Reach of Sincerity: Episode 1
The popular second leads from The Lonely Shining Goblin reunite, this time as the leads, in a tale of two people from completely different worlds — a popular actress who’s experiencing a slump and an accomplished attorney. Before she can embark on her comeback, our actress is forced into real life research for a role and finds herself working for the one man who isn’t at all impressed by her résumé. With everything to lose, our actress must confront her many shortcomings in order to secure her second chance.
EPISODE 1: “Yoon-seo goes to a law firm”
The Seoul morning commute is underway and an attorney reaches the courthouse just as a celebrity, OH YOON-SEO (Yoo Inna), arrives. Reporters shout questions about her alleged drug abuse as she silently plows through the throng.
A television show about forgotten celebrities discusses Oh Yoon-seo, who was once popular all over Asia — until her drug scandal. Even though she tested negative and was cleared in court, Yoon-seo’s reputation suffered.
Yoon-seo stares at a handful of pills while the program plays on her television at home. Yoon-seo’s manager, Hyuk-joon, knocks the pills from her hand as he yells, “Don’t do this!” He argues that just because Yoon-seo has no money, no friends, and even gained weight, she shouldn’t do anything drastic.
After Yoon-seo explains that they’re vitamins, Hyuk-joon has to point out that the correct dosage is one each day. When Yoon-seo asks the reason for his visit, Hyuk-joon remembers her new headshots, but she doesn’t see the point of them since she can’t get work.
Yoon-seo sees a script on her table, Love Hurts, and teases that Hyuk-joon used the headshots as an excuse to surprise her. Hyuk-joon is forced to snatch the script away and he answers Yoon-seo’s excited questions with an evasive, “It’s none of your business.” Annoyed, Yoon-seo pretends that she’s no longer interested.
When Hyuk-joon relaxes, Yoon-seo grabs the script and locks herself in her bathroom to read the set-up, “A professional merger and acquisitions attorney goes to the Middle East on vacation and ends up falling in love with a military judicial officer.”
Yoon-seo imagines that her head scarf flies off when an incoming helicopter lands (a nod to Descended From the Sun). A man wearing aviators (cameo by Jang Ki-yong) returns Yoon-seo’s scarf and suddenly, we’re returned to her bathroom as Yoon-seo acts out each role herself.
When Yoon-seo reads that the female lead is kidnapped by terrorists, she envisions a dramatic rescue by the hero. After shooting all of the machine-gun toting terrorists with one gun, her hero frees Yoon-seo and when they kiss, she puckers up for a rolled up towel. In the end, Yoon-seo takes a bullet that’s intended for her man and she sways in her bathroom as she utters, “I love you,” and dies. When Yoon-seo opens her eyes, she tells herself, “This is it.”
Yoon-seo returns the script and announces that she’s perfect for the female lead. Hyuk-joon tries to scale back Yoon-seo’s enthusiasm and explains that the project may never get made because of the expense and the lengthy shoot abroad, a condition that the actress in consideration refused. Yoon-seo explains that’s why she’s perfect, she’s willing to go abroad and accept a lower fee. Since she knows the writer, Yoon-seo calls her for a meeting.
Yoon-seo and Hyuk-joon meet with writer Lee Se-jin, who explains that someone with a bad reputation and who can’t act, isn’t suitable for the lead. Yoon-seo takes the criticisms in stride and assures Writer Lee that at least she’ll create buzz. When Yoon-seo starts to whine, Writer Lee agrees to accept her, with one condition.
Yoon-seo sits in the office of CEO Yeon Joon-seok and rejects that condition — working in an actual law firm. Hyuk-joon suggests that Yoon-seo should think of it as acting class but she protests that she’s a veteran actress.
Yoon-seo argues that she succeeded because of her looks, not her acting ability, yet she’s shocked when CEO Yeon absentmindedly agrees, “Yes, you’re famous for your bad acting.” To redeem himself, CEO Yeon barks that Yoon-seo won’t accept the series but she gets nervous when the two men argue about her bleak prospects after two years without work. When CEO Yeon orders Hyuk-joon to reject the offer, Yoon-seo stops him.
Yoon-seo mumbles, “I’ll do it,” and when CEO Yeon asks her to repeat herself, she blurts out, “I’ll give the field education a try.” CEO Yeon reminds Yoon-seo that she has to work at a law firm for three months and when he pulls out his phone, he warns Yoon-seo that she can’t change her mind.
ATTORNEY YEON JOON-GYU (Oh Jung-se) argues that a law firm isn’t an acting academy and threatens to hang up until he hears the name, Oh Yoon-seo. Attorney Yeon arranges to have her start the next day and promises his most competent attorney. Once he hangs up, Attorney Yeon paces excitedly and practices how he’ll introduce himself.
Attorney Yeon has to decide who to pair Yoon-seo with and peeks in on his expert in civil lawsuits, attorney Dan Moon-hee, but decides that she’s too timid. He next checks in on the divorce lawyer, ATTORNEY CHOI YOON-HYUK (Shim Hyung-tak), but when he answers a call from his mother while with a client, Attorney Yeon rejects the unmarried mama’s boy. He jumps when the receptionist at his elbow conspiratorially agrees and runs off when she asks, “By the way, who is Yoon-seo?”
When Attorney Yeon approaches the empty office of PARTNER KWON JUNG-ROK (Lee Dong-wook), we witness Jung-rok’s skill in the courtroom as he wins a complicated case. When Attorney Yeon reminds himself that Jung-rok is the star of the firm, he’s startled again by the receptionist, who has silently reappeared and guesses that the decision’s been made.
When Jung-rok returns to the law offices, the receptionist wastes no time in congratulating him. Jung-rok sits in Attorney Yeon’s office and listens impatiently as the CEO does his best to talk his ace attorney into accepting Yoon-seo as his secretary. Jung-rok won’t be swayed, even when Attorney Yeon explains that his cousin is the CEO of Yoon-seo’s agency, who turned to him in desperation.
Jung-rok is about to walk out when Attorney Yeon suddenly remembers, “Five years ago. I don’t know why I was so nosy.” Jung-rok demands to know how long Attorney Yeon plans to bring that up and he confesses, “Until Yoon-seo comes to work.” Defeated, Jung-rok sits down with Attorney Yeon, who promises a double bonus for Jung-rok’s efforts.
Hyuk-joon and Yoon-seo scour her closet for something that says “trendy,” not “failed celebrity”. Yoon-seo assures a worried Hyuk-joon that she can manage on her own but he reminds her that she can’t even eat alone.
In the morning, Attorney Yeon arrives at work with a skip in his step and a bouquet in hand, dressed like a celebrity himself. The staff is speechless when he walks in and after a reminder for everyone to act normally, the receptionist points out that Attorney Yeon is the only one not acting normally.
When Jung-rok arrives, he ignores everyone and walks straight to his office. There, he researches Yoon-seo, whose real name is Oh Jin-shim, and recalls the one condition that he made of Attorney Yeon — if Yoon-seo wants to quit, Attorney Yeon can’t stop her. Jung-rok leans back in his chair and sighs when he sees that it’s already 10:00.
Attorney Yeon hovers near the reception desk and fusses that he should have picked up Yoon-seo. The receptionist is appalled when Attorney Yeon practices numerous cool poses but he’s flustered when she announces, “Ms. Oh is here.”
Yoon-seo exits the elevator in an outfit that’s completely inappropriate for the office — a mini-dress, high-heeled booties and sunglasses. Attorney Choi greets Yoon-seo enthusiastically while the women are…less exuberant.
Yoon-seo introduces herself to the staff and asks for patience, forcing Attorney Dan to bite her lip when Attorney Choi gushes, “A pretty lady like you deserves all the patience in the world.” Yoon-seo guesses that Attorney Choi must be the CEO until Attorney Yeon presents his bouquet and explains that he bought it with his own money. Yoon-seo promises to work hard and holds up the flowers as if posing for an ad.
Jung-rok ignores Yoon-seo’s outstretched hand when she introduces herself, so she grabs his laptop and reenacts her commercial to jog his memory. When he doesn’t respond, Yoon-seo gives his sofa and the bottled water the same treatment, but all Jung-rok has to say is , “When are you going to stop?”
Jung-rok addresses Yoon-seo as Ms. Oh Jin-shim, and reviews his rules — she’s not to be tardy or work overtime, since he expects capable people to complete their work during working hours. Yoon-seo is puzzled when Jung-rok refers to her as his “secretary” and then laughs that must be her storyline. After Jung-rok determines that Yoon-seo has no experience as a secretary or with a law firm, they agree that her extensive experience with the phone qualifies her to transfer his calls.
At her desk, Yoon-seo finds a note, “I hope you enjoy your time with Attorney Kwon.” She writes, “Okay,” and poses for a selfie with the note that she sends to CEO Yeon and Hyuk-joon, who are at the agency.
Hyuk-joon praises CEO Yeon for sticking with Yoon-seo and he agrees that he’s a real humanitarian. CEO Yeon asks why Yoon-seo’s dress looks tight and when Hyuk-joon mentions that she’s been eating more lately, he’s told to put Yoon-seo on a diet to lose 10 kilograms (22 pounds). Yikes!
Yoon-seo answers the phone but can’t figure out how to get the receiver to Jung-rok’s office, forcing him to use her phone. When he learns that Yoon-seo has no idea how to forward calls, Jung-rok explains that he’ll answer the calls from now on.
Later, Jung-rok hands Yoon-seo a stack of papers for copies but they fall all over the floor. Yoon-seo can’t pick them up modestly in her short dress so Jung-rok has to pick them up himself and he decides that she should just relax.
When Yoon-seo goes to the employee lounge for water, Attorney Yeon hands her a bottle and suggests lunch at a Japanese restaurant, to the delight of the other employees. Everyone steps out for lunch except Yoon-seo, who decided to eat with Jung-rok on her first day. Instead of the Japanese restaurant, Attorney Yeon wants kimchi stew and Attorney Dan mentions a place nearby where the part-timer who’s her current crush works.
When Yoon-seo’s stomach growls, she knocks on Jung-rok’s door and reminds him that she can’t go to crowded restaurants. Jung-rok has plans and when he tells her to eat lunch alone, Yoon-seo protests that she’s already the subject of gossip thanks to her scandal and can’t be seen eating alone. Jung-rok suggests ordering in and when he walks out, Yoon-seo asks herself, “Did he really leave? Without me?”
Over lunch, the office manager mentions how unusual it is for a celebrity to end up at a law firm and the receptionist mentions that Yoon-seo majored in law. She suggests that Yoon-seo wanted to return to the field and Attorney Yeon nervously agrees, “That’s the reason. What else could it be?”
Yoon-seo makes herself some tea in the office kitchen and senses that she’s not alone. Yoon-seo gasps at the sight of a strange man in the office, who identifies himself as Lee Doo-seob. Yoon-seo imagines him walking towards her menacingly until everyone returns from lunch and introduces Mr. Lee as the firm’s paralegal. When Attorney Choi notices Yoon-seo’s tea, he insists that a caramel macchiato suits her better and offers her his cup, making an impression on Mr. Lee.
Jung-rok thinks about Yoon-seo when he passes a restaurant. He returns to the office with a takeout meal just as laughter erupts from his office. Yoon-seo is surrounded by staff and the office manager tells Jung-rok it’s a pity that he didn’t end up with a more experienced secretary.
Mr. Lee walks up to the office manager with a “caramel arigato” that he suddenly doesn’t want anymore. His hand is trembling but when she takes the cup, Mr. Lee smiles.
Attorney Choi flirts with Yoon-seo and hints that he’s finally met a nice woman. She laughs off the suggestion and everyone joins in until Jung-rok enters. Attorney Yeon is right behind him with coffee, contributing to the party-like atmosphere. Jung-rok rolls his eyes when he sees his CEO’s fancy coat and then stares at Attorney Yeon until he waves everyone away.
Yoon-seo asks, “What shall I do in the afternoon?” and is offended when Jung-rok suggests that she can drink coffee with her fans, just not in his office. Yoon-seo follows Jung-rok to his desk to ask if she did something wrong. She points out that she didn’t even eat while she waited for him but he’s mad at her.
Jung-rok asks Yoon-seo not to distract those who are serious about their work and she resents his assertion that she’s not serious about being a secretary. Jung-rok points to her attire and reminds Yoon-seo that she was also late. He advises Yoon-seo that if she wants to be taken seriously, she needs to start by dressing properly.
Yoon-seo escapes to the women’s restroom and screams, after checking that she’s alone of course. Yoon-seo rants that if she’d known she’d been hired as a secretary, she would have dressed differently, and she arrived at 10:00 just like Hyuk-joon instructed.
Yoon-seo returns to Jung-rok’s office and overhears him talking on the phone, “She won’t even last a week.” She heads for his door but Jung-rok kicks it closed and continues, “Simply put, she’s hopeless.” Yoon-seo assumes Jung-rok’s talking about her, but he’s actually talking with an old friend about a case. Yoon-seo glares at Jung-rok as he grabs what he needs for court and when she asks to talk, he tells her that she can go home at 6:00.
On the drive home, Yoon-seo complains about Jung-rok and concludes that he must hate her, but Hyuk-joon suggests maybe he just hates women. When Yoon-seo threatens to quit, Hyuk-joon tries to talk her out of it but she’s determined. A shoot that’s in progress forces them to stop and Yoon-seo stares at the actors. She looks thoughtful and when she returns home, Yoon-seo stares at her larger than life portrait.
Yoon-seo remembers a red carpet appearance and as cameras flashed, she smiled and waved. Yoon-seo is actually watching a recording of that night and with a sigh, she tells her image, “You look pretty, Oh Yoon-seo.”
Next, Yoon-seo watches a scene from one of her dramas, featuring the leading man of her imagination from Love Hurts. His acting only highlights how bad of an actress Yoon-seo was (so bad) and when a tear trails down his cheek, she sobs on her couch.
In the morning, Hyuk-joon discovers that Yeon-seo slept at her desk, unusual since she’s never been in her office before. Yoon-seo runs out yelling, “I’m late,” when she learns that it’s 7:30 and Hyuk-joon is surprised to see that she not only researched the duties of a legal secretary, she took notes.
When Hyuk-joon drops her off at the law firm, Yoon-seo scurries inside and races past everyone on the way to Jung-rok’s office where she triumphantly declares, “I’m not late.”
Jung-rok meets with a friend to discuss her case, and she mentions his new secretary, whom she heard all about from Attorney Choi. Jung-rok’s friend asks what it’s like to work with the goddess of the Korean Wave, but Jung-rok can’t find the words.
Yoon-seo walks into the office kitchen and greets Ms. Yang, who shares how shocked she was to learn she’s been hired after getting expelled from law school. Yoon-seo clarifies that it was her decision to quit school.
Ms. Yang explains that a legal secretary is like an attorney’s partner and advises Yoon-seo to work harder to help Jung-rok. Understanding registers on Yoon-seo’s face and Ms. Yang is speechless when she’s compared to a character in the American drama, Madman, who’s like an older sister.
Yoon-seo teaches herself how to forward calls and checks it off her list. Next, Yoon-seo learns how to use the copy machine, thanks to the receptionist, and prepares for her next task.
While waiting for an elevator, Attorney Yeon informs Jung-rok that Yoon-seo’s welcome party is that night. Jung-rok has a meeting, but Attorney Yeon argues that it will end early and besides, Jung-rok never drinks. When Jung-rok suggests that he might get drunk, Attorney Yeon supports the move since the team likes him better that way.
Yoon-seo stands and greets Jung-rok with a smile and then conspicuously calls attention to her clothes. After Jung-rok tells her, “You look very neat and tidy today,” Yoon-seo follows him into his office to proudly point out that she tidied up his desk.
Upset, Jung-rok explains that his desk may have looked messy but he has a system and now his trial reports are all mixed up. When Jung-rok reminds Yoon-seo that he told her that she could just rest, she argues that even though she may not know much, she’s willing to learn.
Jung-rok dismisses Yoon-seo but she has a question, “Do you perhaps hate women?” Jung-rok closes the gap between them to give his answer, “I like women. I like them a lot…It’s just that I’m not at all interested in you.”
What a snappy introduction to this hotly anticipated drama! At first glance, we’re dealing with a blend of two approaches, the “fish out to water” and “opposites attract” scenarios. Yoon-seo uses her vivid imagination and her grasp of storylines to make sense of the world, which some members of her new circle at the law firm find confusing and silly. While Attorney Yeon and Attorney Choi fall over themselves to impress Yoon-seo, Jung-rok and the women in the office treat her as if she’s some kind of alien, which of course she is. There’s no commonality between the staff in the office and a celebrity like Yoon-seo, the goddess of the Korean wave. This disconnect promises to be both fun and poignant.
I’m stunned by Yoo Inna’s embodiment of Oh Yoon-seo. Almost immediately, I’d completely forgotten about every one of her other roles. Yoo Inna disappears as we meet Yoon-seo, a woman/child who’s incredibly perceptive, and probably very intelligent, but she’s been stunted by a lifestyle that makes her appear spoiled, lazy and a bit dumb. But Yoon-seo couldn’t have been so successful if all of that is true, and she demonstrates amazing instincts when she talks her way into the female lead of Love Hurts. Yoon-seo finds the smallest of cracks, both with Hyuk-joon and Writer Lee, to launch her comeback with a drama that jumped at her from the pages. It’s this new air of optimism that guides Yoon-seo to the law firm, where she lands with a thud, thanks to a legal hotshot who’s a star in his own right.
It’s a thrill to see Lee Dong-wook as the lead in a romantic comedy. At least I hope that Reach of Sincerity is a romantic comedy, but you can never be too sure until the ending credits of the final episode. Thanks to those woeful eyes, Lee Dong-wook has suffered much in one role after another, and something light-hearted is way overdue. He’s definitely meant to provide a serious, stoic contrast to Yoon-seo’s drama, but a cold, standoffish Jung-rok can mean only one thing, he’s sure to experience a heartwarming thaw thanks to Yoon-seo. But how does a lawyer of his caliber navigate an association with a celebrity who has a drug scandal in her past? By getting to the bottom of what triggered Yoon-seo’s downward spiral.
That mystery intrigues me, especially after learning that CEO Yeon has kept Yoon-seo as a client even though she’s brought in no money for two years. Hmmm. Was Yoon-seo sacrificed to protect someone, and if so, who? Yoon-seo’s drug scandal isn’t the only problem that she has to manage. Ms. Yang made sure to mention her alleged expulsion from college, after pretending to be friendly with that offer of coffee. Yoon-seo needs to watch her back around Ms. Yang, who uses her smiles to hide her claws. At times, Yoon-seo seems naive, but she’s sure to have learned at thing or two about handling territorial women as an actress, so I’m guessing that Ms. Yang has met her match in Jung-rok’s latest secretary. Which brings up another question, who was the predecessor that left that note on Yoon-seo’s desk? But the greatest mystery of all has to be, what does Attorney Yeon know about Jung-rok?
There’s no doubt that Lee Dong-wook and Yoo Inna have romantic chemistry, but for now, they’re fun to watch as they irritate the heck out of each other. Yoon-seo is used to being liked, and she’s bothered that Jung-rok clearly doesn’t like her and doesn’t expect her to contribute in any way in his world. And I think that’s where we’re going to see a transformation, because I believe that Yoon-seo is actually very capable, it’s just never been necessary before. She brings a unique perspective to the law firm and I expect that her insights, as silly as they may seem, will end up becoming useful, maybe even welcomed. For now, Yoon-seo and Jung-rok have a lot to learn, about each other and about themselves, and that journey is what we’re all looking forward to.
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