See You in My 19th Life, romance and reincarnation in a K-drama

Shin Hye-su, Ahn Bo-Hyun, Ha Yoon-Kyung, Lee Chae-Min in See You in my 19th life

See You in My 19th Life, a K-drama, takes for granted that the idea of reincarnation is accepted and understood. Most people don’t remember their past reincarnations. The main character in this romantic drama remembers all of her past lives and is still dealing with issues from those lives.

Shin Hye-sun in See You in My 19th Life
Shin Hye-sun is absolutely brilliant in this complex role

Ban Ji-eum (Shin Hye-sun) vowed at the end of her 18th life, which ended in tragedy, to return to be by the side of the people she loved. She remember lives dating back over 1000 years, but returned quickly to her 19th life where she sought out people from the 18th.

In her past lives, she’d been both men and women, not always Korean, and done everything from fight in wars to dance the flamenco.

Ahn Bo-Hyun in See You in My 19th Life
Ahn Bo-hyun as Moon Seo-ha

The person Ji-eum most wanted to find was Moon Seo-ha (Ahn Bo-hyun). They had been childhood friends. They were in a car wreck together. She died and he lost his hearing in one ear. Ji-eum wanted an adult relationship with him. He was executive director of MI Hotel’s strategic planning team and she got a job working under him.

With reincarnation as the thematic throughline, there are lots of karmic connections over the lifetimes. Seo-ha was not the only person in Ji-eum’s 19th life that echoed to her past.

Ha Yoon-kyung in See You in My 19th Life
Ha Yoon-kyung played Yoon Cho-won

Yoon Cho-won (Ha Yoon kyung) had been Ji-eum sister in the past. She was working as a landscape architect who landed a contract to work on the MI Hotel.

Ha Do-yoon (Ahn Dong-goo) was Seo-ha’s assistant and friend. He had been part of Ji-eum’s past lives as well. Ae-kyung (Cha Chung-hwa) ran a kimchi restaurant. Ji-eum had been her uncle in a past life. Kang Min-gi (Lee Chae-min) worked in the kimchi restaurant.

Many other characters filling out the 12 episodes in this drama were also connected to Ji-eum in some way.

K-dramas are typically very slow moving and very soap opera like. This one is no different. There are lots of dramatic pauses with flashbacks to past lives and past episodes. Lots of scenes repeated. The music was light and the scenes were all well lit and featured beautifully dressed people and gorgeous places. The romances were slow moving and almost chaste even when they got going.

The series had a woman director, Lee Na-jeong. It was based on a webtoon of the same name by writer Lee Hey.

In spite of the hypnotic slowness of the drama, it was entertaining to me. The details of Ji-eum’s past were revealed in careful ways to keep the story and various relationships clear. The performance by Shin Hye-sun was simply outstanding. She’s a gifted actress with many credits, but this is the first time I’ve seen her.

If you’re a fan of K-dramas, this Korean series will suit you. It’s streaming on Netflix.

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