Nine: Nine Time Travels

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NINE: NINE TIME TRAVELS

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Just finished watching tvN’s drama Nine: Nine Time Travels which aired March to May of 2013. The drama was a time travel saga about one man who goes back in time to change his world. Lee Jin Wook played Park Sun Woo, a reporter at CBM and a man that has spent the past 20 years hating Choi Jin Chul, the man that Park Sun Woo believes was responsible for his father’s death. When he gets the chance to go back in time, he takes it in the hopes of saving his family. His actions in the past have consequences that he could not have foreseen.

As stated above, Lee Jin Wook is Park Sun Woo in present time. Park Hyung Shik played the 18 year old Sun Woo in 1992. Jo Yoon Hee plays Joo Min Young, Sun Woo’s love, but she is also Yoon Shi Ah, which Sun Woo finds out too late. Park Jung Woo is Sun Woo’s brother, played by Jun Noh Min as the 2013 version and Seo Woo Jin as the 1992 version.  Lee Seung Joon plays Han Young Hoon, Sun Woo’s close friend and close confidant to the journey that Sun Woo takes into the past. Finally, Jung Dong Hwan plays Choi Jin Chul, the villain of the piece.

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The drama starts with our hero discovering that he has a terminal illness. When he realizes that nothing can be done to save him, he finally risks his heart and asks the woman he loves to be with him until his death. Not that he tells her that he is dying, being the stoic man that he is. That woman is Joo Min Young. The two decide to make the best of their time together.

Besides dealing with his terminal illness, there are a lot of other harsh realities that Sun Woo has to face. Sun Woo’s mother lives in a sanitarium, not speaking or recognizing anyone. Sun Woo’s brother has recently died on a snowy mountain in Nepal with an incense stick gripped in his hands. Sun Woo also wants to get his revenge against the man he believes killed his father before he dies. The man, Choi Jin Chul, is a powerful figure in today’s world. Sun Woo’s questions and allegations during an interview with Choi Jin Chul start an investigation into Choi’s activities. In this time, CBM through Oh Chul Min, Sun Woo’s employer and mentor, not only supports Sun Woo’s allegations but also does it’s own investigations and presents them to the world.

When Sun Woo discovers magical incense sticks, through the initial work of his deceased brother, that will allow him to go into the past to save his brother and father, he eagerly takes that opportunity. He goes back in time and gets his brother to reunite with the love of his life, believing this will stop his brother’s wanderings and keep him happy. What we then see is how changes in the past affect the present time of these characters. In the present time, not only is Sun Woo’s brother alive, but Sun Woo has accidentally made Joo Min Young his niece. The woman Park Jung Woo reunited with was Joo Min Young’s mother, and Min Young, who once used to be known as Yoon Shi Ah, has now become Park Min Young. Sun Woo tries to accept that reality, but slowly realizes that while his brother is alive, he is not truly happy. The  man is a doctor, chief of surgery, but is also addicted to drugs.

Sun Woo then goes back into time to save his father, but is unsuccessful in the attempt. He is able to discover who killed his father. He records the event, and discovers that his brother killed his father trying to protect their mother. Choi Jin Chul discovered the truth and stepped in to take advantage of the situation. By blackmailing Jung Woo, Jin Chul is able to get control of the family hospital and become rich beyond his dreams. In the struggle to save his father, older Sun Woo gives young Sun Woo enough clues to prevent the future him from dying in the hospital from his terminal illness.

Sun Woo is justifiably angry at his brother for his hiding the truth. He even beats him up at one point. But Sun Woo sees his brother’s behavior in the present and realizes that the huge burden that his brother carries at the accidental murder of the father who raised him makes it impossible for him to be happy in this time. Sun Woo goes back in time to urge Jung Woo to confess, but that attempt not only fails but almost results in the death of Sun Woo by Jin Chul’s minion. Sun Woo’s brother commits suicide, unable to accept what he had done. Not only in the past, but in the present time by separating Sun Woo and Min Young. Once his brother dies, Sun Woo goes back in time one last time to expose the truth. He arrives in time to save young Sun Woo and sends the boy off to Oh Chul Min, his future mentor, so that the truth can be exposed regarding his father’s murders and Choi Jin Chul’s acts in hiding the crime.

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The present changes immediately, and we see Joo Min Young at the church, ready to marry Park Sun Woo. Her original stepfather, a lawyer from Boston, is there, as well as her mother, who is happy with her life but unhappy with Min Young. As time goes by and Sun Woo does not come, each of the parties aware of his time travel (his brother, best friend and Min Young) fear that something has gone terribly wrong.

As the incense runs out and Sun Woo awaits his return to his present, it takes him moments to realize that he has not returned. The incense had stranded him in the past. Minutes turn into half an hour, and more, but he does not return. Confused, he records a message for his friend, saying that he is unsure of what is going on. Choi Jin Chul, who has come searching for this one witness, sees Sun Woo standing in a phone booth in the pouring rain and takes the opportunity. He rams his car into the phone booth, trapping a terribly injured Sun Woo in the wreckage. He flees, believing that he is now safe.

In the hours of stormy weather, as the life slowly bleeds out of him, Sun Woo reflects over the incense and what it meant. While he wants to live, there is no one around and he does not have the strength to call out. Even so, he uses his weak hands to try to bang the phone receiver on the phone booth’s metal structure, trying to get someone’s attention. He does not succeed. He realizes that the incense was him and that once the final one burnt out, it was game over for him, as well. He does not want to be stuck in the past, and he even admits in a message to his friend that he is fine with dying. In his final moments, he sees Yoon Shi Ah, and makes her promise that if she ever sees a man like him in the future, she will run far away. Making her pinky swear, he finally dies, having suffered for so long.

In the present time, Jung Woo goes to Jin Chul and finds out that Jin Chul killed Sun Woo in the past. Police reports and Sun Woo’s phone with its messages confirm Jin Chul’s assertions. It is then that Jung Woo, disgusted with this man’s actions, admits that he is Jin Chul’s son, product of a rape that the man had perpetrated against his poor mother. Jin Chul, shocked by this admission, attempts to connect with Jung Woo, making the same excuses that it wasn’t his fault. How was he to know? In his distraction, he gets into a car accident and dies. Young Hoon listens to Sun Woo’s final messages and mourns the loss of his friend. Finally, Min Young relives her memory of Sun Woo’s death, realizing that it was Sun Woo that she saw in her past. She cries as she realizes that the man she loved is now dead. There will be no wedding. There will be no happily ever after.

Our young Sun Woo grows up and meets Joo Min Young in 2007. The drama takes on a light quality at this point, and we get to see a Sun Woo that is at peace with himself. He has accepted his life and there is no need for revenge. He slowly falls in love with the bubbly Joo Min Young, and finally realizes that the reason she was so wary of him initially was because she had been warned by his future self to stay away from him. It is only then that he realizes that the older Sun Woo was killed in the past. He then makes it his life’s mission to love as he wants, live as he wants, and to save himself from dying. He heads off to Nepal, the same place where all of this began.

In the epilogue, we see the initial scene of the drama. Jung Woo is on a snowy mountain top, dying, with an incense stick in his hand. A shadow falls over him. It is Sun Woo from 20 years in the future, a Sun Woo in his 50’s. He has come back in time to save his dying brother.

430px-NineI felt that this drama was a great watch. It was gripping and it had a knack for picking the best way to end an episode. It hit the right notes with me. A few things detracted from my enjoyment of the drama, but overall, I really enjoyed it.

Time travel always drives me crazy, because the more I think about it, the more I get confused. But I think I have found a way to explain the ending in a way that satisfies me. We had this disconnect between the old and young Sun Woo, making me think that we were now into alternate time lines and that the young Sun Woo would no longer be the old Sun Woo. This was shown when the older Sun Woo no longer knew what the younger Sun Woo was doing or thinking. But at the end, when young Sun Woo was being attacked and injured, the scars were showing up on our Sun Woo’s body. So there was still a connection. We were still in the same time line.

At the end of the drama, the young Sun Woo decides to go back into the past to save our Sun Woo. He was going to Nepal in the end of the drama. Then, despite if there were divergent time lines or not, both Sun Woo’s would exist. One of my gripes with this drama had been that the Sun Woo we lived with and suffered with throughout did not get a happy ending. And the people that lived with him and went through those time changes did not get their happy endings. Especially poor Min Young. With young Sun Woo’s decision and trip to Nepal, the other Sun Woo would not die in the past. True we would have three Sun Woo’s running around at the same time, which is just silly, but I don’t care. Our Sun Woo would live.

In the end we know the young Sun Woo succeeds. How? Because we know that he would not have stopped trying, going through those incense sticks until they were done, until he actually had succeeded. That was this man’s nature. After all, they were the same man. He succeeded, because he then had enough incense sticks to go back 20 years to save his dying brother when he himself was in his 50s. I like to think both Sun Woos somehow survived, not caring to think that maybe one or the other had to be erased or subsumed if there was only one reality. This is why I hate time travel! But Sun Woo survived and got married to Joo Min Young and then came back in time to save his brother. Why was Jung Woo on that mountain now, when he had already paid for his crimes? He just liked to travel and was a foolish man. The End.

Pretty much everyone did a great job in this drama acting wise. Lee Jin Wook made us care for and love Park Sun Woo. That’s why that Park Sun Woo has to be alive. Lee Jin Wook had the talent to keep us sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see how this man had now changed his life. This is the first drama I enjoyed with him. Jo Yoon Hee was okay. She didn’t have much to do, but be bubbly most of the time and that worked. She did an able job. The drama would show characters in present time reliving their memories from the past, as those memories happened in real time in the past. Jo Yoon Hee did a great job of portraying the emotions she felt as she saw her fiance’s death. That’s not an easy thing to do.

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For example, see the man above. One thing that truly got on my nerves was this man and his over acting. He was truly awful and made me cringe the more time he was on the screen. I wish we had seen less of him. Viewers be warned. He did the worst job as he remembered his past memories. Lee Seung Joon, the actor who played Young Hoon, did his own share of over acting and made me annoyed every time he got overexcited or started crying. I just wanted to tell him to man up!

Besides these two low points, the drama was an enjoyable watch. I give it an 8 out of 10.

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