Winter Sonata – Episode 15

A trickle of memories gives Joon-sang a chance to reevaluate his younger self, while those around still reel from the revelation of who he really is.



Some of Joon-sang’s memories have come back. He remembers when the two of them met for the first time, on that bus to school. Yoo-jin confirms that her hair was longer back then. But most of it is in bits and pieces; Yoo-jin begs him not to worry and that they will soon return. They hug as Joon-sang whispers of his happiness to remember her.

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Later, at her apartment, she packs a bag at home and tell her roommate that Joon-sang is finding his memories. Jin-sook loses no time in telling the rest of the gang. Sang-hyuk bolts in alarm to the hospital; Chae-rin just freezes.

At the hospital, Sang-hyuk find the hospital room empty. Joo-sang is staring out a hospital window, trying to remember any other moments of his young life. Yoo-jin calls out to him, happy that he responds to his real name. But he admits much of what he sees in his mind seems more like a dream than the past. She promises again that it will get better, and together they walk down the corridor, never noticing that Sang-hyuk is watching.

Meanwhile, Chae-rin is getting drunk. The good doctor and his sidekick arrive to keep her company, but she is in no mood to hear about the good luck of that perfect angel, Yoo-jin. After all, they never cared previously, and she plans to watch how this situation unfolds. Her stoic demeanor breaks down, though, and she cries for her lost Min-hyung.

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In the morning, Yoo-jin bouces out of her place with some goodies for her new/old love. But her fiance is waiting for her outside. They head for a coffe shop; he ruefully thinks that any memories Joon-sang has of him would probably be bad ones. He tells her he has no regrets not telling her about the existence of her old boyfriend; in fact he had hoped she would never know. Since she was his first love too. My question is, of course, why do Chae-rin and Sang-hyuk think they have some prior claim, just because of a high school crush, especially since they never had a chance back then.

Anyway, Yoo-jin tears up for having hurt her good friend, but he tells her not to. As Joon-sang tries to remember her, he plans to try and forget her. I still think he’s a lying, manipulative jerk, but I guess I should feel some of his pain. He asks her to pretend she doesn’t know him from here on out. He walks away and ends up down the sidewalk, remembering their high school days, all the way up to the present.

He goes home and gets all drama queen with his parents and tells them the wedding is cancelled. Mom freaks out, since the invitations have already been sent.

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At the hospital, Yoo-jin is reading to Joon-sang. He interrupts her; is okay for her to be with him? She explains her meeting with Sang-hyuk, and that everything is fine. He still apololgizes, probably for derailing her life. Just then, his mother shows up, and Yoo-jin leaves she they can have some mom-son time.

Her own mom is talking to her late husband, telling him about the cancelled plans. She guesses it’s for the best, but cries for Sang-hyuk.

Joon-sang asks his mom about his father, wondering why he never knew anything, even when he as a child. She knows Joon-sang has returned, just by asking that searching question. She tells him about this certain young man that she loved, and has never forgotten no matter how many years have past, even though he left her, forgot about her, and ultimately died. It still makes her heart ache, and her son was the reason she carried on. It doesn’t matter who his father was, only that she loves Joon-sang very very much.

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We get a vignette of everybody’s lives going back to normal. Joon-sang finally gets out of the hospital, and he buys a condo unit to finally make a home. Yoo-jin is ready to fill it with stuff, but he doesn’t care. After all, home is where your heart is, and it’s with her. Aww. Nevertheless, it quickly becomes a happy place filled with furniture and color.

The pair share a quiet cup of coffee, and Yoo-jin tries to toggle his memory by talking about some of the people they knew in school, It’s not really working, though. She talks about the meetup that never happened; he took her mittens but promised to return them that night. Plus, he promised to tell her something very important. He wonders aloud what he planned to tell her. She smiles but it’s tinged with sadness.

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Professor from their old school happens to be in Seoul this weekend to receive an award, so the gang makes plans to meet him at a local watering hole. Chae-rin, Jin-sook, Dr. Kwon, and Sang-hyuk are the first to show up. Yoo-jin and Joon-sang are on their way, but he frets about meeting everyone when he still has so many holes in his memories. Plus, the teacher doesn’t know that his old student is still alive.

Professor Gargamel is totally drunk when he starts a slurring conversation about the cancelled wedding. Awkward! Just then, our late pair finally shows up. Teacher does a double-take when he recognizes the man beside his favorite late pupil. The party continues, but the only one smiling is the teacher. He waxes nostalgic about the old days when Yoo-jin and Joon-sang were inseparable. Cha-rin can’t stand it anymore and bolts, closely followed by Sang-hyuk.

He catches up with her outside. She is furious and almost in tears, angry at how cozy the pair looked. Sang-hyuk won’t say whether he is hurt or angry, but he sadly watches Chae-rin drive off.

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Inside, the teacher feels bad about what happened. He decides to leave, but asks the four young people left to talk and work out any problems between them. After he leaves, though, Yoo-jin apologizes as Yong-gook keeps drinking. Our guy explains that his school memories only include Yoo-jin so far.

Dr. Kwon drunkenly scoffs at his words. He must be more Min-hyung and Joon-sang, given his limited remembrance. After all, the ones that were left behind have born not only their interactions at school, where he would pick fights with Sang-hyuk for no reason, but also feeling the loss of him in their lives for a decade, as well as Yoo-jin’s torch that she held before agreeing to Sang-hyuk’s proposal. After all, they were all friends together, and they all missed him. The doctor demands that Joon-sang remember everything and restore all of their friendships. With that, he runs out of the bar, closely pursued by Jin-sook. Our couple just sit there, now alone at the table. She realizes that the surprise was a bad idea. He wonders why he was such a jerk back then.

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It’s a bright, sunny day the next time they meet up; Joon-sang asks for her assistance. He wants to visit all the old places with her to see if that helps bring back the old classmate. They start on the bus, where she promptly falls asleep on his shoulder. At the school, Yoo-jin reenacts the climb over the school wall, not quite as gracefully as before. At the island they rent a tandem bicycle. Joon-sang is enjoying the outing, but no memories are forthcoming. They end up playing a game of invisible volleyball. Yoo-jin is laughing as they play, but Joon-sang’s smiles fade when she comments that his younger self was much better at it. He is finally realizing how cavernous those holes in his memories are.

Finally as the sun sets, they end up at a picnic table on the island. But no matter how she encourages him, Joon-sang has no recollection of their first kiss. And no matter how close their faces are, they can’t go back to that sweet moment. It’s bittersweet as they both understand they cannot go back.

At the pier, she describes the funeral ceremony the friends performed there, to send him off. Yoo-jin admits that she didn’t cry back then. Joon-sang is sad that she has held a torch for him for so many years, while he has done nothing for her.  He admits that he wants to be the real and intact Joon-sang for her, but as for Yoo-jin, she would rather make new, precious memories instead with the man standing before her.

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Manager Kim takes his boss’ new/old name in stride, merely asking how he should be addressed, and they go back to their usual routine.  On the way home, though, Joon-sang sees a little girl with pink mittens, and gets a sudden flashback. Yay! The first memory! But can he be sure it’s a true bit of his past? He contacts his mom, who confirms that all his personal effects, including his clothing at the time of the accident, is stored at the house in Choonchun.

It’s same stuff, different day at Polaris as the girls clear some paperwork. Suddenly, Joon-sang shows up, eager to announce his new/old recollection. He basically kidnaps her to go to Choonchun with him. However, despite going through his old room, no box has the stuff he’s looking for.  In the meantime, Yoo-jin wanders around and looks at the stuff in his room. She smiles at his school name tag.

In a storage box, he finds the white coat he was wearing the night of the impact, remarkably pristine. Maybe the salt embedded from the streets preserved it? He thrusts his hand inside the pocket and smiles. He triumphantly shows her the pink mittens, proving that he had a real flashback memory.

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They end up at their original meeting location by the Christmas tree. Yoo-jin goes to fetch some coffee while Joon-sang plays with the snow flurries that are starting to fall. His grin fades as an old memory surfaces. It’s the day they promised to meet on New Year’s Eve.  He’s rooted to the spot as Yoo-jin arrives with the drinks. He relays that long-ago conversation.  He remembers what he planned to tell her.  “I love you.”


While I’m happy Joon-sang is finally clearing some of the cobwebs in his brain, he still must learn to live as this new person. The dynamics of the people around him – his mother, Yoo-jin, the high school gang, even Manager Kim – have inexorably and permanently changed. It would be best if he would just focus on that. Indeed, at the end he accepted that. And maybe that’s what broke the dam holding back the school-age Joon-sang in his subconscious.

I don’t particularly care for Sang-hyuk’s moping or Chae-rin’s histrionics. The lies he used to try and tie Yoo-jin to him failed, and he has no cause to play the martyr. Likewise for Chae-rin, who set this whole thing off with her decade-old need to prove one better over her old classmates. The good doctor said it best: they all need to come to terms with the situation if there is any chance of returning, however altered, to their previous friendships.


About Shukmeister

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

Posted on June 28, 2015, in Recaps, Winter Sonata (2002) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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