The first episode proves to be as spicy and snazzy as its predecessor, with a similar opening scene, but a very different cast and feel. I Need Romance 2012 is still similar to the first one season in that it’s about a young woman ready to marry and finding herself between two men. While the first one had Jo Yeo Jung between a younger man and her longtime boyfriend, Jung Yoo Mi here finds herself choosing between her long time lover, and a once-upon-a-time fling. The only reason why I tuned in? My Woonie’s here.
Here’s episode 1 – a summary and a review. Consistent recaps? Pending review. Where to watch? Try here.
If I could title this episode, it’d be: “1. How Many Kisses Can You Remember?”
Joo Yeol Mae (Jung Yoo Mi) has been dating Yoon Seok Hyun (Lee Jin Wook) for over 12 years. They know everything about each other, having grown up together, then fallen in love, and then broken up 5 times before officially ending it. The opening scene has the two of them romancing each other from a jazz bar to a lovemaking fest, but it ends up just being a scene in Seok Hyun’s movie. Yep – he too is a director/writer. (Yeol Mae is a music director – so they’re in the same industry and are equal in the qualifications category.) She’s pissed that Seok Hyun is ripping from their real life romance and putting it on paper for the whole world to see, but he’s like, “Whatever.”
Though the two of them have been broken up for three years already, they still live with each other (or next door to each other, in room placement), and they are familiar with each other’s families. Yeol Mae’s grandmother has been setting her up on blind dates (I want to meet this grandmother), which Seok Hyun knows very well about, but isn’t jealous of. After all, the reason they broke up was because Yeol Mae wanted to get married, and he didn’t. He claims to not know anyone who is still happily married.
So Yeol Mae heads off to her blind date – with none other than Kim Han Seob (Jung Gyu Woon) Swoon! But apparently, Yeol Mae and he had dated before, and she doesn’t recognize him at all. Of course, Woonie is understandably angry, since they dated for a month, kissed three times, and she still doesn’t recognize him. When Yeol Mae has a girl talk session with her best friends Ji Hee and Jae Kyung, it takes her a good while before she remembers where he’s from. They did date – and the reason she permanently blocked him out of her memories was because he was such a bad kisser.
(My Woonie!? A bad kisser!? Who are you kidding!?!?)
Flashback to when she was in high school with Seok Hyun – and apparently the two of them shared their first kiss together. It was such a spectacular, intense, puppy love kiss that Yeol Mae hasn’t been able to remember any kisses – or men, for that matter – after him. (By the way – the two of them as high school students is adorable. It’s not just the uniform that makes it cute, but the fact that both of them really act like immature students.)
But too bad – they’ve broken up. Many times it’s because they’ve been fighting and it’s for stupid reasons. The first time around, they fought because Seok Hyun wanted to see her, but he ended up writing in his laptop for the next four hours, boring her out of her mind. She got so mad that she just blurted, “Let’s break up!” and he agreed. He ignored her for three months, but they really did miss each other, and reunited soon after. All Seok Hyun had to say was, “I write better with you next to me,” and she would have understood, and they wouldn’t have fought. Men. Why so uncommunicative?
Yeol Mae goes on another blind date, and she’s not entirely sure which one it is. There are plenty of non-good looking types on blind dates… However, one nods her way out of recognition and she beelines for him, thinking he must have read her profile. This guy – Shin Ji Hoon (Kim Ji Suk) – is actually not her date, though he knows that she’s a music director and her name. (Her poor date is actually a chubbier, balding, definitely not suave or good looking, and definitely not Woonie.) It befuddles Yeol Mae so much, since Ji Hoon isn’t here to see her but knows who she is. So she ditches her date and goes back to Ji Hoon’s table. Do they know each other?
Ji Hoon’s disappointed she doesn’t recognize him. So… did they kiss? Ji Hoon: “We probably did.” Did they date?!?! Ji Hoon: “Ah, so now you remember me…”
As for Ji Hee and Jae Kyung’s side stories: Ji Hee is successfully dating a doctor for five months – but all that’s in his mind is probably sex because he wants to go over to her home instead of having a picnic. She thinks she’s so innocent and pure, but actually she’s not, having had some experience with men. I love how Ji Hee’s list of past men she’s kissed include a “Kim Duk Soo” – shout out to one of my favorite men in I Need Romance! (Tall, dark, handsome, with a dash of nerdy!)
And Jae Kyung is married to a prominent news anchorman, and while they present the epitome of a happy married life, in reality they’re more like good friends who live together. They sleep on twin beds that during the day are pushed together, and at night are separated. Their wedding pictures come down, and they live more like two roommates who know how to put on a good act of a married couple. And Jae Kyung seems happy still.
While Jung Yoo Mi is a winning actress, and honestly I do like her in this role, I hate her character. Maybe because she’s playing it so well, but her character’s personality is quite bitchy. While Jo Yeo Jung’s character was more airheaded at times, she wasn’t a completely mean girl. Yeol Mae just forgets guys like *that* and I have to say that if I were a guy, that would hurt my feelings. Though she claims to not be very flirty, clearly she doesn’t give a lot of brain cells to guys she dates. It also emphasizes how much she loves Seok Hyun, as the two are like a perfect married couple without the ring. Her head is filled with thoughts of him, and she can’t get over him even if she tries. Too much baggage, I say.
Other than that, episode 1 was mainly a set up episode (like all other first episodes) and gave us a very promising start. I actually like that her girlfriends are in imperfect relationships themselves, instead of looking for relationships. I’m most interested in Jae Kyung’s story because I’d love to see how her marriage works out. It’s so atypical, as they have a rhythm going on where they can smoothly transition from loving couple to “cool couple.” It also doesn’t seem like her best friends know, so I can’t wait for them to find out. Since Yeol Mae seems to put their relationship on a pedestal, I wonder how she’ll feel when she finds out there’s no “perfect couple” even after marriage.
In the first series, Jo Yeo Jung ended up with the imperfect-but-longstanding Kim Jeong Hoon. I didn’t care much for whom she ended up with. However, in this drama, I do wish that Yeol Mae ends up with Seok Hyun. He’s so adorkable, and looks aside, I think he really has a big heart – one that can love Yeol Mae more than she deserves. If he can accept Yeol Mae’s impulsiveness and break up with her five times, only to get back together with her those five times, he’s a keeper. (Then again, we don’t know if the other four times were all prompted by her yet. It does sound like she cheated on him with Han Seob at one point.) Though Seok Hyun does not look like he has much in his bank, or prospects, love is not always based on money. Love is just… love, and timing. The timing between Yeol Mae and Seok Hyun hasn’t really worked out yet, but I’m sure if Ji Hoon finds out she’s cohabiting with an ex, sparks are going to fly.