Mi-rae’s Choice: Episode 1
This show is really adorable. I had wondered how Mi-rae’s Choice would hold up to its medical predecessor, and I’m happy to report that the premiere is just as cute, light, and dreamy as the teasers have touted. The story zips by pretty quickly with characters that are both likable and mysterious. In fact, I found that I enjoyed myself far more than I had anticipated, which is always a good sign.
Usually it’s your past that comes back to haunt you, but it’s a whole other thing when it’s your future telling you to get your act together. They say that you are your own worst critic, but that critic never came knocking on my door saying that she took a time machine to fix the rest of my life—at least, not yet.
As for the numbers, Mi-rae’s Choice pulled in behind Suspicious Housekeeper with a 9.7% in ratings. But with dramaland in dire need of some romantic comedy, one can only hope for a bright future.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kim Tae-woo – “My Lady” for the OST
EPISODE 1 RECAP
We’re introduced to our heroine right off the bat: NA MI-RAE (Yoon Eun-hye) works at a busy call center while watching variety shows on her computer monitor. Heh, my kind of girl.
She tunes in to the five o’clock evening news whose anchorman KIM SHIN (Lee Dong-gun) plainly ignores the PD’s prompts. Turns out he’s still bitter about being “demoted” to a magazine morning show, clearly a large step down from his current big-time position.
So in what should be his final send-off, he gives a puffed-up speech about “real” journalism instead. He boldly declares that this isn’t the last of him—he’ll return to his rightful place as a news anchor.
Sometime in the near-ish future, Mi-rae and Shin get married, and then the music distorts as a voice says, “I’m sorry, honey. But this is the only way.”
That voice belongs to Future Mi-rae (Choi Myung-gil) dressed in all-black in her time machine. She rips the wedding photo in half. The date on the back reads: June 10, 2014. Ah, so does this give us a deadline? Though I imagine the date itself will hardly matter once the meddling begins.
Then she travels from the year 2038 to present day 2013, and steps out with her trusty black bag in hand.
Present Mi-rae gets excited when she stumbles upon a film crew in the streets, only to learn that it’s a small-time production. Nevertheless, she’s eager to help block traffic and lets her imagination wander, picturing herself as an admirable television broadcast writer.
Mi-rae is quickly brought back to reality, and she recognizes the show’s title (Kim Shin’s Morning Show) since her brother is on staff. She nearly lets slip of this fact before asking about her real dream to become a television writer herself—would that still be possible at say, age 32? The writer’s hesitance says it all.
Her disappointment only mounts further when a regular angry customer (to whom she sings the same song repeatedly to placate him) calls her out her dead-end job and lifestyle.
That’s the last straw for her today, and Mi-rae cries in a bathroom stall before picking herself back up again for what may be the umpteenth time. She doesn’t get any comfort from her PD brother either as he barely gives her the time of day.
Mi-rae heads downstairs to pick up the car after work to be met by an alarming sight: future Mi-rae sitting in the driver’s seat. Now that’s one helluva introduction.
Future Mi-rae simply laughs when her present self mistakes her for a customer, so she cuts to the chase: “I’m you. From the future.”
But Mi-rae thinks her a crazy ajumma and amuses her as such. Ignoring the warnings that she mustn’t get in the car or take her usual route home today, she drives off as Future Mi-rae notes how she cannot meet him “this time.” Hm.
One thing we learn about Shin right away is that he’s got a quick temper, as evidenced when he’s called in to work overtime and curses up a storm in the elevator. That hilariously shatters his refined celebrity image, and he explains to the frightened employee next to him that announcers are human too.
Mi-rae can’t help but feel uneasy on the road (even her cartoon genie GPS taunts her, heh) despite her best efforts to shake off the crazy ajumma’s warnings. Little does she know that Shin is driving the car behind her (swearing at the new anchorman, ha) and as she approaches said intersection, she decides to pull out of the lane.
And just in time too, since the car behind her rear-ends another car moments later. Mi-rae can only gape in surprise, astounded that those words weren’t mere nonsense.
As for Shin, he gets out to check the other car and recognizes the injured victim.
Mi-rae arrives home in relief after her almost-accident, only to jump to find Future Mi-rae sitting in the living room waiting for her. She immediately calls the police and begs the crazy ajumma to leave her alone.
Given how her present self is alive and well, Future Mi-rae guesses that she heeded her warning after all. She protests that they’re the same person, shouting out things from their shared past. That only freaks Present Mi-rae out more until she finally yells, “Kka-mo!”
The childhood nickname given to her by her father (from the Korean adjective kka-ma or “dark” as her face often was for staying out late at night) makes Mi-rae pause before she counters that that would turn up with a simple internet search.
Then Future Mi-rae mentions a present only she and her father knew about—a torn bill with Dad’s handwriting on it—and she’s found the other half. The halves fit perfectly and it totally spooks her.
Now inside, Mi-rae has trouble wrapping her head around this nonsensical scenario, and laughs at the answer that her future self traveled here via time machine. She’s stunned to learn that Future Mi-rae looks rather young for her age at 57 and in such nice clothes.
But Future Mi-rae says she looks old and that these clothes are rags where (or is it when?) she comes from. Then she freely talks about how Korea has reached reconciliation in the future and how the North Korean women keep stealing all the men’s hearts with their aegyo. Hahaha.
Thus she’s here to make sure her present self gets married off well and gets agitated when Mi-rae keeps talking about this predicament as if it’s someone else’s problem. Mi-rae does have a point of course when she asks her future self to put herself in her shoes—would she believe some crazy lady who claims she’s from the future?
So Future Mi-rae agrees to prove it and pulls out the same brown diary her present self uses, to Mi-rae’s disbelief. Pointing out how she always wanted to go to Jeju Island, Future Mi-rae promises to make it happen.
Next thing we know, present Mi-rae is at her company’s singing competition where top prize is trip to Jeju Island. Mi-rae wonders about the odd instructions to (1) come dressed in a red sequin dress (2) sing “I Will Survive” and (3) perform first.
The reason quickly becomes apparent when she takes the stage and a similarly-dressed competitor scowls from the sidelines. Ha.
Which is how both Mi-raes end up on a plane flying first-class, and Mi-rae’s wonders if there aren’t more trips she can win. But her future self explains that she’s here to change her—no their futures for the better.
When Mi-rae asks if she has a bleak future, Future Mi-rae asks if she’s happy with her life now. Mi-rae smiles that she is, especially at present, and barely listens to Future Mi-rae’s rambling about how this is only the beginning of changing the course of her life.
The most important thing is that Mi-rae needs to stay away from “that bastard” aka the driver who nearly hit her car a few days ago because they have an ill-fated relationship. Mi-rae asks why, and her Future Mi-rae answers darkly: “The man you love will die because of him.” Eek.
Mi-rae wakes in high spirits to the island’s picturesque view as future Mi-rae clucks disapprovingly. Isn’t she at all concerned that the man she loves will die?
She isn’t of course, since her present self is currently single and she certainly doesn’t love her brother. Future Mi-tae tugs at her sleeve to reveal a burn scar, asking if she still wants to take it easy, not at all surprised when Mi-rae just shrugs it off as nothing.
Throwing some study guides on to the table, Future Mi-rae reminds them that they’re here for work, not play. No rich and handsome man will fall for her in her present situation, so she’ll need to study up to change her career path.
Future Mi-rae has even memorized the test answers as Mi-rae mumbles that they’re better off winning the lottery. But that’s a no-go because time-travel is a one-time thing and Future Mi-rae even risked her life to do it at that.
Mi-rae grumbles that it’s too hard, and her older self says she can think of another way to change her fate then. They both know that she’s not meant to stay at that dead-end job, so now’s her chance. Man, it’s one thing for your mother to say that your life is going nowhere fast, but hearing it from your future self has got to cut even deeper.
Before she leaves, Future Mi-rae tells her younger self to dress up today since you never know what the future holds. There is one thing to keep in mind: water.
But studying isn’t part of Mi-rae’s itinerary and she dances in the balcony excitedly, unaware of a sharply-dressed young man walking on the grounds. As Mi-rae spends the day at the pool, Future Mi-rae gets to work looking for two individuals, one of whom is a young reporter named SEO YOO-KYUNG.
Cut to: Yoo-kyung (played by Han Chae-ah) who is teasingly upset at Shin for ruining her planned trip to Jeju Island.
Speaking of whom, Shin is busy interviewing a congressman on air. It’s fairly boring stuff until Shin remarks on the politician’s interest in pornography, which spurs some internet buzz. He wraps up the segment using the man’s own words to argue against the man’s salary increase.
Meanwhile Future Mi-rae scours the resorts grounds as she recalls a TV interview where PARK SE-JOO (Jung Yong-hwa) admits to have fallen in love with Yoo-kyung at first sight at his resort in Jeju Island: “It was because of water.”
Lifting up the water bottle in her hand, Future Mi-rae sighs that Se-joo has probably already fallen in love with Yoo-kyung by now. She sets off in search again, missing Se-joo by mere seconds.
Se-joo arrives at the pool in annoyed mood and tells the girl that they were just schoolmates, nothing more. But she demands that he pay for her flight home since he’s rich and all. That money belongs to his grandmother and the shareholders, not him, Se-joo tersely reminds her.
While this conversation goes on, Mi-rae loses her bikini top in the pool, and the girl is quick to point that out along with her scar. Se-joo tells her to worry about herself and directs a staff member to aid Mi-rae.
Future Mi-rae is already two steps ahead of him, however, and suffice it to say that she isn’t happy to see her present self suffer from public embarrassment. She walks into the water herself and slaps Mi-rae across the face as Se-joo looks on curiously.
Back at their hotel room, Mi-rae rolls her eyes at her future self at her nagging about her career. Mi-rae insists that she’s happy with the way things are now, but Future Mi-rae asks if she’s really happy at her menial degrading job where she cries every day while her friends are all leading successful lives.
Mi-rae tries to contain her composure, but her future self rips into her, asking how long she plans to depend on her brother while her life just spirals into ruin. Mi-rae yells, “So what do you want me to do about it?!”
Near tears, Mi-rae defends herself, saying that it takes all of her willpower to try and get through each and every day. But Future Mi-rae says no—she was just trying to run away. “To live? To hang in there? Then you should have tried harder.”
Even today, she wasted her afternoon away instead of thinking about her life choices. That’s when Mi-rae finally breaks down and admits that she doesn’t have the confidence to make those life changes because it scares her.
Future Mi-rae says they should just give up then. She’d been hoping that her younger self would understand that she can have a fresh start, but she only sees defeat. If she lacks that confidence to stop living her life under her brother’s wing, then she can go and die alone somewhere. Dayum.
As Mi-rae breaks down in sobs, Future Mi-rae scolds herself in the bathroom mirror. “How could you tell her to ‘go and die’ again?” Wait, again?
The words of her future self and brother ringing in her ears, Mi-rae walks out to the beach in a daze towards the ocean. Ohhh noes!
Se-joo sees her from his villa and almost calls it in when she stops waist-deep in the ocean. He picks up his video camera instead and films her playing with the fishes in her hands. Then Mi-rae starts to undress in the water and he drops the camera, flustered.
Her suicidal thoughts long gone, Mi-rae dives into the ocean to swim with the fishes beneath the water. Then we hear Se-joo’s explanation once more: “I fell in love with her at first sight. Because of water.”
Mi-rae wakes the following morning to see Future Mi-rae sitting by her bedside. Her older self asks if she really intended to take her own life as a tear rolls down her cheek.
But Mi-rae explains that she saw a fish in the ocean and seeing how it moved its fins to stay alive changed her perspective. Taking Future Mi-rae’s hands in hers, Mi-rae says she has a newfound confidence: “So don’t give up on me.”
Back in Seoul, Se-joo meets with his grandmother broadcast network chairman Lee before his first day as a VJ. Though Grandma disapproves of his choice of a low-ranking job, it’s apparent that they both adore each other.
Se-joo tells her that the employees have been calling her “Miranda” from the movie Devil Wears Prada (since Grandma Lee’s name is Mi-ran, hee). Intrigued and amused, she orders her staff to get her a copy. Haha.
Just after Se-joo leaves, Shin comes to see chairman Lee, who greets him warmly. He’s come to ask for his anchorman position back, but she calls him out for being too perfect and boring, citing how one of his news featurettes pulled in their lowest viewer ratings ever.
Not only that, they’ve been losing to another broadcast network for the same timeslot. Why he should be bigger and better than they are and raise those ratings while yunno, flashing some abs. Ha, I love this woman.
Taken aback, Shin asks, “Then are you saying I should have taken off my clothes?” Yes, please. Chairman Lee: “And you don’t have a six-pack.”
But Shin still doesn’t understand why they brought on a rookie to replace him, which is when chairman Lee says she’ll tell him the real reason, but we don’t get to hear it.
Whatever it is, Shin storms out in a huff and runs into Se-joo, who introduces himself as the new maknae VJ. He feigns ignorance about stumbling on to the wrong floor, and Shin tells him to hurry along. I love how uncomfortable the guards get as Se-joo signals them to hush.
So Shin shows Se-joo around and introduces him to his team, Team 3, who are the only ones slacking off in the office. He orders around the PD NA JOO-HYUN (Oh Jung-sae) aka Mi-rae’s brother, like he’s the one in charge, telling him to move up the meeting so he can go to bed on time. Pfft.
Meanwhile, Mi-rae marches in to work plainly dressed and tells off the regular angry customer (in song!) before handing in her resignation. Future Mi-rae is delighted to hear that her younger self has finally quit, but is surprised to hear that she’s gone to fulfill her dream as…
“…a TV variety writer.” Mi-rae finishes. Unfortunately, she’s told that the exam and interviews have already wrapped for this season. Aww.
Still determined, Mi-rae picks up a few study books about broadcasting and gets crackin’, ignoring the text from Future Mi-rae that they’re to be studying for the civil service test (namely the Level 7 Civil Servant exam).
The production team meets earlier per Shin’s demands, and they all laugh at his new goal to pull in 20% ratings. It’s a virtually impossible feat given their morning timeslot, especially with Shin’s pitch to talk about socioeconomics.
They ask for Se-joo’s opinion on the matter, but Shin takes issue with his references to their show as “a product” and their work as “a business.” What would a maknae VJ understand about this industry? But Se-joo stands his ground: “Then is broadcasting an art form?”
Shin tells him sarcastically that Se-joo will do well for himself (if you only knew!) and walks out, saying he can’t work with him.
3 AM. Shin starts his day with pronunciation exercises with the dictionary he keeps on his end table as Mi-rae packs up her things to head home. In the car, she tells Future Mi-rae that being a variety writer is her dream, but Future Mi-rae tells her that “that bastard” works in that industry.
Mi-rae figures she can work for a different network, but she’s told that they’re bound to run into each other anyway. At that moment, a car comes out of nowhere and though Mi-rae slams on the brakes, she collides with the car.
Shin emerges from his car in a pissy mood, calling it the second car accident this month. Mi-rae recognizes him as an announcer, but that does little to pacify him.
Still on the phone, Future Mi-rae says: “An evil fate is still fate. You always meet whoever you’re supposed to meet. So that’s why… destiny and fate are scary.”
Frightening, indeed. My very first thought when the show was initially announced was, But time-travel was *so* 2012. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the show delivered all the goods that it promised to be, and more. I love that we got to the premise right away and that Future Mi-rae wasted no time to introduce herself as, well, herself. She’s here to waste no one’s time, least of all hers because she’s here on a mission to make sure the future she returns to is better than the one she left.
At this point, the time-travel gimmick seems like a fairly straightforward and simple one. Time machine? Check. Future self? Check. We have yet to see what consequences will come of Future Mi-rae’s meddling, but already we’ve witnessed a ripple when present Mi-rae decided to change car lanes and landed herself in Jeju instead of Yoo-kyung. That already puts her in an alternate reality (which is as far as my quantum physics knowledge takes me), but I like that Fate will still play a hand to make sure that those who are destined to meet will meet, time-travel be damned. It’s an interesting notion that reins control on a seemingly omniscient future self from dictating the rules, and keeps me interested on how destiny will continue to play out with (or without) Future Mi-rae’s interference.
What I love most about Future Mi-rae (I know; this present/future/time-space thing confuses me, too) is that she actually knows Mi-rae better than anyone, even her present self. She fully understands Mi-rae’s current predicament, her self-confidence issues, and ultimately fear—all things that I have always found Yoon Eun-hye excels to convey on screen. Future Mi-rae has the advantage of wisdom in her later years, having lived through the ups and downs of life. But because of that, she doesn’t sell herself short, and issues the tough love, not only because she doesn’t have that much time, but because she knows that her present self needs to hear the cold harsh truth.
I do like that she only holds pieces of the puzzle, searching for whom she deems the perfect husband for herself. It’s hard to say whether the Future Mi-rae knew Se-joo in her own past, but I can only assume that she did to some extent. Moreover, I like that her true intentions remain a mystery because all we can gather is Se-joo = Good; Shin= Bad. Then there’s the tiny indication that Future Mi-rae has gone through the same weird-life changing experience to meet her own future self before.
Moving on to our men, Shin just cracks me up. He’s the arrogant guy who’s Super Serious about his line of work. You know, the one who would give a whole lecture on how reading news headlines is a craft if you let him. The fact that he is so serious makes him that much more hilarious, and I love watching his ego bubble get popped over and over and over again. Oh Lee Dong-gun, we really missed you in dramaland.
On the other side of that coin, I like the possibility of giving our second lead a fair shot at our heroine, even if it’s on a different timeline. Jung Yong-hwa looks the most comfortable in this character than any other drama I’ve seen him in, and I can’t wait to find out what it is about him that potentially subverts the drama trope that our lead couple should get their happily ever after. I suppose only time will tell.
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- Cute, romantic teaser for time-traveler Mi-rae’s Choice
- Yoon Eun-hye and Jung Yong-hwa’s first shoots for Mirae’s Choice
- Time-traveling Mi-rae’s Choice begins script rehearsals
- Han Chae-ah completes love square in Mi-rae’s Choice
- Time-slip drama Mi-rae’s Choice confirms leads