Her daughter stumbles upon Hee-do’s “Fencing Diary.” While reading the journal, Hee-do’s words transport us back to July 1998. Now we are introduced to a younger Na Hee-do, who is played by the talented actress Kim Tae-ri (who also played a role in Netflix’s Space Sweepers). She beautifully encapsulates the youth of Hee-do, who is a young high school student in love with fencing. From her comical mannerisms to her (sometimes) sudden outbursts, the actress fully captures what it’s like to be a teenage girl growing up in the '90s in South Korea.
Another strength of the show is its ability to make the viewer emotionally invested in the characters. Throughout the episode, the narrative centers around loss and sacrifice. And what writer Kwon Do-eun does well is capture and convey that emotion in the life-altering situations the main characters encounter. It’s shown with Hee-do’s desperation to gain entry to fencing club at a different high school (and her willingness to do anything to get in). Or Back Yi-jin (AKA Hee-do's love interest, played by Nam Joo-hyuk) struggling to make ends meet after losing all of his finances.
Despite the engaging storyline, there are some moments where the episode (which is an hour and fourteen minutes) does drag. The reason for the long-running time? There are too many plotlines jam-packed into one episode.
One plotline that could’ve been explored in future episodes is Yi-jin’s financial debt. Since his backstory adds suspense to the plot, it would be better for this narrative to be spread out over multiple episodes. Instead, it’s revealed that Yi-jin’s entire family has gone bankrupt, forcing him to live on his own. Now that his entire past has been revealed in the first episode, it kind of eliminates that suspense factor that could’ve propelled the plot over time.
Still, the first episode of the K-drama is a solid watch, especially if you're a sucker for romance. Even though I’m not the romantic type, I still found myself smiling throughout.