Love Letter


Reviewed by: Devache1

December 14, 2004

Rating: four

Cast:
Lee Woo-jin (aka Andrea): Jo Hyun Jae
Jung Woo-jin: Ji Jin Hee (Four Sisters)
Cho Eun-ha: Soo Ae (Maeng)
Father Pedro (Andrew's maternal uncle, 40-50): Son Hyun Joo (To Be With You/First Love)
Seo-young (Eun-ha's friend, 28): Kim Yoon Kyung (Popcorn)
Sister Esther (29): Kwon Min Joong (Man of Autumn/More Than Love)
Sister Gemma: Yoon Yoo Suk (Her House/
Kkokji)
Maria (Father Pedro's cook/housekeeper): Yang Hee Kyung (Since We Met/More Than Words Can Say)
Dr. Yim Kyung-eun (Andrea's real mom/Father Pedro's sister/the mother who raised Jung Woo-jin): Kim Young Ae (Tender Hearts/More Than Love)
Dr. Jung Myung-woo (Jung Woo-jin's dad/Dr. Yim's husband): Jo Hyun (Yellow Handkerchief/Trio/Loneliness)
Jung Yuri (Jung Woo-jin's sister):
Choi Jae Hyung
Suh Hyun Ki
(Jung Woo-jin's male friend): Son Young Joon (Glass Slippers/Her House)
Kim Mee-hee (Eun-ha's deceased mom): not seen in drama
Lee Woo-jin/Andrea (as a child): Yoo Seung Ho


Reviewer’s Thought before the drama:

I’m a sucker for tearjerkers.

When I heard of Love Letter, I was thinking to myself that I should buy this drama because it’s seems to have a sad story.

So there I went, walking into my local VCD shop and grabbed ‘Love Letter’, and what I surprise I got when I realized that Love Letter was actually produced by PD Yoon, the same producer who brought us ‘Autumn in My Heart’ , ‘Winter Sonata’ and ‘Summer Scent’.

I couldn’t wait any longer, I stopped watching ‘Romance’ [another K drama with Kim Jae Won and Kim Na Heul] and plunged straight into ‘Love Letter’…

Synopsis: (I’ll try to keep this short)

Andrew a.k.a Lee Woo Jin is an orphan living with his aunt. Mistreated, he hopes and yearns for God to send down a saviour to take him away from his misery. His saviour comes in the form of his dead mother’s brother, Father Pedro, who upon returning to South Korea, sees Andrea being bullied by his own kin.

Father Pedro takes him out on a walk and after buying him a good meal and some toys, asks him sincerely whether he wishes to leave with him. Andrea refuses, as he is told by his horrible aunt to say so, but when he pokes further about his mother (he has never seen her before), he realizes that all his aunt had said to him about his mother being a bad lady was all a lie. Father Pedro tells him she was a wonderful lady, a doctor who cared a lot for his patients, and above all, her own son – Andrea.

Father Pedro leaves Andrea, but Andrea is still bullied, and one day, Father Pedro chances upon Andrea being beaten by his aunt. Infuriated, he takes Andrea back to the church and raises him there.


Fast forward ten years, the once young and thin Andrea is now a handsome young man attending high school.
Here enters Cho Eun Ha, the daughter of a late famous actress plagued by scandal. Both her parents have died, her father first, then her mother, leaving her all alone. Her only kin left comes in the form of Dr Yim Kyung Eun, her late mother’s personal doctor. Dr Yim brings Eun Ha to the church and Father Pedro decides to let her stay as one of the occupants in his orphanage.

Eun Ha, suddenly faced with the loss of both parents and her mother’s scandals, vows never to trust anyone again. She tries to close herself up in total isolation, but Andrea is unfazed as he understands how she feels with his own parent’s death and all the lies he was told about his mother being a bad woman by his aunt.

Eun Ha is eventually touched by Andrea’s pureness of heart, and he becomes the only person she truly trusts apart from the elders in the orphanage. One day during Christmas, she writes a love letter, in which she write the hopes and wishes of hers to become the only woman Andrea will see for the rest of his life. However, her hopes are dashed when Andrea tells her he wishes to become a priest and that he only sees her as a younger sister.

Andrea and Eun Ha eventually get scholarships to study together at the university in Seoul. They both make it to the stream of medicine. Here, Andrea meets Woo Jin, the son of the most famous doctor in Korea, Dr Jung Myung Woo [who is also married to Dr Yim]. Woo Jin is a typical rich brat, spoilt and doesn’t care much about what he does about his life. He loves his mother [Dr Yim] more than his father, but when he finds out she isn’t his natural-born mother, he is disheartened and leaves home. He even tries to commit suicide but when he was about to jump, he saw a beautiful girl all dressed in black, singing a sad song at the top of the hospital he was about to jump from. The beautiful girl was none other than Eun Ha after she had lost both her parents. He is so mesmerized by her that he draws and keeps pictures of her even after two years. Woo Jin is being beaten by a bunch of gangsters when Andrea tries to intervene but ends up being beaten up too.

To thank him, Woo Jin makes a trip to Andrea’s house, only to see Eun Ha beside him. He tries ways and means to get close to Eun Ha, and Eun Ha, being naturally suspicious of pple and extremely possessive over Andrea, thinks of him as a hypocrite. She doesn’t know that Woo Jin is in fact, interested in her.

Woo Jin and Andrea become as close as brothers, whilst Eun Ha is trying ways and means to stay close to Andrea. One day, Woo Jin discloses the truth to Eun Ha about how she saved his life, and from there she realize Woo Jin has always been interested in her. Confused, she returns home only to see Andrea crying and sobbing alone by the street. He stands up upon seeing her, walks slowly towards her and hugs her tightly with tears streaming down his eyes. Eun Ha is astounded, as she knows of nothing that can hurt Andrea so much, thus she cries along with him.

It seems that Andrea was paid a visit by Father Pedro whilst at home. In a slip of tongue, he accidentally disclosed the fact that Woo Jin’s mother , Dr Yim, is also his mother. The dead mother Andrea always thought he had was none other than his best friend’s mother. He is hurt, angered and disappointed as to why he had to go through all the hardship as a child, just because his mother did not want him. At the same time, he is confused, because she doesn’t seem like a lady who would abandon her own child. Faced with so many thoughts, he collapses into Eun Ha’s arm upon seeing her.

Dr Yim meets Andrea up upon knowing he is actually her own flesh and blood. She is equally hurt and shocked, because all these years she has been waiting for a chance to redeem her sins and take Andrea back. Unfortunately, Father Pedro has never disclosed Andrea’s location until now. She breaks down upon seeing him, seeking his forgiveness. Andrea is reluctant at first, but being a generous chap, he forgives as all he wants now is just some maternal love.

It seems things will go well until Dr Jung finds out his wife, Dr Yim, is now seeing her own son. He is disheartened and starts drinking, tearing the happy family Woo Jin once had apart. Woo Jin eventually uses his sister’s illness [his sister is the daughter of Dr Jung and Dr Yim] to force Dr Yim to leave Andrea.

Andrea is heartbroken, but knows his mother has no choice as no mother would let her own children die. He decides to leave for Italy to pursue his religious and medical studies.

Before leaving, he thinks of Eun Ha and all the happy times they spent together. He realizes that all these while, although he has been treating her like a younger sister, he has always yearned to be more than that to her. She even expresses her love for Andrea [in the love letter], but Andrea knows he cannot accept it as his destiny is to become a priest.

He pens down his last thoughts in Korea on the same love letter he was given on the other side, stating to Eun Ha that if she ever wanted him back, all she had to do was to write a letter to him after one year, and he would return to be with her for the rest of his life.

However, Woo Jin finds the letter first, and Eun Ha never gets to read the words of her true love.

Fast forward another few years, Woo Jin is now a famous doctor himself. He is the assistant chief doctor at the hospital owned by his father, who is now an alcoholic and cannot operate on patients anymore. He is always torturing himself, because he cannot forget Eun Ha. She left him suddenly two years ago to do volunteer work in Africa, merely days after they announced their engagement.

When he sees her again, he slaps her and cannot bring himself to forgive her. Eun Ha is about to leave the hospital when he grabs her again and hugs her tightly, telling her he will do anything to make her stay, Eun Ha smiles and hugs back.

At the same time, Andrea returns from Italy as a brother. Over in Italy, he is renowned as a heart surgeon but is banished to South Korea after a fellow female doctor tries to commit suicide after he rejects her love [he is going to become a priest after all you know :P]. Saddened, he returns to Korea, only to find Eun Ha and Woo Jin is now an item.

Eun Ha, now back in Korea, bumps into Andrea coincidentally and is shocked to see that he has returned. Andrea, also wonders why Eun Ha never contacted him when he was in Italy, but they both don’t know that Woo Jin hid the letter Andrea left for her.

The three are united in unique circumstances, and that leaves Eun Ha torn between Woo Jin and Andrea.

The story climaxes when the reason behind Eun Ha’s sudden departure from Korea two years ago turns out to be a heart problem she discovered she has, and that she has only months to live....

The Review (Spoilers included)

’Love Letter’ is a typical Korean drama that toys around with puppy love and how love always win. I mean, it’s a winning formula. Take a look at Stairways To Heaven or Winter Sonata, the ending is always the same. Love is the motivating factor, love is the truth, love is the way, love unlocks even the hardiest of hearts, love makes us happy, love keeps us strong, but probably most importantly, we can’t live without love.

’Love Letter’ isn’t a drama formulated around a love triangle like we typically see. It is more like a love quadrangle if there’s such a word. Between Andrea, Woo Jin, Eun Ha and Andrea’s love for God.

It’s also quite a taboo topic, something that producer PD Yoon seems to love to touch. In Winter Sonata and Autumn in My Heart [both his productions], it was incest.

Here, it was how a Catholic priest-to-be could fall in love and have a relationship with someone apart from God.

There were many times in this movie I felt like yelling out to Andrea to give up God and stick to Eun Ha, but then as I watched the movie, I realized why he didn’t do so. His attachment to God was like a lifeline he was thrown since he was a child. Without parents and mistreated by his guardians, Andrea could only hold on because he trusted God. He loved God, possibly more than he loved himself.

Although towards the end of the show, you see that he realizes that Eun Ha is his true love, he attempts to give up God for her, he can’t do so successfully.

Personally I find it quite interesting as God is put in a sort of a negative light in this film, because towards to end, although Andrea wishes to be with Eun Ha, he knows if he does so, she will die. Thus there is this scene where he walks into the chapel and challenges God, telling him that if he wishes for an exchange ie Him becoming a priest in exchange for Eun Ha’s life, he will get it. And so coincidentally, the camera chooses a part where lightning strikes as Eun Ha stops breathing momentarily, as if to challenge Andrea back the he could take away Eun Ha’s life anytime.

Now to the cast:

Jo Hyun Jae:

I didn’t find his acting particularly appealing. If you folks remember, he also acted in Untold Scandal as a male supporting role, although he was much plumper then. Here in ‘Love Letter’, it’s a much more demanding role. On one hand, you have to handle the role of Andrea the lover, in another it’s Andrea the priest-to-be. It’s difficult to gauge how much he loves Eun Ha. There are the scenes where he suddenly starts drinking and doing hard labour to punish himself for Eun Ha leaving, but it stops there. Don’t get me wrong, Jo Hyun Jae is a suitable actor for the job, but perhaps as PD Yoon were less conservative, Andrea would truly shine in this drama.

Soo Ae:

Gosh, she can really cry. She has this save-me-I’m-a-puppy look, no wonder Woo Jin fell for her upon first look. Apparently I read that she won an award for her role in this film, as Cho Eun Ha, she does a convincing job, bringing out the pains of suffering alone rather than bring pain to her loved ones when she chooses to wait for death in isolation at a hospital, and not informed neither Woo Jin or Andrea of her location. You can feel the pain in her eyes when she realizes in the chapel that she realized that the contents of Andrea’s letter to her, when she had missed the chance to be with the man she loved so much, more than she loved herself. Her fears, agony of leaving Andrea. She truly is a one-man woman, because she only accepts Woo Jin when she is convinced Andrea wishes to become a priest and wishes for him not to be distracted by herself.

And there’s this scene where she’s lying in the hospital bed before the final heart transplant op, and she’s saying good bye to everyone including Woo Jin and Andrea, as she is convinced she won’t survive the op. Gosh, I cried my eyes out there, really touching scene ?.

Ji Jin Hee:

You know, if Park Yong Ha is the Woo Jin of Love Letter, then Ji Jin Hee is the Sang Hyuk of Winter Sonata. This is the first time I’ve been more impressed with someone who is in a supporting role than the lead himself. Ji Jin Hee is really passionate about Eun Ha. From the first time he sets his eyes on her, he cannot get her out of his mind. He may be unscrupulous [like all 3rd parties are in a relationship in K dramas] but he truly means good for Eun Ha. Like when he scolds Andrea for indirectly causing Eun Ha’s heart condition to worsen, and when he even pretends to act as Eun Ha’s fiancé one last time to kill Andrea’s heart [obviously Andrea isn’t taken in, but the point is: He loves Eun Ha more than she loves him].

If I could make a guess, I figure he loves Eun Ha more than Andrea loves her, but the scenes where he begs her to seek treatment and she staunchly refuses is a real heartbreaker.

The crux in making a melodrama is to make it so touching that the audience will cry at every possible scene. I followed Love Letter and found that this wasn’t always true. You do not need to cry to feel for a drama, the occasional tinge of sadness and reluctance is often more than enough to make you feel for the character.

A good OST also makes a world of difference, which in the case of ‘Love Letter’ is present! The songs ’Sarang Eul Mid Na Yo (Andrea Theme)’ and ‘Chun Gook Eh Ee Byul (Ending Title)’ by Tri-Be really made an impact when they were played at various stages of the show.

Perhaps you will be even more touched when you see Woo Jin hesitating on the operating table to operate on Eun Ha as he is afraid he might cause her death, the agony on his face is vividly displayed as he looks to Andrea for help [they’re both heart surgeons remember?], Andrea simply takes his hand and grips it tightly, so we have two friends supporting each other on the prospect of saving the life of the woman they love so deeply. You even catch Andrea dropping a tear as he operating on Eun Ha, such is the love he has for her that he can’t help but sob even on the operating table. I must confess, the last episode of ‘Love Letter’ left me in tears despite my best efforts.

The ending for ‘Love Letter’ is mildly confusing, as you see Andrea successfully becomes a priest. Woo Jin visits him at the chapel and requests that he pass a stock of dried flowers to Eun Ha. Eun Ha has been in coma for the past two years since the operation and somehow after Andrea passes the flowers to Eun Ha, she wakes up. As Eun Ha is wheeled along the beach by Andrea, Andrea promises that their love will start again.

If you like me, are surprised, well don’t be, there’s nothing wrong with a Catholic priest falling in love. Because for Andrea, he fully understood that God was now his calling, and that the love he had for Eun Ha was now nothing more than brotherly love for a sister.

I enjoyed the ending for ‘Love Letter’ and found it a very entertaining drama.


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