I have always thought of these reviews as a helpful hint thrown your way to aid in your decision about what Korean drama you may want to spend your precious time on. However, I may be writing this a bit prematurely because the jury’s still out on how I feel about A Piece of Your Mind. I was going to say it was weird, but that’s not quite right. Then I thought about saying that something about it was just off, but that’s not exactly correct either. Hokey? No. Huummmmmm.
Ever since they were kids growing up in Norway, Moon Ha-Won has loved Kim Ji-Soo and as adults he was heartbroken when she told him she would be getting married. Although he was crushed he took the news well and, without begging or crying, wished her a happy life, making her promise that if she were ever miserable she would call him. After ten years of no contact Ha-Won is still in love with Ji-Soo. He wants to secretly bring her into a project his technology company has developed and needs a recording of her voice to accomplish his goal. Unwittingly, a sound engineer named Han Seo-Woo gets tangled up in the project, becoming friends with Ji-Soo and falling for Ha-Won.
After his mother passed away when he was 18, Kang Ha-Won left Norway to attend college in Boston, Massachusetts. He then left school after receiving a call from Ji-Soo and went to Korea to be with her, only to have her inform him of her upcoming marriage. He became close to Soon-Ho and her grandmother when he came back to Korea to live permanently. The kind older woman sponsored him with the backing he needed to create AH Laboratory & Co., which has recently invented a device intended to aid psychiatrists in the treatment of their patients. Ha-Won is kind of a loner, feeling more comfortable when he is by himself. He is a quiet, calm, methodical, generous, and understanding man. As he comes to learn more about Seo-Woo he is able to recognize her sincere and tender heart and begins to gain strength from their friendship.
Seo-Woo went to college in Seoul and while she was there the village she grew up in experienced a fire, taking her home and her parents’ lives and, understandably, she hasn’t been back since. She has lived in the half-basement apartment at a boarding house for years and is especially close to the owner, Jeon Eun-Joo. Although her major was data processing she is a sound engineer at Moon Studio, specifically working for classical musicians. When she first sees Kim Ji-Soo she is inexplicably drawn to the woman, feeling she is going through a difficult time, and wants to help her. She refers to Ha-Won as Mr. Dawn since he uses the recording studio at night and leaves when she comes to work at dawn. She has no idea he is not only her boss’ adopted uncle but also the person who wants her to secretly record Ji-Soo’s voice. Seo-Woo is captivated at how tenderly Ha-Won looks at Ji-Soo from afar and the more time she spends with him, the more she likes him.
Moon Soon-Ho had been engaged to be married but the guy called it off and, so that she wouldn’t ever accidentally run into him, she moved to a farm to be with her grandmother which is where she developed her love of plants. She is back in Seoul now, renting a building – the downstairs is a plant shop and the top floor is the Moon Recording Studio. Soon-Ho becomes intrigued by a pianist named Kang In-Wook who is wanting to use Moon Studio to record songs for an album. She is able to feel the man is going through a rough time in his personal life which is directly effecting his performances. As Soon-Ho tries to help In-Wook out of his slump, her feelings slowly turn from professional to personal.
When Kang In-Wook was a teenager he made a mistake that cost someone their life and he’s been beating himself up for it ever since. He confided in his wife, hoping she would provide some understanding and sympathy, but because she personally knew the person who passed away, she has been in misery ever since she found out about it. To clear her head and heart she goes on a trip and unfortunately has a accident that claims her life. In-Wook is heartsick that the woman he adored is dead and hates himself for being suspicious that maybe she went on the trip because she had been having a fling.
I first became interested in darling Jung Hae-In through his supporting role in the 2017 Kdrama While You Were Sleeping. I remember writing that I was smitten with the actor and hoped he’d be a leading man soon, and it didn’t take long for that to happen. The very next year he starred in Something in the Rain, and then took the starring male role in One Spring Night last year (which is when he made it onto my favorite actors list). If you’d like to know a little bit about Jung Hae-In (the actor who plays the part of kind-hearted Moon Ha-Won) you can click on my While You Were Sleeping review.
To read about Chae Soo-Bin, the actress who plays the sweet character Han Seo-Woo, you can go to my review of I’m Not a Robot.
The actress who plays the part of Moon Soon-Ho is Lee Ha-Na. You can read about her in my Voice review.
Thirty-four year old Kim Sung-Kyu began his acting career in 2011 with the short film Nineteen Ninety Nine and the theater production 12 Men. His big film break came in 2017 with the movie The Outlaws. He has also been in the Netflix dramas Kingdom and Kingdom 2. Sung-Kyu has been in seven motion pictures, three dramas, and four theater productions. I think he plays the tormented, depressed, hopeless pianist Kang In-Wook well. I’m pretty sure he didn’t play the piano pieces himself but he did do a darn good job faking it!
I had a love/hate relationship with this show. I loved the fact that there weren’t any evil, scheming characters, I liked how the story admonishes us to be forgiving and put revenge aside, and it’s uplifting to watch how truly helpful people who sincerely care about the wellbeing of others can be. However, the entire plot is wildly far-fetched. Moon Ha-Won invents something that can be used as a psychological counseling service, and/or to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It also makes it possible for a patient to have a conversation for treatment with whomever one wants with 24 hour availability. What is this amazing technology? Well, it’s a conversational device (chat bot) that is an exact duplicate of a person’s personality and emotions, and he makes one that is Kim Ji-Soo. Now, I know Kdramas have a tendency to run wild with imagination but the writer should have at least given us something to grasp on to so we could tell ourself, “I know this isn’t real but I can see where it at least holds the potential for reality.” This device idea is so absurdly unattainable that it prevented me from seeing the drama as anything but art. Get this, in the story Seo-Woo makes a very short recording of Ji-Soo’s voice and in a couple days Ha-Won has made an iPhone-sized device that is now 100% Ji-Soo, complete with all her childhood memories, likes and dislikes, without her knowing anything about it. That just didn’t feel ethical, and since Ha-Won is a very honorable person it was totally out of character for him. But it wasn’t just that. My roommate has been studying AI/robotics and when I told them the drama’s plot they said it was a cool idea but then laughed and explained…
“Sara, the number of atoms in the observable universe is 10 to the 80th power. The number of outcomes for a game of Go played on a 19 by 19 board is 10 to the 172nd power. So there’s way more potential outcomes for a game of Go than there are atoms in the known universe. To put that into perspective, the human brain has some 100 billion neurons. So, if Google, through Alpha Go, is pouring money into programming an artificial neural network which can fully map out all the possible outcomes of a game of Go – if Google can’t even do that in a building full of super computers, how likely do you suppose it is that a human brain could be simulated on a smart phone?”
I didn’t know any of that while watching the show yet I still instinctively realized there was something extremely off about that chat bot device idea. I understand it plays a tremendous part in the plot but it was just too unbelievable for me to even pretend to except. You may be thinking, “But Sara, you didn’t seem to mind a girl falling in love with a hologram in My Holo Love and that’s a crazy idea.” True, however, holograms are real. So, as silly as it may sound, I guess somebody could fall in love with one. Putting someone’s brain (personality and feelings) into a tiny box in just a few days by only using a simple recording of their voice could never happen. And there’s the difference. That’s what I meant when I said the writer didn’t give me anything to grab onto.
A Piece of Your Mind had originally been planned for 16 episodes but the drama was doing so poorly in the ratings that, not surprisingly, they decided to end it at 12. Good idea. It would have been terrible to drag it out any longer.
This show relies heavily on its music which happens to be as gentle and quiet as the drama itself. There are countless moments when there is no dialogue and we watch the characters in their own silence. It is then the music adds emotion to the scene. I’m not a huge fan of that kind of filming simply because it feels like the director is just padding the show in order to stretch the time, like not enough was written to make an episode complete. I like people speaking, but that’s just my personal preference. I’ll admit, if a show is going to lean on its songs that much, these fit this particular drama perfectly. There are a few song sung in English which are lovely but, sadly, don’t always have perfect grammar or make sense. Lasso performs the song Be Your Moon (a play on words, since Ha-Won’s surname is Moon) which encompasses the words – “Your heart is weeping in the ocean. A lonely flower is you.” Poetic, yes, but I’d rather hear a song that is written the way we speak. “A smile in the sunlight. Though I may not be alright you help me feel better than before. And that’s what I love you for.” Those are words from the opening song (Feel it Slowly, sung by Jake Tavill) and in just those few sentences we have the gist of the entire story. Beautifully written. A Piece of Your Mind has an extensive soundtrack, probably because the music is used so frequently and they didn’t want the songs to become redundant. Also, the supporting male character in the drama is a classical pianist so music is important to the storyline. There’s a song that Kang In-Wook composed for his wife, plays at a concert, and records at Moon Studio called Misiryung Sunset. It’s exquisit! If you’re interested in listening to it you can find it here.
There’s some lovely winter scenery that is supposed to be Ha-Won and Ji-Soo’s hometown in Oslo. I wasn’t able to find out if those parts were actually filmed in Norway but it’s beautiful nonetheless. And there’s an entire wall at the AH Laboratory & Co. building that simulates that Oslo area, complete with a wandering deer. It’s a one way wall – the workers can see through to the visitors but the only thing the folks in the lobby can see is the lovely moving scenery. Such an awesome idea. Much of what we see in this drama is Moon Studio, Eun-Joo’s boarding house, and the little house Ha-Won buys.
I sincerely wanted to like A Piece of Your Mind. In fact, I’m still not really positive I didn’t like it, and for that reason I’m giving it a right-in-the-middle score of 5. For me, although it left me with mixed feelings, it was still worth my time simply because Jung Hae-In is the star. If you decide to watch it please, please, please comment and let me and the other Heart & Seoul readers know what you thought.
Darling Moon Ha-Won
Decent, upstanding characters
Lessons about forgiving
Gorgeous piano music
Pretty, winter (Norway) scenery
No “oops” (that I caught)
The science/technology part is glaringly impossible
Lots of scenes in the show that go too long without dialogue