REVIEW: One Spring Night

[Please be advised, this review may contain spoilers.]

It's been a week since I finished watching One Spring Night and I can't quite put it out of my mind.  It's as understated as a K-drama can be, yet there it is, still stuck in my head.  Perhaps, that's why.  One Spring Night is nuanced and subtle and unflashy, things most K-dramas are not.  A rare bird - of course it stood out from the rest.  But it seems unfair somehow to suggest that its qualities come merely from its ability to be different.  One Spring Night deserves better.

One Spring Night is, at heart, a slice of life story.  It pits, but so delicately, the older generation with the younger as the two sides grapple with a Korean system that equates marriage to climbing the social ladder.  This is the hurdle Jeong-in must jump in One Spring Night if she is to be with Ji-ho, who, incidentally, is a single father.  As one can imagine, for Jeong-in's parents, this bit of truth is a hard pill to swallow, though her mother soon comes around after meeting Ji-ho and his son.  Although One Spring Night is a love story, it is the society norms that truly define the show - prejudices of single parents, patriarchy over women's rights, etc.  But it is handled with grace.  One isn't bombarded with self-righteous moralizing, allowing for reflection and a deeper understanding.  Prejudices are a harsh reality, even in places you'd least expect, but for the characters in One Spring Night, it is part of a custom that spans thousands of years.  It isn't easy withstanding, but Jeong-in, in the end, musters the courage to live her life on her own terms, giving her commitment to Ji-ho, and his to her, a deeper meaning.  Lovers in K-dramas often end up together in the end, but not everyone truly earns it.  Jeong-in and Ji-ho do.

The story of Jeong-in and Ji-ho stands out, in my mind, for its realistic portrayal of two people, shaped by external forces - societal norms, their past, etc.  Their journey is long and, at times, turbulent, but I felt genuinely rewarded, having been a part of it, primarily due to the lighthearted moments.  Those positively joyful follies, so often contrived in K-dramas, felt fresh and raw and remarkably spontaneous in One Spring Night, due in part to the splendid writing, but mainly to the chemistry between Han Ji-min and Jung Hae-in.  At times, I even wondered if the two were, in fact, a real couple.

As I mentioned already, One Spring Night is a rarity in so many ways: its nuanced storytelling, its deliberate pace, its subtle messages, etc.  But, in the end, it is the true to life romance that I will remember - a love affair that will truly tug at your heartstrings, so much so that you'll start to see K-drama couples differently from now on; hold them to a higher standard, even.  In this way, One Spring Night is fresh and innovative, a true pioneer in an industry that isn't always so graceful.  

Simply put, One Spring Night is a must-watch for fans who appreciate a touch of realism in their K-drama romances.

One Spring Night (2019)
Cast: Han Ji-min, Jung Hae-in, Kim Jun-han
Episodes: 16
[Click here to watch on Netflix.]



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