When My Love Blooms just started airing this week and is already giving viewers pains in their heart of longing for youth and first loves. The first episode was beautifully done. It tells the tale of a sheltered upper class woman who plays the piano and a human rights activist, lower-class man who fall in love in college. They reunite twenty years later after having switched belief systems and class levels.
Episode 1 starts with Young Ji-soo playing her piano in a warzone-like environment, which signifies the violent protest in Korea during the early 90s. She becomes 20 years older, and young Jae-hyun walks towards her and becomes an older man. She asks him from when it started, and he says he knows until when.
Jae-hyun just got out of jail for 4 years. He was serving time for the corruption his father-in-law committed. While he was driving back home, Ji-soo, who works at a grocery store, thinks about what happened when she was in college. Back in college, Ji-soo and her friend look at the protesters and talk about how crazy the protesters are but she accidentally walks in the middle of the police-protester fights and falls on the ground. Then Jae-hyun rescues her and she develops a crush on him. She keeps following him around but he kind of ignores her.
Jae-hyun’s driver almost hits Ji-soo. Now, she looks like a member of the lower-middle-class and joins the protest against the company where Jae-Hyun is the vice president. The driver picks up a handkerchief Ji-soo dropped, which Jae-hyun gave to Ji-Soo 20 years ago. While Ji-soo protests with others, Jae-Hyun steps into the building and a protester throws an egg on him.
In Ji-soo’s tiny apartment, she starts to watch a movie called “Love Letter”, which was the first video she and Jae-Hyun watched together back in college after she bugged him for so many days. At the same time, Jae-hyun watches the same movie in his fabulous home. Jae-hyun has a fabulous wife as well, the only daughter of the Hyungsung group.
The next day, Jae-hyun meets his right-hand man and talks about plans to take over the company in a hotel lobby. Also, it seems like his wife is having an affair with a younger man. All of a sudden, he hears a piano played by a masked pianist. The song is from the movie Love Letter, which Ji-soo played when they were in college. He tries to find out who played the music, but the pianist was already gone, then it turned out that the masked pianist was actually Ji-soo.
Ji-soo’s son is top of his boarding school, but actually, he is a victim of school bullying by Jae-hyun’s son, and Ji-soo has no idea about it.
At Jae-hyun’s college friend’s funeral, the widower blames Jae-hyun for his wife’s death since he betrayed his comrades. Ji-soo visits her college friend’s bar and talks about their friend’s death and she blames herself for being partially responsible for the friend’s death. At the same time, Jae-hyun drinks at an expensive bar with his college friend and talks about Ji-soo’s sudden disappearance back in college.
The next day, while Ji-soo is helping the protests, her son, Young-Min threw a chair at another boy (Jae-Hyun’s son). The teacher calls Ji-soo while she is playing a piano while wearing a mask and Jae-Hyun almost finds out it is Ji-soo. But his wife calls about their son getting injured. He drives off, and Ji-soo tries to go to the school as well, which is far from Seoul.
Jae-hyun meets his son and the son. The son blames Young-min, but it seems like Jae-hyun has enough common sense to find out what happened. Meanwhile, Ji-soo remembers her divorce from three years ago, where she didn’t accept any money from her ex-husband and worries about him taking the son back.
In the principal’s office, Ji-soo apologizes to Jae-hyun. He recognizes her and leaves the office. Outside, Jae-hyun talks to the principal and asks for no punishment. Ji-soo talks to her son about what happens but her son avoids the conversation. That night, Jae-hyun is about to drive off but sees Ji-soo and decides to walk behind her. She misses the last train and Jae-hyun appears next to her and tells her that they can’t go home due to the train schedule and snow then he says “Found you”. Ji-soo tears up right away.
All people who disappear with pain
Leaves a scar like a tiny light
In the heart of everyone who knows them.
– from [The Gray Snowman] Choi Yoon
The title Hwayang Yeonhwa is based on Chinese proverb which means “the best time of our lives is like blossoming flower”. I remember watching a Hong-Kong movie with the same title (English: In the Mood for Love, 2000). It was a beautiful movie about married couple’s affair (The World of the Married!?) but their love didn’t work out because of the morality of that era (the 1960s).
This drama looks almost like a sequel to the Hong Kong movie. The first episode shows beautifully how their life evolved since college, Ji-soo looks like she grew up in an upper-middle-class family majoring in piano, and Jae-Hyun is the opposite. But since they met in college, their life evolved in different ways. Now Ji-Soo is a divorcee struggling to make living and Jae-Hyun became an ambitious man who married a chaebol’s daughter. However, they both don’t look too happy with their life and were always thinking about each other. Finally, they met each other again and stand at a train station, missing the last train.
Will they end up not getting together like the movie? Or will they overcome social and family burden and be together happily ever after? We will see.
Opening piano: Beethoven, Ludwig van – Piano Sonata No.17, Op.31 No.2
Protest in college: Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Ji-Soo bugging Jae-Hyun to watch “Love Letter” movie: GOT7 Youngjae and Choi Jungyoon – 빠져드나봐 Fallin Fallin for you