‘While You Were Sleeping’: The biggest mindtrip you’ll ever watch
The Korean drama (not the Sandra Bullock rom-com) While You Were Sleeping is a twist on the commonly seen law dramas as it combines legal plotlines with a fantasy storyline in the form of mysterious premonitions. These two elements mix with a slowly blossoming romance between the two leads to produce a well-rounded & thrilling drama.
The story of While You Were Sleeping follows the lives of three individuals: Nam Hong Joo (Suzy), a restaurant worker, Jung Jae Chan (Lee Jong Suk), a rookie lawyer, and Han Woo Tak (Jung Hae In), a police officer. Nam Hong Joo has had mysterious dreams from a young age that often predict the outcome of terrible events, and every time there is little she can do to stop it.
When Jung Jae Chan moves next door to Nam Hong Joo he has a dream involving her and Han Woo Tak, and by interrupting the flow of events, he is able to save them from a terrible fate. The three begin to have dreams of each other and soon realize that they are all connected and together they must discover the reason why.
What dreams may come
The clairvoyant twist in this drama is unexplained to the audience. We are not aware of why the characters, particularly Nam Hong Joo are visited by these visions. The power is simply there and it affects the lives of the protagonists in a way that will forever alter them.
Certainly western audiences wouldn’t be satisfied by this vague explanation but like most dramas, it really isn’t about the intricacies of the plot so much as the character growth born from those little twists.
And speaking of twists, While You Were Sleeping is a minefield of them that keeps us glued to every new plotline. There are many layers to the backstory that unites Nam Hong Joo, Jung Jae Chan, and Han Woo Tak. The story brings us deeper into their bond with each episode and makes every heartbreak a bit more painful and each show of affection a bit more comforting.
The dreams also stir up interesting questions about fate and how people are connected in their lives. It also explores ideas about time and if it is possible to get your time back and change your life in a new direction.
Jung Jae Chan’s interference in Nam Hong Joo and Han Woo Tak’s timelines in order to save their lives is a major turning point in the story and one that profoundly affects Nam Hong Joo who was never previously able to prevent the outcomes of the premonitions she’d had from childhood.
Quite the character
The characters in While You Were Sleeping are well developed and bring out a wide range of emotions. There are moments of tear-jerking sorrow combined with absolutely hysterical comedy. Each character grows in the face of their own struggles, some that are truly daunting.
The three protagonists meet under very strange circumstances as they reveal their own experiences with the dreams. They choose to identify themselves as the “three flying dragons”, a reference to ancient Chinese mystical literature. From then on their connection grows and by increments, they influence one another so that by the end their stories are linked inextricably.
The characters are also faced with a number of moral dilemmas and they deal with them in very human ways. There are flaws that are addressed such as the character Lee Yoo Beom’s ruthless tactics as a lawyer driven by his father’s expectations or impossible situations such as a decision to go through with an autopsy even when it means forgoing an organ donor transplant.
The story isn’t all profound ideas of time & fate and hard-hitting moral conundrums. The drama does well to scatter it’s deeper moments among funny interludes or sweet exchanges of affection. If you are looking for a drama that will take you apart and put you back together again (only in the best way), then look for While You Were Sleeping and you won’t be disappointed.
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