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k-dramas

K-Drama: When Time Stopped Review

when time stopped review

A man who can stop time meets a woman unaffected by time.

Moon Joon Woo is a seemingly-ordinary person, except for the fact that he can stop time. His special ability makes him lonely and he finds no meaning in life. When he needs somewhere to live, he moves into a basement owned by the building owner, Kim Sun Ah.

Kim Sun Ah is a hard-working, financially struggling girl who appears tohave much joy in her life, but in fact struggles to pay off her father’s debt. Joon Woo finds that when he stops time, Sun Ah is not affected and continues to walk amongst a time-stopped world.

With bubbly Sun Ah by his side, can the lonely Joon Woo begin to find the meaning of his existence? –MyDramaList

When Time Stopped Review.

I don’t often venture into fantasy style dramas, but time manipulation is interesting to me. I also enjoy time slips and this drama premise really intrigued me. To be honest, I had a really tough time getting through this drama. The writing was a mess, the pacing was strange (started slow and towards the end it was moving crazy fast), and the story wasn’t all that memorable.

In the beginning, I was actually quite hopeful and had a positive impression. When Time Stopped just didn’t hit the mark for me, but I wanted to at least spend some time reviewing what I liked and didn’t like. I don’t regret taking the time to watch it at all. I’m mainly disappointed that there were so many great elements to the drama and, yet, the writing and story fell apart and wasn’t very consistent.

The Good.

This drama started out quite promising in the beginning. I was actually hooked early on despite a slower pace.

The apartment building and the tenants were a bonus. I was really enjoying everyone’s stories and appreciated that the writer took some time to develop our secondary characters. Everyone was different and all had their own quirks and personality, so at least the writer, Ji Ho Jin, managed to do something well here.

Myung Woo and his father made me cry buckets when they reunited, especially when his father regained his memories. Sadly, their reunion is very short-lived and that choked me up more than anything else in this whole story. The writer ignored Myung Woo a bit in the beginning. We didn’t have a lot of screen time with him, but that changed in the second half.

To be honest, Myung Woo and his father were more interesting characters than our leads. There I said it. I felt more emotionally invested in their stories.

What went wrong.

The female lead, Sun Ah, is pretty typical in dramaland. Poor, working tons of odd part time jobs, and struggling to pay back a family debt. While I’m not adverse to these kinds of characters and situations, I need solid writing and acting to sell it. The acting was fine and the writing was really good in the beginning… and then it took a turn. Like I said in my First Impressions post, I feel An Ji Hyun does the trope justice, but the writing doesn’t give her much wiggle room as the drama continues.

Oh Joon Woo. I actually started this drama because I was curious about Kim Hyun Joong’s comeback drama. Truthfully, I felt that his acting was pretty wooden and his facial expressions were a bit lacking overall. It could have just been the way the character was written – this is not a diss to KHJ as I have enjoyed his acting in the past. I did like him a bit more with the flashback sequences as he gave more range and personality.

To be fair, the writing probably contributed to my ‘meh’ feelings. This was not a good choice for a comeback drama. (I believe the episode 1 ratings were very long in Korea, but a lot can be due to KHJ’s image and legal issues with his former girlfriend that occurred during the past couple of years. Lots of people are not willing to accept what has happened. Although, the international audience has had a warmer reception to this drama. The ratings are very solid on Viki.)

Not enough episodes. Some parts of When Time Stopped really dragged. There were some parts I was tempted to fast forward. On the other hand, there was a lot going on and not enough episodes. It’s a weird combination, but as I said, the writer really spent time developing the secondary characters, but didn’t do such a good job with the main characters.

Weak execution. The reincarnation plot could’ve been very epic and meaningful. I did like their connection through the bracelet, but there was so much jammed into the last couple of episodes that it killed the magic a bit for me. I feel like the standard 16 episodes could’ve helped smoothed out some of my concerns with the story and the character development. I’m still trying to figure out why they opted for 12 episodes here.

The chemistry was also a bit lackluster. I didn’t really feel it between our leads, except for a small smidgen in the last two episodes.

In general, I liked the element of the reapers/God angle. The reapers, under God’s direction, are tasked with the orders of removing those who special abilities. According to God, the rules are those with special abilities have to be removed from this world because just possessing an ability is a sin. Every one of God’s current reapers were those with special abilities, but their memories have been wiped clean.

The problem? There is simply not enough world building and information. Most of what we learn about the reapers happens at the end of this series. I feel like a lot of nonsense could have been cut out of the story to better build up this story arch since it such a pinnacle of the story. For me, it just fell flat and was one of my least favorite parts as it took this drama down a strange path.

And 12 episodes was just not enough to do this story justice. I’m still trying to figure out what the writer was trying to convey… so much is unclear. Is it that no one is perfect? Not even God who is following the rules? Is it about second chances and learning from our mistakes?

I’m left a bit dissatisfied. Yes, the story has a decent ending, but the writing was not good at all. It was good enough to watch fairly easily, but it unraveled quickly and left a mess in its wake. To be fair, I’m not even a picky drama watcher. Unless something is glaringly awful or obvious, I like most of the dramas I watch.

However, if you don’t mind the weak writing and strange pacing/directing, there was some great content and scenes from time to time. Overall? I just wasn’t that into this drama.

That’s just my personal opinion. Maybe you loved this drama, but it was just okay for me. I think this is one of the examples where I went into this drama with high expectations and it just didn’t deliver in the ways that mattered to me.

If you want to give it a try, you can watch this one at Viki. I also had a favorable First Impressions on the first four episodes.

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