While You Were Sleeping
By: Caroline Frost · November 21, 2017
Nam Hong-Joo (Bae Suzy) has been having dreams of the future since she was a child, but could never change what she saw. But when Prosecutor Jeong Jae-Chan (Lee Jong-Suk) has a similar dream and succeeds in preventing a disaster and alters the flow of time, is it for better, or for worse?
If you make time flow in a different direction, which direction will it go? Better? Or worse?
Almost a year after the outcry that followed the casting announcement of Suzy as Lee Jong-Suk's leading lady, While You Were Sleeping finally finished airing after a pleasant run. While nobody offered an unforgettable performance, an interesting plot and endearing characters presented more than enough reasons to stick with the show until the end.
While Suzy's acting seems to have been the main point of concern for numerous fans, the truth is that Lee Jong-Suk’s performance was nothing to rave about either. In fact, both lead actors balanced each other out, so that the show made for a good time.
Then why stay? Indeed, While You Were Sleeping certainly doesn't sound like an appropriate pick for somebody who doesn't usually enjoy romantic comedies. This one, however, was based on an interesting concept: what if you could see the future in dreams, yet never managed to change it? and what if somebody came into your life who could?
Still, a good plot line is nothing without good characters, and this is where While You Were Sleeping did a fantastic job. Jeong Jae-Chan (Lee Jong-Suk) is very endearing: smart, strong-willed and serious at crucial times, yet incredibly childish and plain ridiculous the rest of the time, in a way anyone can sympathize with. After all, who hasn’t ever wanted to rip their hair out after taking up a seemingly too-big challenge?
His romance with Nam Hong-Joo (Suzy) is nothing passionate or hot or even tragic, but is instead quiet and strong in a way that is rarely seen in Dramaland. You should pass on this one if you’re looking for romance drama, misunderstandings, and other such clichés: as somewhat responsible and mature adults, Jae-Chan and Hong-Joo, once they figure out their feelings, know that they love each other and that there’s nobody else for either of them. (Which, of course, doesn’t stop Jae-Chan from being unnecessarily—and hilariously—jealous, but you can tell he never truly feels threatened by Woo-Tak.) This relationship is strong because they believe in and can always rely on each other even if the whole wide world is against them.
And speaking of Han Woo-Tak, the second male lead is played by Jung Hae-In, who lends a charming dynamic between the trio right off the bat. His development doesn’t follow too many of the usual second male lead tropes either, which is even better, and his relationship with Jeong Jae-Chan and Hong-Joo both is nothing short of perfect.
Something else that needs to be mentioned is the secondary characters. While You Were Sleeping will make you fall in love with each and every one of them, from the mom who wasn’t embarrassing for once, to the awkward but endearing prosecutor, to the fatherly investigator with the ever-calm demeanor and the long-suffering brother. We don’t necessarily know everything there is to know about them, but their quirks and relationship to each other and the leads are everything you didn’t know you needed.
Finally, the main antagonist was interesting, too, although sometimes very difficult to understand to the point of being almost inconsistent. Though it becomes clear early on that he does, in fact, have a conscience, his absolute refusal to actually listen to it can be baffling sometimes. If you don’t feel comfortable with what you’re doing, if you know it’s wrong, then why… keep doing it? And why even make it worse?
While You Were Sleeping isn’t terribly original. Its cast doesn’t pull off crazy performances, and its plot isn’t completely airtight. But it’s a great drama in the sense that the characters and their stories pull you in from the start and don’t let go until the end. The background music makes up for the bland OST, and there are some very, very pretty visuals here and there, starting with a beautiful winter aesthetic in the first two episodes.
Title: While You Were Sleeping
Country: South Korea
Starring: Ha Seok-Jin, Jeon So-Min, Lee Sang-Yeob, Shin Je-Ha
Aired: 09/27/2017 to 11/16/2017
Number of Episodes: 16
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Supernatural
My grade: ★★★★☆