DramaFever Staff Pick: Love Rain
Each week, DramaFever staff choose one of their favorite dramas to write about, and we offer the first episode ad-free for two days. Our Staff Pick this week was written by DramaFever co-founder Suk Park.
When I think of some of the most memorable dramas I’ve watched, there are only a handful of titles which compare to the visual richness and elegant narrative of Love Rain, one of my favorite titles of all time.
Everything from the original soundtrack to the cast is on point, delivering one of the most delicate romantic stories about the timelessness of romance. And if you think this might be too touchy feely for you, don’t. Just don’t. This title encapsulates love from many different angles: love at first sight, love in friendship, love between generations and the resilience of love when given a second chance. The binge-able 20 episode voyage is as emotionally fulfilling as soup dumplings during a cold rainy day.
The first minute of Love Rain is, in my mind, one of the most memorable introductory scenes in K-drama history. In a college campus in the 1970s, two students cross paths, and we can hear the male character’s thoughts as he stares surreptitiously at the woman:
1…2…3. In just 3 seconds, I fell in love.
This scene sets the tone for the first 4 episodes. Jang Keun Suk (You’re Beautiful, Pretty Man, Daebak) plays Seo In Ha, a shy and awkward student who is also part of a three man acoustic music band called C’est La Vie. In Ha sports a bowlcut and is a shy and slightly awkward student with an artistic disposition. His music companions and second male leads are Kim Shi Hoo as Lee Dong Wook aka Cassanova and the multitalented Seo In Guk (my favorite character from Answer Me 1997).
The female lead, Kim Yoon Hee, is played by Im Yoona from Girls Generation, an orphan who is dubbed Madonna at school for being pretty (a reference to the virgin Mary as Like A Virgindebuted in the 80s). She shows initial interest in In Ha, but after a series of dramatic events and bizarre (emotional) love triangles through episodes 3 and 4, the two end up becoming a lonely missed connection entry on Craigslist. During these two episodes, our main characters take a trip to the outskirts of Seoul and all of the scenery is breathtaking – like I mentioned, the visuals, the landscapes and the music evoke a nostalgic feeling throughout the drama which is among the best I’ve seen.
In episode 5 we fast forward to 2012. We are in a train ride in Japan, and we see both Keun Suk and Yoona but we later find out they are In Ha’s son and Yoon Hee’s daughter, called Seo Joon and Jung Hana. He’s an arrogant, stylish photographer with piercings and amazing K-pop star hair (no more bowlcut) and she is a naïve, unsophisticated girl exuding purity and sincerity. As one might expect, through a series of K-drama events, the two start to develop feelings for each other until their parents, who have not kept in touch through the decades, meet again and their old love is rekindled… will the younger version of In Ha and Yoon Hee fail at love because of their parents and just like their parents? How will have love changed with time for In Ha and Yoon Hee? How will Joon and Hana follow up on their nascent love?
The older In Ha and Yoon Hee are wonderfully played by veteran actors Jung Jin Young and Lee Mi Sook (You’re the Best Lee Soon Shin, Cinderella’s Sister). I enjoyed following their romance chronicled as much (and even more at times) than their offspring’s’ story. Their experienced acting and on screen chemistry gave me butterflies when they lay eyes on each other for the first time… wondering what can happen when love is given a second chance.
Kazuo Ishiguro once wrote “there was another life that I might have had, but I’m having this one”. In the end we only have one life to live, but we sometimes wonder about the things that could have been. This universal feeling is the center piece for this pitch perfect drama, a beautiful title to welcome the spring flowers here in New York and our Staff Pick for the week. I hope you enjoy it.