Oh Hae-young Again: Episode 1
Oh Hae-young Again makes a delightful first impression, blending wry humor and spunky characters with interesting cinematography and an impish soundtrack to create a very promising premiere episode. This first hour is mostly introductions and setup, but there’s something about it that has me emotionally all-in right from the beginning. I want to know more — about the world, its inhabitants, and why one very handsome but heartsick sound director is suddenly and inexplicably seeing the future.
EPISODE 1: “Can I cry?”
A young woman leaves a coffee shop with a shocked, sad expression, and walks a windy street. At the same time, a young man works to make a series of sound effects in a studio. His sound effects seem to narrate her journey, creating the clicking of her heels, the whoosh of the wind rushing down the street, the boom of a rising thunderstorm.
With the man still the source of her sound effects, the young woman stops and takes one glance behind her as if hoping someone is following, then breaks into a run when there’s nobody there. Suddenly her face morphs into the face of an actress on a screen in front of the man, and when the scene is over, he collapses, exhausted.
The original young woman, OH HAE-YOUNG (Seo Hyun-jin), arrives at a home bustling with people happily talking and laughing, though she looks sad and resigned. They greet Hae-young as “the bride,” which seems to give her a pause, and she rejects the crowded table to sit by herself in the kitchen.
As the family excitedly discusses wedding plans, Hae-young stares into space dejectedly, and her mother (Kim Mi-kyung) finally notices her odd behavior. Hae-young blurts out a weak, “I’m not getting married.”
It’s like a dam bursts, and Hae-young tells her mother everything all at once: She and her fiance fought all the time while planning their wedding, seeing sides of each other they didn’t like, so they decided to call it off. Mama Oh blows up — the wedding is tomorrow, and everyone fights while planning their wedding. How can she cancel at the last minute??
Hae-young announces it to the rest of the family, earning a thwack upside the head from her loving mother. Mama Oh calls the fiance’s family to assure them that Hae-young just has cold feet and that the wedding is still on, even if she has to drag her daughter to the altar.
Hae-young argues that it’s over no matter what Mama Oh says, and for that matter, her ex-fiance agrees. She blows up, screaming that she hates his face and she refuses to marry him, shocking Mama Oh and the rest of the family.
But she gets her way, and her father sends out an announcement that the wedding is called off. He fields calls from family members while Mama Oh and Hae-young lie in their beds, but eventually Mmaa Oh jumps up and goes to Hae-young’s room to beat the crap out of her with a pillow.
Hae-young defends that they would have gotten divorced anyway so this is better, which just sends Mama Oh into a rage over her bringing the guy home in the first place. Heh, Hae-young clearly got her feisty nature from her mother.
A month later, sporting a new haircut and a fresh bounce in her step, Hae-young smiles as she heads to help prepare rice at a catered event. It’s obvious that she loves her work, and she enjoys watching people savor her food.
Unfortunately the catering company owner, DIRECTOR PARK (Ye Ji-won), doesn’t share Hae-young’s commitment to excellence, and refuses her request for higher-quality ricemaking equipment. Not only that, but she’s dismissive and downright rude to Hae-young, and orders her to explain why she’s been given the nickname of “Psycho.”
Hae-young says that it’s a play on words, referring to the fact that Director Park is rarely in the office. Director Park warns her that calling off her wedding doesn’t make her brave, lecturing her on loyalty.
That’s the seventh time she’s insulted Hae-young for canceling her wedding, and Hae-young’s final straw. She starts to complain, but Director Park just says, “It’s nine times. I’ve been counting, too.” Damn.
Hae-young rants all the way back to her desk, entertaining her coworkers with her dramatic flair, and she’s so caught up in her creative insults that she’s the last to realize that Director Park has followed her to the office. Director Park just gives Hae-young a Look and waltzes out. I have a feeling that It’s On.
The young man we saw earlier works on the sound effects for a gangster film next — he’s PARK DO-KYUNG (Eric), a film sound director by profession, and this time he’s editing the effects while a trio of coworkers create the sound. He’s a bit of a perfectionist, making the men re-record the sounds if they’re even the slightest bit off.
In fact he’s such a perfectionist, he can even tell if effects were recorded during the day or at night, and he drives his younger brother PARK HOON (Heo Jung-min) to distraction with his demands. Hoon gets so upset that he screams at Do-kyung, calling him old and a pervert, and Do-kyung kicks his chair out from under him and threatens to kill him. Ha, brotherly love.
Hoon is still frustrated beyond belief later, and complains to his coworkers about Do-kyung’s impossible standards. They blame dramas for the fact that women like bad boys, so men like Do-kyung get away with being jerks.
The employees are on Hoon’s side — until Do-kyung enters the room, then they chastise him for not being respectful enough of his hyung, heh. He’s so terrified of Do-kyung that he cringes and screams just at the look on his brother’s face.
But Do-kyung’s ability to hear the minute details of sound may not be the gift it appears to be — he sits in a cafe later, and we see that he hears every tiny noise even with earbuds in, from voices to percolating coffee.
The sounds trigger a memory (or is it a vision?) of a woman, kissing Do-kyung and climbing into bed to cuddle with him, saying that the best sound in the world is his heartbeat. But his ability to hear every little noise does help him solve a problem he’s been working on, and later his team uses celery to recreate the sound of a shattering bone.
Hae-young meets her friend KIM HEE-RAN (Ha Shi-eun) for drinks, who marvels at her courage to break off her wedding the day before. Hae-young makes it all sound more dramatic than it really was (this appears to be a habit with her), comparing the feeling of getting married to being dragged to prison, but Hee-ran doesn’t think the gossip will die down as quickly as Hae-young swears it will.
Hae-young sends Hee-ran off in a taxi, barely missing Do-kyung as he and a buddy, LEE JIN-SANG (Kim Ji-suk) leave the sauna. HAHA, Do-kyung chides Jin-sang for always taking his pants off and leaving his shirt on, but Jin-sang chirps that naked bodies are awesome, and glomps Do-kyung in a big hug.
Jin-sang does a silly dance when he sees a pair of beautiful ladies, and Do-kyung has a strange, deja-vu-like moment (focused on Jin-sang’s butt, hee). He says that that’s been happening a lot lately, and then he immediately has another one, this time of Jin-sang wailing over a parking ticket.
And then that exact moment happens for real when they get to Jin-sang’s car, which has a ticket on the windshield. Freaky.
Mama Oh breaks up a gossipy group of neighborhood ajummas who are yapping about Hae-young’s canceled wedding, only to face more problems at home — their house is still crowded with wedding gifts for the groom’s family that can’t be returned. But when Hae-young’s aunt complains about her daughter’s thoughtlessness, she’s quick to jump to her defense, awww.
They decide to send Hae-young on a blind date, hoping that she might get married soon anyway and they can unload all the gifts. Of course Hae-young has no interest in meeting another man so soon, and flat refuses, sparking another fight with her mother.
Do-kyung is fighting his own battle against relaxing his standards, arguing that he won’t cut corners on editing the sound for a movie just to get it finished faster. He yells at the director to have better taste, and orders him to take his movie and shove it.
He’s so hateful that he actually makes the director cry, and his mother (who appears to own the company… it must be a family business) has to soothe his widdle hurt feelings. She’s a lot tougher in private with Do-kyung, who argues that the movie may be crap, but as long as his name is in the credits he won’t do less than his best.
He asks her not to produce such awful movies anymore, and that seems to hit a little close. His mother just barks that his words are too harsh, and storms out.
Hoon finds Do-kyung doing some rooftop brooding, and tells his brother to give their mom a break — some day she’ll get a good movie and make a big break. In fact it could be his movie, because Hoon has aspirations of being a big-time movie director himself. He was a director’s assistant for years, but he was getting nowhere so his hyung convinced him to come home and learn his craft, though Hoon is resistant.
Do-kyung may be rough around the edges, but he isn’t heartless, and he gives Hoon his credit card and tells him to take the weepy director out for drinks and to talk about him behind his back. That’s kind of sweet, actually.
As soon as Hoon is gone, Do-kyung has another vision, this time of a bird hitting a window right near his head. He looks around cautiously but there are no birds flying nearby, so he starts to head inside. Then something wings past his face and slams into the window, and flutters weakly to the grass. It’s only a mechanical bird, thank goodness, but this is definitely getting creepy.
Hae-young relents and goes on the blind date, but the guy turns out to be an ass who spends the whole meal texting with his friends about her. She’s spunky enough to call him out on it, and she says that she doesn’t like him either, but they should at least get through this politely.
He doesn’t even pretend to care and just keeps texting and stuffing his face, so Hae-young orders the most expensive meat on the menu in retaliation. Too bad they’re out, ha. Her date tries to skip out early to go hang with his friends, and even though she doesn’t really like him either, Hae-young’s pride is hurt and she asks for a week to win him over.
That must go down like a lead balloon, because word gets back to Mama Oh before Hae-young even gets home that night. But again Mama Oh defends her daughter, calling the guy a mama’s boy for running off and tattling to his mommy about it. Okay, I love her. Best mom ever.
Hae-young meets with Hee-ran after her date, and she loses a drunken bet that she can chug a drink in one mouthful, spitting it all over her friend. She tries again and tips backward in her chair, injuring her arm. These two are the silliest.
Do-kyung begins to get concerned about his visions and does some research on deja vu, then calls Jin-sang out for a drink. But as soon as he sees his friend, another vision comes on him, of a huge sign falling on Jin-sang’s car. When it doesn’t happen right away he orders Jin-sang to move his car, growing angry when Jin-sang resists.
Jin-sang eventually agrees, but as soon as he starts back towards his car, Do-kyung realizes that getting back in the vehicle could be dangerous and stops him. Sure enough, that’s when the sign falls — if Jin-sang had been in the car, he’d have been killed.
Later Jin-sang asks if Do-kyung saw the sign coming loose or something, but Do-kyung can’t come up with a reasonable answer. He takes a broody shower, but has another vision while in there, of a woman bent over at the waist. She stands and turns her head, and it’s Hae-young, blood streaming from her nose, looking disheveled and furious.
The vision continues even after Do-kyung gets out of the shower, and he sees Hae-young crossing a busy street, her arm in a cast. She speaks to him but he can’t hear her words, and Do-kyung wonders what’s happening to him.
He decides to see a psychiatrist and tells him that he thought it was just deja vu at first, but the things he sees are actually happening. Now he keeps seeing images of a woman, but not the woman he used to be engaged to — this woman is a stranger. Strangely though, he feels as though he knows her, and thinks that they will meet soon.
He imagines that they may have even unknowingly crossed paths already, and in his mind he sees Hae-young walking towards him on a crowded sidewalk (still with her arm in a cast). He’s mesmerized by her, though she doesn’t notice him, and passes right by. But as he turns to watch her go, she stops and turns back, and they lock eyes for a long moment before Hae-young continues on her way.
Hae-young arrives home and hails her mother, and we see that arm really is in a cast, from the fall out of her chair the other night. Mama Oh’s face darkens whenever Hae-young stops to talk to the neighbors, blurting out that she hurt her arm while drinking. She’s furious by the time they get home, not that Hae-young notices, and she says almost dreamily to her husband, “I might kill her today.”
Dad only has a second to warn Hae-young to flee before Mama Oh bursts into her room to attack her with a pig trotter, AHAHAHA. She chases her around the house with it, screaming at her for just telling the neighborhood all of their business without a care. She flings the trotter at Hae-young, who ducks and escapes the house.
Hoon’s girlfriend has broken up with him, and she asks for all the gifts she gave him to be returned. He does return them — as a pile of ashes, which he dumps into her lap in a coffee shop, hee. He laughs like a crazy person and calls her names, then heads to a convenience store to stuff his face with triangle kimbap and have a good sulk.
The convenience store employee, YOON AN-NA (Heo Young-ji), preens and asks if he’s looking for a new girlfriend. Hoon takes in her short skirt and come-hither expression, and he’s hooked.
Director Park heads out of the office for a surprise check on one of their locations, obliging Hae-young to jump up and follow, though Director Park yells at her not to call them and tell them she’s coming. The location looks great, though Director Park criticizes everything, and even throws and spits food at her caterers.
She lists several customer complaints, angry that they keep making the same mistakes repeatedly, then rounds on Hae-young to say sarcastically that hey, at least the rice was good. She blames Hae-young for everything, since this is her location to manage, and Hae-young is still upset that evening when they all go out after work.
Her coworker tries to cheer her up, but Hae-young is feeling too pathetic after being harangued by Director Park all day. She drinks too much and goes outside for some air, and mouths off when Director Park comes out as well, saying that once again she’s leaving before everyone else.
She wonders out loud what it must feel like to just pick a fight with someone without worrying what might happen, and ends up screaming drunkenly in frustration. Director Park is just as drunk and tells Hae-young to bring it, kicking her heeled foot right in Hae-young’s face.
She hands Hae-young her water bottle, then does a spin-kick and knocks it neatly out of her hand, which would be impressive even if she weren’t drunk. Hae-young goes from aggressive to whiny, all Why are you always picking on meeee??, and Director Park says that it’s because she’s a bad store manager, and because she canceled her wedding at the last minute.
Hae-young can’t figure out why Director Park cares so much about that, and Director Park’s demeanor goes suddenly soft as she says, “I was looking forward to the buffet at the hotel. I didn’t eat the night before.” Ha, she’s a caterer — it would be about the food.
Hae-young staggers her way towards home, and finally lets herself think about her broken engagement. The truth is that it wasn’t mutual — her fiance, HAN TAE-JIN (Lee Jae-yoon), broke things off by saying that he didn’t love her enough to marry her.
He’s not unkind, but his statement that he can’t stand to watch her eat is pretty hurtful anyway. They’d sat in silence for a long time, and finally Hae-young had asked if they could at least tell people that she had canceled the wedding, to save her pride.
It all rushes back to Hae-young now, and she sobs loudly as she walks home, feeling the embarrassment and hurt all over again.
Do-kyung stands at an overlook with his headphones on, and has another vision of Hae-young. This time he can hear her voice saying, “I’m not dying,” and he wonders to himself who she is.
Do-kyung has a meeting the next day, who just so happens to be Hae-young’s friend Hee-ran. She says she’s meeting her friend later, the one she told him got dumped the day before their wedding. Her words seem to stir up some negative emotions for Do-kyung, and he goes a little pale when she says her friend’s name — Oh Hae-young.
When Do-kyung hears that Hae-young is here now, he gets up to leave without a word. He’s practically running, and as he gets to the door he crashes hard into Hae-young on her way in. His previous vision plays out as she lifts her head and her nose is bleeding, and Do-kyung’s eyes go wide to see the woman from his visions finally in front of him.
Hae-young is oblivious to the fact that she’s just rocked Do-kyung’s world, and she asks angrily what her friend’s been telling him about her. Do-kyung just finishes his escape, overwhelmed by meeting her in person.
He remembers seeing the name “Oh Hae-young” pop up on Hee-ran’s phone before, when she’d once worked on a project at his company. Seeing the name had triggered the memory of another woman, the one who’d said that his heartbeat was the best sound in the world, and Do-kyung had been rattled to hear that Hee-ran had a friend named Oh Hae-young who was engaged.
Do-kyung had thought it was the woman he knew, and he’d asked what school they went to together. Now, having met Hee-ran’s friend and realizing that she’s not the Oh Hae-young he thought she was, he finds the school yearbook and looks her up. He sees that there were two girls with that name who went to that high school — one of them is his ex, and the other is the Oh Hae-young he just met, the one from his visions.
This is bad because, going on the misinformation that Tae-jin was actually engaged to the other Oh Hae-young, Do-kyung and Jin-sang (who’s a lawyer) had sought out Hae-young’s fiance Tae-jin and done something to ruin him financially. We don’t know what or how, exactly, but they realize now that he was engaged to the other Hae-young.
Jin-sang makes some calls, and finds out that Tae-jin broke up with his fiance the day before their wedding. His business had gone bankrupt (due to whatever they did to him) and he was about to go to jail, so he’d set Hae-young free rather than drag her down with him.
Both Jin-sang and Do-kyung feel terrible about what they did, thinking that he was engaged to the other Hae-young. Do-kyung softly says that he’s seen this other Hae-young, in his head, nodding when Jin-sang asks if he’s some kind of psychic.
Hae-young keeps up a cheerful face when she’s with Hee-ran, but once she’s walking home alone, she stalls out again, right in the middle of the street. She stands with the cars rushing all around her, just as she did in Do-kyung’s vision.
Do-kyung gets out of Jin-sang’s car, wanting to walk home himself, and Jin-sang tells him that they’ll figure out a way to make their mistake right. Jin-sang has to double back when he realizes that Do-kyung left his wallet in the car, and tosses it so that it lands in the street. He’s not the brightest bulb, this guy.
Do-kyung is forced to brave traffic to get his wallet back, but he freezes when he sees Hae-young walking across the road nearby. She blithely retrieves his wallet and brings it back to him and says, “I’m not dying,” recreating his vision of her perfectly.
I like it.
I have rarely been so quickly and instantly enchanted by a drama, but Oh Hae-young Again grabbed my attention from the very first minute. That opening scene with Hae-young walking down the windy street and Do-kyung creating her sound effects was not only clever and interesting, it was absolutely lovely. The scene later with Do-kyung listening to the different cafe sounds was also quiet impressive, and very artistic. The use of light and shadows throughout the episode is quite gorgeous, and the dreamy scenes of Do-kyung’s visions are as soft and exquisite as they are mysterious. Beautiful cinematography isn’t usually something I look for as an essential component of a rom-com, but when it adds as much to the storytelling as it is here, it gives me shivers of something special to come.
Aside from that, the show also has an interesting sense of balance that I find intriguing — it’s got a healthy dose of humor along with some strong, serious content, and manages to include both without making the show feel disjointed or awkward. The transitions between moods are smooth and easy. The humor mostly seems centered around Hae-young while Do-kyung’s scenes carry an ominous overtone, enhanced by his mysterious visions, but I don’t find that the dichotomy makes the show feel off-kilter like it would in less skilled directorial hands. The PD’s last drama was the hilarious and heartwarming Marriage Not Dating, which I also felt had this same wonderful sense of balance in its romantic and comedic areas, and so far this drama is shaping up to have that same “feel,” with wonderful characters and incredibly addictive ambiance.
But the characters are the best thing about it, particularly our two leads. I really like Hae-young at first glance — she’s got a spark, something special about her, that I attribute partly to the writing and partly to Seo Hyun-jin herself. She brings something unique to her characters, a sort of vulnerable strength, if that makes sense. She always gives the women she plays this steel core, while letting them be soft and feminine at the same time, and it makes her characters extremely endearing and fun to watch. I love how Hae-young just says what she’s thinking, whether it’s to her family, her friends, or even some random asshat she’s been set up with (and oh man, I’ve been on that exact nightmare blind date, though I left in the middle of the meal!). She’s definitely got an insecure streak though, which especially comes out with regards to her job and her relationship with Director Park, that I think will be interesting to explore.
As much as Hae-young is an open book, Do-kyung is the exact opposite — he’s closed off and volatile, a perfectionist who’s quick to anger. It’s interesting how he works with so many of his family members yet seems to hold them all at arm’s length, though his closer relationship with his friend Jin-sang shows that he’s capable of deeper friendships. We don’t know a lot about him personally at this point other than that he’s suddenly having strange prophetic visions, and that they aren’t always about bad or negative events. I’m dying of curiosity to know why they’re happening and what they mean, what’s causing them, and why they’re starting now, of all times. And above all, why is he seeing Hae-young, a woman he’s never met?
Though this premiere didn’t give us a lot of information about the characters or the overarching plot line, it did give us enough to intrigue me and have me bouncing in my chair to see more. Normally I’d be wishing we’d gotten more information in a first episode (and we’ve barely even touched on the second Oh Hae-young and how she fits into all this), but in this case I feel that everything we did get was so sleek and polished, balanced with a healthy dose of humor and heartwarming moments, that I’m happy with the show exactly as-is. I actually like the languid pace the show is setting right off the bat, and I’m not leaving this first episode feeling as though I’d seen more than what we’ve been shown so far. Between the gorgeous cinematography, the beautiful soundtrack, Do-kyung’s intriguing visions and above all, the wonderfully faceted characters, I’m predicting that Oh Hae-young Again has something really amazing in store for its viewers. I’ve been here long enough now that I hesitate to get too excited about a show this early, but this first episode has made a promise, and I can only hope with all my heart that it keeps that promise.
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