K-Drama Review: ’18 Again’: A Good Example Where the Remake Is More Riveting than the Original

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Credit: JTBC

Based on the 2009 film 17 Again by Jason Filardi, 18 Again tells the story of a husband who suddenly turns 18 just before his divorce. As the 100-minute film was adapted into a 16-episode TV series, some backgrounds have changed. And as the story progresses, these adaptations became a magic move that offers a variety of attractions. What changes have been added to 18 Again, and what got better?


Jung Do Jung (Scarlet Porter) Plays a Bigger Role

Credit: JTBC

First of all, it is notable that the main character’s wife, Jung Da Jung (Scarlet Porter), plays a bigger role. The story of Jung Da Jung was enlarged as she was given the job of late-blooming announcer, which was not part of the original story. In particular, she represents working mothers and delivers gratifying satisfaction by breaking through the stereotype of “a mother or a divorced woman is not fit as an announcer” existing in the broadcasting industry. In progress, she is involved with baseball player Ye Ji Hoon, bringing upon a strange atmosphere into a reunion-romance between Jung Da Jung and Hong Dae Young.

This is not the end. In the original film, the story unfolds through the eyes of Dae Young (Mike O’Donnell) and that makes it hard for the viewers to grasp exactly why they decided to split up. But in the remake drama, Jung Da Jung’s position is fully explained, strengthening the plot’s persuasive power. In many ways, Jung Da Jung has become a more three-dimensional character, proving that the main character of 18 Again is not just young Hong Da Young.


Friendship Between Father and Son that Goes Beyond the Walls of Generations

Credit: JTBC

The fact that Hong Dae Young and his kids spend more time to share each other’s feelings is another advantage of the remake. In 17 Again, the main character goes to the same high school as his kids and grows closer by overcoming various incidents together, but they are mostly depicted as comical elements. However, 18 Again highlights the episodes between the father and his children. Dae Young approaches his two kids as a same-class student to listen and solve their concerns, which he couldn’t do as a 38-year-old father, drawing laughter and tears.

Also, bonding with his kids gives Dae Young a chance to recover his own relationship with his father. Dae Young starting a family at an early age with Da Jung caused a rift between his father, but he naturally approaches his father by disguising himself as a friend of Hong Shi Woo (Dae Young’s son), and learns the truth he has never known before and untangles his pent-up heart. The scene where Dae Young learns about how his kids really think about him and regrets and reflects on his relationship with his own father comes as one of the most emotional moments in the drama.


Additional Settings Added to Characters Enrich the Story

Credit: JTBC

As the overall plot had to be lengthened out significantly compared to the original film, more characters have been added and many settings have changed. First of all, Dae Young’s two kids, Hong Shi Ah and Hong Shi Woo, play more significant roles. Shi Ah shows off her girl crush charm and is in charge of fresh teen romance with basketball team leader Goo Ja Sung and childhood friend Ji Ho. Shi Woo also grows up with the help of Dae Young and breaks away from his weak and timid sides. Si Woo’s change well displays the drama’s message that emphasizes the warm bond between family members by showing Dae Young letting go of his ugly past as a father who was never there for his kids.

The character of Choi Il Kwon, who is newly added in the remake version, is also quite interesting. He used to be Dae Young’s rival during their school days and is now Si Woo’s basketball coach, continuing his bad relationship with the main characters. The conflict between Il Kwon and Dae Young doesn’t end as a problem between the two, but it affects Si Woo and Da Jung, doubling the drama’s tension.

There are, of course, some points that need improvements. Though the appearance of Ye Ji Hoo, who is too good to be true, between Jung Da Jung and Hong Dae Young is understandable in a sense that there needs to be a complication within the romance (to spice things up), the fact that characters are swayed by this love triangle makes the story a bit dull. Also, how characters bump into each other like a “fate” can be considered cute the first two times, but if it continues, then the level of immersion drops.

Yes, there are some disappointments, but 18 Again is more than a decent remake drama. It provides original content and touching moments, raising the expectations for the next episode. From now on, the drama will depict Hong Dae Young’s basketball team activities and Hong Dae Young and Jung Da Jung falling in love again, the two most important elements from the original film, and I am looking forward to how it will deliver a different pleasure from the movie.


Verdict: The affectionate bond between the family members is only strengthened in the remake version (7/10)

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