There are tons of of dramas out right now and there are quite a few that I am watching, however, one can’t watch them all, plus, most aren’t entertaining enough to keep me coming back (every week). Love Rain is one of those dramas (I’ve only seen 4 random episodes). So it was to my great surprise when I peeked at episode 14, and was taken by a scene that delighted me so much I wanted to write about it. And I enjoyed doing my last scene stripped post so much that I think I might do many more.
In every drama, film or play there is that one scene or one line that generally sums up the thoughts of the author, the purpose of the piece, the resounding “take away” from a character’s journey and Seo Jun has such a moment in this episode.
Love Rain is a drama about second chances; second chances given to individuals and generations, which courts with the idea that it’s possible to choose different routes given the same circumstances (even the same people). To me, this scene embarks to explain the purpose of the drama, to ask the questions the drama seeks to answer. When love is stolen or snuffed out, do you sit back and allow it to happen? Do you repeat the actions of the past? Is it even possible (not to)? It’s frightening to think that Jun and Ha Na are destined to make the same mistakes as their parents, to live apart toiling in the pangs of stunted love for decades, but peering down that road is not only frightening, it’s depressing. Jun is confronted with the fact that not only will he be separated from love but she’ll always be right within his grasp, upping the stakes from the past. With each question, in the silence you can hear, even see, Jun’s innate answer but the problem isn’t the answer— it’s the alternative. As he speaks, we see the thread that connects his current situation with the past and the future but with no real way out, only a sluggish resistance to the inevitable.
Sunho: Is something wrong?
Jun: We finally met today. The four of us. My father, Ha Na and her, Ha Na’s mother.
Jun: She’s totally different, nothing like my mother.
Jun: Sunho. Why did I take things for granted? That thing called love. It was nothing to me. I thought I was above that.
Jun: Seems those two are going to get married. In the end we’re going to be family.
Sunho: With Ha Na?
Jun: How can I part with my mom and make her hate me? If those two marry, we’re going to be family, right?
Jun: Living like that, occasionally hearing news of each other, seeing each other from time to time. Hearing about each other’s marriages. Living like that… Like that.
Jun: 30 years. Harboring that kind of feeling for thirty years, I can’t imagine it.
Jun: I’m afraid.
If this was the last scene that ever I saw of Love Rain, I’d be happy. For, there are several things that work for me in this scene from Jun’s incredulous attitude to Sunho’s reaction to his friend’s melancholy. But overall, it’s the theme of this conversation that subtly hems to the crux of this drama and addresses the situation for what it is– scary, incomprehensible and fairly insurmountable. (I suppose the drama loved the idea too, for they played the concept twice, with a teary Ha Na, later in the episode.) Above, Jun isn’t just venting to an old friend, but endeavoring to understand his current state and rationalize the future.
From what I’ve gathered from Jun as a character; as a man, he’s spent his life thrust between his parents, as a pawn piece by his manipulating mother, then relatively ignored by a father in a lovesick mournful stupor. Jun has lived angry and bitter at his parents for being poor at their jobs of raising and loving him; for not making wise choices as young people and blaming it all on love. Therefore, as an adult he’s cynical and jaded, unaware and unavailable to be open to deeply caring for someone. With no true compass in the game of love, he treated women and relationships as such(a game). Then he meets a girl that reveals to him that he isn’t above the mundane desires of life— to experience true love.
This moment is a breakthrough, not just for the character, but the story. In this moment, I immediately recognized how much Jun has grown. How love, knowledge and heartache has unearthed a hidden facet of his personality. I’ve always believed Jun was very similar to his father (emotionally sensitive) and in this episode the audience and other characters get a rare glimpse of that layer. Jun actually takes the time to sit down and think and doesn’t allow life to just happen to him. He is by no means stricken by cowardice. He speaks and acts and makes the conscious choice to be honest about his thoughts, feelings and actions. Which leads to the assumption, that unlike his father, he won’t sit by and wallow but, rather, assess his pain, identify it, and move past it. What’s wonderful is that in the few days that he’s found out about he and Ha Na’s connection, he’s realized on a greater level what love is and how it can affect a person. He’s able to empathize. He even ponders the differences between his mother and Yun Hee. This doesn’t negate his father’s asinine behavior (for the past 30 years) but it does put it into a different category and perspective to Jun. His father’s plight has been brought to life and in turn makes it a reality that can be improved upon. Those thirty years don’t have to occur for them, not in that manner.
Sunho also sells the moment in his reactions to the depth of his friend’s pensiveness. They’ve both been privy to bits and pieces of their parent’s stories but to witness the effects first hand, breaks his heart and causes deep concern for his friend. This monologue (of sorts) is further enriched by Sunho’s presence because it serves as the audiences’ visual reflection and reaction to Jun’s thought process. We watch his comfort turn from dismay to empathy, then deep heartfelt concern.
The breakthrough in terms of story, is an opportunity to work through the unnecessary angst and find concrete rational solutions to these characters’ dilemmas. Altogether, I actually found this episode well done (probably the best in the series). It skillfully expressed the perspectives of the younger characters and the depth of feeling they share (even Yun Hee showed a speck of emotion!).
What I find most interesting about this drama is that more than anything, even though the new generation of characters are equipped with different personalities, separate goals and new and sturdier convictions, their written path may go unaltered (though I do have more hope for the secondary characters). Not because it’s right or easy but because it’s Fate. However, no matter how hard I try, I rage against this idea, for I truly believe because these characters are the best of their parents (or familial/character counterparts), they know how to avoid the pitfalls the older generation did not. These characters may be reliving the dynamics of the past, but the individuals involved are vastly different. They are all people of a different generational makeup, influenced by a plethora of cultural and social shifts and opportunities, which by default, births a drive for a future that sets them apart. Not to mention being armed with the mistakes and experiences of their parents. Ultimately, they have a greater sense of self-awareness or at least an air to know it’s within their power to achieve it.
But again, though the drama seeks to answer the subtext in this scene, I don’t believe it’s execution will be smooth or enjoyable to watch unfold in future episodes. The drama has widely painted itself with hues of fated destiny without actually addressing the reality of certain issues (ie.regardless of the parents’ romance, Ha Na and Jun are doomed, for their parent’s past will always overshadow their future). The drama has created such a large hurdle for the main characters, that I don’t see a relatable remedy, even with death, amnesia or time-travel (er jump). I suppose I generally find this drama’s conflict a social paradox that has no culturally pleasant solution.
Even with all that, I loved this beat in the drama because I identified with Jun’s weary, his distress and bemusement. I could see his wheels turning and his final concession, that he’s at a loss. And for that I can only applaud Jang Geun Suk for his embodiment of this character. This is probably the first character I’ve completely respected since his appearance in Hwang Jin Yi. Geun Suk has done something in this drama that I’ve never seen him do before and that is BE. He’s always enjoyable in his roles, but his turn as Seo Jun feels so fluid that I relish almost every moment.