I hope my opinion doesn’t ignite a firestorm but if it does then at least good old-fashioned debate still exists even for something as inane and inconsequential as Korean dramas. Heirs or The Inheritors has already released first stills of Park Shin Hye‘s Cha Eun Sang and Lee Min Ho‘s Kim Tan first meeting. Apparently it takes place in Los Angeles and he appears to be extricating her from a bind, though the “It’s okay, baby” spoken in perfect Engrish (and no, I didn’t misspell English) rather deflated the cuteness of the moment. I can’t handle the drama telling me Kim Tan spent years studying in LA and still speaks with as noticeable an accent. But that’s beside the point, I can overlook that, but what really concerns me is something I noticed in the first stills and its repeated itself now with the latest batch of stills showing the two leads interacting. Cha Eung Sang and Kim Tan have an encounter at almond farm (apparently filmed near Santa Barbara) and it’s rather romantic what with the beautiful scenery and even some strategic sprinklers going off around them to spray the scene with droplets of misty water. I know Kim Eun Sook overly manufactures all her romances and I don’t mind if the leads have oodles of chemistry to sell it.
Here’s the rub – Park Shin Hye and Lee Min Ho have zero chemistry, in these stills and in the first stills. Zero, nada, zip. It’s like they are in two separate scenes and spliced together. No, I don’t need them to be all over each other since clearly that is not where their relationship is at, and as high school students they can’t be all “I want to tear your clothes off” eye-sexing each other from the get go. I get all that. But chaste teen chemistry exists, a sweet kind that makes the air around the two thrum with an awareness. I swear these two are like mannequins propped up in a scene. And Park Shin Hye’s wide-eyed look in some of her stills is really off-putting because she is capable of way more than a stunned deer look. I’m worried now the PD is directing these two all wrong, because both are decent enough actors and these stills are so blah. When I see them in action on the screen after the drama airs, perhaps their chemistry will shine through then. But it’s just not here and there are tons of K-drama leads who can burn up a screen even in chaste stills alone. Kim Eun Sook is usually really good at picking leading couples that ooze chemistry (Lovers, City Hall, On Air) and even the lesser combustible pairings are pretty darn good enough (Secret Garden, Lovers in Paris, Lovers in Prague, A Gentlemen’s Dignity). I hope my initial impression turns out to be wrong but so far these stills are not making me squee in the least. Consider me unimpressed for now.