Another hit drama comes to an end tonight; While You Were Sleeping, starring Lee Jong Suk and Bae Suzy. The drama is quite unique in terms of genre, because it is a romantic comedy with a mix of thriller and office politics. The way that the drama handled these various strands of story was rather fascinating because the script, direction and acting was pretty much able to quench the thirst of the audience in a profound manner. However, I had not intended to be greatly invested in the show, originally, but as one watched, one was swept into the lives of the characters in a way that became inescapable over time.
So we are introduced to Nam Hong Joo (Bae Suzy), who has this sixth sense that allows her to have foreboding dreams about accidents and people in perilous situations. Due to this trait, she was able to see her father’s death and despite intimating her father about his own death, she was unable to stop it as a preteen. She bears the guilt of her incapability to stop her father throughout her life into the present time when we meet her. That one incident has left her traumatized since every single night forebodes a nightmare that she knows she will be unable to put an end to once she sees it happening in front of her.
Jung Jae Chan (Lee Jong Suk), moves into the house in front of Hong Joo’s with his baby brother. A prosecutor by profession, the moment he meets Hong Joo he begins to have dreams as well regarding her future, which involves depressing things like a car accident, and people dying as a direct or indirect result of it. With this knowledge, he makes it his aim very early on to prevent Hong Joo from suffering from something so tragic. He has a dark story of his own, where he lost his father in a random act of violence, making it a total of two people having lost their fathers in similar tragedies.
Of course, as is the case with most Korean dramas, romance is vital and so we get lots of it throughout the show. Sometimes in a thoughtful manner and at others in a more comedic form, it provided all the lightness we needed outside of the scenes at the courtroom, prosecutor’s office, newsroom and police office. One was able to enjoy the subtle details that were added in order to create humour because of the weight of the other parts. However, when talking of the romance, one cannot ignore the second lead that Korean dramas so truly enjoy throwing at us. Here we had Han Woo Tak (Jung Hae In), who looked dashing in his formal police uniform. His was a lovely presence in the drama because a) he’s a great actor and b) he did not have the traits of the makjang second leads. I loved how he never challenged our hero for the heart of the heroine, and in fact continued to choose friendship over a petty brawl over love.
However, since this drama was totally centered around the court and its proceedings, we met a very good, and flawed anti-hero in the form of Lee Yu Beom (Lee Sang Yeob). The fact that Jae Chan and Yu Beom’s association went back to when the former was still in school made the dynamics between them even more exciting to watch. In Jae Chan’s memory Yu Beom was the university student who also worked as his tutor, who made him alter his report card in order to earn the respect of Jae Chan’s father. For him falsifying documents even as a university student was a piece of cake, which went onto lay the dynamics of how Yu Beom worked in a court of law. Though he was awarded with a great many opportunities to right his wrongs, the lawyer continued to revel in all of his misdeeds. His character was very Macbeth-like in the thought that he had come so far falsifying things that he just couldn’t turn back because every way was a dead end for him.
This completes all of the cast. The show had some brilliant soundtracks that are definitely a must to listen to. The whole dream-like sequences were probably my favourite to watch. There was a wistfulness and feeling of incompleteness that was not just experiences by the characters alone, but also by the audience. The incompleteness was what came to define the drama as a unique one, because all of us have pieces that have chipped away as others get added into making us who we are. I loved the message the show left me with. While for most of it we were on our tenterhooks, by the end the show left us saying that every worry and frustration in the now will eventually fade away, and we will trudge on, in happiness and in sorrow. It was a bittersweet message of choosing life over death even if we do not have dreams about what is to come. It is only by living another day can we see things get better and for happiness to shine its light on us.