Lovely Runner (2024) K Drama Episode 1

Apr 8, 2024

Episode 1 of Lovely Runner takes us back to July 22nd 2009. People are excited about an eclipse, but not Im Sol, who is lying in a hospital bed. Im Sol’s mom, Park Bok-soon, is cutting her nails and trying to cheer her up while they listen to the radio. However, Im Sol is lost in her thoughts and fails to notice when her mom accidentally grazes one of her toes. Bok-soon leaves to get something to stop the bleeding and accidentally drops a glass vase. Im Sol quietly grabs one of the broken pieces, and by the looks of it, she plans to use it to hurt herself.

Elsewhere, we spot a group of young men from the Eclipse band on their way to a radio show. They are all excited, especially after one of them, In- hyuk, spots one of his idol crushes and gets an autograph. The band debuted two months ago and is actively promoting by calling fans of the radio station and doing a popularity test. The first call goes well, but things go differently when it is Sung-jae’s turn. He calls Im Sol’s phone, and she hesitates to pick up. However, another patient complains that the phone is noisy and asks her to pick it up.

Im Sol reluctantly answers the call, and Sung-jae, the band member, asks if she’s familiar with their music. She admits she’s not and is about to end the call, but the radio presenter intervenes, urging her to stay on the line. He announces that she’s won a pair of running shoes, but Im Sol dismisses the prize, saying she doesn’t need them. The presenter tries to sweeten the deal with an indoor exercise bicycle, but Im Sol’s indifference remains.

Frustrated, she lashes out, expressing her desire to walk again. She accuses them of mocking her, declaring her indifference towards life at the moment, and abruptly ends the call.

The presenter quickly apologises, and Sung-jae does his best to encourage Im Sol. He thanks her for staying alive and implores her to keep fighting for the people who love her. Im Sol is touched by his kind words and starts crying. Her mom walks in and comforts her.

The scene cuts to December 2022, and Im Sol is much happier now. She is also a fully-fledged fan of Eclipse. As expected, her bias is none other than the heartthrob Ryu Sung-jae, and you best believe she has pictures of him everywhere in her room. Her merch game is no joke. She also has a watch from Sung-jae and is worried since her grandmother took it from the “vault” and is wearing it. She gets in her wheelchair and follows her grandmother around, asking help from her mom and brother to get her grandmother to hand it back. It takes a bribe, but she finally gets it back.

Im Sol is excited about the upcoming Eclipse concert later that day. She tells her mom that it is the first concert after five years. What happened to Eclipse during this period? Things are complicated for the band. Sung-jae is exhausted and wants to retire, even if it is against his manager’s wish.

Our girl is happy she will attend the concert and quickly works through a last-minute request from one of her clients. Her client is a shaman who needs one of her videos edited. After handling the urgent edit, Im Sol gets ready for the concert and is picked up by her friend, Lee Hyun-joo.

On the way, Hyun-joo gives Im Sol an old school yearbook from one of her friends. The friend went to the same high school as Sung-Jae, and Im Sol can’t help but gush about how handsome Sung-jae was even in high school. She remarks that it is a wonder she never noticed him, yet they went to neighbouring schools. Hyunjoo teases Im Sol that she had another crush who dropped out of school shortly after her accident.

At the concert, Im Sol meets with another friend after Hyun-joo drops her. The two friends share their excitement about the concert while taking photos. Their happiness is nearly dulled by comments from solo stans who are unhappy Sung-jae is getting more attention. However, Im Sol doesn’t let their negative energy ruin the moment. She gets a call from the job interview she applied to a few weeks ago. The interviewer asked if she could stop by the office immediately. Im Sol reckons she still has two hours before the concert starts and agrees to go for the interview.

Unfortunately, the job interview is a bust. They refuse to hire her as the office is not wheelchair friendly. Still, Im Sol remains positive and heads back to the concert. She gets stuck in traffic, loses her ticket, and arrives late. She is also unable to convince one of the staff to let her into the concert.

Nonetheless, she stays outside and enjoys the performance like a true fan. She is especially moved when Sung-jae changes the setlist and performs Eclipse’s first song. This is the song that turned her into a fan. It is a comforting song about meeting a special person unexpectedly, like summer rain showers.

After the concert, one of the band members lashes out at Sung-jae for wanting to quit. In-hyuk is hurt that Sung-jae didn’t tell him about his retirement plans. Sung-jae asks to be left alone and promises they will talk later. He is clearly having a hard time. After calming down, Sung-jae heads out and runs into Im Sol, who is having a bad luck streak. Her phone fell and broke; thus, she couldn’t reach Hyun-joo. She starts pushing herself towards home, and it starts to snow. She is about to give up and start crying when, out of nowhere, Sung-jae spots her and approaches.

As expected, she is too stunned to talk for a brief moment. She stammers as she explains she is a fan and starts crying. Sung-jae uses his umbrella to shelter her from the snow and offers her his heat pad for her hands. She is moved beyond words and starts thanking him for everything his music has helped her achieve.

Sung-jae is about to escort her home when Hyun-joo shows up. He offers his umbrella to her, and she offers a fan-made gift. After getting home, an excited Im Sol asks her mom about the person who saved her from the accident. She feels she should thank the person, but her mom says she has no idea who it was. However, she is acting strangely. What is the secret behind Imsol’s accident?

Later, Im Sol checks the concert photos and fangirls over Sung-jae’s collarbone. On the other hand, Sung-jae is in his hotel room. We see a bunch of pills lying all over, and seconds later, he jumps from his room’s balcony into the swimming pool below. Within a short time, news of his alleged suicide hits the internet, and Im Sol is heartbroken to see the videos of first responders trying to resuscitate Sung-jae.

She rushes out, carrying the Sung-jae watch she bought online. On the way, she nearly gets hit by a bicycle and drops the watch into a river. She heads to the river to find the watch. At the same time, Sung-jae is rushed to the hospital and declared dead on January 1 2023. Something strange happens to the watch the moment he is declared dead. There is a brief light, and the watch turns back in time. The light helps Im sol to spot the watch.

After she picks it up, she glances up and sees the confirmation of Sung-jae’s death on the news. According to the news report, he died from suicide after a long battle with depression.

Im Sol is heartbroken and finds it hard to believe that Sung-jae is gone. She laments why he couldn’t stay alive and weeps in the river. Suddenly, time freezes, and she wakes up in 2008. She travelled back to when she was a high school student. She rushes out of class and heads to the neighbouring school to find Sung-jae.

She finds him practising for the Beijing Olympics games. He is a swimmer, but he is hiding an arm injury. She embraces him and cries about not knowing how much pain he was in. Sung-jae is stunned as he has never met her before. She confesses his love for him, and security forcefully escorts her out.

All this time, she thinks she is in a dream and is surprised when she feels pain in her foot after being shoved by the security guards. She then starts wondering if she died, too. Sung-jae finds her lying on the sidewalk of a bridge and is startled when she says he is a ghost. She then remembers the shaman mentioning the bridge between the living and the underworld. She tries to stop Sung-jae from crossing the bridge and getting home, believing he will be making the transition. She returns the watch to him, but he insists it is not his. He wonders if she is sane when she grabs him from behind and suggests they live together. He quickly orders a taxi and leaves.

A few moments later, a worried Bok-soon calls Im Sol and orders her to return home. She is angry that Im Sol skipped class. Upon getting home, Im Sol discovers that they live in their old house before the developments happened. She is also happy to realise her grandmother is still healthy and remembers her name. Her mom is angry with her but Im Sol is pleased to be in this era. However, she breaks down in her room as she realises she might have to relive the pain of her accident again. She heads to sleep, convinced she will wake up from the dream soon.

On the other hand, Sung-jae gets a call from his dad. The dad is excited about his son’s swimming talent. After the call, Sung-jae finds his watch and wonders why Im Sol gave him her watch. He is afraid she is not sane, but he is intrigued by her.

The next day, she wakes up and she is still in 2008. She excitedly gets ready for school, determined to change Sung-jae’s fate. She spots him on the way to school, and she remembers how he died. The memory causes her to start crying, and she fails to realise it is raining. Sung-jae sees her crying in the rain and leaves his friend behind. He approaches her and shares his umbrella. The episode ends with them staring into each other’s eyes while he questions why she is crying.

The Episode Review

The premiere hit us with comedy and tears all at once. One minute, we were laughing, and the next, we were crying. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but it was definitely worth the watch. The visuals, cinematography and music are perfectly interwoven to bring this story to life. Although this is just the first episode, Byeon Woo-seok did a fantastic job portraying Sung-jae. Kim Hye-yoon was also a delight to watch. They seem to understand their characters and effortlessly execute their respective roles.

This first episode gave us a beautiful and sad introduction to the main characters. We have Sung-Jae, a famous idol who commits suicide after battling depression. His music saved many, but unfortunately, it was not enough to save him in his darkest moments. It is hard to perfectly sum up the loss his family, Im Sol, and his other fans must feel.

In most cases, those left behind have questions and feel guilty for not doing enough or seeing the signs. For the past few years. Sung-jae gave Im Sol and many others a reason to live. In a way, he was there for her through her darkest moment. He showed her the light at the end of the dark tunnel. His loss is confusing and painful.

Im Sol feels guilty and hopes to change Sung-jae’s fate by staying back in 2008 and saving him. However, it is not her fault; hopefully, she will realise this soon. It also won’t be easy to relive the sad moments in her life. She is the only one who knows the future, and she is going through twice the pain. We look forward to seeing her plan to save him and how it will affect the future.

This show will heavily touch on mental health, suicide and loss. It can be triggering for some. However, these are important topics, and we as a society need to discuss them more. This show offers a great platform to start these conversations and shed away some of the stigma that comes with depression and suicide.