Forecasting Love And Weather: A soggy, contrived K-drama romance that is a sinful waste of Song Kang, Park Min-young

In February, the lovers of K-dramas were spoilt for choice as three Korean shows released on Netflix in one week; two actually came out on the same day. The trouble was — which one to pick up first. While Son Ye-jin celebrated friendship in Thirty Nine, the wholesome-sounding fencing drama starring Nam Joo-hyuk and Kim Tae-ri sounded like a good bet too. My first choice, however, was Forecasting Love And Weather with Song Kang and Park Min-young. The show’s posters and teasers were generating a strong hype, owing to its strong cast, not to mention that I quite liked the lead pairing. There’s always a freshness about office romances if done right, especially if they feature Park Min-young.

My romantic sensibilities were still recovering from Song Kang’s last show, Nevertheless, where he played an enigmatic, non-committal and broody character Ja-eon, torn between lust and love — a rather rare premise for a K-drama. The feisty, ever reliable Park Min-young is always a joy. Both the leads have an unusual talent of creating chemistry with all their co-stars, so I thought that this couldn’t be a wrong decision. I was all set for an all-consuming emotional office romance set at a weather forecasting agency.

Well, I was wrong. How do you take two actors with such inflammable chemistry and literally douse it with a heavy downpour?

There are still two episodes left, but unless they perform some spectacular miracle that lifts the season out of its current spate of drudgery and absolve the show of its criminal waste of two phenomenal talents, I have little hope. I’ll watch the last two episodes of course,  just to see whether they can to try and salvage the show.

The show is set at a weather forecasting center where tensions run high, pressure mounts to a boiling point as employees set about trying to predict the weather forecast for the next day. They sit and read a massive number of files everyday day, compile enormous amounts of data, and listen to abusive phone. They don’t seem to be doing an entirely commendable job, because in several episodes they bungled the forecast, which apparently results in a furious nation protesting at their doorstep. It was actually interesting to learn about professional hazards at a weather forecasting agency because I had no idea that a sudden drizzle, or a heat wave could cause such intense reactions, invariably culminating in a drink of soju at the nearest bar. It takes effort to create a story around people being so passionately invested in weather, so I’ll give the creator that credit. The idea that the show tries to promote is that love and relationships are unpredictable just like weather.

Meet Jin Ha-kyung (Min-young), a woman dedicated to the cause of weather, and struggling to come to terms with heartbreak, as she caught her fiancé having an affair with someone else. Life is a game, and it turns out that his new flame is the ex-girlfriend of the overtly chirpy Si-woo (Song Kang), who works at the same weather forecasting agency as she does. In the second episode itself, sparks fly between Ha-kyung and Si-woo, and after much hesitation, they decide to date, but secretly. Of course, that won’t go well.

The first few episodes were promising, and seemed as if they were building up to something deeper and more profound as our two protagonists were trying to cope with their emotionally damaged selves, despite the annoying presence of their exes. Apart from this, it is a daring feat for the characters in a K-drama to jump into a romance in the second episode itself, as most of us who have consumed shows like these by the dozen, know the eternal wait till Episode 14 where the characters finally acknowledge their feelings by holding hands. Could this be a more mature and sensible Korean show that delves into the nuances of a romance between two broken people?

Song Kang Song Kang and Park Min-young in Forecasting Love Amd Weather (Photo: Netflix)

It might have seemed that way at first. The showrunners seemed to be torn between a deep emotional storyline and a non-cerebral romance, and decided to mix it up in a rather unappealing manner. It’s as if the creators had decided that they had only 16 episodes, and crammed every possible emotional storyline they could think of into the show. You know that feeling when you want to cook something, you follow the recipe book for a while, and then decide to go rogue, add all sorts of spices just because they’re there. Long story short — it never ends well. You’ve got stalker-ish fiances, fist-fights over a woman, disappointing fathers, sudden accidents, panicky mothers, angry mothers, unplanned pregnancy—I won’t be surprised if there is a serial killer on the loose in the finale.

The romance between the two leads began to feel contrived halfway through the show. The chemistry fizzled out, as they barely spend enough time with each other, without squabbling or in awkward silences. The conflicts become mangled and confused—as insecurity about their pasts emerge, a sudden discussion on marriage, and an absolutely despicable father roaming around and demanding money from a harrowed son. What was further annoying was that the story of the two cheating exes took up half the run-time. They are not redeemed for the trauma they’ve caused—instead they’re hoisted upon us, in the hope that we grow to like them and understand them. It is almost infuriating to watch Ha-kyung’s ex-fiance following her around with Si-woo, and then acting as if he is the victim.

I tried to see the good side of them, I really did. However, they were completely unlikeable, toxic and detestable characters, who also seemed hung up on their former flames in many ways, creating further hurdles for their own marriage as well as the other two. They’ve got a pregnancy storyline going on at the moment, and all I could think is, why should I care?

The conflicts between Ha-kyung and Si-woo began to feel forced and hemmed in, and after a point, even the smattering of romantic moments couldn’t quite save the show. Song Kang’s Si-woo seems very patchy and fragmented, and he seems to be struggling to bring out the nuance and demons of his character.

Ha-kyung decides to distance herself from Si-woo on realising that he doesn’t want to get married, but seems unclear on whether she really wants that or not. She sends him away to get data on the upcoming typhoon, where he gets involved in a freak accident. Si-woo suffers an injury to his eyes, and it’s only momentary. This part feels like deliberate bait for the audience to be pulled back into the show. They break up in the rain, for reasons that are not even explained properly—and the break-up is again reiterated in the following episode, just in case, we were not distraught enough I do want to feel sad, truly, but instead, I’m just confused. Give me some reason for feeling sad; I’m ready with the tissues.

Normally in K-dramas, the stories of the side-characters are just as engaging, but the show seemed to have faltered on that front as well. There’s another disappointing father figure who hasn’t spent time with his family in years, as he was too obsessed with the weather (apparently that’s a thing here) and now wants to make amends. Again, we’re expected to like a character without any redeeming qualities.

The only enjoyable, wholesome storyline in the show is the love story between Ha-kyung’s solitary neighbour and her sister—the ‘Penguin’ couple as the fandom likes to call them. Now that’s a story I would like to watch more of. Kim Mi-yung resonates beautifully as a desi mother, trying to get her daughters married. But these moments are far and few in between.

If you’re still keen on the show, it’s on Netflix. But take my advice and go watch Twenty Five-Twenty One instead.

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