I loved Eric in Que Sera Sera, a dark look at what 4 people in love can do to each other. Que Sera Sera was not for everyone, therefore Eric’s excellence in that show may not be widely known. I have not seen Eric in other kdramas or movies, so Que Sera Sera is my only reference for this actor. I was pleased to hear after a 3 year absence Eric was returning to the world of kdramas. Enter Discovery of Romance where almost every character was cast with an actor I like. Fingers crossed, let us see how Episode 1 played out.
Episode #1: “How Did We End Up Sleeping in One Bed Together?”
We begin with the back story romance of Kang Tae Ha (Eric) and Han Yeo Reum (Jung Yu Mi (who played Eric’s primary love interest in Que Sera Sera)). They had a 5 year relationship that ended when Yeo Reum got tired of Tae Ha’s standoffish ways. They break up.
In present day Tae Ha and Yeo Reum are interviewed and while he is interested in how she is, she denies any interest in him. She’s dating a plastic surgeon Nam Ha Jin (Sung Joon (fresh off his leading man turn in I Need Romance 3)) and they click as a couple. We see their back story. Their problem is two fold: 1) his mother does not like that Yeo Reum will not marry his son. Mother is ready for Ha Jin to marry. She sets him up on blind dates to see if she can tempt him with a woman that would be willing to marry. 2) Yeo Reum is in debt and feels she cannot marry when she is in this financial state of disarray. Yeo Reum is a furniture designer with her own studio. Her best friends are Yoon Sol (Kim Seul Gi, the scene-stealing sleep deprived web producer from Flower Boy Next Door) and Do Joon Ho (Yoon Hyun Min).
Yeo Reum learns that Ha Jin is on a blind date. Furious she goes to the hotel lobby to spy. She sits across from a man reading a newspaper so she can eavesdrop. She writes a pleading note to the man to allow her to listen to her boyfriend on a blind date. The man reads the note, drops the paper and to Yeo Reum’s horror, it is Tae Ha. He grins delightedly at her discomfort. Frustrated she stands and speaks loudly. At first she speaks to her boyfriend Ha Jin, how could he date behind her back, and then to Tae Ha, did he ever love her. She throws water in Tae Ha’s face. I would have melted when Tae Ha said he loved her then and misses her still. Instead she leaves the hotel. Ha Jin catches up with her and they leave together. Tae Ha watches her walk out of his life once again.
Maybe not, Tae Ha has HER cell phone and Yeo Reum has HIS cell phone. The switch is not immediately noticed by her but she does figure it out. Tae Ha is amazed by the number of calls and texts Yeo Reum gets from merchants about past due bills. Yeo Reum takes a Mozart CD and watermelon to Ha Jin’s mother but she does not get much warmth there. Frustrated she gets drunk. Tae Ha meets her to switch cell phones. In a wonderful meta moment he pokes her in the head just like his character did in their initial and final meeting in Que Sera Sera.
She ends up at his apartment with a cute white bunny. She declares the bunny must stay with him. He declines, she insists. She end up washing the bunny, then spraying water all over him, her, and the bunny. They stare into each others eyes.
The next morning she awakes with a man’s arm wrapped around her. She smiles that Ha Jin is there. She turns to the man and feels his chest. Hmm, something isn’t right. She opens her eyes and sees Tae Ha. She scrambles out of bed. Ha Jin calls her to wish her happy birthday. He is almost to her house to surprise her with a lovely bouquet of flowers and an engagement ring. Yeo Reum lies that she is at her mother’s house. The is quickly dispelled when her mother is at her house. Yeo Reum lies she is at the studio with Yoon Sol. This is quickly dispelled when Yoon Sol comes walking up to her house to celebrate her birthday. Ha Jin insists on knowing where she is. Unable to fabricate another lie, she tells him she will talk to him later and hangs up. Ha Jin does not know what to do with that. Yeo Reum turns around to find Tae Ha watching her from his bed with a satisfied smile on his face.
- Eric is appealing. His character Tae Ha was once standoffish, but he knows that. He loved her then and he loves her now. I am totally on board with him. Oh yes, we already got one broody shower scene.
- Jung Yu Mi played Yeo Reum with a decent mix of determined girlfriend and flustered former girlfriend. She had good chemistry with both men. The better the chemistry with both, the more you can see both men being viable and the story works better.
- Sung Joon does a dash of smug well. His hair is ok but not great.
- Kim Seul Gi’s best friend character Yoon Sol is direct which I like. I have never seen Yoon Hyun Min before so I am neutral about him but like that his character Do Joon Ho looks out for Yeo Reum.
- Only had a split second glance a delivery girl character An A Rim (Yoon Jin Yi) so no opinion on this character. As a side note, I hated the character Yoon Jin Yi portrayed in Gentleman’s Dignity the weepy whiny Im Meari, this character HAS to be an improvement.
* I love the reference to Que Sera Sera when Tae Ha pokes Yeo Reum’s head just like the Que Sera Sera character Tae Joo poked Eun Soo’s head in their initial and final meeting.
* The writer, Jung Hyun Jung, wrote the three I Need Romance series. Based on that I have mixed feelings on how strong the writing will be. I found I Need Romance 3 pleasant, I Need Romance 2 decent (I am currently watching this show so I do not have a final verdict), and I could not get into the characters of I Need Romance and dropped it.
* I like how they weaved the introduction of these characters in this episode. Sometimes a first episode feels like a fire hose of characters coming at you, but here the characters kept getting added so it felt incremental not overwhelming.
* So far so good. First episodes are often hard to gel with. I am pleased I like all the characters. I may find out otherwise later, but the characters seem NORMAL and NICE. I want to go on this ride with these characters.