Winter Sonata is the second drama in the seasoned-themed Endless Love series. The drama was so popular it has been considered by many to be the drama that began the Korean Wave throughout Asia and worldwide. Beloved by many, the drama was adapted into an anime series, a Japanese manga series, and on its 10th anniversary they made it into a stage musical. Seems the world can’t get enough of Winter Sonata. It received great ratings, reaching as high as 28.8% nationwide. Almost 30% of Korean TV viewers were watching it at one time! Fantastic! (However, it’s predecessor, Autumn in My Heart, did 16% better in the ratings.) It is a 20 hour drama so it’s not a small time commitment, but it’s very well worth every second.
Giving you just the right amount of information on the plot is going to be tricky because it would be so easy to let you know too much. Let’s see… Joon-Sang is a teenage boy who moves to a new town and begins a search for some information about the father he never knew. He meets Yoo-Jin on a bus ride to school. They quickly begin to like each other, almost as if they had known each other their whole life. Their happiness is short lived, however, when Joon-Sang is in a car accident. Broken-hearted Yoo-Jin, and the group of school friends she and Joon-Sang were often with, hold a special goodbye “funeral” service for him by themselves. Ten years pass and Yoo-Jin has finally decided to go on with her life and marry the guy that had a crush on her in high school. However, she sees a man, Min-Hyeong, who looks exactly like Joon-Sang and realizes she can’t marry any one because she still loves her dead teenage boyfriend. But it just so happens that she is thrown into Min-Hyeong’s life because of work. Even though others try to sabotage their growing relationship, they manage to fall in love. But things don’t go smoothly for the two new sweethearts, in fact there is something revealed that could keep the two apart forever. That’s all you get. Any more information would spoil the whole thing for you.
The writers add in other characters, twisting things around – a bitter, scheming mother; an insecure, lying girlfriend; a boyfriend who can’t accept reality; and thankfully, a few decent friends and co-workers along the way. Basically, two girls are in love with one guy and two guys are in love with one girl – at the same time. And the drama brings up an interesting question, “How much do you allow society to dictate who you can and cannot love?”
Bae Yong-Joon is the lead actor. It was this drama that shot him to stardom, especially in Japan where the prime minister at the time said Bae Yong-Joon was even more popular than he was. To me, there was no Bae Yong-Joon, there was just Min-Hyeong. I think that character comes pretty close to being the ideal man. He’s kind, intelligent, handsome, has a successful career, and is amazingly patient. He stays calm at a time, I think, most people would be screaming. He doesn’t even yell at his mother when he finds out she is an evil, selfish witch.
Choi Ji-Woo is a lovely, graceful actress. Her character, Yoo-Jin, is a little on the wimpy side. Some people might call it shy but I still think wimpy is a better word. You don’t often see Yoo-Jin smiling, which is a shame because Choi Ji-Woo really is a pretty woman. Yoo-Jin’s voice is almost a whisper and she allows herself to be taken advantage of very easily. She also has that “martyr” kind of feel to her.
Winter Sonata has a fantastic sound track, with Yiruma’s Love Hurts and When the Love Falls in episodes 1 and 2. You can find his music in many Kdramas. I recently recognized one in the drama, Angel Eyes. Also, From the Beginning ‘Till Now and My Memory are beautiful love songs that represent Winter Sonata perfectly.
The drama mainly takes place on the resort island of Namiseom. After the show aired the number of tourists that visited Namiseom, went from 250,000 to over 650,000. There is even a statue on the island right at the spot where the main characters’ first kiss took place. That’s quite an accomplishment. How many other Korean dramas have statues honoring their characters?
It seems like most of the time we just see the characters in coats. That’s probably because they are almost always outside in the snow. The show actually set fashion trends throughout East Asia, though. I’m not sure, but maybe one of the trends was long scarves. Whenever I see a man wearing a really long scarf I think of Min-Hyeong. And I can’t help but wonder how many women went out and bought pink mittens, like Yoo-Jin’s, after they saw the show. Oh, and if you love the beautiful Polaris necklace Min-Hyeong gives Yoo-Jin you can actually have one of your own. You can find the necklace online.
If you go to YouTube and type in Winter Sonata Special Anime Ending you’ll be able to see the ending the anime writers chose to close with. The anime does something unique in the end and finishes with live people! It’s different from the Kdrama one so don’t watch it until you’ve seen the drama!
Here’s a bit of sad, trivia… Park Yong-Ha, the actor who plays Kim Sang-Hyuk, apparently committed suicide in his home in 2010, eight years after Winter Sonata aired. He was just 32 years old.
This story played with my morality. While I was watching it I kept asking myself, “What would I do in that situation?” Finally I decided to ask family, friends, and co-workers what they would do if that happened to them. I was surprised to find out that I didn’t choose the same thing the characters, and everyone else I talked to, did. It’s really a choice you have to agonize over. What wins? Head or heart? Winter Sonata is definitely a must see for any Korean drama lover, or anyone who just enjoys a good love story.
Bae Yong-Joon’s acting
The character Min-Hyeong
Great love story
Handsome Bae Yong-Joon
Scenery doesn’t change much – lots of white snow
Yoo-Jin’s wimpy, martyr attitude
Lots and lots of coats