The Time We Were Not In Love Episode 1 Recap

Stellar first episode! I’ve been waiting all year for this series. It is here and starts out of the gate almost perfect. The 2011 Taiwanese original series, In Time with You, provides an excellent blueprint for this show. 


Oh Ha Na (Ha Ji Won) and Choi Won (Lee Jin Wook)

The Setup: The focus is on our two key players in the first episode: Our leading lady Oh Ha Na (Ha Ji Won), a 34 year old shoes sales manager and our leading man, Choi Won (Lee Jin Wook), a 34 year old flight steward. They’ve been neighbors and best friends forever. They’ve never dipped their toes in the romantic waters.

Summary Episode 1:

Our leading lady, Oh Ha Na, is a 34 year old hard working shoes sales manager that knows she’s getting older. But she’s got a job she loves, a man she loves and a family she loves…it is all good in her life. At work she finds herself in a work situation where a shoe promotion falls through. With excess shoes on her hands, she scrambles to find outlets to get rid of the shoes.

Her assistants are clearly aware that when Ha Na is angry, get out of the way. They let her know there is something under the desk that should brighten her day. It is a beautiful bouquet of flowers from her boyfriend, with a card that wishes her happy birthday but doesn’t say “love”.

She calls her boyfriend,  Joo Ho Joon (Choi Jung Won), for help. He is the General Manager in a department store. Ha Na wants him to promise to secure extra space in the shoe department for a promotion. He promises to ask his boss.

She views birthday videos from her friend including her best friend, Choi Won (Lee Jin Wook).  Flash to the past, Ha Na thinks back to when they were both 18 years old. They walk to school together everyday. Choi Won is solicitous. There is good-natured boys versus girls contests.

Thinking about the card from her boyfriend she calls Choi Won. What follows is cute bantering about aging between them. She notes she’s got the perfect boyfriend whereas he has been without a girlfriend for three years…because he looks like a squid! I am a banter-holic and love it! Ha Na asks, is the omission of “love” a red flag? He calms her fears. As he enters the waiting room for the next flight he meets junior steward Lee So Eun (Choo Soo Hyun) who appears a bit timid but eager to please.

The flight goes well though So Eun has some awkward moments including situation with a overly friendly passenger that Choi Won extracts her from.

When Ha Na heads to the department store to find out the verdict on the extra space, she spots Ho Joon buying jewelry. Thrilled she hopes it is her birthday present, and she wishes for a proposal.

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When Ho Joon takes her outside, instead of a proposal, he tells her he is marrying another woman. Stunned, Ha Na wants to know who is it. Turns out it is a young sales associate in Ha Na’s department who is three months pregnant! Ha Na uses her stiletto heels to her advantage and Ho Joon’s feet are soon hurting.

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After the flight is done the stewards make their way to public transportation. So Eun is attracted to Choi Won immediately. He does not notice her. She starts to ask him to dinner but when Ha Na’s mother calls Choi Won for supper, he wishes her good night.

Ha Na makes her way home understandably upset. Choi Won finds her outside the house drinking and upset.

Flash to the past, when one of Ha Na’s friends admits she has a crush on Choi Won. She confirms Ha Na does NOT like Choi Won. She asks Ha Na to give Choi Won a bag she made for him. Reluctantly Ha Na agrees. Meanwhile at home Choi Won finds a poem, “Love of the one eyed fish” and thinks of Ha Na. Ah, he likes her. The poem definitely reveals that. Indulge me…here’s the poem:

One Eyed Fish’s Love [ By Ryu Shiva ]

I want to live like a one-eyed fish.
I want to love like a one-eyed fish.
A one-eyed fish, Bi-Mok,
that had been attached to each other for its whole life
to live like a two-eyed fish.
I want to love like them.

We had sufficient time. But,
We just didn’t love each other enough for the time.
I want to live the way a one-eyed fish lives.
When it’s alone,
the aloneness becomes noticeable.
The one-eyed fish, Bi-Mok.
I want to love like them
for the sake of my life.

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Choi Won plays basketball to work off his frustration. When he gets home, Ha Na is outside waiting for him. When she offers the bag her friend gave her for Choi Won, in fact, she presses it into his hand. When she’s about to reveal who made it for him, Choi Won interrupts and tells her a story. They are on a plane that crashes. They are the only survivors. They live on island for the rest of their lives. But Choi Won states “I never date you. I will never love you. For my entire life.” Wow, those are the words of a man trying to deny his feelings.

Present day, Ha Na tells him those words have cursed her. What is wrong with her that he can’t love her? Is it because she’s picky, mean and strong willed? She refuses to tell him why she is upset.  Embarrassed, hurt, and distraught Ha Na makes her way into the house. Her younger brother (Lee Joo Seung) sees on Facebook that Ho Joon has announced his engagement to another woman.

Ha Na’s birthday dinner is tasty. Ha Na’s father (Shin Jung Keun), mother (Seo Ju Hee), brother, and Choi Won eat with gusto. They wonder why Ha Na isn’t joining them. Her brother informs them that Ho Joon got engaged today…to another woman. When Ha Na enters the room for water there is absolute silence.

It is the wedding day for Ha Na’s ex-boyfriend. It is awkward about the office. Everyone tip toes around Ha Na. She tells everyone to go and she’ll be there later. They scurry away in relief.

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Standing outside the building, Ha Na works her courage up to go in and congratulate her ex-boyfriend Ho Joon and his new bride with class. Choi Won shows up surprising her. He is there to support her today. He tells her to be confident and they head into the building. As they enter, Ho Joon takes a detour to the bathroom. Ha Na tells Choi Won she will give her regards to the bride and then they can leave.  LOL, when Ha Na enters the bride’s room, everyone, and I mean everyone, leaves quickly.  Choi Won heads to the bathroom where he gets a call informing him that Ha Na is talking to his bride. The father of the bride gets upset and Ho Joon tries to calm him saying Ha Na means nothing and is no one. Choi Won does not like Ho Joon’s lies.  Ha Na is classy when she talks to the bride. But as she leaves, head held high from the reception, Choi Won and Ho Joon bust out of the bathroom. Choi Won decks Ho Joon. Ho Joon says some ugly things. The bride enters the fray. More ugly things are said. Ha Na gets upset. How could Choi Won embarrass her like this? She leaves mortified.

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Outside, Ha Na tells Choi Won she went to the reception to show her co-workers she could rise above the situation, that her man was stolen by a younger woman. She tells him she won’t ever ask for his help again. She stalks off.

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He calls after her with a piece of advice “Act your age. ” She flips him off.

Choi Won follows her onto the bus home. Ha Na sits behind him. They don’t talk. She has to smile when he nods off his head lolling around like a wet noodle.

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As they walk to their respective houses, she calls after him. Ha Na thanks him for coming. She says “I felt some kind of catharsis.” She smiles. He smiles. Choi Won suggests chicken feet.

On the rooftop, they eat and drink. Sweetly he gives her a favorite eye cream (she is obsessed with eye cream) from the duty free shop. They agree to make a bet. Whoever isn’t married by 35, 1 year from now, has to pay the other money. Choi Won suggests $500. Ha Na suggests $5000. He is shocked but takes the bet claiming he is a popular guy.

Flash to the past, Choi Won wins the popularity contest a school. Ha Na goes to tell him. She finds him quiet and brooding. He stares at her in the rain. Choi Won says “I will probably never love you.” Yep, he loves her and always has!

1. Superb initial episode. Our leads clicked right from the start. It can be tricky when 30-something actors have to play teenagers. This worked pretty well though Jin Wook could not pull it off as well as Ji Won. Considering she is older than him, that’s impressive. Let me say, Ji Won looks fabulous. I’ve seen her from Damo, to Secret Garden, to the King 2 Hearts. I think this is the best she has ever looked. Let me also say, Ji Won’s acting skills have improved. I was a bit concerned because her character is the heart of the show. Ji Won nailed it and delivered a fabulous first episode. I thought Jin Wook would be the stronger of the two, as I’ve enjoyed him in I Need Romance 2012 and Nine. Nothing to worry about, they are well matched and in sync.
2. Considering the back stage switches between writers and producers, I was concerned (see article). But the writers, Jung Do Yoon and Lee Ha Na, delivered a fun script with a nice mix of present day action and the past foundation to their friendship. Well done! I was relieved when the Director was settled to be Jo Soo Won (I Can Hear Your Voice, Pinocchio). He knows what he is doing. The transitions between past and present were effective. I liked the stop frame transition.
3. I have high hopes for this series. The writers did a nice job utilizing the base story from the 2011 Taiwanese original series, In Time with You, but varied smartly and logically. I will not compare and contrast the series. Frankly, I don’t care. The Korean version will succeed or fail on it’s own just like the original. Looking forward to the next episode.
4. The first song of the OST has been released.  “The Time I Loved You” by Kyuhyun is pretty. Listen via link or the embedded video below.

Asian drama fan. I watch and blog dramas on

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Posted in Recaps, Time We Were Not in Love
11 comments on “The Time We Were Not In Love Episode 1 Recap
  1. Nao says:

    Yay! You are recapping this. I need a recap as there were a few things I couldn’t quite understand. Why does Choi Won say I will never love you or date you? Is it self-denial? I didn’t get why he was so mean to her twice. I like it so far but I finf CW a bit hard to read, like I can’t get his motives. LJW looks super handsome but as a character I found him inaccessible. HJW is great and looks beautiful. They look super cute next to each other but I don’t get the old friend vibe from them just yet. Not like Ye Jin and Joon Mo from producers where you can feel it right away.


    • kjtamuser says:

      My original reply did get posted, I’ll try again. Good question on Choi Won’s adamant denial to love Ha Na. I agree at this point, his motives are unknown and he is a bit cold (except with Ha Na). They are a good looking couple. The feature image on the post, I find that a beautiful promotional image of them. The best friend vibe seems pronounced in their phone calls and roof top conversations. I agree Ye Jin and Joon Mo sold the old friends aspect well. Thanks for the comment!


  2. great recap looks like I will be watching this as soon as i am done with High Society. 2015 is increasingly shaping up to be my year of the modern drama as some of the sageuks I had counted on as a must to watch turned out to be major disappointments.


    • kjtamuser says:

      Hmm, my reply didn’t get posted, my error I’m betting. I have High Society on my to view list. planning to watch after I finish Warm and Cozy. Thx for the comment!


      • Nao says:

        I’m watching high society right now too! It’s not a great show but for some reason I keep watching. Mostly for sung joon 🙂


      • High Society is fairly good in my opinion. People just seem dissapointed with the lead couple but i think in light of their respective realities the character portrayals are great. The story is pretty much well written with a few flaws here and there but overall it keeps one engaged as you find you are eager to figure out how the story plays out from episode to episode. There is no getting bored with this one even if the leads frustrate you


  3. aigooyobo says:

    Yayness. You are recapping so i will just do weekly reviews. I did enjoy the episode…but i will wait on episode 2 to fully invest in it. Ji won’s acting felt off like she was trying to act too cute. So hopefully, that gets toned down. Other than that…i love how it just took the original show and the writers and director made it into theirs. They did not deviate from the main points, but still had their own spin. Will be watching because i do like where they are headed.


    • kjtamuser says:

      I see your point about Ji Won. I was thrilled to see emotion, which has been lacking in past performances. Fingers crossed she gets into a groove with this character. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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June 2015

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