Review: Hello, Me!

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A warm little show that brings a good, solid amount of feels, with the right lens adjustments.

From the title itself, you can guess that our story’s main focus is the theme of self-discovery and self-love. On this front, Show does a lovely little job, with many of our key characters charting growth journeys, and mending relationships, not just with the people around them, but with themselves as well.

A little cheesy, but ultimately very warm and cozy.

THE LONG VERDICT:

I’m gonna just come out state upfront, that I had not expected myself to enjoy this show as much as I did.

Basically, I hadn’t been too interested in the premise, and there were just so many other shows on my drama plate, that I thought I’d just give this one a miss.

In the end, though, I’m so glad that I decided to follow the low-key positive buzz this show got on my Twitter feed (people mostly said that this one’s warm, and something that they looked forward to during the week, when it was airing), because this one really ended up growing on me.

It didn’t even take many episodes (about 6?), before I realized that when I was done with an episode of this one, I actually looked forward to the next one. Always a good sign, that. 😉

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.

As a general rule, I found the music in this show pleasant and feel-good. I liked that it gave this story world a warm, easy sort of atmosphere. If I had to pick a favorite, it’d be Track 3, 3!4!, for being so cheery and happy.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS

Here are a couple of things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:

1. Even though our premise has to do with Past Ha Ni time traveling to the future, this really isn’t a time travel show. The time travel is just a plot device, to get Past Ha Ni and Present Ha Ni in the same space. Therefore, it’s best not to expect Show to explore things like the Butterfly Effect, ie, how either Ha Ni’s behavior in either timeline affects the other timeline.

It’s honestly best to just accept that this is just a fantasy-kissed drama world.

2. As a general rule, some suspension of disbelief is required.

3. The characters in our story world don’t get too bothered by the time travel, when they discover it. Again, don’t expect them to have extended reactions to this, because this is never Show’s focus.

4. Show leans comedic, so it’s helpful to have your comic lens handy. That will help Show’s Intended Funny land a lot better.

5. Show is light, but it’s also deeply poignant. This is where Show shines most, and it’s worth fiddling with those other lenses, to get to these bits. It’s the emotional beats in this show that really make it work and keep it grounded.

6. Even though there is a loveline between Choi Kang Hee’s and Kim Young Kwang’s characters, romance isn’t the main point of our story; it’s basically a secondary arc. The main focus in this show, is the characters’ individual journeys, as well as familial relationships.

STUFF I LIKED

Choi Kang Hee as Ha Ni

I have to admit that one of the reasons I was slow to check out this show, is because Choi Kang Hee isn’t one of my favorite actresses.

For some reason, shows like to uglify her when she’s cast as the female lead, and she’s often required to play really downtrodden characters. However, I thought she did really well in this, like I thought she did really well in 2015’s Heart To Heart, so perhaps it’s time I re-categorize her in my head. 😅

Even though Ha Ni is introduced to us as a downtrodden character, I do like the way Choi Kang Hee plays her, with touches of resilience and optimism. And, even though Ha Ni’s trajectory is relatively predictable (ie, she learns to love and forgive herself, and thus gains a better outlook on life in general), I found myself happy to root for her, and I felt proud of her, when she reached certain goals and reached various milestones.

That’s very solid for a protagonist, I’d say.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. Even though Ha Ni is portrayed as going through a really rough patch in life, she doesn’t actually strike me as pathetic, even though she might appear pathetic on paper. There are little details in the writing – and there’s something about the way Choi Kang Hee plays her – that prevents Ha Ni from coming across as pitiful and pathetic.

For one thing, there are lashings of resilience about her, as we see her deal with the different difficulties in her life. She’s blindsided by the incident at the supermarket, and it does look like she might be in danger of losing her job, but she says in voiceover that this is absolutely not the reason that she’d wanted to die.

Additionally, there are glimpses of optimism about her, that show that she hasn’t completely given up on her life. The way she decides to believe in the little cookie fortune, and goes for that blind date dressed in her alleged “lucky color,” shows that she still dares to hope in her life, at least once in a while.

The thing that I like the most about her, though, is how she still has it in her to help someone else, even though she’s in such a wretched situation herself.

I’m quite touched, actually, at the scene where Yu Hyeon (Kim Young Kwang) mutters to himself that his day has been just awful, and at that, she decides to lend him the money to pay his restaurant bill, even though she doesn’t actually know him, aside from being his neighbor at the police station holding cell.

The fact that she saw the chance to make someone else’s bad day better, and took it, even though there was no one in her own life who was making her bad day better, endears her to me a great deal. That’s selfless and compassionate, and I like her already.

Also, even though she says in voiceover, as she observes Yu Hyeon sitting outside the convenience store, that she sometimes makes herself feel better by looking at other people who are worse off than her, she doesn’t come across as patronizing, to me. In fact, there’s a sympathy that I feel, in the way she gives Yu Hyeon that can of bear and that packet of crackers.

E5. I feel really bad for Ha Ni, because she’s in such a stuck sort of position. There’s nothing she can do to change the fact that her father had died because of her, and there’s nothing she can do to ever get over it or comes to terms with it either, because it really is such an awful thing to have happened.

She can’t forgive herself, and neither can Ha Young (Jung Yi Rang), and Ha Ni can’t even decide to end it all, because Dad had died, that she might live, so she can’t throw away his sacrifice by dying herself.

And, on top of that, she’s trying so hard to shield young Ha Ni from this terrible pain, because it’s a pain that you can never divorce yourself from, once you become connected to it. And young Ha Ni (Lee Re) is making it hard on her, by being as demanding and quizzical and frustrated as her young life has shaped her to be. And Ha Ni can’t even blame her too much, because this IS Ha Ni herself.

E9. Aw. I love that Ha Ni remembers to bring that cassette with her to Ha Young’s apartment, so that Ha Young will get a chance to hear Dad’s (Kim Byung Choon) voice too. That’s so caring and thoughtful. She really does understand Ha Young’s feelings, even though Ha Young had been so curt with her.

I’m also glad that Ha Ni has that moment with Mom (Yoon Bok In) in the car, and tells Mom that she’ll live her life well, because this is time that Dad’s given to her. It’s so poignant and so touching. That’s such an important breakthrough, I feel, that Ha Ni’s able to say this without crumbling with guilt, and is able to look to the future with resilience and hope. That must be really heartening for Mom, after all these years.

[END SPOILER]

Lee Re as younger Ha Ni

I think that casting Lee Re as young Ha Ni is pretty genius, because on paper, the way young Ha Ni’s written, she sounds terribly self-centered, arrogant and obnoxious on paper, and yet, the way that Lee Re plays her, she actually comes across as amusing and even a bit endearing instead.

That’s skillz, because I’d come into this fully expecting to be turned off by young Ha Ni’s self-centeredness. And yet, even when young Ha Ni’s professing her love for herself in front of the whole school, I found her entertaining and even rather charming.

Lee Re stole my heart as young Ha Ni, even when young Ha Ni was being her most exasperating, and she delivered all of young Ha Ni’s more poignant scenes with a natural flair that I really enjoyed.

I’m definitely keeping an eye on Lee Re’s other roles, from here on out. She’s just got such a likable sort of presence.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. Lee Re really is making young Ha Ni more likable than she appears to be on paper. The way she gets mad at Present Ha Ni for kneeling in front of someone else, even though it’s objectively such a sad thing to witness, is so self-centered. And yet, I don’t actually want to clunk her on the head. Instead, I put it down to the folly and arrogance of youth.

E4. Young Ha Ni seeing Mom and Gran in the present, and realizing that they’ve grown old, and Gran is suffering from dementia, is so full of pathos. It’s so true though, that people grow old as time goes by, which is what makes this all the more poignant. I love that present Ha Ni comforts her, and tells her to love them extra, when she gets back to her time.

E5. Young Ha Ni going into Ha Young’s apartment and stealing Ha Young’s clothes and accessories, is so exasperating to me. She really does seem to think she can get away with murder, since this is legitimately breaking and entering, and stealing.

The thing about young Ha Ni is, you just can’t stay mad at her for too long. She’s precocious and winsome, and she’s also got a good heart underneath all her crazy ideas and antics. Like how she tries to cheer Ha Ni up, when she notices that Ha Ni isn’t in a great mood.

E6. Young Ha Ni confirming that Anthony really is Chun Sik from high school is an amusing little arc. I love how she’s not at all intimidated even when Anthony’s managers seek her out and sit her down for a talking to. She’s so self-possessed and confident, and cute while she’s at it. I can see why Ha Ni was a darling to everyone in high school.

E9. I love the gunning gag of how younger Ha Ni tames Anthony without much effort at all. Every time he wants to show her who’s boss, she’s the one who shuts him up and makes him back down, with a quick retort as Princess Ha Ni, and a flip of her hair. I love it.

E10. The way younger Ha Ni cries after seeing Gran and Mom, is so poignant. Beneath the willful hijinks, she really does care about her family.

E12. Younger Ha Ni is really endearing this episode. I like how she puts things in perspective for Anthony, so that he ends up doing well at the audition and gets the part, and I also like how genuinely thrilled she is, to see Ji Eun. The way she asks Ji Eun things, and reacts with such unadulterated joy at the various things Ji Eun shares, is so winsome; you just can’t help but love her.

[END SPOILER]

The two Ha Nis together

Somehow, the casting of Lee Re to play younger Choi Kang Hee actually works, even though they don’t look terribly much alike, and the two versions of Ha Ni are vastly different. Show does a good job of the styling, and Choi Kang Hee and Lee Re do a good job of mirroring their mannerisms, so much so that I can believe that they are just two versions of the same person.

I have to say, out of all the various relationships in our story, this was the relationship that I felt most invested in, and rooted most for. There’s just something very poignant and appealing, about the idea of two versions of the same person, coming to love and accept the other.

Essentially, Show takes the question, “What would your younger self say to you, if they could see you now?,” and expands it into this whole journey and relationship between the two Ha Nis, and I just really enjoyed rooting for them to overcome their differences, and come to appreciate the good in each other.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3. It is nice to see young Ha Ni be more cheerful and amiable, now that she believes she’s found a way to go back to her timeline. And, it’s also nice to see present Ha Ni regain a bit of her moxie, just from being around younger Ha Ni. It makes sense that being around her younger self has reminded her of a way to think and feel, that she’s left behind for so long.

E4. That little scene where our two Ha Ni’s sing themselves to sleep, wiggling their feet in unison, is super cute. I love these little touches, where we can tell that they are really the same person, with the same quirks.

E6. I love it every time young Ha Ni steps up to defend Ha Ni. She’s just so much on Ha Ni’s side now, and it’s just great for Ha Ni to have someone passionately in her corner.

E7. I’m glad that young Ha Ni encourages Ha Ni to keep being confident, like her younger self, and I’m glad that Ha Ni acknowledges that she’s been happy sometimes, because of young Ha Ni being there with her. Aw. That’s nice.

E8. It’s kind of cute how younger Ha Ni takes it upon herself to supervise Ha Ni’s potential love life, even going so far as to forbid Ha Ni to have anything to do with Yu Hyeon that’s more than just business.

E8. I find it really sweet, that Ha Ni thinks to take younger Ha Ni out on her day off. There’s something so warm about that. I feel sincere consideration and affection in Ha Ni, as she tells younger Ha Ni that she wants to take her out. She looks happy to be hanging out with her younger self, and it made me smile to see both of them having so much fun jumping on the trampoline together.

E11. I love when younger Ha Ni expresses approval &/or support of present Ha Ni. It feels really heartwarming to know that Ha Ni’s past self approves of her present self.

[END SPOILER]

Kim Young Kwang as Yu Hyeon

I don’t know how realistic it is to have Yu Hyeon be as pure and guileless as he is, but I hafta say, I really enjoyed him as a character, and I thought Kim Young Kwang did a very nice job of making Yu Hyeon lovable rather than annoying.

The thing is, as a chaebol prince who’s never had to work hard to make a living, and with his somewhat whiny tendencies, on paper, Yu Hyeon could easily come across as irritating. Instead, in Kim Young Kwang’s hands, Yu Hyeon comes across as pure, wholesome and goodhearted; like he’s almost too pure for this world.

I enjoyed the fact that Yu Hyeon’s presence in the story isn’t mainly to be our romantic male lead, but to chart his own journey of growth into maturity. It was pretty enjoyable, watching our privileged but wholesome chaebol prince, learn how to be independent and resilient, and it was pretty great, that he does that, without ever losing his cheery outlook.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. Even though Yu Hyeon feels misunderstood and aggrieved at how he’s mistakenly arrested as a flasher, he doesn’t actually throw a tantrum like some chaebol heirs might. He protests his innocence and grumbles and sulks, but there is no rage in him, which makes him come across as rather childlike and harmless.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised that when he sees Ha Ni at the restaurant, he doesn’t avoid her like I think most people would, if they ran into someone who’s just seen them in an embarrassing situation. Instead, he instinctively goes up to her and says hi, in a friendly and amiable manner, like he’s running into a friend. That just reinforces how guileless he is. He doesn’t appear to treat his personal reputation too preciously, like I’d expect most chaebol heirs to do.

E3. Yu Hyeon’s a lot nicer and more reasonable than I’d expect a chaebol prince to be. Like when he asks Do Yun (Ji Seung Hyun) for money and Do Yun refuses, he doesn’t make a fuss; he just goes right to the next option, which is to get a job, because Dad insists on him paying the money back. It makes me feel like Yu Hyeon’s primary purpose in visiting Do Yun had been to ask for help with getting a job, and he’d just decided to ask for money, since he was there, on the off-chance that Do Yun might agree.

E5. I’m growing fond of Yu Hyeon, he’s so wholesome, with a side of mischief. The way he harnesses the spy (Choi Tae Hwan) that Dad’s (Yun Ju Sang) set on him, to do some of his kitchen work, and bring him coffee, is not malicious, just naughty. And the way he proofreads the spy’s reports, to maximize the sympathy factor, is amusing to me.

E10. It’s so mature of Yu Hyeon to turn down Aunt’s offers of money and help, saying that he likes things as they are now, where he has a goal to work towards, and someone to work towards it with. It really feels like he’s grown up some.

E12. Yu Hyeon is very sharp, to pick up on the fact that Seung Seok knew, before he’d said anything, that the plagiarism was in relation to Geoseong Confectionery.

E13. Yu Hyeon getting Seung Seok to talk by basically killing him with kindness, is just the sort of thing that Yu Hyeon would do. He’s such a pure soul, that I’d find it weird if he got through to Seung Seok by getting angry at him, for example. Even in the way Yu Hyeon takes care of Seung Seok’s grandmother, and cooks her a meal, is so guileless.

[END SPOILER]

Ha Ni’s connection with Yu Hyeon

Like I mentioned earlier in this review, the loveline between Ha Ni and Yu Hyeon is not at all central to the story. In fact, the romance angle feels almost like an afterthought; it’s such a muted arc in our narrative.

However, as someone who’s watched more than my fair share of romance-centric dramas, this actually felt pretty refreshing. Now, don’t get me wrong; I still love me some romance, but this felt like a nice change of pace.

It was pretty great to have Show prioritize both Yu Hyeon’s and Ha Ni’s personal journeys, over their need or desire for romance. That’s a welcome change, from many dramas that would choose the “healed by love” sort of tack, in order to put some swoony romance at the center of the story.

At the same time, I appreciated how Show teases out the connection between Yu Hyeon and Ha Ni, so that we see them growing closer and supporting each other, simply as fellow humans, outside of the romance equation. I actually enjoyed that a lot.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E4. Yu Hyeon asking Ha Ni’s neighborhood turns out to be a guileless thing too. I’d thought that he’d try to live in her apartment because he has no money, but it turns out that he just really wanted to live near her, so that he could run into her. That’s sweet.

E5. That moment when Ha Ni hears the accidental recording of Dad’s voice, is so poignant. On the one hand, it must be so precious, to hear his voice again. And on the other hand, it dredges up the deepest parts of her pain. The way Ha Ni cries by herself on those steps feels so raw and gutting.

I think Yu Hyeon’s choice to just hover a distance away, and just watch over her, is the best choice he could have made in that moment. She is aggravated by him right now, so she wouldn’t want to be comforted by him. And yet, she looks so broken and sad, that it just doesn’t feel right to leave her alone.

I totally understand Yu Hyeon looking out for Ha Ni extra after this, though. One does not simply cry like that and then magically be ok. I got quite the kick out of him showing her favor in the lunch queue, after turning down other people’s requests for extra meat or lettuce – by giving her more than she can eat, and then calling out to her in such a friendly manner. I imagine all the ladies who are taken by how handsome Yu Hyeon is, already feel jealous. What would happen if they knew he’s actually the Chairman’s son? This little detail amuses me quite a lot.

E6. It’s good to see Ha Ni being drunk-happy (as opposed to being drunk-sad), and it’s actually nice to see her in such a good mood that she’d want to dance on the street. I’m glad that Yu Hyeon’s there to share the moment with her, and affirm that she’s cool and awesome.

It’s typically kind of Yu Hyeon to carry Ha Ni on his back when she passes out, but the thing that gets me in the heart, is how, when Ha Ni starts crying at the memory of her dad, he quietly concludes that they ought to walk several more times around the block. This, when he’s got her on his back, too. That’s really compassionate and empathetic of him, to give her the space and privacy to cry, even if it means exerting himself more than he technically needs to.

E7. I enjoy how the loveline between Yu Hyeon and Ha Ni is treated as something that’s bubbling away quietly in the background. Both of them have significant personal journeys to go through, and I’m glad that those are allowed centerstage; ie, neither of them is being distracted by romance.

I do like the touches of interest, though, like when Yu Hyeon can’t help but get a bit jealous, when he imagines Ha Ni and Anthony frolicking in the snow together.

E8. What a fun sort of realization moment, when Anthony presses Yu Hyeon to answer his question about whether Yu Hyeon likes Ha Ni, and after a blustery, “Me? Like who?,” he basically goes straight to, “I think so.” Tee hee. That’s cute.

E9. The moment that Anthony asks Yu Hyeon whether he likes Ha Ni, seems to be the moment Yu Hyeon actually becomes cognizant of his feelings for Ha Ni.

How cool, that there is no internal struggle whatsoever, about her being older than he, or that she has a daughter; he just likes her, and promptly starts doing things in the vein of courting her. I love that. There’s something so pure about Yu Hyeon, and how uncalculating and guileless he is. If he likes Ha Ni, he’s going to find ways to be around her, and he’s going to let her know. It weirds Ha Ni out, but I like it. Things like, “I just don’t want to say goodbye so soon,” just come out of his mouth so easily, hee.

E12. Yu Hyeon’s such a pure sort of character. I like the way he cheers up Ha Ni, when he finds her crying by herself. The things that he says – that he think she’s awesome, and makes him want to be a better person – are just the things that she needs to hear. And, it’s not just lip service too. It’s clear to see that she’s had a positive effect on him. And that hug at the end, when he encourages her to cheer up, is very sweet as well.

E13. I’m glad that Yu Hyeon gives Ha Ni a heads-up, that he might not be all that she thinks he is. It’s cute that he thinks to do so, even though he’s drunk. He really does care about her, and what she thinks.

E14. I’m assuming that things between Yu Hyeon and Ha Ni are platonic, even though he’s doing things like holding her hands and looking into her eyes while talking to her. I’m not assuming anything different, until they officially take things romantic. I do like the idea that Yu Hyeon and Ha Ni want to be honest with each other, and tell each other everything. This feels like an honest and meaningful connection.

[END SPOILER]

Special shout-outs:

Kim Yu Mi as Ji Eun [SPOILERS]

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of Ji Eun, because Show keeps her a bit ambiguous for a while, but I grew to really appreciate Ji Eun as a character. Not only is she brave, she’s principled, too.

In terms of her past connection with Ha Ni, and given how poorly things had ended between them in high school, I was pleasantly surprised, and rather impressed, when Ji Eun comes clean and reconnects with Ha Ni in such a gracious manner in episode 5. This, considering how she’d looked rather horrified when Ha Ni had shown up and introduced herself.

I liked this brave aspect of Ji Eun’s personality, and Ji Eun shows it again in later episodes, when she chooses not to plant the fake evidence in Ha Ni’s work computer, as Aunt (Baek Hyun Joo) had instructed. Considering how terrified Ji Eun is of her mother-in-law, this is a very brave decision for Ji Eun.

I like that even though Ji Eun often comes across as a little fragile, she has enough steel about her, to not lose her values, even when under pressure.

Ha Ni’s friendship with Ji Eun [SPOILERS]

When we learn in episode 6, that Ha Ni had basically pushed her best friend Ji Eun away, more out of not knowing to do with her own pain than anything else, I found it really heartbreaking.

Ha Ni’s basically punishing herself, for causing Dad’s death. It’s just really unfortunate that Eun Ji had been too young to even begin to comprehend what was going on with Ha Ni, and could only see Ha Ni pushing her away. What a sad turn of events, for a pair of besties who had been inseparable prior.

I was so glad to see Ji Eun and Ha Ni make up, after so many years, in episode 12. Credit goes to younger Ha Ni, for reminding Ha Ni that all she has to do is apologize, if she hurt Ji Eun. I found the reunion scene very touching, in its low-key sort of way.

Thereafter, this friendship doesn’t get a lot of time in the spotlight, but it was so great to see Ha Ni and Ji Eun doing friend things together again, in episode 14.

I love the sequence of them blowing off steam just like they’d used to do back in high school, first at the noraebang, and then at the market, eating those twisted dough sticks together. The way Show intersplices this with scenes of their past selves doing these exact same things together, just makes my heart feel full. I love it. 🥰❤️

Ji Seung Hyun as Do Yun [SPOILERS]

I have a soft spot for Ji Seung Hyun, so I was really pleased to see him in this show, as Ji Eun’s sweet and doting husband.

I loved that he’s so smitten by Ji Eun, even though it looks like they’ve been married for some years now. In episode 7, the way he’s so amused by a tipsy Ji Eun, and cooks her instant noodles, and praises her while teasing her gently, is all kinds of melty. Plus, I am very pleased with the fact that he’s ready and willing to speak up for Ji Eun, in front of his mother. He’s not afraid of her, and I like that.

..Which is why I was so disappointed, when Show causes Do Yun to join his mother in her evil schemes, in episode 12. He believes that he needs to protect Ji Eun, and I get that sentiment, as her husband, but it was still frustrating to see him betray his principles like this, and please Aunt in the process.

Happily, things eventually turn around, and we get our upright, sweet Do Yun back. I just wish that the little screen time we’d had with Do Yun, hadn’t been wasted on things like this misguided and thankfully temporary affiliation with the dark side.

Yun Ju Sang as Chairman Dad [SPOILERS]

I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed Yun Ju Sang as Chairman Dad. He brings so much gentle warmth and gravitas to the role.

I’m gutted that Chairman Dad ends up losing his sight, but I’m glad that Aunt’s evil scheme to steal the company from him fails. And, I’m glad that through this, Dad’s relationship with Yu Hyeon reaches a new depth and richness of mutual understanding and appreciation.

Yu Hyeon and Chairman Dad together [SPOILERS]

This was one of my favorite relationships in the show.

Even though Dad is hard on Yu Hyeon at the beginning of the show, it’s not hard to see that it all comes from a place of care and concern. Plus, even though Yu Hyeon’s literally kicked out of the house, the tone of the relationship always stays light. The two might bicker and trade laser glares when their paths cross, but it always feels like it’s done in good fun, and they don’t actually mean it.

I liked the scene in episode 3, where Yu Hyeon calls out Dad for taking two pieces of cutlet at the cafeteria; that’s so funny and such a great example of the kind of harmless bickery relationship they have. Only the Chairman’s own son would be brave enough to embarrass the Chairman like that. 😂

Underneath, there’s a layer of poignance, though. In episode 10, I thought it was actually quite sad to hear Yu Hyeon talk about how he’d been upset with his dad for neglecting him while he was growing up. He’d felt alone and lonely, and that’s a tough way to grow up. I honestly think it’s a wonder that Yu Hyeon is as clear-eyed and pure as he is.

When Dad loses his sight, I was gutted, not only for Dad, but for Yu Hyeon as well, as he sees Dad from afar, in episode 13, frail, weak and blind. The way his face crumples, really makes my heart go out to him. I thought Kim Young Kwang did a really good job with that scene.

Afterward, though, I love how their relationship becomes so tender. The tears that they share in episode 14, feel so raw and the love, so deep, even as Yu Hyeon tells Dad that it’s fine that he’s blind, and now is the time to lean on his healthy son. Dad’s clearly surprised, but more than that, it’s easy to see that he’s deeply moved, and also, relieved, to have Yu Hyeon by his side.

In the same episode, I loved seeing Yu Hyeon make his entrance as the Chairman’s son, not because he looks cool in a suit (though he does), but because it feels like he’s finally claiming his identity, and embracing it.

He’s no longer grappling with who he is, and how that’s different and distinct from the company; he’s finally come to understand his father’s love for the company and its people, and now, stepping into the shoes that were always his, he feels the same love for the company and its people.

I love the corporate moments around this, but more than that, I love the private moments that Yu Hyeon shares with Dad, before and after. That tearful hug just made my heart so, so full. I legit teared up at my screen, and I may or may not have whimpered a bit, too, while I was at it. 😭❤️

STUFF THAT WAS OK

Eum Moon Suk as Anthony / Chun Sik

For the record, I don’t dislike Anthony as a character. It’s just that Show makes him such an over-the-hill diva, that it’s easy to find him annoying. Plus, Show also makes use of him quite often, as a comic device, and therefore, it’s easy to dismiss Anthony as a character.

I was a little surprised, but pleasantly so, when Show gives Anthony a bit of a redemption arc in our late episodes.

Kudos to Show, and to Eum Moon Sik’s delivery; I actually found this redemption arc nicely poignant, despite my indifference-leaning-towards-annoyance towards Anthony for a good chunk of our earlier episodes.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I’d always seen Anthony as comic relief, pretty much, but in episode 10, when he wistfully admits that he has some guilt around being partially responsible for Ha Ni’s father’s death, my heart goes out to him. It’s so sad, really, that Anthony thinks that he’s part the reason Ha Ni stopped smiling. The what if’s are always the most haunting.

I’m glad that Show releases him from this guilt, in the end, and I also think it’s a good choice, to have Anthony be caught out for his bullying behavior in high school, so that he can make amends for it. That feels fitting, and I’m actually really pleased with where Show leaves Anthony, which I’ll talk about more, in my section on the finale.

[END SPOILER]

The running gag between Anthony and Yu Hyeon [SPOILERS]

With both Yu Hyeon and Anthony nursing romantic feelings towards Ha Ni during our story, I was expecting at least some level of rivalry between them. What I hadn’t seen coming, though, was their rivalry in the branded clothes department, with them both buying and selling secondhand goods, but refusing to admit it.

I found this rather amusing at first, but when Show turned it into a running gag, I found that it got old for me pretty fast, which is why it’s in this section.

Show’s farcical touches

I mentioned earlier in this review, that Show has a comedic bent, and now, writing this review, I’m reminded all over again, of just how random Show can be, in its farcical tendencies. The results were mixed for me, personally. I found some things funny, but found others less so.

This is a very subjective thing, so your mileage may vary.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Stuff I liked

E8. I LOVED it when the Chuno soundtrack started bubbling in the background, ready to unleash, when So Hye (Lee Chae Mi) let loose her inner tiger on those bullies for being mean to her friends. That was delightful, and it’s also a warm idea, that So Hye hadn’t been able to stand up for herself, but nothing was going to stop her from standing up for people whom she cared about.

E9. The whole ghost / haunted house thing turned out to be so silly and hilarious, especially when they kept collecting more people to join the chase. Anthony and Yu Hyeon throwing things at each other is so petty and silly, but I still found myself giggling.

Stuff I liked less

E3. I think the Steve Jobs-inspired shaman is supposed to be funny, but I just found him strange and weird. Plus, his appearance was really quite random; it felt like he just popped out of nowhere.

E3. The debt collector dragging Ha Ni off the bridge is a random plot point that I think would have landed better, if I’d had my more comedic lens on. Without it, this scene just felt quite random.

E6. I couldn’t help rolling my eyes a bit, at the rescue operation via snack packs. That was pretty bizarre. And why would bystanders suddenly break open all the remaining snacks, while the rescue situation was still under way? So much suspension of disbelief required, for this one.

[END SPOILER]

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH

Baek Hyun Joo as Aunt [SPOILERS]

Aunt had seemed like a perfectly decent character when we were introduced to her, so I was rather surprised and disappointed, when Show turns her into our Big Bad, at around the halfway point of our story.

I mean, the extent of her ambition and greed was pretty out there. It blew my mind that she’d take advantage of her ailing brother, and risk his health – possibly his life – by pulling dirty schemes to sabotage the company, which ultimately literally caused him to collapse and lose his sight.

Given Show’s overall tone, though, of course Aunt was given a sliver of a redemption arc, with the family forgiving her, and expressing that they missed her and wanted her to come back. Considering the (very, very) awful things that Show has Aunt do, before kinda-sorta redeeming her in our finale, I found this all rather whiplashy, to be honest.

THEMES / IDEAS

Here are just a few major themes that come to mind, when I consider this show:

1. You can’t change the past, but you can change yourself, and your future.

2. Treasure your loved ones, while you can.

3. Apologize if you’ve wronged someone – even if a lot of time has passed.

4. Treasure yourself too. It’s important to accept and love – and forgive – yourself.

5. You are your own best cheerleader.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]

This episode younger Ha Ni finally finds out about what happened to Dad, and it’s as heartbreaking as I’d imagined. I mean, how terrible it must be, for her to find out that her willful actions had resulted in Dad’s death?

I’m glad that Mom and Ha Ni are there, to comfort her and tell her that it’s not her fault. I especially appreciate Mom telling her that if anything similar were to happen again, that Mom herself would do the same thing Dad had done, and put her life on the line to save her daughter.

While it might feel unfair that Ha Ni herself never heard this words from Mom until now, I’m glad that Show calls this out, by having Mom apologize for it. I also tend to think that it’s a lot clearer to Mom on hindsight, after having seen for herself, how much Ha Ni has suffered from the crushing burden of guilt that she’s carried, all these years. With this so clear in her mind, and because hindsight is 20/20, and because Mom herself has had 20 years to process her own thoughts and emotions, it becomes much easier for Mom to articulate this, I feel.

Over at Joa, I’m glad that Chairman Dad doesn’t get ousted, but more than that, I’m glad that Do Yun does the right thing, by reporting his mom to the police. It must be a really tough choice for him, but I like the way he puts it, that it’s the only way to save her from herself.

I’m also really glad that things are properly cleared up between Do Yun and Ji Eun, because this lovey-dovey couple deserves to bask in the glow of impending parenthood together.

How cute, that Yu Hyeon comes back to the company, but not in a high-flying position as the Chairman’s son, as everyone had expected. It’s really quite heartwarming, to see him back in the kitchen, warmly welcomed by colleagues who have now become friends.

However, on a practical note, I do think that Dad needs him now, more than ever, so I’d actually prefer to see Yu Hyeon start to apply himself in a different capacity, so that he can help Dad run the company. Although, I suppose Dad has Do Yun back now, so perhaps this isn’t so urgent after all?

I’m also glad to see Anthony make the decision to own his past transgressions, and apologize to everyone who’d been affected by his bullying ways, back in high school. It feels like the right thing to do, and this choice feels perfectly in line with this show’s theme of rising facing your past, so that you can rise above it. I just wonder where CEO Park is going to come up with all the money that he’s going to need to pay in compensation, for Anthony’s broken contracts..?

The biggest surprise, for me, this hour, is the phone call that Ha Ni answers, which turns out to be Dad, calling from beyond the grave. What? This is all very unexpected, because, well, Dad’s dead, but I suppose Show’s never really delineated where its magic starts and stops.

I do like the idea that Dad sent younger Ha Ni to present day Ha Ni, to help her remember how sparkly and full of life she’d used to be, before the accident. I’m hoping that Show will explain the mechanics of how all this works, but by this point, I’m not sure if it’s reasonable to hope, given how Show’s treated its time travel element with such a light and glossed-over hand.

How mysterious, that Dad says that Ha Ni needs to find the way for younger Ha Ni to go back, and that she knows the answer, and just needs to find it. That’s.. quite a lot of pressure, since they now have less than a week to figure this out, before death comes to find younger Ha Ni.

And, it looks like it’s perhaps all linked to Yu Hyeon’s memory of Dad, where it seems like Dad’s the person who had extended a warm and encouraging hand to Yu Hyeon, when his mother had died.

At this point, I really have no idea how Show plans to wrap this all up, and what our answers may be, but I’m hopeful that whatever Show serves up, will be heartwarming and satisfying, even if the mystical rules remain mysterious.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

Of course, all’s well that ends well, in this finale, because that’s just how Show rolls.

I’d wondered about the mechanics of how younger Ha Ni would return to her timeline, and how Ha Ni would find the answer, like Dad had said she would because only she knew it, and the answer is, in my opinion, pitch perfect for this show.

What I mean is, the answer’s not terribly complicated, nor does it make a lot of sense, in that the tunnel had never featured in our story up till now, but it leans a lot into emotional ties and precious personal memories, and that’s exactly where Show’s emphasis has always been. Show was never big into the time travel thing; the time travel was but a device to get younger Ha Ni into the present timeline. Now that younger Ha Ni’s done what she came to do, it makes sense within Show’s construct and chosen emphases, to have younger Ha Ni’s passage back, be all about the heart.

I really enjoyed the depth of mutual love and care, that we see between our two Ha Nis, and it felt really poignant to me, that they were reluctant to say goodbye to each other, even though they are the same person. I love the idea of the older self and younger self growing to love and appreciate each other, while yielding to the lessons that the other offers. And I also really like the idea of the younger and older selves, wanting to protect each other, to the maximum.

I still don’t get how Dad was able to send younger Ha Ni to her future self, but I do love the fact that younger Ha Ni gets to have that final exchange with Dad, before he dies. The way he welcomes her back from her trip to the future; the way she cries and apologizes; the way he tells her that it’s ok and squeezes her hand; the way he tells her, with his last breath, that she’s worked hard; it made me cry, not gonna lie. 😭

I also think that Show gives each of our characters very fitting endings. I love that Anthony (now Chun Sik) starts a new life where part of his schtick, is protecting kids from bullies. More than him giving up his entertainment career, and more than him donating his life savings to help victims of bullying, this feels like a perfect way for him to make amends for his past, by preventing current victims and their future.

I was very tickled by Anthony’s ex-assistant being scouted by CEO Park, and becoming a huge diva, going by the name Alexandro, and turning out to be even more pretentious than Anthony ever was. HA.

I liked that Ha Ni and Ji Eun make a conscious decision to renew their friendship, and I freaking love that we get that scene of now-Chairman Do Yun, doing the morning exercise dance, with a good amount of robotic rhythm, and a completely deadpan straight face. I laughed so hard at this! I love it!

On a tangent, I’d thought that Chairman Dad would continue to run the company, with Yu Hyeon’s help, but I feel that Show’s chosen outcome makes a lot more sense.

Not only is Do Yun capable and deserving of the position, this frees Dad to explore other interests that he never did explore, while Chairman, and this also gives Yu Hyeon the space to grow at his own pace. To be honest, Yu Hyeon hadn’t been ready to help Dad run the company, even as an assistant. It suits him far more, to join Ha Ni at her department, and learn things from the ground up. I imagine that one day, he’ll be a great assistant to Do Yun, in an executive position.

Also, while it might feel like Aunt has a sudden turnaround in terms of her character, I’m willing to believe that she hadn’t been truly evil to begin with, and had been blinded by greed. In which case, I can believe that she would experience a rude awakening, when all her plans failed on her. Plus, I just like the idea that Aunt it truly sorry, and that everyone in the family genuinely misses her and wishes her to return to them, safe and sound, once she’s served her time.

I also like how Ha Ni describes her situation with Yu Hyeon, as them taking their time to get to know each other better. That seems like a perfectly fitting note on which to leave this relationship, which was never our story’s main focus anyway.

While it might annoy time travel story aficionados that there is no ripple effect from Past Ha Ni’s adjusted mindset, to Present Ha Ni’s reality, I accept that this was never Show’s focus, to begin with.

I like that we see Ha Ni writing those diary entries, as letters to her younger self, and I like that we see her writing, “I love you, Bahn Ha Ni.” I do find it weird that she would also include that goodbye bit, since she’s essentially saying goodbye to herself and that’s completely unnecessary. I tried to rationalize that perhaps Ha Ni is just choosing to leave the past behind,  but I decided that that was too tenuous, and this was just Show’s way of having Ha Ni say goodbye to us as viewers, in a play on Show’s title.

I love just as much, the little epilogue that we get at the end, where we see younger Ha Ni doing a class assignment on a letter to herself, twenty years in the future. I love what she chooses to say, “Dear future me, it’s okay if you didn’t turn out the way I wanted, because I’m still the one who loves and roots for you the most.” … “Can you confidently tell me you cherish me every single day?”

Ahhh. What a perfect, warm reminder to us all, to love ourselves and cherish ourselves, because we are precious, just as we are. 🥰

THE FINAL VERDICT:

A simple, warm and feel-good reminder, for us to love, forgive and cherish ourselves.

FINAL GRADE: B++

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merij1
merij1(@merij1)
1 month ago

Speaking of Squid Game… lol (See photo at the top of this page)

Kay
Kay(@kdramakisses)
1 month ago

What a perfect review of this lovely drama! We had almost the exact same experience. Despite my love of all things time travel, this one didn’t grab me from the promos. I didn’t plan to check it out but heard that it was fun and heartwarming and gave it a go. And I’m so glad I did! It’s one of my favorite dramas of the year. The comedy was right up my alley, and I laughed a lot. I even thought Anthony was hilarious! 😂

The entire cast was great, especially both Ha Ni’s. I loved them individually and their relationship. This was just such a lovely feel good drama with beautifully deep underlying messages. I’m happy you enjoyed it too 🙂

Eric Lancaster
Eric Lancaster
1 month ago

I’m so glad you enjoyed this one like I did. I agree about having the Aunt be the big bad – it wasn’t the best choice. It seems like they could have set up any number of conflicts and problems for the leads to overcome in the company without resorting to that. Just some routine struggles to make the best snack fit better with the theme of the show -Aunt’s level of malice didn’t match the overall tone of the show. The whole idea of this show was learning to overcome the *little* things in life that wear you down, sap your confidence, and make you give up on yourself. The idea isn’t confronting an external evil person.

JJ
JJ
1 month ago

Thanks KFG for you post on this Show! I have started and stopped this so many times in the first 10mins. LOL! So, Ill have to give it another go soon because you gave it a B++ 🙂

JJ
JJ
1 month ago
Reply to  kfangurl

@KFG- YES! With this one I think I needed your tips on this one to get past episode 1. Ill let you know how it goes 🙂