TV / Movies
K-Drama Premiere: “Room No. 9” Features Strong Female Leads and Intriguing Mystery-laden Plot
Murder-suicide case, body-swap and complex character relationships are all present in tvN’s latest mystery-thriller drama, Room No. 9.
Packed with talented cast and interesting story line, Room No. 9 is about two women whose lives are more connected than they realize.
Eulji Hae Yi (Kim Hee Sun) is an ambitious lawyer from a big firm. She does everything to ensure she wins her cases. Moreover, she is rude to ordinary people and bossy to her junior colleagues. She reserves a softer side only for her doctor boyfriend, Gi Yoo Jin (Kim Young Kwang). Hae Yi meets Jang Hwa Sa (Kim Hae Sook), a death row inmate, and their fates entangle.
Pilot Week Recap
After encountering a woman who bought a drug without prescription, Eulji Hae Yi sees her boyfriend lifeless inside a parked car. What’s more puzzling is that the woman she saw at the convenience store, is also inside the car next to him. Thankfully, it is all a dream and she wakes up. She prepares and go to a prison facility to meet with an inmate who appealed for a term reduction.
Jang Hwa Sa has been in prison for 34 years. She sits in front of the committee that will determine her fate. However, the committee members seem torn in their decision.
Hae Yi speaks privately with her superior asking to take over the case. She wants to reject Hwa Sa’s appeal arguing that she could not live a decent life considering her age, therefore, much better off in prison.
Yoo Jin and Hae Yi eat dinner in celebration of his birthday. The doorbell rings and as they open the door, a package sits in the threshold. Inside is a box. And much to the couple’s surprise, they learn that it is a box from Yoo Jin’s childhood. Yoo Jin reveals that Cho Young Bae, the person Jang Hwa Sa supposedly killed, is his half-brother.
In a bizarre twist, Hae Yi becomes the appealing attorney of Hwa Sa. They meet in Room No. 9 where Hae Yi tells Hwa Sa that she is just a “housekeeping lawyer” – meaning she has no intention of helping Hwa Sa in her appeal and that she is just there to complete the mandatory 30-hour client-lawyer meetup.
Yoo Jin also visits the prison asking to meet Jang Hwa Sa. While waiting, he hears a strange noise coming from the storage room. An unplugged defibrillator is the source of the mysterious sound.
Hae Yi is watching a video of Gi San, Yoo Jin’s older brother. Hwa Sa snatches the tablet when she hears a familiar voice. She sees Gi San and becomes agitated. She then suffers a heart attack. Yoo Jin fires up the defibrillator. As soon as it touches Hwa Sa’s body, it results a circuit trip, consequently making the lights spark. This frightens Hae Yi. She trips as a result and lands on top of the unconscious Hwa Sa.
Hwa Sa wakes up and finds that she is actually inside Hae Yi’s body. In addition, the prison guards address her as Attorney Eulji Hae Yi. The lawyer, on the other hand, attempts to escape. At the Dandelion convenience store, the two talk and Hwa Sa uses the opportunity for the police to catch Hae Yi.
Back in prison, Hae Yi (Hwa Sa) refuses to eat and keeps on insisting she is not who they think she is. The doctor diagnoses she has a dissociative personality disorder and it is better to transfer her to a prison asylum.
While Hwa Sa (Hae Yi) discovers that a lot has changed, she goes on to the visit her mother. In Hae Yi’s house, the police receives a call about a break-in as she tries to unlock the door using a taser.
Oh Bong Sam, the police who got demoted because of Hae Yi, asks for the bathroom, but comes across a room where documents and pictures related to Hae Yi’s cases are displayed. He takes a photo of a document from NFS (National Forensic Services).
Gi San is notified of Hwa Sa’s condition and decides to go for a drive. He almost gets into an accident as a person appears on the road. Hwa Sa recognizes Gi San’s stance and habit as it is the same as Cho Young Bae’s. She screams Young Bae’s name which alerts Gi San to her presence. A chase ensues and luckily Hwa Sa is able to hide.
Pilot Week Afterthoughts
The first two episodes pretty much laid out the foundation to the drama’s direction and story-wise. Solving the mystery surrounding the “death” of Cho Young Bae is essential to the characters’ redemption. The way the story is building up the tension and each player’s reaction to their situation are nicely done. The body-swap concept in Room N0. 9 also provided more depth to its mystery-thriller theme.
The major characters’ introduction was done in a manner that surely interests the viewers. Furthermore, the contrast in the characteristics of the female leads was shown clearly. Eulji Hae yi’s domineering approach and stern façade are completely different from Jang Hwa Sa’s timid and submissive behavior.
I applaud the casting of Kim Hee Sun and Kim Hae Sook as they were able to show the differences of their characters for the premiere. There are more layers to Hae Yi’s apart from her rude behavior. There is much more to uncover behind her cold attitude. What’s more interesting is the revelation that her father is also connected to Jang Hwa Sa. This connection actually cost her father’s career, and eventually their relationship.
Kim Hae Sook’s portrayal of Jang Hwa Sa was on point. While it was clear that her submissiveness stemmed from being locked up, she showed strength at that moment when she was free. Although she was still puzzled with her current situation, she was willing to take full advantage of her freedom to reveal the truth.
It will be fun to witness how these women deal with their circumstances in the coming parts of the story. Now that Hae Yi is the one experiencing prison life, the change in her disposition is definitely inevitable. As for Hwa Sa, I’m rooting for her success in exposing the facts about her supposed crime.
Room No. 9 is definitely an intriguing show to watch and worthy of your weekend drama-binge.
Watch Room No. 9 as it airs on tvN every Saturday and Sunday.
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