Alice is a fast-paced, intricately-woven time travel story with twists and turns that kept me on my toes all the way through its 16 episodes. It was absolutely excellent – until about five minutes before the ending, where the story became inconsistent with its own rules. Darn!
In the year 2050 time travel finally became possible because of Alice.
Yoo Min-Hyuk and his girlfriend Yoon Tae-Yi left Alice and traveled to 1992 in order to find the Book of Prophecy, a record predicting the end of time travel. When their mission had proven successful, before they were able to head back to Alice, Tae-Yi received news that she was pregnant and, realizing the radiation in the wormhole she had passed through to find the Book of Prophecy could have already harmed her baby, made the difficult decision to run away and stay in 1992 to have and raise her child. Tae-Yi changed her name and devoted her entire life to her son, Jin-Gyeom.
In 2010, just before he graduated from high school, Park Jin-Gyeom walked into his home late one night and found his mother lying on their living room floor, her clothes soaked with blood. While he tenderly held her in his arms, she passed away and Jin-Gyeom made the decision to become a police officer, vowing to one day catch her killer.
Now (in 2020), a lieutenant on the police force, Officer Park finds himself investigating some unusual cases, and things really get strange when he witnesses time actually stop as he sees a woman who looks exactly like his mother.
“A person is built by the time they experienced.” – Yoo Min-Hyuk
At just six years old, Park Jin-Gyeom was diagnosed with Alexithymia (a personality trait characterized by the subclinical inability to identify and describe emotions experienced by one’s self or others). The doctor told Jin-Gyeom’s mother that her son was lacking in social emotion but further explained that because he had high cognitive abilities his Alexithymia may be improved through repetitive learning. After his mother’s death, Jin-Gyeom decided to become a police officer in order to find her killer. He achieved the honor of being the police academy’s top graduate and is now a lieutenant of Seoul’s Nambu Division Investigation Team Number Two.
When Yoon Tae-Yi was a little girl her biological mother left her at an orphanage and disappeared. Ever since then she has wanted to build a time machine and go back to see her mother once again. Tae-Yi is currently a physics professor at Hangul University Department of Sciences. Her adopted parents own a Chinese restaurant called Crime Squad because her father had dreamed of becoming a cop. Tae-Yi lives with her younger sister.
Main supporting characters…
*Yoon Tae-Yi is a time traveler from Alice who took on the name Park Sun-Young and stayed in 1992 to have her baby. She is Park Jin-Gyeom’s mother.
*Yoo Min-Hyuk is the time traveler who went back to the year 1992 with his partner Yoon Tae-Yi for the sole purpose of finding the Book of Prophecy. He is of high rank at Alice.
*Kim Do-Yeon developed a crush on Jin-Gyeom while they were in high school. She is now a reporter for a major newspaper and her feelings for Jin-Gyeom have only deepened.
*Officer Go Hyeon-Seok took Jin-Gyeom to live with him and his wife after the young man’s mother was murdered. He is like a father to Jin-Gyeom.
*Officer Kim Dong-Ho is Jin-Gyeom’s partner. He is very athletic and really respects Officer Park.
*Doctor Jung Dong-Sik is the man who was murdered trying to keep the Book of Prophecy from falling into the hands of time travelers.
Alice is Joo Won’s comeback drama, his first since returning from his mandatory military assignment, and what a comeback it is. The man has always been a phenomenal actor and being on hiatus from the entertainment industry for a year and a half didn’t dampen his talent one tiny bit. Kdrama lovers are so lucky to have this gifted, skilled actor back on the small screen. For information about Joo Won, who portrays Lieutenant Park Jin-Gyeom, you can click on my My Sassy Girl review.
You can read about Kim Hee-Sun, the actress who plays Professor Yoon Tae-Yi/Park Sun-Young by going to my review of Room No. 9.
Just a quick note – Joo Won is ten years younger than his co-star Kim Hee-Sun. Her character in the show is a few years older than his but not by ten years. With the information we are given, I figured out Tae-Yi in 2020 was seven years older than Jin-Gyeom. In real life, Joo Won is 33 which puts Hee-Sun at 43.
There are a few years with significance in this story:
1992 is when the time travelers Yoo Min-Hyuk and Yoon Tae-Yi go looking for the Book of Prophecy.
2010 is when Park Jin-Gyeom’s mother is murdered.
2020 is when Jin-Gyeom discovers time travel is possible.
And 2050 is when Alice made time travel a reality.
According to senior time traveler Yoo Min-Hyuk, “Alice was made to heal wounds from the past.” Clients who participate in time travel agree to adhere to Alice’s rules but, unfortunately, not everyone follows those rules and that’s what triggers events that begin to threaten Alice’s very existence.
So here are a couple things that crossed my mind when the show was over…
First of all, you need to know that Alice was created in 2050. In the story, there is an older woman that travels back to 2020, which is when she was about 35-years-old, so she could definitely still be alive in 2050 and approach Alice for a chance to time travel. However, one guy is about 5 in 2020 so he’d be at least 55-years-old when time travel was invented but he looks to be only about 25 when he travels back to 2020. That just doesn’t work right mathematically. Next, I guessed people in 2050 must have had to approach Alice and ask to time travel, and that led me to believe anyone could do it. But the show never comes out and says that so, it would have been nice to know exactly how “clients” were selected. And third, certain people in 2020 are able to go to 2050 (ahead in time) but the show never clarifies whether people in 2050 can go forward in time. I wonder…
Those of you who are fans of Heart & Seoul know by now how much I love time travel shows. They’re some of my favorites. Because the reality of the concept has yet to be proven, anything goes – our imagination is the limit. We can meet ourselves, we can’t meet ourselves; we can change the past, we can’t change the past – whatever the writer decides is fine, until they go against the time travel rule they themself set up, and then it blows everything to pieces. Unfortunately, Alice’s writers (three people are credited as the drama’s writers) did just that. What we were told would happen actually did happen… and then, it didn’t. What??????? Ahhhhhhhh! This perfectly good, very compelling time travel show was given a messed up ending. Was that the writers’ intention from the beginning? No, I can’t believe that. I’m guessing they were pressured into fixing the original ending to satisfy the audience. Maybe not, but… Oh, rats!
You might be wondering just who the Alice in the drama is. Well, Alice isn’t a person, it’s a place, the place where time travel was built, the place that keeps time travel possible. I kind of expected Alice to be an acronym but they never explained the name. It was when the show made reference to the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland that I realized that is where Alice got its name. Kind of clever, huh?
The first couple of episodes are filled to the brim with action galore, so much so that it almost tired me out! However, as the show progresses, the action begins to wane a little. There’s still quite a bit of chasing, fighting, and shooting that takes place throughout the entire thing but not as much as in the beginning of the story. And it looks as though, like Lee Byung-Hun in Iris and Lee Seung-Gi in Vagabond, Joo Won actually performed his own stunts. There’s one scene where Lieutenant Park jumps from one moving car to another and we actually see Joo Won’s face the whole time. Now, we either give kudos to the editing department and a stuntman, or a round of applause to actor Joo Won, and I’ll put my money on the latter.
Is this drama perfect? Sadly, no. There are a few things that are contradictory to what we’re told (the ending being one of them). I’d love to just mention them right now but there’s no way I’m going to be responsible for ruining the story for you. If you would like to discuss them with me after you have finished the show, make sure to write to me in the “Contact Us” spot at the top of Heart & Seoul’s main page, and I’ll get back to you.
In the drama we not only get to see Jin-Gyeom uncharacteristically dance, looking almost mechanical, but he sings a lovely ballad as well. The producer, writers, director?… someone smart took advantage of Jo Won’s lovely voice and made a place in the story for us to hear him sing. Good thinking. Now on to my thoughts about three songs on the show’s soundtrack. My roommate said the chorus of From You, performed by the amazing duo N. Flying, sounded like the chorus of Rihanna‘s Umbrella. I didn’t realize it until my friend mentioned it but, yep, there is a slight similarity between the two. Give it a try and see what you think. Whenever Wherever Whatever, sung by Ben, is what I consider to be the show’s main love song. It’s very pretty and quite appropriate for a story about time travel. The song Secret, performed entirely in English, is sung by YuJu (from Gfriend) and rapped by ISHXRK. Wow, what a powerful song!
The background that stands out most in the show is, of course, Alice. It is an oval, dome-shaped, metal building tucked away in the woods. The interior is huge, with lots of offices, living quarters, and control rooms. They did a good job making the aesthetics of the place look futuristic. And the guns in 2050 are so cool – they assemble themselves when the user grabs them and they leave extremely tiny holes in the victim. So awesome!
I liked Alice, in fact, I really liked Alice. Despite the few inconsistencies and the ending that wasn’t right, Alice is an excellent, engaging fantasy that will draw you in and hold your interest the whole way through. Although it’s not quite as good as Nine: Nine Times Time Travel, I definitely give it a big thumbs up.
Acting – especially Joo Won’s
Interesting time travel concepts
Excellent, exciting action
Joo Won’s return to Kdramas
Cool guns from 2050
Some inconsistencies, especially the ending