So Hee says she has to work hard so she doesn’t end up like him. Ouch.
Flashback: Young newbie actress, So Hee, shyly greets Joon Oh in a dressing room. He offers her his stylist when he is finished. She is grateful and says that she hopes that someday she will be as successful as he is. He tells her that she will even do better than him.
Now she is the successful one and he is riding other people’s coattails. There is definitely something about Joon Oh that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of other Legend Entertainment members.
Joon Oh orders Bong Hee to bring him his clothes and changes in the tiny bathroom. Bong Hee slips around the corner to avoid seeing him (and we get a mosaic in the appropriate place as he takes off his pants) only to stumble upon Ji Ah and Tae Oh getting physical.
When Ji Ah sees her standing there, she grabs Bong Hee’s phone and asks if she filmed them which, of course, she didn’t. She was innocently texting her mom.
A small group gathers around the minibar and in a matter of minutes there is tension. Yeol (Chanyeol) is friendly toward Joon Oh but Tae Oh and President Kwang give him the brush off. Yeol plays his new song. They listen and seem to recognize it.
Flashback: Dreamers, President Kwang, and the managers sit around listening to a song. Everyone is satisfied; it looks like Dreamers has a new hit on their hands. They congratulate Jae Hyun – the songwriter of the group – but has something to say, “I can’t do this anymore.” It seems like very bad timing for such a comment. Everyone is speechless.
President Kwang asks Yeol what he is thinking by using the song. Yeol turns to Joon Oh – who is clearly shocked at hearing the song – and apologizes. It is a situation that has everyone upset. Yeol tries to be the peacemaker, but an angry Tae Ho doesn’t let it go and asks Yeol to go ahead and tell Joon Oh the real reason for the song: “It’s to make Joon Oh live in guilt for the rest of his life.” Tae Ho turns to Joon Oh and spits out, “Why did we disband? Who’s fault was it?” He accuses Joon Oh of coming on this tour to mooch off of everyone else’s success. Yeol tries to defuse the situation but Tae Ho doesn’t hold back and says, “He killed a person. Jae Hyun died because of this scum, Seo Joon Oh.”
Flashback: Jae Hyun, a member of Dreamers, confesses to Joon Oh, “I’m too stressed out. It feels like I could die from this.” Joon Oh yells, “Go ahead and die.” With a successful song ready to release, it seems like too much for Jea Hyun to want to back out.
Increasing turbulence on the flight has everyone feeling uneasy except although President Kwang acts like it’s nothing to worry about. Ji Ah is especially anxious as others try to calm her, but she is too upset to hear them. The pilot requests flying higher above the thickening clouds.
Moments later, however, the pilot realizes that the engines are on fire and the situation is perilous. People call out to others in a panic as they are tossed about the cabin. “What’s wrong with this plane?” Joon Oh shouts. Tae Ho replies harshly that this is happening because of an unwelcome guest on the plane. Manager Ki Joon frantically searches for Ji Ah. He had given her some pills earlier, and several members seem concerned about her. Joon Oh finds her passed out.
He tries to wake her but the turbulence turns scary and the chandelier crashes down on them as he shields her. (I have to wonder, is it a good idea to have dangling crystal chandeliers on planes?) Bong Hee is pinned in the bathroom and kicks her way out. President Kwang frantically texts something about a password, 2580, as if wanting to get a message to someone.
The pilot radios, “We’re in a dive!”
There are a series of flashback scenes as each person recalls where they were the night that Joon Oh called for a meeting at Legend Entertainment to discuss Jae Hyun’s wanting to bow out. Their connection to each other and the tragedy they experienced ties them together forever.
That night, Joon Ah, Tae Ho, Yeol, President Kwang, So Hee, manager Ki Hoon, and Ji Ah meet up at Legend Entertainment. With Joon Oh leading, they all walk toward the building.
A loud, terrible thud, shattering glass, a body on the car, blood. Silence. Screaming. “Jae Hyun! No!” They simultaneously cry out. Jae Hyun has jumped to his death.
The plane careens and plunges forcefully into the water. It breaks open and floods, a mixture of rushing water, metal, glass, wires. Bodies are submerged. There is no hope of anyone surviving…
Here are the people who were on the plane:
Joon Ho, Tae Ho, Yeol, So Hee, Ji Ah, three members of Blue Angel girl group named May, Joy, and Chiming, and President Kwang. They make up the 9 Legend Entertainment members. In addition, there is Manager Seong Ki Joon, stylist Bong Hee, and President Kwang’s assistant making 12 passengers plus the 2 pilots for a total of 14 people on board. We will have to wait to see what the title Missing Nine refers to.
- Bong Hee does remember, then. Was she savvy enough to withhold information from the Chinese and act like she’d lost her memory? Now that she is in Korea she tells her story to Chairwoman Jo. But who are the others in the background that are so interested in her? The well-dressed man on the phone at the airport when she arrives who notices the necklace around Bong Hee’s neck – who is he? President Jang Do Pal, who has been fielding calls about the crash for four months now – what is his part in all this? He obviously wasn’t president until President Kwang went missing. And just what was that stern warning to behave himself that President Kwang gave him before he boarded the plane? Now Jang Do Pal seems quite disturbed the Bong Hee has appeared, as if he had not planned on anyone showing up ever again.
- Why is Ms. Jo so interested in the whole ordeal and why is she so bent on extracting Bong Hee’s memory one way or another? Also, we don’t know much about Investigator Oh who sat next to Bong Hee on the plane from China and has been involved in the investigation from the get go. He seems mild enough, but he is persistent and staying by Bong Hee’s side. Who is he and what does he know?
- There is plenty of bad blood between Tae Ho, President Kwang, and Joon Oh over the unfortunate suicide of Dreamers’ member Jae Hyun. It is very uncomfortable that Joon Oh is still hanging onto Legend Entertainment (his contract is up for renewal) especially with such a tainted history.
- I love that Bong Hee’s mother is a woman deep-sea diver. She seemed concerned when Chairwoman Jo whisked Bong Hee away right there at the airport. I hope she can protect her daughter somehow.
- The necklace that Bong Hee is wearing upon her arrival in Korea is the same necklace that Yoon So Hee was wearing on the plane four months ago. The well-dressed man noticed that right away. What is its significance?
- Seong Ki Hoon definitely has a thing for Ji Ah. It seems like they were an item in the past. But now, Tae Ho freely flirts with Ji Ah, to Ki Hoon’s displeasure. While President Kwang favors Tae Ho, Manager Ki Joon takes care of Joon Oh.
- I’m not sure how I like Kyung Ho as a reddish blond. He is so handsome with dark hair!
- I love stylist Bong Hee’s bangs and pigtails!
- This drama has enough interesting personalities to keep my interest, and the storyline is easy to follow yet leaves me wanting to know more about Legend Entertainment. Episode 1 certainly has raised plenty of questions that I hope this drama answers satisfactorily. On to episode 2! Are you with me?