Discovery of Romance: Episode 1
So fun! The premiere episode of Discovery of Romance really delivers, in just about every area you want a good rom-com to deliver: great leads with fantastic chemistry, hilarious best friends and witty banter, and no small amount of kissing and skinship (oh, and abs. Lots of abs). If the show keeps going the way it’s started out, we’re in for a rollicking great end-of-summer romance. I’m ready; bring it on!
EPISODE 1: “How did we end up sleeping in the same bed?”
The show opens in the summer of 2004, with a home video of an adorable couple, HAN YEO-REUM (Jung Yumi) and KANG TAE-HA (Eric), as they share an adorably snuggly picnic in the park. They smooch and tease each other, obviously very much in love.
On another day, Yeo-reum reminds Tae-ha that there are only ten days left until their 100-day anniversary. She suggests they stay in a hotel that night, and pouts when he actually has to think about it.
On their anniversary, they hilariously sneak up on the hotel with him in sunglasses and her behind a fan, both of them feeling like the whole world is watching. Yeo-reum coaches Tae-ha on how to book the room, but he chickens out and they leave. They argue in the car over who was more scared, and Tae-ha apologizes for his innocent soul. Cute.
Yeo-reum concedes that she’d be fine even if it wasn’t a hotel, so they head to Tae-ha’s place. In the morning, he makes breakfast while they take some more sweet home videos.
Over the next few years, Yeo-reum and Tae-ha exchange unique wooden couple rings, taking more photos and making a collage of their relationship in his apartment. They couldn’t possibly be any sweeter as a couple.
In the present, Tae-ha is interviewed about their relationship, where he claims that dating Yeo-reum damaged him for good. He’s never liked anyone as much as he liked her, and he still doesn’t know why they broke up. Yeo-reum is also interviewed, and she tells how her attitude towards dating changed because of Tae-ha – she learned to take the upper hand in relationships. She admits she broke things off, and is confused that Tae-ha doesn’t know the reason for their breakup.
We flash back to a day in 2009 as the two of them get off a train, taking a trip to celebrate 5 years together. Tae-ha walks ahead and doesn’t notice that Yeo-reum is lagging behind. She’s upset and crying, and asks if he hasn’t noticed that she’s been acting strange lately.
He has, and says that’s why he agreed to this trip even though he’s been working a lot and is exhausted, but Yeo-reum is upset that he’s never asked why she’s been depressed. Yeo-reum says she wants to break up, because she’s tired of waiting for him and feeling lonely. She takes her bag and leaves him standing on the train platform.
Back in the present, Tae-ha admits he’s curious about her and would like to see her, while Yeo-reum says she never wants to see him again. Tae-ha would even like to be friends, but Yeo-reum laughs that she has friends already, and even has a new boyfriend.
We see the new boyfriend, NAM HA-JIN (Sung Joon), shopping for engagement rings. He tells the salesgirl that his girlfriend’s birthday is soon and he plans to propose.
Yeo-reum tells the interviewer that they met a year ago on a blind date, only it wasn’t her who was being set up with him; it was her friend. We see Yeo-reum and her friend YOON SOL (Kim Seul-gi) sitting in a restaurant with Ha-jin and his college sunbae and coworker DO JOON-HO (Yoon Hyun-min) as Joon-ho makes the introductions. Yeo-reum and Sol design furniture together, and Ha-jin and Joon-ho are both plastic surgeons at the same clinic. He sings Sol’s praises but Ha-jin’s eyes keep skipping over to Yeo-reum, though it doesn’t stop him from looking bemused when Sol declares he’s not her type.
Sol stage-whispers to Yeo-reum that Ha-jin looks like a player, but Yeo-reum thinks he looks good. Joon-ho, determined to hook someone up tonight, shifts gears but Sol says she and Yeo-reum made a pact not to date. She says dating causes all kinds of social problems, but Ha-jin counters that in a good relationship, that wouldn’t happen.
The restaurant owner tells them all to leave now since she’s closing, and Ha-jin suggests they have another beer at the park. They tell Sol and Joon-ho to get the beer, in unison, and high-five each other only to be startled at the jolt of attraction from the sudden skinship.
Yeo-reum and Ha-jin sit in the park making small talk, and he hesitantly asks if she really hates dating. She says she just doesn’t have anyone she’s interested in, which he takes as his cue to scootch closer and ask, “What about me?” He inches even closer and asks what she thinks of him, and in her nervousness she nearly tips backwards over the railing.
Ha-jin grabs Yeo-reum around the waist and they freeze again. He leans even closer and asks if he can kiss her, only to get slapped. Ha, Yeo-reum looks at her hand like it’s an alien with a mind of its own. Ha-jin backs off and Yeo-reum says she was just startled that he asked instead of letting a kiss happen naturally, and tells him to try again without asking. So he does. Thoroughly.
Both of their phones ring and they jump apart to answer. It’s hysterical how they tell Sol and Joon-ho that they’re not sure what part of the park they’re in (“There’s lots of trees!”), just to gain some more alone time. They end the calls and without a word, pick right back up where they left off.
In the present, a call from Ha-jin interrupts Yeo-reum’s interview, and they confirm plans for a date that night. Ha-jin gets caught smooching his phone by Joon-ho, and warns him to keep his upcoming seon (blind date with an eye towards marriage) a secret from Yeo-reum. Oh dude, this is not at all cool. Joon-ho doesn’t tell Yeo-reum, but he does tell Sol, knowing she’ll make sure Yeo-reum hears about it.
Yeo-reum heads to the hotel where Ha-jin’s date is, and hops from table to table hiding her face until she finally sits one table over with her back to him. She writes a note on a coaster and slides it to the man at the table with her, only to realize belatedly that it’s Tae-ha.
They both stare in shock for a moment, then he grabs the note before she can grab it back. It says her boyfriend is sitting at the next table on a blind date behind her back, and asks if she can sit here and listen in. I am so embarrassed for you right now.
Immediately realizing the opportunity that’s fallen into his lap, Tae-ha politely greets Yeo-reum with a twinkle in his eye and comments that the girl her boyfriend is on a date with sure is pretty. Yeo-reum listens in mortification as Ha-jin talks about his job and flirts with his date. Tae-ha’s Ouch, that’s gotta sting smirks are awesome.
Yeo-reum glares at him while thinking that he hasn’t changed and that he’s still a jerk. On his side of the table, Tae-ha watches Yeo-reum react to the date and thinks that she hasn’t changed, and she still doesn’t know how to hide her feelings.
Ha-jin’s flattery gets to be too much and Yeo-reum jumps up and yells, “HEY!” She berates Tae-ha for going on a date behind her back, though it’s clear her words are for Ha-jin. She asks if he wants the daughter of a hospital owner that much, and Ha-jin grimaces as he realizes what’s happening behind him.
Yeo-reum picks up a glass of water and throws it in Tae-ha’s face, saying they should break up. She asks, still talking to Tae-ha but meaning Ha-jin, if he ever loved her. Awww, it tugs at my heart how Tae-ha says seriously that he did love her and has missed her. Talking to him now, Yeo-reum says he should have said that when it mattered, and Tae-ha asks for another chance.
It seems like Ha-jin’s date wasn’t ever a real date, since the girl smiles and wishes him luck when he turns to collect Yeo-reum. She storms out with Ha-jin close behind, and Tae-ha realizes she grabbed his cell phone by accident.
Outside, Ha-jin says his mother wanted him to go on three blind dates for her birthday gift, promising that if he did, she’d never mention it again. He says he only wants Yeo-reum, and she starts to soften but sees Tae-ha watching them from a distance. Ha-jin backhugs and kisses her until she lets him off the hook, and Tae-ha just watches them go, with her phone in his hand.
Ha-jin and Yeo-reum go to the theater, where he promises he only went on the dates to appease his mother and teases her for her jealousy. He asks if she knew that guy at the hotel, since it seemed he knew her from his answers. She denies it, but the reminder that he’d said he loved and missed her seems to shake her up a bit.
Tae-ha takes a broody shower (oh my) and talks to Yeo-reum’s silent phone all evening, willing her to call him. Poor guy, he’s clearly still hung up on her.
Yeo-reum tells her roommates Sol and Joon-ho the whole embarrassing story, and makes them swear not to tell Ha-jin. Why do I think that telling Joon-ho anything is a bad idea? She takes a call from Tae-ha’s employee YOON JUNG-MOK (Lee Seung-joon) but assumes it’s a wrong number, only then realizing she’s got the wrong phone.
It’s so cute how Tae-ha leaps across the room excitedly when Yeo-reum’s phone finally rings, but it’s only Yoon, who’s gotten the number from Yeo-reum. He calls Tae-ha to the hospital where one of their employees is being treated after injuring himself on the job. Tae-ha seems like a firm but understanding boss (he’s the head of a construction company), as he fusses at the man for getting hurt but gruffly instructs him to stay home and take care of himself.
Yeo-reum’s phone rings again, and Tae-ha only betrays a tiny smile as he greets her coolly. He wants to meet to exchange phones, but she’s busy and offers to give anyone her number if they call for him. She hangs up and he gets a text from her mother, threatening to evict her if she doesn’t pay her rent right away. Dang.
Yeo-reum’s actually on her way to visit Ha-jin’s mother right now, bringing gifts to appease the difficult woman. Tae-ha texts her about her mother’s message and a few other collection calls he took, making her cringe in embarrassment. He can’t help but look through her phone and finds a massive number of selcas of Yeo-reum and Ha-jin, and tells her photo that she should spend less time dating and more time paying her debts.
Yeo-reum and Ha-jin’s mother talk about how their strained relationship has been better lately, and Mom asks why Yeo-reum and Ha-jin aren’t talking about getting married. Yeo-reum asks if she’d be against it if they were, but Mom just says she wants her to rush a little more.
A bright young female courier makes a delivery to Ha-jin’s clinic, and we don’t learn her name yet but we know her to be AHN AH-RIM (Yoon Jin-yi). She runs into Ha-jin as he talks on the phone with his mother about Yeo-reum, though they clearly don’t know each other.
Joon-ho shows Ha-jin some pictures of a woman with a scar on her arm, but Ha-jin says it’s the wrong scar. Joon-ho asks why he checks all his female patients for a certain scar, but Ha-jin evades the question, and Joon-ho points out how obvious he is when he lies. Iiiinteresting.
Yeo-reum drinks alone at the same restaurant where she met Ha-jin, swiping half-full bottles of soju off of the other tables. Gross. She complains to the restaurant owner about her debt, telling her that she has to pretend she’s not interested in marrying her boyfriend since she can’t afford to get married. But she’s scared some other girl will snatch him up, since he’s such a good catch.
Tae-ha works late and takes a call from Yeo-reum, and he heads to the restaurant to give her a ride home. She’s too plastered to even lift her head or respond to him, and he mutters with a nostalgic smile that she still has her bad habits of drinking and sleeping outside. Ha-jin calls her phone but when Tae-ha hands it to her, the battery dies.
In voiceover, Tae-ha says that he doesn’t know why that happened in that exact moment, and wonders if her battery hadn’t died then, if their future would have been different. In her own voiceover, Yeo-reum ponders, “How does coincidence become destiny, and where does destiny start?”
Tae-ha tries to tell Yeo-reum that her battery died, only to get told to shut up and his face shoved away. Now that Yeo-reum has roused a bit, he sits with her and tries to wake her up further, but she’s still fading in and out of wakefulness. She finally realizes who’s there and reaches out to gently caress his face, then calls him a jerk and shoves his face again. HA.
Yeo-reum runs into the alley to throw up, and finds a tiny adorable bunny. Tae-ha worries it might have germs, but Yeo-reum shoves it at him and commands him to pet it. His childlike expression when he does is just priceless. She asks if it’s a dream that they met again, but Tae-ha says it’s not a dream because she never appears in his dreams, no matter how badly he missed her and prayed for it. Awww.
Yeo-reum declares it must be a dream because her Tae-ha would never say something like that – he was the kind of guy who always made her wait. He said he liked her, but everything was more important than her. Then she tries to stagger away, whining about how badly she has to pee. LOL.
Tae-ha drives Yeo-reum home as she grips the seatbelt for dear life, bunny in her lap, urging him to hurry because she’s got to go. Tae-ha turns up the music and HAHA, it’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” which I guess can sound like running water when you think about it. He has way too much fun watching her squirm.
Tae-ha takes Yeo-reum and the bunny to his place and she runs off to the bathroom. On her way out, she finds their old “Life is a Journey” collage on his wall. He’s removed all the photos of them and replaced them with new photos, though Yeo-reum sees that he’s left her drawings there.
Tae-ha says he can’t keep the bunny because he doesn’t like animals, but Yeo-reum says her roommate Sol is allergic. She tells him to just take care of it, and they pass the poor teensy thing back and forth as they bicker. Yeo-reum assures the little bunny that he can stay, because Tae-ha is soft-hearted and he’ll come around. He blusters that he is not keeping that rabbit, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s not being given a vote.
Yeo-reum gives the bunny a bath, but it jumps out of her hands and she drops the shower head, causing it to spray all over the bathroom. Tae-ha battles with the shower head and wins, but only after the three of them are soaking wet. Tae-ha towels off and Yeo-reum asks for one too, so he uses his towel to dry her hair, getting awfully close in the process.
When they realize their proximity, they both freeze. It reminds Tae-ha of a time when they were dating and Yeo-reum had buttoned her shirt wrong, and his attempt to fix it turned more than a little steamy. They stand in the bathroom with their eyes locked on each other, soaking wet and overwhelmed by old feelings.
The next morning, Yeo-reum wakes up wrapped in Ha-jin’s arms, and she smiles and snuggles close. In voiceover she muses that even in her sleep it felt strange. Ha-jin’s touch felt different, but also familiar, and she opens her eyes to see that she’s actually sleeping with Tae-ha. Whoa.
Meanwhile Ha-jin buys flowers and grins at the diamond ring he’s planning to propose with today, since it’s Yeo-reum’s birthday. Oh no, this is going to be bad.
She realizes she’s slept at Tae-ha’s house, and in his bed, and horror dawns as she sees her clothes strewn all over the room. She crawls out of bed, freaking out, then runs right back to snatch her ringing phone off the nightstand before it wakes up Tae-ha. She crouches in the closet to answer Ha-jin’s call, and reflexively tells him she’s home, which he says is good because he’s downstairs. Uh-oh.
Ha-jin rings her doorbell and tells her to come out, and she thinks fast and says she can’t because Sol and Joon-ho are fighting. Only, Ha-jin turns to see both of them walking towards him on the street. HAHA. Yeo-reum hears Sol tell Ha-jin that she didn’t come home last night, making her lie sound even worse.
Ha-jin asks Yeo-reum where she is, but before she can think of an answer, Joon-ho grabs his bluetooth and asks Yeo-reum, “You’re at the studio…RIGHT??” He nearly saves her hide, but a clueless Sol says she was at the studio all night and Yeo-reum wasn’t there.
But Yeo-reum had time to think of an alibi, and says she’s at her mother’s. Again the day is saved for about two seconds, since her mother steps out of her house to say hello to Yeo-reum’s friends. Yeo-reum gives up and says she’ll explain later, and hangs up on Ha-jin.
Cringing as she watches her life falling apart around her, Yeo-reum turns to look at Tae-ha still asleep on the bed. His eyes slowly open and he gives her a sexy, enigmatic smile, and Yeo-reum thinks, “What happened to us last night?”
What a cute show! I’m happy to see that the quirky, amusing teasers didn’t lead us astray and we seem to be getting exactly the cute, funny, and heartwarming story we were promised. I love the sweet, almost dreamy feel of the flashback scenes to Yeo-reum and Tae-ha as a couple, and it’s clear to see that their chemistry fairly sizzles, both in the past and in the present. I’ll admit that I have yet to see Que Sera, Sera, where Jung Yumi and Eric first appeared onscreen together, though I definitely want to (and even more so now). But I don’t need to have seen them act together before to feel their energy when they’re onscreen together. It says a lot when, even as big a fan of Sung Joon as I am (which is to say, hyoooge), I’m already rooting for Tae-ha and Yeo-reum to settle their differences and get back together.
I feel like the biggest strength this show has is its characters, who are all so wonderfully fun and fully fleshed out already. The casting is a big part of that, and I don’t think anyone can argue that this show isn’t superbly cast. From Tae-ha, Yeo-reum, and Ha-jin, to Sol and Joon-ho, and even down to Ah-rim who we haven’t even formally met yet, I already feel like I can’t wait to learn more about them and see what any one of them will do next. They already all feel like fully realized people, with pasts and lives that go on even when they’re not onscreen, and I’m so looking forward to all the shenanigans they’re going to get into.
But mostly, it’s the leads who made this premiere excellent in my opinion. I haven’t had the opportunity to see either Eric or Jung Yumi in much (again, an oversight I intend to correct very soon), so I’m going into this show pretty fresh when it comes to them. I find them both engaging, adorable, and again their chemistry together is astounding. Yeo-reum is endearingly sweet and I love how she thinks she’s so worldly-wise after having dated Tae-ha, but she’s really still very naïve and innocent when it comes to relationships. She’s so soft-spoken and gentle around her friends and Ha-jin, but when she’s with Tae-ha she totally changes. She bosses him around and takes charge of things quite handily, and I love seeing the “real” Yeo-reum come out when she’s with him. She can really be herself, which says a lot.
We know less about Ha-jin, but Sung Joon portrays him with that unique endearing quality he brings to all his roles, which makes you just want to love him. I find his character very interesting as he obviously loves Yeo-reum, but he’s got some secrets that make me wary of getting too attached. For one, his willingness to lie to Yeo-reum about the blind dates instead of just telling her what was happening from the beginning, tells me he’s more of an avoider than someone who will be upfront and honest. Then there’s the whole mystery of why he’s looking for a woman with a scar on her arm… what’s that all about? Color me intrigued.
But I think Tae-ha may be my favorite character so far, because he’s just got so much going on emotionally. He truly doesn’t understand why Yeo-reum broke up with him (let’s be honest, I barely understand why, because her explanation was so vague) and he plainly admits, both in the interview and right to her face, that he misses her and has wanted to see her. His heart is right there on his sleeve (and in his dreamy bedroom eyes, ~SWOON~) for all to see, and he doesn’t try to bluster or pretend he’s not shaken to his core to see Yeo-reum again. I love that he puts forth no pretense, nor does he try to salvage his pride by claiming that he’s been just fine without her. Tae-ha is just who he is – a man who loves a girl and would like another chance with her, and he’s not afraid for anyone to know it.
My favorite love stories are ones in which the guy falls in love first, and I love that in Discovery of Romance, not only does the guy fall first, but he’s been in love with her for years already. Not adoring puppy love either, but a full adult love that knows all her good and bad traits. I don’t think the show is going to re-write the rom-com, but the fact that the lead couple was in love once, and at least one of them is still in love to this day, is a fresh twist that I’m really looking forward to enjoying. I love how Eric is playing Tae-ha – not with slapstick and over-the-top comedic posturing like I expected from the teasers, but with depth and even a sense of sadness that makes his character that much more intriguing. I’m definitely excited to learn more about Tae-ha, and about what went wrong between him and Ye-reum, and watching them learn to mend their fences and find their way back to each other.
- Everyone’s got a secret to hide in Discovery of Romance
- Lovers’ quarrels begin for Discovery of Romance
- Kisses and post-breakup bitterness in Discovery of Romance
- Yoon Hyun-min and Kim Seul-gi join Discovery of Romance
- Yoon Jin-yi scores loveline with Sung Joon in Discovery of Romance
- Sung Joon becomes Eric’s rival in Discovery of Romance
- Eric and Jung Yumi confirm Discovery of Romance
- Eric and Jung Yumi up for possible dramaland reunion
- Jung Yumi courted for new KBS rom-com