k-dramas reviews

When Time Stopped First Impressions

A strange, yet intriguing drama that tells the tale of a man who can manipulate/freeze time. And let's not forget the plucky, hard-working woman that creeps into his life. Will she be the ray of light in his dark, one-note existence?

When Time Stopped First Impressions

When Time Stopped First Impressions

When Time Stopped is being hailed as Kim Hyun Joong’s comeback drama. It’s been years since we’ve seen him on the small screen. I have decided not to dredge up the past and instead focus on the present and this drama. I’ve watched the first four episodes, and while this isn’t a full blown recap, this will contain spoilers. Please read with caution.

When Time Stopped First Impressions

There are a lot of moving parts. When Time Stopped is a fantasy drama that will require a suspension of disbelief. The story is rooted in the present, modern world. Kim Hyun Joong’s character, Moon Joon Woo, has the ability to stop time. Everything freezes and, in that time, Joon Woo is the only one that can move. His character is very reserved, bored, and he has a prickly personality.

He also prefers to rent basement rooms because the light interferes with his work. Joon Woo uses his time stopping ability to his advantage. He procures priceless artifacts (paintings, sculptures, etc) and works tirelessly to restore them.

Kim Sun Ah is the owner of an apartment building. Her life is not smooth sailing as she has taken on the debt that belonged to her father. Her father ended up in debt for trying to help his own brother out of a jam.

Sun Ah never understood the importance of her father doing everything to keep the apartment. He explains that it is a place filled with his family’s memories, and he doesn’t want to lose them. Sun Ah assumes the debt when her father is tragically killed. The loan shark isn’t easy on her, either. He keeps piling on interest and it seems like the debt is never going to be paid.

when time stopped first impression

The story takes an interesting turn when Sun Ah crashes and her new, strange basement tenant, Joon Woo, saves her. He stops time just as the truck of doom is ready to crush Sun Ah. At first, she is frozen. But as Joon Woo reaches out to touch Sun Ah, she moves. Somehow she is immune/resistant to his time-freezing, which completely shocks Joon Woo. No one has ever moved in “his time” before.

Things are awkward, but they end up setting out ground rules. Using “his time,” Joon Woo saves Sun Ah multiple times. You can tell that Joon Woo is intrigued by Sun Ah. I feel like her presence is breaking up the monotony of his daily life.

The reapers?

Then there’s the reapers. That part is a bit odd and hollow if you ask me. What I mean is that I feel like this part of the story is lacking and confusing.

There’s a leader of the reapers. He’s determined that humans should be rid of their supernatural powers as they aren’t supposed to have them. But since his little reaper minions are only human, the leader has them drink something that temporarily gives them abilities to remove supernatural powers from humans.

So, let me get this straight… The Strange Reaper Leader (occasionally will be stylized as SRL, FYI) deeply believes humans can’t have these powers, but temporarily he’s more than happy to gift his Little Minion Reapers (will be stylized as LMR sometimes) with supernatural abilities. It all feels like a catch 22 to me.

I really wish there was a little more detail and mythology into the Reapers and these supernatural abilities that random people possess. The important thing to note is that they’re not all the same abilities, but the Strange Reaper Leader has a special hankering for time manipulators. I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy wasn’t stashing abilities for himself – or to create a supreme being. I just don’t buy him. It’s all a bunch of bologna at this point.

Besides the strange reaper angle of the story, I actually enjoy the pacing. It is a tad bit slow, so if you’re looking for something more fast paced, this drama will not be your speed. There were moments that dragged for me – mostly because I was trying to understand what was going down or why I should care.

You all know the golden rule of giving a k-drama at least 4 episodes to decide if it’s worth watching or not? You’ll definitely need them here. But with Sun Ah and Moon Woo on the same page, I feel like it raises the stakes. Moon Woo isn’t a bad guy – he’s able to help Sun Ah clear her debt by using his nifty time freezing ability.

I do like An Ji Hyun’s acting so far. She’s honest, plucky, and hard-working. While it’s a setup we’ve seen a million times in dramaland, she seems to be doing the trope justice. Plus, her character is not the awkward, mouse-y type of lead and I like her personality and strength. She doesn’t hold back and I love every time she makes enough money for the butt hole tenant in 301 who is her loan shark.

When Time Stopped First Impressions

Lingering Thoughts & Questions…

The story seems promising, but I hope we get to see more acting range out of Kim Hyun Joong. With this being his comeback drama, hopes and expectations are high. The first episode really tanked in Korea. We know Koreans are very tough and not accepting of actors and/or idols that have done wrong or been involved in scandals. It seems that Korea isn’t ready to give him a second chance. Maybe they never will. That is their choice and I respect that.

I’m not sure how the series has been performing after the first episode, so I don’t know if things are faring better or not. All I know is it seems pretty abysmal in reception, so I don’t expect this drama to ever have high or good ratings. This is a smaller cable network and it was aired at a late time, so, I suspect, regarding KHJ, that things will be low to maybe okay at best in terms of ratings.

Nonetheless, the drama is still airing. Will it make it for its total 12 episode run? I guess we’ll see. (It was pointed out to me that this was already pre-produced before airing.) I’d hate to get invested in the story and see it get yanked from the screen like they did with Surplus Princess. (I’m still very bitter over that one and the rushed ending the writers were forced to piece together.)

No one is really talking about this drama, so I thought I’d open the lines of communications and share my thoughts. I won’t report on my feelings about KHJ’s past as this isn’t the post for that. I just wanted to comment on the series so far.

What do you think, drama watchers?

One you’ll be watching? One you’ll be skipping? Or maybe it’s one you’re on the fence about?

This drama is available to watch on Viki.

P.S. If When Time Stopped is not your cup of your tea, try out my post on 5 Reasons You Should Be Watching The Smile Has Left Your Eyes here.



    1. Same here. Right now I’m watching this dramas as a time filler. My main focus has been The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, but I also might check out Feel Good To Die (starts airing tomorrow in Korea) as the concept seems intriguing. I’ll probably post about that later today.

    1. I didn’t know that. I started this drama on a whim, so I hadn’t been following the network/filming schedule for this drama. Makes sense more, now. I’m curious and will have to see how the ratings for this drama ended. I haven’t seen many people talking about.

        1. Yes, I’ve noticed this has a pretty high rating on Viki, so international audiences clearly enjoyed it. I was just on the fence at the end. I might try to rewatch it sometime and see how I feel.

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