Saharial‘s first Korea TV drama review – and she has her doubts about one of the most popular ones.
I am a busy gal and simply do NOT have time to waste on a drama that doesn’t push all the right buttons for me. I have been lucky though, that in all this time there have only been three dramas I didn’t finish watching. I thought I would start with one of these as a more unusual approach to drama reviews. After all my life is precious…
Stairway To Heaven (천국의 계단) (SBS)
|Story:||Han Jung-Suh (Choi Ji-woo ) and Cha Song Joo (Kwon Sang-woo) were childhood friends who grew up together and helped each other through tragedy until he goes abroad to study. Her father remarries an actress who is cruel to her, as is her step sister. Years later, when Jung-suh and Song-joo are to reunite, Jung-suh falls foul of an accident caused by her stepsister and loses her memory. With everyone except her stepfamily thinking her dead, will she ever reunite with her true love?|
|Cast:||Choi Ji-woo, Kwon Sang-woo, Kim Tae-hee, Shin Hyun-joon, Lee Wan|
|Reason I started to watch:||Everyone said it was a classic and a must-see. (The last time I listen to that reason I promise)|
|Reason I stopped:||A mix of boredom and growing intolerance to cliché and someone spoiled the ending.|
In 2003 when this drama began, it was a massive hit. Final ratings at 45.3% were well above the 38.8% average, and the main theme song ‘Bogoshipda’ (I miss you) sung by Kim Bum Soo is still seen as the most romantic song in a drama. The problem is, that 7 years on, every scenario from the drama has been re-used, rehashed and worn out, and taken away the very thing that gave it its popularity in the first place. It was a trendsetter for tragic romance. This drama was the birthplace of all things cliché or the summation of it depending on your point of view.
The cast all look good, but the side characters, like Shin Hyun Joon who plays the stepbrother, had more complexity and depth than the more simply-written main cast. The evilness of the stepmother is done well, Lee Hwi-hyang being a well-respected and experienced actress, but Kim Tae-hee loses a good opportunity with the stepsister to create any sense of complexity or sympathy.
I quit watching I think more because I just couldn’t care less about anyone except the stepbrother, and even then after 10 episodes I just couldn’t go on. I might have continued if the ending hadn’t been spoiled for me, but knowing what was coming simply took away all will to live through any more episodes.
Apart from the obvious box set of the series, YesAsia (and presumably other outlets) have made available other memorabilia to satisfy fans who want to mimic the characters in the drama.
Links for these items on YesAsia are below. Of course, this is not an exhaustive selection!
Kwon Sang-woo – recently married and now a father, Kwon was often seen as a reliable box office pull in the past. Appears serious and solid and was actually one of the first actors I encountered in Korean Film when I saw him in Volcano High. I miss the days when everything was new and shiny and the roles he picked didn’t all have the same feel to them. Recently pipped at the post by Jay Chou for a Hollywood role as the sidekick Kato in the new adaptation of The Green Hornet, and with his last drama project not the expected big hit, he has to regain some popularity lost to the younger generation.
Choi Ji-woo – There is no denying she is massively popular still, particularly in Japan due to her role in Winter Sonata with Bae Yong Joon. She has elegance and charm, which I think will endure, and she does have enough sense and talent to select roles she is capable of fulfilling. A Star’s Lover, her last drama, has been released in Japan with great success.
Shin Hyun-joon – This is the first of three dramas he has co-starred in with Choi Ji Woo, (well OK one was a cameo) though I always knew him as the actor from Bichunmoo, the second Korean film I ever saw. His younger self in this drama was played by Lee Wan who is Kim Tae-hee’s younger brother.
Kim Tae-hee – Stairway to Heaven was the big fame booster for her, and although she is pretty and does well in the CF side of the business she is limited in her actual level of ability, something she is aware of and has spoken about in interviews. She is keen to improve though, and perhaps with more time and experience this can happen for her.
Saharial is expecting some spirited comments below…