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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "A Time Called You" Episode 1

It was only when I finished the first episode of "A Time Called You" that I finally realized that Min-joo in 1998 (played by Jeon Yeo-been) and Joon-hee in 2023 (also played by Jeon Yeo-been) weren't supposed to be older and younger versions of the same character. I had to look it up too. This might be my own fault because I'm bad at remembering names. But then, my expectation that a show to be able to clearly outline its premise within the first episode seems pretty reasonable.


Yes, "A Time Called You" is supposed to be a mystery, but when the main mystery is wondering what the show is even about, that's not a good place to start. Min-joo's kind of cute love story involves the shy teenager running into two boys, one who's shy like her, the other not. But Joon-hee's still recovering emotionally from the death of her boyfriend. One of the boys, Si-heon, and the dead boyfriend, Yeon-joon, are both played by Ahn Hyo-seop.

The dead boyfriend having very little screentime didn't help with my failing to appreciate that these were two completely different characters. The majority of the story being in 1998, rather than 2023, also didn't help with my understanding that Joon-hee is supposed to be the main character, and that the story chiefly takes place from her perspective as she eventually goes back in time and becomes Min-joo.

This was something else I had to look up, as it's the plot of the original Taiwanese drama on which "A Time Called You" is based. I haven't seen the original drama, or even heard of it to be entirely honest, but I strongly suspect that the showrunners for "A Time Called You" have unreasonably large confidence in the familiarity of its target audience with this prior work. Without that knowledge, the editing here is genuinely incomprehensible.

Is "A Time Called You" any good if I look past how poorly exposited the premise is? Well, I'm not really sure of that either. Nineties era nostalgia is a definite vibe in South Korean dramas, but it's not something that coexists all that intuitively with a story about a woman grieving over a dead boyfriend. Add in a doppleganger and time travel, and the whole project just starts to feel convoluted for the sake of being convoluted.

Written by William Schwartz


"A Time Called You" is directed by Kim Jin-won-I, written by Choi Hyo-bi, and features Ahn Hyo-seop, Jeon Yeo-been, Kang Hoon, Kim Yi-kyeong, Im Tae-poong, Lee Min-goo. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2023/09/08~Now airing, Fri on Netflix.

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