Temperature of Love: Episodes 1-2
SBS’s newest romance drama Temperature of Love sets an easy, comfortable pace as it introduces us to a couple who struggles to get to the same “temperature” in their relationship. A successful romance takes more than attraction, and our lovers have very little in common, making their road to love look like it will be an uphill battle. But these two seem destined to disagree and bicker their way into love whether they like it or not, and who can blame them with this much chemistry crackling between them?
EPISODE 1 RECAP
At a shopping mall promotional event, a chef stands on a stage surrounded by rolling cameras, deftly preparing food. Nearby, a woman pours herself a tall glass full of soju with a resolute expression on her face. She considers it for a while, but doesn’t drink it.
The chef, whose name is OHN JUNG-SUN (Yang Se-jong), puts on an impressive performance, but as soon as he starts to speak, the director yells, “CUT!” He tells Jung-sun to show more of his personality instead of just parroting the script, telling him to ignore the writer’s words entirely, but Jung-sun disagrees.
They start the scene again, but this time he’s interrupted by the woman who had poured herself soju, LEE HYUN-SOO (Seo Hyun-jin), who is the show’s scriptwriter. She demands that they follow the script or stop filming. The director asks if she’s written the next script, but she fires back that there’s no point to her writing something they won’t use.
The director argues that they have to be able to make edits, but Hyun-soo yells that as the writer, she should know about those edits so that the story makes sense and has continuity. They both have a point, but they’re too angry to listen to each other, devolving into screaming personal attacks in front of the entire crew and audience.
The director asks if anyone on the cast and crew agrees with Hyun-soo, and she gets teary-eyed when not a single person speaks up in her defense. But just as she’s about to back down in shame, Jung-sun speaks up from the stage, saying that he’s on her side.
He steps off the stage, and Hyun-soo stares at him in disbelief. In voiceover she says, “I saw him again. It had to be a time when I’m behaving disgracefully. I never forgot about him for a second. I desperately wanted to see him again, even if by chance—my first love that disappeared at the end of my youth, at the age of twenty-nine.”
Hyun-soo turns and flees, and Jung-sun runs after her.
Five years ago.
Hyun-soo sits in a jail cell, handcuffed and trying to stay out of her violent cellmates’ way. She dumps out her purse when her phone rings, but the cuffs make her clumsy and she misses the call from her boss.
She begs a cop to uncuff her, and he asks why she’s still here when the other writers went home last night. Haha, she hasn’t really been arrested—she’s doing research for a drama. She’s released and calls her friend JI HONG-AH (Jo Boa), who’s been trying to reach her.
Hong-ah tries to talk Hyun-soo into joining her at a restaurant to meet someone called “Nice Soup,” but Hyun-soo isn’t interested. Hong-ah says that Hyun-soo has chatted online with him, but all she remembers is that his terrible spelling turned her off.
Hong-ah asks about a writing contest that Hyun-soo entered, but she sighs that she hasn’t heard anything yet. Hong-ah hangs up when “Nice Soup,” who just happens to be chef Jung-sun, brings her food and asks grouchily why she’s here.
She says she wouldn’t have to come in person so often if he had a cell phone like normal people. She invites him to come to their running club after work to meet “Jane” (Hyun-soo’s online handle). Jung-sun says that he joined the running club to run, not to socialize.
Jung-sun heads back to the kitchen, walking right past a sharply dressed diner who watches him closely. He’s immediately pounced on by the sous chef, who accuses him of going to the dining room to impress a girl and sneers at him for skipping the assistant chef stage because of his training.
Jung-sun calmly apologizes for any offense he may have caused and suggests they talk after food service is over. He turns to walk away, but he runs into an assistant carrying a heavy pot of soup, which spills over his left hand, burning him badly.
Still calm, he says he’s going to the hospital, and the sous chef asks nastily if he should call his mommy so she doesn’t worry. Jung-sun just says that his mother is a strong woman who would throw her son to the dogs.
Perhaps his mother is the woman we see arriving at the airport. She hands a man a piece of paper with Jung-sun’s name on it and tells him to find Jung-sun no matter what it takes. She accidentally collides with a French man, who flatters her beauty and helps her with her bags.
Hyun-soo arrives back at work, where she’s part of a four-woman assistant team to a drama writer. She admits to Writer Park that she didn’t learn much from her night in jail, since she wasn’t actually guilty of anything. Writer Park praises her commitment to her work anyway, telling her to go home and rest while the others stay and work.
Naturally that makes the other assistants envious, and after Writer Park leaves for home, they start badmouthing the boss. One assistant notes that Hyun-soo always goes quiet when they gossip about Writer Park, and they passive-aggressively criticize her until she asks them to either like her or hate her, but not both.
The well-dressed man, PARK JUNG-WOO (Kim Jae-wook), stays at the restaurant for a long time waiting for someone. Eventually he’s joined by Joon-ha, a hoobae from college, who jokingly pretends to kneel in apology before sitting.
He asks Jung-woo why he’s suddenly interested in starting a drama production company. Jung-woo says that this is just how he wants to spend the money he’s accumulated, so Joon-ha, an assistant PD, advises him that the secret is to hire good, competent writers.
When Jung-woo asks for recommendations, Joon-ha says he doesn’t know any star writers, but he does know one writer who will come running if he calls—Hyun-soo, who left a good salaried job at a big company to be a writer. But Jung-woo declines, saying that people like her aren’t realistic and he wants to produce realistic dramas.
On her bus ride home, Hyun-soo gets several texts from her sister, demanding that she stop for groceries on her way home. She snarls at her phone, then gets another text, this time from Joon-ha asking her to meet with him tomorrow. She sends back a vulgar emoji, which Joon-ha shows to Jung-woo, who cracks a smile and decides to meet her after all.
As much as Jung-sun’s sous chef dislikes him, the chef loves him, and offers to let him create a dish for the special menu. The chef tells Jung-sun that he knows it’s uncomfortable since he got his job through him, but he advises him to try to make friends with his coworkers.
When he’s done for the day, Jung-sun takes off for home on his bike, stopping on the way to feed treats to a street kitten that’s been set up with a fancy bed. Okay, I officially love him. He hears a noise and turns to see a woman crouching to pick up a can of vegetables that she dropped.
The woman is Hyun-soo, who gathers her things again and continues on her way. Jung-sun jumps on his bike and passes within inches of her, both of them unaware that they’re about to change each other’s lives.
When Hyun-soo lugs her heavy groceries home, she finds her sister Hyun-yi lying around watching TV. Hyun-yi gets up and digs through the groceries for the pads she demanded, ordering Hyun-soo to exchange them when they’re the wrong kind.
Hyun-soo argues that she pays for all the food and does most of the chores. But Hyun-yi counters that she hasn’t been able to pay her half of the bills for several months, and this is why Hyun-soo shouldn’t have quit her cushy job at a huge company to be an assistant writer.
As her sister launches into a long, nagging lecture, Hyun-soo imagines popping the top off the ketchup and dousing Hyun-yi with it, ha. Hyun-yi calls her on it and continues her tirade, even stealing half of Hyun-soo’s dinner. Hyun-soo grits her teeth and tells herself that her sister just suffered a breakup and that she should be understanding.
That night, Hyun-soo heads to the running club meetup. While waiting for Hong-ah, she eyeballs the guy warming up next to her, who has a long, jagged scar on his upper arm with an equally long, jagged tattoo next to it. She sees the bandage on the guy’s hand and wonders if he’s in a gang.
It’s just Jung-sun, who catches Hyun-soo staring. Hong-ah and their mutual friend Won-joon join them, and it’s awkward when they’re introduced to each other as “Jane” and “Nice Soup.” Won-joon puts Hyun-soo’s phone in his pocket for safekeeping, and the run begins.
Hyun-soo is admittedly the weakest runner, gasping and struggling to keep up with the others. Despite claiming that he’s not here to socialize, it’s Jung-sun who hangs back with her when she flags, encouraging her to keep moving so she doesn’t lock up.
She tells him there’s no shame in quitting, but Won-joon yells that there’s a beer in it for her if she finishes the run and she finds her second wind. She tells Jung-sun not to run behind her, that she’ll motivate herself thank-you-very-much, then she gapes when he’s all Okay, and runs on ahead. LOL.
Before long, Hyun-soo is lagging way behind, and she’s distracted by a pretty hanok house. She stops to marvel at it, and although Jung-sun sees her there, he doesn’t say anything and keeps going. But later on when her friends notice that she’s no longer with them, Jung-sun is quick to volunteer to go back for her, and he turns around.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Jung-sun grows worried when he doesn’t find Hyun-soo in the last place he saw her. She’s gotten herself turned around, distracted by things like broken streetlights and CCTV cameras, imagining possible scenarios for the murder scene in the drama she’s working on.
They both wander through the streets, Jung-sun looking for Hyun-soo, and Hyun-soo looking for anything familiar. She gets spooked again by a drunk man in an alley (cameo by Jang Hyun-sung), and Jung-sun begins to grow seriously concerned when he can’t find her anywhere.
Eventually Hyun-soo stops, enchanted by a tiny flower growing out in the middle of a wall. She finds the flower’s will to survive impressive, and promises to live her life the same way. Jung-sun finds her there and breaks into a beautiful smile in relief. But then he scares her half to death when she sees his shadow sneaking up on her.
In her flustered state, Hyun-soo calls Jung-sun “jagi” (which can also be a term of endearment between couples), then she backpedals and insists she didn’t mean it that way. She yells at him for teasing her, wailing that she was so glad to see him that she nearly ran into his arms.
Jung-sun seems a bit shaken by that, and he just stares at Hyun-soo as she rattles on about being lost and scared. Finally he snaps out of it and says that Hong-ah and Won-joon are waiting for them. Hyun-soo asks to borrow his phone, but Jung-sun says he doesn’t have one. When she asks why, he says he can’t afford one.
Hyun-soo points out that he’s wearing expensive running shoes and a fancy watch, but he just snaps that they obviously disagree on how to spend money. She says that she respects other people’s values, and when Jung-sun asks why she’s not respecting his values then, she points out his habit of nitpicking her words.
He tells her not to nitpick his values, and they go round again until he maneuvers her right back where she started. Jung-sun grins, enjoying Hyun-soo’s annoyance, and she can’t help but smile back.
They start heading back, but it begins to rain, sparking another argument about whether you stay drier if you run faster through the rain. Jung-sun wins again, even calling Hyun-soo dumb for believing that you get just as wet either way. She asks if he’s younger than her, hoping to play the noona card, but he refuses to tell her how old he is, hee.
Suddenly Jung-sun stops and asks if Hyun-soo wants him to hold her hand. Hyun-soo refuses, and he blusters that he didn’t want to run while holding a stranger’s hand anyway. Riiight.
They both end up running for cover when the sky starts to pour. Jung-sun looks over at Hyun-soo as she wrings the water out of her clothes, and he’s struck by her all over again. She catches him staring, and he doesn’t even bother to hide his fascination.
Hyun-soo tries to break the tension by talking about her work, but Jung-sun asks out of nowhere, “Do you want to date?” Hyun-soo calls him crazy since they don’t even know each other, but he’s undeterred. He asks what he needs to know about her to ask her out, and admits that he’s twenty-three and has already served his army duty.
Hyun-soo interrupts him, assuming that he’s only asking her out because of her looks, but Jung-sun says very earnestly that he finds her pretty, but he doesn’t ask out every pretty woman. He swears that he’s serious, but Hyun-soo cheekily asks how he can be serious when they only met five hours ago, and have only talked for a few minutes.
Jung-sun answers that it took him one minute to decide that he wanted to be a chef. Hyun-soo counters that he’s just feeling physical attraction, but without missing a beat he says that that’s why he’s not taking this lightly, though he disagrees about the physical aspect.
Charmed despite herself, Hyun-soo gives him credit for being a smooth talker, and admits that she would have fallen for him if she were younger. Jung-sun just says, utterly serious: “Then fall for me.” Well, swoon.
When Hyun-soo asks why he wants to date her, Jung-sun says in banmal that his heart feels pulled to her. She calls him out for speaking casually, but he says that she started it, and she realizes that she didn’t even notice. Switching back to jondae, Jung-sun asks if she’s mad that he asked her out, and Hyun-soo admits that her pride is wounded at being asked out by a younger guy. He wonders what’s so great about age and says he doesn’t have the power to get any older.
She accidentally turns her ankle while walking, and Jung-sun catches her and puts her back on her feet. There’s a long, charged moment as they stare at each other, then Hyun-soo tries to pull away. But Jung-sun tightens his grip on her arms, and asks if she really doesn’t feel anything.
Hyun-soo can’t lie with him looking at her that way, so instead she asks how he can ask out a woman without even knowing her name. Hong-ah and Won-joon pull up in the car at that moment, but Jung-sun refuses to be distracted and introduces himself. He asks her name, but instead of telling him, Hyun-soo turns down his offer to date.
In the bathroom of a fancy hotel, Jung-sun’s mother fixes her face and tells her reflection that nobody deserves to criticize her. She heads to the bar to have a drink with the French man she met in the airport, telling him that she’s recently back in Korea and that she has a son here.
The following morning, Hyun-soo disagrees with her coworkers when Writer Park shows them a particularly brutal revenge scene for their main character that she wrote last night. Everyone else praises the boss but Hyun-soo dares to criticize her, saying that it will harm the main character. It doesn’t go over well and Writer Park tells her that she’ll never be successful with that attitude.
At lunch, Jung-woo returns to Jung-sun’s restaurant and orders the special. While Jung-sun is cooking, the chef advises him to season it a bit more, but Jung-sun disagrees and insists on serving it his way.
Jung-woo tastes the dish and sends it back to the kitchen unfinished, and the disappointed chef tells him that the meal is on the house since Jung-woo didn’t enjoy it. But Jung-woo says that he actually liked it a lot, admitting that he didn’t finish it because it would’ve been a hit to his pride to gobble it up.
Over their much humbler lunch of cup ramyun, one of Hyun-soo’s coworkers hears that she’s one of the winning nominees in the writing contest that Hyun-soo entered. Hyun-soo gets a call immediately afterward, but it’s just her sister. Awww.
Hong-ah stops by the restaurant and tells Jung-sun that she invited Hyun-soo here to cheer her up for not being nominated. She asks him to cook something spicy that Hyun-soo would like, but he snaps that he can’t just cook whatever he wants.
Meanwhile, assistant PD Joon-ha stops by Hyun-soo’s office and tells her that her contest entry made it to the semi-finals, adding that she’s going to meet someone special very soon.
They go somewhere for drinks, where they argue over who’s more responsible for a drama’s success, writers or directors. HAHA, they’re sitting right at Jung-woo’s desk as if he’s not even there, and eventually he breaks in to offer Hyun-soo a job.
She asks why he’s offering, but she doesn’t even wait for an answer and stands to leave. She refuses to shake Jung-woo’s outstretched hand, totally leaving him hanging, and stomps out after one last withering glare at Joon-ha. Joon-ha apologizes to Jung-woo, but Jung-woo just grins and says that Hyun-soo is rude enough to be a successful writer.
Hyun-soo heads to Jung-sun’s restaurant, but she balks at the menu prices. She talks Hong-ah into leaving, promising to come back and treat her friend to lunch when she’s a successful writer.
They end up at a pojangmacha instead, and Hyun-soo gets good and drunk on soju while Hong-ah furtively texts with a man who’s anxious to see her. Jung-sun is supposed to come meet them, and he shows up just as Hong-ah is getting picked up by her date. Hyun-soo’s not happy to see him, but Hong-ah leaves him to take Hyun-soo home, and he promises not to ask her to date him again.
She’s terrible with directions and goes to the wrong bus stop despite his suggestion that they go the opposite way. He follows her indulgently, only revealing that he also lives in the same neighborhood after she’s gotten them way off track, ha.
A bit more sober now, Hyun-soo finally tells Jung-sun her name. She says sadly that it sounds like a boy’s name, and Jung-sun counters that his name sounds like a girl’s. Hyun-soo starts talking about writing, and how she thought she’d become a writer quickly because she’s always succeeded before.
Getting teary-eyed, Hyun-soo sobs that she loves Yeouido, and that she wanted to win that writing contest and dance in Yeouido Park. She says that she feels like a moth that flies into a fire knowing it will die: “But I still want to go into that fire.” Jung-sun listens thoughtfully, then he takes Hyun-soo’s hand and pulls her to her feet.
In her hotel room, Jung-sun’s mother makes a call to her investigator, who says that he’s found Jung-sun’s bank information. She asks him to hurry and find her son because she misses him.
Jung-sun takes Hyun-soo to Yeouido Park and tells her to practice her victory dance. She calls him crazy and he smiles, and they both stand there for a long moment. With a look of wonder in her eyes, Hyun-soo takes a single step towards Jung-sun.
What a sweet beginning. I really love the leisurely, simple feel of the world Temperature of Love set up and the way it introduced its characters. Nothing felt rushed, yet we got a good introduction established and managed to set our leading couple on a romantic journey that looks like it will be as heart-tugging as it is contentious. So far, so good.
I haven’t seen Yang Se-jong in anything until now, but it turns out that he and Seo Hyun-jin have fantastic chemistry—these two just light up the scene whenever they’re together. To give credit where it’s due, I think Seo Hyun-jin is one of those actors who creates chemistry with whomever she’s paired with, but this match-up feels special. I like the way that Jung-sun and Hyun-soo can clash one moment, then the next moment is charged with so much attraction that I feel like I should look away and give them some privacy. Their bickering nearly gives me whiplash, but you can feel their interest in each other even as they’re fighting for the upper hand. It’s like every little disagreement is their way of sizing the other up and taking their measure, and then they both grin like they like what they see, and I can’t help but be drawn in. It’s a way of getting to know one another that I haven’t seen in a drama before, and I like how each of their interactions feels charged with several emotions at once.
I really like this concept of the two people in a couple being at different “temperatures,” different places in their relationship, and getting a second chance to do things over. And I can already feel some of the issues that are going to cause Hyun-soo and Jung-sun problems the first time around, because they’re just such wildly different people. He’s driven and professional, while she’s impulsive and flighty. Jung-sun is very precise in the way he expresses himself, while somehow still managing to be disarmingly earnest, and Hyun-soo tends to blurt out every thought that crosses her mind. It’s true that opposites attract, and you can see why these two would find each other fascinating, because they see in each other something that they don’t possess. But such divergent personalities are naturally going to clash a lot, and although they find each other attractive now, they’re already establishing a pattern of bickering that can quickly become a serious relationship issue.
I really like they way Jung-sun and Hyun-soo are characterized—neither of them is a typical drama “type” that we’re used to seeing. Jung-sun is very reserved and self-possessed, always in control of himself even in the face of aggressive opposition, but he’s also unafraid to follow his feelings on a whim and see where they take him. And Hyun-soo, who seems like a free spirit who lets her temper run away with her and takes the time to notice the small moments of beauty in life, is oddly reserved and protective of her emotions. I like how complex and unpredictable they both are, but their ways of approaching things are so very different, it’s easy to see how they’re going to have trouble getting on the same page emotionally. Watching them meet again in the present and work to overcome these differences is going to be a lot of fun.
I’ve been burned more often than usual lately with dramas that started out strong, with talented casts and interesting premises, that just couldn’t keep the promise that their first few weeks made. But I think that Temperature of Love has everything going for it, and every excuse to be great. Aside from the star-studded cast, from the leads all the way down to small supporting roles, I really like that the story keeps things simple, with just a few mysteries to make us wonder what surprises may be in store. In particular, I’m interested in what plans Jung-woo has up his sleeve, both for Jung-sun and for Hyun-soo. And the way the scenes are shot is very interesting, with creative use of light and angles. I particularly like how certain beats between Hyun-soo and Jung-sun shift to black and white for a few seconds, as if to punctuate that these are the pivotal moments that matter, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem now. It’s obvious that the writer and director love the story they’re setting out to tell, and I can’t wait to see how they tell it.
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