Review: Discovery of Romance (2014)
2014 may not has reached its end yet, but Discovery of Romance hasalready managed becoming one of my favorite dramas this year. Scriptwriter Jung Hyun Jung (of I Need Romance 1, 2 & 3 fame) stroke back with an emotionally fortified and intense scenario alongside Jung Yu Mi (Han Yeo Reum) and Eric Mun’s (Kang Tae Ha) couple comeback since Que Sera Sera. On their side stood the acknowledged by now Sung Joon (Nam Ha Jin) and the steadily rising Yoon Jin Yi (An Ah Rim), but also two of my favorite comical drama figures, Yoon Hyun Min (Do Joon Ho) and Kim Seul Gi (Yoon Sol) among others.
Discovery of Romance talks about that moment when the past strikes at the present and all of a sudden the near or far future drowns in uncertainty. Everything begins when Yeo Reum meets suddenly her ex-boyfriend, Tae Ha, while she was scheduling on ruining her boyfriend’s (Ha Jin) blind date and by mistake she takes Tae Ha’s mobile phone instead of hers. From that moment and on the coincidences of Yeo Reum and Tae Ha seeing each other become more and more as time passes by and from a moment and on they start working together. Of course, Ha Jin is unaware of Yeo Reum’s past with Tae Ha. As the story progresses Ah Rim comes to the surface and Ha Jin recognizes her as his orphanage sister back in their childhood days whom she had to leave behind due to his adoption. Ha Jin will keep it a secret from Yeo Reum and from Ah Rim. You can’t help but enjoy the twofold innocent lies from both sides that walk unnoticed so far in the story playground. And that’s the key point from which secrets, coincidences, misunderstandings and sincerity will play their part on Discovery of Romance and let it unfold its electrified storyline.
Something remarkable is the fact that the story doesn’t involve supernatural, magical or whatever factors and it doesn’t rely upon unrealistic facts. It evolves depicting various faces of (South Korean and not only) reality. Tae Ha is the successor of his father’s construction company. Ha Jin has been adopted by a rich family and studied to become a plastic surgeon. Ah Rim since she became an adult and left the orphanage received some money from the government so as to start living on her own and works on many part-times jobs while she’s trying to study at the same time. Yeo Reum (who has to pay back the university debt to her mother) works with Yoon Sol at their workshop whereas those two along with plastic surgeon Joon Ho they live all together at Yeo Reum’s mother’s apartment for which they split the monthly rent.
The chemistry between the main roles and the supporting cast that surrounds them is spot on, everyone lives up to the expectations of the role he/she preserves. The whole cast in front and behind of the cameras, but also behind the script poured their souls into this drama. I enjoyed the interview side of the story in which the main figures talk about themselves and analyze past and present events from their very own point of view, henceforth we see the “truth” from everyone’s perspective, helping the audience complete the puzzle with the flow of episodes.
Discovery of Romance is one of those dramas that makes you feel complete by the moment it reaches its end; no questions have been left unanswered and you won’t be left wondering of what the heck just happened, but you will always return back to recall dialogues, monologues and scenes where silence is louder than any uttered word. Even the interview part gets an explanation. We’re talking about a drama that inhales the daily lives and relationships of figures in a story that could happen to anyone and exhales emotion.
I loved Discovery of Romance all the way from beginning to end; everyone pretty much realized something more about themselves and moved forward by maintaining more parts in the puzzle of personal truth and being. Personally speaking, it’s a beast of a romantic comedy, lighthearted and humorous whenever required (special thanks goes to Yoon Sol and Joon Ho for this), full of depth when the timing asks for it. Everything’s calculated and sincerely depicted in the most natural manner, complimented by a like-minded OST as well. In the end, it’s all about Emotional Intelligence. Feel free to give it a try and I hope you’ll enjoy the journey at least half as much as I did.
From a moment and on Tae Ha’s gradually maturing his emotions towards Yeo Reum and upon a night filled with thoughts and alcohol he offers Yeo Reum an utterly heartfelt and sincere confession/monologue:
There is something I realized, I thought I liked you in the past, it was all fake. Fake. Because it didn’t hurt like this before. It wasn’t as intense in the past and it wasn’t as desperate and it wasn’t as painful either. No matter how many times you told me you were in pain, I couldn’t understand you. But now I know. The one who likes more is in pain. Now I’ m going through it, this is complete hell. It’s hell.
Emotions are selfish sometimes and so is Kang Tae Ha, some will call it selfishness, others self-respect towards one’s emotions.
– Unless the sky falls down, I will never go back to you again. (Yeo Reum)
-The sky will fall down. You can wait for it. (Tae Ha)
Tae Ha’s relationship with Yeo Reum’s father was pretty deep, to the point her father would entrust Yeo Reum’s life in Tae Ha’s hands. As we all know they didn’t end up getting married while they were a couple in the past and Tae Ha suddenly found out that Yeo Reum’s father had passed away during the era they had broken up. Yeo Reum told him he had died in a car accident, but no matter how hard he searched for information he couldn’t find anything about that specific accident, neither Yoon Sol nor Joon Ho knew specific details. After seeing together familiar places that had a connection to her father, during an emotionally fortified scene Tae Ha finds out Yeo Reum’s father had committed suicide and Yeo Reum was trying hard to call Tae Ha, but he was always busy and during an emotional outburst she tells him:
Is your memory that accurate? Your memory is correct after thinking about it a hundred times? Then you should be able to guess when it was at least. Think carefully about when it was. There was the first call and there was a second call. Third, fourth, there must have been countless calls. You said you were busy every time and you didn’t even ask what the reason was. Out of those many days you couldn’t come because you were busy, think carefully about which one of those days it was. You probably can’t even remember because there were too many days like that. Think again, one by one.
Yeo Reum collapses and Tae Ha’s thoughts at the hospital are devastating, it’s a rare moment of self-criticism. At the same time, Ha Jin and Ah Rim are visiting the orphanage, Ah Rim still doesn’t know the real identity of Ha Jin and she starts falling for him while at the same time he appears as a warm-hearted and generous doctor willing to help her and people close to her in any way he can. He still doesn’t have the power to tell her about how they were like brother and sister back in the days in the orphanage before parting ways in such a vulgar way during such an innocent age. And it’s understandable, he kind of feels sorry for having had a good life instead of Ah Rim that didn’t have the same chance like him who grew up with a rich family.
By the moment episodes 11, 12 and 13 reach their end it was about time Yeo Reum broke that relentless and devoid of emotion mask (a mask that was already starting to crack) she was wearing towards Tae Ha. Secrets are about to be revealed and a chain reaction of events will come to the surface. Yeo Reum and Ha Jin’s relationship is at the point of doubt and mistrust from both sides and despite it almost got torn apart, it had its tearful moment of revival, breathing still, but not on tight foundations. Henceforth they decide to go on a trip together whereas at the same time the construction company of Tae Ha is going on a trip as well and all of them meet at the same place. By night a game takes place, whoever answers the questions will receive a prize. Eric totally supports his character, everything he said was only through the game questions that only Yeo Reum could know the answers. The way he was slightly smiling with wet eyes was pretty intense, something between beautiful memories and shattered present with a slight sense of hope. We reach another emotional climax, Yeo Reum confesses that if Tae Ha keeps showing up she’ll end up waiting for him and that he would never know how many times she caught herself starring at the window in case he appears, meaning the moments Tae Ha was passing by her workshop just to stare at her from his car. Afterwards Tae Ha reveals to his buddy Jung Mok that he recalls even the pauses and breaths between every single word she said, making the scene even more alive. We also get to know that on the day of Tae Ha and Yeo Reum’s broke up at the train station years ago, the place where they first met, he was planning on proposing.
As we reach episode 14 here comes the box filled with memories of Tae Ha and Yeo Reum’s past relationship. It was a huge shock for Ha Jin opening it, an expected emotional situation under these circumstances that ended in him pulling Yeo Reum in the streets for hours, making her feet bleed, he couldn’t slow down while time had stopped for him, he couldn’t let her arm while they were going nowhere, just nowhere. He treated her feet though, it was a sign they’d communicate the situation in a seemingly civilized manner, henceforth they did so. Ha Jin, after Yeo Reum mistook him for Tae Ha on the phone, saying that devoid of emotion “I love you” must have felt a cold knife anchoring on his heart. And later on when Ha Jin wanted to hold Ah Rim’s hand it came out so naturally to him, but at the same time so naturally he forced himself not to do so, showing that an internal battle’s taking place. The fact that he takes pills to ease the physical pain is just a sign that what he’s feeling has an impact on his body, Ah Rim’s sound though could ease the burden for a while and make him feel safe, like home.
On the other hand, i like how Tae Ha pushes Yeo Reum at work, he doesn’t want another furniture, he wants to see Yeo Reum through the furniture she’ll design, he wants her to remember how it feels creating something with soul, the creator’s personal approach, that’s the Yeo Reum he adores, the one that leaves her impact on the job she loves doing, the one that leaves her impact. Everything’s here, the pictures οn the camera, the happy birthday thoughts she couldn’t stop herself from wishing him and the memory recollection of Tae Ha’s past birthday with Yeo Reum. You can’t help but love how his birthday wishes were Yeo Reum centered:
I want to be Han Yeo Reum. I want to know why you waited for me and I want to know why you cried in Nami island. I also want to know why you cried on the path next to Deoksoo palace. And I also want to know why pictures of me are on the camera too. Because you would never tell me. So I wish I could become Han Yeo Reum and find out what’s going on in her heart.”
If that’s not a wish then I really don’t know what a wish feels like.
Tae Ha and Ha Jin go out for drinks together to talk like men and they end up fighting, with Ha Jin taking the lead; the reasons Tae Ha gave Ha Jin hurt him more than Yeo Reum. Later on at the police station the bar owner literally says “a doctor punched people and the president of a construction company destroyed my bar.”
-Who did you learn from about relationships, Han Yeo Reum? (Ha Jin)
-I learned it from Kang Tae Ha. Happy? (Yeo Reum)
By episode 15 Tae Ha won’t just stop unleashing utterly heartfelt monologues:
It’s about what you said before. You told me that the special one becomes one of many women in the world with time. That’s wrong, Jung Mok. The one for me, the one and the only one for me, no matter how much time passes, she’s still the only one for me. After breaking up with her, even if I meet someone else and find another love, that special one never becomes one of many people. If you were in my shoes, would you be able to stay quiet?
Why don’t you look at me? I understand what your answer is. Live your life doing what you want to do. Cry and get through it or run away or cover up your heart. Do whatever you want. It’s your life. For me… I’m not sure if you want to know, but I’m okay. I haven’t changed my mind since that night. I still want to become Han Yeo Reum, I want to be with you. I hope you feel the same way. And you don’t need to worry about how I feel. Even if I get hurt, that’s what I chose. Even if I become a jerk, that’s what I chose. And I like the choices I made. I hope you like the choices you make too.
Ha Jin took into consideration Tae Ha’s words and he’s doing his fair share of trying, he’s definitely sincere, like Yeo Reum said, it’s not his fault; compared to Tae Ha’s monologues Ha Jin lacks the fathomless depth, no offense Ha Jin, while you’re trying to understand her when your relationship is at the bottom, Tae Ha after having said more than enough he’s trying to help her realize her dream concerning furniture by searching for local and abroad exhibitions that would totally help her.
The handshake scene between Yeo Reum and Tae Ha was pretty intense and thoughts about how she finally got to hold the hand she desired so once again and he felt as if it was the last time holding her hand and also that he found out what truly love means and how she realized things about herself and be able to dream once again amongst rivers of memories on the journey between them from the moment they met up again after all these years at Ha Jin’s blind date spot. “I think i’ve gone as far as I could with my heart by loving a woman, I don’t have regrets now, because I’ve done everything I could” and that’s how a seemingly simple handshake feels like as if time had stopped for a while.
In the meantime, Ah Rim leaves to study abroad and Ha Jin’s left devastated after Ah Rim’s letter telling him that she knew he was her “brother” and then the sudden realization of truth of how he was unable to say goodbye starting from his adoption day and about his nightmares and painkillers and how he came to realize Yeo Reum’s position, but also that it wasn’t only Yeo Reum’s fault, but his as well at some points, he could finally say a proper goodbye, if one can see it that way, it’s kind of releasing for his inner demons.
And even if Tae Ha’s scene by throwing away the rings seemed like saying goodbye, it felt like throwing two coins in a wishing well to me.
In the end, a year later, everyone pretty much realized something more about themselves and moved forward by maintaining more parts in the puzzle of personal truth and being, even Tae Ha with Yeo Reum moved forward bringing their relationship to a new and more mature scale. Ha Jin and Ah Rim met as well abroad. You know the saying, “all roads lead to Rome”, i’m really glad Tae Ha and Yeo Reum finally became each other’s Rome.
“You’re a jerk, I’m a bitch.”
Yoon Sol and Joon Ho’s bizarre chemistry was definitely adorable and I’m really glad they ended up together. I will never forget the auto-flush toilet present.