As I watched One Spring Night I had a familiar feeling, like I had seen it all before. But I couldn’t have because it was just released this year (2019) at the end of May. So why the feeling of familiarity? By the time I was mid-way through the third episode I had figured it out – Something in the Rain! Aside from the plot and characters, One Spring Night is exactly like Something in the Rain! The kind of music that is used, the nighttime shots with amber lighting, the long periods of no dialogue, the somber feeling. They had to have the same director, I thought, so I stopped the show right then to check my theory and, bingo! Sara Johnson knows her Kdramas! Both Something in the Rain and One Spring Night are written by Kim Eun, directed by Ahn Pan-Seok, and star Jung Hae-In.
Lee Jeong-In and Kwon Ki-Seok have been in a relationship for several years, tossing around the subject of marriage as often as they talk about breaking up. They go through the motions of being a happy couple, and Ki-Seok seems contented enough, but Jeong-In’s heart knows there’s something more to love than what they have. After a night of drinking with her friend and colleague, Song Yeong-Joo, she wakes up late and, as she is frantically running to work, notices a pharmacy. Jeong-In quickly ducks in and asks for something that can cure her horrendous hangover. The handsome pharmacist in the white medical coat not only grabs the things she needs but, seeing her sick and obviously in a rush, opens them for her as well. After she takes a big swing of the concoction she reaches for her wallet to pay for the stuff but is shocked to find that, in her hurry, she had left it behind. Jeong-In tries to duck out of paying by pointing out she had simply asked for the stuff, it was his decision to open it. But, realizing that rationale was a poor excuse that made her look petty and cheap, she offers to transfer the money into the pharmacist’s account. However, seeing her embarrassment, the kind young man tells her not to worry about it and even gives her money for a taxi. After that, the two can’t seem to stop thinking of one another. Was their chance meeting fate or a recipe for disaster?
Lee Jeong-In is a librarian successful enough to have her own tiny apartment. The woman has always had a mind of her own. As a teenager she informed her parents she would absolutely not to go to the high school where her father served as principal and, as a result, she got her own way. Although she has dated Kwon Ki-Seok for four years their relationship seems to have run out of steam, with people making comments such as, “… you act like an old married couple already.” She watched as her father pushed her older sister into a marriage she didn’t want and Jeong-In’s determined that will not happen to her.
Yoo Ji-Ho is a brilliant young pharmacist and the father of a darling five year old boy named Eun-U. Because he became a single father when he was still in college his parents have helped tremendously by pretty much raising the boy for him. In fact, Ji-Ho has an apartment nearby the pharmacy he works at and Eun-U lives with his paternal grandparents who have run a laundry/dry cleaners since Ji-Ho was young. Although the father and son team don’t live in the same home, they are together quite often. Ji-Ho loves Eun-U with all his heart and has always made his boy his first priority. The young pharmacist is fortunate enough to have several supportive friends and colleagues who sincerely care about both him and Eun-U. Although he’s not aware of it, Ji-Ho struggles with some deep-seeded trust issues.
Kwon Ki-Seok comes from a very wealthy family. His mother passed away and he has a mildly strained relationship with his father who happens to be Jeong-In’s father’s boss. He doesn’t necessarily love Jeong-In, she’s just familiar and comfortable. It’s not the fact that he could loose Jeong-In that bothers him, it’s simply the fact that he could loose her to someone he feels is below him.
Jeong-In’s older sister, Lee Seo-In, is a prominent anchorwoman who owns her own apartment. She has just been offered the position as host of a news magazine type show. Seo-In has kept quiet about the fact that she has been physically and emotionally abused for years by her husband, a dentist who is in debt up to his eyeballs.
Unbeknownst to her parents, Jeong-In’s younger sister, Lee Jae-In, is back in Korea after quitting school in France because of a restraining order her ex-boyfriend got against her. She falls for one of Ji-Ho’s friends who is studying to take the civil service exam, of which he has failed multiple times.
If you’d like some information about Han Ji-Min, the actress that plays Lee Jeong-In, you can go to my Familiar Wife review.
You can read a bit about Jung Hae-In, the handsome guy who plays Yoo Ji-Ho, in my review of While You Were Sleeping.
Although I understood everything that was happening I just didn’t understand WHY it was happening. I was baffled as to why such a big deal was made over a single man having a kid. The way people acted, it was like that cute little boy was Ji-Ho’s scarlet letter. Is that an Asian/Korean thing? No one would make a fuss about it here in the U.S. The conversation between friends would probably go something like, “Hey, Amanda, you know that cute pharmacist I told you I liked? Well, I just found out he is the single father of a five year old boy.” “Megan, you do realize that would make you an instant mom, right?” “I know, Amanda. He’s such a good dad and his boy is so cute.” “Well, good luck with that. What’s the kid’s name? Do you have a picture of him?” See… no panic, no shame, no problem. In this drama the people acted like Jeong-In told people Ji-Ho was an ex-convict just released from prison where he had served time for attempting to murder his last girlfriend. Is it really that bad to be a single parent in South Korea in 2019? Another thing that I just couldn’t wrap my head around was how involved the parents were in their kids’ love life. The dads were off by themselves discussing when and who their kids should marry. I felt like I was watching a historical drama, something set in the Joseon era. Are parents really that involved in those matters?
Lee Jeong-In and Kwon Ki-Seok reminded me of the four main characters in Summer Scent. Jeong-In is like Shim Hye-Won because her wish-washy actions wreck havoc on so many people’s lives, and just like Lee Min-Woo her rejection wasn’t forceful enough. You don’t keep answering calls and going out to dinner with people you’ve broken up with! As for Ki-Seok, he was just like Park Jung-Jae in that he just refused to take no for an answer, and Park Jung-Ah because he wouldn’t accept the reality that the person he wanted rejected him.
As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, One Spring Night is very similar to Something in the Rain but with them both having the same writer and director it’s no surprise. Sadly, a few of the things I didn’t like about Something in the Rain were also present in One Spring Night. Ready for what I hope you will see as Kdrama constructive criticism? First, the show’s title has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Jeong-In and Ji-Ho first meeting the morning, not at night. Next, lots of the story takes place during dark hours and for some reason the director went overboard with the amber lighting. Yes, it makes things look softer, but it becomes monotonous. Next, the same four songs are used over and over and over again to the point of being frustrating, and all are sung in English. Fourth, there are way too many scenes without dialogue. We watch as people just sit and think while an entire song plays in the background. Just get on with the show, please! At least the over abundance of slow motion wasn’t there like it was in Something in the Rain. Also, the things that got in the way of clear shots in that drama weren’t a problem in this one, thank heavens! It wasn’t just things that were the same in both dramas. A few actors were the same as well. Jung Hae-In , the guy who plays Yoo Ji-Ho also stars in Something in the Rain. (Just a little information… Han Ji-Min wasn’t the first choice to play Lee Jeong-In. That part was initially offered to Son Ye-Jin, the gal who starred opposite Jung Hae-In in Something in the Rain.) Both shows also share the actors Joo Min-Kyung, Lee Chang-Hoon, Kim Chang-Wan, Oh Man-Seok, and Gil Hae-Yeon. The biggest difference in the two dramas is that I scored One Spring Night three points higher than Something in the Rain.
Rachael Yamagata sings three of the four songs on the soundtrack – No Direction, which is the drama’s opening theme song and, in my opinion, the most irritating; Is It You, which has a more up-tempo beat to it; and We Could Still Be Happy which I can only describe as ehh (so so). Oscar Dunbar performs one ballad entitled Spring Rain which I feel is probably the least irritating song in the show. The biggest problem with the music is that it is played way too nauseatingly often.
When I think of One Spring Night’s backgrounds/scenery nighttime with an orange glow comes to mind first. Yes, there are many scenes that take place during the day but not as many as there are during the night. No amazing scenery that I can remember, just a small handful of places that are repeatedly shown – the pharmacy, the library, Lee Jeong-In’s and Yoo Ji-Ho’s apartments, and Lee Seo-In’s home. Having the story take place in just a few spots makes it seem more realistic. I mean, if someone made a movie about my life they wouldn’t have more than about five places to film in, either.
Even though there are things I didn’t like about the drama, One Spring Night is good enough to place on your watch list. Han Ji-Min’s and Jung Hae-In’s acting is first rate and their chemistry as Lee Jeong-In and Yoo Ji-Ho clicks wonderfully well. Give it a shot, even if it’s just to see if you can see the similarities between it and Something in the Rain.
Han Ji-Min and Jung Hae-In’s acting
Jeong-In and Ji-Ho’s chemistry
Too many nighttime shots with amber lighting
Too many quiet (non-dialogue) scenes
Parents too involved in their kids’ love lives