A man runs through an ancient forest, carrying a tiny bundle in his arms — a child. He’s chased by several men, and seems more concerned about his young charge than himself. He leaps obstacles in a way that seems unnatural… and so do the men following him.
The man confounds his pursuers for a moment by climbing a tree, but one of them sees his reflection in a very dangerous-looking dagger. He flings the dagger but the man avoids it easily, though his evasion lands him right in the middle of his three would-be captors.
They fight, and the man leaps, twists, and avoids injury without ever letting go of the little girl in his arms. He takes a few minor injuries but finally gets away, and when it’s safe, he stops to get his breath and whispers, “We’re almost there,” to the little girl.
The man gathers some sort of energy into his hand, and when he places it on a nearby tree, the energy ripples into the tree and then through the ground, infiltrating the nearby forest. Gathering speed, the energy races through the forest, igniting glowing, mystical symbols on any tree it touches.
The pursuers catch up, but the energy the man has put out has created some sort of barrier that distorts their perceptions while it protects him. They have no idea they’re only a few feet from him and the little girl, and they finally turn and leave.
Eighteen years later, a young man sleeps peacefully, while elsewhere giant posters of his face decorate a concert venue. He’s YOON SHI-WOO, an idol from a group called Mobius. He apparently makes it a habit to sleep through rehearsals, as his manager is taking a verbal beatdown about his latest absence.
Shi-woo wakes slowly, only belatedly realizing that his phone is ringing frantically. His ears ring as he finally hears his phone, but he makes the excuse to his frustrated manager that the phone was on vibrate. When he hangs up, the ringing and pain in his ears worsens.
Another young man walks through an airport and groans, “Here we go again,” when a virtual army of suited men comes to greet him. He sees a photo of Shi-woo modeling for his father’s company, Sanghae Group, and takes offense to the color of the poster. At first he’s angry that the color hasn’t changed per his order, but when told his father wanted it kept the same, he pretends that it was all his idea.
This is WANG CHI-ANG son of a large Chinese-Korean conglomerate. He imperiously orders the suited men to bug off, but he’s told that they’re here on the chairman’s orders. One of the men comments that his Korean is very good (his mother is Korean)1, and Chi-ang’s face goes quietly furious. He doesn’t even need to utter a threat — just his obvious displeasure is enough to have the man quaking.
Chi-ang is expected to put in an appearance at Shi-woo’s concert that night, which his father’s company is sponsoring, but he declines the car his father sent for him in favor of his own motorcycle. He finally gets some alone time while riding, taking in the sea air and almost certainly breaking several traffic laws.
Later Chi-ang calls his mother, and promises to make his father proud and bring her back to China with him. He’s not happy that she practically lives in exile, but she’s quick to tell him that she’s moved. They make plans to meet at her new home in the morning, but she looks worried once they hang up.
As it turns out, Chi-ang’s father is in Korea, and they’re planning to send him to private school instead of back to China. Mom is concerned that it’s a strange place, but Chi-ang’s father tells her ominously to just do as she’s told. After Mom is gone, Chi-ang’s father tells his assistant that his son won’t be easy to deal with. But he’s determined to send him to this school, as it will make him useful. How, we don’t know yet.
Shi-woo looks worried as he showers (a broody shower scene, so soon?) and rubs his ears uncomfortably. The camera lingers on an unusual pendant that he’s wearing, as if it’s important.
Chi-ang walks into a hotel room and sneers at the mess, and calls for someone to come clean up. Then proceeds to shed his own clothes and leave them laying wherever he throws them.
He’s startled when someone walks out of the bedroom — it’s Shi-woo, who still hasn’t checked out of this room. The two half-clad youths glare at each other, neither wanting to be the first to react… and then Shi-woo groans, assuming that Chi-ang is a sasaeng fan here to harrass him.
A young girl, SHIM SOON-DEOK makes dumplings by hand and brings them to a booth at the concert venue, but the ajumma running the booth complains that the spoiled Seoul kids here aren’t buying their country food. Soon-deok doesn’t let that get her down, and says in a loud voice that these dumplings are Shi-woo’s very favorite thing to eat. That gets the fans’ attention, and it’s only second before their booth is overrun.
Shi-woo and Chi-ang both call their men in to figure out this mistake, but neither boy is willing to concede to the other and move to another room. Shi-woo is gobsmacked when Chi-ang has no idea who he or Mobius are. When he explains that they’re the star act in tonight’s concert sponsored by Chi-ang’s company, Chi-ang says that they can just be taken out of the show, then.
Shi-woo looks momentarily stunned, then just laughs that he can rest tonight. Chi-ang’s assistant tells him that Shi-woo’s fans make up the majority of the festivalgoers, and they’ll have to refund all that money if Mobius cancels, but Chi-ang is just all, That’s fine, I have enough money.
Mention of his father’s displeasure if that happens finally sways Chi-ang, and he’s forced to relent, though you can tell it just kills him. But he pretends that he’s being magnanimous, and warns Shi-woo to be grateful and do his best tonight. He exits, accidentally taking Shi-woo’s jacket and leaving his own behind, and leaves Shi-woo looking like he wants to bite someone.
Word of the boys’ confrontation reaches the concert venue, where Shi-woo’s company CEO is furious with Chi-ang for trying to throw his weight around with the talent. Shi-woo’s manager complains about his charge as well — he doesn’t come to practice, he doesn’t talk with the other members of Mobius, and he never answers his phone. There’s a rumor that he’s about to jump ship to another management company, which would mean bankruptcy for his current company.
Soon-deok sells out of her dumplings, and she think she sees a girl she knows. When the girl doesn’t turn at her call, Soon-deok figures it must not be her. She’d never come to a place like this anyway.
The mystery girl makes a point to watch Chi-ang as he throws his weight around at the VIP entrance (excuse me, VVVVVIP, ha), but he can’t back it up because his company ID card is in the jacket he left in Shi-woo’s hotel room. He does find Shi-woo’s medicine dispenser, which is bad because Shi-woo is backstage having a bad attack of pain and loud ringing in his ears.
Chi-ang finally gets to his seat, whining at his assistant as if it’s his fault he lost his ID card. He finally smiles when the lead singer of a girl group seems to toss him a wink, and we see that the mystery girl is also in the audience but paying little attention to the show.
As Mobius is announced, the mystery girl slowly reaches into her jacket. The group takes the stage lead by Shi-woo, and she yanks a sign out of her clothes and shrieks, “Shi-woo oppaaaaa!!” Meanwhile Chi-ang’s expression goes sour to see that annoying guy from the hotel again.
Shi-woo seems to be on autopilot, and in the middle of their song his ears begin to ring again. He pulls himself together and finishes the performance, though the momentary blip leaves a few people concerned. As the group strike their final pose, the stage lights above Shi-woo start to spark alarmingly. Suddenly the entire bank of lights falls directly towards where Shi-woo is standing, but he doesn’t move, unable to hear everyone screaming at him.
The mystery girl rushes the stage, and it’s her frantic approach that makes Shi-woo finally look up. He sees the lights falling stright for him and puts up his hands defensively — and a familiar-looking cluster of energy reaches up and stops the lights’ fall, holding them in midair. But it only lasts a moment, long enough for the mystery girl to see it clearly, then starts to fall again. She grabs Shi-woo and tackles him to safety, just as the lights crash down.
He’s shocked, so she speaks quickly: “Are you okay? Can you not hear well? Does it hurt? Come to Moorim School, Dean Hwang can probably fix it.” She’s dragged off the stage by security, but she calls the name Moorim to him again, telling him not to forget.
Shi-woo tells CEO Choi that he just couldn’t hear people telling him to move because he was focused on the song, refusing a trip to the hospital. But he does ask for a break, and not just for a day — he wants to take a year off. CEO Choi wants to argue, but says they’ll talk about it tomorrow.
Once he’s alone, Shi-woo shrugs off his bravado and sinks with exhaustion. He’s already seen a doctor, who warned him that he could lose his hearing permanently. All the doctor knows is that the hearing loss isn’t physical, it’s psychological, and he suggested taking a break. From Shi-woo’s sad, weary eyes, I can believe it.
But it’s not as secret as Shi-woo would like, and his manager tells CEO Choi that Shi-woo’s recent meeting wasn’t with the rival company’s CEO at all, but a doctor. Strangely, CEO Choi just laughs, even when the manager reminds him that their company won’t make it without Shi-woo.
CEO Choi crows that the heavens have helped them, because he can’t afford to pay Shi-woo anymore, and has been wondering how to get rid of him. He suggests they make use of a recent rumor about a female idol that Shi-woo dated and broke up with.
Chi-ang shows up to retrieve his jacket and ID card, but Shi-woo isn’t answering his hotel phone. Chi-ang wonders if Shi-woo went to the hospital, but he’s out thinking by the river. Shi-woo hears his phone ping, but there’s no message, and he wonders if he’s hearing things now. It’s actually Chi-ang’s phone, which is still in the jacket in Shi-woo’s car. Shi-woo sees that the message is from “Mom.”
Chi-ang’s father talks to someone named Chun Hee-joon on the phone, assuring them that Chi-ang will be “at that place” in the morning. He advises the person not to rush, that all will happen in due time. But once he hangs up, his assistant asks what will happen if Chi-ang quits like he’s quit all his other schools. “There is always a solution. He thinks the world of his mother.” ~shudder~
Soon-deok (in an adorable chicken helmet) delivers takeout to a hotel, but when she calls the customer to come out to get it as the hotel doesn’t allow outside food, she’s told they don’t want it anymore. But she’s resourceful, and sells it to a couple walking out of the hotel.
A girl stops Shi-woo’s car by standing in his path, and jumps in despite his protests. She’s frantic with worry over him, and he assures her angrily that he’s just fine thankyouverymuch, and orders her out of the car. Instead she hugs him with a shaky, “Oppa!”
But this is all a setup, and we see that she was instructed to do this by CEO Choi, and that she’s not at all happy about it. She’s Da-rim, the girl-group rookie who was supposedly dumped by Shi-woo recently, and she’s eager to get back at him for the cold way he treated her.
Shi-woo has to physically throw Da-rim off himself, and walks around to open her door and angrily invite her out. She warns him that if he refuses her, she won’t be able to save him. This makes no sense to him but he assumes she’s being irrational, and pulls her out of the car. They’re immediately approached by some big threatening guys, and Da-rim says that she tried to warn Shi-woo. The men loom over Shi-woo, while his manager cringes around a corner.