***May contain spoilers***
I tried to give The Time We Were Not in Love a fair chance. Because In Time With You is in my top 10 and the only Taiwanese drama that I want to re-watch, I knew it was going to be a hurdle to like its remake. Since I’ve watched multiple versions of other shows across cultures with an open mind (Okay except the American version of Boys Over Flowers), I thought I could really do the same for this one.
I really wanted to like it. Ha Ji Won is an actress I’ve liked since seeing her kick ass in the opening episode of Secret Garden. But…
Ha Ji Won vs. Ariel Lin (Oh Ha Na vs. Cheng You Qing)
Something that was extra disappointing was realizing I don’t particularly care for Ha Ji Won’s acting. When I think back to the movies and TV I’ve seen her in other than Secret Garden — Daddy Long Legs, The King 2 Hearts, Phone — I guess I like them okay, but nothing I want to go back to watch again. As much as I’ve raved about Bolin Chen and Li Da Ren as a character, I’m now recognizing just how great of a job Ariel Lin did as Cheng You Qing. Ariel Lin is just a better actress than Ha Ji Won. After all these years Ha Ji Won still can’t cry decently on cue. Her fake crying bugs me so much. Ha Ji Won also doesn’t seem to get the nuances of a feisty and strong, but girly, loyal and sensitive woman. Her feisty falls flat. Her girly is too cutesy.
Yoon Kyun Sang vs. Sunny Wang (Cha Seo Hoo vs. Ding Li Wei/Will)
My other complaint is with the second male lead. Who’s hotter — a classical pianist or a high finance business star? This may be a cultural difference on my part but making the irresistible second lead who is supposed to cause havoc for the leading lady a rockstar would have been better than a classical pianist. A businessman is a typically a boring job, too, but Sunny Wang made that job and that second lead sizzle so much, I two-timed Li Da Ren in my head. (Shhh, don’t tell him).
Yoon Kyun Sang is attractive but he doesn’t have that intangible “it” factor to make me waver from the lead guy. And I don’t see why the leading lady would either. Maybe I’m just still seeing him as he older brother who got a bit twisted in Pinocchio. Seo Hoo’s first move to win back Ha Na was to anonymously send her this creepy giant pink bunny. All I could think of was how someone sent a stuffed to to the leading lady in My Love from the Star and also on Love Cheque Charge and both times spy cameras were in the stuffed toys. Hot? Not!
But hey, the show isn’t without it’s charms…
The intern is still a playa
Kim Myung-soo, better known as L from the idol group Infinite, is perfectly cast as the devious
hot young side dish Ha Na’s intern. I really like him as an actor now. In fact, he was equally good as his Taiwanese counterpart in the role. I just wish his part was a bit longer. The Korean version left out the part that the young guy who scammed You Qing was gay. That gave the role an extra bit of oomph and layers.
Lee Jin Wook vs. Bolin Chen (Choi Won vs. Li Da Ren)
Surprisingly I have little to say about Choi Won, the Li Da Ren in this version. He’s likable, but maybe not as clueless as Da Ren. I absolutely fell in love with Li Da Ren and thought I’d have a harder time accepting the male actor in the role, but I’m finding I’m fine with him.
It’s an interesting twist that he is relationship adverse because his mother abandoned him for a guy she had an affair with and then continued to go from man to man always running into problems. It’s as equally a legit reason as Li Da Ren being surrounded by feisty women (his mother and sister) and not wanting that same type of woman, but falling for You Qing who is feisty like them anyway.
It’s like a Pinocchio reunion. I adore Choi Won’s aunt, played by Jin Kyung who was in Pinocchio and It’s Okay That’s Love. Also from Pinocchio is Lee Joo-seung who played the high school friend of the two main characters.
Both families are still awesome. Ha Na has great, funny parents and this time a sweet but meddling little brother. Choi Won only has an aunt, but she is an ajumma I can relate to — single and still a fangirl of boy bands.
The fashion. Although I still give the edge to the Taiwanese version, the women’s wardrobe is strong. Cute shoes, though.
Writer merry go-round
Before the show even aired the entire writing crew was replaced. Now the show is on it’s third set of writers. Perhaps this will help it get on better footing, but I’m not staying around to find out. I don’t think new writers can fix Ha Ji Won’s outdated aegyo acting or the chemistry I don’t feel with her an Lee Jin Wook, or that a pianist rival isn’t as hot as Sunny with his bad-boy tats and international business career and beautiful English.
Halfway through the 6th episode, I gave up. I didn’t hate it. But it’s just “meh.” With so much good drama out there, no need to force yourself to stick with one that isn’t doing it for you, the wise women of the k-drama group say. Duly noted. I’m dropping this one.