Say You Love Me

Reviewed by: il_mare

July 24, 2004

Rating: three-point-five

Saranghanda Malhaejwo a.k.a. Say you love me

MBC Wed/Thurs miniseries (2004)- 15 episodes
For MBC homepage for this drama (in Korean), go to:
Aired on MBC in Korea: February 25, 2004 - April 14, 2004 on Wednesday & Thursday nights at 9:55

Kim Byung-soo: Kim Rae Won (Attic Cat)
Jo Yi-na: Yeom Jung Ah (Red Azalea)
Suh Young-chae: Yoon So Yi
Park Hee-soo: Kim Sung Soo
Suh Pil-sang (50): Park In Hwan (To Be With You)
Kim Jung-sook (50): Jo Yang Ja (Yellow Handkerchief)
Suh Eul-chae (20): Jo Jung Rin
Suh Kyung-chae (17): Bae Ji Hyo
Suh Byun-chae (15): Choi Min Joo
Neung Ok (50): Kim Ji Young (Running After dream/Loneliness)
Keun (80): Moon Mi Bong
Joo Ji (60): Lee Yong Yi
Kwon Suk-kwan (20): Shin Seung Hwan
Han Joon (20): Lee Jung
Oh Sang-moo (30): Park Kwang Jung
Na Kyung Rim (29): Lee Ae Ri

For more information (in Korean) about the cast, go to:

For a summary by MBC Production (in English), go to:

Screenwriter: Kim Kyu Wan (Piano)
Producer: Oh Jong Rok (Piano/Juliet's Man)

For MBC Videos on Demand (VODs) in Korean for this drama, go to:
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For MBC photos from this drama, go to:


Byung-soo is an orphan, after his grandfather’s death, he was brought up by the nuns in a temple. Young-chae is Byung-soo’s childhood friend, and when Byung-soo reached adolescent, Young-chae’s parents took him in from the temple and brought him up as their own.

Byung-soo and Young-chae shared a deep bond over the years as they grow up together. Byung-soo obeys everything that Young-chae asks for, and in turn Young-chae is the only person that is able to comfort Byung-soo. After finishing college, both interviewed for the same film producing company to embark on a career in the movie industry.

Jo Yi-na is the president of the film company. She is the commander, leader, and fighter who have battled over the last decade to find her place today. She has a lover, Park Hee-soo who is a music composer and producer for movies. But their relationship is built out of convenience and is casual, neither has any interest to pursue the life-long commitment of marriage. But all this is changed when Yi-na met Byung-soo.

Yi-na was initially mesmerized by the purity of Byung-soo’s smile. As she watches his relationship with Young-chae, Yi-na finds herself falling head over heels with this younger man that she cannot have. It felt like the she is experiencing her first love, something that she has forgotten to pursue a long time ago while she was building her career. She begs Hee-soo to seduce Young-chae, and take her away from Byung-soo.

Yi-na plots to break Byung-soo and Young-chae up. She seduces Byung-soo, and Byung-soo is devastated with his betrayal. Young-chae discovers the truth, and despite being terrible hurt by Byung-soo’s action, she forgave him. In a desperate attempt to keep Byung-soo by her side, Yi-na lied that she is pregnant. Byung-soo makes the painful decision to break-up with Young-chae as he does not want his child to be an orphan like him. Young-chae accepts Byung-soo’s decision but is heart broken over their separation.

Hee-soo made use of the opportunity to comfort Young-chae, but is at the same time absorbed by the strong and deep connection Byung-soo and Young-chae shared. Hee-soo cannot comprehend their relationship. To cover up for her first lie, Yi-na lies again about a miscarriage. In his state of guilt of the damage that he had cause Young-chae, Byung-soo decides go ahead to marry Yi-na.

Young-chae asks Hee-soo to marry her the same time when Byung-soo married Yi-na. Hee-soo plays along, as subconsciously he wanted to spite Yi-na. Yet no one is happy after the respective union.

Eventually Byung-soo and Young-chae find out about the lies Yi-na made to keep Byung-soo by her side, and Hee-soo’s role in the entire mess. Will change of partners take place again? How will the 4 untangle what they have got themselves in? Will Yi-na let Byung-soo go? How can the 4 ever be happy?


I really want to applaud MBC for consistently putting out serials with a difference. Although SBS is the one who churns out the blockbuster, I equate MBC as the alternative station that gives you all the beautiful lines, and unusual plots. They try to steer away from the cliché of K-drama by spinning absorbing stories resisting the standard ingredients of the ratings hungry SBS.

“Say you love me” is another demonstration of MBC’s success in producing a k-drama that mirrors SBS’s “The Bali Story” closely, as it explores the damage of love and the dark side of human greed. Yet the characters felt so much more realistic (and less dramatic), sometimes too real and sinister that it frightens me.

It is daring for MBC to produce a serial that deviates from the standard love story with an older woman craving for a younger man that she is willing to rot in hell to have him. Although the synopsis of this serial sounds grotesque, it is not really so when you watch it. And most k-drama tries to over-do the marriage part, but MBC was realistic to push the limits to have both leads marry, and then seperate! (You know how dramatic k-drama can be, even with engagements) Well done!

I found the script to be well written, and the characters are realistically crafted. Yeom Jung Ah plays the older woman Jo Yi-na, and Kim Rae Won her “boy-toy” Kim Byung-soo. Kim Sung Soo and Yoon So Yi play the abandoned partners of both Yi-na and Byung-soo.

The beginning of the story was quite slow paced, and I found it a little ridiculous, especially the parts when Byung-soo succumbs to Yi-na. But up to the point after the mismatch occurs, the intensity starts to heat up, and it really builds up after both couple got married. The question of “How will this mismatch end?” keeps bugging me as I try to finish the serial.

I want to commend Kim Raw Won’s courage for picking this role. Byung-soo is such an angel, and along the way he (sort of) became a fallen angel. He is brought up to believe in the goodness of man. Byung-soo is pure, kind and innocent (and basically sexually untouched!). He has never dreamed about anything else except to spend the rest of his life with Young-chae.

KRW’s performance at the beginning of the serial was consistent with the character. But after his loss of “innocence” (to Jo Yi-na. It was quite funny and refreshing to see the man doing the crying the morning after.), perhaps I had problems accepting a melancholic KRW. Maybe he was too successful as the playful Kyung-min in “Attic Cat” that I can’t remove that image from my head when I was watching this serial. KRW turned into a piece of wood with an expressionless face, with a dead and disinterested look in his eyes. I felt Byung-soo needed to exhibit much more pain, confusion and less restraint in the latter part of the serial which KRW did not provide to the role.

Surprisingly, first-timer Yoon So Yi’s portrayal of the equally kind, cheerful and yet sensitive Young-chae touched me. Yoon So Yi had chemistry with both her leading men.

The attachment that Young-chae shares with Byung-soo is so strong that she is prepared to forgive Byung-soo’s betrayal. And when she found out about Jo Yi-na’s “pregnancy” she knew immediately what is the next step that Byung-soo will take, and she let him go.

Initially I thought that Byung-soo would be the devastated one between the two, it turned out that the initially wilful Young-chae displayed her suffering much more openly. The look of hopelessness in Yoon So Yi’s eyes as she utter that her Byung-soo is gone forever felt like part of her died as well. The rage she displayed when Young-chae eventually found out the truth was also emotionally crushing to watch.

Mid-way through the serial, I had actually hope Young-chae end up with Hee-soo, a stronger and older man who will take care of her, versus a weak and silly Byung-soo. Unfortunately, Young-chae was never able to get over Byung-soo, and marrying Hee-soo was a complete disaster even before it started.

Byung-soo and Young-chae are like Adam and Eve, and Yi-na and Hee-soo are the serpent and the apple. The world in Byung-soo and Young-chae’s eyes is simple and straightforward, while as for Yi-na and Hee-soo, the world is all mangled and incomprehensible. The forced pairing of the possessive serpent with Adam, and the poisoned apple with Eve just turned the world upside down for all four leads.

I absolutely love Yeom Jung Ah in the serial. She gave the most memorable performance in this serial. Oh my, she is bad, really bad! But you can’t bring yourself to hate her. Her unstoppable feelings for Byung-soo, the lies she made to snatch Byung-soo from Young-chae, her guilt for all that she did, and the eventual release of Byung-soo and acceptance of Hee-soo makes Jo Yi-na an incredibly juicy role! On one hand, you will be able to feel Yeom Jung Ah igniting Yi-na’s burning passion for Byung-soo, and yet at the same time displayed that same level of callousness in the ways to possess him. There is also that sophistication that Yeom Jung Ah exudes that completely embodies the role of the love-hungry Jo Yi-na.

In the end I actually felt that the story’s is about Jo Yi-na and Park Hee-soo. This is THEIR story and not about Byung-soo and Young-chae. The angels were brought in to make Yi-na and Hee-soo realize what they felt for each other (noticed at scenes where the 4 appear together, Yi-na and Hee-soo will always wear dark colored clothes, while as Byung-soo and Young-chae are always in lighter colored clothes)

The men in this serial were not the outstanding performers. Similarly for Kim Sung Soo, he did not give a very natural performance as Park Hee-soo. Although he was exceptionally well cast for the role as he is handsome and sexy (yes, extremely sexy) and he looked very good with both the lead actresses, he did not have give the dark and complicated Hee-soo much depth.

Kim Sung Soo had similar expressions most of the time, and the only outstanding moment was the first time he admitted to Byung-soo that he loves Jo Yi-na.

The relationship that Byung-soo had with his foster parents was especially touching. The kindness and consideration displayed by both parents were magnanimous and unconditional. I wish I were brought up in a family like that, with such love and care.

This series is not really mainstream and it is understandable why it did not have great ratings as it is difficult to connect with the theme of the story. Most part of the series was painful to watch because the audience will be suffering with Byung-soo and Young-chae’s break-up. The performances of the key actors were mixed, and certain parts of the story did not flow very well. But overall the dialogue was well written, and the characters realistically crafted, and it is refreshing to watch a drama that does not have terminal disease, damsel in distress, and a perfect rich gentleman. Humans are complex, and this drama explored the complexities we have evolved ourselves into and the possibilities of our sick emotions.

My Favourites

-Young-chae swating in a field of flowers and singing to herself, and Hee-soo flashed the headlights at her
-Yi-na telling Hee-soo that her love for Byung-soo is like a seed budding in her and there's nothing she can do about it
-Byung-soo seeking forgiveness from Young-chae’s father the first time he betrayed Young-chae.
-Train scene where Young-chae told Byung-soo to freeze
-Young Byung-soo calling for his grandfather on the roof
-Young-chae lying on Hee-soo's lap thinking of Byung-soo
-Byung-soo decribing his pain of losing Young-chae as pulling a thorn out from his flesh, and the thorn will grow again, he will try to remove then, but it will grow again and again
-Jo Yi-na’s wardrobe
-Jo Yi-na’s assessories, necklace, earrings, handbags etc etc
-Park Hee-soo’s body!
-Jo Yi-na looking for Hee-soo at the airport
-Violin version of Yi-na's theme, very french!

I don’t understand

-How did Byung-soo ended up sleeping with Jo Yi-na twice?
-Why did Young-chae want to get married?

I wished the serial had given more weight to the movie making process in Korea, and perhaps the difficulties and sacrifices required to produce a movie. But towards the end, the writer decided to focus just on the relationship aspects of the lead characters, which was a pity.

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