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.