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Recap: At a Distance, Spring is Green


Country: South Korea

Number of episodes: 12

Genre: Romance,  Coming Of Age, Slice Of Life


Synopsis

At a Distance, Spring is Green is a coming-of-age campus drama following the stories of three people and the struggles they face in their twenties.

Nam Soo Hyun is seen by others as a hardworking student gifted with good looks and perfect grades. What people don’t know is that he struggles between student life and his significant lack of funds. While his classmates can enjoy the luxuries of their youth, Soo Hyun’s financial situation requires him to spend all of his time working part-time jobs to financially support his brother and mother. Only focusing on making money, he closes himself off to others, making him seem cold.

Kim So Bin is a third-year student who, throughout her life, has always been just average. Growing up average has left her with very little confidence and unable to speak up. Despite her less than exceptional personality and achievements, she tries to turn around her school life.

Yeo Joon is a freshman who is popular on campus due to his looks and money. He is often buying things for his classmates and is always seen with a charming smile. Despite his popularity with his classmates, he receives no affection from his family and uses his campus popularity as a replacement.

Following other webtoons remade into Korean dramas, this drama is an adaptation of an ongoing Korean webtoon by the name of “Meorliseo Bomyun Peureun Bom”.


Characters

 Yeo Joon Kim So Bin Nam Soo Hyun 

Out of all the characters in this drama, he suffers from the most trauma. While he looks happy and outgoing to others, he secretly struggles with the hate and abuse he receives from his family. He ultimately looks for false acceptance from others, using fake relationships in place of the affection he doesn’t receive from his family.

Despite feeling like he is alone and having no genuine feelings for others, he manages to open up to So Bin and Soo Hyun. In his relationship with the other leads, we can see how his family issues play a large part in the type of relationship he forms with them.

While he and So Bin have a romantic relationship, their relationship is centered less around physical attraction and more on the deep care and understanding they have for one another. This type of affection is similar to what he lacks from his mother. In terms of his relationship with Soo Hyun, who is older, he looks for the brotherly love missing from his brother.

So Bin is a character who, despite being extremely hardworking, is unable to stand out. Because she lacks confidence, she tends to keep to herself and doesn’t like to try anything new.
Before meeting Yeo Joon, she lacks courage and comes off as quite meek, making her an easy target for others to take advantage of.

Similar to Yeo Joon, she also has past family trauma (abandonment issues) and stays by his side because she can relate to his pain of feeling alone and not having support.

Another trait she has is that she is very loyal to her friends and peers, even being a pushover and putting her feelings aside for others.

Soo Hyun is a character who chooses not to interact with others and at times comes off as rude and arrogant.
After the death of his father, Soo Hyun had to take on the responsibility of providing for his family from a young age. This left him never being able to have fun and always being serious.

Initially, he dislikes Yeo Joon, who is the complete opposite of him, but over time, his heart softens up to him.

Min Joo

Young Ran

Chan Ki

Nam Gu Hyun

A campus beauty with a rough personality. She is the roommate and friend of So Bin and Young Ran.

Roommate and friend of both Min Joo and So Bin and the childhood friend of Soo Hyun.

Childhood friend of So Bin

Brother of Soo-Hyun.

Yeo Joon Wan

Yeo Myung Hoon

Cha Jung Joo

Jung Ho

Yeo Joon’s older brother and a professor at  Myungil university. Praised for his looks and intelligence.

Yeo Joon’s father. A successful CEO.

Yeo Joon’s mother.

A classmate of So Bin, Soo Hyun, and Yeo Joon. Uses Yeo Joon for his money.

Oh Cheon Kook

Park Hye Ji

Professor Song

Professor Park Si Jae (Eru)

A classmate of So Bin, Soo Hyun, and Yeo Joon. Uses Yeo Joon for his money.

A classmate of So Bin, Soo Hyun, and Yeo Joon. Has a crush on Yeo Joon.

Professor and has feelings for Professor Park Si Jae.
Professor and mentor to Soo Hyun. Has feelings for Professor Song.

Character Relationships

Here is a better chart.
(It is in Korean and is not English translated but sums up the relationship of the above charts.)


First Episode Recap

(Spoilers for the first episode. – Skip if necessary!)

The beginning of the first episode starts with the first day of classes. We see the campus of Myungil University set around a beautiful spring backdrop, setting a light, happy mood. The first character introduced to us is Yeo Joon, who, from the massive group of people crowding him excitedly, we can tell is quite popular. As he makes his way through the crowd, he has a huge bright smile on his face. The next shot is of him at home in a darkly lit room looking at photos of himself on his social media account while smiling. Suddenly, his smile fades as he says, “It’s the easiest thing to do, right? Making friends” before putting his head down and curling up.

The next scene is of Soo Hyun working as a sign holder while people pass by. While a couple decides to go to the restaurant advertised on the sign for a date, we hear Soo Hyun’s voiceover say “Dating? Leisure? Those are a luxury for people like me.” Shortly after, it begins to rain, but instead of leaving, he stays in the rain holding onto the sign.

So Bin is next to be introduced. She is seen diligently studying in the library, with a stack of study guides covered in highlights and sticky notes.  As a time-lapse shot shows her being the last one in the library, her voice-over says “My high school teacher once said that the hours you study determine your grades. So what now?” For a few seconds, the camera shakes and the words on her study guide appear fuzzy. This detail symbolizes her mentally reaching her breaking point.

On the first day of class, Yeo Joon accidentally spills coffee on Soo Hyun’s shoes. As an apology, Yeo Joon offers to pay for the damages, but Soo Hyun turns him down after calling him the school ATM.In her dorm, So Bin waits for her new roommate, Min Joo, who walks into the dorm with a look of disdain before introducing herself. Being nice, So Bin offers to help Min Joo with her stuff, but eventually is forced to bring in all of Min Joo’s bags by herself while Min Joo selfishly picks up a small bag.

After a night of drinking and paying for everyone’s tab, Yeo Joon goes into a convenience store, where he sees Soo Hyun working. Soo Hyun turns down Yeo Joon’s offer to hang out and coldly tells Yeo Joon that he doesn’t want to get to know him.

Wanting to be Professor Song’s research assistant, So Bin is told that Yeo Joon has already been selected for the spot, but if he gives up his position, she can take his place. Reluctantly agreeing, she decides to volunteer for the freshman trip in hopes of speaking to Yeo Joon.

Also volunteering for the same trip is Soo Hyun, who tries his hardest to stay away from Yeo Joon. During the trip, So Bin tries to gain the courage to speak to Yeo Joon but isn’t able to. After having time alone with Soo Hyun, she asks him what grade he received on the project they worked on. He reveals that he received an A+, to which she looks sad as her grade was lower than his. Thinking that there was an issue with her part of the project, she apologizes for the data she sent to him through email. Soo Hyun lets her know he never received her email and says it may have gone to spam and leaves to take care of a drunk freshman, leaving her there.

Later that evening, Yeo Joon and Soo Hyun have a short conversation in which Soo Hyun tells Yeo Joon that he doesn’t want to be his friend, but Yeo Joon is determined and says that he’ll make Soo Hyun take down his guard.

After leaving, Yeo Joon runs into his drunk friend, who is upset with him and punches him. For a few seconds, a short flashback of Yeo Joon as a boy looking scared shows as So Bin and Soo Hyun both help break up the fight. While tending to his wounds, Yeo Joon opens up to So Bin about his real feelings. This causes her to finally muster up the courage to ask him about the research position. He tells her that if she becomes his “real” friend and not a fake one, he’ll give her the position.The next day, Soo Hyun tells So Bin that he checked his spam folder and saw her email. He apologizes and promises to make it up to her. Later in the episode, Young Ran visits Soo Hyun at work to check on him and says she was worried. They have a short chat before he runs back into the store to help customers. In the next scene, Soo Hyun is seen waking up after only a few hours of sleep. Rushing to class, he sees a sign that it is canceled. On the way out he runs in Yeo Joon, who thanks him for stopping the fight. Soo Hyun rudely tells Yeo Joon that he wasn’t helping him and walks away. As he walks away, Yeo Joon finally breaks away from his on-campus persona and calls Soo Hyun agitating. Happy to see Yeo Joon being real, Soo Hyun smiles and the episode ends on a shot of Yeo Joon and Soo Hyun having a stare down as So Bin witnesses it in the background.

(Spoilers end here!)

My thoughts: I think the first episode does an excellent job at giving the audience a peek into the upcoming events as well as setting the foundation of the dynamics between the three main characters. From the initial introduction of each of the leads, we see a small glimpse of their actual feelings and not what they show others.

For Yeo Joon, we see how despite having everything, he is still sad. I think the subtle filming in the dark shows us how he metaphorically feels covered in darkness and is all alone. 

In Soo Hyun’s introduction shot, instead of taking cover from the rain or leaving work for the day, which is what most people would do, he forces himself to stay in the rain no matter how uncomfortable it is. His need for money is far greater than anything else that could happen to him. 


Themes

Mental Health

The show touches on many mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, abandonment, and PTSD, to name a few. Including the three main characters, the majority of the characters show signs of mental health issues. As the audience, we see how harmful the effects of burying these emotions are to the characters.

Friendship

Overall, the central theme of the show is largely based on friendship and how it can be healing. The comfort and support that the characters get from one another allows them to open up more.

Young Adult

This drama covers the common coming of age/youth themes found in dramas such as self discovery, love, and life obligations like being able to provide for one’s self financially.


My Reason for Watching: The Good vs Bad

The Good

  • This show touches on some very deep and relatable topics such as mental health and family trauma. Considering the negative stigma around mental health, the show accurately showed the realistic impact of mental health issues.
  • The chemistry between the male leads is perfect! The push and pull relationship wasn’t exhausting and really added another layer to the story.

The Bad

  • Maybe because it is an adaption of a BL story and had to be reworked, but the romance between Yeo Joon and So Bin feels lacking most of the time. While they started their relationship off as friends and ended up being boyfriend and girlfriend, it seems like the chemistry never evolved past the friend level. Even with the numerous hand holding and kiss scenes, they weren’t heart fluttering. 
  • The development of side characters and their relationships was extremely slow or close to nonexistent. Many of the side characters had side stories that could have been elaborated on further.

Have you watched this drama or plan on watching it? Let me know in the comments! (๑^ ^๑)


Photo Credit: Asianwiki and KBS2





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