Winter Sonata – Episode 3

In the last episode Joon-sang got hit by the Truck Of Doom on New Years Eve.  What does this episode have in store for our couple?  I’m doubting it’s puppies and rainbows.

NOTE: The original airing enjoyed at 19.2% viewership rating.  Anthony would have been proud!



Yoo-jin ended up spending all night at their meeting place.  In the morning, she is rehearsing  what she wants to say to him, everything from yelling at him for not showing, to apologizing for not being there herself.

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When she gets to the classroom, everyone is crying.  She asks the gang what happened, and finds out that Joon-sang is dead.  She goes from disbelief to panic, and bolts out the door.  Sang-hyuk catches here.  She yells that she has to find him to tell him something important.   Sang-hyuk continues to hold her until she is in full-fledged meltdown mode.

We get a segue of shots: the silent piano, the cold incinerator, the empty classroom with a single white flower on his desk.  The gang goes to a frozen lake near the school and burn remembrances as a  group funeral rite.  Yong-gook yells a farewell, but everyone else is silent, well, except for Chel-rin, who screams at Yoo-jin that it’s her fault since he was going to meet her. She stoically ignores her friend.

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Afterwards, Sang-hyuk walks Yoo-jin home, and she is still silent.  At home, she rinses her face, and finds a small package that was mailed to her.  She opens it up to find an audio cassette.  She listens to it: it’s Joon-sang playing “First Time”.  She listens, remembering him in front of the piano.  At the end of the song, he wishes her Merry Christmas, and she finally breaks down and cries.

Time Skip

It’s now ten years later, and it appears Yoo-jin is still chronically late as she runs for a bus.   In the bus, she sits in the back row and glances at the empty seat next to her. We find out she works for an interior design company called Polaris. At work she receives an email, and turns the radio on to hear a song called “Violet”.  We see that Sang-hyuk is now a program manager for a radio station, and asked the DJ to play that song for Yoo-jin.


After work, Sang-hyuk picks up an engagement ring.   Yoo-jin is waiting for him outside, and being accosted by a fortune teller.  She tells her she is looking for someone, and she can do a reading to help find him.  Just then Sang-hyuk shows up.  They go to a restaurant, and he shows her the rings for tomorrow’s engagement ceremony.

They talk about their history.  Apparently, he announced he was going to marry her when they were eight.  Now that they share rings, he hopes she will stay by his side.   He lingers in front of her house until midnight, and they  try to share the most awkward kiss ever, which turns  into a giggle session without any skinship.  Did they have skinship in 2002?

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She hurries to work the next day, and her roommate (Jin-sook) gives her lunch and tells her she’ll make sure her Mom makes it to the hall in time.  Also, the first snow of the season is due that evening.

At work, things are not running smoothly. A client they are trying to woo, Marcian Architecture, sent back revision requests yet again. Their new engineer is a exacting critical guy, but is an award-winning architect, already famous for designing several critically acclaimed buildings. He is working on a ski resort renovation because it’s part of his company’s holdings

During the conversation, she completes the revisions and heads out to deliver them.  On the street, though, she spots someone that reminds her of Joon-sang. She loses him in the crowd and dismisses it.

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At Marcian’s headquarters, they are still moving in, but she manages to catch up with one of the architect and give him the revisions.  He is carrying a frame with a partially-completed puzzle, and wonders out loud what’s so great about puzzles.   She thinks that they must be remembering many things, one piece at a time. As she is leaving,  she finds a puzzle piece and absentmindedly puts it in her pocket.

The family is gathering for the Engagement party, and Sang-hyuk’s mother is decided cool about the entire thing.  It appears she doesn’t approve of her soon-to-be daughter in law.   Meanwhile, Yoo-jin is getting her hair done in a tight conservative bun.  Outside the salon, she calls Sang-kyuk to tell him she’s running a bit late, and stops to admire the first snowfall of the year.  Suddenly, she sees the figure that morning, and drops her phone is shock.  It’s Joong-sang, smiling up at the snowflakes.  She begins to chase him, but keeps losing him in the crowds.  The family is still waiting at the banquet hall, and the gang is getting worried; since she hasn’t made it yet and isn’t’ answering her phone.

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She never makes the engagement party, and our psychic vet Yong-gook says he’s feeling the same vibes as when she disappeared from the cabin ten years ago.  She finally shows up hours later in a disheveled shape.   The mother in law scoffs that they worried for no reason and brushes past her.  Yoo-jin collapses, and gets taken back to her place, where her mom takes care of her, still dressed in hanbok.  She asks her daughter what happened, but she doesn’t say anything.

The mother in law is locked in her bedroom and refuses to come out for the couple. The professor tells them it is best for them leave.  Outside the house, Sang-hyuk dismisses her attempt to explain, and tells her it doesn’t matter and that everything is fine.

But that night, she looks at a charcoal portrait of Joon-sang and listens to his tape, while her fiance barely pays attention to his DJ and his on-air words of encouragement.

Sang-hyuk shows up at Yoo-jin’s with the rings, and finds a notepad where she wrote down her chaotic thoughts from yesterday.  His eyes widen in shock as he reads it:

Did I just dream of you?  My memories of you fill my heart: the way you played the piano, the sunset by the lake where we once walked, your smile when you held my hand. I prayed that I would see that smile again. Was my wish granted on the first snowfall? Was it just a vision? Joon-sang, where are you now?

He runs into the night, looking for her, and finds her on a bench.  He kneels down next to her and asks a question that has been preying in mind for a decade: if he had found her at the cabin first, would she had fallen in love with him instead?   Sang-hyuk, spectacularly obtuse. He tells her he doesn’t regret his one-sided love, so he could be there to help shoulder her pain.  She apologizes and they hug.   That night she burns the portrait and says goodbye.

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At work the next morning, her boss asks sympathetically how she is doing, but Yoo-jin just jumps right in to work.  She also receives an email from Chae-rin, who has been study clothing design in Paris, and is now setting up a boutique in Seoul.  Doctor Kwon is amazed that she’s matured, bickering good naturedly with Jin-sook; it appears these two are an item. Jin-sook comes up with the idea of having an engagement just between the gang.

Sang-hyuk picks up Yoo-jin and the drive to their old high school, where the rest of the gang has set up.  Yong-gook uses the PA system to be the officator.  They exchange rings in the quad before going to the radio booth for the party.  Che-rin is there, too, in all pink flouncy glory.  She gets in a little snipe about her plain friend before they light the candles. Che-rin wonders out loud where her boyfriend is, while Jin-sook pulls out the record that Yoo-jin played the most – “First Time.”  They all quietly listen for a moment until there’s a knock on the booth door, and Che-rin’s boyfriend walks in.

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They all stand in shock at the man, who looks just like Joon-sang, except for his fluffy brown hair and ready smile.  Chae-rin has a malicious gleam in her eye as she introduces Lee Min-hyung to everyone.  You just know she wanted to cause that splash because a moment later, the pair leaves while everyone else reels from the discovery.  The party breaks up pretty quickly after that.

While driving back to Seoul, Min-hyung muses that they seemed shocked to see him, but Che-rin deflects that it’s the first time she’s introduced a man to her friends.   And Jin-sook hesitantly broaches the subject to Yoo-jin at their place, but she refuses to dwell on it.  The boys go to a p’macha for  pork belly, soju, and conversation. Yong-gook apologizes for inviting Che-rin. Sang-hyuk is worried about his fiancee’s reaction.


Things are hectic at Polaris. The boss is heading to a job site, and Yoo-jin has a meeting with the lead engineer for the resort project. Hwaiting! When she gets on the bus, she decides not to sit  at the back, but can’t help but remember her times with Joon-sang. She calls the radio station and tells Sang-hyuk she’s okay, and asks for luck with her presentation.


At Marcian, she’s asked to wait in the office, and notices an almost-completed puzzle of a boat.  It’s only missing one piece, and she remembers the one she had previously pocketed.  She pulls it out of her coat, and it’s a perfect fit! The puzzle is completed.  She smiles for a moment and turns when the door knob opens to reveal the lead engineer on the project – Min-hyung!



Now we get into the meat and potatoes of  the story, where Fate and cosmic forces come into play to give us hint after hint of the drama to come.  I feel bad for Sang-hyuk, with the insecurity of a one-sided love more almost twenty years in the making; and for Chae-rin, who just sowed the seeds her own destruction for a moment of petty one-upsmanship.  But breaking eggs are necessary for a perfect omlette.  Hmm, I just realized there’s a lot of food reference here – note to self: do not recap while hungry.




About Shukmeister

I have a great fondness for chocolate chip cookie dough, 80's science fiction movies, and thunderstorms.

Posted on October 1, 2013, in Recaps, Winter Sonata (2002) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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