Hello? It's Me!: the striking return of a past filled with dreams and cassette tapes

Hello? It's Me!

Some days are so challenging that everything turns upside down, life appears to be working against you, and everything seems shrouded in darkness. On those days, you've likely wished more than once to rewind time and alter certain decisions.

But what if, instead of changing your past, it suddenly confronted you? Don't get too excited; I'm referring to the Korean drama "Hello? It's Me!", a narrative where the protagonist, pushed to the edge of her strength, unexpectedly receives a visit from her 17-year-old self, complete with a school uniform and backpack. Neither knows what has transpired or how to rectify this extraordinary situation, but both are resolute that they must collaborate to prevent anyone from discovering their secret, unaware that they are living through a perilous countdown.

I embarked on this Korean drama impulsively—diving in without much research—and was pleasantly surprised to discover it stars actress Choi Kang Hee, renowned for her roles in dramas like Mystery Queen, Heart To Heart, or 7th Grade Civil Servant. I appreciate her acting prowess, as she seamlessly infuses naturalness into her characters, a trait evident in her portrayal of the desperate and downtrodden Ban Ha Ni.

Ha Ni's life is a consequence of a regrettable decision, and her predicament is genuinely heart-wrenching. It makes you want to offer her a comforting embrace, for nothing seems to be going well—she holds a precarious job, and her family situation is far from ideal. Then enters her 17-year-old self, radiant, luminous, and brimming with energy, leaving viewers perplexed as to how someone once so popular, loved, and self-assured could end up in such a state. This becomes a crucial aspect that Ha Ni attempts to shield from her younger self for her own well-being.

Visualize the challenges that await adult Ha Ni as she grapples with the responsibility of caring for a rebellious and arrogant teenage version of herself. While I eventually grew fond of this character, during the initial episodes, I felt an inclination to shake some sense into her for mistreating the protagonist. Simultaneously, Ha Ni must contend with a handsome stranger seeking (financial) assistance on multiple occasions, oblivious to the fact that he is Han Yoo Hyun, the heir to a multinational corporation who has been disowned by his father.

Yoo Hyun shatters the mold of the typical pampered child; he is a cheerful, fun, and affectionate individual who becomes Ha Ni's confidant. His relationship with his father, marked by humor and warmth, defies the conventional portrayals in K-dramas. Kim Young Kwang, an excellent actor known for series like The Secret Life of My Secretary or Plus Nine Boys, and the actor portraying his father, Yoon Joo Sang—a veteran frequently adorned with wigs by scriptwriters—are both commendable.

Within this distinctive tale, we encounter Anthony, a once-in-love admirer of Ha Ni, now a star—or aspiring to be one :D. His bewilderment upon meeting her and her alleged daughter, an uncanny resemblance to Ha Ni in her youth, is entirely logical, considering he is unaware of the circumstances. A lighthearted rivalry unfolds between Anthony and Yoo Hyun as they vie for Ha Ni's affection.

However, Ha Ni, preoccupied with weightier concerns—chief among them, ensuring her teenage self returns to her time before impending calamity—finds herself caught in this romantic tangle. Additionally, as the past is never static—and Seoul apparently a remarkably small city :D—Ha Ni's childhood best friend reenters her life, now a successful executive married to Yoo Hyun's cousin. This past, leaving an indelible mark on Ha Ni's present, incessantly resurfaces, serving as a reminder of what was, what could have been, and the current reality she must confront.

While "Hello? It's Me!" may not qualify as a masterpiece or the best drama in recent memory, it stands out as an original narrative filled with good intentions and positive sentiments—a celebration of life with its triumphs and missteps. The drama underscores the notion that, despite certain unalterable aspects of life, it remains worthwhile when driven by purpose and the love of cherished individuals. The series achieves an excellent equilibrium of drama, fantasy, and comedy, presenting a group of characters grappling with or disavowing their pasts while harboring dissatisfaction with their present circumstances.

The production features commendable performances, endearing characters, amusing interludes, and emotionally charged scenarios, constituting the core ingredients of this delightful and optimistic drama that is bound to tug at your heartstrings on multiple occasions. While the ending may seem somewhat lackluster, and the romantic subplot feels somewhat underdeveloped, I wholeheartedly recommend it if you seek to restore faith in the human experience.

Pros: the squid song, the fascination with limited editions, the encounter with the actor in the field, the thematic messages, the ghost chase, the flashbacks, Ha Ni's nephew, the rivalry between the male characters.

Cons: the tepid romance, the lackluster ending.

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