A week ago, I came across a series titled Something in the Rain while indecisively browsing my Netflix recommendations. It turned out to be a good choice that far exceeded my expectation.
Something in the Rain (or Pretty Sister Who Buys Me Food) tells the story of Yoon Jin-a (Son Ye-jin), a thirty-something coffee-chain supervisor with an easy-going personality but who lives a rather hollow life. Jin-a’s then-boyfriend dumps her after calling her konjac, implying she is bland and uninteresting.
At work, she faces sexual harassment from her male bosses while struggling with everyday office politics. At home, living with her family, her overbearing mother treats her differently to her younger brother who is grad school. The only support she gets is from her childhood friend, Seo Kyung-seon (Jang So-yeon).
Things change when Kyung-seon’s brother Seo Joon-hee (a pitch-perfect performance by Jung Hae-in) returns from the States and works in the same building as Jin-a. A sweet reunion that starts off as dongsaeng-noona mealtime quickly transforms into a heart-wrenching and passionate love story between two well-written characters.
The series gives us a closer look at many things, particularly woman’s lives in South Korea and anywhere generally – regarding work, relationship, and self-worth. It is a heartbreaking, funny, romantic, and full of gender counter-stereotypes. It is the kind of series that keeps you smitten for the romance, while breaking your heart to pieces. Powered with the top-form performances of the cast, especially Son Ye-jin and Jung Hae-in, Something in the Rain is a rare gem that only comes once or twice.
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Tackling Women Issues at Work
Before her sweet-and-steamy relationship with Joon-hee, Jin-a lives a rather charmless life She is constantly undermined by her mother and brother who know nothing about the challenges she faces. Her mother openly overpraises her son, calling him the only hope for the family. Jin-a has to endure her mother’s nagging over her single status and her drinking habit. Even their neighbors have something to say about Jin-a’s prospect at marriage.
The JTBC’s 2018 drama also tackles the issues that women have to face at work: discrimination and sexual harassment. Those two themes are no stranger to Korean drama series and movies. Misaeng: Incomplete Life, Because This is My First Life, and 2019 award-winning movie Kim Ji-young: Born in 1982 are just few of South Korea’s movie industry’s attempts to give a glimpse of what working women have to deal.
In Something in the Rain, Jin-a’s intention to not draw attention to herself led to her tolerating harassment by her incompetent male bosses, especially during company’s after-work dinner and drinking rituals. If she refuses to “entertain” them by pouring their drinks, or singing and dancing along with them, she would be branded impolite or unprofessional.
But this drama captures the essence of shared experiences and empathy between women. One of Jin-a’s superiors, Jung Young-in (Seo Jeong-yeon), embodies the powerful career-woman who is constantly undermined by her male equals. Tough as a nail, she forms union-like group for female employees with shared harassment experiences.
Best Romantic Korean Drama
The central story line, however, is Jin-a’s relationship with Joon-he, who is almost-ten-years her junior. The drama handles the taboo concerning older women dating younger men deftly. Jin-a’s relationship with the only man who respects her worth parallels her own adventure of breaking barriers within herself.
As their romance blooms, she steps out of her comfort zone, standing up to the injustices at her workplace, and working to mobilize support from her other female co-workers. Rather than focusing on the taboo, Something in the Rain chooses to tell the story of a woman liberating herself so she could love freely.
This drama has taught me, as a man, that it is, indeed, hard to be a woman, even today, as stated in the Tammy Wynette’s classic tune “Stand By Your Man”, the series soundtrack. But unlike what the late Ms. Wynette said, it is a lot more complicated than about “giving all her love to just one man”. Just ask Jin-a.