Two recaps of two different dramas that are currently airing at the moment? Is this real? Yes, yes it is. I had originally only planned on recapping ‘Doctor Cha‘ but then the first two episodes of ‘My Perfect Stranger’ aired this week and I really enjoyed what I saw. The first episode alone was one of the stronger and more interesting premiere episodes I’ve seen and the drama maintained its momentum throughout episode two. It only took me one episode to know that I would stick with this drama and then episode 2 only reaffirmed what I had felt all along. To simply put it, ‘My Perfect Stranger’ was nearly perfect with its first 2 episodes.
‘My Perfect Stranger’ follows the story of news anchor Yoon Hae-joon (Kim Dong-wook) and Baek Yoon-young (Jin Ki-joo) who both travel back in time to the year 1987 through a time-traveling car. Hae-joon is on a mission to discover the culprit of a serial murder case in 1987 before he gets killed by the same culprit later on in 2022. Meanwhile, Yoon-young is also on a mission of her own to reunite with her parents from the past and prevent them from getting married to each other. She wishes to change her mom’s future by helping her mom stay alive with a chance at happiness. While Hae-joon and Yoon-young initially embark on their own journeys with their own purposes in 1987, they soon come to realize that both of their cases might be connected somehow.
Ho ho ho, just writing the synopsis made me excited already! Time to recap ‘My Perfect Strangers’ and take mental notes of all the dates and time traveling before it gets too confusing and I can’t keep up. With that being said, let’s get started!
Note: Similar to my recaps for ‘Doctor Cha‘, I will be following the same model where my summary portion of the recap will be free and accessible to all readers. However, the commentary section of the recap where I post my thoughts/opinions of each episode will be based off a subscription-only plan. In order to read my commentary, you can show your support by making a one-time payment of $5 which will then give you access to my commentary for all 16 episodes of ‘My Perfect Stranger’ (so if you pay $5, you’ll get to read what I thought not only about episodes 1 and 2 but about all the episodes in later recaps). Please do not feel pressured or obligated to pay and just know that I appreciate all you readers and visitors regardless. And if you do decide to show your support, just know that I’m very grateful :]
My Perfect Stranger Episode 1: Somehow in 1987
Our male lead character, Yoon Hae-joon, recounts the day when he came across “it”: the red car that allows its driver to time-travel in the past or the future. It was a rainy night and he had gotten lost while driving to his destination. While driving, he suddenly swerved upon encountering a pair of bright headlights that were from the red time-traveling car. He approached the vehicle with the license plate “Seoul M0508” cautiously, unaware of what it was or who was in it. As he approached the car, he saw that there were no passengers and the only thing he discovered was an owner’s manual with instructions on how to work the time-traveling system. Originally, Hae-joon had no interest in engaging with such a thing but his curiosity got the best of him. And sure enough, he became the owner of the vehicle.
For his first experiment, Hae-joon decided to travel forward in time to the year 3089. After the trip, he found the entire thing exhilarating and thrilling. It was exciting; it was refreshing. It was new. He then moved on to travel to the year 2037. But unlike his previous experience, he didn’t come back with that same thrill or enthusiasm. Instead, there was a feeling of dread and devastation. How was Hae-joon going to make sense of what he saw during his visit to the year 2037?
And so we find Hae-joon narrating and sharing his story with two young kids outside of a village supermarket while munching on some ice cream. He’s certain that his life became different ever since he discovered the time-traveling car and that thing haven’t been the same ever since. But Hae-joon is busy and he reminds the kids about the item that they are to bring with them when they reunite 15 minutes later. With that, he checks out a news report about how teens are getting addicted to different types of drugs before walking away.
It’s the year 1987 and residents in Woojung Village gather at an event. They celebrate the news that their village has been selected as a crime-free village for five consecutive years and they credit Principal Yoon Byung-gu as one of the primary reasons for this. So Principal Yoon gathers in front of the small crowd to give a talk but they’re soon interrupted by a surprise visit from Hae-joon. Since he is from the future traveling to the past, he informs them about an incident that will soon involve six teenagers screaming and running in six different directions with three of them being from Woojung Village. The teenagers are high on super glue and there will also be a TV reporter on standby to report about the incident. To give himself more credibility, Hae-joon lists the name of the three teenagers from the village involved in the incident: Kim Hae-kyung, Lee Eun-ha, Park Yu-ri. So the villagers hurry to resolve the situation before the TV reporter arrives.
Thankfully, Hae-joon is there to save the teenagers’ lives and change their fate. The two teenagers who originally died are saved by Hae-joon and he also rescues the other teenager, Kim Hae-kyung, after she almost fell off a cliff. The TV reporter arrives at the scene with no news to report and the situation is resolved all thanks to Hae-joon. So who exactly is he and where is he from? That’s when the two kids from earlier arrive at the scene and hand Hae-joon his teaching certificate that he just happened to drop. Haha. He’s originally from Seoul who moved to Woojung-ri in search of a job and it doesn’t take long for him to find one. Principal Yoon invites Hae-joon to work at his school and that’s how Hae-joon’s 1987 life begins. He gets a teaching job which he never wanted and also has a house in the rural village that he too didn’t want. He spends an entire month in 1987 before traveling to present time in Seoul 2021.
Upon returning to 2021, Hae-joon meets with a prisoner who was falsely accused of a serial murder case that happened back in Woojung Village in 1987. Hae-joon’s aware that the prisoner wasn’t actually the culprit and vocalizes for the prisoner to stay alive until the next day. That way, both of their lives can be saved and they’ll still both be alive. While walking back home, Hae-joon checks the news article about the prisoner and notices the change in the article title from how the prisoner originally committed suicide to how he’s scheduled for release the next day. Meanwhile, our female lead character, Baek Yoon-young, catches the bus on the way to work. While editing a draft of an essay, she receives a text message from the Editor-in-Chief as well as a phone call from her mom. Mom requests for Yoon-young to convert the video tapes of her childhood footage into a file for a USB drive; Mom still watches the video tapes and wants to be able to watch them many more times. She also reminds Yoon-young about the birthday party that they’re throwing for Dad that night, but Yoon-young isn’t so excited. She complains about Dad’s neglectful behavior and encourages Mom to just focus on herself instead. Yoon-young hangs up the phone call before entering an event for author Ko Mi-sook who she works for as her editor.
Mi-sook’s first novel titled Small Door which she wrote back in 1987 is brought up during the event but it’s obvious Mi-sook’s a bit anxious and she doesn’t feel like talking about it much. Instead, she shifts the attention and focus to Yoon-young who arrives at the event right at that moment. She credits Yoon-young for her success and everyone gives the editor a round of applause. After the event, Mi-sook is unhappy and upset at how the event went. People still only recognize her for her first novel which also happens to be Yoon-young’s favorite. The two head off to the department store to shop for some shoes. While shopping, Mi-sook notes that Yoon-young’s her lucky charm: Yoon-young might not be the biggest fan of her drafts but her books do tend to be successful when she edits them. Just then, Mi-sook’s daughter, Yi-na, links up with the two and they head out for some lunch. On the way out, Yoon-young encounters her mom who happened to also be in the same shopping mall. Mom was caught in a chaotic crowd for a pair of popular shoes that were on sale. Though the two see each other for a split second, Yoon-young ignores her mom and pretends as if she didn’t see her.
Yoon-young connects with Mom a little bit later and the two chat with each other outside on the sidewalk. Mom’s excited to see her daughter and she has Yoon-young try on the new pair of shoes that she bought for her. Yoon-young’s a bit irritated and embarrassed by her mom. After putting on the shoes, she complains about Mom’s tacky scarf that she’s worn for the past ten years. It’s outdated and old-fashioned and she should buy herself new clothes. Mom grows upset with the constant nagging and complaining. She ends the conversation by claiming that she’ll never hang out with Yoon-young again before walking away. Though Yoon-young doesn’t chase after her mother, the future Yoon-young vocalizes her internal thoughts, pondering if things would have been different had she never let Mom walk away.
And so Yoon-young clears off some steam by watching a movie. She thought she would have enough time to make up with her mom, but time unfortunately ran out. Upon visiting her parent’s house that night for Dad’s birthday party, she finds the house empty. Both Mom and Dad are nowhere to be found. Yoon-young then receives a phone call about Mom’s death so she immediately reports to the location where Mom’s body is stored. And sure enough, the 10-year old scarf that Yoon-young had just been complaining about a few hours later lay near Mom’s covered body. The scarf is all Yoon-young needs to know that her mother is gone. She breaks down into tears and wails at the news of her mother’s death. She never imagined that she’d live in a world without her mom.
Yoon-young is heartbroken but there’s also a part of her that is confused. Why did her mom commit suicide by the river in Woojung Village? It’s far from their house and Yoon-young had never heard of the place. A police officer hands Yoon-young the suicide note that was found by the river where Mom committed suicide and encourages her to read it. She also receives a text from writer Mi-sook ending their work relationship and then receives a phone call from Dad’s phone with a shop owner on the other line complaining about all the mess and damage that intoxicated Dad caused yet again. Poor Yoon-young. She just can’t catch a break.
Hae-joon meets with the same prisoner from the day before. The man’s name is Min-soo and Hae-joon explains that he wants to work with Min-soo to solve the serial murder case in Woojung Village in 1987 that Min-woo was imprisoned for. The culprit behind that murder is also the same person who killed Hae-joon a year later in 2022. So how exactly did Hae-joon know when he died and who killed him? When Hae-joon traveled forward in time to 2037, he was curious as to what his life was like during that year. But he couldn’t. Because he had died too young. He wasn’t alive during that year. The common thing that was found at Hae-joon’s murder scene along with the murder scene back in 1987 was a small box of matches called Bong Bong Teahouse. Together, Min-soo and Hae-joon can work together to find the real culprit: that way, Min-soo can clear his name and reputation and Hae-joon can stay alive.
Yoon-young spends some time sitting by the river where her mom committed suicide. She’s reminded about her mother’s last letter to her so she reads it while sitting. It reads,
Yoon-young, I’m sorry for making you upset earlier. After you moved out, I couldn’t help but feel that we were growing apart so I probably just wanted to act grumpy. Lately, I can’t stop thinking about your childhood. When you were a kid, you used to sing that frog song. Your tiny mouth used to fidget. Your pretty hands. If I ever get to travel back in time, I want to go back to that day and hold them one last time. Your tiny, beautiful hands. Yoon-young, I never forgot it. If I could, I would like to play with you for the rest of my life until I become a white-haired granny.
Yoon-young tears up after finishing her mom’s letter and she’s heartbroken at the last words her mom wrote to her. But something floating in the water catches Yoon-young’s attention at that moment and she grabs the small box of matches that were floating nearby in the water. It’s the same exact one that Hae-joon also has. Yoon-young then reunites with her father shortly afterwards and Yoon-young breaks down into tears while conversing with dad. He was the last person that Mom called and failed to get in contact with. Yoon-young lets it all out and she remains brutally honest with him: she moved out because of how toxic her parents were. They always fought and then he always left whenever they did fight. She wanted to remove herself from that situation. If Yoon-young could turn back time, she would go back and prevent Mom from meeting the both of them. That way, she could live her life for herself and be happy. And most importantly, she would be alive. But that’s all impossible now and Dad is at a loss for words. All he can do is cry. Yoon-young walks away from her dad and she wanders around on foot while thinking about her mom. She’s reminded of the scarf that she bought her mom back when she was still just a college student and she proudly ties it around her neck just like her mom used to do.
Yoon-young crosses a tunnel while walking out of the village. It’s late at night and she’s alone by herself. But she doesn’t remain alone for long because there’s someone in a car driving towards her. And it’s none other than Hae-joon in his red time-traveling car heading back to the year 1987. Hae-joon is shocked to find Yoon-young walking inside of the tunnel and he swerves his car at the last second to avoid hitting her. The two of them vanish into thin air at the same time and they both end up traveling back in time together. Where exactly did the shoes that Yoon-young’s mom bought for her take her that day?
When Yoon-young wakes up, she finds herself still in the countryside but she’s not familiar with the area. Hae-joon isn’t nearby as he’s in his red car back near the tunnel where the incident happened. So Yoon-young makes her way into town on foot by herself and she encounters two individuals. The first one is a young man who she bumped shoulders with. He grows concerned for her upon seeing her bleeding forehead but she doesn’t think too much about it. We learn that the young man’s name is Baek Hee-seob (AKA Yoon-young’s dad). Afterwards, Yoon-young strikes up a conversation with a man employed by a club who attempts to promote the club to her. But Yoon-young isn’t interested. What she is interested in though is in the hanging banner promoting a walking marathon event that’s taking place the next day. The thing that stands out to her on the banner? The year 1987. They must have gotten the date wrong. How can it be 1987? The man grows confused and fearful of Yoon-young’s strange behavior. Yoon-young thinks it’s all just a joke so she pulls out her cellphone to look up the internet but her phone doesn’t work. There’s no internet connection, haha. This is so funny!
Meanwhile, the three teenagers from earlier in the episode – Hae-kyung, Eun-ha, and Yu-ri – make another appearance. They pressure another young lady named Soon-ae to go clubbing with them. Soon-ae told on them last time to their parents and they don’t want the same thing to happen again. So Soon-ae is forced to go clubbing with them despite not wanting to and she follows them to the club after changing outfits. Soon-ae walks by Yoon-young who immediately notices her upon first glance. Yoon-young is unable to take her eyes off of Soon-ae and she recognizes who this young lady is: her mom. Just as Yoon-young is about to chase after the younger version of her mom, she’s stopped by Hae-joon who pulls her aside. They have a private chat and Hae-joon apologizes about the situation. He informs Yoon-young that they’re in the year 1987 and that there’s no way to get out given that the red time-traveling car is broken from the accident. He feels apologetic and guilty for dragging Yoon-young into the situation, but Yoon-young feels quite the opposite. All she can do is cover her mouth and laugh about it with tears in her eyes. Contrary to what Hae-joon thought, Yoon-young is glad upon hearing the news. This is what she wanted.
Mi-sook returns home after a late night and she’s questioned by her husband on her whereabouts. She answers that she was in Woojung Village because she had some unfinished business to take care of. She glances at the photos sitting on her desk and there’s one photo she focuses on in particular: it’s an old photo of her with her female classmates on a trip. Photographed in the picture includes young Soon-ae as well as Hae-kyung, Eun-ha, and Yu-ri.
Man oh man, I really liked this first episode. Like really liked it. I liked it so much I was so excited for episode 2 that I could barely wait. And sure enough, when episode 2 was released, that was the very first thing I watched when I woke up. You’ve ever been so excited for a drama that you couldn’t wait to watch the newest episode once it came out? That’s exactly how I felt about ‘My Perfect Stranger.’
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