First Impressions:

It’s always good to see Kim Dong Wook back on the small screen, and this time around, he’s paired with the amazing Jin Ki Joo and one heck of a great script. “My Perfect Stranger” is a murder mystery, a love letter to parents everywhere, and a sobering reminder that we don’t often get the time we think we have. It explores the far-reaching implications of a series of murders in a small town and demonstrates that sometimes time can’t fix everything.

There’s so much that was amazing about the initial duet of episodes, so without further ado, here’s what we loved!

Spoilers for episodes 1-2 below.
Warning: mentions of suicide.

1. The cold open

With a premise like time-travel and being stuck in 1987, you’d think the show would have to go through a great deal of set-up to get us to buy the plotline, but “My Perfect Stranger” launches us straight into the world in a manner that feels impeccably believable. Who wouldn’t start a random abandoned car that purports to be a time machine just for the sheer heck of it? And who wouldn’t be unnerved to find that they die in a year due to a series of unsolved murders that took place far in the past?

It’s a premise that feels similar to the equally great “Tomorrow With You,” a drama also anchored by a solid male and female lead, and this show feels no different. The pacing is fantastic. The episodes fly by, Yoon Hae Joon’s (Kim Dong Wook’s) easy incorporation in the village feels organic, and we get a great feel for the people of 1987.  Plus, with time at play here, there are numerous factors and potential easter eggs to be considered. Who left Hae Joon the car in the right place at the right time? Was it his future self? Someone else? It’s a great start that bodes well for the rest of the show!

2. Hae Joon’s motives in solving the 1987 Woo Jung Village mystery

Upon finding that he is to be the victim of the same killer responsible for the 1987 Woo Jung Village murders, Hae Joon knows that he has no choice but to find a way to avert his murder. Especially as he knows something that the 2021 police don’t: they don’t have the right killer.

Back in 1987, after the murders, a man named Min Soo (2021 self played by Im Jong Yoon) was arrested and spent over 30 years behind bars despite protesting that he was innocent. Hae Joon believes him. Why? Because on the day before Min Soo was to be released, he takes his life in prison. A whole year later, Hae Joon dies at the hands of the Won Jung village killer, clearly indicating that the police had the wrong man.

Naturally, Min Soo thinks that Hae Joon is nuts when he comes to him with a story of time-travel. But Hae Joon is a compelling speaker. As a news anchor, he knows that facts speak louder than words and convinces Min Soo by predicting the future, down to Min Soo’s plans of suicide. This averts Min Soo’s suicide and allows the two to team up in 2021 to avert the 1987 murders with the goal of preventing Min Soo from every being arrested. Motive-wise, it’s a fantastic driving force for Hae Joon’s fixation on 1987. Shows like “Tunnel” often use the time-travel trope to save a dead wife or so forth, but here the hero just wants to save himself. Fully onboard!

3. Yoon Young’s reasons for wanting to stay in 1987

We spend more time in Baek Yoon Young’s (Jin Ki Joo’s) 2021 life than we do with Hae Joon. We don’t know what anchors Hae Joon to the present, but we quickly find out why Yoon Young has no use for her present. She’s the editor to a snooty author Ko Mi Sook (2021 self played by Kim Hye Eun), who seems to be on her last dregs of fame. Yoon Young spends her days having to suck up to Mi Sook and accompany her on personal errands, while not having the time to spend with her mother Lee Soon Ae (2021 self played by Lee Ji Hyun).

The trouble is that Yoon Young doesn’t really want to hang out with her mother. Her parents have an unhappy marriage, with her father drinking himself into a stupor and causing untold damage to various stores and her mother patiently taking it all. Yoon Young is tired of having to witness it and spends as much time as she can from home. Soon Ae seems to know that her daughter is somewhat ashamed of her. It doesn’t help when Yoon Young runs into Soon Ae on a shopping trip with Mi Sook, and Mi Sook looks down on her (without knowing that she’s Yoon Young’s mother). Soon Ae makes the wise point to Yoon Young that she would never judge her or anyone by what they wear, but Yoon Young’s had a bad day, and the two argue in classic mother-daughter fashion. It isn’t even a mean-spirited argument, and Yoon Young fully believes that she can make up with her mother. But it ends up being the last argument they have. That night, Soon Ae’s body is found in a river. Supposedly suicide.


And Yoon Young completely breaks down. When her drunk father shows up, completely out of it, she loses it and screams that she wishes she could go back in time to prevent her parents from meeting so that her mother could have fulfilled her dreams and lived strong and free, without a daughter who was ashamed of her and a wastrel husband. And when Yoon Young enters the same tunnel that Hae Joon’s time-traveling car speeds through on the way to 1987, something happens that has never happened in all Hae Joon’s past trips. He brings her with him to the very village her mother lived in 34 years ago. And Yoon Young vows to protect her mother this time around.


Such a great motive!

4. Soon Ae’s book

1987’s Soon Ae (Seo Ji Hye) is a sweet, shy girl, constantly harassed by a quartet of bullies. Their leader? None other than a young Ko Mi Sook (Ji Hye Won). Mi Sook is wealthy and sees that as giving her the power to do anything to anyone without fear of consequence. But she happens to be rather brilliant about it. She’s careful not to be caught redhanded, unlike her three friends who are rather unsubtle with pushing Soon Ae into a lake, knowing she can’t swim.

Among these friends is the the frankly disturbing Kim Hae Kyung (Kim Ye Ji). Hae Joon gets into the townsfolk’s good graces by saving six teens from a death that Hae Kyung nearly caused. She’s the sort of bully that likes to goad people into doing things that harm them and then watches the harm in glee. In the original timeline, she talks her friends into getting high off paint and glue on a mountain of all places and watches them tumble to their death. It’s unclear as to what would have happened if Hae Joon allowed these events to progress, but he doesn’t. So Hae Kyung remains around, to bully Soon Ae.


But Mi Sook seems to be the more disturbing bully here. In 2021, she’s known as a famous author largely because of her first and most famous book, written in 1987. It’s the same book that made Yoon Young a fan and why she became an editor in the first place. But everything Mi Sook has attempted to produce afterwards has been garbage. Yoon Young would know—she keeps having to turn Mi Sook’s garbage into something readable. So when Yoon Young sees the same words that Mi Sook uses in her debut novel in her mother’s diary and notices young Soon Ae’s love of reading, she quickly puts all the clues together and realizes a grave wrong has been done to her mother. And there’s only one way to protect her from what’s coming: by enrolling as a student in her mother’s high school! It’s a reverse “Angry Mom”!

5. The murder mystery tying everything together

The threads of the murder mystery have only started to unwind in the past, but their effects can be felt in the present. Min Soo has only just been released from jail, Mi Sook lives in the lap of luxury off Soon Ae’s work, Soon Ae doesn’t seem to even know that her book was stolen but seems to have been murdered by the same killer from back then, and something awful seems to have turned the devil-may-care would-be rocker Baek Hee Seob (Lee Won Jung) that Yoon Young meet in 1987 with the useless father (Lee Gyu Hoe) she knows in 2021. It all seems to center around those murders.

Of note are Mi Sook’s comments at her book signing. When asked why she only writes about female serial killers, she notes that women can be killers too and that she only writes what she’s familiar with. A hint perhaps? Then there’s Hae Joon’s ambivalent relationship with Woo Jung High School’s Principal Yoon Byung Gu (Kim Jong Soo). We don’t know much at all about Hae Joon personally, but there seems to be a family connection here, and it’s likely that Hae Joon is Byung Gu’s grandson. But it appears that there’s bad blood between them in 2021.

Finally there’s the fact that Hae Joon and Yoon Young aren’t actually stuck in 1987! The pacing here remains impeccable. Because the crash that messes up the time-traveler car and leaves them temporarily stranded in 1987 ends up being a fixable problem (at least, judging by the preview)! But having both of them able to travel between past and future adds an interesting spin to this as they can directly see the effects of their interference.


Yoon Young tells Hae Joon that she wants to stay in 1987 but hasn’t told him why yet. Given that next week shows him wearily introducing her as a student, it seems she might have confided her reasons in him. But this will make one heck of a wild romance, if we have one, because to everyone else, they look like student and teacher! And they’re living together too, oh boy.


We’re only two episodes in, and there’s so much to like about this show. Here’s hoping that it stays good until the end! This is one drama with the potential to be perfect!

Check out the drama below!

Watch Now

What did you think of this week’s episodes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she works as a lawyer, fangirls over Ji Sung, and attempts to write the greatest fantasy romance of all time. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!

Currently Watching: My Perfect Stranger,” “Tail of the Nine-Tailed,” “Stealer: The Treasure Keeper,” “Dr. Romantic 3”
Looking Forward to: “Black Knight,” “Gyeongseong Creature,” “Ask The Stars,” “The Girl Downstairs,” “The Worst Evil,” “Queen of Tears,” “Vigilante,” “Demon,” “Daily Dose of Sunshine,” and Ji Sung’s next drama.

How does this article make you feel?


Please login to Soompi to join the conversation!

Similar Articles