Winter Sonata – Episode 4

Yoo-jin has come face to face with THE face that has been haunting her for a decade.  How will she handle this strange amalgam of high school crush and potential boss?



Yoo-jin stares at the man in the doorway: Che-lin’s boyfriend from the States, Lee Min-hyung.  He immediately breaks into a smile, but she reacts woodenly to his overtures of friendliness.   Her hands shake around her cup of tea as he goes over Polaris’ proposal.

He is oblivious to her anxiety as he chats before sitting down next to her to review the plans.  She can’t tear her eyes away from his face, until he half-jokingly asks her if she always looks this intensely at someone.  She accidently spills her tea, and he realizes she is close to tears.  His confusion increases as she grabs her stuff and bolts out the door.

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Back at Polaris, everyone but Yoo-jin is back from their respective jobs. Boss lady wonders what the Marcian engineer looks like; her coworker Sung-ryun hands her a file with a short resume of his accomplishments.  She is impressed, but her favorite aspect for a man is his voice. Just then, her phone rings, and it’s Lee Min-hyung on the other end. Her verdict? “Perfect!” He asks to speak with Yoo-jin when she comes back.

Once he hangs up, his sunbae Manager Kim shows up with ramyun and beer.  Kim teases him for playboy ways, but he turns the conversation to the strange reaction of Yoon-jin, wondering out loud why a woman would cry after looking at you.  They decide to eat instead of answering the question.

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Yoo-jin goes to Che-lin’s boutique where she’s preening in front of a mirror.  Che-lin has been anticipating her friend, and they sit down for tea. She gives some song-and-dance about her regret for upsetting everyone at the party, but refuses to tell Yoo-jin anything about him.  After all, he’s not the same person, even if they look alike. Yoo-jin begins to tear up and leaves.

Sang-hyuk is waiting for her when she arrives home, and they go out to a bar.  He remarks on her low spirits – did the presentation not go well?

And we get the first of many boom mike scenes where the microphone shows up like an uninvited visitor on samgyupsal night.  I’ve decided they are well worth a soju shot each time.

boom mike

Sang-hyuk remarks that the engineer must be a strange person to make her life difficult, and he promises to always be by her side.  She tries to tell him who the engineer is, but he brushes past her sentence and the moment slides away.

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Back at Marcian, Min-hyung sees the completed puzzle and wonders how the final piece showed up.   His sunbae wonders if each piece is a girlfriend, and repeats to Min-hyung Yoon-jin’s statement that the pieces might be memories that one wants to remember.

The secretary announces Polaris’ representative, but Min-hyung is disappointed that it’s not Yoo-jin but Boss Lady Jung-ah.  They go over the contracts; she will be in charge as Yoo-jin is assigned to another project. Min-hyung interrupts her and offers to sign if she would agree to one condition.

Jung-ah takes Yoo-jin for dinner that evening and tells her what the condition is: Yoo-jin is to be Polaris’ chief designer for the project.  Yoo-jin objects but the contract is signed.  She performs the presentation, keeping everything impersonal and formal.  At the end of the meeting, it’s just Min-hyung and her at the conference table.  He comments that she appears to be detached from their interaction, and it’s important that everyone be comfortable with each other.

She tells him she’ll do her best with the project, whether or not she gets along with everyone, and he comments that it seems he makes her uncomfortable.  She offers to break the contract, but he tells her he wants to work with her.  She declines dinner and a leaf, even when he states it’s a way for them to get more comfortable with each other.  He’s puzzled by her reaction.

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Sang-hyuk is waiting outside the office, and briefly meets Manager Kim before they part ways.   He assumes the man is the engineer in charge of the resort, and offers to tell him off for her.  She tugs his arm and pulls him down the street.  Min-hyung is exiting the building and sees the interaction between the two.

At Che-lin’s boutique, Min-hyung with the owner and takes her out for drinks.  Let’s all have one, shall we?  She complains that the business side is taking away from the creative side.  He brings up the attractive, talented designer he will be working with, but she gets sulky before he reveals the name.  Instead, she wonders when he will move out of the hotel and get a real place to live.  He tells her he plans to build a new house, beautiful and  strong, built in the heart of the one you love.

She goes aeygo but deflates when he says he’s not ready to build yet.  She flounces off and tells him not to call her tonight. He just laughs, well used to her antics.

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The next morning, Yoo-jin receives a phone call from Boss Lady.  She can’t meet with Manager Kim due to a personal issue and asks that Yoo-jin go in her place.  The personal issue?  She’s at the vets, actually Doctor Kwon’s practice, with her dog Happy.  Psychic Pet Doctor To The Stars tells Jung-ah that the dog is anything but happy, because he’s alone a lot  (I’m thinking it’s the ugly sweater on the poor thing).  She leaves the dog at the vets.

Meanwhile,  Yoo-jin is running to get to the front of Marcian on time.  Lee Min-hyung is with a white SUV, and tells her Manager Kim couldn’t make it to the site, so they are going together instead.

It’s snowing as they are driving. He’s trying to get a conversation going, but Yoo-jin barely responds until he mentions that, for a new engaged woman, she looks depressed. She finally tells him to stop probing her personal life. He chuckles a bit but stops.

Che-lin stops by the office, only to be told he’s on his way to the resort, with the beautiful interior designer. Her claws come out briefly, but Manager Kim promises he’ll return that evening.

The pair meets up with the construction team to go over the resort. Yoo-jin is feeling a little cold, until Min-hyung throws a heavy jacket over her. She protests but he gets in her personal space and tells her not to argue, especially when she doesn’t like talking to him.

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As they are crunching through the resort, she flashbacks to Joon-sang’s snowplay, and begins to surreptitiously take photos of her boyfriend’s doppelganger. The camera is a 35mm, so she exchanges the film canisters and stuffs them in her pocket. Sang-hyuk calls regarding dinner, and asks if she’s with Boss Lady at the resort. Yoo-jin reluctantly says yes.

A smiling Min-hyung pops her out of her thoughts, and they walk together to catch up with the rest of the team. The mood is a little easier than the drive there, and Min-hyung asks her where she plans to live after marriage. She muses that for a couple in love, the house they build in their hearts is the most important. Min-hyung stops for a moment that her thoughts are so similar to his own.

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The two make it to an outbuilding, and he lights a potbellied stove for warmth as she looks around and gives him her opinion of the renovations. Finally she sits next to him, and props their shoes to dry them. He lights up a cigarette, and sits back as she glances from the shoes to his face.

She starts asking questions, faster and faster: What high school did you go to? Were you in the States? Are you sure? Do you know Choonchun High School? Have you ever been to Choonchun? Did you ever live in Korea? He first laughs at the flood of words, but sobers when he sees the sheen of tears in her eyes. Still staring, she hesitantly asks him to remove his glasses; he finally stops her when she reaches for his face. Immediately she apologizes and lowers her head.

He asks her why she always sounds strange when she with him. She begins to tell him, but they are interrupted by a knock on the door. And Che-lin leaps into his arms, and then realizes Yoo-jin is there. She’s surprised that the two of them are working together, but quickly tries to establish dominance between them, partially joking for Min-hyung to be nice to her old classmate, and then glomping all over him. At the parking lot, Yoo-jin gives Min-hyung back his coat and drives back with Che-lin.  Kitty can’t resist the urge to talk about how wonderful her boyfriend is.

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Sang-hyuk is playing with Happy (who, to be honest, doesn’t look happy at all) at Yong-gook’s office when  Jung-ah shows up.  The two are surprised to see each other; Sang-hyuk especially, since she was supposed to be at the ski resort with his fiancee. Busted!

Back in Seoul, everyone separates. Min-hyung and Chel-lin go out to dinner, but Yoo-jin does home.   At the restaurant, Min-hyung asks how Yoo-jin was in high school, because of the sadness that surrounds her. Che-lin is quick to say that Yoo-jin likes to pretend in order to elicit sympathy from men. Min-hyung teases that Yoo-jin is attractive, and Chel-lin gets huffy.

At another restaurant, Jung-ah, Sang-hyuk and Doctor share alcohol and conversation. Jung-ah is quick to say the Marcian lead engineer is attractive but picky, and Sang-hyuk scoffs that he’s good-looking (he’s thinking they are talking about Manager Kim). Jung-ah turns the conversation to a serious question: does Sang-hyuk notice that Yoo-jin appears depressed? She tells him a girl likes to be acknowledged, and have time with her man with long walks and candlelight dinners. Doc is amazed at her uniqueness, but she’s given Sang-hyuk some food for thought.

A tipsy Sang-hyuk shows up outside Yoo-jin’s apartment, and she lies again about being with Jung-ah at the resort. He chooses to ignore it, and asks her on a date tomorrow: a movie and a car drive.

Things do not go well, however. The movies are all sold out, no matter where they go; they walk around but the weather turns bad. They decide to go for a drive, only to find a parking ticket on the car. They finally end up at a restaurant and a candlelit table. Sang-hyuk apologizes for not doing everything a boyfriend should do. Some of the Marcian guys, including Manager Kim, show up at the restaurant and say a quick hello before going to their table.

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Sang-hyuk overhears the conversation from the employees, and realizes that the person he thought was in charge is not the right person. The drive back to Yoo-jin’s house is a silent one, and Sang-hyuk decides to pull over and talk to his fiancée. He remarks that she seems to be different recently and wonders if there is too much pressure on her. He asks her if she is hiding something, but she demurs. You can almost see the wedge between the couple. He says there must be a reason if she has secrets, but he trusts her.

At work the next day, Yoo-jin finds out from Jung-ah that she’s been caught in her fabrications. Chel-lin shows up at the radio station, checking Sang-hyuk’s mood. I think she wants to see how he feels about his fiancée working with her boyfriend. While there, Yoo-jin calls, and Chel-lin overhears their dinner plans. She quickly leaves, and I’m sure she up to no good.

Which is born out when the pair show up at the same restaurant, just when Yoo-jin was about to tell her fiancé everything. And Sang-hyuk finds out for the first time that Lee Min-hyung is the Marcian lead engineer.

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Che-lin is a bad news fairy, sewing the seeds of negative energy everywhere, all in an effort to feel like superior to her classmates. All it really does is foster enmity between everyone and eventually it will wreck her too. I wonder why her character is so two-dimensional: is it because, like Prince John in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, the writer needs a convenient villain? In any case, she has looks, talent, a huge ego, and a tiny bit of self-confidence. And not much else.

I wonder if Doctor Kwon and Polaris’ manager Jung-ah are sparring over the dog for more than comic relief. Is there to be some budding attraction between them? With long-term girlfriend Jin-sook there, I tend to doubt it, but the interaction of the two takes up some time in this episode. Maybe it’s to get the two halves of Yoo-jin’s life together, the past and the present.

I like how the lead characters are developing. Yoo-jin sees both the differences and similarities between her lost Kang Joon-sang, and Lee Min-hyung, appearances and personalities, and even habits (like the smoking, which, ugh). Is it bad to look forward to the unraveling of everyone’s relationships? As the first South Korea melodrama I watched, I enjoyed the disintegration almost as much as the rebuilding of friendships and more on the other side.




About Shukmeister

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

Posted on October 2, 2013, in Recaps, Winter Sonata (2002) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The opening scene still makes my hair stand on end even after dozens of viewings. I went back to this episode to see the microphone – happily I couldn’t (although I’m as fond of soju as anybody). But I’m looking forward to chatting with you about the glich in the final episode

    • There was more than one glitch in the final episode. The whole thing was pretty disjointed, in my opinion. Still, I will get there eventually! Episode 18 is mostly written, but due to health issues I haven’t polished yet. Despite how long it’s taken me, I still plan to finish recapping! Thanks for reading.

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