After wedding hangover, the reel drama of Son Ye Jin

No pulling the punches about Thirty-Nine and Forecasting Love and Weather

The newlyweds Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin (Photo from @vast.ent instagram)

Thirty-Nine official poster

Credit: The Swoon/YouTube

Starring Son Ye Jin, Jeon Mi Do, Kim Ji Hyun
12 episodes
Streaming on Netflix

By the time the final episode of Thirty-Nine is streamed on Netflix (March 31), Son Ye Jin and Hyun Bin would have walked down the aisle earlier in the day in a lavish private ceremony in the outdoor garden of Ashton House overlooking the Han River, that also has spectacular views of Mount Acha.

Expectedly, security would be tight in the secluded venue, where the entire cost of holding a wedding has been estimated at US$140,000 (P7.4 million). Dubbed by some sources as the “Wedding of the Century,” the much-awaited day has sent netizens and K-Drama fans to seventh heaven.  They started shipping the BinJin couple when they headlined the 2018 global megahit Crash Landing on You; dating rumors had dogged them since, but they kept a low profile until February 10, when they announced their marriage plans. On February 16, the first episode of Thirty-Nine streamed on Netflix.

The 12-episode slice-of-life drama about three friends on the cusp of 40 is a glossy drama that rode on the back of fans’ anticipation of any drama headlined by Son Ye Jin, and a well-orchestrated marketing blitz that had day-to-day updates on the run-up to her altar date, as viewers followed recaps of the drama.

Although the premise of Thirty-Nine is not new and other dramas had explored it, viewers were drawn to it expecting to see how the characters of the three lead actors—Son Ye Jin, Jeon Mi Do, and Kim Ji Hyun—would navigate the challenges they face as they approach their 40th year. Instead, they got a character drama that revolves around the three lead actors with the men in their lives in awkwardly contrived situations that do nothing to flesh out the premise from which it started.

Jeon Mi Do and Kim Ji Hyun gave highly nuanced depictions of the characters they played, but the series’ writer failed to exploit this to advance the narrative.

Herein lies the problem. The drama was supposed to be about the friendship of the three women and how they come to terms with the terminal illness of JMD’s character and grow together as friends, but all these were lost as the story kept going back to SYJ.  A critic pointed out that the writer must have brushed aside such concerns and “doubled down on Mi-Jo (SYJ) being the main character, and I suspect that’s because of the star power she has.”

The writer also kept adding unnecessary subplots to the story.

The three men chosen as partners for the three besties are competent actors with solid accomplishments on their own, but in this drama, Yeon Woo Jin as the boyfriend of SYJ’s character, Lee Moo Saeng as the lover of JMD, and Lee Tae Hwan for KJH, were written off as adjuncts to the three women, their involvement not really moving the plot along.

All the confusion is reflected in the viewership of the drama.  Starting at a modest 5.5 percent at the start of its run, Thirty-Nine reached 6.9 percent on its sixth episode, slipped down to 5.7 percent on the seventh, regained its footing and made 7.2 percent on the eighth, down again to 6.5 on the ninth, then settled at 7.1 percent on the 10th, just before the wedding of its main  draw.

The same critic added: “The story and writing in this show has been really poor and despite the series doing well ratings-wise, it’s certainly not a series to remember, which is a shame.”

When Thirty-Nine ends its run, viewers will be left with a few close-ups of the beautiful and seemingly ageless Son Ye Jin, and another close shot of her in a tight embrace with Jeon Mi Do and Kim Ji Hyun.

As a treat for viewers—risking spoilers—producers on March 30 released new stills showing Cha Mi Jo (SYJ), Jung Chan Young (Jeon Mi Do), and Jang Joo Hee (Kim Ji Hyung) gathering with their love interests at a party at Chang Young’s parents’ restaurant—all together creating happy memories before the end.

For netizens, all these precious moments in the drama will be juxtaposed with pictures of Son Ye Jin and Hyun Bin, finally a couple—just what fans have been dreaming of, when K-Drama segued to real life.

Forecasting Love and Weather official poster

Credit: Netflix Asia/YouTube

Forecasting Love and Weather
Starring Park Min Young, Song Kang
16 episodes
Streaming on Netflix

Forecasting Love and Weather (FLAW) started with modest ratings and peaked at 7.5 percent on its eighth episode, midway into its 16-episode run. Its ratings dipped slightly in succeeding episodes, rose again, and fell as the characters played by Park Min Young and Song Kang tracked the path of typhoons and studied satellite feeds to forecast the weather at the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA), where they worked as director and weather forecaster respectively.

By the 11th episode, ratings of FLAW had gone up again to 7.2 percent, then went a notch higher at 7.6 percent on the 12th. In this episode, our OTP was en route to the KMA Typhoon Center to track the course of a brewing super howler.

When the series reached episode 13, ratings dipped again to 7.1 percent, settling down at 6.8 percent on its 14th episode, just two episodes shy of its finale.

Tracking the course of Forecasting Love and Weather the drama this way is a most illustrative way of weighing in on a series that was written with an ingenious plot device. Showing the progression of a relationship alongside analyzing satellite feeds to forecast the weather and tracking the path of an incoming storm is a good metaphor and plot device to tell the story of two people with diametrically opposed views on maintaining a relationship in the workplace and ultimately marriage.

The series had a lot going for it up to midpoint—its biggest asset, the OTPs Park Min Young (PMY) and Song Kang.

PMY has played varied roles throughout a successful career in spite of being typecast as the pretty secretary who wins the heart of her indifferent boss. Here in FLAW, she has the handle on her character: an exacting and meticulous boss who does not let her personal life get in the way of work. SK plays a younger staff member, her subordinate in Team 2 who is a diligent forecaster, but also a free-spirited young man who does not exactly believe in marriage. PMY and SK have very good chemistry so that the viewer entirely forgets their age gap in real life. SK also delivers well.

All these being considered, what went wrong? Much like what happened with Thirty-Nine, the writer of Forecasting Love and Weather failed to keep a tight rein on the plot of the series—a pity, really. With the weather calming down and matters settling down at the KMA, viewers just have to hold on until its finale and see if  Forecasting Love and Weather will settle down to its light-hearted—though occasionally tense—romcom vibe and see our OTP walking calmly and happily towards the sunset at the end of a working day. We are holding hands tightly for this beautiful OTP.

Happy newlyweds Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin (Photo from @vast.ent instagram)

About author


After saying goodbye to daily deadlines in 2009, WINNIE DOROTHEO VELASQUEZ worked from home editing manuscripts and writing on subjects close to her heart. She discovered the world of K-Drama in the early 2000s. Today, she cooks, does some gardening, and is training Cookie, da mutt-with-the-mostest.

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