KDRAMALOVE KOREAN DRAMA REVIEWS

Spring Waltz
봄의 왈츠 (2006) KBS 20 Episodes
Melodrama, Romance,
Grade: A+



Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

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The lyrical and haunting Spring Waltz (2006) is the last of the "Four Seasons" set of Korean dramas (including Autumn In My Heart, Winter Sonata, and Summer Scent) and my favorite of the four, all filmed by the same famed director, Yoon Suk Ho, all of which were responsible for increasing the stunning popularity of the Korean drama genre around the world (this phenomena nicknamed "The Hallyu Wave"). Although all four shows had some themes in common, Spring Waltz executed them flawlessly, perhaps because it was the last in the series and the director knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish for this addictive twenty episode melodrama that achieved close to 26% ratings as it neared its conclusion (a number which is very high for Korean dramas, which mostly average between 5% and 10%).

Casting largely unknown actors at the time as the leads was revolutionary, and gave all these actors an enhanced visibility which would serve them well as their careers expanded after this landmark drama.
 
The Story: Filmed in Austria and South Korea, the show begins with two Korean ladies on a plane to Austria, a confident publicist named Yi Na Song (So Yeon Lee) to meet the man of her dreams who is a famed classical pianist, and a sweet and humble craft artist named Eun Young Park (Hyo Joo Han), who had won a contest back home in Korea for a free trip to Austria to visit museums.

As they sit together on the plane the two women discuss the merits of the famous pianist Jae Ha Yoon (dreamy actor Do Young Seo) as Yi Na shows Eun Young his picture in a magazine. She tells her she hasn't seen him in years but that he had proposed marriage to her when they were younger and she intends to follow him and hold him to his promise. Eun Young, who has been alone for most of her life, envies the young lady sitting next to her who is so full of promise. As for herself, she cannot forget a young boy she had grown close to as a child in Korea (child actress So Hee Han in flashbacks), a boy named Soo Ho Lee (child actor Eun Won-jae in flashbacks), whom she had lost track of after undergoing a heart operation after the death of her mother in a car accident. She thinks of Soo Ho often, and wonders if she will ever see him again.
As the drama progresses we begin to realize that the famous pianist Yi Na wants to marry, and the boy Eun Young had lost in childhood, are one and the same person. Soo Ho had been adopted by a man and woman who had paid for Eun Young's heart operation, on the condition that Soo Ho would become their son, and be renamed Jae Ha Yoon, after their own son who had died in an accident. The son who died had been similar in appearance. They lie to the boy and tell him Eun Young passed away on the operating table, and then send him to school in Europe to become a classical pianist. Although he is filled with grief, he applies himself in the music field, and is very successful in Europe giving concerts. His CDs are best sellers. But none of this gives him real pleasure.


~ Actor Do Young Seo gives the performance of a lifetime as the tormented Jae Ha Yoon ~
Jae Ha is a man living with deep personal demons related to his childhood, when his alcoholic father had neglected and abandoned him. He is quiet and reserved, does not trust anyone except for his one long term male friend and personal manager Philip (played dashingly by incredibly handsome American actor of Korean descent Daniel Henney, who had made a name for himself in Korea in 2005's hit drama My Lovely Sam Soon).

All four principals meet in Austria and begin to develop emotional ties with one another, though Eun Young doesn't recognize Jae Ha as the boy she lost in childhood. Jae Ha for his part begins to resent Eun Young because she reminds him so much of the young girl he thought he lost to death in childhood. A series of events makes him suspect his adoptive parents had lied to him, and he begins to do private investigations of his own to uncover Eun Young's true identity. Her life had undergone a huge change after the operation; she also was adopted by her loving but poor aunt named Yang Soon Jo (played by the versatile actress Kim Hae-sook) and moved to Seoul and was given a new last name.
 
Meanwhile, Philip has fallen head over heels in love with Eun-young, and although she likes him she only feels friendship for him. Against her will she seems to draw closer and closer to Jae Ha, even though their relationship is stormy because of Jae Ha's repressed feelings. Yi Na tries to get Jae Ha to commit to her in marriage, but failing that, decides to become his publicist and expand his professional music career in his native land of Korea.

 

When the action switches to Korea the drama takes on a whirlwind pace, with many plot twists and turns. The feelings deepen between Jae Ha and Eun Young and become so strong that everyone else can no longer fail to see what is going on between them, including the jealous Phillip. Will the two sweethearts ever finally discover that they were the same children who were so brutally separated fifteen years earlier?
 
Filled with intensity and angst and deep romance, Spring Waltz will hold your attention from start to finish. Certain scenes are like old Hollywood classical movie shots, with great sweeping crane shots of Austria's and South Korea's beautiful landscapes. I will never forget sobbing my eyes out at the scene where Jae Ha's biological father, who deserted him in childhood, comes back into his life and saves him from a scandal, and then dies on the street after being hit by a truck. Jae Ha rushes to the hospital to see his father one last time, but arrives too late. I personally feel that that scene is one of the top three scenes I have ever seen in the dozens of K-dramas I have watched.




I remember in the Extras of the YA Entertainment DVD set which I bought that the director was interviewed and spoke with reverence at the beautiful performance beginner actor male lead Do Young Seo gave in this drama. I think he was recalling the father's death scene as he spoke his words of praise (see video above). Also impressive acting (and camera!) work can be seen in this "Buy some gum" scene, where Jae Ha first meets the young lad who is actually his half-brother. What a powerful scene, as Jae Ha recognizes himself in the young boy -- his alcoholic father forcing him to sell gum on the street in order to survive.
The musical soundtrack is also second to none, with lots of gorgeous music composed and performed by the genius South Korean pianist - composer Yiruma. KBS once again released two separate CDs of the score compilations due to its huge popularity all throughout Asia and the West. Of course I had to buy both of them. ;)
Spring Waltz is a Class Act, an essential viewing experience for everyone who loves Korean drama. It is so special to me I just about consider it a holy show and I often have to go back and watch it again, just to plunge into one of the most unforgettable Korean dramas ever made. Yet the two major portals for K-dramas are too cheap to pay for the license to stream this masterpiece (Dum dee dum dum DUMB!). Your desire to watch this beautiful classic will lead you to the right option for you.
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SPRING WALTZ ONLINE AT DRAMALOAD.COM 
You can either download or view online

WATCH SPRING WALTZ ON GOODDRAMA 
Passable but not great

BUY SPRING WALTZ ON YA ENTERTAINMENT DVD AT AMAZON
Your finest option for best visuals & audio!


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SCREEN CAPTURES FROM YA ENT
ERTAINMENT DVD SET