I Remember You: A Mind Game

I finally picked up this drama after shelving it for some time, and I must say that it is going to be an unforgettable one out of all the shows I’ve seen this year. The online buzz also played a part in helping me to put I Remember You on my watch-list so I thank you, all fellow drama fans for showering it with lots of love ❤ I felt a bit sad after completing the drama though, since it was so good I’m not ready to let it go yet. No, it was exceptional. The plot was clever and the cast made it a joy to watch. If you’ve not caught it, don’t miss it!

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The drama has another official English title, Hello Monster; I Remember You is a literal translation of the Korean title 너를 기억해 (neoreul gi-eog-hae). I do understand why KBS thought Hello Monster was a befitting title though. Watch it if you want to know 😉

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This is my first drama starring Seo In-guk and I really like his portrayal of genius profiler Lee Hyun. While one drama is not enough for me to be completely sold on his acting, Hyun’s inner feelings were relatable despite different circumstances. His self-doubt which was covered up by his cold and aloof personality, the longing for his younger brother Min and a strong wish to catch Lee Joon-young. Perhaps his intelligence level was unrealistic, but his thoughts and emotions were believable; and that is credit to the actor who made his character someone you would want to root for. Hyun was a rather independent person, that’s why his movements were usually solo. I think it was also because he was wary of the people around him, no matter who they were. I’m glad that in the end he learnt that sometimes one needs allies to be on the same page in order to achieve greater things: the police team at the Special Investigation Unit and a partner 😉 Not to forget, his art director friend! I found their bickering quite funny hahaha XD

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Jang Na-ra is super adorable, even as police detective Cha Ji-an. Haha all her stalking ways and when she’s caught off guard in front of Hyun 😀 Smart and dogged in her pursuit of criminals, I love how writer-nim made her out to be a strong heroine (although she had some weak moments too) I appreciate that she had a mind of her own to do things her way, even with the help she received from Hyun. I also enjoyed the camaraderie she shared with her teammates in the police force- all the teasing and their distinct personalities, but when they come together and solve cases it’s like the puzzle pieces fit perfectly. Another highlight was Ji-an’s growth as a character. In the process of being suspicious of Hyun to putting her utmost trust in him, she developed into a better person at the same time. I’m confident that at the end she is a better policewoman than before, learning not to jump into conclusions and being more meticulous in case investigations.

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Lee Hyun and Cha Ji An

They weren’t the lovey-dovey kind of couple, but in my opinion what made their romance powerful was how they brought out the best in each other. In search of his lost childhood memories, Ji-an was just the person Hyun needed to continue seeking the truth head-on without turning back. And to Ji-an, he was someone she needed to find closure to her past wounds. I liked that they both had an emotional connection in terms of their past and because they knew just how hurtful it could be, the feelings and understanding came by easier.

From disliking each other to becoming partners, I liked how they gradually supported each other mutually. Even the littlest things they say to one another- the feels were so great and swoon-worthy. This OTP was awesome in their own right- from the friendship to the budding romance. The romance also took a further leap when they opened up to each other, particularly Hyun as it was hard to tell what he was thinking. For him, it meant letting her through the walls of his closed heart and for her, it was one more person by her side understanding her.

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Team Leader Kang Eun-hyuk played by Lee Chun-hee is one personality I loved in the drama. He was one of the characters who contributed greatly to the comedy of the show. The way he starts rattling off even though no one may be listening to him and his ignorance at times XD As usual, he was great in this role which reminded me of Chunderella (he got this nickname back then in variety show Family Outing) so I’m really glad he took up this role. I enjoyed the sense of humour encompassed by his presence. Though it wasn’t a major character, I appreciated his development over the course of the series: from just a young team leader who joined because [SPOILER AHEAD] his father was the Deputy Police Chief [SPOILER END]  to become a more well-respected leader of the Special Investigation Unit. He was willing to step up for his team, and cared a lot for his teammates as a superior and a friend.

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Choi Won-young was in three drama productions this year, but I think his role as forensic pathologist Lee Joon-ho is probably the most memorable one. Firstly, the character is well-written and the actor played it with sufficient depth. He was able to give a multi-faceted performance which I enjoyed thoroughly. The autopsy scenes weren’t as great as those of OCN’s since the drama was aired on free-to-air KBS network, but the descriptions were very detailed. What struck me was also the actor’s excellent delivery of his lines- they always intrigued me as a viewer [SPOILER AHEAD] even after finding out his real identity. Though he was different, what he hoped for in his heart was something very human- he wanted people to understand him. Despite his twisted mindset, I liked that we got to see things in his perspective which allowed me to show him some empathy although his actions were still wrong. [SPOILER END]

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This is also my first time seeing Park Bo-gum in a meaty role and I am greatly impressed by his performance as Lawyer Jung Sun-ho. The character is interesting and the actor conveyed his emotions across very well. [SPOILER AHEAD] He could be so adorable with a smile, yet unsettling when he dispelled the anger contained inside. Being a young actor, I think he was able to show diverse acting in this role because of its complex persona. Honestly, it was hard to hate him. We could never identify with him entirely but after knowing what his motivations were, I found it heartbreaking and maybe just a bit scary. The human mind can be a complicated place; I’m thankful that he truly followed his heart in the end 🙂 The decisions he made, they were praise-worthy. [SPOILER END] It depicted the character’s growth, amidst the numerous layers and sides of the person  he had to show. This is to the credit of the actor, who sold the character for me.

The plot (and the editing) [SPOILERS AHEAD]

Like I’ve mentioned, the plot was very good and kept me engaged through the end. And the storytelling was amazing, as we moved from case to case before finally reaching the centre of a tightly spun web. One thing I would have appreciated more would be that Hyun uncovering his childhood memories near or at the same time the audience finds out about them. I think it would have kept me more in suspense, rather than being told everything from the beginning. After the first few episodes, more questions did appear in my mind but as the story progressed I began to hold suspicions and became more certain of them as time passed. Hints were given here and there so they only further confirmed what I thought was the case.

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I also like how even some minor characters turned out to be pretty significantly involved in the whole case that was shrouded in mystery. They were not mere plot devices, but people who played their part in various plot points. I think the drama did a remarkable job on that. Some of the flashbacks were also used in a good way, intertwined with happenings in the present. I appreciated how each episode was named with a central theme or question too; the show would always go back to what was stated at the beginning and I could understand why it was titled that way at the end of each episode.

There are a few more things I liked about the drama (Warning: they are spoilers!)

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1) In Episode 3 there was a scene where Hyun pretended to be a trainee police officer and entered the interrogation room to question the suspect. He wore a pair of spectacles and I like his look there! ❤ It was the one and only time he wore it in the drama and I thought it would be a pity not to share it hahaha~ because he looked cute in the glasses and it suit him.

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2) The ending gave me hope for a Season 2, which would be amazing! I wouldn’t mind seeing all the cast come back to film a second part 😉 They shared great chemistry and rapport, from the main leads to the rest of the cast members!

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3) Special mention to the team members of the Special Investigation Unit: Sunbae Son Myung-woo (Min Sung-wook), Min Seung-joo (Kim Jae-young) and Choi Eun-bok (Son Seung-woon). They added colour to the drama, which wouldn’t have been much fun without them. It’s hilarious how Myung-woo always addresses Hyun as Dave (his American name is David) XD And I am so moved by the bromance between Seung-woo and Eun-bok, it fills me with warmth. I have to say the police in this drama are a notch higher compared to the average kdramaland cop. Not those on cable, but the typical policemen. In my opinion they’re a little better since they learnt to exercise more vigilance.

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4) Another special mention to Hyun’s art gallery director friend who really brings laughter. It’s funny how he is reacts to Hyun’s requests for help in reluctance but ends up doing it anyway. And whenever they meet they bicker non-stop, haaa.

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5) I particularly like the underlying message that the show wanted to deliver- No matter what circumstances you grow up in, you have the right to make choices to become the person you want to be and live the life you dream of. Your genes and what you encounter do not define you, because you can create your own unique identity. I watched the drama not knowing what was in store for me; it explored a topic that was intriguing and different from usual. Everything was packaged in a bundle using the best way possible. [SPOILERS END]

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Personally, I think I Remember You is quite difficult to act in as everything is so subtle- the facial expressions, the lines and even the small, slight actions. Writer-nim did a great job in the characters’ dialogue, and the cast played it out equally well. That subtlety was maintained throughout most of the show, and it’s fascinating that the drama continued to be able to evoke strong emotions in me for some parts. [SPOILER AHEAD] One example would be when Hyun saw his younger self in the case involving high school student Lee Jung-ha. The scene at the hospital had this special poignancy for him, which I felt. [SPOILER END]

To me, I Remember You is like a mind game because you have to read between the lines in order to know what the characters are really thinking. It’s nice that the drama did “show not tell” numerous times: it’s powerful and effective in putting across certain emotions. Watching each case unfold makes you put on your thinking cap and ponder over how all of them are linked. And the feeling you get after having connected the dots, it’s indescribable.

Finally I would like to thank all the crew who were part of making this production. To all the directors, producers, scriptwriters and actors who made this drama possible, thank you for this work of art. It was definitely an enjoyable ride. Dear Drama, I will Remember You ❤ Promise.

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7 thoughts on “I Remember You: A Mind Game

  1. Thanks for your review! It makes me want to rewatch the drama again! Despite their low ratings I found that IRY well accepted in overseas compared to Korea. I hope the production will back with some awards from year end award festival coz they deserved it.

    1. You’re welcome! Thank you for reading it 🙂 Yes I agree. The quality of a drama is dependent on many factors. I hope so too!

  2. I Remember You is a well-made drama that had a grip on the material, it constantly knew where it was heading all the time, kept up tension (sometimes even too much tension, I thought I´d get a nose bleed at some point) and the conflicted relationship between the brothers – and the psycho who broke them apart – was what made the drama. The dialogues were gripping and the acting was so elegantly precise.

    1. Hi, yes I agree! It was beyond amazing. I loved how it never changed its direction, and followed through the storytelling all the way. Haha yes, the lines were one of the best things in the drama, coupled with the great cast.

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