Have you ever wished you could go back in time and and redo some of the things you regret from your past? Have you ever been curious about what your life will look like in the years to come? Whether it’s transporting to the past, to the future, or crossing over to a completely different time zone in a parallel world, time travel is one of the most exciting themes used in film and TV narratives.
In 2016, two of the most popular South Korean dramas gave us their take on time travel. Here's a look back at the success of Signal and Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo as we introduce three 2017 time-slip dramas that may follow in their footsteps.
The crime thriller Signal, starring Lee Je-Hoon, Kim Hye-Su and Jo Jin Woong, is one of the most critically acclaimed in Korean cable television history. The main characters don't physically travel through time, but an obsolete walkie-talkie connects past and present events to bring closure to cold cases.
The drama centers on Park Hae-Young, a criminal profiler who distrusts the police due to their incompetence in solving a crime that involved his childhood friend. A misunderstanding with Detective Cha Soo-Hyun brings him to the police station, where he stumbles upon an old piece of evidence. The otherworldly walkie-talkie serves as the line that allows him to communicate with veteran detective Lee Jae-Han from 1989. Together, they solve Hae-Young's friend's disappearance and eventually learn that one petty crime leads to a bigger conspiracy.
2. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo
Another popular drama is the big-budget Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. This adaptation of the famous Chinese novel Bu Bu Jing Xin tells the tale of Go Ha-Jin, a young woman who suddenly finds herself in the Goryeo era, the Korean dynasty established by King Taejo in the year 918. There she lives as Hae Soo and meets the princes of the ruling Wang family. She falls for kindly Prince Wang Wook, before eventually developing feelings for the fearsome Wang So, the masked prince who is known as “wolf dog” and shunned by the royal family.
Despite garnering low domestic ratings in South Korea, Moon Lovers is a hit among international fans, with cumulative views of 2.5 billion in China.
3. Tomorrow With You
Signal star Lee Je-Hoon is back in another time-slip-themed drama, but aside from mystery, Tomorrow With You is also heavy on romance as he gets paired with beautiful actress Shin Min-A.
Je-Hoon plays Yoo So-Joon, a CEO who was able to build his successful real estate investments company at a young age, thanks to his ability to see the future. He tries not to change anything that could affect anyone’s life, until he witnesses his own untimely death and sees a woman who dies with him at the same time.
His instincts tell him that keeping her close might prolong his life. They marry, despite the fact he isn’t initially attracted to her. We all know that it won't be long until he genuinely falls for her, but being a time traveler will surely complicate things. Will present-day So-Joon be able to stop their tragic future?
In 1986, a serial killer is on the prowl, terrorizing young women. An investigative team led by hot-blooded detective Park Gwang-Ho must find the culprit.
During a face-to-face encounter, the fleeing murderer leads Gwang-Ho down a tunnel where he finds himself transported to modern-day Seoul.
Thirty years have passed but the killer is still murdering. Gwang-Ho takes the identity of his missing namesake and joins the detective squad to try to solve the case, with the assistance of criminal psychology professor Shin Jae-Yi.
Tunnel has become the new highest-rated drama in the history of South Korea's Orion Cinema Network. The characters offer strong bromances, with the show's dark atmosphere balanced with light moments. Tunnel is an emotionally gripping series with an intricately written plot and a satisfying payoff.
5. Hit The Top
Cha Tae-hyun stars and co-directs this slice of life variety-drama with his former 2 Days & 1 Night Season 3 director, Yoo Ho-jin.
Yoon Si-yoon plays Yoo Hyun-jae, a popular member of the phenomenal '90s Korean pop idol duo called J2. He time-travels to 2017 and explores the world of the entertainment industry and the daily struggles of young adults in South Korea.
Also starring Lee Se-young, Kim Min-jae, and Yoon Son-ha, Hit The Top features some interesting cameo appearances, hilarious fish out of water antics, complicated romantic relationships, and a heartwarming father and son theme.
The time travel trope challenges writers in terms of how far they can take the audience with their creativity and imagination. Each world establishes its own rules and opens the door for many twists and turns, fantasies and realities. The endless possibilities make us emotionally invested in the story and its unpredictable, at times ambiguous conclusions. Moreover, as is the case with Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, the theme also allows for heavy historical moments to be merged with adorable modern-day hijinks.
Do you like time slip dramas, too? What are your favorites? Sound off in the comments below.