It’s not a new concept: Two longtime friends who eventually fall in love with each other, but how they get there and the attempt to answer the age-old mystery of “can a boy and girl remain just friends,” well, those are what make the story. The TW-drama In Time With You took a shot at this premise, and it became a hit. Four years later, we have The Time We Were Not In Love, a Korean remake with its own formula to lure a giddy following.
So, how does the drama stack up to In Time With You? Do the comparisons even matter? Why do we love the lead characters of the K-version? What’s working so far and how can it better? We’ve followed the suggestion of CK reader SG, and three of us have gathered for a round table to discuss some of those questions and share our impressions.
The Remake: A standalone or in the original’s shadows?
Goodange: If you’ve watched the original, then it’s probably difficult to separate the remake from it. I went into this being open-minded, but I’ll be honest: Even when I tried to disregard In Time With You, I was noting the differences. From the start, however, I don’t think the writers and the director had set out to replicate the formula of In Time With You. Fans of the Taiwanese version were warned early on by the teasers, which established the distinctions: The K-version will have a rom-com vibe as opposed to the weighty palette of the original.
Even though I compare, I actually appreciate the many changes, and they don’t feel forced just for the sake of being different. I think some of the negative comparisons might be even harsher if the K-drama copied the very makeup of In Time With You. The Time We Were Not In Love is doing its own thing, so, it can be argued that the show is a standalone, and I like that dialogues and situations from the TW-drama have been repurposed to suit this remake’s own narrative for a largely Korean audience.
Since the changes are big [enough], I’m trusting that the comparisons will go away going forward.
Leila: This is my current dilemma. I love In Time With You so much, and the K-drama version is different from it. I like that production maintained some aspects from the original and tried to build a new mold out of it. The original had flaws, and yet, the nostalgia, simplicity, and sentimentality embodied by In Time With You truly made it special. Li Da Ren and You Qing had the best conversations I’ve heard on a show, and their relationship was relatable.
I can’t blame the fans of the original; it is well-loved. However, I also see K-drama fans that didn’t like In Time With You. To each his own. I’m watching the K-drama as is. I’m trying hard not to compare.
Rinchan: I think this is the dilemma for any remake. The line between “inspired by” and “copy of” can be so thin. Because this drama is based on the Taiwanese original, I doubt many will want to see it as a standalone; there is no way to avoid comparisons. However, I feel that the original should not dictate the direction of this drama, and a remake should not be used as a do-over, improving on what past viewers felt needed fixing. The remake should take the concept and present the source material in a new way. Also, the script should be rewritten in such a way that it keeps in mind the target audience. Calling it a remake allows the writer to include key scenes that we loved while avoiding the label of plagiarism, but as a whole, I expect the drama to be doing what it’s doing now, giving the story the Korean charm while adding new themes or different executions of the story to keep it from being too predictable.
For now, I want to watch it as a standalone because making comparisons between the dramas while watching it will take away the fun from my viewing experience. This is probably this dramas greatest hurdle: Being constantly compared to the original may make the drama less appetizing or set certain fans up for disappointment as the viewers come in with certain expectations of how a character, especially a favorite character, should be.
Oh Ha Na: Feisty, Fragile Heroine with Aegyo
Leila: She can be childish and doesn’t act her age at times. It feels like she has no closeness with her co-workers and only appears tough, but she’s vulnerable and naive. I love her feminine style, but I’d prefer if she’d act the same way, too. Heh. Her aegyo is cute (to a certain extent), and I enjoy her relationship with Choi Won because it feels so natural
Goodange: I occasionally wince at Ha Na’s aegyo, but it hasn’t bothered me enough to be turned off by her. And why can’t a 34-year-old have aegyo? I just don’t see anything wrong with it the more I think about it, and from what I observed during Ha Ji Won‘s recent interview with Midnight TV, she is bubbly, cute, and sassy. So, Ha Na’s traits might be an extension of Ha Ji Won’s personality.
I do agree with Clock’s earlier observation that Ha Na is more neurotic than You Qing, and after being dumped by a cheater for a junior co-worker, I think that temperament momentarily spiked up. Anyone who has been in many failed relationships might be able to relate to her, especially when she begins to wonder what’s wrong with her. She’s definitely transparent with her emotions 90 percent of the time. LOL.
Although she might be perceived as self-absorbed, Oh Ha Na is aware that she can be overbearing to many around her, and when it matters, her maturity wins out. The best example of this was when she spoke with her ex-boyfriend’s bride, Yoon Min Ji. It could have turned into a horrible Jerry Springer moment (Won took care of that), but Ha Na extended an olive branch as far as her pride would allow her.
Rinchan: How exactly is a single 34-year-old woman suppose to behave? I don’t believe there is a set standard of behavior. I liked Oh Ha Na’s aegyo. I didn’t find it annoying at all. The early episodes introduced us to the characters and gave us an understanding of what our leads would be like. We were presented with two initial sides of Ha Na—her personality at work and her personality in her social life. She is a woman dedicated to her job, and she is good at what she does. Then, there are the times when she is with Won, and she totally loosens up with him. From what I have seen, when people are with their close friends, they act playful, prone to doing silly things together. Her behavior with her friends shows us that she is more than just a business woman, but she’s also vulnerable. She can wear her heart on her sleeve, can be carried away by her feelings, and still has a lot to learn when it comes to life and relationships.
Honestly, the most immature or unprofessional I have seen her in her work life was when she criticized her ex’s fiancee, but to some degree, the criticism is warranted because the design was not good. At that moment, she was angry, therefore, she articulated her thoughts in a tactless manner, intended to put the girl down, but this scene also showed us that Ha Na is not a doormat. Ha Na is not a candy character, and she knows hows to be vindictive.
Leila: I love the talk she had with the bride, but I think it might have been better if she hadn’t attended the wedding. Then again, I’m watching a K-drama, so, this kind of setup can’t be helped. I was just saddened that Oh Ha Na had to go through such a heartache.
I don’t think doing aegyo at 34 is an issue. Maybe viewers who observed it expected a 34-year-old woman to act differently. On the other hand, the director must have wanted Oh Ha Na to remain like her 17-year-old self since Won fell in love with her that way. It might be a play on his feelings, that nothing has changed his love for her. The best thing about being with someone for a long time is not being bothered about your past, and that you are comfortable to be your genuine self with that person. Most of Oh Ha Na’s aegyo takes place when she’s with Won. Just my two cents.
Goodange: I still don’t see how she’s offensively childish, but there is room for emotional growth. When Won told her to grow up, I think he was referring to her relationships and how she would handle them when they fail. Recently, it was revealed that she persists on having a lofty, fairy tale definition of romance despite her real life experience with relationships.
I don’t think her behavior and personality make her immature, but she needs to have more wisdom about her expectations from relationships and develop a better sense of self-worth. Ha Na is everything little girls would want to be, but she underestimates her worth when it comes to men, and I guess if I were Won, it would be tough to see the person I deeply care for be so broken and feel so diminished because of a two-timer and an egoist. Also, whether she’s been aware of it or not, she’s always relied on Won to be her white knight, but he can’t/won’t always be in that role. It can’t be easy for him to revoke the idea of falling in love with her when he continues to be her trusted support system.
Rinchan: I wish she didn’t have to go to the wedding since it must have been painfully heartbreaking on top of embarrassing, but it was a necessary evil. Ha Na doesn’t have to like her co-workers, but she needs to at least be able to work with them; that’s a sign of maturity. She had to go to keep her co-workers from being overly cautious around her as well as mend fences with her ex-boyfriend since they work at the same company. Although this may not make things right, they shouldn’t let this matter affect the course of their career. It’s better if Ha Na moves on, instead of wallowing on a guy that’s far from worth it.
I get the feeling that some viewers expected the 34-year-old career woman to be all about the grind, much more low key, and a bit jaded by life. I don’t feel any of those are a necessary depiction of 34-year-old. One thing that Ha Na contends with is her age, as depicted by her encounter with the school girl that called her ahjumma. She knows the years are adding up, but she still feels like a young woman and acts accordingly. This might actually help her bag younger men if she stays unmarried; by age 50, she can be the queen of cougars with a harem that’ll rival a frat house membership. LOL.
Choi Won: Natural White Knight
Leila: Here’s the thing: At first, I thought if he were my best friend, I could never love Won because he isn’t exactly my type. However, as the story unfolds, I’ve found myself falling for him. At times, he is harsh with Ha Na, pushing her away, which is something I dislike, but I guess this is his way of covering up what he truly feel towards her. Most of the time, I can’t disregard how sweet he is around her.
Professionally, Won is tough, and he’s not affable. His co-workers describe him as cold for a reason. He needs to warm up. Choi Won is no Li Da Ren. I’m glad that there is a change in character in this K-drama version.
Goodange: His co-workers are too nosy anyway! LOL.
I had a preconception that Won would be whipped and subdued like Da Ren, but surprisingly, he has the confidence to take on Ha Na’s strong personality. However, he shouldn’t be lecturing Ha Na to grow up when he’s been a dismal model of maturity. When he beat up her ex-boyfriend at his own wedding, I thought, ‘Oh, crap! What are you doing?’ Ho Joon deserves his ass ground up to dust for the way he talked about Ha Na, but the wedding wasn’t the time for it. Objectively speaking, Won ignored how a scene in front of her colleagues might affect Ha Na.
But we see in the epilogue of episode 2 and in subsequent episodes since then that it has always been instinctive for him to do things for Ha Na even when she doesn’t ask for it. His actions are guided by his feelings for her, so, he might be irrational and impulsive at times. I think his growth is when he accepts his feelings for Ha Na and acts on them.
Rinchan: I wish Won were more expressive about his true feelings, but I think that’s also part of his charm. He clearly deeply cares for Ha Na, but it is frustrating that he repeatedly tells her he won’t fall for her and yet, won’t reveal why. His redemptive quality lies in the fact that his actions, though veiled, is sweet. Even when he seems cold, he is always there for Ha Na, and when he isn’t, his heart is with her.
Ange, I am with you on how poorly he handled things at the wedding. I didn’t understand why he pulled him out in the open to beging with. He should have thoroughly thrashed him in the men’s room. Keke. Yet, we can see that even the cool crisp exterior of a guy like Won can crack when it comes to Ha Na; he is easily affected by her, and I can’t help but like it.
Goodange: Yes, Won should have at least had the decency to go all Choo Sung Hoon on Ho Joon away from spectators! LOL.
Ha Na and Won’s Friendship: Hidden Truths, Co-dependency, & Skinships
Leila: Its honest and sharp! The honesty I’m referring to is the way they just talk to each other. I do understand that they are not blunt when it comes to their feelings. It’s not easy to admit you love your friend and say it directly. A friendship that has lasted for a long time is rare to have. I understand why friendship wins more than love. How can you let go of this kind of relationship and think otherwise? The fear of losing a friend because of love is valid; I can attest to that myself.
Rinchan: The easy skinship between these two … the easiness between these two in general gives me the feeling of a ready-made couple. All they need now is the complication of sexual tension to launch their relationship to the next level. I feel like these two are so used to each other that they expect the other to always be there.
Goodange: To a degree, their friendship is honest, but as Rin said, Won hasn’t told Ha Na why he won’t fall in love with her, and neither of them will admit to themselves that they like the other. They do fish for answers that would indicate they have a shot with the other, but they never quite get them. So, they’re stuck being friends.
It’s a beautiful friendship full of unconditional respect and care for one another, and they probably know each other more than they do their own family. On the one hand, it’s also a relationship teeming with a yearning for more and unspoken sexual tension. Although they have a fear of becoming lovers, their actions often betray it. And Rin, it’s funny you say that they’re comfortable with skinship; at times, the contact or just the proximity between them gives them a jolt, and then they’re paralyzed, wrapped up in each other’s gaze. I am all for those moments, though!
Not that this set-up is better than the original’s, but I like that they were friends from the beginning. It makes even more sense for why they want to preserve it than risk losing it to a romance, and their fear got validation when their mutual friends, who also share a 17-year friendship, broke off their engagement. The girl would lament to Ha Na and Young Ji that what made her most sad about the situation was that she lost a good friend.
It is naive, though, for Ha Na and Won to think that things will continue being the way they are if they don’t fall in love with each other. When they pursue other relationships, those will demand priority over their friendship. They’ll still be friends, but I think they’ll lose a lot of what they value about it.
Rinchan: True. I wonder if the jolts after skinship is a recent thing because the way they interact with each other seems so natural, whether they are eating noodles or just drinking on the rooftop. I feel like it’s their habit to link arms or touch each other in ways that are deemed intimate, but when questioned over the reason, they pass it off as being close. Things are changing, though; it may have to do with Ha Na’s increasing awareness of him that is syncing up with his awareness of her.
The thing is, if these two end up with other people, they will either drift apart or their friendship will ruin their relationship with their respective partners. I doubt it is easy for any couple to withstand having a spouse who has a best friend of the opposite sex, and they are more attentive to that person than they are to you. Nothing sucks more than feeling like a third wheel in a relationship where you should be the main partner. This is probably why So Eun keeps interacting with Ha Na in that speciously innocent way. So Eun continuously reminds Ha Na that Won sees her as just a friend; So Eun makes it seem like there will be nothing more between them. In that same vein, she keeps thinking “optimistically” about Won. She always tries to make a distinction between Ha Na and herself with him. She often points out that Ha Na is just a friend whereas she is his girlfriend (or at least that’s the intended goal), which serves to cramp the relationship and stop Ha Na and Won from aspiring for anything more than friendship.
All In The Family: The Ohs & The Chois
Leila: Ha Na’s family is typical but lovable. I love that they are close to Won and treat him like he’s family. I enjoy seeing them eat together; it’s like a flash to the future. LOL. Won only has his older cousin right now, and I think I can now understand why he’s cold with others yet warm with Oh Ha Na. He found a family in her, like Ha Na is his home.
Rinchan: I’m just happy her family accepts him so much. Her mother is even trying to set them up. Hehe. This is so refreshing. It’s great to watch a drama where we don’t have to endure the usual storyline involving family disapproval.
Goodange: In the original, viewers appreciated Da Ren’s ability to put up with You Qing’s overpowering personality because he lived with his sister and widowed mother who were just as commanding. LOL. Here, Won lives with his older female cousin, Mi Hyang, who’s got more aegyo than a stadium packed with MBLAQ’s teenage fans, but she’s a very capable and serious career woman. Doesn’t she sound familiar? LOL. Even if his parents aren’t around, I think Ha Na has Mi Hyang’s vote.
Of course, Ha Na’s family would be the last to object to their daughter and Won hooking up. Because I want what they want, too, I’ll ignore that their matchmaking efforts border on obsessive and creepy. LOL. And if anyone thinks Ha Na got all her aegyo from her mom, then they should reconsider. I just about spit-laughed when Dad giggled and flashed the hand heart symbol at Won and Ha Na during one of their family dinners.
Even Ha Na’s brother, Dae Bok, doesn’t feel bad or jealous that his parents treat Won like their own son—in fact, much better than him. LOL. And to Dae Bok, there are advantages to being close to Won, like getting him to pay for his parents’ airfare as an anniversary present.
We just learned that Won might have abandonment issues with his mother, and if so, that may very well could have influenced his decision not to fall for Ha Na; he doesn’t want to be hurt again by someone he loves—his other “one-eyed fish.” Won’s mother will probably be popping in soon, and I hope she’ll be on Team Ha Na. Who knows? Maybe something she’ll say or do will spur Won on to act on his feelings for his friend. She should definitely be grateful that the Ohs have looked after her son.
Lee So Eun: Lovable or Simply Irritating?
Leila: I have to blame Won for leading her towards the wrong direction. However, I’m glad So Eun is there to help us get to know another side of him more—that he can be lovable in the eyes of others. LOL. So Eun likes Won very much, and she’s the type to grab hold of the things she wants with no fear.
Rinchan: She is so fake! She is the total scheming type, and she likes to push herself in a circle, instead of waiting to be invited. Honestly, since Won is technically single, he is fair game, but her smiles and innocent probing lack authenticity. What is crazy is that she keeps insisting that she has the status of his girlfriend or he has romantic feelings for her, but then, Won wasn’t always upfront with her and earlier went along with everything. I feel like she was Won’s shield against going to the next level with Ha Na. So Eun’s presence presented a level of normalcy for others to see, so, she was like a cover while he pined for Ha Na.
Leila: So Eun is assuming that she’s the girlfriend and that isn’t a secure place to be in. Won has to be frank about her role in his life, or if she even has one! I mean, So Eun is young, wild, and flirty. LOL. She needs someone to look straight in her eyes and say NO.
Goodange: So Eun is an adult, and she isn’t dumb, so, I’m sure she would know when she’s being led on. She did tell Won to let her do what she wants with her heart! Aaah, this girl! Every time she opens her mouth, I hear my head grunting, “Bitch, please!” Her gall is unbelievable! It’s only when it switches out of her scene that my face snaps out of its disgusted expression. LOL.
I like confident female characters, and I think if we all had a chance with Won, then, we’d probably feel him out, too, but So Eun’s expectations are on overdrive. She’s not even his girlfriend yet, but she expects his treatment of her to be on the same level as Ha Na’s.
After Won had abruptly left dinner with her and Mi Hyang to be with Ha Na during her crisis, So Eun put him to task the next day. She asked Won, “If I call you that late, would you do the same?” Ugh! Who is she to him to be demanding that? She hasn’t done or been around enough to be carving that kind of importance in his life!
Instead of telling her the inappropriateness of her behavior (that should have forever obliterated her delusions of being with him), he told her Ha Na is like family. In So Eun’s delulu world, she’s not in unni’s same category and told Won that she’s his girlfriend then, right? Yeah, keep thinking that!
She even makes Ha Na’s personal life her business, setting her up with Seo Hoo because she was curious about their relationship. She’s lacking boundaries! She wants to use Won’s complicated relationship with Ha Na and Seo Hoo to get closer to him. However, I hope all her insistence on being closer to him will mean she’ll eventually be instrumental in getting Ha Na and Won together. Maggie was cloying, but she had her purpose in the end. 😉
What makes me want to punch my laptop every time she’s on is the innocence she projects, but she’s really manipulative. A few times, she has manipulated Won to concede with what she wants, like getting him to cook her a meal and letting her call him oppa … Now, it’s just getting him to agree to be her boyfriend.
I don’t blame her for having balls to the wall courage when he was not always dissuading her. In early episodes, he seemed flattered at times and didn’t seem all averted by the idea of dating her. Recently, though, he has been shutting her down, and that could have something to do with Seo Hoo’s return and his need to protect Ha Na.
Leila: You know I actually love So Eun’s reply when Won asked her why she always shows her feelings. She said that hiding her feelings would not allow the other person she likes to know it and that might lead to losing that person. It takes courage for a person to be honest about love. Even if I’m the conventional type who still prefers to hear a confession coming from a man, I felt So Eun’s reasoning at that moment to be sensible. No matter how irritating So Eun is at times, she does not want to lose her chance to be with Won. I guess if there is any indication a person you like could be “it,” you just go for it! Though, I’d still prefer men to be in this position. LOL. So Eun does need to see the bigger picture: She’s not the woman for Won. It also takes courage to let go, and I hope she will soon.
Goodange: Actually, I’ll give So Eun credit for that response, but for a different reason. When he heard So Eun’s answer, you could tell from Won’s face that her view might hold true for his relationship with Ha Na. She got him thinking. We need him thinking A LOT about his feelings for Ha Na.
Rinchan: And that’s the only thing for which I will thank her. I hope with the new writers, she will not become even more annoying because if her delusions turn obsessive and she resorts to sabotaging our 1+1 couple, my blood pressure will spike. To be fair, I believe she is beginning to see a pattern with Won. Everything revolves around Ha Na. It’s cute and funny: His hobbies are whatever she likes and any good news in his life pertains to her. LOL. When So Eun tries to come in between them, she becomes the third wheel, and her position in Won’s life becomes clear. She can say whatever she wants, but voicing what she wants to believe—Ha Na and Won are like siblings—is a poor comfort for what she is quickly beginning to realize. For now, it’s her “optimistic” thinking that’s pushing her ahead, but she should at least admit to herself that she is the stubborn type that refuses to lose.
The Importance of Ryu Shiva’s “Love of the One-Eyed Fish”
I want to live like a one-eyed fish.
I want to love like a one-eyed fish.
A one-eyed fish, Bi Mok,
that had been attached to each other for its whole life
to live like a two-eyed fish.
I want to love like them.
We had sufficient time. But,
We just didn’t love each other enough for the time.
I want to live the way a one-eyed fish lives.
When it’s alone,
the aloneness becomes noticeable.
The one-eyed fish, Bi Mok,
I want to love like them
for the sake of my life.
Goodange: Well, this show gave us homework! Is the poem all that well-known in South Korea? Otherwise, it seems like a pretty esoteric item, and I don’t understand why there hasn’t been any mention of it since episode 2. When that episode aired, I immediately had to look up the poem because it seemed to trigger Won’s resolve that he would never fall in love with Ha Na. I think this book/poem by Ryu Shiva might be the equivalent of the play (featuring a seesaw) in In Time With You. The play makes a case—a very lonely one—for why the two friends should never love each other: Because they would never lose each other. When you lose something you love, you only end up regretting ever having it in the first place. I think the poem touches on that idea, too, especially with this part: “We had sufficient time. But/We just didn’t love each other enough for the time.” Ha Na and Won spent much of the last 17 years hiding how they truly feel for each other because of their fears—of being hurt and of losing their friendship. At the same time, though, they also wish to love the other person, the way others are freely able to do, and because when it comes down to it, neither one of them will be able to live without the other.
Leila: The poem is about longing for companionship and yet, Won isn’t keen on looking for one! He seemed content to just have Ha Na’s friendship. I think he loves her, but he placed a stumbling block to stop it, and that might have something to do with his parents. I think he found a true family in Ha Na. He’s kind of lonely, so, he spends more time with Ha Na to fill the void in his heart. Won is still a mystery to me.
Rinchan: In the poem, the one-eyed fish needs to be with another one-eyed fish to live like a two-eyed fish. The poet also states that when the one-eyed fish is alone, his loneliness is apparent. He then also references that in his relationships, he did not spend enough time loving his partner. I feel as though Won identifies with the poet’s feelings: The two-eyed fish is considered the norm, but the one-eyed fish is dependent on its partner. The one-eyed fish can’t simply separate from his partner because it becomes immediately apparent that something is amiss, so, they must be together always. I can sense a strong desire for a relationship—that is a partnership that lasts forever. The two can rely on each other, which may be the goal Won has for his relationship with Ha Na. He wants to be her other half that stays beside her forever. Maybe his confession to never fall for her is his attempt to preserve his relationship because a romantic relationship could jeopardize that. At least, through, his friendship with her he can focus on loving her his way without dealing with the other complications of a romantic relationship that take away from that.
Ha Na’s Reaction to Intern’s Betrayal: Excessive or Jusitified?
Leila: Her reaction is valid. Ha Na was emotionally attached, that’s why she got hurt. She shouldn’t have had her hopes up for a guy like Sung Jae, but I couldn’t fault her for liking him either. Ha Na should have guarded her heart more, but I admire how she dealt with Sung Jae professionally. We know that Ha Na is vulnerable, and she’s the type who sees the good in all people. Won also knows about this, and he warned her, but the heart doesn’t listen sometimes.
Rinchan: I don’t think her emotional reaction was excessive either. Ha Na was heartbroken and she met this young, attentive guy with a sweet smile and he seemed to promise to pick up the pieces. She genuinely enjoyed being with him, and he was the manifestation of what her heart wanted. Sung Jae made her heart flutter, a feeling many associate with someone they are in love with or a possible soulmate. It would not be strange to have a desire to explore more of that feeling, and based on what she saw so far, she judged that he was sincere enough that she could go all in. A romantic relationship is a gamble regardless. If Sung Jae never got caught, then he would have continued to cover his tracks, and she never would have been able to see him for who he is. She would have continued living in a fantasy she wanted. He consistently reflected what she wanted to see. There was nothing that surfaced that she had to question; I doubt she wanted to question a good thing and ruin it.
I feel that her reaction was a result of the compilation of betrayals; they happened in short succession. She was upset that her pursuit of love landed her in a cycle where she consistently mistook something fake for the real thing. There was no truth to the loving relationships she had been indulging in and the realization that she was being played the fool was what hurt more. Her feelings for Sung Jae was not that important, but the big picture is she can’t distinguish sincere love from an imitation and this discourages her from loving again; that’s what’s heartbreaking. Sung Jae was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Goodange: It’s easy for Ha Na to be affected by romantic, flirtatious gestures, and it felt good for her to be wanted when she needed it, but the chinks in her confidence weren’t all patched up when she discovered Sung Jae’s deception. For that to happen so soon after Ho Joon’s betrayal would have been too much for any person and would feel like a culmination of all these personal failures. I actually think that the most regretful part of this experience for her was that she allowed herself to be conned. On the one hand, my biggest takeaway from this was Ha Na’s ability to muster graceful dignity and give Sung Jae what he set out to exploit from her in the first place. Despite her bad feelings, she still helped him get a full-time position in her company; as a result, he felt even worse about himself, and at the same time, he gained more respect for her.
“Do you see me as a woman?” Did Won answer Ha Na’s question?
Leila: Yes. I saw a clear answer in his eyes, but our girl may have been too drunk to notice his sincerity. We saw her point of view, and it confirmed that answer because she felt uneasy and confused. Won has to step up! In life, there are things that have to be said or else how are we to know? Dude, SPEAK UP or else someone will get her again.
Rinchan: No, when it comes to things like this, words and action must come into play. His eyes seemed more questioning than anything else. Then, to make things worse he didn’t say a thing, unless the writers were deliberately holding back and return to that scene later. The fact that we could see two different things in his eyes just showed how ambiguous Won left the situation. I feel like Ha Na has come to that point where she is unearthing her deeper feelings for Won, but she is looking for signs in him to see if that is even possible or worth the risk. Ha Na needs verbal confirmation for whatever is written in his eyes because frankly, it can mean anything. After being hurt the way she has, it is best that she avoids jumping to conclusions especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
Goodange: Her memory cut off that scene! LOL. I hope we’ll have another flashback to it later. I’m also not sure his eyes answered her question, and even if he told her he didn’t see her as a woman, we know that that’s just not true. But Rin is right that “eye talk” needs to be backed up by actual words. Hmmm, I do wonder why she didn’t finish the memory? All sobered up, was she not ready to remember his answer?
Leila: Touché! There’s just a part of me that is very certain when Won looks deeply into Ha Na’s eyes, but I agree with you that she needs his assurance. I am so excited how this will turn out! I love that Won is not a wimp! He is strong enough to stop Seo Hoo, and I know he’ll be able to ride out anything when it comes to Ha Na.
Cha Seo Hoo’s Return: What does it mean for the drama?
Rinchan: He seems like a necessary evil. He has history with Ha Na, which will most likely get his foot in the doors of her heart. I don’t want Ha Na to be hurt again and neither does Won. Seo Hoo may be just the thing to make Won step up. Chances are Won will become more protective of Ha Na; however, I hope the situation doesn’t deteriorate to the point where a wedge is driven between the OTP.
Leila: I say bring him on! Won has to be pushed to the brink to realize Ha Na is the only one for him. Nothing else worked in the past, and Seo Hoo’s return is the added spice to wake up his senses. Won hates him because he knows him. As much as I don’t want Ha Na to endure another heartbreak, Won’s heart has to waver. Won loves Hana. I think Seo Hoo will be the man to challenge Won to finally express what he’s been meaning to do all these years.
Goodange: We know Ha Na will be foolish again, and we will be annoyed with her for it. At the same time, I think this mistake will make her relatable; many people have reconciled with their exes for various bad reasons. And again, Ha Na has yet to attain her emotional maturity, so, she might have to repeat a mistake to make her and Won grow up!
Both leads are emotionally stunted, and Mr. Oh made the same observation, telling Won that even though they’re 34 years old, they haven’t really changed since their school years. Mr. Oh’s insight may be what Won needed to hear to provoke his growth. For 17 years, Won kept his secret from Ha Na to protect himself, but now, his feelings for her seem to be at its peak, pushed there by the return of Seo Hoo, and he wants to keep her from being hurt again. Had she known his secret, maybe she wouldn’t have had all those painful experiences. Will he out himself to shield her from the same heartaches? He’s begun to ask himself, is it okay for him to start loving her? Ding ding ding! Yeah! LOL. But how much can he protect her when her willingness to be shaken by Seo Hoo will also hurt him? Seo Hoo has come back when the leads’ friendship is at a crossroads, and Rin, Ha Na’s foolishness might sadly lead to that point wherein she goes through a period of a Won-less life.
Rinchan: Despite their unresolved issues, Seo Hoo is Ha Na’s one great love (that is, until she admits her feelings for Won). She still has lingering feelings for him; she even smiles at their sweet memories. Before the pain, there was a time when she was totally blinded by happiness because of him. Currently, she is struggling with herself, she acts cold towards Seo Hoo, but a part of her still misses him and wonders about the “what ifs.” She has to question whether her friend’s situation could apply to her as well: If Seo Hoo has come to realize how important she is, then, could that mean they will get their happily ever after? Even if her brain tells her it is unlikely, her heart may want to take the gamble. If only Won would step up. I hope he quickly figures out that standing on the sidelines will not effectively protect her. Ha Na wants to bask in the glow of love, and the only one offering is Seo Hoo. Don’t get me wrong … Wonnie has been showering her with love, but he’s only made himself available as a best friend. Won needs to present himself as her man so she can look only at him and forget about Seo Hoo.
Episodes 1 to 6 Highlights
Leila: The high school flashbacks! I just knew even from the teaser that Won intended to lose to Ha Na. The betting game was an excuse for him to continuously be with her. I also love every time they stare out at each other’s window. I hope to see more of that!
Rinchan: I love how he seems to take pleasure in that! It seemed to me that losing to her was his way of expressing his feelings for her without getting caught. I pretty much love any scene of them hanging out together, such as their alone time when they drank and made the bet. It was intimate yet comfortable. I also liked scene of the two vegging out in front of the TV and Ha Na seemed jealous over the flight attendant chasing Won.
Goodange: There are so many scenes that I like! I also enjoyed the fun high school moments, especially the ones that revealed Won’s surreptitious actions towards Ha Na. I would add their rooftop rendezvous and every time Won ditches or rebuffs So Eun for Ha Na. Ha! I was swimming in smugness when Won hugged Ha Na to show her how to bat a ball and he refused So Eun when she desperately tried to get the same lessons from him. LOL.
Since we’ll be missing these when/if our pair [temporarily] entertains other partners, my favorites also involve their moments of skinship. When Won woke up in the same bed with Ha Na, he savored that brief time with her. I don’t know if he envisioned it then, but I was thinking this is how he can start every morning if he just set his feelings loose.
We always see Won doing things for Ha Na, but episode 5 revealed that it isn’t always one-sided. After Won heard from his estranged mom, Ha Na knew that he must have been feeling down. So, she disturbed his quiet night, projecting dancing green and red specks of light from her room into his and calling him to ask him to play with her. That really cheered him up. 🙂
Rinchan: I loved when they got drunk together in the hotel and Ha Na laid on his stomach. They skirted around the fact that they see the other as more than just a friend, but I guess it was too early to answer that. Waking up next to Won certainly did a number on Ha Na; she was in daze. Could you imagine how she would have reacted if they had done the deed? Haha!
Viewer Gripes: Ha Ji Won’s Aegyo & The Leads As High Schoolers
Goodange: Ha Ji Won’s aegyo and the leads portraying high schoolers were among the common, early complaints about the show. As I mentioned previously, Ha Ji Won seems to have aegyo naturally offscreen, so, I’m not bothered by it onscreen. I’m more interested in the actions and thoughts of her character than I am about her mannerisms.
It also makes sense to me why she and Lee Jin Wook are also playing the high school versions. For one, there are a lot of flashbacks to their school days, and I’m invested in connecting with their characters; I’m willing to suspend disbelief and have the consistency in the characters’ personality and the actors’ understanding of the roles. While I trust the acting capabilities of the stars, I think they’re able to relate better with the characters and their motivations by being the younger versions, too.
Because the narrative has lately been emphasizing their emotional stagnancy since high school, somehow, I don’t think I’d find that idea at all believable if we have a different, younger set of actors playing them; I want the fluidity, especially as the show constantly transitions between the past and present. And seeing what they’re going through as adults, I’m not sure the revelation of the high school kiss would have had as much exciting impact on the viewers if we had younger actors in their roles. Yeah, I can’t imagine anyone else doing that scene now!
Production clearly had a plan to curb the physical unbelievability by casting mature extras to play the other students. If the extras seem younger, it’s hard to tell because they’re either blurred, blocked, or shot in low light.
Leila: I’m not a fan of Ha Ji Won’s aegyo. I’m glad she toned it down and kept more of it during the high school flashbacks. I also don’t have a problem with stars playing the characters’ high school versions. They have a strong bond and for us to see their foundation is a real treat. I can’t imagine anyone playing their roles.
Rinchan: I am quite used to Ha Ji Won’s aegyo since it comes out in interviews and in some commercials. I like that she has a character that calls for it because it shows her versatility as an actress as well as lightens things up. On the other hand, it wouldn’t have hurt to use child actors for the high school flashbacks. I think they did well in terms of acting, but no matter how young they look for their age, they don’t look like high schoolers. Regardless, I still enjoy the scenes of their younger days. In the longterm, I surmise the crew must have saved money since there were so many flashback scenes, but I hope we get more so we can learn more about this couple and how their past shaped them today. All in all, I don’t care if they used child actors or not since it’s still fun.
Leila: They have a very sparkling chemistry 🙂 I love the way Lee Jin Wook looks at Ha Ji Won. It simply spells L-O-V-E.
Rinchan: Their chemistry is great in front of and behind the cameras. I love when two excellent actors can meet and produce great work together. These two actors are capable of expressing complicated emotions ,and I am quite happy they are working together.
Goodange: It’s because of this pair that I was even excited for this show. It’s very superficial. LOL. This is the first time they’re working together, and you wouldn’t really know it by the way they portray their characters and by how well they work together behind the scenes. So, I look forward to their future joint projects.
Any improvements? What would you like to see?
Leila: I like to get to know Won more. He’s vague to me right now. There’s more to him than what we’ve seen so far.
Rinchan: There is nothing that stands out as problematic this early because even things like the aegyo will most likely die down as we get deeper into the story. What I really don’t want to see is a love triangle that will make me want to bash my head against the wall. I know that our OTP will have other temporary lovelines, but I hope it is not used as a plot device to unnecessarily drag things out.
Goodange: I agree. I don’t want the story to become plodding, and that can easily happen when the premise of lovers to friends is simple and familiar. I also want Won to continue resisting So Eun’s advances. Maggie quickly snatched Da Ren up, and I am just afraid Won will eventually cave in, especially when/if Ha Na gets back together with Seo Hoo.
At this time, I don’t know if the drama needs major improvements. I would like continuity, though, and maybe I’m putting too much significance on it, but I want a scene that makes a reference to “Love of the One-Eyed Fish” again. Otherwise, why feature it to start with when, outside of the literary world, the average viewer isn’t even likely familiar with Ryu Shiva’s work? I’d like a reference to it that would explain Won’s old attitude about love towards Ha Na.
In all, this show has been enjoyable so far, and accepting the differences from the original has made this a fun watch for many of us. We look forward to it every weekend! I do hope more viewers will give it a chance and not allow their fondness for the TW-drama to color their judgment of this remake. I’m sure you guys share my sentiments that the new writing team will only bring better developments! 🙂 Let us hope!
Source | The Time We Were Not In Love SBS