LET’S HAVE A HEART TO HEART ABOUT THAT ENDING
Cha Hong Do (Choi Kang Hee) suffers from a social anxiety disorder which leads to symptoms of severe blushing. Unable to have a face-to-face relationship with anyone, much less her crush, Detective Jang Doo Soo (Lee Jae Yoon), she seeks out the help of a well-known but egotistical psychiatrist, Ko Yi Suk (Chun Jung Myung).
What is most interesting about this drama is the character study. They are similar in that they both are unable to carry on meaningful relationships with the people around them. Although Ko Yi Suk seems quite sociable on the surface, his disorder prevents him from being able to treat his patients unless Hong Do is around or have a meaningful relationship with a significant other beyond being physical with them. On the other hand, Hong Do is able to carry on a meaningful relationship with Detective Jang via text and short handwritten messages but is unable to have a physical relationship with him.
Yi Suk and Hong Do might be polar opposites but it’s clear from the beginning how much of an influence they can be for each other. She’s able to keep his ego in check while he can help her be reintroduced back into the world. From the very beginning, the drama hints at a past tragedy that triggered both of their illnesses causing Hong Do to become reclusive and Yi Suk to be his mom’s crutch. I like that we see that transformation of the young Hong Do juxtaposed against the young Yi Suk even if the drama doesn’t delve into their stories until the 2nd half of the drama, which I’ll discuss in a moment.
Chun Jung Myung is quite enjoyable to watch in this drama for the way he approached the character with this air of rational quirkiness. As the egotistical Ko Yi Suk, he is unable to rationalize with why he’s attracted to Hong Do at first. She doesn’t fit his definition of sexy or accomplished and therefore pushes her away. He’s a big man-child but when he discovers that his heart has other plans for him, he accepts Hong Do with big open arms.
Tearliner – 머무는 나와 가는 너의 거리 (Staying With You for the Distance)
I also loved watching Choi Kang Hee playing the skittish Hong Do and having Yi Suk chasing her for her affections. She’s loved the kind Detective Jang for so long that she never entertained the possibility of another guy. Certainly not one that is as arrogant as Yi Suk.
Moreover, I love that Hong Do never got a makeover for her frumpy look. We all know that K-Dramas and Hollywood in general like to depict a change in the woman’s inner beauty through the full makeover montage. Hong Do’s change in appearance is shown purely through Choi Kang Hee’s acting. She smiles more often, she doesn’t dash from nook to nook like a scared mouse. The removal of her helmet was more about not relying on it like a security blanket rather than changing the way she dressed.
Lee Jae Yoon is everything you need in a 2nd lead. He’s kind and supports Hong Do and he ignites Yi Suk’s jealousy to make him step up to the plate. As for Ko Se Ro (Ahn So Hee), I never knew what to make of her character as she feels quite extraneous to the drama. She has a crush on Detective Jang herself and while I liked that she never seemed like serious competition for Hong Do, it seems like we spent episodes where her relentless pursuit became more of a running gimmick rather than advancing their story. If Ahn So Hee’s post Wonder Girls’ gig is to pursue acting, then she either needs meatier roles with an arc so I’ll reserve my judgement on her acting here.
It would be difficult to talk about the structure of the drama without discussing the ending. So for those who want to avoid spoilers, now is a good time to back away. It seems the lesson of Hong Do and Yi Suk’s tragic love story is that their trauma is the fault of the elders. We discover that the parents ruined the life of these kids by lying and ultimately burying the truth. I’m not quite sure how one could not only live with knowing that they caused the death of their first born but then putting that blame on another innocent child. The lying and making the lovers breakup was the straw that broke the camel’s back. There is a important scene in which Hong Do confesses that she should be angrier but she says that she’ll let it go. It’s maddening that the drama builds up both Yi Suk and Hong Do’s neuroses and end up simply by giving the parents the ultimate pass.
Tearliner – Love Lies (feat. 짙은) (Love Lies (feat. Zitten)
On the other hand, the drama overall had a lightness in tone which I actually really enjoyed. Focusing on vivid rays of light in the cinematography, it accurately conveyed Hong Do and Yi Suk’s upbeat attitudes despite their past tragedies. Tearliner’s heartfelt songs also showed the profound longing for a human connection without having to take the drama in dark direction. Unfortunately, because of the ending, what could have been a uniquely philosophical, character study becomes a disappointing confabulation on how to quickly wrap things up in a bow and hope no one notices the elephant in the room.