Final Call: “My Spring Day”
“My Spring Day” is, for me, a difficult drama to analyze. Should I talk first about the strong beginning and conclusion, or the slow middle episodes? Should I discuss the gorgeous visuals, or the fact that they were rarely used to advance the plot? Should I bring up the uniformly excellent cast, or bemoan how every secondary character was underutilized? This is the truth: I don’t think that “My Spring Day” was an exceptionally bad drama, but I was happy when it finished, because watching it (especially those middle episodes, after Bom Yi broke up with Dong Wook but before she got sick) felt more like a chore than a pleasure.
I’ve done enough browsing on the Internet to see that my opinion is not necessarily the majority one — which is totally fine! Even if I didn’t love “My Spring Day”, I’m happy that there were many people who found it moving. So, in that spirit, let’s start by looking at what was good about it.
If I were ever to recommend “My Spring Day” to anyone, it would be on the basis of the cast. The acting was fantastic across the board, especially from Sooyoung and Kam Woo Sung. I confess, when I first read the premise of this drama, I was hesitant. A romance between a 27-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man? But these two truly sold the relationship as one between equals — two people with a huge age gap who nonetheless had a real connection and treated each other with respect and a healthy dose of humor. Towards the end, as Bom Yi’s condition worsened, their performances got even better as they had to portray true love and dedication in the face of despair. Kam Woo Sung was especially wonderful — the moments in which Dong Ha allowed himself to break down were nothing short of heartbreaking. (Those final episodes in the hospital were also really good across the board — excellently acted, full of pain tempered with optimism and hope.)
The rest of the cast was also great (I was especially impressed by Kwon Hae Hyo, who between “My Spring Day” and “Secret Door” has the market cornered on awesome dads). Honestly, though, they didn’t need to be. This drama really was the Bom Yi and Dong Ha show. Our nominal second leads, played by Lee Joon Hyuk and Jang Shin Young, had a really sweet storyline that barely got any screen-time. There were a host of problems at the hospital run by Bom Yi’s parents, but we didn’t really get to see them, and their exact nature and cause wasn’t clarified until episode 15. I can’t believe I’m complaining about insufficient hospital politics, but I do find it strange that we were clearly supposed to care about the welfare of the hospital without being given any real information about it.
This gets to the root of my problem with “My Spring Day”, which is an issue of writing more than anything. If the writer wanted to focus this tightly on Bom Yi and Dong Ha, then I think this should have been a film, not a drama. Bom Yi and Dong Ha’s relationship as we saw it here does not have 16 hours worth of story — which is why the middle episodes were slow. There were so many scenes of Bom Yi and Dong Ha staring sadly at each other or into the middle distance because there was nothing moving the plot. In a more compact medium, like a film, we could have seen the same story, but compressed and without filler — and I personally would have vastly preferred that option.
But since “My Spring Day” was a drama, not a film, 16 hours was what we had. And since there were 16 hours to fill, I genuinely do not understand why we didn’t spend more time with the second leads and the hospital storyline. Lee Joon Hyuk could have been taken out of the drama after Bom Yi broke up with him, and it would not have made a difference. Jang Shin Young’s character could have been eliminated entirely, and it would not have made a difference. Bom Yi’s parents could have worked anywhere — the fact that they ran a hospital did not make a difference.
Again, I know that a lot of people really loved this drama. And I think I can understand why. If you really loved Bom Yi and Dong Ha and their romance, it might not matter to you that the plot was slow or that the other characters were under-used, because what you cared about was these two people and their feelings. But personally, though I liked Bom Yi and Dong Ha, I did not love them, and so their slow, languorous romance was not enough for me. I needed a plot that moved. But outside of the first and final four episodes (give or take), very little happened. I needed well-developed secondary characters. Instead, there were good actors giving good performances for five minutes an episode. As the isolated story of two people, “My Spring Day” may have worked (and did, for many people). But as a 16-episode drama with an ensemble cast, it did not quite work for me.
But enough about what I thought! Let us know how you felt about “My Spring Day” in the comments below!