Open Thread: Winter Sonata Episodes 11 & 12

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Thanks for joining us for this fated commemorative group watch of Winter Sonata! I hope you’re enjoying Trent’s notes; I know I am! 🤩

Welp. We are getting into Seriously Angsty Territory here, and I’m just glad we have Trent’s notes – and one another! – to get us through this! 🙈😅



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! ❤️

Trent’s thoughts

Episode 11

So if you’ll recall, I was, uh, pretty out of sorts at the end of last episode. So now the burning question becomes, can it get worse?  Reader, it can. 😲

We ended last episode on the very strong implication that Yu-jin had caved to the manipulation and pressure from basically her entire social and familial circle, and gone back to Sang-hyuk in order to “save” him from his (self-inflicted) impending martyrdom.

This episode, alas, is all about the implicit becoming explicit, as Yu-jin has slotted back into her socially acceptable role as fiancée to soi-disant “good boy” Sang-hyuk, and in the process manages to achieve almost Stepford Wives levels of docile compliance.

(In case it’s not coming through, I was almost surprised at how alternately disturbing and infuriating I found much of this episode).

Well. We open with Sang-hyuk showing up back at work after a lengthy absence, where Yoo Yeol twits him about his long vacation and how one might have almost thought he quit; in response, Sang-hyuk mentions he had “personal stuff.”

(So now I’m wondering, is this an indication that Sang-hyuk didn’t actually quit, like he claimed to Yu-jin and the others?

Might give more force to the notion that he really was running a manipulation strategy that he expected to come back from, when he embarked on that whole death bed nonsense (to be clear, I think it was totally calculated on his part, I’m just keeping an eye out for external evidence.)). 

Switch to Yu-jin’s office, where she is handing over responsibility for the remainder of the ski resort project to a co-worker.

We see a number of missed calls from Min-hyung on her phone, just before Sang-hyuk pops in to cheerily remind her that they are going to dinner at his parents’ house.

Shift to the dinner table, where Sang-hyuk’s mother is all smiles and politeness towards Yu-jin, in marked contrast to her previous usual treatment.

(“The Carrot and the Stick: How Oppressive Social Systems Maintain Control.” In this essay, I will explore approval and shunning as two complementary sides of the same coin….). *Ahem*. Yes, well, anyway.

Mom starts up talking about a nice apartment nearby that she checked out for our soon-to-be newlywed couple (so, already backsliding from your promise of “a house,” mom?), but then our Jaunty Good Boy 🤓 brightly interjects that there’s no need for that, since as soon as they get hitched, he’s thinking they’ll go to study abroad.

On hearing this, Yu-jin gamely struggles to suppress her WTF? face, so clearly it’s news to her.

JGB continues nattering on about how he hasn’t mentioned it to Yu-jin yet, but it really would be a great opportunity for both of them, right? And everyone’s like…uh, yeah, okay, sure, I guess, why not? 🤪 

(We pause to note that this is of a piece with how Yu-jin’s agency has been routinely ignored–when it’s not being cavalierly trampled–and how now that JGB has suckered Yu-jin into more or less irrevocably casting her lot with him—she might have been able to fight free once, maybe; we were rooting hard for her to do just that, in fact, but she’s probably ruined if she backslides now—our JGB has seamlessly taken up the mantle of the Man in the House who makes all the Big Decisions, with no input from the Little Woman wanted or required… 🤢🤮). 

Later, Sang-hyuk drops Yu-jin off, and he’s like, I think we’ll just have a simple wedding, no need for a lot of preparation, and she’s like, sounds good, whatever you’d like.  And then he’s all, do you regret it?  And Yu-jin, giving us her absolute best dead-eyed, thousand-yard-stare expression is all, “no”.

Then she walks into her building with tears streaming down her face 😭… only to find her mom waiting for her. (Along with Jin-sook, who has apparently deigned to move back in now that Yu-jin has cleansed herself of her moral taint and all 😤)

They have a heart to heart, and now that Yu-jin is back on the straight and narrow, mom can afford to be magnanimous and understanding, sort of, so she asks if Yu-jin is alright…and then Yu-jin plucks up her courage (or desperation?) and asks if maybe she can’t just live alone, by herself?

Mom is all, what are you talking about, why are you saying that?!  And Yu-jin is like, I gave everyone a hard time, I feel apologetic to everyone, I just feel like a bad person. Mom is all, why should you feel bad, now that everything is back the way it should be (emphasis added, grrrr). 

Mom’s like, is Sang-hyuk giving you a hard time? Is his mom being a pill? 

And Yu-jin is all, no, I just think I’m bad, you know, I keep thinking of him, that’s bad, right? I look at Sang-hyuk, and my heart is empty. I haven’t been good since Jun-sang died, I was so sad that I couldn’t even care about Sang-hyuk, so how can I be with him?

And mom is all, even though it’s hard, you gotta do it.  Yu-jin is like, it’s too much for me, mom, it’s too hard.

Then Yu-jin lays down to sleep, and mom strokes her shoulder and is like, aw honey, you can do it! Love isn’t everything, you know, being tied to Sang-hyuk is also a precious relationship! Be strong! 💪 Don’t get your feelings hurt! (say what 😲? Yo, mom, have you not been paying attention? I’d say the feelings, they are well and truly mangled at this point, you know? Yu-jin is really trying to express what she’s going through, and mom is JUST NOT LISTENING. So add her to the list of folks who ignore Yu-jin’s honest attempts to communicate). 

Meanwhile, Min-hyung is spacing out on the job; eventually he tells his minion that he needs to take off for a bit, get away, and minion is all, I 100% support that plan; I was just going to suggest it myself. 

So Min-hyung drives off to the vacation home, and then we cut to him the next day, sitting by the riverside, staring out over the waves, when random dude (the same one that his mom ran into last episode, basically to prime the pump for this scene) shows up and starts chatting with Min-hyung, then eventually mentions how he saved a kid from drowning in this very river, twenty years ago…oh yeah, kid’s name was…🥁🥁🥁 Jun-sang

And of course, Min-hyung is remembering how at the vacation home that one day, mom had just mentioned to him how he “almost drowned when he was seven years old”…could that be…twenty years ago?! Min-hyung is UNSETTLED, y’all! 

(So as we know, after the big “Jun-sang is dead” news at the beginning of episode three, our show has basically just left that whole issue alone, along with any unexplained or unexplored details surrounding it.

And probably the biggest reason that I have not simply been straight out asserting that obviously Jun-sang didn’t die, and in fact Jun-sang = Min-hyung, even though YES, it is the MOST LIKELY scenario, okay, is that Min-hyung clearly has no recollection of being Jun-sang. (although to be honest, I’ve still kind of been assuming it anyway).

And although amnesia is the obvious answer (and I did propose it way back around episode two!), it still doesn’t neatly account for why Min-hyung has no recollection at all of being Jun-sang ever, even as a kid.

Like, say his “death” event wiped out his memory of *everything* before that… why has he never made a single reference to anyone? 

I mean, wouldn’t that be pretty traumatic to be walking around as an adult (who presumably has gone to college and become a successful professional) with no memory of your identity before the age of eighteen? 

Show’s got a lot of ‘splainin to do, is what I’m saying, and as we’re past the halfway point, it’s running out of real estate to do it in.  Fortunately, it looks like we are now accelerating our excavation of the mystery.  Let’s see what we get, hmm?)

Anyway. The scene shifts to professor dad, who is walking around campus where there are all these posters advertising the big solo concert of Kang Mi-hee (Min-hyung’s mom).

So then we see professor dad showing up backstage at the concert hall to see if he can say hello to Mi-hee (remember our birth secrets subplot, with THAT PICTURE and everything, which has lain fallow since the first couple episodes, but now may be heating up again? And how mom (Kang Mi-hee) was close high school buddies with both Sang-hyuk’s dad and Yu-jin’s dad, with possible subtext that one or the other of them might also have been Jun-sang’s father (an issue still unresolved)).

By chance (?), Sang-hyuk and his sidekick Yoo Yeol also show up at the concert venue to see if they can finagle a radio interview with Mi-hee.

They all run into each other backstage, where professor dad and Mi-hee share a long glance, and then shift to her dressing room, where there are a bunch of random people prepping for the performance.

Dad and Sang-hyuk are chatting, and dad acknowledges that he and Mi-hee knew each other in high school, and that’s why he dropped by, in order to say hello.  Then Mi-hee comes over to chat, and eventually her son gets mentioned in passing.

Professor dad asks her if she knew a kid named Kang Jun-sang? (Sang-hyuk had left earlier but then came back for something, so he overhears this question through the door). 

Professor dad goes on, Kang Jun-sang met me about ten years ago, and asked me about you…I heard he died in a car accident, but then I wondered if it might be your son? 

Mi-hee gives her best poker face, and then is like, impossible, my son is still alive, couldn’t be Jun-sang (which is a blatant lie, as we saw mom in the first two episodes interacting with Jun-sang as her son).

Then professor dad is like, I didn’t know you got married? And then mom is distracted and escapes without responding to that. As she’s leaving, professor dad asks if she knows Hyun-soo (Yu-jin’s dad) died, and Mi-hee looks surprised and asks when, and he’s like, sixteen years ago. This is clearly news to Mi-hee, and appears to have a strong effect on her.

Coming out of her concert, Mi-hee looks unwell and then suddenly collapses, and Min-hyung, who has just shown up to meet  her, carries her to the hospital.

(And I totally missed this at first, but now I’m pondering that it is most likely the news of Yu-jin’s dad’s death that affected her enough to cause her to faint, right? 🤔).

While she is resting in bed, Min-hyung interrogates mom’s doctor friend (who turns out to be a psychiatrist), who has “known her a long time.”

So Min-hyung asks him, am I her only son, doc? Have I lived in the U.S. since I was born? 

Doctor is like, hehehe, of COURSE, I’ve seen you grow up since you were born in the U.S.! Why are you asking such silly questions?  Oh, wait, doctor continues, do I hear my mother calling? Sorry, gotta run, see ya’! 🏃‍♂️ (no, doctor is not uneasy or evasive looking AT ALL.  Well, maybe a little bit? Okay, a lot 😬). 

Back to Yu-jin’s kitchen, where Yu-jin is all perky, cutting up apples, while Sang-hyuk is putting on Mr. Pensive Face.

He mentions that he saw Lee Min-hyung earlier (at the concert hall), and Yu-jin is all, why are you telling me? 

He’s like, I just thought you’d want to know, and she’s all, what do you want me to say? I feel like you’re testing me, but it’s all too much for my little brain (she implies) so…why don’t you give me a hint? What answer do you want? What answer will make you feel better? (this is a pretty subtle but significant burn, if you ask me 🔥)

And then Sang-hyuk is like forget it, you don’t need to be honest. (and I’m like, STEPFORD WIVES MUCH?  This is such a healthy relationship, y’all, whew). 

Move to Chae-rin’s boutique, where she calls up Min-hyung out of the blue. He’s drinking alone in a bar, so she runs off to see him.

Chae-rin is all, why are you drinking so much? Min-hyung is like, I think maybe I do have some connection to this Jun-sang dude? Maybe he’s my relative or a twin brother or something? Maybe…I’m even him?

Chae-rin is all, snap out of it, man! Do you really love Yu-jin that much?! I came here because I was worried, not to see you talking b*llsh*t and missing Yu-jin! He’s all, yeah, whatever, I’m outta here…

So he wanders to Yu-jin’s apartment, just in time to stand off in the distance and see Sang-hyuk and Yu-jin parting for the night.

Sang-hyuk has just coincidentally noticed the star pendant that Yu-jin is STILL WEARING, that she got during her short moment in the sun with Min-hyung, and that is clearly still of significant symbolic weight to her, although of course she explains none of that to Sang-hyuk.

Cut to next day, Min-hyung sitting at mom’s beside; she wakes up feeling much better. 

Min-hyung asks her if she’s ever heard of a kid named Kang Jun-sang? (cue dramatic piano riff) Mom recovers quickly from her deer-in-headlights freeze, and is all, no, who’s that? He’s like, he looks like me, and he also almost drowned when he was a kid, just like you said I did.

Mom’s all, no, no idea, sorry… Wow, I’m feeling very tired now, I’d like to rest… Mom turns over and pretends to go to sleep 😴. 

We move on to a quick scene with Yu-jin and Jin-sook, where Jin-sook mentions that she thinks Chae-rin and Min-hyung have gotten back together, and Yu-jin is all, it’s fine, I’m fine, you don’t have to worry about me!

Then when Yu-jin is at work, Chae-rin calls, and she and Yu-jin meet up at a cafe. Chae-rin starts burbling about how she’s going to make Yu-jin’s wedding dress, and Yu-jin is all, cut to the chase, girlfriend, you didn’t call me up just for hugs n’ kisses, did you want to tell me something? I hear you and Min-hyung are back together? 

And Chae-rin is like, it’s the opposite, actually. Min-hyung has no interest in getting back together with me, he’s just having a really hard time without you, I’m worried about him, can you do something for him?

(So now she’s like, mirroring everyone who was trying to get Yu-jin to save Sang-hyuk?  And I’m trying to figure out Chae-rin’s angle here, because surely she wouldn’t do something that benefits someone else to her own detriment?! Surely our Chae-rin (🦊?) doesn’t actually genuinely care about Min-hyung’s welfare, if it doesn’t include her?!).

So Yu-jin arranges to meet Min-hyung, but only to give him back the star pendant necklace that he gave to her, that she’s been wearing around every day (and that Sang-hyuk just noticed and commented on). 

I assume her theory is that if she can fully and completely cut him off, so that he knows he has no remaining token or remnant in her life, then he’ll be able to heal up and move on?  I mean, that’s about the only way I can get it to make much sense. 

Meanwhile, Yoo Yeol has spur-of-the-moment given Sang-hyuk a couple of concert tickets, so he’s trying to reach Yu-jin. He goes to her place, just in time to see her getting in a taxi, so naturally he trails her (🙄), and then sees her at the coffee shop where she sits down to talk with Min-hyung.  Because introducing this sort of fraught coincidence is just how show rolls, as we know very well by this point.

Min-hyung and Yu-jin smile at each other and he’s like, before you say anything, just let me look at you and imagine you called just because you missed me. 

And of course Yu-jin nips that sentiment right in the bud, she’s like, I called you because of this (pulls out necklace). Yu-jin is all, I don’t think this belongs to me any more 😭.

Min-hyung is bummed, like, I knew this might be why you called but was just hoping it wasn’t. But I get it.

Yu-jin starts to suggest maybe he should get back with Chae-rin, but he says don’t tell him to do that, it wouldn’t be good for Chae-rin (which shows him to be reasonably self-aware, and also reasonably considerate of Chae-rin, if you ask me).

He asks how she’s doing; she asks him the same. They both lie and say they’re doing fine 😭😭😭. 

(I know Min-hyung has come in for some justified criticism for not being as respectful of Yu-jin’s wishes and agency as he should be, and he may mess up again in the future–we’ll have to see–but right here I think he’s really presenting a stark contrast to Sang-hyuk and his very very unhealthy Yu-jin obsession.

I don’t question that Min-hyung feels deeply for Yu-jin, but he’s willing to respect her choice to leave and go back to Sang-hyuk, and not rant and rave about how he’ll never let her go, much less indulge in bullshit martyrdom games. At this particular moment in time, at least, he’s doing well, painful as it is).  

Yu-jin gets home to find Sang-hyuk waiting for her; he asks where she’s coming from (he knows full well she’s met with Min-hyung, since he was observing her).

She asks if he wants to come in for tea, he says no and asks again where she’s coming from, work? She kind of nods and says “yeah.” 

He gives her a boxed gift, which turns out to be a necklace (a gift no doubt stimulated by Sang-hyuk’s recent observation that she was wearing a necklace that HE DIDN’T GET FOR HER).

So now Yu-jin has a replacement necklace for the one she just returned to Min-hyung. Have we mentioned how show is sometimes a bit heavy-handed with the symbolism? I think we have…

Next day, Yu-jin is at the soon-to-be in-laws; Sang-hyuk’s mom is all being very nice, going on about how Yu-jin saved Sang-hyuk…professor dad wants to know when she’s going to quit her job (so…looks like that’s another commitment that has conveniently slipped under the waves–recall how when Sang-hyuk’s mom was pleading with Yu-jin to come back and save him, she promised that Yu-jin could even keep her job if she would just save the boy…😒). 

Dad asks if there’s about a month until the wedding, and Jaunty Good Boy is all “YEPPERS!” and I just want to PUNCH 👊🤛his smug stupid face 🤓🤪 SO BAD, y’all. Ooh, my fingers are tingling at the very thought….

Meanwhile, Yu-jin’s face is a study in passive resignation.  Girl, I just, I just, I dunno.…😞

Yu-jin and Sang-hyuk are driving back (to Yu-jin’s), when Jeong-ah calls Yu-jin and is like, yo, me and the minion are chillin’ at the bar, you and your boy come on by, and *Min-hyung isn’t here so don’t worry*.  Yu-jin’s like, no, we’re good, I just wanna go home. 

So then minion is like, just us? That sucks! And so he calls up Min-hyung and invites him to come by for drinks. 

But meanwhile, Sang-hyuk is like, no we should go by…is Min-hyung there? And when Yu-jin says he’s not, Sang-hyuk unilaterally alters course for the bar, saying they ought to pop in to say hi. (Once again: way to respect Yu-jin’s clearly expressed preferences, you domineering git).

Result: Min-hyung is sitting with Jeong-ah and minion when Yu-jin and Sang-hyuk walk in.  AWKWARD. 😬  Min-hyung is all, I’ll leave; Sang-hyuk is like, forget it, let’s go Yu-jin.  

Cut to outside, Sang-hyuk striding to the car, Yu-jin calling after him…he wrenches open his door, then barks at her “how long are you going to lie? How long are you going to give me a hard time?”

Yu-jin is like, say what? And he’s all, bet it would have been fun without me there tonight? If you’d just told me THAT GUY was going to be there, I wouldn’t have come.

And Yu-jin is like, dude, get over your bad self, I didn’t have any clue that he was going to be there (alright, she didn’t editorialize quite like that, even though I wish she had. Once again, I find myself reluctantly filling in as Yu-jin’s anger translator). 

Sang-hyuk then flings her meeting with Min-hyung the evening before in Yu-jin’s face, and she’s all, that was just in order to give something back to him.

Sang-hyuk is like, don’t you have anything to give him back tonight, and she’s like, c’mon, that’s a bit much.

He’s like, you don’t like me like this, distrusting you?  I quit my job (but did he??) and wanted to die because of you, all I need is you, do you think it’s just a joke? (uh, kinda? A close relative to “a joke,” at least). I’m not enough for you? (And FOR THE N-TH TIME, NO, dude, you are not actually “enough for her.” She DOESN’T LOVE YOU. It’s like he’s in this arrested development stage where he just doesn’t understand adult relationships?). 

Yu-jin is like, c’mon, it’s not like that, so he jumps in the car and peels rubber, leaving her standing by the side of the road. 

Yu-jin keeps unsuccessfully trying to hail a cab; as she leans too far out into the street, Min-hyung grabs her and pulls her back. As they stare intently at each other, the curtain rings down.

My sheer disgust with Sang-hyuk, who at this point is manifesting textbook abuser behavior at various points, threatens to render me incoherent, so I will try to regroup and gird up my loins for what next episode has in store for us.

Maybe another Truck of Doom will solve everyone’s Sang-hyuk problem?  (Probably not…but are we bad people for hoping? Hmmm 🤔😬)

Episode 12

Well, well, well. Looks like it’s time for some more shenanigans! 🙈 

Various amateur sleuths swing into motion this episode and the net effect is that a goodly chunk of our central mystery (The Death and Resurrection of Kang Jun-sang 💀😇) is finally laid bare to our understanding (and about damn time, I hafta say).

Also, this episode was exhausting, and I really am starting to get a feel for why this show took Asia (or at least a significant percentage of its TV-viewing populace) by storm, and why people would get obsessed with it. I’m not convinced it’s a healthy obsession, mind, but there you have it.

Anyway, let’s get into it.

So after Min-hyung pulls Yu-jin back from the curb, he hails a cab for her and (after several searching and soulful looks, but no words) sends her off.

Yu-jin of course ends up outside of Sang-hyuk’s house, because naturally pouty immature fiancé’s feelz must be catered to, they must be managed, doncha know? (maybe I should dial back a little on my ever-burgeoning dislike for Sang-hyuk? …nah, donwanna).

And because Yu-jin has a reasonably deft touch, mildly taking him to task about speeding home, he apologizes, then she embraces him and apologizes in turn, so that all returns to its surface appearance of being well.

We cut to Min-hyung, who has been waylaid and then enticed by his minion to head out for another round of drinks.

This is mainly important because it allows minion to give us all (including Min-hyung) an info-dump about how doctors – specifically psychiatrists – can use techniques like hypnotherapy to treat heavy trauma by “erasing memories, and replacing horrible memories with other memories”.


Minion also twits our boy for not telling him that Min-hyung’s mom is a famous pianist, because of course that means Min-hyung must have absorbed her skill by osmosis or something, and his dashing off a melody (at the mountaintop lodge, a few episodes ago) while claiming not to be able to play the piano is no big deal after all.🎹🎵

Cut to next day at Sang-hyuk’s radio station, where we learn that pianist mom (aka Kang Mi-hee) has consented to an interview, but not at the station; Sang-hyuk is going to go to her location.

Yu-jin strolls into the station a bit early to pick up Sang-hyuk, and bumps into Yoo Yeol.

He starts to tell her about how Sang-hyuk told them he was quitting when he took time off, until Sang-hyuk (who has overheard the conversation) rushes around the corner to interrupt him and send him off.

I’m not sure, but I think we are meant to infer here that Sang-hyuk’s illness and big deathbed scene was more a calculated stratagem—in that he was really just taking some time off at work rather than actually quitting?—rather than spontaneously wasting away at Yu-jin’s rejection? 

Yu-jin is there because it’s her father’s birthday, so she and Sang-hyuk are going to visit his grave.

But! Pianist mom is there at the grave first (remember, she only learned last episode for the first time that he had died, and was apparently shocked enough to collapse after her performance).

We are treated to Mi-hee soliloquizing about how she will never forget Hyun-soo (Yu-jin’s dad), and also never forgive him (ooh, portentous ancient mysteries, my favorite kind! This reminds us all yet again that show has more or less dropped the mystery of Jun-sang’s paternity, which he was pursuing so ardently in the first couple of episodes.

And also, right before he was so rudely pancaked, Jun-sang appears to have been harboring the dreadful suspicion that he and Yu-jin might be sharing the same DNA.

Understandable that show has been ignoring the issue for a hot minute, since for half the show now we have not had a functioning “Jun-sang” around to pursue it, but I have a feeling it’s going to become relevant again before too much longer?).

Pianist mom finishes up her communion with the dearly departed and is walking away down the road, thus barely missing the arrival of Yu-jin and Sang-hyuk as they drive up to the grave site.

They go to the grave, and then wonder who it was that placed the fresh bouquet of flowers there.

Sang-hyuk of course has to get all good boy performative, kneeling down and telling “father” that he and Yu-jin are getting married next month, and that he will always make her happy (which, I mean, it’s an appropriate gesture as far as it goes and all, I just…have zero faith in JBG’s ability to actually get anywhere close to accomplishing the stated goal (“make Yu-jin happy”), or that he even has any real clue how to do it).

Afterward, the couple goes to visit Yu-jin’s mom, where Sang-hyuk passes her an envelope of money to “help prepare for the wedding.”

Yu-jin is out of sorts over this, and tries to get him to take it back, but he insists and of course our good boy (🤪) must get his way, so mom ends up accepting it.

Later as they’re driving away, Sang-hyuk observes that Yu-jin is upset with him, and she’s like, noooo, but…you’re always sweet and kind-hearted, but then sometimes you’re a different person. You don’t discuss things with me, you just decide on your own. I don’t know what to do when you do that. (Girl, YES! Can I get a witness 🙌🙏? I done been sayin’!!).

OF COURSE, our Jaunty Good Boy (🤓) kind of smirks, and is all, you can just follow what I do. Just trust me. (yeah, ‘bout as far as I can throw you, you sorry git). But of course, Yu-jin smiles it off, and then Sang-hyuk proposes they go for a nice drive outside Chuncheon.

Well, Yu-jin is looking for a map in the glove compartment, and pulls out one of Kang Mi-hee’s CDs (probably there because Sang-hyuk is preparing to interview her, right?), and Sang-hyuk is all, oh, you recognize her…and Yu-jin is like, of course, it’s Lee Min-hyung’s mother (recall that Yu-jin had never met her in her incarnation as Jun-sang’s mother in the past).

This sparks something in Sang-hyuk’s brain, and he pulls abruptly off the road. Yu-jin is all, what the hell? What’s wrong? And he’s all, are you sure that’s Lee Min-hyung’s mother? 

And when Yu-jin confirms that yeah, I met her once, we see that Sang-hyuk is remembering overhearing his father saying to Mi-hee that he met a kid named Jun-sang ten years ago and thought it might be her son (Sang-hyuk walked away before hearing Mi-hee respond that her son is named Lee Min-hyung).

So then Sang-hyuk suddenly pulls the least convincing “oops, I just remembered” act ever, and explains to Yu-jin how he just remembered that he needs to pick something up from a friend, haha, good thing I remembered it, right?! I’ll just… drop you off back near your mom’s place, and then when I’m finished with this little errand, we can meet up and go back home together.

So Sang-hyuk drops a super-confused Yu-jin off by the side of the road, and then burns on down the trail to wherever he’s going…of course, Yu-jin just happens to be standing right at the old bus stop that she used to take as a high schooler, and of course the bus trundles up right then, so she jumps on and heads off to…. (try to guess where she would go for maximum melodramatic effect? If you guessed Namiseom, congratulations, your drama instincts are not too shabby).

Left to his own devices, Sang-hyuk calls up Chae-rin, and starts to interrogate her about her history with Min-hyung: did she really meet him in France? (yes); is she sure he grew up in the U.S.? (uh, why do you want to know that?); so, he really has nothing to do with Jun-sang, right?

At this point, Chae-rin is like, dude, what the hell is going on? And Sang-hyuk is all, huh, what?

And she’s all, Min-hyung was talking about Jun-sang, too, just a couple days ago, and now you’re being weird about it too. And Sang-hyuk is like…uh, kthxbai [click].

So that convo prompts Chae-rin to rush over to Min-hyung’s office, but he’s not there, and the secretary doesn’t know where he is…

Meanwhile, Sang-hyuk heads off to the old high school in Chuncheon, where he butters up the cranky old homeroom teacher, and with his backing, manages to finagle his way into the archived school records (which, to be clear, he really shouldn’t be allowed access to).

Sang-hyuk asks to see Kang Jun-sang’s record, and when the admin pulls it out, he remarks that someone else was just there earlier, also asking to see that same record, but since he wasn’t related (and uh, he didn’t have the foresight to suborn a teacher), he wasn’t allowed to see it…but oh yeah, he (the admin) did at least give the guy Kang Jun-sang’s old address.

Sang-hyuk looks at the record, and sees that Kang Jun-sang’s mother is listed as…🥁🥁🥁 Kang Mi-hee! Dun-dun-DUN 😲. (we already knew this, of course).

Sang-hyuk is in a considerable state of spiritual turmoil at this revelation, and rushes back to Yu-jin’s mother’s house, only to discover…no Yu-jin on the premises. Oops. You appear to have misplaced your Yu-jin, good sir!  It is kinda your fault, though?

Of course it was Min-hyung trying to get a look at Kang Jun-sang’s record, so we shift to him pulling up to the old Jun-sang residence (where both the gate and the front door are conveniently (suspiciously?) left ajar).

He goes in and is poking around the front room, when who should stick her head in the front door? His mother! Who presumably should not be showing up at some random house in Chuncheon!!

Min-hyung is all, what the hell, mom? Piano mom is discombobulated!! Min-hyung is all, you said very clearly you didn’t know any Jun-sang, what are you doing just suddenly popping up at JUN-SANG’S address?! ANSWER ME THAT, MY GOOD LADY!

Mom can’t face the music and turns to rush out. Min-hyung chases after, and knocks over a portrait that was leaning against the table…it is a picture of Kang Mi-hee at the keyboard, in Jun-sang’s house! *gasp* 😨🤯

They stare at each other, Min-hyung is all, who is Jun-sang? Who is Min-hyung? WHO AM I? Mom is all, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…Jun-sang. And he’s like, am I really…Jun-sang?

Her silence speaks volumes…he rushes past her to leave, she calls out, “Jun-sang!” He jumps in the car and speeds away. 😳😱 WTF? But also, FINALLY!

Cue up scene of Yu-jin strolling alone down the lane of trees on Namiseom, to the accompaniment of a romantic ballad, and recalling things that Min-hyung said to her when they were there together.

Then in the distance, a hazy figure…it resolves to…Min-hyung, walking lost in thought. He sees her. They approach…what a surprise!

Yu-jin is like, I didn’t expect to see you here…did you come for the fresh air? (Min-hyung maintains his sober silent face). She continues, Min-hyung, is something wrong? 

“Yu-jin, I am actually Jun-sang,” then they fall into each other’s fervent, passionate embrace, before running away to a secluded place where no one can ever find them, to start a new life together…is exactly what does NOT happen, alas 😭.

INSTEAD, Min-hyung is all, do I look strange? I feel strange. Yu-jin is like, what’s wrong, what happened?

And Min-hyung is like, what if, if…I am.…and we tremble on the very cliff edge of revelation, when, from off-screen…the call of “Yu-jin!” sounds.

And OF COURSE it is Sang-hyuk, who may have the emotional intelligence of an old fence post, but is a downright genius at showing up when and where he is NOT WANTED, no not even in the slightest bit 😠🤬.

Yu-jin is all, we just ran into each other (the honest truth, as it happens!). Sang-hyuk is all, it’s getting late, we should go…and so off they go.

Sang-hyuk speeds recklessly down the road, then finally pulls over for a smoke (literally; Yu-jin is all, when did you start smoking?). Then Sang-hyuk starts asking Yu-jin questions, the upshot of which are, what do you like about Min-hyung, and what would you do if Jun-sang were alive? 

(And I’m just going to editorialize here again: dude, I get being upset that your fiancée isn’t all that into you, and likes another guy. Very normal reaction, to be sure.

BUT! You were the one who was adamant that it didn’t matter, that you just wanted her to stay with you, come hell or high water. YOU MADE YOUR BED, DUDE! NOW LIE IN THE DAMN THING, even if it’s prickly!

It’s more than a little churlish (although, okay, understandably human) to demand that the terms of the bargain that you set change now that Yu-jin has no leverage!

(She could, theoretically, and no doubt should, back out before the wedding, but as we’ve already mentioned, she would surely incur a much higher social and reputational penalty than before you pulled your shitty little hospital death-bed stunt, so…))

Well, Min-hyung goes and hunts down the doctor (remember: Mi-hee’s long time friend, and also a psychiatrist (this will turn out to be relevant)). 

Min-hyung confronts the doctor in his office, and finally wrests the truth from him.

After the Truck of Doom accident, Jun-sang seemed dead at first, but it turned out that he was only seriously injured, and ended up in a coma for two months.

When he woke up, he didn’t remember anything, so his mother asked the doctor to give him new memories as Lee Min-hyung, using hypnotherapy. And okay, I’m sorry, but WTF?! No, really, WTF?!! 🤬😳 

Pointe the First, I am highly skeptical that this is even possible in the way show depicts it as happening (construct an entire fictional 18 year long life and seamlessly insert it into an amnesiac’s blank slate brain? Via hypnotherapy? C’mon show!).

And Pointe the Second, the question of why piano mom would have such a bizarre request is left entirely unaddressed, much less answered. I expect to have Mi-hee on the hot seat PDQ to address this outrageous behavior!

Sang-hyuk goes by Min-hyung’s office again; Min-hyung still isn’t there, but Sang-hyuk does run into Chae-rin.

They go for coffee together (it’s like an ad hoc meeting of the Evil Alliance of Ultimate Evil…although Chae-rin, to the surprise of everyone including herself, I’m sure, has actually not been terrible lately).

Chae-rin is all, what is going on? Why are you looking for Min-hyung? Sang-hyuk is like, what do you mean? Chae-rin is all, dude, do you take me for an idiot?

Sang-hyuk is like, well, I’ve been worried that Yu-jin and Min-hyung may still be seeing each other, so when I ran into him in Chuncheon, I’m afraid I may have been abrupt towards him. So I wanted to come by and apologize. Chae-rin is like, uh-huh, sure, okay. 🤔🤨😒

Sang-hyuk finally tracks Min-hyung down at his office and is all, I have something to say. And Min-hyung is like, whatever dude, talk to the hand 🖐, and starts to walk away.

So Sang-hyuk is all “Kang Jun-sang,” which definitely gets Min-hyung’s attention. Sang-hyuk starts to interrogate him: how could you not know you’re Jun-sang? Did you lose all your memories?

Min-hyung is all, what are you after? What’s your point? (which is the right approach, obviously; why does he owe this jackhole the time of day?) Sang-hyuk is all, I don’t care if you are Jun-sang, even if you are, you can’t have Yu-jin! So stop showing up in front of her.

Min-hyung is all, yeah, why should I listen to you? If I’m Jun-sang, wouldn’t I be that very same Jun-sang that Yu-jin missed so much?

Sang-hyuk is like, neither Min-hyung nor Jun-sang deserve Yu-jin! Yu-jin was a fool to love Jun-sang from the bottom of her heart! Jun-sang was only using her; you said it yourself!

You hated me, so you were using her to get to me (which, 1) the mask is tearing here, right, and Sang-hyuk’s inner jerk is shining bright, and 2) that’ll teach you to use contrarian sarcastic responses as a defense mechanism, Jun-sang, ol’ buddy. Never know when they’ll come back to bite you in the ass ten years later, when you can’t even remember the circumstances in order to refute the accusation…).

The best Min-hyung can do is be like, I can’t remember saying that. Did I really use Yu-jin? So then Sang-hyuk actually kneels down in front of him, and is like, please just leave her alone. Haven’t you hurt her enough over these ten years?

Yu-jin and Jin-sook are out for drinks, and Yu-jin mentions that Sang-hyuk asked her what she liked about Min-hyung, and she didn’t answer him.

But then she tells Jin-sook that when she met Jun-sang and was with him, her heart fluttered, it felt affected, and she felt it must be love, fate, and so on 💞💕.

And then when Jun-sang died, she didn’t expect to ever feel that again…but then she met Min-hyung, and there was that same feeling in her heart again 💞💕. And it wasn’t just because he looked like Jun-sang, honest! (really, Yu-jin?! How can you be sure? There’s gotta be some subconscious bleed-over, don’t you think?).

They are definitely two different people, Yu-jin continues, so it doesn’t make sense to me, because they seem the same.

(It’s pretty ironic that she’s acting so sure that Jun-sang and Min-hyung are different people, just as we are all learning once and for all that no, they are in fact very much THE SAME person. 

Although no doubt we could have an interesting philosophical discussion about the extent to which a person so removed in time and experience and even memory from their younger self is really the same.)

Anyway, cut to scene of everyone (Sang-hyuk, Yu-jin, Chae-rin, Jin-sook and Yong-gook) making plans to meet up for drinks somewhere.

Chae-rin is getting ready to leave her boutique, when Min-hyung comes in and wants to ask her something. Chae-rin perks right up and is all, hey, let’s go to dinner together! I’ll blow off the gang, tell them all I can’t come by for drinks, and Min-hyung is all, no, I’ll go to drinks with you instead.

So then the four of them (Min-hyung, Chae-rin, Jin-sook and Yong-gook) are all sitting in a booth together, waiting for Sang-hyuk and Yu-jin to show up, and Min-hyung asks the others if they were all in the broadcasting club together, and then he asks them if they were close to Kang Jun-sang?

Just then Sang-hyuk walks in (without Yu-jin), so then Min-hyung starts asking Sang-hyuk (in front of the others) how he got along with Jun-sang? (Min-hyung definitely has kind of a confrontational vibe going here).

And Yong-gook is all, aren’t you talking a little too casually about someone who is dead 💀? And Min-hyung is all, ahh, but that’s the thing, is he really dead? And they’re all like, say what 🤨? 

Min-hyung is all, it’s strange, you know? Did any of you go to his funeral? Did it never occur to any of you that Jun-sang could still be alive and WALKING THE FACE OF THE EARTH TO THIS VERY DAY?! Maybe he lost his memories, or changed his name? Hmmm? Maybe…he changed it to…Lee Min-hyung? Just hypothetically, you know? 

And everyone’s face is like, sheeeeit, never thought of that, maybe he did!! Then Min-hyung kind of chuckles and is all, but that would be a problem, wouldn’t it? Oh well, unfortunately, I’m just Lee Min-hyung…I pass the test, I will diminish and go into the West, and remain Min-hyung. Later, dudes.

Min-hyung strides out to the sidewalk, only to run into a late-arriving Yu-jin.

They stare at each other…he grabs her arm and says, I need to talk to you. She’s like, what the hell?! get off me! (admirable maintenance of boundaries! I approve!).

They go back to a stare-down. Yu-jin is all, what is going on, this isn’t like you!

Min-hyung is like, what is like me? Who am I? Tell me? Yu-jin.. I am…Jun-sang.

BAM! 💣💥 …curtain.

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9 months ago

Trent – I came out of fairly bad week to try to get myself together to get caught up. It is slow going as I have to read this slowly so I do not miss one single brilliant bit or miss out on a good belly laugh. I may be caught up by tomorrow. I really enjoyed the laughs this week,

Trent, this episode was both disturbing and infuriating. Just think about it for a minute – this drama was filmed in 2002, not 1302 and this drama has no dang excuse.

When Sang Hyuk drops the bomb – “we are going abroad”. I was like “Dude, did you make this decision by yourself, because if you did, you will be going alone” while I was waving the ‘hand sign’ and yelling “Open your doggone mouth girl”.

Yet Trent, this sadly, is not what rattled my chain the most…

This is what rattled my chain the most: Mom telling Yu Jin that love-is-not-everything. I did a double face palm 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️and felt helpless (and I am not even Yu Jin). But Sang Hyuk and Yu Jin moms are not alone in their quest for the ‘worst mothers’ awards.

We ‘gots one more – Min Hyung’s mom. Cue music – There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear… Poor Min Hyung better beware, because as this episode progresses it looks more and more like his mom has a lot hidden under a big rock.

Trent – I agree that she was physically affected by the news of Yu Jin’s father’s death.

Then, when I thought we had seen the worst – I am like “No, no, not the necklace Yu Jin. As she walks away I feel a twinge of pain for Min Hyung.

The restaurant scene was super cringe but not as cringe as Sang Hyuk’s previous dragging around of Yu Jin for another “I’ll show you Min Hyung” restaurant show down. Hmmm, I take that back – they were all super cringe and super passive aggressive. Sang Hyuk is an a$$hat.

To add insult to injury Sang Hyuk leaves Yu Jin. Standing in the road. All alone. By herself. This is not cool. 

Let me just throw this in in case you have not heard this song enough at this point….

Writer-nim did not have to make Min Hyung and Yu Jin so pitiful (note that I may repeat this).

Brilliance: I will try to regroup and gird up my loins for what next episode has in store for us” 


Trent you are correcto mundo that the obsession with this show is not healthy,

Yu Jin, why, oh why, do you have to go to his house to smooth out his ruffled feelings, He dumped you on the street and left you there for goodness sakes! I am gritting my teeth.


The only thing off is Sang Hyuk’s inflated sense of self-righteousness. I had to hold back the urge to hurl something when Sang Hyuk waxed poetic at the grave site. Yes Trent, ‘sorry git’ is just right!

We are getting closer to finding out what the “portentous ancient mysteries” are with Min-hyung’s mother is, but right now she is getting the side eye from me.

Our guy Sang Hyuk did a Snagglepuss “Exit Stage Left” over that convo in the car. Yu Jin, honey, you should just stay on the bus and go as far as you can.

And Sang-hyuk is like..kthxbai [click] – OMG I am dying laughing over this one.

Min-hyung is all, “You said very clearly you didn’t know any Jun-sang. What are you doing at his address?” To which she replied “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player….uh,,,.Jun Sang”.

Your dissertation on the conversation with the Doctor is pure brilliance.

Hmm, the hypnotherapy – well Piano Mom deserves the side eye and a lot more. Now Trent, if this really works we can all go to the therapist as dumb as doornails and come out as absolute geniuses. Kind of like reverse osmosis?

Dearie me Sang Hyuk, but your argument with Min-Hyung does not hold water and kneeling down does not help your case.

As Yu Jin states “You cannot fool the flutter”.

Yes Trent, that was a curtain slam! BOOM! 💣💣💣💣

Super ADJECTIVE Spotting (and one of my favorite words): Discombobulated – confused and disconcerted.

Min Hyung’s Scarf Count – 18 original scarves have been worn in E1-12. We only spotted re-wears in E 11 and 12. 🧣 . 🧣. 🧣. 🧣

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
9 months ago

To Min Hyung/Jun Sang: Dude, if you want your memories back, go get some hypnotherapy!
Piano Mom must have had ties to the criminal underworld. How else could she give her son new ID, travel documents, etc.?

9 months ago

The laughter you provide, Trent, helps so much for the frustration I feel with this pair of episodes. Yu Jin’s mom gives her some lousy advice to stay with Sang Hyuk, then he tells her she can lie. No wonder our heroine is so conflicted. Sang Hyuk tells Min Hyung/Jun Sang neither one deserves Yu Jin. My response, “And you do?!?” Spotted the mics four times in these two episodes.

9 months ago
Reply to  Cathy

Love that mic spotting!

9 months ago

Episode 12: slow-motion train wreck indeed! I find myself heartily wishing Viki had an option to increase the playback speed, just so we can get this over with….

9 months ago

I’ve never liked the heavy melodramas back then but I have to say I’m really enjoying reading the weekly recaps here and even thought of actually taking a peek at the show to see how Bae Young Joon’s charms will fare on me, 20 years down the road 🙂

I think someone made a comment before that Lee Min Ho’s meteoric rise to stardom is partly contributed by the void that Bae Young Joon left when he announced his (early) retirement from the industry. Perhaps those who followed closely can agree (or disagree) on this.

And Trent, thank you for your hard work. The recaps are a hoot!

9 months ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

Jiyuu — Just glad to be providing some amusement to folks, and hopefully a little lifting of the depression for those who are watching the slow-motion train wreck of it all.

9 months ago

What a depressing couple of episodes these were. 😕 Our girl has almost totally lost her will to fight for her own happiness. With friends and family like Yu Jin’s, who needs enemies, eh.

Sang Hyuk is a particularly “shining” example of a crazy, manipulative 2nd ML who “Just.Don’t.Get.It”. He’ll do anything to gain/keep the object of is obsession. Another staple of many classic kdramas, who’s thankfully more or less been phased out. Sometimes they were rather comical in their grand delusions but other times, like here, they just need a proper punch in the face. Who’s volunteering? Anyone?

9 months ago
Reply to  Timescout

Timescout — I mean, you have my axe…er, fist. Whatever. If we’re going to de-pants Sang-hyuk, I’m all in!

9 months ago
Reply to  Timescout

Timescout – I wpuld pay for the big batch of kimchi for kimchi slaps all around…

9 months ago

“They call me Mr. Pitiful”

Trent: bravo! More great descriptions than one can shake a stick at! Some of my faves this week:

“…soi-disant “good boy” Sang-hyuk, and in the process manages to achieve almost Stepford Wives levels of docile compliance.”

–I had to look up “soi-disant” but now I kinda love it. And the Stepford comparison is delicious.

“….a nice apartment nearby that she checked out for our soon-to-be newlywed couple (so, already backsliding from your promise of “a house,” mom?

–Sort of have to stand up for the show here as I’ve seen plenty of dramas where apartments were referred to as “houses”. Seems to be a subtitle thing.


–Ohh, yeahhhhh…right. Thanks for the reminder…I think I had misfiled that under “Healer”.

“Once again, I find myself reluctantly filling in as Yu-jin’s anger translator).”

–Tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

“Maybe another Truck of Doom will solve everyone’s Sang-hyuk problem? “

–We can hope, but for a second there I was worried about Yu-jin running into a Taxi of Doom….


–Don’t tell anyone, but when I heard the word “hypnotherapy” I actually starting chortling and clapping my hands. And that was at the gym!

“You appear to have misplaced your Yu-jin, good sir! “

–The operative word in Jaunty Good Boy’s mind is, of course, “your”.

“Pointe the First, I am highly skeptical that this is even possible in the way show depicts it as happening (construct an entire fictional 18 year long life and seamlessly insert it into an amnesiac’s blank slate brain? Via hypnotherapy? C’mon show!).”

–Now I’m gonna weigh in with years of advanced training and experience in Science on this point: Oh yeah. Happens all the time.

“Chae-rin is all, dude, do you take me for an idiot?”

–I’m gonna hazard that Sang-hyuk figures that everyone else is an idiot. At this stage, one plot point did resolve for me. I had been wondering if Chae-rin was in on the switcherroo, but at least at this point it appears not. She seems to have just found this dude who looks exactly like grown up Jun-sang, and was all, “hey-la-li-la, now I can really lord it over that Yu-jin.”

“So then the four of them (Min-hyung, Chae-rin, Jin-sook and Yong-gook) are all sitting in a booth together…”

–and wearing scarfs! Inside!!

–That last booth conversation was pretty well played on Min-hyung’s part.

THANKS TRENT, for leading us though yet another week of Drama Angst. 

9 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

“So then the four of them (Min-hyung, Chae-rin, Jin-sook and Yong-gook) are all sitting in a booth together…”

when you isolate the sentence like that it reminds me of bar jokes 😝

9 months ago
Reply to  dreamingdrama

Ooh, good catch! I should have inserted a bartender in there somewhere to play straight man…

9 months ago
Reply to  dreamingdrama

True that!!

9 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

j3ffc — good point about about the apartment/house distinction. It is possible that I am being–reflexively unkind to mother on this point. JGB can still suck it, though 😁

Yeah, I don’t think Chae-rin was in on the “Jun-sang didn’t really die” trick, I suspect she ran into dude in France and was wily enough to stop her gob and not blurt out “Jun-sang” (or anything else) when he was introduced to her as “Min-hyung, from the U.S.” I’m sure her operating principle was “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

9 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

j3ffc – Wowsers I truly love how you gathered the very best bits for all of us. I find these bits to be quite fascinating. Trent is gifted with the bits and the adjectives. He must have been the tribal firepit-mash story teller in a previous life. He does it so well.

9 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

“Oh. My. Goodness. You know what, I realize that I had drama amnesia over everything that happened after Sang Hyuk’s hospital stint; I literally could not recall a single thing that happened after that point in the drama. And now that I’ve watched these 2 episodes, I’m reaching for the conclusion that my brain must have willfully blocked it out in protest, ha.” – My thoughts exactly. 😄 Weeelll, I do sort of recall where all this is leading up to, but not “when” that “where” is, ha. Could be next episode or 2-3 epis onwards. We’ll see, I guess.😏

9 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Yeah, I mean, that whole staging a hospital death-bed drama was really beyond the pale, and now that it succeeded, he is clearly acting like he’s in the driver’s seat on everything, so he deserves to have all these prerogatives. It is…a bit enrageifying, to say the least.

Yu-jin should leave him, yes, that’s a given. I do keep circling around to her social context though. It’s not so simple as just cutting a toxic dude out of her life; it’s her entire familial and social set that seems to be just super-committed to this relationship happening, for various reasons. And it’s more important for them to be comfortable, when they don’t have to bear any of the costs, than to support the one (Yu-jin) who does have to bear those costs.

I get a sense that Yu-jin is doing this not just through noble idiocy (although that is part of it, certainly), but also because she feels like she deserves it as punishment. Recall how she says to her mom that she feels like a bad person, she let everyone down, she wasn’t attentive enough to Sang-hyuk, etc. Which is toxic nonsense, but… Yu-jin needs therapy, y’all!!