In a world where it almost feels illegal to exist as a minority, a young man with a disability gets to experience his first heartbreak and explore and express his sexuality.
‘Love, 100°C’ starts off with a young, teenage boy sexually pleasuring himself as he looks at photos of him and another studly student. Moments later, we see the same boy, Min-soo (played by Kim Do-jin), and his brother, Kyeongsoo (played by Yun Se-hyun), outside their house on their way somewhere. His brother berates Min-soo for being a slowpoke and asks if he can’t hear him. Their mother, who was watching from the window, tells the brother off for speaking harshly to Min-soo. Mom shouts and asks Min-soo to take care of his brother. Min-soo does not respond, so Mom asks Kyeong-soo to call the attention of Min-soo. Min-soo, after all, is revealed to be deaf. When Min-soo turns to her, Mom tells him through sign language to enjoy his time at the public bath. Min-soo signs ok with a bright smile.
On the way to the bathhouse, Min-soo tries to get Kyeongsoo’s attention. Kyeongsoo stops fiddling with his phone and only now notices that Min-soo was wearing earphones. Kyeongsoo chastises him for it, saying he can’t even hear the music so he should just wear his hearing aid, which Min-soo eventually does. Immediately, we see the kind of relationship the two brothers have. Min-soo asks him to hurry up. Kyeongsoo talks back. Min-soo rebukes him for talking to him in such a way when he’s older. Kyeongsoo spits and glares at Min-soo saying he’s only a year older. He doesn’t even act like an older brother, Kyeongsoo balefully says, before threatening Min-soo with physical violence. The tense atmosphere gets cut off when Kyeongsoo’s phone gets a notification and then he’s off with a woman, but not before threatening Min-soo not to tell their mother or else he’s dead.
In the bathhouse, we meet an unnamed and enthusiastic professional scrubber (played by Kwak Jaewon). (Note: In South Korea, public bathhouses have scrubbers who are paid to scrub dead skin cells and dirt from your bodies, yes, it’s a thing!) Scrubber notices Min-soo scrubbing away at his own skin and saunters to where he is. He comments that Min-soo came alone today and asks whether he was interested in getting scrubbed. Min-soo initially refuses and tells him he’s hearing impaired although he can understand people if they speak clearly and slowly. Scrubber apologizes for not realizing it, this time, speaking more carefully and animatedly. He tells Min-soo he’ll scrub him down really well to make up for his ignorance and Min-soo finally agrees. Scrubber whistles as prepares to do his job, tapping and clapping the rhythm so Min-soo can follow. Scrubber asks if he can hear the music. Min-soo says no, but he can feel it. It was probably the first time someone has tried to understand Min-soo and his relationship with music.