Winter Sonata – Episode 12

Our guy finally finds out who he is, but raises a big conundrum: Is he a childhood name with no memories?  Or an adult name with fake memories?  Which one is the real person?

WS Ep 12 painting


Our ill-starred pair end up staring at each other for a moment, before Min-hyung, without saying a word, tracks down a taxi for Yoo-jin. He hands her into the cab, but she doesn’t look at him and drives off in silence.


She ends up outside Sang-huk’s residence. He steps out, but isn’t very welcoming. She tries to cajole him into a better mood until he finally apologizes and they hug.

Min-hyung ends up at the hotel, and meets Manager Kim for even more drinking fun. Min-hyung muses how great it would be to just erase Yoo-jin out of his memory. The manager has a few ideas how that could work: drinking, rebound woman, or therapy. Our engineer finally cracks a smile, and the manager persists. Since One and Two won’t work in this case, maybe he should go see a psychiatrist. In fact, he had heard of a special hypnotic treatment where they can erase a painful memory and replace it with an artificial but more pleasant memory instead.

The piano player finishes a set, and Manager Kim asks his boss about his famous pianist mother. He feels cheated; his amazement at Boss Lee’s spontaneous piano playing at the resort just means he probably knew how to play as a kid but forgot it as an adult. As he listens to “Someone To Watch Over Me”, Min-hyung’s smile changes into thoughtfulness; hmm, he can’t remember his past…?


At the radio station, Sang-hyuk is leaving early and in a suit. Yoo-jin shows up at the studio as the sidekick passes, and congratulates her on picking a wedding date. The guy starts explaining the vacation-time-as-quitting subterfuge plot, but Sang-hyuk overhears him and quickly shuts him up with busy work. Yoo-jin asks about what happened, but he just blows it off, and she doesn’t protest. Yoo-jin, this is why you are going to miss your happy ending.

The couple head to her father’s grave, so Sang-hyuk can tell him the wedding news. Before they get there, though, there’s already a visitor at the grave site – it’s Min-hyung’s mother!! She knows he would be upset that she remembers his birthday, but she can’t help it; she remembers the smallest details about him. Clearly, she was in love with Yoo-jin’s father. Is he the other guy in the old photograph?


Our affianced couple is surprised to see flowers on the grave already, since it’s never happened before. They share a graveside meal. That lying liar or liars promises Yoo-jin’s happiness.

At the Jong house, Yoo-jin’s mother can’t think of who might remember her late husband’s birthday, but she’s grateful. Sang-hyuk confirms he received a blessing from her spouse, and hands her a money packet so that Mom can start planning the wedding. Throughout most of this exchange, Yoo-jin has her head down, but she lifts it to stare at Sang-hyuk at the mention of money. They try to push it back, but he insists. I guess he’s using monetary guilt to bind them together even tighter. Bleh.

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On the drive back to Seoul, Yoo-jin wonders why sometimes he seems like a total stranger, especially when he just arbitrarily makes decisions without consulting or even informing her. They (meaning he) decide to road trip for a short while.

While rummaging through his glove box for maps, she finds the program from Kang Mi-hee’s performance. And Sang-hyuk finds out that she is Min-hyung’s mother. He pulls off to the side of road and demands to know if that is the truth. When she confirms it, he flashes back to a conversation with his father, the one about Kang Joon-sang visiting him in his math lab. He hides his reaction with a prevarication, and hauls butt to a bus stop to drop Yoo-jin off. What?


She ends up sitting in the back seat and opening the window, just like she used to do with Joon-sang. At the same time, Sang-hyuk calls Chae-rin to confirm that she really met Min-hyung in France, and that the engineer grew up in America and doesn’t have any link to Joon-sang. Chae-rin is surprised at the line of questioning; since it’s similar to one she had with Min-hyung just a short time ago. Now all his alarms are going off.

Chae-rin decides to visit Marcian, but Min-hyung’s secretary says he’s been outside the office all day.

Sang-hyuk drives like a bat out of hell to the old high school grounds to track down their old teacher. He wants to check out Joon-sang’s old school records. They’re supposed to be restricted, but the teacher allows him to access it.

Except that, according to the Registrar, he had already pulled those files earlier that day. The person wasn’t related, so he couldn’t see them, but the man did give him Joon-sang’s old address.


Min-hyung arrives at the location and wanders around a bit before checking the door. It’s unlocked, so he just lets himself inside. Inside are covered furniture and an upright piano with an open fallboard. He taps the keys experimentally. Suddenly someone opens the front door – it’s his mother!

Sang-hyuk realizes the truth at the school, while Min-hyung bolts out of his mother’s house while she chase him. He runs to his truck and drives off before she can stop him.

Sang-hyuk barges into the Jong home calling for his fiancée, but Mom says she’s at the lake. You know, the lake where she first fell in love with Joon-sang. Sang-hyuk runs back out, no doubt headed for the island.


Yoo-jin is slowly walking down the row of trees until she reaches a park bench. Min-hyung’s voice regarding sad memories come into her mind, just as the man of her thoughts shows up.

He’s staring at her, mute, as she tries to initiate a friendly conversation. When she winds down, he asks her in a low voice, “Yoo-jin ssi, I look different, don’t I. It’s strange…” As his voice tapers off, she asks if he is okay. He tries again. “If…if I…if I were Jo…”


Our jealous pinhead shows up and spoils everything, and goes all territorial on Yoo-jin, dragging her away and leaving Min-hyung / Joon-sang standing alone with tears in his eyes.

It’s dark at the lake, and Min-hyung is still there. He goes over the conversation at this mother’s house in his head. He asks her how she can be at Joon-sang’s house when she had told him she didn’t know the family. She turns to flee and accidently hits some artwork that was leaning against the table. They fall over; it’s some professional portraits of her in front of the piano. With the proof on the floor, he demands an answer. Who is Joon-sang? Who is Min-hyung? When she just stands there with that shell-shocked look, he runs out the door.

Sang-hyuk is driving like a maniac, fast enough to concern Yoo-jin. He finally pulls over for a cigarette near some train tracks. She wonders when he started smoking. He just says that she likes Lee Min-hyung more than just his resemblance to Joon-sang. He asks her point-blank what her feelings for the engineer are. She’s not able to answer; she just apologizes. He then asks her, if Joon-sang was really alive, what would she do now? She thinks he is talking in riddles, but he really wants to know if she would stay with him if her first love wasn’t dead. She calmly tosses his cigarette and hugs him; to her, it’s a moot point since Joon-sang is dead.


Min-hyung seeks out his psychiatric, and gets the real story. Since his brain injury caused a two-month coma and memory loss, it was decided to replace everything with happy memories. So rather than use hypnosis to recover his reality, they used to paint a whole new existence in his head.

He ends back at the old house in Choonchun. His mom is long gone as he wanders around, looking through the boxes. He finds a high school picture; and remembers Yoo-jin’s description of the shadow-person that no one ever sees.

Sang-hyuk is at Marcian trying to speak to Min-hyung, but he’s not there. He bumps into Chae-rin and the two head out to a cafe. Chae-rin wants to know what’s up, but Sang-hyuk just deflects her questions, stating that he’s edgy because Yoo-jin is still seeing “that guy”.

Yoo-jin is waiting for her fiancé at Chae-rin’s boutique, since they were supposed to be fitted for their wedding finery that night. The owner is there, and mentions that she saw Sang-hyuk at Marcian that afternoon. And she can’t help but dig at Yoo-jin for indecisiveness in bouncing between two men’s feelings.


At the studio, Sang-hyuk is just staring into space when he receives a phone call from Min-hyung’s secretary. At Marcian, Min-hyung is staring at the jigsaw picture of the boat. Manager Kim shows up looking for him with some paperwork to sign. As he gets ready to use his signature, he pauses for a moment to stare at the typed line “Lee Min-hyung”. He drops the pen and paper and walks away without a word.

Outside, Sang-hyuk sees his truck leave and follows him to his hotel. He confronts him with his name: “Kang Joon-sang.”

The girls (well, Jin-sook) are drinking soju and snacking. Jin-sook tells Yoo-jin not to be bothered with Chae-rin’s lecture. Yoo-jin muses that her teenage heart fluttered and reached out for Joon-sang; it never moved again after Joon-sang died, until Min-hyung showed up and she began to feel that pull again. But it isn’t because they look alike, especially when they are different people, but to her heart, they feel the same.


In Min-hyung’s quarters, Sang-hyuk confronts his old high school rival with the shared information, wondering how he never knew who he really was. Min-hyung is in no mood to play games, and flat-out asks Sang-hyuk what he wants. Sang-hyuk is blunt: who cares who he is, he has no intention of allowing him to go near Yoo-jin and make her suffer. Neither as Kang Joon-sang or as Lee Min-hyung, he has no right to the woman. After all, Joon-sang told Sang-hyuk that he only used Yoo-jin to get closer to him when they were in school together. Sang-hyuk sinks to his knees and begs Min-hyuk to back off and let Yoo-jin be. We don’t hear his response.

Our two roommates reached their apartment. Sang-hyuk is waiting on the stoop, and quickly envelopes Yoo-jin in a hug.

In his room, Min-hyung drinks a glass of whiskey and thinks back and forth about his two names: Min-hyung with his current memories, and Joon-sang and the blank that exists. He ends up at Chae-rin’s place, and the proprietress is giddy to see him. He asks her to dinner. She contacts Yong-gook to cancel her dinner plans with the gang, but Min-hyung pulls the phone away and advises the vet that both Chae-rin and he will be coming to dinner.


It’s a silent, uncomfortable affair at the restaurant with Chae-rin, Min-hyung, Jin-sook and Young-gook staring at each other. Jin-sook tries to start a conversation, and talks about the radio club in high school. Min-hyung smoothly moves the talk to that missing person from the club…what was his name?…oh yeah Kang Joon-sang. Sang-hyuk shows up just as Min-hyung starts his questioning. He asks about the relationship between the dead boy and his rival. Young-gook asks him to stop this talk out of respect for the dead, but Min-hyung just laughs a bitter chuckle. How do you know he is really dead, if no one ever went to a funeral? After all, he could have been in an accident, gotten amnesia, anything.

Sang-hyuk tries to halt this, but Min-hyung is unstoppable. Had anyone thought that maybe he himself was an altered Kang Joon-sang. Jin-sook scarely breathes the prospect before Min-hyung stands up. It’s not possible, of course, since he IS Lee Min-hyung. With that, he leaves the restaurant, closely followed by Chae-rin. She doesn’t reach him before he enters the elevator and disappears. At the table, the couple is confused, and Sang-hyuk looks disturbed.


Chae-rin pauses by the elevator and goes back over all the recent strange conversations with both Sang-hyuk and Min-hyung. Her eyes grow wide when she realizes what happened, and whispers, “Kang Joon-sang.”

Outside the building, Yoo-jin is just reaching the doors when Min-hyung walks out. He grabs her arm and pulls her aside, his eyes stormy. When he doesn’t say anything, she tries to walk past him, but he yanks her back. She yells that this isn’t his normal behavior, what has gotten into him?


He snaps, how is he supposed to act?  Can she tell him who he really is?  Slowly he pulls it out of his heart.  “I…am…Joon-sang.”


I like that Yoo-jin admits that, in the absense of any proof that they are, in fact, the same person, her heart still recognizes Joon-sang / Min-hyung and feels that wonderful flutter when her love is nearby.  It’s just a shame that she is blinded by her promises, her circumstances, and the people around her, who demand that she ignore her heart and follow what they believe is her best chance for happiness. In wine there is truth; in her case, the soju tells us all what we already know. She loves the same man no matter what his guise.


And poor Min-hyung / Joon-sang. He feels without those childhood memories, he has no chance of reaching Yoo-jin, even though we all know she already felt the connections. But he is impotent in the face of all the people in her life that have 10-plus years of experience that he can never regain.  How hard it was for him to stare at those strangers at the dinner table, and know that they shared experiences he can’t remember.  I hope that soon he will regain his equilibrium, and regain his confidence to show Yoo-jin through his actions how much she means to him.

And Sang-hyuk.  What to sayn about him? He now knows the truth, but just like that jealous little boy from decades ago, he dissolves into childish “Mine Mine Mine” mind games.

Ultimately everything is in Yoo-jin’s court.  She needs to decide on what constitutes her happiness and act on it; otherwise, the two rivals will make everything spiral out of control as they vie for the love of this one woman.Winter_Sonata_ep-12[T1][(073911)21-00-11]



About Shukmeister

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

Posted on December 20, 2014, in Recaps, Winter Sonata (2002) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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