Love Letter: Episodes 1-6

Ten-year-old Lee Woo-jin prefers to be called Andrew; it’s the name that his mother gave to him when he was baptized as an infant.

But no one calls him Andrew now. Not his uncle and aunt, the latter spitting out “Woo-jin” as though it’s a dead roach that had somehow found its way into her mouth. The sheer disgust. Years later he will learn that “Woo-jin” is a marriage of two names: his father’s Soo-jin, and his father’s best friend, Myung-woo. Perhaps one day he will learn, too, that both men loved his mom. And that both men married her.

No one tells him anything about his mom. All he knows is that she abandoned him shortly after he was born, that she somehow passed away, and that she’s responsible for his father’s death. If she could curse his mom every day, his aunt would, her voice hissing with hatred as she slams a bowl of soup on the table. “Stop throwing food at Woo-jin that way!” yells her irate husband. “I’m fine, Aunt and Uncle,” says Andrew, slurping up the watery soup and the few leaves of cabbage like it’s a feast specially laid out for him. “Really, it’s delicious.”

When night falls and the squabbling adults have gone to bed, Andrew takes out a book that he has read many times and reads it again to Hee-jin, his little cousin. It tells the story of two orphaned children and their prayer that God would send them ropes from heaven. Ropes to pull them up, ropes to rescue them.

“Send me a rope too,” Andrew whispers, after Hee-jin and her brother have fallen asleep and another day draws to a close.

A knock on the gate. “Andrew!” says the voice. “Andrew!” The voice brings gifts: a coat and woolen hat, a toy medical kit, a meal of jjajangmyeon, a sled ride. But more precious than that, the voice is gentle, and it tells him things he doesn’t know. “Your mom loved you more than life. She didn’t abandon you. She’s a good person, Andrew.”

As he listens to his uncle’s words, the hole in his heart closes quietly and a lifetime of hurt slips out the door. The tears course down his face. “Thank you, thank you.”

As first episodes go, Episode 1 of Love Letter (2003) is moving and spellbinding, with backdrops so achingly beautiful they take your breath away. A parade of picture-perfect postcard scenes. It doesn’t seem real that people actually walk on that snow, or worship in that chapel. Surely these are paintings rendered by a master’s hand?

But what captivated me the most in this opening episode was Yoo Seung-ho, looking as young as he did in the 2002 movie that catapulted him to fame, The Way Home. In an appearance that is all the more unforgettable for being so brief (just the first half of the episode), Yoo portrays, with a combination of old-soul weariness and child-like hopefulness, a boy who has grown up thinking he’s just an inconsequential human being stretching the already thin resources of his aunt and uncle. Yet he never for a moment stops waiting for a light at the end of it all.

When his mother’s brother, a priest, finally comes to remove him from his aunt’s mistreatment, he realizes two things:

First, prayers do come true. Second, he will become a priest, like his beloved uncle.

Playing Andrew’s uncle is Son Hyun-joo, always a class act whatever the role. Here he is Father Peter, at turns affable and taciturn, his eyes speaking more than words can. A priest adored by the children in the parish orphanage, he hides a secret that he plans to carry to his grave.

Andrew’s mother is alive.

And now we see her, years later, in a car with a young girl, the two of them on their way to the parish. Dr. Yim Kyung-eun (Kim Young-ae), wife of the late Dr. Lee Soo-jin. With her is Cho Eun-ha (Soo Ae), a girl recently orphaned, whose dead mother is an actress more famous for news-grabbing scandals than her turn on the screen. Eun-ha will spend the next two years at the parish orphanage; it’s the least (or the extent?) that her mother’s personal doctor can do for her.

As he awaits their arrival, Father Peter belatedly remembers the picture frames on his desk. He and Andrew, side by side, smiling. He turns the frames downward.

Her duty done and the awkward meeting with her brother over, the doctor leaves, not realizing the lad that she saw in the parish grounds earlier is her Andrew. Of course she can’t possibly know, for he was leading a troop of giggly children after all, so far removed from where her son is supposed to be, safe and sound with her late husband’s brother. As her chauffeured car pulls away, we are left wondering why she didn’t make any attempt to see Andrew all these years. If she did, she would have learned that he wasn’t safe and sound, that he was given little to eat and much to do. And yes, that he was routinely beaten, too. Oh well.

Left alone in an unfamiliar place that she must now call home, Eun-ha wanders into the chapel. Inside the confessional, her tears fall as she blurts out her feelings for the two people who are supposed to protect her but who have selfishly departed and left her to fend for herself. “I resent you, Dad. I resent you, Mom.”

Watching her, I’m transfixed. I don’t remember Soo Ae looking as beautiful as this. Nor do I remember her voice being as raspy. She seems years older than the high school age she is supposed to be playing, yet somehow everything about her is exactly right.

Footsteps. Clanging. Someone has come into the chapel. This someone bends down to wipe the floor and then lies on it, almost as if he’s embracing a much-loved object. Startled, she drops the necklace in her hand. Before she can reach from behind the confessional drapes to retrieve it, he has found it first.

She demands it back. And then shoos him away. He tells her, after hearing her weep her eyes out, that he will always be her friend. (Or maybe this friendship declaration was at a later time and place. My mental signposts are all misaligned after six episodes on account of all the crying scenes and Jo Hyun-jae looking so boyishly droolsome, tearful or not.) He then tactfully leaves her alone; she will find him later playing the harmonica (his way of calming himself).

Thus our two leads meet. The next day he saves the seat next to him in class for her. At first brusque and aloof (okay, she was downright rude to Andrew), Eun-ha soon learns from chatty Sister Gemma that our friendly and helpful boy is an orphan just like her. Moreover, he was as skinny as a pole when he arrived at the orphanage, no thanks to his aunt starving and whipping him.

The newfound knowledge of Andrew’s past (because misery loves company and his straits were more dire than hers) immediately alters Eun-ha’s attitude toward him. Lo and behold, when he hurries down the lane the next day because he is late for school, who should await but an abruptly friendly classmate and an even friendlier bike? So different from the previous day when she had refused to walk home with him.

Seeing the two together, the cold wind whipping their hair, their faces flushed with a carefree abandon, their bodies touching, you would think they were sweethearts.

She tells him, “I’m going to call you Woo-jin because everyone else calls you Andrew. Otherwise Woo-jin is going to be lonely.” But she doesn’t tell him, not yet, why he means the world to her. She will write it all down on a note. When the time is right, she will thank him for saving her from her loneliness, for comforting her whenever the others in school taunted and made her cry, for simply being there for her. She will tell him that she likes him.

They are at the beach one day when she decides that she is ready. Just moments earlier they had chased each other gleefully, their laughter drowning out the waves. But before she can pass him her carefully folded note, he says he is bursting to tell her something. Her heart racing, she waits to hear him confess his feelings. Surely he must feel the same way. Why else would his eyes light up in her presence? What other reason could make him quiver with excitement, the way he is now?

I’m going to be a priest, Eun-ha.

When Jung Woo-jin (Ji Jin-hee) learned that his mother was not his birth mother, he packed up and left. He didn’t care that he hurt her and that he made his father mad. All he knew was that he needed time alone and space apart, to digest the devastating news.

His mom was the center of his world. Never in his wildest imagination could he foresee the bombshell that would drop on him one day, that this mother who had raised him since he was a baby did not give birth to him, another woman did.

But he’s still her Woo-jin. And he will become a doctor like her. That should make his dad, Dr. Jung Myung-woo, proud, shouldn’t it? After all, Dr. Jung is the professor whose name students utter with no small amount of awe. Everyone wants to be in the esteemed professor’s class.

Dr. Jung’s class is full, so make sure you take good notes for me, Woo-jin. Remember!

And so we see how the stars have aligned, bringing our three young leads to the same university and the same pre-med course. Andrew and Eun-ha rent a small house, their rooms next to each other. If you listened to their banter and observed them going about the household chores, you would think the two were either siblings or a couple. Why, they might even be married!

Compare Andrew’s room with Jung Woo-jin’s (and how coincidental that they should both have the same names!) and you note not just the difference in size and fittings but also what overflows in each. Andrew’s room is full of books whereas Woo-jin’s is full of paintings… of Eun-ha. (And the first painting is so bad you hoot and offer this advice, tears of mirth still flowing: “Stick to medicine, Jung Woo-jin!” The second and subsequent ones are much, much closer to their intended likeness, phew.)

Jung Woo-jin has been drawing Eun-ha? But since when?

The day his world collapsed, that same day he learned that the mom he loved so much was not his natural mother, Woo-jin saw a girl sitting by herself, her face drawn. She had obviously been crying. Because she seemed so sad, his own situation suddenly seemed less heartbreaking. Put another way, she healed his pain, somehow.

So that’s how he began to draw Eun-ha. With every stroke he commits her face to memory. Imagine his surprise and delight, then, when two years later he sees her on campus.

That’s it! No more dithering whether or not to skip school just to spite his famous dad. He, Jung Woo-jin, will now attend classes religiously!

But a fight derails not only his good intentions, it gets him and Andrew kicked out of Dr. Jung’s class. You see, no one is allowed to be late. Start on the wrong footing and see if the curmudgeon of a professor is going to cut you any slack, son or not. No use trying to explain that they were set upon and outnumbered, on campus of all places. Even more futile trying to tell the old man that it isn’t Andrew’s fault, he was merely trying to help a stranger in distress.

Thus an unlikely friendship forms, between these two guys with the same name. Thus Eun-ha finds herself caught in the middle, the Woo-jin that she loves on one side, and the Woo-jin that she detests on the other.

To get close to Eun-ha, Jung Woo-jin decides he will be fast friends with Andrew. Or maybe he’s himself drawn to this quiet and unassuming guy who tells him that he and Eun-ha are simply friends and housemates, nothing more. “Are you sure?” he asks, his casual enquiry masking a deeper concern. “Yes,” Andrew replies.

One day, poking around Eun-ha’s room (she’s not around),Woo-jin spies a folded note hidden inside one of her books. “May I borrow a couple of your books?” he calls out. “Sure,” says Andrew from the kitchen.

So, just like that, the words that Eun-ha could not tell Andrew, these same words are now being read by Woo-jin in the quiet of his own apartment. Later, he will disclose the words to Andrew. But for now he will store the words in his heart. After all, isn’t the note addressed to Woo-jin? Isn’t his name also Woo-jin? If what Andrew professes is true and he has no romantic feelings for Eun-ha, then doesn’t that spell hope for him, Jung Woo-jin?

By now, Episode 4 or thereabouts, I could sense my initial is-this-or-is-this-not-one-gorgeous-and-absorbing-drama? awe evaporating, albeit slowly. Perhaps it was my disappointment at Yoo Seung-ho’s too-quick exit. (Aren’t childhood scenes supposed to take up at least two episodes? Hello, who made the decision to short-change Little Jisub’s fans?) Not that I minded his replacement, not at all. I mean, would anyone complain about this?

Do you wonder then why Eun-ha is so besotted with him? Even Woo-jin can’t stop staring at Andrew when the two are sharing a shower. Just look at those envious (or murderous?) eyes!

But besotted is one thing. Getting all possessive turns what is really a sweet and comfy friendship into an awkward relationship characterised by squirms (mine) and squawks (Eun-ha’s). Because even if she utters them tearfully, they still sound like the peevish woe-is-me whining of one who can’t accept rejection.

Promise you will always be by my side even after you become a priest. Promise you will be the one officiating at my wedding (and the tear ducts, hers, creak open). Promise you will baptize my child. Promise you will bury me (and Thundie falls off her chair, cracking two ribs in the process). Promise you will always, always be with me.

If that is not an unhealthy obsession, I don’t know what is. Granted Andrew is closer to her than anyone else, but much of why Eun-ha dislikes Jung Woo-jin has to do with him suddenly becoming Andrew’s friend and wanting to hang out together. So now not only is her heart broken because of her beloved’s avowed desire to enter the priesthood, she must share him with this pesky third wheel called Jung Woo-jin! No wonder she is always crying. Like, in seven out of ten scenes her eyes are wet and her lips are a-quavering.

Then we have Woo-jin. The guy has graduated from merely painting and pining for Eun-ha to following her everywhere! She turns a corner and he’s there. She opens the door and he’s in her face, his previously bottled ardor for her now uncorked.

I miss you. I really miss you.

So what if she looks at him with as much interest as she would a dried-up glob of chewing gum on the sidewalk? So what if she repeatedly tells him, “Buzz off, dude”? Like, whenever he or Andrew initiates a wholesome threesome (to his country villa, for example), she would reluctantly tag along but pretty soon announce, “I’m out of here, you guys have fun, so long.” And she leaves, looking pissed and eventually dissolving into tears when the guys are out of sight. Even a block of wood would get the hint ages ago, but not Woo-jin.

Not only is he a stalker (a harmless one, for now), he is forever eavesdropping. That’s how he overhears his parents talking about Andrew.

I can’t stand it anymore, I can’t. Let me go to the child I abandoned. Let me go to my Woo-jin, my Andrew.

WHAT? Andrew is his mother’s son? Doesn’t that make his little sister Yu-ri (she whom he adores, who is not only mute but suffering from a worsening heart condition) also Andrew’s sister? So now they are all related to each other, what a joke. But it’s not funny at all!

And now I’m in Episode 6 and the plot keeps thickening, like soup with too much cornstarch. What had seemed so appetizing initially is now increasingly looking like heartburn-inducing fare.

First, a slip of the tongue by his uncle gives Andrew the biggest shock of his life. Dr. Yim, Jung Woo-jin’s mom, is the mom who gave birth to him and then left, meaning… the mother he had long thought dead is actually alive. These twenty years she wasn’t watching over him from above, she was watching over and raising her happy little family right here in Seoul. She wasn’t suffering like he did the first ten years of his life; no, she was building a successful career!

It’s too much for him to fathom and bear. He who did not hate his aunt despite her frequently raining blows on him (with a broom, too!) now finds it impossible to forgive his newly resurrected mother. Not only that, he experiences for the first time resentment toward God.

I don’t think I can be a priest now, Eun-ha.

As he sobs in her arms, right there in the lane outside their rented abode, someone is watching. That brings me to the second reason why Love Letter is now rapidly losing me.

If you guessed it’s Woo-jin pulling a Sang-hyuk (my most disliked second fiddle in kdramas) on us, you are absolutely spot-on. Bingo!

Everything is unraveling for Woo-jin. His mom is Andrew’s mom. His mom now tells his father that she wants to leave, in order to go to the son that she forsook twenty years ago. What if his mom also learns that her second husband killed her first husband?

SAY WHAT? Say that again!

A very long time ago, three university students were the best of friends. All were doctors-to-be. Two of them married each other (and surprise! Nam Sang-mi, in her debut role, plays the young Dr. Yim). Beaming at their wedding, Jung Myung-woo displayed no telltale sign of the pain gutting his insides. About a year later, Lee Soo-jin was hunted by the authorities for treating student demonstrators. He went into hiding, in a place that only his wife knew, but somehow he was found out. While trying to escape, he got into a car accident and was killed. His best pal in the world then took his grieving widow into his care and persuaded her to marry him. At the same time the widow’s infant son was caught in a tug-of-war between the widow and her late husband’s sister. The sister won and the child was left with her. End of story.

Ehh, hold your horses, we have ten episodes to go.

I was the one who revealed Soo-jin’s hideout to the authorities. I killed him, Woo-jin!

And so murderer dad and gobsmacked son now take to the bottle, although in truth the dad has been drinking for years, tormented by a poisonous concoction of guilt and jealousy. He might own his wife’s body (and they have Yu-ri to show for it), but he knows she has never stopped thinking of Soo-jin and Andrew. And now his own son Woo-jin (named for the same reason) is in love with Eun-ha, who loves Andrew. The past replaying itself, in the same wretched pattern!

Trust me, Woo-jin, you are going to repeat what I did. Like father, like son. Get out now while you can.

But Woo-jin’s resolve has hardened too much for him to back away now. He will make Eun-ha fall for him. He will stop his mother from leaving. “Dad, why don’t you adopt Andrew? Bring him here to stay with us. That’s the only way to stop Mom from going to him.”

Still reeling from his uncle’s revelation, Andrew has decided he can’t stand being under the same sky as his mom. He will leave for Italy, to continue his medical studies there before entering the priesthood fulltime. (No, don’t ask me what happened. I blinked and he changed his mind, what do I know?)

Her Woo-jin going away? Actually leaving for a land that is thousands of miles removed from her? Now Eun-ha’s own world is falling apart. He can’t leave!

You are the only one who can stop him, Dr. Yim. Please help me.

As he walks to class, Andrew sees Eun-ha and his mom waiting for him. He greets the younger female and is about to walk away when the older one calls out, “May we talk for a while?”

Their reunion is heartrending, as expected. At first cold and seemingly unforgiving, it takes just his mother’s tearful “I’m so sorry, Andrew. I will leave now” to break our boy’s flimsy defences.

Don’t go, Mom, please don’t go. Thank you for saying you didn’t intend to abandon me. Thank you… for being alive.

I cried so much watching the scene I was still in tears when, a few minutes later, we are ‘treated’ to Woo-jin staking his claim on his object of desire in the clearest way yet. “Don’t leave me, Eun-ha.”

Alcohol hasn’t numbed his pain one bit. All it does is make him more desperate. Coming down to breakfast one day, he sees the dining room deserted and learns from the housekeeper that his mom and Yu-ri have gone to spend the day at their country villa with some guests. Guests? Who else but Andrew and Eun-ha.

(An overdue explanation here: After being unceremoniously kicked out of his dad’s class the first day of school, Woo-jin is later reinstated but not Andrew. His father tells him, at that time not realizing Andrew’s identity, that he will take his friend back if Woo-jin promised to return home. Keen to repay Andrew’s favor, since he helped him in the fight, Woo-jin agrees. So that explains how he is able to do all that snooping on his parents.)

As Woo-jin stews at home, the object of his jealousy is experiencing the happiest day of his life yet. A carefree day of kite-flying with his mom, sister and Eun-ha. His mom gazing at him with so much love in her eyes. Eun-ha, ditto. Yu-ri telling him, in sign language, that she doesn’t need his help with the kite because her oppa Woo-jin has already taught her the ropes.

See? Always a kink in the happy proceedings. Love Letter elevates this plot device to new heights (and no, I’m not rubbing the kite analogy on you, Andrew dear!).

Frantically making up for lost time, Andrew and his mom plan another outing. This one will be an out-of-town trip for a few days, just the two of them. Their bags packed, they exchange phone calls the night before. “I love you, Mom.” “I love you, my son.”

The moment you step out of this house to go to Andrew, you are no longer my wife. You are no longer Woo-jin and Yu-ri’s mom. Leave. Get out!

(I’m so bummed seeing Joo Hyun, a veteran actor that I love, playing this irascible malcontent. Everything is a big deal to him, in the wrong way!)

But nothing else matters now to Dr. Yim except reclaiming twenty lost years. Not her husband and his threats. Not Woo-jin and his “Mom, please don’t go” pleas. Not even her ill daughter. Andrew consumes her thoughts and she will cross the next kink, I mean bridge, when she comes to it.

It doesn’t take long. On the way to the train station, the doctor receives a call. Yu-ri has collapsed!

And so everyone rushes to the hospital (yes, Andrew goes as well, after Eun-ha comes to the train station to relay the bad news to him). There, Dr. Yim learns that her husband has slapped an illegal restraining order on her. She might be a senior physician in the hospital, why, she might even be the child’s own mom! So what? If Dr. Jung says she’s not allowed inside to see Yu-ri, then who are the two burly bodyguards to defy his orders?

Will you, after enduring this rambling out-of-sequence recap, want to watch Episodes 7-16 in order to find out what happens next?

I’m still in two minds myself. As I tweeted earlier in the week, I’m “alternating between wide-eyed wonder and the uncontrollable urge to roll on the floor and laugh my hiney off.” I’m gasping, howling and sobbing, goddammit.

This thing is so exquisitely shot and so reminiscent of coffee table books that I’ve seen in the bookstore, photo after photo of places I want to visit before I die. I’m so intoxicated by the beauty I can’t stop ogling. And this is just the setting, how about the good-looking three leads?

Although I thought his acting was uneven in Only You (the 2005 drama where I had my first look at him), Jo Hyun-jae is a perfect fit here as gentle, sensitive and introspective Andrew. Like I gushed in my Only You review, his eyes and smiles are bewitching. Even when he cries, he does it convincingly (just ask Eun-ha’s red jacket!). When he’s dazed or uncomfortable (his reaction after hearing about Eun-ha’s feelings for him from Woo-jin), he doesn’t look stoned (like he did occasionally in Only You). No, his expressions convey befittingly the unease in his heart. He makes you want to reach out and comfort him. If I do continue Love Letter, it will be chiefly to savor Jo Hyun-jae and the splendid cinematography for a little (or a lot) longer.

As for Soo Ae and Ji Jin-hee, I can’t warm to the neurotic and clingy characters that they are playing, but that does not mean I can’t appreciate their acting.

I’ve only seen Soo Ae previously in one movie, Wedding Campaign, but that was on a sleep-deprived flight with turbulence and crappy cabin food as side offerings. Not the best introduction to a fine actress. Here, in Love Letter, and after six episodes, she has somehow been relegated to third lead. The guys’ obstinate hold on their mom (each wanting to be first in her heart) as well as their parents’ tumultuous past (just wait till Andrew finds out that Dr. Jung indirectly caused his father’s death) have commanded center stage of late. Moreover, Andrew hasn’t fully grasped yet the extent of his feelings for Eun-ha. Perhaps the looming tempest will allow Soo Ae to shine more? I want to see her move beyond her obsessive love for Andrew. I want to see her healing him, rather than compounding his pain and confusion.

Several “for real?” later, I finally accepted Ji Jin-hee’s college freshman role. Look, the guy is 39 years old now, but back in 2003 he was merely 32! Just barely older than Bae Yong-joon was when he played a high school kiddo in Winter Sonata. (And I’ll have more to say about this 2002 drama shortly.)

A thick albeit expertly blended foundation can sometimes age people by decades, but voila, not in Ji Jin-hee’s case, no siree. He instantly looks like a 32-year-old playing a on-the-cusp-of-adulthood young man. Look ma, no wrinkles!

All affectionate teasing aside (I do like the actor, even if he gave me the hives in He Who Can’t Marry), I think Ji Jin-hee tried his best in an unlikable role that requires him to mouth some of the cheesiest lines in a kdrama. If I can’t keep a straight face hearing them, think of the effort it must take to memorize and deliver such gems as “Will you be by my side forever, Cho Eun-ha?” (Oh great, now he’s mimicking her!) That might explain why Love Letter is his last Oh Soo-yun drama.

Ah, Oh Soo-yun. If I had known that you wrote the 2002 winter-themed drama that landed in Asia like a whale in a tub, causing tub and entire counties to empty themselves in a frenetic race to be first in line for the truckloads of Bae Yong-joon paraphernalia flying off the shelves, I might have whistled a smug been-there-not-going-there-again tune. I would have guzzled a pool of fortitude potion.

Granted Winter Sonata was all kinds of magical when I first stumbled upon it (snow, campfire, a log cabin!). Never mind the twisted dark secret of yore (you mean our dads loved the same woman? Oh wait, no, our moms loved the same man, for crying out loud!). Never mind that it’s bursting with amnesia, truck accidents (two!), terminal disease, incest, evil parents, orange hair! Back in 2002 those weren’t rehashed plot devices, they were fresh from the oven and so palatable. I was humming the soundtrack for days. I registered at my first fan forum and even stole my hamster’s name in an innocent attempt to camouflage my real-life identity. I bought drama after drama.

Then I became jaded, cantankerous and even violent. I found fault with this and that. I dropped dramas that I had shelved out good money for after just one episode. She’s overacting like a drunk chimpanzee? Next. I love his acting to bits but the writing sucks big-time? Move over. (Hey, don’t jump to conclusions and think I’m referring to Beethoven Virus!)

Watching six episodes of Love Letter (a gift from a dear friend, by the way), I made a startling discovery. This drama is exactly what I need now.

Love Letter is Winter Sonata Part 2. That it is written by the same author just a year after WS is secondary. What matters is that I’m simultaneously enraptured and nauseated, which would aptly describe the first time I watched WS and my subsequent memories of it, respectively. WS is falling in love as a wee one (thirteen years old?), high standards be damned. You’re too starry-eyed to care about that huge zit on the boy’s nose or the way he runs, like a bashful penquin, feet turned sideways. ‘Tis a charmed time, baby, let’s roll.

Love Letter is rekindling something I lost eons ago: a high threshold for pain (of the kdrama self-inflicted kind). That this one is so beautifully packaged, so heartfelt and EMOTIONAL, with actors I really like, just makes the eye-rolling and the hair-pulling less torturous. That snarky Episodes 5-8 recap I was planning for Giant? Shelving it, man, ditching it. I’m all about forbearance now. Endure, endure.

So I’m going to plod on. I might even grace you with two more Love Letter recaps if there’s enough demand, muahaha. Just don’t pull a nasty one on me and change Jo Hyun-jae’s I-want-to-run-my-fingers-through-it hairstyle. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

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Categorised in: First impressions, K-dramas, Recaps, Reviews

18 Responses »

  1. Aha! I wondered about your Tweets. So you were watching Love Letter for the first time? I think this was the third K-drama I watched on our local TV, dubbed. (The first two being Winter Sonata and Autumn in My Heart.) At that time, K-drama seemed so magical to me. I looked for reviews on the Internet about Love Letter and found Priscilla’s recaps at the koreanfilm forum.

    I loved both Jo Hyun Jae and Ji Jin Hee and was fascinated with Soo Ae. I never really watched this in its entirety, though. The topic seemed to have put off the local audience and and so TV station kept changing the time for its telecast. (That’s why I was so glad when I found Priscilla’s recaps.)

    If my unni’s VCDs are still with me, I might watch this from episode 7 with you.

  2. I thought you were referring to Giant in your tweets. So you were visiting an old drama eh? hehehe..

  3. I considered buying two YA dramas on sale to get this one for free, but the comment you left at the bottom of your post has me thinking this might not be such a good idea…

  4. Like what I said in twitter, thanks for making me remind about this drama. When I watched this I was young then and now, I totally forgot what were my reactions. Makes me want to download it and re-watch. Thanks for the post, thundie~!

  5. I’m tempted to watch this. Truly. Just for the casting alone since I love SooAe, Son Hyun-joo and Kim Young-ae but the idea that its another WS kind of stops me dead in my tracks. I mean there is only just enough room in my heart for one WS-like drama nevermind two, I can’t possibly spare any more space in here for another WS.

    WS was one of the earliest kdrama I saw and it enthralled me to no end and made me believe the power of first love and that maybe incest is ok if its with someone as bright and orange-y as BYJ. It totally lured me in. Of course I did want to bash my head against a wall in the later episodes (how many times can the poor guy get hit in the head? How many times are the parents going to screw up there kids’ lives. How much lipstick and eyeliner can Sang Hyuk wear? Why can’t CJW and BYJ just “do it” once when their own parents were doing it 30 years ago?)

    WS continues to hold a special place in my heart and I’m sure when I’m old and senile I’ll remember the names Eu Jin-ah and Kang Joon Sang way before my own children’s names.

  6. Omg! Talk about perfect timing! Last night I was just looking through the titles of dramas I had watched over the years when I stumbled upon Love Letter. Just seeing the title of the drama brought me into a state of nostalgia. Imagine my surprise to see your recaps for it this morning! Oh irony, how I love thee! I do hope you continue on with the recaps so I can selfishly reminisce the emotions I felt during this drama. (Btw, since Jo Hyun-jae is being released from the army soon, I hope he picks a good project that displays his full acting potential.) Still, thanks for writing this Thundie!

  7. Ah, Love Letter. I can’t believe it’s been seven years since I’ve seen this already. Your recap reminded me of several little details I’d forgotten. But the overall feel sticks in my mind like a pesky thorn.

    You think it’s convoluted now? You think Ji Jin Hee’s character’s crazy now? Just you wait. Oh, just thinking about that ending gives me a headache…

  8. Thanks for the recap thundie and reminded me to the bits and pieces I’ve forgotten about Love Letter….I’ve watched Love Letter a couple of years ago…the snow and scenery reminds me so much of Winter Sonata….my first ever and favorite kdrama…
    JHJ is wonderful here and his best performance yet but I won’t torture myself seeing this again… once is enough… the first half is bearable but I remember there’s too much angst and how psychotic can a 2nd lead get…

    I don’t mind angst generally …if anyone ever watch one of my favorite Did We Really Love will know how that goes and I ended up with puffy eyes for a week

  9. I wouldn’t have guessed from your tweets it was Love Letter, I was guessing something you were subbing. See you on the other side of this one!

  10. Thundie, you are priceless. Just the thing to cheer me up after a hard day. I don’t think I can stomach watching it but I’ll request that you continue with your recaps.

  11. Hey thundie, as soon as I saw your post, I started watching Love Letter.

    I love Soo Ae since Haeshin, so I knew she would overcome this role. As for Jo Hyun Jae, I’d only seen him in Nine Tailed Fox. Had been remembering him as a person who has lack of screen presence..
    Done with the drama yesterday and came here to look at your ratings..How to say..I’m not surprised. It was exactly what I rated it. The story development went really well..It has a fantastic ost too. The only thing bothers me was the male leads.
    I never ever liked Ji Jin Hee, he’s just not my cup of tea;; Therefore, he offended my eyes more than Jo Hyun Jae~

    I liked Jo Hyun Jae as Andrea, I must say.. His eye acting was soulful, though he’s still a long way to go. He was charming, wish he improves his acting. At least he impressed me after Nine Tailed Fox.

    I didn’t got teared till 12th episode by the way..

  12. I made sure it is you Thundie this time. Thanks for the recap. My, my. Love Letter was one of the first k-dramas I bought thru Yes Asia. Back then, 2004-2008 (before I learned about k-dramas on Internet) I bought everything korean on ya. I remember watching LL and then got bored with it. Then I watched Dae Jang Geum and happened to like JJH. So I continued watcihing LL and forgot all about until now. They looked very young on those pictures. Like I said, it was all forgotten. Well, except for the ending. I won’t elaborate it. It’s just………

  13. thanks for sharing you insights on Love Letter Thundie! I’ve seen this drama way back and I really enjoyed watching it not until the last few episodes, your post made me think back and rewatch the drama again. Oh, and how Jo Hyun-jae, Soo Ae and ji Jin-hee have evolved now after that drama. Same here I didn’t knew that JJH was 32 y.o. that time when he did this drama 🙂

  14. Thank you for the recap, thundie. I watched this a while back, so the details are hazy. But I remember liking this drama a lot. The love story is intense; who doesn’t get enraptured by a forbidden love theme?

  15. It is my third drama in KoreAn . First was AIMH then Summer Scent. I don’t like the Winter Sonata. I don’t know whay . And hate the Spring waltz only being comforted by the Ost’s of Spring waltz

  16. I love it the love Letter .

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