When My Love Blooms (2020), streaming on Netflix, is a bittersweet saga of a first love forced to stand the tests of time. As far as K-dramas are considered, this one is mature in terms of screenplay and depiction. I found it strangely comforting, as if I were reading my favourite book again for the umpteenth time.
The story is told in a nostalgic tone across parallel timelines in Seoul; in the 1990s amidst student protests and a present-day capitalistic society run by conglomerate families. In the past, Yun Ji-Soo, a talented and free-spirited music major falls head over heels for a radical student activist, Han Jae-Hyun when they first meet at a university campus. Set against the backdrop of labour law protests, we are thrown into an intense whirlwind romance as the young protagonists find commonalities in books, movies, and music. In the present, unfortunately, we come to find them estranged. Jae-Hyun has become a corporate executive for a similar company that he fought against in the past, while Ji-soo juggles part-time jobs, protests, and being a single mother. However, they soon meet again as their children attend the same school.
The plot of the series relies solely on following the trials and tribulations of our protagonists’ romance, built on the premise of flashbacks. And while this could be considered lazy storytelling and may induce boredom if overdone, in this case, they seem necessary to establish the characters, whom we inevitably fall in love with. One cannot help but sympathize with the misery and sheer helplessness of these characters who are only trying to survive in a world that claims to be just but seldom plays by the rules.
We are taken on an emotional journey as we root for the underdog, who has always tried to live diligently, resenting their unfortunate fates as they prepare for a long, harsh war against a very powerful force. It is, after all, a broken country with laws full of loopholes that seem to protect those who compromise moralities every step of the way. Our star-crossed lovers are unable to move past their complicated histories, and get tangled up in memories when their paths intersect again as they desperately try to cling on to the last bit of hope.
Once the past held a lot of hopes and promises for the young lovers but now burdened adults, they are robbed of their glory and are prisoners of their unfortunate destiny. Though overly optimistic at times, the ordeals are heart-wrenching enough to keep viewers on their toes.
Even if the story sometimes disappoints in terms of clichéd narratives, it delivers when it comes to building the ambiance and mood. With a generous romantic soundtrack comprising of violin and piano pieces, as the sakura leaves fall, we are served an ample, warmhearted serving of a delightful chronicle of lost love and revival.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.