In 2011 Kim Hye-Jung released a novel entitled Fantastic Girl upon which the new fantasy drama Hello, Me! was based. The story tells of a teenager who travels forward in time and is shocked when she discovers how much she has changed – and it’s not for the better.
When it rains, it pours – and lately, poor Ban Ha-Ni has been experiencing a catastrophic typhoon. After weathering one of life’s challenges after another, Ha-Ni awakens from a near-death experience to find herself in a hospital bed and the person she encounters in the bed beside her is none other than herself – from 20 years ago! After sneaking her younger self out of the hospital, Ha-Ni passes her 17-year-old self off as her own daughter and rents a small rooftop apartment, to keep the girl safe and hidden. Teenage Ha-Ni is extremely disappointed that her life has turned out to be completely different than what she had planned and wants nothing more than to return to her own time. After they visit a shaman together and he informs them that the teenage Ha-Ni can only return to 2001 after performing a certain rite while it is raining, the two Ha-Nis attempt to settle into a routine while they await some inclement weather. However, waiting proves to be quite a challenge as the 37-year-old Ha-Ni does what she can to provide for the young woman all the while doing her best to avoid having her meet people they both know- such as her family members, her old best friend, and the guy that had a crush on her 20 years ago.
Once popular and loved by everyone in her high school, the outgoing girl, Ban Ha-Ni, has not turned out the way she had planned. At 17 her goal was to be a beloved idol but she experienced extreme depression after a terrible tragedy struck her family and eventually dropped out of school. Life hasn’t been kind to 37-year-old Ban Ha-Ni. She unfairly lost her part-time job, was jailed for something that wasn’t her fault, and a famous movie star demanded retribution after she wrote disparaging remarks about him online. Thankfully, Ha-Ni at least has a place to lay her head, residing with her older sister while being employed as her housekeeper and working part-time handing out sample products in a grocery store.
The old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” describes carefree Han Yoo-Hyun perfectly. Because his mother passed away when he was young, his wealthy and busy father couldn’t help but spoil him and the young man ended up having no aim or direction in life. As a result, he has dabbled in many skills, rather than gaining expertise by focusing on one, and proudly displays the 80 different licenses he has earned – horse training, scuba diving, paragliding, cooking, martial arts, origami art, dancesport, pet care, natural dyeing, Teddy bear making, food carving… and he’s even a licensed barista. He values the finer things in life but is in no way a snob. Yoo-Hyun has a positive attitude and is seldom without a smile.
While in high school, Yang Chun-Sik was the leader of a small gang of guys who would often bully other kids. He also had a tremendously huge crush on Ban Ha-Ni but only once did she show him the slightest bit of encouragement, and that was just to use him to get out of class. When she dropped out of school and disappeared, he was determined to go on a TV show that locates people’s lost loves and underwent plastic surgery to be more presentable on television. Although he wasn’t able to find Ha-Ni, his life took an unexpected turn for the better and he became Anthony – one of South Korea’s popular movie stars. Unfortunately, his last three movies didn’t do well and his career is now experiencing a bit of a slump.
If you’re at all interested, my Queen of Mystery review contains some information about Choi Kang-Hee, the actress who plays the part of the 37-year-old Ban Ha-Ni.
Thirty-eight-year-old Eum Moon-Seok began acting in 2017, appearing in both the Kdrama Whisper and the feature film Confidential Assignment. On the last day of the year 2019, he won the Best Actor award at the SBS Drama Awards for his role in The Fiery Priest. As a singer, Moon-Seok performs under the stage name SIC.
The gal who plays the teenage Ban Ha-Ni is Lee Re. She began her acting career when she was just six years old, her first role being in the 2012 drama Goodbye Dear Wife. She appeared in two more dramas that year and then debuted on the big screen the following year in Hope, for which she won a Best Supporting Actress award. I know her best from her role as Cha Sa-Rang in the Kdrama Super Daddy Yeol.
I decided to get my roommate’s opinion on this drama’s time travel storyline and ended up spending a good hour talking about the what-ifs surrounding the show’s plot. Do you think it would be possible to meet your younger self? If yes, would you tell your younger self what to stay away from in order to avoid the sorrows and pitfalls you have had to experience? Would you cease to exist if the younger you went back in time and made different decisions than the ones you had made? Mull those questions over for a while and then remember your answers as you watch Hello, Me!
Aside from Anthony, who works for Point Entertainment, all of the other main adult characters in the drama are employed at Joa Confectionery, the successful business owned by Yoo-Hyun’s family, of which his father is the CEO. When they began talking about the “snacks” the company made I was a bit confused. You see, in America, if someone says the word confection, they are meaning treats such as cookies, cakes, and donuts. However, a snack from Joa Confectionary is more like what we in the U.S. would consider chips, ie: pretzels, kettle corn, tortilla chips, cheese puffs… stuff like that. In the drama, the company has an in-house contest, and, along with a cash prize, the snack chosen as the best will be a new product Joa Confectionary will produce. Ha-Ni and Yoo-Hyun form a team and come up with a snack made of tofu sprinkled with puffed rice. I can say with 100% surety that Americans would not call that particular snack “confection.”
At first glance, the relationship between Yoo-Hyun and his father may look like a dysfunctional one, full of animosity, but the more we observe the two men the more we are able to see the motivation involved in their words and actions. The love they have for each other is almost always expressed with sarcasm. When Han Ji-Man tells his son he needs to pay him back for the money he’s spent on him, we understand that is his attempt to teach Yoo-Hyun responsibility. Likewise, when Yoo-Hyun calls his father names, we know he loves his dad and that it’s just his way of expressing his frustration at the situation. I have an older friend who has a sarcastic kind of relationship with her adult sons. They lovingly refer to her as “Old Sack” (which anyone outside the family would consider rude and disrespectful) but she absolutely adores the nickname. Because I’ve seen her goof around with her kids I was able to understand Yoo-Hyun’s relationship with his dad.
Although I wouldn’t say I disliked the teenage Ha-Ni, I can’t really say I liked her either. Lee Re’s acting was a little too bubbly for my liking. She was often overly excited about small things, which didn’t seem authentic to a 17-year-old’s personality. She was a kind girl, but also very selfish. Her tenacity (which can often be a good quality) didn’t appeal to me and she often didn’t follow the rules set in place by the adults that had authority over her – what she wanted, she was determined to have, even if she had to break the rules to get it. And she often thought she was smarter than those around her. If I had been the older Na-Ni, I would have flat out told my younger self that my disobedience had directly resulted in the heartache of my family members which had, in turn, spiraled me into a terrible depression. She wouldn’t need to know what had happened, but I would have tried my best to scare her into being obedient and listening to the adults around her.
One nice thing about this drama is that aside from one person, everybody in the show is likable and without malice. A little more than three-quarters of the way through the show, a scheming person rears their ugly head, causing trouble for everyone in their wake, but that’s about it.
Hello, Me! was broadcast on a free-to-air station (non-cable) which makes its lower single-digest ratings unimpressive. The show began its run with a nationwide 3.8% rating and ended with a slightly lower 3.38%. When I scan a drama’s ratings, the first thing I look for isn’t its highest or lowest rating, it’s the difference between the first and last episode’s numbers because that lets me know whether or not the audience thought the show was interesting enough to follow through with the whole thing. Although Hello, Me! lost a few viewers along the way, I definitely thought it was good enough to stick with.
Since the whole soundtrack is good I’ll just mention a few of the best songs. Weekly performs Wake Up, the drama’s fast-paced opening song. Tonight, sung by Lee Min-Hyuk, is a deliciously slick ballad, my favorite on the soundtrack. Sondia sings Cloudy Day and the harmony she does (I’m assuming it’s with herself) is simply lovely. Soyou whisper-sings the pretty ballad Don’t Smile at Me.
There isn’t a single set/background that stands out in my mind. I felt like what I was seeing was the everyday life of real people. Joa Confectionary has nice, but not elaborate offices (even the CEO’s office isn’t outlandish) and Ha-Ni’s rooftop apartment is extremely small but clean.
There have already been several really good Kdramas in the first half of this year that Hello, Me! can’t even hold a candle to. That being said, the show is worth watching, but only after you’ve seen the three I recently added to my perfect score list.
Kim Young-Kwang makes Han Yoo-Hyun lovable
Original time travel story
Original business (snacks)
Cute relationship between father and son
Teenage Ha-Ni is selfish, impetuous, and too excitable