Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Thanks for joining us for this fated commemorative group watch of Winter Sonata! This really is the final one. 🥲
What a ride this has been. Huge, HUGE thanks to Trent, for being our MVP, week after week, and allowing us to see this show through his eyes!
SOME IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:
1. There is NO SPOILER ZONE this week, since we are at the finale.
2. This is a heads-up, that after this show, we’ll be taking a break from group watches for a while, because I very much need some breathing space, and this is one way to get some. 😅
I’ll make an announcement, when I feel ready to take on another group watch – which will come, I promise!
Without further ado, here are Trent’s reactions to episode 20; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Alright everyone, thank you for patiently waiting for this, the final installment in our epic fated group watch journey. Hugs ‘n kisses all around 🤗😘.
Make sure you’re buckled in real tight, because things are gonna get kind of whiplashy here on the final trip. Oh, and if you know of any remedies for Noble Idiocy overdose, I…uh…I think you might want to stock up. Just sayin’.😉
We open where we closed last episode, Sang-hyuk meeting Yu-jin in front of her apartment building, while Jun-sang stands unnoticed in the background.
We shift to Sang-hyuk and Yu-jin sitting in the front seat of Sang-hyuk’s car. Sang-hyuk is all, look, I know you’re never going to forget the big guy, but if you guys can’t be together…I want to protect you (oh, is that what they’re calling it these days?).
Yu-jin gives him her best “b*tch, plz” look, so Sang-hyuk continues, I won’t ask you to forget him, but when you’re feeling like it’s all too much, you can lean on me instead of just holding it in, ‘cause I don’t wanna see you suffering all by your lonesome, you know? (I know nobody asked me, but this seems like a bad idea to me?).
Yu-jin, to her credit, is all, thanks dude, but I can’t do that. Sang-hyuk is like, well, you don’t have to decide now… and Yu-jin is all, sorry, man, thinking about my boy is already too much, I just don’t have the computing cycles to spare to think about anything else (okay, fine, I’m freelancing a bit on the recap dialogue, sorry).
Sang-hyuk is all, dammit! I should have waited a while longer (uh, howzabout forever? Is forever good for you?) … but I mean it. You think about it, and I’ll wait as long as you need. …Meanwhile, Jun-sang is over in the bushes, staring at them having this conversation…
Sang-hyuk arrives back home, where professor dad is in his office staring at the fateful DNA paternity test results. Sang-hyuk knocks and then walks in and informs professor dad that he has something to tell him.
Professor dad sets the DNA results to one side (and like that’s not a mini-Chekhov’s gun… what do you wanna bet that’s going to create some chaos, eh?).
Sang-hyuk is all, I want to get back together with Yu-jin…but I don’t think mom would allow it, so… could you maybe do a brother a solid, here? Maybe put in a good word with mom?
Dad is like, does Yu-jin agree? (wow, my gob is smacked. Someone actually inquiring into what Yu-jin wants, FOR ONCE).
Sang-hyuk is all…uh, no, actually, she’s still hung up on THAT GUY. Professor dad is like, does she still love Jun-sang?! Sang-hyuk has to admit she does. So then dad is all, and does Jun-sang love her? And Sang-hyuk is like…I think he does?
Dad is all, well, then, you can’t be with Yu-jin. Just let them be together. Of course, Sang-hyuk is all, what the hell, daddy-o?! Hello? INCEST, remember?! Professor dad is like, uh, yeah, about that…it was all a misunderstanding, you see. Actually, Jun-sang… is my son. 😳
Well, Sang-hyuk takes that about as well as you might expect; he goes rushing out of the house, which draws mother out to see what’s going on. She goes into the office, just as professor dad jumps up to go rushing after Sang-hyuk.
So OF COURSE mother turns around to peruse the desk, and when professor dad goes back inside after Sang-hyuk has sped off into the night, it’s to find mother with a very incriminating DNA paternity test report in her hand. OOPS. 😱
“여보!어떻케? 어떻케?! 어떻케!!!!” said in a tone of increasing volume and frenzy is probably not what you want to hear from your life partner of almost thirty years, right?
Next day, Jun-sang is seeing piano mom off on a trip somewhere. She asks if he will be coming to the U.S. soon? He says that he will. Mi-hee is all, I’ve hurt you so much. He hugs her and says, “see you in the U.S.”
And WOW talk about cheap forgiveness! Has our boy Jun-sang just kind of given up caring about anything at this point? That’s kind of the vibe he’s giving off. Have to say, were it me, I suspect I’d still be nursing a big ol’ wodge of resentment toward piano mom…😠
(As it happens, Sang-hyuk (who has apparently been sulking, or at least thinking deep thoughts, in his car since last night’s fateful revelation), is watching this send-off from across the street).
We move over to Yu-jin’s place, where she answers the door to find Sang-hyuk in all his moody glory. She’s like, my dude, what brings you here so bright ‘n early? Come in.
Sang-hyuk is like, no, what I have to say won’t take long. I’ve been thinking, and I don’t want you to study abroad alone. I’ll quit my job and go with you 🙄🤪.
Yu-jin is all, uh, don’t really want you to do that… so, don’t do it. Sang-hyuk is all, nope, I’m gonna. Can’t let you go on your own, no matter what you say. Then he leaves.
(So, I guess we’re just going to continue with the theme of jerkwad dudes trampling Yu-jin’s expressed desires and personal agency right through to the bitter end, huh? 😬🤬😤).
Over to Jun-sang’s office, where the receptionist announces that he has a visitor. It turns out to be our boy Sang-hyuk, who is apparently making the rounds.
Jun-sang asks how his father is doing (without, of course, making any reference to our father…), then asks what brings him to visit today.
Sang-hyuk says he has a favor to ask: he wants to get back together with Yu-jin, and since Jun-sang can’t be with her, he’d like Jun-sang to help persuade her.
And would you just look at the Big Brass Ones on this jamoke? I mean, seriously? Especially since Sang-hyuk now knows that actually, Jun-sang can be with her. What a goober. And just when we’d been tentatively buying into your whole redemption tour, dude.
(This goes to show’s very inconsistent characterization, especially of its villains, especially in the latter half: they’re callous villains when they need to be, then semi-decent people when they need to be. Often in the space of the same episode. Definitely contributes to the whiplashy feel).
Tell Yu-jin to study abroad with me, Sang-hyuk continues. This bit is news to Jun-sang, and he’s like, is Yu-jin going somewhere? And Sang-hyuk is all, yeah, to France.
So Jun-sang is all, la France! Oui, I know it well…maybe I’ll just take her myself, eh? No, wait, he doesn’t say that, sorry. What he actually says is, dude, how could I possibly tell her that?
Sang-hyuk is all, why not? You don’t want to meet up with her again, do you? Jun-sang is sticking to his guns, all, sorry, I can’t say that to her.
Sang-hyuk is like, why not?! You hurt so many people, and now you can’t do a little thing like tell her to study abroad with me? You two can’t be together again, even if you aren’t siblings. You have no idea how much you’ve hurt me, or what you’ve done to our family!!
(And I mean, c’mon, my guy… I realize you’ve got some family trauma bubbling along here, what with the sudden arrival of the unacknowledged hyung you never knew you had, but how is Jun-sang responsible for either his birth or his parentage?)
So then Jun-sang is like, you knew. That’s why you’re doing this. I’m sorry, Sang-hyuk. What do you want me to do? I’ll do anything.
(And look out! I’m gettin’ back in throwing-stuff-at-screen mode…I’m starting to get a definite whiff of some Noble Idiocy vibes, and it’s making me feel real dyspeptic, you know?).
Sang-hyuk goes into an extended whine about how ever since Jun-sang came along, his life has gone to sh*t 💩, and of course it’s Jun-sang’s fault, before storming out.
Back to Sang-hyuk’s house, where mother has taken to her bed with a cold compress on her forehead. Professor dad is trying to be conciliatory, but she ain’t havin’ it.
He steps out of the room just as Sang-hyuk comes in. Professor dad sits an unwilling Sang-hyuk down to talk, and is all, yes, I’m a nasty hound dog, and I won’t ask for your forgiveness… but can’t you understand how I felt about Jun-sang?
Sang-hyuk, also not in a conciliatory mood, is all, no, I can’t, understand what? Professor dad is all, I haven’t done anything for Jun-sang except hurt him. He loves Yu-jin, and she loves him back. I can’t break them apart.
Sang-hyuk is all, yeah, so? Aren’t I your son, what about me? Dad is all, I may have been a hound dog, but I did raise you up right. And I didn’t do anything for Jun-sang.
Sang-hyuk’s response to this is, I’m going to study abroad with Yu-jin…AND! I’ll marry her, too. 😬😳. I met with Jun-sang, and he said he’d help me out.
Professor dad is all, how could you do that? Jun-sang is the victim who’s suffered the most. Sang-hyuk is all, what about me and mom? Don’t we count for anything? Then he storms out again (he’s getting his leave-in-high-dudgeon exits really down pat at this point).
Jun-sang is meeting with puffy doctor, gathering his charts and records, since he has apparently informed the doctor that he will be getting the recommended brain surgery in the U.S.
Jun-sang asks if he’ll be able to fully recover, and the doctor is all, I’m not sure. Honestly, I’m afraid that even if it goes well, you’ll have some side effects. Like, you might lose your eyesight.
So then we get some scenes of Jun-sang with thoughtful ponder-y face, and then he’s back at the office looking at the scale model house that Yu-jin designed and left with him.
He starts making drawings and architectural elevations, maybe like blueprint drafts, looks like, of the model.
When minion comes in the next morning, he’s just finishing up, and Jun-sang explains that it’s something he wanted to draw while he still could (yes, show, FORESHADOWING, we get it).
Over to Yu-jin’s place, where she’s sitting on the couch. She gets a call, it’s Jun-sang.
He says he has something to tell her, and can they meet for a moment (so much for the emotional “goodbye forever” scene in the park, I guess? But…surely he’s going to tell her the whole incest thing is off the table, and they’re good to go, right? RIGHT?!).
Yu-jin has to get all dressed up for the occasion, prompting Jin-sook (who’s watching from the bed) to wonder just why she’s gettin’ all prettified, hmm?
We move to a random lobby somewhere, where Yu-jin observes to Jun-sang that he’s not looking so well. Jun-sang is all, I’ve just been busy with lotsa stuff, you know?
Then Yu-jin is like, so you’re really leaving tomorrow? Jun-sang is all, I heard you’re going abroad to study with Sang-hyuk?
He stares intently at her, and she’s all, what? Jun-sang is all, oh, nuthin’, just wanted to see your purty face because I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see it again? You’ve always been beautiful. I’m just sorry I couldn’t preserve that, but instead just made you sad.
Yu-jin is all, get that nonsense out of here, mister… you have no idea how happy I was to know you.
So Jun-sang is like, thank you. And, I have a favor to ask you. Can you do whatever it is I ask? (I haaate this sort of blind promise. Tell me what you’re asking me to commit to, and I’ll tell you if I can do it. 😤).
Yu-jin (like a big dummy!) is all, okay, sure. Then Jun-sang is like, please go abroad with Sang-hyuk to study. Yu-jin (to her credit) is all, what the hell? And Jun-sang is like, I’d be relieved if you have him along to protect you.
Then Yu-jin (even more to her credit) is like, no, don’t wanna. I can’t do that, no (싫어/shireo!). So Jun-sang is basically begging her, like, I believe Sang-hyuk will make you happy…and then out come the emotional manipulation guns, and he’s all, it’s for me…please do it for me.
And Yu-jin is crying big fat tears like only she can, and me, I’m just mad, as usual, so I guess you got a reaction, dude, go you!
Oh, and also apparently our final Noble Idiocy tour is in full swing, and we aren’t going to bother even clearing up the incest misconception or trying to put the relationship back together, because wouldn’t want our beloved cinnamon roll Yu-jin to be saddled with a guy looking at risky brain surgery and possible blindness, would we?
Arrrgggh. To Hades with your stupid Noble Idiocy, my man.
Jun-sang drops Yu-jin off at her apartment, and he’s like, don’t come to the airport tomorrow, it’ll be too hard to say goodbye. Just promise me you’ll take care of yourself and live well, and Yu-jin is all, I promise.
And then Jun-sang is like, let’s never meet again, and just remember that great time on the beach as our last memory.
Once again Yu-jin is leaking oceans, and I swear to heaven I’m about ready to lodge a complaint with the UN Human Rights Commission or something, because the sheer amount of tears 😭 our show has required this poor woman to shed has to be like a human rights violation, I’m pretty sure….
Next day, on the way to the airport, Jun-sang stops by his dongsaeng’s workplace, and so he and the boy go up to the roof for a wee chat.
Jun-sang is all, Sang-hyuk, please take good care of Yu-jin, it will be a real load off my mind (I mean, not as much as whatever the surgeon is able to dig out physically, but still…😁). I’m serious, I won’t be back…so, take care (brother, he doesn’t say…at least with his mouth, although I think his eyes kind of do).
So then as Jun-sang is walking away, Sang-hyuk gets another convenient attack of conscience, and he’s all, Jun-sang! Don’t leave. I was just being a stubborn jerk, but you’re not Yu-jin’s brother, so you don’t actually have to go. Just go back to Yu-jin.
And Jun-sang, the big soggy muffin, is like, newp! Can’t do that.
Sang-hyuk (speaking, I think, for all of us) is all, WHY? Is it because we’re brothers? Did you give her up because I love her too? Jun-sang is like, you shouldn’t give up your love…the one who is good for Yu-jin right now is you, not me. You can stay with her longer than I would. So, later dude.
(I need to designate a “Noble Idiocy” emoji, so I can just liberally seed it throughout as a way to vent my feelings, you know? I mean 🙄😠😒😬🤬🤮 all come close…)
Sang-hyuk arrives back home just as the phone is ringing. He picks it up, and it’s puffy doctor looking for professor dad, because that’s actually the only contact point he has for Jun-sang.
It appears that there is one more test result they wanted to send along with Jun-sang for his surgery in the U.S.
Doctor goes on to opine that Jun-sang is probably “barely hanging on” and could be “in grave danger.” (hardly worth noting the incredibly loose attitude toward medical privacy at this point, but still!).
So then we see Sang-hyuk racing off in his car, then bursting into Yu-jin’s apartment, where he commands Yu-jin to hurry up and come with him! Jun-sang is leaving!
Yu-jin is all, I know, I saw him yesterday, and I promised I wouldn’t come to the airport.
So then Sang-hyuk is like, no, you’re a fool! After briefly wrestling with his conscience (so it appears), Sang-hyuk is all, I’m sorry Yu-jin, I lied because I was scared to lose you again (uh, not like you actually had her, you know?). Actually, it was also because I couldn’t stand the thought that Jun-sang was also my dad’s son. So I just didn’t tell you.
Yu-jin is all, so, like, say that last part again? Sang-hyuk obliges: yeah, Jun-sang is my dad’s son. My brudder (from another mudder). NOT RELATED TO YOU. Oh, and by the way, he’s probably gonna die, sorry. That or lose his eyesight, who knows? That’s why he didn’t say anything to you before he left.
(Here come Yu-jin’s tears, right on schedule…where is that UNHRC number, dangit?!)
So now we get a repeat of the ol’ airport chase montage, with Jun-sang headed for the boarding area, and Sang-hyuk and Yu-jin racing up escalators and down the concourse…except unlike last time we did this, Jun-sang has departed by the time they get to the gate.
We shift to the kitchen table, where now it’s Yu-jin’s mom who’s crying, and Yu-jin is all, c’mon, mom, enough with the waterworks, it’s not like I’m going away to die or something. I’m just off to study.
So then Yu-jin is in her room getting her bags ready, and looking at her boarding pass to Paris, and Sang-hyuk strolls in, and hands her a different boarding pass, to New York City.
He’s like, go to Jun-sang. So Yu-jin recalls their last parting scene (“let’s never meet again”), and then we see her at the airport, and as she walks toward the boarding gate, we see that she has left the ticket to NYC sitting behind on the chair in the waiting area.
(And we get the helpful, albeit kinda unnecessary voice-over from Sang-hyuk that Yu-jin left soon after Jun-sang, but for Paris, not New York).
And so OF COURSE we have to have a time skip, fifteen minutes before the end of the show—could hardly call this a show trailblazer if we didn’t indulge in a little time skip tomfoolery here at the end, right?—so we open to a scene of a young toddler in pigtails named Ji-hyun running down the road, as the sign “3 years later” flashes on the screen.
As the scene comes into focus, a bespectacled Sang-hyuk and a (relatively) long-haired Yu-jin chase her down and scoop her up.
(And I’m not gonna lie even a little bit, I spent a bad couple minutes here, during which I was contemplating skipping right over the intermediate step of throwing stuff at the screen, and moving right on to throwing the entire screen out the window. Because if show is telling us that Sang-hyuk and Yu-jin got together after all, and had a kid who’s big enough to be a toddler now? BURN IT ALL DOWN 🔥🐉🔥🐉🔥).
Fortunately for everyone’s mental health, show is having a wee bit of (cruel, uncalled for) fun with us, because just as toddler is melting down and Sang-hyuk is figuring out she’s peed on him (yeah, karma sucks, dude), out come Yong-gook and Jin-sook, and Jin-sook is all, come to mommy! WHEW.
Then Yong-gook asks Yu-jin if she’s getting used to being back, since she hasn’t been back for very long? Then Chae-rin(!) hollers out the window to ask what took them so long, so it looks like the gang is all getting back together for a reunion.
Well, then we are back at Polaris, where it looks like Yu-jin has gone back to work. (I have to say, I’m definitely not loving Yu-jin’s new wig. I guess I had actually gotten kind of fond of her previous bob cut).
Anyway. Jeong-ah comes in and is all, hey, look at this! And she shows Yu-jin a spread in a magazine, and she’s like, isn’t this the house that you designed a long time ago? It looks exactly the same…did someone steal your idea? Yu-jin is all, can you…find out where this is located?
So then we shift to the actual house itself, where we see Jun-sang moving around the spaces in the house, carefully pacing off dimensions, and it soon becomes evident that he has in fact lost his sight.
He feels a jigsaw puzzle that has been hung on one of the walls, a gift from the minion (as we hear in voice-over), and a loose piece falls out and to the ground.
Well, the house is somewhere near the sea shore (and it has really beautiful views, to give the location scout on this one credit…), so then we shift to a ferry, delivering Yu-jin to the dock. She checks her directions, and then goes hiking up the path up the hill.
Meanwhile, Jun-sang is waiting out on the front steps of the house. His handyman pulls up with a golf cart, and they load his bag up, then Jun-sang gets in and they drive off…just as Yu-jin is strolling down the stairs from another direction.
Yu-jin walks up to the front gate of the house, and goes in. She looks around the house…finds the puzzle on the wall, then finds the missing piece and replaces it (show helpfully gives us a flashback to her doing the same thing to Min-hyung’s puzzle in his office).
She goes over to the porch rail and stares out at the sea.
Just then, Jun-sang and his guy drive back up to the house…apparently Jun-sang has forgotten something (besides, well, Yu-jin). Jun-sang is all, I can get it, I’ll be right back.
He enters, and is walking across the porch when Yu-jin shifts and bumps the table, which makes a sound. Yu-jin turns from the rail to see him. Jun-sang asks, who is it? Yu-jin is silent, so he says again, who is it? Then, are you Yu-jin?
Are you Jun-sang? she answers. They both start crying again, but with only a literal minute left of run time, I am confident it is FOR THE LAST TIME.
We shift to a shot of the two of them at the rail, backlit against the mountain range in the distance at which the sun has just set. He gently traces her face, they kiss, then embrace, then turn to face the sunset. The End.
Well. That was a journey and no mistake. Thank you, friends, for sharing it with me, and each other.
“For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over.
I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things…”
Is this show flawed? Lord, yes. Does it deserve its iconic status? Also yes, I would say. There are certainly any number of other shows that I’ve liked better, been more moved by, and have felt accomplished various goals or embodied various dramatic aspects with greater skill.
But I’ll be honest; flaws and all, I did find this show generally interesting, and often, unexpectedly, quite moving.
I do admit that I am more than a little surprised that no one ended up dead by the end. I was honestly expecting someone (or more than one someones) to shuffle off this mortal coil by the closing credits.
I am likewise fairly surprised that we meandered and rollercoastered our way to a more-or-less conventionally “happy ending,” which I am somewhat roughly defining here as the fated OTP ending up in each other’s arms, breathing, ambulatory, and with no obvious impediments to continuing to be together.
I was also not particularly expecting that, I have to say. So, yay? Yeah, yay! ✨🎉🎊💖💞
It’s difficult to judge a show like this—iconic, yes, but also dated, and necessarily viewed through the prism of a drama world that has already significantly changed and evolved, even though it’s only been twenty-one years—and assign it a “grade.”
It feels a little bit like comparing apples and oranges, in a sense. Or maybe I protest too much? After all, it’s still recognizably a kdrama, a forerunner of today’s fare.
Pushed to the wall and forced to give it a grade, on pain of not getting dessert? I suppose I would give this an A- ? Maybe? Ask me again in a few weeks….
FINAL GRADE: A-
KFG: Huge thanks to phl1rxd, who volunteered to keep a scarf count during our watch – and then outdid herself, in finding a way to share her findings with us. Wouldja take a look at this dedication and attention to detail! 🤩
Once again, thanks so much to everyone who had the fortitude to see this through to the end! Couldn’t have done it without y’all’s enthusiastic participation and delightful comments each week.
Many thanks 🙏 of course to KFG for trusting me with the keys for so many weeks in a row, and for really spicing up each week’s offering with such a great selection of screen shots.
And special shout-out to MVP commenter and Keeper of the Scarves phl1rxd, who brought such fun and enthusiasm to the whole project. What a great “unique scarves” graphic you compiled for us!
May all y’all’s loves be fated, but 100% less filled with tears than our WS couple…😁💖💞
Trent! You deserve all the trophies and awards, AND a standing ovation, for such excellently entertaining (and heartfelt!) commentary, for all 20 episodes of this iconic show! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 (cue wild applause!)
THANK YOU, for agreeing to do this, and then being such a champ, in still making this a priority, even when Real Life foisted extra duties and responsibilities on you!
This has been SUCH a memorable group watch, thank you for leading us through it! ❤️❤️
Fangurl – Yes, yes and yes!
Ah, thanks. It took some effort, not gonna pretend it didn’t, but it was worth it as long as our fellow watchers got something out of it.
Thanks for proposing the experiment, all those weeks ago now….
Did the ending of WS remind anyone of the conclusion of _Jane Eyre_??
Thank you Trent, KFG, and everyone, for this great idea, very entertaining notes, and discussion! I enjoyed them, and must admit WS was a fun ride. =^D
Mad props to Trent for going the distance with the show!! I doubt I’d have got past the first few episodes without his entertaining recaps. You are a true 24 karat super trooper! 👍🏻 Shoutout to the “Support Group” in the comment section as well. 😄
Gosh, this was such a frustrating re-watch in so many ways. By the end I was ready to pack everyone, including the writer and director, into that sunbound rocket. 😆 Had I watched WS for the first time now, I sure wouldn’t have lasted long. That said, drama had it’s moments and it did at times manage to reel you in despite of all the crazy. It is easy to see why it bewitched so many, I pretty much fell under the spell myself back in the day.^^
Bravo to Trent and Fangirl for carrying this load and being our leader into the depths of Winter Sonata! I didn’t watch it but I read along with every recap and LOL-ed my way through with Trent’s fantastically snarky write ups and Fangirl’s perfect screenshots. I appreciate all your efforts despite being so busy and it was wonderful following along all these weeks. All of my appreciation and my final word to you both is – REST now!
Trent: Kudos for an entertaining commentary on this show. I saw the show a few months before the GW so while I didn’t join, I read most of your comments and I was laughing almost all the time, a perfect counterpoint to a melodrama. They echo most of my feelings, like you, I had to restrain myself many times from throwing something at the screen and like you, I still did find the show oddly interesting and a worthwhile watch in the end. I’m relatively new to Kdramas like you and I’ve been revisiting some of the old classics and trying not to judge them too harshly by today’s standards.
I’m not on the blog very often these days but I just had to come on and say well done.
Geo — appreciate the kind words and that you were able to drop by and enjoy the commentary. Show was definitely a real mix between the frustrating and retrograde, and the compelling and interesting (in spite of itself, kind of?).
Once again, thank you, Trent. This has been fantastic! I’ve never enjoyed a group watch more ( Nirvana on Fire and Money Flower come close). The highlight this time, clearly, was your humorous commentary! Often, I’d be laughing so hard at your snarky comments, my family would come to check on me to see what the ruckus was about 😂😂😂😂
Thank you for the laughs.
Please, let’s do this again, as soon as you are recovered
from this one. Thank you phl1rxd for the scarf montage!
Shyama — Thank you so much for the kind words, and for sticking with us all the way through to the end! I never though of myself as particularly hilarious, but glad to be able to lighten things up for you on this sometimes heavy group watch…
Shyama – I also laughed really hard. One night I woke my kids up. I plan to revisit this from time to time whnever I need a good laugh. Trent is Da Bomb!
Oh, wow. I didn’t expect a relatively happy ending. I agree, it really is rare to have this for a melodrama in the early 2000s. I would have never watched this before and it’s quite a feat that I got a bit curious enough to almost watch now 🤭
Thank you Trent for letting us accompany you in your Winter Sonata journey. Your side notes helped me appreciate it even though I still didn’t end up watching it in the end. Thanks to everyone too for the scarf counts and the little notes and trivia.
Jiyuu – thanks for following along! That’s dedication, to read through the text without actually watching! And you know, if you ever do decide to give it a spin, maybe you can compare how accurate I really was 🙄😏😎
(I…uh…I may have exaggerated stuff here and there for effect…)
This drama has just worn me out. This is my second time watching Winter Sonata. I was an early kdrama viewer the first time through and all the melodramatic flourishes were new to me. This time around I knew what was coming and spent a lot of time just frustrated with all the characters. Even my boom mic counting petered out – I haven’t seen one since episode 15. The final count for episodes 5 through 15 was 14 boom mic appearances. I couldn’t bring myself to go back and watch the first four episodes just to count the boom mics. I don’t have the technical knowhow to do screen shots like phl1rxd!
Reading these recaps was by the far the best part of this watch. Thank you, Trent, for the most fun I have ever had in a group watch! And I love it when I have to look up word definitions. Thanks for the education!
Thanks for the boom mic counts Cathy! I only caught a small fraction of them so you have really good eyes!
I feel like kind of a dummy for not even noticing them until some of you guys started calling them out… then after that, I did pick up the occasional boom mic intruding on the frame 😬
Cathy — Thanks for sticking with us all to the end! It was fun doing it as a group, wasn’t it? I think you are not alone in feeling kind of worn out; more than one of us has noted that without some group support, it may have been too heavy and whiplash-y to get through it all…
I admit I was hoping for a big emotional showdown at the airport, with YuJin tearfully whispering “Gajimah” to Jun Sang. But I am also happy that she took time off away from both ML.
The sunset reunion made for a good ending. What I want to know:
1. How did Yu Jin simply walk into the dream house? Maybe Jun Sang designed it with an invisible force field, programmed to zap any intruder except his fated love?
2. Are Sang Hyuk and Chae Rin together?
I agree that the location manager deserves a special award, and so do the composer and the music supervisor.
Thank you for the witty notes, @Trent! They provided a healthy dose of common sense and humor, so necessary when navigating the treacherous seas of melodrama.
And thank you @phl1rxd for keeping the scarf count.
Thank you @KFG for hosting the fateful watch and to everyone who participated and commented.
Snow Flower – it was really nice to see you here! I know that you had to like the music. I laughed at your #1 and the invisibkle zpper. As for #2 – they would deaerve each other.
I did like the music, but some of the tracks sounded like they were recorded on a cheap keyboard instead of piano. The Piano Bar of Angst always had a quality background music though.
@Snow Flower – I definitely trust your professional ear! I cannot tell the difference. I personally was curious as to why they played a lot of Western music at the PBA. Although it was nice to recognize a lot of those songs, it seemed a little odd. There is so much wonderful music in Korea.
I wanted to know how blind Jun Sang must have heard breathing or footsteps or something like that and was, “Yu Jin?” Talk about a lucky guess….
Well, he did hear the table scrape on the deck when Yu-jin inadvertently bumped it. Now, how he knew that it was a uniquely Yu-jin sounding scrape…you got me there. I like to think that he has been longing for her in his mind for so long, that his mind immediately jumps to “unannounced interloper, OF COURSE it must be Yu-jin!”
Snow Flower — thank you! It was great to have you along for the ride. Right now my brain is trembling at the thought of Sang-hyuk and Chae-rin together… although who knows, maybe they would cancel each other out, so to speak? 😂
Trent – what a feat you have accomplished with this GW! Every post was a delight! I am such a big fan of your adjectives, hence the Super Word Spotting Award!. 🏆
I hereby dub thee “The King Of Smart Snark“. 👑 🤴
The jig is up and DNA tells no lies. Sang Hyuk Mom should get a grip. I would like to take a cue from my favorite movie scene of all time – Moonstruck – when Cher gives Nicholas Cage a real good whack and yells “Snap out of it!” Yes, Sang Hyuk mom really needs to snap out of it. This was before her time?
While we are talking about “Time” and the “Who”, we never got a full overview of the “Tres Amigo’s” past “What” “Where” and “Why”. Inquiring minds like mine want to know who was zooming who, especially after having suffered through the angst aftermath.
Also, how can Jun Sang hug his mother after what she did? Cheap forgiveness is about right Trent. Piano Mom was, in my opinion, the leader of the pack of bad characters in this drama.
Dear, oh dear, Trent – I take back all of my positive thinking about that ‘Sang Hyuk Redemption’. 😨🤯😱😳 Sang Hyuk is truly an a$$hat. The scene in Jun Sang’s office is cringe.
Yu Jin gets dressed up for – Noble Idiocy. Trent, I agree that we need a “Noble Idiocy” emoji.
I believe another reason that Jun Sang visited Sang Hyuk to say goodbye because he is his half-brother and I think Jun Sang places a lot of value in that due to his loneliness growing up.
And finally, Yu Jin learns the truth far, far too late. 🙄
Here you go Trent. The UNHRC’s phone is +41 22 917 9220 and I also want to call.
I also have to admit that the first time I saw that scene with Sang Hyuk, Yu Jin and small child walking in the parking lot, my heart dropped to my knees. I remember thinking “Oh no writer-nim, you better not do that!”
“BURN IT ALL DOWN 🔥🐉🔥🐉🔥”. Yes Trent!
Yu Jin stops at her old job to have her partner show her a photo of the Mediterranean style house she designed. For the record, I really looked at the house model kit and this is not it!
Jun Sang, with hair sans frosting, lives there and he is now blind. Yu In gets off the ferry to the island where the house has been built.
Straight up – there are only 5 minutes left to his drama and I feel robbed. A 5 minute wrap up is so not cool after all the pain and anguish we have gone through with this drama.
Hmm, we see a blind man attempting to go down steps without a ‘white cane’. I cringe when any drama does this as it is so unrealistic it boggles the mind. He gets into a car and leaves only to forget something and return to find Yu Jin at the house. They reunite and a few minutes later it is over.
Yes, I am happy that they are finally together! But for me personally, I needed more than a few minutes of on screen happiness to ease the pain of suffering through 20 episodes of some bonafide angst.
One last thing – I was always impressed by Jun Sang’s calm and collected demeanor. To be honest he had his moments, but that calm vibe kept me in this drama on my first watch.
Super Word Spotting:
Trent – again, this was so much fun! I know it interefered with your normal routines and I thank you for all the time you spent on these marvelous bits of humour. 😘😘😘 You rock sir! I shall miss this.
phl1rxd — Thank you for riding shotgun on this project! It was lots of fun, wasn’t it?
You really went above and beyond to find us the actual UNHRC phone number!! (yes, I googled it too, and that’s really it 😁😍) Nice job!!
I think you’re absolutely right, that actual house doesn’t really look anything like the scale model Yu-jin built. Oh well, I’m not going to dock too many points for that inaccuracy. It was a really beautiful real-life location. A fitting bookend to the fantastical fantasy landscape of Namiseom…
I do see where you’re coming from about only a few wee minutes to get our happy ending resolution, and I agree from one perspective.
On the other hand, I think maybe we’ve kind of been spoiled, or at least conditioned, with more modern dramas, to get the often-times episode-long windup, where every thread gets tied off, and we get multiple schmoopy scenes, up to and including a wedding (or at least a wedding picture), with the happy OTP couple.
To be honest, like I said, I wasn’t even expecting any happy ending, really and truly, so just to actually get something like that is more than I anticipated. So I feel like I can’t complain super hard, you know?
Trent – yes, the ending could have been much worse! For sure.
I hope you realize how very much I love a good Super Word. When one is slinging ‘it’ around, a good adjective will give you some proper traction, I am sure it also makes for an impressive closing statement.
For those of us who truly liked the wide array ofJun Sang’s scarves and the intricacy of the wraps, check out this all inclusive mamma jamma of a scarf wrapping instructional video! Be amazed at the names – The Bunny Wrap, The Waterfall, etc…
Remember folks – Twist and Wrap! Twist and Wrap!
When does “The End” appear?
When do the trumpets cheer?
The curtains close, on a kiss – god knows,
We can tell the end is near…
Where do we go from here
So, after 19.5 hours of trudge, I am going to declare that, despite myself, I actually loved the ending of this show. (Was going to write “almost” in the previous sentence, but, I figured, why hold back?) Just when everything was set up for yet more manipulative nonsense from our OTP’s so-called friends and despite the best machinations of The Cowardly Lion Father and piano mom, Yu-jin and Jun Sang finally acted with enlightened self-interest.
You could almost imagine little ole Time Skip excitedly raising her hand in the back of K-trope Classroom going “Hey! What about me?? Don’t forget about me?!” And sure enough, we get 3 whole years for our cast to sort out their lives and, most importantly, improve their hairstyles. But it was the choices made before the time skip that set things in motion. Despite Sang Hyuk taking one more step toward apparent redemption and pushing Yu-jin to rejoin Jun Sang in NYC, she stuck on the path toward her own self-realization and healing. Although Jun Sang’s choice was probably some mix of self-preservation and Noble Idiocy (after all, the docs did tell him that he’s have a better outcome with his treatment, which might have actually been true in 2002), I read Yu-jin’s decision as completely positive and understandable.
So, three years later, we have a fully recovered Yu-jin returning to Korea while Jun Sang dealing with the outcome of his condition (at least it was conceivable that this could have been the long-term outcome of his accident) but seemingly at peace with it. After all of the noise that preceded it, I loved the quiet tone of the final scenes, with our heroes slowly finding each other while contemplating the physical place that represented their relationship. (Logic has long been cast aside at this point.) And they meet, come together. And then kiss, curtain. Lovely scene and an ending that fit the show and its time.
One can’t say it too often or too loudly, but I’m going to say it one more time here: Bravo, Trent, for the journey and your fantastically entertaining notes. You not only contributed to my drama education but did so in a way that was so much more fun than simply watching the show would have been. And thanks to KFG, as always, for founding the feast.
I’m writing these notes before reading anything else and will pop in with other comments after the post goes up, but a few other things before signing off now.
I can see why this show was a huge hit at the time, especially imagining that it must have felt fresh at the time and the issues besetting our couple were perceived more organically in 2002 than they would be today. And, as much as I enjoy making fun of tropes, I will admit that I gained new appreciation for them when trying to sketch out my own drama from scratch. They exist for lots of reasons, but they are time-honored and useful devices for moving a plot along. (Still gonna make fun them, though.) Overall, this has been a worthy watch from an educational standpoint and to see many of the characteristics of K-drama in their early development.
FINAL GRADE: B–. Trope-filled, often annoying, and sometimes slow, this is nonetheless a classic drama from near the beginning of the Hallyu wave. It pulled me in at times, despite myself.
FINAL GRADE (on a curve for its time period): A–.
So tell me:
Where do we go from here?
I say we all go to:
The copa, Copacabana
The hottest spot north of Havana
I am sorry but I could not help myself.
@phl1rxd, I could not help myself in finishing out those lyrics 😂…See you at the Copa!!
@j3ffc – its a true Oldie but Goodie and I am not even a Manilow fan. I just started singing it as I read your last sentence. 🙄🙄🙄
@j3ffc – I have never seen a Buffy episode in my life hence I had to look up the song via the lyrics. Note that I have also never seen a single episode of GOT and have never watched Grease. 😏
phl1rxd — oh wow, I am shocked, shocked!
(The Buffy musical that those lyrics are drawn from is a real trip. Say what you will about one J. Whedon, he did participate on some pretty inspired drama offerings, back in the day).
@j3ffc and @Trent – Okay so I dug in a little and burst out laughing at the description: In a musical extravaganza, the people of Sunnydale find themselves bursting into song, and flames, when a demon, summoned from beyond, attempts to make Dawn his bride.
That is interesting enough to make me take a look!
I used to have the whole “Once More With Feeling” soundtrack on CD somewhere. There’s some legit catchy songs on it…
It’s legit great TV, although one thing that makes it great is how the musical aspect is used to move the story along, which may not be so easily discerned if you aren’t familiar with the show.
There are clips to give you a feel. The dancing demon (“no, something isn’t right there…”) is played by Hinton Battle, who has won three Tony awards in this lovely 4K clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYKDHWuaL5w
Or for Buffy’s Disney-style mission statement song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKTfr82PmO4
@j3ffc – well the dancing demon skit was different. You are correct in that Disny-style is a good way to describe that second link. 😂😅 It looks like I missed a lot – 7 seasons is a lot of TV.
Never seen GOT either but loved Grease. And I did share a rather long elevator ride with one Mr. Barry Manilow once.
@j3ffc – Wowsers! 😲😲😲
I cannot get over that you were in an elevator with Barry Manilow! I bet it was hard not to look at him. I am not a big Manilow fan but I love that song for some reason. I also feel that he has a good heart.
You are right….I studiously avoided eye contact (and it was a very long ride). 😂
j3ffc — thanks so much for being a stalwart of our group watch crew, hanging in every week to join the fun!
I’m glad you liked the ending…I did too, taking it all on balance. And you make an excellent case for why the three year time skip “break” was a good thing for our characters. (Clearly it worked out fairly well for our Greek Chorus couple, Jin-sook and Yong-gook!).
It’s been a ball! And you, sir, have earned a little rest….
see you all over on Patreon.
What! A! Journey! 😅😅 I can hardly believe that we are at the end.
I remember feeling quite deflated, back in the day, when I’d first watched Show’s ending (bearing in mind that I was pretty new to melos then, and was expecting an ending that would serve up more happy, for longer, for our OTP).
On this viewing, I feel oddly content with the ending, despite all the twists and turns (and detours!) that had to happen, before our OTP met again.
I think, with a more critical analytical lens on, I found it an acceptable, perhaps even desirable(?) outcome, for Yu Jin to spend a few years in France on her own, getting to live her own life, away from both Jun Sang and Sang Hyuk, and all the other controlling influences in her life.
I’m assuming that in that time, she’s grown as a person, and is no longer being tossed around like a rag doll by the people in her life. And so, it feels healthier, in that sense, for her to now reunite with Jun Sang, when she’s more independent and mature.
Also, YES, Trent, you’re absolutely right; this is actually a pretty happy ending, for a show of this vintage. I’d thought this ending was underwhelming, back when I’d first watched it – and then I checked out other classic melos where main characters tend to die before the closing credits, and I was even more upset, ha.
If I’d rated this show back when I’d first watched it, I think my grade would’ve been very close to yours, Trent; an A- or B++, for being absorbing in spite of its flaws, and for being so iconic, in the dramaverse. By today’s standards, tho, this would’ve probably been a B- (or C+) at best, but that wouldn’t be fair now, would it? 😁
For folks looking for more classic Choi Ji Woo (of the perfect rosebud lips), I’d suggest Beautiful Days, which is a classic melo that has a surprisingly overtly happy ending.
And, for more classic Bae Yong Joon, Mom (who is a fangirl!) recommends Hotelier (which I did enjoy very much as well).
Fun fact: in BOTH of those dramas, the 2nd male lead was promoted to male lead, partway through the dramas’ airing. AND, these two shows aired at around the same time too. I love that little factoid. 😁
Fangurl – To be honest, I am still bummed over the short 5 minutes of ending happiness. I needed more on all three watches.
This is my 2nd favorite GW (behind NIF) and I cried laughing over these posts. What a great idea this was and what great screen grabs! What fun!
Choi Ji Woo (of the perfect rosebud lips) – LOL!! Sometimes when I see Cha Eun Woo I am reminded of her. Two beautiful people right there.
KFG — I think that describes my dual reaction to the separation fairly well. On the one hand, objectively speaking, these people just needed a break from each other, and especially Yu-jin just needed to get away from it all to find herself as a person first. So, yay! that that’s what happened.
On the other hand, can’t deny that part of me was thinking, wait a minute, how does this make sense: he’s going to completely cut himself off from the one person he loves most in the world…and even after he survives and recovers, make not communication or contact with anyone (but especially Yu-jin)? And for Yu-jin, she knows the love of her life is facing mortal peril, literally, and she’s just going to drop every thread connecting to him and not even try to find out what happened to him? That…doesn’t quite track, 100%, you know?
I guess we know that they really were “fated,” right? Otherwise, they would have just gone on resolutely ignoring each other? Hmmm.