Ramadan Mubarak! If you’ve been able to catch up or start new dramas this week, what have you been watching? What’s keeping you engaged these days?
Here’s what we started, finished, dropped, or kept watching this week.
(Note: We’ll mention some plot details, but will try to keep major spoilers to minimum.)
When the Weather is Fine [13-16]
I can’t say that I’m leaving this drama at the same high level of googly-eyed love that I had for it for two-thirds of its run, but it maintained the warmth, love, and wonderful feeling of community that embraced our its characters (and viewers) from the beginning. I especially loved Jang-woo and Eun-shil’s low-key but still extremely squeeworthy resolution—his sincere happiness with a on ordinary and useful life is so relatable (and such a hard goal to actually achieve!). They are so completely adorable! Give me Lee Jae-wook in a lead role yesterday! *grabby hands*
Unfortunately, most of what I felt in these last four episodes was a sense of frustration and a lot of questions. The way that Myung-yeo decided to reveal the truth to Hae-won, by giving that information to Eun-seob and letting him decide whether to tell, her, was unfair to everyone involved. Hae-won deserved to be told, if not in person, then to receive the book herself. And while she was understandably shocked at reading the initial few pages of the manuscript, the drama never clarifies whether she ever finished reading it. She must have, if it eventually was published, but what was her reaction? Did Myung-yeo agree not to turn herself in, and did she write the book as a memoir, or a novel? Where did she permanently “go away” to? Did Myung-yeo ever decide to stop punishing herself, because that seemed like the main arc of her character?
And what about Eun-seob and Hae-won’s relationship? Okay, I understand that given the extremely destabilizing revelations about her family, she needed space, but it was weird that she summarily broke up with the one person who was providing her with emotional support. And when she came back, their reunion was basically him asking her how long she’s planning to stay this time, and them going back to being lovey-dovey. WHY DON’T THESE TWO EVER TALK. Like, I legitimately wonder if he even has her phone number yet.
The gorgeous literary quotes, Eun-seob’s diary, and the internal monologues we got to hear from each character were charming and added a lot of atmosphere and emotion to this drama, but in the end they became a crutch that didn’t allow for real communication and resolution between the characters. It’s a shame, because until these last few episodes I genuinely believed that everything that has remained unsaid between Hae-won and her family, between Hae-won and Eun-seob, between Myung-yeo and the world, was building tension to explode into a spectacular cathartic climax that the characters would then have to deal with in order to heal and move on. But instead we got only the beginning of that with Myung-yeo’s book—a gesture that instead became another avoidance tactic among the countless ones used by these characters to ignore and run away from their feelings. Maybe it’s because I have the kind of personality that thrives with open communication and straightforward talk, but I found it exhausting. The drama ends with a message from the production team that essentially says that everyone can provide happiness for the ones around them just by existing beside them. Perhaps that’s true to an extent. But there’s a limit to how much you can love someone when you never get out of your own head.
I still loved this drama, and I’ll remember it for its warmth and beautiful moments, its feeling of community that somehow made me both yearn for the intimacy of a small town and thank God I don’t live in one, the unique and quirky members of the book club, and Eun-seob’s endless cups of coffee. And all the warm hugs—I’m taking those to go.
The King: The Eternal Monarch [3-4]
It wasn’t until the final moments of this week’s second episode that I felt that keen building thrill of watching something epic unfold. And of course, it was Kim Go-eun’s entry into Lee Min-ho’s alternate Korea that sparked it. Finally, the story looks to pick up as Tae-eul lands in a parallel universe and begins to explore the differences.
The trouble with bringing the logical and calm Lee Gon into our world was that he’d long suspected that something beyond the ordinary was at play. He’d been reared on stories of magical swords and flutes. His easy acceptance of a parallel universe put paid to any fun moments of discovery or world building. He kept dumping information on us as he systematically found out the differences in the two histories and made deductions about where and how the two worlds split. It was… joyless. Which is another way you can describe Lee Min-ho’s performance so far. When I think of my favourite portal hopping genius scholar—the inimitable Kim Boong-do—I feel real sadness at how unmoved Lee Gon is by the discovery of something as amazing as a parallel universe. Where’s the wonder? Where’s the thrill of stepping into the unknown? Dude is literally the dullest world-hopping protagonist that ever existed.
So, it was a real relief to watch some wonder enter into his face, even if it was at the sight of Tae-eul’s paused profile, as the world ground to a halt. Kim Go-eun is always gorgeous, but she looked like a living Boticelli or a renaissance painting in that scene. And that’s completely worth admiring.
Now, I look forward to the next week in hopes that Tae-eul will do what Lee Gon failed to. Make this story feel like a fantasy.
Hospital Playlist 
It’s so hard to write about this drama. It’s like I’m watching the lives of people who’re very dear to me. I want them to be happy, and safe, and comfortable. I want to ease away their pain, and tell them that the genre they’re in will definitely give them a happy ending. 걱정마. It’s my comfort watch, and I just want to screencap the cuteness between these friends and sigh over the slowly building poignancy in some of the relationships.
However, I don’t yet know how I feel about the Song-hwa x Ik-jun pairing. They’ve kept these two mostly in their own silos, only casually interacting with each other so far. It’s startling to think that they’d ever liked each other a lot, since you don’t see any evidence of it in the present day. Even when Ik-jun turned up at the hospital to wait for Song-hwa’s biopsy result with her, it felt like something a good friend would do. At least for now, their relationship seems to have comfortably settled into friendship and I don’t know what could jostle it out of that familiar space.
For me, the real tension is in Jung-won’s treatment of Gyeo-wool. He seems to go out of his way to interact with her as little as he can. Which is why, that moment when Gyeo-wool asked him to buy her dinner felt so pivotal. He was clearly reluctant, when he’s never shown the slightest bit of hesitation with other women in the hospital. It seemed to mean something. And even if it didn’t—even if Gyeo-wool, the Buddhist, can’t go up against the Catholic God to win her man – the decision to ask him out seemed to have come from a place of quiet torture for the girl. She needs to know if she can hope, and this seems to be a good way to find out.