If any Korean drama deserves to be called a wild ride, it’s Netflix’s A Time Called You (너의 시간 속으로/Into Your Time). An adaptation of a popular 2019 Taiwanese drama, A Time Called You with its time traveling, body possessing mystery is a series that might appear to be complicated and difficult to follow. But its charming cast and the relatable themes of friendship, family and romance at the core of its story are what keeps you engaged throughout and ultimately brings you to the series’ emotional and satisfying climax.
The series begins by following Han Jun Hee (Jeon Yeo Bin) who, in 2023, continues to struggle with grieving the loss of her boyfriend Koo Yeon Jun (Ahn Hyo Seop) one year after his death. She soon finds herself waking up in 1998, now inside the body of high school student Kwon Min Ju. But even more shocking for her, she meets Nam Si Heon, a young man who shares an uncanny resemblance to Yeon Jun, and his best friend Jung In Gyu (Kang Hoon).
Jun Hee, as Min Ju (whom she also shares a resemblance to), must now figure out how to navigate this strange, unfamiliar situation. All while trying to understand why she has been brought here, what (if any) possible connection Si Heon has with her late boyfriend and stumbling upon a tragic mystery that unfolds before her.
And of course, there’s the familiar trappings of high school and teenage life, which include romance and friendship between her, Si Heon and In Gyu.
As with any time travel story, it’s best to come in and try to just sit back, relax and enjoy the adventure of it all. A Time Called You definitely makes its own rules when it comes to time travel, transmigration and the butterfly effect. Which is perfectly fine considering there are of course no set rules when it comes to time travel as it doesn’t actually exist. (At least, we don’t think so! 😏)
At first, it might be difficult trying to keep track of who is in whose body, the shifting timeline and the changes resulting from the little tweaks being made in the past.
Because of that, the series certainly requires a solid emotional investment. And the strong cast, especially our leads Ahn Hyo Seop, Jeon Yeo Bin and Kang Hoon, is able to facilitate that connection needed to keep you engaged and invested in what can sometimes feel like a convoluted and overly-intricate story.
But, at its core, the series is really more about very familiar and relatable themes and ideas. The series is strongest when it is focused on the characters themselves (no matter who they might be at any given time), most especially in stories focused on friendship and family. But also on personal growth and a thoughtful and important spotlight on one’s mental well-being.
Much of the series is centered around 1998 with the friendship (and yes, romance) that develops between Si Heon, Min Ju/Jun Hee and In Gyu the most affecting and consequential aspect of the story. The nostalgia and sincerity that exudes from those scenes help build the foundations of their characters. And that foundation is what strengthens and fortifies the series’ eventual emotional and climactic conclusion.
The series’ strong character-driven narrative helps to ground the story’s more fantastical, confusing and even darker aspects. But also helps to make the central romance and its “love knows no (time) bounds” philosophy feel well-earned and valid rather than feel forced and contrived, as is often the case in these kinds of high-concept series.
Again, the cast helps to power that grounded approach to the series’ fantasy, adventure and mystery. Ahn Hyo Seop, Jeon Yeo Bin and Kang Hoon, all experienced in many different genres, effortlessly bring their characters to vivid life here. Each gets an opportunity to shine and they make the most of those opportunities.
If nothing else can keep you engaged and invested in the series or its story, their performances will be able to take care of that for you. You want to follow their journey. You want to root for their success and happiness. And in addition to the solid and carefully crafted story with its writing and direction, it is the performance of these three that really make it all happen and help to deliver those big, emotional punches.
A Time Called You is one of the few times where there is a perfect balance in which a big concept does not hinder basic character-driven stories and vice versa. The captivating performances, the twisty adventure of a wild ride, exciting mystery and the relatable emotions and themes all come together for what is a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying experience.