K-Drama First Look: “Curtain Call” Stages a High-Risk Act to Grant Dire Wishes

K-Drama First Look: “Curtain Call” Stages a High-Risk Act to Grant Dire Wishes

Differentiating fraud from acting, a great play commences to fulfill a dying wish in Curtain Call.

Seeing mutual gains in a deal, an actor from a small theater and a grandmother’s assistant set up an act to make her last days meaningful. While a new grandson appears, grandchildren with distinct personalities and priorities welcome a new inheritor in line. 

Opening Week Rating:

Marcie Line watches Curtain Call on Prime Video

Curtain Call

Curtain Call Opening Week Story

“Not a day went by that I didn’t think of him.”

At Heungnam dock in 1950, Ja Geum-sun gets separated from her husband Ri Jong-mun, and infant son Ri Yeong-hoon after helping a stranger’s child to ride the ship Geum-sun is riding.

Moving to the present, Ja Geum-sun becomes successful in having a group of hotels. Her granddaughter, Park Se-yeon opens a new hotel under Nakwon Hotel Group, and reminds its staff to treat guests equally regardless of social status.

While having her check-up, Chairwoman Ja panics after being reminded of her lost son Yeong-hoon. Hearing she has three months left to live, she decides to go home instead of staying at the hospital.

After opening a new hotel, Se-yeon feels surprised to hear that an emergency board meeting is ongoing after seeing her brother Se-gyu. Already talking about the liquidation of Nakwon Hotel Group, Se-yeon walks in to stop it.

Chairwoman Ja also comes into the room, shocking everyone who thought she was in the hospital. Left alone in the room, Chairwoman Ja thanks Se-yeon for making her dream come true of building a hotel seen from afar like a lighthouse. 

The meeting gets postponed, but Se-jun assures that the liquidation will still take place in an adjusted schedule. News about the liquidation and the declining health of the chairwoman spreads. Varying opinions about the liquidation, Se-jun claims it will happen while Se-yeon disapproves of it.

In a flashback, Chairwoman Ja meets her son Yeong-hoon and grandson Moon-seong. She reassures him that Moon-seong could have a good life in South Korea, but Yeong-hoon objects to the idea while feeling betrayed by his mother remarrying after his father died.

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“You think there’s a price on everything, but you’re wrong about that.”

Promising to meet again after saying their goodbyes to each other, Chairwoman Ja and Moon-seong fail that promise after she receives a notice that her son Yeong-hoon died.

Mr. Jeong, who hears the troubles of Chairwoman Ja from the past, interprets meeting her 30-year-old grandson as her final wish in her last moments.

Se-yeon explains how Nakwon Hotel Group is important to her while dissuading Se-jun about its liquidation. Unmoved by her reasons, Se-jun describes their difference in business values.

Chairwoman Ja uses her remaining time to experience life, and ponders how her two sons died early. Mr. Jeong hears from his hired private investigator about Ri Moon-seong living a dangerous life as a smuggler, mule, and anything related to violence for money.

Yoo Jae-heon, who delivers food as a part-time job, plays a North Korean role in a play with a small audience. He complains about how the play was promoted, and the trend only works with Hyun Bin. 

“If the lie is created for someone’s happiness, could we really call that a crime or a fraud?”

Mr. Jeong meets him after the play, offering him to change a person’s life with his play. Stating his reasons for choosing Jae-heon, Mr. Jeong assures the actor that he will be paid handsomely for three months.

Having already given up his voting rights in Nakwon, Se-yeon still tries to persuade Se-gyu in siding with her to save the hotel. However, he still chooses to side with neither Se-yeon nor Se-jun since he prefers of being hated by both.

Chairwoman Ja talks with Se-jun about what Nakwon Hotel Group means to him while asking him not to rush with its liquidation. Thinking otherwise, Se-jun believes that the business gave their family not only sustenance. 

Jeong-suk, a helper in their house, cries after pledging to stay until the chairwoman lives. Se-jun comforts her saying she could stay as long as she wants since their home is her home too.

Hyo-jin, Se-yeon’s friend, hires Jae-heon to act as her boyfriend to ward off her stalker. Jae-heon later tries his best in an open audition, believing he will be accepted, but gets rejected.

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“If we’re bound to our past, we won’t be able to move forward.”

Se-yeon’s excitement to greet the guest who booked their VVIP room for three months fades as she sees it was her ex-fiancé. Back at home, Se-jun watches her eating outside with Chairwoman Ja after looking back at the news of their parents’ death in a US-bound plane crash.

Jae-heon reflects on what real acting is, and accepts Mr. Jeong’s offer. Collecting the report on Ri Moon-seong, Mr. Jeong makes sure that the private investigator keeps it a secret that Ri Moon-seong has been found.

Signing the contract, Jae-heon prepares to build his character after receiving the background information about Ri Moon-seong. Mr. Jeong informs the chairwoman about finding her lost grandson, and Chairwoman Ja announces it to her grandchildren, which evokes mixed reactions.

While Se-yeon feels excited, Se-gyu protests knowing it will disturb their peace. Se-jung questions its timing at Mr. Jeong, but hears that it’s best for its usefulness.

Seo Yoon-hee accepts Jae-heon’s offer to act as his wife. Pressured to return to the States after having graduated from law school, Yoon-hee asks her mom to wait for three months since it is her last play.

Jae-heon introduces who will play his wife to Mr. Jeong, and they prepare their clothes and fake passports hoping it would never be used. Confused about how to welcome her cousin, Se-yeon thinks of treating him like a guest at their hotel. The day comes, Jae-heon and Yoon-hee begin their act as Ri Moon-seong and Jang Jin-suk.

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Curtain Call Opening Week Musings

Much of the picture of Chairwoman Ja’s history is drawn clearly in the first two episodes. It introduces what her character values and finds significant, enough to yearn for in her remaining days.

Even with the conflict in Nakwon Group, the drama follows a mellow tone with sparks of optimism through Yoo Jae-heon’s bright character.

Having a powerful and talented cast ensemble in a drama with a captivating premise, its next episodes are worth anticipating. It may somehow remind us of the vibe of old dramas with rich families, so how the drama will utilize its conflict creatively is also something to look forward to.

From the beginning of Jae-heon’s act, he and Mr. Jeong are already at risk of causing Chairwoman Ja a big heartache. Even for a good cause, at the end of the day, they’re deceiving a person not unless the plot pulls something unexpected.

However, for now, we’re sure that the real Ri Moon-seong lives a life that lacks opportunities and support. The first week piqued viewers’ curiosity to understand the backstories of Moon-seong, Jae-heon, and the death of Se-jun’s parents in the upcoming episodes.

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Watch Yoo Jae-heon’s biggest play in new episodes of Curtain Call every Monday and Tuesday on Prime Video.

Photos: KBS2