Likely the first 2 eps will be the only 2 eps I am catching, cos Noodles isn’t really my cup of tea. (i am not a revenge hungry fella)
- Chun Jung-myung (from Heart to Heart) as Moo-myung (or Choi Soon-seok). The son who lost everything to his father’s killer and enemy — Kim Gil-do. After his family’s brutal murder, he checks himself into an orphanage and conveniently, his family’s murderer shows himself up about the time when he reaches adulthood, and is fully prepared for revenge. Like his dad (Ha Jung-tae), Moo-myung possesses an uncanny chef’s ability to discern flavours and smells.
- Cho Jae-hyun (from Assembly) as Kim Gil-do (younger Gil-do is played excellently by Baro). The ultimate all rounder Bad Guy. He grew up in an abusive family, and subsequently learnt to cheat his way through adulthood. Progressing from forgery and identities theft, Gil-do becomes a murderer. He isn’t too happy to learn that Jung-tae is alive (but brain damaged) after throwing him off a cliff years back, and had to wipe out his entire family.
- Jung Yoo-mi as Chae Yoo-kyung. A pretty lass (and Moo-myung’s love interest) who grows up in the same orphanage as him.
- Lee Sang-yeob and Kim Jae-young as Park Tae-ha and Go Gil-yong. Moo-myung’s besties in the orphanage. While Tae-ha is straight as an arrow (he plans to grad police school), Gil-yong is more of the playful one, who always gets himself into trouble.
Full recaps (ep1) at Dramabeans.
We take a walk down memory lane when Moo-myung tastes Gil-do’s masterpiece (of baekmyeon — buckwheat noodles in pheasant broth) in his lavish restaurant. We see a young Gil-do getting whipped by his alcoholic dad for “stealing” food again (technically, he cheated food, not stole them). Young Gil-do grows up and begins to tire of the beatings. He leaves home after…killing (?) his dad, and seeks out his fortune in the city.
Gil-do is an expert forger and identity thief. Basically, he takes over the identities of whoever he fancies at the moment, and he continues to live this way…until he is ratted out. In desperation, he seeks out his only friend, Jung-tae, to hide. The days with Jung-tae pass by very peacefully and Gil-do even learns some noodle making skills, which impresses Jung-tae (who is an avid noodle maker and fan).
Jung-tae finds out about Gil-do’s wanted status one day in the market, but chooses to keep mum about it cos Gil-do is his friend. Unfortunately, Gil-do knows Jung-tae knew. And decides to murder him. He cuts the rope which Jung-tae relies on to pick wild mushrooms, and after taking Jung-tae’s recipe book, he takes on Jung-tae’s name and impresses the city’s noodle master, Master Go, enough to work for him…and later marries his only daughter.
Jung-tae though, isn’t dead. He is rescued by a woman who later marries him despite him becoming an imbecile from the fall (he still cooks wonderful noodles though); she gives him a son (Soon-seok/ Moo-myung). Meanwhile, Gil-do’s relationship with his wife sours as he expands his guksu empire.
Soon-seok grows up and cos of the need to enroll in school, his mum suggests moving to the city. She seeks out Gil-do after seeing her husband agitated over an article where Gil-do is featured. That alerted Gil-do to Jung-tae’s alive status, and he gives Soon-seok’s mum some ingredients for their evening’s dinner, which Jung-tae mixes into their guksu. The family, after eating the noodles, keel over unconscious. Gil-do arrives to finish up — he burns the entire house down. Soon-seok, who only had a small mouthful, is rescued by Jung-tae, who later collapses next to his wife. Soon-seok escapes and makes his way to an orphanage.
18 years later, a grown-up Soon-seok (now called Moo-myung) is a high schooler still in the same orphanage. He is close to Yoo-jung, Tae-ha and Gil-yong. One day, Gil-do (doing his marketing PR thingy around the orphanages) drop by Moo-myung’s orphanage. Moo-myung recognizes him on sight. Scarily, Gil-do is seeking out Soon-seok whom he knows is alive.
Moo-myung decides to stake out Gil-do’s restaurant, Kwonrak-won in Masan, to learn more about his enemy. We learn that Gil-do has become even more tyrannical — he bullies small time farmers, persuading them to ruin their land to plant buckwheat and refusing to compensate them when their crops fail. Even Master Go, who used to be impressed with him, sees his true colors, and knows Gil-do means to usurp his position as Chairman.
Gil-do plans to shift Kwonrak-won to Gangnam Seoul, and the only person in the way is Master Go. When he learns Master Go is checking up on his background (after having found an old wanted poster of himself), he murders Master Go.
Don’t be fooled by the inane title. Noodles is no Let’s Eat. Ok, there are pretty shots of Chun Jung-myung slurping down baekmyeon, but the gist of the story is anything but palatable. It’s dark, scary, and likely to give me an indigestion.
As far as revenge narratives go, Noodles at the moment is following the typical template. We have a villain who is so evil and cunning that he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. And to Gil-do, it’s his lifelong craving to be “somebody”, to be in power. Not surprising coming from a man who spend his childhood being abused by his father and abandoned by his mum.
On the other hand, Moo-myung’s childhood, although juz as poor, is peaceful and happy…until Gil-do ruins it. Like all revenge narratives, the hero starts out with a solid foundation where he was raised in happiness and love, and to have this environment destroyed by the villain — hence his need to “restore” the balance by removing the villain.
And like most revenge narratives, the most efficient way to outwit the villain is to let him have a taste of his own medicine. Gil-do has already given Moo-myung a clue on what will hit him hard — being penniless. So to beat Gil-do and restore his name (plus his dad’s name), Moo-myung will have to tap on Gil-do’s fear of dropping from the top of the food chain.