What it’s about
A magical talisman saves the life of a Confucian scholar by sending him to the modern world, where he meets a no-name actress who happens to be playing his queen in a sageuk. Time travel hijinks and love ensue.
The female lead is 72 different kinds of stupid. As expected, though, I couldn’t love Ji Hyun Woo more as the male lead. He looks like an alien giant in the sageuk garb, but whatever role he’s playing always seems to be drawing on this deep well of inner stillness. I like his vibe so much, it makes me wax quasi-poetic, even. As of episode 3 this show needs fewer ditz escapades and more couple time.
A beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, high-tension romance with a time-travel twist. Good, but for me at least frustratingly far from great: The harebrained female lead’s rehabilitation was too little and too late; the time traveler’s acclimation to the modern world was disingenuously angst (and awe) free, and the talisman McGuffin didn’t hold water the way it should have. On the other hand, it is a compelling love story between two well-matched actors with great chemistry, and the script’s approach to romance is refreshingly novel for a Kdrama—there are no piggyback rides here, just thoughtful conversations. It’s actually shocking how unique this relationship is, considering that it’s built from the interaction between two standard drama tropes: the strong, silent Joseon scholar and the air-headed modern career girl. (Read more about the end or see my full drama review for this show.)
• Why is it that this drama, which is close to perfect, offends my inner feminist more than other shows with even more painful gender politics? If the female lead says she’s stupid one more time, I’m out.
• Is it wrong that my favorite thing about this show is watching the Korean commercials nobody bothered to cut out in the middle? It’s a fun drama, but I’m really in it for the shots of Lee Sun Gyun from Coffee Prince drinking his iced tea or whatever.
• Do they have the plan B pill in Korea? Because if so, you should have totally added it to your shopping list. Would the child of a time traveler like the male lead live if its dad died or skipped time? We saw what happened to the dead guy from an earlier episode—he (and his blood) turned to dust and disappeared. What would happen if half their baby’s genetic material aged 300 years in a second?
• Episode 15: Well, I guess I now really know all the highs and lows of being a Kdrama fanatic—including refreshing a website every fifteen minutes for two hours, hoping against hope that the subtitles I’m waiting for will suddenly appear.