14 June 2021

K Drama Review: One Spring Night (2019)

We ended up with One Spring Night after a failed attempt at watching Backstreet Rookie. Oppa was intrigued after seeing Kim Yoo Jung (Angry Mom) on House on Wheels 2 so he wanted to watch her drama. But we were not too happy with the first episode so we decided to skip that one. We wanted to watch something that we will surely like so we picked One Spring Night, which has been on our to-watch list for a long time. 

We came to this show with quite high expectations. We loved Something in the Rain and this drama is from the same makers. A lot of the SITR actors are here too. And we read a lot of reviews saying that this one's better than SITR. Well, we liked this one too but we've learned that you should watch shows without any expectations so you won't end up disappointed. :) 

Plot

One Spring Night is about the story of Yu Ji Ho (Jung Hae in of Tune in for Love, SITR, Prison Playbook, and Reply 1988), a single parent raising his son, Eun Woo (Ha Yi An of Hospital Playlist). Ji Ho is a pharmacist who meets Lee Jeong In (Han Ji Min) when the latter goes to the pharmacy where Ji Ho works to buy hangover medicine. Jeong In forgot her wallet and Ji Ho was fine with her not paying but Jeong In insisted that she would pay at a later time. She got his number and that's how everything started. The two fell for each other. However, Jeong In is in a relationship with Gi Seok (Kim Joon Han of Confidential Assignment, Hospital Playlist, and Prison Playbook), a guy who is Ji Ho's alumni. And even if Jeong In were not taken, there remains the complication that Ji Ho is a single dad. The story takes us through how Ji Ho and Jeong In fight for their love and prove to everyone that they will always be there for each other regardless of any obstacle they encounter. 

Jung Hae In as Ji Ho


I've always been vocal about loving Jung Hae In, who would probably be on top of my list if it were arranged by how much I loved my oppas or even based on their talents. Jung Hae In just seems so very versatile that he can do no wrong in my eyes as an actor. 

First things first. I was quite bothered with the mole that they put somewhere above his lip. But I'm editing this post to remove my rant about that mole. Because I received a very interesting trivia from Kdramafilm on Twitter, who said that Jung Hae In actually has a mole and they just cover it up sometimes.

But acting-wise, I have no complaints. This was another splendid performance from Jung Hae In. I felt his pain whenever he was agonizing over Jeong In or Eun Woo. You can see that there's pain, fear, and insecurity hiding somewhere there. Yet, he looks really believable whenever he puts up a brave front with his parents (Kim Jung Young as his mom and Oh Man Seok of SITR and Law School as his dad) and he tells them not to worry because he's doing good. I especially loved his moments with his son. Who would have thought that my baby-faced oppa would do well in a daddy role too? :) 

Of course, the best thing about Jung Hae In is still his ability to make all of us swoon with his romantic scenes/moments. I loved that Ji Ho was a very straightforward character so it was not difficult to fall for him at all. 

I totally melted when he described Jeong In as his end game and the last woman in. his life. That is a very reassuring thing to say to insecure women who worry about the past women in men's lives. Who cares about the first if you're going to be the last woman in his life, right? (Assuming they keep their promise, of course!)

I loved how Ji Ho was very considerate. He wouldn't drink when he knows he has to bring Jeong In home. Some guys who don't drink would find excuses to avoid driving for their ladies. But here's a guy who would actually avoid drinking just so he can bring his girlfriend home. *sigh*

Or when Ji Ho told  Jeong In not to cry when she's alone, especially when Ji Ho is not there. Yet, most guys would even reprimand you when you cry in front of them because you're being too weak, emotional, or dramatic. Ji Ho is truly one of a kind. 

Ji Ho looked so cute when he was apologizing for lying to Jeong In about drinking with his friends. There was guilt written all over his face. But you can't be mad at him for a long time because he just looks absolutely adorable. 

I loved how Ji Ho promised Jeong In's family that he would protect her. And when Jeong In told Eun Woo that she will be his mom, Ji Ho was teary-eyed and he told Jeong In that he would be good to her. *double sigh*

And as a bonus, we also see Jung Hae In playing basketball here. :)


It also helped that Jung Hae In and Han Ji Min looked good together. They had nice chemistry as well. I loved their witty banters like when Ji Ho told Jeong In that she must be nutrient deficient for not taking vitamins and Jeong In retorted that Ji Ho must be culture deficient because he does not read books. 

I also liked how the show accurately portrayed the early stages of relationships - the excitement, passion, and giddiness that people in long-term relationships take for granted or even find inconvenient. Like when Jeong In first told Ji Ho that she loved him and Ji Ho cried. Their first kiss. The first time they held hands. The first time they introduced each other to their family and colleagues. And how Jeong In proposed to Ji Ho by asking him to change his bedside photo with a photo of the three of them (with Eun Woo) and by asking Eun Woo if he wanted her to be his mom. 

Stripped of all the complexities surrounding Ji Ho and Jeong In, I would have to say that their love is a beautiful, warm, and pure one. While there were moments when they hesitated, like when Ji Ho validly raised his concerns about Jeong In leaving them (words uttered in a drunken state, if I may add), they never ran away from their responsibilities and problems. They faced them head on and that's something I truly loved about them. 

As I mentioned above, Jung Hae In was amazing here again, as expected. He can make even the most boring stories interesting just with that lovely smile of his. Maybe I should watch A Piece of Your Mind too and I hope his new dramas will be released soon. :)

Han Ji Min as Jeong In

It was our first time to watch Han Ji Min but we liked her right away. After all, she resembles Song Hye Kyo (Encounter, Descendants of the Sun, Worlds Within, and Full House) and Jung Yu Mi (Train to Busan, Youn's Stay, Summer Vacation, and Reply 1994), who are both in Oppa's list. Editing this part to add another interesting tidbit from Kdramafilm. Han Ji Min played the young Song Hye Kyo in the 2003 K drama, All In. :)

I admit that there were moments when I felt that Han Ji Min needed more emotions in dramatic scenes like when she told Gi Seok that she knew his dad did not approve of her. I could not fully empathize with her because she was not doing/saying it with conviction. But Jeong In won me over with her relationship with Eun Woo. It was so thoughtful of her to put his dinosaur sticker on her phone and to want to do something fun with him (and to "steal" dinosaur books from the library for him). Over-all, Han Ji Min did a great job as Jeong In, especially those moments when she would pretend to be coy but you can absolutely see it in her face that she liked Ji Ho. 

But while I was generally happy with Han Ji Min, I cannot say the same for Jeong In. I had some issues with how her character was written. I didn't like how she led Ji Ho on. She kept on saying that she wanted him but she kept on dilly-dallying about her relationship with Gi Seok. She kept on luring Ji Ho but because she was not saying anything definitive about the two of them, Ji Ho was at risk of being left behind with nothing in the end. And when she sees Ji Ho trying his best to distance himself from her, she would get all weepy and complain that she's the only one who's having a hard time. And then she would ask him to wait and not fall in love with anyone in the meantime. She admits that she's greedy. But apart from that, she was being totally unfair to Ji Ho. She can be greedy if it only affects/hurts her, but not when it can potentially hurt others, especially when it involves someone as delicate and fragile as a child like Eun Woo. 

I was also surprised with how Jeong In wanted to break up in episode 15 all because Ji Ho was afraid that Jeong In would leave him and Eun Woo (which he uttered while he was drunk!). Is he not allowed to ask? To be scared? Is it not possible for him to trust her yet still have a bit of fear in him after being left behind by his child's mother such that he had to care for and raise his son by himself? I just felt that it was uncharacteristic for someone like Jeong In who thinks things through before acting. If she could not handle that kind of pressure, how can she possibly handle the tougher ones that will come in the future? Was she just in the relationship for the thrill of defying Gi Seok and her parents? I would have probably not cared if she were only hurting Ji Ho's feelings. But I feel so strongly about this because of Eun Woo. She asked the poor kid, who grew up without a mother, if he wanted her to be his mother. And then she thought of leaving him??? Her actions actually seemed to reinforce/validate Ji Ho's fears. 

Despite my problems with Jeong In, I still loved Han Ji Min and would definitely watch her again. 

Kim Joon Han as Gi Seok

If I had issues with Jeong In, I hated Gi Seok's character even more. I absolutely loathed how he kept on assuming that Jeong In still wanted him, that they're back together, and that they will get married. She dumped him a looootttt of times yet he just refused to take a hint. He didn't even bother asking her clearly about what she wanted. And even if she told him straight to his face that they were over, he still kept on pushing himself forward. I hated how he always disregarded what Jeong In wanted. 

And let's not forget that Gi Seok hurt Jeong In physically when she first tried to break up with him. Good thing Jeong In's sister, Jae In (Joo Min Kyung of SITR), intervened. 

And what's even more despicable was how he had to stoop even lower by ratting on Ji Ho's child to Jeong In's dad. Allegedly because he was concerned about Jeong In and he had to lead her to the right path. He was so full of himself. 

As an actor, Kim Joon Han must have done an okay job because I disliked his character. But I just can't have high praises for him because Jung Hae In, as the other male lead on this show, just set the bar so high and was on a totally different level that it would be difficult for anyone to match him. 

Something in the Rain Reunion

As I mentioned above, this was some sort of SITR reunion. Joo Min Kyung was Jeong In's sister. She was in a relationship with Young Jae (Lee Chang Hoon of 1987: When the Day Comes and Record of Youth), Ji Ho's friend. These two were very funny together. I loved that scene when Young Jae visited Jae In with flowers. They decided to have some drinks. Jae In gave Young Jae a vase for the flowers but he thought it was for the drinks and said it was a bit too much. 

I loved that I got to see more depth in Joo Min Kyung here as opposed to her SITR character. I especially liked her breakdown scene when she found out that their eldest sister, Seo In (Lim Seong Eon), was a battered woman. 

Gil Hae Yeon (Law School and Encounter) was Jeong In's mom. She played a more lovable character here as the devoted mother who helped protect her daughters from her manipulative husband (Song Seung Hwan of Ireland) and Seo In from her abusive husband (Lee Moo Saeng of Prison Playbook). I totally felt her guilt in subjecting Seo In to that kind of life. 

Then there's Oh Man Seok as Ji Ho's dad. Kim Jong Tae (Encounter) as Seo In's boss. Kim Chang Wan (Coffee Prince, Worlds Within, and Ireland) as Gi Seok's dad and the boss of Jeong In's dad. And Seo Jung Yeon (Juror 8, Descendants of the Sun, and She Was Pretty) as Hye Jung, Ji Ho's boss in the pharmacy. 

Some similar themes were there too. Like the staple best friend for the female lead (Lee Sang Hee). And the obsession of the girl's family in marrying off their daughters to good (read: rich) families. The toxic office culture. Loyalty to a coffee shop. Trashy male characters. Use of English songs. And the use of a limited number of songs. 

So it was quite inevitable to compare the two. And while I'll try my best not to do that here, forgive me if I end up doing that. 

Execution 

I enjoyed the snappy pilot episode. Our attentions were captured right away because the main leads immediately opened up about themselves - that Ji Ho was a single dad and Jeong In had a boyfriend. Other dramas would have wasted a number of episodes where Ji Ho's past would be unknown to Jeong In. 

I also loved how most of the characters were made to look like ordinary people, which helped humanize them. I liked how Jeong In had oily face in a couple of scenes. I'm sure a lot of girls found that relatable. 

Typical of this PD and writer tandem, the show touched on a number of topics/themes that most dramas would shy away from. 

Like the presence of strong and independent women who are not our usual submissive K drama female leads. I loved Jeong In and her sisters and they are probably my most favorite eonnis in K dramaland. It was so heartwarming to see them being there for each other all the time. 

I loved that Seo In was a successful news anchor who was not afraid of giving up her career in order to free herself from her abusive marriage. Others would have endured that because fame mattered more to them (like their dad). But Seo In knew she had to protect her child, never mind if she loses everything she worked hard for. 

And I loved how she still remained a good person til the end, without being overly vindictive. Sure, it would have been great to see her husband behind bars. But I liked how she still gave him a chance to avoid that by agreeing to the divorce and giving up his paternal rights. Seo In probably thought of their child's future - an absentee father would still be better than an ex-convict one. 

I loved how Jeong In was a very opinionated woman who didn't mind being brutally frank. I liked how she had the guts to tell Gi Seok's dad that she didn't want to marry his son when Gi Seok kept on refusing to listen to her. 

And of course, there's our rebellious Jae In who left her foreign school without telling her parents. Yes, not exactly a good role model. But I liked how she was not your typical obedient Korean daughter. And I loved how she would always have her sisters' backs even if she would often bicker with them. 

I also liked how the show chose to have the dad as the single parent. Most shows would probably have a single mom. But this drama was bold enough to have a single father. I loved how the drama showed us the struggles that single parents go through - broken hearted deep inside but need to appear tough for the sake of the child. Ji Ho's admission that yes, he did consider giving up Eun Woo was very candid and heartbreaking. I also loved Hye Jung's advice to Ji Ho that he should not hold himself back in love and in his career because of Eun Woo, otherwise, both he and his child would resent that later on. 

And we have our trashy male characters - Gi Seok and his dad and Jeong In's dad - who all refused to listen and respect Jeong In's decision not to marry Gi Seok. Gi Seok's dad having Jeong In and Ji Ho tailed paparazzi-style was totally deplorable. And Gi Seok meeting Jeong In's friends and family behind her back and telling them that they will get married no matter what was just so appalling. And proposing to her after she broke up with him??? And Jeong In's dad insisting that Seo In remain married to her abusive husband was just reprehensible. 

Although the pilot episode had the perfect pacing for me, things slowed down a bit in the subsequent episodes. The show had the tendency to be repetitive. Jeong In will break up with Gi Seok. She'll tell Ji Ho that they should just be friends. Then they agree that they can't be friends so they should stop seeing each other. But they can't help it so they make up excuses to see each other. Then repeat. 

Sure, that's probably how things are in real life - we fear leaving our comfort zones so we try to have the best of both worlds while being unfair to those around us. And I get that people do take time before they can decide to finally break free and actually do it. However, this is TV where every second counts. 

But what really didn't work for me was how after everyone seemed to have moved forward already (except Gi Seok and Jeong In's dad, haha), the show had to revive these very same issues in episode 15. After watching the preview, I honestly wanted to skip that episode. There was no doubt that Jeong In and Ji Ho would end up together. So it just felt off that the show would regress by reviving old conflicts to stretch the drama. I would have forgiven the repetitions in the earlier episodes because the story moved forward eventually. But it was just difficult to turn a blind eye on this one because it resurfaced. A more interesting stretch could have probably involved an appearance by Eun Woo's mom. 

Although it was a bit too coincidental for Jeong In and Ji Ho's moms to meet in a cafe, I still loved that moment because it helped move the story forward (with Jeong In's mom softening up towards Ji Ho) without wasting a lot of time on screaming matches, etc. I loved that scene where the moms were just sitting on a bench, holding hands, and comforting each other. They had no lines but that scene conveyed so much. 

And while I was not too happy with episode 15, the drama redeemed itself with the ending. No surprises there because Jeong In and Ji Ho ended up with each other as expected. It was nice to see the two of them formally meet each other's families (minus Jeong In's dad). 

Seo In's husband finally agreed to the divorce. Jae In's relationship seems to be progressing. Jeong In's dad appears to getting out of his pushover shell. Even Gi Seok (who I didn't really care about) seems to have found a new woman to pester. 

I would have preferred to see Jeong In's dad meet Ji Ho and be civil towards him. And I wanted to see Ji Ho and Jeong In married so I would no longer be bothered, worrying about whether their old issues will resurface and they'd break up again. But I'm all good with the satisfying ending that I got. 

P.S. 

Oppa read that Jeong In's role was initially offered to Son Ye Jin (The Last Princess, SITR, and Crash Landing on You) but she declined allegedly because it was too similar to SITR. And I agree with her. Although I would have loved to see her and Jung Hae In together again, Ye Jin definitely made right decision because she got CLOY and Hyun Bin in lieu of this one. :) 

There were nice songs here too. I loved Is It You by Rachael Yamagata. You can watch the cute first I love you scene here. 

I also liked No Direction by Rachael Yamagata. 

Oppa says...4.3.

Noona says...4.5 (bumped up because of Jung Hae In). 

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