Cafe Minamdang season 1 episode 1 recap & review

Cafe Minamdang is a South Korean series about a former criminal profiler who’s posing as a shaman and solving cases for monetary gain. The series is now streaming on Netflix.

Recap

Nam Han-jun is called in to observe an interview process for a hotel general manager position. He watches remotely and gives his input to the hotel CEO via earpiece. He observes each candidate carefully and then lets the CEO know whether they’re a good fit.

When he can’t get a read on one of the candidates, he walks into the interview hall and begins a ritual before revealing that the employee next to the CEO, Ko Ju-won, was behind the recent suicide of a secretary because he had harassed her sexually.

Nam Han-jun is a shaman who guarantees to solve all problems no matter who the client is or what the problem is. He is the rising star of Daen-gu.

Han-jun lives with his sister, Nam Hye-jun, who worked for the National Intelligence Service and his brother, Su-cheol. He operates out of the cafe below their house called Cafe Minamdang. Na-dan serves the coffee and works for Han-jun.

Their first customer is an old man who cheated on his wife and in turn, was robbed of all his money by his mistress. When the man asks him how he knew all this, it cuts back to earlier and reveals his secret.

Han-jun has great observational skills and with the help of his sister who can hack into any online database and his deductive expertise, he learns everything about a client. Su-cheol is the muscle of his operation that does the leg work.

He locates the old man’s mistress and after putting on a show and dance, tells him where to go and find her.

The old man calls in the local detectives from the Major Crimes Division, Detective Jang and Detective Kim to help with the arrest. Jang is also aware of Han-jun’s reputation and tells Kim all about it. The two of them discuss it while they wait for their new recruit at the police station.

A woman walks in but before she can introduce herself they get a call with a tip that Ju-won is attempting to flee to China. Jang and Kim head out after him and a chase ensues at the shipyard. The woman arrives and takes down Ju-won along with the thugs he had hired.

Han-jun finds himself admiring this woman through the surveillance camera. He then sits with the deceased girl’s sister who thanks him for finding the man responsible for her death.

When they get back to the station they find a constable who introduces himself as Na Gwang-tae, the new recruit. That’s when the woman gets a chance to reveal that she is Lieutenant Han Jae-hui and that she is the new team leader for their division.

Jang remembers that Jae-hui is also known as the ‘ghost of Yongjin police station’ because she took down an entire mafia on her own and moved like a ghost while doing it.

Jang meets with the chief of police who also happens to be his brother and asks him why he has to serve with ‘Han the ghost’. The chief tells him that because of her clean reputation, there are many corrupt officials who want to see her eliminated and Jang can be the one to do that.

Jae-hui goes back home and works on some other cases. She takes a moment to gloss over a past case and makes a vow to herself to catch the person involved in that case.

Han-jun is at home with his brother and sister when he gets a call from one of their clients. The client tells them that her husband is acting strange, he’s covered in blood and worrying about something.

The husband is Shin Gyeong-ho, the vice chairman of S&H Group. By combing through his dashcam footage, they learn that while driving under the influence, Gyeong-ho hit someone and tried to hide the body.

The three of them go searching for the body before Gyeong-ho gets a chance to cover it up and they find that the victim is still alive. They call the police and specifically ask for Han Jae-hui.

She arrives at the scene and Han-jun’s face jogs her memory a little but she cannot remember where she’s seen him before. Han-jun is smitten by her and tries to pass off as a stud in front of her.

Jae-hui tells her team that they should work on this hit-and-run case and the others reluctantly agree to it.

Na-dan goes to throw the garbage out and notices that one of the bags is missing. He rushes back inside to tell Han-jun that someone referred to as ‘Looney’ is there. They all rush outside to look for ‘Looney’.

‘Looney’ turns out to be Han Jae-hui, who is looking through Han-jun’s trash because she doesn’t believe he’s a true shaman. They eventually find and chase her. When she is cornered, she uses some impressive parkour to get out of a tight spot.

Han-jun asks her about her identity but she doesn’t reply.

In the epilogue, Jae-hui arrives at a crime scene where a body is being wheeled away while Han-jun is elsewhere, crying about something.

Review

  • The concept isn’t exactly an original one but it’s certainly been implemented well over here. It promises to be an interesting series focusing on Han-jun’s antics.
  • The playful score can be a bit jarring at times but for the most part it hits the right notes and helps signify the tone of any particular scene.
  • The fight sequences are a bit over-dramatic but they are well choreographed.
  • The cinematography is adequate and the locations and sets showcased are of vivid variety.

Rating: 3.5/5


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