THE SHORT VERDICT:
A romance that manages to feel real and raw, yet sweet and aspirational, at the same time.
Even though our characters are flawed and sometimes even a little unlikable, Show manages to also make them brave enough, and sweet enough, and considerate enough, that our lead couple feels thoroughly worth rooting for, both separately and together.
While our story doesn’t ever achieve cracky levels of engagement, Show more than makes up for this, with its deft exploration of characters and relationships, while putting some very healthy relationship dynamics on display.
Despite feeling a touch slow in terms of its plot development, Show manages to feel thoughtfully satisfying all the way to the end.
THE LONG VERDICT:
Sometimes morbid curiosity pays off?
As many of you would likely know, I was ultimately disappointed with last year’s Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food (aka Something in the Rain), which was by the same writer-PD duo behind One Spring Night.
By the end of Pretty Noona, I was disenchanted enough, that I felt almost 100% certain that I wouldn’t be happy with another story by this writer-PD team, especially if they were going to create a world similar to the one in Pretty Noona.
And here One Spring Night was even going to feature the same male lead as Pretty Noona, too. Before I even set eyes on any moment of screen time of this show, I was So Sure that this all would not go down well, for me.
Being the curious cat that I am, though, when friends started saying on my Twitter feed that this show did, in fact, feel a fair bit like Pretty Noona, I couldn’t help checking out this show, at least for a little bit.
My intention, really, was to watch maybe just a few minutes, and then run screaming for the hills (yes, I was that aggrieved by Pretty Noona, heh). So imagine my annoyance, that not only did I end up watching the entire first hour, but actually came away liking it.
I wasn’t expecting that, to be sure.
Afterwards, I carried on my watch of this show with a mix of cautious enjoyment and nervous trepidation. Even though I liked Show a great deal, I couldn’t quite leave behind the underlying anxiety, that Show might ultimately disappoint me the way Pretty Noona had disappointed me.
Now that I’ve emerged safely on the other side, though, I am happy to report that Show remained solid all the way through to the end.
In fact, as self-indulgent as this might sound, it kinda felt like writer-nim had maybe read all my grumblings about Pretty Noona, and then set out to write me something to make it all up to me. To which I say, thank you, writer-nim. This was quite a pleasure to watch indeed.
On a tangent, I’ve found, anecdotally, that folks who disliked Pretty Noona seem to tend to like One Spring Night, and those who loved Pretty Noona seem to find One Spring Night pretty meh.
I’m not exactly sure of how accurate this theory is, but I’ve come across enough viewer comments to land on this possible pattern.
Given how this show checked all of the boxes for me that Pretty Noona didn’t, I’d say that theory might well be true.
Coz if this show lacks all of the things that made Pretty Noona work (or not work) for you, then it possibly stands to reason that One Spring Night is likely to fall on the opposite end of the spectrum, for you.
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.
IN A NUTSHELL: WHY ONE SPRING NIGHT WORKED FOR ME WHILE SOMETHING IN THE RAIN DIDN’T
Even though Pretty Noona started well for me, I was very frustrated by the lead characters themselves by the time I got to the end of the show. I no longer found either of them likable, nor did I actually feel like I could root for either of them.
I also felt like neither of them charted much in the way of meaningful character growth, especially in the area of how they each approached their relationship. By the end of the finale, I still found the OTP relationship as unhealthy as before, and I didn’t enjoy that.
Of course, not everyone felt this way about Pretty Noona. Fans of Pretty Noona would likely disagree with me, and that’s ok. This is just how I received the show, personally.
And personally, I felt like all of these things were well handled in One Spring Night. Yes, our characters are flawed in this story too.
But, I liked both lead characters, and found myself easily rooting for them. I liked the healthy amount of self-examination and introspection, coupled with a good amount of honest and candid conversation.
When the storm of judgment eventually confronted our OTP, this OTP did not cower nor collapse; each of them chose to stand strong in the face of criticism and opposition; both of them, for the most part, consistently choosing grace over petulance; courage over cowardice.
Overall, One Spring Night doesn’t reach the same pinnacles of giddy romance that Pretty Noona managed in its early episodes. But I gotta tell ya, Show’s demonstration of what healthy relationship dynamics can look like in the face of the storm, makes up for it all, in my books.
STUFF I LIKED
Han Ji Min as Jung In
I’ve developed quite an affection for Han Ji Min of late, having very much enjoyed her in Familiar Wife and The Light In Your Eyes (Dazzling) – both excellent shows that I recommend, if you haven’t seen ’em.
Overall, I do think that Han Ji Min’s personal charm did add to Jung In as a character, for me.
What I mean is, Jung In isn’t actually always likable; she’s written as flawed, and to be honest, I didn’t actually like her behavior, the first time we are introduced to her in episode 1.
And sometimes, she says things which make me wonder if she’s got a droll sense of humor, is simply uncomfortably straightforward, or is just plain inconsiderate.
During these times, my personal affection for Han Ji Min did come in handy to bolster my patience with Jung In.
Having said that, I do think that Jung In is, objectively speaking (ie, without the need for pre-existing personal affection), a female lead who is worth rooting for.
Jung In has a steely core, and she isn’t afraid to face difficult situations or stand up for herself or stand up for someone else, if she perceives that it is the right thing to do.
When she decides that she wants to be with Ji Ho (Jung Hae In), she proceeds to fight for what she wants, even though she knows that the journey will be difficult and painful. Additionally, I love that in that process, she is determined to protect Ji Ho from being hurt.
On top of it all, Jung In continues to nurture all her other roles, as daughter, sister and friend, even when she is head over heels for her new love.
I didn’t think Jung In was perfect, and Show doesn’t ever try to airbrush her flaws, but I did feel perfectly on Jung In’s side, and I wanted to root for her, all the way through.
To be honest, I found it hard to sift through all of my thoughts on this show and its characters and relationships, because everything is so intertwined, and also, in so many shades of gray. In the following Spoiler section, is a meandering collection of my thoughts surrounding Jung In.
I will be handling most of the other Spoiler sections similarly, for the same hard-to-separate-and-sift-through reasons.
E1. I don’t immediately like Han Ji Min’s character, not least because she tried to blame Ji Ho for opening the drink for her, when she’d been the one to ask for the drink and then not have her wallet on her.
Being more apologetic would’ve seemed more appropriate to me, rather than trying to shift the blame.
E3-4. Jung In’s proposal to Ji Ho to be friends, and trying to keep things “technically ok” feels true to life.
There is something that niggles her conscience that she’s somehow crossing a line by being intrigued by Ji Ho, but she works to satisfy her conscience by allowing herself a little closer to Ji Ho – as long as she can explain it as them just being friends.
I don’t think she’s trying to justify it to Gi Seok (Kim Joon Han) first and foremost; I think that she’s trying to justify it to her conscience.
She wants more from a romantic relationship than what she currently has with Gi Seok, but finds it hard to articulate to Gi Seok.
More than that, it does seem that she doesn’t seem to want more from him per se, even though she broaches topics like wanting them to respect each other more.
It feels like she doesn’t actually think it’s possible to shift her relationship with Gi Seok to something that would feel as satisfying to her, as her current new and compelling interest in Ji Ho.
E6. Personally, I think that Jung In has the right to some time to figure things out, in terms of how she feels about Gi Seok, and how she feels about Ji Ho.
At the very least, she needs to figure out whether she wants to continue her relationship with Gi Seok, or if this is the kind of relationship she can see herself living with, long-term.
At this point, her heart being swayed by Ji Ho, is, I think, a good clue that she isn’t happy in her relationship with Gi Seok.
She needs to figure out whether that’s something she can see them working on and through together, and then if not, she should break up with Gi Seok, regardless of whether there is any future for her and Ji Ho.
That, to me, would be the better thing to do. That said, she really should talk it out with Gi Seok instead of just letting things carry on as they are.
E7-8. At this point, I don’t dislike Jung In. I think it’s partly because I’ve grown fond of Han Ji Min, but I also think it’s partly because Show does a good job of showing Jung In’s conflict.
We do see her try to be loyal to Gi Seok. She even suggests that they get married. This is not something that she would say, if her foot really were already half out the door.
At this point, she still isn’t sure, and so, it’s too soon for her heart, to cut Gi Seok off, and it’s also hard for her to figure things out properly, with her heart wobbling for Ji Ho, while her mind is probably also warring with the societal expectations that she knows are hanging over her head.
E9-10. Jung In’s outburst in the car, “What about me? Why are you only thinking about yourself? Is your satisfaction all the matters? Were you always this selfish?” has got to be one of the most backhanded confessions ever.
I think Ji Ho was operating under the assumption that she didn’t want to see him, that she didn’t quite feel the same way about him that he does about her.
Even though the way Jung In talks to Gi Seok about his parents’ disapproval of her and her perception of his attitude takes the form of a lashing out, I do feel that her accusations come from a place of real pain.
She has felt those feelings, and felt that disapproval, and perceived that neglect.
She isn’t making up stuff to throw in Gi Seok’s face because she wants out of the relationship.
At this point, she hasn’t actually talked with Gi Seok about breaking up, which leads me to think that she’s still considering how to proceed at this point, that she doesn’t know yet whether she actually wants to end this relationship.
On the other hand, her lashing out at Ji Ho felt somewhat different; that actually felt like a lashing out borne of her being pushed into a corner, and grabbing for something – anything – to throw back at her perceived aggressor.
I fully endorse and respect Jung In’s decision to break up with Gi Seok, and her decision that regardless of that, she will not date Ji Ho.
That’s an honorable decision that will enable her to be true to herself, and also, protect both Ji Ho and her from the backlash of them getting together in the wake of a break up with Gi Seok.
It’s her way of not walking the road of betrayal, and some might call it foolish, but I respect her for even trying to choose that path, because it’s a path that involves denying her own feelings, on a principle.
Jung In broaching the subject of a break-up on the phone with Gi Seok, while looking right at Ji Ho; talk about biting the bullet. But I appreciate that she backs away from Ji Ho, when, in alarm, he tries to reach towards her while she’s on the phone.
One, it shows that she wants no interference from anyone, even him, because this is her decision to make. Two, she’s also saying that this isn’t actually about him.
E11-12. Although I wish Jung In’s attempt to break up with Gi Seok would’ve stuck, so that they wouldn’t be in a limbo of trying to make things work, I can understand how she’d end up in this situation.
She and Gi Seok have a long history together, and without a strong reason to break up with him, it does seem unreasonable if she won’t at least agree to work on improving their relationship.
E13-14. Gotta give props to Jung In for how she carries herself in making the appointment with Gi Seok’s father (Kim Chang Wan) and how she showed up during the meeting. She’s courageous to speak her mind, and remains respectful while doing so.
She sounds reasonable and it’s clear that she’s spent a lot of time thinking things through before articulating her conclusions. It’s no wonder Gi Seok’s dad is impressed.
E15-16. It was thoughtless of Jung In to ask Ji Ho to take Eun Woo (Ha Yi An) and leave via the side exit because Gi Seok was about to arrive at the library.
It’s unfair because Ji Ho genuinely wasn’t there to see her, and he shouldn’t be asked to use the side exit in deference to someone else. It’s a public library that everyone has the right to visit.
I think Jung In should have deferred to him to make that choice. If he’d felt uncomfortable coming face to face with Gi Seok given the emotional side of things, that he could have chosen to take the side exit.
But, that’s easy for me to say as a neutral bystander. Jung In is in that situation, and the impending collision of her two worlds – a collision which she was not prepared for – was about to happen right in front of her.
Her instinct was to avoid impact at all costs, and she believed that Ji Ho would cooperate with her without questions.
E17-18. I appreciate that Jung In thinks long and hard about what she really wants for herself; about whether she can make things work with Gi Seok like so many people want her to do; whether she can live with herself for the choice that she makes; whether she can protect Ji Ho from the consequential judgment and comments, if she goes to him.
At one point, she was prepared to break up with Gi Seok while not starting a relationship with Ji Ho; that’s how much she was ready to protect him; by not being with him, ever.
E27-28. I think what makes Jung In sympathetic is that she doesn’t try to make excuses. She admits to Gi Seok that it’s her fault, that she betrayed him (though she’s really being quite generous here), and she doesn’t ask for forgiveness, and is prepared to pay the price for her actions.
In this sense, far from looking at her and wanting to point a finger at her for betraying her boyfriend for at least the act of acting on her attraction to another man, even if she was already trying to break up with him, I’m encouraged to acknowledge her humanness; her fallibility as a mere person, and admire her honesty and willingness to own it all.
And over and above all of that, I admire her for remaining calm, respectful and courteous with Gi Seok, even when he is unreasonably yelling at her and insisting that she come back to him.
The composure she manages in the face of all his baiting is really something, and she even manages to sound sincere, while she’s at it. How is she so strong, while retaining her soft emotional core, at the same time?
E27-28. Jung In telling Ji Ho, at the crosswalk, “Don’t cross; I’ll come to you.”
Such a reflection of how she doesn’t want him to come into her world and be punished by the judgment and standards that exist in it; she’d rather go into his world, and meet him there.
Jung Hae In as Ji Ho
If you’ve been around the blog for a bit, you might know that if a show manages to actually drain me of fangirl loyalty, that can be a hard thing to recover from, for me.
Case in point: Uncontrollably Fond, which drained me of so much Woob loyalty that I may not have fully recovered from it, even today.
Since I wasn’t actually a Jung Hae In fangirl to begin with, and since Pretty Noona had effectively and quite recently (just last year!) drained me of most of the affection I’d ever grown for Jung Hae In from his other roles, making me feel decidedly ambivalent towards him, I wasn’t very optimistic that I would end up enjoying him much in this role.
Well, color me pleasantly surprised and suitably impressed; I actually really enjoyed Jung Hae In in this. This show is like the surprise gift that doesn’t stop giving, heh.
Ji Ho certainly isn’t a perfect character. In fact, he even displays flashes of impetuous, rebellious behavior that I found similar to the troubling behavior I observed in Joon Hee, his character in Pretty Noona.
What’s different here, is that Ji Ho is shown to be much more introspective, patient and mature, as a result of his difficult experiences as a single father.
The flashes of recklessness remain just that – flashes; they don’t become mainstays of his character. Also unlike Joon Hee, Ji Ho is more likely to think before he acts, and he also is willing to be patient and courageous in the face of disapproval.
On top of Ji Ho’s patience and consideration as one half of the OTP, I also liked watching his interactions with his son Eun Woo, which I found very precious indeed. Another thing that was precious – any and every time Ji Ho leaked a stifled smile. Oh my. They got me every time. <3
Overall, I found Ji Ho to be a very appealing character, and I could understand why Jung In would want to risk everything, just to be with him.
E1. Ji Ho does seem like a kind person, offering to lend money to the woman who tried to blame him for the cost of her transaction.
E9-10. Ji Ho can’t help the wonder and thrill at being in Jung In’s apartment, and the half smiles are leaking out despite his efforts to swallow them. It’s glorious to see.
E11-12. But.. I’m also concerned, because Ji Ho is starting to act more recklessly with each passing minute.
From speaking up to ask Gi Seok not to go to his girlfriend, to insisting that Jung In stay on the phone with him while he’s riding in Gi Seok’s car, this just all doesn’t seem to be moving in a very wise direction.
E15-16. I do like that Ji Ho made it clear that he wouldn’t make Eun Woo feel small by making him use the side exit, and that that hit Jung In in the gut. If she is at all serious about exploring a relationship with Ji Ho, she needs to understand how important Eun Woo is to him.
I thought her gesture, of putting Eun Woo’s dinosaur sticker on her phone, was very significant. It says everything: I accept Eun Woo; I like Eun Woo; I’d be proud to be associated with Eun Woo.
It’s no wonder Ji Ho was rendered speechless; it’s always been his fear that the woman he liked wouldn’t be able to accept Eun Woo, and that’s why he never dated.
E15-16. In terms of Ji Ho’s increasing boldness around Gi Seok, I think it has to do with being tired of hiding.
He’s hidden for a long time, because of Eun Woo, and the remarks from people around him, like his parents, that he doesn’t deserve to be with someone who hasn’t been married before, are probably starting to rankle at him.
He’s probably come to the point where he’s tired of hiding and is ready to just let everything out and face the consequences. He is getting to the point where he wants to assert that he has the same right to stand under the sun, as everyone else. I think.
E17-18. Ji Ho thinks long and hard about whether he can give Jung In up; about how his son will be affected; about how Jung In will be affected.
And even when he’s sure of his feelings, he doesn’t rush to act on them. Just recently, he tells Jung In that he will wait until she’s ready to come to him, and that she can take as long as she needs.
And this isn’t something that he’s pushing on her; she wants to come to him. He’s just giving her the freedom to take as much time as she needs, before she does that. And this hour, he tells her again, that he’s not going anywhere, and she can take all the time she needs. That’s so.. respectful and space-giving.
E17-18. Ji Ho telling Gi Seok that the main reason he got caught was because he resented Gi Seok for looking down on him, is so honest, and so self-aware. I like that.
I like that he doesn’t lump everything on his feelings for Jung In, which would be too easy to do, given that it’s the big elephant in the room. Instead, he admits that it’s also about him.
I like that he won’t let people look down on him, and that he will stand up for his rights, like he did with Eun Woo in the library. He won’t let his son – and therefore by association himself – be treated like second-class citizens.
His retaliating actions may not always be the most appropriate ones, like how he was acting out telling Gi Seok not to go to his girlfriend, so I don’t condone those, but I do like the sense of self-worth that he strives to own.
E27-28. I like that Ji Ho is concerned that he will be the cause of an irreparable rift between Jung In and her parents. That’s considerate, and I like that he thinks about things like that for her, even though she’s willing to risk it all, for him.
E27-28. Aw. That tearful face, and the touch of a quiver in Ji Ho’s voice, as he looks at Jung In and asks, “Will you leave me and Eun Woo too?”
Oh man. He’s been hurt so much by Eun Woo’s mom, and deep down, he’s afraid that somehow, he and Eun Woo will end up getting hurt and abandoned again. Oof.
E27-28. Ji Ho’s breakdown at the realization that Eun Woo’s bio mom is now married with another child, is heartbreaking.
He must be processing this fact, wondering why, if she’d not been ready to be a wife and mother back when she upped and left, she’d not come back to him and Eun Woo, when she’d felt ready.
It’s impossible not to wonder if she simply didn’t want him and Eun Woo, rather than that she didn’t want to be a wife and mother.
In reality, it’s possible that she’d run away because she hadn’t felt ready, and then later in life, had felt that it was simply easier to start over, than try to treat old wounds and deal with old scars.
Also, I do think that for Ji Ho, this is more about Eun Woo than it is about himself. Plus, given that Ji Ho’s suffered greatly from being abandoned in the past, it’s only human that he would have hangups and fears specifically related to abandonment.
The OTP relationship
Just like the way Show serves up its lead characters as flawed but worth rooting for, the OTP relationship is similarly presented.
I didn’t like every single thing about this OTP relationship – I had to really rationalize their bond, given their random-feeling meet-cute, and I often didn’t get this couple’s brand of banter, which often came across as a little brusque and a lot obtuse, to my ears – I certainly found a lot to root for, in the way their relationship blossomed.
Like I mentioned earlier in this review, one of the things that I like about this show, which Pretty Noona didn’t give me, is a pair of leads that act like responsible adults, even amid the heart-fluttering new feelings.
I liked that both Ji Ho and Jung In didn’t lose themselves in their brand new shiny feelings for each other. Ji Ho is still careful to consider his son and his parents; Jung In is still careful to consider her parents and she also stops to really think about what she wants.
And when Ji Ho and Jung In decide they want to be together, I love the maturity, patience and courage with which they choose to approach the uphill journey of fulfilling their desire to be together.
I found the chemistry between Jung Hae In and Han Ji Min very believable and sparky, and I felt that they made the interactions between Ji Ho and Jung In feel very organic and lived-in.
Even though we begin our story where a relationship between these two characters would be problematic – she’s in a long-term relationship; he’s her boyfriend’s hoobae – Show does a very good job of convincing me that these two belong together, and I spent the bulk of my watch with bated breath, hoping for the best outcome for these lovebirds.
E1. While a part of my brain struggles to reconcile Ji Ho’s strong feelings for Jung In so quickly after they met at the pharmacy, a part of me is willing to acknowledge that emotions don’t have to come from a place of logic, that fundamentally, emotions and logic come from very different places.
I can acknowledge that people can and do fall in love very quickly, and can feel a strong connection with a stranger that they’ve just met. And I know for a fact that people can also feel extremely distant from the ones that they are supposed to be close to.
In that sense, I am able to accept Jung In and Ji Ho feeling a strong attraction to each other, that doesn’t seem to be rooted in an organically grown relationship over a long period of time.
E2. I do like the fact that Jung In tells Ji Ho that she’s got a boyfriend that she plans to marry. I also appreciate that Ji Ho is upfront with her about his son, and about the fact that he doesn’t have the confidence to be comfortable being friends with her.
E5. I can see why Ji Ho and Jung In agreed to be friends. It’s not out of actually wanting to be friends. It’s exactly as Jung In’s friend Young Joo (Lee Sang Hee) put it: that it’s more because friends is all that they can be.
They are drawn to each other, and they want to have a way to be closer to each other, even if it’s under the guise of being friends.
Jung In is more in denial than Ji Ho, I think. Ji Ho seems cognizant that he still likes her, even though he’d said that he’d dealt with his feelings.
Or, he thought that he’d dealt with his feelings, only to have the feelings come rushing back, once he allowed himself closer to her. After all, it hadn’t been that long since he’d expressed interest in her, that he’d claimed to have dealt with his feelings.
When Gi Seok comes to see him at the pharmacy, Ji Ho’s expression changes completely, and his discomfort and discomposure around the idea that Gi Seok is there to buy supplements for Jung In is very clear.
The mention of marriage discussions also throws Ji Ho for a loop and he’s visibly not himself.
Jung In, on the other hand, is sliding down a slippery slope of developing feelings for Ji Ho, while trying to explain everything away to herself.
She’s rationalizing everything so that she can satisfy any guilt that her conscience brings to her attention, and when Young Joo confronts her, she rationalizes it too, saying that there’s nothing wrong with being friends.
And yes, friends can text each other, and visit each other, and have coffee together, but – not when they have feelings for each other and one of them is practically engaged to be married to someone else.
The friendship is but a bandaid excuse to let Jung In keep on living life as she knows it, while allowing her to take little bites of forbidden fruit which she can rationalize as harmless because each bite is technically allowable.
But Jung In’s involuntary smiles when it comes to Ji Ho says it all; her heart is leaning towards him, and farther and farther away from Gi Seok.
E7-8. At the end of this episode, we finally get some articulation and acknowledgment of feelings and attraction between Jung In and Ji Ho. Both admit that they’ve been cowardly, and I would agree with both assertions.
I do think that in this situation, there is more burden on Jung In to decide what she wants. I personally think Ji Ho is doing the right thing by not putting much pressure on Jung In, because she’s the one who practically has a fiance, while he’s single and available.
It would feel like a dirty move for him to try and woo her away from her boyfriend, if she hasn’t indicated that she would like to be wooed.
Additionally, I really think they should put a pause on their interactions while she figures out what she wants.
If she wants to be with Ji Ho, she should break up with Gi Seok first, then try to figure things out with Ji Ho. Don’t start entertaining and pursuing feelings on the side, with Ji Ho, while Gi Seok is still your boyfriend.
E9-10. Sometimes Jung In says outrageous things, and I don’t know whether to take her seriously. Is this supposed to be darkly funny, or provocative?
She comes across as really bossy, telling Ji Ho to pay for dinner, and telling him what to order, so that she can have some too. Ji Ho reciprocates by telling her she’s terrible, but.. they just keep carrying on. I guess this is going to be their brand of ribbing?
I do appreciate that they are quite brutally honest when they do get to talking seriously. “I’m the loser, and you’re the idiot.” “You’re so cold.” “Can’t you tell how this is torture for me?”
E11-12. I do like that we get honest conversations between Jung In and Ji Ho.
I appreciate that Jung In tells Ji Ho that her breaking up with Gi Seok has nothing to do with him, and that he also shares how he feels, that even though the woman he likes is breaking up with her boyfriend, he can’t be happy about it.
This brand of honesty, where both parties share the process of their thoughts and feelings even when they don’t have the answers, appeals to me. It feels so open and uncalculated.
E11-12. Every time Jung In has an interaction with Eun Woo, I feel like she’s trying on motherhood – or rather, stepmotherhood – for size. It’s like she’s testing the waters, almost, just in case she and Ji Ho really do get together and she really does end up as a mother figure to Eun Woo.
But, I do kind of wish she wouldn’t. Eun Woo is getting attached to her, and at this point, there’s no guarantee that she can continue to stay in Ji Ho’s orbit.
In that sense, I feel like she’s being rather reckless and irresponsible, because she doesn’t take Eun Woo’s feelings into account. What about his heartbreak, if she had to cut off contact all of a sudden?
Having said that, I have to admit that the look on Ji Ho’s face, as he watches Jung In on the phone with Eun Woo, is one that communicates so clearly, that in this moment, his heart is full, so full that he’s moved to tears. I do like that.
E13-14. I do struggle with Jung In’s words from time to time. She admits to being mean and selfish, and I guess that rubs me the wrong way.
I mean, I do want her to put herself first, but I also want her to articulate care for others. If she likes Ji Ho, she should care about how he feels, but she explicitly states that she doesn’t have the bandwidth to care about the state of his heart.
In this way, Jung In really is a bundle of contradictions. Because on the one hand she says completely unreasonable and mean things like that, but on the other hand, she promises to protect Ji Ho and make sure that he won’t be judged for their relationship in the future.
I guess actions speak louder than words, so perhaps Jung In’s unpleasant words are just the way that she and Ji Ho “banter”? Like, she says those things, and he retorts, but they both know that she doesn’t mean it?
E13-14. While there is a sector of viewers who view Jung In’s connection with Ji Ho as cheating, I think some acknowledgment should be given for the way they’re trying to keep things as honorable as possible.
As in, the feelings have grown, and they’ve been reckless in some ways to entertain those feelings, and that’s not ideal, but at least now Jung In is working to close things off with Gi Seok before starting on a proper relationship with Ji Ho, and Ji Ho is backing off and giving her the space to do that.
There’s some value in that, I feel.
E17-18. Once these two have decided that they want to work towards being together, they do every responsible thing they can, before actually starting a relationship.
Ji Ho tells his parents that he’s serious about Jung In; Jung In breaks up with Gi Seok as effectively as she can, given his delusional non-acceptance; Jung In informs her parents that she’s asked to break up with Gi Seok, and that there’s someone that she likes.
They do every possible thing, to make the transition as transparent and as responsible as possible, and this consideration and sense of responsibility; of giving people in their lives the respect that they’re due, without compromising on their own convictions and desires, makes me really root for this couple.
E17-18. I really like that even though the initial connection between Ji Ho and Jung In could be said to be some kind of attraction at first glance, that they’ve really spent time having honest conversations and getting to understand each other, in the time since.
And I really like that as they’ve done that, the feelings they have for each other have only grown stronger.
To that end, I can believe that the initial attraction was a hunch; a gut feeling that this person could be special; and everything else afterwards has been a journey of exploring that hunch and actually falling for each other.
I do appreciate that their confessions of love have been made before an actual hand-hold. It makes their connection feel more clearly like it’s something bigger than just physical chemistry.
E17-18. The scene where Ji Ho exited the cafe because he couldn’t help the tears springing to his eyes at Jung In’s sudden love confession, is really sweet. I love how overwhelmed and childlike he is, in that moment.
She touched his heart of hearts; the loneliest part of his soul that wondered if he would ever be loved again. I love that she went after him, and held his face, and laughed with him, even as he tried to deny his tears. That shot of levity was quite needed, I think.
The look on Ji Ho’s face, as he holds Jung In’s hand and he talks about how he could’ve put off holding her hand for so long, is so precious.
He looks like he’s on the verge of tears, and he also looks like he’s half wondering if this is all real, even as he continues to banter gently with Jung In.
E19-20. I do appreciate the honest and transparent conversations that Jung In and Ji Ho have this hour. Even with Gi Seok’s displeasure and potential interference hanging over them, they tell each other things that they feel are important.
Ji Ho tells Jung In about Eun Woo’s mother and what happened back when Eun Woo was born, and how he’d felt at the time; Jung In tells Ji Ho that she will be honest and quick to tell him if she’s not happy with him for something, and she spells out what she’d like from him in return, which is excellent ground-laying for a healthy relationship.
Ji Ho shows Jung In his childhood by bringing her to the laundromat; Jung In tells Ji Ho that she would be disappointed if he were to be intimidated by Gi Seok.
All of this feels so honest and healthy, and the fact that these two continue to operate in this healthy space despite the external pressures that are starting to bear down on them, is something that I really like.
E23-24. What sets this show apart from Pretty Noona, is that this couple talks honestly with each other.
Despite the opposition and the obstacles they’re facing, they come together and they talk honestly and they apologize and it just all feels so healthy and willingly transparent.
With their many honest conversations as context, where they’ve shared their deepest thoughts and fears, it feels organic and natural when they decide to consummate their relationship.
E25-26. Ji Ho’s expression, as he asks tentatively if Jung In really is coming to them, is so precious. It’s so full of hesitant wonder, and he’s barely keeping the tears from falling from his eyes.
And then, when Jung In tells him yes, the tearful gratitude and joy that mixes with the wonder, is just beautiful and poignant to behold. I can feel through my screen, just how grateful and joyful Ji Ho is, and I just wish him all the happy things in the world.
E25-26. So far, I’m still enjoying this very well, even though there are disapproving parents actively getting involved. And the key here, is how Jung In and Ji Ho respond under that pressure.
So far, I really like that they’re not swayed, but continue to behave in a manner that is respectful and mature, for the most part.
And they continue to keep their communication with each other honest and transparent, taking steps to take their relationship in the direction they desire, without being pouty or tantrumy about it.
E25-26. Gi Seok tailing Jung In is stalkery, but I do love how Jung In stalks right up to him and tells him that she will not allow him to bother Ji Ho. It touches me, that through all of this, she is determined to protect Ji Ho as much as possible, even if it means that she will suffer for it.
E25-26. Jung In’s way of proposing to Ji Ho is so quintessentially Jung In. Instead of waiting for Ji Ho to propose, she likely makes the first move because she realizes that Ji Ho may not want to burden her with a proposal.
And instead of making it elegant or romantic, she goes for tangential and obtuse, so that he doesn’t even know what to say to her first attempt. But she homes in for the win, by asking Eun Woo if he’d like her to be his mom. Jung In sure knows the way to Ji Ho’s heart.
E27-28. I like what Jung In says to Ji Ho, about why she’s glad that she’s met him. It’s not about him so much, as the effect that he has on her, that being with him makes her selfless and brave. I do love that.
The relationship between the sisters
Although we don’t get a whole lot of screen time with all 3 sisters together, I really grew to love and appreciate the deep bond between these siblings.
Despite not spending as much time together as they’d probably like, it’s clear to see that the sisters care deeply for one another.
I consistently noticed each of them putting her sisters’ needs above her own, and I loved the solidarity that they shared. They were always willing to stand by one another, in the face of parental disapproval, or an abusive husband, or a clingy ex-boyfriend.
I was so glad that these girls had one another and that despite their differing life stations, they continued to support one another, being an oasis in the desert for one another. <3
E15-16. I’m glad that the 3 sisters are talking and sharing more, and that they are so firmly there for one another.
It says so much, that Seo In (Im Sung Uhn) would tell Jae In (Joo Min Kyung) to take care of Jung In first, even though she herself could really use Jae In’s presence in her apartment, to be her protection against Si Hoon (Lee Moo Saeng).
E17-18. I’m glad to see that the sisters are supporting one another, banding together against the wrath of their father. The hug that Seo In gives Jung In, while encouraging her to follow her heart, is so poignant.
E19-20. I like how Seo In truly cares about Jung In and completely acts in her interest. When Gi Seok tries to get her to intervene in his relationship with Jung In, she declines. And when Gi Seok brings out his trump card in Ji Ho having a son, Seo In calls Jung In over, and they talk.
I like that even though Seo In is concerned, she listens, and is so empathetic and compassionate and appreciative, even, of Jung In.
Her admission that she’s pregnant and had thought of the child as punishment, so contrite in the light of Jung In’s admission of affection for Eun Woo, is so poignant. And the embrace that the sisters share afterwards, is so bittersweet and heartfelt.
E25-26. When Jae In walks in on Si Hoon raising his hand, about to hit Seo In, the way she reacts is so deeply emotional that it brings tears to my eyes.
The way she throws herself at Si Hoon, railing on him, daring him to hit her too, is so fiercely protective of her sister. And then the way she just falls to the ground, sobbing like a child and wailing at her sister, is so deeply empathetic.
She feels everything so acutely. And then later that night, she goes to Jung In and cuddles close, and tells her to live happily with the ones she loves, for a long time. I mean. How wonderfully empathetic is she? I love her. <3
Young Jae and Jae In
By the end of my watch, I’d developed a soft spot for both Jae In and Young Jae (Lee Chang Hoon) individually, so it’s safe to say that I found the two of them very cute together as well.
I liked how Jae In’s instant bond with Young Jae, and her quick decision to be friends with him worked as a reflection for Jung In, even as she considered her attraction to Ji Ho, and her decision to be friends with him.
I loved the fierce and unwavering loyalty that both of these characters displayed throughout our story, and even though Show doesn’t focus on their relationship much, I rather liked the idea that even though both Jae In and Young Jae are financially unstable and don’t have clear career paths, their relationship isn’t actually one of the sources of their concerns.
They’re just steady like that, and I like that.
Here’s a quick spotlight each, on Jae In and Young Jae.
E11-12. I like Jae In. She’s so fiercely carefree, and she’s also loyal. I love that this episode, when she sees that Jung In is suffering, she tells Jung In that she will respect whatever decision she makes, and just gives her sister a hug. Aw.
E27-28. Young Jae is such a dependable guy. He follows Jae In to the family home, because she’s rushing there to intervene, and then he just stands around and waits for her to come out. When Ji Ho and Jung In embrace, he turns away and averts his eyes.
And when Ji Ho is drunk this episode, he comes running and takes Ji Ho home. What a good and loyal person he is.
Some of the parents
In a drama world where parental disapproval is one of the main narrative arcs, it’s a pleasant surprise to find that there are actually a greater number of understanding and empathetic parents than disapproving ones.
I like that in this show, both Ji Ho and Jung In have one least one supportive parent each.
Overall, I feel like we see just as much in the way of supportive, positive parent behavior as negative, and that really helps to bring a sense of balance into our narrative.
Here’s a quickish spotlight on the supportive parents in our story.
E13-14. I really like how Mom (Gil Hae Yun) is showing up strong these days as a protector of her daughters; a force to be reckoned with.
The way she literally shoves Si Hoon out of the apartment, then hisses a dressing-down at him for his mannerless behavior, before promising that she will ensure the divorce goes through, is just fantastic.
I love that she’s immediately on Seo In’s side, and doesn’t even question it, when Seo In admits that she and Si Hoon are moving towards divorce.
I wanted Seo In to admit to Mom that Si Hoon had been beating her up, but I’m also happy to know that Mom doesn’t even need to hear that, to be fiercely on Seo In’s side.
E13-14. I also like seeing how Mom is concerned for Jung In. The look on Mom’s face, when Jae In confesses that Jung In looks sad, tells me that Mom sincerely wants Jung In to be happy, and that she won’t push Jung In to marry Gi Seok, if she knows that Jung In won’t be happy.
E17-18. I especially appreciate Ji Ho’s dad’s (Oh Man Seok) reaction, when Ji Ho expresses that Jung In is the first person who sees him as just himself. “Thank you.” How beautiful is that? Dad is grateful that Ji Ho has such a person, who sees him for himself.
E17-18. I also appreciate that Jung In’s mom has expresses that she just wants her daughters not to give up on their happiness.
E21-22. I’m so relieved that Seo In’s finally told Mom that Si Hoon’s been beating her.
Finally there’s someone who knows the full picture, and Mom will stop persuading Seo In to give him a chance for the sake of the baby. Mom wanting to confront him right away gives me feels.. She absolutely won’t stand for it, and I’m comforted.
E21-22. Watching Mom railing on Si Hoon is vicariously cathartic and touching at the same time. He deserves to be hit so much more, but I feel a measure of release for Mom, for beating him up at least a little bit. But, the gall of Si Hoon to smile to himself afterwards. Ugh.
E23-24. The scene where Mom confronts Dad (Song Seung Hwan), sobbing at how much he’s disappointed her, is so powerful and raw.
I totally believe how much it took for Mom to hold back while Dad was saying all those selfish things, and I totally believe that she’s completely and utterly ready to give up on him.
When Mom tells Jae In that she’s going to divorce Dad, I sincerely felt a measure of happiness and relief for her. And I’m glad she’s moving in with Seo In.
E25-26. I really appreciate how Mom refrains from judgment, after Jung In tells her about Eun Woo. She doesn’t give her approval, but she doesn’t get angry either. Mainly, she’s worried about Jung In.
Which is why, when Dad finds out about Ji Ho and Eun Woo, Mom calls Jung In and tells her to run away. I love how protective she is.
E25-26. Ji Ho’s parents are so caring and patient. Even though they’d love nothing better than to find out more about Jung In, they encourage each other to be patient. The way they are so happy to see Ji Ho happy, makes me happy.
E27-28. Wow, I feel like there’s so much unsaid that transpires, in the scene with both moms.
The awkward embarrassment; the worry, of being judged and of their child being judged, which gives way to acknowledgment – that I see you; I feel your heartbeat for your child; that you’re not alone – which gives way to solidarity.
This was a meeting where words wouldn’t have done justice to what needed to be communicated; instead, their hearts did the talking, and it was beautiful to behold.
Of course, part of Jung In’s mom’s ability to feel compassion for Ji Ho’s mom is exactly what Jae In pointed out, that Seo In will soon be a single mother, whose child will have one parent instead of two.
That definitely helps puts things into perspective, along with hearing the other mom’s fears and worries, articulated from a mother’s heart.
Ha Yi An as Eun Woo
Ha Yi An is one adorable munchkin, and I loved him as Eun Woo. Tiny and cute and always a little halting in the way he speaks, Eun Woo managed to consistently bring a smile to my face just by showing up on my screen. <3
Beyond his cuteness, though, Eun Woo really is a great kid, and I sincerely loved some of his scenes. Possibly my favorite Eun Woo scene is this one from episode 5.
I do find Ji Ho’s relationship with Eun Woo endearing. It’s kinda sad that Eun Woo doesn’t get to live with his dad and see him everyday, but Eun Woo still is so loving and loyal to Ji Ho, it just gets me in the heart. Eun Woo’s joy at seeing his dad, is one thing.
But when Ji Ho apologizes to Eun Woo and asks if Eun Woo forgives him, Eun Woo’s replies are just the sweetest thing: “Of course.” “Why of course?” “Coz you’re my dad.” Melt. Such a sweet kid.
Friends around Ji Ho and Jung In
Shout-out to Young Joo and Sunbae Hye Jung (Seo Jung Yeon), I felt that they were the best friends that Jung In and Ji Ho could ask for.
They were both always there to lend a listening ear without disapproval or judgment, and both of them were always willing to offer advice and support, and to speak truthfully, even if their words would be hard to hear. It’s really sweet, and I loved them both.
The people and situations feel true-to-life
Recently, my sister, who’s pretty new to kdramas, remarked to me that while she loved the high production values and the lovely story of Romance is a Bonus Book, she also felt a little thrown by how it all didn’t quite look or feel like real life.
And I hafta agree – there’s a certain fairytale polish that most of the k-romcoms have.
This drama is not one of those.
This one feels much closer to real life. The people and situations all feel true-to-life, and sometimes, certain plot points hit close to old nerves, because I’d been through something similar. But, that’s precisely one of the things that I really liked about this show.
It felt relatable yet fascinating, to consider how all of our characters fit into the larger framework of society and the expectations that come with it.
Here’s a somewhat meandering look at the things that struck me, during my watch.
PS: At the time of this writing, my sister has started on this drama, and so far, she’s loving it.
E5. It’s interesting. I see other people actually defending Jung In, saying that the relationship with Gi Seok is doomed anyway, and she’s not doing anything wrong, she’s just uncertain and scared. Oh, and that there’s nothing wrong with breaking up with Gi Seok and dating Ji Ho.
I guess personal context counts for a lot? I can see a lot of awkwardness in Jung In breaking up with Gi Seok and then dating Ji Ho. It’s not legally wrong, but it’s socially frowned upon, I think. Like he’s snatching his sunbae’s girl, and she’s going for his friend.
Also.. I guess the heart of the issue for a viewer is, whether they think emotional cheating is a thing. Are you still being faithful to your boyfriend if you’re entertaining feelings for someone else, and it’s not even just a crush but an actual connection where the attraction is mutual?
Wherever you lean in terms of who’s right and who’s wrong, this show does seem adept at provoking thought, and that’s definitely no small deal.
E7-8. There are a lot of societal expectations at play in this show. It’s the Big Force against which Seo In is trying to free herself, and which Jung In is contemplating so hard about.
Because of societal expectations, Mom & Dad put pressure on Seo In to marry Si Hoon, and because she did, she’s now stuck because on the one hand, she wants to divorce him and it looks like he’s been abusive.
But on the other hand, her image is important to her career, and she values her career. How will she choose?
Because of societal expectations, Dad is putting pressure on Jung In to marry Gi Seok, but because of the same expectations, Gi Seok’s dad is putting pressure on him to break things off with Jung In.
At this moment, it feels like Jung In is wrestling with herself – perhaps not even fully consciously, since she’s in some denial about the extent of her feelings for Ji Ho – in terms of whether to “do the right thing” which would translate into being loyal to Gi Seok and marrying him and having the “perfect life” that everyone expects them to have, or, choosing to break free from that and choose the path less approved.
Seo In wants her to choose happiness, but it looks like Jung In isn’t actually sure what would bring her happiness. Because if she were to choose Ji Ho, that decision would come with a lot of disapproval and societal pressure.
E9-10. People over-extend themselves so much, all for the sake of keeping up appearances. Si Hoon is lying through his teeth, acting like he can totally afford to pay for his clinic extension in cash, when he’s in desperate need of money to stay afloat.
He’s even inviting Gi Seok to come over to the house when he’s been kicked out and isn’t even living there anymore and his estranged wife is surely not going to keep up the charade for his sake. Gi Seok is pretending everything is ok with Jung In, when they are barely speaking to each other.
So here are these two men talking about dinner plans with their significant others as if everything’s ok, when everything is not ok at all.
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
Kim Joon Han as Gi Seok
I’ll be honest; I didn’t start out disliking Gi Seok. In fact, I spent much of Show’s earlier episodes trying to empathize with him and trying to rationalize his behavior.
I didn’t think he was a bad person; I just felt like he was caught in a situation where he got too comfortable in his relationship, and then was able to give too little, too late, to redeem the relationship.
However, writer-nim and Gi Seok proved me so wrong.
By Show’s later stretch, I’d lost so much respect for Gi Seok as a character, that I literally couldn’t care less what happened to him. Yes, that’s quite a turnaround, and here’s the overview of that journey.
E2. It’s not that Gi Seok is a bad person; he’s reasonably decent, all in all. When his dad tries to pressure him into breaking up with Jung In and going on a blind date with someone else, he resists Dad’s efforts, even though it means earning Dad’s disapproval.
He defends Jung In and is loyal to her in the face of the pressure exerted by his dad, in refusing to go on a blind date with someone else while still dating her.
He agrees to think about things carefully, but that does seem more to appease his dad than like an indication that he’s seriously considering whether to break up with Jung In.
It’s just that he doesn’t seem very interested nor present in the relationship, like it’s something that’s not actually important to him. And that’s something that would frustrate almost any woman, I think.
E3-4. In essence, I feel that both Jung In and Gi Seok are in denial about the true state of their relationship. She denies that there’s anything more than just bristling at being forced towards marriage; he tries to ignore the mounting distance between them.
Their relationship is almost as good as dead. But, they are technically still a couple.
E6. Gi Seok is trying to reach out to Jung In, but apparently, he doesn’t seem to know what she really looks for in a relationship.
Yes, he looks thoughtful now, buying her supplements and taking her out to dinner, but when we first meet this couple, he’s the one who consistently refers to convenience when it comes to marriage, and he didn’t even want to eat with Jung In, saying that if her friend was available, he’d just drop Jung In off.
These are the things that tell her that she’s not a priority for him, nor is he really interested in spending time with her. His suggestion of marriage was more for convenience than out of a desire to deepen their relationship.
So if this is what he’s been like for a long time, from her point of view, I can see why his more thoughtful actions now probably feel like too little, too late.
E11-12. I do kind of feel sorry for Gi Seok because now he does seem to be trying. But is it too little, too late? I want to know how he really feels towards Jung In.
Does he want to marry her because it’s the logical thing to do, because he wants to prove to his father that he’s capable of making his own decisions and choices, or because he actually wants to spend his life with Jung In?
E13-14. I think Gi Seok is in denial about the impending end of his relationship. He hears the words that Jung In is saying, but he continually refuses to accept them and keeps saying he’ll do better.
However, old habits die hard. He said so recently that he would do better and love her more, and this hour, he’s canceling on her as he always has, and saying things like, “I’ll come over later, happy now?”
The way he tacks on “will that do?” or “happy now?” says a lot about his perception of the things he does for Jung In.
It’s not out of wanting to make her happy; it’s out of wanting her to stop being upset and keep calm and keep to the status quo.
Gi Seok isn’t a bad guy, but he’s also not a guy who’s actually that interested in having a relationship with his potential life partner.
E13-14. Gi Seok wanting to keep the relationship going is, I think, partly him fighting for the status quo, and partly him fighting to win, because he now has a deep suspicion that Ji Ho might be trying to steal Jung In from him.
E15-16. Gi Seok refusing to break up with Jung In: I think that he keeps insisting on working things out partly out of habit, partly because he wants the status quo and doesn’t want to disrupt the life that he’s been laying out, and partly because he wants to prove a point. His father has always been against the relationship; Jung In wants out.
I think his competitive nature makes him immediately bristle at the thought of giving in; of failing.
E19-20. Gi Seok keeps saying stuff like, “It’s not about saving my relationship with Jung In. I just can’t let her make a mistake.”
Seems that he knows that no one would actually find his relationship with Jung In worth saving, or that no one would want to get involved between him and Jung In. So he’s throwing Ji Ho under the bus and using the fact that Ji Ho has a son, to get people to act on his side.
That is underhanded as far as I’m concerned, because I don’t believe that Gi Seok is truly concerned that Jung In is making a mistake with Ji Ho. It’s more like he wants her back at all costs, even if it makes them both miserable.
E19-20. The way Gi Seok snaps at Hyun Soo (Lim Hyun Soo) is so not cool. It’s obvious that he’s doing it because he’s frustrated with the way things are with Ji Ho and Jung In, and it’s absolutely not Hyun Soo’s fault, but he just takes it out on Hyun Soo because he’s an easy target.
That’s so cowardly and despicable.
E19-20. Gi Seok’s rant about how he’s been perfect to Jung In during their relationship is so laughable. He’s been to room salons? That’s where men sleep with hostesses, dude. And he says, who hasn’t done that?
I know that this is a norm to many Koreans, but as a woman, that’s just not ok. Even his musician friend was so put off by Gi Seok’s boasting and ranting that he showed his displeasure.
E23-24. Pfft. What kind of proposal includes the words, “It doesn’t matter what you think. I’m choosing this for your sake.” HUGE. HONKING. RED. FLAG. RUNNN, JUNG IN.
E25-26. Gi Seok sending the photos to Jung In’s dad in an anonymous envelope is just low and cowardly. Jung In’s told him to talk to anyone he pleases, but he’s not even doing that.
He’s copping out with an anonymously sent bunch of pictures, so that he’s basically lighting the fuse while hiding in the shadows so that he’s not there to be hit by the fallout. How dishonorable of him.
E27-28. To Gi Seok, this is all about face. He doesn’t want to be seen losing to Ji Ho, so he’d rather have an empty shell of a marriage with Jung In, than be seen as the lesser man. What a coward.
Lee Moo Saeng as Si Hoon
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Si Hoon was the character that I disliked the most, in this entire drama world.
Pretentious and glib in public, while violent, abusive and self-righteous in private, he was the character that I loved to hate. I hated that he seemed to really think that he could get away with it all, and I hated whenever he was successful in terrorizing his estranged wife.
Suffice to say that I would have happily watched him get burned by the fire of a thousand suns on my screen.
Here are just a few of my thoughts around Si Hoon, during my watch.
E9-10. Wow. Seo In has to ensure that someone else will come back to the clinic because she anticipates that Si Hoon is going to be violent with her. This is just awful.
E11-12. I hate that Si Hoon is violent with Seo In. And I hate his smug, complacent attitude about it. What? “I’ll be back later, so get yourself together”?!
I want her to take up martial arts and break his arm – and a good number of other bones in his body – the next time he tries to be violent with her.
E23-24. Although I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, there is nothing in Si Hoon’s manner that tells me he’s sincere about apologizing to Seo In and starting over.
E25-26. Not gonna lie; it was very satisfying to see Si Hoon squirm in his seat, when his lawyer friend basically tells him that he has no case, and that he isn’t a good person.
At the same time, this also brings home the fact that you really never know what’s happening with people.
His friend thought this case was about Si Hoon’s friend of a friend, and even tells him not to get close to the guy coz he doesn’t sound like a good person – all this, while asking Si Hoon to play another round with him. The irony.
Also, kudos to Show for pointing out that this was a case of marital rape.
A comparison: Gi Seok and Si Hoon [VAGUE SPOILERS]
As it turns out, Gi Seok and Si Hoon have something in common. They both refuse to accept that the women in their lives want to break up with them.
Although Si Hoon is much more sinister, with the physical violence and abuse, at the heart of it, their motivations aren’t that dissimilar.
They both want to maintain the status quo, and a large part of it has to do with protecting their personal reputations.
It would be embarrassing for both of them to admit that they’ve broken up with their wife / girlfriend, and to maintain their own comfort, they choose to ignore the very strong communication that the women in their lives have put forth.
Seo In is flat-out trying to bribe Si Hoon to sign the divorce papers, and Jung In is being as clear as she possibly can, refusing to meet Gi Seok any further. And yet, these two men remain adamant that nothing will change.
The level of delusion is quite incredible.
Gi Seok and Si Hoon talking over food and drink in episodes 27-28, basically dancing around the negotiation of bartering Jung In’s future for Si Hoon’s monetary gain, is really quick sickening.
Neither of them is listening to the women in their lives, who both want out, unequivocally. Instead, they’re sitting around, smiling, in veiled negotiations. Ugh.
I’m glad that Show essentially drops them both at the end, though I do think both these men, and especially Si Hoon, got off easy.
STUFF THAT WORKED OUT TO OK
If I compare the OST and its handling to that in Show’s elder sibling Pretty Noona, then I would say this OST is a resounding success.
I mean, I didn’t feel like muting any and all music in this show throughout my watch, and I’m even listening to one of the OST tracks as I type this (I’m currently listening to We Could Still Be Happy, which I’ve embedded at the end of the review, if you’re interested).
On top of that, I found that I didn’t find any instance of the OST application objectionable, ie, I didn’t ever find the song choice jarring, even if occasionally the song choice didn’t seem the most apt.
Did I also think that the OST could have benefited from a few more tracks? Absolutely. I did feel that the handful of songs on the OST were rather over-exposed by the time we reached the end of the show.
Altogether, I found the music fairly pleasant and relevant as a general rule, and since I didn’t quite feel bashed in the head with the songs by the time the final credits rolled, I’d say it was not bad, overall.
The two dads
Even though Jung In’s dad was a main source of parental disapproval, and Gi Seok’s dad as well, to some extent, by Show’s end, I felt like both these dads had moved into the neutral zone, for me.
Although I’d guess that many international viewers would find both dads’ behavior too controlling and interfering, I don’t find their behavior too out of the ordinary in a traditionally patriarchal society like Korea. I didn’t like their behavior, in meddling with their children’s lives, but I found them understandable.
Additionally, by Show’s end, both dads had come to terms with their earlier disapproval.
Gi Seok’s dad comes to see what a disappointment his son is, and what a good daughter-in-law Jung In would have made, while Jung In’s dad decides to stop pressuring Jung In to marry for the sake of his post-retirement job.
[END VAGUE SPOILERS]
Added up, those things eventually put both dads in this neutral zone for me, in the end.
Below are just a few additional thoughts and observations that I had, during my watch.
E21-22. The fact that Jung In’s dad can boldfacedly tell her that the reason he wants her to continue to nurture a relationship that she doesn’t want anymore, is because of his desire to work after retirement, is hugely selfish.
But it’s also a reflection of patriarchal society’s norms. In this world, Jung In’s wants for her own life are not as important as what she is perceived to owe everyone else: the comfort of continuing with the status quo.
E21-22. Watching Jung In’s dad and Gi Seok together is basically watching two cowards play a game of dare. Dad wants Gi Seok to set the date so that he can blame it on Gi Seok, while Gi Seok dodges, deferring to Dad so that he can say it was Dad who set the date and not him. How stupid.
As insane as Dad’s thinking might look to many, I am not that surprised. Selfish, self-centered grumpy old men who are completely unable to empathize with others are not that uncommon in traditional Asian society.
A SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]
It’s par for the course that Show presents a penultimate episode shake-up, but I do find this particular shake-up believable and organic to our story.
It’s true that Jung In’s never had to face the reality of Ji Ho’s scars from the past and how it affects him, and her too, in the present. It’s true – and she admits – that she just assumed it would all work out, based on the strength of their feelings for each other.
This jolt of reality is shaking her up, and it’s the right thing to do, to choose to reflect on what it all means.
I’m actually glad that she’s not just looking at the surface of things, and moving on on the strength of the sincerity of Ji Ho’s apology.
It’s true that she’s hurt and annoyed by what Ji Ho said, but I’m glad that she also realizes that this is not just about him; that it’s about her, too. That she needs to have a depth of resolve and preparation, in order to walk this road that is ahead of her.
I did think that she jumped into the idea of being Eun Woo’s stepmother a little too early and a little too eagerly; it’s good that she really reflect on her own heart and figure herself out.
It’s also true that Ji Ho hasn’t been able to lay his heart bare to Jung In, even though they’ve had many honest conversations. This is a dark and shameful corner of his heart that he’s kept shrouded in the shadows, not allowing it the light of day, whether to family, friends, colleagues, or even Jung In.
He barely even realizes that it exists; he’s pushed it so far back into his subconsciousness. That’s why he is so surprised at what his drunk self said to Jung In.
And now that it’s been brought back to his awareness, it’s only right that he take time too, to reflect on this and come to terms with this part of himself, at the very least.
I can only hope that Eun Woo won’t be hurt in the process, because he’s already bonded so deeply with Jung In.
Gi Seok, on the hand, is showing himself to be the opposite of the better man. To think that he’s actually cognizant of his intentions – of simply wanting to be victorious over Ji Ho, to get Jung In back and prove a point, and then move on from her – AND he intends to see it through?
That’s so distasteful and so.. vengeful. He doesn’t want Ji Ho to have Jung In in his life, and he seems to want to cast Jung In aside when he’s succeeded in breaking them apart. What a prick.
I’m not quite sure what to make of the reunion scene at the end of the episode. What has Jung In concluded after her soul-searching?
All we see is that she goes to the pharmacy to look for Ji Ho, and then when he shows up, she asks for medicine to cure her of the urge to smack someone, and to cure her worried and upset heart, and Ji Ho moves in to kiss her.
That’s fine and good, but I hope we see the backstory to this, so that it doesn’t appear like either of them is sweeping things under the carpet.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
I’m not much of a drinker (my body doesn’t deal with alcohol well), but this entire episode makes me think of what it must feel like, to leisurely sip a mellow glass of bubbly in thoughtful companionship with someone you love; both of you quietly content as you enjoy the sight of the beautiful sunset before you.
This wasn’t an exciting finale by far; instead everything feels so unassumingly organic and natural, as things, events and people flow into place.
Si Hoon finally signs the divorce papers, and when Jung In finds out that Seo In had suffered abuse at the hands of her soon-to-be ex-husband, the shared pain is so real and raw that she needs to cry, just as Jae In had needed to cry, when she’d found out.
The sisters share a lovely three-way hug, and I feel comforted that even though the road before Seo In is far from easy, she will always have the support of her sisters – and her mom – to see her through it all.
One of my favorite moments this finale, is when Ji Ho takes Eun Woo to meet Jung In’s mom and sisters. Eun Woo is the endearing delight that he always is, and most of all, I appreciate the graciousness and honesty that reverberates through this meeting.
Seo In asks Ji Ho for advice as a single parent, and Ji Ho’s earnest answer, that he couldn’t crumble because Eun Woo was putting his whole trust in him, and that the same goes for Jung In; that he would protect her no matter what, since she’s putting her faith in him.
I love that Jung In’s mom tears at this; it’s clear that in more ways than one, Ji Ho is touching her heart as a parent. His desire to protect Jung In; his lack of embarrassment or shame around his own child; his sincere appreciation for her kind reception towards him and Eun Woo. Tears and sniffles all around – my tears and sniffles included.
On the other end of the scale, I’m most glad that both Gi Seok and Si Hoon are effectively cut off from Jung In’s and Seo In’s lives.
I found it ruefully amusing when the two idiots sat around drinking, while trying their best to blame each other for how their lives turned out. Ha. And, tsk.
I wonder if these two will ever truly learn. We see Gi Seok attend a blind date, and immediately slip into his convenient lying ways, pretending not to remember when his last relationship was. Eye-roll.
We also see Ji Ho and Jung In basically take turns writing pledges to each other; Ji Ho promising not to drink – and then getting caught out, and then Jung In, getting caught out, and then being cornered into also writing a pledge to Ji Ho, too.
It’s all mild and quite harmless, with neither party actually meaning to break off the engagement, and it’s actually rather nice, to see them work at ironing out the little kinks that they encounter in their relationship.
It’s also heartwarming to see each of them pin the other’s pledge on their apartment refrigerators, as a daily reminder to themselves.
As the finale draws to a close, I feel like we’re witnessing many moments of what we call in Chinese 小幸福, literally, small happiness.
There are no fireworks or pyrotechnics in this last hour – or even in this whole drama, really – and yet, it feels like we’ve come on a long and meaningful journey with our characters, nonetheless. Ji Ho and Jung In are both flawed individuals, and this makes them feel all the more real.
And I hope that the happiness they find with each other, together with Eun Woo, will be all the more real, as well.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Earthy, understated and sweetly poignant.
FINAL GRADE: B++
thank you so much for this detailed review, I really enjoyed reading it while pondering on my own thoughts as well. I started watching this drama after seeing how you rated it a B++ which really didn’t dissappoint and I would’ve wholeheartedly given it the same. It is also the first time watching a drama while keeping up in reading this review and comparing different thoughts on how to interpret a certain scene. I truly loved it .
Once again, I immediately came to kfangurl after seeing One Spring Night. So many great comments and insights–thank you kfangurl and fellow fans. I’m still feeling the anxiety of the story-line of this romance. I agree with a fan that already posted that Crash Landing On You deserves and A- and OSN deserves a B-. Many things were disatisfying for me. I could not appreciate the dialogue between the main characters–perhaps I didn’t understand the humor or it is cultural, but I never felt comfortable with the way they talked with each other. It was confusing and tense; I could not sense much attraction or romance or sexual tension or longing or endearment between the main characters. No wonder each of them constantly seemed to think that they were going to get dumped! So much time was spent analyzing and bantering but there wasn’t enough time to really show the fun part of their relationship. After so 15 episodes of constant tension, I was disappointed in the conclusion because if didn’t provide much plotline that assured our characters were moving toward a “happy life.” I wanted more satisfaction for the time I spent with these characters—comething like the last episode of My Mister. I wish the Jin-ho’s friend who worked with Gi-seok had more of a plotline–a girlfriend–and conclusion. I didn’t understand the whole no-drinking contract. The viewers should have been allowed to have more insight into the Jin-ho’s previous relationship that caused so much pain he got drunk. I was sure that Gi-seok, as an alumunus of the same university, was going to learn Jin-ho’s backstory or hire a detective to check on Jin-ho’s past or find the mother of his child. I thought that Jin-Ho was way too lenient about allowing the relationship between his son and Jeong-In develop so early. Culturally, it is always difficult for me to see all of the hitting people in kdrams and it bothered me when Jae-In took it too far with Si-hoon–hitting him for hitting his sister was excrutiating. I didn’t hate this drama and watched it until the end, but I didn’t enjoy it.
I so get your “reactions and feelings” as you watch a different culture ..
It reminds me of how baffled my mom’s and grandma’s generation is when I make them sit and watch a great fun, popular Hollywood or Western film ..
They have little contact or idea of other cultures, all their social circle is local and regional.
They struggle to make sense of so much of the body language and the responses and the ‘reasons’ for their behaviours .. by the end they are nodding their heads unable to grasp the ‘motivations’ of much of their actions. Always left in the lurch they don’t particularly look forward to another one.
We on the other hand have been bred since childhood on American TV and culture .. and then on all other Western Cultural products .. especially being a media student and a film buff we could easily straddle pretty much ALL cultures with great ease.
Korean culture is something I dived into during the Covid Lockdown when a friend pointed me to it. It gives me goosebumps to see an ethnically different culture separated by so much landmass and distance share SO much in common. There was zero need for a cultural translation from day one.
It’s interesting how easily we understood where much of the thinking and motivations and behaviours were coming from and how relatable it is for us from my region – we chuckled and laughed and wept and were moved by similar stuff.
What a great drama, understated, subdued, heartwarming… Great performances all around. This show was very thoughtfully written, as it is your review, kfangirl. Thanks for sharing all these insights and clarifying some cultural elements, particularly those surrounding the behaviour of the parents in this story. I must admit that, in spite of those puzzling cultural issues, the Westerner in me found this drama profoundly relatable and enjoyed it immensely. I would have liked a little bit more passionate scenes with our main couple, but I understand that this drama was more about raw emotion than about raw physicality. In the end I was very satisfied with it as a whole.
I will admit, however, that my biggest problem with this drama was adjusting to the cultural norms and prejudices of Korean society. I strongly felt the show was asking me to have some sort of sympathy for these parents and understand their “concern” about a daughter marrying a single dad, but I just couldn’t. I can only conclude that I have a huge cultural blind spot here: I just don’t get why a good looking young man with a great job and a promising future would be considered so “flawed” in a patriarchal circle just because he is a single dad…!(particularly since the reason why he’s a single dad is pretty sympathetic, right?). I mean, I’m from Spain. Older people in my country can be fairly conservative and patriarchal too, but any parent or grandparent of an older generation would think a man like Ji Ho, with or without a child, is nothing but “a great catch”… I don’t know, maybe older men in Mediterranean countries are much more forgiving of other men’s sexual history than in Korea… I would love someone explaining to me why being a single dad makes Ji Ho so “flawed” and practically undatable and unmarriable in conservative Korea… I just don’t get it.
I also know that unbound respect for your parents is huge in Korea, but seeing grown men and women being completely bullied and domineered by their parents over marriage matters feels shocking. How do these young people tolerate it? Are they themselves going to become as ruthless as their parents with their own children? It’s easier to accept this kind of thing in less realistic dramas and romcoms, but in OSN all of this feels just too real and bothersome. As a viewer I find it difficult empathising with parents (ie. Jung Hi’s mother) who take so long to root for their children’s well-being and rather have them conforming to a shitty life. It made me realise how very relevant and important this kind of show really is, as it does something that really needs to be done: exposing, albeit delicately, terrible patriarchal behaviours in Korean society.
I also found it hard to understand why even the younger generation makes such a big deal of Jung In dating someone like Ji Ho… like, do single parents never date or get married in Korea? What is so shocking about dating a single parent? Also, is going against your parents really such a terrible thing or hassle? I understand that Jung In dating Ji Ho was at first awkward because of the common friend circle Jung In, Ji Ho and Gi Seok have but, come on, these people are in their 30s… why does Ji Ho has to feel so guilty about being a single dad and Jung In about dating a single dad? It just felt a bit disproportionate, I don’t know… Also, why do people care so much about being judged when you haven’t done anything wrong? Like, Jung In’s bestie keeps banging on about “you’re going to be judged” even when she’s being supportive. Why was this friend such a downer all the time, constantly reminding Jung In (and the audience) that dating a single parent is such a huge deal? I don’t know, I just felt like yelling: “guys, you’re all grown ups! You’re making a big fuss over nothing.” I must admit that the negative attitude of this friend rather annoyed me… I felt she should have been more cheery and positive towards Jung In and Ji Ho and encourage them to be more rebellious, a bit more like Jung In’s younger sister who was actually quite cool I must admit… In any case, the best and more levelheaded secondary character for me was the sunbae pharmacist. I really liked her. She truly was the show’s voice of reason, and was also the person brave enough to give Ji Ho the piece of advice and support he so much needed and we, the audience, wanted to give him all along: “You don’t need to be perfect, love. Relax a little. You’re just great as you are.”
This is such an excellent comment! As an Indian, I can relate a lot to the befuddling observations you made, Gloglo. Until I find some time to give a detailed reply (and I really want to :)) suffice it to say that this relates to the cultural norms prevalent in Asia and the actions of individuals usually have a bearing on how the society views not only them but also their families – individuals are, in a way, ambassadors of their families and are therefore very very conscious of their life choices (lest they bring ridicule or embarrassment to them)
Thank you so much for explaining this to me, Rachid. I admit that as I was watching this drama, which I loved, I could feel I wasn’t understanding the context as much as I wanted. The idea you describe of being an ambassador for your family is very interesting. Curiously women of my generation (I’m 53) in my country (Spain) have slowly been doing pretty much the opposite: abandoning the extended family set up to create nuclear families not answerable to a larger family framework with all its rules and expectations. If I had had it my parents’ way I would have ended up marrying some architect, doctor of lawyer from my Spanish hometown, preferably a couple of years older than me. Instead I married an Irish Italian four year younger than me who had just finished high school when I met him… I know that my parents, as the majority of parents in the West, would have never pushed a boyfriend or a marriage candidate, but, yes, they did make comments about what would be the best boyfriend material for me and, yes, it did take them a while to warm up to the idea of me marrying a foreigner younger than me… I also saved myself a lot of hassle by leaving my hometown and moving to Ireland.
In another drama by the same director and same writer, Something in the Rain, there was a much more overt criticism of compliance to societal expectations in Korea. One Spring Night is much more understanding of societal pressures and generous in their depiction of interfering parents.
I am definitely going to return to this thread .. so much food for thought and exchange of ideas :-))
Very well put. YUP. Korean Dramas are PURE Asian values.
Indians straddle TWO cultural norms with great ease so can relate comfortably with both realities.
I think the reviewer is very right in the pattern she sees: people who love SitR will find OSN somewhat meh, and the other way round. Because they are so completely different. Maybe it also has to do with what you expect. I may come to that later. The review itself is of course very accurate. Kudos for that.
I finished this show as my SitR medicine. don’t want to, but it’s good for you….. It took me a long time to get into the story. Only near the end I started to like the FL a bit. And rewatched the first chapters to see what actually happened. On the plus side: I immediately downloaded the soundtrack of OSN. So much better, so much more in sync with the story. And overall, the story and acting is very good.
Maybe you’re right, and this was an attempt to make another noona show, but with a different starting point: what will happen if we start out with two mature and stable people (of course with some flaws/handicaps) instead of two emotional juveniles and see where these characters take us? Well, yes, to a very mature and reasonable ending. A fairly smooth drive compared to the bumpy ride of SitR.
And I guess that is the main difference. SitR is vibrant, colorful, with a lot of emotional highs and lows. OSN feels much more rational, held back, shades of grey, as the review excellently states. It may be a bad idea to watch one immediately after the other. I have a gut feeling that I do OSN injustice, by entering it with SitR in my mind. How do I put this: two completely different tastes (like cake and wine, of sweet and salty), that both have their own right, but don’t go well together? And disappoint when you expect the one and get the other? Yes, shades of grey can be beautiful as well. But not when you expect an explosion of color. Something like that.
Anyway. I had the same feeling near the end of the show as I had with SitR: for goodness sake, get on with it. But where SitR had me like “come on, we’ve only got 30 minutes of show left, stop torturing me and get them together for crying out loud” here I was more like: yes, we all know where this is going to go, so hurry up a little. Don’t make me sit through this awful scene of this disgusting and awful character Si Hoon (and Gi Seok as well) with their utter, utter disrepectful view of women. I don’t even want to watch it. OK, the bosses in SitR are jerks as well, but at least they have some self reflection and know deep inside they are jerks and that they are wrong. I don’t see that here. The dad and the school big guy: also selfcentered unlikeable characters.
Jae In is great by the way (as she was as Bo-Ra). Uncomplicated, logical, lighthearted, loyal. solving problems instead of creating them, open and honest. Love her. Helped me through the show.
And I guess that this lightheartedness is something I miss. It’s all so heavy. Yeah finally, the thing with the written promises made me smile in the end. But making Ji Ho promise to never drink is ridiculous, strangely harsh, and patronizing. And she looks as if she means it. But to her it’s less of a big deal that he breaks his promise than to him. Why ask this promise in the first place then? Does he really have a drinking problem? What is this about?
Look at Jung In. I know you’re a librarian, but really, please, does that mean you have to dress like you died 10 years ago? Long skirts, low heals….. (please check in with Jin-Ah for some clothing tips). I still don’t understand why her beauty doesn’t shine, except for a few moments. To me she somehow looks plain during great parts of the show, while she really is beautyful.
And then mr. Jung/Ji Ho. In character I have some trouble understanding him. The start up of the relationship. Why his crush on JI? She’s not exactly likeable in her behaviour. So what triggers him? Is it really just the looks? And why this text of “meet with the next snow” or something like that? (or do i miss some Korean cultural point here?) What justifies that? (and what on earth makes Jung In turn up?) And what’s with that “don’t touch my son” speaking to Gi Seok? Also doesn’t feel right, but out of proportion.
Apart from all that, his acting feels so, I don’t know, restrained. More than his now stable and mature character requires. I feel no sparkles, ever. I may be overreaching or even crossing a line here, but watching the press conference videos of SitR, and both leads stating their acting came close to themselves…… Is it possible he really lost himself in an unfortunate RL crush on Son Ye-Jin while acting, and he’s not going to let something like that happen again? But I may be reading too much in things here.
Anyway. My guess is both shows have their right, but be sure what to expect, or you’ll be disappointed.
I like both series, the SITR and OSN. In SITR, I see myself and my experiences on the lead roles. I got so in love also with a younger guy and experienced the same sweetness…so this series is so cute and touching. I’ve watched it several times already and will watch again.I also love the songs,, Something in the rain and the Stand by your man.
In OSN, it’s also a good one and watched all the episodes in one day. The lead actress got fed up with the long relationship, felt she was taken for granted and she was no longer happy, so when she met Jung Hei In, she found happiness.
Hi KFG, I stumbled upon your review on OSN, I totally agree with your review. I also gave up watch Something in the Rain after two episodes and jumped to the finale and felt that I didn’t miss anything. I am a fan of you now and will continue to look for your show recommendations and reviews. Keep up the good job!
Me tooo. I loved this show. Also because I am a single parent. It feel so real and also touching. Loooove it!!
I really enjoyed Crash Landing On You. I loved It’s Okay To Not Be Okay. But One Spring Night is now my favorite. I have watched the whole thing twice. I have reviewed favorite scenes multiple times. Amazing how the second time through I see things I didn’t notice the first time. When I saw the picture advertising the series, a man and a boy, I was turned off. But, I was running out of interesting series to watch on Netflix (thanks to covid19) so I thought I would give this a try. And am I glad I did. These characters seemed genuine. Ups and unavoidable downs and gratifying ups again. Unlike some series, Itaewon Class for example, I was very happy with the end. I am encouraged to give other series a try and not be stopped by the advertising picture.
So glad you loved One Spring Night! It really is a lovely show. Have you tried My Mister? I think it’s available on Netflix now. Don’t be discouraged by the somber posters, it really is a beautiful story of humanity. <3
By the way, kfangurl, must thank you again for your suggestion of ‘My Mister’… I used to be addicted to One Spring Night until you recommended ‘My Mister’… the trouble is, I’m now addicted to ‘My Mister’… just got done with my fourth viewing of it; it’s simply in a different league… and my word! IU!! … the girl can sing AND she can act.. (and be uber-adorable all at once).. have no idea how Korea produces so much talent!
You’re very welcome, Rachit! 😀 So glad you love My Mister, it really is so excellent. By the way, have you watched Secret Love Affair? I thought that was very good as well. Dark, intense and beautiful, but in a different way than My Mister. I think it’s worth a look. 🙂
We have only re-watched two shows thus far: One Spring Night and Love Is A Bonus Book. Both were equally great on the re-watch.
But My Mister will def be the third. It’s so amazingly good, in so many ways.
Secret Love Affair is of similar quality. Unfortunately we never warmed up to the ML, but the FL is amazing, as is the consistent high quality of the writing and production.
I loved One Spring Day! I binge-watched All 16 episodes in 1.5 days. Jung Hae-In and Han Ji-min had great chemistry. It was nice to see them play mature romantic leads. The story didn’t feel formulaic. Frankly, I’m tired of seeing the blinking eyes with the “boink” sound effect and red blush on cheeks, that’s so corny. I particularly liked Joo MIn-kyung’s feisty character. The only drawback was Jung Hae-in’s hair, I wish they styled it. He’s a good looking guy, though he did resemble Joseph Gordon-Levitt, from 3rd Rock From The Sun.
Wow, 16 episodes in 1.5 days! That’s really impressive! 😱😱 I do not doubt your love for and enjoyment of this show at all, SushiGal! 😆 And yes, I do agree that this was a refreshing change, to see a healthy, mature OTP relationship treated with sensitivity and realism. 🙂
Wow. I stumbled upon your post here…and I love it. I just started watching this drama and I have been enjoying it. Your thoughts mirror mine so much but you explained it in ways that I could never.
So my husband hasn’t watched this drama, I summarized the story for him and asked him if he considered this a cheating situation, especially during the “time off” that Jung In asked for before she asked Ji Ho to be friends. We have been debating this. He clearly sees this as cheating. I am 50/50 but I’m still sifting through my thoughts. As an outsider I can see so clearly that Jung In should have broken off her relationship with Gi Seok when she started to waver towards Ji Ho. However I know that’s easily said than done when you factor in the length of her relationship and the unknown variables such as: her feelings with Ji Ho could very well be attributed to the newness of it and the stagnant relationship she was in.
Ok off to review the comments. Thanks for taking the time to share the review!
P.S. I also did not enjoy SiTR.
Wow. I stumbled upon your post here…and I love it. I just started watching this drama and I have been enjoying it. Your thoughts mirror mine so much but you explained it in ways that I could never.
So my husband hasn’t watched this drama, I summarized the story for him and asked him if he considered this a cheating situation, especially during the “time off” that Jung In asked for before she asked Ji Ho to be friends. We have been debating this. He clearly sees this as cheating. I am 50/50 but I’m still sifting through my thoughts. As an outsider I can see so clearly that Jung In should have broken off her relationship with Gi Seok when she started to waver towards Ji Ho. However I know that’s easily said than done when you factor in the length of her relationship and the unknown variables such as: her feelings with Ji Ho could very well be attributed to the newness of it and the stagnant relationship she was in.
Ok to read the rest of the comments. Thanks for taking the time to share the review!
P.S. I also did not enjoy SiTR.
Never expected that I will enjoy and crave for this drama to the extent of watching all 16 (Netflix) episodes in one sitting, over and over again for more than a week now. Prior to watching this, I had the impression that this is a typical love story with not a lot of depth and substance and my bore me to death.
I was completely wrong. It’s a beautiful and realistic love and life story that will take you to a roller coaster of emotions. A story that will encourage you to trust in love despite your fears and insecurities, despite the uncertainties and shortcomings. despite the differences and flaws. It’s a story that encourages you to be honest and be outspoken about your feelings and emotions even if it would hurt you and the other person, so that you can love with transparency and sincerity.
The cast, specifically the lead actors have portrayed the roles impressively to the satisfaction of the director and viewers. No boring scenes. The emotions are raw, the dialogue is catchy. Hats off to the writer. Good job to the director and the crew, it’s one satisfying drama. Though I’ve watched all episodes repeatedly, the experience is surprisingly always fresh and new for me. Jung Hae-in and Han Ji-min are a beautiful pair. Both are organic actors. They’ll make you fall in love with their characters.
I like the outfit of HJM. She’s very beautiful and I’ll say full of wit. JHI’s perpetual boyish look is hypnotic.
And OST…all beautiful. Listening to the songs makes you fall in love even more deeply.
Great review! Han Ji-Min’s character is my favorite KDrama character of all time.
This comment made my day! I’m such a huge fan of OSN and any love coming its way warms my heart 🙂 … The show is surprisingly underrated and mostly loses limelight to Something in the Rain (mostly due to the star power of Son Ye Jin and the show’s emphasis on cutesy moments and passionate chemistry between the leads). It used to irk me a great deal that OSN doesn’t figure in the ‘K-dramas to watch’ lists or even Han Ji Min’s (who is known to maintain a low profile) absence from top Korean actress lists. But I’ve made my peace with it now – substance often loses out to fanfare – (something that I, as an Indian and inevitably a consumer of Bollywood, have grown accustomed to). Thank you 🙂
Hm… the OST, they never registered with me, may be I should listen to them on youtube. This was a good show, though not sure is something that I would watch multiple times. It does keep you glued to the TV more than say Camellia Blooms or SitR.
This was an interesting show… I watched this as you had mentioned this show in one your reviews and had given it a good rating.
I was not disappointed. However, it felt like I was watching SitR with Son Ye-jin missing with a different plot. So many of the actors were common to both.
“Overall, One Spring Night doesn’t reach the same pinnacles of giddy romance that Pretty Noona managed in its early episodes. But I gotta tell ya, Show’s demonstration of what healthy relationship dynamics can look like in the face of the storm, makes up for it all, in my books.” – well said, I am in total agreement. These two are way too mature compared to Jin-Ah and Joon-hee.
“she tried to blame Ji Ho for opening the drink for her” – I thought this was cute and funny. You grow to like Jung In as the show progresses.
“Also unlike Joon Hee, Ji Ho is more likely to think before he acts, and he also is willing to be patient and courageous in the face of disapproval.” – the actor pulled off both roles well, kudos to him. I think I liked Ji Ho better. Throughout the show, I did not want his or his son’s (more importantly) heart broken.
“While a part of my brain struggles to reconcile Ji Ho’s strong feelings for Jung In so quickly after they met at the pharmacy” – hi happens, I know, have experienced it first hand, happened even before we spoke a word to each other.
“I like that in this show, both Ji Ho and Jung In have one least one supportive parent each. Overall, I feel like we see just as much in the way of supportive, positive parent behavior as negative, and that really helps to bring a sense of balance into our narrative.” – I actually thought three out of four were approving of their relationship. Ji Ho’s mother’s emotions were more of genuine concern for son and grandchild. Where as in SitR, Jin-Ah’s mom went berserk for selfish reasons. It was heartening to see the same actress portray a sane, considerate, selfless person here.
Min-Kyung Joo portrayal of Lee Jae-in was impressive. I thought she did a great job in this as well as in SitR. Someone to keep an eye on to see how her career progresses.
If I may add, unlike SitR, subplots worked well here. They provided depth to Jung In’s character.
Thank you for recommending this, watchig it was time well spent.
P.S. I do have question for folks that know about south Korean culture. Is it normal for parents to have so much control over the lives of offspring that are 30+ years old? Do they get physical… hit them etc. Seems out of this world to me, I am from Asia, living in the US.
I find Something in the Rain more exciting than OSN. But OSN has more substance compare to it.
The thrill of being caught and physical intimacy/connections were the main factors why SITR is fun to watch for a certain period of time. On the flip side, the selling factor for me to finish OSN even if it is kinda boring was the characters. Love the support, approach and advices from the supporting casts and how the main characters navigate to solve their problems.
I just don’t understand how they fell head over heels in love at each other immediately. There is no build up of what they see at each other to develop such kind of feelings.
Nevertheless, OSN is more satisfying and empowering to watch until the end compare to SITR. Got depress of how SITR ends (poor me).
PS, really love your blog, I am not good in putting my thoughs into words and i find your reviews same as how i feel about a certain series.
“I just don’t understand how they fell head over heels in love at each other immediately.” – it just happens. I have never been able to explain why. I know one of these that is coming up on its 40th anniversary. Some us refer to it as fate, others destiny, others soulmate etc. Personally, I think, after the initial phase, it takes a lot of work, no matter how you fell in love.
OK, kfangurl…After a rollercoaster ride of Something In The Rain, I took your recommendation and got right into One Spring Night. Crammed all 16 episodes into a week and a half, staying up last night until 2 am to watch the final 4 episodes. So many emotions today, but not as strong as the ones I had during SITR. Why? Probably because the people were real and the storyline tapered nicely into where we all wanted it to go, complete with a heart-warming ending. Although if I were the director and/or writer I would’ve shown them getting married and then faded out with Ji-Ho, Jung-In and Eun-Woo holding hands, walking down a sunlit path, happy as a family…just like Jennay and Forrest Gump, if you remember that scene.
So what did I like? I loved the authenticity of the actors…their emotions, their conversations, their affections. I immediately loved Jung-In and her personality. I could tell she was a little brash on purpose as a defense mechanism to protect herself from her fears. I disagree with those that thought she was cheating on Gi-Seok. It was very apparent from the first episode that she was done with him for a long time before the opening episode. This is something that’s been festering in their relationship, and it took her seeing/meeting Ji-Ho to bring about action. She was definitely cemented into that relationship against her will by her family and societal pressures. I loved her “it’s my life, I’ll do what I want” attitude, going against parental influence and cultural norms. I loved that about her and I loved how expressive she was in her feelings for Ji-Ho…something terribly lacking in SITR, other than occasional dangling-carrot to keep the boyfriend stringing along. I loved that she told him that she loved him, when he left the coffee shop and cried and she embraced him and understood. That was incredibly moving. As was the scene when she took the picture of the 3 of them and told him to replace the one on his night stand with it. I love her forwardness and not being afraid to share how she felt. Such a massive amount of fresh air from the usual hiding/secrets/lying that plague all Korean drama roles. So needless to say, I loved Jung-In. Definitely my kinda girl.
Regarding Ji-Ho, I loved his character as well. I loved his raw emotion and even though it took him getting hammered to be realistic about his fears of being abandoned, it was necessary to draw their hearts together even tighter.
I loved the sisters, both moms, Ji-Ho’s Dad, Jung-Ins friends and Ji-Ho’s friends. Everyone else I could not stand…I guess that’s a testament to the great acting ability of all involved. So scandalous!
My only complaint was that Jung-In didn’t get up in Gi-Seok’s grill and tell him to stop bothering her. Get a restraining order. Do something, other than getting his car! ala Son Ye-Jin’s character in SITR, and we all know what happened there. I just wish she stood up to him more and told him to get lost. But if she did I guess we wouldn’t have a 16-episode series. 🙂
So in summary, you’re right, this is everything that SITR was not. And I’m so glad the main players stuck together through the tough times and really committed to each other. I loved the real words, affection and honesty. Definitely better than SITR, simply because the main characters were light-years more mature and just better overall. Thanks for the recommendation! Now onto Crash Landing….
Absolutely loved this comment!!! I also disagree with views that claim Jeong-in was cheating on Gi Seok. If a relationship is not working, it’s not working, period. Individuals should be able to re-assess where they stand in it.
In both SITR and OSN, the common theme is that the protagonists have feelings for individuals whom they’re not supposed to have a relationship with as far as the social norms go. Now, given that premise, how much faith do you have in your feelings? How far are you willing to go to protect them? Are you willing to fight the odds and the social pressure? That is what I wanted to see in both these.
In SITR, both Ji Na and Jun Hi knew they were up against it. In fact, Ji Na asks Jun Hi when they are at the beach, if this is a mistake and Jun Hi assures her, that he won’t let her down. Why did he say that? Did he mean it? Then what happened afterwards? He always knew Ji Na’s parents will oppose the relationship, then why did he succumb to the pressure? Ok, one might say he’s human after all. But then why go behind the back of your partner and decide to move abroad without discussing and breaking the news to her on her birthday??? Wow, how mature!!! And why did Ji Na not go off the handle??? The only resolution – after 3 years come back, follow Ji Na to Jeju island, ask for forgiveness and all is well!!! I mean… Seriously????
Sorry about the above outburst 🙂 .. which is where OSN just knocks it out of the park. Same dilemma, society won’t approve but the individuals are sensitive to that. In fact, they struggle with self-doubt, which is where the support system comes into play. I lovvvvvved Jae-in… especially when she challenges Gi Seok when he says “It’s Ji Ho, so I’m not worried” and she says, just because he has a son does not mean he’s not even worth considering. Imagine, the vindication Jeong-in would have felt hearing those words. And in case of Ji Ho, he always has an elder sister figure in his boss – Hye-Jung.
Enjoy Crash Landing :)… but don’t say it’s better than OSN 😛 😛
I also think a subtle, yet huge, turning point for the mom’s acceptance was when her sister told her “Seo-In is about to be a single mom. Is this how you want people to view her? As less desirable?”. Perspective changed in a heartbeat.
Hmm.. yeah, that’s a keen observation. I think, to add to it, she also observed what a control freak Gi-seok would be and someone who would want to dominate over his partner when he brings her husband home after the drunken episode. Her expression betrays the foreboding if Jeong-in were to continue to be with him
Hi: I think both you and Ryan don’t think she’s cheating on Gi-Seok but it’s a fine line; in the eyes of society, their friends and family, Jung In is cheating at least emotionally because even though she’s half out of the relationship, she hasn’t formally ended it. Jung in even recognises she has betrayed Gi-Seok and she asks him towards the end if he is not afraid she’ll do it again if they do get together and whether he can live with that and of course, for a number of reasons, he says yes.
This is a very ticklish situation and in real life, it can certainly unfold the way it does in OSN; things usually don’t end neatly and by the book, real life does tend to be messy more often than not but Jung In and Ji Ho navigate their path forward in a compelling and compassionate way.
Fair enough… it IS a fine line; i recall Gi seok asking Jeong-in at the restaurant whether there was someone else, she grabs hold of the table cloth tightly as she lies to him.. so, yeah, she was definitely not being honest. However, the relationship was in the doldrums, and when Gi-seok confronts Jeong in the first time after he finds out, she DOES concede that both she and he were responsible for the failure of the relationship.
I guess, Jeong-in tried to do the right thing by attempting to break-up with Gi-seok to still maintain the high moral ground, but the urge to protect Ji Ho came in the way (she ends up reconciling with him reluctantly after she has broken up with Gi-Seok, when she discovers he is with Ji Ho and will find out the truth). Also, to support your point, Jeong-in’s friend does mention it to her – ‘Call it unfair, but that is also cheating’ when Jeong-in is discussing her state of mind with her.
Then again, if I put myself in Gi-Seok’s shoes and really assess if Jeong-in cheated on me – objectively speaking, I would have to say ‘no’. She didn’t really cross the line, if we are really talking about the line drawn by the society. There was some dishonesty and there were feelings, but she had not acted on them. If you were to be charitable to Jeong-in, you might be willing to acknowledge that she was indulging a dangerous curiosity up until that point.
I didn’t mean to be critical of Jung In with respect to her “cheating”, in fact I admire and respect how she tries to manage her way through the complicated Gi Seok and Ji Ho situations, while staying true to herself and retaining her integrity and honesty for the most part. Her quandary is very real and believable, life is rarely so neat that one waits for one relationship to end (especially in the eyes of family and friends who are typically the last to know) before starting another.
In Jung In’s case, one can well argue that in her mind the Gi Seok relationship is over long before Ji Ho enters the scene, he is the catalyst that accelerates the break-up.
“My only complaint was that Jung-In didn’t get up in Gi-Seok’s grill and tell him to stop bothering her. Get a restraining order. Do something, other than getting his car! ala Son Ye-Jin’s character in SITR, and we all know what happened there. I just wish she stood up to him more and told him to get lost.” – kept thinking the same thing… thought it might be cultural thing.
Hi KFG: I’ve finished One Spring Night (OSN) and I’m quite happy I did, especially as I could relate to Jung-In’s experience but from a male perspective. I met my wife in a similar fashion; at a party held by mutual friends, we clicked through our brief interactions and when she was leaving earlier than I expected, she came to tell me she was leaving. I asked for her number which I memorized, not an easy feat at midnight or so after a few drinks. She was surprised I called her the next day and like Jung-In, I said I just have a good memory when she asked me about it later on in our relationship. Interestingly, like Jung-In, I was known to my friends and family to be in a serious relationship with someone else, long distance at the time. I’m sure my experience is not unique but it helped me appreciate OSN.
Overall, I agree with your rating and general analysis though I would rate a bit lower than CLOY, so maybe a B+ to CLOY’s A-. Without repeating too much of what you’ve written, these are my somewhat random comments:
1, I found Jung-In and Ji-Ho to be very sympathetic characters and the growth of their relationship credible as well as their all too human reactions through this phase. Han Ji-Min is very good as Jung-In as she navigates the minefield of exploring a potentially intriguing new relationship while firmly viewed by society and family to be in a long-standing relationship with another. She’s very human as she can’t resist exploring a relationship with Ji-Ho even though she knows she’s cheating emotionally, as her good friend, Yeong-Joo tells her. In a sense, it’s almost liberating since she’s crossed the line almost without knowing it. Her back and forth is very human.
2. Jung Hae-In as Ji-Ho is so different from SITR, even his hairstyle is changed and he looks and comes across so much more mature. Hi s role is quite understated and he shows a quiet strength yet all too human with insecurities about being abandoned or whether he’s good enough.
3. I found Gi-Seok a quite sympathetic character until his pride got in the way but I can understand how he feels, losing your fiancée to one of your circle of friends when you think you’re the “star” of that circle, but he just went haywire. The last scene with Gi-Seok going on a blind date actually confirms everything Jung-In felt about him, following a safe, conventional path without the ability to stand up to his Dad.
4. I actually respected Gi-Seok’s Dad, his ability to see past the conventional wisdom and come to respect Jung-In, his advice to Jung-In’s Dad not to push the marriage as that might make the young people, meaning Jung-In, rebel against it. He’s a pretty shrewd character who treats Jung-In’s Dad with little respect but do you blame him when he sees him as a weak character and yes man. And he knows when the game is lost (long before Gi-Seok realizes it) and it’s time to move on.
5. I liked the sisters, especially Jae In, a failure in every conventional way but full of life, without any artifice, wiser about inter-personal relationships than you would expect, feisty and direct. Her fierce defence of Seo-In against Nam Si Hoon’s assault and her automatic negative feelings about both Gi-Seock and Nam Si Hoon confirm the soundness of her judgment.
6. I did not like Jung-In’s Dad for obvious reasons but was especially appalled that he would be violent with his daughters, grown women. He does stand up to Gi-Seock’s Dad eventually, fuelled by alcohol, but it’s too little, too late for me. His wife is playing an almost polar opposite role to SITR, I almost didn’t recognize her.
7. I especially liked Jung-In’s friend, Yeung-Joo; smart, a little cynical and concerned for her friend even as she wants her friend to do what’s best for herself but pointing out the potential problems.
8. Domestic violence is a sub-theme in OSN, against children and a spouse (even marital rape) and I don’t know if it’s a major problem in SK but the writer/director are surely pointing it out in a major way and its self-defeating nature.
9. I’m not sure I buy Jung-In’s immediate attraction to Ji- Ho, she’s hung-over and their first interaction is quite brief to have her memorize Ji-Ho’s phone number and be interested in him. But perhaps it’s all a matter of timing – her dissatisfaction with her relationship with Gi-Seok, Ji-Ho’s kindness in lending her taxi money, the hang-over clearing away the normal inhibitions, Ji-Ho being the unconventional choice after her dissatisfaction with the safe, conventional path. I think it’s normal to find others beyond your significant other attractive but you would not act on it unless there is an underlying weakness in your current relationship. This seems to be what the director/writer are saying about Jung-In.
10. It’s not clear to me after Ji-Ho has his drunken episode which lays bare his insecurity, why Jung-In ends up choosing Ji-Ho over Gi-Seok and over not dating anyone right now. She just shows up at the pharmacy and all is well. Yet the director/writer leads the viewer to believe that any outcome is possible.
11. The off kilter humour that Jung-In and Ji-Ho display, especially Jung-In, I found strange but it seems like a self-defence mechanism that’s used even when not needed. Maybe it’s cultural and I don’t get it. It wasn’t a big turn-off, just seemed weird at times.
12. A few other comments, first, is drinking such a big part of social life in SK? In SITR and OSN, the female characters drink almost as much, if not more, than the men and get drunk almost as a matter of course. Secondly, I can understand Gi-Seok’s Dad but is Jung-In’s Dad character an outlier or not far from normal in SK, hard to believe he’s a normal representation of a Korean Dad or even representative of a significant minority. Finally, is it normal to be so difficult to break up when both sets of parents support the relationship? I’m not sure I found it too credible that Gi-Seok continues to plan for the marriage even after being rejected several times.
Overall, OSN is an excellent show, a little slow at times but it moves steadily and inexorably forward for Jung-In, as she opens the Pandora’s box of human emotions and chooses chaos over safety, her heart over her head.
Thanks for your recommendation and comprehensive review.
Hi there Geo! I’m glad you ended up enjoying OSN so well! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your insights, I enjoyed reading them. 🙂 I especially liked your remarks about Jae In and Young Joo; I enjoyed both those women too. So strong and supportive and level-headed. Love. <3 I also like your hypothesis and breakdown of why Jung In might have felt attracted to Ji Ho, despite her circumstances. It makes sense. I don't recall the details of your point 10, unfortunately, so I'm not able to comment on that. Apologies! I did, however, feel similarly about the OTP's off-kilter sense of humor. I suppose it's a thing between them, that only they "get" coz I sure found it to escape me! 😅 But I can buy the idea that if a couple shares a similar sense of humor, that it's a good thing for the relationship. 🙂
In terms of your questions, I'm sure the parental interference is magnified for dramatic effect, but culturally, it certainly is a Thing. Parents do take it upon themselves to arrange suitable matches for their children, and they do tend to have strong opinions on the matter, I believe. And yes, Korean friends have told me that drinking culture is indeed big in Korea, so what we witness in dramas is fairly accurate, I think. I hope that helps a little! 🙂
Hi KFG: On point 10, this occurs after Jin Ho has his drunken episode where his insecurities surface about Jung In leaving him and his son as Yumi did. Jung In goes into a period of reflection, questions herself, wonders if she’s capable of maintaining the relationship, Gi Seok think he has a chance, their friends think Jin Ho and Jung In have broken up, Jung In discusses the situation with Young Joo and Jae In with all options discussed but no clear resolution. Jung In meets with Jin Ho and confesses she has doubts and it’s all on her, nothing to do with Jin Ho. Then after quite a while, she appears at the pharmacy. This happens in episodes 14 and 15, I think.
I may have misinterpreted or missed something, always a possibility. Nevertheless, still a good show. I’ve started Memories of the Alhambra and it’s going very well so far, gripping plot.
” A few other comments, first, is drinking such a big part of social life in SK? ” – after watching SitR and SON, my wife and I were left wondering the same.
Just finished watching and agree with your insights #11 and #12. #11-I really did not care for the style of bantering between the two main characters. It really truned me off. I just couldn’t relate to their style of dialogue. And speaking of that, I have a difficult time with the indirectness of SK culture, like the banter between the dads. Just loved it when Gi-seok’s dad asked Jeoung-In’s dad to stop giggling and be direct. #12 I am a beginner, having seen less than a dozen kdramas, but I’m continually amazed by the drinking culture in SK.
I’m trying to figure out what this director’s problem is with the music. Just finished watching Episode 3 last night and they played that same song FOUR TIMES in the one episode! And the other song they played TWICE in the same episode. So, so, so annoying! But I’m liking the characters and things are starting to heat up. With a few exceptions, most of the cast from Something In The Rain is in this drama, which is cool to see. Thanks again for the recommendation!
I’m not sure about the why behind it.. I wonder if they had limited budget for the music? 🤔 I actually found the music in OSN a welcome upgrade from SITR, I was so aggravated by the soundtrack in SITR! 😆😆 I’m glad you’re enjoying the show aside from the annoyance from the music! 😅 (Just so you know.. a song being played twice in an hour of drama is a bit of a norm, as in, you’d see that being done in most other dramas too. Just that most other dramas have a wider song selection on their soundtrack!)
On you comment about SitR, I thought Save The Last Dance For Me was good, the rest was so annoying. Did not pick up on the songs in SON. may be it was because they weren’t either good or bad.
Personally, I prefer Pretty Noona to One Spring Night (it’s still in my top 5 Korean dramas though), and overall our drama taste seems quite different, but I wanted to thank you for your in-depth reviews. They often give me better understanding on why I liked or disliked something, even if my own conclusions are not the same as yours. Especially with this review, the phrase “choosing grace over petulance; courage over cowardice” really stuck with me when I first read it, and it’s been constantly on my mind watching Jung Hae In’s latest drama because it perfectly sums up the difference between main and second lead. Too bad you won’t review that one because I would be really curious about your opinion.
Looking forward to read your review on When the weather is fine, because I ended up hating it with a passion I didn’t feel since the clusterfuck that was the Game of Thrones finale, and I’m still working on unpicking all the reasons for that reaction…
Hi there Luna, thanks for dropping by! 🙂 It does look like we have pretty different preferences when it comes to dramas; I’m glad you still enjoy the reviews anyway. <3
I've heard very mixed reactions to A Piece of Your Mind, so I haven't decided whether to check it out. There are SO MANY dramas I'm curious to check out. 😅 I'm curious; how have you liked A Piece of Your Mind? I've heard remarks that the entire premise is obsessive and unhealthy and quite creepy.. and from the description provided by those who feel that way, it does seem somewhat justified..? What are your thoughts on that?
I'm just a few eps into Weather, and am liking it very well so far. But, I have heard that the show wobbles in the final stretch. I'm slightly concerned that the show made you so angry, but I'm also wondering if our different drama preferences will mean I end up feeling ok with the ending..?! 😝😆 Only one way to find out! 😜
I’m very much in love with A Piece of Your Mind, and will never stop cursing tvN for shortening it. 🙁 I’ll be the first to say that it is not for everyone – certainly not a good match for kdrama fans looking for a lighthearted, superficial romcom or fast-paced makjang. And the marketing campaign was completely misleading, because this is not a “fun romantic romp” with the usual CEO male lead and his candy love interest… it is not even really about one-sided love, though that is an important element in the mix. It is about loss and grief and guilt and healing. About damaged people finding comfort in human connections. It has a soft, dream-like quality to it, with amazing cinematography and lovely OST (including classical music). As much as I can judge, you would probably like the OTP relationship which is the most open, honest, and wholesome I’ve seen in a kdrama, despite the weird circumstances that bring the two characters together, and despite how traumatised they both are.
As for the premise being creepy, if that refers to the AI device, I can understand why people find it uncomfortable. If it was possible to create a digital echo of a loved person, would that help to deal with grief or would it only make it worse? And what are the ethical implications? The show doesn’t give straight up answers, it just asks questions and let you think out your own answer (which might rub people the wrong way, as kdramas are usually rather black and white) Either way, the AI is just a plot device and the focus is always on the feelings of the people who are interacting with it.
On the other hand, some people find the male lead obsessive and stalkery – well he is the type of “stalker” who for 10 years doesn’t try to find out the name of the guy his crush married, because she asked him not to. He doesn’t contact her during that time or tries to interfere with her life in any way, other than following her (public) social media account. He is unwilling to move on from his unrequited love, but then in kdrama-land undying, unchanging love is usually considered beautiful, no idea why it gets a backlash in this case… And it’s not that he sits in a corner wailing about his broken heart, in those years he has built a successfull company, invents devices to be used in therapy, and remains an empathetic person with zero self-pity. Also he would be the first to admit that he is a bit odd (and later on we get some explanation on why he turned out that way).
About WTWIF, most reviews on MyDramaList are positive. I usually just shrug and move on from unsatisfying dramas, so I’m still analysing why exactly this one triggered me so much… Mainly I can’t accept how the show (mis)handled a sensitive topic, but there aren’t many complaints about it, so maybe I’m making too much of an issue of it. 🙂
Thanks for your insights on A Piece of Your Mind, Luna.. it sounds like this is one of those shows that you either get it or you don’t, either love it or hate it. From what I’ve seen, people who love it, love it fiercely, but those who hate it, dislike it quite strongly too. From what I could tell, the discomfort was mainly from the male lead being obsessive and stalkery. I didn’t hear so much about the AI aspect. I think there was discomfort over him having such strong feelings for an unrequited love, and recording her voice without permission, and how the show presents this unhealthy behavior as romantic and desirable, or at least, not problematic.
From what you and others who love the show have said, though, I’m getting the sense that it’s best to approach this show as more of an homage to the healing journey, and to enjoy its atmosphere and poetry, rather than be bothered by the question of whether the male lead’s behavior is problematic. I’m intrigued enough that I will probably give it a look, just to see where I land, in all of this. It is a pity, though, that the show got cut down.. That’s different than starting out with 12 eps in mind, so I imagine there were things that the writer wanted to accomplish, that had to be trashed in order to slice everything down to fit. Very unfortunate indeed, and I feel your pain. :/
As for Weather, I’m intrigued to find out what made you so angry with the show, but I suppose it’s best that I just watch it for myself and see whether I have similar feelings about the ending – and then maybe you can let me know whether you feel any differently by then! 🙂
The thing about recording her voice without permission is not true, though. Female lead’s task is to ask male lead’s first love to agree to a recording session, not secretly recording her voice, which is why she is equipped with a brick-size device rather than an invisible spy mic. And the text to be recorded is something that first love would instantly recognise as coming from the male lead, so she would know the person behind. (she actually starts to quote the same stuff on her own though, so it takes her a little more time and another intentionally left hint to catch up)
Anyway, I guess I gushed too much about APOYM already, I tend to be a little obsessive about shows that really strike a cord with me. Maybe that’s why I didn’t find male lead’s behavior alarming. 😉 If you decide to check it out I’ll be curious to read your opinion, but totally understand if you don’t, there are just too many dramas out there. Kinda funny because everywhere else filming is on hiatus and people are like we are running out of stuff to watch soon, while in kdramaland the problem is still overabundance. 🙂 Looking forward to your Weather review, I’ll certainly leave a comment there. It’s a grudge I’m gonna hold for a long time. 😛
Ah, that’s good information, that it’s not true he recorded her voice without permission. 🙂 I think I’m in a better position to check out the show, now that you’ve shared your perspective with me. Yes, there are just so many shows out there (so mindblowing, considering how we’re all on lockdown!) so I don’t know when I’d get to it. 😅 I’ll probably finish Weather first, since the two seem similar in tone and in healing theme. And yes, I can’t wait to find out how Weather ended up making you mad! 😉
I’m new to this whole kdrama thing but this show totally kicked me in the backside. I watched 4 times in a row after I watched it f9r the first time, I just couldn’t get enough of it! Read your review and totally loved it and agreed with most but I wanted to point out a few things. I think with their humour, it’s a particupar kind that you need to get, almost a dry wit eg when she said in the 1st ep that she shouldn’t have to pay for the medicine since she didn’t actually ask for it, I got it, it was meant to be kind of a funny retort but also a defence mechanism for her to retreat to since he kind of made her feel like an idiot for forgetting her wallet. Her saying that I felt was where he started to be curious about her and where I felt their connection started as he instantly got it as well, not many ppl would’ve. That goes for their banters as well, some ppl may find it rude but I found them cute and endearing – it showed the progression of their ease with each other… I was totally pulled in with this couple, everything they went through I could feel with such force.
” Her saying that I felt was where he started to be curious about her and where I felt their connection started ” … Oh that’s a really keen observation! Like you I have watched this one multiple times and I’m not about to stop :)… This show is like a warm blanket and hot cup of cocoa on a cold day. I have often wondered what was the trigger for the spark for both of them. How about for Jeong-in? Where do you think the connection began for her?
With Jeong-in, I felt her curiosity was piqued when he replied “Right, I made a mistake.” when she said that she hadn’t asked him to open the bottle. She was taken aback that he went along with her comment, she hadn’t expected that (they both gave micro smiles). Also, in the same scene where he clearly resists her suggestions (when he tells her that she’s in a rush and she should go and when he’s shocked when she tells him she should give him her number), I felt that made her want some acknowledgement from him, no matter how small, that he at least cared about her coming back to settle her account. Both times, I felt that this was a preamble to how their relationship would be, her on the offensive and always being reserved. Hope that makes sense.
Oops! I missed your response!.. I went back and watched the scene again… (for the 9th time, perhaps 🙂 ), and I agree with you. There are a lot of these micro-gestures that the audience relying on subtitles will miss! And, it’s something that the show uses a lot… which is why re-watching the episodes is also quite rewarding. For example, I also noticed that in this same scene, Jeong-in extends her hand casually to ask for the supplementary medicine while she’s drinking the contents from the bottle – something which hurries Ji Ho. If you recall, in one of the scenes later, Jeong-in confesses – “I always blurt things out (or act without thinking) when I’m with you” exhibiting an unusual level of comfort. These are some really quaint subtleties which one doesn’t come across frequently in other shows 🙂
Thank you for your review! Now i have the bravery to watch one spring night. I have the same thought s you for pretty noona who buys me food. Even in the beginning got me sold, the ending left me hurt, betrayed, frustrated, disappointed.. you name it. I had too much of an emotional trauma in the end, causing me not to believe the drama from the same pd and writer. But because of jung jae in, i wanted to watch this drama.. and your review made me believe that i would like it. Thank you
Hey there, KFG! Sorry my visits are infrequent and random–a dearth of free time and fickle focus have conspired to take me away from any kind of emersion for awhile. But with the state of the world being what it is at the moment, I find myself with a bit more time to explore.
…Which ultimately lead to me taking a gander at One Spring Night. I’m only two episodes in, and it has a lot going for it. The characters are likable for the most part and it has a very slice-o-life-fly-on-the wall presentation. The emotional beats are subtle and nuanced, and there aren’t any larger-than-life gimmicks or set-ups to remind me that I’m watching a show.
That said, Jung In has just had a very awkward non-conversation with her current b/f that made me question whether or not I wanted to continue watching. In the past, I would have just shrugged and accepted it, but thanks to several of your reviews that have pointed out spoiled, twisted, or annoying characters and how they ruined a series for you, I wanted some reassurance that I wasn’t headed down a dark path.
I was quite relieved to find that not only had you watched and written a review of it (why I was uncertain that would be the case now strikes me as a mystery), but that you seemed to enjoy it overall. I’ve had a lot of false starts with shows in general, so finding one that kept me interested beyond the first 20 minutes was cause for celebration. I would have been sorely grieved if OSN had taken a nose-dive.
I’ve mostly just been trying to sort out Jung In. She’s been mildly dishonest in many ways already, which made her line about disliking lies a bit cringy for me–particularly when she overtly lies twice about three minutes later. I appreciated that Show acknowledged this hypocrisy through very understated and awkward eye movement, but still. It was there. And while I could appreciate her line about him not worrying about things she doesn’t mention, the particular scenario that triggers said line is one that makes her seem a bit foolish. Any guy would be very concerned about her serious boyfriend–particularly after she mentioned the possibility of getting engaged to him. No boyfriend is going to be okay with his girlfriend regularly texting and hanging out with another guy, nor should he be. One of the elements of an intimate relationship is time spent, and while some couples don’t get a lot of time together, the percent of the time they spend together when they do have the chance should be pretty high. If 55% of her available hang-out time is with another dude…there’s an issue.
But I digress. The point is, I’d be questioning the character of a girl who wants to be my friend while keeping it a secret from her boyfriend. In college I became decent friends with a girl who had a long-time boyfriend, but he knew we hung out. He had a lot going on and couldn’t spend a lot of time with her that semester, so she and I would do the friend thing. Heck, he even asked me to take her out for her birthday when something came up and he absolutely couldn’t make it. But he knew where I stood. I don’t buy in to the whole, “I don’t see a ring on that finger” mentality. If they’re together, they’re together. I’m not gonna try to make a move, nor would I want her to make one on me.
Tangent. Mea culpa. Point is, there are times when a guy and gal can be friends even when in a relationship, but those are exceptions not rules. And it doesn’t work if both friends have legitimate feelings for each other. That said, Ji Ho was right to be concerned, and her dismissal of that concern made me feel a bit queasy.
Then comes the talk. I don’t know what happens down the road, and I’m purposely avoiding going too far to avoid spoilers (though I did see you call Gi Seok a “prick”, which is probably the most vicious noun I’ve heard you bestow on a character), but as of right now, Gi Seok is a cool dude…and it looks like he’s about to get Ducky-ed. He’s trying to understand what’s going on. He knows Jung In, and therefore he knows when she’s not being herself. He’s very gently but adamantly tryin to get the truth from her, and all he’s getting are long pauses and non-answers. She doesn’t have to say she’s smitten with someone else, just that her love doesn’t have the depth to sustain a marriage. Pure and simple. It sucks, but that’s not something she can control. As someone in the audience (who is also involuntarily injecting himself into the situation), that scene is painful to watch. Physically painful. Combine that with her dishonesty and the whole, “Don’t ask about my life unless I mention it” and I was beginning to get a very bad feeling about the whole thing.
The only two saving graces were that she genuinely didn’t seem to know what was going on inside herself, and that she had (at this point) asked for a break. She doesn’t come across as someone who is trying to have her cake and eat it too; she isn’t selfish or cruel. As Gi Seok points out, she normally knows exactly what she wants, but now finds herself in a prolonged state of indecision. Doesn’t know what to do about the two men now in her life, doesn’t know what her heart wants, why the landscape has abruptly shifted, why she doesn’t have control over her interests or outbursts, etc.., While subtle, her confusion is very evident in a realistic way…and she’s not a talker. When I’m confused, I want to talk it out to understand, even if no one else is there. But my sister says almost nothing ever. So I get that. It’s a nice characterization, albeit one that rankles me.
The fact that she is willing to act on what she does know–that she doesn’t see a future with Gi Seok–is admirable and gave me hope. If her heart isn’t with her b/f, he needs to know, and she shouldn’t stay with him, particularly if her heart is longing for someone else. There are worse ways to be unfaithful than kissing or sleeping with someone. Typically those are manifestations of a wayward heart, but it’s the heart itself that is the issue. It’s a cruel lie to maintain the facade of a relationship knowing that the core of it no longer exists.
So, yay, she seems to be willing to do the right thing. …But for how long?
That was why I had to seek out your review to see if I could weather the ups and downs. It’s very uncomfortable sitting on a fence, and after nearly two hours, I knew it was time to swing a leg over and jump in or roll off into the dark abyss of disappointment. I am trepidatious as it seems that this story is going to go sideways like crazy before the final resolution, but if you consider it worthwhile (while also coming from a place of indecision initially), then I trust I will too.
When I finish, I’ll come back and peruse your review to see what I missed and get your perspective on the narrative. I’m not expecting another Healer here, but hopefully a successful voyage of escapism.
Thanks again for doing what you do. You may just have saved a life today. 😉
Hi there Jesse!! It’s always great to see you around here! 🙂 No worries about visiting on an infrequent and random manner.. just know that you’re always welcome, whenever you do fancy popping by! 😉
Thanks for sharing your experience with the show so far, particularly with Jung In’s characterization. I struggled with her too, and sometimes, I couldn’t decide whether she was being inconsiderate, rude or just uncomfortably frank. She’s definitely not perfect, but, to her credit, once she does figure out what she wants, she proves that she’s able to stand by her decision. So I do feel reasonably confident that Jung In will win you over, with time. 🙂 And no, this show doesn’t ever reach Healer levels of engagement, but I found it refreshing, and like an antidote to Something in the Rain, because it takes all the things I didn’t care for, and does it differently. I liked this one a lot, in the end, and I really hope you will too! 🙂
Thanks, KFG! I definitely always feel welcome and am always glad I make the visit. 🙂 And you are right, Jung In won me over–rather quickly in fact. I gave her huge points for not running to Ji Ho initially. I personally think that you should never leave who you’re with just because someone better comes along; you have to decide whether you want to be with who you’re with regardless if there’s a replacement or not. The fact that she gives Gi Seok consideration on his own without making comparisons shows a pretty mature level of respect. …Sadly, that respect doesn’t really get a chance to shine because it looks like she was already on fumes when Show begins. It’s an awkward combination of her being willing to meet with him time and time again only to bluntly tell him she’s no longer interested. Can’t say I understand that, particularly after “officially” breaking up, but in an odd way it fits with her character. As you’ve pointed out, she’s someone to take things head-on, which I suppose means that ceasing to engage with someone isn’t as desirable as meeting with them face-to-face and telling them to pound sand. It seems cruel, but it’s also functional, as it leaves no room for miscommunication or interpretation. And if Gi Seok wasn’t such a blindly selfish turd muffin, he would have accepted the first break-up and not had to go through another dozen rejections. That’s on him.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the “backhanded confession”. It really seemed to fit perfectly with her temperament and the way she had been acknowledging their relationship up to that point (and even for a bit afterwards). They seemed to grow closer in negative space. She didn’t say “yes”, she just didn’t say “no”. I think that fits perfectly with someone who is confused, in turmoil, and doesn’t know what to do. When you don’t have the strength or confidence to move forward, letting yourself be pulled in a direction you know you want to go is sometimes the best you can do. The outburst is also very telling of her own frustration at not having control over her own heart. If circumstances are ideal, I don’t think any of us question what our heart is wanting. But when the heart is drawn to someone we didn’t have in mind, or someone who comes with complications (long distance, children, aggressive exes, tiresome families, etc..,), there can be frustration and even resentment towards that love. I definitely enjoyed the angry “backhanded” confession for its honesty and depth; tearful smiling confessions are great, but raw explosive emotion says so much more in a very short span of time.
You were not wrong about Gi Seok either. He seems likable enough at first, but goes full jackass after the first few episodes. I was afraid that he was somehow going to slither back into the picture and become the final hurdle, but Jung In never gave him a chance. While he was one of the more overtly loathsome characters, he also was the one of the most impotent. I loved how Ji Ho pretty much stares him down. “I’m holding back for her sake, and to give you a chance to man up. If you can’t step up and step back like a gentleman, I’m coming after you.” For someone in Ji Ho’s position, I didn’t expect him to go on the offensive. Very glad he did though.
I’m glad you mentioned the OST as well. Like you, I didn’t find the songs objectionable, but I think we literally had two tracks for the first five episodes. When your main theme is instrumental (a la Healer–woot woot!), you can play with it in many different ways to give it more mileage. Come in at different places, use different instruments and change the tempo, repeat certain sections, etc.., But with a big ol song, all you can really do is play it. I admit to sighing pretty heavily after the first two episodes. I’m sure there aren’t more montages in this show than in any other, but the repetitive music really made them more noticeable. I think they wove one or two more songs in around the 4th or 5th episode, but I was already kinda worn out by that point. I found my brain classifying it as white noise after awhile, which made watching easier but also less spicy. Music does so much for moods and moments; not having it definitely took a little edge off the emotional resonance. –Admittedly I also skipped through some of the later montages because they weren’t really adding much to the story. Everything was the same before and after the montages except for literally where the character was located. I think my tolerance was lower than yours, but I’m happy I wasn’t the only one who felt they could have given the show a bit more musical diversity.
I have to admit, as much as I detested Gi Seok, I think I may have loathed Jung In’s dad even more. Your point about controlling fathers being relatively common is well-taken, and I’ve seen enough dramas to be used to the parental meddling. Making wedding plans without the “bride” knowing or agreeing started rankling me, but what put me over the edge was Jung In’s reaction to finding out his daughter was assaulted by her husband. The mother’s reaction to that discovery was perfect and painfully beautiful. But for the father–the protector–to not only accept the abuse with little more than indifference, to not only expect his daughter to stay in that relationship, but to have the audacity to get angry at her when she says no–!?!!? My animus towards that self-centered sack of crap spiked so high right there. The fact that he was willing to sell off his daughters because he “wanted to work after retirement” was bad enough, but his epic failure at the most fundamental responsibility and privilege as a father put me over the edge.
Ah, there’s so much more to say, but I’d mostly be echoing what you’ve expressed in this very thorough and meticulous review. Your summary is on-point and accentuates what I think I liked most about this show: understated and poignant. I don’t need razzle dazzle all the time. Sometimes just getting a delicious slice of life with a dash of strategic gravitas is enough to satiate whatever emotional craving I’ve got going on. I give the show extra props, because children can rarely make–but can often break–a show/movie. They have to be used strategically and sparingly, particularly because good child actors are rare. Too much screen time can generate a lot of unnecessary cringe, but I think Show was able to use him effectively off-screen. Much like Bruce (the mechanical shark used in “Jaws”), Ji Ho’s son has more impact on the story when he’s not on screen than when he is. His scenes with Jung In were crucial though, as they put to rest the concern that she wouldn’t love him because he’s not hers. While their bonding may have been a bit abrupt, the fact that he feels comfortable with her and that she cares so much about him makes the days and years beyond the show’s scope very promising for the little family.
I’ll admit, as an American viewer, I don’t quite understand the harsh bias against divorcees and single parents. Yes, both situations can add difficult dimensions to a new relationship, but the idea that someone is tainted goods or somehow in any way diminished as a person because of it is hard to comprehend. I wasn’t happy to accept that premise, but the show was ultimately worth the effort.
I’m glad I was encouraged to continue by your review; once again, you have performed a great service, and I am accordingly grateful. 🙂
‘Till Next Time!
I’m glad you ultimately enjoyed your watch of this one, Jesse! 😀 Thanks for trusting me on this one! 😉
I didn’t always understand Jung In, particularly her oftentimes offbeat drollness, but like you, I respected that she doesn’t immediately dump Gi Seok for Ji Ho. I respected the fact that she tried to work through the issues that she had with Gi Seok, irrespective of Ji Ho’s existence or her gut attraction to him. I really like your insight about the emotion driving the backhanded confession. You’re right; one can actually feel resentment towards the love that one feels, because of other factors, and this played out really well in that scene. It felt real and believable and organic; one of the key things that I appreciated Show doing well, and doing consistently. 🙂 Also, that’s a great point, that Ji Ho’s son had more impact on the story when he wasn’t on screen. I hadn’t thought of that; how interesting!
Oh yes, this show could’ve done with more musical diversity for sure. But, I guess I was so relieved that the music wasn’t objectionable like in SITR, that I counted my blessings and moved on. HA! 😆😆
Unfortunately, it does seem that there is still stigma in Korea, around things like divorce, single parents, adoption, LGBTQ and the like. I’d like to think that things are changing over time, but I honestly don’t know how much things have changed for real, in real life. I can only say that slowly, dramas are starting to be more inclusive to these groups, and I’m hoping that reel is indicative of real. 🙂
“…The reel is indicative of the real.” I see what ya did there. 😀 I applaud your wordplay, KFG!
As devastating as SITR was for you, it sure has elevated almost every other show for ya by default and provided an appreciation for anything that isn’t…SITRed. Blessings by omission aren’t usually as fun as your garden variety blessings, but they are still blessings all the same!
I’ll admit, forging forward felt like a risky endeavor, but you are stellar at articulating the “why”. It’s one thing for someone to say, “I hated the show, it was dumb”, but it’s another to explain the reasons. You go into a lot of depth and usually cite many examples, and even though you definitely have an opinion, you are able to present the facts as facts. “This is what happened. This is how I felt about it”. Too often those two facets of a review get lumped together, and the bias so so strong that it actually warps the events. I guess that heralds back to the notion that your heart and mind are able to function in concert, graciously allowing each other to speak at the appropriate times. Not an easy balance, particularly in the heat of the moment when the heart wants to just gush or bleed all over the place and the mind is doing damage control. But I digress.
I’m not much of an optimist in general, but I do believe that for the most part, pockets of adversity or extremists exist amongst an otherwise accommodating populace. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way because those pockets tend to be very loud and/or occupy positions of influence, but on the whole I think they are a dwindling minority.
In all fairness, this may be a case of art impacting society instead of society impacting art. Stories need adversity, they need antagonists, and they need devices that create tension. If there was no stigma about single parents in the world of One Spring Night, where would the adversity come from? If there was no such thing as perceived status, if everyone told the truth, if no one was abusive, if no one was racist, if everyone had parents who loved them and each other, if no one had moments of weakness or used poor judgement or made wild assumptions…we’d have no drama. –Granted, I’m pretty much describing Utopia or Heaven, but the point stands.
Even if society as a whole (85-95%) is okay with or doesn’t care one way or another about something like divorce, a show or film can involuntary perpetuate the perception of a widespread stigma by making it a plot point. If we see enough shows with that in it, we can easily begin to think it’s an epidemic!
Of course, I don’t know the ultimate truth. I know there was a stigma about many things, mostly because of how interdependent families and communities used to be; anything that threatened unity or showed evidence of divisiveness threatened a people’s very survival and had to be shut down. I guess in many places of the world, that tight structure still exists, although harmony is more what’s at stake than survival.
What I do know is that I enjoy shows that pull from interpersonal complications rather than social ones. Relationships will always be complex, and there are plenty of ways to explore the nuances and terrors of vulnerability, pain, loss, and hope. I liked this show and others in a similar vein because while the overt antagonists bluster about money and status and whatnot, the OTP is dealing with genuine struggles. Yes, there’s the fact that everyone is hating on this guy ’cause he’s a single parent, but he doesn’t really cave to it. “Don’t look down on me,” he states firmly. But he does have insecurities and baggage from the past–the past that brought him to the situation he’s in–that he has to deal with. You don’t need a child out of wedlock to question your worthiness or to worry over the impact your life will have on the person you love. Pretty sure we all do it to some degree.
Perhaps shows–at least the ones that come from a healthy foundation–use these stigmas to create situations where more subtle exploration can happen. Being an orphan doesn’t make someone less worthy, but it can easily make them feel less worthy. We can have our self-esteem devastated in many ways, but that’s probably one of the easiest to understand. “Why did you abandon me? Was it that bad to be around me?” Even those who are orphaned by death carry that rejection. The stigma is an outward manifestation of what’s happening inside the person; it’s a way to incarnate complex internal and intangible feelings.
Even if divorce was universally accepted, the people who go through it still have their lives turned upside-down. It may be the healthy and right thing to do, but how dire are those circumstances and how miserable those lives that a relational rending (compounded by financial and logistical complications) is the ideal solution? It will still have an impact by its very nature, regardless of how everyone else thinks about it. That internal impact can be hard to articulate, so to make the struggle tangible, shows use society to illustrate the person’s self-accusations and self-perceptions.
So there’s a myriad of options. Shows include stigmas because society has stigmas, and producers are shining a light on them. (I think this is a little less likely, only because shows need to make money to keep the industry alive, and alienating the sensibilities of their audience by trampling their cherished beliefs isn’t a great way to do that.) Shows include stigmas because they are convenient, low hanging fruit when it comes to creating conflict. Or shows include stigmas to help illustrate and emphasize the internal struggle a character is going though, while also showing that love can overcome obstacles beyond personal shortcomings.
The struggling optimist in me favors the latter, the pessimist in me reluctantly embraces the former, and the realist in me happily settles on the middle option. But ultimately I don’t give a fig for what society favors or doesn’t favor. That bar is always changing, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. My world is comprised of the relationships I have with people near and far, tangible and digital…and of course, to an admittedly lesser degree, the dramas–both good and SITR–that facilitate some of those relationships.
…And now I need to get back to work, or else this particular Spring Night will be spent busting my hump to catch up on my workflow. 😀
Hi Jesse! It’s always great to get to hear your thoughts! 🙂 That’s a very interesting dichotomy; do dramas reflect stigma in society, or do dramas create stigma? It feels like that age old chicken and egg question, since reel and real are interdependent, and will continue to be so. It’s hard to disentangle one from the other, I think. 🙂
That said, I hear your point about preferring stories that have more to do with interpersonal complications than societal issues.. Have you tried out Familiar Wife? I liked that very well, and I think it does depend a lot more on interpersonal issues that have to do with personality, responsibility and expectations, rather than societal stigma. It’s got a fantasy premise, but if you just accept it as part of the story’s construct, it all works quite nicely. 🙂 Han Ji Min, who starred in One Spring Night, does really nicely as our female lead as well. 🙂
Hey hey, KFG!
It is indeed a chicken/egg question that cannot be answered, even by the creators of the art themselves. I continue to find that there are many more of these types of quandaries than there are those with truly definitive answers to be found without the benefit of omnipotence. And since I can’t find an app for omnipotence, I guess I’ll just stick to pontificating and avoid any fist-pounding, fervent assertions. 😉
I admit, every time I see, “Have you tried…” I get a little twinge of excitement, thinking/hoping I’ll be able to jump in and say, “Oh yeah–that show was amazing! I particularly liked…” or “I have, actually, and here’s what tripped me up…”. But almost invariably my response is, “I haven’t even known about its existence until now. I’ll add it to my list…” This time, it’s a hybrid! I have in fact heard of it (had to Google it before I realized it though)…but no, I haven’t checked it out yet.
For some reason the shows with a premise involving time travel or alternative realities have had a hard time piquing my interest. Not because of the fantastical element exactly; some of my favorite movies involve DeLoreans, lightsabers, Ringwraiths, self-aware cyborgs, etc.., I think I’ve just had a narrow focus for what I’m looking for in the drama genre specifically…which is admittedly odd. I typically find western drama to be a bit tedious and heavy-handed, so you’d think I’d want to maximize my ability to not-mind subtitles and dive into hybrids of drama and sci-fi/fantasy. Hmmm.
Welp, it’s a KFG recommendation and it has the lead from OSN (who I appreciated), so if I’m gonna expand my peculiarly unexpanded horizons, this seems like the show to do it! …Well, this or NIF…but you seemed to kinda “meh” about that one, so I’ll jump onto this first. ;P
It sounds like you’re more drawn to slice-of-life kdramas, from what you’ve described.. And I do love that there are a nice number of kdramas that do slice-of-life really well. Familiar Wife does have a fantasy construct, but it’s not really hard to get into, I feel like, and there’s enough exploration of the characters and relationships to make up for it, I think. 😅
For slice-of-life with warm cozy feels, have you considered Prison Playbook, &/or Answer Me 1988? I loved both of those (they come from the same makers and have similar vibes) and both shows manage to serve up warm community feels, even while both shows indulge in a corny sense of humor. 🙂
It’s very true that slice-of-life draws me in the most, but I’m hoping that over time and through semi-forced exposure, I can break into and enjoy the other approaches as well. That’s the second vote I’ve seen ya cast for Familiar Wife, so I think that puts it on The List. That may be the bridge I need to get me acclimated to a more…flexible type of drama. I hadn’t heard of Prison Playbook, but Answer me 1988 has been on and off my radar pretty much since I started watching these shows (mostly ’cause it’s been on Netflix that long). I didn’t realize they incorporated corny humor or I might have gone in a long time ago! (This is the second time 1988 has come up. Is that a thing? Was there something special or tragic that happened that year in that part of the world? )
Hahaha, semi-forced exposure?! Oh dear. No need to watch anything you don’t feel like watching, Jesse! I mean, unless the FOMO gets too much for you, which.. then becomes a different story! 😉 That’s a great question about 1988 Korea. That was the year Korea hosted the Olympics, and it was a huge deal. Korea is kinda like Singapore, in that it developed really fast, in the last generation or so. With Korea hosting the Olympics that year, it gained Korea a lot of global attention, and also marked a surge in the influx of culture from around the world, alongside. I guess 1988 could be seen as a watershed moment in modern Korean history? 🙂 And yes, corny humor is one of the hallmarks of Answer Me 1988 and its sister shows: Answer Me 1997, Answer Me 1994, Prison Playbook, and most recently, Hospital Playlist (which is ending soon). So if corny humor is your thing, definitely bump it up your (growing!) list! 🙂
Oh, I didn’t mean “semi-forced exposure” from external sources; I’m getting nothing but enthusiastic encouragement and hearty recommendations from everyone. It would be me saying, “All right dude–stop being a whiny twit and turn your narrow focus towards something beyond what you’ve gotten familiar with”. I’ve identified branching out and taking in different shows as a chance for growth, even if I just try them and end up dropping them later on. But as is the case with many chances for progress, there is reluctance to actually take the first step…so I kinda have to just put one foot in front of the other and take the leap. (Wow. I don’t think I’ve been guilty of a greater misappropriation of gravitas than what I just said there.)
Ahhhh, the Olympics!!! Of course! THAT makes a ton of sense. I remember in one of the lead’s VOs in BTIMYL, she talks about being born that year and how “the world’s eyes were on Korea”, and I was left scratching my head. Was that just her retroactive recollection (seeing as how she was born, she couldn’t remember what the heck the world was doing at that time), embellished because it was her birth year?
Now it all becomes clear! I guess I get why she didn’t actually say “Olympics” (though for all I know they were showing footage from it and I wasn’t paying attention) but it woulda been really helpful to drop that little tidbit in there somewhere.
Thank you for that revelation and bestowment of context, KFG!
Next Olympics, Singapore! (I read that the 2010 Youth Olympics were held there, but I mean the main-stage Olympics.)
I’ll have to figure out how much weight to give corny humor as I try to arrange my viewing priorities. More than likely I’ll just get in the mood for some lighter, rom-COM-y-er stuff and turn to one of these to satiate the craving. 😀
I think the most important thing is to follow your mood, with dramas. 🙂 I’ve powered through some highly recommended shows while I wasn’t in the mood for it, and lived to regret it. The shows themselves didn’t end up working for me coz I’d powered through despite my mood tending otherwise, and it all felt like a futile and underwhelming exercise. And drama-watching is supposed to be enjoyable, regardless of the genre, I say. 😀 So keep your (growing) list at the ready for reference and inspiration, but let your mood take you where it will. That’s my formula, anyway! 😉
So, Jesse I happened to climb in said Delorean a couple of years ago – awesome! It’s a bit hard to get in and out of though. In The King: Eternal Monarch, Jung Tae Eul has a decal of it on the back of her smart phone. As for the chicken and the egg, well the amoeba came along first 😂 Yes, Western drama does need a reboot, because the good shows get lost in all the noise. As for expanding horizons: “to boldly go…”
Whaaat?! Are you kidding me?! That’s awesome! What was the occasion? Did you just happen to come across someone who had one? –I always wondered if the butterfly doors and low seat would be problematic; MJF seemed to handle it okay, but he was pretty short…and of course there’s movie magic. 🙂
If there’s any good byproduct from what the world has endured the past few months it’s that many things are being reevaluated and examined. I think there’s going to be a ripple of changes that will include the entertainment industry; things are going to have to change. Which is good. ‘Cause in terms of creative bankruptcy, they can’t get much worse. Here’s to the future…and going back to it! ;p
They brought it over for a sci-fi convention. Even to see the “flux capacitor” was delightful in itself. I was more than happy to pay for the happy snaps they took of my wife and I with it. Yes, once I was in it, I was inclined to stay in there, but knew I would have to negotiate getting out of it eventually. People are funny you know. Once I climbed inside, a queue quickly appeared to undergo the same experience. After that we went on to pop inside the Tardis, be terrorised by some daleks and listen to Christopher Judge tell some great stories about Stargate.
I think the entertainment industry is up for grabs in certain areas from a business sense and thus there will have to be good creative content that follows. Hail to no more reboots (unless it is a valid re-interpretation) and unnecessary content. So, yes here is to the future and back again 😀
I just read the whole review, which was detailed, well argued and cogent. Thanks for this amazing write up. However, you gave it a B++ rating. I would have expected a bit higher (for me this is the best show on earth 🙂 ). I’d love to know the names of shows which have been rated higher and then give them a go :)… would really appreciate that. Thank you
Hi there Rachit, thanks for enjoying the review! 🙂 For me, this didn’t make it into A grade territory because it didn’t have the crack factor, for me. For a look at other shows that I’ve rated, you can check out my Full List (of posts, not a comprehensive list of all dramas out there) here. I hope that helps, and I hope you’ll find other dramas to enjoy as well! 🙂
I seem to have found the best channel to share my new found euphoria – One Spring Night is the best show ever!!! And it kicks Pretty Noona’s butt right out of the park!!! You see, I am an Indian with a recently developed obsession for K-dramas. My wife and I began watching Pretty Noona (Something in the Rain, in my world) last year and was quickly smitten by Son Ye Jin’s charms, Jung Hae In’s intensity and their palpable chemistry. The show had me hooked with its tight storyline and the beautiful character development of Yoon Jin-ah. But as the show progressed, it started giving me more than my fair share of anxious moments with the myriad misunderstandings. It came to an unbelievable pass where the two decided to break up on a really really hard to swallow premise – I remember watching with my jaw dropped. Needless to say, when the show ended, it left me high and dry, depressed and confused with a hundred unanswered questions. I felt like I had to find the director / writer, holding them by their collars (similar to how Ji Ho grabs Gi Seok’s collar when he confronts Ji Ho and Jeong In outside the jazz club) and demand from them a better ending!!! Anyway, as with a crush with no future, I decided to let it go – (i would watch re-runs of the show until episode 3 and then stop).
I found One Spring Night appearing on my recommendations on Netflix, but both my wife and I vowed -despite the temptation- not to watch it having been badly burnt previously. But then my wife decided to visit her parents for a month and I finally gave in to the temptation. I was mentally prepared to face disappointment sooner or later. But with each episode the director-writer began surpassing my expectation. I felt a bit like Jeong-in – should I really let myself fall in love with this stranger? I decided to ‘just be friends’ with the show… but it continued to not disappoint me.. and I realized I was in the same vulnerable situation again. But the thing is – the SHOW DID NOT DISAPPOINT!!! By the end of it, I was in k-drama heaven!! I wanted to find the makers of the show and thank them profusely for redeeming themselves!!! Although, I’m kind of sad that the ratings are not as high as I would like them to be.. But, I guess it has to compete with the likes of Crash Landing ..(Yikes!!). I’m sorry this post is so long. But I really needed this. I haven’t completed reading your review but I KNOW that in you I have found a kindred soul. Thanks a million for this!!!!
Aw, thanks for sharing your experience, Rachit! I feel you. I had similar frustrated feelings about Something in the Rain, and was just as cautious approaching this show, as you were. I’m also just as relieved and glad as you are, that this show did not end up being another Something in the Rain. YAY for that!! 🥳🥳
For more understated, human storytelling, I would like to suggest My Mister. It’s not technically a romance, but it’s so lovely and meaningful and beautiful, that it doesn’t even matter. Please give it a look, if you can! 😀
It turns out ‘My Mister’ is not available on Netflix 🙁 .. any suggestion which platform I may get access to it on?
Oh, that’s unfortunate, that My Mister’s not available on Netflix.. Maybe try Viki? I know that they have it, but geo-restrictions might get in the way of you being able to access it. 😬 If that fails, and if you don’t mind a walk on the dark side with ads and pop-ups, you can try here. I hope that helps! 🙂
I am happy to report that My Mister is now available on Netflix. I am happier to report that I have broken my temporarily self-imposed k-drama abstinence (yes, the addiction was absolutely real!!) with this gem of a show and I’m happiest to report that this was one hell of a recommendation!!! So, Kamsahamnida, Kamsahamnida, Kamsahamnida… x 10!!!!
What a beautiful production this was!!! And yes, I dare say, it has managed to snatch the top-spot (in my book) from OSN. I was trying to find your review page for it, but maybe I missed it. I would gladly pour my heart out on it, if it does exist (don’t want to hijack this thread).
Thank you once again for this brilliant recommendation!! 🙂 (Let me know if you have more)
Oops!! sorry, I found the page I was looking for… my bad!
Excellent review!! I enjoyed reading it so so much. I think I’ve watched One spring night 5 times and I still come back to it every time I need a sweet , relaxing and soothing love story. Thank you for your thoughts – I quite agree with most of them.
Thanks for enjoying this review, Nicole 🙂 Yes, One Spring Night is quite lovely, in a very understated, gentle sort of way. So glad you like the show too! 🙂
Thank you for the review! I know that I can always trust your taste. Every single drama you recommend would turn out to be a pleasant watch for me. Jung Hae-in and his smile look promising in photos, but I saw so many comments about Pretty Noona’s bad script. So I am happy that One Spring Night is his first drama I watch. I’m at ep 13 now, taking time to slowly enjoy every conversation rather than fast forwarding to OTP moments like I often do. Even I haven’t finished the series, I firmly believe that this will be a memorable watch. And la la Jung Hae In is now on my bias list.
Hi there haart! I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying this show! 😀 Yes, this show feels like everything Pretty Noona wasn’t; in that sense, this was a bit of a healing watch, for me. It felt like Ahn PD and writer-nim were making up for everything that I hated in Pretty Noona, heh. 😆 And you’re right, this one needs to be slowly savored; it’s not a quick drama by any means, but the journey feels worthwhile. I hope you enjoy your watch all the way to the end, as I did. <3
You probably know about it but I would like to recommend you another series – Encounter. It’s not on Netflix (too bad) but you can find it easily on a lot of pages or even on Viki (where I watched it) .
Just like One spring night , it is a real gem. Precious, romantic , warm and with a beautiful ost. And Park Bo Gum is worth every minute of it . :))
Ok, I just saw you’ve already reviewed it , sorry. :)) And I also see we don’t have the same opinion on it – I really really really loved Encounter . 🙂
Aw, it’s too bad I didn’t manage to enjoy Encounter, but I’m glad that you love it, Nicole! <3
What I liked a lot about this drama is that the main characters are real people. They mostly said and did what they wanted, and as in real life, they didn’t do things in the “proper” sequence. What I found especially ok is that this drama did not create much extra drama by the characters not being able to say things, thus increasing the drama level for no particular reason.
Most american sitcoms live from that; the main character is not able to say something simple and incredibly stupid, until the end of the episode. There is a similar thing often in K-dramas, where a character doesn’t use the opportunity to say something, which would eliminate a lot of drama. Of course, this being drama, that may be a requirement.
This show definitely feels like a redemption attempt by the writer-PD duo. The feels of this show and pretty noona just too similar (the overlapping casts, the ambient, music style,…) that i just can’t help to keep comparing both shows. That kind of prevent me to fully appreciate this show as stand alone.
I do find One Spring Night to be a more solid show. But the pacing is just waaay to slow for me. I wish writer-nim use the time slot to give spotlight to the sister fight in escaping abusive marriage rather than the on/off/on/off triangle relationship and their meddling parents. There’re so much layers writer-nim can explore from the sister story. The transition from a battered wife into a fighter and her conflict in navigating divorce, social prejudice and preparing to bring up a child as a single parent.
Kfangurl, another beautiful and remarkable review concluded with champagne and small happiness 🍾🍾🍾 I haven’t watched Show, and I don’t feel inclined to, even though the preview was calling out to me!
I had heard it’s similar to Pretty Noona which I’ve eventually ended up hating and therefore dropped. So I wasn’t planning on watching this one but seeing that you think the OTP is worth rooting for (which is the most crucial part for me in romances) I’ll give it a shot. Ty for the review! ❤
I’ve managed to finish it within 3 nights, was a very enjoyable watch. The OTP+his son was totally worth it, pretty much the only thing I totally digged (as in made me excited to keep watching).
In retrospect I wonder how so little happened in those 16 episodes plotwise, it really was slowmoving in quite a few ways I guess.
The music wasn’t too bad, I wish it had had more variety (not only old western music) but it wasn’t nearly as annoying as in Pretty Noona. The songs also fit the drama themewise so that’s a plus, maybe I would have liked it if I hadn’t binged the show.
Loved this drama! I saw it was out early on Netflix, in its entirety, did a near marathon with it! Enjoyed the review much.
Glad you enjoyed your watch! Sometimes a bit of a marathon is so much fun! 😀 Thanks for enjoying the review. <3
This was a lovely and well-thought out review 🙂 When this drama was announced, I was pretty sure it wasn’t for me, and I still think that’s the case. I dropped Pretty Noona early because it was so slow. I just don’t care for the more raw, realistic type shows. I like lots of drama and excitement! lol
I’ve also learned I just don’t do well with this PD. For instance, I loved the main couple in Secret Love Affair, and they had some very intense moments, but everything surrounding them was so boring for me. It’s always weird when you really like one part of a drama and really dislike other parts. I’m glad this one worked out much better for you then Pretty Noona did 🙂
Aw, thanks for enjoying this review, Kay, even though you didn’t watch this show! <3 Yes, we do all have our own preferences, and one man's meat can indeed be another man's poison. I've struggled and failed to like other shows that other people loved, so I totally get what you mean about this just not being your thing. I'm learning that it's better and wiser to know what you like and what you don't like, and then not be too easily swayed by what other people say about shows. I still do get curious when other people rave about a show, but I'm less likely to go back to a show I've dropped just because people tell me I'm making a huge mistake and that Show gets better. 😅 And oh yes, I'm so relieved that this one worked out SO much better than Pretty Noona did, for me! Guess it's not time to write off this writer after all! 😉
Same here! I frequently don’t plan to check out a show, but then people rave about it and I get curious so I’ll check it out. Sometimes I get lucky and find a gem (recently had this experience with The Secret Life of My Secretary) and other times I realize it’s just not for me. Luckily, it does get easier as time goes on to learn what genres, writers, and PD’s work for me. I still try not to completely write anything off for any of those reasons, but it helps me decide. And it’s really nice when you get those lovely surprises 🙂
Heey was waiting for this review 😀 and just like you i started to see this kdrama just forcuriosity and i liked it very much <3 i really enjoy your reviews so wanted to recommend two dramas that just started out of simple curiosity but ended up in a very special place in my mind haha Woman Of Dignity is an amazing drama and the second one is a cdrama Somewhere Only We Know im in ep 15 but so far it feels like a good slice of life1! I hope you can see them and thank for your revieew.
Aw, thanks for waiting for this review, Amy! <3 That sure makes me feel extra special! 😉 Isn't it great when curiosity pays off? I've been bitten more than a few times trying out a drama out of curiosity, but this is one time that I really felt glad that I'm a curious cat, heh. Thanks for the drama recommendations.. I think I'm likely to give Woman of Dignity a pass, but I might give Somewhere Only We Know a go when I'm next in need of a campus romance. 🙂
So glad that you reviewed this one, as it seems like the first mature romance I have enjoyed on my Kdrama path. As you pointed out, it is a bit slow at times, but firmly set in the real world (no magic, no stabbling) and the characters show growth and care for one another! Yay – real life and not too many tears!
Aw, thanks for enjoying the review. <3 Yes, this one does feel like a more mature romance, with a slower pace, and a more thoughtful vibe about it. If you're interested to try a Chinese drama, I loved The First Half Of My Life. It's also a more mature story. It's got a little more gloss and sheen than this one, but it's very elegantly done, and very well-written. I liked it a whole lot, and hope that more people will give it a chance. If you haven't seen it, maybe you might want to give it a try? 🙂
I watched the first 5 episodes and dropped it. Although I did like the realistic feel to the story and the acting, I thought that there was not enough tension to sustain my interest. I don’t mind slow burning shows (Secret Love Affair!!!), but this felt way too slow. Still, the little kid was very cute. I read a recap of the last episode, just to see what happened, and the ending was satisfactory. This may have worked better as a movie, maybe?
Now I am following Rookie Historian and Designated Survivor:60 Days. I am also watching Queen for 7 Days. I am very curious about Hotel Del Luna, but a lot of viewers compare it to Master’s Sun and Goblin, and I thought that both shows were rather overrated, despite the interesting premise and great acting. Still, it’s worth a try…
It’s too bad this one didn’t work for you, Snow Flower, but I do understand. This one does lean a little slower, and you’re right, there’s less dramatic tension in this story than in SLA. So I can understand if it wasn’t enough to sustain your interest. I was personally pretty happy with it as a series; I think the time was needed to tease out character and relationship development. I think perhaps a movie would have ended up being too rushed. But then again, I mostly feel like movies are generally quite rushed, so there’s that! 😂
I’ve heard very good things about Queen for 7 Days. How are you liking Rookie Historian and Designated Survivor? I’m behind on literally everything, so I haven’t checked out anything from the new batch of shows. 😛 I personally thought Master’s Sun was overrated, and I didn’t actually finish watching Goblin either, so if I check out Hotel Del Luna, I will have to temper my expectations I think! 😅
I am enjoying Designated Survivor so far. It has a lot of intrigue and mystery. Plus, the main character is cool. Watching a character with little experience in politics learning how to navigate the dangerous political world, while gaining the respect and support of his staff is a very rewarding experience. I have seen only 2 episodes of Rookie Historian, but it looks promising, with a lot of SKK Scandal vibes. I will check out HdL, but with adjusted expectations. Who knows, maybe it will surprise me!
It looks like One Spring Night has touched the hearts of many viewers. I am happy for the writer and everyone involved.
I also liked this drama. I thought at first I would find it boring, but after a while, found myself caught up in what is really the ups and downs of a relationship. On a serious and private note, I have personally seen tragic endings in relationships where one person will just no let go and move on. Two cases of people I personally knew, in two different countries, where obsession took the best of them and ending up in loss of life. One where two people were killed and one with one ending his life. The human mind can be a dark place if not kept in check.
I’m glad you liked this drama too, Andy! It does strike me as the kind of show that you’d appreciate. 🙂 On the other hand, I’m sorry to hear about the sad cases that you shared. Indeed, what tragic outcomes in both instances. 😥 The human mind can be a very dark place indeed, if one keeps on feeding the darkness. I hope that the future holds brighter and better stories for you, my friend. <3
Thanks very much for the review. Now i feel “safe” to watch this drama (having been disappointed with Pretty Noona) 😉
On a slightly different note/drama, have you watched Dear My Friends ? Would love to hear your thoughts about it.
Lol. I feel you, amy! 😆 I wasn’t planning on watching this either! But now that I’ve watched it, I’m glad that I did. I hope you’ll enjoy your watch too! 🙂
I did start watching Dear My Friends, and I liked what I saw. But I got sidetracked, and also, a little intimidated by the idea that some of the key characters would die on me and make me cry, so I wandered off with good intentions of going back. I still plan to go back to it.. someday. 😅
This looks so beautiful! Do you know where to watch it? I only have Viki, Netflix, prime and YouTube 🙁
Thank you for taking the time for such a thoughtful review, as always,
Hi Sarah! It should be on Netflix, that’s where my sister is watching it right now. 🙂 Thanks for enjoying the review, and I hope you’ll enjoy your watch. <3
Just starting this one. I waited until it was over until I did because of how burned I was with PRETTY NOONA. I’ll come back and read your review, but glad you enjoyed it!
I was very much burned by Pretty Noona too, so I feel you, Ally! On the upside, I really liked this one despite being burned by Pretty Noona, so I’m fairly confident you’ll like this one too! 🙂 Hope you’ll enjoy your watch, and that it’ll wash away at least some of the bad Noona memories! 😉
Ah yes, being burnt by Pretty Noona was really the experience that coloured how I went into this show. Carefully, diffidently, tip-toeing in to test the waters, ready to run at the slightest indication that the focus was going to shift from the winning OTP relationship and their sweet families.
In the end it turned out so well, and I was so grateful LOL!
Now I’m going into A Moment at Eighteen but with more confidence and it’s looking good as a meaningful slice-of-life!
Catch ya again!
Oh my, your experience watching One Spring Night is so close to mine, GB! 😆 That careful, cautious tip-toeing is exactly what I did watching this as well! I guess we really were burned quite badly, by Pretty Noona! 😝😂 But, it was a risk well-taken, and like you, I’m grateful that Show didn’t let us down! 😂
I’ve got A Moment At Eighteen on my list, but I’m stupendously behind at the moment, so it’ll be a while before I get to it, I think!