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Winter Sonata

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Korean drama has recently enjoyed enormous popularity across Asia, with snow-filled Winter Sonata the biggest success to date. The story runs as follows: a boisterous girl named Yujin meets withdrawn Junsang on a bus. Despite being total opposites they fall in love and Yujin lends her gloves to her new man, who promises to give them back on New Year’s Eve. He doesn’t turn up, and Yujin hears that he died in a car accident on the way. Fast forward ten years to Yujin’s engagement ceremony, when she thinks that she sees Junsang – now, for some reason, choosing to wear pink lipstick – through the crowd. She later finds out that it isn’t Junsang but Min-hyung, a successful American architect. Yujin ends up working at the same company, and one further car crash later it transpires that unbeknown to Yujin not only is the man Junsang after all, but that he’s Yujin’s half-brother. As the pair part ways, Yujin hands him the blueprints for a beautiful house she’d designed as a farewell present. Of course, they’re not related after all, and when Yujin returns to Korea from France three years later she finds out that Junsang is in fact the half-brother of her erstwhile fiancé. She then happens across the house that she once handed Junsang in blueprint form, finds him inside – now blind, just to heighten the tragedy – and they fall in love once more.

Junsang got hearts racing all over Asia, and Bae Yong-jun, the actor who played him, is now an international superstar whose face is plastered across all kinds of merchandise – just look at the socks on sale in Seoul’s Myeongdong district. Nowhere was he more successful than in Japan, where he is now revered as Yon-sama, a title roughly equivalent to an English knighthood. Junsang also helped the stereotypically strong-but-sensitive Korean male replace the martial arts hero as Asia’s role model, and Korean men now enjoy considerable demand from females across the continent.

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