Profile
Drama: When My Love Blooms (화양연화)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Release Date: April 25 – June 14, 2020
Runtime: Sat. & Sun. 21:00

Plot
Two estranged lovers meet again after 25 years. Will they be able to let go of the past and build a life together?

Main Cast
Lee Bo Young – Yoon Ji Su
Yoo Ji Tae – Han Jae Hyun
Park Jin Young – Han Jae Hyun (young)
Jeon So Nee – Yoon Ji Su (young)
Park Si Yeon – Jang Seo Kyung

Review
I can’t get the violin background song out of my mind! it helped shaped the overall mood of the drama — very melo and nostalgic about the first love lost, and very sad to convey how the two leads’ lives ended up in the present. There are a lot of effect that were used (and overused) that it made the drama sometimes feel like the old ones (eg. the flashbacks, the slow motion effects, the wind blowing the gorgeous hair of the FLs) and yet it was so effective because the music was beautiful, the visuals were stunning, the story was tragic, and the cast all looked gorgeous.

I thought the younger versions of the leads will just act as flashbacks for a few episodes, but they ended up being the second leads of the story (yes that sounds weird). To be honest, if the back story of their younger selves were written and acted poorly, this drama would have been terrible. But they made it worked so well that by the end of the first episode, when Jae Hyun finally meets Jisu waiting for the train at night all alone, i was crying bucket of tears with her. Like OMG!! They finally met!! And the way they looked at each other just shows how much they missed each other and loved each other. It just that things didn’t work out because of their families and that point in time.

I loved how they slowly showed their meet-cute, to their blossoming relationship, their conversations together, and hardships and how they eventually broke up. Add this side by side with the older Jisu and Jae Hyun, rediscovering each other again in the current times was an effective way to telling their stories and making us root for them even more.

There were a lot of parallel events and situations, sometimes it felt unrealistic that they would go through the same things that they experienced back then, but i thought it was also nicely done to show how they have changed, and how this time, they can be there for each other, like and unlike the way before.

For example, that memorable scene in the train when Jisu was remembering how she was crying all alone trying to get out of the stopped train to go to her family, cue the present time where this time Jae Hyun is there to comfort her at her lowest.

And we can see how much an effect Jae Hyun had over Jisu that years from now, it shaped her to live her life with as much integrity as Jae Hyun used to be. On the other hand, Jae Hyun got so fed up with how unfair his life has been that he lost his way. And that the two finding their way back to each other made them wake up from their current reality and start taking matters into their own hands. I feel like Jisu has been sleeping and making bad decisions after her family tragedy and losing Jae Hyun and she was just going through the motions and trying to survive day by day. But with Jae Hyun back in her life, she became alive and started believing in herself and building her dreams again. Likewise, Jae Hyun realized how much effect he had on Jisu and decided to drop his vengeful plans and go back to his old self.

there were some filler episodes during the middle. Like when we found out why they broke up etc. And the next couple of scenes we find them reminiscing and the flashbacks jumped back and forth between 1994 and 1995 that sometimes i would get confused if the event happened before or after their breakup. But i didn’t bother to analyze since i just loved since Jinyoung and Sonee on screen.

Make no mistake, i am not tolerating their “affair” in the present time. I think the drama handled the affair situation pretty well. We all know the marriage was long gone before Jisu came back into the picture. And we all know they never got over each other. So technically and legally, Jae Hyun and Seok Kyung’s marriage was just a piece of paper. I’m not saying this is an excuse for Jae Hyun to have an affair, but looking at it from substance over form, I’d say there was really no affair. And I’m glad that the drama didn’t put Jisu and Jaehyun is anymore sticky situation other than kissing on the beach. And I’m relieved that they both knew their limits. They may have crossed the legal line, but held off crossing further until Jae Hyun’s marriage is legally dissolved.

I honestly feel bad for Seo Kyung. She really loved Jae Hyun but Jae Hyun didn’t love her as much as he did Jisu. Or maybe he didn’t really love her that way. Like he said, he married her because he felt comforted by her and he thought he could love her. but he couldn’t. And it is not just Jae Hyun’s fault. Seo Kyung also had an affair during their marriage and she didn’t even fight for her husband when he took the fall for her father and had to be jailed for 4(?) years. I would say their marriage was doomed from the start. But i’m glad that she still had her own happy ending. She may not have Jae Hyun, but at least she still has her company and her son.

I can’t say the same thing for Jisu’s ex-husband. Ugh! i hate him. I dont know why but the actor who played him always had red eyes, like he has been crying. I was so distracted i wanted to stop and give him Eye-Mo (lol). I could understand why Seo Kyung did what she did but we didn’t get enough background story on the ex husband to understand his actions. We know they met when Jisu was imprisoned and he was the lawyer (the drama never did tell us why she was jailed in the first place). They got married, had a child and he later had an affair and they got divorced. Now he wants her back and he is taking Young Min to make her come back to him. He sounds pathetic right?

Later on he said he had an affair i think because he wanted to test her but then he realized it was stupid and he lost her. Ugh! He really is stupid to let her go. And for him to keep pinning the blame on Jae Hyun and trying to get him arrested when he doesn’t even know the whole story was bad. That he drove an old grieving man to commit a crime was worse! As much as i want him to go to jail, i like how in the end, they showed how him who Jae Hyun is really is – a man with integrity and forgiveness and this helped the ex husband realize how wrong he has been. and maybe also realize why Jisu loved him and he can never compare.

I think the only other thing i wish the drama focused on was the effects on the 2 kids who were stuck in the middle of the mess. I can’t believe Young Min is so strong and brave and sweet even at such a young age. I guess he learned it from his mom. On the other hand, Junseo started out as a bully, i think mostly because he was half neglected, half spoiled, but i’m glad none of the kids turned out to be a Joon Young (from AWOMC). Instead we see two hurting kids but whose parents loved them so much that all 4 of them always take the time to talk to them honestly – about the past, the relationship, the divorce and how they will always be there for each other even when the parents have split up. I think this maybe a very idealistic approach (im not sure if this really happens or works in real life) but it’s nice to see the adults putting the children’s needs and feelings into consideration.

Lastly i want to give a special mention to Jisu and Jae Hyun’s friends who were always there to support them.

I think overall, this was a great drama, although the story may have been tighter had they stuck to 12 episodes rather than 16.

Rating: 8.5/10 (Story-wise, this is an 8 but added .5 because i loved the overall feel of the drama)

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