(Warning: May contain spoilers for those who have not started watching THAT WINTER THE WIND BLOWS.)
With only five episodes to go, I am starting to get obsessed on how WINTER WIND will end. Only five episodes left and there are still sub-plots that are being introduced or hinted at. What makes this tricky is because the material is based on a Japanese drama whose ending was tragic (never saw it but based on what I read). The Korean film’s ending is not promising either. So if this is a “remake” as opposed to a production inspired by the previous works, then it should follow the same ending, right?
I’m still a traditional drama watcher. I want my happy ending. Whether it’s walking hand in hand down a road and into the fading sun, or getting lost in the middle of a crowded place, or since this is a winter-themed drama, frolicking in the snow… and sealing it with a kiss, that’s more than enough for me. I don’t mind if they use the symbolism of spring to signal new life after the harsh, cold winter. Hope springs eternal, after all.
But then we never know what can happen. Will Young die? Will Soo get killed? My Korean colleague Han-na and I have bonded over this across the miles (she’s based in Seoul and was sighing last week why she was stuck in the office when an intern went to cover WINTER WIND’s press conference on White Day) and she said: “Now I’m wondering who will die first: Young, Soo or the gangster (Moo-chul).” Yes, Korean drama at its best with all the terminal illnesses thrown in. Who’s next?
Meanwhile, I can’t sit still just waiting for the final episode to swing by the corner. So I’ve been re-watching previous episodes. Then I decided to re-watch the final episode of WORLDS WITHIN to see how Writer Noh ended it.
“If you want to film a good drama,
you should live like a drama.” – Jung Ji Oh
WORLDS WITHIN was not a hit, ratings-wise, compared to WINTER WIND. I guess Koreans found it too talky or lacking of makjang plots… or they just don’t like dramas made about dramas, since KING OF DRAMAS also suffered the same fate. But I loved WORLDS WITHIN. The lines were just so precious.
“True, it’s not bad to live like a drama.
A life that is about to end
can have a sudden turnaround
just like a drama.” – Joo Joon Young
Back to the time I was watching WORLDS WITHIN, I actually wondered how much of it was based on real characters and real situations. And whether it was an expression of Writer Noh about the world she lives in. To a certain extent, I’d like to think that the lines, especially referring to dramas and how they are done, are a reflection of how Writer Noh feels about her work, the industry and the people in it.
“All the endings in all different dramas
are nothing but happy.
In any case, it’s a world dominated by tragedy.
It’s a painful-beyond-words life, a difficult youth.
Everyone knows that’s the essence of life.” – Joo Joon Young
I am also curious if, aside from reflecting on the industry she works in, the character of Joo Joon Young–played by Song Hye-kyo–was also expressing on how the writer feels about life in general. It’s interesting because in episode 11 of THAT WINTER THE WIND BLOWS, we have Oh Soo reflecting on his life and how, that moment while playing in the snow with Oh Young, he has stopped thinking that life is unfair, because he was happy.
“Why must we reflect all these in dramas?
If it’s not hope, then there’s the unspoken value.
If it was a person who makes a drama,
he’d say that the tragedies in the world
are voices against the dreams of hope.” – Joo Joon Young
For sure, the prevailing message that Writer Noh always wants to impart in her work is hope. It may not be the kind of happy ending we want, the kind that spoonfeeds us like a wedding or kiss scene perhaps, but they brim of hope and the goodness of life. This, I deduced when I watched PADAM PADAM’s last episode. I did not watch this drama but it’s the same director-writer team so I got curious.
The ending shows Yang Kang Chil (Jung Woo-sung) and Jung Ji Na (Han Ji-min) chasing each other in a snow mountain. The snow reminded me so much of WINTER WIND, although owing that the latter is the new drama, the cinematography is much more polished and beautiful.
Kang Chil says that every day, there are miracles big or small happening around him. And he talks about what happiness is to someone like him who’s been through a lot.
“Because even if the world is scary,
That’s why I won.”
That’s also the same theme present in Oh Soo’s lines in that snow fight scene with Oh Young.
“For the first time since I was a child, I was happy.
I was no longer afraid of Moo-chul’s knife.
In my 30 years of life,
I didn’t feel unfair for the first time.
The world is definitely a fair place,
this thought came to me for the first time.
I shouldn’t forget this moment with Young,
so that when I receive Moo-chul’s knife,
I should never feel it’s unfair.
Hundreds and thousands of times, I remind myself of that,
but there are moments when I’m still afraid.
Then I’ll try to think again…
Till this moment today and the past…
The girl who must have been endlessly afraid of death…
Young… is in front of me.
My life is absolutely not unfair.
I’m happy now.
It can also be considered as a foretelling of what’s going to happen and how this will all end. But I also trust that Writer Noh is not the type of writer who goes for the drama and tragedy for art’s sake and not throw in something life-affirming and positive. She’s a far intelligent writer and despite how some say that she’s a cold writer, she’s not. She just has her own way of telling the story and I don’t find anything wrong, or cold, in it.
In WORLDS WITHIN, Jung Ji Oh and Joo Joon Young were chasing after each other in her apartment. The same in PADAM PADAM with Yang Kang Chil and Jung Ji Na playing in the snow. Will Writer Noh be consistent and we’d see a similar ending for Oh Soo and Oh Young, maybe, not in the snow though this is a winter-themed drama, but through a field of flowers to signal spring? It does make me wonder though if it’s a snow scene, will Jo In-sung pull a Jung Woo-sung in the final scene? If that happens, then it won’t be Soo nor Young who’ll die but fangirls like me who’d probably get a heart attack. But yes, please, that kind of scene won’t be a bad idea, although that would probably make Oh Soo, with his long, elegant coats, look more like a flasher than anything else.
Oh drama, what have you done to me?
“Even if one can make beautiful dramas,
in the world we’re living in now,
such a beautiful drama can’t be made.” – Joo Joon Young
I’m confused whether I should have GREEN, YELLOW or WHITE tea. Maybe a beer in this hot weather is better. I’d do anything to be in the winter world of Oh Soo and Oh Young right now.
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