Edited by Seo Hae Lan
Translated by Hana Lee
Imagine if you could actually remember all your past lives. Starting fresh with the memories and experiences from dozens of previous lifetimes might seem like a good thing. But the thought of going through the pain of saying goodbye to loved ones all over again might make you think twice. That’s the fascinating concept behind the popular webtoon-turned-drama, See You in My 19th Life. After much anticipation, this well-prepared drama has caught everyone’s attention with its intriguing story, impressive performances, and top-notch directing.
Ban Ji Eum, the main character, lives her 19th life with all her past memories intact for some unknown reason. Despite being born into poverty in this lifetime, she takes control of her own destiny, drawing from the experiences she has accumulated. Her sole objective is to reunite with Moon Seo Ha, whom she encountered during her 18th life. Determined to find Seoha, who has recently returned to Korea, Ji Eum fearlessly expresses her feelings to him, confessing, “I like you” and “You are my first love.” Meanwhile, Seo Ha yearns for his ailing mother and mourns the loss of his first love, Joo Won, who tragically died in an accident. Although perplexed by Ji Eum’s peculiar behavior, he gradually opens his heart and finds himself confounded as he sees Joo Won reflected in her.
Before watching See You in My 19th Life, viewers were curious to see how its unique setting would unfold. Fortunately, viewers were captivated by the exceptional performances and powerful directing that portrayed Ji Eum’s past lives through her memories. Instead of relying on narration, the experiences she had in her 19th life were effectively captured through short clips featuring various actors in the role. Ji Eum’s character, who has a maturity beyond her years and carries the weight of life’s joys and sorrows, was portrayed impressively by the cast members, particularly Park So Yi as young Ji Eum and Kim Sia as Joo Won in her past life.
While Ji Eum’s playful attempts to flirt with Seo Ha are a recurring element in the drama, the story delves deeper than mere lightheartedness. As Ji Eum embarks on a quest to reconnect with past acquaintances, she uncovers “the sorrow of those left behind,” which brings a necessary emotional balance to the show. Seo Ha carries the weight of trauma following Joo Won’s demise, while Joo Won’s family mourns her for decades. Ji Eum’s roommate, Ae Kyung, must navigate the pain of losing her uncle, Ji Eum’s past self. When Ji Eum reflects on being self-absorbed and oblivious to others’ emotions, it becomes evident that this drama transcends the realm of typical rom-coms with quirky premises. Each scene where Seo Ha and Cho Won reminisce over Joo Won resonates with the profound sentiment of “I understand” the heartfelt experiences of those who have lost their loved ones.
All the actors deliver captivating performances in the series, but it’s Shin Hye Sun and Ahn Bo Hyun who truly shine as the leads. Shin Hye Sun effortlessly brings the quirky yet endearing character of Ban Ji Eum to life, infusing her with undeniable charm and a touch of vulnerability. Her portrayal in Episode 3, where she yearns for her mother in her imagination, is simply mesmerizing. Ahn Bo Hyun overcomes initial concerns to portray Moon Seo Ha with remarkable depth. He flawlessly captures Seo Ha’s insecurities and the constant struggle to stay on guard, leaving us eager to witness his portrayal of the emotional rollercoaster that lies ahead. These two actors truly make their characters irreplaceable in the show, captivating viewers at every turn.
The 12-episode series See You in My 19th Life has completed one-third of its run as of last Sunday. It swiftly moves forward, maintaining a well-balanced blend of romantic comedy and dramatic elements. Ji Eum boldly made her moves toward Seo Ha from the start, and Seo Ha seems to have already fallen for her charm in various instances. Although it will take time for their hearts to fully blossom and embark on a sweet romance, the drama will delve into the truth behind the accident that took Joo Won’s life and the reasons for Ji Eum’s repeated reincarnations. With the remaining episodes, we can expect a plethora of stories to unfold, leaving no loose ends. (7/10)
Editor Seo Hae Lan: I’m not picky and like all genres. I am in constant search of a balance between criticism and a fan’s heart.