Is Cafe Minamdang Good?

Framed for murder, criminal profiler Nam Han Joon decides to become a fraudulent shaman instead! Can he catch the elusive assailant Gopuri and clear his name?

So I’m not going to lie, after watching bits and pieces of Café Minamdang’s first three episodes on Netflix, I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Cafe Minamdang Episode 1 – 10 Mid-Season Review 

I’ve mentioned this before, but my mom is an avid Kdrama fan and can knock shows out faster than even some of the most devoted Korean drama stans.  Her currently weekly lineup consists of this show, along with the absolutely delightful Extraordinary Attorney Woo

I don’t know if it’s because of the rabbit hole I went down while doing research into (traditional) Shamans and the intersection of pseudo-Christianity in contemporary Korean culture after watching Save Me, but the idea of watching a fraudulent Shaman for an hour was quite off-putting.  

I kept trying to get into the story, and then suddenly before I knew it – I was hooked! 

Storyline: Criminal Activity and Serial Killers 

The Shaman Crew: Han Joon, Hye Joon, Su Cheol, and Na Dan all together at the cafe
The Shaman Crew: Han Joon, Hye Joon, Su Cheol, and Na Dan all together at the cafe

Cafe Minamdang revolves around Nam Han Joon, a hot-shot police officer and criminal profiler who was renowned for solving many cold cases. After being framed for the murder of his best friend and prosecutor Han Jae Jeong, Han Joon serves time before going underground – resurfacing to work as a trendy Shaman. 

Along with his sister Hye Joon and friends Su Cheol and Na Dan, they all work together to find who killed Jae Jeong and catch the serial killer Gopuri. 

If you’re still on the fence about this drama, I would highly suggest you give it a watch. At least until episode four, and then drop it from there if nothing resonates with you. 

Is Cafe Minamdang A Good Kdrama? 

Café Minamdang is a good kdrama that seemingly blended the supernatural and criminal worlds simultaneously. The show doesn’t isolate viewers who don’t know much about Korean spirituality and balances mystery and comedy elements so that the plot is not too dense.  

If you’ve ever seen the 2006 American tv show Psych, you would definitely enjoy this story.  

Psych Season 1 Poster for USA Network
Psych Season 1 Poster for USA Network

Han joon uses the same “powers of observation” and basic deduction as Shawn Spencer to ascertain the truth in situations. Along with his uncanny ‘spiritual flair’ and otherworldly outfits, Han Joon can usually convince unsuspecting victims that they are haunted, or trick the bad guys into spilling their hearts in confession at the thought of those they killed lingering over their shoulder for all of eternity. 

While initially appearing to be unrelated, the cases and people Han Joon surrounds himself with are all tied to the serial killer murders. Rife with blackmail, subterfuge, underage prostitution and even corporate nepotism and chaebol corruption, this series differentiates itself by actually opposing our profiler and fake shaman main character with Aunt Lim, a priestess who actually actively believes and participates in the supernatural to conduct her crimes. 

Gu Tae Su (Gopuri) and Aunt Lim meet in secret at the temple
Gu Tae Su (Gopuri) and Aunt Lim meet in secret at the temple

The intricate disguises, computer hacking, and undercover operations supply comedic relief while the tense situations surrounding shady characters like Gu Tae Su and Prosecutor Cha Do Won.  

(While the latter is most likely not a criminal and just has a crush on the female lead Jae Hui, his connection to the production company that makes money from ‘movies and streaming’ cannot be overlooked.) 

A Budding Romance Between Lead Characters?

I look forward to each week’s new batch of episodes, and (hopefully) more development of the female lead Han Jae Hui, who for some reason acts like a petulant child in the face of danger and overuses her authority as a lieutenant police officer in (various failed) attempts to coerce evidence and confessions. 

Jae Hui takes Han Joon to the water and offers him a drink after quite literally bashing his head into a chair until he was unconscious for a forced hypnotism
Jae Hui takes Han Joon to the water and offers him a drink after quite literally bashing his head into a chair until he was unconscious for a forced hypnotism

I don’t know if it’s just how the character was written, or if the show is setting up a romance between Han Joon and Jae Hui – the connection being the latter’s former crush on Mr. Shaman, along with being the deceased Jae Jeong’s little sister – that changes Jae Hui from someone who is abrasive to soft and caring. 

We did get that personality change set up in a previous episode, but at the cost of Jae Hui quite literally knocking Han Joon out so that he could be hypnotized into remembering the events of her brother’s death.  

…Just so that Jae Hui would finally believe in his character which…is progress, I guess? 

I enjoyed actress Oh Yeon Seo’s portrayal in Mad for Each Other and she is clearly very talented – I just hope the series ends with her character finding closure, and developing into someone who isn’t so, I don’t know – annoying?  

But, tell me your thoughts. 

Nam Han Joon in his all-white Hollywood gangster gambling suit really did something for me ☺
Nam Han Joon in his all-white Hollywood gangster gambling suit really did something for me ☺

Are you currently watching Cafe Minamdang on Netflix? 

Do you think a romance between Han Joon and Jae Hui would have happened naturally if he didn’t go to jail? 

And… 

What has been your favorite shaman undercover operation disguise so far?  

(Mine is Han Joon’s all-white gangster suit worn during the gambling operation sting. ☺) 

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Kdama Recaps and Discussions!       

We are also creating East Asian fashion-inspired merchandise for fellow fans, Visit our Redbubble store if you have a chance – you get cool gear, and it helps support the blog!       

☆ In Asian Spaces    

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Author: In Asian Spaces

I write in my personal time and I haven't published much at all. I don't know if that qualifies me as a writer or not, but I'd like to change that. I have a deep passion for travel, cinema and (mainly) East Asian things, but I plan on writing various things to keep it spicy. Let's prosper together ~ よろしくおねがいします。

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