"Who are the best in their fields that the heart must come before ability, honor and money... "
"The attitude should be wholehearted and truthful."
-Bae Yong Joon-

Friday, September 27, 2013

[Flash Back] WLS - a legend is born [part 1/2]

"Maybe some of you already read this post before. But for those who have not read yet, this time I want to share it again, some (flash back) of the stories behind Winter Sonata (which has been shared by sister BB in her blog). This post is a quite long. But it is very interesting to read.
AH!! I strongly agree with PD Yun when he said that (you can read at the end of this post) " Although Bae Yong Joon appears to be the most tender lover…...But if he were standing in front of you, you’ll be thinking he’s the manliest of all the men." That was also what I think about him all of this time, although I often say that he is beautiful. But still, for me he is very manly. So Yes!! He is the manliest of all the men..heheh^^ Well, enjoy reading everyone!" ^^

source: bb's blog (thankss!!) ^__^

Original in Chinese: Close2yj / 俊心咏恒 loveyongjoon
Translated into English: Happiebb / www.happiebb.blogspot.com

Winter Sonata – A Legend is Born [Part 1]

Late 2001… PD Yun Seok-Ho, who had created a k-drama fever in Asia with his Autumn in My Heart, set up his own production company. He was just preparing for the TV drama Winter Sonata, the second instalment in the four seasons series, a joint project with KBS. Since whether or not his new production company made it or not depended greatly on this particular TV drama, he was particularly cautious. And it was during the casting decisions that he thought of Bae Yong Joon who had just made a terrific comeback with the Hotelier, and of course, he’s the same young man who was so helpless during his very first day of filming and was berated by none other than PD Yun himself.

At that time, KBS did not take too kindly to the idea of casting this rather strong-willed and somewhat stubborn star Bae Yong Joon. He had after all ‘walked out on them’ once. But PD Yun managed to convince them.

And Bae Yong Joon, in what many saw as a gesture to repay PD Yun for his kindness and guidance from Yong Joon’s debut days, took the first step to rekindle ties with KBS. He even voluntarily reduced his appearance fee for Winter Sonata. He accepted a super-low fee of 4.5m Korean won [approx US$4,700] per episode, this in comparison with what PD Yun had paid Song Seung Hun 15m Korean won [approx US$16,000] for his role in Autumn in My Heart. This marked the start of what was to become the most influential collaboration in Korean drama productions, with effects so far-reaching they were beyond anyone’s imagination.

When asked why he had chosen Bae Yong Joon to be the male lead for Winter Sonata, PD Yun had this to say,

“Personally, I’ve this sort of value system, that pure things are the most beautiful, that pure love is beautiful. So, I’m very concerned about projecting this image, this impression. It’s only natural that I will only want actors who are able to convey this impression of absolute purity.

Bae Yong Joon possesses this sort of aura that’s all clean and pure, a quality that’s not easy to comprehend or replicate. In him, we can see quite many different sides and qualities, like purity, romance... even sensuality and sexiness. And all of these are suitable for all of our scenes in the drama. The role of Jun Sahng in Winter Sonata, he’s really the most suitable choice.”

When PD Yun recalled the very first time he laid eyes on Bae Yong Joon,

“That was in 1994. I met Bae Yong Joon for the first time when I was directing Love’s Greetings. At that time, I’d already felt there’s this quality of absolute purity that’s quite princely. That was his debut, and he was naturally tensed and nervous. But even then, that clean-cut, pure quality that came through so naturally, that’s something that I’ve not come across in all of the actors I’ve met. So, I still haven’t forgotten about that special quality up till now.”

“Years later, when I met Bae Yong Joon again for Winter Sonata, I sensed that Yong Joon has matured. Now, he’s more adept in grasping and expressing the feelings of love and of sadness. He’s one of the rare few who brings to my mind a clean quality that reminds me of a child. Very rare and precious, indeed!”

Winter Sonata started filming on 7th Dec 2001. Bae Yong Joon was supposed to take on two roles: The pure and melancholic high school student Kang Jun Sahng, and the bright and cheerful American Korean Lee Min Hyung. Bae Yong Joon was greatly troubled over the interpretation of an 18-year-old student. He struggled with how to portray that character convincingly.

[bb: it's kindda hard to believe that it's been over four years since WLS was aired. and while crowfeet and fine lines have found their way to my face, wuri yong joon's still looking good as ever! and some people have only watched WLS recently, and despite the time lag, they still find themselves being drawn to the drama, to the man. goes to show good dramas and fine men are timeless, huh?]

“The two characters’ names are different, their personalities are different too. So when we finished the first two episodes and started on the third, I felt as though I had already finished one drama and was about to start on a new drama. It was difficult for me to play that role of the high school student.

Well, for one, I’m no longer at the age of a high school student. So I kept worrying about whether the audience would be able to see the role that I played as a real high school student. That gave me quite a fair bit of stress."

In the beginning, Yong Joon even suggested to the production team to just get a real high school student to play that role in those first few episodes. But one of the highlights of the drama was that when Yujin saw Lee Min Hyung’s face ten years later, that face had to be the same as the 18-year-old Jun Sahng. PD Yun kept giving him encouragement and motivated him to try. After much consideration, Yong Joon finally faced up to the task and took up the difficult challenge of portraying that young Jun Sahng.

Haha, but even though wuri yong joon had played both roles, in the beginning it was still difficult for me to believe they were played by the same person. He looked so different! And apparently I ain’t the only one who had thought this way. A fan said this, I think…

“The Jun Sahng that Bae Yong Joon had played was a very interesting character. He’s so full of colours, there’re different layers to him. The impression I had gotten was of sadness, loneliness, reticence, sensitivity, a bit of rebellion, willfulness… a young man seemed cold and standoffish on the surface, but as so kind and tender inside. That pure young man who’d got a hidden playfulness and liveliness deep inside him, and who yearned so much for fatherly love. At the age of 30, to play a 18-year-old young man with such a complicated makeup… surely that wasn’t easy.”

“In terms of outward appearance, he was dressed like a 18-year-old. But more than that, his expressions and actions were even more flawless. The way he stood, sat and walked were all so different from the all grown-up Lee Min Hyung.”

“… Snowball fights, that happy and carefree look in his eyes when he made the little snowmen kiss… the playfulness was just so young. That sort of liveliness and that sort of sadness that only a 18-year-old boy can have… that’s even more difficult to portray than a cute and carefree 18-year-old girl. Those expressions that were uniquely 18-year-old, the nuances and little touches, I can’t figure out how he had managed to bring them all out so convincingly. I’ve read the so-called screenplay, but there wasn’t much description about the expressions and all that. When I first watched it, I had even suspected that they had gotten another young man who looked like him to play the role. I even checked the actors’ names in the cast, just to be sure.”

[bb: yea, just have a look at all these screencaps. it's unimaginable how wuri yong joon has put in so much life and soul into a 18-year-old. the expressions were all so accurately and precisely captured!

i've always thought wuri yong joon's acting in WLS was underrated. lots of people thought it's real easy to do those two roles of jun sahng and min hyung. know what i think? i think it's very easy to go overboard in terms of portraying those two characters. when for a grown man to play a 18-year-old, it's so easy to overdo it and come across as too-cute or too much of acting cute. can be quite obnoxious, if you ask me. and with min hyung, it's not just about looking food in winter clothes and scarves, it's about how he made us believe in love. easy? i don't think so, you know.]

During the shooting, Yong Joon had also tried different ways of expression and acting. This time, he had deliberately not read the script ahead of time, because he no longer wanted to act ‘systematically and methodically’. He stressed that he hoped to show a more natural style of acting in Winter Sonata.

“Even if it’s just breathing… even single action and gesture will be natural. For instance, if we drop a prop or something during filming, I’ll just pick up the object quietly and carry on with the acting, as if nothing happened. I’m already tired of acting in the old way of reading and memorizing every single line in the script, and then act in the practiced and rehearsed manner. I would like my performance to be more natural, as if everything’s just flowing out naturally from life.”

The female lead in Winter Sonata was none other than Choi Ji Woo, the actress who had starred opposite Yong Joon in First Love in 1996.

The two people who had worked together before, met again on Winter Sonata five years later and they worked seamlessly well together. Together, they created many sweet scenes, some very beautiful scenes and of course, some awfully touching scenes too. Yong Joon also took the lead in ensuring and maintaining the relaxed and happy atmosphere on set. Everyone behind the scene, including PD Yun, were all ecstatic with his transformation from before. They said, “The lines of his shoulders line softer and more relaxed now.”

The two young scriptwriters Kim Eun Hee and Yoon Eun Kyeong also said this of him in the most sincere of tone:

“He really has the manners and behaviour of an older brother. Oh, maybe I should say he’s got the very traits of the oldest boy in the family? In Korea, the oldest boy in the family will be taught to be courteous to his elders and to help his juniors solve problems and all that. Although I can’t be sure Bae Yong Joon is the oldest in his family, whenever I see how he reaches out willingly to help his juniors or the younger crew members, I would feel he’s just like my big brother.”

[bb: Yes, we all know he is the oldest boy in his family, the only boy in fact... and oh btw, i remember reading somewhere that the scriptwriters were kindda quite taken with how handsome wuri yong joon was and all. but coz min hyung was sort of a like casual dresser, they were so happy to have created a scene in WLS for yong joon to be dressed in formal suits. and yes, just as they had expected it, he was absolutely dashing in that scene where he wore a dark suit to the corporate function where yujin wore chaelin's dress. ah... and yes, once again, i digressed... sighs... some things never change!]

In contrast to the relaxed atmosphere on set, the filming process was at the same time tensed and difficult. PD Yun is someone who will give up his soul just to present the most perfect scene on the screen. Just to capture that fleeting moment of sunrise, he would wait patiently for house until the sun rises above the horizon. And if he had to go to the top of the mountain for that rainbow shot, then he would lug his camera and go up there without hesitation. And sometimes halfway through a shooting, he discovered an even better setting, then they would give up everything they had shot before and moved everyone and everything to the better place..

It was because of this single-minded pursuit for the best that they created scene after scene of beautiful memories for us. But it’s also because of this that the entire team gave much more time, effort and energy than other teams on other drama production. This, coupled with the fact that Korean dramas are filmed as they’re being aired, tired everyone out. Bae Yong Joon, as the male lead, had to shoulder a lot of the filming and I guess you can imagine the burden upon his shoulders. And, not to forget, wuri Yong Joon is probably as much of a perfectionist as PD Yun.

During the filming of Winter Sonata, Yong Joon slept an average of two to three hours a day. He even had a record of going through four straight days of filming without any sleep. Once, after a few nights of continuous filming, when Min Hyung was lying on the hospital bed and Yujin was sitting by his bedside pouring her heart out, Yong Joon finally could not fight the sleepiness in him. Hee, he fell asleep during filming and even started to snore. Choi Ji Woo who was prepping herself for the scene could not help but laugh at that. Even the honcho PD Yun also had an experience of falling asleep on the floor right after he okayed a scene. Funny incidents that mostly related to people falling asleep were aplenty, and became classic topics for conversation amongst the cast and crew.

[bb: hee... wuri yong joon even mastered the art of sleeping whilst standing! still looking absolutely, heartbreakingly handsome!]

What we saw on-screen were the beautiful wintry scenes, so beautiful they might as well have come straight from paintings. But the actors and actresses sure had a tough time filming in the cold and in the snow. Especially since Winter Sonata was supposedly a contemporary drama with a bit of a purist slant, the two leads could not possibly be huddled in big and puffy winter coats to sprout lovey-dovey words. They wore clothes that made them more stylish than warm and often had to shoot in the cold, the temperature reaching below 20 degree Celsius sometimes. The hardship was more than anyone could imagine.

incidentally, you can watch the clip of how they had made the scene above here, courtesy of foreverbyj. just click on the exclusive kissing vod link, then click on 56k or broadband, depending on your connection.

When they were filming the part up in the ski resort where Min Hyung was asking Yujin who she really loved, the snowflakes that were blowing all over very quickly got into their hair. The actors’ faces and tongues were so cold that they were hardly functioning. They kept saying their lines wrong and had many NG takes...


In the end, Yong Joon even fell ill due to the harsh weather and also from fatigue. He had to be sent to the hospital for drip. When the assistant PD wanted Yong Joon to stay on to recuperate in the hospital, and was planning to push back the filming schedule, wuri Yong Joon insisted on returning to the set to resume filming. Looking at how he was still on the drip and filming, and how he tried to keep himself alert with medication and cigarettes, everyone in the team was moved by his professionalism and dedication. Everyone said, “This is one special star.”

[bb: I digress a little here [again!!]… Just want to say it’s funny how CJW was able to take all these. Even in Beautiful Days where she starred opposite LBH, he too was rushed to the hospital from fatigue, but she was perfectly okay. I remember reading somewhere LBH too was totally amazed at her physical and mental strength, how someone frail as her could take the punishing filming. And I think she said the ginseng helped. Mmm....]

PD Yun also shared this, “Once we’ve spent more time working together, the truth is I’m amazed at how matured Yong Joon has become, I’m surprised by his masculine charisma. Although Bae Yong Joon appears to be the most tender lover… But if he were standing in front of you, you’ll be thinking he’s the manliest of all the men. This fellow is especially conscientious and serious when he’s working.”

[bb: I think PD Yun has nailed it right on the head. Really, that’s it. Wuri yong joon looks tender and gentle and all that jazz, but he doesn’t come across as soft or sissy. Despite the tender image, he’s all man. I love how there’re such contrasting qualities in him, the yin and the yang all balance out to give us one frightfully amazing man. Fire on ice.]

i'll end off this part with two of my fave pictures during WLS time. enjoy, and do check back here for part 2. hehe, i don't know when i'm going to post that though... 



  1. hello, nice to know u, i love Bae Yong Jun also... it's really nice blog u have...

    1. Hello umiali, nice to know you too.. Thank you for visiting my blog. I really appreciate it! Please enjoy! ^__^