True to Love (Bo-ra! Deborah) – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Something Small and Sparkly

A man and a woman bump into each other while walking, dropping papers and files on the floor as episode 1 of True to Love begins. When they bend down to gather everything, their hands touch. The girl abruptly leaves.

Successful dating coach and influencer Bo-ra, known as Deborah, tells an interviewer that dating is no longer necessary. In fact, it’s a turn-off and energy-draining for most people and they choose work over love. When the interviewer asks Bo-ra what she would choose, she says she would choose both. She claims she can have it all. She then gets into an argument with the photographer about which side of her face he should shoot. She continues to talk about fail-proof strategies for dating and promotes her book.

At a publishing company, Han Sang-jin tells Lee Su-hyeok that Deborah is looking for a new publisher and they should meet with her. Su-hyeok is not convinced, saying he can’t expect sincerity from a person like her.

The interviewer asks Deborah about the man she’s currently dating. Without revealing too much, she describes him as kind and considerate. An ordinary man. When asked about any ‘good news’ in the future, Bo-ra says marriage doesn’t have to be the end goal of every relationship. She says support and trust are key for a successful relationship, while the interviewer discreetly rolls her eyes. The photographer takes a bad picture of Bo-ra and that’s the one that ends up on the article.

Sang-jin shows Su-hyeok the interview as proof of Bo-ra’s happy romantic life. It doesn’t work and Su-hyeok refuses to take her marriage as some kind of achievement. He goes to his desk and looks Deborah up, comparing the terrible interview photo with her Instagram ones.

Bo-ra is annoyed about the interviewers choosing a bad picture. Her friend Yoo-jung asks her why she lied about the marriage question in the interview when, in reality, her boyfriend said they’d get married within the year. Deborah says it’s because the next question would have been about the proposal.

A flashback shows Bo-ra and her boyfriend Ju-wan at a group dinner celebrating another couple’s wedding. When someone asked them when they’d be getting married, Ju-wan confidently said they’d get married within the year.

Bo-ra admits she wanted something special. Yoo-jung then asks why Bo-ra lied about Ju-wan being an ordinary guy. Bo-ra replies that she would rather that particular piece of news come out later. In any case, the next day is their third anniversary and Bo-ra expects something from him. At that moment, she gets a call from Ju-wan. He confirms their dinner plans for their anniversary and claims to have something to say to her. Naturally, Bo-ra and Yoo-jung get excited. As Yoo-jung set them up, Bo-ra had promised to buy her a designer bag if they got married.

At Jinlee publishing house, Sang-jin makes a speech about how the employees should do away with hierarchy and call each other by their first names. It doesn’t go down well and the employees would rather work than attend this meeting. As everyone disperses, Sang-jin tries to convince Su-hyeok to meet Deborah. Even when he hears that she’ll be getting married soon to the son of the owner of Mom’s Chicken, Su-hyeok doesn’t budge.

As Deborah gets ready for her big date, her makeup artist gets worked up about her boyfriend who has taken ‘space’ from her. Bo-ra compares relationships to job interviews and how it can start off well but go downhill. She advises the makeup artist to be strategic. She tells her to not to call her boyfriend but instead pick up his calls with a cheerful air. The makeup artist is ecstatic.

Bo-ra arrives at the restaurant and sits down with Ju-wan. He asks for a bottle of wine to celebrate. He has something to tell her but is nervous to do so. Bo-ra imagines all the moments from their wedding, honeymoon, pregnancy and their life with their future kids. But the final revelation is that his company Mom’s Chicken acquired another company called Pizza Universe. Bo-ra is disappointed as he goes on and on about his company for all the nine courses of the meal. She realises he doesn’t intend on proposing to her at all. Ju-wan gets a phone call and has to return to work. He says he’ll stay if she asks but she says she doesn’t want to be the clingy girlfriend.

Afterwards, Bo-ra drinks with Yoo-jung at her husband’s wine bar. Bo-ra doesn’t want to become one of those people who get married without a proposal and then lose all passion. She has to nudge Ju-wan into proposing to her and decides to use her radio show to do so.

The next day, Bo-ra goes on the radio where she gives advice to people who send in their problems. The first letter is from a woman in her 30s who has dated a man for four years but they never made it official. They don’t talk about the future. After listening, Bo-ra diagnoses this person as a bad boy. Someone who flirts but doesn’t commit, who you can’t break things off with nor open up to. But even someone like him would make the effort if he really loved that person. Bo-ra says a relationship isn’t a relationship unless verbally defined. She even makes a reference to buying a partner something small and sparkly as part of that effort.

Meanwhile, Su-hyeok is listening to this entire segment in his car. He shakes his head as he listens. Ju-won, in his office, watches the segment as well and smiles, unaware of Bo-ra’s digs at him.

After the show ends, one of the employees enters the room. The host wonders who would date someone like this for four years and the employee tries defending the girl’s decision to stay. Bo-ra gives her the harsh truth that the boy will leave without explanation just the way he came.

Su-hyeok speaks to Sang-jin about the radio show, saying it was all rubbish. Sang-jin says Bo-ra was right, you need to give your partner gifts and words of affirmation. From Su-hyeok’s reaction, Sang-jin realises he’s never given his girlfriend Yu-ri either of those things but Su-hyeok seems confident in his relationship. But he also begins to notice elements of Bo-ra’s ‘bad boy’ in his own behaviour. He flips through her books at a mall.

Bo-ra goes to a jewellery shop and looks at a diamond ring. Su-hyeok buys Bo-ra’s books and calls Sang-jin, telling him to set up a meeting with Deborah as he’s a little convinced. He goes to the jewellery shop as well and sees Bo-ra tell the employee to mention the ring when she comes with her boyfriend. While he looks for a gift for his girlfriend, Bo-ra mentions that nothing is ‘just’ a gift. Every gift has a message. Su-hyeok retorts that that’s not a message, it’s bribery. Annoyed with Bo-ra, Su-hyeok decides to buy the ring she’s wearing and the employees comply immediately.

Outside the shop, Bo-ra gets a call from Yoo-jung about the meeting with the publishing company. Yoo-jung turns out to be in the mall as well and sees Ju-wan walk out of another jewellery shop. Assumptions are made and the two women squeal about a proposal again.

Bo-ra sees imagines small floating boxes of rings all the way home. On the way, she sees Su-hyeok at a café holding the tiny box in his hands. She motions that the ring is hers but wishes him well.

Su-hyeok’s girlfriend turns out to be the employee from the radio show. He makes a joke about her going on a date but when he jokes about marriage, she gets serious and mentions that she is going to look for someone else who also wants to get married. After all, Su-hyeok doesn’t truly love her. She admits she wrote the radio story and claims that it was hard dating him.

If she didn’t reach out first, he wouldn’t call her but if she opened up about her feelings, she wouldn’t be able to see him anymore. She wonders if he loved her and calls him a jerk for it. He doesn’t defend himself but simply checks her temperature and says she has a fever. Before she gets into a taxi, he gets medicine for her and after she leaves, he walks away dejected.

The Episode Review

An intriguing pilot episode sets up some fascinating characters and what will clearly grow into an opposites-attract romance. Bo-ra and Su-hyeok are such clear opposites of each other, I can already imagine the banter and the antics once the romance kicks off. Both characters have been established well, with Yoo-jung and her husband making the next most compelling set.

What I’m most interested to see is the discourse around romance. Both our leads have such extreme views, from meticulously strategizing romance to having no structure at all. There is potential here for some significant discussions, particularly as there’s a married couple and a divorced man in the circle of people as well. Overall, a good episode that makes a promising start!

Next Episode

You can read our full season review for True to Love here!

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