Kdramaland opens 2015 with a series of psychologically disturbed characters — we have split personalities Cha Do-hyun from Kill Me, Heal Me and Chae Young-shin from Healer with her post-traumatic stress disorder. Latest to the mix is tvN’s Heart to Heart, which has our female lead suffering from agoraphobia and our male lead who is narcisstic, but more worrying, has a drinking problem.
- Choi Gang-hee (from Protect the Boss) as Cho Hong-do. She has an issue with blush-control — turning pink and red whenever she sees anyone. This is either the cause or effect of her sociophobic disorders; she doesn’t dare to interact with people unless she is under layers of disguise (which may be a perpetual helmet head or a halmoni). However, beneath that shyness is a brilliant mind; Hong-do has very good recall abilities, draws well, and extremely good with trivia.
- Chun Jung-myung (from Reset) as Ko Yi-seok. A well-known psychiatrist, his area of expertise is “healing broken hearts”. He even writes a self-help book about finding Mr Right, which Hong-do chances upon one evening, and decides to look him up for consultation. However, when Yi-seok isn’t in the limelight, he kinda suffers from attention deficit, and turns to drinking surreptiously when bored.
- Lee Jae-yoon as Detective Jang Doo-soo. Also Hong-do’s crush for 7 long years. Due to her uncontrolled blushing, Hong-do doesn’t dare to talk to Doo-soo directly. She leaves little post-it notes with banchan for him at his door nightly (yes, for 7 years). Doo-soo would love to talk to Hong-do face-to-face though, but he is also aware of her chronic shyness, and doesn’t force her.
- Ahn So-hee as Ko Se-ro. Yi-seok’s (step?) sister, who aspires to be an actress.
Dramabean has the full recap for ep1.
In a nutshell, ep1 introduces us to the various characters in Heart. Hong-do, who disguises herself as a halmoni and goes under the name of Oh Young-rae, seeks employment from a fussy halbae and his fussier housekeeper. (it’d be hilarious if halbae develops a loveline for Young-rae, not knowing her true age) She gets the job because she knows the meaning to one of halbae’s dated phrases — which his current, young, and to-be fired secretary clearly doesn’t.
Hong-do hates her chronic blushing, especially when it deters her from pursuing her crush — Doo-soo — face-on (literally). She can only resort to courting him slowly with her homecooked banchans and porridges for 7 long years. Doo-soo calls her an endearing “Little Red Peach” (which she signs off on the post-its), and tries cajoling Hong-do to meet him…well, he’d get his chance soon.
Our other half of the OTP, Yi-seok, lives in a world is vastly different from shy Hong-do. He thrives in limelight, is witty, calm and professional when it comes to saving people from jumping off buildings or discussing his latest book in a talk show. However, he has a problem when faced with the dreary work of consultations in his clinic. He tunes out, is extremely impatient and totally doesn’t care about what his clients are telling him…and when he can’t stand it, he takes a couple of swigs from his whiskey bottle in his drawer.
And his drinking problem leads him to meet Hong-do and Doo-soo. During one of Yi-seok’s consultations, a patient is stabbed on the neck with his pen. Hong-do unfortunately chances upon the bloody scene. Both are led to the police station where Doo-soo works. In the interview, Yi-seok claims he has no memories of what happened. Hong-do, under cajolling from Doo-soo, reveals that she thinks Yi-seok stabbed the patient (since he is holding the sharp tip towards the patient’s neck), AND there was a strong smell of liquor in the air. Yi-seok, in a rage, runs to Hong-do’s interview room and nearly beats her up. Doo-soo saves Hong-do and walks her home after that, trying to engage her in a chat.
Meanwhile, Yi-seok, who is pursued by reporters that catch a whiff of his “malpractice”, seeks his own death in his clinic…only to be told later that the patient admitted to committing suicide. He ends up semi-choking himself on the hangman noose. Thankfully, Hong-do re-visits Yi-seok’s clinic at this point — cos she wants to take her mobile phone back (she left it with Yi-seok).
Even though I’m not a fan of Choi Gang-hee or Chun Jung-myung, the latter of which still reminds me of the (annoying) hynotherapist-prosecutor in Reset.
tvN seems to have fallen in love with the “start from the ending” tactic — the formatting reminds me a little of Marriage, Not Dating, which also tagged the ending at the beginning and makes you go “??”. The lead-up to the ending-start is then slowly revealed in the show.
Characterisations are deftly done in Heart. On the surface, it’d seem that Hong-do is the one with THE issue. She blushes, is sociophobic…both of which hamper her daily interactions (and also employment opportunities…which is sad, cos she IS a bright girl). Yi-seok doesn’t appear to have any problems — he is successful, not only in his career, but also with women. But as ep1 progresses, we realise that Yi-seok’s problem may be more deep rooted and harder to cure than Hong-do, even more so when he doesn’t realise he HAS one. He drinks, he has trouble connecting with people (women in particular), has an attention span of a gnat, and is prone to violent/ suicidal tendencies.
Interestingly, the flashback at the beginning of Heart appears to imply that Yi-seok is somehow a stronger character — he works out, studies hard, and seems to have a rather well-rounded life…but there is a hint to the underlying cause of his psychological problem. He appears to have lost a parent (his mum?) when young, and has never really completely recovered from it. I find it harder to pinpoint where Hong-do suddenly develops her agoraphobia. In her earlier years, she also appears to be cheerful, and a fairly normal young girl, who ends up hiding behind her hair curtain in adulthood.
So although Yi-seok is treating Hong-do, I really think Heart is drawing the arrow the other way around.