(Skip to the third paragraph for my opinion on That Winter, the Wind Blows aside from my comparisons of it to Nice Guy).
Well, I guess you can say it’s pretty much like Nice Guy. A twist on a much-used melodrama storyline. While Nice Guy had a male protagonist seeking revenge on an ex-lover and a female counterpart with amnesia, That Winter, the Wind Blows has a male protagonist impersonating one of the same name and a female counterpart who’s blind. And, might I add, both male protagonists are pretty much anti-protagonists, as in those cruel, evil, sinful good-looking conmen who play with the female protagonists’ hearts and lie, cheat, deceive, etc. And even more, both are so bad because they put you (as the viewer) on the side of the male anti-protagonists, while you can’t help but sympathize with them and want them to succeed in their horrible deceit of their innocent (might I add, very pretty) female counterparts. Ughh. Both are so bad yet so good and soo annoyingly addicting.
Moreover, both are are full of eye candy. Both just had to cast some of the most pretty-faced actors in the Korean industry to make it watching them so irresistible. But in another sense, perhaps this is showing me that out of so many genres of dramas, I am a melodrama lover at heart. Just like those Korean housewives who so greatly contribute to makjang dramas’ success. But now for some more useful information and details of That Winter, the Wind Blows…
To start, That Winter, the Wind Blows stars Jo In-sung (What Happened in Bali) as anti-protagonist Oh Soo who pretends to be his friend, also named Oh Soo, after the latter dies. Song Hye-gyo (Full House) plays Oh Young, the blind sister of the friend Oh Soo, who is fooled into believing that anti-protagonist/conman Oh Soo is her real brother. And then there’s Kim Bum (Boys over Flowers) playing Park Jinsung, both Oh Soos’ friend, and Jung Eunji (Answer Me 1997) playing the sister of anti-protagonist Oh Soo’s deceased first love.
Despite the big names involved in this drama, I had only known that Level 7 Civil Servant and IRIS 2 would be broadcast at the same time, while That Winter, the Wind Blows was just some random drama flying past my radar that also shared that time-slot. But I’m so glad I gave it a chance because I find it so much more interesting than the others. Go below for some of my thoughts on Level 7 Civil Servant and IRIS 2 (which is in a way, more reason for you to watch That Winter, the Wind Blows if you’re deciding between or among the dramas.
**Disclaimer: My following judgments are primarily based on what I have read about the dramas from the recaps at Dramabeans, not necessarily from actually watching episodes of them.
Level 7 Civil Servant has been going on for quite some time now, yet while it is a rom-com, I don’t find the premises too interesting. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the movie and in general I find myself liking dramas with more emphasis on the spy aspects, not just the romance. Thus, I didn’t find it convincing or intriguing enough to sample (actually watch) an episode. Meanwhile, I have watched IRIS and Athena: Goddess of War and they weren’t necessarily my favorite dramas, but of what I remember of them, I did enjoy them (Soo Ae’s acting in the latter was a big plus). So I decided to give IRIS 2 a chance, also because I was curious as to how Lee Dahae’s acting would fare. After reading the recap for episode one, I watched episode two, which was pretty disappointing. I think the IRIS franchise has a lot of good visuals and story it can build on, but of what I saw, the execution of events and balance between the romance and action were lacking. The action seemed to use too many slow motion effects about every thirty seconds in this one chase scene, making it more difficult to enjoy. And maybe I’ve become more sensitive to the violent scenes because I didn’t find them very interesting or easy to watch (perhaps also because I wasn’t very invested in the story). Additionally, I think IRIS 2‘s depiction of the romance/main loveline as an existing part of the story from the start makes it less interesting because it wasn’t something that the audience had time to watch over, grow, and yearn for, so so far, it doesn’t seem as important or endearing as it is supposed to be. (Below is an IRIS 2 music video about the romance.)
If anyone’s wondering about the ratings race, so far it’s quite tight, but it seems that That Winter, the Wind Blows is gaining the ever-so-slight lead.
Finally, That Winter, the Wind Blows. Eye candy main characters + intriguing plot + melodrama? I’m sold. And I can’t help but want to overlook the fauxcest because both leads are so photogenic alone and look even better together with their chemistry.
But more than that, I think the reason why I find both Nice Guy and That Winter, the Wind Blows so interesting is because the bad and good of the drama are rolled into one: primarily in the fact that the male protagonists are immoral conmen, yet the dramas make you sympathize with them and want to ask if they really are so bad because they are portrayed as so essentially human. And even if they approach the female leads with evil intentions and use them for their own purposes, if the dramas are well-written, as I find them, you’re so drawn into the story that you so wish for them to succeed and wish to believe that what they’re doing is actually right, moreover trying to convince yourself that in living out their lies, they at times forget their ill intentions and really do do things out of their emotions and affections. And so it’s a moral struggle: even as you see their wrongdoing, you want to believe them and are sad when the consequences of their actions finally come around.
I wouldn’t dismiss That Winter, the Wind Blows as just your typical Korean soap opera or melodrama because it is so investing and intriguing; among other dramas, That Winter, the Wind Blows is a drama that I think my time is well-invested in (well…at least relatively well-investing in because what is a drama if it doesn’t waste your time being glued to the screen?): while watching, I haven’t encountered a moment when I’ve felt bored enough to check how much of the drama’s time is left.
Of course you might not feel the same if you’re not easily drawn by eye candy and pretty scenery or if you enjoy more lighthearted rom-com fare. Or if you don’t have time for another drama or if you’re turned off by the mere mention of drama cliches. But I can quite definitely recommend That Winter, the Wind Blows seeing how it’s come these first five episodes (and also, if this is more convincing, I must have been pretty compelled by a drama to abruptly write a post immediately after watching episode five [the second episode that I actually watched], having not written in a while.).
[Just a heads up for those looking for the drama: You can watch That Winter, the Wind Blows on Viki.com.]