The Time I’ve Loved You: Episode 1
Sweet, funny, and inescapably charming, The Time I’ve Loved You premiered this last weekend on SBS, rounding out a pretty insane viewing schedule for those two days, considering the relative scarcity on the weekday drama circuit. Featuring two longtime friends who seem content to be just that and nothing more (for now, or maybe forever), there’s plenty of character drama to go around. And, if you can believe it, not one chaebol in this whole episode! Imagine that. Instead we get two normal-seeming people who live next door to each other, and a bet based on which of them will get married first. Let the games begin.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kyuhyun of Super Junior – “우리가 사랑한 시간 (The Time I’ve Loved You)” from the OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 1 RECAP
We meet marketing team leader OH HANA (Ha Ji-won) as she leaves work for the day. Her thoughts are heard in voiceover as she strolls home, every sign or store display she passes seemingly coming alive at her presence.
“The seventeen-year-old me imagined the twenty-year-old me,” her thoughts begin wistfully. “The twenty-year-old me imagined the thirty-year old me. Now that I passed my thirties, I keep looking back at the seventeen-year-old me and the twenty-year-old me, and reality sinks in.”
Once home, she takes a peek out her window as if expecting (or hoping) the lights at her neighbor’s house would be on. They aren’t, so she goes through her nightly beauty routine, examining some fine lines she wishes weren’t there.
She’s perfectly happy to pop open a beer in front of the television, but even that only makes her feel older—the home shopping network features a product for thinning hair, causing Hana to sigh that her hair isn’t what it used to be.
To add insult to injury, another program tells its audience that women are more likely to be hit by an atomic bomb than they are to get married after thirty. Hana sighs that she didn’t do anything to warrant hearing that she could die alone, even though she acknowledges that it’s hard for just her to love herself.
Ironically, the song that takes her into the next scene is Edith Piaf’s “Non, je ne regrette rien (No, I regret nothing),” as she surveys the wares at the upscale shoe store she manages.
But she can’t resist the temptation to ditch her designer heels for a pair of high school uniform shoes she finds on the floor, though her smiling reverie is cut brief when the young owner returns to claim them. Hana’s dreams are crushed when the girl calls her “ajumma,” because surely she doesn’t look that old… does she?
Luckily it was just a dream, since Hana shoots up from bed still incensed that the imaginary high school student dared to call her an ajumma. She’s determined to return to sleep to set things straight in the dreamworld, which goes about as poorly as you’d expect it to.
Then she gets a call from a deputy manager at her company with some bad news: The celebrity they hired to endorse a line of their shoes now can’t because of the negative press swirling around her.
Hana springs into action, leaving her parents a bit befuddled by her sudden exit. Again we see Hana’s propensity to want to wear comfortable sneakers, and again we see her reluctantly put on a pair of killer-looking heels instead.
She begs and begs the station’s manager to give her some time to find a replacement actress but he declines, ordering her to remove the hundred thousand pairs of shoes she’d hoped to sell from storage. Yikes.
At least she refuses to be defeated when she returns to the office, vowing to her nosy coworkers that she will find a way to sell the shoes. Since Hana’s in a terse mood, her assistant directs her to the gift of flowers her boyfriend sent.
Hana smiles as she opens the attached letter wishing her a happy birthday, from someone named Ho-joon. Remembering that he knows the director of the department store where he works, Hana calls Ho-joon to ask if he could use that connection to request some space for her to sell her shoes.
He agrees to ask his sunbae, but gets dodgy when Hana asks where she should meet him tonight—apparently they had a date planned already that Ho-joon seems like he’d rather not do.
Hana watches a compilation video on her phone of all her friends wishing her a happy birthday, though most of them make sure to mention Hana’s advancing age. She’s thirty-four after all, which means she’s too old to be of any use to society. (I’m exaggerating that a bit, but only a bit.)
The best part of the video comes when CHOI WON (Lee Jin-wook) bows at the camera and wishes his longtime friend a happy birthday. Unlike the others, he warns her not to get too down in the dumps, claiming that she’ll always be the seventeen-year-old Hana he knew.
Flash back to when the two of them were eighteen-year-old high school students, neighbors, and best friends. They’re equal parts adorable and inseparable, talking about anything and everything under the sun—but mostly about Won’s aspirations to work in the movie industry.
During break, Hana leads her classroom of girls to meet Won and his classroom of boys for the showdown of a lifetime. They play an epic game of rock paper scissors, and when Hana loses, the girls demand a rematch. Won agrees only if he picks the game.
What he picks is like leap frog on steroids, with the men forming an interlocking line that must stay unbroken even as the girls start to pile on top of their backs. Hana and the girls end up winning by employing a heavyset girl to tip the scales in their favor. Hah.
Back in the present, Hana smiles at the fond memories before the too-simple card from Ho-joon brings her back to reality. She immediately calls Won at the airport where he works, and even her longtime friend can’t resist taking a dig at her age.
Hana playfully shoots back that he’s as old as she is, so anything he’s saying to her he might as well be saying to himself. Won disagrees on that point: “A man at thirty-four and a woman at thirty-four are two different things.” He doesn’t need to explain it to her, he claims, since she’ll find out on her own in due time.
Won’s just being realistic, and reminds Hana that no other friend would give her such straightforward advice like him. Hana sniffs that he can’t call her out on age—after all, she has a boyfriend she’s soon to marry.
By comparison, Won hasn’t had a girlfriend in three years, so his lectures are moot. He gives her that point, but then Hana brings up what was really on her mind: Should she be worried that Ho-joon didn’t write “I love you” on her birthday card?
Won is supportive but jokey at the same time, basically trying to downplay her concerns. Maybe Ho-joon is trying to make her think things are going bad so he can sneak a proposal on her, he ventures. That thought certainly excites her.
At work, Won meets the new intern stewardess, a shy but earnest girl named LEE SO-EUN (Chu Soo-hyun). As a steward himself, Won watches So-eun try her best at giving the passengers on their plane the safety rundown, though she has a few hiccups during the routine.
She even tries her best to accommodate a passenger who insists she pat his bald head to bring his fever down (cameo by Hong Seok-chun), but when Won sees what’s happening, he puts a stop to it.
Hana spots Ho-joon shopping for jewelry, and thinking that he might be preparing to propose like Won said, she does a bit of primping before getting a call from him. He has something to tell her, which has Hana all aflutter that this is going to be the moment.
“I’m getting married,” Ho-joon tells her outside. Wait, what?
Hana doesn’t quite register it at first, since they’d promised each other that they’d get married. Why? “I have another woman,” Ho-joon says while kneeling. Bang goes the gunshot into Hana’s heart.
To make matters worse, his other girlfriend is three months into her pregnancy, which means he’d been cheating on Hana from day one. Bang bang.
Ho-joon makes the mistake of inviting her to get angry with him, which is all she needs to stomp the tip of her heel on his. Twice. Now she’s angry, and demands to know who his other woman is.
Cut to: A shoe design presentation given by a younger woman, who Hana glares at the entire meeting. As if Hana hasn’t had enough potshots taken at her age today, the girl Ho-joon was seeing on the side claims the shoes she designed are supposed to capture the beauty of women in their twenties.
But Hana’s opinion matters as team leader, and she shoots the design down. She cites legitimate reasons why it wouldn’t work, but you can bet part of her reasoning is based on the fact that this is the girl Ho-joon cheated on her with.
Won and senior stewardess CHOI MI-HYANG (Jin Kyung) are close, so he asks her to buy him dinner that night. She can’t, because it’s Mir of MBLAQ’s birthday and this noona fan has some celebrating to do. Haha.
This leaves just Won and newbie So-eun, who thanks him for helping her out with that weird passenger. No sooner does he advise her to have more courage going forward that she works up the courage to mention dinner…
…But Hana’s mother calls to tell him she’s made a feast, and he leaves for home without a second thought. So-eun looks disappointed.
Won finds a very drunk Hana outside his home, and can only guess that something happened to her. She begins to imagine a story about the two of them surviving a plane crash and ending up on a deserted island (like the story he pitched in high school), leading to some deliberately cheesy shots of them clinging to each other as their plane goes down.
She slurs as she asks if he remembers telling her the story, and he does. He finishes the tale in voiceover: “And we live on that deserted island together until we die.” Then he flashes back to a young Hana holding out a heart-covered gift to him, standing in the same place.
Of course, Won gets no closer to a true explanation from her when she points at him and says, “This is all because of you! The Oh Hana known for being smart and pretty has been dating jerks and getting dumped by them!”
Flash back to when they were eighteen years old. Hana hears rumors that Won likes her from her friend, but doesn’t believe it. So what if he dotes on her and they hang out all the time? They’re just close. Besides, Hana insists she doesn’t like him like that.
Her friend is happy to hear that, since she’s interested in Won romantically. Hana agrees to help her without reservation, even agreeing to give Won a gift on her behalf—the same one Won saw her holding in his flashback.
Young Won, by comparison, seems to be struggling with an impending decision. He keeps telling himself that everything’s going to be okay. What is?
So Hana hands him the gift, and Won, thinking it’s actually from her, breaks into a story that inspired Hana to retell it in the future. “We’re on a plane right now heading to Venice,” he begins the tale.
He continues the story of how their imaginary plane met turbulence and crashed onto a desert island. Only he and Hana remain alive, and they live on that deserted island until they die. “But I will never date you,” he adds, taking Hana by surprise. “Even if we were on a deserted island, I wouldn’t love you. Ever.” Ouch. What brought this on?
Hana asks why he could never love her, but he just hands the gift back instead. He disappears into his house with Hana calling after him that she wouldn’t love him either, no matter what. Ever!
In the present, Hana cites his harsh words then as the reason she’s cursed with love today. “Why? Why can’t you love me?” she asks. “It’s not that I’d like it if you loved me, but what’s wrong with me that you can’t love me? Why? Because I’m picky? Because I have a strong personality? Because I’m mean? Or am I just unlucky?”
Won sits at the table with Hana’s family for her birthday feast, even though they’re missing the guest of honor. Hana’s little brother OH DAE-BOK (Lee Joo-seung) tells them why, having found out through social media that Ho-joon got engaged to someone else.
Everyone gets awkwardly quiet when Hana shuffles into the kitchen for a drink before shuffling right back out. Once Won returns home, he wishes he’d known about her troubles sooner.
After trying her darnedest to get a word with the maligned actress that was supposed to endorse a new line of shoes, Hana herself can’t bring herself to attend Ho-joon’s wedding alone, but luckily she doesn’t have to—Won’s taken the day off to be her date. He even made sure to look nice so she’d have the most handsome arm candy possible.
“I’ll pretend to be your new boyfriend,” he whispers conspiratorially. Awww, how supportive. Though she’s reluctant to go in and see her ex-boyfriend get married to someone else, Won confidently and cheerfully takes her hand and leads her into the venue.
Hana looks like she’d rather be anywhere else, but leaves Won so she can greet the bride. She gives what sounds like sincere congratulations, though it’s definitely an awkward moment when she’s left alone with her.
Ho-joon gets a frantic call that Hana’s alone with his new bride, unaware that Won can overhear him in the bathroom. He’s not the only one who hears him mutter about Hana either—his future father-in-law does too. Not good.
The bride is unafraid when confronting Hana, and casually says that she knew about her and Ho-joon. Hana falls to the ground in shock, staring up at the bride with wide eyes…
Except that’s just what’s going on in Hana’s mind. Though she refuses to congratulate the bride, she gives her solid advice on how to improve her shoe design. They part amiably.
Ho-joon tells his father-in-law that he definitely wasn’t two-timing, promise. Once he thinks he’s alone he mutters more about Hana ruining his life, at least until Won calls him out.
No sooner does Hana go looking for her missing “date” that she sees him burst out of the bathroom with Ho-joon, the two of them locked in a brawl. Won punches him once and is ready to go in for more, but Hana intervenes.
Ho-joon doesn’t help his own case when he figures out that the man who punched him is with Hana, claiming it’s no surprise that she’d be the root of all this trouble.
Won doesn’t like the way he’s talking to her and grabs him by the lapels, telling Hana to stay out of this. He only lets go when the bride shows up, and Ho-joon calls Hana out publicly for bringing her boyfriend to their wedding for revenge.
The crowd begins to murmur about Hana, with the bride scandalized that Hana came to ruin her wedding. Won grabs Hana’s arm when she apologizes to the bride, but Hana pulls away, asking him to just stop.
She’s mortified and apologetic as the wedding party leaves them there, and Won knows he has nothing to say that can fix things. He just follows her instead, knowing her well enough to guess that she’ll stop three times—but only on the third one will she turn around.
When she does, Won zips around her so that she has to turn around again to be able to see him. He’s just trying to cheer her up, but it’s not quite working. She gives him what-for about the stunt he just pulled, nearly in tears as she explains how she went to try and salvage her pride.
“You embarrassed me in front of all those people!” she adds, hitting Won with her purse. “He’s the one who embarrassed you, not me!” Won defends. Hana maintains that she never asked Won to take revenge for her, at least until Won claims that she didn’t have to ask—if she didn’t want him to, she shouldn’t have cried in front of him because of that bastard in the first place.
So Hana takes that to the extreme and tearfully vows that she won’t ever go to him with any of her troubles from now on. Won leaves her with a piece of advice: She’s thirty-four years old and should act like it. Hana turns around and gives Won the universal signal to go screw himself.
Then it’s time for both of them to act like children, with Won following her into the bus and shouldering her out of the seat she wanted. She spends the ride behind him, finding that she can’t stay mad when he looks so cute trying to sleep on the bus.
They walk in silence to their houses, but Won stops and smiles only to himself when Hana calls him. When he turns around, he tries to act like he’s still mad, which is adorable. “Thank you anyway,” she says with a small smirk. “I felt a catharsis of some sort.”
Neither of them can keep looking angry, and soon enough both of them break into laughter. They agree to go out for spicy chicken feet and practically skip off arm in arm.
Once they have their protein and alcohol, Won says aloud his wish for Hana to find a good man next time. Hana sighs that she’ll make sure to meet a really good guy. Looks don’t matter.
Won commends her on growing up, and a moment passes before she adds, “He has to be an unconditionally nice man. A nice man is the best.” Then she plops down beside Won, puts her arm on his shoulder, and asks inches from his face, “Don’t you think?”
For a few moments it doesn’t even look like Won’s breathing, more like he’s transfixed by their sudden proximity. But before anything happens, Won pushes her away with a tension-breaking joke.
He makes another joke when Hana asks him what kind of woman he’d like to meet by listing celebrities like Suzy and IU. But then he comes up with an idea: “Hana, do you want to make a bet?”
Hana doesn’t have the ability to back down from a bet, so she’s game. She immediately agrees to his wager that whoever marries before turning thirty-five will get money. Won’s initial amount is too small, so Hana raises it to five million won (roughly five thousand dollars).
He balks at that sum, so she says he can back out if he’s chicken. He can’t refuse that challenge, all but preening as he says he’s too popular to be scared of losing.
Flash back to when they were seventeen years old, with a poll among the girls just went to prove how popular Won really was. That day, she’d walked home under an umbrella to find Won soaked to the skin.
At first all she can talk about is how he won the popularity vote, until she notices that something’s wrong with Won. After a long pause, Won says, “I will never love you.”
Confused, Hana asks him what he means. He doesn’t elaborate and just walks past her, though she gives chase and asks him to tell her what’s going on—why is he acting like this?
She doesn’t give up, even when Won pushes her and her umbrella away. “Aren’t you going to stop?” she asks. With his back turned to her, Won grips the gate to his house like he’s struggling with himself.
But he eventually goes inside without a word, leaving Hana out in the rain.
Interesting. Won’s declarations of Not Love, Not Ever seem to coincide with especially bad days he’s having, though the details are deliberately left murky, even to Hana. Or should I say, especially to Hana. The first time he told her that he wouldn’t even love her if they were left on a deserted island to die, he’d spent the day struggling with something unseen, telling himself that everything would be okay.
The second time he looked as though he’d experienced something truly traumatic, enough to have him walking through the rain like a zombie. And the way he said it all of a sudden to Hana sounded as though he’d been thinking of nothing but that, which is even more curious. It makes me insanely curious to know what’s going on with him that he feels the need to shut down any and all hope of them being together, even if Hana gave no indication that she’d been thinking about anything else. Plus, the seriousness with which he said it both times is bizarre—and from what little we’ve seen, pretty unwarranted.
But therein lies the mystery, and one this production team seems competent enough to tease out properly. Things admittedly looked a little rocky coming in, what with plagiarized teasers, a writer swap, and a lost-and-found director. Despite all that, this first episode came out feeling assured, with a soft visual palette that adds a bit of whimsy to the more realistic goings-on happening between characters. It’s just impactful enough without being overdone on any front, and just goes to prove that you don’t need drama to have drama. With characters like Hana and Won that go way back, just their everyday interactions says most of what we need to know about them.
Interestingly enough, the premise for The Time I’ve Loved You isn’t one I would gravitate toward naturally, since I’m a cheap date that can usually be bought with a high concept—even if I usually end up sorry for it. What drew me to this show was its deceptively simple premise, which feels oddly fresh in dramaland—even though I’m fairly positive that setting a story around two longtime friends who aren’t at all involved but someday could be isn’t the reinvention of the wheel.
But the simplicity of the premise can be deceptive, especially with a relationship as complex as Hana and Won’s. What I loved immediately about this episode is that it established both their characters with speed and ease, enough to get us on board with them as individuals and as two sides of the same friendship coin. Immediately it felt like we’d just been dropped in on their already busy lives, and it’s certainly no easy feat to make a world feel so lived-in by its core group of characters. Hana and Won operate as though they really have known each other for most of their lives, which is likely due to a healthy mixture of writing and directing—but most of all, acting.
And though the focus has the potential to switch from the two of them as friends to the two of them as possible lovers, for now I’m really enjoying the dynamic going on between them. The spotlight on Hana’s age feels real, especially in today’s age, because no matter how much people say that thirty is the new twenty, there are still a whole different set of societal demands on someone in their thirties as opposed to their twenties. Plus, it varies very much by gender still, as Won pointed out when he said that being male and thirty-four is different than being female and thirty-four. But then again, he’s the one who brought up the bet in the first place, which can only mean he’s not immune to worrying about his possibly single future.
I came into this show having absolutely no knowledge of its Taiwanese source material In Time With You, other than that it was an incredibly popular and critically acclaimed show. Comparisons are inevitable with any adaptations and certainly welcome, though I’d ask that the general rules for not being a buzz killington apply here. Don’t be the guy who spoils any huge secrets, the ending, or anything else that could potentially ruin someone else’s good time. Because dramas are love, and spoilers are not.
- Ha Ji-won and Lee Jin-wook get friendly for Time I’ve Loved You’s press conference
- Time I’ve Loved You lines up string of cameos as ideal fantasy men
- From BFF to fake boyfriend in The Time I’ve Loved You
- The Time I’ve Loved You releases first teasers (again)
- L to romance Ha Ji-won in Time I’ve Loved You
- The Time I’ve Loved You 7000 Days’ star-crossed lovers
- The Time I’ve Loved You regains PD, makes writer swap
- The Time I’ve Loved You makes last-minute PD switch
- Countdown begins on The Time I’ve Loved You, 7000 Days
- Yoon Kyun-sang joins Ha Ji-won’s The Time I’ve Loved You
- Lee Jin-wook confirms The Time I’ve Loved You with Ha Ji-won
- Ha Ji-won courted for remake of In Time With You