I know, I wasn’t going to go there. I was one of those people who loved In Time with You who thought to herself – although I would like to see how the Koreans will take this story, I probably am way too biased to have any kind of objective opinion over this drama. Consider yourself warned – I am going to be comparing, because I can’t help myself. When you’re seeing the same scene your brain just naturally go there. However, as discussed previously, In Time with You also had some flaws which the K version has a chance to rectify. There is ample opportunity to surpass the original, especially when our leads this time are slightly older (mid 30s instead of 30 – coincidentally, You Qing and Da Ren would be around this age now LOL) so I was really hoping they can bring some new perspectives into the drama and capture the audience’s hearts again.
Usually, I like to start these types of posts on a positive note. So being the K drama noob that I am (excuse my ignorance), I liked the posters and both Ha Ji Won and Lee Jin Wook gave off a more mature vibe Ariel Lin and Bolin Chen. Ariel and Bolin look much younger than their real age (28 at the time of filming) so to have them as 30 year olds was a bit of a stretch. Also, when I saw Lee Jin Wook I immediately thought of Mag Hsu (writer of ITWY)’s words. When Bolin was cast as Li Da Ren, she thought he was too cute for the role. She wrote Da Ren as more mature looking, someone like Eason Chan! So Lee Jin Wook is probably more suited to the original vision.
Another aspect I liked was the flashbacks. Although they were awkward for most of the time, when they replay a scene from Won’s perspective, it shows us things were not quite what they seem.
Oh did I mention L / Kim Myung Soo (as Sung Jae) is totally cute? He can call me noona anytime. 😉 His acting is quite natural (Nic was rather awkward for most of his appearance) and despite I knew what he was up to, there was a part of me who wished just maybe, the Korean version might turn out different. (And it kinda did, but the end result was the same I suppose.)
The Not So Good
Ha Na and Choi Won’s personalities
Throughout the first episode, I began to think about what makes something a remake? Or adaptation? Or just merely ‘inspired by’? How different is too different? What makes me think Bridget Jones’s Diary is still a damn good adaptation of Pride and Prejudice despite being in different eras – except having the same lead actor? If plenty of viewers were turned off by You Qing’s (Ariel Lin) pride and spitefulness, if we make her all cute like Ha Na (Ha JI Won) – will this fix the problem? If Da Ren (Bolin Chen) was too soft and a total pushover, if we made him more ‘cynical and cold’ like Choi Won (Lee Jin Wook), will this make the drama better?
I think I’ve concluded the answer to all those questions are a definite no. The contrast in the leads’ personalities was what made this story. It was You Qing’s strong personality which made Da Ren very reluctant to tell her his true feelings. By ‘softening’ them up, now they seem like your everyday drama leads. Ha Na might say she’s strong, but all I’m seeing is her aegyo, her pouting (!!!), her not quite effective dealings at work… not exactly my definition of a strong character.
As for Choi Won, I didn’t have a huge issue with him being a more assertive person, however, now it just begs the question – why did he say he doesn’t love Ha Na twice? TWICE? And he said it in such a definite way it’s almost cruel. If he’s now such an assertive person, why can’t he tell her his true feelings? I guess I just have to keep watching and see.
Same scenes, but where’s the reflection and sense of introspection?
Despite what I said about the character’s personalities, I think I’m still prepared to throw that disappointment aside if the story was written with more depth. It feels like the writers watched a scene from ITWY and decided to transport it to the Korean version, but didn’t really transport the subtle meanings and thoughts behind it.
One of the very first scenes, the white sneakers – the original was You Qing’s reflection on her path to a mature woman.
Young girls wished to wear them (sneakers) so they can run faster, so when they grow up they can own their first high heeled shoes. But now that I’m 29 years old, I suddenly miss these white sneakers, from when I was 17.
But now, it’s just another scene where a young girl calls Ha Na ajumma, leading to a mini-crisis about getting old. If anything, I think we’ve all seen these type of dramas before, so this scene becomes not memorable at all and run of the mill.
And more recently in episode 4 – the art gallery. This was a classic Da Ren quote, my heart was breaking as he walked through that exhibition.
If i have seen what you’ve seen, walked where you’ve been, will I be closer you?
Now we actually have Choi Won and So Eun going on a date, bumping into Ha Na. Although Choi Won went there most likely because Ha Na wanted to go (?), but that scene was more about Ha Na seeing them from a distance, while a bit of jealousy develops…
Are we just going through the motions now?
With the original in its shadow I think we can all expect the same ending – I’m sure the fans will riot if it didn’t. So if we already know the destination, is the ‘journey’ worth the time investment? I don’t necessarily think TTILY is a bad drama, it’s enjoyable with some cute moments. A solid drama if you’re looking for something light hearted and a bit of escapism, and escapism is key because TTILY feels like a drama – you know it’s not real. I know it sounds stupid because yeah, ITWY is also a drama (you know, fake-life) but what distinguished it from other dramas was its realism. It was one of those rare dramas which made me think. It really had some of the best quotes but at the same time, it can be confronting. Some people might not like that. Too much talk and not enough action. And I must admit despite re-watching some of my favourite scenes here and there, I’ve never sat down properly to re-watch ITWY in its entirety. For me, it requires a level of emotional commitment. Other idol dramas I can just laugh along and accept its silliness. But then, do I remember much from them afterwards? Not really. That’s the trade off I guess.
Ultimately I know I just need to adjust my expectations somewhat (possible understatement) and recognise what what the Korean version as what it is (or what it’s not). And I promise if I have the urge to write about this drama again, I won’t compare! Or keep it to an absolute minimum. 😉