Heartstrings: The First 7 Measures

I usually give a Kdrama I’m interested in about 5 episodes before I stop, drop and roll. I don’t necessarily suggest this method but I find that if the drama doesn’t make you want to stick around by the third week, it really isn’t worth it. Now I’m not saying dramas prove to be watching throughout it’s run, however, I can at least pinpoint why I invested my time by that time stamp. Allotting dramas this bit of room helps me to arrange what I think, how I feel and assess why I’m really watching. Therefore, it will be very rare that I ever post about a Korean drama I haven’t seen at least 5 hours of.

You’ve Fallen For Me aka Heartstrings has been airing for a month and just  passed my cut off, so I now feel relatively comfortable to share my thoughts on the drama. I posted about it’s premiere awhile back and though it wasn’t my most anticipated July drama, I was definitely going to take a gander or two. Given the off-screen chemistry of the leading pair and the on-screen sizzle of the second, I was certain this drama at least had one thing going for it.

[**WARNING: this is a monster post.]

Seven Ep Sum Up

1. Boy meets girl.

“I don’t like ugly people. It pains me to even talk to you.” — Lee Shin

Famous Broadway performer, Kim Suk Hyun(Song Chang Ui) returns to his alma-mater to head the 100th year Anniversary Annual Musical. Unbeknowst to him, his college muse Jung Yoon Soo (So Yi Hyun), has also returned, her professional ballet aspirations snuffed out by injury. She’s now a dance professor and will be working with him on his musical project.

Lee Gyu Won (Park Shin Hye), a gayageum player and Traditional Music major, spends her days studying her instrument and her nights catering to her persnickety Grandfather, a traditional music icon Lee Hyun Jin (Shin Goo). Turns out, not only is he an enthusiast, he’s a purest, who believes all other music is witchcraft and the new “fusion” wave cat poo. This conviction made him disown his son and transfer all his unachieved dreams onto his young granddaughter. Therefore, when Grumpy Gramps finds Mozart and other vacuously blasphemous paraphernalia in Gyu Won’s room(given to her by her father) he destroys it.

Meanwhile, the hottest band on campus, The Stupids, are contracted to play for a charity event for an ill professor in the Traditional Music Dept. The band’s front man and most insanely popular member Lee Shin(Jung Yonghwa) is an aloof and indifferent sort, until he ogles Broken Ballerina (aka Yoon Soo) as she practices late at night at the school. Each time she stumbles or buckles in pain, he’s there as her shoulder and support, though she doesn’t seem to keen on the attention.

By the night of the event, Shin and Gyu Won have had more than one run in: first, in class(he says her music puts him to sleep), then at his concert(he ignores her) and later at school(he calls her ugly); all ending less than friendly. However, when Shin’s sister is rushed to hospital with appendicitis, he’s reluctant to skip out on his obligation but still decides to leave The Stupids looking… well, you know.

Just so happens, Seok Hyun’s college buddy has invited him to the event to check out the new musical talent but is left with an indelible impression of Gyu Won who reluctantly takes over vocals in Shin’s absence. He follows her to the hospital and finds her in tears, for her professor died only hours before the event began.

After flaking on the charity performance, Gyu Won considers Shin a selfish prick, so when he comes to return her money all apologetic-like, she tells him to kick rocks!

2.Girl hates boy.

Pity. If you want to pity me, go right ahead. I welcome it.” — Jung Yoon Soo

Shin tosses Gyu Won her money in a backward apology and ends up in a battle of the bands slavery bet. Shin’s band-mates find him overly worked up but rather comical for getting duped into such a competition. Grumpy Gramps finds out about the feud and keeps Gyu Won up throughout the nights leading up to D-day, urging her to win for all Traditionalist musicians everywhere— GAYAGEUM POWER(fist pump)!

After a chance meeting sniffing out chicken, Yeo Joon Hee(Kang Min Hyuk), The Stupid’s veracious drummer, sneaks to watch the Chairman princess, Han Hee Joo (Woo Ri) dance to Beyoncé every chance he gets. Preparing for the stage-off, Joon Hee tells the band about Traditional Prof’s passing. It’s show time and the place is  packed, including Broken, Broadway(aka Seon Hyuk) and Tae Jun but Windflower loses by a string and Gyu Won becomes Shin’s personal gofer for a month.

Meanwhile, Broadway wants Broken Ballerina Prof nowhere near his production and depletes his mean word bank and outside voice passes to make her quit. Unfortunately, she stands her ground, only to collapse once he leaves, revealing she’s broken in more places than one, to the viewers and her student stalker Shin.

In parent world, Shin’s mom gets a request from Shin’s dad(Lee Hyun Soo) to come by and see him for he’s dying and wants to see his son. She contemplates whether to bring Shin to see the sick musician but declares either way she won’t come again. The next day, she takes Shin by under the pretense of guitar lessons and he and his father strum together for hours.

3. Boy attracts girl.

“I want to hear it again. Your gayageum music.”–Lee Shin

Shin plays his gig at a local café and Gyu Won is stirred by his performance. Afterward, he shows up at Broken Ballerina’s place and confides he just met his father for the first time. Broken is annoyed he stopped by but genuinely happy for him.

In one of Gyu Won’s first indentured tasks– impersonate Shin during class roll call– she fails, gifting she and Shin apologetic letter writing punishment. However, Prof ain’t stupid and makes them clean out the drama room as well. Shin orders her to clean it herself but thinks bigger and makes her dress up in costumes as well. Before it’s all done, they end up tripping on top of one another having an “oo la la la” eye-sweating moment of time stoppage.

Later, Director Broadway announces his concept for the musical which strongly resembles the love and lost chronicles of he and Broken Ballerina. They decide to hold auditions and Broadway tries to get both Shin and Gyu Won to participate. Shin rejects the invitation but scoffs at Gyu Won’s chances, pushing her to enter Windflower in the running. Broadway is a busy beaver, for he also gets Lee Soo Myung to track down former prodigy Hyun Ki-young(Lee Hyun Jin)and trick him into auditioning. Apparently, Ki Young was a theater major but dropped out due to stage fright. Ki Young has lost all confidence in himself and refuses to sing but Broadway guilts him and he belts his piece with the accompaniment of Windflower.

Meanwhile, Munchie(aka Joon Hee) lures Pitiful Princess(Hee Joo) out in the rain with chocolate bars(her BMI nemesis) and she catches cold. This leaves her unable to make the audition. Munchie begs Broadway for another chance and creates an opportunity for her to perform. When it’s all said and done, she has the singing début all girls dream of.

4. Girl intrigues boy.

   

“Even if you can easily give up on yourself, I can’t.” –Kim Suk Hyun

Like any good stalker worth legal restraint, Shin perches on the balcony patio to see his lady love arrive and glimpses Gyu Won with her friends. To get a piece of Gyu Won cheer Massa’ Shin invents a new task–mandatory morning coffee runs. At practice, he also announces his change of heart toward The Stupids’ Centennial participation and gets jokes it must be about a girl.

Broadway transfers Gyu Won from the musical grouping to acting, which places her in the line of the Triflin’ Trio’s eye pistols. For their first practice, Princess and Gyu Won get a knuckle sandwich from Jealous Judy and the Girls, but later they get a crash course in realitometry courtesy of Director Broadway.

Jealousy and confusion loom the air as everyone gets a chance to spy their potential partner fawn or gaze at someone else. Broken Noona gets locked inside the school and makes the mistake of calling Shin. This sends him in flurry to save her and giddily report back to Guitarist Daddy.

Gyu Won’s not feeling acting and drops out of the performance. But Broadway knows the wily ways of femininity and uses Shin’s entry into the musical as a bargaining chip to get Gyu Won to come back— and it works! Ki-young fractures his leg, confirming the theater gods’ evil plan to sabotage his performance future but Broadway makes it clear he won’t let Ki-young wallow in a puddle of pity– he will be on stage again.

Ballerina Prof catches Gyu Won taking the musical seriously and coaches her through the night on dance moves. Shin witnesses the practice and sees her the next morning waddling in pain and gives her a ride.  After practice, Ballerina extends her hand to Broadway and invites him over for a wine, then calls Brown Noser to break off their dinner under duress but notices unshakeable Shin and stops to confront him. However, he has something up his sleeve — a necklace. Shin kisses his noona professor and gives her a chain of affection. Broadway gives Gyu Won a ride home and passes Ballerina and Shin pecking in public.

5. Boy rejects girl.

I don’t view you as a man. And for me, the person I need, isn’t a boy chasing dreams but a grown man. “ — Jung Yoon Soo

Everyone goes home with “THE HECK?!” smeared across their faces. Gyu Won thumps her chest ’cause this tightness better be indigestion! Shin picks up his guitar and fingers quarter notes of romance the night away. Unfortunately, the next day Broken Ballerina hands the gift back and tells him to stop playing childish games. Once Gyu Won is hip to Shin’s true feelings for Ballerina Prof, she tries to talk some sense into him, tearing at the wounds ballerina just pied on his heart. Massa Shin makes an executive decision and breaks their contract, demanding she stay out of his business, but later thinks better of it and takes it all back, suggesting they see it through.

Meanwhile, Director Broadway discharges Ki-young and wheels him into the theater, telling him he can’t leave until he gets his life together and walks onto the stage. Broadway questions Broken and Shin’s relationship and tells her his jealousy has revealed his suppressed love for her. Ki-young performs at the café with new-found determination, blowing everyone away (again!), then Broadway returns to school to find Broken, proving there’s nothing a bear hug won’t fix.

Shin and Gyu Won both see this and she rips his head out his– er, the clouds. But instead of a smile of gratitude. Shin seethes, reminding her they are nothing to one another and asks her if she likes him– cause she needs to get over that quick!

In parental universe, Shin’s mom gets an opportunity to move them all into a Korean style home and takes it. And of course, it’s right next to Gyu Won and Grumpy.

6. Girl likes boy.

“Now that I’m gone, do as you please.” –Lee Hyun Soo

Gyu Won caught Shin’s grenade, replaces the pin and cries with pained understanding. Shin goes to Guitarist Daddy  for advice and notices he’s improved on their song. Daddy shares his story of love and regret with him asking Shin to make better choices. Shin later shares this with his mom who is irritated Daddy shared such drivel.

Sensitive stalker becomes salty suitor as Shin watches Broadway and Ballerina arrive to school together. Noona Ballerina tells Shin to act his age and forget her, cause there’s no hope for them.  Shin decides to  throw his feelings and necklace for Ballerina into the grassy knoll behind school.

Broadway speaks with too-old-to-be jealous Tae Jun and they argue about Tae Jun’s sycophant syndrome. The university needs money, therefore they need Broadway’s face but his opinions, ideas and plans? Put that back. So when practice time arrives and Shin and Gyu Won are ghost,  Director Broadway dials her up  and fumes a no-show means no show(for them). She lashes at Shin and tells his back to suck it up but he whips around, grabs her gayageum and says that’s the plan. They spend the day catching rain(tear)drops.

In parental pastures, Guitarist Daddy calls Gyu Won’s dad over with a 20 year old apology (of sorts). He relinquishes all unofficial rights to Magazine Momma and asks him to take care of she and Shin but Sensei ain’t hearing it. Shin shows up for Daddy play time but he’s indisposed. Soon after, Mom takes oblivious Shin to Guitarist’s funeral. He’s speechless when Daddy’s wife hands him a guitar and the sheet music he’d left with him on his last visit. That night, Mom drowns her memories and regrets with soju and tears, while Shin pics through his pain.

It’s Gyu Won’s last day as a slave and Shin mentions finding a necklace but takes it back. Gyu Won assembles the Windflower search party and unearth nothing. However, when The Stupid’s sans Shin tell her about Guitarist’s death, she sets out again and is successful. She looks for Shin and finds him in their rain-catcher spot but he’s sobbing– in Ballerina’s embrace.

 7. Boy loses girl.

“Shin is crying. I should the first one to tell him, “Everything is fine. You’ll be ok.” But right now Shin is in someone else’s arms. Not mine–someone else’s.” — Lee Gyu Won

Gyu Won falls ill from crying in the rain but returns to school and gives Shin his lost necklace. She announces she’s over him and spends the next few days kissing unicorns  and hugging rainbows to prove it. Shin isn’t impressed and asks her to drop her pretense and live normally. Grandfather spies Gyu Won’s stealthily hidden Centennial info and bans her from the production(and unknowingly, the lead tryouts), locking her in her room as penance.  The news hits the Music School super-highway and Shin and Director Broadway scurry to save the damsel. Shin succeeds and she sings C.N. Blue’s “I Will Forget,” but not before she comes clean to Shin that she isn’t over quite him, but no worries, it won’t take too long. Her momentary shock over losing to Hee Joo is drowned out when everyone huddles around her saying their own rendition of “you go girl.”

Tae Jun the backstabber has posed setting up two performance teams who will vie for the Centennial stage to the Chairman and is out to recruit. His goal? Separate and destroy– Director Broadway that is. Now winner of the leading role, Princess warns Ki-young to get over himself, cause she won’t be dragged down with him again. He agrees but feels she needs to check her attitude, cause no one likes an arrogant Annie.

If saying and singing, “I’m getting over you” didn’t hit home, Gyu Won’s snub over Shin’s bike ride back to Grumpy Gramps prison just might hit the spot. She chooses to take advantage of Broadway’s four-wheel drive instead.

Thoughts:

The Leads

So far I don’t have many major complaints about the cast. The weakest link truly is  Yoon Soo because there just isn’t anything there. We know a bit of her back story– She broke Seo Hyuk’s heart and dipped out for her future career and fame, but that’s about it.

I think it works that Shin and Gyu Won are different enough to be good friends and possible lovers. Then they have the foil of Broadway and Ballerina, who seem to be them– 15 years later. The pic above not only shows the juxtaposition of the characters and their loves but also their personality counterpart.

I also think it’s nice that Broadway sees so much potential in Gyu Won, something that I feel we are to believe stems from his moment as a professional. Though I’m not sure about that, I think it’s clear he has a vision and a gut feeling that can be trusted on most accounts, and for that I want to trust him. His conviction is so strong that you as the audience begin to view Gyu Won differently and that is nice as well. For now, the romance angle is speeding along, but Broadway and Broken’s patched up relationship seems a little too easy-bake oven at this stage. I think there are some things that need to be cleared up between the two and instead of that, they just jumped into the present. In some cases, this could work itself out but I have a feeling there are some storms ahead. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if they parted ways, but this time much healthier way than the first.

I also have to admit, until the arrival of Ki Young, Broadway was my favorite character. Ultimately, I credit Song Chang Ui with this magic but all in all he was the most intriguing character until episode 3. It was then, that Shin made a substantial connection with me, for though I like Yonghwa’s  indifferent and nonchalant turn as Lee Shin, there was still a disconnect for me. And I can’t blame his acting entirely, though I’m sure that’s the elephant.

For, I believe that Shin is supposed to be this pensive and indifferent personality, so ultimately a better actor would get that across in a more palpable way. Cause when Shin spends quiet moments with his dad just playing, riffing together, it’s beautiful. Something about those moments really draw me in and help me see Shin as a real person, longing for attachment. It’s heart-breaking because you can feel the emotions in that moment– this little boy who’s waited so long to share something with his father. That’s what makes him losing his father that much more painful. We see Shin open his heart, only to have his ally taken away and that I definitely grieved over.

The Band

I like that we have both worlds of music represented fairly well in this drama. We also get a taste of the old school way of thinking and the 21st Century wave . Without totally disrespect or flippancy, we see music is flexible and evolving, yet steady and unchanging. Music can remain pure per genre but also fused to created something altogether new worth appreciating as well. There’s a standard but not a rule and I appreciate that this drama has decided to showcase that aspect.

Windflower and The Stupids collaborate more in that last episode than ever and I see this being a trend for the remainder of the series. I honestly feel it’s a great way to introduce the fusion concept without beating us over the head with it because we see the characters playing it out, making beautiful music together.

Overall, I’ve love the traditional and fusion pieces chosen for the drama and look forward to hear more. Above all, I respect that we see real talented musicians play, real instruments. We can tell that Park Shin Hye has practiced to make her playing authentic, therefore she isn’t an eyesore against the other “day job” musicians. The soundtrack is nice as well, showcasing C.N. Blue of course and FT Island which I think is a cheeky but excellent choice.

The Family

The pic above is my favorite because I feel it expresses what Team Shin-Won will look like. Their both so jovial in this shot, such lovely liberation flowing from them that I truly can’t wait to see them get to this point in their lives– in this drama(You hear me SHOW!).

Music owns these characters down to their genes and that’s something else that I like about how the drama is layered. Gyu Won is caught between a son and his father that have such strong passions that she hasn’t had an opportunity to develop any. The way the drama is moving, Gyu Won will continue to grow and express herself and be able to make a sound decision, based on who she is and wants to be. I think this is what draws her to Shin because there is this freedom in him as he performs.

Where music is relatively torpid for Gyu Won, it’s insidious for Shin (considering his father’s obsession leading to his alcohol abuse). Both characters have demons and familial obstacles and expectations to overcome even without the inevitability of past revelations. For, it seems the families of Lee Shin and Lee Gyu Won are connected being that their parents were once all friends until Shin’s dad swooped in and broke up Gyu Won’s dad and Shin’s mom. Since then, there has been little contact between the men until Guitarist’s deathbed apology. Also Gyu Won’s father sees Shin’s mom as the one who got away. That could always rear it’s head in further development. The older generation really isn’t something that I’m too intrigued by beyond what it might mean for their kids’ future relationship. Everyone being tangled this way, including Gramps, is a little much but what is a K-drama without angst, ne?

The Musical

No one else at the school really governs a mention except for Hyun Ki-Young. He is the character I pray every episode to see one minute longer. I’m still trying to figure out why he’s not a main character. He so deserves some Gyu Won crushing, STAT! Each and everytime this man sings I’m drawn into his world– mine halts instantly. He really is that good. His raw energy, fervent desire and expression of emotions spurns you along with him. He enthralls you to the point, you grasp the dream he’s trying to attain. He is magical. Therefore, I absolutely ABHOR that we don’t spend all our time staring at his tonsils. Cause I really would watch an entire hour of him on stage, alone, just singing.

 

Have I fallen?

In a word:  “Sure.” I’m still of the belief, even with airing a month, the director nor writer quite know what tone or type of drama they’re trying to produce. Each episode is nice but misses something that makes you love it, whether it’s plot holes, poor acting or uneven directing/editing. This drama takes place at an Arts School, therefore, it isn’t the first drama of it’s kind, nor is it new for even this year (Dream High), however, the characters are definitely different and the world a little more acceptable for my taste. Per my rule it took three episodes for me to care about a main character and seven for me to anticipate another episode.

I actually didn’t begin to even like or respect Gyu Won as a character, until she was willing to confront her feelings and try to resolve them. She annoyed me with liking Shin from the onset because I just didn’t understand why. He’s a decent guy, a good kid and phenomenal musician, so wanting to be his friend is relatable but anything beyond was murky in my opinion. Him liking her makes much more sense, so I like that he’s coming around to embracing that fact. It’s great that he’s moving on passed his ballerina pity crush and owning his initial ignored attraction to Gyu Won. He was drawn to her from the first moments of episode one and we see glimpses of his intrigue and respect throughout each episode. I love that it takes someone older(Sun Hyuk) on the outside, to point out that these two may like one another. I’m not saying that this means instant couple but it rings true to how oblivious you can be to your own interactions with another person.

Heartstrings is slower than I’d like and choppy in its execution but the story is heartfelt and warm. I find it to be more “slice of fanciful life” than anything else and am enjoying it, for now. It’s entering it’s halfway mark (aired episode 8 this week) and seems to be making wonderful strides to be cute and endearing. If you haven’t taken a moment to check it out, I would say enter with caution. It’s not for everyone, but for everyone who enjoys it, I’m sure we won’t be disappointed. (Again, you heard that, right… SHOW!)

[Official photos courtesy of IMBC via fanapop.  For all screencaps credit– withsubtitlesplease ]

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7 Replies to “Heartstrings: The First 7 Measures”

  1. Totally agree with what you said about Hearstrings. It’d actually taken a dip for me after 6 eps, what with all the Gyu Won aching for Shin, and him pining for the dance instructor. Got a lil bit too dramatic and sappy for my taste. Luckily Ep 7 managed to take a new turn and moved on to lighter stuff between Shin and Gyu Won. Tho I’m still not very convinced with GW’s sudden resolve that she’s not interested in Shin anymore, and that Shin’s like suddenly OVER the dance instructor for good, at least we get some development between the OTP.

    Wish drama could show more of Ki Young. His aura is really domineering and commanding whenever he’s on screen that you really can’t take eyes off him. I’m actually quite interested in his dynamics with Hee Joo because they seem to have had some bit of thing or history in the past? Dun think his stage fright was the main reason?

  2. Seriously, until the wonderful turn in episode seven, Ki Young was the only reason I kept watching! Similar to my hope during Plan Bi to see Oh Ji Ho one more time! I’m still sick I watched that crap all the way through.

    Anyway, I’ve always hoped for a Gyu Won/Ki Young pairing(cause that made more sense to me and I just want it!) but that’s not going to happen. I also felt similar to you, about he and Hee Joo but given the last episodes, I don’t think there’s much there either. I’m thinking they may have been closer(friends/classmates) but no sparks. He treats her like a little hoobae. Personally, I really believe that the writers have changed their minds on a few things. And I’m not sure how I feel about that but I’ll wait until this week and decide.

  3. Hi there
    Would you mind having your recap included in the Heartstings official thread?

    ——————————————————————-
    re: Heartstings recapper

    stardusts to bekipallesen
    September 1, 2011 @ 8:09AM

    Sure just let me know when you get approval.

    On Aug 30, 2011, bekipallesen wrote:

    Hi

    I think this recap is one of the best I’ve read on Heartstrings. Can you maybe include it in your list? After getting the ok from the author, of course. (no, she’s not me) 🙂

    https://withsubsplease.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/heartstrings-the-first-7-measures/

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