I was really looking forward to The Time We Were Not In Love as the remake of the hit Taiwanese drama In Time With You. I wholeheartedly adored ITWY and to date, it is one of my favourite dramas of all time. I had high expectations for TTWWNIL but I knew not to keep them up too high, but despite my low expectations of the drama, it still managed to really disappoint me, so much so that I just gave up watching it and had to push myself to finish it for the sake of finishing it. In fact, now that I look at it, TTWWNIL completely butchered ITWY. I did finish TTWWNIL in the end and it was nice to see a final closure to the couple who could have had their love story drawn summed up in two eps. The couple already knew themselves that their hearts belong to one another and this was the main reason why the drama was so draggy to watch.
As a remake, you have to at least try to meet the expectations of the drama that you are remaking. At the start TTWWNIL aligned very close to ITWY but as time progressed, TTWWNIL diverged further and further away from ITWY to the point where I could no longer pinpoint it as being a remake. It was more of a standalone drama that drew inspiration from ITWY more than a remake. No two dramas are ever the same, remake or not, but TTWWNIL went out its way to differentiate itself from ITWY, but it went out way too much. I feel like the writing for TTWWNIL tried to change ITWY too much to suit the taste of Korea that it has completely lost the essence that was ITWY. This is very evident throughout the drama, diverging more and more off the tracks of ITWY.
Even so, as a standalone drama, TTWWNIL missed a number of points to position it as a well-written, engaging drama. It went off in the direction of best friends coming to the realisation that they are in love with one another and that was the most problematic situation of the drama. There were already hints that Won and Ha Na already know from the start that they are in love with one another but was never ready to approach that area due to their extensive friendship in love, however, because of that feeling they knew they had for one another, they were unable to discover themselves despite the many opportunities open at them. Won had multiple opportunities to give So Eun a chance but he chose to shut her out because he had already given his heart to Ha Na. Similarly with Ha Na, she had the opportunity to start all over again with Seo Hoo and while she did that the opportunity at it, her heart wasn’t open to that opportunity. This leaves the question of what was the point of having So Eun and Seo Hoo in place if their presence didn’t even serve any purpose?
There was a lack of self-discovery here for the Won and Ha Na. Won spent over 17 years waiting and waiting for Ha Na, shutting himself away from any possible opportunities of a relationship with someone other than Ha Na. There is no certainty that he was ever going to be able to win Ha Na over but still, he chose to wait, to put himself in the same position for 17 years and not giving himself a chance to discovery the numerous open opportunities in front of him. For Ha Na, her heart was already with Won so she was unable to wholeheartedly love anyone else and while she did take the opportunities, her heart didn’t allow her to go very far with them. The fact that Won and Ha Na already had inner callings for one another was what really limited their character progressions and I feel like a lot more progress could have been made with their characters had they opened their hearts.
- What made Li Da Ren so special and everyone wishing for their own Li Da Ren was his willingness to be You Qing’s best friend, supporting her from every way possible. Regardless of where she is in her life, he will be there right by her side. He will be the shoulder for her to lean on, the punching bag for when she needs to vent the anger and the buddy for when she needs to share her happiness around. He is always there for her and the one person who is able to tolerate her personality but it is because how they gel so perfectly well with each other that it took them so long to realise their feelings for one another.
- It took Da Ren quite a while to realise his feelings for You Qing. In fact, he didn’t even know that he was holding feelings for her but they unconsciously surfaced before he even knew himself. He finally came to realise that he has been in love with her for a very long time, but his realisation came at the most mistimed moment so instead of choosing to follow his heart, he chose to suppress his feelings. His heart broke, and my one broke to see him in such a heartbroken state, but being the best friend that he is, he chose to remain supportive for You Qing to the very end.
- I really like how the drama developed Da Ren as a character. I thought it was really well done and the character made all the more realistic through Bolin Chen‘s perfect portrayal. Da Ren was a very real character, who, we were really able to feel the feelings of. We watched him discover himself and the feelings he harbours for You Qing and we watched him take very significant steps to finally getting the girl of his dreams. His character was what really held together the best friend relationship with You Qing.
- Won was nothing like Da Ren but I went into the drama expecting a very similar character, as the character of Da Ren was the core of ITWY. Won was quite certain of his feelings for Ha Na from the very start and that restricted him as a character. As he was already well aware of where he wanted to head with his heart, it didn’t allow him to grow and discovery himself. Instead, he was portrayed as a puppy waiting for his owner’s to look at him and that was not the impression that I wanted to perceive. I really wanted to see him discover himself and his feelings but the fact that he already knew his feelings from the start was really limiting to is character development, and that was the biggest gripe that I had about him. His character in turn didn’t play so well with his and Ha Na’s character development.
Cheng You Qing vs. Oh Ha Na
- You Qing is a very headstrong, determined, professional character yet she has a very warm heart when it comes to love. These characteristics of her was what made me love her so much. She knows where she wants to go and will follow her heart until the very end. She is very certain with the steps that she wants to take but not so with her heart having took the step in the wrong direction one too many times. Despite that she is still willing to take the risk because at the end of the day she knows that she has her best friend ready to catch her if she falls.
- You Qing was a very beautifully written character and I especially love her for taking risks and not afraid to take the necessary steps that are called for. Her strong personality and can make her unlikeable at times but that characteristic of her is what makes her so right for Da Ren. She somehow ticks all the boxes that his heart calls for and despite having two women like that already in his life – his mother and his younger sister – he can’t help but fall in love with You Qing.
- I see similarities between Ha Na and You Qing but Ha Na is a very muted version of You Qing. She bears similar characteristics to You Qing but she doesn’t possess them in that quantity that makes her a headstrong, determined, professional woman. She is in many ways your typical K-drama female lead just with a bit more personality but that was no what I had wanted to see; I wanted to see her as a character with a personality that differs from the crowd because this would have really given her and Da Ren’s relationship that extra push that it really needed. Ha Na is supposed to have a personality that is hard to handle but there’s nothing to her that makes her different to the other K-drama female leads.
Ding Li Wei vs. Cha Seo Hoo
- Li Wei is such a dreamer guy to be with. You Qing had it tough for her caught between Li Wei and Da Ren but in the end her heart won and she chased after the one who truly took her heart away. Li Wei had his way of loving You Qing but at times he pushed her too far. It was never to the point where she lost her personal space but it made her question her own feelings. I like how the drama worked around their relationship in this way because it gave You Qing just what she needed to realise her true feelings.
- I actually was shipping Ha Na and Seo Hoo all the way but they didn’t make it that far. Sure, he might have left her at the worst point in time but he really tried to pursue her again. He just wanted to be with her again but she was really resistant on their relationship because this stems back to the fact that she her heart is already with Won.
- The drama overwrote Seo Hoo as a character, making him appear too much of a dictator in their relationship. I like him but I didn’t like the fact that he was practically dictating how she should be leading her life and rocking up unexpectedly at her work.
Lin Mei Qi “Maggie” vs. Lee So Eun
- Watching ITWY, I know a lot of people got really annoyed with Maggie for being a pushover and constantly trying to change Da Ren into her ideal man but really, she is a person with a kind heart who is trying to fall in love. I actually quite like her as a character and the growth to her. Despite that though, the drama really made use of her character to allow Won to discover his feelings for You Qing. Although she is jealous at You Qing for winning Da Ren, she is very encouraging of their relationship. She has learnt a lot about love and knows that having someone by yourself doesn’t necessarily equate to love if their heart is not there with you and her relationship with Da Ren has really helped to teach her that.
- I am really annoyed with how So Eun was used because her role was basically pushed to the side, making her quite redundant. She tried numerous times but regardless of how many times she tried, Won just wouldn’t budge to look at her and I found that very frustrating because she was supposed to be one of the main factors for Won to realise his feelings. There’s no point for her presence in the drama if she isn’t going to have a set purpose. Like, why have her there but not have her contribute to the drama?
Da Ren and You Qing’s Relationship vs. Won and Ha Na’s Relationship
- I adored Da Ren and You Qing’s relationship. It was really well written and we got to see them in every stage in discovering that they were in love with each other. Their mistiming was also nicely represented with her being single while he was taken and vice-versa. I think this aspect was also nicely incorporated into the way their relationship developed.
- The biggest difference between their relationship was the fact that Won and Ha Na already knew they were in love with each other since they met while Da Ren and You Qing gradually developed feelings for one another throughout their extensive friendship. For Won and Ha Na the fact they were aware of their feelings for one another really impacted on their relationship progression. It restricted them from pursing other romantic ventures as their hearts weren’t exactly open to being with anyone else other than each other.
- Falling in love, Da Ren and You Qing still had that best friend aspect to their relationship whereas Won and Ha Na completely lost that. Partially due to this is how Won and Ha Na already knew their feelings early on so their friendship came about more so as a stepping stone for their relationship development rather than as a pure friendship. It took them 17 years to confess to one another and the reason for not being able to fall in love with one another was pretty stupid.
- I really like how being lovers, Da Ren and You Qing were still able to fall back as best friends. That really made their relationship so special and interesting to watch. It was so cute watching them call one another as best friends, hehe, love them!
Da Ren and Maggie’s Relationship vs. Won and So Eun’s Relationship
- Da Ren and Maggie actually had a romantic relationship unlike Won and So Eun. Da Ren’s relationship with Maggie was a real big stepping stone towards allowing him to fully figure out how he feels towards You Qing. It placed him in a position of realisation and this relationship really allowed his true feelings to show through. The feelings that he has for You Qing has always been something subconscious in him but his relationship with Maggie has allowed them to come through on the surface. It allowed his feelings to really peak through in the sense they played with his heart for Maggie. Da Ren is not a person who toys around with feelings so the moment they started to peak through, he just knew where his heart was calling him.
- Won and So Eun had anything but a romantic relationship. So Eun tried but Won wouldn’t even give her a chance. So Eun, trying so hard and standing in front of his eyes but he chose to look elsewhere, choosing to wait for Ha Na.
- I would have liked to Won and So Eun get together because I feel like this relationship would really allow Won further discover himself and the feelings that he harbours for Ha Na. I say this, but it actually wouldn’t have worked because Won was already aware of his feelings for Ha Na from the beginning. The drama just ruined the potentials that it held because it didn’t even have the heart of ITWY from the beginning.
You Qing and Li Wei’s Relationship vs. Ha Na and Seo Hoo’s Relationship
- I got really annoyed with Ha Na and Seo Hoo’s relationship because the whole time watching I just felt. While they did get reconcile with one another, their relationship didn’t feel that way. It was always quite one-sided with Seo Hoo doing lots of the contributing while Ha Na falls into the relationship because it is expected of her to do so. It’s not as evident with Ha Na as it was with Won but she, too, was already aware of her feelings when she was first friends with Won and because of that it’s something you have to take into account when she proceeded on with a relationship with Seo Hoo. Ha Na was never invested into their relationship, with her mind always elsewhere.
- There’s wishy-washy-ness to You Qing and Li Wei’s relationship too. You Qing was sure she loves him but her heart was not so sure about it, constantly pushing off his marriage proposals. Despite that though, she was invested into their relationship and really enjoyed spending together with him. Li Wei might not be the best person to be with You Qing but he tried his best and I actually liked watching them together. Contrast this with Ha Na and Seo Hoo’s relationship and you’ll see Ha Na was not comfortable being with him. In fact, every time she was with him, she was anticipating seeing Won and that is a clear indicator that she isn’t exactly in love with Seo Hoo.
- Ha Na just called off her relationship with Seo Hoo because she was no longer feeling her heart beat for him. Not just this though but she very quickly turned around and started a relationship with Won. I didn’t like how the drama wrote their relationship because looking at the bigger picture, it didn’t really help Ha Na to grow. It was more like she was using Seo Hoo to pass time than anything and that was not what their relationship was about.
My feelings towards TTWWNIL is quite negative, not because it did not live up to expectations but because it have the essence that was ITWY. Of course, TTWWNIL stands as a standalone drama but as a remake there are some expectations to be met, except it never met them. It butchered ITWY, diverging away from that direction and headed off into a completely different direction of its own. Watching TTWWNIL made me respect and love ITWY more than I ever did. ITWY is truly a spectacular drama that wins on every merit possible. It is truly amazing and quite breathe-taking to watching. There is a reason I love it so much and now I appreciate it even more.