Yesterday saw the premiere of Reunited Worlds, the newest drama from SBS this week, which replaced Suspicious Partner on its Wednesday-Thursday line-up. I’m here to weigh in on the first hour and judge it to determine if I’m going to continue on with it week per week or binge it near the end or completely pass on it. We’ll see.
Reasons for Watching
1. Plot! It really got me interested because I looooooove dramas with any kind of fish-out-of-water set-up. (Hello, I even wrote about it as a catnip.)
2. While I have my reservations about Lee Yeon-hee, it’s Yeo Jin-gu and I know he’ll deliver (AND MORE).
3. I recently got addicted to New Journey to the West and with it comes my burgeoning crush (heh, it’s already full-blown, I’m only in denial) on Ahn Jae-hyun. So while I’m not sure how he fares in his acting career, I wanted to see him so all the more reason to watch this one.
Okay, we’re not taking our time getting into the plot. In a voiceover while showing beautiful shots with that whimsy filter, Sung Hae-sung (played by Yeo Jin-gu) tells us that he died 12 years ago, when he was 19. Well, that he WAS dead. We then cut to Jung Jung-won (played by Lee Yeon-hee) visiting his grave and talking to him, asking if he remembers taking that photo.
A flashback starts, with Hae-sung running around what seems like a school set somewhere rural, with a young Jung-won (played by Jung Chae-yeon) waiting for him. He’s supposed to take his yearbook photos but he comes in wearing his school uniform with just shorts. Jung-won chides him for that but he counters that the photo would only show his upper body so it shouldn’t matter. He asks her if his hair looks good and Jung-won proceeds to style it. After all that running, he’s sweaty, so Jung-won wipes his sweat away, and the close proximity/touch affects him, letting us know that he likes this girl. He teases her for wearing make-up and we see that they do have a friendly relationship going on. Jung-won gets all up in his face fixing his hair, which isn’t left unnoticed by their classmates. I smell shippers in here. Even saying that they could already take their wedding photos now.
Hae-sung is too nervous for his photo, unsmiling and jittery. Like a mom, Jung-won calls his attention and stays beside the photographer, acting silly and dancing funnily, in order to make him relax and smile.
In the present, Jung-won continues talking to Hae-sung’s photo by his grave, telling him she’s 31 now and how time flies so fast. With a preschool boy even calling her ahjumma now. Jung-won drinks beer under a tree and reminisces being there with Hae-sun 12 years ago. Young Jung-won asks Hae-sung how many kids he wants and telling him she wants five kids because she wants to have a big family. She then proceeds to eat from his hotdog-in-a-bun, which obviously flusters Hae-sung. Gah, I love how she’s the forward and “lewd” one in this. She even admits to being naughty and when Hae-sung tells her he’s embarrassed now, she backtracks that wanting five kids just means they need to study hard to afford them. She then tells Hae-sung that it’s him who’s naughty because he’s turned beet red when she didn’t say anything lewd this time, it was all him who put meaning into it. So they really are in love, both of them, with each other. Going so far as thinking of marriage and kids, as first loves do. She continues to tease him and they are so cute together.
Present-day Jung-won laments being conscious of not being well-educated and when she gears up to leave, her purse breaks. She sees a comet in the sky and we cut to a school rooftop with Hae-sung lying on the ledge, with that same cool thing in the sky. High school kids all look out to the sky to see it too.
Hae-sung wakes up and a group of high school kids go to the rooftop to observe it. They see Hae-sung and ask among themselves who Hae-sung is, seeing as he’s wearing a uniform with their school patch. Hae-sung muses though that the girls’ uniform isn’t his school’s uniform. They think he’s suspicious and come closer to him, and he runs out of the rooftop. He goes through a hallway, his uniform vastly different. He goes into a classroom, looking for Jung-won, but there’s no familiar face at all. A teacher comes in and asks him who he is, noting that he’s wearing their old school uniform from a decade ago. Hae-sung runs out of the classroom and sees that it’s June 14, 2017 now, when he thinks it’s only supposed to be 2005. He then wonders about his grandma and everyone else, running in search of them.
Jung-won is now on a bus, drinking noisily, to the irritation of her fellow passenger. She sees Hae-sung by the window and immediately gets down but she fails to see him as a train crosses just right at that moment. Seeing no one, she thinks she’s lost it and then realizes that her bag broke again and only the strap is with her. Hae-sung continues to run across fields and rivers, going back to his old house. Only to see that it’s different now. He goes inside and sees his family waiting for him, but it’s all just a memory because a different family lives there now.
The ahjusshi that lives there sees him and mistakes him for a thief. They get on a bit of a scuffle and Hae-sung ends up throwing him several feet away and he looks at his hands in shock and amazement. He’s sorry and helps the man but the man ends up hitting him with a pipe.
In a cemetery, a group of people visit Hae-sung’s grave and these are his friends from high school. (I see Lee Shi-un!) They comment that Jung-won isn’t here again and that they don’t have any news about her; they can’t even contact her. Ho-bang (played by Lee Shi-un) is a cop, while Jin-joo wears skimpy clothing and gets chided by Ho-bang for visiting Hae-sung with only her underwear. They bicker like old friends and Moon-shik reprimands them for fighting already when it hasn’t been 10 minutes since they met again. He teases them that they’re meant to be and the two barks back that no, they aren’t, and that they’re ill-fated. Oh, sure, everyone believes you guys. Now it’s Moon-shik and Jin-joo fighting, and Jin-joo asks Tae-hoon to stop Moon-shik. Tae-hoon seems like the most level-headed out of these four and he breaks up the “fight”. They say sorry to Hae-sung for still being immature and fighting in front of him. Gah, high school friends are the best.
Hae-sung is in the hospital with a big gash (twenty stitches!) on his forehead while being questioned by a police officer. When Hae-sung says that he was born in 1987, the police officer goes pissy and incredulous because he should be 31 years old and not wearing a high school uniform and going into houses with the intent of stealing. He then asks his real birth date and says that even he was born in 1990 and that Hae-sung’s too young to play pranks like this. He brings Hae-sung to the police station and he begs the police officer to find his family. The police officer threatens to add obstruction of police business to his misdemeanor if he doesn’t cooperate and tell him his real birth date. But the police officer gets shocked when Sung Hae-sung’s profile shows up on his database, with Hae-sung’s exact face. He verifies his identity but is confused that his record shows that he’s dead. The police officer goes on his way to ask around for this case when he runs into Ho-bang, who as we know is a cop. He asks if their database is prone to error and then when Ho-bang tells him it isn’t, he then tells Hae-sung’s peculiar case. Ho-bang doesn’t believe him so he tries to show him Hae-sung, only to see that Hae-sung ran away.
In the restroom, Hae-sung washes his face and notices that the big gash on his forehead is gone. (So he really has powers!) Ho-bang goes to the restroom and runs into Hae-sung and gets the shock of his life and recognizes him. Hae-sung asks Ho-bang if he knows him, desperate for someone to believe in him.
Ho-bang gets the shock of his life as he sees Hae-sung right in front of him. Ho-bang ends up scared and he falls to the floor, moving away from Hae-sung. Hae-sung reads Ho-bang’s name tag and remembers him. He tries to touch Ho-bang while Ho-bang moves away from him. He’s desperate for someone to explain to him what’s happening and Ho-bang falls unconscious. Hahaha, Lee Shi-un just did what he does best and it’s this scaredy-cat role. I’m having flashbacks to W-Two Worlds.
In a restaurant, we see Jung-won getting reprimanded by a chef for moving slowly. Soon-ji, a waitress, tells Jung-won two guys are here to see her and she hides in the pantry, and tries to get out of the window. Only for the two men waiting for her a step ahead because they were actually waiting for her to come out of the window. We learn that Jung-won is swimming in debt and is three months late for her payment. The debt collector isn’t menacing or terrifying but he does tell her that if she doesn’t pay up immediately, he’ll move in to her house.
We then see our first look at Cha Min-joon (played by Ahn Jae-hyun), a chef, in an airport, where he’s flying to Paris. He’s going to Paris for two years to learn more and once he comes back to the restaurant Jung-won is working at, they presume he’s gonna be the top chef in Korea. But we see that Min-joon didn’t end up going to Paris at all, and is outside Jung-won’s apartment with all his bags, where Jin-joo sees him. Jin-joo then recalls him being the chef at the restaurant Jung-won works at.
Jung-won comes running to the apartment and is surprised to see Min-joon there. He went to her house instead because he couldn’t contact her because her phone is off (it was in the bag she lost). Apparently, he gave up going to Paris because he’s anxious and worried. Jung-won interprets it as worry for the restaurant but we see Min-joon means completely another thing. But he rides on along with that and tells her to do a better job because she hasn’t improved at all. He’s mainly teasing though but Jung-won feels sorry. He tells her to go on in and that he’ll see her tomorrow, while walking away with a smile on his face, looking as if he finds Jung-won adorable. (I’M GONNA HAVE AN INTENSE SECOND LEAD SYNDROME, I JUST KNOW IT.)
Jin-joo tells Jung-won she basically won the lottery and it’s like his boss already proposed to her. Giving up on a successful future to be with her? It’s the greatest thing ever. Jung-won isn’t thrilled at all and tells Jin-joo she’s misunderstanding things. Jin-joo explains to Jung-won that he just professed his feelings, telling her in not so many words that he couldn’t go to Paris because he was worried about Jung-won.
Jung-won tells Jin-joo she has to go back to Chungho to get her bag and Jin-joo admits that she went to Jung-won’s house because her phone was off and she was worried. We now learn too that Jin-joo made it possible for Jung-won not to run into the old gang. Why is she avoiding them, we don’t know, but I guess she just doesn’t want more reminders of Hae-sung and his death? Jin-joo nags at her to clean up her house and Jung-won recounts seeing Hae-sung, to which Jin-joo tells her to stop and wake up already.
In Chungho, we see Hae-sung eating noodles with Ho-bang and Ho-bang touches Hae-sung’s hand, still can’t believe he’s alive and corporeal and real. Hae-sung asks about Jung-won, and Ho-bang admits that he doesn’t know and that they haven’t kept in touch. Ho-bang asks Hae-sung if he remembers anything from that day, twelve years ago from his perspective. Hae-sung tells him of course he remembers and we go into a neat flashback.
Hae-sung is the complete mother hen to his four younger siblings and grandmother, cooking them breakfast and nagging them to eat. His siblings are all cute and they have a warm family. Outside, Jung-won practices how to greet him a happy birthday, going from aegyo-tastic, which is totally not her style, to being super cool. Hae-sung and Jung-won go to school together and we get treated to beautiful shots of the countryside. Hae-sung completely forgets his own birthday.
Jung-won asks him if he cooked breakfast and he boasts how tasty they were. She gets into a mood, as we learn that she’s just worried about him taking on all the responsibilities of caring for his family. But we see that she bought a necklace with a cutlery pendant as she finally supports his decision to not go to college and instead go to culinary school. They had an argument beforehand because she felt like he’s throwing away his future just so he can provide for his family, with only him sacrificing.
Jung-won gets approached by an upperclassman who likes her and Hae-sung sees it. He gets jealous and petty, bumping into the sunbae and telling him to just keep drawing in his art class. He also takes out his jealousy in Jung-won so he acts cool.
Hae-sung comes in looking for his younger brother (a junior and a year lower) but he learns that Young-jun is in the clinic, black and blue from bruises on his face. He asks who beat him up but Young-jun doesn’t want to tell and just wants to study. Young-jun even asks him if he’s acting all indignant like this because he wants to act like his hyung. He then admits, angrily, that he got beaten up for the simple fact that Hae-sung is his hyung. Ooh, what do we have here?
Hae-sung comes running to his class and punches and kicks a classmate. Hae-sung has the reputation of being the best fighter in his school but has been repeatedly refusing to fight the new guy. So the new guy beat up his brother to rile him up. The new guy also muses that how pitiful of his brother, who he heard is not even his real brother, to be beaten up because of him. That angers Hae-sung even more and he goes livid.
Hae-sung has stopped fighting since he was suspended last year for a fight. Jung-won sagely tells him to just calm down and not pick a fight even though he’s provoked since they’ll be graduating soon. Hae-sung ends up promising Jung-won not to fight.
Hae-sung goes to his part-time job but sees a stall selling hair clips by the road and buys one for Jung-won. He also lies to his manager that there’s a family emergency so he can’t work his shift, after remembering Jung-won telling him about skipping her art class and asking him if he’s working that night. His manager lets him go and he makes a call to Jung-won.
Who’s currently at his house preparing a birthday surprise with his siblings. Hae-sung tells her he’s skipping work and going to her house, which makes everyone frantic. Thinking fast, Jung-won asks Hae-sung for a favor: to get her wallet in the art class room because she left it. He counters that she could just get it tomorrow but Jung-won is insistent. Since it’s on his way, he should just get it and they’ll just meet up at his house. I’m afraid I know where this is gonna end up…
Hae-sung arrives at school (June 14, 2005) but he doesn’t see her wallet. He’s about to leave when he sees the new guy bleeding on the floor, a bust seemingly hitting him on the head. All bloody, he gets out of the school to call an ambulance. But as he was rushing on his bike, a car hits him by an intersection.
Meanwhile, his family and Jung-won are waiting in their house for the surprise and when the door opens, they greet him happy birthday. But no one was there and the door just opened by itself. We then hear 31 year-old Jung-won musing that that was when Hae-sung died and that it wasn’t the wind that opened the door 12 years ago but Hae-sung. Standing by the same train crossing a while ago, a distressed Hae-sung goes to the same intersection, and a train passes. Jung-won waits for the train to pass to reveal who’s on the other side and who is it but none other than Hae-sung.
I love the cinematography. We have spanning shots of acres of fields and that memory-washed filter effect for the flashbacks is something I adore. We have such beautiful shots of the countryside that makes you feel, even just shots-wise, that those years were definitely something that brings both joy and sorrow to Jung-won.
Everyone delivered on the acting front in my opinion and of course Yeo Jin-gu is just so amazing. His eyes! They just convey so much emotion! I love his chemistry with Jung Chae-yeon and somehow I’m excited to see his chemistry now with the all grown-up Jung-won played by Lee Yeon-hee. I’ve had reservations about Lee Yeon-hee but I am rooting for Jung-won and I think her take on the character helps with that too. Jung-won is endearing even as a teen but we do get the sense that Hae-sung dying changed Jung-won. She isn’t the cool and forward girl she was before and she somehow seems stuck to the past. Not gonna fault her for that though. But so far, she seems like a shadow of her teenage self.
I’m trying not to be too excited with Ahn Jae-hyun but I really do have a huge crush on him and now you make him the second lead and an adorable one at that and I JUST CAN’T, OKAY? I know for a fact I’m so gonna have an intense episode of Second Lead Syndrome with this drama. Okay, objectively now, I like that his character Min-joon is forward and that we start the drama with him already liking Jung-won.
In fact, I love how we didn’t take so long in establishing the premise of the show. We already know it, this early. Everything is moving along and there was no dull moment in this premiere. I am all too excited and intrigued how come Hae-sung is now alive and I hope the drama delivers on the fantasy/magic realism front.
And a shoutout to Lee Shi-un! Hahaha he just nails the scaredy-cat role so well!
VERDICT: Oh god, I am DEFINITELY gonna keep watching. I love everything of what I’ve seen from the premiere. I’m excited and looking forward to the next episodes. SO GONNA TUNE IN