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WINTER SONATA


Winter Sonata (2002, KBS miniseries)

Another masterpiece by Korea's revered director, Yoon Suk-ho, Winter Sonata is the second installment of his famous four season series, the previous being Autumn Fairy Tale and the latest, Scent of Summer. Like its predecessor, Autumn Fairy Tale, Winter Sonata has a huge following in many parts of Asia, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Japan and Southeast Asia. Its two leading stars, Bae Yong-jun (Untold Scandal) and Choi Ji-woo also gained international fame because of the series.

Bae Yong-jun takes up the role of Kang Joon-sang, an illegitimate child whose mother is an accomplished pianist. Due to his parental background, he is an introvert who does not like to interact with people, and often does not take the initiative to express himself. Even though his mother has told him his father is dead, as a child, Joon-sang believes that he is still alive. Hence, when he becomes older, he decides to return to his mother's hometown, where his parents were lovers, in a bid to look for his biological father.

Joon-sang then transfers to the high school where Yoo-jin (Choi Ji-woo) studies. A couple of entertaining anecdotes then happen between the two protagonists and through these incidents, they grow to like each other. However, as Joon-sang investigates, he realizes that his biological father might be Yoo-jin's late father. Flustered by his new findings, he decides to leave. However, as he decides to rush to see Yoo-jin for one last time, he is knocked down by a car...

Meanwhile, as the rest of his schoolmates including Yoo-jin think that he is dead after the accident, he is in fact alive, but he has lost his memory. In a bid to let him lead a happier life, his mother decides to erase his previous memories and give him new memories with a new identity, Lee Min-hyung.

The show than fast forwards 10 years later, as Joon-sang and Yoo-jin have both grown up. Joon-sang returns as Min-hyung and as Chae-rin's boyfriend (Chae-rin was Yoo-jin and Joon-sang's classmate in high school, but later went to France for further studies). During this time, Yoo-jin was about to get engaged to her childhood playmate Sang-hyuk, played by up-and-coming actor Park Yong-ha. However, due to a twist of fate, Joon-sang and Yoo-jin meet again and become attracted to each other once more. As the fate of the four intertwines, the show goes on to tell of the enthralling love story between Joon-sang and Yoo-jin.

Winter Sonata is a captivating story. The chemistry between Bae Yong-jun and Choi Ji-woo is terrific. In fact, many people were so impressed by them that rumours surfaced that they were a real-life couple. Bae Yong-jun certainly impressed many with his gripping performance of Joon-sang and Min-hyung. This could be said to be his breakthrough drama, as it was through this show that he shot to great fame. Choi Ji-woo also proves herself as an A-list actress with her overwhelming performance as Yoo-jin. One of her scenes which enthralled me was when she was confronting Joon-sang, urging him not to fire an old worker. The feeling of urgency then topped 100%.

As for the supporting leads, Park Sol-mi did a good impersonation of Chae-rin. Park Yong-ha did fairly well, but acting alongside veteran actors Bae Yong-jun and Choi Ji-woo, he clearly showed his inexperience in this field. Finally, it would be almost unjust to leave Kim Hae-sook out of the picture. Acting as Yoo-jin's mother, her performance as the Korean "ajumma" added flavour and colour throughout the whole show.

Again, Yoon Suk-ho has proven himself as one of Korea's best drama tellers. With an impressive portfolio, many audience members certainly do look forward to his subsequent dramas. Winter Sonata is an original love story. It's definitely not-to-be-missed! (Review by Kit Lim)




Winter Sonata ("Gyeoul yeonga"). Alternative titles: "Winter Love Song" or "Winter Ballad." 20 episodes. Written by Kim Eun-hee and Yoon Eun-kyung. Produced by Yoon Suk-ho. Starring Bae Yong-jun, Choi Ji-woo, Park Yong-ha, Park Sol-mi, Lee Hye-eun, Ryu Seung-soo, and Kim Hye-sook. First aired on KBS2 in Korea from January 14 - March 19, 2002 on Monday and Tuesday nights at 9:50pm. Official website (in Korean): click here. Available on DVD from KBS Media in Korea in both English-subtitled and unsubtitled versions.
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