I’m confused why people think that Love Rain is set in the 1970s. In one episode, college student In Ha invites Yoon Hee to a screening of the movie Love Story, which they’re re-screening in Korea as part of its 10th year anniversary. It doesn’t take a genius to look up that Love Story came out in 1970, so ten years after that would not be 1970, unless you’re using funny math.
The creators of this Korean drama are obvious fans of that movie, referencing to it at various points in the drama. For the heroine, Yoon Hee, the movie was her parents’ favorite and it has remained as one of her strongest memories of them since they’ve passed away. The famous line “love means never having to say that you’re sorry” is repeated at various points throughout the drama, with certain characters positing their own interpretations of what that statement means to them.
Nostalgia is a powerful, if underestimated, motivator. There’s something about human nature that makes us yearn for the past that was. Even if the actual past events were not as wonderful when they were happening at the time, in remembering, we color them with the rosy hue and leave out the harsh gritty details. Mundane experiences become exciting, ordinary stories are retold with great gusto, even previously unfunny jokes are greeted with loud peals of laughter. If you’ve ever been to a reunion — family, school, or otherwise — you’ll be able to see this behavior first-hand (if not indulge in it yourself).
Seo In Ha (played by actor Jang Keun Suk) and Kim Yoon Hee (played by Girl’s Generation’s Yoona) were each other’s first love. Due to circumstance beyond their knowledge and control, they were separated, only meeting up thirty years later. At that point, they’ve both been married, have had children, and their respective careers. They never expected to see the other again, even though the events of their college years have and continue to affect them strongly.
For In Ha, nostalgia and the events of the past have stunted his emotions. He has not been able to move past the pain of losing Yoon Hee. While he married and had a family, his true heart remained with his first love, and he didn’t want to share any part of it with the people who occupied his present. He became a ghost of his former self, moving and living by route, shackled by the past. What I think is even worse is that everyone in his life knew it — both his wife and his son knew that he still couldn’t get over his first love. In Ha wore his hurt as his badge of courage; not realizing (or more accurately, not caring) that the reason why his whole life was falling into pieces was his inability to move on.
Yoon Hee, on the other hand, has used the events of the past to sustain her. Like In Ha, she married and had a family, but she used the love that she experienced with In Ha as a source of strength. She drew upon the sweet memories of her first love in the same way that one would look back through a photo album; glad that those experiences happened, but they are past, and they will remain in the past. While she would’ve wanted to stay with In Ha back then, she knew it wasn’t possible. Subsequent events in her life have led her to where she is now, and she wouldn’t have given up those experiences to turn back the clock. Her life hasn’t been pleasant all the way, but she is more accepting of the realities of the journey.
Granted, I am oversimplifying the stories and the characters for the sake of this post. In any kdrama (or any narrative worth telling), there are layers of nuance and subtlety that I didn’t even touch on. Maybe the reason Yoon Hee has that attitude about nostalgia is because she’s had numerous traumatic events even earlier on in life, so her resilience was honed that way. Maybe In Ha’s personality is more vulnerable and introspective and that’s why unhappy events affect him more. Who really can decipher the reasoning why humans act such.
Our memories and perception of the past, whether we would like to admit it or not, have shaped our conscious decisions and behavior. So I think it’s unrealistic to tell someone to just forget and let go. I think we each make our own values and we should follow where these values take us. Having said that, I also place high importance on growth and resilience — our past has happened, and we can look back at it however way we wish, but there is no worth stagnating and staying still. Either move forward or back, just don’t stay there.