The Time We Were Not In Love (너를 사랑한 시간)
Synopsis: Choi Won is “the perfect guy” – good-looking, tall and fit with an amicable personality. Although he is very popular with women, he can’t have a proper relationship because of his friend, Oh Ha-Na. A romantic comedy about a man and a woman who have been best friends for 20 years (7000 days). They turn 34 and make a pact to be married before 35, and race each other to the alta. They find that they’re constantly dissatisfied with each other’s boyfriends and girlfriends, because they’ve been in love all this time.
Country: South Korea
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Casting: Lee Jin Wook, Ha Ji Won, Yoon Gyun Sang, Chu Soo Yeon, Lee Joo Seung, Jin Kyung etc…
First of all I didn’t see the Taiwanese version –In Time With You. I can’t therefore draw any comparison between the two dramas. The only thing I know is that they both share a nice story. I really loved its original idea -two best friends sharing everything and experiencing love through strangers while denying the obvious: there is more than just friendship between them. It gave somehow an original and refreshing side to the romance. Their interaction seemed more touching and deeper than the one of an ordinary couple in my opinion- especially with a character such as Won. But The Time We were not in Love was not, for all that, a perfect drama. The pace was quite slow overall, and it was easy to pass from pleasure to frustration along the episodes. I think the romance between Oh Ha Na and Won could have been better-written overall. It was boring to only see Won running and sacrificing himself for Oh Ha Na while this latter kept on dating other guys. Won’s rivals were quite powerful while Oh Ha Na’s one was weak and didn’t last long.
I think it was the biggest flaw of the drama. I think Won could have awaken Oh Ha Na’s feeling for him earlier if he had been truly cold towards her at some point in the drama. I had great hope to see such behaviour, when he went on his long trip after confessing his feelings. But no! The scriptwriters chose to make him come back to Ha Na’s side and go back to his former position: the one of a caring friend. It was like going back to square one. They did try to make us believe that their relation had nonetheless changed but facts were facts: he was still at her side -not giving her any space to truly experience a life without him- and still single. The scriptwriters always nipped their attraction for each other in the bud, giving us the feeling to be stuck in a never-ending loop. Everytime that we took a step forwards in their relation we also took two steps back. So much that in the end, when they finally ended up together I had a hard time seeing them as a couple. I preferred their relation as friends. Ultimate irony right? I wished during the whole drama to see them together and once they were, I found it odd.
I think Ha Ji Won’s performance as Lee Jin Wook’s lover wasn’t of a great help either at making me believe in their couple to be honest. Sometimes their couple seemed really sweet (mainly thanks to Lee Jin Wook who perfectly transcribed through one glance Won’s love for Oh Ha Na), sometimes really fake…especially when they had to kiss. Their first kiss was one of the worst I had ever seen in dramaland. Not in term of writing (no slow motion or character gawking like an idiot) but in term of acting. It felt like Ha Ji Won had missed Lee Jin Wook’s mouth! (how can she missed that?! It’s Lee Jin Wook’s mouth, gurl!). And their following kisses were unfortunately not that better: Lee Jin Wook did everything while Ha Ji Won just stood in front him, keeping her mouth shut. There was a huge gap between the two actor’s performance at time: Lee Jin Wook was super lively at playing the head-over-heels lover, while Ha Ji Won seemed rather faded compared to him. I guess that’s why it took me so much time to finally buy their couple. On the other hand the scriptwriter managed to balance those performance’s mistakes by taking the time to show us Won and Ha Na’s after wedding life. I loved how everything was not always all rosy for them. Their argument were cute considering their long past friendship and their family life more meaningful than the one of an ordinary couple. That helped me swallow the bitter pills of the very merry, happy ending of the drama, as well as their couple.
I heard more than one time that Oh Ha Na (Ha Ji Won) was the drama’s main source of frustration, but she wasn’t for me. I thought I would get angry at her at some point, considering she always chose the wrong guy whereas she had the perfect one at her side. But I actually liked the consistency of her character. It would have been absurd to see her fall for Won or cede to his advances, considering their past. She buried in her heart her feeling for him and fell in love of Cha Seo Hoo in the meantime. You can’t ask someone to take the right decision from the beginning with that kind of story. She was hurt more than one time by men and therefore tried to protect herself. Her decision to get back with Cha Seo Hoo -even after all he had done to her- could be considered as silly. But once again, it wasn’t completely illogic in my opinion. It’s hard to fight against love, especially when it’s a one as strong as the one she felt for Cha Seo Hoo. Besides they clearly showed us that she tried nonetheless to maintain the wall she had built against him. Her behaviour was always really well-explained by the scriptwriters who never rushed anything. She wavered in a very human way between two different loves while trying to protect herself. I think it was really well-done. Another debatable point about Oh Ha Na, could be her selfishness. She always seemed to complain while never really thinking about Won’s feeling (at least that was how she made me feel at first). But in the end, I think she wasn’t really the one to blame in that story: Won was the one always keeping all inside. Plus, she tried to put some distance between her and Won when she started again with Cha Seo Hoo. She became more thoughtful along the episodes, making me forgive, in the end, her first clumsiness. To sum up Oh Ha Na was a rather pleasant heroine even though not unforgettable and Ha Ji Won did a good job overall -despite my harsh critic about her kissing scenes.
Won was the perfect guy, both as a best-friend and lover. He was always there for Ha Na, always comforting her during tough time, making her laugh, listening to her problem, giving her advises and protecting her against the wrong guys. He never complained about anything, always focusing all his attention on Oh Ha Na, to the point of sometimes getting sick because of her. He was tender, bubbly but not in a soppy way -probably because of Lee Jin Wook’s flawless performance. I would have liked to see him suffer in a less subtle way (even though that was painful to see such nice guy being already that much ignored) or let Ha Na go more often, so as to see his love sooner rewarded. Nothing tell us that it would have actually changed something in Ha Na’s behaviour but I like to think the opposite. She needed to be given the chance to care more about him, but since he was always hiding his sorrow or rejecting other girls, she “never felt the need to”. He was too perfect for his own good, always stepping aside and missing his chance. I loved his character even though I pitied him a lot. He had an interesting secret and past, explaining in a rather clever way his behaviour and putting the puzzle together (cause honestly the first episode was a real mess). Won just embodied the kind of guy every girl wants.
Now, here comes the most frustrating character of the drama: Cha Seo Hoo (Yoon Gyun Sang)! I deeply hated his character. Not because he had been cruel towards Oh Ha Na but rather because of his poor writing. The scriptwriters completely failed his character. He was worst than a dog, always following Oh Ha Na and watching her every move. He was a real drag. His personality was one of the worst too. Ha Na’s description of him said everything about him: he always asked useless questions, forced himself on her, and made us think that he only thought about her whereas it was not in the least the case. He always appeared at the wrong time and tried to make us pity him with his supposedly good reasons about his past. But it was simply and wholly impossible to sympathize with him. I don’t know if that character in the Taiwanese version had the same excuse as him, but in any case I think the scriptwriters did a poor job:
But I have to admit: he slightly (very slightly!) touched me near the end when he finally let go. We could clearly see that, despite his crappy reasoning, he had sincerely loved Oh Ha Na and preferred to see her smile with another man than be with him and not be happy.
Lee So Eun (Chu Soo Yeon) was a complete useless character. She was just used at first to challenge for a bit the romance but she was then quickly discarded. She was as much a glue-pot with Won than Cha Seo Hoo was with Oh Ha Na. She quickly annoyed me with her insistence and obsession about Won. She only became “pleasant” when she gave up and decided to stay at Won’s side as a colleague. “Pleasant” but she still let me completely indifferent, as her time on screen reduced a lot along the episodes (to the point of barely seeing her. Honestly that wasn’t a loss). I still don’t understand why this character was considered as a main one considering her role in the drama. She was as much a poor rival as L was in the firsts episodes. Truth to be said, I wasn’t even sure while writing this critic, to know her name.
Won’s aunt and Ha Na’s family were really refreshing characters on the other hands. They greatly contributed to the drama’s sense of humour (especially the aunt and her obsession for idols as well as her clever reply).
The Time We were not in Love was overall a nice rom-com even though it could have been better-written. I think you should rather watch that drama with someone so as to not get bored. I spent a good time criticising all the characters with my sisters for my part and I have to admit, that greatly influenced the pleasure I took at watching TTWWNIL.
Note de Dushbadou: 7.5/10
Note de Whoovy: 7.5/10
Note finale: 7.5/10