Showing posts with label See You in My 19th Life (Kdrama) 4 || 4.25. Show all posts
Showing posts with label See You in My 19th Life (Kdrama) 4 || 4.25. Show all posts

13 August 2023

K Drama Review: See You in My 19th Life (2023) 4 || 4.25

We were wary of watching this one because of the reincarnation angle, which we're not really fond of. We tried watching Yoon Ah's King the Land first. But when we found it underwhelming, we decided to give this one a try. It definitely helped that I've been seeing Ahn Bo Hyun in variety shows like Busan Boys: Sydney Bound and The Backpacker Chef. He has this very awesome personality that makes him very endearing to me. While the show didn't really maintain the intensity it had during the earlier episodes, it was still worth watching. Thanks to the fewer episodes it had (12) and the great cast. 


See You in My 19th Life tells the story of a person who remembers all of his/her past lives. The show begins with this person's 19th life where she was reborn as Ban Ji Eum (Shin Hye Sun). Ji Eum is in her early 20s working as an engineer in a car company. Her 19th life has been devoted to finding the love of her 18th life, Moon Seo Ha (Ahn Bo Hyun). They briefly met when Ji Eum was younger but Seo Ha left the country for college so that friendship was cut short. Ji Eum pursued working for companies owned by Seo Ha's family. She finally has her chance to meet him again when he returns from overseas to work for the family hotel. Ji Eum ends up working for Seo Ha's team and she now finds herself in the midst of people from her 18th life, including her sister, Cho Won (Ha Yoon Kyung). The story takes us through how Ji Eum resolves her dilemma of whether or not to tell the people from her past that she was the Joo Won they loved in her 18th life and the bigger dilemma of whether she should choose to keep remembering her past lives or forget all about them once and for all. 

Shin Hye Sun as Ban Ji Eum

Okay, before we go to Shin Hye Sun, let me just commend the great young actresses who played her younger versions. Park So Yi (Law School, She Would Never Know, Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol, Encounter, and Ms. Hammurabi) was great as the young Ji Eum. It's so nice to see her grow and bloom in beauty and talent. She's definitely someone to watch out for in the future. 

Kim Si A was also great as Joo Won. She's grown so much from The Silent Sea and I'm sure a lot of nice things await her too. 

Now, let's go to the star of the show - Shin Hye Sun. I've heard nice things about her especially in Mr. Queen. And while she was in She Was Pretty, I don't really have any recollection of her in that show. So yes, we can say that officially, this was our first Shin Hye Sun drama. And she definitely did not disappoint. 

Yes, Shin Hye Sun is not your typical female lead, if you judge her solely by her looks. But once you see her act, you will understand why she deserves to be a lead actress. In the first episode alone, Shin Hye Sun revealed so many sides of Ji Eum. She was truly a jack of all trades. 

Ji Eum was funny, especially when she accidentally talked about her past lives. She was great in her dramatic and angry scenes too. She was so scary with the rage she showed when she thought that Seo Ha killed her sister in her first life. But that rage was so well-balanced with her sadness and pain from the death of her sister. So despite her anger, you can't help but feel super sympathetic towards her. 

Some of my most favorite Ji Eum scenes were her tender moments with her niece from her 17th life who raised her in her 19th life, Ae Kyung (Cha Chung Hwa of Train to Busan, Cleaning Up, Hometown Cha Cha Cha, Hospital Playlist 2, Itaewon Class, Crash Landing on You, and Hotel Del Luna). Theirs was a relationship and love that transcended lifetimes. 

Shin Hye Sun was so great that even her fight scenes were credible. I'm definitely a fan now and you can bet I'll be exploring her other dramas too. 

Ahn Bo Hyun as Moon Seo Ha

I've said a lot of things about Ahn Bo Hyun in the beginning. But let me just clarify that I don't just like him because of how he looks and his awesome personality. He acts really, really well too. I've seen him get better and better from Descendants of the Sun to Itaewon Class to My Name to this drama. 

The first thing you'll notice about Ahn Bo Hyun is how tough he looks. And that was evident in this show too. His fight scenes were so convincing that you'd want him to defend you when you're in trouble. But I loved how that toughness was coupled with his own brand of tenderness too, especially when it involved Ji Eum/Joo Won. He was definitely cute whenever he was awkward around Ji Eum. 

I loved watching Ahn Bo Hyun in this show because he proved that he can do so much more than action dramas. He can be dramatic and funny too. He will definitely be on my Oppa List when I finally find the time to update it. 

Seo Ha and Ji Eum

Ji Eum and Seo Ha make it to the list of my favorite K drama couples. They're so much fun to watch. Their chemistry was evident from the beginning. I know Oppa might not agree with me on this one. But I enjoyed watching them banter with each other, especially when Ji Eum teased Seo Ha with her non-stop confessions. 

And their sweet and tender moments were just as lovely to watch. It was so poignant to see Ji Eum run to Seo Ha's house in the rain so she could confess to him on his birthday, the way Joo Won almost confessed to young Seo Ha on the day of their accident. And their kisses were so heartfelt (and hot too!). But beyond the cutesy stuff, I liked how Ji Eum and Seo Ha were always there for each other - ready to catch the other who is on the brink of losing it. 

I liked how the show was not so hard sell on this couple. And that probably made me fond of them. 

Mr. Ha and Cho Won

It was nice to see Ahn Dong Goo (The Silent Sea, Snowdrop, and Our Beloved Summer) and Ha Yoon Kyung (Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Hospital Playlist 1 and 2, and She Would Never Know) in more prominent/substantial roles. 

Mr. Ha played the cold and distant but actually distraught inside assistant of Seo Ha really well. It was so sad to see him hold back his feelings for Cho Won just because he was so tired of being accused of taking advantage of rich people. It was painful to hear him confess that he liked Cho Won but he can't date her. 

Cho Won was cute and it was funny how her personality did resemble Joo Won's/Ji Eum's, especially the being nosy part. I liked how she persisted in her feelings for Mr. Ha. But when she realized that those feelings tormented him because he liked her but couldn't date her, she made that selfless and painful decision to let him go. I guess it was good enough for her that he liked her too. 

In the end, I liked that things worked out for them because they both deserved to be happy. 


As I mentioned above, the show really started out very promising. I liked how despite the complicated plot, the pilot episode was able to explain everything concisely and clearly. In like under 10 minutes, the drama told me (almost) everything I needed to know about Ji Eum's special ability of remembering her past lives. Yes, there were some creepy parts that would have been considered stalking in real life. But since the show laid down the context right away, these became somehow acceptable. 

I loved how the show tried to give us a balanced story to avoid making things too heavy all the time. It gave us a little bit of everything. The funny stuff were natural thanks to Shin Hye Sun's hilarious pick up lines and Ahn Bo Hyun's deadpan delivery. 

Some things would have given the horror vibe had they not been creatively infused with the pain felt by the characters. Like it was heartbreaking to see Ji Eum hugging her mom from her 18th life (Kang Myung Joo of Extraordinary Attorney Woo), only for the next scene to show that she was actually hugging no one.  And there's that shaman angle with Kang Min Gi (Lee Chae Min of Crash Course in Romance) reappearing from Ji Eum's first life, probably troubled by the guilt of knowing that he caused Ji Eum to curse herself into remembering her past lives. 

Then we also have that mystery-thriller aspect to it with the accident that killed Joo Won. It was just sad that Mr. Ha's dad died there too, unknown to Seo Ha. And that it was orchestrated by Seo Ha's uncle (Lee Hae Young of Confidential Assignment, The Glory 1 and 2, and At Eighteen), whom he loved so much. 

And of course, the suspense in finding out how Ji Eum will finally decide to resolve/break her curse. 

Aside from the variety it offered, I loved how the show's premise was interesting in itself. What if that could really happen - that we remember our past lives and the people we love and long for can come back to us in their reincarnated forms? 

It was sad to see Ji Eum suffering, especially in her quest to be reunited with Seo Ha. It was painful and bittersweet to see her meet people from her past - Ae Kyung and apologizing for leaving her to grow up on her own and Cho Won and how she held back telling her about her identity for so long. That photo she took with Cho Won and Ae Kyung was really poignant. Oh, and seeing the reincarnation of Seo Ha's mom (Lee Han Na) too. Each reunion was special because you definitely felt how much they've longed for each other. My favorite would have to be when Cho Won finally accepted and believed Ji Eum's truth. 

And of course, nothing can top Seo Ha and Ji Eum's reunion. First, when Seo Ha recognized her as the young Ji Eum he met before. Then how he visited Joo Won's grave with Ji Eum. And how he's slowly remembering Joo Won through Ji Eum. Those were definitely bittersweet moments that probably confused Ji Eum - should she pursue Seo Ha, knowing that remembering Joo Won hurt and haunted him too? 

I was actually unsure if I wanted Ji Eum to reveal her real identity. I wasn't sure they'd believe her. They might be creeped out the way Cho Won did when she saw Ji Eum's familiarity with their family's vacation house. Worse, they might even accuse her of defrauding them. But I guess all of those fears were wiped away when Cho Won chose to believe Ji Eum. 

But then there's that complication that revealing herself could endanger the people from her past. And the crazy thing is, there are no special powers/gods that could protect them from that problem. I liked how the show tried to subtly tell us that we have to accept that things happen for a  reason and in their own time. You mess with it, then there will be trade offs. 

And of course, the very obvious burden that remembering the past brings to Ji Eum. I loved how that was perfectly depicted in the scene where she was walking on a bridge and all her past lives walked behind her. At that moment, it surely felt like a curse more than a blessing to have to carry all of those baggage from her past. 

At some point, it did feel unreal/crazy how things were coming full circle. Ji Eum's brother's (Moon Dong Hyuk of Start Up and Sky Castle) loan shark (Nam Jin Bok of Samjin Company English Class, Summer Strike, Narco Saints/Suriname, and Extraordinary Attorney Woo) was hired to orchestrate the accident that killed Joo Won. Ji Eum was reborn as the daughter of the man who killed her in her 18th life (Baek Seung Cheol of Jirisan, Crash Landing on You, and Itaewon Class). All the prominent people in Ji Eum's life - Seo Ha, Cho Won, Nam Gi, and Mr. Ha - were in her first life and they all seem to be connected. But all these things just made me hold on to the show even tighter because I wanted to find out if Ji Eum would selflessly choose to let go of everything to break the curse of remembering her past and saving the people she loved from getting hurt. 

In the end however, what somehow ruined the show for me was its seemingly simplistic way of dealing with things. Ji Eum's dad just freely let her go when she was young (and opted to stay with Ae Kyung) even if she has been his milking cow, thanks to her being jack of all trades. The car accident being resolved so quickly with Seo Ha's uncle easily surrendering when Seo Ha discovered his involvement. The Ms. Jang (Bae Hae Sun of Samjin Company English Class, Crash Course in Romance, Love in Contract, Happiness, Hometown Cha Cha Cha, Start Up, and Hotel Del Luna) corruption angle conveniently solved with Seo Ha's dad (Choi Jin Ho of Mr. Sunshine and Oh My Venus) helping Seo Ha kick Ms. Jang out of the hotel. 

And the biggest of them all - Ji Eum easily forgiving Min Gi for killing her and her sister. I believe that was something very momentous and big because that caused her to curse herself into remembering her past lives. That definitely deserved more thought and time. 

It was heartbreaking to see Ji Eum saying goodbye to the people she loved when she finally decided to break the curse. My favorite was that goodbye scene with Joo Won's mom in Joo Won's old room. Yes, it was painful that she had to let go of the memories of her past lives. But it was necessary, not just for her peace of mind, but more importantly, to save the people she loved, especially Ae Kyung. 

Unfortunately, things seemed to have gone downhill from there. The breaking the curse thing actually left me confused. Up to what point did Ji Eum's memory go back to? How and where did she end up after she chose to break the curse? I get that she went back to Mi Mobity and that sort of explains how she forgot about Seo Ha and Cho Won. But how could she forget Ae Kyung who raised her and whom she lived with? 

At least the show tried to salvage things with the cute ways that the people from Ji Eum's past lives orchestrated meeting her again. Although I admit that had those things happened in real life, Ji Eum would have probably been creeped out - a girl recommending bags and restaurants to her and her company's owner proposing to her out of the blue. 

Despite the way the drama ended, I still loved the show's healing effect. Even if you don't believe in reincarnation, I liked how the drama tried to give us hope that even if we lose important people in our lives, there can be new ones who can leave the same impact on us too. And sometimes, a little bit of magic in our lives could help appease the longings in our hearts. 

Oppa says...4.

Noona says...4.25 (with bonus points for the great cast).