Today, I thought I’d share my episode 1 & 2 notes on See You In My 19th Life, because I’m enjoying it a lot, and I was wondering if you’d like to join me? 🤗
These are my episode 1 & 2 notes, exactly as they appear on Patreon, ie, without screenshots (I’m saving those for the actual review).
I hope you all enjoy, and I hope you’ll consider joining us over on Patreon, for the rest of the discussions! ❤️
E1. I’m liking this one quite nicely, but I do think that lens adjustments need to be a priority, with this one.
I think the most helpful thing to remember, is that our story is adapted from a webtoon of the same title.
And, lens-wise, I think that a “whimsical manhwa” lens would work nicely.
That would help a lot of things to land better, and feel more organic, to this drama world, versus if you tried to straight-up take this as a regular drama world.
I think even a straight fantasy lens might be a bit problematic, because you need the manhwa element to be available and active, in your head, for a lot of the protagonist’s actions to land as not stalkerish, not obsessive, and not psychotic. 😅
Wait – don’t run away! It’s really not that bad!
It’s just that our entire premise is that Shin Hye Sun’s character Ji Eum, remembers our male lead Seo Ha, from her last life (which was her 18th life), and is determined to track him down and fulfill the promise that she’d made in her 18th life, to always be there for him, and help him, and also, marry him.
This results in a bunch of stalkery behavior where she tails him, and even climbs over the gate of his family home and then climbs a tree, just to get a glimpse of him.
See, even with a straight-up fantasy lens, this would be problematic, yes? That’s because you’d be thinking of Ji Eum as a human being, and normal human beings don’t do this kinda thing.
Or, if you do, you’d be arrested for breaking and entering, and stalking, and probably a host of other crimes. 😅
BUT. If you remember that this is a live-action adaptation of a webtoon, then that all pretty much melts away (at least to almost nothing).
If these are webtoon characters, then a lot of things are a lot more acceptable as normal and non-criminal. 😁
..Which is why I think it’s so important to keep this lens front and center, through your watch.
Aside from this potentially troublesome thing, which, like I said, is fixable, as long as you’re open to adjusting your lens, I find this show pretty easy to like.
First of all, the entire premise is pretty fresh, in that I don’t recall another kdrama trying to do anything similar, with multiple past lives. Or at least, I don’t think I’ve watched one. 😅
Also, the way Show actually takes the trouble to flesh out various scenes from Ji Eum’s past lives, gives us glimpses of very different timelines and locales, and that’s a level of ambition that I hadn’t been expecting, coming into this one.
It offers up an extremely wide range of possibilities, from exotic locales from various points in history, to cameos from familiar faces.
So where King The Land feels familiar and comfortable, this show feels fresh and different.
Second of all, Park So Yi, who plays young Ji Eum, is so wonderfully precocious and charming, that she had me wrapped around her little finger, by the time I got to the end of episode 1.
(On a tangent, I think it’s so fun that Park So Yi and Ha Yoon Kyung are in the same drama, because they’d played mother and daughter in She Would Never Know. Wouldn’t it have been a fun spot of meta, if Park So Yi had been cast to pay younger Ha Yoon Kyung..? 😁)
I felt really bad for young Ji Eum, for having such a hard childhood, with her parents fighting all the time, and her father gambling away all the family’s money.
I do love how hard she is to get down, and I also love how she’s got all these knowledge and skills accumulated from her various previous lives, to be able to charm and impresses audiences as the “Girl-of-all-trades.”
I’m also extremely impressed at Ji Eum’s memory, which is out of this world.
She does speak of it as a bit of a curse, since she mentions that she can’t forget them even if she wanted to, but I’m more like, Wow, how does she fit all that information into her head without it exploding? 😅
I love how Ji Eum runs away from her no-good dad, and finds Ae Kyung, who had been her niece in her 17th life, when she’d been Ae Kyung’s uncle.
I love that Ae Kyung’s played by Cha Chung Hwa, because this means that once Ji Eum grows up into Shin Hye Sun, we’d get a Mr. Queen reunion between our Queen and her Court Lady. 🤩
Also, I love the affectionate, simple-minded quality that Ae Kyung has, where she doesn’t actually take very long to believe Ji Eum, that she’s actually Ae Kyung’s uncle Jung Ho, now reincarnated.
Ae Kyung’s simple, rather baffled joy, is so endearing.
Plus, isn’t it the cutest thing, when Ae Kyung eventually starts addressing Ji Eum as “Samcheon”?? 🤩
As for the scenes from Ji Eum’s 18th life, where she meets Seo Ha, I do have to suspend disbelief, when she says in voiceover, that this was the first time she’d been so intrigued by someone, in all of her 18 lives.
I mean. Really??
This little brat of a boy, is more intriguing and interesting to her, than anyone she’s met in the hundreds (maybe thousands) of years that she’s lived before? Just because he gives her sass? I find that to be a stretch, even in a manhwa world. 😅
But ok, it’s part of our story premise, so we just have to believe Ji Eum when she says that this is the first time she’s felt such a connection to someone.
At this point, I’m also thinking that a useful thing to keep handy, is the idea that souls are ageless; they just are.
This is just my own idea; Show hasn’t made any comment on this so far, but I do find it helpful.
This way, there’s no weird thing of having to reconcile that Ji Eum, as a soul that’s hundreds of years old, is falling for a kid who’s about 9 years old. 😅
Show provides a highlight reel of Ji Eum (as Ju Won) and Seo Ha spending time together and growing closer, but it’s honestly not all that compelling, if we’re talking about a love that transcends lifetimes.
It is quite sweet, though, so when we see through Ji Eum’s eyes, that Ju Won had died abruptly in a car accident, not that long after Seo Ha’s mother’s death, that feels horribly sad, for Seo Ha.
He’d put his trust in Ju Won, when she’d promised to be with him after his mother’s death, and now, she’s left him too.
Not only is he all alone, he’s traumatized by the double loss too.
It’s not hard to understand why Seo Ha’s grown up to be on the more reserved and repressed side of things.
Maybe that’s part of the reason I don’t actually mind that young Ji Eum starts trailing behind Seo Ha; she’s such a ray of sunshine with her cheery outlook, that I find that I kinda want her in his life, even if it has to start with her semi-stalking him. 😅
It’s after the time skip that I found it a little harder to reconcile Ji Eum’s hyper-focus on Seo Ha, because, well, she doesn’t look like a precocious 9-year-old anymore. 😅
But, I remind myself that 9 year old Ji Eum was several hundred years old on the inside, just like adult Ji Eum, and that kinda helps. I also vigorously shake my manhwa lens, when I find myself struggling with this, and that helps too. 😉
On a tangent, I got a kick out of Ji Eum’s manager muttering to himself that he just can’t treat her the same way he treats everyone else; was she a king in her past life or something? – because, well, Shin Hye Sun was very much royalty, in Mr. Queen. 😁
Hahaha. I love the meta.
I feel even more sorry for Seo Ha, when we realize that he’d lost his hearing as a result of the accident that had killed Ju Won, and has to contend with his father’s disdain because of it.
Well, we don’t know if Chairman Dad would be just as disdainful if Seo Ha had his hearing intact, but it’s hard to think that Seo Ha’s hearing loss doesn’t affect Dad’s opinion of him in the least.
My gut feel is that Chairman Dad is looking at Seo Ha purely as a potential heir to the business, rather than as his son, and a hearing disability would surely be a disadvantage in his eyes, I’m thinking.
I’m glad, though, that Seo Ha seems to be able to hear just fine, as long as he’s wearing his hearing aid.
And of course, by the end of the episode, Ji Eum’s applying to work at the hotel, because she’s caught wind of the fact that Seo Ha’s back in Korea and will be working there.
But, even though I’ve already spent a whole episode getting to know Ji Eum and her slightly off-the-wall personality, I’m balking at her sudden suggestion to Seo Ha – during her interview, no less – that he date her.
Wait. What? 😅
E2. So this episode, we hear Ji Eum talk with Ae Kyung about her sudden proposition to Seo Ha, and as it turns out, she just couldn’t help herself; the words just came tumbling out.
Well, ok. I can buy that, since Ji Eum’s supposed to be so hyper-focused on Seo Ha, and she’s rather impatient, to boot.
I can see how she might inadvertently jump the gun, when these two things combine.
And, I do like that Ji Eum’s got enough self-awareness to pronounce that she can’t think objectively, when it comes to Seo Ha.
It’s really on this episode, that I clued in to the fact that Cho Won is Ju Won’s legit biological sister.
I’d assumed at first that Cho Won was just another kid in the mix; maybe a daughter of another friend or relative. Ju Won’s younger cousin, if anything.
I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me that Cho Won is literally Ju Won’s younger sister.
Knowing that now, and seeing how Cho Won is trying so hard to get closer to Seo Ha, definitely adds an extra layer of poignance.
I wonder if Cho Won’s attachment to Seo Ha, has anything to do with her missing her sister, and wanting to hold on to someone who reminds her of Ju Won..? 🤔
Also, I have to admit that on my first viewing of the episode, I’d assumed that the suited up guy who goes to see Cho Won at her garden, is Seo Ha’s righthand man, Do Yun. It’s only revisiting the episode for these notes, that I belatedly realized that this is actually the guy who’d tried to scout Ji Eum.
How interesting, that she addresses him as “Oppa,” like, how do they know each other?
On a completely different note, I just wanted to say that, this episode, I found myself getting a little confused sometimes, between this show and King The Land.
The two are completely different shows, to be sure, but I couldn’t help but get a little confused over the two hotel chaebol princes with Mom-related trauma / issues. Like, for a second, I forgot which chaebol prince had lost his mom, and which one hadn’t ever met his mom. 😅
Seriously, did both shows have to have chaebol princes working in hotels..? 😂🙈
I felt really sorry for Seo Ha, when we see that he suffers from PTSD, from the accident.
It’s not surprising, since it really was a very traumatic incident, where he got seriously injured and lost his hearting. Add on the fact that he also lost Ju Won, who had been his emotional anchor, and I can totally see why he’d be so scarred from it.
I’m glad that when Seo Ha starts to suffer from that panic attack, Ji Eum’s right there to distract him, by dragging him on that run, which, as we find out later, is her way of coping with panic attacks herself.
I like that this incident seems to open up the channels of communication between Seo Ha and Ji Eum.
They’re not in a work setting; he’s not evaluating her for a job; there’s empathy and solidarity present, because she understands what it’s like to suffer from panic attacks; there’s practical help offered.
It’s not hard to see why they’d sit and talk for a while.
Ji Eum’s got a rather disarming way of drawing on her past lives and sharing them as experiences that have taught her something; it really feels like she forgets that she’s not supposed to remember those times.
And then, when Seo Ha asks her when all this stuff happened, she has to backpedal really hard, to try to find a halfway believable scenario for why she might know all this stuff.
It’s funny to me that Seo Ha concludes that she must be a pathological liar, when the opposite is true; she’s TOO truthful, and that’s the problem. 😆
How like Ji Eum, though, to jump right to giving Seo Ha that discombobulating hint – “Marry me” – for him to figure out how they’d first met.
This episode, I’m really beginning to get a sense for how off-the-wall Ji Eum is, as a character.
Besides her sudden and outlandish propositions to Seo Ha, there’s also the way she breaks out in flamenco dance moves, in order to defend herself, and Seo Ha, from Questionable Headhunting Dude.
That was so weird that I had to blink several times, to make sure that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. 😂
But I think that Ji Eum’s weirdness is part of her charm.
Maybe it’s the effect of having lived 18 lives by this point; she just doesn’t seem to get intimidated by anyone or anything. That’s probably why being this weird doesn’t faze her at all, I feel.
Like, she’s seen it all by now, or at least, it must feel like she’s seen it all, after 18 lives. 😅
I don’t blame Do Yun for being suspicious of Ji Eum, though. I think any normal, sane person would be suspicious of the weird, rather stalkery woman who seems to keep appearing in front of Seo Ha.
But, although Seo Ha does find Ji Eum bemusing, he doesn’t seem to mind her being in his orbit.
Like, he puts up with quite a bit of weirdness nonsense from her, yes?
And when Ji Eum demonstrates that she knows what she’s talking about, when she talks about the hotel’s former glory, he agrees to let her work for him, even though nothing’s changed, about her coming across as intense, suspicious and weird.
I mean, if someone was so intense about wanting to work for me, and that came with weird out-of-left-field propositions to date them as well, I’d be a lot more hesitant than Seo Ha.
I’m going to have to reach for the conclusion that there’s a part of Seo Ha that’s drawn to Ji Eum, and add on my manhwa lens for added security, heh. 😁
I’m really pleased, though, that Seo Ha actually remembers young Ji Eum, on his own, while doing his thing, of withdrawing from the world, by sitting underwater in the pool.
What really gets me, is how pleased he looks, to remember her. Aw. He remembers her fondly!
I remember young Ji Eum fondly too (how could I not, she’s so precocious and charming and adorable), so I’m somehow extra pleased to see that he feels similarly. 🥰
I’m also happy to see that after meeting adult Ji Eum again, to reconnect over this memory, we still see Seo Ha smiling to himself, as he thinks about her.
Aw. That’s nice.
I like the fact that he’s smiling about her, meaning, he’s got positive feelings towards Ji Eum, but I also simply like the fact that he’s smiling.
There’s something about Seo Ha that lands as lonely and wistful, to me, and seeing him smile a little more, is a very pleasant thing.
I’m even more firmly on Seo Ha’s side, when we see that Chairman Dad’s been paying Do Yun to keep Seo Ha in line; to make sure the Seo Ha does enough, but doesn’t do too much, such that he oversteps his boundaries and upsets Mrs. Chairman, who’s snidely taken over the space previously occupied by Seo Ha’s mom.
I’m heartened to see that Do Yun declines to accept the money, but the thing is, it seems that he’s been following these orders from Chairman Dad, from even before Seo Ha returned to Korea.
Following the orders, while not accepting the money, is still a betrayal of sorts to Seo Ha, isn’t it?
Given that Do Yun appears to be Seo Ha’s most trusted confidante, Seo Ha appears even more lonely and isolated to my eyes now.
And so I’m glad that Seo Ha is able to smile about Ji Eum being in his life; she is unquestioningly on his side, and Seo Ha could use that kind of loyalty.
I wonder if Seo Ha is actually aware that Do Yun’s reporting to Chairman Dad on the side, since, when he wants to visit Ju Won’s grave, it’s Ji Eum whom he calls, and not Do Yun.
That seems to indicate that Seo Ha at least suspects that information about him might be leaking out via Do Yun.
How very poignant, though, that in helping Seo Ha, Ji Eum realizes that he’s going to Ju Won’s grave, to talk to her.
It feels like such an important and almost life-changing realization that Ji Eum has, while she watches Seo Ha visit Ju Won’s grave; that there is a great deal of pain and heartache, for the people she leaves behind, each time she leaves a life to get reborn.
This is the first time that she’s been reborn so quickly, that she’d get to witness the grief of those whom she’d left behind.
And now, Ji Eum’s confronted, for the first time, with the grief that Seo Ha and Cho Won still feel, at her loss.
I’m guessing that this will add a layer of new meaning to the way Ji Eum sees the world, and I’m thinking that we might see more sensitivity from her, and less flippancy, particularly when it comes to Seo Ha and Cho Won.
And that sounds like something that I could very much get behind.
*This show is being covered on the VIP Early Access (US$15) Tier on Patreon*
To view episode 1 & 2 notes in Patreon, along with everyone’s comments, you can go here!
Episodes 5 & 6 notes will be out on Tuesday, 4 July 2023! I hope you’ll consider joining us!
It’ll be a way to have fun, and support me at the same time? ❤️
PS: For more information on what the Patreon experience is like, you might like to check out my Patreon update post for July, which you can find here!