Bad Thief, Good Thief 도둑놈, 도둑님 - Episode 1 (KimJiCap)

kakashi: My darling Kim Ji-hoon, are you really making me go through hours upon hours of ultra complicated, melodramatic childhood stories? Yes, you are. This shit is pretty dark, people.
SakiVI: This childhood stuff is so irritating when they could've addressed all this in a monologue. And one guy keeps crying to the point I want to slap him.
JoAnne: I guess we're going to go through their WHOLE childhood, since we're starting with them so young. I'm not finding it hard to follow, though. 
That's the crier.
But I love Ahn Kil Kang!

Episode 1

There is a squirrel! But only briefly, shame. A man hides a map in a hollow tree, the year is 1945. In 1992, this cute boy (could it be Kim Ji-hoon?) finds the map.
Eh, I can't tell who will be Kim JiHoon.
Well, it seems like this kid will be the lead of the three kids we've met so far just based on air time, but going by the last names of the characters that won't be Kim Ji Hoon. Unless there are name changes or switches, which is always possible.
These guys, in 1933, are the "Heroic Corps": They are introduced as Baek San in the middle (he is the one who hid the map, we find out later); Jang Man Sik to the left, seated; Yoon Jae Hong standing to the left, Park Myung Joo, the woman; and Kim Kang Il, standing on the right. Do I need to learn these names?!
I didn't bother studying all this.  The names and backstory will all get repeated later when the attractive people I want to watch will be on screen.
It will definitely get repeated. It's probably just important right now that people understand that these were revolutionaries/activists back in the day, and that they are the grandparents and great grandparents of our current focus.
Back to modern times, I guess 1992 or thereabouts, and someone called Jang Pan Soo (Ahn Gil-gang), who looks a lot like Jang Mak Sik, returns to his home from prison (he was in there for robbery we learn, robbery out of desperation), surprising his wife (Park Ha-Kyung) and child boy (Min Jae), who seems decidedly unexcited to see his father. 
Min Jae is a cutie.
So this guy is a good thief.
This family is very poor and in debt, with creditors breathing down their neck. However, somebody is looking for the descendants of the Heroic Corps and there seems to be money in it. Pan Soo doesn't want anything to do with this though, he believes government = bad. Because they tortured his dad in front of him to get information about his grandfather. Yeah, I see how that would turn you against the government.
That would do it for me. Well, honestly, I tend to assign fault to the actor, not the organization, so maybe it wouldn't.
Turns out, it's not the government looking, but "a society to commemorate fighters of independence". The whole is sponsored by Cheongmun Group. Oh, evil chaebols! Nice. Anyway, so our Mister is extremely traumatized and wants nothing to do with his grandfather's past whereas the Missus sees this as a golden opportunity for their son, who may be able to study with the money they'd receive. I bet you Pan Soo will come around, because nobody wants to employ him due to his criminal record and his son actually works a job instead of going to school, to help the struggling mother.
He's so cute and responsible.  Seriously, this child was a saving grace in these earlier episodes.  Also, I think he might be Kim Ji Hoon later.
You could be right. There is no Jang Min Jae in the adult cast. Kim Ji Hoon has a different name, and his last name doesn't match up with any of the families involved. My bet is on kid renouncing father and disappearing at some point to create his own destiny.
We meet a different family, a father (no name given at the time, but let me tell you, it's Kim Chan Gi), a mother Hye Won, a kid Soo Yeon. They are definitely better off financially than the Jang family, but Hye Won wants to leave her husband because he disappears all the time for two months or more and doesn't tell her where he's going.
That would do it.
I mean, if he looked like Park Hae Jin and turned out to be a Ghost Agent maybe... but seriously, no. Especially with that bad wig. Ahn Kil Kang had a bad wig, too.  Will there be a good wig? 
Woah. Incredible view and some bonding between the estranged father and son over a pee-break. Is it normal for fathers to comment on the penis size of their sons?!
It's not the first time I've seen it. The scenery is very similar to where I lived in Germany - if so, those yellow flowers are called rape and the plant is grown for its seed, to make oil. Maybe other things, but that's all I know.
Later that night, Kim Chan Gi burns the same photo of the Heroic Corps Pan Soo owns and a handwritten note that he kept with it.
And we meet yet another character, another descendant of the Heroic Corps, this time the grandchild of Yoon Jae Hong (name: Yoon Joong-Tae, a prosecutor) - who is the one trying to find the other descendants. He seems very emotional about the whole thing (nameless heroes and all), is he for real? We don't know.
I think this actor plays evil people as a rule.
AND we meet another character right after, obviously a brutal, mean person (Hong Il-Kwon), who is Yoon Joong-Tae's father-in-law and owner of Cheongmun Group. He seems much worse than his son-in-law.
Also reliably evil.
He has a thug/driver looking like this (Choi Tae-Seok):
Handsome, though. I think he was a grim reaper in Arang.  This is his latest reincarnation.
That's him. Fine-looking mister, that one. His name is Han Jung Soo.
This mean Chaebol has our Pan Soo kidnapped right in front of his family and beaten up by his group of thugs. We are only 18 minutes in by now and I already feel exhausted from recapping this. I felt exhausted watching it. Okay, the boss-thug is hot (I've seen this guy first in Chuno, you?).
Yes, Chuno was the first place I saw him, then Arang and the Magistrate and a few others. My absolute favorite was Blade Man. He was hysterically funny in that.
We learn that Pan Soo has applied to that Society after all and that is why they're now after him. Darn it. The main goal is to get that map (seems Mr. Bad Guy wants the map because his company is about to go bankrupt and that map will help to prevent this and more, because the map is quasi a "national treasure") - and they think they can get that map through Baek San's grandson, who is nobody else but Kim Chan Gi. The Society threatens Pan Soo's son, in order to get information about Kim Chang Gi's whereabouts (his ties to Baek San are well hidden). Seems they are old and very good friends - but Pan Soo betrays him to protect his son. and the thugs take him prisoner too.
One of the many times this guy cried.
Are you saying he didn't have a reason?
Both Descendants are taken prisoner after this and in addition, they kidnap Kim Chan Gi's son Soo Yeon. Pan Soo is let go - Chang Gi and his son aren't. 
It seems odd that they let him go, unless they don't intend to kill the other guy.
Aaaaaand MORE characters. A bribable, not-very-rule-following, comical and friendly police officer (Kang Sung-Il) and his daughter (So Joo). He's a single dad. Loving, but overwhelmed.
I liked him.
He's certainly opportunistic. Not an evil guy necessarily, but weasily and untrustworthy. The actor ALWAYS plays weasels.
He's about to leave with his kid despite being on night duty when Hye Won comes barging in, imploring him to help her find her son who has been kidnapped. Sung-Il would rather leave to eat pork cutlets, but his kid says he needs to help. He is still wavering, but now the spooked Pan Soo calls from a phone booth, reporting a kid has been kidnapped.
Amazing how he wavered when he's a cop.
There are other cops there who can help, and he's not exactly in it for the love of civic duty.
Pan Soo runs after this, but he does not get far ... his conscience kicks in and he goes back, trying to find the place where his friend and son are still being kept. He was brought there blindfolded, but he remembers the sound of a large gate being opened. Sadly, his friend Kim Chang Gi is already dead. He has hanged himself. Or has he? Most horrible: his kid saw it all, through a window into that room.
Wanna bet he grows up twisted? Oooh, wait. I think I know who he grows up to be. Maybe not twisted.
So much for embracing fellow Heroic Corps descendants.
Pan Soo manages to get the kid out in the ensuing confusion. However ... the kid has other ideas. He bites Pan Soo and runs away ... and manages to escape through a gap in the gate. Running right towards an approaching police car.
This kid is not as cute as the others.
Awww, yes he is. He's got hella brows though.
It's Kang Sung-Il, of course, and thus, So-Joo and Soo Yeon get to meet as kids, in the back of the police car. It's FATE! This, I am pretty sure, will later be Jang Dol-Mok. Yes, and I have no attachment to him whatsoever. Yep, that's what I was thinking. Our bad guys turn Kim Chan Gi into a drug dealer with planted evidence (guess which prosecutor is in charge) and blame his murder on drug wars.
Clutching her husband's portrait, Hye Won gets extremely drunk and says she wants to die too. It seems particularly hard for her to accept that her husband was a drug dealer and disappeared all the time because of that. Driven by guilt, Pan Soo came to the house - and that is how he can save Soo Yeon and his mother from a fire that someone set.

I assumed it was Hye Won that set the fire. (there was someone with gloves though) Also, am I crazy or was there a little girl in that room, too? And Chan Gi even mentioned a daughter to Pan Soo when they met up. But she isn't rescued and isn't at the hospital, either.

Did you think it couldn't get worse? Wrong. Pffft. Pan Soo needs to pay the fees before these people are treated (really? No. Okay, in kdrama, really. But not in real life.), so he goes and asks everyone for money. He has no luck, so he ends up robbing the local grocery store. His son, whom he has promised he'd never steal again, catches him doing it.
And in classic K-Drama fashion, he doesn't simply say 'I have to pay money to the hospital to save a little boy's life and I tried everything else first - I can't let him die' perhaps helping his son gain some perspective on the situation. I mean, I know there's no time for debate right then, but he did give an excuse, just not a good one. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference, I don't know.  But maybe it would have, too.
Kim Ji Hoon is supposed to be righteous prosecutor, so this is probably his childhood self, all righteous and all.
Oh, is that how this goes?  I kinda like when a self-righteous person learns to see gray.
Kang Sung-Il is in trouble at the police station for "stealing evidence" (not sure what is going on here exactly.) He goes to see a friend at the prosecutor's office, bribes and blackmails him and gets access to the evidence room - to look at Kim Chan Gi's case file. The twist: our dirty prosecutor took evidence for a case Sung-Il was working on and pretended it's evidence for Kim Chan Gi. Prosecutor Yoon runs into him at the office and becomes suspicious ... or did Sung-Il take something from the case files?
At the hospital, Min-Jae sees how his father, who broke his word to him, sobs bitterly as Soo Yeon exclaims "Appa, Appa" over and over.
Both Soo Yeon and Crying Ahjussi are annoying me now.
Oh, so he's going to think that his father broke his promise to him to help a secret son...ooh, setting up hate between brothers, okay.  Now not only is his father a thief, he'll be someone who cheated on his wife and betrayed his family.  Poor guy, he's just trying to do the right thing by strangers, Min Jae!


People, this is dark shit. I really did not expect this at all! Happens if you do not watch any of the promotional material of a show you start to recap.
I like to avoid promotional material other than the very basic plot/cast announcements a few months before viewing. I don't really want to 'see' it before I SEE it.

So, it looks like our little kiddo will be adopted into the Jang family - and from the police car bonding scene, it looks like Soo Yeon will later become Jang Dol-Mok. Does that mean that little Min-jae will later become Han Joon-Hee (Kim Ji-hoon)? I don't want to two kids to be opponents, but this is what the drama seems to go for.
You picked up on all this faster than me.
You tuned it all out to avoid the crying.

The drama who will obviously make a point about "good thief" vs. "bad thief" and for a moment, we thought Pan Soo would NOT break his word and would not go rob the convenient store ... but he did, because desperate times call for desperate measures. Or rather, that has always been his excuse and why he had to go to prison in the first place. Is he a good thief? Are there any? We are to understand he never stole for his own benefit, only to get his family through. And he is in this mess because of the decision of his grandfather to join the resistance.
That hardly seems a fair situation considering being a Japanese supporter would be ghastly.  
I'm going to go with Pan Soo is a good man with a terrible life. That chaebol was apparently a Japanese sympathiser, though?
This tree is perfect.  This is the archetype of a tree. Also, it reminds me of Big Fish.
There are a few things that I found quite intriguing in this first episode. The kid-actor playing Min-Jae is impressive. Yes! The different emotions that kid goes through: he hates his father for abandoning him and his mother, but he loves and adores his father at the same time. Seeing him steal again, even though "to save someone's life" is an extreme disappointment that will likely shape this kid's life. I also find Pan Soo's character interesting (though sadly, Ahn Kil-Kang has a tendency for annoying overacting in this (first time I've disliked him)), because he's so flawed. He does what he thinks he must to protect people he cares about, but he ends up hurting others.
What other options did he have? Consider that he is a man of probably limited intelligence and education raised in a society that teaches him he cannot rise above, and witness to a family history where acting against more established forces results in cruel oppression that lasts for generations. He's not expecting to improve anything for himself. He just wants to survive the day...and maybe give his son a chance.

What I found less intriguing: This first episode was extremely busy and all over the place. Sure, we had to meet all our characters and see who's good and who's bad and who's in between, but honestly, it was very confusing, not least because a lot of important information was introduced in somewhat strange places.
They really could've explained this all in modern-day, adult character monologues.
Yes, but they prefer to show the past. I suppose it feels good to see how much things have changed in such a short time. People watching will remember the 90s and even decades earlier pretty vividly.

On the upside, it did create some additional tension and some uncertainty as to grey characters. For example, is Mr. Hot, the thug, really a bad guy? We have not seen him DO anything evil - or have we? Didn't he help murder that other dude? The timeline is somewhat unclear; did he actually strangle Kim Chan Gi when Pan Soo reached the kid, or was he trying to take the belt off?
Like you said, this episode was confusing and so I couldn't tell there was even any mystery here.
I think maybe Chan Gi did it himself; he can't be forced to share info if he's dead, and it could shut off that path to information and potentially save people. Although removing himself as a source could just as easily put others in the spotlight, so I don't know. There was a flash of something on Mr. Hot's face that made me think this was NOT how he intended things to go - and we know that the prosecutor isn't happy with his dad, but I think it's not on the basis of right or wrong but on the basis of how much trouble it might cause for him.

The crooked police officer is obviously going to be the person uncovering massive corruption in the police force and at the prosecutor officer and I guess he, too, is a fairly interesting character (though we haven't really seen a lot of him). He is a single father, he likes to take bribes, but in truth, and we saw that, he cares for people and I'm sure he cares for justice.
Other than Min Jae, he's the best character so far. Okay, the little girl is cool, too.
I don't think he's completely evil, but he's weak. His daughter will be a better person by far.