THE SHORT VERDICT:
Show is extremely pretty to look at, scored with a pretty fantastic soundtrack, and has an interesting central premise as well as a capable cast.
The tricky thing, I think, is that your mileage is likely to vary, with this one. Some folks love it all the way through, some can’t get into it, and there are so many permutations in between, as well.
I personally felt that Show started strong, but slowly became more uneven as it went. I’m also in the camp that felt that Show could have done better, with its ending.
A reasonably solid watch on balance, but on hindsight, I do feel like Show didn’t live up to its full potential.
THE LONG VERDICT:
The funny thing about my watch experience of this show, is that I started out genuinely liking it, and I really had high hopes that this would turn out to be a truly excellent, solid watch.
On hindsight, I feel like I wanted so much to like it, that I didn’t quite notice, when Show became more uneven, in its middle to late stretch.
It was only when I got to the final two episodes, and I came away feeling surprised that I felt oddly dissatisfied with an ending that I’d expected to like, that it began to dawn on me that Show hadn’t quite been living up to my expectations for a while.
I’d just been hoping so much for Show to do well, that I’d willfully failed to notice. 😅
Overall, this isn’t a bad show; it’s just not as good as I’d hoped.
Expectations, y’all. They can really mess with your perception, sometimes. 🙈
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
I really, really enjoyed several of the OST tracks. I feel that they added SO much to my watch experience, in setting the tone for the show.
Track 3, Juicy Juicy, is so breezy-boppy-happy that it gave my spirits an extra lift every time it came on. I also really like Track 1, Silence, for being so poignant and melodious at the same time.
If I had to pick a favorite, though, it would be Track 2, Star, because it’s got such a lovely wistful-whimsical-ethereal-poignant sort of flavor to it.
In my head, this track embodies the main vibe that Show was wanting to serve up, and to be honest, this song really worked to amplify my watch experience in a big way.
Here it is as well, in case you’d prefer to listen to it on repeat. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch.
1. A manhwa lens is helpful
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!
[BROAD MINOR SPOILERS]
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.
2. The romance vibes muted, in this show
Even though our premise involves romance, I find that it’s helpful to accept that Show treats the romance with a rather muted hand.
If you’re looking for big, sweeping, epic romancey things, then this is not it, and I think it’s helpful to know this upfront.
HOW I’M APPROACHING THIS REVIEW
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 have to confess that my feelings towards this show did evolve a fair bit, by the time I got to the finale episodes.
I will be largely speaking from the stance of 20/20 hindsight, since it makes more sense for me to talk about Show as a whole.
If you’re interested in my blow-by-blow reactions while watching this show, you might like to check out my episode notes on Patreon here.
STUFF I LIKED
Show’s concept feels fresh
I know that this is based on a manhwa, but as someone who hasn’t read the manhwa, the entire premise is pretty fresh to me , 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 (Shin Hye Sun) 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, and I found that all pretty fresh and novel.
Show is very pretty
Most kdramas are prettily filmed, but this one is particularly beautiful, to the point of almost looking unreal – which is pitch perfect, for the fantastical tone of our story.
For example, in episode 3, the scenes at the top of the episode, when Seo Ha (Ahn Bo Hyun) and Ji Eum visit Ju Won’s (Kim Shi Ah) grave, and then when she brings him to a nearby spot to look at the pink blossoms, are absolutely gorgeous. 😍
Some of Show’s directorial choices
I wasn’t paying special attention for this, but this one particular directorial choice stood out to me as pretty unique and special.
E9. I thought that the visual representation of all of Ji Eum’s lives, all walking in her footsteps, as she goes through life, was so well done.
We’ve heard Ji Eum talk about it many times, that she remembers so much of her previous lives, and it’s something she carries with her everyday, but it definitely hits a little deeper, when Show offers us the visual, and we see every iteration of Ji Eum’s past selves, walking single-file behind Ji Eum, even as she walks along the street.
And, it seems significant, that what we see, is Ji Eum walking across a bridge, as her past selves follow behind her. I feel like this is perhaps a visual hint, that Ji Eum’s about to be taking some important steps (crossing a bridge), and that all of her previous lives, will be crossing that bridge with her.
Very nicely done, I thought.
When Show takes an unexpected direction, sometimes
Occasionally, Show would surprise me by going in a direction that I didn’t expect, and those were some of the best surprises, no lie.
E3. For a good long while, I’d been thinking – as I’m sure was Show’s intention – that Cho Won (Ha Yoon Kyung) is in love with Seo Ha.
From the way she goes out of her way to bid for the landscaping contract under an alias, because she knows that Seo Ha won’t see her otherwise, I’d 100% assumed that Seo Ha was the object of her affections.
I love – seriously LOVE – that this doesn’t go the way I’d expected at all.
I was fully expecting that Cho Won’s feelings for Seo Ha would make Ji Eum and Cho Won love rivals, and what a conundrum that would be, because Ji Eum would be stuck between the love of her life (lives?) and her baby sister, both of whom she loves.
And, y’know, I’m sure there are many other shows that would have taken that approach, given the same narrative elements.
INSTEAD, Show turns this all on its head, and makes Do Yun (Ahn Dong Goo) the object of Cho Won’s affections. Ahhh! I LOVE IT.
STUFF THAT WAS OK
When Show inserts a random-feeling arc, sometimes
Sometimes, Show inserts an arc or beat that feels pretty random, like it came out of nowhere.
I didn’t think these were among Show’s finer moments, but was fine to roll with it, since Show clearly put in these beats to nudge our main story alone. Like, yes, the storytelling at these points had a connect-the-dots quality about it, but.. at least it got us somewhere? 😅
Here are two instances when this style of storytelling really stood out to me.
E5. It feels a touch random that Seo Ha, Do Yun, Cho Won and Ji Eum would all take a drive together to the beach.
I mean, Do Yun says that he was going to go with Seo Ha, but that feels like an odd thing too, like I find it hard to imagine them going to the beach for fun, just the two of them. 😅
Still, it does give us some very pretty scenes of our four leads in the same place, so I’m fine with it.
E5. It’s also quite random that they all go to Cho Won’s family’s summer house to spend the night, when it starts to rain.
That feels like a leap? As in, were they intending to stay the night, if it hadn’t rained..? Is it perhaps too dangerous to drive back in the rain..?
But again, because we get some important developments at the summer house, I’m quite happy to roll with this, in the name of manhwa-esque storytelling. 😁
STUFF I LIKED LESS
The pitching of the OTP relationship
Overall, for a drama that’s presented as having a romance at the center of it, I felt that Show pitched our OTP relationship as more muted than I would have preferred.
For a romance that spans literal lifetimes, I would have expected an OTP connection that felt more.. viscerally grabby.
At around the episode 9 mark of my watch, I realized that I wasn’t super invested in the OTP connection.
Up to this point, I’d been carefully observing all their interactions, and taking note of when they grew closer, and I realize that while doing all of that, I was waiting for this OTP connection to really grab me, in a deeper way, but that didn’t actually happen.
I realized that while I was interested in whether Seo Ha and Ji Eum would get to live happily ever after, I didn’t feel super invested in the bond between them, oddly enough.
I think it likely has to do with how their interactions are written, and how those interactions are delivered.
I appreciate them in concept, and appreciate the connection between them that spans hundreds of years, but.. I couldn’t feel it viscerally in my bones, if you know what I mean.
And really, what’s the point of featuring a love relationship that spans multiple lifetimes, if you’re not going to make it feel more epic, or at least make it grab me by the heart, right?
Show switching gears in its second half
When we get to the second half of our story, Show starts to feel rather rushed, which I didn’t like so much, and certain arcs get hurried to a close, which I’ll talk about in my next section.
Additionally, although our central story is still about Ji Eum’s journey, it does feel like Show is more of a mystery than the whimsical romance that I’d thought I’d signed up for.
I didn’t like the change in tone so much, and I thought Show was much stronger, when it was focusing on being a whimsical romance.
How certain arcs are wrapped up
Like I mentioned earlier, it felt like certain arcs were hurried to a close, and I didn’t think that these were among Show’s finer moments either.
Additionally, it feels like there are some lapses in logic here, which Show is conveniently glossing over.
E9. It turns out that Uncle (Lee Hae Young), had arranged for the “accident,” because he’d been blinded by jealousy, and had been targeting Chairman Dad (Choi Jin Ho), even though he hadn’t actually planned to kill him.
I like the concept of this, since Uncle does look convincingly hapless and lost, but.. didn’t Mr. Bang (Nam Jin Bok) say that he’d been panicky because the wrong kid had gotten killed?
I mean, that sentence implies that, 1, the other kid in the car had been the target, and 2, the aim had been to kill.
I guess Show is conveniently forgetting that, in order to give us an explanation that doesn’t make Uncle evil, but it does feel like rather sloppy writing.
E10. In the space of just two scenes, we have Madam Jang (Bae Hae Sun) losing everything, and being told by Chairman Dad that the police are already there, waiting for her.
I thought that was pretty rushed and convenient.
Also, maybe I missed it, but I’m not sure how Chairman Dad even knows to have the police there to take Madam Jang into custody, since I’m sure Seo Ha didn’t inform Dad beforehand, that he was going to confront Madam Jang with all the evidence of her mismanagement of the hotel?
E10. We have the hello-and-goodbye between Han Na (Lee Han Na) and Seo Ha, where she gives him a backhug out of nowhere, and then gifts him that little turtle keychain, before walking off into the crowds.
With this, Han Na’s accomplished what she’d wanted to do, in taking down Madam Jang, and seeing Seo Ha again.
It does seem like Seo Ha perhaps instinctively knows that this is his mom, come to see him again, since the idea of him being a turtle in his past life, is something that had been a long-running teasing conversation, between him and Mom.
That said, I do feel wistful on Seo Ha’s behalf, that he doesn’t get to process this very much, or say anything to Mom, while he has the chance.
All of the angsting and wistfulness has been on Mom’s side, as she’s watched over him, these past episodes, and that feels rather unfair and lopsided, to me.
SPOTLIGHT ON CHARACTERS & RELATIONSHIPS
Shin Hye Sun as Ji Eum
I really like Shin Hye Sun as an actress, and the fact that she’s our female lead, was definitely one of the draws for me, coming into this drama.
Oddly, though, I feel like I couldn’t ever connect with Ji Eum the way I normally feel connected with a female lead I enjoy.
And it’s not like Shin Hye Sun doesn’t do a good job; she delivers all the scenes with a natural ease that makes me believe that she is, in fact, Ji Eum, a person who’s lived hundreds of years across multiple lifetimes.
It’s just.. I think there’s something about the way Ji Eum’s written, that makes it hard for me to feel connected to her.
I understand that Show was working to make her quirky and off-the-wall, but sometimes, I found it hard to understand her. Maybe that’s why I felt rather disconnected from her.
Additionally, I think there’s something in the way Shin Hye Sun’s playing her, that’s a little more.. inaccessible, compared to her other roles, like in Mr. Queen (review here), for example.
I feel like there’s a bit of a “woman of mystery” vibe that Shin Hye Sun injects into her portrayal of Ji Eum, and I don’t know about you guys, but I think this was one of the things that I was picking up on, that made me feel disconnected from her.
Overall, though, I do think that Shin Hye Sun does a pretty excellent job of portraying Ji Eum, giving us some truly outstanding scenes.
Here’s a collection of some of my thoughts around Ji Eum as a character, during my watch.
E2. This episode, we hear Ji Eum talk with Ae Kyung (Cha Chung Hwa) 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.
E2. 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. 😅
E2. How very poignant, 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.
E3. I really think that Ji Eum’s realization at the end of episode 2, of the pain that she leaves behind among her loved ones each time she dies, has been a great addition to our narrative.
This has added a sharp note of poignance to our story, and that’s overall added some really nice emotional heft to an already interesting, quirky and whimsical story.
This rather unique combination of poignant whimsy is totally my jam, and I am now officially enjoying this one a great deal. ❤️
I love what this realization does to Ji Eum’s behavior overall, because all her charming quirks are now nicely tempered with a good helping of compassion and consideration.
I feel like we’ve arrived at the proverbial Baby Bear’s porridge, but this feels just right; not too weighty, but definitely more grounded than the stronger notes of flippancy that we got in episodes 1 and 2.
Really, really lovely. 🤩
Yes, Ji Eum’s still completely focused on winning Seo Ha’s heart, but now there’s always a note of gentleness about her, in her interactions with him, and I enjoy that so much.
I am finding Ji Eum so much more appealing, now that she’s so clearly threading everything through with gentleness and compassion, and therefore, I’m not surprised that Seo Ha is starting to be drawn to her, in spite of himself.
E10. The way Show plays the scene, as Ji Eum remembers her first life, and in the haze between present and past, sees Seo Ha in front her, is so well done.
The anguish that Ji Eum feels now, is as fresh as it had been, when she’d first experienced the events in her first life, and Shin Hye Sun kills it, with her portrayal of Ji Eum’s horror and guttural grief, both in the present and in the past.
And then, the way she locks eyes with Seo Ha, while still in that hazy space between her vision and her present, and vows to kill him, is as if she’s possessed.
But she isn’t possessed by a demon or a spirit; she’s possessed by the pain of losing her sister, before her eyes.
Ahn Bo Hyun as Seo Ha
I first grew a big soft spot for Ahn Bo Hyun in Yumi’s Cells (review is here), and so I was looking forward to having him in this, as our male lead Seo Ha.
I must say, Ahn Bo Hyun was very committed to preparing for this role, with the way he lost a big chunk of weight in order to look more fragile, like Seo Ha is.
I definitely felt sorry for Seo Ha, because of everything that he’s been through, and how much he’s suffered.
That said, there’s also something about the writing around Seo Ha’s character, that makes him feel, I dunno, kinda distant?
I’m trying to put my finger on it, and I can’t quite; all I know is, I didn’t feel as closely connected to Seo Ha as I would normally expect to feel, with a lead character in a drama.
I am guessing that part of the reason is because this is more Ji Eum’s story, than the story of their romance; perhaps that is why I feel like Seo Ha’s less fleshed out, comparatively speaking, as a character.
E1. 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.
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.
I’m glad, though, that Seo Ha seems to be able to hear just fine, as long as he’s wearing his hearing aid.
E2. 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.
Ji Eum and Seo Ha
Like I mentioned earlier in this review, I found this loveline to be pretty muted, generally speaking.
Basically, I liked the concept of this loveline, but eventually, I realized that this loveline just didn’t grab me by the heart the way I’d expected it to.
I do think that this loveline is designed to be a secondary arc supporting Ji Eum’s personal journey, which is Show’s central focus.
But even taking that into consideration, I still found this loveline to be pretty muted. I’m ok with muted lovelines in general, but in this case, I did wish that Show would have given us a little more, and allowed the chemistry and connection between Seo Ha and Ji Eum to grow and have more presence in our story, y’know?
I did feel like the chemistry between Ahn Bo Hyun and Shin Hye Sun landed on the restrained side of things, and I’m not sure if that was a directorial choice, or if this was just the nature of the chemistry between Ahn Bo Hyun and Shin Hye Sun.
Here’s a selection of OTP highlights from my watch.
E1. 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.
However, with Seo Ha being so withdrawn and sad, I find that I don’t actually mind that young Ji Eum starts trailing behind him; 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. 😉
E2. 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.
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.
E3. I do love that when Seo Ha remarks that Ji Eum’s gestures are all very one-sided, Ji Eum answers that it’s all good, because he’s looking much better.
This constant protective concern for him, combined with her artless, consistent matter-of-fact, unabashed-but-calm admission of her feelings for him, is altogether very charming, and I’m not at all surprised that Seo Ha starts to feel feelings for Ji Eum, in spite of his pronouncement that he is not interested in her at all.
E3. This episode, Seo Ha starts to see and feel Ju Won in Ji Eum, and I always feel like I’m on the edge of my seat when that happens, because I wonder if this will be the moment that he realizes that Ji Eum is his beloved noona.
Like the way Ji Eum rushes over to see Seo Ha while it’s still his birthday, because she wants to tell him that she likes him, on his birthday – which is what she’d planned to do, as Ju Won, the day of the accident.
And, like it or not, she’s getting to him.
He can’t seem to help the flashes of Ju Won, when she does something like this.
And, the words that she says to him, linger with him too. Like the way he thinks to put that pink petal, that’s blown into his house, into that book, because he remembers what she’d said to him about thinking upon the flowers, when he’s troubled.
E4. This episode, Seo Ha and Ji Eum spend more time together than before, and, with the way Ji Eum keeps reminding Seo Ha of Ju Won, it’s not surprising that he would start relaxing around her, without even realizing it.
Add on the fact that Ji Eum, is, in fact, utterly charming in and of herself, and it feels like a given, that Seo Ha would soften towards her.
E4. After Seo Ha intervenes between Ji Eum and her brother, how nice, that Seo Ha actually invites Ji Eum to dinner, and they end up eating, drinking and talking for what feels like a long time.
Drunk Seo Ha is endearingly clumsy and much more forthcoming, and I’m quite taken with how the scene goes, when he asks Ji Eum if they should kiss.
Instead of jumping at the chance to make some progress with him, Ji Eum replies that she’ll hold herself back in order to spare him the feelings of regret the next day, and then asks him to ask her again, when he’s sober.
Aw. I like her. She’s so pleasant, even as she chooses to exercise self control and not take advantage of Drunk Seo Ha.
Also, though. That moment when Seo Ha leans on Ji Eum, and tells her how it had felt in the car wreck, feeling Ju Won’s body grow colder over time, as the rescuers worked to get them out, is so heartbreaking.
I can’t imagine what that must’ve done to Seo Ha, to literally feel the life seep out of Ju Won’s body. It’s no wonder he’s so scarred, and unable to bear physical contact with others. 😭
But what a huge milestone this is, that he’s able to not only tell Ji Eum about this very personal thing, but do so, with his head on her shoulder, no less. This feels so significant.
Later, it’s cute and endearing, how Ji Eum cheerfully uses that cart to transport Seo Ha back home – until he slides right out of it, heh.
E5. It looks like Seo Ha’s realizing that he quite possibly has feelings for Ji Eum, and is feeling guilty about it?
His voiceover, while he’s thinking in the pool, where he asks, “If this is what love is, can I let myself feel it?,” makes me think that he’s struggling with survivor’s guilt, where he feels that he’s duty-bound to suffer and be unhappy, to make up for the fact that he survived, while Ju Won didn’t.
That’s a heavy burden to bear, and it’s heartbreaking to think that Seo Ha’s lived with this attitude hanging over him, for so long. 💔
It’s hard enough that he’s come to like someone, but how confusing and conflicting must it be for Seo Ha, that Ji Eum reminds him of Ju Won? I’m sure that adds to Seo Ha’s pain and guilt as well.
E5. It’s nice to see Seo Ha and Ji Eum have a moment of pretty honest conversation by the beach, when he asks her why she keeps speaking banmal to him, and whether she tends to cry when she’s had a few drinks.
I mean, Ji Eum doesn’t give him an answer, but it does feel honest, in that Seo Ha’s articulating the things that he wonders about, when it comes to Ji Eum.
When Ji Eum gets him to dance with her, I find myself smiling, and also, thinking that only Ji Eum would have the ability to get Seo Ha to just dance with her like that, out of the blue, at the beach.
That makes her pretty special, I do think. 🥰
E5. With these various instances of Seo Ha and Ji Eum spending little pockets of time together, it does feel like it’s all adding up to a more unguarded vibe, in their conversations.
Mainly, I feel like Seo Ha’s opening up more, and being more expressive, of what he feels on the inside, when he is with Ji Eum, and that, added to Ji Eum’s already open manner, makes me feel like these two are becoming closer.
It feels significant, that when Ji Eum asks Seo Ha, outside the BBQ restaurant, what he’d liked so much about Ju Won, he actually gives an answer, that her eyes were understanding and pretty.
Hey. That’s pretty huge, for Seo Ha, to articulate this, isn’t it? 🥲
And sure, he doesn’t give Ji Eum an answer when she asks about how he feels about her eyes, but the fact that he feels comfortable enough to put his finger on her forehead and tell her to stop, also feels significant, yes?
He wouldn’t do that to just anyone, is what I’m trying to say.
E7. I do feel for Seo Ha; like I mentioned last week, now that he knows that he’d actually been the target of the accident, he just can’t help but feel guilty towards Ju Won and Do Yun’s dad, who, in his mind, died in his place.
It’s no wonder he’s all out of sorts, and even less able to endure the superficial, barbed conversations at the dinner table.
And, because Seo Ha’s already expressed that he feels at ease when he’s with Ji Eum, I’m not surprised that he would cleave to her, when she shows up in front of him.
With the gentle, encouraging and loving way that she treats him, it feels like a natural next step, for Seo Ha to lean in and kiss her.
How like Ji Eum to receive the kiss so calmly, and ask him in her trademark calm yet forthright manner, if he’d just kissed her, to which Seo Ha hastily backpedals, saying it was just a peck, and not a kiss.
..Which is Ji Eum’s cue to demonstrate what constitutes a proper kiss, heh.
I do love how gentle, and tender, and unhurried, and.. healing, the kiss is.
In fact, I can’t help but notice how this OTP kiss scene is more about caring and healing, compared to the kiss scene that we got from King The Land this same weekend, which had felt more about the OTP connection, and all of the feelings previously held in, finally given expression, via our OTP kiss.
Not that one is better than the other; I mentioned the kiss in King The Land specifically to highlight that the two are markedly different, and therefore shouldn’t be compared.
I don’t think it’s that the chemistry between the King The Land OTP is sparkier and therefore translated into a hotter screen kiss; it’s that the two kisses are performing completely different narrative purposes, and I do think that that’s why this kiss lands so differently.
Show supports that idea, with the way Ji Eum moves right into bundling Seo Ha into the car, and taking him home, and cooking him a warm meal, so that he’ll feel better.
And, it does give me a warm sense of satisfaction, to see Seo Ha feel so much better, as he eats the stew that Ji Eum cooks for him.
Given the way Ji Eum continues to be so gentle and so persistent in the way she conveys her feelings for Seo Ha, and given how Seo Ha finds such comfort in her company, it feels apt, that Seo Ha now feels ready to tell Ji Eum that he likes her.
I find it really quite romantic, that he asks her for some time, and then asks her to let him make the third confession.
Awww. This is lovely.
We have a mutual confirmation of feelings, and now, it’s just a matter of timing, for them to officially start a relationship.
Now they’re in this unusual but precious space, where they are aware of their mutual feelings for each other, and just aren’t dating yet. And trust Ji Eum to establish that even though they aren’t dating yet, that they are on kissing terms. 😁
As far as I’m concerned, they are basically de facto dating, by this point, because they care about each other, and want to protect each other, and are clearly on kissing terms. But, I appreciate that they both put importance on formalizing their relationship too; there’s something quite sweet about that too.
E8. Seo Ha’s basically so battered and broken, in his heart and his spirit, that I can see why Ji Eum would feel that revealing her identity as Ju Won, might alleviate his guilt, at least a little bit.
At least it would be one less thing to feel guilty about, if she, as Ju Won, releases him from the burden of her death, yes?
The way she reveals herself to him is quite perfect; it’s such a personal moment that only Ju Won and Seo Ha would know about, her sharing that song, and telling him to play it when he misses someone, because it would help him feel better.
Ahhh! Seo Ha finally knowssss – right?
E9. I’d been very interested in Seo Ha’s response to Ji Eum’s reveal, that she’d been Ju Won in her previous life, and I felt this was solidly done.
It makes sense to me that Seo Ha would initially back away from this reveal, because it really is a difficult thing to process and accept.
But, it also makes sense that Ji Eum would eventually manage to convince Seo Ha, because there are definitely many things that only Ju Won and Seo Ha would know about; how could Seo Ha explain away the fact that Ji Eum knows these exact things, if she weren’t actually Ju Won like she says.
I’d had an inkling, from early on, that the jewelry box would be a way for Ji Eum to prove her identity as Ju Won to Seo Ha, and Show does exactly that.
I hadn’t anticipated, though, that the contents of the box itself, would also go towards helping Seo Ha process the fact that Ji Eum is really Ju Won, just in a different body, and in a different life.
I like that Ji Eum understands that Seo Ha will need some time to grapple with the startling information that she’s just dumped on him, and I appreciate that she backs away and chooses to give him that time that he needs.
With Ji Eum being a naturally rather impatient person (at least, that’s the impression that I’ve gotten, from the way she’s inserted herself into Seo Ha’s world, and has confessed her feelings to him so boldly), I do think that it’s taking some effort and restraint on Ji Eum’s part, to wait for Seo Ha to process this.
E9. That moment when Seo Ha and Ji Eum finally meet by the carousel, is pretty magical, I have to say.
Not in a romantic sort of way, though; I felt it was magical in a more comforting sort of way. Like, meeting like this, finally, is the consolation that both their souls need.
And, it is poignant in exactly that same way, when Seo Ha tells Ji Eum that he’s sorry, and she tells him not to cry, that both she and Ju Won want nothing more, than for him to be happy.
Seo Ha cries a lot in this scene, but to my eyes, these are good tears; tears of release and catharsis, as he’s finally set free from the burden of guilt that he’s been carrying, all this time. 🥲
E10. Seo Ha finally makes the love confession he’d promised, and asks Ji Eum to date him.
Aww. This is important, for sure, because it demonstrates how sure Seo Ha is, of his feelings for Ji Eum.
It’s cute that Ji Eum says that she’ll turn him down twice before saying yes, for the simple reason that he’d turned her down twice too, and really, there was no anxiety involved for Seo Ha, since Ji Eum’s already told him that she will say yes.
It’s all pretty sweet, but with the context of episode 9’s cliffhanger still fresh on my brain, there is a definite undercurrent of poignance coming through for me, in this scene.
Ha Yoon Kyung as Cho Won
I have to say, I really, really enjoyed Ha Yoon Kyung’s delivery of Cho Won.
I mentioned over on Patreon, in my E1-4 notes on Hidden Love, that quite often, you can kind of tell whether someone is the eldest or youngest in the family, by the way they carry themselves, even as adults, and I find that holds so true, for the way Ha Yoon Kyung delivers Cho Won.
Cho Won doesn’t do baby talk or anything like that, but there’s just something about the way she carries herself, that tells me that she’s used to being the baby of the family.
And this comes out especially, when she’s relating with Ji Eum as the unnie whom she’s missed for many years.
She might be a grown woman now, but that “baby sister” quality in her, is unmistakeable, and I just wanted to say that I think Ha Yoon Kyung is nailing it, 100%.
And then, later, when we see in flashback, that in Ji Eum’s first life, Cho Won had been her older sister, I’m just so impressed with how differently Ha Yoon Kyung comes across, when she’s playing an older sister instead of a younger one.
The vibe she carries is completely different, without her having to say anything much at all, and I am so impressed, truly. 🤩
Ahn Dong Goo as Do Yun
I have to say, I found myself growing quite fond of Do Yun, and getting invested in his happiness; much more than I’d originally expected to, especially given Do Yun’s stoic, reticent vibe.
There’s something about the way Ahn Dong Goo plays him, with glimmers of nervousness, wistfulness and loneliness in turn, that makes my heart go out to him.
I felt so sorry for everything that he’s had to endure, since his dad’s sudden passing.
The way he had to grow up extra fast, in order to take care of his younger brother; the way he had to work so hard, from such a young age, in order to make ends meet; the way he’s gotten taunted and disdained by the rich kids, for being poor.
It really feels like Do Yun’s carries the weight of pain, responsibility and duty on his shoulders, and this made me feel for him, so much.
I was invested in his personal journey, but to be honest, I was most interested in his potential loveline with Cho Won, which I’ll talk about next.
Cho Won and Do Yun
Honestly, I think I was more invested in this potential loveline, than in the main OTP relationship. 😅
There’s just something so plaintive and earnest about their situation.
The angst and heartache in each of them, because of their feelings for each other, and not feeling like these feelings will ever be given room to freely exist or be expressed, really gets to me.
The thing is, even though Do Yun explains that it’s the class difference between them that’s the issue, while watching, I’d always assumed that there was something more that he wasn’t saying, because, to my eyes, Do Yun doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy who would be that bothered by gossip, if he really was determined and passionate about something – or someone.
And so, I was admittedly rather underwhelmed to realize there really wasn’t any other issue that Do Yun was hiding; it really was about the class difference.
Still. I wanted Do Yun and Cho Won to be together badly enough, that I wasn’t overly fussed about the how of them finally being able to be together.
Here are just a couple of highlights from my watch:
E7. I find myself quite drawn to the connection between Do Yun and Cho Won. I suddenly feel quite invested; now that we’ve had some near-encounters, I find that I want them to find a way to be together.
I mean, that scene where drunk Do Yun reacts to Cho Won, is so cute, yet so poignant, at the same time.
I love tipsy Do Yun, because he’s endearingly clumsy and honest, about how he’s happy to see Cho Won, but that it can’t be Cho Won. 🥲 Also, how about tipsy Do Yun leaning in for a kiss, eh?
Tipsy Do Yun is much more emotionally honest than sober Do Yun, and I’m kinda thrilled to discover this cute side of Do Yun. 😁
It’s even cuter because he obviously has no idea that he’s cute, heh.
Also, this does make me feel rather sorry for Do Yun, because it really makes me wonder just how much he’s been repressing his feelings, and for how long; that must suck, yes? 😕
And then it’s so cute when Do Yun goes to pick up a drunk Cho Won, later in the episode, and the entire thing gets flipped around, when Cho Won says the same thing to Do Yun, and then tries to kiss him – and falls on his shoulder before making lip contact, just like he’d done to her.
Aw, these two. They are so cute, and they don’t even know it. 😁
I just love that moment when Do Yun – sober this time! – looks down on Cho Won and says, “We’re even now.”
Eee!! He’s not tipsy, but he’s admitting his feelings for Cho Won, in his own way, and that makes me unreasonably excited. 🤩
And then, later, I find it so bravely endearing of Cho Won, to approach Do Yun, to confirm that she remembers everything, and basically ask him if he likes her, since he’s a person who doesn’t do anything without a reason.
I’m actually kind of surprised that Do Yun comes right out and admits that, yes, he likes her – but he won’t date her.
Oof. What an unexpected blow for Cho Won, because what could be preventing Do Yun from acting on his feelings, especially since she likes him back, right?
The worst part is, Do Yun won’t explain his reason for deciding not to date Cho Won (and surely he has a reason), so now Cho Won must feel really stuck and helpless, in the face of this unexpected development.
I’m still a bit perplexed myself, at why Do Yun refuses to allow himself to date Cho Won.
E8. I love how we see Cho Won giving Do Yun that flower ring, to express her love for him; that she’s decided to continue liking him, even if he chooses not to date her.
Aw. That’s so pure, isn’t it? I hope these two get to be together happily, before our story gets to its end.
E9. Up to this episode, I’d been pretty happy with the way Do Yun and Cho Won have been honest about their feelings for each other, despite the fact that Do Yun is refusing to actually date Cho Won.
This episode, though, the heartbreak is real, for Cho Won, when Do Yun asks that she stop talking about it, and essentially crushes any remaining hope that she has, that he will eventually change his mind.
I feel so bad for Cho Won, when she can’t help but start crying at his words, and then turns to leave.
The fact that she’s walking away, makes me feel like she’s really got nothing else to say, and doesn’t know what else to do, and I feel for her, because her heart towards Do Yun has been so open and tender and pure – and now that tender heart has been crushed. 💔
I feel bad for Do Yun too, because it’s clear that doing this, and hurting Cho Won, is hurting him too.
It just gets to me, just how affected they are, by each other.
The way Do Yun’s all out of sorts for the next several days, always putting more salt in the broth than usual, is so poignant to me. 🥺
Ji Eum and Cho Won [SPOILERS]
The connection between Ji Eum and Cho Won was one of the relationships that I felt most invested in, during my watch.
Their wistfulness for each other was palpable, and I soon found myself dearly wanting this pair of sisters to have another chance at sisterhood, in this life. 🥲
Here are some sisterly highlights, from my watch:
E3. I love that Ji Eum and Cho Won don’t become love rivals, but become friends instead. Aw, that’s so nice.
I love how they have such personal conversation, in such a warm and familiar manner, over drinks; it feels like the kind of sisterly conversations that they would have had, if Ju Won hadn’t died young. 🥲
And for this reason, this conversation feels really precious, like it’s the second chance that they’ve been gifted, thanks to Ji Eum being reincarnated.
I legit had tears in my eyes, as we hear Cho Won talk about Ju Won, tearing up at the memory of her sister, who’d left so suddenly.
Also, that moment in the taxi felt so magical and precious, when tipsy Cho Won, with her head in Ji Eum’s lap, reaches for Ji Eum’s hand and Ji Eum strokes her hair.
We’re not told specifically that this was exactly what Ju Won had used to do for Cho Won as a little girl, but it sure gives me that feeling, and I feel this moment so acutely, alongside Ji Eum. 🥲
E5. As we close out the episode, Cho Won’s in full-on confrontation mode with Ji Eum, after learning from Do Yun, that Ji Eum’s admitted that she has an ulterior motive, in applying for the job at the hotel, and I’m completely on the edge of my seat.
The hurt in Cho Won’s eyes is so raw and childlike, it feels like this is little Cho Won, earnestly and deeply upset about someone using her sister’s memory for no good – but also, reproachful and brokenhearted, that Ji Eum isn’t Ju Won, because that would make everything make sense.
Guh. Cho Won’s sobs are so affecting; I feel all choked up just watching her talk about how she feels so strange every time Ji Eum reminds her of Ju Won, yet can’t help but wish that Ji Eum really was Ju Won. 😭
AND THEN. Ji Eum reveals herself to be Ju Won, whom she’d been in her past life.
Ahhhh!!! 😱 My heart is doing flips, because this means that now, Cho Won’s going to be reunited with her Unnie, yes??
E6. It’s so poignant to hear that Ji Eum’s been to Ju Won’s family home multiple times over the years, because she’d missed her family so much, and it’s so poignant to see Ji Eum describe, with wistful, joyful tears, the various things that only Ju Won would know, like how Cho Won’s got three moles on the back of her neck, and how she’s got a scar at the back of her waist, from an incident when she’d been a baby.
It makes sense that Cho Won would need more time to think about all this, because it is admittedly a lot, and very weird and strange.
You can definitely see that she wants to believe it though, with the way she keeps talking with people about it, like how she asks Mom questions, to verify if what Ji Eum had told her, is actually true.
E6. I love-love-LOVE the scene when Cho Won goes to see Ji Eum, to tell her that she’s decided to believe her, that she really is Ju Won. Augh. My heart.
It’s so beautiful and so precious and so surreal, to see Cho Won embrace Ji Eum like that, and call her Unnie, and tell her that she’d missed her. Wahhh. 😭😭😭
Ji Eum and Ae Kyung [SPOILERS]
Aside from Ji Eum’s relationship with Cho Won, this was the other relationship that I felt most invested in.
E1. 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 once little Ji Eum grows up into Shin Hye Sun, we get a Mr. Queen reunion between our Queen and her Court Lady. I LOVE that. 🤩
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”?? 🤩
E3. I am loving the relationship between Ji Eum and Ae Kyung.
It’s so visually dissonant, and yet so emotionally satisfying, to see Ji Eum be Ae Kyung’s affectionate uncle, as if Ae Kyung was still a little girl of just 10 years old.
It’s also so moving, to see them tearfully thank each other; Ji Eum thanks Ae Kyung for enduring and living through everything, while Ae Kyung thanks Ji Eum for growing up well and being in her life again.
Ahhh.. such poignant warm cozies. 🥰
And then how about that bit where Ji Eum offers to hug Ae Kyung, and Ae Kyung clings to Ji Eum’s waist and cries like she’s 10 again. 💔🥰
This is how Show fills my heart and breaks it, all at the same time, and I love it.
Ji Eum, Ae Kyung and Cho Won together
I just had to give this little trio a shout-out, because it’s so heartwarming to see Ji Eum hanging out with Cho Won and Ae Kyung, with their connections from their past lives out in the open, and the three of them just bubbling over with so much joy at being able to be together like this, now. 🥰🥲
Park So Yi as young Ji Eum
I have to say, I am so impressed with Park So Yi, who plays young Ji Eum.
She 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.
Whatever doubts I had in my head about Show’s premise were singlehandedly wiped away by Park So Yi’s impossibly endearing turn as young Ji Eum. Love. 😍
(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..? 😁)
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
I have to say, my response to the ending of this show is.. unexpected.
The thing is, I’ve been enjoying this show for the most part, despite Show making some narrative decisions that weren’t my favorite, and I’d come into this finale (which, in this instance, I mean the last two episodes), expecting to like it quite well, just like I’d enjoyed the earlier part of my watch quite well.
Unfortunately, coming away from this finale, I felt oddly dissatisfied, and I’ve been pondering over this dissatisfaction for the past day, trying to understand it, before finally sitting down to put down my thoughts.
Please bear with me, and please realize that I’m just trying to understand why I feel the way I do – and that I’d actually expected to feel completely different than I do.
And, rather than try to force myself to feel differently, it felt more authentic, to just share what I do feel, and why I think I feel this way.
I found that through much of the final two episodes, I felt oddly disconnected from our characters, and so, even when things were dire and dramatic, like when Show gives us the full flashback of Ji Eum’s first life, I felt.. distant and detached.
I’m not sure if giving us the full reveal earlier in our story, and giving our characters more time to react and respond to the reveal, might have helped.
Also, I think I’m not super convinced by Dad’s redemption, in that, Show’s made him out to be hard, and distant, and of the more scheming sort, for so long, that I find it hard to buy that he had been so upfront with Ju Won’s mother, and had been so contrite that he’d gotten on his knees.
That feels a touch whiplashy, characterization-wise, and I’m thinking that we were perhaps not given enough preparation for Dad’s redemption-on-hindsight.
That said, I do appreciate the idea, that context is everything, and can completely change how we view a person.
Honestly, what would have felt more in line with the Dad that we knew, would’ve been Dad offering to compensate Ju Won’s mom, monetarily.
But.. that would’ve messed with the warm vibes that Show was determined to serve up, in this finale, so I think that’s why Show opted for a hindsight-reveal, that Dad’s always been misunderstood, is all. Which feels a little cheap and easy, not gonna lie.
That said, I’m pretty ok with Min Ki turning out to be the person who’d killed Ji Eum’s sister, Seol, in her first life, because I can believe that his character was ruthless enough to do so.
I know there are folks who feel that Min Ki was shortchanged, for being made the killer, but I somehow don’t feel the same way.
In terms of how Cheon Un was presented to us, he was hard enough, and cold enough, that I could believe that he would draw the sword on Seol, in order to take away Su’s burning reason to steal the shaman bells.
And, that does conveniently clear the air between Ji Eum and Seo Ha, because this means that he hadn’t killed Seol, in that first life.
However, I’m of the opinion that this story could have worked too, if Seo Ha had been the one to kill Seol.
Like, if Show had given us this full flashback at an earlier point in our story, and confirmed that Seo Ha had indeed dealt Seol that death blow, then we could have had the Big Conflict in the penultimate episode be Ji Eum and Seo Ha working through this, and dealing with important things like release and forgiveness.
That might have given this finale the emotional heft that I needed, in order to feel properly invested and engaged, I’m thinking.
For all the angst that Show served up via its Final Conundrum, which is that it’s essential that Ji Eum let go of her previous lives, in order to break the curse of remembering all her past lives, but that this would cause her to lose all her memories of those past lives, and the people in them, the solution feels too.. simplistic and easy, somehow. 😅
Interestingly, I found that I was still engaged with the loveline between Do Yun and Cho Won, even though the resolution is as simple as Do Yun coming to the realization that he’s not prepared to actually let Cho Won go.
Somehow, I find this loveline mattered to me; it mattered to me that Do Yun and Cho Won get to let their feelings for each other come into the light, instead of being repressed all the time, so that they would be able to enjoy each other the way they so dearly want to.
..Which brings me to the other realization I had, during this finale stretch.
I realized that I don’t actually have deep feelings for the main OTP relationship.
I realize that I’ve been waiting for my feelings for the OTP relationship to deepen, and they just.. haven’t.
And so, in my head, I am for Ji Eum and Seo Ha finding a happy ending together, but my heart is actually more neutral about it.
If Show had decided to go with an ending where Ji Eum and Seo Ha had to walk past each other, not recognizing each other, because that is the price they had to pay, for Ji Eum’s release from her self-inflicted curse, I honestly would’ve been ok with that.
Instead, Show gives us a pretty simple (simplistic?) solution to the Big Conundrum, ie, if Ji Eum can’t remember, all the people whom she loves, would remember for her, and reach out to her instead.
..Which is ok, I guess?
But it does lack a certain oomph and punch, which I’d honestly been expecting, since Show had been building up the Big Conundrum to be such a difficult, insurmountable thing.
It feels like a cop-out, almost, for the solution to be so simple, y’know?
Also, the logic around the amnesia is pretty weak, when I think about it.
Does Ji Eum forgetting her past lives and her past connections therefore negate the fact that she’d worked at the hotel, and grew up under Ae Kyung’s care?
The fact that we see her at her old job, after she releases her memories, suggests an entire time reset, which isn’t what this is.
Han Na had ceased to recognize Ji Eum, when she’d moved on from her past lives, but there hadn’t been a time reset.
I thought this was weird, and it didn’t make good story sense, I felt.
And then there’s the thing where Seo Ha uses the same approach to approach Ji Eum, that she’d once used on him.
I think it’s a cute concept, but it honestly didn’t work very well, for me.
In watching these scenes, I understood where Show was going with it, and understood as well, that this was supposed to be a cute flip, so that now Ji Eum’s on the receiving end of the various lines she’d used on Seo Ha, from before.
The thing is, though, those lines are difficult to pass off as innocent and non-sleazy, under the best conditions.
From Ji Eum’s lips, it had been a little easier to swallow, because, well, she’s a pretty young lady, and a pretty young lady, saying, with a twinkle in her eye, “Would you like to date me?” is just easier to swallow than a big dude saying the same thing, with a twinkle in his eye.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. It does land differently – and this actually made me realize, with much greater clarity, what some viewers had been saying from earlier in the show, that Ji Eum’s lines are inappropriate, and the way she comes on to Seo Ha, is also inappropriate.
When I’d first watched Ji Eum deliver those lines, I’d rationalized that Show was just trying to make Ji Eum quirky and unique, but y’know, now, changing the context – by changing the speaker – just made it so clear to me, that this had been an ill-considered move all along.
The way I rationalized this, in this ending, is that since these lines had once come from Ji Eum, she would likely have no problem hearing the same lines from Seo Ha, now that their roles are flipped.
Also, I did use a whimsical manhwa lens to help it all land better in the beginning of our story, and that same whimsical manhwa lens now, also does help to make those same lines, from Seo Ha’s lips, land a bit more smoothly as well.
Y’know, thinking about it, I kind of would have preferred an ending where Seo Ha and Ji Eum forgot each other, but still felt drawn to each other, anyway.
This way, it would have felt more like a fresh start, and it would also emphasize the point, that even without their memories, these two people are meant to be together, and would therefore find each other, no matter what.
I know that doesn’t make a great deal of sense in relation to Show’s internal rules, because there’s no reason that Seo Ha would have to forget, since he’d never remembered his past lives to begin with, but you get the idea I’m going for, yes?
Or maybe Show could’ve had Seo Ha remember his past lives at some point, so that he could forget? That could’ve worked too?
All in all, this wasn’t the worst ending Show could’ve served up, but it also certainly wasn’t the best either. 😅
I’m sorry to everyone who loves this ending, I truly am. I really, really wanted to love this ending, but.. I didn’t.
But, in principle, I do like the idea that our main crew is still together, in this new reality, and that given time, Ji Eum will gain a whole new suite of memories, to replace the ones that she’s released.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Promisingly whimsical and quirky, but gets a little uneven in its second half.
FINAL GRADE: B+
The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of See You In My 19th Life, is My Lovely Liar [Korea]. I’ve taken an initial look at My Lovely Liar and I’m happy to say that I really like it, so far.
I will post my episode 1 and 2 notes on My Lovely Liar on Patreon, sometime on
Tuesday, 1 August Thursday, 10 August.
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): +My Lovely Liar [Korea]
VVIP (US$20): +King The Land [Korea]
Ultimate (US$25): +Hidden Love [China]