Autumn in My Heart

This is the first in the Endless Love drama series by Yoon Seok-ho. Yep, this was made in 2000. Old school, but timeless. Without the aide of hi def technology, the softer images help convey the fairy tale feeling of this story. Watching this series was like wandering around in a dream.  A very sad dream.

There are many features that set this drama apart from other series. First, the story does NOT take place in Seoul, but instead the sleepy village of Cheongho-dong. Without the hustle and bustle of city lights, clubs, and coffee houses, the viewer can focus more on the characters. There are no flashy fashion vignettes and the minimal makeup merely draws attention to how genetically gifted the lead actors are.

Starting with the heroine, Yoon Eun-suh (Song Hye-kyo)
Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 1.39.36 AM

Her character could have come off as too saintly, but her spunk and inclination to fight back whenever she’s disrespected allows you to connect to her more as a real person rather than the angelic virgin on a pedestal. Although, that is how her “brother” Yoon Joon-suh (Song Seung -heon) sees her.

Classic leading man material right here. Something about his bone structure allows him to look good in any kind of lighting, especially the serious shadowy kind when he’s staring in contemplation at someone. What makes you want to root so much for this couple though is their shared history growing up as “siblings” in the same household. The child actors (Choi Woo-hyuk and Moon Geun-young) definitely deserve gold stars for their portrayal of the younger version of this doomed love affair.

Eun-suh and her “adoptive” mother also have a very loving relationship.  This was my first exposure to the traditional Korean mother/daughter bond which I found quite touching.

Since this Autumn Fairy Tale takes place in the past, it’s charming to see people using flip phones and beepers. It’s also funny seeing the normally suave Won Bin trying to charm ladies with his gelled up hair and baggy shirts.

Tae-seok is an immature rich playboy who enjoys toying with Eun-suh at first, but eventually falls in love with her after she teaches him a lesson or two on humility and gets him to start taking his hotel management job seriously. Even though you know Eun-suh and Joon-suh are bound to end up together, it’s exciting to watch the tension between Joon-suh and Tae-seok build.

What’s not enjoyable to watch, of course, is the evil “other woman” Yoon Shin-ae, played by Han Chae-young aka the Barbie Doll of Korea. Chae-young does a great job of making us dislike her from the get-go.  From her one-sided love of Tae-seok to her declaration that Eun-suh needs to hurry up and die, Shin-ae is about as likeable as a cockroach.

As if having a scheming bitch wish you dead wasn’t enough, poor Eun-suh actually does get diagnosed with leukemia and spends the last days of her life in pain. Autumn in My Heart will definitely have you in tears by the end, but strangely, the series won’t make you angry at the unfairness of life. Rather, I came away feeling contemplative and grateful for being alive. That is basically what Eun-suh leaves her family and Tae-seok with, the memory of a girl who suffered greatly but never wasted her time being bitter and instead chose to embrace love.

Grade: A

Pros: Unlike other dramas where flashbacks are a pain to fast forward through, the lulls  in this series are filled with beautiful scenic montages and a haunting, melancholy OST. It’s a treat to see some of Korea’s A-list actors in their first breakout roles.

Cons: Expect to cry. A lot.

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