The Time I’ve Loved You is a Korean drama remake of Taiwanese drama In Time with You, and just started airing. In Time with You, though it kind of self-destructs in its home stretch, is one of my favorite dramas, thoroughly lovely and extraordinarily well-written, that rare story that often transcends its medium to tell something real and gripping about human life and love (I wrote a full review earlier today).
The Time I’ve Loved You can be viewed one of two days: as an original story by those who haven’t seen the Taiwanese drama, and as a remake/new interpretation by those who have. Either way, I can say this: both will find it an unexceptional drama. The premise itself of two 30-something best friends who fall in love is strong, but not a guarantee of success, nor unique (9 Ends 2 Outs had the same premise). What matters is how you take that story and run with it, whether or not dialogue and music, casting, visual and pacing choices add or subtract from that premise. In this case, all those variable choices mostly subtract from it. Editing choices are odd – the drama uses an odd kaleidoscope effect to shift abruptly from past to present and back again – and the pacing is slower than in the first drama.
The biggest problem, however, is Ha Ji Won’s Oh Ha Na (You Qing in the Taiwanese drama). It doesn’t matter a smidgeon whether or not I’d seen the original, there is no possible way to not find her interpretation of the character annoying. I thought it was odd originally when they cast her because historically she’s played such intense roles, largely portraying strong women who are outsiders to society or oddballs or threatened and vulnerable (Secret Garden, The King 2 Hearts etc) and to the best of my knowledge has never been in a traditional rom-com, or played any lighter role. And there’s a reason for that – because her fierceness and lightning relationship with the screen fit her so well and come off so strongly in intense roles. Casting the heroine in a remake of a famous drama is challenging, and I would have gone for someone with proven experience handling the role of a modern woman in a romantic drama and making it layered and appealing.
However, Ha Ji Won is such a great actress that had you asked me before this, I would have said despite her lack of background in these types of dramas, she could easily have pulled it off.
Boy, would I have been wrong. Ha Ji Won in the first two episodes is overcompensating dreadfully and put on an “aegyo”, cutesy persona and voice that never falters and that makes her intensely annoying. Familiar with her voice from other dramas? Fughetit. She’s put on a high-pitched exaggeratedly feminine voice that shifts into nearly a whine when she raises her voice. Despite being a 30-year-old career woman who is supporting herself, she acts like a teenager not infrequently, squeeling and literally jumping up and down for an extended sequence to sympathize with an older friend who’s in love with a boy band member, and bopping her head to the side and gazing with wide eyes when she wants something. It’s disgusting, it really is. And her laugh? It sounds like a cat wheezing, since she gave up a normal laugh and is attempting to do a cutesy one which winds up being joked in her throat.
The writing doesn’t help her character either – forthright, capable, confident You Qing, who ran her whole department and was trusted by her female boss, has been replaced with Oh Ha Na, who is still a manager but now under the thumb and constant beration of her male boss (one of the most overtly sexist changes) and who asserts no authority at her work at all.
When Oh Ha Na goes to visit a poorly-performing store, instead of firing a bad employee and crisply re-doing the display and making the other employees shape up, (as happened in In Time with You), this version of the character coaxes and charms the sole employee (who is her subordinate) into helping her. It’s just awful y’all.
Finally, there’s Lee Jin Wook as Choi Won, our male lead and BFF. Jin Wook, as in all his previous dramas, is perfectly serviceable without bringing any particular extra spark or charisma to the role. Why he was cast as Da Ren/Choi Won, a man with a fairly ordinary job and life who is extraordinarily largely by value of his personality and constant kindness, is a mystery – this is a difficult role and can be either mesmerizing and dream-man-esque if masterfully pulled off, or boring and forgettable if not. And Lee Jin Wook unfortunately falls into latter category. (Also – what is going on with his skin? Was anyone else bothered his how large his uh, pores are? And how oddly shiny his face is?).
The Time I’ve Loved You is still entertaining, and the underlying story allows our two leads constant interaction and plenty of small cute interchanges, so the drama is perfectly watchable. It’s just missing, in every part of it, any extra spark of chemistry, romance, or magic that lifts a drama from unexceptional to memorable.
Tagged: Ha Ji Won, In Time with You drama, Kdrama, Kdrama review, kdrama The Time I've Loved You, Korean drama review, Korean dramas, Lee Jin Wook, Oh Ha Na Choi Won, The Time I've Loved you drama review, The Time I've Loved You Ha Ji Won Lee Jin Wook, The Time I've Loved you review