Spring Waltz remains, to this day, one of my top five favorite Korean dramas. It’s an older one, aired in 2006, but much better than some of the dramas being made now. It is the last of the season-themed dramas know as the Endless Love series. It’s a fairly large commitment – 20 hours long, but the time seems to go by swiftly, aside from a few episodes in the beginning that gives the viewer a look into the childhood relationship of Lee Soo-Ho and Park Eun-Young. Although a bit slow, those episodes are necessary in giving the audience the background needed for us to become emotionally involved in the happiness of this young couple.
The plot is fairly simple – As children, Soo-Ho and Eun-Young are best friends who live in a little town on a small island. Soo-Ho’s father runs away with money Eun-Young’s mother had been saving. Soo-Ho feels responsible for what his father did so in order to pay for the heart operation Eun-Young needs, Soo-Ho sells himself to a couple who think he looks like their son who died in a boating accident. The young friends are separated, Soo-Ho being told Eun-Young had died during her operation and Eun-Young awakening from surgery only to be alone, never knowing why Soo-Ho left her.
Years past, with Soo-Ho having stepped into the shoes of the son the couple had lost. His adoptive parents even give him the dead son’s name, Jae-Ha, and they treat him as if he truly is Jae-Ha. Soo-Ho/Jae-Ha is raised in Canada and Austria, so he is away from people who would have known the real Jae-Ha. That doesn’t bother him, however, because he doesn’t want to return to Korea where he has sad and hurtful memories. Eun-Young is raised in Seoul by her aunt after finding out her mother had passed away in an accident while she was having her heart operation.
Yes, you guessed it, So-Ho/Jae-Ha and Eun-Young accidentally run into each other as young adults but have no idea who the other one is. Now add to the plot a woman, Song Lee-Na, who, as a child, was in love with the real Jae-Ha before his boating accident and has always held the hope of marrying him someday. There’s also Soo-Ho/Jae-Ha’s manager and best friend Phillip, who falls for sweet Eun-Young the minute he sees her.
Phillip is a handsome, kind, funny, and unselfish man who is always considerate of the feelings of other people. Lee-Na can’t focus on anything but Soo-Ho, thinking he is the Jae-Ha she liked as a child. Phillip truly loves Eun-Young and is willing to put her happiness above his own. Lee-Na, on the other hand, is selfish and will manipulate anyone to get what she wants.
The acting is superb. Seo Do-Young’s character is put in many heart-wrenching situations, two of which cause him to sob uncontrollably – nose running and tears streaming down his face both times. Han Hyo-Joo plays a happy young optimist well, but her acting skills really shine when her character is hurt, angry, and sad. Daniel Henney is so comfortable with his character that I’m not sure he was even acting. It seemed he really was Phillip. And, Lee So-Yeon plays the part of a nasty, selfish woman so well that I really hated her (although I did feel sorry for her, a little).
Aside from Korean, we also get to hear the actors speak English and German. Soo-Ho and Phillip lived in Austria so they occasionally speak German to each other, and Phillip is Korean-American, speaking much more English in the show than Korean. It seems all the other characters in the drama can understand Phillip’s English quite well while he’s pretty good at understanding their Korean. One of those, “I can understand it better than I can speak it” kind of things.
The musical score, in my opinion, is one of the best a Korean drama has to offer. Since the lead male character is a concert pianist they have made sure the musical scores are nothing short of amazing. There’s a song called Soo-Ho’s Angel that is played over and over throughout the whole show. It sounded very familiar to me and then I finally realized it was the song Lost Without Your Love. The Korean artist S. Jin sings it. He has an amazingly romantic voice and, in my opinion, his version is far better than the one made popular by Bread. I was happily surprised to find out Seo Do-Young, the actor who plays Soo-Ho/Jae-Ha, actually sings one of the songs in Spring Waltz. It’s a very pretty song entitled Flower and he does a wonderful job with it. Yiruma, an amazingly talented South Korean composer, wrote several pieces for the drama. He even makes a cameo appearance in episode 10, playing First Love, one of his many piano pieces. A treat for Yiruma fans everywhere!
The director takes us all over Korea, with breathtaking scenery from metropolitan Seoul to little outskirts islands. There are fields and fields of tall yellow flowers, rocky beaches, bright blue skies, pretty mountains… showing us just how lovely Korea is.
I’ve watched Spring Waltz, start to finish, two different times and go back to re-watch certain parts when I have a few minutes to spare – relaxing 20 minutes before bed, rewinding for a few minutes after work… Episode 10 is where the relationship of the adult Soo-Ho/Jae-Ha and Eun-Young blossoms. I often find myself going to that specific episode. My heart was truly involved in this show. But be careful, just because I was able to hold back tears doesn’t necessarily mean you will.
Spring Waltz definitely deserves to go at the top of your “must see Korean dramas” list.
Seo Do-Young, Han Hyo-Joo, and Daniel Henney’s acting
Evenly paced episodes
Great love story
Yiruma’s cameo appearance
A mildly slow start