Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Classic- Winter Sonata/ Winter Love Story

If you're into Korean entertainment, you would know 'Winter Sonata'...even if you're not into the Korean wave, you would have heard of Bae Yong Joon. Of course, whether you like the drama and Bae Yong Joon or not is another matter.

Winter Sonata/ Winter Love Story

Winter Sonata sparked the huge interest in Korean drama, Korean artistes and generally, the Korean wave in Asia and possibly beyond in 2002/ 2003. Korean dramas were already popular in Taiwan and China then, but not to this extent. Of course, there are many many good dramas besides 'Winter Sonta' but I think none had the impact that it did on the Hallyu Wave and Korea tourism.

Winter Sonata was the second in the season series by PD Yoon, the first being 'Autumn in my Heart' - which made stars out of Song Seung Hun, Won Bin and Song Hae Gyo. PD Yoon had worked together with Bae Yong Joon in his first drama, 'Love's Greetings'. He was kind to the young, new actor and gave him many useful advise, so when the director asked him to act in Winter Sonata, he readily agreed. He was however, apprehensive about the first 2 episodes as he was required to act as a 18 years old student (he was already 28 then). He was afraid he would looked too old to be convincing. But PD Yoon persuaded him that it was important for the story that he should act both roles and he would be fine.

In addition, he was also nervous about having to dye his hair blond and being trendy (he's really quite conservative). Hehe! That was the first and only time he's dyed his hair. Don't think he's very comfortable with it, so I doubt he'll do it again.

Both Bae Yong Joon's 'Hotelier' and Choi Ji Woo's 'Beautiful Days' were fighting for ratings in 2001, so it was a little ironical that they would both be in the same drama a year later. But this was not their first drama together, 'First Love' in 1997 was their first. Here's an interesting blog about this great drama.


In 'Winter Sonata', Bae Yong Joon played 2 characters- Kang Joon Sang and Lee Min Hyung. As the 18 years old Kang Jun Sang, he went to his parents' high school in Chun Cheon in search of his father. There he met and fell in love with Jung Yu Jin (Choi Ji Woo).. a happy, kind and fun girl.


Kim Sang Hyuk (Park Yong Ha) is the model student and has known Yu Jin since young. He is in love with her. Oh Chae Rin is a pretty, confident girl who pretty much gets the man she wants, except for Joon Sang.

Complications set in when Joon Sang first thought Sang Hyuk's father was his own father. Then later, he mistakenly thought that he and Yu Jin may half siblings... (actually, now that I've watched enough Korean dramas, this isn't complicated at all...hahaha!). Anyway, on that Christmas eve, Joon Sang and Yu Jin had arranged to meet along the main Chun Cheon streeet, only that he never turned up. He had 'died' in an accident whilst on his way to meeting her.

Cut to 10 years later.. and Yu Jin and Sang Hyuk are about to get engaged. That day, after a nice visit to the hair stylist for her engagement party, Yu Jin saw 'Joon Sang' on the road and completely missed the engagement party. Later, Chae Rin brought her boyfriend, Lee Min Hyung to meet (or rather show off) her friends and surprise..surprise...he is the splitting image of Kang Joon Sang.

The rest of the story deals with the 2 main leads falling in love and the 2 supporting leads, family members and friends trying their hardest to stop them. Then Min Hyung found out that he's actually Joon Sang but he's lost his memories. More misunderstandings of whose son he is...

In other words, you have the classic content of a Korean drama- half siblings in love, loss of memory and terminal illness of some sort. Although this may be clique now, but it was new to me back then. And somehow, it touched a chord in me and many around the world.

For me.. this was my first full length Korean drama and I absolutely fell in love with the story and of course Bae Yong Joon. I'm not sure which exact moment it was.. I guess it must me this... when he was peeping at Yu Jin dancing away to ABBA's Dancing Queen in the studio. Here's the clip I'm talking about.

And for the first time, I cried buckets and my heart broke over a drama and I ended up with red, puffy eyes almost everyday for work. Not to mention that I was dead tired too as I would be watching up till 4 to 5 am every morning. I had to creep into bed just so that I wouldn't wake my husband. ^^

This scene positively broke my heart... as Joon Sang/ Min Hyung threw all the momentos he had with Yu Jin before he 'left' her.

As in 'Beautiful Days', Bae Yong Joon was meant to die...but for the same reason, the fans' protest resulted in him being blind instead of dead.

So just why do we love this drama so much? I think a large part is because it was just such a refreshing change from our usual diet of Japanese and Hong Kong dramas. The cast was wonderful and the chemistry between Bae Yong Joon and Choi Ji Woo was keenly felt (there was even a rumour that they were going out for awhile).

And the scenary, ahh...the scenary... winter never looked more beautiful and it captured just the right feel of the drama..first love, innocent love. For the first time, I realised that Korea was not just kimchi and LG. It made me want to go Korea. Me and thousands other fans. And I've been to Korea every year since 2003. ^^


Nami Island, Chun Cheon and Yong Pyong Resort became must visit places, which of course pleased the Korea Tourism Office greatly. For more infor on the Winter Sonata filming sites, you can go to KNTO site

Park Sol Mi's latest movie is 'Paradise Murdered' with Park Il Hae. Unfortunately, I seemed to read more reviews about him than her. Her last drama was 'Golden Apple' with Jung Chan.

Park Yong Ha discovered that he could sing after singing the theme song in 'All In' and is now a singer based mostly in Japan, releasing albums and singles there. Sigh... so many of them based in Japan now.

Ryu Seung Soo, the vet in the drama, acted with Bae Yong Joon again recently in the movie, 'April Snow'. Boy, I almost couldn't recognise him as he's err... put on quite a few kilograms. But then, as he was supposed to be in a coma throughout the whole show, there wasn't much chance to see him.

Choi Ji Woo has not had much success since 'Stairways to Heaven'. Even her latest weepie, 'Now and Forever' with the hunk Jo Han Sun did not do too well. However, her latest drama, 'Air City' which started airing last weekend looks promising. Starring the very hot Lee Jung Jae and the ultra cute Lee Jin Wook, the plot is action packed so far. And for once (ok, maybe not once) she's not a sweet, demure girl. She's a professional and she looks like it too. Of course, she's also more matured and I'm liking what I see so far. My only fear is that the writer will make her wail in the later episodes.

Bae Yong Joon's latest drama, 'Great King Four Gods' will finally be aired on the 25th June on MBC. It's been 5 years since 'Winter Sonata' and it's taken almost 18 months for the drama to be ready. I'm really looking forward to it.

There are no end to the numerous clips on youtube, so I'll just select a few interesting ones here. If the streaming is bad, just let the clip run through once and it will be smooth the second time round.

My Memory
Don't Forget Me
From Beginning until Now
From Beginning until Now in...Vietnamese
Parody on Winter Sonata during the KBS Awards. Very, very funny. Haha! Must watch!
BTS. This is about 9 minutes long and the commentary is in Japanese but it's interesting.

And here's a very interesting article on Why is Winter Sonata a big hit in Asia on the Koreanfilm board.

This sure bring back memories. And for me, this remains one of my top favourite drama. : )

*Edit- Just went on to bb's blog and it seems she just blogged about Winter Sonata a few days ago too. Great minds think alike...hehe! Click here to read about it.

Related post:

Park Yong Ha


Yee said...

Hi Tiff,

I've just re-watched WS again last weekend. I very agree with you, no dramas can match with WS. I like Dae Jung Geum and Emporer of the Sea very much too. But not the same like WS.
Same like every Bae sisters, this wonderful man and WS changed my personality. Actually changed me back to where and how I was will be the correct words.
I love every single scene in WS, even the supporting characters parts. The other dramas, I have no patience to watch the other characters.
My favorites in WS are when Yujin took Joon Sang to sneak in from the back, over the wall, their acting is really innocent, naughtyly cute, so refreshing.
My next most favorite is After Yujin got back to San Hyuk, the first time they met at one restaurant to return the polaris necklace .. Joon's acting, face expression, the way he looked at her, every words he said .... broke my heart.
Oh Tiff, if I started I won't be able to stop and will use up all your blog space. So .. talk to you later.
Wonderful drama !!

Mawee said...

Of the season drama`s.. it's winter sonata i really loved.. I must have watched it more than 5x.. heehee~
siighhh I want to graduate already in college and get a job and save up and hurry to visit SK.. heehee!! I will never get tired of winter sonata~ i can watch it agaoin and again ^^

i love air city! so far so good, i just wish too no more wailing, i love choi ji woo and i appreciate her wailing talent but i want to see a different kind of jiwoo this time, sassy.. the kind of jiwoo in her movie shall we kiss.. heehee. ^^

Anonymous said...

Hi Tiffany,

Its me again, a STRANGER, hehe. Thanks for great works. I love the WS. Thank for the "gift" Winter Sonata theme song in Vietnamese. I still can not believe you post it in your blog. Hehe. Xie xie

YL's fend

tiffany said...

Hi Yee...

I think WS holds a special place in our hearts. ^^

I like the part where they were climbing over the wall too.

Have you seen CJW's latest's like wow! she is one sophisticated, matured lady now.

tiffany said...

mawee..I'm sure you will have a wonderful time when you finally visit SK. I was like that too when I first visited kimchiland. ^^

tiffany said...

hello YL's friend...

hehe! I was just as surprised when I found out there's a Vietnamese verison.

I've heard the Thai version, the Chinese version and even a Malay version but first time I heard it in Vietnamese. hehe!

jesw_21 said...

i really think all Bae sis think alike. before your WS topic today, i also rewatched WS again last weekend...just focus on the main few parts i love... funny thing is my husband came back, saw me watching it and asked why didn't i watch the schooldays time??? Hmm...i guess he really like the high school epi cos he always ask me to start frm epi 1 whenever i wanna rewatch...ha ha ha. I watched it 5 times in 2002 and lost count till now...but now i feel that i can be totally engrossed into the drama cos i finally can understand most of the simple dialogues!This feeling is really different frm 2002 when i watched it when i dont know the language!
DO u remember the day when we all met coincentally at Korean mall on Korean children's day? when the kids played songs from WS? i was moved by the music almost in tears while recalling the drama....think my friends(they nvr watch this drama) are quite surprised i have such reaction....ha ha ha...well, they will nvr understand such feelings...
But WS is one drama that will always be the best in my heart. till now no drama can replace WS at all....

아이니 Aini said...

OMG Tiff, you notty girl. Now I must take out my WS and rewatch it again for the upteenth time....And it's not even snowing here to set the mood.

Argh!!! Jun Sang ah!!

tiffany said...

Jessica and Ani..

I think this feeling about Winter Sonata is something only a fan will understand.

I still stop in my tracks whenever I hear the songs being played on the radio. ^^

Anonymous said...

from a fan -

Anonymous said...


avrilblue said...

Hi Tiffany...
i'm the other one who like winter sonata too. it's so sadness and show the power of first love. I loved it.

Azmir Hashim said...

D*mn, i never liked Korean TV series such as this. My wife (girlfriend back then on 2000) asked me to watch WS, just heard her mumbling about how good was the drama. I never did. After 17 years, however i finally watched it few days ago and would say WS changed my perception about Korean Drama. Really good plot, strong characters and perfectly blend. Happy ending though.