Netflix Original Something in the Rain (or Pretty Noona Who Buys me Food) is a Korean drama that was released in March 2018. Critically acclaimed and boasting some of the highest ratings ever on Korean television, the show remains somewhat under the radar in Western spheres. On the surface, it is a humble love story. But hidden beneath a romance-centric facade is a poignant account of a woman’s pursuit for autonomy at home and at work. Something in the Rain exemplifies the ideal amalgamation of masterful storytelling and societal reflection, elements of which are imperative to the truthful and emotive onscreen portrayal of female narratives.
Something in the Rain tells the story of Jin-ah (Son Ye-jin), a thirty-five year old career woman who must navigate the dissolution of a toxic relationship and the beginning of a new romance with a younger man, Joon-hee (Jung Hae In). She must also traverse an escalating issue with sexual harassment at her workplace. Jin-ah experiences these trials alongside scrutiny from her family, friends, and colleagues. Director Ahn Pan-seok adopts a particularly languid approach to capturing each scene, dwelling in extended moments of silence or minimal action. The camerawork is minimalist and voyeuristic. Ahn’s tentative framing often refrains from intruding the character’s space, as if the viewer is observing a veiled moment they shouldn’t. It is this style that communicates the heart of the story so well, as we are completely immersed into the characters’ lives that feel so genuine and personal. The candid, natural acting and avoidance of usual K-drama elements, such as cartoon-like sound effects or cutesy, exaggerated displays of affection known as aegyo, make a perfect vehicle for its more serious undertones and slice-of-life approach. Although Something in the Rain addresses broad social issues like domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and harmful societal expectations, it is first and foremost a humanistic portrayal of a woman’s claim for empowerment in her own life.
To accompany its leisurely style, the story gently unravels over sixteen 70-80 minute episodes. Alongside the development of Jin-ah’s romantic relationship with Joon-hee, the company at which she works begins an investigation into habitual sexual harassment by its male colleagues. As she becomes a central figure in the scandal, Jin-ah must choose how to assert herself. Over the series, her relationship with Joon-hee, as well as her friends’ and family’s criticism of it, provokes an affirmative change in how she views her self-worth. As she begins to defy the disapproving and dominating network of people around her, Jin-ah crafts a redemptive journey for herself that frees her from the submissive bearing she always assumed. Although establishing an insular, intimate storyworld for these characters, the series ultimately conveys a grander triumph for a familiar narrative of female oppression. This twofold accomplishment is what truly resonates with the viewer, and how Something in the Rain demonstrates the need for more storytellers to convey female narratives in such a heartfelt and powerful way. Nothing that happens to Jin-ah is sensationalised or exploited. Rather, her struggles and upheavals are portrayed in a realistic yet heart-breaking manner, echoing the relentless and commonplace challenges women must endure in reality.
Mila Fielker is a recent graduate in Film Studies from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. She hopes to start a Masters next year in either the UK or South Korea. Mila adores Westerns, pop culture and multicultural arts. She also instagrams at @mila.vio.