Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Eungee Joh
The currently airing SBS drama, Again My Life, is a time-traveling thriller show about a young prosecutor who gets a second chance at justice after failing to bring down a powerful person. Timeslip shows’ rising popularity is not new or surprising as Marvel Cinematic Universe is saving humanity through characters like Doctor Strange across all layers of time and space. Time travels in Korean dramas are intertwined with more complex individual desires and genres ranging from political mysteries to romantic comedies. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at five of the best currently-aired TV shows about time travel.
Sisyphus: The Myth (2021)
Sisyphus: The Myth is a sci-fi action drama starring Cho Seung Woo as Han Tae Sool, a genius engineer, and Park Shin Hye as Kang Seo Hae, a time traveler from a war-torn future. The project was planned in celebration of the 10th anniversary of JTBC’s foundation and showed a variety of spectacular scenes as it invested 20 billion won (approximately $15.8 million) in its production. For instance, the first episode perfectly drew out the heart-pounding scene where Tae Sool miraculously survives and rescues all passengers from a falling plane. The worldview and setting of the drama were filled with typical elements of the sci-fi genre, such as time travels, post-apocalyptic cities, conspiracies of secret organizations, and a savior from the future. It garnered positive reviews from viewers for the brilliant performance of its actors and its inspiring story. As the title speaks for itself, one of the best ways to fully take in the story is to keep in mind that the fate of the characters, who repeatedly face crises across time and space, is connected to that of “Sisyphus,” a figure in Greek and Roman mythology who is under divine punishment forever.
Times is a “time warp” drama about a mysterious phone call that connects two people living five years apart: Seo Jung In (played by Lee Joo Young) in 2020 and Lee Jin Woo (Lee Seo Jin) in 2015. Jung In, the daughter of South Korean president Seo Gi Tae (Kim Young Chul), enlists help from the man calling from the past to save her father’s life. Jin Woo agrees to help her by feeding her crucial information about the past to overturn his fatal fate. The story veers into a political thriller as the two uncover the culprit of the President’s death and the dangerous truth. As more time travelers appear to help the two and uncover some of the characters’ true intentions, the story makes us wonder what fate will await for the two. It definitely has some room for improvement, but this show’s exciting twists and turns are good enough to keep us on the edge of our seats.
Bulgasal: Immortal Souls (2021)
Bulgasal: Immortal Souls is a fantasy drama that features oriental themes such as relationships and karma, reincarnation and transmigration, and Korean mythical creatures such as “Bulgasal,” “Jomagu,” and “Doueoksini.” It depicts the story of a man-turned-immortal named Dan Hwal (played by Lee Jin Wook), who seeks revenge on a woman named Min Sang Woon (Kwon Nara), responsible for his repeating miseries. The show is slow-paced as it waits until the very last minute to reveal the ties between the vengeful immortal who’s been growing his wrath for over the last 600 years, the woman who’s been living with a cycle of death and reincarnation, and the other immortal named Ok Eul Tae (Lee Joon) who pursues her to end his everlasting pain. However, the relationship dynamic between the three, the unique Korean mythical creatures, and the emotion of “han” that each character portrays were interesting enough to keep the viewers watching.
Hello, Me! (2021)
Hello, Me! follows a 37-years-old woman named Ban Ha Ni (played by Choi Kang Hee) who thinks she’s lost all her spark until her spunky younger self (Lee Re) appears in front of her. In most time travel shows, protagonists travel back in time to correct their past mistakes. However, Hello, Me! takes a fresh approach by placing the bright younger self of the main character before her present unsuccessful self. The drama delivers a warm message that inspires us to live a courageous life by loving ourselves through the story of two Ban Ha Nis who realize that she was the one who hurt herself the most. In addition, her relationship with the immature second-generation chaebol named Han Yoo Hyun (Kim Young Kwang) slowly adds sweet, intriguing romance to the show.
Alice is an SF drama set in the year 2050 where people can travel back through time, with its emphasis on humanism based on “motherhood.” The present is thrown into chaos by people from the future trying to change the past, and the detective named Park Jin Gyeom (played by Joo Won), born without emotions, starts digging into the secrets of time travel with Alice agent Yoon Tae Yi (Kim Hee Sun) who resembles his dead mother. Some pointed out that the gap in the setting and the plausibility of the narrative have collapsed as the worldview expands from time travel to the parallel world, but the actors’ performances were greatly praised as they well-portrayed the emotions of characters in extreme situations. For instance, Kim Hee Sun, who played both Park Jin Gyeom’s mother Park Sun Young and agent Yoon Tae Yi, won rave views by showing her wide spectrum of acting to the public by portraying her characters ranging from the 20s to 40s.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.