Drama Recaps
Will It Snow For Christmas: Episodes 1-2
by | December 14, 2009 | 127 Comments

I have said many a time that I dislike melodrama — as a genre, as a plot device, as a storytelling crutch. Excessive melodrama is what makes makjang dramas popular, but it drives me batty because I hate when stories are emotionally manipulative just for the sake of being emotionally manipulative.

This, of course, excludes quality melodramas. And Will It Snow for Christmas? has all the makings of a true quality melodrama. It displays the hallmarks of the genre, but rather than throwing a barrage of horrible circumstances at its characters in a mess of tragedy porn, the story is rooted in well-crafted and well-thought-out characters.

I reserve the right to change my mind once the adult storylines get going in earnest, because I have often been enthralled with childhood flashbacks and then lose interest when the adults take over. So this drama isn’t yet a home run. But if the rest of the drama shows these characters in as strongly developed a light as in first two episodes, we’re in for a great ride. What a great return project for Go Soo.

SONG OF THE DAY

Kim Sarang – “비 오는 날” (Rainy Day). I LOVE THIS SONG. [ Download ]

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CHARACTERS

CHA KANG-JIN (Go Soo, whose teenage role is played by a fabulously smoldering Kim Soo-hyun) is a new face in town. He arrives with his irresponsible mother and his dullard younger brother, having been forced to drop out of his last school for hitting someone. Kang-jin is a smart kid with a good heart, but his main vice is his temper — he restrains himself admirably, but when he’s pushed beyond his patience, his temper flares frighteningly. His normally stoic nature covers up a lot of pain, which has a few sources. For one, he feels the absence of a father keenly, and even though he’s never met the man, he’s an important person to Kang-jin. His father’s pendant is all that remains, and it’s a keepsake that Kang-jin puts a lot — perhaps too much — store in.

Furthermore, Kang-jin’s mother is an embarrassing flirt, who chose to return to her hometown where it’s clear she has some messy history. Setting up shop as a tea madam, she herself was the daughter of a bar madam, and had a romantic relationship in her youth with HAN JUN-SU, the father to HAN JI-WAN (Han Ye-seul, who is played as a teenager by charmingly plucky Nam Ji-hyun). The man is a doctor of Oriental medicine and is a respected family man.

Ji-wan is in her first year of high school and has a gift for embarrassing herself. She has recently been dumped by a fellow first-year boy and traded for a pretty second-year sunbae, YOON-JU; her ex tells her cruelly that he was only using her to get close to Yoon-ju. Kang-jin is a second-year student who attended four different schools in the past year and a half — but was the #1 student in all of them.

 
EPISODES 1 & 2

When Cha Kang-jin’s family arrives at the outskirts of town, his mother grimaces at a banner congratulating a local boy for winning a scholarship to Seoul National University. Mama Cha recognizes the name of the parents, hoists herself on her younger son’s shoulders, and cuts the banner in half.

Spotting this desecration is an outraged Ji-wan, who bicycles furiously toward them, only to wind up swerving into the ditch instead. She calls them “robbers” (a lack of imagination can’t produce a more accurate epithet) and threatens to report the vandalism. That’s her brother’s banner they’ve ruined! What have they got against him?

Kang-jin is a stony, silent type who shows no outward emotion, but we sense that he agrees with Ji-wan. He declines to join his family into town (so they head off without him) and offers to fix the banner. Her temper is still flaring, so she rejects his help and rashly shoves him into the ditch, although she regrets it immediately. However, the next time she comes by, she sees with happy surprise that the banner has been mended and rehung.

Being a tearoom madam isn’t quite taboo, but it’s lower-class and embarrassing, especially because of the sickeningly obsequious way Mama Cha acts toward her boss and customers. She flatters the men and accepts their backhanded comments with a tense smile. Kang-jin can’t stand to see her debase herself and hates that she broke her promise to set up a restaurant. But Mom contends that running a tearoom is already a concession — Kang-jin absolutely refused to let her run a bar even though it would bring in more money.

Her boss-landlord is, to put it simply, an asshole. To keep him placated, Madam Cha sweet-talks him, while Kang-jin keeps his temper in check for her sake.

Kang-jin reports to the main office at school, where the teacher sees his numerous transfers and assumes he’s a troublemaker with horrible grades. The teacher is astonished to discover that Kang-jin was at the top of his class, and is whip-smart. This earns him the admiration of Yoon-ju, the boyfriend-stealer.

Ji-wan’s also in the office for punishment; she threw a baseball at her ex’s head and missed, hitting a window instead. After struggling to hold her bladder, she dashes off to the bathroom — but she runs into a student and accidentally pees herself. In front of Kang-jin.

Kang-jin instantly becomes prime crush material at school — he’s new, he’s broody, he’s smart — and Yoon-ju stakes her claim. Even though she just started dating her boyfriend, next to the newcomer he’s no longer interesting. She’s very forward in admitting that she’s interested in Kang-jin, but he’s unimpressed and turns her down.

However, over the following days, he finds himself drawn to Yoon-ju. (As suggested in the comments, it’s possible that he’s purposely stealing her away just to stick it to her boyfriend, whose brother mistreats Kang-jin’s mother.) When she asks why he keeps looking at her, he answers frankly, “I’m not interested in you, but you keep appearing in front of me. I keep looking at you. It’s strange. If it bothers you, avoid me. I can’t avoid you, so you handle it.”

No surprise, then, that they end up dating. While other girls are heartbroken to have their new crush stolen away so quickly, Ji-wan is still smarting from her humiliation. Kang-jin has seen her at her most embarrassing, AND he has to date Yoon-ju, of all the people in the world! She comes up with a silly plan, but one she determines to carry out — she’ll steal Kang-jin away from Yoon-ju (take that, boy-stealer Yoon-ju!), and then when she’s won Kang-jin over, she’ll dump him (take that, haughty Kang-jin!).

Her best friend thinks she’s crazy, but she goes all out — she showers him with notes, leaves a carton of milk and an egg at his desk every morning, and basically insists that they’re meant for each other. It’s fairly embarrassing stuff, but because she doesn’t actually mean it, she tackles her goal with cheerful aplomb. Every time, Kang-jin coolly ignores her.

One night at the tearoom, the boss is drunk and belligerent. Madam Cha tries to keep him happy, but his nasty temper is difficult to manage. The boss mentions how his little brother is heartbroken because Kang-jin stole his girlfriend, and uses that as an excuse to behave badly. He undoes Mom’s top and he starts to get aggressive, and finally Kang-jin can’t hold back anymore. He steps in angrily.

Kang-jin is pretty strong for his age, and he’s fueled by indignation and shame, so he’s well on his way to choking the life out of the boss. Mama Cha sees that things are about to get out of hand, so she pleads with her son to stop. Perhaps she’s afraid that he’ll get himself into trouble, but it’s got to feel like a betrayal to Kang-jin when his mother bites his own hand to get him to let go.

Ji-wan has come by to make another advance, and witnesses the scene. She can’t help feeling for him and looks at Kang-jin tearfully when he bursts out of the doors feeling frustrated and hurt.

Kang-jin controls his reaction and asks with his usual stoicism whether she really thinks they’re meant to be, as she insists. Suddenly, he swoops in and holds his face close to hers, as though for a kiss, and stops just inches from her face. Then, just as abruptly, he drops his hold and steps away. See? He felt nothing, so she’s wrong.

Kang-jin looks at her in distaste, saying, “We’re not made for each other. We’re nothing to each other, and will never be anything in the future. I’m telling you to butt out of my business and get lost!”

But this encounter has the opposite effect on Ji-wan; witnessing his vulnerability stirs her sympathies, and the almost-kiss pushes that one step further. Overwhelmed by an outpouring of emotion, she exclaims, “I can’t stand it!”

And so, Ji-wan acts. With brash fearlessness, she paints epithets on the boss’s car (“Son of a bitch!” etc).

When the boss sees the graffiti, he nearly has an aneurysm from the fury. Ji-wan pelts him with eggs and shit, cursing him for tormenting the lives of those weaker than him. Fuming, the boss beelines to the tearoom and accuses Madam Cha of putting that “little bitch” up to it. Everyone is genuinely bewildered, but Kang-jin hears him swearing about the girl and makes an educated guess.

Kang-jin runs into Ji-wan by the bridge — with a bruised face, probably hit by the boss — and asks, confused and upset, “Why did you do it?”

Ji-wan answers, “Because you couldn’t.” Everybody in town knows what a horrible man he is: “You know it too, but you can’t do anything.” Her immediate concern is for him, and worriedly tells him to pretend not to know her, so he won’t suffer for her actions. When the boss finds them, she urges Kang-jin to run off and insists that she acted entirely alone.

Kang-jin takes her advice and walks away coldly, leaving Ji-wan to deal with the man.

Only, the man strikes her in the face. Unfazed, Ji-wan screams at him, “Hit me again! Hit me again!” The man punches her again, sending her tumbling to the ground. And if there’s anything Kang-jin can’t stand to witness, it’s a man beating on a woman. He clenches his fist and turns back, and takes over the fight.

Like before, Kang-jin is stronger and has the man in a stranglehold. His grip is so frightening that Ji-wan grows scared that he’ll kill the man, and begs him to stop. Her actions have no effect, and the man flails. In the struggle, he grasps the necklace dangling from Kang-jin’s neck, and it goes flying into the water below.

The instant he sees the necklace drop into the water, Kang-jin stops fighting. The necklace is his most treasured item, and he stares in horror at the water. The man continues beating him, but he doesn’t care.

Mama Cha furiously asks her son why he did it. He was doing so well at holding back his temper. Why let go now? Why risk losing everything now?

He answers dully, “I lost it. I lost Father’s pendant.”

Mom can’t believe it — probably because (I’m assuming) she knows that his romanticized image of his father is a bunch of hooey, and that his real father doesn’t deserve that kind of respect. She retorts, “Is that stupid necklace the issue? Your life might be ruined, and you’re worried about that stupid necklace?!”

“I lost Father!” Kang-jin bursts out, “I lost him!”

That just makes her angrier. She says derisively that he’s studying so hard so he can grow up well and find his father, but he wouldn’t even know him if he ran into him on the street. “Give it up, you punk! What kind of father is that?!”

Overcome with emotion, Kang-jin screams furiously, sobbing.

Ji-wan is startled at the intensity of his reaction, in addition to feeling guilty for her part in this.

As a result, the boss kicks Madam Cha out and the family will have to move. Furthermore, Kang-jin’s fate is undecided, as he may face criminal charges.

Ji-wan’s father, Han Jun-su, comes by to tell Mama Cha that everything has been settled. He has used his weight to get Kang-jin’s charges dropped, and he’ll help take over the lease so that she doesn’t have to move.

She registers his kindness, and thinks this is because of his feelings for her. But her smile fades when he says that it’s because of Ji-wan — she had insisted that everything was her fault. Jun-su is a gentleman with a sad, resigned air; we can see why Madam Cha once loved him, but also why they didn’t work out. He says meaningfully that he has forgotten what happened to them (suggesting they had a child together), and that his current family is everything to him.

Ji-wan continues to feel awful for Kang-jin, particularly when she sees him jump off the bridge into the water — he’s searching for the lost necklace.

Now understanding what it means to him, Ji-wan dives for the pendant repeatedly over the following weeks. Her friend thinks she’s still acting on her revenge plan — that she has to win him over so she can dump him — but Ji-wan is determined to recover it for Kang-jin.

The two are also punished at school, and sent to a separate room together to write an essay on their wrongdoings. Gossip links the two together, and Yoon-ju feels threatened. Today, instead of throwing away Ji-wan’s milk and egg offering, he actually drinks it.

He arrives in the classroom to find Ji-wan asleep, and marks up her essay with corrections for words she has spelled wrong. She’s embarrassed again, but he offers to look over her paper before she hands it in.

Later, Ji-wan sees Madam Cha struggling with a damaged high heel and offers to fix it for her. Unfortunately, Ji-wan only makes the problem worse, and has to offer her own shoes in exchange and stumbles away in the broken heels.

Kang-jin witnesses this and tells his mother to give the shoes back. She pouts, so he takes off his own shoes and gives them to her, then catches up to Ji-wan as she totters along. With hardly a word, Kang-jin returns her shoes, picks up the heels, and walks off calmly. Ji-wan is startled at first, then touched to see that he’s barefoot.

That night, her brother Ji-yong (Song Joong-ki, adorable as always) appears while she’s giddily regarding her shoes. He’s on break from university, and teases her about that happy smile; he guesses it has to do with a boy.

The two are clearly very close — so close that she used to tell Ji-yong everything. Therefore it’s a surprise that she doesn’t explain about the shoes, as though wanting to keep Kang-jin her own secret. But she shares one detail: “He went barefoot to give me these shoes.”

Yoon-ju is miffed that Kang-jin seems to have dumped her for Ji-wan. So when she catches wind of Ji-wan’s supposed revenge (her friend carelessly lets it slip), Yoon-ju summons Ji-wan during lunch hour, while Yoon-ju is working as a school D.J. Ji-wan arrives while a song is playing on the loudspeaker, taken off-guard when Yoon-ju asks point-blank — is the revenge story true? Did she really approach Kang-jin with the intent to steal him away, then dump him?

Ji-wan doesn’t know that Yoon-ju has turned off the music and is broadcasting their conversation to the whole school, and stutters weakly, “Well… At first…” Feeling ambushed, all she can do is protest, “But now… now…”

The entire student body listens rapt; Kang-jin heads to the broadcasting station. He shuts off the mikes and faces Ji-won: “I didn’t hear a thing. I’m only going to listen to what you tell me.”

(AWWWWWW.)

It seems clear that Ji-wan was trying to protest that her feelings changed, so he asks her, “How do you feel now?” However, she’s so humiliated and shocked that she can’t answer. Kang-jin presses her to answer, but she rushes out crying.

And so, she misses her chance to confess. Life continues, school goes on, and Ji-wan continues diving for the necklace. One day, the emotion gets to her and she sobs to herself by the riverbank, as though answering his question belatedly:

Ji-wan: “But now… Now, my heart thumps even if I just hear your footsteps. When I open my books, I keep seeing your face so I can’t study. I forgot about revenge a long time ago… I wasn’t even thinking of it… I’d forgotten it all…”

Ji-yong sees his sister crying, and listens as she confides in him. He’s warm and comforting, and gently chides that she should have been honest and told Kang-jin how she felt. But she answers that she felt guilty about his father’s necklace — she can’t approach him until she has made up for him losing it.

Her brother agrees that yeah, the necklace does make things tricky. Well then, he’ll just have to help her — if he finds the necklace, she can tell Kang-jin how she feels. She protests that she has looked for two months, but he assures her that he’s a great diver. He urges her to find Kang-jin right away while he retrieves the necklace.

With a warm smile, he enters the water, and Ji-wan heads off… but when she looks back, something feels wrong. Fear dawns on her face as she wonders why he’s taking so long. Why isn’t he coming up?

Her instincts are right, because Ji-yong doesn’t come back up. He has drowned.

At the hospital, his mother collapses to hear the news, sobbing hysterically. Out of her mind with grief, she says one thing that a parent should never say — and especially when her other child is within earshot — “Take Ji-wan instead!”

So when Ji-wan goes to the river, wearing her mourning white, she’s not only feeling grief at losing her beloved brother but also guilt that she’s the wrong child. Compounding that is the knowledge that her brother dove because of her — and so, when she spots the pendant washed ashore, it delivers an especially strong blow. She breaks down and sobs.

Kang-jin comes upon her as she trudges home. He doesn’t know what to say and asks whether she’s eaten, and offers her milk and an egg. It’s a sweet, sad reversal, because today it’s Ji-wan’s turn to reject the offering. Kang-jin has done nothing wrong, but finding his pendant was a cruel blow for Ji-wan — what a poor exchange for her brother’s life. So she throws the egg to the ground and pours out the milk.

Ji-wan starts to walk away, and he blurts, “I like you. Like you like me, I like you too.” But Ji-wan stonily tells him that that’s not true.

Ji-wan: “I’ve never once liked you. I only pretended to like you to get revenge.”
Kang-jin: “Don’t lie.”
Ji-wan “It’s not a lie. I hate guys like you the most — mean, selfish, and rude! Your mother is a tearoom madam who flirts with men! My mother told me that people should play with their own kind. That I don’t belong around people like you. That I shouldn’t even associate with someone like you. I must have been momentarily crazy.”

The awfullest thing about this moment is, you can’t even hate her for breaking his heart. Just as you can’t blame him for exacerbating her grief, either.

And then, we’re eight years later.

A construction site has just had a bad accident — but for the quick action of one employee, a man would have lost his life. That employee (a grown-up Kang-jin) waves off the mention of his heroism and fixates his ire on someone else — the hungover director who has just pulled up in her chauffeured car. This is LEE WOO-JUNG (Sunwoo Sun), and she could care less about the details of the accident or actually running her company properly. As a chaebol, she’s only in her position because of daddy’s influence.

Kang-jin is the leader of the design and planning team of Bumseo Group, and he spits out scorn for Woo-jung’s carelessness. This was a 100% avoidable scenario, one that she had repeatedly been warned about. But she was always drunk or refused to listen to the reports, and today someone almost died.

Kang-jin’s speech pisses her off, and she is irritated to find out that he’s a respected and highly competent employee, one who was fiercely scouted to their company.

Kang-jin is handsome and successful, and things are just getting serious with his girlfriend, who prods him to meet her father so they can announce their plans to marry. Instead, Kang-jin takes her on a drive to meet somebody — and surprises her by pulling up to observe a loud tea madam talking up her male customers.

Without a hint of shame, Kang-jin tells her that this is his mother. Contrary to the last time we saw him, he greets his mother warmly and openly, and introduces his girlfriend. She can barely manage a polite bow. It’s clear her love doesn’t extend to his family, and she leaves.

His brother says that Kang-jin shouldn’t have introduced her to their mother until he was safely married. Better yet, he should pretend to be an orphan, and even his mother promises to dress conservatively the next time. But it seems more likely that this was a test, and Kang-jin anticipated that his girlfriend would bail. He says without any bitterness, so what if his mother’s a tearoom madam?

I may well be reading too much into it, but I can’t help thinking that Kang-jin is measuring his girlfriends against Ji-wan, and they all fail his test. Ji-wan had said all those harsh things but we know she never held his background against him; in contrast, these pretty Seoul girls think they’re so nice but all leave when they find out about Kang-jin’s family. This is the third one to bolt, in fact.

The reason I say that is because it’s clear he still misses Ji-wan as he visits her parents’ house and remains in the shadows. We find out that she had run away from home, and now her father never locks his front gate, just in case she comes back.

Back to work. Kang-jin’s co-worker takes him to a nearby cafe for lunch, where the co-worker gossips about Woo-jung, whom Kang-jin angered. Woo-jung was actually fine before she was dumped by their colleague/superior, PARK TAE-JOON (Song Jong-ho). After that, she started drinking and acting out. Of course, Tae-joon (far left) overhears the gossip.

Tae-joon is also getting engaged this weekend to a woman who works at the cafe. However, most work people are afraid of going for fear that it will offend Woo-jung, who is the more senior of the two.

Kang-jin isn’t invited to the engagement party, but his co-worker falls ill at the last minute and begs him to show up on his behalf. He’s afraid that his absence will be interpreted as a deliberate statement, so Kang-jin agrees to the formality.

As it happens, the event is nearly empty and the fiancee sits off to the side, quietly waiting for her fiance to show up.

Finally, a half hour late, she receives a phone call. She answers, then gets up to address the attendees. Hiding her disappointment, she puts on a cheery face and thanks everyone for coming, apologizing for the inconvenience. And when she states her name — Han Ji-wan — Kang-jin snaps to alert and stares in shock.

 
COMMENTS

I’ve seen a number of dramas where I found the childhood portions more compelling than the adult story, which is why I’m approaching with some caution. Tazza and Strike Love are two examples where the early episodes were great and built up a lot of goodwill for the adult characters. They’re also two dramas that I found more interesting with the kids than the adults. And then there’s East of Eden, where Kim Bum did such a fantastic job that when Song Seung-heon took over, I actually felt affronted that he’d gotten the character wrong. He totally missed the intensity and nuances of Kim Bum’s performance!, I thought.

All this is to say that Kim Soo-hyun and Nam Ji-hyun do such a solid job establishing their characters that the adults owe them one. I did cheat a little and watched Episode 3 but I won’t mention it here; I’ll just say that I think Go Soo is solid and has a lot of good stuff to work with. He also has wonderful eyes. (I love actors with wonderful eyes.) And I actually have a lot of hope for Han Ye-seul, which I hope is not just wishful thinking. Nam Ji-hyun gave her a cute, klutzy charm, which helps a lot in establishing adult Ji-wan’s mix of brightness and vulnerability.

As I mentioned, the characters are well-developed and well-acted. Take Madam Cha, for instance. She could be a one-sided character as a flighty mother, but she’s thoughtfully acted by Jo Min-soo (whom I remember most strongly from Sandglass). It’s a difficult role to play, but she gives her depth.

Case in point: seeing the Han family portrait fills her with anger over what she never had and hurt pride that she’s just as happy as Jun-su. She goes home and insists on her own family portrait, ordering her sons to smile, and the result is a pathetic facsimile of the life she’s trying to imitate.

Then there’s the matter of the Big Split between our leads. I knew Song Joong-ki was going to die (thanks, spoilermongering Korean media) but it doesn’t diminish the effect that it has on the story. I love the source of Kang-jin and Ji-wan’s conflict, because it’s not a simple misunderstanding. It’s not a black-and-white case of social differences or interfering parents or jealous exes.

These two kids have innocently, unintentionally been wronged and done wrong at the hands of the other. If not for Ji-wan’s crush, her brother wouldn’t have tried to find the necklace. If not for Kang-jin’s attachment to his necklace, Ji-wan wouldn’t have felt the need to retrieve it. If not for Ji-wan’s graffiti, Kang-jin wouldn’t have lost it. If not for Kang-jin’s mother and his temper and her boss, Ji-wan wouldn’t have felt compelled to vandalize the jerk’s car. If not for Ji-wan’s father, Kang-jin’s mother wouldn’t have borne a decade of bitterness. And so on, until the sins of the parents spill into their children’s generation.

The moment when Ji-wan rejects Kang-jin’s confession is one of those wonderfully awful moments. Like I said, you can’t blame Ji-wan because she has just found the necklace that her brother died over. And for what? For Kang-jin’s favor? A week ago she would have done anything for it, but now that her brother is dead, it must feel like an insult to finally win Kang-jin’s affection. It’s bad enough that she finds the necklace after her brother dies — as if to say that this was the trade. But worse yet, Kang-jin gives his affection freely without the necklace, making her brother’s “sacrifice” for nothing. It’s doubly cruel.

Kang-jin doesn’t deserve her tirade — particularly when she doesn’t even mean it — but she doesn’t deserve to lose her brother, either. Life’s not fair, right? I love this conflict. It’s heart-wrenching but it’s well-set-up, and it makes you really, really curious to know how they react when they meet as grownups.

 
THE VERDICT

Most of the comments that came out of this drama’s premiere weren’t just positive, but positively glowing. I’m still taking a hesitant approach; I remember being utterly enthralled with A Star’s Lover‘s first four episodes, but by the end I was so frustrated it drove me crazy. However, I will add my voice to the crowd and say that this could be a great drama.

 
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127 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. jyiskool

    thank you so much for the recaps. i’ve been waiting for them :D

  2. huh?

    the first couple of pictures reminds me of Song hye gyo autumn tale

  3. anjell

    WOAHHHH!!!! i’m watching this drama!! javabeans! I’m on the ride with you ;)

    by the way, i think the young characters are really good looking and they act really well… Ji wan’s brother looks like Lee Jun Ki :)

  4. belleza

    This will be a minor Lee Kyung Hee drama. Nevertheless this is definitely a Lee Kyung Hee drama. Her love of men — not idealized men, but conflicted, cranky, soulful, supple men hungering for love like water — is prescient here. Her sharp-tongued mothers are also here. Also, she continues her recent Thank You wrinkle of characterization filled with backstory and spiritual parallels (rather than flashbacks), which slowly reveal themselves episode-to-episode. For example, as you go through episode 4, you’ll notice a once unlikely, but now undeniable likeness between one character and his mother, or Ji-wan’s attitudes toward relationships has carried over inexorably and believably into her adult life.

    Sometimes, with the soft lighting and just BEAUTIFUL, intimate tracking shots, it feels like I’m watching a classic 90s J-drama. Sometimes it feels liike, with its stylized lines (“Who do you think I am?”) and strong dileneation between poor rich people and their unawashed mashes, I feel like I’m watching Hallmark Memories of Bali.

    In any case, I love this show like other people loved You Are Beautiful. It is what it is — a old-fashioned winter melodrama, but its attention to detail, marvelous execution, and strong actor turns rewards the audience with the pleasures (if that IS your pleasure) of a melodrama. And it is the lightest thing Lee Kyung Hee has done since Breathless.

    “And I actually have a lot of hope for Han Ye-seul, which I hope is not just wishful thinking. ”

    Personally, I think Han Ye Seul has been cast pretty well for this show (and unlike, say, QSD’s Deokman, there’s a stronger likeness between Nam Ji Hyun’s childhood performance and the adult role.) Her character flirts with being a doormat, but there’s stretches within each episode where Ji-hwan says all the things that in a way demonstrates her rather humiliated state of mind. And it’s honest. I’ve felt that too in different relationships, and Han Ye Seul does a good job expressing that.

    Goo Soo is absolutely devastating. When he sings to his mom, I CRIED. Not because I was sad, but because I was so moved. But there’s a stillness, sometimes hard, sometimes warm, but always a little elliptical that recalls prime Kimura Takuya. Mad Men-like, yet feline.

    @Anjell,

    “Ji wan’s brother looks like Lee Jun Ki :)”

    Mm hmm!! Totally thought so too!

  5. fizzle

    Hm maybe I’ll try this one. Lee Kyung Hee usually doesn’t disappoint.

  6. anjell

    @javabeans
    “However, over the following days, he finds himself drawn to Yoon-ju.”

    > > ah… i actually thought Kang jin really intended to steal Yoon Ju from her boyfriend since he (Yoon Ju’s BF) insulted him and his mother…

    Kang jin dating Yoon Ju… it was for revenge, wasn’t it?

  7. cecee

    great recaps java. I’ve seen the first two episodes and the childhood actors are superb. I hope the adult actors lived up to the childhood actors. So far so good. Not too sure about HYS though. I will find out later. Melodramas! Ah!!!

  8. Chocolatetree

    Wow, this sounds like a great drama. It seems to be made of much heartwrenching moments full of chest *pangs*. AHHHhh. I want to watch it, but really can’t afford to be tearing up and a mess during Christmas. :(

    Too bad I don’t deal well with melodrama or I would really look it up, instead I’m going to sit and read your recaps (if they continue on). :)

    Thanks Javabeans for your wonderful analysis and recaps!!

  9. asianromance

    wow those screencaps of the young actors: you can just feel the emotion coming off from them! I’m not fond of dramas that are sad, so i wish all the characters luck on the drama!

  10. 10 sunny

    I’m so glad you are recapping this show and agree with your comments. I loved the first two episodes and watched the following episodes half-fearing they’d disappoint.

  11. 11 Mysuna

    Thanks JB for the recap.

    I have to agree with belleza. I totally dig this drama. After the giddies of YAB, WISFC is a dose of smooth cognac which just slides down your throat and warms your heart.

    Goo Soo is wonderful as KJ. He doesn’t need to speak yet you can feel his longing for JW “screams from his eyes” when he looks at her. He is an excellent cast for the KJ role.

  12. 12 hosg15

    Love the spunky girl that is the young Jiwan! Yet to see the spunk in the older Jiwan, hope it resurfaces in later episodes and not be suppressed by her sad past.
    Go Soo is a such a dreamboat… Sigh

  13. 13 etsy

    The summary was wonderful, and teh childhood segment sounds so good. However, I really don’t find Han Ye Seul’s acting compelling, and I’m worried that it would make me dislike the show.

  14. 14 emeldy

    I love everything about this drama. The childhood potion was amazing no doubt. It put a great ground work for the story to develop. The grown up portion …… All Thanks to Go Soo. U can pause and watch his eyes and admire like a painting.

    All i can say is this is my drama of the year. Its addictive and for the first time i am watching a drama raw without sub and counting days. I have never waited so desperately for Wednesday and Thursday. I have never been this desperate to be fluent in Korean.

    I love every character in this drama. No body is a cliche villain, that one is bound to hate. U can actually understand who they are, why they turn out to be this way.

  15. 15 mawar

    Sooo Melodrama,,, I better like this if there is a bit comedy.. ;)

  16. 16 jackie

    wow, just reading this recap made me tear up. i should watch this over winter break, where my parents’ plans for me are: 1) study for finals 2) lose weight, and my plans are 1) finish dramas/start others 2) pig out.

  17. 17 bbm

    “CHA KANG-JIN (Go Soo, whose teenage role is played by a fabulously smoldering Kim Soo-hyun)”
    SMOLDERING indeed… those eyes… now i want to see more of his dramas, did he played anything before WISFC??
    i haven’t watched anything with Go Soo in it, so i hardly ever see him besides from pictures in the news, but a few days ago KBSW broadcast Blue Dragon Award, and he was presenting some award (i forgot) with SYJ, i was like, that’s Go Soo??!!! man, he looked soooooo handsome, now i see why all the commotion…

    your recap is as fabulous as always JB, and your screeshot captured KJ n JW emotions sooo well i was very much tempted to check out the first episode now, but remembering i’m in the office, i’ll have to wait until tonight TT…

  18. 18 cagnes

    Thanks Dramabeans, I also liked the first two episodes. I thought the two lead actors portrayed their roles very well. I also hope I wont be disappointed like I was in Strike Love where the younger actors I thought , did a much better job than their adult counterparts.
    I didn’t quite get that the lead actors’ parents had a child together. Could it be lost in translation?

  19. 19 butterball

    Thanks JB for the recap. It’s wonderfully written. And the tone fits well with this beautiful drama.

    @4 – belleza. I agree with everything you said!!! Especially this one – “But there’s a stillness, sometimes hard, sometimes warm, but always a little elliptical that recalls prime Kimura Takuya. Mad Men-like, yet feline.”

    yes, the drama has the warm old-feeling tone, which I adore. So far, the first 4 eps have not disappointed. I really hope that the drama will keep up this vibe.

    GS is gold. He’s such a good actor with his eyes. I love actor who can express his powerful strong emotion without overacting. It seems that GS has that. (Plus he has the right look for the role).

    I do not really like Han Ye Seul in ep3, but start to connect to her character in ep4. I am expecting to see more development from LEE WOO-JUNG character as well after her crazy ugly phase in ep3-4. (Don’t care much for TJ at the moment).

    Ep3-4 are lovely done with great moments. I am waiting to see your take on it, JB!

  20. 20 xiaoSxin

    i loved the story with the young leads, i was actually sad that they had to “grow up”.. meaning I cannot see the 2 young leads anymore..

  21. 21 linly

    wow, this seem like a great drama already… but I’m going to sit back and watch eps. 3,4,5 to see how it unfolds 1st b4 I jump in… but I’m liking the story so far…

  22. 22 helllo

    Thanks for doing the recap!

  23. 23 belleza

    “LEE WOO-JUNG character as well after her crazy ugly phase ”

    I love how in Episode 4, Lee Kyung Hee connected LWJ’s drunken misery with KHJ’s mom. It’s real subtle — when Kangjin is carrying her, she says something his mom said before, and he pauses to make that mental connection. That’s good writing, and a good acting performance.

    Oh and the HUG . . . *SIGHSIGHSIGHSIGH* That distills the essence of melodrama. It makes no real-world sense (who the heck does that in the middle of a astret?) But emotional sense — OMG I MEELLLTTTEEEDDD. (Played that scene 5 times a row lol) Kang Jin is just dripping with overwhelming love for JiHwan, but at the same time KJ is carrying the hurt about what she said to him in their childhood, about her “using” him and calling his mother a whore. And I love how that doesn’t reveal itself until Episode 4, and then you realize — whoa, THAT is why he tests all his potential fiancees by having them meet mom. He may love JiHwan deeply, but she was also the first girl to break his heart too. And that wrinkle doesn’t get revealed until Episode 4. For melo fans, the writing reflects true craftsmanship.

  24. 24 jo

    finally a recap!
    I’m following this drama…and currently dying of anticipation for next episode. SBS is on a roll, let me tell you. First YB and now this…!!
    This is GONNA BE a great drama, I hope. (I’m a bit conservative like you when it comes to melodrama, but everything up to episode four has been great. )

  25. 25 ripgal

    I guess I’m the only one who wasn’t exactly enamoured over the first 2 episodes. It had the typical golden touches of Lee Kyung Hee, but something’s just not quite there. Maybe it’s the sudden development of KJ falling for Ji Wan.. or maybe the story’s just too typical?

    But anywayz, will definitely be tuning in for Go Soo!

  26. 26 amktsy

    liking the story so far too.
    i like episode 1 a lot.
    after i watch episode 1,it is already quite late(like 1 or 2am and i should be sleeping by then) but i like it so much until i’m worry i cannot sleep well.
    episode 2-4 is also quite good………
    the story move quite fast

    hope the other episodes will be great too……..

  27. 27 Samsooki

    Hehe, I love JB’s flair for words. “Tragedy porn” is a keeper.

    I can’t say Yea or Nay yet. I have an itching to see what happens next, but I don’t necessarily want to get sucked in, because I’ve not developed an attachment to any of the characters….

  28. 28 cheekbones

    From your recap, I like the childhood story a lot that I feel the urge to watch it. Not too sure yet about the adult story., though. So, hopefully, you’ll continue recapping.

  29. 29 boshky

    Wow, I must be the only person who doesn’t seem to be enthralled by this drama! Maybe I should give it a couple more episodes before I decide? Maybe it’s because I’ve never really been drawn to the melodramas, I find that they often lack backbone and ride on spurts of emotion (angst, romance, pain) as opposed to an arc. But then again, melodramas aren’t meant to be realistic…

    Thanks for the recaps though! It’s always lovely to hear your opinions on these dramas!

  30. 30 belleza

    @ripgal,

    “Maybe it’s the sudden development of KJ falling for Ji Wan.. or maybe the story’s just too typical? ”

    It’s still minor Lee Kyung Hee, because there isn’t an overarching fable to substantiate the melodrama beyond genre pleasure. Doesn’t have MiSa’s Cain and Abel parable, Thank You’s boonie-as-Buddhist purgatory, or even A Love to Kill’s pretensions towards death-obsessed urban noir. And, for me, it’s tempting to watch Will It Snow for Christmas as possibly a scaled-down version of Timeless.

    Because I love melodrama, there is enormous pleasure in seeing a well-executed show. And this is a winter melodrama, right for the season, and I’m in an especially synchronous mood.

  31. 31 greyskies

    guys, could we PLEASE not talk about later episodes in here? I don’t mind general comments about episodes 3 and 4 (like “it gets better” or “GS is great”), but this is a thread for episodes 1 and 2 and I bet a lot of people are reading this trying to decide whether to watch. we aren’t expecting specific details about the later episodes.

  32. 32 giddygirl108

    Wow…the angst sounds so perfectly formulated. And man…your commentary on the sins of the older generation spilling over to the younger generation: purely brilliant. As in: I always have problems seeing those types of connections and whenever you make those connections so clearly for me, I get such a tingling sensation. (read: YUSSS…I understand it! weee!!!)

  33. 33 joonni

    I’m glad you liked this drama too. Yey! So you’ll keep recapping?!?!
    I’ve watched all 4 episodes and must say that this drama has a great cast from children to adults. And Kim Soo Hyun was so “smoldering,” as you said.

    When Song Joong-ki appeared, I squealed. And in those short scene together, I totally fell for the brother-sister bond and cried when he died.

    What I also love about this drama is the pacing. I was fearful of long, dragged out angst but so far, things are moving at a steady, quick pace.

  34. 34 dee

    @jb thanks for the recap i’ve been waiting for it. always love your comments. highly anticipating now for ep 3&4 recaps. i do hope that WISC will not disappoint us until the end

    @anjell: i thought too that Kang Jin went for Yoon Ju to take revenge against the ex- because the way he (the ex-) behaved earlier towards Kang Jin and his mother.

    Go Soo’s eyes…aah love them. the role was made for him.

  35. 35 Icarusfalls

    I am not a fan of melodrama, so I think I will just read your recaps.. ^_^
    Also, about the kid actors eclipsing the adult actors, may I suggest QSD’s deok man..

  36. 36 daisytwenties

    first off. AHH. SONG JOONG KI! :D gosh, so adorable. !#$%#@$%.

    now that that’s out of the way…..

    i really do like this drama and i did watch up to 4 & although, in my opinion, the later episodes aren’t as great as when ji wan and kang jin’s younger counterparts were played, there’s still a certain charm that has me curious for more.

    and i tried recapping the first episode a couple of days ago [which i have given up on T_T], but, wow…it was more work than i thought—putting screencaps together, etc.
    i appreciate yours so much more now [not that i didn’t before]
    so thanks!!

    i’ll be [patiently] anticipating your next recaps!

  37. 37 belleza

    “may I suggest QSD’s deok man..”

    Actually like Nam Ji Hyun more in WISC. A lot more terrain to work with, and she’s paired off with KSY really well.

  38. 38 isabella

    I really love your summary as well as comments over the drama. It provides me with a deeper look and should say, I agree with you on almost everything. I’ve had the same feeling when watching the drama and seeing how the story develops.

    “I may well be reading too much into it, but I can’t help thinking that Kang-jin is measuring his girlfriends against Ji-wan, and they all fail his test.” –> totally agree. So far Ji Wan’s been the only girl who was truly nice to his mother (when she offered to fix her shoe’s heel) and we could see how Kang Jin was moved seeing that in the past. He loves his mother so much no matter what people say about her, that’s why Ji Wan could easily win his heart with such innocent yet lovely and caring actions :)

  39. 39 Linda

    I watched all four episodes yesterday– and dare I say, from what was given, it may be the drama of the year for me. I highly recommend it.

  40. 40 Grace

    It is really surprising to see so many people actually like this drama, for my case, I am just being neutral about this one, still watching it though, I haven’t reached either points- still not so crazy about it and still have not got bored from it.
    For ep2, I thought Jiwan’s brother’s death was so unrealistic or rather random.

  41. 41 belleza

    “So far Ji Wan’s been the only girl who was truly nice to his mother ”

    See, that’s the beauty of Episode 4. You’ll see that, in his eyes, she was also the “meanest” to his mother.

    One of the principles of melodramas is escalation (melos like Angel of Temptation escalate to the point of clustershmuck) Most solid melos establish a backstory where grievances are piled in a network more trapdoor than web. Presumably, our destined couple must work them out piece by piece, often by putting their finger in the traps and letting them the harsh consequences snap in concert. K-dramas qualify the “strength” of the melodrama couple’s love, not by them logically assessing and unweaving the tragic mess, but by suffering their way through the melo rite of passage.

    However, most melos by giving the couple the out of “incomplete information.” In other words, the traps are soft traps; presumably, if the characters gain enough information, they’ll automatically forgive the other and have the truth set them free. However, in a GOOD melodrama, the truth only makes it more difficult. It is the burden of having that knowledge, or a grievous perception of that knowledge, which should complicate the melodrama couple.

    That is one of Lee Kyung Hee’s strengths. She gives out an implausible, almost silly, wacky escalation scheme in Episode 2 (much like she does in EVERY melodrama she writes.) But we see in later episodes that she honors her mess by laying out layers of emotional traps, which are slowly revealed episode to episode. These are not sprung by important plot twists (Lee Kyung Hee, again, LAUGHS at plot — it is mere choreography for her tragic whimsy and her code of male antihero), but the mutual fumbling toward love between our characters.

  42. 42 langdon813

    Only 4 eps in and I can already tell this is going to be my current “turn off the lights, turn off the phone, put the animals outside and yell at the husband if he dares speak to me while I’m watching it” show.

    Thanks JB!

  43. 43 beehive

    I’m liking this show too. I have forgotten how much I love Go Soo until I saw him again hehe.

  44. 44 OzChick

    Hmmmm, never have been a fan of melodramas. I tend to get hooked on the earlier episodes and then completely lose interest when things get draggy lol. But since watching Brilliant Inheritance my interest in melodramas have been revived, and since this looks kind of interesting i’ll give it a shot. I’ve never heard of Go Soo before this, but oh my goodness this man has expressive eyes – and this is just looking at the screencaps! *Must go watch this drama*

    Sounds quite good from what i’ve read so i’ll give it a go. Hopefully this does become a true quality melodrama and not go down the path of draggy, boring and over-acted angst.

  45. 45 prncssptri

    omo! thanks for the recap! it’s the perfect time cause it’s my last day of exam ^^
    it’s been a while since i watched melodrama, so it’s refreshing (?) to see this one.. and go soo is not so bad to look at either :P and just like that, my expectation to see song joong ki in new drama diminishes… whyyyyy only 2 episodes, why??????? anyways!
    THANKS AGAIN!

  46. 46 charitee

    “I’ll just say that I think Go Soo is solid and has a lot of good stuff to work with. He also has wonderful eyes.”

    BINGGO. but yeah, go soo is pretty much doing it for me in this drama. his eyes are ridic and his voice is kind of like honey to my ears.

    in terms of han ye seul, there are definitely times where she surprises me and makes me think, okay, she’s going to be all right and do this character justice. and then there are times where i’m like, hoookay…perhaps not.

    but yeah, definitely looking forward to see how things pan out in the next couple of episodes since i’ve yet to make a legit decision on whether i’m liking this drama or not.

  47. 47 mumuchan

    Your recap makes me feel compelled to watch this series. I usually really enjoy childhood parts in melodramatic drama, I still have this very strong impression from “Spring waltz” , so I really hope a subbing team will take this project, even though your precise summary allow me to watch it raw^^

  48. 48 all4movies

    I’m so glad you’re doing the recaps for this series. The first two episodes with the younger actors were so well done, I had to re-watch it a couple of times.

    I couldn’t find episodes 3 and 4 with english subs yet, but I was so desperate to watch it, I tracked down the chinese subs. I couldn’t really figure out what was going on, but it still created great interest so far.

    I love Go So and Han Ye-Seul and the chemistry is definitely going on.

    I think this will be a keeper for me.

  49. 49 butterball

    @mumuchan: S2 has subbed ep1+2. :) It’s their current project.

    @ all4movies: Viikii have 4 eps with complete English subs.

  50. 50 J

    Thanks for the recaps. I am hoping you will decide to continue recapping this drama.

    I am not a big fan of melodramas. Not that they are not good, it is just that the angst, the missed chances …… always add up to make me extremely frustrated and want to just fast forward the drama to the end.

    However, with this one, it is completely different. Suffice to say, I started watching mainly because it was Go Soo (ah… really mesmerised me with his gaze!). I was not expecting Han Ye Seul to be great, but I just thought she was better at roles which are more over the top such as Anna from Couple Fantasy and that Han Ji Wan might just be out of her depth. But I was wrong. I watched all 4 episodes, so far so good. I liked that the drama is well paced so far and the music is great. So I can say, as of episode 4, I am HOOKED.

    I really hope this is going to turn out to be a great drama and yummy Go Soo, who can resist!?!?! =D

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