There will be spoilers for the manhwa series December Rain.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to murder, death, blood, violence, suicide, gun violence, homelessness, dementia, framed for crime, torture, false imprisonment, sexual assault, assault, homomisia, hostage situation, police corruption, and rape, as it appears in the manhwa.
Suchae has just finished his required military service. Rather than going home to rest and plan his future, he hits the road to travel with no destination in sight. While at a bus terminal, in the public bathrooms, he hears a fellow traveler pleasuring himself in the stall next door. Though disgusted, when he sees the man on the bus, he finds that the stranger is exactly his type. Not that that means much since the moment Suchae gets off the bus, they will probably never see each other again.
Suchae heads to the nearest village, seeking a room, only to find the one place renting rooms is housed by an older woman who has dementia and cannot rent any longer. Suchae is just about to head to the next village when the older woman mistakes him for her grandson and demands that he stay with her. Though Suchae tries to explain that he isn't who she thinks he is, he finds that the woman could benefit from him being around and slips into the role of her grandson while helping ensure that she is being looked after. While picking up some things from the market, Suchae happens upon a person passed out on the ground. To his surprise, it is the stranger from the bus. He takes the stranger back to his grandma's house, where he nurses him back to health.
The stranger's name is Gusam. He's homeless and on the run, having woken up some time ago to find himself and the room covered in blood. He supposedly murdered someone after blacking out, and his only option was to run away. Unfortunately, he was caught on CCTV, and he has the police on the hunt for the mysterious killer. Gusam is desperate to get away, even from the warmth and kindness given to him by Suchae and his grandma, but after some intimate nights with Suchae, Gusam finds himself unwilling to part with him. Can these two find happiness despite the hopeless circumstances around them? Or are they destined for tragedy?
The art is rough. I am not a fan of it. The art on the cover is the prettiest it gets, which is quite lovely, but that's not how it looks all the time, unfortunately. The style often forgoes noses when the character is facing forward, which I hate. It's a very soft style, though, which I can appreciate. It really sets up this raw and vulnerable relationship between two hurt and lonely individuals, which is my favorite setup. I also have to mention how much I hate Suchae's haircut. The buzzcut makes total sense for his character, but I hate it all the same. That is totally my preference and shouldn't reflect on the quality of the work itself, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it.
While the art isn't my favorite, the story is probably one of my favorites. I should mention that the main story doesn't have a quintessential happy ending. If you liked A Home Far Away, I have no doubt you will love this. It has very similar narrative beats, with these two coming together by happenstance, finding some hope and solace in their shared pain, only to find a hopeless path before them. It's also a bit reminiscent of Metro, though it isn't as similar. Once again, it ends in shared tragedy, with the two deciding to go into the ocean together and drown. With how this all was going, I just didn't foresee any other outcome for them that was remotely positive. Gusam and Suchae would have both been persecuted for murder, which would lead to them being separated again, whether it be through the prison system or their respective death sentences. The only way to stay together and free would be in death.
I was completely fine with a negative ending. I don't believe that romances have to have happy endings or stereotypically happy endings. What is a happy ending for one person may not necessarily be a happy ending for someone else, so I was totally satisfied with the main story ending as it was. Some people feel very strongly that a romance has to have a happy ending, and this one is somewhat questionable on that front. However, we are gifted with a beautiful side story showing the two having been reborn to presumably loving families in the future. There is a lovely touch of the two being shown as crying newborns, a call back to their past lives having ended so sadly.
They had the chance to grow up, explore their dreams, and live the lives they wanted for themselves without the fear and persecution from their pasts. Unfortunately, they are entirely separate from each other and don't seem to recall anything from their past… until they happen to pass each other on the street. The moment they see each other, their memories return, and they run into each other's arms. It's a stunning moment that feels well deserved after the pain and suffering they went through in their past. I also have to point out that we get to see Suchae with longer hair, which I really appreciated, along with the sweet touch of him being a photographer, a beautiful callback to their past lives where he frequently took pictures. It was also a gift that just kept on giving. We get glimpses of their much happier life together, where they publically date and marry each other.
I love this. I love a romantic tragedy, and this is very much that. It makes you feel so many things in such a brief whirlwind, which makes the narrative fly by. I was perfectly fine with the somber main story ending, but for those who need a happy resolution in their romance, you get that as well. It's just such a nice touch. I just wish the art had been better, but otherwise, it is pretty near perfection to me. You'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't give this one a go.
Have you read December Rain? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!