Winter Sonata is perhaps THE Korean drama series which actually spearheaded the so-called hallyu or Korean Wave, the phenomenon describing the rising popularity of the South Korean culture, celebrities, pop songs, movies and dramas outside Korea.
This drama is so immensely popular that its lead actors, Bae Yong-Joon and Choi Ji-woo, have been elevated into legendary status (and Korean won multi-billionaires!), and are looked up as gods by their fans.
(The couple's statues at Nami Island)
I am not a fan of Winter Sonata, and I haven’t watched the series. But every now and then while I surfed channels during my lazy weekends at home here in Seoul, I would see parts of the series to satisfy my curiosity as to why its fans, mostly women of ‘a certain age’, could not get enough of it, or ‘him’, for that matter.
I was at Nami Island last month, and this island was just an obscure place in a middle of a lake somewhere in the northeastern part of South Korea until Winter Sonata shot some of its scenes there and single-handedly turned it into the most popular place the drama fans visit. Now, it is the holy land for Winter Sonata fans.
Nami Island is now so popular with thousands of international tourists visiting it on sunny days that it decided to declare itself a ‘republic’! And I think it ranks second only to Jeju Island in terms of popularity.
But unfortunately for me, the scenes I saw of Winter Sonata on TV were not shot on the Island. Otherwise, I would have been able to relate to the spots while I was there.
I thought this drama was, well, a serious drama. Instead, the scenes I saw were comedic! I ended up laughing! Ha-ha-ha!
Let me recall the scenes I saw on TV.
It was day time, and Bae Yong-Joon was running up and down a city street trying to chase the girl (was it Choi Ji-Woo?), who wasn’t aware she was being chased. And suddenly, as expected in drama scene , while he was crossing the street, he got hit by a vehicle! How could he not look to his left and to his right before crossing?
While being run over by a vehicle is always a tragic scene, I found it very funny! Why? Of all the vehicles in the city, Bae Yong-Joon, with his orange-colored hair flipping in the wind,
(1)…wasn’t hit by a private Kia or Hyundai car, whose owner could have easily called an ambulance to help him out…
(2)…wasn’t hit by a gray taxi cab, whose driver and perhaps a riding passenger could have immediately offered assistance as well…
(3) …wasn’t hit by a yellow school bus, whose student-passengers may have been shocked that their bust just bumped a man with orange hair…
(4)….wasn’t hit by a red tourist bus, whose tourist-passengers may have readily taken photos of a handsome Korean man they just hit on the road….
Bae Yong-Joon wasn’t hit by neither of the above! Instead, of all the vehicles running around the city, he was hit …by a brown-colored dump truck! What the…?? Was it to match his hair? Was it because they wanted a heavier vehicle to run him over and mashed him flat on the concrete road? Ha-ha-ha! I was shaking my head while laughing! Ha-ha-ha! A dump truck? How unglamorous!
It was night time and raining, and Choi Ji-Woo just got off (I think) from the subway station), when, she thought she spotted Bae Yong-Joon! So, she hurriedly chased him through the crowded alleys, turning and spinning along the way to find him. And while Choi Ji-Woo was running around, Park Yong-Ha was in a restaurant with his guests and the melting ice sculpture waiting for her to show up so that their engagement party could proceed. And did she lose her cellphone along the way? Park Yong-Ha was frantically calling her all night long.
Well, she finally gave up the search and proceeded to the restaurant. The guests have all left (and were they fed before leaving?), leaving Park Yong-Ha and the melting ice sculpture. He still had to pay the restaurant . Ha-ha-ha!
As I was watching her chase Bae Yong-Joon, I was wondering what the hell is her priority? Attending her own engagement party or run in the rain? It’s either she forgot all about it or her character actually had an attention span of a six-year old. Ha-ha-ha! And to lose her freakin’ cellphone at the time she needed it the most? Ha-ha-ha!
I don’t get it. Obviously. I guess I will have to watch the whole drama to understand it.
Or I will have to sit down with the director, scriptwriter, and Bae Yong-Joon and Choi Ji-Woo, so they could explain to me. Too bad, Park Yong-Ha, may his soul rest in peace, is no longer around. (I was at Haneda Airport in Tokyo last May 2010 and saw this poster of a Korean actor who was scheduled to have a fan meeting in Japan. I didn’t know who he really was at that time. I just took a photo of the poster. More than a month later, I read the news of a Korean actor who killed himself. It was then I realized it was him. I wonder if the fans who bought tickets got refunds).
(Park Yong-Ha's poster at Haneda Airport)
(A remembrance for Park Yong-Ha
at Nami Island)
Someday, when I have the time, I may have to borrow the whole set of original Winter Sonata DVDs, which I gave my Maninay Bebing L. (of Bacolod City) as a Christmas present last year. She and her friends back home (including Tita Tess G.) are die-hard Bae Yong-Joon fans. Or perhaps, I can just ask another set of fans, Fay and Cielo, the next time I see them in a cafe in Manila to explain to me what the fuss is all about this drama.
But in the meantime, I will just watch out for snippets of Winter Sonata scenes while I surf during weekends. And maybe, just maybe, I will end up laughing again at some dramatic scenes.