A 19-year-old girl with a rare growth disorder that leaves her in the body of a small child meets a boy with a mental disorder, who has the mind of a small boy in a 17-year-old's body. A Friendly Winter shares with us the endearing story of their day-to-day lives, joys and tribulations.
Have you ever cried over a fictional work? Do you think you're beyond that sort of silly, weak reaction? Think you're a tough kid? Think again, because 'The Friendly Winter' is about to show you just how much of a vulnerable little girl you are on the inside.
As you may have gotten from the synopsis, this Korean webtoon is centered on two characters who have rather special circumstances surrounding their growth. Da-Jeong is a 19-year old trapped in a child's body, while Min-seong is a 17-year old guy with a child's mind. Apparent from the day they first met, they complement each other very
well, and against the trash of society who judge, ridicule, and take advantage of their disabilities, they do well to protect each other in various ways. Da-Jeong has quite a few devious tactics up her sleeve, taking full advantage of her innocent and cute appearance to appeal to the public's sympathies, while Min-seong has his mature stature to help along the way. In this dynamic, Da-Jeong plays the big sister role most of the time, and their misadventures around town start off with a lighthearted mood.
But wait, there's more! Just as you settle down and get comfortable with the story, the feels start rolling in relentlessly, and here's where the reality of the characters starts to show itself. You seriously didn't think that this kind of subject matter would be all fun and games, did you? While Da-Jeong keeps up a sassy and adorable front in public, the truth is that she's really vulnerable and feels deeply insecure about her physical condition. Going beyond her limitations of wearing children's clothing and being in a child's body, her insecurities are driven strongly by her mother's divorce from the family and her inability to work and support the family. Finances are barely kept afloat by her father's dwindling wages, her own mother left her because of her 'disability', and she can hardly lift her head to face her issues upfront. On the other hand, Min-seong's parents had already left him one way or another, and his current adoptive mother was ousted from her family because she refused to leave this 'retarded' child. Nothing breaks Min-seong's heart more than his mother's tears, and he can't stand the fact that he drags his mother down every time he screws up or gets hurt from something.
So you'd think that the drama of this story is driven by our pity for the characters. Nooo, no no no. What hits hardest isn't sadness or tragedy; it's the raw emotional appeal of compassion and love. It's to have friends and family stick with them through thick and thin. It's to have their loved ones tell them that everything is going to be alright when they need it most. It's through bright and infectious smiles, genuine heart-to-heart talks, and the strength to defy the world's expectations and do what they really want to do. And finally, it's to have struggled through trial and tribulation together, that they learn to treasure each other more than anything else in the world. I dare you not to tear up after all of that.
Speaking of defying expectations, if the only thing keeping you back from reading this webtoon is the worry that the art may not be up to par, I beg your pardon. This full-color work has realistic backgrounds, a soft and warm color scheme, competent character designs, and consistently good quality. Bewildered by Korean names? Just remember Da-Jeong and Min-seong, and you're pretty much set. Any other worries or concerns? Suck it up, and go read this webtoon now. The characters are brilliant, the drama is evocative, and the overall experience is beautiful. Seriously, you won't regret it.
This deep psychological drama turn out to be shallow melodrama about bad parents and whiny children.
The Friendly Winter is perhaps the most melodramatic work out there. 87% of the chapters include at least one crying scene. The crying scenes aren't very short, they often take 3-5 pages of 'byyhyyy', 'mooooo-ooooom' and various sobbing sounds to stop. And usually they don't stop, some other character just starts to cry with the first crying person and then the chapter is over without anything being add to the story, to the characters nor the reading experience.
The main theme of the story is regret and letting go, except
the message itself is that you will always regret and can't let go. It's not a story about developing characters or overcoming an obstacle in your life. It is a story about crying until others start crying with you and for you. If you cry everywhere, the odds that the person who is making you cry will hear you cry grow spectacularly and they might even start crying with you.
All in all Friendly Winter is pretty easy to sum up. The characters are victims and readers are supposed to care. The manga certainly doesn't try to make one care and I don't think we should.
What's amusing with webtoons is that they are fully-colored. It lets you get more immersed into its world than any average manga/manwha out there. Couple it with a good story, pacing and characters and you'll get something similar to this series: a great experience.
Upon reading its synopsis, I got the impression that this will be again a so-so story with a so predictable outcome. I didn't bother reading it until almost a year later. After finishing the first chapter, I regret not starting it sooner. It didn't pluck my heartstrings nor made me scream "kawaii/moe" inside my head.. but it did made me ask the
question how these two people, Da-Jeong and Min-seong, and the people close to them managed to endure their circusmtances. Min-seong is mentally handicapped. He is a 17-year old guy with a mind of 10-year old. And Da-Jeong is a 19-year old girl with a body of 10 year old. It takes a lot mental toughness to go through that everyday. Both of these characters want to grow up, but was robbed by fate to be able to do so. Min-seong's very reason for wanting to grow up is to not bring more problems to her mother. Despite his young mind, he understands that her mother sacrifices and endures a lot of things for him. Da-Jeong's reason on the other hand is to erase her insecurity. Even as an adult, she still wears children's clothes. She can't openly fall in love. It's hard for her to make friends of any age. She can't do things normal young adults do. She is basically being treated as a child just because of her mere appearance. This is where the series mostly shows its psychological traits. It pulls you in and without a doubt make you wonder about so many things in life.
As some of you might predict, these two people get along with each other. Da-Jeong takes the role of the sister and Min-seong follows unconditionally (though sometimes he fails), which shows how much he trusts her. Throughout the series, you'll love and enjoy the way they interact with one another - from the time they first met, through the times they go out shopping, playing and just idling around, and through the times they face their own problems. There will be a lot of moments when you'll scratch your head and wonder how these two people with a large mental gap get along so well. You normally won't get along with someone who is significantly younger or older than you. But these two people defied that norm and will defy many other things as you read further.
In a nutshell, this series is about unconditional love and partly drama. This is how two people care for each other despite their abnormalities. This is about normal people around them being able to love and sacrifice for these two. You'll encounter some people discriminating our duo which pains me to see as a reader. At the same time it also makes me wonder if in some point of my short life I made fun of such people too. The drama isn't there to pull you into crying or feel sorry for the characters. It is not a drama that will make you frustrated or irritated or rage because of how conveniently they make you what the author wants to. Nope. It draws out compassion from you not because of THE circumstances they are in, but because you simply LOVE them and you don't want them to be in that situation. It might sound the same, however the difference is heaven and earth. When you see a homeless guy, as a sane human being, you pity them and want to help them if you are able to. But you'll have a different emotion drawn out from you when you see someone you know become homeless. It is not the situation, but the person itself in that situation.
Da-Jeong and Min-seong's story is one of the best I read this year, and perhaps one of the best I read yet. They are truly lovable, admirable and fascinating to watch. Certainly, they aren't the only characters in the series, but just in case you end up not liking any minor characters, it is already a fact you will love these two. Trust me, that's more than enough. So drop now whatever cheesy shoujo you're reading. This is something you should put in your priority list.
From some of the negative comments I see about this manhwa, it seems that people do not understand that it's a "melodrama". Tearful confessions, traumatic pasts, misunderstandings - these are all part and parcel of the genre. Either you enjoy this kind of stuff (I do) or you don't. From that perspective, "The Friendly Winter" is an excellent example of the genre and also what is commonly called a "pure romance", or a romantic plot that focuses more on feelings of love and affection and not particularly on sexual romance.
Interestingly enough, despite the two main leads having disabilities, the drama actually focuses on normal
family issues with their particular circumstances only standing in sometimes as a catalyst for very real and very normal issues that many people face in their life. Chief among these are feelings of abandonment, regret and frustration. It's one of the nice things about this manhwa - there are no villains here, just an assortment of good people who are trying their best to deal with difficult circumstances. Because of this, the drama and characters really come to life and draw you in to the ongoing plot.
On a technical level, while the story itself has some issues with both pacing and uneven tone (particularly it's noticeable when the author got contract extensions on the chapters), the characterizations remain compelling throughout and the beautiful full color artwork really keeps you engaged with the story.
If you're a fan of melodrama or tear-jerkers in general, then "The Friendly Winter" really delivers.