Winter weather

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is about a drama that draws me (and more broadly, us) into its orbit. Not the concrete details of headlining talent, or writing pedigree, or even plot, but that variable element that might speak to you one day but for no discernible reason lacks zest on another. The kind of thing that makes you unexpectedly willing to immerse yourself in a 50-episode period drama when normally you’re strictly a 16-episode rom-com type of person. Or how there might be a drama that’s right up your alley of tropes and setup and genre that you’d normally be itching to watch, but somehow you can’t bring yourself to push play on today. Or how you might get sucked into a drama that under “normal” (other, different, somehow-not-in-keeping-with-your-weird-inclination-today) circumstances would seem so dull, so uninspired, so not your cup of tea — but today it somehow speaks to your heart and makes you feel a little warmer in the world.

Not unrelatedly (I am queen of segues), I liked Chocolate (it was straightforward, but sweet). I struggled to fully appreciate Crash Landing on You (fun, but insubstantial — Hyun Bin was beautiful, but that goes without saying). I initially bypassed Extraordinary You when it aired live, but am burning through the episodes this week (lots of interesting thought-provoking nuggets of existentialism buried under a shiny sugar coating). I find myself enjoying Hyena, despite all the lawyering (at least they’re sexy lawyers?). I got bored of predictable Itaewon Class (haven’t I seen parts of this so many times before?). And I am deeply enthralled by the spare, wintry, fraught, everything-is-spoken-in-the-unspoken-in-between-moments tension of When the Weather Is Fine (aka I’ll Find You When the Weather Is Nice).

I’d like to think I’d appreciate the quiet intimacy of When the Weather Is Fine no matter the circumstance given its introspective writing and earnest character moments, but I don’t know if I can give my fickle taste-meter that much credit. Maybe in a different scenario I’d find it too slow, or frustratingly withholding. I can see a parallel world where I thought to myself, “Oh, another Park Min-young drama, I should check it out” and never followed up because I was occupied with the more accessible, immediate feels of Hi Bye Mama (so simultaneously heartwearming and tear-inducing). Maybe it was more luck than choice that made me start this show, and an unluckier me would have had to go without.

But whatever the case, in the here and now, everything about When the Weather Is Fine feels absolutely perfect. It’s sparse in the right way. Tempered just so. Emotionally elusive while dropping little hints of gratification in just the right balance. Melancholy with just enough sweetness to stave off bitterness. It’s not so closed off as to be emotionally shuttered, but is withdrawn in a way that echoes the hurt souls of Park Min-young and Seo Kang-joon, who bring to mind the kind of skin that has scarred over from a lengthy abrasion, dulling sensation to protect the tenderness underneath.

It’s because it’s partially closed off that I get so much vicarious thrill out of minor exchanges, which is good since a more impatient me would hate that sometimes (or always) we don’t get the dramatic, endorphin-producing version of a scene with the grand gesture or big plot movement. Instead we’re served the muted version, which feels rather like drinking a soda after the cap has been loosened and caused the bubbles to die down till they barely tickle at all. It shouldn’t seem appealing, but in the undramatic version the smallest progress feels like a victory. Each tiny drop of connection that the show gives us has me leaning in for just a tiny drop more, and every time an episode ends I wail that it’s over and I’ll have to sit patiently for the next dose of soothing balm. I’m pretty sure I’ve mixed my metaphors, but you get the point.

I must be in a wintry frame of mind, not quite ready for big demonstrative acts of emotion, but craving small doses of comfort. The world is nonsensical now, and I don’t want to process too much. Just a little. Bit by bit. Maybe I’ll be ready for more when the weather is nice.

(I JUST RUINED A NICE MOMENT WITH LAME WORDPLAY. I KNEW IT WAS HAPPENING AND I COULDN’T STOP MYSELF. I ONLY HAVE MYSELF TO BLAME.)

30 thoughts on “Winter weather

  1. It’s so exciting to see you writing about dramas again like this, JB!

    I completely agree about When the Weather is Nice. In fact, that drama plus your comeback on this little corner of wordpress are both inspiring me to start my own blog soon (even if blogging is a relic of days gone by!). With the world in the state that it currently is in, I too am also craving comfort, something that eases my anxious thoughts. It’s always so lovely when you can find a show to stick by your side during a difficult moment, and this drama is definitely doing that for me now.

    Hope to see you continue posting every once in a while <3

    • Ooh, do give blogging a try! I find it comforting to have a place somewhere, anywhere, where the only purpose is to express what I want regardless of who listens (or doesn’t), with no other goal or agenda. ☺️

  2. Oh u captured the feels I get from I’ll find you on a beautiful day perfectly… By the way have u also seen Hospital Playlist?.. It’s only once a week and after every episode I wanna see more… Also am following Hyena… I love the sparks between the leads.. They ARE sexy lawyers.. 😍😍

    • I am watching Hospital Playlist! Love the cast and the characters though I wish it were less hospital-y, but I respect that this is the slice-of-life mundaneness the writer wants to frame the story in.

      • I actually like the fact that it is more hospitally.. Most other dramas on doctors wit her focus on romance or politics of hospital… Ans not on doctors being doctors…. So I welcome this… And also the fact that there is more than one nurse or intern or resident or fellow in a hospital that size and not everyone works in the ER or is a surgeon… And a geeeeenious

  3. Hi! I must say, I have missed your “voice” so much! As someone else above said, it felt like a friend had been lost. Glad to be reading whatever you want to share. Thanks for making my week a whole lot brighter.
    I’ve also been surprised by how much I am loving When the Weather Is Fine. You perfectly summed up why it works and why I am enjoying each slow and steady moment it provides.

    • Thank you, it feels good to be back here! To be honest I don’t know what I mean to do here and don’t have concrete plans for anything, but it just feels nice to talk out loud.

  4. I said that I was here for whatever you might feel like writing about, because I just love the way you put words together – you’re like some kind of artisan of words with a talent for quirky & unexpected recipes (I don’t know, that analogy kind of ran away from me, but I hope you know what I mean!) – but to think that you’re not only writing, but writing about dramas?! What. A. Treat! 😍😍😍

    You make When the Weather is Fine sound excruciatingly lovely, and I am definitely bumping it up my list of shows to check out! As for your original starting point question, I feel like mood is a huge factor for me personally. I could be SO in the mood for rom-coms one day, and so NOT, another day, preferring something more meaty and substantial. I never know what I’ll be in the mood for, but I try to follow my moods, to maximize my drama enjoyment. But that also means that I take forever to get around to some shows. Like Signal (I know, the horror, that I haven’t seen it yet!) – all because I find the murder stuff hard to watch. 😅

  5. I absolutely can’t stress enough that I adore your beautiful words ,we have been so deprived for so long
    And how our drama choices are so similar
    I loved chocolate
    I low key enjoyed crash landing ,Hyun bin,s quaffed hair stole the show (I am still shallow ) but was not obsessed or hyped with it
    I dropped extra ordinary you after like e 5 I just could not
    Hayena is fun
    I am not watching hi bye mama yet (49 days I am looking at you )
    I cannot gosh enough about “when the weather is nice “ the drama is perfect for the current times, take life a little slow ,she does not have a mobile phone (three it ) and I low key want to do the same ,the books,the coffee and the nuanced feeling so much meloncholy I heart the drama

  6. Some of my choices of what to watch and what not definitely depend on my current mood. There are days when I watch and love The Good Wife… and there are days when I skip Hyena, because I’m just not in the lawyer’s-fights-mood. There are also days when I pass on Stranger… and watch some daily (and enjoying the villainess 😆🙈). And then there is also this age thing… I sometimes watch and enjoy something I wouldn’t touch 10 yrs ago… and vice versa. Anyway, loving Weather as well currently… and also enjoying Find Me in Your Memory (which I didn’t actually plan to watch at all 😆).

  7. I’d say shows like When the weather is Fine and a similar Taiwanese drama Yong Jiu Grocery Store are the kind of dramas one should watch when they are in no mood. They are perfect for the “no mood” slump. You don’t know what exactly you’re feeling but a calm show highlighting hurt and the ups and downs of life in a very normal subtle way is what fits the no mood category. You wouldn’t want to watch anything flashy in that sort of mood but something that calmly draws you in. The village/small city setting is just like that and it works when you’re just too tired of everything moving fastly in real life and dramas. Also welcome back JB, totally missed your writing!

    • JBTW thanks for mentioning the existential questions Extraordinary You put forward disguised as manhwa characters and writer. I kept watching the show for that even if it went downhill after ep 6. I thought that part was smartest in the entire show and the whole story setup was interesting enough to act as a disguise for the writer’s philosophical thoughts.

  8. Everyone seems to be in the mood for something a little bit different (probably because, like what you said, the world is a bit nonsensical at the moment). My sister who usually wouldn’t even approach melo dramas with 10 foot pole suddenly promoting When the Weather is Fine non stop to me. While I found myself not wanting to press play despite normally gravitating towards quiet dramas like that. Instead, I immersed myself in the world of Find Me in Your Memory with all its predictable romance, melo, and thriller. I probably need something familiar in all this craziness.

  9. You have summed up everything I have been feeling about weather and the other dramas very well!! Feel kind excited that our choices match😆(I too struggled to enjoy CLOY and Itaewon Class. Still haven’t finished CLOY)!
    I’m a new name. Made an account on DB a few months earlier but I have been lurking around since I started watching kdramas 2 years ago so I’m familiar with you and GF!

    PS: love the whole post but especially love the first para because this is smth we all experience and you have articulated it excellently!

  10. Hi Javabeans! I’m a new Beanie but I’ve gone through the whole site and the entire community really misses you and Girlfriday a lot! I wish I joined earlier!

    Hope you’re well! Whether you update your blog or not it’s so great that you are getting the time to be up to date with all the dramas! Thats the most important thing!

    Thanks for your thoughts on these dramas. I would be picking up some of them soon.

  11. Been reading your writing since 2012 when I discovered my first Korean drama (Pasta), and how I have missed reading your thoughts. I was so sad when My Ajusshi (best Kdrama ever IMHO and perfect in its winter to spring setting) and you were nowhere to be found, although you were the one to break the news of LSK and IU casting. :) I thought you must have lost your love for dramas. Anyway, so glad to see you here.

  12. Wow. I knew I missed reading your writing but I never realized how much I missed you until I read this. It felt like meeting an old friend after a long time.
    Weather is not something I’d watch on the normal but it came out at the right timing and fate kind of intervened (saw a beanie talk about it on the beanie wall). I’m so glad I gave it a try despite everything. It’s exactly what I needed right now.
    Hopefully, when the drama is done (maybe when the weather is actually nice), this in real life nightmare would be over too.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, javabeans! Take care!

  13. I missed you so so so so much JB! Watching dramas without your voice or looking up kdramaland without your voice – it never felt complete. I am so happy to find dramas give you the same comfort and love. And i am so grateful that you decided to share your words with us again. Thank you. I can’t wait to read whatever you want to write about :)

  14. (I JUST RUINED A NICE MOMENT WITH LAME WORDPLAY. I KNEW IT WAS HAPPENING AND I COULDN’T STOP MYSELF. I ONLY HAVE MYSELF TO BLAME.)

    I have missed your “lame wordplay” like crazy… and your explanations of wordplay in drama titles, character names, etc. — and the cultural background that you included in your recaps for maximum reader comprehension. I can’t thank you enough. ;-)

    It’s a treat to be able to read your writing again.

  15. javabeans! What joy to read your words once again! You have certainly been missed. Hope you are doing well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  16. It is so nice to be reading you again Javabeans. Fellow WEATHER fan here also.
    I only arrived in kdramaland in 2016 and it was through HEALER. I finally got around to post a comment of gratitude on your episode 20 recap in January of 2019. So not only did you write the recap you posted comment No. 1 which I consider a classic worthy of “Bartlett’s”: “Healer is over! I need a drink.”
    Would that all of them were like that. It is wonderful seeing you again.

  17. its nice to see u again JB. I miss reading your thougts about drama and miss girlfriday too :(. I just start watching when the weather is fine. Been waiting for the right moods to start watching this drama

  18. Javabeans! It’s so nice to hear from you again! I don’t care what you write about, I’ll read it. We’ve missed you and your voice so much! Hope you’re doing well and staying safe!

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