Heart to Heart: Episode 1
The show is off to a bit of a slow start, and I’ll admit that Heart to Heart is nothing like what I expected. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and once I got used to the relaxed pace I found that I actually like the characters very much. They all seem to be interesting and complex, with lots of layers to their reasons behind their actions, making me look forward to learning more about them. (Warning: Some of the images in this recap may be disturbing to some readers.)
EPISODE 1 RECAP
The show opens with side-by-side home videos of two young children — an adorable confident little girl, and a nerdy, awkward, bespectacled young boy. As they age in the videos, the girl starts to hide her red face and is always alone, while the boy works out, loses the glasses, and gains confidence and friends. By the time we get to their high school graduation photos, the girl is hiding her constantly-blushing face under a mop of frizzy hair, while the boy has transformed into a handsome, popular young man.
In the present, a man breaks past police tape into an office, chooses a nice tie, then steps onto a chair to hang himself with it.
Earlier that same day.
Police set up a perimeter around a tall building, as a young woman stands on the edge of the roof singing softly to herself. A man goes to the roof and gets a briefing on the situation — this is our hero (and the same man who will soon attempt suicide) GO YI-SEOK (Chun Jung-myung).
Yi-seok borrows a cup of coffee from one of the officers and approaches the young woman, ignoring her pleas to go away, and steps up onto the ledge with her. He accidentally-on-purpose stumbles and she grabs his hand to steady him (and we see recent cutting wounds on her wrists), so he sits and compliments the view from here.
He makes small talk about how tired she must be standing here, and chides her on her self-harm, still ignoring her as she begs him to leave. He wishes out loud that he could think of reasons for her to live, but admits he can’t think of any big reason, just little things like the pleasure of a hot cup of coffee.
The woman wails at him for trying to save her, but Yi-seok says he wants to grab her hand like she grabbed his when he nearly fell. He asks why she’s here and the woman cries and says something happened when she was drinking with her boss, but that nobody believes her, and they even blamed her for being too flirtatious.
Yi-seok turns serious and tells her that it’s not her fault, and pulls her in for a hug. He motions to the police to come closer, and carries the woman to them amid a smattering of applause.
Elsewhere in a large home, a head housekeeper prepares three women for a job audition, informing them that this is the household of Go Sang-gyu, the owner of the oldest bicycle-manufacturing company in Korea. In the background are family photos on a wall, including one of Yi-seok, so this must be his family home.
The housekeeper focuses on one elderly woman who seems to have a good reputation among housekeepers, though we know it’s really our heroine CHA HONG-DO (Choi Kang-hee) in disguise. The three ladies are instructed to make a dish, are told that the one the chairman likes best will be chosen for the job, and they get to work. The other two ladies are speedy, but Hong-do confidently takes her time.
In another room in the house, the chairman dictates his memoirs to a young man at a typewriter (yes, an actual typewriter!). The young man shows him what he’s written, telling him that he’s typed Xs in place of words he doesn’t know and HAHA, the page has Xs for nearly every other word.
Back downstairs the butler tastes each of the cooks’ dishes, his eyes widening at Hong-do’s dish. He declares them all delicious but the housekeeper shoos him away, griping that he’ll eat anything. She nitpicks two of the ladies’ cooking and they flounce out huffing that they didn’t want the job anyway, and the housekeeper tastes and praises Hong-do’s dish.
But she declines to hire Hong-do on the grounds that she doesn’t want someone older than herself working under her. Butler Ahn sticks up for Hong-do and her cooking, but they’re interrupted by the chairman chasing his assistant down the stairs, and the two argue while the others watch.
Facing losing his job, the assistant argues that nobody would understand the old-fashioned words the chairman uses, but Hong-do pipes up since she does understand. The chairman hires her as his new assistant on the spot.
Yi-seok makes an appearance on a television talk show to promote his bestselling book, Heart to Heart, which is also the name of his psychiatric practice. The show’s host mentions the incident where he saved the woman from jumping off the building, but he humbly brushes it aside as all in a day’s work.
Elsewhere in the city, Hong-do (now free of her disguise) nervously creeps out of her apartment wearing a large motorcycle helmet to hide her perpetually red-cheeked face, and runs through town avoiding contact with anyone. She hurriedly delivers a thermos of porridge and a note into a satchel hung on a door, but quickly ducks in the bushes when the home’s occupant pulls up in his car.
This handsome man is JANG DOO-SOO (Lee Jae-yoon), and he sees Hong-do hide and smiles. Apparently this happens often, and he’s friendly as he greets her and tries to coax her from her hiding place. He mentions that she’s been bringing him food for seven years and says he’d like to meet her, but she only shrinks further into hiding.
Hong-do takes advantage of Doo-soo’s distraction when he gets a phone call from his aunt telling him of another blind date she’s arranged for him, and she makes a run for it. He calls after her by name, but she’s already gone.
Hong-do finally speaks as she walks home — in fact she talks a blue streak to herself, citing marriage and divorce statistics and wondering why Doo-soo goes on so many blind dates since divorce rates are so high anyway. It’s cute and a little sad how she says everything she wanted to say to him, but can only say them to herself after the fact.
Yi-seok meets his girlfriend WOO YEON-WOO (Hwang Seung-eun) in a fancy restaurant, and she congratulates him on his TV appearance, but again he brushes it aside as no big deal. They share a bottle of champagne and she half-complains that every time he orders champagne, she feels like she’s obligated to go home with him. He jokes that they could go to her place instead, and she gently chides him for not taking their relationship seriously.
As answer, Yi-seok hands her a set of nesting dolls, and inside the smallest is a necklace. She accepts it as proof of his feelings, but he just asks whose house she wants to go to.
Hong-do arrives home to a note from her landlord informing her of a rent increase, and she lets herself in. Her place is cluttered but looks very comfortable and homey. She makes herself some ramyun and checks her bank account, hoping that her new job for the chairman works out.
Hong-do’s home is absolutely filled with books, and by chance she uses a copy of Yi-seok’s book as a hot plate for her ramyun. She talks to a photo of her deceased grandmother, wondering what she’ll do if her longtime crush Doo-soo gets married.
Yi-seok gets dressed in the middle of the night, waking Yeon-woo who gets upset and accuses him of making her feel like she sold her body for a bottle of champagne. He says the sofa at his clinic is just more comfortable, but she doesn’t buy it and accuses him of being the sick one, since he can’t sleep in the same bed with a woman.
Hong-do gasps when she washes her ramyun pot and sees Yi-seok’s face burned onto the bottom of it, hee. She picks up the burned book and apologizes to it, but the subject has grabbed her attention and she sits to read.
Yi-seok calls his younger sister GO SE-RO (Ahn So-hee) from his car, and she fusses at him for not calling her since she’s been home from school. Se-ro informs Yi-seok of all the goings-on at home, and they discuss their mother’s bipolar disorder and the fact that she’s been flipping between mood extremes again. Se-ro also tells him that she’s been cast in a movie, which she sees as good news since she’s quit school to be an actress.
Hong-do ends up staying awake all night reading Yi-seok’s entire book cover-to-cover, and by morning she’s feeling positive and optimistic. In his book, Yi-seok says that people with her issues can be helped with therapy, and Hong-do determines to trust him.
Yi-seok wakes in his office and begins a day of treating patients, but he spends more time sighing, rolling his eyes, and twitching than actually helping them. He seems like a completely different man than the calm, caring doctor who talked the suicidal woman off the roof. His patients seem pretty looney-tunes, and he’s clearly over all of them. He even blows off a young woman who sobs to him that she feels like dying, and fishes a bottle of liquor from his desk to drink on the job.
Late in the day Yi-seok is listening to a man talk about his problems at home in this annoyingly low, slow, monotonous voice, and his twitching gets worse and his vision starts to blur. The patient starts getting curiously defensive at the mention of his daughter, which rings some alarm bells. But Yi-seok is too distracted to pay attention — a ringing begins in his ears and he grimaces while holding his head. Finally Yi-seok snaps and lunges at the man.
Hong-do arrives at Yi-seok’s office building, where she literally hugs the walls as she tries to get up the nerve to enter his office. Still wearing her protective helmet, she creeps towards his office, but suddenly hears a man’s voice screaming to kill him because he deserves to die.
She rushes to open the door and falls to the floor when she’s greeted by the sight of Yi-seok on top of his patient, both men holding a pen which has been stabbed into the man’s neck. Ack! There’s blood everywhere and the patient is screaming over and over, “Kill me! Kill me!”
Yi-seok seems to be in a daze, but when his patient passes out, he snaps out of it. He sees Hong-do and yells at her to call an ambulance, but she can barely speak from shock and she slides him her phone so he can give directions. She notices the empty pen holder on his desk, and looks at Yi-seok accusingly as he orders her to get a towel.
Later at the police station, Doo-soo’s partner complains that he can’t get a word out of Hong-do about what happened, and he thinks Yi-seok is flat-out lying when he says he doesn’t remember anything. He thinks it’s suspicious that Yi-seok called the ambulance, when the evidence looks like he was the one who stabbed the man (who is unconscious but stable).
Doo-soo is surprised to see Hong-do, who’s in the interrogation room still wearing her helmet, but he goes in to speak to Yi-seok first. Yi-seok swears he wouldn’t hurt a patient but still insists he doesn’t remember anything, and he paces agitatedly and yells that it’s making him crazy that he can’t remember.
Doo-soo asks Yi-seok, as a doctor, if it’s normal for a person to lose his memory out of shock after stabbing someone. Yi-seok doesn’t answer, more concerned about his hospital’s reputation if this should get out. He returns to pacing and Doo-soo shifts his attention to Hong-do.
Knowing what he knows about her shyness, he takes some paper, a pen, and a stack of paper cups into her interrogation room. He greets her warmly but his attention only makes her blush even more furiously, so he asks her to write down what she saw at the hospital and passes her the paper and pen.
Adorably, he also slides her two pieces of candy and tells her to write or draw or whatever, that he won’t watch because he’s busy. He stacks the paper cups until they form a wall between them, and soon Hong-do feels safe that he can’t see her and she starts to draw.
It’s so cute how seriously Doo-soo takes his wall-building, and the thing is huge by the time Hong-do rolls up her drawing and pokes it through the wall towards him. Doo-soo thanks her and leaves the room, and Hong-do immediately sneezes the paper cup wall down. SO CUTE.
Doo-soo takes the paper to Yi-seok and shows him the damning (and surprisingly detailed) drawing of him looming over his patient, holding a pen in his neck. But Yi-seok points out that the patient is also holding the pen, and he leaves the room and marches into Hong-do’s interrogation room.
Yi-seok barricades the door with the table and starts chasing Hong-do around the room, trying to snatch her helmet off her head and screaming that she didn’t actually see him stab the patient. She head-butts him but he manages to get the helmet off, and she takes refuge under the table.
Hong-do finds her voice and wails at him that she knows what she saw, and the position of their hands proves that he did stab the man. Yi-seok only laughs at her, but she goes on and says that the angle of the pen and the smell of alcohol on him are more proof that he was the one who did the stabbing. Doo-soo finally shoves the door open and punches Yi-seok.
Later Doo-soo’s partner walks Yi-seok out of the station, telling him to turn himself in when he remembers what happened, but figures that when the patient wakes up he’ll remember everything anyway. Yi-seok is greeted by a flock of reporters who pepper him with questions about attempted murder, but he pushes through them to his car.
Doo-soo tries to walk Hong-do home, but she hilariously hangs back and crab-walks sideways to avoid facing him. He tries to charm her by asking about her helmet and how she keeps it clean if she wears it all the time, and thanks her for all the side dishes she leaves him. She finally speaks when he asks if she got his phone number that he left her once, and he’s flattered that she remembers it by heart. He’s so sweet to her, it makes my heart ache.
Doo-soo tries to approach closer but it panics Hong-do, who ducks and runs from him. Optimistically, he calls after her that it was nice seeing her, and to call him.
Yi-seok’s home is also being camped by reporters, so he hangs out in his girlfriend’s parking lot and waits for her. But when she comes home she’s not alone, and Yi-seok’s eyes widen when the man she’s with hugs her and kisses her forehead. He runs at the man and tries to tackle him, but it just takes one quick move by the man and Yi-seok is on the ground. That is so embarrassing.
Back in his car, Yi-seok pounds his steering wheel in frustration, and takes a bottle of booze out of the glove compartment. Oh honey, that is such a bad idea right now.
Hong-do runs all the way home, not stopping until she dives under her covers, and berates herself for having messy hair and a face like a cooked sweet potato. She wails that she’s too embarrassed to live, but then wonders if Doo-soo is worried whether she got home. She looks for her cell phone, and only now remembers that Yi-seok reflexively put it in his jacket pocket after calling the police.
Yi-seok makes it to his office parking garage, but he’s pretty drunk by now and manages to smack his car into a wall. It sobers him up a bit, and he wonders to himself if he’s really a murderer. He busts through the police tape on his office door, only to find his phone ringing off the hook.
His voicemail reveals that all the calls are from more reporters so he ignores the ringing phones, and when he checks his text messages they’re all from Yeon-woo, who’s angry again that he just left without talking to her and that she feels like he only sees her as a sex partner. In her final text, she breaks up with him.
Yi-seok throws his cell against the wall and rips the office phone off his desk, and when he sits down he sees the blood on the rug. He calmly chooses a tie from a drawer, and sets up a chair with a stack of books under the sprinkler system. At the same time, an angry Hong-do arrives outside his office, intent on getting her cell phone back.
Calmly, Yi-seok fashions the tie into a noose and steps up onto the stack of books, fitting the noose around his own neck. Another phone call comes in and Yi-seok half-listens as the voicemail answers, and it’s Doo-soo calling to tell him that his patient woke up and admitted that he stabbed himself with the pen.
Startled by this news, Yi-seok accidentally slips on the stack of books and kicks them out from under himself. Nooo! He swings from the ceiling, struggling against the noose that’s choking off his air, and uses his last breath to yell, “Save me!” Just then, Hong-do opens the door and takes in the second shocking sight of her day.
Well, that’s one hell of a cliffhanger. Tie-hanger? Lucky for Yi-seok, Hong-do is there to save him yet again, though I’m guessing he’s not going to be any more grateful to her the second time around.
While I didn’t immediately take to the show, I did find myself appreciating it more on second viewing. The story is simple and the pacing is leisurely — but as I mentioned, I do find the characters fascinating, and well-conceived characters are what drive my interest in a drama more than anything else. I’m surprised to find the show diving so heartily into such serious subjects as mental illness, possible murder, and suicide, but there were enough lighter moments to balance things out and I definitely look forward to learning more about these people and their issues.
Hong-do is pretty adorable, with her intensely painful shyness caused by her uncontrollable blushing condition, but I loved how her basic personality is actually very chatty and opinionated. It’s not that she has nothing to say, she just has a hard time saying it, and it’s cute how she lets it all out once she’s alone. She’s obviously intelligent with all those books she keeps around, and talented in the kitchen as proved by the dish she made for her job interview. I can’t wait to see her come out of her shell and blossom into the strong smart woman that the home videos of her as a child proved she can be, once she learns to overcome her social issues.
I found Doo-soo more interesting than I initially expected, and he seems to be a very caring and sweet person. He’s not put off by Hong-do’s seemingly stalkerish behavior, and recognizes her gifts of food as her way of reaching out to someone in the only language that she can. He comes off as very genuine when he does things like ask Hong-do to call him sometime, and he probably knows her better than anyone, regardless of the fact that she tries her best to hide from him. I especially loved how Doo-soo built that paper cup wall to make Hong-do feel safe, proving that he understands her and her needs, though I fear that what she really needs is someone to push her out of her comfort zone rather than cushion her in it. Ah well, such is the lot of the second lead.
But it’s Yi-seok who really concerns me, because this guy is a loose cannon if ever there was one. He’s such a bundle of contradictions, it’s hard to know where to look with him, and none of his facets seem to be entirely healthy. It’s fascinating how he seeks the limelight (writing a book, going on talk shows) while simultaneously shying away from it by downplaying all of his accomplishments. And that tendency seems to be strongly ingrained and not just a fake-humble act, because he even did it with Yeon-woo at dinner, choosing to give her a gift rather than speak his feelings in words. But most confusing is how caring and insightful and warm he was with the suicidal woman on the roof, yet in his office with his regular patients, he appeared to have zero patience or tolerance for, or even any interest in, their needs. Who is the real Yi-seok, and what’s going on with him? Is he just burned out, or is he actually seriously mentally ill?
I’ll be honest, I didn’t initially think I was going to like this show, but the more I think about it and consider the characters with all their foibles and quirks, the more I find myself looking forward to finding out more. I have a feeling we’ve only barely touched the surface of what’s going on with these people, and I can’t wait to dive in and see what’s underneath.
- Heart to Heart’s blushing romance kicks off this week
- Blushes and belly laughs in Heart to Heart
- News bites: December 6, 2014
- Lee Jae-yoon completes Heart to Heart’s main cast
- Chun Jung-myung offered lead in tvN rom-com Heart to Heart
- Ex-Wonder Girl Ahn So-hee to join tvN drama Heart to Heart
- Choi Kang-hee, Lee Dong-gun as possible love interests for tvN romance
- PD Lee Yoon-jung returns with romantic comedy for tvN