Review and Recaps: Jirisan episode 1 (also known as ‘Cliffhanger’ or ‘Mountain Jiri’)

The drama starts with the stunning view of mount Jirisan and heartwarming music and story.

We are shown Baekdudaegan Ecological Education museum and A man narrates the story of Jirisan – how it has stood for so long and seen many hopes and devastation. He describes the place as the border of life and death where a beginning and blood smell coexist and says – “Mount Jirisan is the land between this world and the next.”

It’s 2018 now and the male lead, Kang Hyun-Jo – a rookie ranger enters into Jirisan national park Haedong ranger station. He notices a helicopter circling on top of the station and As he enters, The ranger station so busy and people are rushing somewhere.

Before our hero could introduce himself to the captain of the team in the captain’s office, the captain asks if he is the new ranger and immediately asks Jung Gu-Yeong (another ranger) to take him along with them. The captain just informs him that there is a missing case. Everyone is in a great hurry and Gu-Yeong throws shoes to him and asks him to come along.

Before Hyun-Jo could think everyone is already outside driving the car and I thought the hero is going to miss them but Gu-Yeong waits for him to run and come.

As they ride the car at jet speed the captain in the walkie-talkie announces the specification of the missing hiker – it’s a boy named Yeom Seung-hun – age 14 and he was last spotted near Samheungbong peak repeater.

The captain also specifies the things the boy had and since he didn’t wear any gear the golden hour is 30 and only 7 hrs are left in it. He assigns search teams one 5Km range within the repeater and another 5 to 10 km range around it.

As the rangers get into the work and climb down the mountains with ropes suddenly the rocks start to fall and here is the cool entry of heroine – see instinctively saves one of the rangers who loses control and is about to be hit by a big rock.

Everyone rushes to the injured ranger as she saves him and they take him to the hospital. Hyun-Jo gives water to heroin and introduces himself as Kang Hyun-Jo – the new ranger. Gu-Yeong comes and introduces the heroine as a strict ranger and to be beware of her saying her nickname Demon Seo. Gu-Yeong assigned Hyun-Jo under Seo since her fellow ranger is injured. As Gu-Yeong introduced Seo warns Hyun-Jo to follow her without falling back or else she will abandon him.

They all now continue to search and they go to so many dangerous and high spots. As the rangers continue to search the weather worsens and unfortunately in the news they announce that a storm is going to hit Jeju and mount Jirisan that night around 10pm so there would be heavy rain.

Yi-Gang in the walkie-talkie announces the spots that they have completed till now and her next spot. Yi-Gang informs Hyun-Jo that they are searching all the places of high suicide chances and Hyun-Jo reasons that they are after a dead boy. Yi-Gang stops there and asks him not to say that and says they are trying to save a boy before he dies. Hyun-Jo smiles and follows her.

According to the weather report, the rain starts around the night and 2 search teams take a break as it becomes too dangerous to hike through the mountain. 1 team even continues its search in the heavy rain as the muds are washed down and even they struggle to move forward. One team almost loses a man in a bridge that gets flooded due to rain.

The captain of the team is in a dilemma whether to seize the search and continue after the rain. The search team containing search dogs is withdrawn because dogs won’t be of any use in the rain.

When all this happens the grandmother of the missing boy is brought by a person in the team and she apologizes to the captain for all the pain due to her grandson and gives him some gift. The captain asks his assistant to make the grandma stay in a room and sees the windspeed increasing minute by minute from 15 to 20Kmph.

The only team that seems to be doing ok was Hyun-Jo and Yi-Gang. They come near a cliff and Yi-gang puts down her trekking poles and takes away Hyun-Jo’s also. She informs him that it is a lighting area so to be careful and not go near trees and tells him that they are going to take short cut to reach their next destination- the Seonghwang tree.

Yi-Gang moves forward but before Hyun-Jo could take in the information he could see gigantic lightning nearby. He follows her instruction and moves but trips down and rolls and falls at a place near a big rock.

They find the missing boy’s bag and notebook there and inform the captain. They also find a photo of the boy’s parents around some flowers. Yi-Gang informs the captain that the boy might be at Wildflower habitat above bidam cliff. She tells him that this is the right time they can go and rescue the boy else he would die soon. The captain sees the windspeed shoot up and thinks heavily.

The chief of the ranger station enters now and orders Yi-Gang and the other team to withdraw immediately. He says the boy has come to commit suicide as per the investigation and they can’t risk the lives of the rangers over a dead boy. Yi-Gang though she wants to save the boy has no choice but to follow the order.

As they leave and Ji-Hyun takes the boy’s bag with him he gets a few scenes flashing before his eyes. He sees some symbols created with wood and a hooded figure and a big boulder. He comes to his senses and as he moves forward he is hit by a wooden log and falls down senselessly.

He wakes up in the ranger’s resting room and finds others lying there near him. One of the rangers advises him to take care of himself first and then think about others and the leader next to him asks the ranger not to spoil the newbie like that and advises him to stay vigilant.

In the captain’s office room, the captain asks Yi-Gang to take some rest and to continue the search in the morning when the storm passes away. As the captain leaves Yi-Gang comes in and tells Yi-Gang that he is sure the boy is alive but Yi-Gang stops the conversation saying they can’t search based on his instincts.

Yi-Gang then visits the boy’s grandma and consoles her. The grandma says nothing but sorry and cries.

Hyun-Jo then goes to the desk and looks at the boy’s diary. The boy seems to be too hardworking – maintaining the logs of his earning from his part-time job and also his grandma’s medicine amount.

Hyun-Jo then notices the corner of one of the empty pages the boy has written “Help me.” We are shown flashes of how the boy with so many band-aids in hand, used to write the spending in his diary and cry alone at night when his grandma is sleeping beside him.

At the office, they have a whiteboard where they have listed out all the information about the boy and also that he is constantly bullied in school and he might have tried committing suicide.

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Later that night Yi-Gang goes to search for the boy without telling anyone. It rains like hell and almost everything in the mountain looks flooded. As she climbs one of the high rocks from the other side she hears Hyun-Jo shouting Sunbae. She asks him if he is crazy to follow her and he says if he is crazy she is crazy too.

Hyun-Jo confesses that he would regret it if he didn’t search for the boy and says searches should be done in 2s. Yi-Gang then ties a belt between them and says it is not the only job of them to go to dangerous places but also to come back safely from those dangerous places.

In the office, it is 4AM now and the captain of the rangers is looking at the watch and waiting for the storm to pass. At this time he hears a sound and notices that other rangers are sneaking out to find the boy. The captain orders them to start the search only after the storm is passed and gets to know that the newbie and Yi-Gang have already gone for the search. At the same time, he gets to know from the grandma that the boy has sent another message recently to the grandma.

He immediately contacts Yi-Gang and asks her if she is in the bidam wildflower habitat. She hesitates to answer but to her surprise, the captain says that the boy is still alive and explains to her that the boy has sent pictures of him in the wildflower habitat and he might have gone to signal dead zone before the message is sent. Now he is in a signal zone and though he has sent the other search teams it is up to Yi-Gang only to save the boy.

Yi-Gang and Hyun-Jo split and find the boy in all the signal zone around the bidam cliff but this time not in suicides spots but in survival spots. Yi-Gang instructs Hyun-Jo that, “Those who want to live instinctively look for these places – between big rocks, under a big stump among tightly wovenbushes “.

The sun rises and yet they were in no luck to find the boy. Yi-Gang is so sure that the boy might be somewhere here but she is stuck. At this time Hyun-Jo gets flashes of the image of the rock places that he got earlier and remembers the words of Yi-Gang that survival instincts take people to warm places like under the rock.
He immediately contacts Yi-Gang and they meet up… He asks her whether she has seen some signal made with twigs and rocks or a black rock with oak trees around. Yi-Gang asks if he has gone to the place and says he might be referring to Sangsuri rock but that is a signal dead zone.

He manages to make her accept it as their final spot to search and when they reach their he finds the same rock as he saw in the flashes and then the boy is in between the big rock unconscious.

They inform the captain and they safely take the boy to a point and from there, the leader of the ranger and Gu-Yeong come and carry the boy to the ambulance. Luckily the boy is just unconscious and his pulse was normal.

Yi-Gang and Hyun-Jo immediately fall on the ground and lie there staring at the sky and they switch off their walkie-talkie when the captain contacts them to congratulate them.

After some time they both go to the same spot in the bidam cliff where the boy was lying unconscious and in between the way seeing Hyun-Jo stumbling to catch up with her she says a ranger should not be this weak and he should know everything about the mountain from the vegetation, tree species and place name to guard this mountain.

As they reach the Sangsuri rock a researcher is taking pics of the twigs signal and asks them how they found such a historic thing. Hyun-Jo says it was as if the mountains told him. The researcher tells them that it is a signal used by Partisans to keep in touch. They communicate like this whenever they fall behind or out of contact and they place the signal where nobody can find or is undisturbed by the winds.

After the researcher is gone Hyun-Jo suggests and the idea that they use this signal in a signal dead zone where phone or walkie talkie cant be used.

In the present Year 2020. In the Jirisan facility, the ranger team is discussing the YiseokJae Missing case. It seems like a hiker is missing for months and they couldn’t find a trace of the hiker so they close the missing case and the captain assigns everyone a Safety facility and good base duty since it is tourist season. Hyun-Jo and Seo Yi-Gang are missing from the team.

One newbie girl asks what would happen to the hiker. Gu-Yeong explains to her that after these many days it is hopeless to find that person. Gu-Yeong then asks the captain about hiring a new ranger since a spot is open for a long time and tells not to appoint a newbie but an experienced one.

The captain informs him that they have an experienced ranger appointed that he knows well. To his surprise and our surprise as well Yi-Gang is entering the room in a wheelchair.

Gu-Yeong doesn’t seem to come in terms with the idea of Yi-Gang rejoining as a cripple to the ranger team but his mouth is shut by the captain. The captain asks the newbie (who is interested to know abt Yi-Gang) and Gu-Yeong to continue with their tasks.

Then Yi-Gang looks at the YiseokJae missing case files and asks the captain if they looked near Gaeng falls. The captain asks her if she received any tips which triggers her for some reason and she denies it.

Gu-Yeong and newbie are fixing some devices on the trees in the tourist spots and the newbie curiously asks about Yi-Gang. Gu-Yeong says they were strangled and they made a mistake going there in heavy snowfall.

Gu-Yeong receives a message from the headquarters to search Gaeam falls. Confused that even they can’t find an ant in that area he reaches with the newbie to the place and tells her it is one of the most beautiful spots in the mountain.

They find a bag near the falls and get shocked to find a human skull near the bag. And to their surprise, it was the missing hiker they were searching for months. They reach the headquarters with the dead body and now everyone’s attention turns to Yi-Gang. Everyone asks the same question how could she find the person which took 100s of people months to search and they failed.

She opens her tab and shows them the page of the Volunteer fire department. She shows them a joint search of the rangers on the website and tells them that she found the same signal of twigs that was only between Hyun-Jo and her. They used the signal where there is no reception.

She shows them various accident locations like the Mujingdong accident, the Geonmukgol accident, Oerae valley accident and tells them she found the signal in all these places.

The newbie girl asks if its between Yi-Gang and Hyun-Jo guys then it must be Hyun-Jo giving her the signals. The captain says it’s not possible for Hyun-Jo to come here. And then we are shown bedridden Hyun-Jo with oxygen mask on.

She then says, “Someone is sending me a signal from up there I wanted to know who that’s why I returned.”.

I really liked the starting first half of the series where Yi-Gang was introduced and they rescued the boy. There were many adventurous moments and I enjoyed the scenery. But after the boy rescue, I didn’t expect Yi-Gang to be crippled like that and I can’t imagine how the drama would travel further. Even Hyun-Jo is in a hospital bed which makes me wonder what might have happened two years ago.
Let’s see whether my questions are answered in the coming episode.

Tell me in the comments if you liked the first episode and what was your thought after watching the first episode.

To read reviews and recaps of all the episodes click here!

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