Flowers in the Sand is not a drama that you like right off the bat. The “Kim Jiri” moment by Baek Du’s friend is gold, but the first half hour doesn’t command your interest. That changes in the second half of the episode as you realize just how much this drama is ready to offer. The following is a recap of the first episode.
Why does Kim Baek Du want to retire?
Kim Baek Du was once termed a prodigy of ssireum (a form of wrestling), but he has never won a championship. He was discharged from the military in 2019, and since then, he has been struggling with the sport. His biggest rival in his team is Lim Dong Seok, who has won quite a few championships despite being much younger than Baek Du and having a lot less experience. Baek Du has the additional pressure of living up to his father’s name, Tae Baek, who is a legend in the field. Either way, Baek Du has reached a point where he has tried again and again and has given up hope of ever winning, which is the equivalent of being good at one’s job. Everyone around him also doesn’t let him forget for a second that he is doing badly. While he is having his food, the discussion is full of sympathy and the resulting tips for his work. Kwak Jin Soo, a former champion, also takes the chance to taunt Baek Du about not having won anything. It is unclear whether Baek Du has become immune to the taunts, or he has started agreeing with them because his answer to Jin Soo was to ask him to give the reunion money. That night, Baek Du accidentally gets drunk and tells his coach that if he doesn’t win in the coming tournament, then he will retire from the sport. The next day, when his friends tell him what he has done, Baek Du is not even embarrassed because he realizes that this is the natural course of action that he should be opting for anyway. While talking to the coach, he says once again that, though he was drunk when he made the call, he will not be changing his decision.
Was there a crime committed?
A drunk Baek Du doesn’t remember that car that passed by him when he was getting home or even how he reached home in the first place. He goes back to practice as usual, where. He doesn’t know that he is paired with Lim Dong Seok in the first match of the tournament. Therefore, as a benevolent senior, he teaches Dong Seok some tricks of the trade, which he immediately regrets when he sees that he is fighting against him. Elsewhere, the car that passed by Baek Du ran into an accident, and it was staged. The dashcam has been ripped off, and the person inside is Choi Chil Seong. The audience is not told who he is, but detectives from Seoul are investigating the case in secret. The local police aren’t being told anything about it, and the officer finds it all very suspicious.
Does Baek Du quit ssireum?
There is a mysterious woman in town, and everybody is curious as to why she is holding an umbrella over her head at all times. The easiest guess for the audience would be that she is trying to hide her face the best way she can. She meets the cafe owner, who seems to know something about the accident but does not want to tell the police since they are rude to her. However, she doesn’t know how to spell ‘coffee,’ so it is hard to say whether she is reserved or just a little stupid. Coming to the match, Baek Du has started the process of mourning his walk away from his career. He tries to talk to his mother about it but can’t bring himself to do so. It also looks as if he is looking for some sympathy and reassurance, or maybe a hint that he should continue with Ssireum, but he doesn’t get it at all.
The next day, his mother comes to know from the neighbor that her son has probably gone for his last match, and she prepares herself for this. At the match itself, Baek Du is not in the best of spirits. His father is in the audience, as is the Governor, Hong Man Sik, which is why it is important for him to give a good performance. But Baek Du looks like he has already checked out. There are three rounds in the match, and Baek Du loses the first one. Before the second one, he sees the crowd around him and hears from his coach that he should give his best anyway. Therefore, Baek Du goes in with a renewed zeal and wins the round. It is a tie, which means that the third round is the deciding factor. Baek Du is not trying to get this over with and is fighting with everything he has, which takes him some way into the tournament. As he and Dong Seok lock horns, they are evenly matched until both of them fall down together. A review of the video footage reveals that Baek Du’s elbow touched the ground first, which means that he lost and Dong Seok won. People were disappointed with the verdict as they had started rooting for Baek Du. Even Dong Seok is not happy with his victory, and neither is his coach.
As Baek Du is going back home at the end of Flowers in the Sand episode 1, he notices some boxes outside. Upon going inside the house, he is flipped on his back, and he sees a girl. Baek Du’s first question is whether she is his childhood friend, but she denies it. Elsewhere, the cafe owner is talking to her friend, who tells her about the girl with the name of a boy who was best friends with Baek Du during their childhood. She has some history with the town, and her departure affects Baek Du to this day.
It takes time to warm up to the story, and it is the last half an hour that gets you hooked. There are certainly many mysteries to uncover in the drama, and it is going to be a tense ride.