JTBC’s When the Weather is Fine (날씨가 좋으면 찾아가겠어요) is a healing drama in the truest sense of the word. The stunningly filmed, dreamlike slice of life portrays the very real hardships people face in the everyday. And it does so in a relatable, yet thoroughly engaging way.
Mok Hae Won (Park Min Young) quits her job in Seoul and returns to her rural hometown in Gangwon Province. There, she meets her neighbor and former high school classmate Im Eun Seob (Seo Kang Joon) who owns a cozy bookstore. Both carry burdens from their past, but as their relationship grows, they learn how to open their hearts and find a way to help each other heal. While also falling in love, of course.
When the Weather is Fine certainly features some familiar soapy elements, especially when it comes to stories about their families. Hae Won and Eun Seob are surrounded by family and friends. Hae Won lives with her aunt Shim Myeong Yeo (Moon Heong Hee) in the inn once owned by their grandmother. Eun Seob lives with his parents (Nam Gi Ae and Kang Shin Il) and younger sister (Kim Hwan Hee).
But the series is a wholly character-driven story. The narrative carefully twists and turns in response to the wide cast of characters and never the other way around. And because of that, the story feels natural, free-flowing and grounded.
In following Hae Won and Eun Seob’s journey toward reconciling their pasts with a happier and more hopeful future, the series uses slice of life in the best way possible. When the Weather is Fine takes place during one long, cold winter. But the way the series proceeds with telling their story as well as the stories of their circle of family and friends, there is a sincere warmth that keeps the series from being as icy as the weather in the Gangwon village.
And a beautiful village it is. Stunning cinematography captures the beauty of Bookhyun Village and the beautiful landscapes of rural Gangwon province in a most ethereal way. And also making it a character in and of itself in the way that other dramas have done with Seoul.
The nostalgic and down to earth feel from the village accentuates the series’ sense of community. Eun Seob hosts a book club for their friends and neighbors. And their regular meetings allow for insightful peeks into their own lives by way of the stories and poetry they share with each other. The meetings serve as the door to exploring the lives of the town’s eclectic inhabitants while still maintaining the focus on our hero and heroine.
And our hero and heroine are very much broken. Despite trying to put on a positive face for the people around them, they hold deep feelings of loneliness and insecurity. They deal with issues of trust and self-worth. As hard as they try to overcome those feelings, relief sometimes feels out of reach.
Through Hae Won and Eun Seob, When the Weather is Fine depicts how different people deal with similar feelings and situations in different ways. The idea of being able to grab that sometimes elusive feeling that is happiness is not always an easy road. But just like the title suggests, the weather may be harsh today, but the sun will shine soon.
When the Weather is Fine is a healing drama in the truest sense of the word. While it is certainly a melodrama, the series is just as much fun and lighthearted as well. And its dramatic climax serves up satisfying and some bittersweet conclusions for these characters you’ve grown to care about.
That is in large part due to a wonderful and large ensemble cast. Their talents are put to full use in bringing the eclectic group of characters to life. Being able to establish a wonderful sense of community and family allows for the series to feel dreamlike and positive, but never heavy.
There are excellent performances from Moon Heong Hee as Hae Won’s aunt as well as Jin Hee Kyung as her mother. Nam Gi Ae has several especially powerful scenes as Eun Seob’s mother while Kim Hwan Hee steals the show almost every scene she is in as his little sister.
I last watched Lee Jae Wook in Extraordinary You and he could not have played a more different character here. As Eun Seob’s best friend Jang Woo, he takes on a much more loose and happy character. Fun and energetic when he needs to be. Serious and caring when he needs to be. It is a great treat to watch him here and no doubt a reason why he’s well on his way to bigger roles.
But the focus is of course on Seo Kang Joon and Park Min Young. Both deliver strong, nuanced performances that allow for both Eun Seob and Hae Won to be multi-dimensional characters. The depth that the writing provides is brought to life quite effortlessly by both Seo Kang Joon and Park Min Young. Tackling their characters’ roller coaster of emotions throughout the series. And their chemistry is undeniable. A big part of why you are very much invested in their personal journeys as well as their relationship.
Overall, When the Weather is Fine may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But unlike other dramas that may be considered a “slowburn,” this series carries with it a great warmth and hopefulness that has you invested and engaged in the characters’ relatable journeys through life.
It is very much similar to my favorite drama of 2020 A Piece of Your Mind. (They even aired at the same time.) And if I had watched this series sooner, it definitely would’ve made that list as well. Possibly as a close #2.