Bai Jingting & Zhang Ruonan in First Frost: Hidden Love’s Spin-Off

Finally! After a long discussion on its cast and anticipation, the modern rom-com Chinese Drama ‘First Frost (难哄)’ has officially begun filming. The production team confirms Bai Jingting and Zhang Ruonan as the lead actors.

Before the cast was finalized, names like Song Weilong and Zhang Yuxi were thrown around. However, the production team ultimately chose Bai Jingting as Sang Yan and Zhang Ruonan as Wen Yi Fen.

‘First Frost’ serves as the sister novel to the widely popular Chinese drama as well as the novel, ‘Hidden Love’, focusing on the story of Sang Zhi’s brother, Sang Yan.

After the cast was officially announced, it created a buzz on Weibo. The audience reactions were mixed, with some fans expressing surprise about the casting choices. While many fans who watched ‘Hidden Love (2023)’ wanted Victor Ma as Sang Yan, and were disappointed he wouldn’t be playing the role.

Still, the series trended on Weibo in the Top 3 list of the most anticipated dramas.

For Those Unversed: Hidden Love (偷偷藏不住) is a 2023’s popular youth rom-com starring Zhao Lusi and Cheng Zheyuan. This series not only captured domestic audiences but also massive international viewers due to its lead’s magnetic natural chemistry and love-filled, airy fluffy plotline.

In the series, Zhao Lusi stars as Sang Zhi who has a crush on her elder brother, Sang Yan’s (portrayed by Victor Ma) best friend Duan Jiaxu (portrayed by Chen Zheyuan).

Hidden Love focuses on the story of Sang Zhi and Duan Jiaxu, while First Frost focuses on Sang Yan’s story. (Sang Zhi’s elder brother, Duan Jiaxu’s brother-in-law). So, First Frost is the parent story of ‘Hidden Love’ or a spin-off of it.

Well, it is understandable that some might be surprised about the casting choices. In Mainland China, it’s pretty common that they do not stick to the original casting when they adopt new stories into live-action. Even if the story is set in the same universe, timelines or characters are overlapping.

Also, this production team is different from Hidden Love. So, there’s a high probability that there might be some differences between these two productions. What I meant by saying this is, that the type of Sang Yan we saw in Hidden Love might be slightly/completely different in First Frost including his physical appearance to personality.

So, here we’ll be looking into some major plot highlights of this upcoming rom-com series. Are you curious about what kind of story you’ll be getting to watch in the series and other interesting facts related to it? If Yes, Keep reading!

First Frost – Plot Introduction

  • Episodes:30
  • Genre: Romance, Comedy, Youth
  • Director: Yvonne Yang
  • Starring: Bai Jingting, Zhang Ruonan,
  • Broadcast Time: 2025
  • Original Platform: Youku
  • Filming Period: currently in production
First Frost Chinese Drama 2025
The First Frost Drama

Plot Summary: ‘First Frost’ follows the story of Wen Yifan (played by Zhang Ruonan) who returns to her hometown for work. Unexpectedly, she crosses paths with a man who used to be her deskmate and had a crush on, Sang Yan (played by Bai Jingting). Due to some reasons, she rejected him back then.

When they meet again after many years, they both pretend like they don’t recognize each other. However, they kept on bumping into each other by chance. It’s like a twist of fate, after some problems occur, they accidentally end up becoming housemates. Everything was going well. But suddenly one day, Wen Yifan ended up waking up next to Sang Yan’s bed as she sleepwalked. This ends up intertwining their daily lives. As they get closer, buried emotions resurface, leading to an emotional rollercoaster filled with unresolved feelings and unspoken affection.

Adapted from a Popular Web Novel

The series is adapted from the web novel “First Frost” (难哄) by Zhu Yi (竹已). This novel is immensely popular among domestic audiences. There are a total of 85 Chapters with 4 extra chapters. Apart from live-action, the novel has been also adapted to Manhua which is best known for its catchy and beautiful illustrations.

First Frost is all about personal growth, healing, forgiveness, and slowly recognizing deep feelings for each other. If you are a Hidden Love fan (either a book, manhua, or TV series), you’ll surely love this one. The similarities between these series are; that both are sweet fluffy rom-coms with some mystery and past stories connected to them.

Character Introduction

  • Bai Jingting as Sang Yan
  • Zhang Ruonan as Wen Yi Fen
  • Edward Chen as Su Hao An
  • Zhang Miao Yi as Zhong Si Qiao
  • Zhai Xiao Wen as Xiang Lang

Sang Yan

Sang Yan (nickname Jiang Shuang) is a department manager and one of the owners of the Bar. He is smart, kind, super handsome, and has a practical mind. He is a bit eccentric and because of this, he has a limited number of friends. The interesting fact about this character is; that he has been secretly in love with Wen Yifen for nearly 10 years without letting her know. Overall, Sang Yan is an enigmatic character.

Wen Yi Fen

By profession, Wen Yi Fen is a journalist. She has a gentle personality but she’s awkward with strangers, so others often see her as aloof and cold. She studied ballet when she was young. But after her father passed away in her second year of high school, she didn’t get along with her step-father and step-sister, so she gave up ballet and moved in with relatives.

Sang Zhi

She is the only dearest younger sister of Sang Yan.

Duan Jiaxu

He is the best friend of Sang Yan and a boyfriend of Sang Zhi.

Zhong Si Qiao

She is the best friend of Wen Yifan.

Xiang Lang

Friend of Wen Yifan and Zhong Si Qiao

If you want to know the whole story about this drama before its premiere then you can read either Manhua or the novel. Both are available on the internet in English Translated Version. Also, If you can read Chinese, then it would be even better as you can read it in its own native Chinese language.

If you haven’t watched ‘Hidden Love’ yet, I highly recommend checking it out. Meanwhile, ‘First Frost’ has just started filming and is expected to be released in 2025, so there’s a bit of a wait. While waiting for First Frost, you can enjoy ‘Hidden Love’ on Youku.

Doubts To Cheers: Live Adaptation Surprises Fans

Initially, when the main casting was announced, it received mixed reactions from the audience. Some went on to say that this pairing does not look optimistic. According to them, Bai Jingting lacks that vibe or charm that is needed in the main male lead character, Sang Yan. While Zhang Ruonan is pretty but not as pretty as the character Wen Yifen as described in the original novel.

Meanwhile, some fans believe, Bai Jingting and Zhang Ruonan will turn out to be a great pair together. Given the facts, Bai Jinting has always had good chemistry with his previous drama’s female partners and is often counted in the list of one of the best actors.

Those who have watched Bai Jingting’s previous projects like Reset, You Are My Hero, New Life Begins, Destined, and more, are familiar with Bai Jingting and his acting ability.

On the other hand, Zhang Ruonan, a rising star in the industry is doing well in her acting career. She’s been mostly active in modern rom-coms. Due to her warm, sweet, and cute appearance, some audiences think she’s fit for the role. Earlier this year, she appeared in ‘My Boss‘ which was well received by audiences starring alongside Cheng Xingxu.

Even though there was a lot of skepticism about this pair before, after seeing some Reuters and video clips recently released on the internet from the filming site, fans seem to have changed their opinion about this pairing.

In the latest Reuters release, Bai Jingting and Zhang Ruonan were spotted at the supermarket. Fans are pleased that the live adaptation maintained the original style; from clothing to hairstyle, closely resembling the Manhua, with only minor alterations. One such change is Zhang Ruonan’s character having bangs in the drama, a deviation from the Manhua where the female lead does not sport bangs.

Supporting Cast of First Frost

The complete cast lineup has not yet been revealed. Many fans are saying, it would have been better if Zhao Lusi and Chen Zhe Yuan would have a cameo on this one. The two actors portrayed the leading characters, Sang Zhi and Duan Jiaxu in Hidden Love where audiences deeply fell in love with their undeniable chemistry.

Apart from the two main leads, actors like Zhang MiaoYi, Zhai Xiaowen, Edward Chen, and more are in the supporting cast of this series.

[We’ll update on this once the whole cast is revealed]

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