Women in the Sun: Episodes 1-2

KBS 2008

The children wait expectantly, one of them more eager than the rest. A childless couple is coming to the orphanage that day, purportedly to check out a child to adopt, although in reality the wife is reluctant, insisting she will one day conceive. So what if ten years of trying have produced only tears and a bitter resolve? But the husband is adamant, so to the orphanage they go.

Already identified for them is a young boy, Hong Eun-sub (Kang Ji-sub). If the couple picks him, Eun-sub’s life will change forever, for the couple is a pair of professors, learned and rich. But in the end they choose another child, a girl whose tear-stained face caught their eyes, whose death-grip hug took the woman by surprise. And so they leave, with Kim Han-suk. All Eun-sub can do is throw himself on the ground, his anguished cries echoing through the orphanage.

Kim Han-suk is renamed Shin Do-young (Shim Eun-kyung) and for a while everything is perfect. Her new parents dote on her; isn’t she their only child, after all? But shortly after, the mother discovers she is pregnant. Overwhelmed that her cherished dream will soon become reality, the mother says aloud to her husband (and within Do-young’s earshot) that they should not have hurried to adopt.

The arrival of the baby girl, Ji-young, means Do-young is now an afterthought for her mother. Not a day passes where she is not made aware that she is less loved and wanted. Her sister owns all of their mother’s heart and all Do-young can do is watch with growing resentment… until one day when a reckless impulse leads her to do the unthinkable.

With their parents attending a seminar overseas and the housekeeper asleep because of the flu, Do-young takes five-year-old Ji-young on the bus and leaves her at the Seoul Train Station. And then she goes home, alone.

Twenty years pass. Outwardly the Shin mansion is as imposing as it was the day Kim Han-suk walked in and became Shin Do-young. Inwardly it is a gaping wound. No longer hysterical, the mother (Jung Ae-ri) has nonetheless left Ji-young’s room exactly as it was on the day she vanished. The evil woman who wrote to claim responsibility for the kidnapping will rot in hell and her beloved Ji-young will one day find her way home. So the family must not move.

Do-young (Kim Ji-soo) is now anchor woman for one of Korea’s most popular talk shows. Exceptionally gifted and beautiful, she is a celebrity in her own right and is instantly recognized wherever she goes. Few people begrudge her success; those who work with her know how driven and capable she is. Female undergraduates aspire to be like her; people clamor to be on her shows.

Not only is Do-young successful in her career, she is also happily engaged to Kim Joon-sae (Han Jae-suk), a mergers and acquisitions specialist. He is regarded as a very good catch indeed, and the two of them are expected to make gorgeous children together. Like everything else in Joon-sae’s work, marriage has already been worked into his busy schedule. Wedding bells by fall, definitely.

But one day Do-young receives a call from a stranger. In a halting voice the woman tells her, “I’m your mother.”

That phone call, and a parcel, will take Do-young to Hong Kong. Meeting her ill birth mother, she learns the truth behind her abandonment… and a startling fact about that day in 1988 when she had left Ji-young at the train station.

Thinking no one had seen her, she now knows she was followed. All that time when she had been so hungry for her adoptive mother’s love, someone unknown to her had been watching out for her. Watching and loving her.

Despondent about the turn of events, Do-young drinks herself drunk and is robbed of her wallet as she sits passed out on the sidewalk. A young man, Cha Dong-woo (Jung Gyeo-woon), who had noticed her drinking alone earlier, fights off the thieves, retrieves her wallet, and brings her back to his apartment. The next day, when asked how she can repay him for his kindness, Dong-woo replies, “Help me find a woman called Yoon Sa-wol.”

Sa-wol (Lee Ha-na) has spent most of her life in an orphanage. Brought there at the age of five, and with her parentage a mystery, she is affectionately nicknamed Miss Troublemaker because of her independent streak and a knack for mischief.

An orphanage mate, Cha Dong-woo, likes Sa-wol, but Miss Independent has already decided whom she wants to marry when she grows up. No one else for her but Kim Joon-sae, son of a philanthropist doctor, who accompanies his father frequently to the orphanage. Not one to be bashful, the teenage Sa-wol has even declared her intentions to Joon-sae. He, however, simply regards her as a beloved younger sister. When his family moves away, Joon-sae stops coming to the orphanage and he and Sa-wol lose contact.

Now twenty-five years old, Sa-wol and her best friend, Yong-ja, are ecstatic when they get tickets to attend Shin Do-young’s talk show one day. Before the show starts, Sa-wol wanders accidentally into Do-young’s dressing room. When the latter comes in and discovers her sponsored (and very expensive) necklace missing, and coincidentally Sa-wol is wearing a fake necklace of the same style, Do-young immediately accuses Sa-wol of the theft.

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23 thoughts on “Women in the Sun: Episodes 1-2

  1. As a mom to two adopted children, I found the basis of this show so offensive that I ended up hating this drama. I realize not all adoption is perfect and also that I should respect Korean culture, but still, it was too over the top for me. I have come to hate Cain and Abel for the same reason- pitting the adopted child v. the birth child, where love for both is not possible.

  2. Awesome. You’re watching this currently? I love this drama. Nothing unique about the story, but the acting is fantastic. I hope you decide to watch it to the end – it gets deliciously intense around episode 15.

  3. Hi julier

    *hugs* I get what you mean. It’s just morally wrong for the mother in WITS to treat her two daughters so differently. The whole “mess” is really her doing, isn’t it? If she had loved them both equally, Do-young would not have gone to that desperate length to abandon (get rid of) Ji-young.

    But surprisingly I’ve not found myself judging her yet; I simply feel sorry (in a condescending, not compassionate way) for her. To be so educated and yet ignorant… But she’s paying the price, and I believe she will eventually realize the enormity of what she did to her first child.

  4. Hi fizzle

    Oh yes, I’m definitely watching this to the end. Can you see the dark rings under my eyes from marathoning this the last few days? ^^

    I finished ep 15 last night. You’re right. Boy, it was intense! LOVE it!!

    There are a few far-fetched (and cliched) developments, but overall the drama is well-written. It’s deliciously dark and complex, and I really like the twists and turns.

    About the acting, Kim Ji-soo, Jung Ae-ri and Shim Eun-kyung are wonderful. Must confess that Lee Ha-na made me cringe so bad in the first episode with her overacting, stock expressions (loved those in Alone in Love, but didn’t like her replaying them in WITS) and that awful, awful besom (broom) hairdo. But I’m glad I didn’t abandon ship because now I really like her. Starting from the scenes where she remembered that she was Ji-young, she was just really good and natural. I wish the male characters (Joon-sae and Dong-woo) were as well developed as the female lead characters; till now they’re pretty one-dimensional. Still, I like all four leads including Han Jae-suk (and my pals reel from shock at this announcement).

    It’s a much better drama than I expected. X says it’s “the rare mainstream with brains” and I agree.

  5. And oops, julier, I forgot to add that WITS is a lot more palatable than Cain & Abel. It’s just so much more gripping. Also, if we compare the mothers in both dramas, I prefer Professor Choi (WITS). She doesn’t hate Do-young, unlike the mom in C&A who treats Cho-in with outright hatred.

  6. Yeah, outright hatred is an understatement in C&A! And, pretty extreme given the fact she raised him from an infant. That is what is so nonsensical about her hatred as well as Sunwoo’s hatred. I did love Jung Gyu Woon in WITS.

  7. I’m with you about Lee Hana. I became a fan of hers through Alone in Love but was downright annoyed with her unnatural expressions at the beginning of WOTS. I kept waiting and waiting for Sa-wol’s personality-180 so things could get more interesting…and they did. Once Sa-wol found out the truth, I loved Lee Hana’s acting.

    Also agree with julier about C&A. That drama gives me such a headache. Yet I’m still watching…

  8. Oh no, Sun-woo hates Cho-in in C&A? (Oopsie, that tells you how much of C&A I’ve watched so far. *slinks away*)

    Psst, don’t tell X the real reason why I asked his opinion on Again, My Love (a.k.a. Hateful But Once Again). It was partly for Park Sang-won, but really thundie’s interest was piqued after she googled Jung Gyeo-woon and found out this was his latest drama… ^^

    Back to WITS. It’s a pity I caught this so late. Unless the last five episodes suck (and I don’t think they will), it’s a sure bet this would have made my Top Five list when I did the year-end recap for Dramabeans. Interestingly, none of the 2008 reviewers (javabeans, Dahee Fanel, Sevenses and myself) included WITS, although javabeans made this comment in a reply:

    “What i find interesting is that some people rave about how awesome Lee Hana was in it, and others are saying she was pure crap. I don’t know how to reconcile those two opinions.”

    I guess the answer is Lee Ha-na was BOTH awesome and pure crap. Thankfully the crappy part was in the first few episodes, although I seriously, seriously wanted to stop watching because of her. So glad I didn’t!

  9. Hmm….you make me wanna continue watching this Thundie. Honestly speaking, I wasn’t really captivated by the first 3 episodes… *dvd still lying somewhere*

    You have got to watch Hateful But Once Again. Darn it’s addictive! 😄 Not to mention that Jung Kyu Won’s ubbbbeer hot here… I have a soft spot for such characters I don’t know why..

  10. And I forgot to add, Park Sang Won’s character is such a wishy washy guy in Hateful. But good thing he’s trapped between 2 beautiful women. *damn he’s one lucky guy!*

    I’m only watching C&A and Hateful Once again atm…both Wed-Thurs drama…have to say that as much as I LOOOOVVEEE SO JI SUB, Hateful’s a lot better than the former…XP

    Sorry for going o/t =P

  11. WITS…Never seen it. Not even the first episode. I’m allergic to Han Jae Seok.

    I have to go off-topic here and say this about C&A: It makes NO SENSE. The mom’s hatred for Cho-in? Sun-woo’s hatred for Cho-in? Young-ji’s actions? It makes NO SENSE. It really is a headache-inducing show.

    I find that the best way to watch it is to laugh until your sides hurt at all the ridiculous plot twists and turns. I’m kind of enjoying it as an unintentional comedy. When it’s not being utterly far-fetched, however, it gets pretty dull…so at those times, I just concentrate on So Ji Sub’s pretty, pretty face. 😛

  12. hi Thundie, thanks for the recaps. now i found it interesting enough that i can’t wait to watch it. besides i like Lee Ha na and Han Jae suk. hi Dahee, i don’t care that much about the storyline of C&A. i only care about Jisub. his acting is superb here. i hope a lot of people will watch this drama so it will get high ratings.

  13. i initially skipped this series due to Lee Ha Na’s exaggerated acting, but i might give this one a second shot. nice blog by the way, but no Alone in Love in top 10? you’re still cool though. 😉

  14. Hi Thunder,
    thanks to you I found anothere good k-drama. i’m into epi. 5. it looks like my whole weekend will be spend watching this drama. thanks again.

  15. Hi ripgal

    Sorry for late reply. Been so busy with subbing the whole of last week. My most-loved drama Shin Don just ended and after working on it for a year, am feeling kinda lost.

    Decided to download Hateful But Once Again (Again, My Love) after reading your comment. I’ve been told it’s WITS-like, but also full of histrionics, so am keeping my expectations low. That way I should enjoy it more. ^^

  16. Dahee my soulmate

    No one’s more allergic to Han Jae-suk than yours truly; he was the main reason I’ve been hesitant about picking up WITS all these months. But he honestly is okay in WITS. His character is nice to the point of being bland… which also means he doesn’t do anything to make you pull your hair out or scream. Nothing to make ze ole allergies (no thanks to his role in Glass Slippers) flare up. His role is not demanding and he delivers.

    I started watching this for Shim Eun-kyung and along the way just found the story pretty gripping. Dang cliffhangers at the end of each episode making it impossible not to continue!!

  17. Hi Winnie

    Wow, ep 5 already? It’s addictive, isn’t it? Can’t wait to read more of your comments as you continue. ^^

  18. Hi bshater!

    What a neat surprise. How did you discover this little blog? ^^

    I love Alone in Love and it’s definitely in my Top 20, together with other favorites like Goodbye Solo, Devil, Hyena, I’m Sorry I Love You…

    I have Alone in Love in a draft and hope to blog about it in the upcoming months.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  19. hi Thundie,
    i finally done watching this drama and what a drama it is. my eyes were swollen and red the next morning(tues) it’s been a while since i cried so much but at the same time also felt good about the ending.
    all the female casts were equally good in portraying their roles but i find KIM JI SO exceptionally brilliant especially when it comes to crying. she’s supposed to be the baddie but i find myself crying with her especially during the last few episodes. i cringed everytime her adopted mother blamed her for JI YOUNG’s disappearance but DO YOUNG just kind of ignore the harsh words and just smile but you can see the sadness and guilt in her eyes.
    oh, and that adopted mom is so cold that she sent shivers to spine. of course i blamed her for everything.
    as for LEE HA NA, i like her in MERRY & TAEGU but she look different here. something is changed. i can’t figure it out. and in my opinion only, i thind she’s good in comedy but not in heavy drama. sort like KIM EUN JUNG.
    the guys are nice looking. i like HAN JAE SUK since LOBBYIST. and another good looking JI SUB with equally good looking body(remember the pool shot) and don’t forget DONG WOO. i can’t remember his real name yet. my first encounter with him. very handsome face but not much in acting yet(again my own opinion)

  20. Hi Winnie

    Love reading your comments. *muah*

    To be frank, I didn’t cry for Do-young. I liked the young Do-young much more (love Shim Eun-kyung) and felt sorry for her. In contrast, I was appalled by the lengths to which the adult Do-young (Kim Ji-soo) would go to conceal the truth and achieve her goals. She was just so selfish! I really hated her hiring those guards to stop Ji-young from seeing their mom. Also (and this is just a personal reaction), I generally have no patience for people who have a “I’m a victim” complex and think therefore the world owes them something. Okay, so life hasn’t exactly been fair to you, but that does not give you the right to victimize other people. Grow up!

    Having said that, Kim Ji-soo’s acting is awesome, isn’t it? *slinks away* ^^

  21. Hi thundie. 🙂

    Well well…. Just goes to show that I should pay more attention to this blog doesn’t it.
    I really thought that WITS was a super drama to watch. Very emotional in some ways and very cold and hidden emotions as the past emerged. It is really one of the dramas that could become a classic. It bears watching more than once and not many modern stories can say that. I agree with most of the comments re Lee Ha Na… but at the same time I cannot really see another actress playing this role. She was flighty and ambitious but then took on the coldness of her birthmother once she made the shocking discovery of who she really was. I thought she did a good job of the total changes in the personality.

    ‘Hateful Love Again’ is proving to be most fascinating. I lilke the cast immensely. Love the young man who plays the tortured son. So much angst. He is darn goodlooking as well. Nice to see the women taking over the main thread of this story. They do need the men, but the real emotional power is from the women. I love this drama and I keep watching it on cable TV and then again on a PC site so I am getting to know these people rather well. Have English subs which makes it very satisfying.I want to know what happens but I don’t want this story to end.

    Ja ne Peg

  22. Hello Peg!!

    Funny how we were both watching WITS and did not realize it. 🙂 Love reading your thoughts. Agree with you that Lee Hana acquitted herself in the end; her transformation, both physically and mentally, was quite startling.

    I plan to start on Hateful But Once Again soon. Stay tuned for my comments. ^^

  23. HI thundie,

    Talking about Han jae Suk…..boy, this guy pissess me off. I’ve given him so many chance since “The Story About Eve” but sad to say he hasn’t improve at all. Still wooden like hell. I even watched him in a Taiwanese drama (banging head against wall)Never again, never again!!

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