Review: tvN’s ‘Touch Your Heart’ is The Near-Perfect Rom-Com We Need In These Trying Times
Every rom-com is an amalgamation of sorts of well-worn tropes that just work. This is the very essence of a romantic comedy — the very reliance on tried-and-true character and plot tropes that altogether lead to a guaranteed happy ending, that have established the rom-com as its own unique, recognizable genre.
That said, the effectiveness and allure of the modern rom-com lies in the way that such tropes are created and presented in ways that feel altogether new and authentic, and yet at the same time familiar and inherently comforting. It is this delicate balance that tvN’s 2019 series ‘Touch Your Heart’ manages to execute so exceedingly well, that despite its rather under-the-radar status, it might just be the very story we all sorely need in these trying times.
Although perhaps most known as the reunion project reuniting former co-stars Lee Dong Wook and Yoo Inna of the 2016 hit drama ‘Goblin’, ‘Touch Your Heart’ stands well enough on its own. And indeed, to its credit, much of what makes the series so captivatingly watchable is its two capable leads, whose chemistry has been notably popular since their first pairing.
But despite the subtle overhanging inclination to connect the leads to their previous project, treating ‘Touch Your Heart’ as merely a satisfaction-grantor of sorts to pick up from where ‘Goblin’ left off does the series a disservice, as it’s definitely well-crafted enough to please non-fans, or indeed, even those unfamiliar with the K-drama genre. For one, perhaps more so than many other rom-coms in the K-drama territory, the script radiates pure warmth and sentiment, but in such ways that never come off as saccharine or inauthentic. The plot and character tropes are familiar enough, and under the experienced direction of Park Joon Hwa, who also directed 2017’s ‘What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?’, Lee Dong Wook and Yoo Inna are capable enough performers that they never feel like mere tropes, but like actual, human characters that I truly came to care for. Yoo Inna as Oh Yun Seo is charming as ever as the scorned-by-the-public actress recovering from the limelight, while Lee Dong Wook’s Kwon Jung Rok might be the best iteration of the standoffish-awkward-workaholic trope. Combined together, both actors share a natural ease and chemistry that it’s instantly easy to root for their characters, both individually and as a couple.
Special mention also goes to director Park, who is an expert of sorts in crafting emotionally grounded scenes that feel so intimate and personal, the viewer feels almost like an intruder in them. There are a handful of such unexpectedly honest moments in the series, where its emotional ground shines through amidst its more lighthearted moments.
And indeed, ‘Touch Your Heart’ is humble and sincere in its dedication of celebrating every kind of relationship, which is exhibited through its more minor couples: there is the subversive quirkiness in fellow lawyers Choi Hyun Yuk (Shim Yeong Tak) and Dan Moon Hee (Park Kyung Hye), who although were initially featured primarily for their comedic antics, eventually find a sincere emotional anchor as a couple. There also is the nod to the rekindling of old flames in fellow prosecutors Kim Se Won (Lee Sang Woo) and Yoo Yeo Reum (Son Sung Yoon), as well as the mature open ended-ness of Yang Eun Ji (So Yeon Jang) and detective-turned-paralegal Lee Do Seob (Park Ji Hwan).
The law firm setting also provides a stable legal background for much of the romance, as well as adding a few legal subplots that are truly intriguing to follow, but never overshadow the overarching plot. This is after all, before anything else, a story of two people finding their way to each other, and it excels at doing just that — proving, perhaps, more than anything, that complex and high-stakes-driven plots don’t always necessarily make for good stories.
In an increasingly growing entertainment landscape of plot-after-plot series designed to hold viewers’ attention until the next episode plays (this is, after all, the streaming era), the very humility of tvN’s ’Touch Your Heart’ shines through like a little bright beacon of pure, unashamed heart and affection. After all, isn’t that what true love — elusive as it is — all about anyway?
All screenshots are taken from tvN.