DECENT, TV SHOWS

KDRAMA “TIMES” EPISODE ONE RECAP

Kdrama Times is about changing the past
Photo: Ian Elif

For whatever reason, there seems to be a trend to create stories about convergent time lapses. We saw this with South Korean drama Kairos and now, Times parallels its story direction but, takes a twist on the larger theme about changing the past.

Minutes into the first episode of Times, the 2021 thriller, a crowd cheers Seo Ki Tae (Kim Yeong Cheol), just as armed men aim to shoot. It’s a rally for Seo who seems to be a popular political figure. But just as he is beginning to engage the crowd, he’s shot in the heart as his daughter Seo Jung In (Lee Joo Young) screams in shock. Then randomly we hear her voice again, this time saying, “please save my dad, Jin Woo.” This is a critical detail.

Shortly after the appearance of the title credits, there is an over lay of speaking, yet again by an unknown man. But this time, he adds urgency. His ominous words are accompanied by a shot of a group of officials, sitting together in wait of something and we find Jung In running. The combination of this anonymous voice over, the group shot, and Jung In running is perfect to inspire intrigue and a necessity to find out what is happening, especially with such piercing words like, “In order for us to survive, in order to avoid being a dog killed and eaten after the hunt is over …” but his words are cut off just as Jung In enters the same room with the officials and greets her dad. They’d been waiting for the hopeful announcement of his presidency. He wins so, it’s a good day. This entire introduction is perfect.

In any case, the rest of this episode of Times can be a bit confounding. As Seo Ki Tae is driven away with bodyguards he attempts to call a Secretary Park about changing his speech (could be an important clue). Then he learns that there is some kind of an emergency involving the disruption of communication (may also be a clue).

The focus of the show is then shifted to a media scrum outside the prosecutor’s office to tail the investigation into former President Baek (Song Young Chang). Nearly every reporter in there, including Seo Jung In who is hoping to get details for her news agency, DBS. Baek is stoic when he greets her and even allows her to ask any question he wants but, in the end, he is unwilling to actually answer to her sharp line of questioning. All he offers is a whisper of bad luck.

Jung In seems largely unphased. Back in her office, she asserts herself as strong-minded and impervious. Even her colleague feels the need to comment on her confidence. But regardless, the most important detail of that exchange is the news report detailing that the local wireless communication is down.

Back at her fancy apartment, Jung In works into the night. When she wakes up, her dad asks to meet at their family home. He greets her at the door with a cake to celebrate her 26th birthday. Their conversation mostly centers on his vision of a more ethical South Korea and his choice to distance himself from corrupt officials (clue?). But, just as the conversation picks up, she’s called to work.

In a lecture room an unknown man who is later identified as an undercover reporter, sits in on a recruitment meeting for hopeful hires. The entire time he’s there, a random participant tries to gossip, explaining how happy he is to be hired. So, feeling pity, the reporter decides to identify himself to dissuade the seemingly naïve man from working for an illegal pyramid scheme. Turns out that the grateful man was the captain of the operation. This means the reporter has to run for safety. While escaping pursuit, he identifies himself as reporter Lee Jin Woo (Lee Seo Jin) from Times.

Unbeknownst to her, Jung In continues to work at the DBS office as there is a system glitch. As she falls into a nap, there is a time shift of some sort and she’s whisked away into another time period. When she is finally alert, she wakes up in another office as she is being reprimanded, presumably by her boss, for eating expensive Ox knee soup. Dazed and confused, Jung In asks, “who are you?” Funnily enough, even though she is clearly confused, her boss thinks she’s acting that way to get out of trouble. However, believing there is a misunderstanding, Jung In leaves for her “real” job. Still, as she’s leaving, she turns so that we can see that her publication is called Daily Search.

Jung In goes to DBS to work but is not allowed to enter because she is not an employee at that news office so, she causes a scene, insisting that she works there. As she’s being strong armed to leave, she learns the news of her father’s death. She doesn’t believe it. A former aid of her father, a Ms. Kim (Moon Jung Hee), greets her at the DBS office to confirm that her father was indeed killed and takes her to his grave site. Ms. Kim asks that Jung In finally move on from the loss of her father since he’s apparently been dead for four years. Still, Jung In remembers things differently. It’s 2015.

Now in 2020, Jung In is in therapy, hoping to get assistant over why she remembers things differently and why she’s caught up over her dad’s death. She’s certain that there is something wrong with the investigation and as a reporter (but mostly as a daughter), she needs to know what it is. Almost as if scripted, the psychiatrist (Na Mi Hee) pokes holes into her memory to prompt her to change her mindset. We see later that it might all be a ruse because she calls Ms. Kim to report about the progress of their sessions and her mental state.

Even still, Jung In goes to the police station looking to speak to a Detective Yoon (Heo Jae Ho). He tries hiding from her but fails. She’s a pester. She’s visited him multiple times to get her father’s case reopened, but to no avail.

By chance, another reporter at the station uses information about her frequent visits to the station as a scoop that frames her pestering as obstruction of justice. She’s made to be an unwell person who is obsessed about her dead father’s case. The attention is enough to almost threaten her job at Daily Search but in the end her boss is kind and loyal so, she stays on.

So, committed to working, Jung In stays late to finish a news article. While in the office, reporter Lee calls her to confirm a news interview. But Jung In tells him that he has the wrong number. Yet, like any reporter would be, he’s persistent about getting an interview, especially with an important source.

Jung In continues with her work and attempts to upload it late at night but there’s no network connection. A news report offers that there’s another telecommunication disruption. The next day in the office, her team is struggling to publish their work on time. While attempting to help, she gets another phone call from persistent Lee, who is requesting another interview. Since he bombardes her phone with calls, she decides to finally confront him in person at the War Memorial of Korea. But even though they are both there, they can’t see each other because of their time differences. We learn that he’s apparently at her dad’s campaign rally several years into the past. This episode of Times ends as Jung In hears her father’s voice.

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