First Impressions: “The Girl Who Sees Smells”


I was initially worried about “The Girl Who Sees Smells,” mostly because it had some difficulties in securing leads initially. I was quite curious as to how Shin Se Kyung would portray a girl who could see smells and how Park Yoo Chun would act as a man who has lost his ability to feel or sense things bodily. Let’s go over what happens in the first two episodes:

Four Years Ago – Tragedy Strikes

Choi Eun Seol (Shin Se Kyung) is a plucky high school student; she gets off a bus and heads home. She texts her mom and asks her to prepare ramen as she is famished. A gloved man pries the cell phone receiving that message from a woman’s hand. Sadly, he has killed her parents and drags their lifeless bodies.


Eun Seol arrives outside her home and notices a silver van parked outside. She enters her home and sees the intruder and her parents’ bodies. Paralyzed by fear and shock, she can’t move as he gets closer to her and puts his hand around her neck. When the clock chimes she comes to her senses and escapes while he pursues her.


She runs out into a large street and gets hit by an oncoming car. We see that the killer managed to rip her name tag off of her uniform earlier.


Then we are introduced to Choi Moo Gak (Park Yoo Chun). He is talking to his sister (Kim So Hyun) who is calling about being in a car accident and on her way to a hospital. Her name also happens to be Choi Eun Seol. He clearly loves his sister a lot. When he arrives at the hospital, he bumps into a suspicious guy that is presumably the killer. The man is dressed as a doctor and has blood on him. We get to clearly see him (portrayed by actor Song Jong Ho).


Choi Moo Gak tells his sister about the food he brought. Hearing no response he turns her over only to find her neck has been slit. He breaks down in shock and grief. It’s a heartbreaking scene.


Then we are brought to a crime scene where Eun Seol’s parents have been positioned to be sitting near a beach. An officer notes that they have been missing for seven days. This was discovered when the hospital was searching for Eun Seol’s parents after the car accident. Detective Oh discovers cut marks on her father’s forearm and realizes Eun Seol must have witnessed her parents’ murders.

Newfound Abilities

We find Eun Seol at the hospital. She wakes up as a nurse checks up on her. The nurse is surprised because one of her eyes became blue. Choi Eun Seol discovers her new ability to see smells. She sees little figures floating around objects indicating their scents. She completely freaks out and trys to bat away the scent images.


Apparently she was in a coma for 193 days and has no memory of what happened before waking up from her coma. She calls Detective Oh dad and he calls her Oh Cho Rim (perhaps he adopted her). Before leaving the hospital he gives her a contact lens from her doctor so that her blue eye can appear brown and she can live normally as Oh Cho Rim.

Now we are in the present day. He’s a police officer undercover on the lookout for a criminal. Other detectives working on the case sitting in a car outside comment about his unusually large appetite as well as his hard work as he is never seen resting or sleeping. The convenience store clerk continues to bring him ramen and coffee. She gasps as he downs steaming hot beverages like it’s nothing.


Hopes and Dreams

Oh Cho Rim now works at a comedy theater group. She works hard and is passionate about her job. Comedian Jung Chan Woo appears and announces that there will be an evaluation and only the funniest people will be able to go on stage. Seniority will be disregarded, so even the youngest person (Oh Cho Rim) can be on stage.

Cho Rim fantasizes as she cleans the stage. First, she’s a guest on “One Night of TV Entertainment.” She explains how she became famous. She did the best in the theater group evaluation and she appeared on variety show “Running Man” where her comedic dancing propelled her into stardom. Her day dream is rudely interrupted as her senior hits her head. He breaks the news that he will be working with someone else for the evaluation. She needs a new partner.


Choi Moo Gak is in a difficult situation as well. The wanted criminal whips out a knife and threatens to hurt Moo Gak. During this confrontation, the two detectives outside are hilariously oblivious to the situation. Moo Gak is completely unafraid of the perpetrator, but faints and hits the ground. The criminal is able to run away. The convenience store clerk checks on Moo Gak and he’s sound asleep.


The homicide division is the butt of all jokes as they lost the criminal last night. The detectives scold Moo Gak. Later, he flashes back to the night his sister died. It seems like he lost his ability to feel pain that night. He must have been overcome with grief.

Catching a Criminal

Oh Cho Rim is driving her senior’s car nervously. She accidentally jerks the car forward and makes a motorcyclist hit the pavement and collides with Moo Gak. He is bleeding and his shoulder is dislocated. Moo Gak moves Cho Rim out of harms way when a car speeds by. Then Moo Gak enters her car in order to chase after the motorcyclist who is running away.The chase scene involves crashing into a lot of things and screaming from Oh Cho Rim. When he shows her his badge, explains that he’s trying to catch a criminal and she can be arrested for obstruction of justice. Then she immediately changes her tune and urges him not to lose the thief.


They end up chasing after him on foot. Oh Cho Rim utilizes her scent seeing skills and leads Moo Gak in the right direction. He doesn’t trust her but gets dragged along. She realizes that the theft happened at a salon because she sees the scent of a salon. Moo Gak is surprised that she knows.

By focusing on the thief’s scent, Oh Cho Rim sees what happened exactly. She is able to see that he took the left elevator. Moo Gak is skeptical, but they go to the fourth floor and find a jjimjilbang (a kind of sauna).

Wearing Moo Gak’s clothes, Cho Rim and Moo Gak enter the men’s locker room and search for the thief’s scent. She discovers the thief’s locker and Moo Gak catches the bad guy. After the police arrive, Cho Rim insists on taking Moo Gak to a hospital. The doctor tells Cho Rim that Moo Gak has analgesia which is the inability to feel pain. He suggests that he see a pain medicine specialist.


They head out and Moo Gak bumps into a doctor. Cho Rim also passes him. Oh no! It’s the same doctor that probably killed Moo Gak’s sister! While they don’t know who he is, the scary doctor clearly recognizes Cho Rim.


Choi Eun Seol

They go to a coffee shop and exchange contact information so they can discuss the car repair fees. After parting ways, a female bumps into Oh Cho Rim and recognizes her saying, “Cha Eun Sol!” Moo Gak hears his sister’s name and freezes.


He flashes back to a memory of his sister visiting him at the aquarium he worked at. He dotes on her, hugs her, and calls her his kid.

Brought back into the present, Cho Rim explains that the stranger must have mistaken her for someone else and explains that her name is Oh Cho Rim.


When Cho Rim gets the estimate for the car repairs, she remembers how Moo Gak was good at acting. She texts him in hopes of asking him to be her partner, but he responds late because he’s busy chowing down his ginormous lunch.They meet and she proposes that he be her comic dialogue partner and he can be exempt from paying for the repair fees. He refuses but then he accidentally sends a text to the chief of homicide about being unable to solve a difficult case to Cho Rim instead.

She returns and proposes a new deal. She explains that she was able to find the thief because of she can detect scents. They have a cute moment as they end up quite close to each other. He wants to test her. After a couple of cute tests to see whether Cho Rim really has a special ability, Moo Gak believes her and they have a deal. She asks him to keep her ability a secret.


We get our first glimpse of chef Kwon Jae Hee (Namgoong Min) in person at the airport. He makes a call and asks if someone named Ma Ri has been found yet. She is still missing.

Serial Killer

Now we see a woman (special appearance by Park Han Byul) trapped in a white room with security cameras.


We find out who she is as detective Yeom Mi (Yoon Jin Seo) comes to the police station for a meeting. She informs the detectives that there are two people missing: a bell boy and Joo Ma Ri who is a famous fashion model. She shares four different murder cases (including Choi Eun Seol’s parents!) with everyone’s age and background being different. However, they share a common trait: they all start out missing and their bodies are found after seven days. The biggest clue to the cases being connected is the fact that they all have the same cut marks on their forearms that look like barcodes. He has been named the barcode serial killer.


A detective brings Moo Gak to the same hospital Moo Gak went to. They ask about Joo Ma Ri and discover that her doctor is pain medicine specialist Chun Baek Gyun. He’s the evil doctor! They want to get in touch with him, but she says he is taking a break and doesn’t own a cell phone.

Chun Baek Gyun is busy keeping an eye on Oh Cho Rim as she hands out flyers for her theater group. Creepy~ She meets Moo Gak at Joo Ma Ri’s apartment. Cho Rim looks at Joo Ma Ri’s clothes and notices a distinct perfume scent. Her friends/roommates reveal that it is her signature scent. She sees the personal scent on Kwon Jae Hee. He is her boyfriend and has an alibi.


Moo Gak keeps up his end of the deal as he practices the comic dialogue with Cho Rim and they perform in front of Jung Chan Woo. Moo Gak is actually pretty funny. Jung Chan Woo says they need to practice more.

There’s a couple driving and they notice a car parked in front of them too late. They end up hitting the car and sending it over the cliff.

Detective Yeom Mi leaves the police station saying that since Joo Ma Ri’s body hasn’t been discovered in seven days she thinks it’s not the serial killer’s doing. The serial killer has always left bodied somewhere easily visible. Hmm… it probably would have been easily found if it hadn’t been for that lovey-dovey couple.


The homicide detectives find out Joo Ma Ri’s card was used somewhere. Once they arrive, they find a man who claims he picked up the card from a wallet. Moo Gak brings the wallet to Cho Rim. She says it smells mostly of leather but she also sees water and dog. Moo Gak explains to the homicide team that the wallet was in the river water. The dog got it and took it to where the man found it. Too bad no one believes him.

When Cho Rim is eating with her senior she notices that her senior has the same wallet as Joo Ma Ri. But this one doesn’t have a leather scent. The senior explains that the wallet is handmade andthe designer doesn’t use real leather. She calls Moo Gak and explains they need to look for a leather scent.

They find out that the wallet traveled down the river into the waste of a leather factory before the dog found it. The other police are searching the mountains while Moo Gak and Cho Rim look elsewhere. Moo Gak finds some evidence of a car collision. He explains how he thinks a car was parked there and another car hit it when Cho Rim starts to look concerned. She tells him she sees Joo Ma Ri’s scent behind him. They look at the cliff and the body of water behind it.



I am pleasantly surprised. The first two episodes had the right balance of light and dark. The subject matter is quite serious and scary yet the drama remains cheerful and bright with its comedic moments. I am so glad that our main couple is starting off well. They are showing small signs of sparks, but not falling in love at first sight.

I love that Shin Se Kyung is at her silliest she has ever been for this drama. She is so much less stiff than she has been in the past. She’s quite goofy and cheerful. On another note, I was surprised that they revealed the killer so early. Perhaps a twist will occur later on?

Despite the traumatic happenings earlier in the drama, the show is overall pretty bright. There are plenty of comedic moments with the main characters and supporting characters. I have so many questions about the murderer, murders, special abilities, etc. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll continue tuning in to find out the answers!

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