First Impression: Reflection of You

Drama Profile:

Title: Reflection of You / Person Who Looks Like You (literal title)
Main Cast: Ko Hyun-jung, Shin Hyun-been, Kim Jae-young, Choi Won-young
Writer: Yoo Bo-ra (Rain or Shine)
PD: Lim Hyeon-wook (A Person You May Know)
Timeslot: Wednesday/Thursday 22:30
Network: JTBC
Episodes: 16
Genre: Drama thriller

Plot Synopsis: 

Based on the novel by writer Jung So-hyeon, Reflection of You follows the complicated story of Jeong Hui-joo and Gu Hae-won. Jeong Hui-joo lives a perfect life – a famous painter and essayist; happily married with a rich husband, and has two children. One day, she received news that her daughter was assaulted by her art teacher. The woman resembles someone from Hui-joo’s past. That woman is Gu Hae-won. 

Major trope: scorned woman, dark secret/dark past

Maknae’s Impression:

Original K-drama Queens are one by one descending back to dramaland and it’s time for Ko Hyun-jung’s turn. Joining Ko Hyun-jung in her comeback drama is shining actress Shin Hyun-been, who I’m very much excited to watch in a new role. And in the premiere week of their series, both promise to give us probably one of the most suspenseful series this year.

Reflection of You started with Jeong Hui-joo (Ko Hyun-jung) dragging a heavy bag in the middle of the night at an uninhabited swamp area. And the first sentence she uttered was ‘I think about hell.’ This dark ‘stolen prologue’ sequence pretty much set the tone for the drama. They pulled out that intriguing scene from what I assume would be on the third arc of the series and used it to effectively lure its audience into the story. It builds up the excitement of knowing how would Hui-joo fall into that kind of rock bottom? What – or more appropriate – who was in the bag she’s dragging? 

The first guess would be Gu Hae-won. It’s predictable but Hui-joo killing her is the most logical and obvious direction of the story if we only based it on the first two episodes. Hae-won is poking at Hui-joo’s seemingly perfect façade. Hae-won’s using Lisa’s case to approach Hui-joo and her words were most likely alluding to their past; a past that Hui-joo wants to forget. We were only given a few hints of what occurred between them. We’re not sure of the details but Hui-joo definitely broke Hae-won to the point that the once radiant art student Hannah became the ‘crazy’ art teacher Mimi. 

Hui-joo and Hae-won’s story is really the center of this series and Ko Hyun-jung and Shin Hyun-been are portraying them perfectly. Ko Hyun-jung puts up a soulless smile in front of her husband’s family and the series didn’t have to be direct in showing how miserable she is on the inside. Ko Hyun-jung’s body language and anxious eye acting say it all. One of the scenes I like in the pilot episode is when Hae-won haunts Hui-joo in her own home. She runs outside of her residence and the way Hui-joo crossed her arms as if to protect herself as the camera circled her was goosebump-inducing. Through that scene, it felt like the series was promising to its audience the start of a suspenseful drama between Hui-joo and Hae-won.

Shin Hyun-been, for her part, shines in her silence. There was this scene in episode 2 where she just laid down in her dark room and looked at the picture of her, Seo Woo-jae, and Hui-joo. She only said one line there: “why did you do it?” but the heaviness inside her heart became palpable. We weren’t even sure if the ‘you’ she’s talking about is Woo-jae or Hui-joo. I’m betting on the latter but it seems like there’s still a lot more to uncover for her character. One her is revenge plot. Because when she said, “I found you” the look in her eyes suggest she’d drag Hui-joo to hell.

And if the body in the bag turns out to be Seo Woo-jae (Kim Jae-young), I would actually feel appeased (*insert evil laugh*). As of now, there’s little possibility of this happening as Woo-jae is in a coma under the custody of a woman named Hannah, which later turned out to be Gu Hae-won too. This part is confusing me and I think it was meant to be that way. Hae-won got involved in the school violence in almost the same timeline as Woo-jae’s disappearance in Ireland. So, it’s impossible that she flew there and discharge him herself. I wonder if she’s in connivance with curator Lee Jung-eun (Kim Ho-jung) or they just communicated/met because the former wants ownership of Woo-jae’s sculptures. The second intriguing question is that did Hae-won register their marriage?! Because if we based things on the teaser, their wedding was canceled/called-off or I just assumed things? Another question I need an answer to (like right now!) is why was Woo-jae became a nameless patient of Ahn Hyeon-seong (Choi Won-young)? Everything about Mr. Ahn tells me he’s a good man and a supportive husband to Hui-joo. The only thing grey thing in his appearance is Woo-jae. Was he involved in his case? Does he have an idea that he’s connected to his wife? He’s hiding a lot of things but it’s obvious he would always be on Hui-joo’s side no matter what. I think he has an inkling of what happened in the past but he keeps it a secret and tries to help Hui-joo cover it because his priority would always be his family.

And everyone in Reflection of You is suspicious and twisted in their own way. Even the supporting characters like the curator who wanted Woo-jae’s sculpture could be the same gallery owner hosting Hui-joo’s exhibit; the mysterious woman in the church Jeong Sun-woo (Shin Dong-wook) met probably holds a secret about Sun-woo’s past “sin” that he kept on confessing in the church; the neighborhood bar owner – well, okay I concede, he seems to be a genuinely good person; Hyeon-seong’s sister Ahn Min-seo (Jang Hye-jin) and her husband Lee Hyeong-gi (Hong Seo-jun) seems to have domestic troubles; and of course, there’s this case between Ahn Li-sa (Kim Soo-ahn) and Lee Ju-yeong (Shin Hye-ji) who seems to mirror what happened in Hui-joo and Hae-won’s past. 

The series still has a lot unpack and I’ll be waiting for the next episodes with heightened Kdrama sixth sense to see beyond the façade of each character. The pieces they’ve offered in this premiere episodes are telling me there’s something more to every character. The reason for the rift between Hui-joo and Hae-won could really make or break this drama. To be honest, I don’t want this to be just about another illicit affair and another scorned woman’s revenge tale because I really think this series has the potential to be a great drama thriller with very twisted characters. If only they would just continue to do things right. And hopefully, they would.

Afterthoughts:

-Theory time: Hui-joo seems to recoil when Hae-won was commenting on her paintings. So did Hui-joo stole Hae-won’s art? If the paintings that made her famous are an imitation of Hae-won’s paintings then that would give more depth to their animosity in the present timeline.

-Can I add that green also symbolizes depression as it is the international symbol of mental health awareness. Red, on the other hand, symbolizes longing or wanting attention.

– Jung So-hyeon’s short story collection ”A Human Who Makes Mistakes” was recently republished and was renamed after the short story the drama is based on, “Person Who Looks Like You”. The revised edition’s cover is similar to Hui-joo’s portrait in the drama’s intro. It’s available in Naver book.

-So in the book, Hui-joo and Hae-won met in a German class, became best friends but the appearance of ‘Klein’ changed that.

-It’s been a while since the last time I’ve seen Kim Jae-young in a drama and I have to meet him again in a character I would most probably hate haha. But it’s nice seeing him again, I wonder when would his character appear in the present timeline or will he ever come back from the coma? For all we know, Woo-jae is just at one of the rooms at Taerim Hospital.

-If this was romance, their exchange here could have been a nice meet-cute dialogue. 

-But of course instead of romance – since it’s a drama thriller anyway – the series is giving me Gone Girl x The Girl on the Train vibes. 

-JTBC really picked Original K-drama Queens in their series: Jeon Do-yeon, Ko Hyun-jung, and very soon… Lee Young-ae.

>>Ko Hyun-jung to lead new jtbc drama

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