Tag Archive | Park Min-Young

When the Weather Is Nice: K-drama review

As much as I love Viki, I prefer the titles listed on Asianwiki. For one, they are shorter, and two, the longer titles are awkward. Not sure if it is a more literal translation of the title or what. At any rate, Viki calls this one I’ll Come to You When the Weather is Nice, but I like the shortness of When the Weather Is Nice. This title makes me think of the Japanese anime film Weathering with You. Can’t wait to see that one again once it’s on video. Oh, it’s a rambling day. Sorry folks, I have summer brain!

That I loved this drama is an understatement. The latter episodes I started watching in fifteen minute chunks because I just didn’t want the story to end. Now, that’s some good writing, and not surprising as it’s apparently based on a book. Now I want to read the book, too.

When the Weather is Nice stars Park Min Young of City Hunter fame and numerous romances like What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? She’s a good go-to actor for a great romance as she always has good chemistry with her costars and knows how to really smile with her eyes. Here, she plays cellist Mok Hye Won, who’s had a difficult time in life relating to other people, and most recently, the expectations of the director of the music school in which she teaches. As she needs a break, Hye Won goes to her family’s small village of Bukhyeon to hang out with her aunt.

The story also stars Seo Kang Joon from Cheese in the Trap and Are You Human? His character, Lim Eun Seob, also has grown up and currently lives in the village. He owns a remote bookstore called the Goodnight Bookstore and hosts a monthly (?) book club that is a great part of the story. He’s also been madly in love with Hye Won since high school and almost can’t believe she’s come back to the village, giving him one last chance with her. Like Park, Seo isn’t just a pretty face, he can act and really act well. They both got so into their characters, that I forgot they were actors at all.

When the Weather is Nice encapsulates so much: small town life, heartache, falling in love, sin, guilt, family relations, abandonment, ambition, and on and on. It’s almost too much to take in at times, though the drama itself is slower paced, like small town life, and it’s only by the end we the viewers realized just how much was packed in to the plot and themes. As a book lover, I high enjoyed the focus on stories and books, and, oh, what a book club! This is the book club everyone imagines when they think of a book club – a group of people who love stories and is their own little family. It’s charming and heartwarming.

The romance is sweet and not entirely certain until the end, much like life. Eun Seon is one of those quiet men often overlooked in high school, and Hye Won doesn’t really remember him at first. By the end, she’s probably kicking herself thinking about how much time she missed out on with him. Sometime quiet steadfastness and reliability can win women over in ways that more talkative men couldn’t hope to reach. Eun Seob will likely never run after her and violently protest his love for her, but he flirts in his own way and warms her heart simply by walking her home in the dark, and caring for her in other ways, like making sure she’s warm enough and getting her some winter boots. Men, women are easy, we really are. Just care for us, that’s all we really need, and it’s what Hye Won chooses in the end.

The latter half of the drama deals mostly with Hye Won’s family backstory–much tragedy and heartbreak and difficult to watch at times. It’s sad that people who are supposed to love their family can treat them with coldness and/or abuse, but even more amazing is that the family members that suffer still love those people. Just an amazing gift from God that we can still love, even then. Hye Won’s aunt and mother are so larger than life compared to the rest of the village, acting much like movie stars hiding out. I wasn’t sure I’d get into their part of the story, but again, the writing is just spellbinding.

Set during a long, long winter, When the Weather Is Nice sucked me in, both due to the bookstore and focus on writing and stories, but also due to the weather. I’m a Minnesota girl and let me tell you, our winters can be looooong. A week seems like a month, a month seems like a year, so it wasn’t surprising that by the end of the drama it seemed that a much longer time had passed. They also incorporated all sorts of winter weather and things like ice skating rinks and pipes freezing, and it all came together really well.

Some stand out minor characters: Lee Jang Woo played by Lee Jae Wook. Lee is a classmate of the leads and works for the city. He organizes a reunion for the village that is magical. Lee is also quiet and shy, though he also chatters on nervously. He, too, gets a chance to have the girl that got away, and it’s such a treat to see him get up the courage to win her. She also patiently gives him time to do this. His character was one of truly caring for those around him and enjoying a simple life. He is super smart and could have worked at a big company in Seoul, but chose to stay in Hyecheon City near the village.

Second standout character was Lim Whi (or Hui), played by a bubbling and vivacious Kim Hwan Hee. Whi is the typical annoying teenage girl, constantly chasing after boys who don’t want her. But I have to say, she does it with style, and there’s something about her persistence that’s appealing, even to those boys. She is the sister of Eun Seob, and almost his complete opposite, loud and brash, where he is quiet and still. Still, there’s a great sibling bond between them and it’s especially funny when Eun Seob is suspicious of the boys she likes, even though they don’t like her. Eun Seob probably finds Whi annoying at times, but he clearly loves her, just as he does the rest of his family, and it’s an interesting dynamic, him being a quiet man, for he can never really say, I love you, but manages to convey it in everything he does. Warm fuzzies galore.

Someday I’d really like to watch this drama again and go through it episode by episode, commenting and critiquing. It’s one of those stories that always stays with you, and really makes me want to learn to read Korean so I can read the book. Someday, someday, someday. I give it ten stars, though it’s probably not that perfect, but it was such a joy to watch, especially after reading and watching stories far more cynical about life and humanity.

City Hunter review

City-hunterEpisode one of City Hunter,  the Korean TV drama based on a Japanese manga, is one of the most intriguing and exciting setups I’ve ever seen for a show.  It sets the stage for political drama, a Monte Cristo-styled revenge, heroes who are loveably flawed, and a sweet romance.  The basic plot of the show is this: After a botched mission into North Korea, an army general named Lee Jin Pyo (Kim Sang-Joong) is out for revenge and kidnaps his best friend’s baby to be his instrument.  Jin Pyo is a patient man, he builds an empire and raises the boy, Lee Yoon-Sung (Lee Min-Ho), as his own for twenty-seven years, teaching him to be a ruthless killer.  Despite his upbringing, Yoon-Sung is a good person and heart and loves his adopted father.  He moves to Seoul, South Korea, and begins to execute Jin Pyo’s plan, taking five corrupt government officials down one by one in style.

The action in City Hunter is outstanding, many of the moves unexpected, and this is where both Lee Min-Ho and his character really carry the show.  Kim Sang-Joong is no slouch either as “the General”  and throughout the show is the perfect antagonist to Lee’s protagonist.  As much as the show is about bringing dishonest politicians (but I repeat myself) to justice, the heart of the story is the relationship between adopted father and son.

City Hunter has several supporting characters, one of them being an eager government prosecutor played by Lee Joon-Hyuk, who goes from being an enemy of Yoon-Sung to a collaborator in his plan to reveal the crimes to the public.  Joon-Hyuk gives an outstanding performance as does Hwang Sun-Hee who plays his character’s love interest, a gentle veterinarian.  City Hunter is a bit of a Robin Hood character and Bae Man-Duk (Kim Sang-Ho) is the perfect Little John.  He’s a sweet-hearted gambler with a motherly side and a dangerous addiction to the Home Shopping channel.  Bae is my favorite character in the series and I don’t think he’s used enough.

As with any superhero or masked man, City Hunter is not allowed to fall in love for fear that it would compromise him.  Of course he begins falling in love years before his plan will even be executed.  Kim Na-Na is a good foil for Lee Yoon-Sung.  She never quite buys his cover story maybe because she herself has had a tough life and has had to take care of herself, sometimes lying to do so.  Park Min-Young as Kim Na-Na won me over by the end of the show, but many times I thought she appeared too young and childish next to Lee Min-Ho, who, although also young carries many of his scenes in a much more mature fashion.  Kim Na-Na is also the worst body guard on the planet and it strains credulity that she would have even been considered to work at the Blue House, she’s that inept.  Perhaps it was a writing problem.  In any case, Park Min-Young did the best she could, and again, did win me over by the end.

Aside from the politicians under siege, most of the minor characters could really have been done without, including the hero’s mother, who is kept around mainly to reveal a twist at the end.  The twist wasn’t really necessary from the hero’s perspective––Lee Yoon-Sung would have been conflicted either way––but it does reveal just how single-minded and tortured the General Jin Pyo is.

The show uses the fact that Jin Pyo made zillions of dollars being a drug dealer in the Golden Triangle to full advantage, from elaborate house locations, to the sometimes silly fashions that Yoon-Sung sports.  The high-class lifestyle enhances the rather fluffy romantic comedy humor running throughout, the best of that being the scenes where the female body guards teach judo to the IT members of the Blue House (S. Korea’s White House) security team.  (Yoon-Sung’s cover is that of an MIT grad from America who has returned to his home country to settle down.)

All in all, City Hunter is a great watch, but slow in parts and could have done with more action, as that is definitely its strength.  The ending is fantastic, with standout performances all around, and the resolution is left fittingly vague.  The storyline raises questions about bringing officials to justice and whether their faults are totally their own or more of a symptom of a government system in which no one’s hands are clean.  All of the characters, whether working in government or not are all wonderfully, humanly flawed.  The hero, although mostly pure of heart, is a drug dealer’s son.  He dreams of living a normal life, not of saving the world.  For the General, his revenge justifies all the means he uses to meet it out.  The big question is this:  Is the revenge worse than the initial crime?  It’s never really answered and left open to the viewer.  The City Hunter does both good and harm by the end of the series.

On a side note, as an American, I found it amusing that privatizing health care was posed as being such a bad thing when they clearly showed over and over again just how corrupt government was.  In my experience, the more involvement government has in something, the more it costs all around.  People often think of any government money as “free” and take liberties with that money that would never take if a private enterprise was running the show.  This cavalier attitude is what drives prices up and up.  College tuition is a prime example.  Without the large cushion of government loans, colleges and universities would be forced to set tuition at a more competitive price or risk going out of business.  That’s my opinion, anyway.  The main point of City Hunter for me was that government needs to be held to account in every area it runs or influences.  No one should be above the law, no matter how honorable their intentions may be.  This is why a free press and reporters who are skeptics and not groupies of government officials are so important.  The first step in stopping corruption is exposing it.