A first for OCN — a proper romcom without spiraling into soft porn sleaze (at least, not in the first 4eps).
- Lee Jong-hyun (from My Only Love Song) as Oh Soo. He inherits the power of the Tree, but is either weary of the responsibilities foisted on him or something happened to his mum in relation to Tree; he chooses to evade having to take on the role of next Tree Caretaker. Said role also has to do with inheriting a quaint little cafe (Cafe Tree), where he mixes magic pollen into his coffees to increase the relationship quotient of his customers.
- Kim So-eun (from Liar Game) as Seo Yoo-ri. A police officer who also single-handedly brought up her kid sister, after the demise of her dad (an incident which she blames herself for) and her mum getting checked into a nursing home.
- Park Geun-hyung (from Criminal Minds) as Oh Man-soo. Soo’s grandpa, who also has the same ability as him to see the love quotient of people around him. He is disapproving of Soo’s running away from his inheritance.
Soo is introduced as a successful IT engineer, and the typical cold, aloof K-romcom protagonist. He professes he doesn’t believe in love, and yet is able to “see” how deep in love another person is. He actually does see the romance level in terms of color — the redder the color, the more intensely in love a person is.
In contrast to Soo’s refusal to fall in love, is his elder brother, Ga-na (Heo Jeong-min) who changes girlfriends as fast as he changes socks. On the usual errand to help his hyung deflect a bad breakup, Yoo-ri misunderstands Soo as the callous boyfriend. Unfortunately, she meets him again in unfavourable condition — when her own long time boyfriend breaks up with her instead of proposing to her (as she’d hoped) on their 3rd anniversary. In a way, Soo is to blame. He mistakenly thinks the pink aura around Yoo-ri’s boyfriend means he loves her a lot … but he has his heart on another lady already. So after spiking Yoo-ri boyfriend’s coffee with a love pollen, Soo actually causes the guy to buck up courage to confess the breakup.
We learn later that Soo’s powers are actually inherited, and given — by a tree. Yep, the aged tree in the family’s compound appears to grant only selected males in the family the ability to see love, and to use the pollen from the tree’s flowers to enhance (and mend?) a relationship. Unfortunately, the flip side is the appointed guy must devote his entire life to taking care of Tree, and by association, the Cafe Tree cafe. Soo apparently wants to be an IT engineer (and he is a successful one), and tries to evade having to take on the role. Although we get the sense the avoidance runs deeper than just having a different ambition.
A little guilt stricken by his actions, Soo starts to pay attention to Yoo-ri, whom he later finds out lives across the cafe — in a condo which his family owns.
I am willing to suspend all forms of disbelief (Tree? Pollen? Powers??) cos Oh Soo is a pretty cute show. Like many of its successful predecessors, Oh Soo doesn’t deviate much from the enemies-to-lovers type of K-romcom, which is imo, one of the best. Soo’s distrust of love may stem from (i think) his mother’s death, which in a short (very short) flashback, seems related to his dad…and a pollen drink taken in error.
That may also explain why Soo is actively running away from the responsibility of being Tree Caretaker. I know, the whole premise of the Tree and the men’s role wrt it is kinda funny. But in Oh Soo, Tree MEANS business. A son who refuses to take up the yoke of being a lifelong caretaker…will die. In fact, all the men chosen by Tree bear a tree tattoo on parts of their body. Halbae Oh has it on his wrist, and Soo on his chest (gives Lee Jong-hyun plenty of excuse to give us all a little eye candy). 😛 The vitality of Tree is linked to the vividness of said tattoo. The moment tattoo fades, Tree dies, guy dies.
While I chuckle at this rather ridiculous hocus pocus going around, I also see potential for the little bit of magicking spicing up our OTP’s relationship — and their competitors. Soo (with his seeing powers) already notices the second female lead, Hyo-jin’s (a granddaughter of another chaebol family and a successful CEO herself) budding interest in him. Similarly, Soo also sees Jin-woo’s (Yoo-ri’s childhood friend and secret admirer) strong romantic interest in Yoo-ri, and is pretty pissy about it.
Hilariously though, he is unable to see any aura around himself, so he has to go ask the most awkward questions to his playboy hyung on how to know he likes a girl. (duh)