Ok Taecyeon has been known for almost always signing up for underwhelming projects, and maybe that is why, despite having a considerable body of work, we can only recollect Vincenzo from his filmography. We like Ok Taecyeon, and it pains us to say that no matter how good he looks or slays, he never really has chemistry with his co-actors. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if you were playing a memorable villain like Jang Jun Woo, who claims he has big ears as a joke to his brother, whom he abused at every step of the way. But if you are a part of a love story like Heartbeat with no chemistry, then it is a regrettable decision.
There were times when we felt like we were wrong, and there was a spark of something, be it the dance sequence or the time Woo Hyeol and In Hae confessed their love for one another. But it was either the writers or someone else who always shied away from showing why the main leads’ love could go beyond the butterfly stage. That is probably why the intensity of the love story was not believable, despite it being a primary requirement for Woo Hyeol and In Hae to be ready to make the decisions they did for each other. The love needed to be in full force in the final episodes of Heartbeat, and that is where it faltered the most. We have said it many times before, but cliches are alright as long as they are well done, and Heartbeat did not get the brief. It looks like King The Land has done all the heavy lifting for the supposed return of the golden age of Korean dramas.
In Hae And Woo Hyeol’s Love Story
We think that the good way to say this is that Woo Hyeol had FOMO. After living for centuries, the only thing he was left to experience was “true love” and a “beating heart,” which is why he did what he did. After his lover died tragically in his arms, she did the worst thing ever: she said that she would come back instead of telling him to move on. This is why Woo Hyeol wants to become human, so that he can experience proper love when she does return. What was he feeling for her all this time, then? We would dislike them less if they had better chemistry.
Woo Hyeol finds out from a shapeshifter cat, Yang Nam, that he should close himself in a Hawthorne coffin for a hundred years to turn human, and the vampire listens because why not? It’s not like he will have any tangible losses if the effort turns out to be a waste of time. He entrusts his butler to take care of the mansion for the next 100 years, a duty he will be passing down to his next of kin. Meanwhile, Woo Hyeol’s friends continue their own tomfoolery.
Sadly enough, Woo Hyeol’s efforts go to waste because his coffin is opened just a day before the completion of the century by none other than the fourth-generation descendant, In Hae, of Woo Hyeol’s butler. She takes some convincing to understand who Woo Hyeol is and how he is connected to the house, but she is clear that the mansion belongs to her in every shape and form. It was rather foolish of Woo Hyeol not to secure his property on a written paper and just trust in intergenerational loyalty. In Hae may have probably been on Woo Hyeol’s side if she had known about him, but her father has been missing for the last five years and has been declared legally dead. She has no idea where he is, and she thinks he has abandoned her.
Woo Hyeol and In Hae become unwilling housemates as the latter tries to integrate himself into the world while waiting for a way to be human or at least for his first love to return. In the meantime, the shapeshifting cat tells him to focus on In Hae because the woman is special as she was able to open the coffin, which apparently no human can do. He even tells Woo Hyeol to make sure that In Hae falls in love so that her blood can turn him human. This cat has intuition honed over millennia, and that is the only explanation for all of his prophecies.
Luckily, love seems to be on the horizon for both In Hae and Woo Hyeol. In Hae runs into a senior of hers who is ready to cross hell and high water for her. Woo Hyeol meets the lookalike of Hae Sun, named Hae Won. The only opinion from us is that it is nice to see love rivals fighting dirty in K-dramaland after so many years. Hae Won is like a child who saw Twilight for the first time and thinks that Woo Hyeol is some sort of Edward Cullen. Do Sik, on the other hand, needs the blood of a half-vampire, half-human, to break the curse of early death on his family. It would have been better if he had been a vampire hunter of sorts. What brings all of them together is the mansion and a troublesome vampire by the name of Man Hwi, who will do anything for money. He knows who Woo Hyeol is and already hates him, so when he finds out what Do Sik needs, he makes a plan to sacrifice Woo Hyeol.
Do Sik is on board with the idea because, naturally, he doesn’t trust something that is not human, and he wants In Hae for himself. As for Hae Won, she creates trouble when she finds out that Woo Hyeol may not be with her. She withdraws her investment in the guest house and spreads the rumor that Woo Hyeol is a vampire. Another major plot point is that Man Hwi was the reason for In Hae’s father, Dong Il’s, disappearance. Man Hwi had a human coop of sorts where he kept the kidnapped people to draw blood from them, and Dong Il was one of them. He and the rest of the humans are later rescued by Woo Hyeol when Man Hwi tries to kidnap him as well, to no avail. The father and daughter are reunited, and In Hae is somewhat healed from her past. Throughout it all, Woo Hyeol is steadily walking towards his death. He cannot drink In Hae’s blood without draining her completely, and if he were to live, she wouldn’t survive. Therefore, he has no choice but to walk away from his life in the name of love.
Is Woo Hyeol Alive?
We would like to start by saying that Man Hwi’s death was one of the most underwhelming things we saw. Not that he managed to be a fearsome villain, to begin with, but the way he passed away felt too simple. As he is talking to a disgruntled Do Sik and Hae Won, the former stabs him with the silver and Hawthorne knife before he can harm Hae Won. That is the end of Man Hwi, as he evaporates into the air. He could have been set on fire, at the very least. As for Hae Won, all it took for the childishness to be knocked out of her was a good dose of fear.
When she saw Man Hwi with his fangs bared, she probably realized that vampires are not as romantic as Edward Cullen. Therefore, she decides to stop troubling In Hae and Woo Hyeol and withdraws the redevelopment plan for the neighborhood, taking away the final threat to the guest house. She meets Woo Hyeol one last time before going away to the US and warns him that Do Sik needs his blood. Woo Hyeol sees this as a chance to do some final good in this world before he leaves and asks Do Sik to be the one to stab him, after which he could take his blood for himself. Woo Hyeol doesn’t mind Do Sik and sees that he is a good man who can take care of In Hae in his absence.
On his last day, Woo Hyeol goes to the beach with In Hae, and they take a lot of pictures, with what is about to come being unsaid. When the two get back home, Woo Hyeol passes out, and In Hae takes the chance to give him a few drops of her blood and passes out herself. When Woo Hyeol wakes up, he may not know what In Hae has done, but he realizes that she is the reincarnated Hae Sun. However, it is too late now, and he heads to the beach to meet Do Sik, who is waiting with his dagger. Before he can do anything, In Hae comes there, and Woo Hyeol grabs Do Sik’s hand to stab himself. While breathing his last, Woo Hyeol promises to meet her again, the same way she had promised to come back.
Time passes, and people move on. Do Sik donate a lot of money to the health and well-being of children with cardiac problems? We are not sure if he took Woo Hyeol’s blood since he says that he wants to do the best he can in whatever time he has, implying that he doesn’t have much. Maybe Woo Hyeol’s life inspired him on similar lines to Dev Anand’s iconic dialogue that “life should be big and not long.” As for Woo Hyeol’s friends, they are doing well for themselves with the gold he left them. On that note, it was Yang Man who took that gold and returned it to In Hae, who probably gave some of it to Sung Hae and Dong Seop.
During Heartbeat’s ending, everyone is gathered at a party, but In Hae is missing Woo Hyeol. However, she sees him as the episode closes, and we are left with a very important question: whether he is alive. The first scenario is that he is definitely dead, and what In Hae saw was a vision of his. The second option is that he survived. Yang Man had said at the beginning of Heartbeat that one must die as something to be reborn as something else. That is probably what happened to Woo Hyeol because let us not forget that In Hae gave him her blood right before he was stabbed. He may have passed away as a vampire, but her love-filled blood turned him fully human. The ending of Heartbeat is a tease, and for the hours of watch time we have invested in this show, we will go with the latter option.
Heartbeat is tough to binge-watch and is better taken one episode at a time over the course of a few days. Frankly, it is not a bad series if you are still not riding on the wave of Lee Jun Ho and Im Yoona’s incredible chemistry from King the Land. Otherwise, Ok Taecyeon’s capability and dedication deserve better scripts. It hurts our hearts not to see him work on projects that give him the recognition he deserves. Until then, Heartbeat is some average fare to keep us engaged.