Review: My Perfect Stranger


A surprisingly engaging, heartfelt time travel mystery that stays nicely consistent, from start to finish.

Yes, Show’s production values lean basic, and yes, the 80’s characters can sometimes be a bit too loud and theatrical, but once you adjust your viewing lens and expectations around these, this turns into a pretty strong watch.

Show more than makes up for its shortcomings with how much heart it has, and, importantly, manages to finish strong, instead of petering out at the end, as some time travel stories have been known to do.

Would recommend.


This is literally the show that I almost passed on, you guys, and that would’ve been a mistake, I do think, because Show’s turned out to be much more solidly written than I’d expected, and much more engaging than I’d imagined.

What happened was, I’d come across some comments where viewers said they especially loved the scenes in the 80’s, in this show, and so, because I was short on time, I randomly clicked into the middle of episode 1, so that I could get a flavor for what these 80’s scenes were like.

I was a little taken aback by the how everything looks really quite fake and obviously part of a set, and I was also bemused by the rather OTT flair, for some of the characters.

I hurriedly backed away and picked another show for coverage on Patreon, but I’m so glad that I eventually came back to give this a proper try.

Because, on my first proper try – ie, I pressed play and started watching from the beginning, like I was supposed to – I got sucked in pretty much right away.

Yay for do-overs, eh? 😁


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

I thought the OST was pleasant and serviceable, though I can’t say that any single track truly lingered with me.

I do like Track 6, “Give Me That Night,” though, for it’s nostalgic vibe and easy, laidback feel. Here it is as well, in case you’d like to listen to that on repeat instead. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”


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

1. Show is not romance-forward

Meaning, there is a bit of romance in this, but it’s really the central mystery that is our story’s main focus. Managing your expectations around that, helps.

2. Production values are on the basic side

This had thrown me off the first time I’d dipped my toes into a random scene in episode 1, because everything in our 80’s timeline looked so strongly like a set.

Don’t let that put you off; Show is more solid than its production values might make it appear.

3. Suspension of disbelief is needed, sometimes

By and large, Show does a good job of remaining consistent in its internal logic, but once in a while, I felt that Show does stretch logic a little bit.

Knowing to expect that, helps, I think, because then you are less likely to be frustrated by it. And, overall, Show is so solid, that it would be a shame to ruin your watch, because of this.

4. It’s best to go in pretty blind

Because Show’s primarily a mystery story, it’s better to avoid spoilers, so as not to ruin the surprise of each twist and turn.

I’ll just give you the general assurance that it all ends well. 😉

5. Show focuses more on people than on the mechanics and implications of time travel

Meaning to say, it isn’t Show’s focus to explore the butterfly effects of the time travel; this is more about the people and relationships, and the specific mystery that our characters are working to solve.

We do see some butterfly effects, but it’s more of a light exploration than an in-depth one. Knowing that helps, I think.


First I talk about what I liked and liked less, in a pretty macro sort of fashion, before doing a selective deep dive into characters and relationships.

I will largely not be delving into Show’s central mystery and the unraveling of it, but instead I’ll touch on certain highlights when it feels relevant.

If you’re interested in my blow-by-blow reactions to all the twists, turns and other developments while watching this show, you might like to check out my episode notes on Patreon here.


Show keeps things moving, and it keeps things fresh

One of the things I really like about this show is, we jump right into time travel, in this story; there’s no waiting around, waiting for the magic to happen.

This makes it feel like we’re getting into the meat of the story right away, and that definitely feels nicely grabby. 😁

On top of that, Show turns out to be quite surprising, sometimes, and I really like that element of my watch experience very much. It keeps things fresh, while it keeps me on my toes. Both very good things. 😁

The “Back to the Future” vibes

I’m quite tickled by the Back to the Future sort of device, where our characters time travel via an old beat-up car.

That alone already gives me Back to the Future vibes – and then when we add on the fact that Yoon Young’s (Jin Ki Joo) personal mission in 1987, has to do with her parents’ relationship, and that just amplifies the Back to the Future feels even more.

To be clear, I consider this a very good thing, because I loved the Back to the Future movies, back in the day. 😁

The emotional heft

What Show might lack in terms of production values, it more than makes up for, with its emotional heft.

For example, it only took less than a single episode for my heart to be completely gripped by the arc around Yoon Young and her mother (Lee Ji Hyun).

There’s so much emotion driving this arc, that I found it impossible to not get invested.

Additionally, there’s a good amount of poignance from contrasting our 1987 characters with the 2021 versions of themselves, which I’ll talk more about later.

For now, here’s a specific example from episode 8, when Show’s emotional heft basically upped and punched me in the gut.


E8. Kyung Ae’s (Hong Na Hyun) death really hits her family hard.

It’s so poignant to see Yoon Young hugging Soon Ae, and trying to console her, but then it’s even more heartbreaking to see Mom (Kim Jung Young) go into a daze, blaming herself for not loving Kyung Ae more, when she’d had the chance.

That flashback, where we see that Kyung Ae had wanted to win Miss Korea in order to buy Mom a mink coat, because she’d seen how envious Mom had been, of their ex-neighbor’s coat back when she was little, is so poignant – especially when we see that Kyung Ae had wanted to give Mom a kiss, and Mom had brushed her off for being a nuisance.

Oof. I can totally see why Mom would be feeling so much regret and guilt, along with the heartbreak of losing Kyung Ae.

It’s actually not that surprising that Mom would think of taking her own life, as punishment.

I’m so relieved that Hae Joon (Kim Dong Wook) snaps out of his funk just in time, to talk her off the ledge, literally.


Show’s deft twists

This show definitely kept me on my toes, and y’know what, I kinda liked the feeling of it, even during the times when I felt like I didn’t really understand what was really going on, in our drama world.

It felt nice to be surprised, and it was also nice to feel like Show knew what it was doing, and where it was going.

At times, Show even felt like a legit rollercoaster, for which I was fully on board for the ride.

It’s not an easy rollercoaster, that’s for sure, because we get rather difficult scenes almost as a matter of course, but there are some very gratifying scenes too, which helps to balance it all out.

All in all, I am really glad that I decided to give this show a proper chance, when I’d originally dipped a toe into a random scene in episode 1 and then walked away. 😅

Here are just a couple of examples of the twists that Show served up.


E2. This episode, I was possibly most surprised by the fact that the head bully girl (Kim Ye Ji) didn’t turn out to be Mi Sook.

Seriously, right when I was coming to the conclusion that Head Bully just HAD to be Mi Sook, from the way she was so belligerent, and from the way she’d wanted Soon Ae to lie about losing something, Show threw me for a loop, by introducing the real Mi Sook (Ji Hye Won).

E3. I got a real shock when Mi Sook’s brother Min Soo (Kim Yeon Woo) knocks Yoon Young out in the car, in an attempt to rape her. Yikes. The way he bashed her head against the dashboard made me gasp out loud, seriously. 🙈

I was SO relieved, when Hae Joon arrives in the nick of time, to save Yoon Young.

WHAT A TWIST, though, when Show reveals that the guy who’d been wrongfully convicted of the murder, with whom Hae Joon’s been having these conversations, is actually Mi Sook’s brother Min Soo – the very guy who’d just tried to rape Yoon Young.

Woahh. I had NOT seen that coming, AT ALL. 😳



Some stuff was hard to watch

For all of Show’s 80’s kitsch and earnest-bumbling characters, it does sometimes serve up scenes that are legitimately difficult to watch.

I had to avert my eyes sometimes, because it was just that hard to get through.

At the same time, I understood that this was all integral to our narrative (versus gratuitous), and that’s why this is in this section.

I didn’t love it, but I get why Show had to go there.


Logic stretches

Like I mentioned earlier, there are times when Show stretches logic, while telling its story.

This wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, and I rationalized that logic stretches are often employed by time travel stories, in order to keep things going.

For the record, here are a few times when I felt Show logic didn’t quite add up.


E4. This is a minor thing, but it makes no sense that the teahouse owner would even give them soy sauce in the first place, if it didn’t go with the donuts.

E13. I definitely thought it was a stretch that Hae Joon could tell Dong Sik (Choi Young Woo) all those game results with such detailed accuracy, because it’s not like Hae Joon’s got a photographic memory, so how could he remember so many details?

And, it’s not like he’s got a sports almanac from the future, to refer to? (Ha, that would be so Back to the Future, though. 😁)

But, it’s a small logic leap that I’m willing to roll with, for the end result of Dong Sik believing Hae Joon, and accepting Hae Joon’s proposal that they work together.

E14. How does Yeon Woo (Jung Jae Kwang) know to drive the time machine to the tunnel, to use it??

I’m pretty sure the manual doesn’t state that bit of information, and I’m also sure that Hae Joon hasn’t told him about this.

So how would Yeon Woo know, to drive it there, in order to time travel?



Kim Dong Wook as Hae Joon

I like Kim Dong Wook, but I have to admit that it took me a while to warm to his character Hae Joon.

Mostly, Hae Joon is played as a character who’s pretty stoic and almost unreadable, sometimes, and who tends to keep his cards close to his chest.

This made him less accessible, I felt, and that’s why it took me a while to feel like I understood him.

That said, Show does demonstrate to us quite quickly that Hae Joon is not a bad person, who helps others, and that did help to mitigate the lack of transparency that I felt towards his character.

As we get to know Hae Joon better, I did come to appreciate that he’s got a good heart, and is a smart, kind, compassionate person.

Here are just a couple of examples when I appreciated Hae Joon’s smarts, and his compassion.


E10. The way Hae Joon takes Hae Kyung (Kim Ye Ji) out for the day, and just hangs out with her, and talks with her, giving her some much-needed perspective, is pretty great.

I like how he helps her to gain empathy for her mom, by reading her the letter that she’d left for Mom, multiple times – so that Hae Kyung would get a flavor for the kind of mental anguish that Mom would have suffered, if Hae Kyung really had run away, and left that letter behind.

E14. It’s smart of Hae Joon, to use his reporter contacts to stir up public discontent and apply pressure on the police to do a proper investigation, as well as do a better job of protecting Soon Ae.


Jin Ki Hoo as Yoon Young

Between our two leads, I felt much more connected to Yoon Young, and much earlier as well.

I’d seen a few comments floating around, about how some viewers didn’t find Yoon Young likable, and I have to say, I didn’t have a problem with Yoon Young’s character, really.

It’s true that she makes some less than ideal decisions in the early part of our story, but I found her understandable, ie, I could understand why a normal, decent person in her situation might have acted the way she did, and therefore, I didn’t hold her actions against her.

Importantly, as she embarks on her quest to right her wrongs, I felt 100% engaged and invested.

I’ll talk more about Yoon Young in other sections, coming up soon, where I discuss her connections with Hae Joon and her mom, Soon Ae.

Hae Joon and Yoon Young

I’d come into this show kind of assuming that there wouldn’t be romance in this, because I’d imagined that both our characters would have too much on their plates to think about romance.

I don’t know what I thought that, given that kdramas famously tend to shoehorn in a romance at the drop of a hat. 😅

Plus, it is true that special feelings can develop between two people, when they go through big events together – and time traveling is a pretty big event, made even bigger by the murders that Hae Joon and Yoon Young are working to prevent.

All that to say, I was not mad about the romance, even though I would have been perfectly happy without it.

And, I do appreciate that Show takes some pains to demonstrate Hae Joon and Yoon Young starting to show care and concern for each other, before things actually turn romantic.

That did help to make the eventual loveline feel more organic, I feel.

Like I mentioned earlier, though, Show isn’t very romance-forward at all, so this loveline is pretty restrained and muted.

Here are some highlights of this would-be couple connection.


E4. I’m glad to that even though they don’t fully trust each other yet, Hae Joon’s putting in more effort to take care of Yoon Young, and that they’re talking more, as a result.

It makes complete sense that Yoon Young would be spooked after being attacked by Min Soo like that, and I’m glad that Show does shine a quick spotlight on it.

And I’m glad that Hae Joon notices, and takes her out for a bite to eat, not only to fill her stomach, but also, to calm her nerves.

I thought the scene of them eating donuts dunked in soy sauce, while sharing conversation, was rather pleasant.

Importantly, we have Hae Joon and Yoon Young in a friendlier space, with Yoon Young even revealing her job as an editor, in the natural course of conversation.

And, I’m glad that Hae Joon emphasizes to Yoon Young, that what happened with Min Soo, wasn’t her fault; that Min Soo was the one who created this mess.

E5. I’m glad that Yoon Young finally tells Hae Joon a big piece of information, that Hee Seop and Soon Ae are her parents, which then leads to that other conversation, where she also tells Hae Joon that she wants to separate them, at all costs, and why.

I feel like this is the first major milestone, in terms of Hae Joon starting to care more deeply, about Yoon Young. Or at least, this is where I feel his heart goes out to her, because of how deeply painful the loss of her mom is, for her.

ALSO, very importantly, I’m glad that Yoon Young tells Hae Joon all this, because he’s the first one to actually consider the possibility that Soon Ae hadn’t killed herself, but had been murdered.

That changes everything for Yoon Young, and I’m glad for it, because this puts her in a completely different frame of mind, in approaching the case of Soon Ae’s death.

E6. This episode, it does feel like Hae Joon and Yoon Young are growing closer, in that, I feel like they are demonstrating more genuine care and concern for each other, and that’s nice to see, of any pair of characters who find themselves on the same side.

The way Yoon Young gets all worried about Hae Joon when he comes back very late after going out to take a look at Blue Cap dude’s face, feels very sincere and genuine, and it also makes the connection between Hae Joon and Yoon Young feel closer and stronger.

And, while I’m a little deflated that Hae Joon doesn’t actually tell Yoon Young that the person he saw at the teahouse was her father Hee Seop, I can understand his hesitation.

I mean, I would hesitate too, if I had occasion to tell someone that I might have reason to suspect that their father was a murderer. 😅

I don’t blame Hae Joon for choosing to take some time to figure things out, instead of telling Yoon Young right away, that he’d seen Hee Seop at the teahouse.

And, even though it’s helpful to him, for Yoon Young to be out of the house that night, I do believe him, when he tells Yoon Young later, that he’d sent her to Soon Ae’s house, primarily for her sake.

E7. I appreciate that Hae Joon tells Yoon Young that it’s ok to not be ok, given that their discoveries in their investigation are, at this moment, all pointing towards members of her family.

That’s understanding of him.

E8. Altogether, this episode, Hae Joon goes through A LOT, and I’m not really that surprised that he would ask Yoon Young for a hug, after they get back home.

I’ve heard that Show does make their connection romantic, but, at this point, at least, this hug feels more to me like a hug of solidarity, rather than anything romantic.

And, y’know, I’m glad that Hae Joon and Yoon Young have each other for company on this crazy journey, because this is way too much stress for just one person to shoulder.

E10. I have to confess that the scene by the water is not landing as romantic to my eyes, even though it feels like Show intends it to be in support of the OTP loveline.

I’ve heard grumbles around the dramaverse, that many viewers just don’t see any chemistry between Kim Dong Wook and Jin Ki Joo, and y’know, I think I might agree with them.

You know that scene where drunk Yoon Young puts her head on Hae Joon’s lap, and he says, “You’re so indifferent. You’re consistently indifferent. I knew it… ever since you said it’d make me feel better if you disappeared. It makes me upset. This is a problem,” as he looks down on her and strokes her hair?

I’m convinced that Show means this scene to be romantic, and that this is Hae Joon basically articulating his feelings for Yoon Young, for the first time.

And.. I’m just not feeling it, unfortunately. 😅

I asked myself if this was an issue with the writing or the delivery, and I’ve concluded that this is more a problem with the delivery.

How did I come to this conclusion, you might ask.

Well, I decided to re-imagine this scene, with another OTP, where the guy is on the stoic side of things, and the female lead is on the clueless side of things; I reimagined this scene with our leads from Love Like The Galaxy (review here!), Ling Buyi and Cheng Shaoshang.

And I realized that with Ling Buyi hypothetically saying those exact same lines to a passed out Cheng Shaoshang on his lap, I would absolutely buy it.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that I would be melting all over the floor, because I’m so certain that Ling Buyi would be gazing at Shaoshang with a very noticeable gentle smolder, as he says the words, and strokes her hair.

And so, I conclude that Kim Dong Wook’s playing it a little too stoic and restrained, which makes Hae Joon’s feelings for Yoon Young feel distant and inaccessible, and therefore, kinda like the feelings aren’t actually there. 😅

E12. This episode, we get some OTP movement, with Yoon Young expressing concern for Hae Joon, and inviting him out for a walk.

And, I’m glad that when Hae Joon talks about how isolated and lonely his life has been, from childhood, Yoon Young takes that leap of faith, to tell him that, if nothing else, she thinks of him fondly.

..Which leads to a legit mutual confession of feelings, and the official minting of our OTP relationship.

And y’know what, I actually rather liked this scene.

Where the river scene had failed for me, this one works really well.

I like the way Yoon Young injects overt emotion into the scene for us, and how, in responding to her, Hae Joon gives a softer, more tender vibe than what we saw by the river.

This OTP scene was low-key, but believable, and I liked it very well. 🥰


Seo Ji Hye as 1987 Soon Ae

I really liked Seo Ji Hye’s casting as 1987 Soon Ae.

I felt that Seo Ji Hye and Lee Ji Hyun, who plays 2021 Soon Ae, channeled a very similar vibe in playing this character, and I liked that a lot.

Additionally, I liked how Show has 1987 Soon Ae very much like 2021 Soon Ae, in terms of her gentle spirit and modest restraint, but also demonstrates that 1987 Soon Ae is wide-eyed and hopeful, while 2021 Soon Ae had been more tired and jaded, in comparison.

We spend a lot more time with 1987 Soon Ae than 2021 Soon Ae, so it’s no diss on 2021 Soon Ae, when I say that I found myself growing very, very fond of 1987 Soon Ae, as I got to know her. ❤️


E2. The more we see of Soon Ae’s situation with her friends, the clearer it becomes, that she’s being treated mostly like an outcast, and is often manipulated and borderline (and sometimes not so borderline) bullied into doing things that she doesn’t actually want to do.

How very poignant, when she tells Yoon Young, later in the episode, that she has to think of it all as a joke, because that’s the only way she can continue to be friends with these people – and they’re the only ones who’ll be her friends.

That’s so sad, because, really, with friends like these, who needs enemies, right?

And yet, at that age, having friends feels like the absolute most important thing in the world, so I can understand Soon Ae putting up with it, in order to be accepted.

E7. It’s harsh, the way Kyung Ae lashes out at Soon Ae, saying that Soon Ae was purposely undercutting her efforts to get her parents to invest in her Miss Korea dream.

Also, what a shock it must be to Soon Ae, when Kyung Ae informs her that their father has no intention of sending Soon Ae to university, even though that is what Soon Ae wants.

How kind of Soon Ae, though, to give Kyung Ae the money that she’d saved up for a tutor, so that Kyung Ae will have a little more in the way of resources, to live the life that she wants.

Aw. Soon Ae really has the heart of an angel, doesn’t she? 🥹


Lee Won Jung as 1987 Hee Seop

I really enjoyed Lee Won Jung’s portrayal of 1987 Hee Seop.

He’s all eyes, teeth and limbs, as wide-eyed Hee Seop, who immediately seems a little clumsy coz he keeps bumping into people, but who also seems really innocent and good-hearted, from how he’s so concerned that his shoulders are so strong that they’re making people’s foreheads bleed, ha.

I couldn’t help but grow a bit of a soft spot for 1987 Hee Seop, because he is quite endearing, in all his good-hearted dimness.

Here are my thoughts from two specific Hee Seop-related incidents during our story.


E3. I love how Hee Seop turns around and teaches Yoon Young that nosebleed move, because it’s something his own dad had taught him, and which he feels he should teach Yoon Young, since she’d talked about an absentee father, in the few minutes that they’d spent together while waiting to be taken to their respective classes.

This, despite the fact that Yoon Young is giving him a hard time for no apparent reason, and even pulls his ear, hard, to make her point.

Isn’t it so kind of him to go back and teach her that move, even though she’d just pulled his ear?

His compassion for her is so clear, and it pours forth so readily; I can’t help but think of him as a good egg, y’know?

E9. This episode, poor Hee Seop suffers the most, out of all our characters, and it’s just the most tragic, heartbreaking thing.

It’s only on hindsight that we realize that he hadn’t confessed to murder; he’d had no idea what he was getting into, and was just trying to protect his hyung.

He’d thought that Dong Sik had been there to arrest his hyung for being a protestor, and had had no idea that it had anything to do with murder, let alone a double murder.

The way he gets roughed up at the Woojung-Ri police station is hard enough to watch, with the police officers hitting him while they question him.

Oh dear. Poor Hee Seop.

He looks so bewildered and scared, and he honestly has no idea about the murders, which is what they’re questioning him about.

I’d thought that once the results from the blood test were out and the police found that the blood didn’t belong to either of the murder victims, that Hee Seop’s nightmare might be over, but no.

It all only gets so much worse, when the police officers from Seoul arrive and take him away.

I seriously hated the torture scenes, and I found myself groaning at my screen a lot, and saying out loud, “Stop.. No.. Noooo.. Stoppp.. Make it stahppp..”

It was just so, SO, SOOO hard to watch Hee Seop getting abused to within an inch of his life.

And the hardest part, was the way the police officers actually targeted his leg, and made to break it. 😖😵‍💫😩

Poor innocent, bewildered, suffering Hee Seop. 😭💔

Concurrently learning about the backstory of Yoo Seop (Hong Seung An) and Hee Seop, via Yoo Seop’s conversation with Yoon Young, just makes it 100 times more horrific, it feels like.

Because, how much have these two boys suffered, and in what feels like such random acts of violence?

They lost their parents and their brother, all in a single day, and in the most violent, random way, and suddenly had to fend for themselves, with no one to help them. They only had each other.

It must have been so tough, growing up in such an environment; it’s no wonder they cling to each other so much.

And with the way Yoo Seop’s made it a point to take care of his little brother, it’s no wonder Hee Seop considers it a natural duty, to care for Yoo Seop too.

With that kind of history, I can understand Hee Seop’s way of thinking; that if you have just one person by your side, that is enough.

And of course, it makes so much more sense now, to Yoon Young, why he’d felt that it was enough, that Mom had Yoon Young, and that’s why he himself chose to take care of Yoo Seop, who had no one else.

In 1987, Hee Seop’s plan, in taking Yoo Seop’s bloodied shirt from him, in a bid to protect him, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I rationalize that Hee Seop’s far from being the brightest bulb in the box, and likely hadn’t thought things through very well.

All he cared about, was that he do something to protect Yoo Seop, and that’s the only thing he could think of.

And now, when Yoo Seop realizes the kind of danger Hee Seop’s in, he immediately chooses to put his own life at risk, by surrendering himself to the police officers who’ve got Hee Seop, in order to allow Hee Seop to be released.

This, even though he knows that there’s a good chance that he might not get out of this alive.

Augh. AUGH. These two brothers break my heart, they really do. 💔

And then there’s the scene of Hee Seop, limping out of the motel, all broken and bloody, his leg all out of sorts, and his eyes swollen to the point that he can’t see much out of them.

Oof. How could my heart not go out to him??

And then, when Yoon Young asks if he’s ok, his answer just breaks my heart even more.

“I’m okay. It’s only right for me… to be punished… for my wrongdoings.”

“What did you do wrong?”

“This must have happened… because… I did something wrong. If not, why would something like this happen? If not, why in the world… would something like this happen to us? But… do you know what I did wrong? What is it that we did wrong?”

Wahhhh. 😩😩😩😩

Poor, poor Hee Seop. 😭😭😭

I really, really need Show to save Hee Seop from having the horrible future that we’ve seen, because this pure-hearted, innocent, injured baby bird deserves to not have a horrible life. 💔

E10. I’m so glad that Yoon Young manages to get Hee Seop to the hospital to get his leg treated, but it makes so much sense to me, that Hee Seop would so resolutely refuse to get treatment, until Yoo Seop gets released safely.

I can completely understand how his leg got ruined in our original timeline; as Yoon Young surmised, he’d refused to get treatment, because of what his brother had suffered.

He’d felt that he didn’t deserve to receive treatment, because his brother had likely gotten beaten to the point of suffering brain damage – thus the scenario that we see in 2021.

I’m SO glad and SO relieved, that in this timeline, Hae Joon’s able to help change this scenario, by alerting his reporter friends in Seoul, to the situation in Woojung-Ri, so that the reporters would be able to exert pressure on the police officers to release Yoo Seop.

The way Hae Joon gives Yoo Seop his watch, and gives him a specific 15-minute time frame to aim for, is so smart.

I’m sure that it’s because he has that hope in mind, that Yoo Seop’s able to hold out until his release.

And that allows Hee Seop to also have his leg treated, which, Big Phew.

I’m so relieved that Hee Seop’s leg appears to be saved now, and I really hope that Hae Joon is right, that the kind of family that awaits Yoon Young in 2021, is very different than what she remembers.


Soon Ae and Hee Seop

I am very pleasantly surprised by just how invested I became, in the loveline between Soon Ae and Hee Seop.

They’re both awkward and rather quirky, in their own ways, and the more I saw of them together, the more convinced I was, that these two were made for each other.

Plus, Hee Seop’s all guileless heart, and I was just kind of tickled that he so earnestly wants to win Soon Ae’s heart.


E9. I must say, that the more we see of 1987 Hee Seop, the more I see that he’s a pure soul who wouldn’t think of hurting a fly.

That scene on the rooftop, where he tells Soon Ae that he’s lost every person whom he’s cared about, really makes my heart go out to him.

He feels like such a wholesome person, who’s suffered so much, out of no fault of his own. 💔

I can see why a kind person like Soon Ae, who already likes him, would care about him even more, after learning this about him.

And the promise that she makes him, is basically her telling him that she’s already pledging herself to always be there for him, isn’t it?

“Sometimes, when I feel lonely and scared, I imagine a small door.. There’s a small door in my heart. Behind that door, there’s always someone waiting for me.

When you’re scared and lonely, close your eyes and imagine a small door. I’ll always wait for you behind that door. You just have to open it.”

It’s very sweet and lovely – and now, so poignant too, on hindsight, because we see that Soon Ae hasn’t been able to be there for him, the way she’d envisioned.

I must say, though, that I’m growing more and more invested in the relationship between 1987 Hee Seop and Soon Ae. They are both so pure-hearted, and just a little bit weird in their own ways; they’re perfect for each other.

E10. I’m really glad that Yoon Young takes Soon Ae to see Hee Seop in the hospital.

It’s really good to see Hee Seop and Soon Ae together again, and even though she clunks him on the head for not mentioning her to the police, which could have saved him, the mutual care on display here is so heartwarming to see.

I love how she only cares about saving him, and he only cares about protecting her.

And that beat, when he tells her that nothing is her fault, that he was there to see it, is so sweet.

That’s something that Soon Ae desperately needed to hear, and it’s so poignantly heartwarming, to see Hee Seop give that to her, when he himself is still all bruised and bandaged up.

I feel like someone else in his position would be more than likely to be most preoccupied with their own wounds, but here is Hee Seop, only having eyes for Soon Ae and the emotional wounds that he doesn’t want her to carry.

He is a very loving soul, isn’t he? 🥹


Yoon Young and Soon Ae

Among the various relationships in our drama world, this was the relationship that grabbed my heart the most.

Both in 2021 and 1987, I felt so much, for this mother-daughter pair, and their relationship was THE emotional hook that kept me invested, above all other emotional beats that Show served up.

You could say that this mother-daughter pair make up the true OTP of this story. 🥰

I love-love-LOVE the idea of Yoon Young watching over 1987 Soon Ae, with so much concern, love, care and worry.


E1. I feel so much, for both mother and daughter.

I feel for Mom, because she’s clearly so isolated and lonely, and trying to find her joy in the memories of when Yoon Young had been little.

But in the present, Yoon Young’s preoccupied with work, and often too busy and tired to give Mom the time and attention she needs.

And sadly, when she’s busy and tired, she gets impatient with Mom, which makes Mom sad. 😔

There’s also that layer of snobbery, where the people Yoon Young works with – like that writer – express disdain for people just like Mom, and Yoon Young feels pressured to adopt a similar attitude, in order to fit in.

Like I mentioned earlier, I saw some viewers comment that they don’t find Yoon Young a likable character.

For me, personally, I guess you could say that while I don’t actively like Yoon Young, I don’t dislike her either. I find her understandable, and therefore, I do have sympathy for her.

What a horrible thing to experience, to have snapped at your mom, and then to have that be the last memory of her, because Mom ends up committing suicide soon after? 😭

I can only imagine the kind of guilt that Yoon Young must feel, for having snapped at Mom like that, and for not treating her more preciously.

And yet, isn’t that so very understandable, that something like that might happen? I’m sure there are many of us who feel regret over not having said something nicer to someone, whom we then never got to see again. 💔

I’m sure that mixed in with that guilt, is a lot of anger; anger at herself, for not doing better, and anger at her father, for making Mom’s life as miserable as it was.

I’m sure that anger and that guilt, is together driving Yoon Young’s desire to prevent her parents from ever getting together, in 1987.

If she succeeds, Mom would live, and she – as punishment, I believe – would never be born.

E2. I found Yoon Young’s first face-to-face encounter with 1987 Soon Ae very poignant.

Logically, it makes no sense that Yoon Young address her as “Mom,” because Soon Ae would just think she’s crazy, right, but also, how could Yoon Young address her as anything else, really, especially since Yoon Young’s still in shock at Mom’s passing, in 2021, and is wracked with guilt over it?

Her words are all rushing out from a very vulnerable, emotional place, and I can feel that everything she says, is all heart. She has no capacity to actually realize that 1987 Soon Ae will not be able to actually understand or appreciate anything that she’s saying.

I really do value the emotional honesty in this scene, because I feel that it really helps us to understand Yoon Young better, as a character.

I’m sooo on board with Yoon Young’s mission in 1987, to protect Soon Ae, and make her life better.

I love the idea of Yoon Young staying right by Mom’s side, to protect her from her so-called friends.

E3. I find it so poignant to watch Yoon Young growing in her appreciation for who her mom had been, as a person, and grappling with the feelings of guilt, for not having paid more attention, before it had become too late.

I am totally understand Yoon Young’s determination to do everything that she can, to protect Soon Ae and 1987, and therefore change the future that she knows.

Which is why I love the idea of Yoon Young going to school and becoming Soon Ae’s deskmate and friend. Aw. It’s so precious, really. 🥹

E4. What a priceless insight for Yoon Young, to realize that the reason Mom had always written her notes, even though she’d always end up apologizing in person anyway, was because she’d enjoyed writing.

I mean, when Soon Ae puts it that way, it seems so obvious, sure, but when Yoon Young had experienced it from Mom, it had just been a weird quirk, where Mom was doing something completely unnecessary.

And then there’s the thing where Yoon Young realizes that the reason Mom had always given her time and space to read as much as she wanted, was because Mom hadn’t been allowed that luxury, growing up.

How poignant, for Yoon Young to realize now, that this was all Mom’s way of allowing Yoon Young to live the kind of life that she’d dearly wanted, but could never have. 🥲

I love that Yoon Young’s gaining these insights about Mom; it feels valuable and important.

E5. Show really threw me for a loop, when we get that scene of Soon Ae telling Hee Seop that she’s already got a boyfriend.

First of all, Yoon Young’s reactions are hilarious.

The way she keeps thwacking Hee Seop with her rolled up manuscript, for supposedly daring to ask Soon Ae to marry him, makes me laugh. She really is like an overprotective mama bear. 😂

Then, her shocked reaction, at hearing Soon Ae declare that she already has a boyfriend, is so great.

And then, what a twist, when said boyfriend turns out to be none other than Bum Ryong, who’s a diva and a half. 😂

He’s literally the last person I would’ve guessed, as Soon Ae’s secret boyfriend, so you could say that this was another one of Show’s twists. 😁

E5. Aw. I’m so glad that Yoon Young gets to hug Soon Ae now, in 1987, and tell her that she’ll protect her, no matter what. Soon Ae doesn’t really know what Yoon Young’s talking about, but I’m sure this means a great deal, to Yoon Young.

On a tangent, isn’t it so ridiculously cute, the way Yoon Young gets to happy and excited, when Soon Ae comes in at #1, for the school ranking. She really is like a big ol’ mama bear, praising her baby duckling for a job well done. It’s so great. 😁

E6. I really do like seeing Yoon Young and Soon Ae together.

It’s warm, and sometimes we get shots of cute, like when Yoon Young tells Soon Ae that her mom had always threatened to throw her untidy stuff away too, and Soon Ae wonders what’s wrong with mothers.

It’s cute-funny, but it also feels meaningful, because Yoon Young’s getting to know and understand her mom better, in a way that she never had imagined.

And, Yoon Young’s also learning about her parents’ relationship, like in this moment, when Soon Ae can’t sleep, because she’s so enamored of Hee Seop, and tells Yoon Young about it.

..Which is when Yoon Young realizes that Mom had written about Dad, in the novel that Mi Sook had ended up stealing.

It’s so wistfully ironic, really, to see how Show juxtaposes young Yoon Young reading that very chapter, while her parents had fought outside. 💔

E11. I’m glad that Yoon Young gets to understand the thinking that had driven Soon Ae to give up fighting Mi Sook, when this had first happened, before time-travel 1987.

And I’m even gladder, that Yoon Young takes that knowledge, and uses it to make things right.

YAY that she alerts Soon Ae’s parents about it, so that they can tell Soon Ae that it does make a difference to them, and they ARE proud of her for being a novelist.

And, YAY that Yoon Young gets Hee Seop involved, so that he can give Soon Ae the moral support that she needs, for this fight.

And, DOUBLE YAY, that Yoon Young takes Soon Ae to the publishing house in Seoul, and they march in there with all the evidence, that Soon Ae is the real author, and not Mi Sook.

I have to say, I felt soooo vindicated on Soon Ae’s behalf, when the Chief Editor makes that call, to call back all the books that have been published under Mi Sook’s name, and then republish the book, under Soon Ae’s name.

And how wonderfully poignant, that Soon Ae gets to include that acknowledgment of Kyung Ae, thus putting Kyung Ae’s name down for posterity, just like Kyung Ae had wanted. 🥹

And to top it all off, we have that scene of Soon Ae and Yoon Young walking hand in hand, which is lovely enough by itself – but then we have the reveal, that the “Y” that Soon Ae addresses in her novel, is her unborn daughter, whom she looks forward to meeting in the future.

Ahhhh! So Yoon Young’s favorite book in the whole world, turns out to be not only written by her own mother, but addressed to her specifically? How amazing is that? 🥹



Ji Hye Won as 1987 Mi Sook

I just had to give Ji Hye Won a shout-out for her portrayal of 1987 Mi Sook; I just love to hate Mi Sook, she’s so darn good at making my blood boil. 😅


Mi Sook does a heckuva lotta stuff throughout our story that makes me want to slap her &/or shake some sense into her, but at the same time, I appreciate that Show doesn’t make her a two-dimensional villain.

As much as I disliked Mi Sook, I couldn’t help but feel rather sorry for her, because, as we see, she’s lived with a great deal of rejection and violence, her whole life.

Her brother abuses her, and her mom disdains her, and both to such a great degree. I feel like anyone growing up in those conditions would have become messed up.

With that context, I’m not actually surprised that Mi Sook would go so far as to accuse her brother of murder, in order to put an end to the abuse that she keeps suffering.

I did wish that Show would have fleshed out Mi Sook’s story a little more, specifically in terms of where 2021 Mi Sook ends up, but I can understand that with limited screen time, this might not have been writer-nim’s priority.



Context is everything, and the Past shapes the Present

There’s one main theme that kept coming to mind, during my watch, and that is, that context is everything.

Our understanding of various characters and relationships change so drastically, once we understand their contexts.

Here are a couple of examples, to illustrate the point.


E2. It’s actually quite poignant to contrast 1987 Dad with 2021 Dad, because they are nothing alike.

2021 Dad is a hopeless drunk who seems to either ignore his wife or give her a hard time, while 1987 Dad is so full of wonder and hope, and is so smitten with 1987 Mom, on sight.

It really makes you think, doesn’t it? At least, it makes me think of myself and what Past Me was like, versus Present Me. And, it also makes me think of the people around me, like what my own mom was like, in her youth, and in the present.

Although our own stories might not have such starkly contrasting past and present versions of ourselves like in Dad’s case, it still works out to be a rather poignant and wistful exercise, I feel.

E5. That different frame of mind – that Soon Ae may not have killed herself – really changes everything, as we see, starting from Yoon Young’s understanding of the letter that Soon Ae had left behind for her.

Assuming that Soon Ae had meant to die, Yoon Young and the police had believed the letter to have been a suicide letter.

But now, with 1987 Soon Ae giving Yoon Young letters so regularly, and with this new lens on, that Soon Ae hadn’t meant to die, the letter takes on a completely different meaning for Yoon Young.

Context really is everything, isn’t it?



This was a very solid finale, in my opinion.

Like, yes, there are spots where logic is stretched, and you need to suspend disbelief a little bit, but by and large, Show does a really good job of tying everything together in a way that makes sense, and giving us a finale that feels satisfying.

That’s better than many other dramas out there, so Good Job, Show! 👏🏻

I’d actually been half wondering if Show’s reveal at the end of episode 14, that Yeon Woo’s the murderer, would turn out to be a red herring, but no, Show establishes very clearly, at the top of episode 15, that Yeon Woo is, indeed, the murderer.

Which means that he really is that messed up, to have killed Bum Ryong in cold blood, then attended his funeral wake and paid his respects, along with everyone else.

That takes a special kind of heartless psycho, I feel, and it boggled my mind, Yeon Woo, who had appeared so quirky-dorky and wholesome, was actually a cold-blooded killer. 😳

The reason I hadn’t considered Yeon Woo as a suspect, is because he hadn’t even been back in Woojung-Ri when the first murder took place – or so I thought.

I’m glad that the police address that, and we get confirmation that Yeon Woo had indeed returned to Korea prior to the first murder.

I like that Show makes the effort to give us an explanation for that.

As for why Yeon Woo would want to kill women, specifically women who read, Show does offer an explanation for that too, with Yeon Woo revealing how his own mother had been so wrapped up in books, that she’d ignored him, and ultimately abandoned him, when she’d left the family.

Of course, it doesn’t excuse Yeon Woo’s behavior, because lots of people have difficult childhoods &/or have been abandoned by a parent, and they don’t take to killing sprees as a way to deal with their emotional baggage.

I’m going with the idea that Yeon Woo’s just that messed up, and has convinced himself that it’s all his mother’s fault.

Would Yeon Woo have never committed murder if Mom had never left? We don’t know. Maybe he wouldn’t have, but also, maybe he would have – and just found another excuse to explain his behavior.

I thought it was a pretty clever detail, that Chung Ah would have the letters from Yeon Woo, where he’d used the same handwriting as he did in the murder notes, and that those letters would then serve as evidence to prove that Yeon Woo had been the one who’d written the murder notes.

I’m not sure whether this would be sufficient evidence in an actual court of law, but I’m willing to buy that maybe in Korea, in the 80’s, it was enough.

Also, I’m relieved to know that Principal Yoon hadn’t known that Yeon Woo was behind the murders, and had only found out, upon Yeon Woo’s arrest.

I’d have been really disappointed, if it had turned out that Principal Yoon had been pulling strings to get the police to find a scapegoat for the murders. It turns out that the police were just doing shoddy work, all on their own.

Although it was wrong of Principal Yoon to try to destroy the letters, I can buy the idea that he’d believed that this was the way to go, in order to protect his son and grandson.

After all, there is a very real stigma in Korean society, around being the offspring of a murderer, and I’m sure Principal Yoon was afraid that Hae Joon would suffer, because of that, when he tried to destroy the letters.

I’m glad that Hae Joon stops Principal Yoon from burning those letters, and tells him how much burning these letters had caused them both to suffer, in his original timeline.

And, I’m glad at how much better this works, for their relationship, when we see them together again, in 2021.

That said, I’m actually quite glad that Hae Joon and Yoon Young get to spend some extra time in 1987 with their friends and family, when the time machine fails to work.

I know that they felt they weren’t supposed to be there in the first place, and that’s why they were in a hurry to leave, but I felt the extra time was very beneficial to their relationships with the people who would have to wait a long time, to see them again.

And, I’m really glad that Hae Joon makes it a point to visit Chung Ah, and make peace with her, even though he doesn’t reveal the fact that he’s her son. It feels important and healing for them both.

ALSO. I love – LOVE – the cameo by Jinyoung, SUCH a fun surprise!

I also love the idea that he’s their son, and had left the time machine for Hae Joon, with instructions and everything, so that Hae Joon would be able to sort out the mess.

That’s perfect, and of course, who better to fix the time machine, than the person who’d made it, yes?

I was quite disappointed when Hae Joon doesn’t let Yoon Young meet their son, or even tell her that the time machine was fixed by their son, but I can buy his rationale, that it’s important not to ruin the surprise for her.

I also buy the idea, that people who are supposed to meet, will somehow meet – which is how Hae Joon and Yoon Young end up meeting and getting married in our original timeline, even without meeting via time travel.

I’m a little disappointed that we don’t get to see more of what happened to Mi Sook, because she had seemed to regret her actions, when we leave her in 1987, but I’m willing to accept that Show didn’t feel she warranted a full redemption arc, particularly since it appears that she had been the one to kill Soon Ae, in our original timeline.

In the end, it felt very gratifying, to see the new and updated reality that Hae Joon and Yoon Young return to.

When I’d signed on for this show, the one thing I’d wanted, was for Soon Ae to get back the life that Mi Sook had stolen from her, and Show gives us that.

It’s so great to see her living the bestselling author life, with Hee Seop lovingly by her side. That alone made it all worthwhile, for me. 🥰

It’s also a fun bit of meta, for Show to indicate that Yoon Young’s going to write a book about her time travel experiences. So basically, it’s the show we’ve been watching, eh? 😉

I do love that detail, that Grandpa knew exactly when to expect Hae Joon, because Hae Joon had kept his promise, and told Grandpa when he’d left 1987, and that’s how Grandpa was able to call him the very minute he arrived back in 2021.

I do like the idea of Hae Joon and Yoon Young taking one last trip back to the 80’s to see their friends again, because look at how sad Soon Ae is, that she never saw her dear friend again.

I just thought it would’ve made more sense, for them to have picked 1988, instead of 1987, so that they could see how everyone’s been doing, in the one year that they’ve been away.

And that would make for a pretty fun sequel or special episode too, wouldn’t you say? 😁


Solidly engaging and heartfelt, from start to finish.





The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of My Perfect Stranger, is When I Fly Towards You [China]. I’ve taken an initial look at When I Fly Towards You and I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying it nicely, so far.

You can check out my E1 through 4 notes on When I Fly Towards You on Patreon here.

Here’s an overview of what I’m covering on Patreon right now (Tier benefits are cumulative)!

Foundation Tier (US$1): Entertainment tidbits + the first set notes of all shows covered on Patreon (that’s 2 episodes for kdramas and 4 episodes for cdramas)

Early Access (US$5): +Dr. Romantic 3 [Korea]

Early Access Plus (US$10): +When I Fly Towards You [China]

VIP (US$15): +See You In My 19th Life [Korea]

VVIP (US$20): +King The Land [Korea]

Ultimate (US$25): +Hidden Love [China]

If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️

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1 month ago

Fangurl – catching up and I read this up to the first spoiler and stopped because what you wrote up to that point is enough for me to watch this drama. I also appreciate how I can go to Patreon and get the play by play,

1 month ago

I’m so glad you decided to pick up this show and cover it on Patreon, that put it on my radar! Like you, I also enjoyed this show a lot more than I thought I would. I was also a bit taken aback by how movie set-like the 80s setting felt, but by the end of the second episode I was very much intrigued and drawn in, not just by the mystery but also how loveable the characters are. Especially the 80s characters, it was so intriguing to see the difference between those characters who were teens in the 80s and middle aged in 2021 and try to figure out what made them change.

So many 16 episode shows fumble and lose momentum in the last third, but I feel this show stayed strong all the way, both in terms of the central mystery and also in terms of character development and deepening of relationships all round – family, friends and OTP last haha. I was really touched by the writing and development of the family and friend relationships in this town!

Last edited 1 month ago by Elaine
2 months ago

You seem to always have the main couple as your OTP… you’re so lucky! My OTPs are the side couples/idea for a couple 99% of the time, which is why I’m losing more and more of the joy I had in TV series these days. What’s your secret to the mains always being your OTP?

I haven’t watched this yet because of the reason above, just worried I’d be disappointed having my OTP being the side couple again, especially if it’s not endgame. It’s on my list though, I just struggle to watch new things lately…again for the reason above.

Last edited 2 months ago by Krise