First of all, can I just comment on how beautiful everyone in the damn webtoon is? It makes perfect sense, given that the characters are cartoons but dang, the female lead, So Hee, and his bodyguard, Do Yoon, are pretty. So damn pretty. And doggone Lee Tae Hwan doesn’t look a day under 28 so I try not to shudder whenever I see that he was born in 1995. Yes, this is one of the few times that saying someone looks older than their age is a great thing!
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, what are my first impressions of “W”?
Well, anyone who’s been following my posts here knows that I’ve been looking forward to this drama because I love the idea of an interdimensional romance. I’m a fan of time travel and mentioned that I enjoyed the writer’s previous works like Queen In Hyun’s Man and Coffee House. Did it live up to my expectations? HELL YES! In fact, it surpassed it.
I’ve recently gotten into the habit of not doing extensive research before watching a drama – so many dramas, too little time – so while I had a vague idea of what this drama was going to be about, I guess it didn’t really sink it.
What exactly is going on?
The drama starts off with our male lead, Kang Chul. He’s 17, a first time Olympian at the Athens 50 meter pistol final. He’s an unlikely finalist who makes a critical mistake in his second to last shot and falls to second place. The commentators begin to console themselves that he’d made it further than anyone would have imagined when he nails the final shot and wins! Yes, our lead is amazing. But as in every drama, every good thing must be followed by 800 bad ones.
A few years later, some guy kills his parents and two siblings with his gold medal-winning gun and he gets arrested for the crime. Dang it! Just as I’m about to wonder what the hell is going on, we learn that it’s all fiction. As in, fiction-within-fiction because he’s a character in a webtoon,”W”.” Oh… now it makes sense. The drama synopsis of him being a chabeol, gorgeous, genius Olympian suddenly makes a lot of sense.
It’s time to meet our heroine. She’s Oh Yeon Joo, a surgical resident whose professor calls her in for a meeting. She rushes there with trepidation, wondering what she’s about to be scolded for when he asks if her father is Oh Sung Moo, the writer of “W.” She confirms it and suddenly, he’s her best friend who wants spoilers. He even bribes her with a surgery which quickly gets her over to her father’s workshop.
He isn’t there and his worried assistants inform her that he’d somehow sneaked out the previous night and hasn’t been heard from since. Yeon Joo wants spoilers and he shows her the drafts as she’s shocked to learn that her father is killing off the main character in the final chapter! What da hell?
Kang Chul had initially been sentenced to death for his family’s murders before another trial had him imprisoned for life. It wasn’t till the final appeal with the Supreme Court that he was acquitted but that didn’t bring much joy to him because everyone thought him guilty. So after a year of misery, he sought to end his life till a moment of enlightenment at the eleventh hour when he resolved to find the culprit himself.
Therefore, Yeon Joo is understandably horrified that her father was giving him a tragic ending. And with him still missing, his assistant steps out to inform the police of his disappearance. This is when a bloodied hand tugs her shirt and she finds herself on the rooftop of a hotel.
Next to her is a bleeding man. She freaks out and runs to the hotel kitchen to ask for help. Then she rushes back to the roof to do what she can to save him.
She diagnoses his condition and despite a lack of confidence, jabs a pen in his chest with the logic that it works in dramas so why not real life?
He survives, more help comes and all is well. But then things get weird when the hotel manager asks what she was doing on the rooftop. She doesn’t know. How did her father’s place become a hotel? Even weirder is that her patient is supposedly famous. She starts to wonder. Kang Chul? Hmm, he’s got the same name as the lead in “W.” Who the hell is he? Oh, the singer. No, that’s Kangta (this line cracked me up). She thinks back to his bloodied body and flashes back to the identical image in her father’s drafts. Nah, that just doesn’t make any sense. She watches as they carry him away in a stretcher and with that, the words “To Be Continued” flash before her. What in the freaking world?
Then suddenly, she’s back in her father’s workroom. His assistant, Soo Bong, walks in with the news that her dad must be fine because he sent in the finished manuscript to the editors. He’s even happier because Kang Chul wasn’t killed but Yeon Joo is shocked to see that the webtoon follows what she’d just experienced. No, but for real, WHAT IN THE FREAKING WORLD?
But then another chapter follows. Kang Chul is recuperating with his bodyguard in his hospital room when his gorgeous assistant walks in. She’s the female lead and potential love interest who speaks to him very informally. She comes off as a sister to me but apparently, it’s supposed to suggest a budding romance. She informs him that everything about his savior, Oh Yeon Joo, is fake. Not just the number and email address on her business card but the hospital doesn’t even exist. She thinks she must be an accomplice in his attack but Kang Chul disagrees.
He doesn’t know who she is but his gut tells him she’s not a villain. In fact, he wants to find her because he thinks that she just might be the key to his life. What a webtoon-y thing to say.
Meanwhile, Yeon Joo isn’t having such a swell time in her world because her fanboy professor has turned on her. Why in the world has her father chosen to ruin his brilliant work by inserting her in it? How in the world is he supposed to take it seriously when she’s “beautiful” and saving the great Kang Chul? As if! As her professor rants, she freaks out for another reason – Kang Chul is looking for her! Haha. If this happened to me, I’d immediately admit myself into a mental hospital.
Yeon Joo quickly calls Soo Bong who tells her that he wonders where her dad is writing all this from because he’s not yet returned. She tells him her father isn’t responsible, babbling about how the story has taken on a life of its own and that these things really happened but like any normal person would, he dismisses it.
The next morning, Yeon Joo calls him again to inform him that her father must have been trapped in the comic then almost to prove that she’s crazy, her father returns. She quickly rushes over to talk to him but he’s fine and barely hints of anything strange. “Barely” because he asks if she’s hurt. And they have an awkward conversation where she tries to glean if he’d written the last two chapters and he gets defensive, demanding to know who else could possibly have. Something is clearly up with Appa.
Lost in her thoughts later that evening, Yeon Joo gets bullied by her colleagues into running an errand in the rain. While out, she calls Soo Bong who informs her that her father plans to kill Kang Chul with poison. She tries to psyche herself into not caring because what’s the big deal if a fictional character dies? But the memory of saving his life is still so vivid that she can’t help but call her dad to argue against it. She tells him that it will be particularly hurtful to the audience if he kills him two episodes after saving him. Then her father drops a nugget: “Then why did you do something so useless?”
Her ears perk up. He knows! He knows! Her daddy knows! It’s the validation she needed. Now, she’s sure she’s not crazy and begs her father to stop lying that he drew those chapters and not to murder him. Well, Missy, a writer is the god of his story and can do whatever he damn well pleases, okay?
Her reaction only hardens her father’s resolve to kill his character and like that, she’s transported back into the webtoon.
One of her father’s assistants models Kang Chul’s hospital after hers, making it familiar to her. Armed with the spoilers provided by Soo Bong, she quickly rushes to his room and stops the poison from entering his system.
Now it’s time to explain why she’s there and how she knew about the poison. Unfortunately, “from the webtoon” isn’t a valid response so she stutters a very unconvincing explanation. It’s a huge shock to everyone as So Hee hadn’t been successful in her attempts at locating her. So Hee also notes that she’s beautiful, and when Kang Chul agrees, Yeon Joo scoffs at it, then parrots his earlier comment that calling her beautiful means everyone in the world is. All three wonder how she’s privy to their private conversation and once again, “from the webtoon” won’t cut it. It’s all very suspicious, worsened by her request to speak to Kang Chul privately.
They oblige, mentioning that she’ll have to speak to the police shortly and when they leave, she begs him to let her leave quietly. Despite having a million unanswered questions for her, he arranges for it, with the promise that she’ll meet him when he’s discharged. He gives her a cellphone so he can reach her.
She sneaks out of the hospital right as the police arrive then waits at a nearby bus stop. It took about thirty minutes for her to return to her world the last time so she watches the clock. But thirty minutes pass and she doesn’t budge. Then to her surprise, the arms of her watch move rapidly, and suddenly, the weather changes from spring to summer.
Before she can digest it, her phone rings. It’s Kang Chul, cashing in on her promise to meet him when he’s discharged. He picks her up which is when she learns that two months have passed.
He tries to make conversation but she barely responds because nothing she says would make sense. Plus she’s stressed out because she’s in a comic and two months of her life flashed by in thirty minutes! He notes that she hasn’t changed her clothes and takes her to his store for a
She’s freaking out, wondering how to get out of the comic. What happened last time? It’s serialized which means that it must end with a dramatic cliffhanger. That gives her an idea. Dressed in her new digs, she marches over to him and slaps him. Then she looks out for “To Be Continued” to flash across. But it doesn’t. Ottoke, what did she just do? And why isn’t it working?
Kang Chul is just as confused and asks why buying her clothes warrants a slap.
He keeps asking while she tries to come up with a way to get out of the comic. If a slap doesn’t cut it, perhaps something else would?
It does! And she finds herself back in her world. When she returns to the hospital, she learns that she’d only been gone for thirty minutes. She also learns that the comic has already been updated and posted online. And that fans are mad because their ChulHee ship appears to be sinking.
Meanwhile, Soo Bong and his fellow assistants are confused because the chapter they are still working on has already been sent to the editors. He alerts their boss who tells the editor to take it down as it was a mistake. The man is reluctant to do so because thousands have already viewed it and it’s garnered a lot of comments but he doesn’t care and tells him to do it ASAP. Something tells me that the dear old editor won’t succeed in this mission.
Yeon Joo’s dad then fires his team, saying that they’ve arrived at the end of the road but when Soo Bong analyzes the situation, wondering how Sung Moo could have drawn something so uncharacteristic this quickly, it begins to click with him. Hmm. Perhaps Noona hasn’t been getting high on hospital fumes like he thought.
Father and daughter once again fight about her experience and her dad is even more determined to kill the character that has become a monster. And reminds her that it’s not murder and he’s well within his rights to do whatever he damn well pleases with his creation. He regrets not letting him commit suicide earlier. He also instructs her to let everything that has happened go and move on, lest they are both thought of as insane.
Back at work, Sung Moo hopes third time’s a charm in regards to killing his character. He sets him up to be hit by a truck of doom but a second before impact, time stops in the webtoon and Kang Chul is able to swerve away. Now, he’s confused as hell. What in the world is happening? He drives to safety then asks his god who he is.
And his god sees the words flash across his screen and freaks out. Dude, burn your computer!
What a fun show! I feel like this is almost a dramatization of how a writer feels when their work becomes bigger than they are. Writers often talk about letting their characters speak to them or lead the direction of their story with some even saying that their characters bother them in their dreams. Also, sometimes, a character or story takes on a life of its own on the business side of creative writing when fans/viewers demand certain storylines or ships and the network interferes with a writer’s creative vision. And hell, there are even times a network, for example, fires the creator of a show and he or she has to watch them do whatever they want with the characters. There’s also the very common case of book authors who lament about the bastardization of their work by the movie scriptwriter or director. So I almost feel like Sung Moo’s arc might be telling these stories.
But there’s also the really fun, insane, unpredictable main story. What I love most about it is that Yeon Joo is in danger every time she gets into the webtoon and has to do crazy things to exit it. I also love that Kang Chul is now aware that there’s something strange going on. He might soon realize how much she really is the key to his life. We’ve got Sung Moo who’s a villain because he’s trying to kill the lead but also a hero because he’s trying to get a handle on something that’s gone haywire. Then there’s the love story and its implications. How can Yeon Jooo knowingly fall in love with a fictional character? What kind of ending will this drama have? It’s one thing for us to root for someone to travel through time, dimensions or even planets for love but what about a webtoon? It’s kind of funny because while I enjoyed the Japanese drama, Absolute Boyfriend, I was vehemently against her ending up with robot but here I’m like, “Que sera, sera.” Maybe Kang Chul will have a real life counterpart in a coma or something. lol
The script is brilliant as expected of Song Jae Jung. The director is doing a good job with the suspense and comedy. I also like how the webtoon art is being woven into the scenes. While Lee Jong Suk is our Kang Chul, I still feel like he’s that two dimensional webtoon character and these two episodes were ruled by Hyo Joo. As it stands, she’s driving the story but next week will likely be different. There were a few times that I thought her acting was a bit shaky but when I remembered she was playing the usual rom-com character, it was fine. We haven’t gotten much out of the supporting characters other than Lee Shi Un who as Soo Bong, is playing a version of a character he’s well acquainted with. It’ll be even more interesting when he starts to drink the Kool-Aid next week. The professor hasn’t had a lot of scenes yet but I love how he represents the fanboys and fangirls. I’m looking forward to more from all supporting cast – including the webtoon’s – in upcoming episodes.
While I expected this to be a story of parallel universes and not of a webtoon coming to life, it’s lived up to my expectations. It’s such wacky fun that I am simply going to sit down and enjoy the ride as I cross my fingers, praying that it maintains its quality. Writer-nim and PD-nim, fighting! Actors, fighting!
We love this drama so much that Tess and I will be recapping it so I hope you return next week for her thoughts on Week Two.