The Korea Herald


[Korea Quiz] 'Winter Sonata,' the beginning of Hallyu

By Korea Herald

Published : March 8, 2023 - 13:08

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You may have discovered Korean dramas through Netflix.

But well before the advent of streaming platforms, they were the main driver of Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, across Asia. And many say the phenomenon of the global popularity of Korean drama, music and pop culture was pioneered by 2002 KBS TV drama hit "Winter Sonata."

The series has all the landmark cliches of K-drama.

It tells the love story of Joon-sang, a businessman played by actor Bae Yong-joon, and a beautiful architect named Yu-jin, played by Choi Ji-woo. The two are high school sweethearts, but become separated after Joon-sang is diagnosed with amnesia after a car accident.

After many years, the two meet again. Joon-sang, of course, does not recognize Yu-jin, but falls in love with her again anyway.

The show became a huge commercial success in Japan after it was broadcast there in 2003. The unprecedented popularity was covered by both Korean and Japanese media at the time as a social phenomenon. Male lead actor Bae gained a huge following, particularly among Japanese middle-aged women, who nicknamed him “Yonsama.”

The drama series built a solid cornerstone for the global popularity of its successors in the 2000s, including "The Princess Hours" and "Boys Over Flowers."

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