Expectations: I expect to see very relatable life experiences from this drama because the story plays around two characters who are at that critical career point and I know that life hits like a storm for many people during that time. So I expect some tear-jerking moments. Rather than romance, I am looking forward to the personal growth of all characters, and once I see the potential for that, I will be sold. I am also hoping for great acting from the leads. I know that Han Ji-Min has been in the acting game for a while now but not all her projects impressed me. The few that I loved absolutely showcased great acting prowess from her, so I am hoping for the best.
On the other hand, Nam Joo-Hyuk is relatively new in the game, but he has the potential to perfect his skills with time. So since this drama seems to have a good storyline and the lineup for the cast are majorly veteran actors/actresses, I believe he will showcase excellent anting. With that said, here is my review for the opening episodes of The Light In Your Eyes.
(Warning – spoilers ahead)
Review: First thing that I noticed is that the characters in this show are “raw”. That is the only word that came to my mind to describe how the characters came off to me. By “raw”, I mean that there is so much growth needed for each character to get to their best self. I sincerely hope that the room created by this said “rawness” has been fully utilised by the writer to create some well deserved and grounded development for each character as the story progresses. Now the characters being raw does not take away from their complexity. For example, there is a scene where Hye-Ja tells Joon-Ha that she is fully aware of the fact that she is not fit to be an announcer, but she is also too scared to let go of her dream. She also talks about feeling inferior to the other applicants once she enters the interview room, so that is why she no longer sees the need to apply for any announcing positions. In real life, there are a lot of expectations that are put on us by our family, society and even our own dreams. Now if by chance we get to that point where we cannot achieve what we hoped for, we find it so hard to let go. Letting go at this point does not even have to do with disappointing others, but rather it has to do with stepping down from the pedestal that you once placed yourself on. It feels like you have been stripped of your pride, and you are always at a fight with yourself. Change is hard. So that scene really renounced with me because it showed how fragile and complex we are as human beings.
Along with that, I also loved the simplicity of the drama. I think it had to do with the way it was filmed because every scene flowed so naturally. It felt real, no super flashy cars, dresses or houses just a simple neighbourhood with relatable individuals. Now, this is not to take away from the effort that is put into the more flashy productions but just to note that this drama felt like a walk on a chilly night away from the norm of Korean dramas. I also loved that we got a really close insight into the family dynamics of both leads. I enjoy whenever families are actively showcased in shows because it gives me a good background of why each character is the way they are. This is one of the reasons why I absolutely adore the TVN Reply series, most notably the recent one. Also, the chemistry between the leads was easy going. I like the approach of letting them become friends first before crossing into the relationship phase. And from what I have seen so far, they both represent strong support and realisation grounds for each other. This is great as it is the necessary foundation for every relationship, but I am not really sure of how it is going to play out from episode three since Hye-Ja is now much older in appearance compared to Joon-Ha. I am excited about how the writer plans to deal with this change. Will she let him know who she is or will they just come to be friends along the line and then he finds out some way or another, who knows? No matter how it plays out, I just wish for it to be done in a well-explained manner. I am not going to be accepting any extreme form of drama logic this time around. I know it falls into the fantasy genre, but it still needs to make sense.
Now about things making sense, I still cannot seem to understand how the watch works. Because in episode one when the watch is introduced, we are just shown how Hye-Ja was able to change a few minor things over the years and how it led to her ageing faster than she was supposed to. At least I know a factual consequence of using the watch at this point, but I am still not clear on how far back in time it allows her to travel. In episode two this is seen as a problem for a few viewers because they expect her to just go back to the night before her father’s accident to save him but can she really go back that far in time? I am not sure, so I am waiting to get more explanations regarding the watch in the upcoming episodes. I need to know the origin, how exactly it works, why was she the one who got it, and why does it age the user faster than usual? There will be severe loopholes if these questions are not answered.
Another major thing I have noticed with a lot of Korean dramas is the constant drinking. I understand that the drinking culture is very different based on each society, but I fear for their livers. I also wonder if this is what they want to continually promote. Drinking is not harmful, but I personally believe that it should be kept at a minimum and not every day. Honestly, being drunk is not the best feeling, and I am saying so from experience, so when I see them drink almost every day, I sincerely question how they feel waking up in the morning. JUST SAYING.
Okay, back to the drama. So far I am enjoying the presence of a good number of the characters shown at this point and here is my take on them:
Notable Characters Introduced So Far:
#1. Han Ji-Min as Kim Hye-Ja She is someone who really cares about her family. I love the self-awareness of this character, she knows her strengths and weaknesses. I feel she has yet to gain the self-confidence to excel. I can also tell that she is a determined person from the scene where she tries to save her father. The only flaw is that she falls in love too fast, but I can validate her emotional actions for her. I mean we have quite a handsome male lead, he is also cute, caring and he listens. Now, who would not fall for such an adorable person? So I will cut her some slack in that aspect.
#2. Nam Joo-Hyuk as Lee Joon- HaAt first, he came off to be quite insensitive. Most notably, during the scene where he questions Kim Hye-Ja for wanting to become an announcer. I know that it was a needed reality check for her, but it could have been said less arrogantly. Anyways, later on, that misunderstanding is cleared up, and we get to see his more caring and considerate side. I love that he is straightforward and also opens up to the female lead, so it a two-way conversation and not just one person pouring out their heart.
#3. Son Ho-Jun as Kim Young-Soo (Hye-Ja’s older brother)So far, I see him as the comedic relief for the drama, and I love that, but I have a feeling that his character has been set up for so much more than that. At some point, he might need to get his act together and find a job or start up something of his own. I would not mind if he even starts helping around the house instead of merely sitting at home all day and asking for meat. But for now, he is a great comedic character.
#4. Ahn Nae-Sang as Hye-Ja’s father He is a taxi driver and a loving father. Right now, I see him as the good cop towards his children, unlike his wife. He is their protector, constant supporter and the one who always catches them in case they backslide a little but I can tell that he has a softer spot for Hye-Ja. I guess that is why he had to be the catalyst for Hye-Ja to use the watch again, although this caused her to age so suddenly, I am still happy that she was able to save him.
#5. Lee Jung-Eun as Hye-Ja’s mother She is a certified hair stylist and the “bad cop” parent in the family. I still love her though because there has to be someone in your life who gives you that well-needed reality check once in a while and she executes it on a timely basis. She is at the same time the harsh encourager, she pushes you to see the best in yourself and not settle for less. I know that her expectations for Hye-Ja are very burdensome, but I like that she does not want her to end up as a hair stylist. At the same time, I see nothing wrong with being a hairstylist because, in this generation, everything can be capitalised on if done correctly.
#6. Kim Ga-Eun as Lee Hyun-Joo (Hye-Ja’s friend)First things firsts, I have a feeling that she might still end up dating Hye-Ja’s brother again. That aside, there is not much to say about this character, so I am waiting to see more of her before I decide on how relevant she is to the story.
#7. Song Sang-Eun as Yoon Sang-Eun (Hye-Ja’s friend)Now she is another comic relief to me but a very laid back type. The scene where the girls were discussing her contract with the management company is just funny, and I hope that as the story progresses, she also gets smarter with her decisions. And just like the other friend, I have nothing much to say about her for now.
#8. Kim Young-Ok as Lee Joon-Ha’s grandmotherGrandma is one of my favourite older actresses, she really shines in every other drama I have seen her in. She is the captain to our leads’ ship, but unfortunately, she dies by the end of episode two. I was saddened by her death because it meant that Lee Joon-Ha was now alone because his father is not reliable. I was also really disappointed in her decision to side with her alcoholic and abusive son over her grandson with an actual future, but I guess that is the unconditional love of a mother.
Most Memorable Scenes:
#1. Brother Rides The Ambulance. Now, this was pure comedy. The brother is simply a character, and I am here for it. At first, when he began taping the door, the first thought that came to my mind was if he was going to be able to breathe with no air coming in and out of that room. But I guess he was too hungry to think it through. And the fact that even when he was being carried away in the ambulance, he still reminded the paramedic to help him flip the meat was pure gold. Like excuse me sir, but you nearly died, is your meat really that important at this point? He also did not seem to learn from that experience because the next day during breakfast, he still had the guts to speak about grilled beef. He got a good beating from his mom. He is definitely the comic relief, but I also need to see him adulting up at some point.
#2. Friends in UnisonThis was a funny and cute scene for me. It has been stuck in my head for a while now. The fact that they simply just analysed the flirty announcer’s character in a few seconds was utterly hilarious and doing so in unison made it even better. I love Kim Hye-Ja’s friends, and I hope to see more of them. I know that she had her mom tell them that she left for Germany after her sudden change in appearance, but I really want her to let her friends know and see how they deal with it. I honestly feel that they will help her relax a little bit more throughout this ordeal.
#3. Lee Joon-Ha’s Drastic Move Against His DadOkay, I was really shocked when Joon-Ha came back into the room all bruised and bloody. The first thought that ran through my mind was how long has he held in that resentment towards his dad for him to make the decision of injuring himself to that point. That was a really drastic move, but I could understand the drive behind his decision to do that. Honestly, no one wants an alcoholic and an abuser for a father and the fact that his grandmother encourages such behaviour really disappointed me. Joon-Ha made that move to get his dad away from the peaceful space that he had living with his grandmother. Unfortunately, all his effort was ruined by the very person he was trying to protect. I get that a mother’s love for her child is undying, but at what expense are you willing to support such a son like Joon-Ha’s father. By helping her son, she might have just jeopardised the career of her grandson. I just hope Joon-Ha finds someone to talk to soon because by the end of episode two he was alone and lonely.
#4. Kim Hye-Ja’s Race To Save Her DadThis part of the drama really proved the determination of Kim Hye-Ja’s character. Although she might say, she has given up and feels inferior to others, this scene showed that there was still this little fighter in there waiting to exhale. I love that she did not give up, no matter how many times she fell, she was quick to stand up and try again. This was an empowering scene because it shows that sometimes life throws things at you that you cannot seem to unravel in one go, it takes time, but you just have to keep on moving forward and not looking back. Even if you lose something along the way like Kim Hye-Ja lost her youth. Suicide, like she might be thinking of in the next episode, should not be your only option. I remember a quote from my favourite animation series ever, Avatar: the last Airbender. It goes like this “when we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change”, but it all boils down to if you have the faith and the patience to fight for your situation to change and I know that Kim Hye-Ja’s character has just taken the first step towards her most significant change.
Overall, The Light in Your Eyes exceeded my expectation to a certain level. It was at the very bottom of my list for the dramas I was looking forward to watching in 2019. If you need to see that list, here is a link to it: My 2019 Drama List. It showcased the real-life situations I desired, and I love how it was done. I also got to see very emotional and fragile moments from our leads and their respective families, so Kudos to the actors and actresses for doing a fantastic job with their characters. Like I mentioned already, the characters are quite raw to me, so there is a potential for growth, which gives it another check from me. But since there is still a lot of information that I need to fully understand the time travel and ageing aspect of the drama, I will have to give this some time before I can be entirely sold on this storyline. As usual, I got my fingers crossed, hoping for the best.
My rating for this premiere will be 9/10. I will continue watching, and by the end of the show, the final verdict review will be posted for you all to know my thoughts on this drama. If you have not seen the first two episodes of this drama already, go check it out and tell me if we have any similar views. Till my next post, take care.