Greetings Readers! Another week, another review. And this is one of my top favorite korean dramas. You know, those types of plots that keep you on the edge of your seat? A supernatural drama, with booming personalities and average plot. A drama which explores a lot of human tendencies. Yes, today we will be taking a look at the ‘ While You Were Sleeping Review ‘.
And no, it is not a korean remake of Sandra Bullock’s film of the same name.
While You Were Sleeping Review
|Alternative Names : 당신이 잠든 사이에|
Air Date : September 27, 2017 to November 16, 2017.
Number of Episodes : 32 episodes ( 35 minutes each episode )
Cast : Lee Jong Suk ( Jung Jae Chan ), Bae Suzy ( Nam Hon Joo ) & Jung Hae In ( Han Woo Tak ).
Nam Hon Joo possesses the ability to view the deaths of others in her dreams; somewhat like premonitions. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know when the deaths will happen, and all she can do is try and warn the people. Everyday, she wakes up and writes what she saw in her dreams on small sticky notes.
Meanwhile, Jung Jae Chan, the rookie prosecutor and his brother move in next doors to Hon Joo. At the prosecutor’s office, he happens upon Yoo Bum; an old friend of his until an incident took place, causing Jae Chan to dislike him.
One night, Jae Chan dreams of a scenario where Yoo Bum drives Hon Joo’s car and a chain of events take place. These events ultimately lead to Hon Joo and her mother’s death. Stricken by the reality of the dream, he takes extreme actions to avoid the situation, thus saving Hon Joo. In the aftermath of these events, the protagonists get acquainted with each other and solve cases together. The drama revolves around these cases and the original plot as it takes form in these cases.
While You Were Sleeping Review : Plot Positives
So what makes ‘While You Were Sleeping’ a drama worth the watch?
1. Genre & Concepts
It’s a legal and supernatural drama; a weird combination, but an interesting one. I like the concept of premonition dreams and mostly, trying to guess when and how it will happen. The suspense and the thrill of every case had me on the edge of my chair, trying to guess what will happen next. One would think that once a case is over, it has nothing to do with the rest of the story. But, in reality, the drama feeds off intertwined events and change of course. It stresses on the butterfly effect ( see article on Butterfly effect here ) of events; how one simple conversation can majorly change a situation for the better or the worse. The drama also provides more emphasis on the concept of ‘fate’ and human tendencies.
We can witness this in various instances, such as the culprit’s motives or the prosecutor’s purpose of taking up the case. A strong example of this is Yoo Bum ( I’ll explain this in detail later ).
2. The Legal Environment
Considering this is a legal drama, it gives a rough yet unrealistic idea of how a court room works. Yes, it is accurate on how manipulate and careful one has to be to direct the case in their favor. But the legal in this drama is definitely not too serious. Most of the comedy takes place in the prosecutor’s office itself.
3. Comedy & Character Relations
Speaking of comedy, there are so many hilarious instances in this which really lighten up and balance the drama. For instance :
1. Hon Joo talking about armpit hair, oblivious to the fact that Jae Chan is present in the room. 2. Jae Chan talking about being able to write with his snot, oblivious to the fact that Hon Joo is nearby. These two instances had me in tears from second-hand embarrassment.
Besides all of this, the friendship of the trio ( Jae Chan, Hon Boo and Woo Tak ) is one to remember. There is no unnecessary love triangle, just plain understanding, romance and friendship. And they make one killer group for solving cases. But this is not limited to the protagonists alone. Every supporting character projects a strong and reliable relationship with each other, regardless of their differences. Moreover, every character has a small story dedicated to them, which in my opinion, is a major plus point. It feels better if we get to know the characters more, yes?
These are some of the reasons why I thoroughly enjoyed While You Were Sleeping.
While You Were Sleeping Review : Negatives
What makes While You Were Sleeping unpleasant?
1. Inaccurate Justification To Progress The Plot
If we were to make the plot of While You Were Sleeping accurate, it wouldn’t be able to continue on with its story at all. There are two instances that I know which can never take place realistically. This is a negative plot point because this is a legal drama; the least I expect it to be is accurate. Which it isn’t, and it is extremely displeasing to those who watch for accurate plots.
1. When Li Ji Gwang ( Min Soong Wook ) allows the autopsy to pass because the family doesn’t wish for it to happen. Practically speaking, if the death seems unreasonable, the autopsy has to take place by compulsion. I am not sure if this rule applies in all countries, but I will leave it here. 2. When Son Woo Joo’s son receives a kidney from a grown human while autopsy was being conducted on him. Now, this is extremely rare, and I honestly feel it is too unrealistic, even for a drama. So, this serves as a major plot hole. 3. Han Woo Tak is color blind, if so, the producers never hint us properly on how he even passed the police exams. Just because the plot needed it, they mentioned it.
2. The Fast Pacing That Hits You Like A Truck
I have never seen a faster pacing for a drama in my life. A few minutes in and already we get a jist of the ending episodes. Well, yes, it still gives us the suspense, but they could have kept that on hold and let it age like a fine wine. Then we could have enjoyed it far more. To some viewers, this may be a positive point.
3. The Romance Is Limited
I am fine with limited romance, honestly, as I look out for plot more. But, this is a legal, supernatural and ‘romance’ drama; so perhaps there should be an equal focus to that as well. If you compare it with the other dramas, it lacks majorly in this department. However, there is still a bit of it so don’t get disheartened.
In conclusion, While You Were Sleeping is a web of beautiful yet broken concepts. But I guarantee, it is worth watching even if you do not enjoy korean dramas.
While You Were Sleeping Review : Characters
As I said above, most of the characters have a nice detailed personality. Almost as if it were a book description, While You Were Sleeping focuses on every characters habits and personality. We will take a look at it here.
1. Bae Suzy as Nam Hoon Joo
Nam Hon Joo works at a chicken restaurant with her mother. She experiences dream premonitions but can do nothing to stop them.
Bae Suzy played this character well, in my opinion. She perfectly reflects Nam Hon Joo’s smart woman ‘femme fatale’ persona in this. Nam Hon Joo as a character is one of the best I have seen. She isn’t dependent on anyone for too long and is quick to her feet. At times, she is quirky which adds a refreshing feeling to the drama. She is shown to be understanding and trusts Jung Jae with his judgment.
Honestly, I feel Suzy could do better with her acting here. There are quite a few scenes where her acting seems almost robotic and emotionless. But otherwise, spot on.
2. Lee Jong Suk as Jung Jae Chan
Lee Jon Suk makes another appearance here. From eccentric millionaire Kang Chul in W : Two Worlds to rookie prosecutor Jung Jae Chan, Jong Suk never fails to play his roles to perfection.
The thing I like about Jung Jae as a character is his thirst to fight for what’s right. There is one scene where Yoo Bum tells him to let the case go and not bother with the truth. Any other prosecutor may have heeded his words, but Jung Jae says otherwise. At first, he is unwilling, but he ends up helping anyways. I especially enjoyed the court scenes where he tactfully fights the cases. His character has that foolish yet kind personality; sometimes his decisions made me flare up, but overall a gem.
By the way, his facial expressions are one to look out for. 😉
3. Jung Hae In as Han Woo Tak
After going through every comment under every episode, it seems Han Woo Tak is a fan favorite. And for a good reason too. He is the policeman that Jung Jae ends up saving. Along with Hon Joo and Jae Chan, Woo Tak forms the trio of the ‘ Three Flying Dragons ‘ ( as dubbed by him ). Together, they help solve cases.
Woo Tak just simply reminds me of his dog in the drama. I have no idea why! 😂 Cute, but at the same time a badass, Woo Tak is righteous and fit to be the ideal policeman. I absolutely love how he supports both Hon Joo and Jae Chan, and won’t hesitate to put his life in danger for them. Just like Jung Jae, he will fight for what’s right, just, he doesn’t mind if it puts his life in jeopardy. We are hinted that Woo Tak holds a secret; it is revealed later on in the show as and when the plot requires it. If you are observant enough, you might even be able to guess it.
I wish he would get more screen time than he already has!
4. Lee Sang Yeob as Yoo Bum
Ah, seriously, I made this character section of the review simply for Yoo Bum. He is the lawyer, and an old acquaintance of Jung Jae. Some incident took place which created a rift between them. In the show, Yoo Bum is often shown taking up cases for the accused.
Yoo Bum is a character caught in his own mistakes. One cannot coin him as an antagonist, nor is he the bad guy. In fact, if one had to provide him with a term, it would be ‘typical human’. Yoo Bum is aware that what he does for his job is wrong, and that his decisions will only make it worse. But once he is stuck in this continuous spiral, he can’t get out. He doesn’t care how his decisions will affect others; he is the epitome of a self-centered human. It is worth mentioning how the writers reflected his personality through his habits, such as rolling up bits of paper while thinking, vigorously washing his hands after helping the accused. Or constantly unclasping his watch; a sign of ‘payment for services’. These little touches brought out the humanizing elements of the drama considerably.
I feel Yoo Bum’s character was the hardest to play among all and Lee Sang Yeob did him justice.
5. Kim Won Hae as Choi Dam Dong
At first sight, he may seem like any other irrelevant supporting character who doesn’t have a strong addition to the plot, but hell no. Choi Dam Dong is a perfect example of how Yoo Bum’s actions affect others.
Kim Won Hae is one of my favorites when it comes to supporting characters. Whenever he is in a drama, it completely ups my likeability of the series, simply because he can play literally any character. As he is somewhat a spoiler character, I won’t say much about him. However, he is definitely an important piece of the series.
While You Were Sleeping Review : Final Thoughts
The plot, the characters, the emphasis on details, everything is done to perfection. This drama will leave you with mixed feelings about it. Especially the ending, it will leave you in awe and then anger as it is pretty bittersweet and doesn’t do justice to some characters. But well, perfect endings do not exist, do they?
Please do leave your opinions in the comments section below. I would love to read them. You can also check out my previous reviews on :