While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 17 & 18

TL;DR: Oh, hey, the show remembered all that ominous foreshadowing it did way at the beginning.

These episodes took a long, hard look at the stories we feed others and just how far our responsibility extends to them. Even though Hong-joo rightfully refused to report on Hak-yeong’s criminal record, other stations and society at large dove straight in, dragging an innocent man and Jae-chan through the mud for things they didn’t do (murder and a careless investigation). Public sentiment, as they say, has inertia, and the people already had a narrative they liked. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 17 & 18”

While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 15 & 16

TL;DR: Turns out that Jae-chan can have his own words of wisdom. (And I use too many parentheses.)

One of the many things I appreciate about Park Hye-ryun’s writing is that when she picks a theme for an episode, she goes all in. Episodes 13 and 14 were about handling interpersonal debts, and episodes 15 and 16 were about weighing the cost of someone’s life against devastation and grief. In this I think that Writer Park did a pretty good job of balancing yes, your feelings matter and also justice isn’t about satisfying those feelings. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 15 & 16”

While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 13 & 14

TL;DR: We’re getting some depth to Woo-tak, and I’m not sure what to make of it.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so please forgive me if I’m rusty. These mini episodes were very focused on the question of interpersonal debts and how best to handle them, which is not altogether an uncommon theme in kdrama. If this were a sageuk, this is the episode where Woo-tak’s heroic actions would earn him a lifetime position of respect and honor in a nobleman’s house. But in the modern world, the issue of debt and repayment isn’t as straightforward. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 13 & 14”

While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 11 & 12

TL;DR: Oh my god, our leads are genre savvy! \o/

I am absolutely delighted that our heroes have realized that their dreams are not just a way to observe the future—they can use them to deliberately convey crucial information to their present selves. I’m crossing my fingers that this means we can really start playing with timelines and possibilities, especially since this has a huge chance of creating ripple effects where the contents of their dreams change or they have more conflicting dreams with less obvious cause and effects than the domestic abuse case. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 11 & 12”

While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 9 & 10

TL;DR: This was a very nice reveal of the heroine’s backstory and likely the hook into the ultimate overarching storyline.

I’ve spent the last few episodes worried about Hong-joo’s emotional distance from the plot and the risk of her getting sidelined, but now I’m hopeful that she is, in fact, the heart of the show. I hadn’t thought to question Hong-joo working at her mother’s restaurant—it’s a family business, and they’re all that each other has left. Plus, it would be pretty convenient to have her mother as a boss in case Hong-joo ever needed to run out of work on account of a dream. The actual answer is far more complicated and infinitely more satisfying: Hong-joo dreamed she would die as a reporter. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 9 & 10”

While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 7 & 8

TL;DR: How am I supposed to be objective about the progression of the romance when the cinematography is so pretty?

While I am extremely happy that our dreaming trio has been able to change their dreams, I am also feeling a little disappointed by it. This show kickstarted with a fiery ball of death and the dramatic proclamation that Hong-joo has never changed a single one of her dreams, and now we’re a quarter of the way into the show and all three of them are changing their dreams with just the smallest amount of effort. I feel like a lot of the dramatic tension has been undermined, especially now that they’re even dreaming separate outcomes and can make informed changes to get the exact result that they want. Where did all the life-or-death tension go?

(Or is this supposed to be a sign that the three of them have to be together/connected/around one another in order to change things? Now that could be clever…) Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 7 & 8”

While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 5 & 6

TL;DR: We have three dreamers now, and surprisingly, it lessens the sting of there being a second one. (Also, more domestic violence in this one.)

If you’ll recall, I was rather concerned when Jae-chan began having his prophetic dreams. I was concerned that Jae-chan would take over the narrative, and while my fears haven’t entirely been assuaged on that front (see: his plot and emotional turmoil being entirely front and center in these episodes), the reveal of a third dreamer means that I’m feeling more confident that Jae-chan won’t be able to shove everyone else out of the spotlight. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 5 & 6”

While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 3 & 4

TL;DR: And I am suddenly reminded of  how much I hate workplace dramas. (You guessed it—more on that later.)

Writer Park Hye-ryun is doing a masterful job of interweaving her A and B and even C stories together to the point that I was feeling smug about correctly predicting a reveal, only to be blindsided by one I never saw coming. What a delight it is to be surprised (in a good way) by a writer, especially when you realize she was answering a question you had only just started to ask. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 3 & 4”

While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 1 & 2

TL;DR: I am both delighted and terrified by how much I loved this premier. (Also, this mini-episode count thing is going to throw me off at some point.)

One of the best things about the premier was just how narratively cohesive it was. We had clear character introductions, foreboding dreams, interpersonal conflict,  tragedy, a series of plot twists, and a conclusion that took us right back to where we started—but with a new understanding of exactly what had happened. If the rest of the writing can be as good as the opening episodes, this is going to be an amazing drama. That said, I still have some reservations about it. (But more on that later.) Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 1 & 2”

4 Hopes for While You Were Sleeping

Park Hye-run is back with two actors she has worked with before: Bae Suzy and Lee Jong-suk. My excitement levels are high, though they are tempered a little with some specific-to-me disappointments about Pinocchio and my wariness of kdramas in general this year. Nonetheless, I have been looking forward to this ever since the drama was first announced and these two people were cast. Here are my four hopes for the show:

  • Jae-chan is kind to Hong-joo. It’s such a low bar, but it’s amazing how many heroes refuse to clear it. I’m not asking for him to instantly believe Hong-joo’s prophetic dreams or even like her (though clearly he needs to like her at some point if there’s ever going to be a romance), but I am beyond tired of guys being unnecessarily rude/outright antagonistic for the smallest, pettiest reasons. Is it so hard for an adult to be polite to another adult?
  • Hong-joo’s dreams obey rules (that we can learn) and do not break them. I got burned bad by W: Two Worlds in this regard, so I’m hoping that PHR paid attention to what went wrong with Song Jae-jung’s writing (and learned from her own world building problems in Pinocchio) and will make the effort to provide a consistent narrative with a satisfying ending.
  • Hong-joo gets to have a close relationship with her mother. I need more good mother/daughter relationships in my entertainment, and since Hong-joo lives with her mother, that’s the perfect opportunity.
  • Hong-joo and Jae-chan become a real team. None of this she-has-the-dream-and-he-runs-off-to-solve-problems-without-her thing. I want them to work together to prevent the catastrophes she sees. I want them to depend on each other and to value one another. Is that too much to ask?

Will you be watching While You Were Sleeping? What are your hopes for the show? Let me know!