While You Were Sleeping

Overall Rating: A
Subtitles: I loved these subs. I don’t know what felt different about them but they were so strong that I felt entirely immersed in the show the whole time and often forgot I was reading subs.
Brief Synopsis: A reporter, a prosecutor, and a police officer find themselves tied together by their shared prophetic dreams and their belief that they can change tragic fates by knowing about them in advance. Watch it on Viki here.

**Full show spoilers below the image. If you do not wish to be spoiled, do not proceed**

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Ending Type: Certified happy (according to my husband, who believes all romances should end with a kiss). There was a twinge of bittersweet due to a favorite character dying but overall the story had a very happy and uplifting and triumphant ending, especially for our two main characters and their adorable love.
Characters: As always I must include a shoutout to our side characters that I don’t have the time/energy to write about in detail. This cast was A+ across the board just wow, I loved everyone. Mom and everyone at the prosecutor’s office were amazing and the little brother and everyone who came in through his story also best. Bless them all. OK, on to the main cast.
Nam Hong Joo (Bae Suzy) has dreams about terrible things happening and they always come true. She is haunted by this ability and by her powerlessness over it–she saw her dad die in her dreams before she watched him die in real life, she watches crimes happen and sees strangers die and even when she tries to warn people or change things she has no luck. When we meet her she’s on a break from her job because she dreamed of her own death and is hiding from what she believes is her inevitable future. Because she is Suzy she is also the most adorable human being on earth (this character even gets to be ADORKABLE!). Seriously the cutest and silliest human ever, so lovable in all regards. I loved that she was fun and awkward and brilliant and fierce all at once and that she was always brave and determined when it mattered. Plus Suzy sure makes you feel her pain when she’s upset or hurting but she also makes you feel her joy when she’s excited and having fun, and we got a lot of everything on the spectrum from this character. Loved her.
Prosecutor Jung Jae Chan (Lee Jong Suk) was also a wonderfully dynamic character who went all over the spectrum in terms of emotions and had Quite A Journey. This was by far my favorite role I’ve seen Jong Suk in so far. I’ve never had any problems with his acting but I’ve never been like, impressed by him either. In this he had me #shook. Prosecutor Jung first appears as this kind of jerk-y, a little arrogant dude who happens to have a really bad dream about Hong Joo and realizes that it’s coming true and decides to do something about it. When he manages to change her fate their fates become entwined as they continue to share prophetic dreams, mostly about each other and cases that he’s working on, and try to stop terrible things from happening. Jae Chan is one of the silliest, goofiest, most awkward male leads ever but he was also awesome? His convictions as a Prosecutor and the lengths he was willing to go to for justice and also for his friends were truly touching, and when people he cares about are in danger you really feel his fear and desperation. In the final episode when he loses his father figure—oof that scene GOT TO ME. Very strong character and strong performance.
The third member of our dreaming trio, Han Woo Tak (Jung Hae In) was really important for rounding out the trio and adding an extra layer of protection into the mix for our two main characters, but he definitely was a sort of peripheral lead. I loved him a lot–he was charming and sweet and fun and always willing to walk through fire for Hong Joo and the Prosecutor, but of the three he definitely took a sort of back stage role. His main character arc was touching, and you feel the tension when he has to make a choice between the truth and his career, but overall his story didn’t elicit the kind of emotional impact the others did.
Our villain is Lee Yoo Beom (Lee Sang Yeob), a prosecutor turned public defender who first shows up as Hong Joo’s friend who is driving when they get into an accident that kills someone (I think Woo Tak actually???) and he moves her to the driver’s seat and claims that she was responsible. Already it’s clear that he’s very selfish and motivated entirely by protecting his own butt to the detriment of everyone around him. I loved that this is where his character started, though, because for a long time in the middle of the season he really was just kind of a classic private attorney–you cheered against him because you knew he was trying to get bad people off for terrible crimes, but his lack of conscience there was his primary flaw. In the final act, when he commits murder to cover up a mistake he made as an investigator, it all comes full circle. He was actually a delightful villain because Sang Yeob brought a lot of charm to the role and he had personal relationships with most of the main characters, so they were interacting regularly and up until the end their battles were really just professional. The portrayal of his slow unraveling was PHENOMENAL and the final interrogation between Prosecutor Jung and him was beautifully executed in all regards–the writing, acting, everything. A+
I also need to take a moment to talk about Investigator Choi (Kim Won Hae). I have seen Won Hae in like, so many roles at this point (is there a drama he isn’t in tbh?) and I have loved him in every role, though typically he is just an outrageous comedic character. He got all serious in this one and I WAS MOVED by it. Like sure we got plenty of his classic ridiculous humor, but over the course of the sixteen episodes he becomes a clear father figure and close ally to Prosecutor Jung and when his arc comes to a close and he eventually dies in Prosecutor Jung’s arms…. wow the feelings. WOW THE FEELINGS. Just incredible writing, incredible acting. Seriously so moving.
Relationships: There were so many good relationships in this. The whole dynamic of the Prosecutor’s Office deserves a shoutout because bless that cast and group dynamic and just everything happening there.
As I talked about with Investigator Choi, the sort of father-son relationship between him and Prosecutor Jung was tragic and wonderful and touching and so emotionally charged and beautifully portrayed. A+.
THIS ROMANCE THOUGH. I need to take a minute to celebrate this for allowing a couple to get together early on AND THEN STAY TOGETHER. There was no contrived break-up or stupid dramatic plot created entirely to separate our lovers until the final moments. No. These two goofy kids got to express their feelings, have their big romantic kiss, and then wake up the next day and just get to be together. From then on they just got to… keep being together. The focus shifted from their interpersonal relationship to the overall plot and they continued to be allies and partners and romantic partners and it was sweet and cute and delightful AND MORE SHOWS NEED TO EMBRACE THIS CONCEPT. For real they were so cute and it was so sweet and the fact that they were together basically the whole time in no way made their happy ending any less happy or fulfilling? In fact it was just…. better. Everything was great. The characters were great, their romance was great, the fact that we got like 8 kiss scenes was great, the fact that they got to go through all the shit they went through with each other to lean on–just the freaking best. It was the best.
High Points: The characters, the writing, the relationships, the balance of fun and silly with the really intense crime drama backdrop. ALSO THE WAY THEY HANDLED THE PROPHETIC DREAMS. Ok let’s talk about this for a second. These three would dream about the same thing happening and sometimes it was all the same dream so they would change just…. something to make the outcome different (this wasn’t always a good thing). Sometimes they’d have different dreams about the same thing with one detail changed in each so they knew what needed to happen for the better outcome. AND THEN THEY LEARNED HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER IN THE ACTUAL DREAMS. Like when Hong Joo straight talks to Jae Chan as she’s dying because she knows he dreamed it so he’ll hear her in the dream and be able to change it–holy damn. But also from a film-making perspective the dreaming thing was just COOL. Because in any given moment you didn’t know if you were watching the present when something was really happening or if it was a dream and you as the audience got to wake up a little later and know that it could change. SHOUTOUT to the kiss scene that happened simultaneously in real time and in her dream because that was just…. awesome.
Low Points: I really can’t think of any? This was a really solid show. I feel like I haven’t talked about the humor enough but that was also great.
Final comments: This show was nothing like I expected it to be, I’ll be real. I read the blurb and saw it was Suzy and Lee Jong Suk and expected a fun and silly romantic comedy with some cool prophetic dream stuff thrown in. In a way that’s what this was–but it was way more intense than I was initially prepared for. The first episode was crazy stressful to watch, from the accident to Hong Joo waking up in the hospital to discover she was being blamed for the accident and it had killed her mom to her trying to commit suicide and then the rewind to discover it had happened in Jae Chan’s dream and that he was able to change it… whew what a ride. I will say this show jerks you back and forth between intense crime thriller and extremely hilarious and silly rom-com, but the transitions between it all felt pretty natural and I never felt like a scene in either direction was out of place. Frankly one of the things I love most about K Dramas is that they provide you that light, comedic relief between all the heavy stuff so you don’t get bogged down in it. And this one DELIVERED on the comedy as well as the thrill and the emotional rollercoaster. I was a huge fan of this one in general, do recommend.

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