A TIME TO REMEMBER
Park Tae Suk (Lee Sung Min) is a ruthless lawyer who does whatever it takes to win his cases. When he becomes diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he realizes how he’s taken everything he holds dear for granted and reevaluates his life and the choices he’s made. He puts all of his energy into fighting one last case before his memory starts to fade away.
I had almost contemplated passing up this drama because I just couldn’t take another sad drama to watch at the time. However, I couldn’t pass up watching Lee Sung Min in it because he’s such a powerful actor. Although Park Tae Suk initially comes off as an arrogant character, we peel back the layers of the pain he’s endured during his lifetime and realize how much his arrogant lawyer personality serves as a protective armor. I like that the drama gets right into his diagnosis early because I don’t think I would have liked his character as much if we didn’t see what makes him so flawed.
At first, Tae Suk begins to deal with his illness alone and it’s interesting to see the differences in his relationship with both his first wife, Na Eun Sun (Park Jin Hee) and his current wife, Seo Young Joo (Kim Ji Soo). Judge Na Eun Sun is a career woman who was unable to forget the loss of her young son, Dong Woo, who died from a hit-and-run accident. She was also not able to forgive Tae Suk as he was not there for their song who died while waiting for Tae Suk to return home from work.
As for Young Joo, she gave up her career in nursing to be a stay-at-home wife. She’s a very patient woman who understands the demands of her husband’s job but wishes that he was more involved with the family. She begins to notice changes in her husband’s behavior and at first, she is hurt by ignorance. When she does learn of his illness, she is sad and terrified but what’s most important is how supportive she is.
The drama does a really good job in balancing Tae Suk’s work life with his home life. Not only does the relationship between Tae Suk and his wife suffer do to his unintentional disregard for what’s going on at home, it also suffers because of his inability to understand what his son, Park Jung Woo (Nam Da Reum), is going through at school.
The first moments where we begin to see Tae Suk is changing is when Jung Woo is at risk of being expelled because he hurt another student who was bullying him. At this point of the drama, Tae Suk is just beginning to face confusing scenarios due to his Alzheimer’s. And just as Tae Suk feels lost and alone, it parallels with the emotions that Jung Woo feels from being an outsider. I have to admit that I couldn’t help but cheer Tae Suk on as he decides to come to school’s mediation session to use his skills as a litigator and fight for justice for his son.
Kim Feel – 다시 산다면 (If I Live My Life Over Again)
At the same time, it was interesting to see how he had his own battles to win at work. One such battle is with his colleague, Lawyer Jung Jin (Lee Jun Ho), who is very idealistic about the job of being a lawyer. He first saw Tae Suk as an unscrupulous person but learned the important role they can serve by playing both sides. In fact, I loved how Jin and Tae Suk’s secretary, Bong Sun Hwa (Yoon So Hee) rally together to help Tae Suk get through his day when they learn of his illness.
There are different cases that Tae Suk takes on throughout the drama that shape his character. His biggest client happens to be the family of the Korean Group, a conglomerate, and their eldest son, the heinous Shin Young Jin (Lee Ki Woo). I was a bit taken aback to see Lee Ki Woo play such despicable person but he does a great job in selling the role. I think what’s important to note about the Shin family is that representing this family changes the way Tae Suk performs his duties as an officer of the court. By working for the Taesun Law Firm, he may not be given a choice as to the clients he represent but he comes to realize that winning cases doesn’t necessarily make him a good lawyer.
Similar to how Tae Suk changes his attitude about his job, he approaches his most important cases with a newfound approach. In fact, we learn that the statute of limitations on Dong Woo’s death has passed but as Eun Sun points out, putting the person behind bars is not the most important duty as the parents. Rather, it’s making that person realize what they had done and using their life to do good thing. Only then can their healing begin and it’s watching this journey that makes their story so compelling.
Insooni – 선물 (Gift)
Unfortunately, as Tae Suk digs deeper into Dong Woo’s death, it causes a rift in his relationship at work with the partners of the Taesun Law Firm. There are different degrees of bad and evil and I like how the drama compares the evil deeds of Shin Young Jin with that of Lee Chan Moo (Jun Noh Min) and his mother, Hwang Tae Sun. They are so hell-bent on protecting their secrets that the morality of what they are doing goes out the window.
What is unfortunate about the drama is the role of Han Jung Won (Song Sun Mi), a fellow partner at the law firm. Song Sun Mi was previously in Miss Korea with Lee Sung Min and they had great chemistry in that drama but I think her role in this drama was wasted as she’s merely a bystander. She could have added so much more to her role but she literally stands by as the go-between for Chan Moo and Tae Suk.
While it’s not a spectacular drama, I did walk away from it feeling uplifted. Lee Sung Min gives an incredible performance about a guy who gains a new perspective about the important things in this life.
But beyond Tae Suk, many of our other characters are broken in this drama, either because they are jaded or there is something missing in their lives. Watching all of their journeys and find a renewed purpose for living is incredibly cathartic. There might not be a cure for his disease but the characters here do find a cure for their broken heart. That’s worth holding on to.