Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Thanks for joining us for this fated commemorative group watch of Winter Sonata! 🤩
SOME IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:
ZERO SPOILER POLICY
1. We will be adopting a ZERO SPOILER POLICY for this Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point.
The spoiler tags don’t work in email notifications, therefore, please take note that WE WILL NOT BE USING SPOILER TAGS FOR THIS OPEN THREAD.
ANY AND ALL SPOILERS WILL BE REDACTED to protect first-time viewers in our midst (although, I’d appreciate it if you would save me the trouble of having to redact spoilers, heh 😅).
This includes, but is not limited to, how characters &/or relationships develop, later in the show.
We need to protect the innocent! 😉
2. HOWEVER!! If you’d like to discuss spoilers from a rewatcher’s point of view, I’ve created a SPOILER ZONE for you, where you can discuss all the spoilers you’d like, without the need for spoiler warnings. You can find it here!
Without further ado, here are Trent’s reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Alrighty, friends and relations, are y’all ready? Buckle up and let’s do this thing. 🥳
So. I hadn’t been watching kdramas for too long–maybe a few months–before I started to get a rough sense (very rough!) for the history of the form, which meant that I also started to learn what some of the landmark or best known shows were.
Which in turn obviously meant hearing about Winter Sonata, seeing as how it’s generally considered to be an iconic drama that was one of the early standard bearers of the Korean Wave (“hallyu”).
From there it was a shoo-in to go on my list of “I should see this at some point” shows.
What’s held me back from actually seeing it for a couple years now is, first, that it’s definitely a classic (even though it’s only been 21 years since it came out), and it appears that drama trends, tastes, and fashions have noticeably evolved in the last two decades.
And second, it just hasn’t been easily available (at least in the U.S.), short of going hunting for it on sketchy semi- (or not-at-all-) legal sites.
But then, lo and behold, it suddenly showed up as a new arrival on Viki.com.
It must have been fate! (Fate, we will shortly see, is a big thematic element in the show).
As I write this, I’ve already watched up through episode fourteen.
After finishing each episode, I’ve written out episode notes and posted them on KFG’s Patreon (as comments on the Drama Exchange: Deep dive zone for December and January) before moving on to the next episode.
The notes for the first couple episodes–particularly the first one–were originally fairly brief; after that I started expanding them into fuller recaps, and eventually started (as you will see) commenting and editorializing fairly liberally (because again, as you will see, how could I resist? 🤬).
I have, somehow, managed to remain unspoiled for both minor and major plot points in episodes I haven’t seen yet.
I have gone back to revamp and fill out the notes for the initial couple of episodes, to bring them more in line with the length and content of the later notes, and I have edited and “polished” the later notes with an eye towards clarity, mostly.
What I have tried hard to avoid is altering my contemporaneously written notes to reflect knowledge gained from viewing of later episodes.
So there is speculation and commentary in the earlier notes that I now know is wrong (and some that is right!), but I’ve done my best to just leave those alone.
Also, FYI (many of you will know this already), Winter Sonata is part of a seasonally-themed four drama cycle that came to be informally known as the “Endless Love” series.
They share the same director (Yoon Seok-ho), some of the same writers, some of the same actors, and some similar themes.
The first to appear was Autumn in My Heart, in 2000. Winter Sonata was the second, and turned out to be by far the most successful and beloved. I actually watched Autumn in My Heart last summer, so there are a few brief comparisons to it in the first couple episode notes.
I do get…opinionated, here and there 😏.
And although it should go without saying, I want to stress that my views are not authoritative. No one should feel hesitant about sharing or expressing a different opinion or viewpoint in the comments to each episode. Sound good?
Right. Enough throat clearing. Enough chit-chat. Let’s get into it.
Our curtain rises on a comely young lady in what appears to be a school uniform, running down a residential street and hollering at some dude named Kim Sang-hyuk. They’re trying to catch a bus, which is super-crowded; she makes it on but he doesn’t.
After the bus empties out a bit, our young lady finds a seat in the back, where she dozes off on the shoulder of a young guy sitting next to her (until he pushes her head off).
They look suspiciously at each other, while the romantic piano music starts playing. I’m guessing this is a cue, a HINT.
(This would be one similarity to Autumn in My Heart, which used its rotating list of romantic piano motifs to underscore every meaningful moment and make sure we don’t ever miss a cue.
It kind of beats you over the head with the musical cues, is what I’m saying, and I’m anticipating this show is likely to be the same).
Our young lady, who I’m going to assume will be our FL (I’m kind of cheating here, since this is recognizably Choi Ji-woo, who we know is the FL) dozes off and misses the correct stop; when she gets off, the dude gets off with her (also cheating: this is the ML, since it is recognizably Bae Yong-joon, who is playing our ML).
She yells at him for not waking her up, during which we learn that he is a new transfer student to her high school; they share a taxi the rest of the way to school.
They’re about to be late, but the ML just has to stop for a wee minute to establish his disaffected bad-boy cred by leaning against a street post and pulling out a cigarette 🙄 (which, gross! I mean, I know it’s been the accepted bad-boy cool signifier since at least James Dean, but c’mon dude).
We shift to homeroom class, where the teacher is demonstrating that he’s the very archetype of the petty martinet beloved of high-school-drama script writers everywhere.
Our ML is introduced to the class, and we learn his name is Kang Jun-sang. We also learn that the class president is Sang-hyuk, the same dude with whom our FL was originally trying to catch the bus.
Later, during a break, a group of the girls are scoping out the new meat (i.e. Jun-sang), and one of them (who gives off a distinct air of Miss Pretty-n-Popular) calls “dibs” on him.
She slides on over to Jun-sang, who is busy being all broody and absorbed in the existential pain of living or something, and introduces herself as Oh Chae-rin.
In keeping with his budding “eff alla you” image, Jun-sang doesn’t bother responding. (Which, okay, gotta appreciate his commitment to the bit, right?)
Next up is Sang-hyuk; when Jun-sang ignores his outstretched hand, Sang-hyuk informs him that he at least needs to sign up for a club. Jun-sang tells him he’s not interested, and walks out.
Our FL grabs the club roster from Sang-hyuk and buttonholes Jun-sang in the hall; Jun-sang responds by saying he’ll join whatever club Sang-hyuk is in, which turns out to be the broadcasting club.
After school, Yu-jin (oh yeah, at some point in there we learn our FL is named Jung Yu-jin) is walking out with Sang-huk, and she’s speculating that Jun-sang is “kinda strange,” and she thinks he only joined the broadcast club because of Sang-hyuk (who protests that no, he just met the guy).
We jump to the school library, where Jun-sang appears to be looking through old school yearbooks.
He looks at a pic of “Kang Mi Hee,” and then “Kim Jin Woo,” and then pulls out a tattered photo from his pocket with the same Jin Woo standing with a girl (might be Mi Hee? Can’t tell for sure).
Jump to a college lecture hall where the Jin-woo from the picture, now older, is lecturing to a class. Jun-sang is sitting quietly in the back row observing.
The professor calls on Jun-sang to come up and work out a math problem on the board, which Jun-sang does, impressing the professor, especially when he realizes Jun-sang is just a high school student.
After class, professor asks why Jun-sang is there; Jun-sang says he’s “looking for someone.”
Just then, Sang-hyuk calls to professor from down the hall, and we learn professor is Sang-hyuk’s dad.
(Here we have a similarity to Autumn in My Heart: Jung Dong-hwan played a professor dad in Autumn as well; there it was father of the ML, rather than of the 2ML, which is what I’m assuming Sang-hyuk will be).
Also, looks like Jun-sang is really in town in order to track down some mystery? Based on that photo of professor as a young guy?
Shift to Jun-sang at home, in conversation with his mother, who is apparently a professional concert pianist.
She is wondering why Jun-sang wanted to come to this city, and he’s all, hey, this was your high school, after all…so it looks like his mom might be the Kang Mi-hee in the yearbook photo he was looking at earlier?
Also, we learn that Jun-sang specifically wants to learn more about his father, and his mom won’t tell him who his father was, only that he’s dead.
SO! Looks like we have a birth mystery on our hands, maybe?
Then we jump to professor dad’s home, where he and his wife and Sang-hyuk are at the dinner table, talking about how the death anniversary of “Hyun Soo” is coming up, and that this is Yu-jin’s father.
Next day, Yu-jin is dozing off on the bus again; this time, Jun-sang wakes her up at the last minute, in time to get off at the right stop.
The homeroom teacher is patrolling the entrance gate for late arrivals, so Yu-jin drags Jun-sang around the corner and enlists his aid in going over the wall.
He helps her put her shoes back on and catches her as she comes down off the wall, thus creating our first awkward embrace.
It is also evident that in keeping with the true (male) tsundere style, our bright outgoing Yu-jin is already beginning to seed cracks in Mr. Disaffected’s cold unfeeling exterior shell.
(No wonder this show was so popular in Japan, right?)(Also, all you anime fans feel free to tell me how wrong I am 😊).
Later, at the lunchtime show at the broadcast club (where we have an unexpected musical cameo by “Music Box Dancer,” which I recall as being ubiquitous back in the day…) Yu-jin starts editorializing on the subject of “responsibility,” anonymously reading Jun-sang for filth (he was apparently supposed to show up to help but didn’t; as it happens, he’s snoozing obliviously on the roof).
Then we get another musical cameo from ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” so rock on, show, get down with your bad self!
Just about then, Jun-sang arrives to peek through the door and see Yu-jin rocking out to the music; this is the first time we see a smile cross Jun-sang’s face. Yup. He’s about to fall hard, my friends… 😍 (to be fair, Yu-jin is very fetching, so hard to blame him).
Very efficient, show, we’re only halfway through the first episode.
Of course, Yu-jin finally notices him watching and gets that whole awkward “I’ve been making a cake of myself” look on her face, and ends up sweeping out in moderately high dudgeon.
Then we have an interlude where two of the classmates are analyzing how Yu-jin and Jun-sang appear to have completely opposite personalities…which just means that they are meant for each other!
Which, c’mon show, a bit heavy-handed on the foreshadowing, don’t you think? Oh, and we also learn that Sang-hyuk likes Yu-jin, while Yu-jin sees them as good friends. Hmmm.
Gym class, the guys are playing volleyball while the girls observe. Chae-rin is all mooning over how hot Jun-sang is (yeah, you and approximately 100 gazillion other women across Asia, girl, get in line).
Jun-sang is getting kind of aggressive toward Sang-hyuk, who confronts Jun-sang, but in a nice respectable sort of way; Jun-sang then taunts Sang-hyuk for being unable to actually hit him, like he wants to start a fight or something.
It’s becoming clear that Jun-sang has kind of a chip on his shoulder about Sang-hyuk.
Later, as everyone is walking out of school at the end of the day, Yu-jin and Sang-hyuk are walking together, while Jun-sang is a ways behind them.
Chae-rin sidles up to Jun-sang and starts nattering about how they say they’re just friends, but obviously they’re just hiding their relationship (Jun-sang resolutely ignores her).
Then Chae-rin is like, you like me, don’t you? 😯. And Jun-sang is all, girl say what now? Chae-rin is like, okay, fine, I’ll go out with you. And Jun-sang is all, girl, if you wanna write bad romance novels, keep ‘em to your diary, don’t drag me into them (or words to that effect).
That evening at Yu-jin’s home, we learn that Yu-jin has a little sister who looks about ten years younger than Yu-jin (well, than Yu-jin is supposed to be).
Mom is working at a booth at the street market selling clothes. Pause to acknowledge the redoubtable Kim Hae-sook, reprising her “mother of the FL” role (in addition to playing Yu-jin’s mom here, she was the FL’s (biological) mom in Autumn in My Heart).
A bit weird to see her here after just watching her as the nasty malevolent queen dowager in Under the Queen’s Umbrella.
Yu-jin pays a visit to her mom at the street market, then while leaving via a deserted alleyway, she’s accosted by an older guy.
Jun-sang, who happens to be strolling through the market, hears her yelling at the dude to get off her and comes to her assistance.
Eventually, they all get hauled off to the local police station. The officer wants Jun-sang and Yu-jin to call their fathers–but of course, neither one of them actually has a father to call. 😢
After they get released, Yu-jin goes to the pharmacy to get stuff to treat Jun-sang’s cuts and scrapes; while doctoring him, she starts talking about their mutual dadless state.
Jun-sang, not so interested about the dad topic–publicly, at least–responds by asking Yu-jin if she likes Sang-hyuk 🤨. Dude. Smooth, very smooth. Yer a right playa, you are.
Yu-jin is like, Sang-hyuk has been like family to us since we were little, our dads were best friends since high school—they even went to the same school we’re going to now!
Next day at school, Yu-jin pulls Jun-sang aside and takes him to the deserted auditorium, where she intends to tutor him a bit on the piano so he’ll be ready for their music class, saying she is paying him back for helping her out the night before.
She launches into a creditable rendition of “Traumerei” but forgets how it goes after a few bars.
Of course, Jun-sang’s mom being a concert pianist and all…he picks up the tune where she left off.
She is duly impressed, and then Jun-sang starts playing another limpid, languid melody for her, and it’s all very romantic with the darkened auditorium and gauzy backlighting through the window.
He tells her the song he played is called “First Time,” then asks her if she’ll do something else to pay him back instead of teaching him piano..
Shift to Yu-jin and Jun-sang walking out of school together; Sang-hyuk smiles as he catches sight of Yu-jin across the yard, but it turns to a frown as he sees Jun-sang is with her.
The two catch a relatively deserted bus together (are they skipping afternoon classes?) Yu-jin gazes happily out the window while the wind blows her hair in Jun-sang’s face (he doesn’t seem to mind…) and romantic violins provide accompaniment.
They take a ferry over to an island in the river, and from outside reading, this must be fabled island Namiseom, which I am given to understand became quite the famous tourist destination because of this show.
(If you search for “Namiseom” in Google Maps, you will see a marker that says “Winter Sonata First Kiss Spot.” I’m not kidding! Try it and see…)
Anyway, so the final ten minutes we’re treated to a montage of what is essentially Jun-sang and Yu-jin’s first date, as they wander through the lovely scenery of Namiseom together, talking and getting to know each other better.
And I’m just going to temporarily abandon my Throne of Snark and observe that it really is a very pretty tableau: lovely scenery, beautiful characters, soothing romantic musical accompaniment. It’s very nice.
And alas, if I had to place a bet, I would wager that this is probably the happiest our two leads will be for the entire show (this is not foreknowledge or intended as a spoiler, it’s just that this is a melodrama, you know, and my understanding is that the classics lean heavily into the angst and loss angle. Heaven knows Autumn in My Heart certainly did.) So enjoy it, kids! 😭
Near the end of their sojourn, Yu-jin asks Jun-sang if he found the person he was looking for, and he says that he did. So she asks who it was, and he answers, “my father.”
Under Yu-jin’s questioning, he goes on to say that his father didn’t seem to recognize him, and he’s not sure how he feels about him. So…I’m guessing that Jun-sang has in fact come to the conclusion that the professor (Sang-hyuk’s dad, Kim Jin-woo) is his father?
Which would probably explain much if not all of his animosity towards Sang-hyuk, who, after all, has been soaking up all that paternal time and attention as a legitimate son, rather than a literal unacknowledged bastard?
As the two of them walk back towards Yu-jin’s house, Sang-hyuk steps out; he’s brought Yu-jin her bag that she left at the school.
Just then, professor dad also strolls up–he’s there for the memorial ceremony for Yu-jin’s dad. Jun-sang avoids looking at or speaking to professor dad before abruptly leaving.
After the memorial ceremony, Yu-jin’s younger sister is looking at a photo album, and we see the same picture as the one Jun-sang has…except the full picture shows professor dad, Jun-sang’s mom (Kang Mi-hee) and next to her on the other side, Yu-jin’s father.
Was there a love triangle?! Dunno, probably? Will we find out more? Stay tuned, kids. That’s the end of episode one.
So, I like the opening episode better than Autumn in My Heart, I have to say. I feel more interested and engaged, and it doesn’t feel quite as rough around the edges, somehow.
I do kind of like the high school setting, for now at least; I assume that this is largely prefatory setting up the narrative, and that we will most likely have a forward time progression at some point before too much longer?
The big love quadrangle conflict appears to be getting put in place, with Jun-sang, Yu-jin, and then Sang-hyuk as the “childhood friend with a secret crush on Yu-jin” as the 2ML, and Chae-rin, the pretty classmate with an inflated opinion of herself, as the 2FL. I can definitely see Chae-rin taking on the “Shin-ae/devious snake” role from Autumn. 😠
The actors…. well, you can’t fault these productions for not getting stunningly beautiful people to star in them at least.
Choi Ji-woo, just like Song Hye-kyo (FL of Autumn), deserves her reputation as one of the really top-tier beauties; Bae Yong-joon is likewise a very handsome man. Both Park Yong-ha (Sang-hyuk–the 2ML) and Park Sol-mi (Chae-rin–the 2FL) are quite attractive.
One reason I’m fairly confident we need a time skip soon, though, is that the lead couple, especially the ML, really don’t look like high school students. I mean, beautiful, absolutely; teenagers? nope, sorry. (Choi Ji-woo is 26-27 when this is filmed; Bae Yong-joon is 30!).
That said, maybe the fact they’re a bit older means they’ve developed more skill in the acting department? Because Choi’s Yu-jin definitely seems a lot more lively and interesting than SHK’s Eun-soo in Autumn, where she mostly seemed to be playing the sacrificial “Iphigenia before the altar” vibe to the hilt.
And Bae’s Jun-sang is a much more believable, nuanced lead than Song Seung-heon’s oppa, whose main and mostly only register in Autumn seemed to be sullen introspection.
So there we are. So far I am intrigued and looking forward to the next episode, so I count that as a good start. 🥰
Okay, this episode we are definitely moving into the minting of our OTP, stage the first (well, more like stage the second, since we had the “first date” at the end of last episode).
A few false starts, and lo, there is a bit of a serpent in paradise, as an unseemly jealousy coils and takes up residence in the breast of Sang-hyuk. (In Chae-rin as well, but she’s less important or at least less developed at this stage of the proceedings).
Alright. It’s next day at school (after our little fantasy frolic on the island last episode); Yu-jin and Jun-sang run into each other in the hallway, where they’re all bashful smiles at each other.
Then they walk into homeroom class together, and the assembled class is all, woo-hoo, welcome to the newlyweds! (it appears common knowledge that they cut class together and went off on an expedition or something).
Sang-hyuk looks like he’s been sucking on a whole bag of lemons, which, I feel ya, dude. When the girl you’ve been secretly crushing on for a few years is suddenly all googly eyes at the new bad boy in town, it’s gotta suck, right?
Teacher calls Jun-sang and Yu-jin up to the front and chews them out for cutting yesterday’s study session, then “punishes” them by assigning them to clean up around the trash incinerator together? Okay… 🤔
In the washroom, Chae-rin tries to start beef with Yu-jin for flirting with “her man,” but Yu-jin is so not having it, so that goes nowhere (except Chae-rin looks petty and silly, so, win?).
Shift to our main couple out burning leaves in the incinerator, which gives Yu-jin the opportunity to wax lyrical about how the smell reminds her of her dad, and allows Jun-sang to get all philosophical about meeting people who you miss (a veiled reference to his still-unrevealed dad, I’m thinking?).
Later Jun-sang goes back to the college and meets up with professor dad again. Professor is impressed with Jun-sang’s mathematical ability and suggests he study with him, although professor doesn’t seem to have any inkling that he’s (maybe? probably?) Jun-sang’s father.
Jun-sang asks if professor loves Sang-hyuk, and professor is all, of course! He’s my only son! He’s a really good person, too, even if he’s not as smart as you…
Back at the broadcast club, Yu-jin is waiting alone when Jun-sang enters the room; she chooses a song to play (spinning that vinyl, very retro!), which turns out to be the “First Time” melody Jun-sang played for her on the piano.
Which leads to Yu-jin listing out all the first times she’s had lately: missing study session, going over the wall with a guy, holding a guy’s hand, etc.
Jun-sang is of course smart enough to recognize an opening when he sees one, and so he asks Yu-jin if she’d like to go to the movie with him on the weekend. (He confesses that this is the “first time” he’s asked a girl out).
Later, at home, Yu-jin asks mom what she liked about dad; mom is all, well, at first he was cold towards me and I thought he hated me, but actually, come to find out that really meant that he liked me! And Yu-jin is like, YES! THAT’S WHAT I’M SAYING! 😍.
Mom, who apparently didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday, is like…you like someone, don’t you Yu-jin? And Yu-jin gives the most unconvincing denial in the history of denials before allowing as how she probably does, in fact, like someone.
Meanwhile, at school the next morning, the gang is making plans to take a weekend trip off to a cabin to celebrate Christmas, and of course Jun-sang and Yu-jin both claim to have other “plans,” leading to all sorts of suspicious glances and rising jealousy from Sang-hyuk and Chae-rin.
Needless to say, Sang-hyuk is super-not-excited about this developing state of affairs, so after school, he tails Jun-sang…which leads him to the college, and peeking through the door of professor dad’s office, where he sees Jun-sang and professor animatedly going over math problems together.
Sang-hyuk’s face is all “how dare!” and then he slumps dejectedly off into the night.
BUT! Sang-hyuk’s growing animus comes to a head when Sang-hyuk confronts Jun-sang at the broadcast club then next day, where Sang-hyuk is basically all, what the hell do you think you’re doing trying to cozy up to my dad, huh? (and, umm, is this the conduct of a secure, well-adjusted individual? Hmmm 🤔).
And then Sang-hyuk purposely antagonizes Jun-sang by accusing him of using Yu-jin as a tool just to get to Sang-hyuk (I’m over here like, jeez, dude, it’s not all about you! For a supposed “nice guy,” you’re sure acting like a horse’s ass). Jun-sang is like, yeah, you got me, dude.
UNFORTUNATELY, Yu-jin is listening to this confrontation through the doorway, and since she’s not exactly translating Jun-sang’s tone of contrary sarcasm very well, and she is definitely not one to take this sort of apparent diss lying down, she strides in and fetches Jun-sang a (rather anemic, honestly) slap, and calls off their date.
So there we are on the train platform, the group (including Yu-jin) all gathered for the weekend trip to the cabin, and at the last minute Jun-sang shows up, so now we have three couples…none of whom are actually “couples” as such.
Apparently everyone’s parents are cool with them all just running away to a cabin in the woods for a weekend, I guess?
They arrive at the cabin, play games and tell stories around the campfire, and then Yu-jin slips away for a walk.
Jun-sang follows her to try to talk, but Yu-jin flares up at him, and rather than work to achieve some good open communication, Jun-sang flares up too and is all, fine, what I said to you was all insincere, are you happy now?
Which of course sends Yu-jin running out into the dark woods, where she promptly gets lost.
Everybody else heads out to try to find Yu-jin, but it’s Jun-sang that eventually does, after Yu-jin has fallen down and is all in tears.
So of course when he finds her, she tearfully falls into his embrace, and then Jun-sang has a chance to talk more openly and sincerely to her, and so they ultimately reconcile, draw closer, and end up walking back holding hands, just as everyone is worriedly standing around wondering if they should call the police…so of course the whole gang all observe Yu-jin and Jun-sang holding hands—which certainly doesn’t improve Sang-hyuk or Chae-rin’s moods in the slightest. 😤 (Sang-hyuk in particular has his best “Imma murder a dude” face on, so…)
Our group arrives back at Chuncheon station, and yes! that’s the city this is taking place in, Chuncheon (which…may have been mentioned before this, I don’t recall? Looks to be maybe 35-40 miles to the east of Seoul?).
Sang-hyuk rejects suggestions they all go to lunch together and takes off by himself; Yu-jin, no doubt feeling like it’s her responsibility to expend the emotional labor to manage his feelings, rushes after him.
This leads to a colloquy in which Sang-hyuk excoriates Yu-jin for swallowing all Jun-sang’s bullsh*t and getting taken in by his insincere apology. (It’s all very high schoolish–you may picture, if you wish, me rolling my eyes 🙄).
Yu-jin takes it in, then responds by saying that she likes Jun-sang (and yes, this is clearly the uniquely Korean sense of “like”: a semi-formal confession of romantic feelings. I’m like, girl, cool! But aren’t you supposed to confess to the object of your affection rather than this other dude?)
Back on incinerator duty, Yu-jin and Jun-sang are talking, and Yu-jin gets on the subject of first snowfall, and Jun-sang asks what she’s going to do when first snow comes, and she’s all, hmmm…well what are you going to do?
And Jun-sang is like, I’m going to meet someone by the lake (wink, wink 😉), and of course this is subtext in a register that Yu-jin manages to translate just fine…
So not long after, first snow does in fact arrive, and Yu-jin heads back to Namiseom, where wonder of wonders, who should she run into?! (Duh. It’s Jun-sang!)
Jun-sang announces his presence by pelting Yu-jin with a snowball, but it’s all good fun, and we get several more idyllic scenes of them frolicking in the snow, making snowmen, running around and chasing each other, etc.
They have their first kiss, which is not at all spicy, in fact, is like, anti-spicy, more of a drive-by peck on the lips, important as much for its symbolic significance as anything else. 😘
(But nevertheless portentous for all that; recall the “Winter Sonata First Kiss” marker that’s now part of the actual physical landscape at the actual physical island where this was filmed….)
Well. Back in town, they stroll through the market together, and make plans to meet there again on Dec. 31st.
Yu-jin invites Jun-sang in for dinner; her adorable younger sister (maybe 7-8 years old, at a guess?) is smitten by our handsome young lad, and is showing him an old photo album while Yu-jin cooks (mom is at the market, working hard, no doubt).
Of course, looking through the album, Jun-sang sees THE PICTURE, the one of his mother standing between professor dad on one side and Yu-jin’s dad (who is the one she is actually linking arms with) on the other.
Jun-sang is all…who is this? And Yu-jin is like, you already know Sang-hyuk’s dad, and the other one is my dad, they were all best buddies in high school…isn’t the woman beautiful? My mom said they were just friends, but look how she’s holding dad’s arm like that, don’t they look like lovers? 😳😬😰
Dun dun DUN.
Yu-jin goes back in the kitchen, while Jun-sang pulls out his copy of the photo, which of course is torn so that Yu-jin’s dad doesn’t even appear.
And now I’m imagining all sorts of scenarios, like: Granny on her deathbed pulls young Jun-sang close, hands him a tattered photo, and gasps out “your mother never wanted you to know, but you deserve to know…Mi-hee said your father was in this photo…” (to be clear, this didn’t happen, it’s my imagination).
The POINT is that Jun-sang seems to have already arrived at the conclusion that professor Jin-woo is his dad, based at least in part on information we are not yet privy to, and NOW it appears that he never had access to the full photo that included Yu-jin’s dad, and seeing it has apparently rocked his world and very possible effectively doubled the pool of possible Jun-sang daddies? Hmmm?
And I am like NO, SHOW, DON’T YOU EVEN DARE WITH THAT NONSENSE!
To just state the obvious, if Yu-jin’s dad turned out to be Jun-sang’s dad as well, that would make our budding OTP actually incestuous (rather than the kind of quasi-incestual vibe of Autumn in My Heart that I, at least, never quite managed to shake off). NO BUENO, SHOW.
(It also means that, regardless of which one is the actual Jun-sang daddy (assuming one of them is), the one who is…is kind of a jerk, isn’t he? Given that Jun-sang, Yu-jin, and Sang-hyuk are all in the same grade and thus roughly the same age? Bit of a player, an alley cat, our boy? Whew.
Of course this still pales in comparison to the whole “are they half-siblings” bombshell that’s sitting unexploded on the carpet, but there it is).
Well, Jun-sang has clearly just had his big brain comprehensively blown 🤯, so what does he do? Gets up and quietly leaves the house without saying a word to either Yu-jin or her younger sister (neither of whom are in the room at the moment to see him go).
And then Jun-sang immediately hotfoots it over to campus and the professor’s office, where he tries to not-very-subtly probe the professor on the real state of the relationship between Jin-woo, Mi-hee, and Hyun-soo (Yu-jin’s dad) way back in the day.
Professor is of course reticent, but eventually admits that while he kind of had a crush on Mi-hee, she had liked Hyun-soo, and left town when Hyun-soo got married (to Yu-jin’s mom).
This bit of intelligence leaves Jun-sang in a deep funk, and he slopes out of the office and down the hall.
After sitting pensively in the dark at home for awhile, Jun-sang gets on the phone with his mom to inform her that he’s ready to leave for the U.S. immediately.
We cut to a scene of Yu-jin in her room with little sister on Dec. 31st, trying on different scarves in preparation for her evening rendezvous with Jun-sang at the market.
No explanation for why Yu-jin has apparently done nothing to get to the bottom of why Jun-sang just totally ghosted them at dinner; she’s seemingly entirely shrugged it off as an oddity not worth dwelling on? Which…okay, I guess?
So Jun-sang and his mom are loading their luggage in the taxi and heading off to the airport, just as Yu-jin is standing out in the drifting snow among the crowd at the market.
On the road to the airport, Jun-sang discovers that he still has Yu-jin’s mittens tucked in his coat pocket, which awakens his remorse over totally ghosting her without at least saying something to her before he leaves.
So he’s like, hold everything! I have to make a stop first… and mom is like, forget it, my boy, we’re about to miss our flight as it is.
In response, Jun-sang jumps out of the taxi, runs across the road, and catches his own taxi back to town.
He jumps out near the market, and is dashing through a traffic circle when…. YES, YOU GUESSED IT! TRUCK OF DOOM TIME, MY PRETTIES!! AHHAHAHAHAHA. 😝😱🤬.
OMG! Was the Truck of Doom already an overused trope at this point, or was it still considered a fresh narrative device? It did make a very memorable appearance in Autumn, after all 🤔. …and ring down the curtain on this episode.
Anyway. Our ML is obviously not dead, we still have 18 episodes to go, and I’m fairly confident this is not Game of Thrones.
What I do expect is the appearance of another one of our oh-so-venerable tropes…the AMNESIA trope. Yaaaay. 🙄 (not). 😑🤨😠 We’ll see.
I also expect a time skip and that our characters have moved into new situations and circumstances when our fated pair meet again, as of course they must. Stay tuned, duckies…