Jan 20, 2015
ZeroHumor (All reviews)
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.