Presently, Ko Yi Seok (Chun Jung Myung) is selecting the best tie to form into a noose, but let’s go back to the beginning first.
A montage presents the concurrent development of Yi Seok and Cha Hong Do (Choi Kang Hee). Hong Do starts off as a happy child, but becomes increasingly isolated as she enters adolescence, resulting in a bashful adult with a severe blushing problem. Meanwhile, Yi Seok starts off bookish and withdrawn, but the glasses come off, and he becomes outgoing and frivolous.
Yi Seok grows up to become a psychiatrist who is enlisted to aid a suicidal young woman. Rather than try to argue her off the ledge, he charmingly gets her to worry about his safety. Yi Seok eventually captures her in his arms then comforts her by stating that the sexual assault she suffered was not her fault. Admittedly, Yi Seok is very attractive in the aftermath of his heroics. Add the fact that he is a bestselling author, and he easily becomes a darling of the media.
Meanwhile, in a chaebol household, three women are competing for the housemaid position. Before the overbearing housekeeper can make a decision based on their cooking, two of the infuriated candidates forfeit. The only remaining candidate is Oh Young Rae (Choi Kang Hee, again), a 78 year old woman.
Despite being the only candidate, the housekeeper rejects Young Rae, because she feels uncomfortable managing someone older than her. Luckily for Young Rae, a position opens up when the Chairman fires his typist for being unable to understand him or his references. She is hired on the spot for her old timer knowledge.
At night, Hong Do scurries to the front door of her seven year crush, Jang Doo Soo (Lee Jae Yoon) in order to leave him some pumpkin porridge. He catches her in the act, and she jumps into the bushes.
While trying to coax her out of hiding, Doo Soo receives a call about a blind date. Hong Do manages to escape, and sadly tries to calculate the odds of Doo Soo finding a wife among his many blind dates.
Yi Seok may be the most eligible bachelor in Seoul, but he has to ply his girlfriend with gifts and champagne in order to convince her to sleep with him. However, Yi Seok will not actually sleep beside his girlfriend post coitus, enraging her for having given into sex without intimacy.
When Hong Do arrives home, the grey wig on her dresser confirms that she and Young Rae are one and the same. She is startled at finding Yi Seok’s face stuck on the bottom of her ramen pot after she had absentmindedly rested it on top of his bestselling book. Hong Do stays up all night reading the book, and comes to the conclusion that Yi Seok is heaven sent to cure her of her blushing problem.
Yi Seok’s private practice is called Heart to Heart Mental Clinic (!), and his patients are a parade of weepy women. Yi Seok can barely contain his mounting boredom, and while listening to a male patient, his vision starts to blur, and he hears a high pitched whining.
Hong Do enters the Heart to Heart Mental Clinic just as the receptionist rushes out for the call of nature. Hearing a commotion, Hong Do peeks into Yi Seok’s office, and comes face-to-face with her supposed savior holding a bloody pen to his male patient’s neck. Yi Seok frantically directs a shocked Hong Do to call emergency, then grabs her cell phone to complete the call.
Both Hong Do and Yi Seok end up at the police station in separate interrogation rooms. It turns out that Doo Soo is a cop, and he is tasked with questioning both the perpetrator and the witness. Conveniently, Yi Seok cannot explain what happened, because he can’t remember.
Hong Do is no more forthcoming with information, rendered mute at being in such close proximity to her crush. Doo Soo manages to ply Hong Do with candy, then builds a massive wall of disposable cups between them as Hong Do draws what she witnessed.
Doo Soo presents Hong Do’s incriminating illustration to Yi Seok, who angrily bursts out of his interrogation room and into Hong Do’s. After barring the door, Yi Seok chases Hong Do around, demanding that she tell the truth, and manages to rip her motorcycle helmet off.
Cornered and enraged, Hong Do finds her tongue and shouts all the clues to support the idea that Yi Seok had attempted murder while inebriated. Yi Seok seems to seriously consider her argument just as Doo Soo bursts through the door, and punches him in the face.
Despite being a suspected murderer, Yi Seok is released from police custody by Doo Soo’s apologetic and agreeable partner. Hong Do exits the police station with Doo Soo who tries to make a connection by teasing her about her smelly motorcycle helmet before she escapes.
Meanwhile, Yi Seok is hounded by the press that once idolized him. After totaling his car in a carpark, Yi Seok breaks through the police tape to hide in his office. The phones are ringing off the hook, with the answering machine broadcasting messages from reporters.
Yi Seok pulls out a bottle of liquor, and surveys his impressive tie collection. We return to the opening scene as Yi Seok inserts his head into a noose. At this pivotal moment, he hears a message from the cop that his patient has exonerated him of any responsibility for the pen in the neck. Yi Seok accidentally kicks away his support, and finds himself choking to death. In search of her cell phone, Hong Do appears heroically at the door.
My feelings are mixed about the first episode of “Heart to Heart”. Since its director is Lee Yoon Jung, the person behind “First Shop of Coffee Prince”, I had high hopes. Yet, from the overly precious opening credits, to Hong Do’s over the top affliction, to Yi Seok’s trippy entry into amnesia, I felt like the show was trying too hard to be appealing and quirky.
Yi Seok does show promise of being a real heartthrob. Chun Jung Myung demonstrated an easy charm yet conveyed genuine compassion while talking the suicidal woman off the edge of the building. However, because he is the chaebol lead, he predictably turns into a jerk with commitment issues and his own afflictions. Meanwhile, it was hard to connect with the cartoonish Hong Do, as she scurries around and winsomely talks to herself.
It is hard to detect any chemistry between two such extreme characters at this time. It does bring to mind “Fated to Love You”, which also had a pair of ridiculous leads, and a whiff of trying too hard in the first episode. If the two shows continue to parallel each other, this bodes well for “Heart to Heart”. Hopefully, after the production team has settled down, so, too, will the story and the characters.