“Somehow 18” (어쩌다 18)

By Jae-Ha Kim
jaehakim.com
January 11, 2018

Oh Kyung-Hwi (played by Choi Min-Ho)
Han Na-Bi (played by Lee Yoo-Bi)

Note: Korean names denote the surname followed by the given name.

Kyung-Hwi is a smart student and a good kid. And this makes him an easy mark to be bullied by a trio of high school goons, who revel in making his life miserable.

How miserable? So awful that he attempts suicide twice.

Each time, his plans are foiled by Na-Bi, a melancholy loner who points out how stupid it is to commit suicide to escape these losers, when the best revenge is to live a good life. Why should he die when they’re the awful ones?

Shortly thereafter, she will commit suicide and he will realize that he loved her.

Kyung-Hwi grows up to be a brilliant, handsome and confident orthopedic surgeon. And he has never forgotten Na-Bi.

One night, he thinks he sees her. And he follows her through a door that takes him into the past. He wakes up in his old bedroom as an 18 year old.

And then he sees her. Again.

Na-Bi is very much alive in this version of reality. But he knows enough about the past to know that she will die in a few days. His goal is to figure out why she committed suicide and how he can prevent it this time around.

Some might say that there is no way that a young man who looks like Choi Min-Ho (of the idol group SHINee) — even if he’s wearing glasses and having a bad-hair day — would be bullied. But what I liked about this casting was that it reinforces the point that no one is immune from being harassed. And no one is immune from being depressed and wanting to end their lives.

Choi does a fine job at portraying the high school outcast. He shares a warm chemistry with Lee Yoo-Bi that is both sweet and funny.

The ending didn’t give the series the closure that some viewers longed for. But I liked how that left room for the viewer to decide what would become of Na-Bi and Kyung-Hwi.

Airdates: Ten 15-minute episodes streamed on Naver TV Cast from August 28 to September 8, 2017.

Spoiler Alert:

Na-Bi convinced her two best friends to skip school so that they could enjoy a memorable day out. A fiery bus accident left one of her friends dead, and the other on life support. After the second friend dies, Na-Bi’s survivor’s guilt kicks in and she commits suicide.

When Kyung-Hwi figures all this out, he is able to change the direction of her life. But, he learns that death can’t be cheated. Either she, or he, must die. He would rather die so that Na-Bi can live. So he pushes her out of the way of the oncoming bus and gets hit.

In the final episode, Na-Bi is now a doctor and Kyung-Hwi has been in a coma for the past 10 years. Before he died, he had written letters to all his loved ones telling them about how he had traveled 10 years back in time. He tells Na-Bi to live a happy life. Not everyone believed what he wrote, but as the years went by, Na-Bi saw that everything he said turned out to be true.

As the series ends, Kyung-Hwi opens his eyes and smiles. And Na-Bi enters the same other world to try to see her deceased high school friends one last time.

Suicide:

I started watching this series around the same time that Choi’s bandmate, Jonghyun, committed suicide. I’m not going to pretend that his death didn’t affect the way that I viewed this drama. How could it not? His death shocked fans worldwide. If anything good can come from that tragedy, I hope it shines more light on depression and mental health. If a friend or loved one had cancer or a broken leg, you would want them to get the best possible care. The same concern and support should be given to people who suffer from mental anguish. There is zero shame in seeking treatment for a disease of any kind.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: If you need help and don’t know where to reach out, call toll-free (800-273-8255) or message their counselors via social media (Facebook, TwitterTumblr).

© 2018 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

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