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Written by Rinoa

"I did not like Winter Love Song the first time I saw it...I had to watch Winter Love Song a second time to fully appreciate it."

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!



Also Known As
Winter Love Song or Endless Love 2

Produced By
KBS

Year of Production
2002

Language
Dual language, Korean/Mandarin, some with Chinese/English/Malay subtitles.

Chartacter - Cast
Kang Joon-sang/Lee Min-hyung : Bae Yong Jun
Jung Yujin : Choi Ji Woo
Kim Sang-hyuk : Park Yong Ha
Oh Chelin : Park Sol Mi
Kong Jin-suk : Lee Hye Eun
Kwon Yong-kuk : Ryu Seung Soo

Synopsis
18-year old Yujin is a lively, happy girl, good student, though always late for class. She is Sang-Hyuk's best friend, but she doesn't know that Sang-Hyuk is in love with her. One day when she falls asleep (again) on the bus, she meets Joon-Sang, a transfer student. Joon-Sang is mysterious, silent, and unapproachable, and immediately catches the fancy of the female population, especially Chelin, who declares him off-limits. But Joon-Sang is only interested in Yujin. During their many encounters, usually when both are late for class, Joon-Sang and Yujin get to know each other. They cut class together, Joon-Sang rescued Yoojin when she got lost in the forest, they played in the snow together. And Joon-Sang and Yoojin fell in love.

Joon-Sang is actually the illegitimate child of a famous pianist. He hated his mother and was obsessed with finding out the identity of his father, so he had transferred to the little village which was his mother's hometown, thinking that the man who is Sang-Hyuk's father, whose picture was taken with Joon-Sang's mother, was his (Joon-Sang) biological father. But he eventually discovers that his mother, Sang-Hyuk's father, and Yujin's father were childhood friends, and that his mother had been in love with Yujin's father. He concludes that Yujin's father might be his biological father, which makes him and Yujin half-siblings. He agrees to leave with his mother to the US, but on his way to say goodbye to Yujin, he got into a car accident, and "died".

The class is devastated by Joon-Sang's "death", but no one more so than Yujin. 10 years pass, and the adult Yujin is in a relationship with Sang-Hyuk, who's loved her all this time. But Yujin is still haunted by the memory of her first love. On the night of her engagement, she sees a man who looks exactly like Joon-Sang. She chases him along the streets in vain, and thus misses her engagement party.

Their friends Jin-Suk and Yong-kuk organize a little party for Yujin and Sang-Hyuk. Chelin also shows up, back from France with her new boyfriend - Lee Min-Hyung, the man Yujin saw on the street. Everyone is shaken by Min-Hyung's resemblance to Joon-Sang. What's more, Min-Hyung owns the architectural firm who has a contract with Yujin, who is an interior designer.

Yujin immediately intrigues Min-Hyung, but Chelin tells him lies about how Yujin stole her boyfriends in high school. Though still confused, because Chelin's stories doesn't match his impression of Yujin, Min-Hyung thinks Yujin is making a play for him when she got drunk and mistook him for Joon-Sang, and treated her unkindly. He eventually found out about Joon-Sang, and he apologized to Yujin and was angry at Chelin for telling him lies.

Yujin and Min-Hyuk continue to work together, and Min-Hyuk falls in love with her, which makes Sang-Hyuk furious and jealous. Min-Hyuk breaks up with Chelin and helps Yujin get over Joon-Sang's death, and Yujin falls in love with him. She breaks up with Sang-Hyuk, but her relationship with Min-Hyung is short-lived, as Sang-Hyuk falls into depression and almost dies. Yujin guiltily goes back to Sang-Hyuk, though her heart is still with Min-Hyung.

Intrigued by his resemblance to Joon-Sang and the depth of Yujin's love for him, Min-Hyung visits Joon-Sang's hometown and finds his (Min-Hyung's) mother in Joon-Sang's home. His mother admits that Min-Hyung *IS* Joon-Sang. 10 years ago, Joon-Sang lost his memory in the car accident, and his mother asked the doctors to let him undergo hypnotism to give him new memories, and transformed him to Min-Hyung.

Joon-Sang is angry and hurt, but also shocked to discover he is Yujin's unforgettable first love. He tries to tell Yujin but she doesn't believe him at first. Meanwhile, Sang-Hyuk has put two-and-two together and believes Min-Hyung is Joon-Sang, and asks Joon-Sang to leave Yujin alone. Sang-Hyuk and Yujin are (again) planning to marry. Joon-Sang decides to leave, and on the day of his departure Yujin finally receives proof that he is Joon-Sang and chases him to the airport. Joon-Sang tries to leave anyway, because although he is Joon-Sang, he has no memories of his time with Yujin. Yujin chases after him, is almost hit by a truck but Joon-Sang pushed her away and was hit instead. When he woke up in the hospital, he found he had regained parts (like snapshots) of his memories with Yujin.

Sang-Hyuk finally gives up on Yujin, and Yujin happily reunites with Joon-Sang. However when both asked for their respective parents' blessings, both mothers opposed their marriage. Yujin found out from her mother that Joon-Sang's mother used to be engaged to her (Yujin's) father, but her father left her after he met Yujin's mother, and Joon-Sang's mother had tried to commit suicide. Yujin's mother felt guilty towards Joon-Sang's mother and it was her reason for opposing Yujin's relationship with Joon-Sang.

Joon-Sang eventually reaches the same conclusion he did 10 years ago, that he and Yujin were siblings. Heartbroken, they are forced to break up. But Sang-Hyuk's father, who'd been in love with Joon-Sang's mother, suspected differently, and confirmed with a DNA test that Joon-Sang was *HIS* son. Sang-Hyuk was furious to discover his rival in love was actually his brother, and told Joon-Sang to return Yujin to him. At the same time Joon-Sang found out that after 2 car accidents, he had a blood clot in his brain which means he could go blind, or die, or both. He decides to leave for the US, and at the last moment Sang-Hyuk gives up on Yujin and tells her she and Joon-Sang are not siblings and that Joon-Sang is dying. Both chase to the airport, but Joon-Sang had already left.

Sang-Hyuk persuades Yujin to go after Joon-Sang, but Yujin goes to Paris instead, to study. 3 years later, she came back, and saw in a magazine a villa which was her own design. She went to the house and saw Joon-Sang, who was now blind. They reunite and kiss in the sunset.


Comments
I watched this drama entirely because of Bae Yong Jun. I had first seen him in "Hotelier" and fell head over heels in love, but I watched this drama (Winter Love Song) a bit apprehensively. Because I had seen Endless Love and did NOT like it, and was afraid Winter Love Song would be the same - long, boring, irritating, and tragic.

I wasn't wrong. Because the same director did Winter Love Song, it was as draggy and heavy as its predecessor. Everyone had crying scenes, most of which were too drawn out and overdone. Especially Choi Ji-Woo, the lead actress, who seemed to do nothing else but cry. Though, admittedly, every one here was good at crying scenes.

Now, on to the story. The concept of "First love never dies", which was the real essence of Winter Love Song, was a nice one. It's not only pertaining Yujin and Joon-Sang, but also Sang-Hyuk, whose first love is Yujin, and Chelin, whose first love is Joon-Sang. Even Jin-Suk and Yong-Kuk, who eventually ended up married. Though the "amnesia" concept is overused in dramas, it was the only way to tie up Min-Hyung and Joon-Sang as the same character.

Though I felt everyone had run around in circles too much - Yujin being too indecisive about Sang-Hyuk, Sang-Hyuk's irritating attempt to hold on to a girl who had never loved him, but most of all, the truth about Joon-Sang's identity (whose child is he really? COME ON!!!) is never revealed until the end. Of course as viewers anyone with half a brain would figure out that Joon-Sang isn't really Yujin's father's love child. See, every time Joon-Sang asked his mother, she would never confirm or deny it, she just looked away and said "Sorry". Selfish woman, with twisted logic to make it worse. More on that later.

BYJ is to be commended for portraying a dynamic character like Joon-Sang/Min-Hyung. Though he looked a little too old to be playing an 18-year old, it didn't look TOO uncomfortable. Teenaged Joon-Sang was a loner, angry at the world and at his mother. Min-Hyung was cheerful, urbane, handsome, eligible, and romantic. And the Joon-Sang who rediscovered himself was at first pained and torn with indecision. And the blind Joon-Sang in the ending was relaxed and at peace with himself.

I liked his Min-Hyung very much. He knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it. He broke up with Chelin and refused to encourage her the moment he realized he had feelings for Yujin. THAT is a real man. He knew it would only be worse for Chelin if he dragged her along knowing that his heart was with another woman. He felt Yujin's sadness and pain, when she would look at him with tears in her eyes, because he knew she wasn't seeing him (Min-Hyung), only Joon-Sang. I liked his decisiveness the way he confessed his feelings for Yujin right away. Only one time was he perhaps confused, and that was when he asked Yujin if she loved him as himself (Min-Hyung), or as Joon-Sang's replica. I also liked his physique and his sense of style and his charming smile and his unique hairstyle (only BYJ can carry it off with such style) but that's just the fangirl in me salivating. :P

The thing I cannot comprehend is how Joon-Sang could forgive an evil creature like his mother. :P He found out that not only did she replace his memories, she also deluded herself and him into thinking that his father was her long-ago fiance. She caused all the misery in his life, all for her own benefit, but he could forgive her for all that, and still acknowledge her as his mother.

Yujin was such a sad, pitiful character. I didn't like her at all, at first. I thought she was too depressing. But later, I liked her a little more, and I do have to commend CJW for her acting, the tears were very convincing. And though I didn't think Yujin was pretty at first, her beauty is the kind that slowly grows on you, not the kind that strikes you down like lightning. She is pretty, with her snow-white complexion and expressive eyes and quiet poise.

3 things I did not like about Yujin: First, when she refused to believe Min-Hyung was Joon-Sang. I could understand why, she was afraid to hope and she thought Min-Hyung was only trying to hold on to her, but she hurt him so, because he really WAS Joon-Sang. Poor baby. :P

Second was when she was sort of forcing Joon-Sang to remember their time together. It wasn't HIS fault he couldn't remember anything, and couldn't she see she was hurting him because he knew she remembered everything and he couldn't?

Third and most of all, her indecisiveness. She could have spared Sang-Hyuk all the agony, if only she'd come to terms with herself sooner and realized she did not love him the way he loved her. She was too afraid to hurt him and too grateful for his company and kindness that in the end, she hurt him more.

Not that I liked Sang-Hyuk, because I didn't. I could not comprehend how he tried desperately to hang on to Yujin, even though he knew she did not love him. He would have forced her to stay with him and marry him, even knowing that she loved Joon-Sang/Min-Hyung. I found it extremely hypocritical the way he told Joon-Sang to stop making Yujin suffer, when Yujin's biggest suffering was being forced to stay with a man who she didn't love. He fought everyone, his mother, his friends, and Yujin herself, in his mad bid to win her love.

Chelin was not a very big character, her only purpose was to occupy Min-Hyung until Yujin came along. She was a bit spiteful and jealous, but also insecure, which was her main reason for lying about Yujin to Min-Hyung. In so doing she only increased Min-Hyung's curiosity about Yujin, because Chelin's descriptions contrasted so much with the Yujin Min-Hyung came to know.

I liked Chelin most in one scene, where she was crying and saying why everyone was only concerned about Joon-Sang, what about Min-Hyung? She was right, and all the others were so obsessed with Joon-Sang that they had forgotten Min-Hyung. Because Min-Hyung was also a person, special in his own way, but his existence and personality somehow was made less important next to his real identity as Joon-Sang.

The parents of the lead characters - in truth, none of them were good parents, except maybe Sang-Hyuk's father. He was a good husband and father, intrigued only a little by the teenaged Joon-Sang. Min-Hyung intrigued him more, because of his resemblance to Joon-Sang. His world was shaken only when he discovered who was Min-Hyung's mother, and he was the first (and only) one to suspect that Joon-Sang may be his son. When the DNA test confirmed it, he was very sad and felt guilty for his part in Joon-Sang's hardships in life, and wanted to return Yujin to him, because Joon-Sang had already lost so much, but was unable to do so because of Sang-Hyuk's anger at discovering Joon-Sang was his half-brother, and his insane desire to hold on to Yujin.

Sang-Hyuk's mother. She was stubbornly opposed to Yujin as her daughter-in-law from the very start. It must be her motherly instincts, telling her that Yujin did not love Sang-Hyuk the way she should. I do not harbor any ill feelings towards her, since she turned out to be right in her estimation of Yujin. But standing in Sang-Hyuk's shoes, she was cruel in the way she refused to give in to her son's happiness.

Yujin's mother. She was a loving and kind-hearted mother most of the time, except when it came to the subject of Yujin's love life. I did not like her because she knew Yujin does not love Sang-Hyuk, but she wanted Yujin to marry him anyway. I did not like her for telling Yujin "love is not everything", that there were other more important things than love. I mean, sure, that's right, but her reasons for wanting Yujin to marry Sang-Hyuk were flimsy and selfish. She wanted it because she felt guilty to Sang-Hyuk's parents, because of the way Yujin never showed up for their engagement party and embarassed Sang-Hyuk's parents to everyone. She opposed Yujin and Joon-Sang's relationship for the simple reason that Joon-Sang's mother was madly in love with her dead husband and had tried to kill herself and for that reason she (Yujin's mother) felt embarassed and guilty towards her. As a mother, her first priority should have been Yujin's happiness, instead of being selfishly concerned about pride and her own peace of mind.

Joon-Sang's mother. She should go down in history as the most twisted and deluded crazy woman. First she refused to tell the teenaged Joon-Sang who his real father was, leaving him to jump to all the wrong conclusions. She could have spared herself Joon-Sang's hatred and Joon-Sang all his suffering if she'd told him from the start. Then she replaced Joon-Sang's memories, just because Joon-Sang hated her, and she wanted a son who would love her. Duh!!! Like she deserves any love after everything she's done.

I could perhaps understand her desperate love for Yujin's father and the way it drove her to commit suicide when he ditched her. What I couldn't understand is what insanity drove her to pretend that Joon-Sang was her love child with Yujin's father. She said pretending to do so made it easier to bear, made her able to love Joon-Sang. Okay, fine, I could probably accept that too. But what made her truly selfish and unacceptable was the way she kept up her insane charade even when Joon-Sang had fallen in love with Yujin. Her twisted logic which kept her sanity was more important than her son's well-being. She only acknowledged the truth after the DNA test confirmed Joon-Sang's identity, in short, when it was hopeless to keep the charade up. She and Yujin's mother deserve each other. In fact, none of the mothers here REALLY cared about their children's happiness. It's curious because this drama not only showcased everlasting love, but also the lengths one would go because of selfish and cruel love.

I also didn't understand the ending. Why didn't Yujin follow Joon-Sang? Just because he told her that their last memories should be happy ones, she didn't even try to follow him when she found out he was dying. Joon-Sang had done so much for her, but she couldn't even do that for him. I think the director just wanted to have the ending he had in mind, that ending 3 years after, so he had to create that 3-year gap. But the reason was flimsy at best.

Favorite character
Who else? Joon-Sang/Min-Hyung.

Least favorite character
Joon-Sang's mother. She should be stoned. I would have loved to see her dragged onto the floor, beaten, and strung upside down by her ankles, but sadly there was no such scene.

Favorite scenes
(1) When teenaged Joon-Sang and Yujin were playing in the snow, building snowmen, and that oh-so-tender first kiss.

(2) Joon-Sang staying for dinner at Yujin's house, Yujin's little sister gawked at him, open-mouthed, then grabbed his leg and declared, "I'm going to marry him! He's so handsome!" See? Even the kid knows a heartthrob when she sees one.

(3) The first time Yujin worked with Min-Hyung. She stared at him and started to cry, and totally flustered Min-Hyung.

(4) When Yujin was telling Min-Hyung he didn't know how to truly love someone, that the memories didn't die even after the one you love is gone.

(5) When Min-Hyung found out from Jin-Suk about his resemblance to Joon-Sang and Yujin's relationship with him.

(6) Joon-Sang and Yujin's reunion and Yujin found out Joon-Sang had no memories. She told him, "I haven't forgotten anything. I remember everything."

(7) Adult Joon-Sang and Yujin playing in the snow.

(8) The ending. Blind Joon-Sang, but he looks so happy and peaceful.


Happiest scenes
Joon-Sang and Yujin playing in the snow, and the ending.


Saddest scenes
(1) When Min-Hyung found out he was Joon-Sang and Yujin refused to believe him.

(2) When Joon-Sang and Yujin are forced to break up, and Yujin was telling Joon-Sang she refused to believe that their love was "wrong".

Conclusion
I did not like WLS the first time I saw it. I was still suffering from the effects of Endless Love 1 and most of it was carried onto WLS. I thought it (WLS) was too slow and depressing, despite its happy ending. I much preferred the happier "Hotelier", with the clean-cut BYJ and the freshness and humor of his heroine, Zhen-Yin (Song Yun-Ah).

I had to watch WLS a second time to fully appreciate it. Yujin and Joon-Sang's heart-rending love, everlasting and overcoming all odds. The beautiful scenery and lovely music. Yujin's (CJW's) fine face and expressive eyes, BYJ's unique style. And the crying scenes, how they irritated me the first time with the way they were drawn-out and done in slow-motion. But during the second time I could appreciate the actors' efforts to make us feel their pain and love, in short to make the characters come alive on screen. And sadness and tears makes a person as much alive as happiness and laughter do.

Winter Love Song was the second Korean drama to be aired in the Philippines (the first was Endless Love). Although many people loved it, I had to endure endless comparisons between BYJ and Won Bin, how Won Bin was better-looking and how his character was better than Joon-Sang. And oh, the dubbing was awful. But one thing good came of it, and that was Filipinos came to know and fell under the charm of BYJ.

Verdict
Watch it. Watch it for Bae Yong Jun's good looks and breathtaking scenery, and if it's your first Korean drama, have your tissues ready. Though most curiously, I did not cry at all. Maybe because during the first time, I was too busy rolling my eyes and cursing the slow-paced action.

Rating


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