A shaman and an ace detective might not seem to have any skills in common, but the shaman played by Seo In-guk in the k-drama Cafe Minamdong is not really channeling the supernatural.
He’s really a scam artist using high tech surveillance to gather personal details and a detective foot soldier to sort things out. He and his minions set up shop in Cafe Minamdong, where eager fans await an audience. Only a lucky few get that far. Shaman Nam Jun-hun is a scam artist, but his investigations into people’s problems usually uncover crimes and corner criminals.
What Jun-hun does have in common with detective Han Jae-hui is his keen observation skills. He was once a police profiler, so he has a well-developed sense of who the villains are. Jun-hun is conceited and over-confident, but then he does usually deliver the goods.
Jae-hui, played by Oh Yeon-su, has reasons to be confident too. She’s not only smart, but her strength, uncanny speed and agility earned her the reputation of being the Ghost of Yongjin Station. When Nam-jun sees her trounce some thugs it’s love at first sight—only it isn’t first sight. They met before and he doesn’t remember.
Cafe Minamdong is a very physical comedy with every character enthusiastically getting into the spirit, whether it’s a fight against the odds or a hilarious seance. Oh approaches her over-the-top action scenes with great energy and a cool unflustered stare that can silence her fellow police officers. She’s a force to be reckoned with.
Seo is funny as Jun-hun, the detail-obsessed rock-star shaman who writes talismans in squiggles rather than calligraphy. Seo, who is equally good in serious and comic roles, seems very comfortable playing Jun-hun as a laughable but lovable scam artist. The KBS2 drama also features a bevy of character actors who get to fully engage with their comic roles. Jeong Man-sik is hilarious as Jae-hui’s second in command, a detective who prefers easy cases and looking the other way.
Nam Jun’s partners in crime are his younger sister Hye-jun, played by Kang Mi-na, and Su-cheol, played by Kwak Si-yang. Hye-jun is a genius hacker and Su-cheol runs a private detective agency. The drama is based on the 2018 novel Mindamdang Sagun Soochub by Jung Jae-han. Seo previously appeared in the dramas Doom at Your Service, Shopaholic Louis, The King’s Face and High School King of Savvy, while Oh appeared in Mad For Each Other, A Korean Odyssey, My Sassy Girl and Come Back Mister.
It doesn’t take a shaman to guess that Jae-hui will enlist Jun-hun and his team to help solve cases, but it’s hard to predict how complicated things might get.