Highlights: “Pinocchio” Episode 1


The long-awaited Korean drama of the winter season has arrived! Not only is it Lee Jong Suk’s return to the small screen after playing genius surgeon in Doctor Stranger (although I much preferred “I Can Hear Your Voice“), but it’s also that of Park Shin Hye after the highly popular “The Heirs.” Side Note: Interestingly enough, it was Kim Woo Bin who had been proposed the lead role but, due to scheduling conflicts, was forced to decline. Who here would have preferred to see Kim Woo Bin and Park Shin Hye’s sizzling chemistry instead? I think this is a close call…

Choi Dal Po enters the Quiz Challenge - Pinocchio

The first episode starts with Choi Dal Po (Lee Jong Suk) skipping school to make his big entry on a televised game show where he has to answer questions correctly against one of his classmates. But fear not! Dal Po’s ranked 34 out of his whole school. Though the fact that there are only 34 students in his whole school might put a damper on things. What is more, Dal Po is proud to admit he’s a “Big Fat Zero” in basically every subject. To move onto Round 2 of the game, Dal Po must answer five questions correctly. Only then will he be able to face the game’s other contestant, his own classmate An Chan Soo, who’s currently ranked as the school’s numero uno.

Choi In Ha and Choi Dal Po - Pinocchio

First question: what is the syndrome, whose name is based on a fairy tale character, that makes people hiccup whenever they say a lie? To everyone’s surprise, Dal Po uses his chance card straightaway. He doesn’t have a friend in the audience, however, he does have a friend on the show! So Dal Po calls on the current show champion but, instead of asking him the game’s question, he challenges him: if I beat you today on this show, will you allow me to punch you ten times? When his classmate finally agrees to the challenge, Dal Po answers the question, an answer he already knew thanks to the blunt-talking witch Choi In Ha (Park Shin Hye) who suffers from the syndrome.

As the following questions are asked, we get to see Dal Po’s entire past in one long flashback (get both your tissues and punching bag ready):

Flashback of Dal Po's life - Pinocchio

Dal Po actually started life as Ki Ha Myung, the youngest child of an extremely smart, fun, loving, and kind-hearted family. That happiness, however, was ripped to shreds when his father, the head of the fire department, sent his whole team inside a burning warehouse where he was told two workers were stuck. Contrary to what they’d been told, the workers were not inside at all, and when the building exploded it took out every single firefighter inside. Count: nine dead and one missing. At the police station, however, the workers’ boss told a lie to cover his and his workers’ derrieres: that he’d told the firefighters no one was inside the burning building, but that they’d insisted on checking things out anyway. You can imagine how the grieving families took the news and how quickly Ha Myung’s father was treated as a murderer. A stigma that was later compounded by the fact that a witness (also suffering from the Pinocchio syndrome–funny how so many people are suddenly popping up with this inability to lie, but, as the drama stated, this isn’t based on a real condition) claimed to have seen the chief firefighter alive. And so the witch-hunt started.

Things only got worse through the arduous and despicable work of reporter Song Cha Ok (Jin Kyun), a reporter who’s ready to do anything, including twisting the truth, to increase her viewership. That meant a smear campaign against the Ki family (despite not having any concrete evidence), and nothing could get in her way, be it her own divorce, the lives of two innocent children (Ha Myung and his older brother Jae Myung), or the deaths of Ha Myung and his mother. Ha Myung’s mother couldn’t withstand both the loss of her husband and the constant insults of the whole neighborhood who even went so far as to refuse to sell her food. So one night, she decided to join her husband in the afterlife by taking Ha Myeong to the ocean and making them both drown in it.

Flashback Dal Po's childhood - Pinocchio

It was In Ha who found Ha Myung again, although she didn’t know (and still doesn’t) who he was. Ha Myung was then living on an island with a sick older man (In Ha’s grandfather) who thought his lost son Choi Dal Po had been returned to him by the kind spirits of the sea and had therefore adopted Ha Myung (now to be known as Dal Po). During their first month together, Dal Po and In Ha grew very fond of each other, but that small piece of happiness was blasted apart when Dal Po foud out In Ha was none other than reporter Song Cha Ok’s daughter.

Ever since then, Dal Po has hated this “niece” of his and is intent upon his vengeance. End of flashback, and we’re back to the quiz, where Dal Po has managed to answer all five questions correctly and can therefore move onto the next phase which will take place in Episode 2!

Pinocchio main characters episode 1 - Pinocchio

Although the first episode was rather bleak—reminiscent in some ways of “Nice Guy” with Song Joong Ki intent on vengeance—there were some more lighthearted moments, such as Dal Po’s intro to the quiz show:

Choi Da Po Intro - Pinocchio

I do hope that the rest of the series will be more light-hearted as In Ha pursues Dal Po and tries to change his heart, for there’s no doubt in my mind that she adores him, even if she passed that last lie test!

What do you think?

[tv]If you haven’t done so yet, check out “Pinocchio” on SoompiTV every Wednesday and Thursday!