This article contains mild spoilers.
Meteorology is a notoriously difficult field of study, but that doesn't stop us from complaining about the weather forecasters who didn't warm us to bring our umbrellas once the first drop of rain wets our hair. They incur our wrath when they're wrong, but when they're right, we take it for granted.
How often do we think about how complicated that work is, or consider the tempestuous storms that may be going on in the lives of those forecasters?
Now's your chance to find out as the private and professional lives of the analysts at the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) come under the loop in Forecasting Love and Weather, the latest show from JTBC, now streaming around the world on Netflix.
The set-up is a familiar one as we find ourselves in a clean work environment full of consummate professionals.
Just like She Would Never Know, another JTBC show that came out in early 2021, we follow a gutsy career-minded woman at the tail end of a long-term relationship with a colleague, and whose life is slowly upended by a brilliant, younger and very assured colleague.
Here, the woman is veteran team leader Jin Ha-kyung, played by Park Min-young, returning to the small screen two years after the similarly titled When the Weather Is Fine. Ha-kyung is engaged to be married to her colleague Han Ki-joon (Yoon Park), the KMA's public spokesperson.
The boy is played by the ubiquitous Sweet Home and Nevertheless star Song Kang, in his fifth K-drama starring role in just 14 months.
Song is Lee Si-woo, a sweet and perpetually grinning young man working in a different KMA station who gets very serious when he talks about the weather and gets himself noticed by the top brass after predicting a few improbable meteorological phenomena.
He's also dating the young weather reporter Choi Yoo-jin (Yura), but she seems to have checked out of the relationship.
Ha-kyung is a by-the-books analyst while Si-woo tends to go with his gut, so naturally, their first interactions are a little heated, particularly when the very junior Si-woo insists that the KMA issue a heavy rain alert when there isn't a cloud in the sky. Of course, he turns out to be correct.
Speaking of unexpected storms, one brews on the home front as well as Ha-kyung arrives home one day to find Ki-joon in bed with another woman, who is none other than Yoo-jin. The wedding is called off and the churlish Ki-joon almost immediately ties the knot with his new squeeze.
Two months later, tensions are high at the office since everyone is aware of the break-up. Even though Ha-kyung has just been promoted to director of her team, Ko Bong-chan (Kwon Hae-hyo), the head of the agency, is urging her to take a foreign posting in Europe - another plot point it shares with She Would Never Know .
Ha-kyung's woes don't stop there as Si-woo is transferred to her office and the pair once again get in each other's hair. Yet their acrimonious relationship takes a turn when they begin to commiserate over their exes.
In one early scene, a chef in a sushi bar is torn between two patrons that keep asking him to turn up and turn down the heating. Those patrons are revealed to be Ha-kyung and Si-woo. They visit the same sushi bar later on when they console each other, and this time they present a unified front, and both ask the chef to turn down the heating.
Forecasting Love and Weather is full of these little details of personal and atmospheric variations. The weather is a powerful symbolic tool in storytelling; particularly in Korean dramas, partly owing to the country's stark four seasons, the weather has been used to memorable effect.
This show bakes the use of these visual signals of inner turmoil into its DNA by taking place at the KMA.
Just like the comfort afforded by a gentle patter on a rainy day, viewers can appreciate the show's simple and effective metaphors and relish some of the tongue-in-cheek ones, like when an argument between three colleagues concerning three approaching air masses thickens the atmosphere in the office.
These pleasing metaphors alone make the show stand out compared to something like She Would Never Know, but furthering its appeal are its positive gender representations.
Early on, Ha-kyung exhibits shades of being a dry and self-serious woman whose analytical inflexibility allowed a hailstorm to batter the country without proper warning, but we later discover that the writers hid some information from us.
By episode two, Ha-kyung quickly becomes a more impressive character and when she launches into a very public argument with her ex in the halls of the agency, her stern dressing down of her cad of a former lover draws cheers from onlookers, and likely from many of us watching at home as well.
Forecasting Love and Weather is streaming on Netflix.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.