A Man Called Baker King: Episode 1

Once upon a time, there lived a man called Baker King.

Remember that name well because failure to give it due mention (in a year-end review, for example) might incite a stream of Bard-inspired curses such as “A plague on both your houses!” But don’t let the chorus of “What about Baker King?” drive you batty and definitely do not brandish your rolling pin in irate response. Stiff upper lip, there you go.

Baker King was also called Kim Tak-gu and he began life in a mansion so sprawling the resident mice needed maps just to get around. By “began life,” it didn’t mean he was born there, just conceived there. Wait, let’s not get into a “when does life begin” debate because if we must be so exacting, then surely Tak-gu was conceived even before he was conceived because his father was obsessed with the idea of a son and even had a name all readied for the momentous event long before the momentous event. As the Bard wrote, “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,” so Gu Il-jong lived every day hoping for a male heir. The waiting took its toll on his mouth and he spoke little and smiled even less. His hair, however, suffered no ill effects and gleamed proudly atop his pate, every strand in place thanks to liberal dollops of hair cream.

Now, you must be wondering why Baker King’s name was Kim Tak-gu and not Gu Tak-gu. The reason was simple enough: He took his mother’s name instead of his father’s.

To understand the shenanigans circumstances that led to Tak-gu being a Gu and not a Kim, one must begin at the beginning: the birth of his sister, Gu Ja-kyung. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to jump to all sorts of conjectures about Ja-kyung’s arrival even if one did not actually witness the event. Did her father greet his first-born with glee? Maybe, if you consider pursed lips to be a sign of gleeful exuberance. No wonder there was much ado when Seo In-sook was pregnant a second time. Oh dear gods, let it be a boy this time!

Wait a minute. Seo In-sook? Not Kim In-sook? Then how did Tak-gu get to be a Kim? Well, if finger-pointing is de rigueur, blame it on an old lady’s loosely strung prayer beads. Blame it on a blood pressure monitor.

Because fervent prayers for a grandson hit a cloud en route to heaven and fell back to earth. Because a nanny’s gentle touch kindled a certain longing in Gu Il-jong, causing his nether regions to stir afresh after the crushing disappointment of Daughter No. 2.

And because his wife, she still recuperating from delivering Disappointment No. 2, found their house too large for her weakened state and decided she would not return until she was all shapely again rested.

Unknown to her husband, Seo In-sook did more than just rest.

Determined to move heaven and earth in order to give birth to a son, she rose from her hospital bed and marched to a soothsayer, she a mother of two daughters and he a potter with uncanny powers.

Gazing (reluctantly) into an invisible crystal ball, he offered her both hope and despair. She and Gu Il-jong would never have a son together, but she could have a son with another man. That would make her and her husband even since he was going to have a son with another woman anyway. In fact, while she was taking her own sweet (postpartum) time to go home, her husband had already scattered his seed on fertile soil.

Gu and the nanny’s coupling was witnessed by one very young and one rather old. The former stared wide-eyed while the latter stared approvingly, at the same time telling her granddaughter to hush. High time her son realized he would have better luck procreating an heir (not heiress, heaven forbid) with someone other than his wife!

Unable (and perhaps unwilling) to resist her employer’s advances, Kim Mi-sun yielded to the man’s hot kisses (who knew he had it in him, his usual demeanor as animated as a wet towel). So it was when Seo In-sook walked through the doors of the Gu mansion that she heard the sounds of retching and found the nanny doubled over, gripped by waves of nausea. Ah, little Tak-gu making his presence felt in the house. Little in-utero Tak-gu driving one woman berserk.

Like salt on a festering wound, the matriarch of the house told Seo In-sook to shut her gob and stop going all combative on the parturient Mi-sun. How dare she chastise the woman who would finally deliver their family from a grandson-less future!

But Seo In-sook wasn’t one to be chastised; she wasn’t someone you could walk all over, nope. So, even though little Tak-gu’s mama was now Most Precious Receptacle of Cherished Hopes, she was still a lowly nobody in She Who Mustn’t Be Scorned’s eyes. The latter thus ordered Han Seung-jae, her husband’s right-hand man, to carry out Deed Most Dastardly.

Brought meekly to the hospital, Tak-gu’s mama got cold feet when she saw pregnant woman after pregnant woman wobble past her, their faces flushed with joy at Impending Births. So she begged the nurse to show her a back door exit, which the nurse duly showed, she being made of compassionate stuff.

When Seo In-sook learned that Mission Extinguish Rival’s Baby had bombed, she summoned Han Seung-jae and fired him.

Nah, just pulling your leg. Why would she dismiss him, of all people? She knew he had the hots for her, she knew he had stayed at her husband’s side all these years so he could yearn for her surreptitiously, she knew he was the one who could give her a son, just as the soothsayer had predicted! So she gave him the come-hither eyes and when that didn’t work (he being made of principled stuff), she wrapped her arms around him in a back hug. Success!

So now Seo In-sook was expectant again, shapely waist be damned. To ensure she could pass off this third offspring as her husband’s, she must have waylaid him shortly after doing IT with Han Seung-jae, although how she managed to lure her husband into bed so soon after the disappearance of the nanny was a puzzle that the resident mice spent many a night debating, over cheese and crumbs. After all, if you care to study his face, do you see even a flicker of passion? In that regard he certainly did not take after his mom who could rant and rave with the best of them.

The unmarried Han Seung-jae now found himself an expectant father, which means there were two in the house. Whether it was a solo act never to be replicated, or whether he continued to enjoy his boss’s wife in ways that would make prudes blush, none of it mattered as much as the fact that Seo In-sook was going to bear Gu Il-jong a son who would one day conquer the world, one loaf at a time. How jolly.

Everything was unfolding by the book so far. If that predictability made you yawn, try to stay awake a little longer because the time had now come for little Tak-gu to enter the world. As she awaited his birth, his mama was earning a quiet living as nurse to a rural doctor whose woebegone thoughtful face bore a semblance to a certain someone.

But look who should stride into the clinic one day. It was none other than Han Seung-jae, triumphant that he had finally found his prey after months of searching. Oh no.

Hurry, Mi-sun, hurry! The three men chasing you can’t possibly catch up with a heavily expectant woman so don’t be afraid and quickly find a place to hide! See that house with the wide-open gate? They would never think of looking inside a place so obvious inconspicuous!

Her heart pounding from all that running, Mi-sun felt the onset of pain so fierce and unfamiliar she could not stifle her moans. “Spare me!” she cried, as Han Seung-jae stood before her, unnerved by her agony despite a steely expression that proclaimed: I AM NOT EASILY UNNERVED.

First things first. The baby was coming no matter what. So Han Seung-jae ferried Mi-sun to the clinic and waited nervously as she screamed the ceiling down. Was he contemplating infanticide methods? Or was he thinking ahead to the day when his own son would be born? There was no telling because he and his boss not only shared a woman, they shared an uncommon taciturnity. Fortunately they didn’t share the same hairdo because that would have been too much, really.

Little Tak-gu made his entry and his mom made her exit, the two events too close together for the doctor’s comfort. But there was no time to lose because Han Seung-jae would soon come barging in.

But not only did he not barge in, Han Seung-jae actually let Mi-sun go. “Promise you will never show your face before Gu Il-jong again,” he demanded (weakly). They were fellow victims after all, in a sense. He would pretend he never found her, and she would go far away to raise her son alone.

Unaware of the drama far from their house, the Gu couple went about their lives as gaily as possible, she with considerably more gaiety than him. Why he looked at her with the sort of fondness that one would harbor for dead roaches was hard to fathom. Perhaps he suspected that she was the one who drove Mi-sun away. Or perhaps he had (horrors!) gone to the same soothsayer and heard a slightly revised version of Terrible Tidings: “You would never have a son except with another woman. Your wife would never have a son except with another man. That would be 10,000 won, thank you very much, a discount on account of this being recycled news.”

The years passed and Tak-gu was now a lad who peed in bed. That made his mama mad and she forced him to walk around the village like some convict boy who had peed in bed.

Maybe because of his mom’s draconian methods of punishment, or maybe because his father was one Gu Il-jong whose smile muscles had gone the way of the dodo, Tak-gu was constantly snarling. That certainly did not bode well for people mulling over whether to watch an adult Tak-gu in action (as some baking king or something). He was also quite a thug wannabe, beating his landlady’s son until the latter’s nose was flattened.

Although she screamed at Tak-gu in public for beating up the son of the woman to whom they had been tardy in paying rent, Mi-sun loved him dearly and told him so. They had only each other, after all. Would be great if he didn’t wet his bed, but a mama can’t have her cake and eat it too. Some things had to give. (And some things one could secretly anticipate grabbing someday, like a certain inheritance on account of one being the first-born son of a certain extremely wealthy man.)

Meanwhile, there was commotion in the Gu household because Dear Son was being obnoxious again and refusing to go with his dad to the family-owned bread factory. Tsk tsk, Gu Ma-joon, how could you drive your mother, your grandmother, and your two sisters up the wall with your never-ending tantrums?

Eventually persuaded by his sisters that he should be a good boy, Ma-joon changed out of his sleepwear and into formal clothes. Young and spoiled he might be, but he couldn’t look into Ja-kyung’s imploring eyes and not comply.

As Seo In-sook led Ma-joon out to the car, she passed her son’s birth father and the two exchanged “Same place tonight?” glances.

Her husband, on the other hand, did not as much as glance in Ma-joon’s direction when the latter approached the car. When he finally did look at his son, it was with the same sort of expression that he used on his wife. Oh, the baggage that Gu Junior was going to grow up with, and the bills that he was going to have to pay to his shrink!

Unlike Ma-joon, who absolutely detested going to his father’s factory where he would be assailed by the smell of bread, Tak-gu adored the stuff. (Of course he would. How could he be his father’s flesh and blood if he didn’t have bread running through his veins? Quibble about predictability all you like, but can you imagine the drama if Tak-gu hated bread? Case closed.) In fact, so enamored was he by all things in a bakery, he could tell what was inside a bun without even looking inside a bun. All he had to do was sniff the air! And curse the miserly bakery owner for refusing to give him some free breadcrumbs!

What’s a boy who covets bread to do if he can’t afford the bread?

Why, pretend to visit the bread factory where your landlord works and where thousands of loaves and buns await. Tuck as many as pockets and clothes could hold and then walk out blithely, without the telltale shiftiness of thieves. Do not get caught and start running in a panic, and do not let the loot drop out as incriminating evidence.

Last of all, definitely do not engage eyeball to eyeball with the owner of the factory even if you can’t help gasping at his hair!

This is the second in a new series of first-episode recaps: A Man Called Something. Before you scream “God help us, one wasn’t enough, now she’s doing a series?”, you may wish to note that thundie runs out of steam easily so she may not actually serve up a whole platter of these recaps. On the other hand, anything harebrained is right up her alley so be afraid, be very afraid. And oh, if you wish to read the first one, it’s here.

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37 thoughts on “A Man Called Baker King: Episode 1

  1. You dare anger the Baker King fans! I hear they can get even angrier than the City Hall fans so you better watch your back and keep a few bodyguards handy. 😉

    I actually liked Baker King myself even as predictable and makjangerific (I have a pending copyright on that one by the way) as the beginning was. I guess a show just finds you at a certain moment and cliks because I watched post Gumiho when I was in the mood for something besides rom-coms. It had enough birth secrets and sweet old baker grandpas to keep me happy at the time.

  2. Baker King makes my blood boil. I watched the entire series to completion, solely because I wanted to see just one episode of it where it would justify its popularity. Alas, I wasted 30 hours of my life, and that one moment of brilliance (fun, or at the very least, a slightest semblance of entertainment?) never came.

    I was like a bipolar person while watching the show, laughing one moment at the poor writing, and then crying the next moment at how far Korean dramas have fallen. Baker King was the first drama when I realized what true “bad writing” meant. And by that I don’t mean the makjang-ness or the unoriginality of the story, but that the writing/ the words chosen simply resemble a work of a third grader. Then I realize that an apology is in order, for I may be totally underestimating the third-graders.

    • LOL! My viewing experience was equally bipolar – laughing at the absurdity that this was thought to be a good/well-made/sincere drama…and cringing, yeah – literally wanting to crawl out of my own skin, at the writing/acting/directing/score. I WANT MY 30 HOURS BACK!

  3. Brilliant! I absolutely love your first-episode recaps (thus far). They are insightful, entertaining, and witty. I actually liked Baker King (gasp!), but it definitely had its faults. Your brand of writing is incredible and enviable. I love reading your reviews or opinions because you’re not afraid to step on some toes but actually enjoy prancing on some. I can’t wait for the “whole platter of these recaps”!

    • Your praise (which I don’t deserve) made my day. Thanks, lovepark! 😀

      Psst… have you received the White Tower DVDs yet?

  4. Hahaha…lol….
    this review is so grool…( great + cool )

    Actually, I like Baker King, hehehe, solely because of Yoon Shi Yoon….*sigh..
    what a terrible 6 hours waiting for him to appear on my screen….6 hours are too long for childhood story-telling…..in my opinion though.

    The thing that I like about this series is that Tak Gu comes from “the-underdog”. But somehow, through the hardship, he opened his path to his destiny with bare-hands, and finally he finds the thing that he loves the most.

    “spoiler”
    I really hate episode 7th – 15th, where everyone insult and ignore him, but still with his silly and stupid smile, he keeps thinking positively about everyone, sigh.
    “end-spoiler”

    Despite its faults, I overlook them, and I find myself enjoy this series much….hehehe

  5. ‘Member a few years back, when like-minded people first started conversing online (back in the internet caveman days of yore), and said cool things like:

    1) Word!

    2) YMMV, but…

    3) I love this post so much I want to marry it and have its little babies!

    Well, # 3 it is! I’ll send announcements at the appropriate time (I’m hoping for a girl)!

    🙂

  6. Hahaha… Thundie, you crack me up!! You are such a talented writer. Thank you for this!
    I have seen 8 episodes of this drama before I dropped it. I was actually contemplating going back to see what the fuss is all about (i.e, why did it rate so high??). But now…. thanks for the warning from those who have “wasted” their time watching it. I am sure there are better dramas worth my time.

  7. Aah, so this is what be le smackjang? Birth secrets, chaebol who can’t keep it in their pants and frisky ahjummas? Amazeballs.
    I can kind of imagine now how this became addictive for the ahjumma crowd and why it stomped all ova The Revenge of the Sexy Bastard AND So Ji-sub’s Oh! Woe drama.

    Oh and ”…her husband had already scattered his seed on fertile soil.” Bwahahaha!
    I would SO love a series of these too, thundie.

  8. Your writing is so funny… You make me kinda glad that I did not invested 30+ hours into this show even though it was highly popular… it really has too much makjang…

  9. You are really a good writer , Thundie ! Even a stupid thing becomes fun when you speak of it . After a quarter of an hour , I dropped that drama and I don’t regret it . Thank you for your witty comments .

  10. At a family gathering recently the TV happened to be tuned into KBS World. My 4-year niece who hates violence and unpleasantness on TV ran to her mom and started screeching “I don’t want to watch! I don’t like this!”. I looked to see what was on TV, and sure enough there was glaring and shouting and carrying on and pretty boys in baker hats. Hahahaha!

  11. What a hilarious recap! I watched the first two episodes of Baker King back when everyone was raving about it – so glad I stopped. It was not only the makjang-ness, but as others noted, the extremely lame dialogue, music, acting. All so juvenile and exaggerated.

    I love your sarcastic, clever, and yet still somehow fond satire of kdrama first episodes. Your mocking is hilarious but not mean-spirited. As others have said, MOAR! 🙂

  12. hi thundie. Gah! It was fun reading your recap. I wasn’t really interested in Baker king but they started showing it on local tv and it was quite good so now, we’re so hooked. lol. we’ve watched 23 eps in 3 days. talk about obsession. lol

  13. oh thundie! what wouldn’t I give just to acquire reviewing (with extreme humor) skills like you?! So damned well-written. 😀

  14. Is it that bad? I have heard another review says Baker King is a good drama, so I’m confuse.

    How many Makjang element has include? I don’t mind makjang as long as they can justify to the story later, for example: Giant.

  15. Hi thundie!
    Just found out ur prattle in december after SKKS’s crack..and I love it:) great writing and entertaining, of course.
    And this insight on BK, PhuahahhaahhahaHAAAHA
    But, I watched BK âиϑ found it good.. But I only watched ep1,5, and 20something and then jumped to ep30… Âиϑ nºpē, I don’t want to know what they did in each episode.
    Its good when u don’t know the whole stories..*sigh*..

    Anyway, its been my pleasure to read ur prattle.. ·♥ τнäиκ чöü ♥·

  16. Pingback: A Man Called Cinderella: Episode 1 | thundie's prattle

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  18. I do think Baker King is a good or rather great drama . i respect your review but you even didn’t mention the way he kneeled to get into the baker house because he found out that the man responsible for her mother’s lost is there. The friendship he wanted to offer to Matthew (his brother so called). the way he lived his life just for his mother and mother alone. The way he loves and serves Eu-jin. i don’t know. But there is something in Yoon Shi-yoon’s acting that makes me think he is too marvelous an actor here. Especially as his eyes widen. iam.jin@yahoo.com

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