Ritika Jain, New Delhi
If you are a K-Drama aficionado like me, then you must have watched dramas that are outright comedic or the ones that leave you crying every once in a while, or the ones you watch just because they are meaningful and teach you something about life. But as rare as it is to find a drama that is a beautiful blend of all these genres Because This Is My First Life (이번 생은 처음이라) is one of them, a gem that is too precious to miss.
This 16-episode long drama aired on tvN in 2017 can be put under the ‘slice-of-life’ genre. It has an amazing star cast of Lee Min-ki and Jung So-min as the main leads and Esom, Park Byung-eun, Kim Ga-eun and Kim Min-seok in supporting roles.
Plot and Characters
The story is about the quirky Nam Se-hee (played by Lee Min-ki) working in an IT start-up and Yoon Ji-ho (played by Jung So Min) a struggling writer. Both are in their early 30s and, start living together as a married couple not because they are in love but because of their own circumstances.
Alongside it also follows the relationships between two of Yoon Ji-ho’s childhood friends. While one is a strong-headed woman who doesn’t want to be in a relationship and wants her professional career to flourish, another has been in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend, and now wants to marry him and have a family; and then we have Yoon Ji-ho, who wanted to be a writer and has managed to be one, but hasn’t yet gained the recognition that she wanted and is unsure what the future holds for her. The screen space is shared fairly among the three couples and seamlessly portrays the developments in their relationships and life individually.
Now, with almost 100 K-dramas watched, I can say with experience that it’s hard to find a drama that maintains such a perfect balance in every way. Because This Is My First Life talks about human nature, marriage, career choices, and identity issues, managing to blend all of these into the story beautifully. The narration of Yoon Ji-ho’s thoughts that we hear in the background is both witty and impactful, and are actually life lessons in their own way.
It succeeds in teaching us that people are different; their struggles, their dreams, and their personalities are all different, but even then it is not impossible to understand each other only if we let ourselves be free from our fears and boundaries. It strikes the perfect chord in evoking all kinds of emotions, from bawling your eyes out to laughing inconsistently, and the characters seem so relatable that you would identify yourself with them and the situations they are in.
The drama deals with a lot of social issues as well like workplace harassment, stalking, patriarchal mindset, societal pressures, familial discord, and more.
Also, if you are someone who enjoys reading quotes and write-ups, then you are in for a treat. There are so many dialogues or rather quotes that are worth remembering even long after you have watched it, one of them being, “Don’t worry too much. Just because you lived through yesterday doesn’t mean you know everything about today.”
One poem that features in the drama and holds meaning is A Visitor by Jeong Hyeon-jong. The translation goes as:
“The coming of a person
is, in fact, a tremendous feat.
comes with his past and present
And with his future.
Because a person’s whole life comes with him.
Since it is so easily broken
the heart that comes along
would have been broken too.”
These lines sum up the whole concept and message that the drama and its characters try to convey.
The OSTs are perfect and aid in complementing the mood and situations, one of my personal favorites being This Life by Moon Sung Nam which still is a constant in my playlist.
I wouldn’t hesitate to claim that this drama is one of those very few that had a perfect cast, storyline, writing, screenplay, OST, and dialogues that have successfully created the magic after coming together, which is rather difficult. So, if you would like to refresh yourselves with a feel-good drama, my suggestion would be to give this one a try. Why? Because it is our first life anyways!