Line’s Picks: Korean Reality Show – Heart Is Beating ( 심장이 뛴다) Review


So, I came up with this new section “Line’s Picks” where I will be picking random things to recommend. Be it music, shows, dramas or whatever that I think is enjoyable and deserves to be recommended. For my first pick, It will be the current ongoing Korean reality-variety show: Heart is Beating (심장이 뛴다) or also known as Beating Hearts.

6 celebrities have to undergo intense training in order to become a firefighter and faces the profession’s dangerous situations. It stars Park Ki Woong, Jo Dong Hyuk, Lee Won Jong, Choi Woo Shik, Jang Dong Hyuk and Jeon Hye Bin as the rookie members of Korea’s 119 where they have various kind of duties such as extinguishing a fire, rescuing people in dangerous situations and saving people in emergency condition.

Note: The terms I am using in this post may be different from the English subs in viki as I watched with Chinese subs and translate from it. There may be some disturbing cases that I will touch upon so read at your own risk.

When I first heard of the concept, I thought it was trying to follow the footsteps of the popular reality-show Real Men as the professional documentary-format kind of shows that have been the trend in K-variety for this year. I watched a few episodes of the Real Men and while it is an interesting topic, the stars weren’t enough to get me hooked on the show. I find it difficult to fully connect with the army lives and it gets a bit dull at times as it’s filmed in a reality-documentary manner but maybe men will like it better than me.

The stakes are higher in Heart is Beating as they face real dangerous situations of the profession such as extinguishing a fire in a building, climbing up the ladder to destroy hornet’s nest on rooftops, using professional and in emergency situations where they had to save people’s life. Through this show, we will discover the greatness of being a member of 119 team as they not only have to be self-sacrificing when doing their job, they also have face professional hazards and deal with inconsiderate residents on a  daily basis.

There are many heart-tugging scenes that highlights certain society issues and trends that are happening right now but we chose to ignore. It’s definitely an inspirational, educational show and we will learn to appreciate their profession after watching this show.

Official Site:
English Subs:
Soompi Discussion Thread:

Heating is Beating followed after Hwashin ended its run and SBS tested the waters by giving viewers 2 special episodes before they confirm the show to be a regular broadcast officially. It may not be doing that great in ratings but part of the reason is because of their broadcasting schedule, it airs on every Tuesday night and that’s certainly not the best time to air a reality-show. However, It’s been garnering praise for its sensible portrayal of the profession and for highlighting current society issues.

“The place that we live is dangerous like a thin ice. I don’t know when, where and how will I be getting into an accident. It’s an uneasy life and don’t think that it will only be a matter to myself. If I get hurt, my family, the family of my family will all be affected. I dread to think about it as this is like a domino effect heading towards despair.

In any ways, the bridge that we’re walking on will always be connected and this is the world that we living on. Thus, saving a life that fainted on the streets equal to saving the family of that life and also the family of the life’s family. In the end, It’s a noble job that is protecting the future of our society.”
– Narrator’s prologue about the fire brigade profession (2013.09.06 – Heart is Beating)

The 6 celebrities will be divided into two teams, the Emergency Team which operates the ambulance that saves people in emergency situations and the Firefighter/ Rescue Team where they not only have to extinguish fire but also save people that are facing dangerous life-threatening situations, an example of those situations would be mountain hikers who fainted and there’s no way for him/her to climb down. The two teams will be on rotation in order for the members to be able to experience different kind of  jobs. It’s a bit difficult to explain the job scope as surprisingly, there are many areas that they are responsible for and they often have to corporate with the local police. The South Koreans definitely make full use of the emergency number 119.

Let’s introduce our rookies of 119 team in the show.

The Rookies

Jeon Hye Bin

The only female cast and also the one of the aces of the team. She’s very emphatic, hardworking, attentive, caring and had a lot of standout moments in the show when she deals with the people on duty. Despite the physical constraints of being a girl, she’s probably one of the most daring and capable member of the show. Even the guys can’t help but admire her courage as she always aces on the high-ropes type of training. One of her standout moments is when she uses her bare hands to carry the vomits of an old men that is having a stroke in the lift as they had no time to grab a plastic bag. The members that were present in that lift were shocked and had nothing but praises for her. Even the senior members of emergency team are impressed and she reminds them of when they first joined this profession.

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Park Ki Woong

Park Ki Woong is a calm, kind and capable rookie firefighter. He’s considered an ace in various types of training such as the release of fire hose, high-rope and succeeded in applying his climbing practice into real use when he had to barged into a house through the window. The senior members of 119 are very trusting towards him as he’s always dependable and able to remain calm in emergency situations. He’s a bit of a clean-freak and does most of the cleaning for the members inside the office. One of his standout moments is when he was in the rescue team and he showed his intelligence by succeeding in luring out a kitten trapped in a sewer.

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Jo Dong Hyuk

The hot-headed rookie with a sharp gaze, he’s very courageous and dependable during duties. Because of his trademark sharp stares, some of the senior members thought he had some attitude problem but he’s actually a kind and passionate guy once you get to know him better. He is very emphatic towards kids and women, he can’t stand the sight of them getting hurt. One of his standout moments will be when he made up with his leader after some misunderstandings and he put 100% trust onto his senior, following his directions to extinguish a fire. In contrast with his manly image, he’s actually the cast member that pays the most attention to personal skin care as he brings almsost 40+ of skin care items on his bag, even more than what Jeon Hye Bin brings. It was an amusing sight for the other cast members and they often tease him for it.

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Lee Won Jong

The oldest member of the cast and even though he may be lacking the edge in some training, he is very passionate about his job. He feels a lot of responsibility towards his job as he is very proactive when it’s about helping the needy. One of his standout moments will be when he carries a wounded old lady on his back to walk up and down the stairs. He feels great fulfillment from helping the people in need and seems to be the person that enjoys the profession’s duty the most.

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Jang Dong Hyuk

The comedian of the cast as he’s responsible for lifting up the atmosphere and mood of the office. Probably the weakest member during training and also very timid when he’s doing his duties. He’s only capable of giving minimum assistance to his seniors and he lacks the skills to do various duties. Honestly, I find him a bit annoying when he’s not much of help to others as I feel that he would suit a variety show better than Heart is Beating where they need to be serious about their jobs. I would probably like him better if he showed more determination and dedication towards his duties.

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Choi Woo Shik

Maknae of the cast and even though he have blood-phobia, he tries his best to overcome his fears and become a dependable member as he progresses. The mood-maker of the cast as he often shows his playful personality towards the seniors and the members take good care of the maknae. One of his standout moments will be when he tries his best to overcome his blood-phobia and help the wounded people in the ambulance. He’s probably the member that improved the most as the show progresses and have now become a very dependable member in the emergency team.

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Memorable Cases

The show will blur out disturbing and gory scenes so don’t be too worried about getting sick looking at some of these cases.

Suicides and Death Alone

There were a few suicide cases showed in Heart is Beating and apparently, it’s quite a common sight for the members of 119 as they’re facing at least a few suicide cases daily. A memorable case of death alone will be the neighbors calling 119 to inform them about the stench coming from next door and they asked the 119 people to barge into the house to check the situation. It turns out that there’s a dead person inside the house and have been dead for at least a few days. As the deceased is living alone and estranged from his family, nobody is able to know the situation of the deceased until he was found dead at his house.

The show highlights the upward trend of suicide cases and death alone in the current society. Many people are facing many different kinds of pressure in the fast-moving society and they’re bound to feel lonely and helpless at times. The cases were definitely disturbing and thought-provoking as it highlights how people in the society are becoming cold and distant towards other people. If only they’re more caring and attentive towards others, there will be less suicide and death alone cases.

Drunk, Nuisance and The Inconsiderate People

In our society, there are always this kind of people who cause nuisance to the public and become a burden to the members of 119. My blood boils looking at the actions of some of these people. The show had several cases related to drunk people, one of them is when a drunk guy suddenly stops the ambulance and refuse to let them send the injured person. He even pushed and scolded the members of emergency team. He was only under control when the local police came to stop him. There was another case involving drunk driving that caused car accident and 5 cars were damaged.

As one of the senior member of emergency team mentioned, “Alcohol is definitely one of the biggest cause for many accidents”. These people are not only causing troubles to others but also, wasting the taxes of the country by having the 119 team to come and handle them. There are also many inconsiderate people that refuse to give way when ambulance comes and thus, delaying the process of saving a life. I just hope that more people will watch this show to educate themselves and reflect for whatever inconsiderate actions they did in the past.

The Lonely and Helpless Old People

There are many cases that are related to old people abandoned by their family and it’s very heart-breaking to watch these people as nobody is able to help them when they hurt themselves. Seeing these lonely and helpless old people reminds me of my parents that are living back in my hometown and I’m always easily affected by emotional scenes like this. Even the cast members are unable to stand the sight of the suffering of these poor old people.

The show really highlights that there are more and more heartless people in the society as they use “work” or “personal-life” as excuses to avoid taking care of their parents. In the first place, without their parents, they won’t be able to come to this world. I really hope that people can change this twisted perception of old people being useless or as a burden to them. We should always be grateful to these old people that have contributed to our country.

Fire, The Enemy

I just have so much respect for the firefighters as they’re all putting their life on the line to extinguish fires. There were many firefighters that sacrificed while on duty. They have to wear the heavy fire-proof suit to withstand the heat and defeat their most cruel enemy, fire. While the show only had one severe fire case, I am glad to see less of these fire cases as it means that these firefighters need not face so much danger.

One of the most memorable scenes was when one of the senior firefighters told Jo Dong Hyuk that he always put a letter to his family in his desk drawer just in case if something happens to him. It was a very emotional moment and Jo Dong Hyuk seems to be very affected by his words.


The show is so realistic as they show the ugliest side and also the beauty of humans. Watching this show is like an emotional roller-coaster ride for me as I felt anger, sadness or admiration for these great people.

There are often some really inconsiderate residents that disrespect the profession and treat them like their own personal servant as they think that they’re paying for the taxes which pays the 119 team’s salaries.

I got really aggravated when I see drunkards causing a nuisance to the public and the 119 had to clean the mess they made. I felt that these people are wasting the country’s taxes and those money could be used in a better way but there’s no way that these poor members of 119 team have a choice to reject those people as it is their duty and responsibility. However, with just the smallest gratification will make these people will feel great joy and fulfillment as they’re able to help people and at the end of the day, they’ll feel it’s a rewarding job.

Our living standards may have continuously improved over the centuries but we must not forget the basics of being a human and that is to become a considerate and grateful person at all times. Hopefully, this show will be an inspiration and reminder to many people.

Categories Kr-variety Line's Picks Reviews

About Author


A lazy person who loves to procrastinate and burn the midnight oil to watch Asian dramas instead. She can't live without dramas, variety shows and indie music.

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