Café Minamdang First Impression (2022 Korean TV Series)
This is our first look at the currently airing K-drama Café Minamdang. Our opinion is based on the first 10 episodes only.
Total Episodes: 18
Original release date: June 27, 2022 to August 23, 2022 (NETFLIX)
Based on a novel by Jung Jae-Han
- Seo In-Guk as Profiler Nam Han-Joon/Shaman Nam
- Oh Yeon-Seo as Lieutenant Han Jae-Hui
- Kwak Si-Yang as Sergeant/Private Detective Kong Su-Cheol
- Kang Mi-Na as [former] NIS Agent Nam Hye-Joon
- Baek Seo-Hoo as Jo Na-Dan [Jonathan]
- Kwon Soo-Hyun as Prosecutor Cha Do-Won
- Jeong Man-Sik as Detective Jang Du-Jin
- Heo Jae-Ho as Detective Kim Sang Hyub
- Jung Ha-Joon as Detective Na Gwang-Tae
- Kwon Hyuk as Inspector Jung Cheong-Gi
- Song Jae-Rim as Prosecutor Han Jae-Jeong
Three years ago, Nam Han-Joon (Seo In-Guk) was a successful profiler, having earned himself the nickname “Cold Case Hunter”. Han-Joon would work with both the police and the prosecutors office. His long-time friend Han Jae-Jeong (Song Jae-Rim) is one of the prosecutors who often approaches him for his help with cases. Over the years, he had also become especially close to Sergeant Kong Su-Cheol (Kwak Si-Yang).
What seemed like just another case, quickly turned personal. While helping Jae-Jeong with one of his cases, Han-Joon becomes the sole witness in his friends murder. Still trying to cope with his grief and fighting to have the culprit put behind bars, he receives another hit. Han-Joon gets framed with evidence tampering and bribery in the case and sent to jail. His colleague Su-Cheol is accused of being an accessory, and although avoiding jailtime, he loses his job with the police.
After finishing his sentence, Han-Joon reunites with Su-Cheol. With the help of his younger sister Hye-Joon (Kang Mi-Na), a former NIS Agent and computer whiz, they decide to catch the real culprit. In order to not arouse suspicion and also finance their mission, Han-Joon takes on the personality of Shaman Nam. With help from his team, Shaman Nam quickly makes a name for himself as a powerful psychic, attracting clients from elite society.
In order to hide what they are up to from their mother, deaconess Kim, the Nam siblings come up with the idea of Café Minamdang. A coffee shop to serve as front for their actual business. Jo Na-Dan (Baek Seo-Hoo) becomes the fourth member to join their team. Due to his youth, he mostly works as waiter in the coffee shop, but occasionally lends a hand to the team during a mission.
As they uncover the truth layer by layer, it quickly becomes obvious that they are up against a tangled web of power and clout.
On their journey, they keep running into Lieutenant Han Jae-Hui (Oh Yeon-Seo), the new team leader of division 3 at Daeun Police Station. She seems to have a vested interest in Han-Joon, constantly trying to expose him as a fraud. Prosecutor Cha Do-Won (Kwon Soo-Hyun) often backs her team of detectives.
Prosecutor Cha has been the person put in charge of solving the murder of his colleague Han Jae-Jeong. Unbeknownst to all but him, Jae-Hui is Jae-Jeong’s younger sister, who was a low level police officer when he was killed. Driven by guilt and determination, she has worked her way up the ranks since, and never stopped to look for her brother’s killer. Jae-Hui suspects Han-Joon’s involvement in the case.
However, as they bit by bit unravel the intricate web surrounding this case, Jae-Hui starts changing her mind about the former profiler.
Nam Han-Joon comes across as quirky and goofy, but is also extremely observant, smart and intelligent. Neat in appearance, self assured, and with a witty reply always ready at hand, he gives off a carefree attitude. Only to those closest to him does he show his loyal and emotional side. Han-Joon is also quiet the neat-freak around the house he shares with his sister and Su-Cheol. Much to his dismay, the two are more on the sloppy side.
Han Jae-Hui is headstrong, impulsive, but also highly intelligent and observant. Her tenacity has earned her the nickname “The Ghost” within the police force. Because once she takes on a case, she will not let go until solving it, making the suspects feel haunted. Despite her past experiences with grief and the darker side of life both on a personal and professional level, Jae-Hui has about her a naivety. She believes that all will work out in the end and justice will prevail.
Nam Hye-Joon shares many characteristics with her brother. Equally quirky and goofy, she also has an impressive brain and is a natural with computers. Opposite to her Han-Joon, she is a slob and doesn’t care about her outer appearance. Hye-Joon is happy to mostly stay in her room surrounded by her computers and help the team at a distance. However, every once in a while she chooses to tag along, treating it like a field day.
Kong Su-Cheol is loyal, kind, and caring. Han-Joon is more a brother then a friend to him, and he feels extremely protective of Hye-Joon. Physically strong, he tends to use his muscles before his brains, something Han-Joon often reminds him to work on. His behaviour tends to make people underestimate his intelligence. Similar to Hye-Joon, he appears relaxed and laid-back unless someone dares to mess with him.
Cha Do-Won is righteous, unbiased, detail oriented, and highly intelligent. His brain seems to be a walking memory bank of his past cases. Due to his quiet nature, he tends to blend into the background. However, if triggered, he goes into speech mode for lengthy periods. Do-Won is caring and enjoys genuine admiration from his colleagues.
Café Minamdang has quickly established itself as one awesome adventure. Each episode is so densely packed with revelations of new characters/villains, it almost makes ones head spin. Yet the pace of the story is adequate. After 10 episodes I’ve not once yet experienced any feelings of the plot being rushed either. I so hope this trend continues through to the last episode.
Despite the massive amount of different characters, they are so well written. Even the ones with only brief appearances add something to the story. Whether they drive the plot forwards or highlight the main characters strengths/weaknesses.
Even though the plot of corruption running deep within the legal system is common within K-Drama tropes, Café Minamdang seems unique. Once again it is proven that tropes work as long as they are well executed.
We invite you to join us on this fun journey,
P.S.: You can click here if you would like to read a recap for each episode, spoilers and all.