K-Drama Review: “When My Love Blooms” Traces An Epic Love Story Across Two Timelines
When My Love Blooms showcases a fated romance spanning years, one that endures every challenge thrown its way.
When My Love Blooms is a tender melodrama that chronicles the challenges a relationship may encounter when faced with troubling circumstances. The drama compares the romance between two vibrant university students, and their feelings towards one another after a coincidental reunion years later. Comparing present to past, When My Love Blooms makes a convincing argument that though time may weather the love one holds for another person, sometimes, it cannot completely erase it.
TITLE: WHEN MY LOVE BLOOMS
THEME: MELODRAMA, ROMANCE, POLITICAL DRAMA
LENGTH: 16 EPISODES
BROADCAST DATE: 25 APRIL 2020 – 14 JUNE 2020
MAIN LEADS: YOO JI TAE | LEE BO YOUNG | PARK JINYOUNG | JEON SO NEE
HIGHLIGHTS: CHARISMATIC LEADS | UNIQUE ROMANCE
DRAWBACKS: TOO UNREALISTIC | UNDERDEVELOPED CHARACTERS
- K-Drama Premiere: “When My Love Blooms” Depicts Bittersweet Emotions Of Young Love And Harsher Reality of Adult Life
Quick Plot Round-Up
Han Jae Hyun (Park Jinyoung) and Yoon Ji Soo (Jeon So Nee), first meet on their university campus. Jae Hyun is a radical law student that participates in many student rallies. Ji Soo is a music major, who walks past one of the student demonstrations Jae Hyun leads. However, things turn hectic when the students clash with the campus police.
Amidst tear gas and Molotov cocktails, Ji Soo struggles to get to safety when Jae Hyun comes to her rescue.
Enamoured by the headstrong and handsome student, Ji Soo eagerly visits other student demonstrations in hopes of meeting him once more. After successfully tracking Jae Hyun down, Ji Soo admits her desire to date him. Moreover, the pair cutely realized their many commonalities, from life beliefs to movie interests, to literature and music tastes. As a result, the couple falls in intense, deep love with one another.
The drama flashes forward years later. As adults, Jae Hyun (Yoo Ji Tae) and Ji Soo (Lee Bo Young) are no longer together. After a bitter parting, neither received full closure and yearnfully reminisce on their past love. Jae Hyun has just finished a short stint in jail for embezzlement and stock manipulation, and resumes his role as head of a grocery store corporation. Meanwhile, Ji Soo is a single mother who works a bunch of part-time jobs to make ends meet.
However, the two are soon reunited when their sons get into a fight at their school. The pair are summoned to discuss the issue and meet for the first time since their parting. When My Love Blooms contrasts Jae Hyun and Ji Soo’s grand love story as university students, to their re-kindling romance as adults.
With its compelling dual timeline, When My Love Blooms relied heavily on its main cast to drive the plot. Furthermore, as a romantic melodrama, the show needed strong actors capable of conveying the complex range of emotions the characters experience as the plot progresses. Park Jinyoung and Jeon So Nee as the younger leads, and Yoo Ji Tae and Lee Bo Young as the older leads, did so brilliantly.
Known for his prior acting in other dramas such as He Is Psychometric, GOT7’s Park Jinyoung displayed his extensive acting range in When My Love Blooms. Portraying the noble and stubborn Jae Hyun, Jinyoung evoked the character’s stoic nature well. Additionally, his natural boyish charm highlighted Jae Hyun’s more secretive, playful side well. Overall, Jinyoung was a perfectly fitting choice for the role and made the drama more enjoyable with his sincere portrayal of the character.
While Jae Hyun was arguably the lead in their relationship, Jeon So Nee’s performance as the young Ji Soo made her character shine. As Ji Soo’s natural tendency was to follow Jae Hyun’s lead, the character could have easily fallen into the background due to her submissive nature. However, Jeon So Nee took Ji Soo’s lovable charms and placed them in the spotlight. Evoking both Ji Soo’s contagious happiness as well as her heart-wrenching moments of sadness, Jeon So Nee was truly a standout in the show.
The older Jae Hyun was less captivating than his younger counterpart. Embittered by his experiences as a corporate businessman with a greedy father-in-law, the adult Jae Hyun is completely different than how he used to be. Despite this, Yoo Ji Tae still captivates audiences in his role, displaying Jae Hyun’s internal moral turmoil convincingly. Moreover, he manages to exude a wordless, wistful yearning for the past which makes the story more believable.
Lastly, Lee Bo Young as the older Ji Soo follows Jeon So Nee’s portrayal just as brilliantly. Charismatic even in her quieter moments, Lee Bo Young displays Ji Soo’s older, pensive self beautifully. Still exuding Ji Soo’s playful charm, the actor manages to capture the character’s growth and evolution since her young adulthood. Additionally, her scenes as a mother are equal parts heartwarming and inspiring.
The drama’s strongest suit has to be its unique romance. The plot is built entirely off of following Jae Hyun and Ji Soo’s relationship throughout time. As such, When My Love Blooms establishes a captivating couple.
While Jae Hyun is a student protester from humble means, Ji Soo is the daughter of one of the top prosecutors in Seoul. Despite their differences, the two realize they are more alike than not. Bonding over common interests and their similar political beliefs, Jae Hyun and Ji Soo begin a passionate relationship.
Though the drama follows their love into adulthood once they reunite, the couple’s younger storyline bears the burden to build a romance worth missing. With Park Jinyoung and Jeon So Nee’s amazing chemistry, as well as beautiful script-writing, the drama makes the viewers root for the couple as adults too.
While it is clear that the lives of its two main characters are intertwined, the connections are often too unrealistic. As When My Love Blooms progresses, the conflicts become a series of unfortunate events that seem too unbelievable.
Jae Hyun’s wife, Jang Seo Kyeong (Park Si Yeon), ends up owning the very building that adult Ji Soo moves into. The company Ji Soo has been protesting turns out to be the one Jae Hyun manages with his father in law. Viewers find out Ji Soo’s father had a hand in Jae Hyun’s father’s suicide. Through these connections, the drama makes a definite argument that the two were fated to be in each other’s lives.
However, as the coincidences continue and grow wilder throughout the drama, it makes for an exhausting and unbelievable watch. The conflicts do not seem natural, but rather a specific intention of the showrunners to make Jae Hyun and Ji Soo’s adult relationship struggle. This glaring obviousness distracts from the otherwise well-written story.
While its main characters were intriguing, its secondary characters needed some more work. In particular, Jae Hyun’s father in law seemed too stereotypical. Motivated by greed and his company, his entire purpose was to make Jae Hyun’s life difficult.
Additionally, the drama failed to elaborate on Ji Soo’s ex-husband Lee Se Hoon (Kim Young Hoon). His obsession with her bordered on the stalker level and he faced little repercussion for his behavior. Furthermore, the drama did not explain his sudden personality change, nor the reason why the couple married in the first place.
With these underdeveloped characters, it seemed that the villains were evil for the sake of being evil, rather than having intentions behind their actions.
When My Love Blooms Series Afterthoughts and Recommendations
When My Love Blooms served a sweet romance between two very different students. It thoughtfully explored how time affects relationships and changes people. Through the characters’ struggles, the show attempts to show that life often serves poor circumstances that people simply cannot control. However, with its happy ending, the drama still provides hope that things will work out in the end.
This drama would suit anyone who enjoys a blend of past and present. Its themes of love, life, and family provided a heartwarming watch. Meanwhile, its conflict added enough suspense to keep the plot moving well.
With its dual storyline, viewers truly feel as though they have traveled through time with the show’s beloved pairing.
Image Source: tvN
Video Source: tvN | Viu