For many of us who were born prior the 2000s, we remember bawling our eyes out to the forbidden love affair of Johnny and Jenny in the Philippine premiere of Autumn in My Heart. We remember our hearts breaking with Cholo while watching the deteriorating condition of Jodi in Stairway to Heaven. From then on, Koreanovelas have become regular programs on Philippine primetime TV.
As many today gush over “Descendants of the Sun,” here are some of the well-loved Korean dramas during the early 2000s.
Endless Love: Autumn in My Heart (2000) and Endless Love: Winter Sonata (2002)
Autumn in My Heart was only brought to Philippine shores last 2003, but it originally premiered in Korea in September 18, 2000. (Song Hye Kyo posted a photo on her Instagram to commemorate the drama’s 16th anniversary. Unfortunately, it was already taken down.) It was the first of a tetralogy called “Endless Love,” which are different stories for the four seasons of Korea.
“Autumn in My Heart,” which stars Song Hye Kyo, Song Seung Hun and Won Bin, begins with Song Hye Kyo’s and Song Seung Hun’s characters believing they are biological siblings until an accident lead them to discover otherwise. Eun Suh (Song Hye Kyo) and Joon Suh (Song Seung Hun) were reunited only after 10 years, but had to conceal their love by portraying they are still siblings. The twisted plot and superb acting made “Autumn in My Heart” a most-watched drama in Korea and later, a pioneer of the Hallyu Wave all over Asia.
“Winter Sonata” followed the same success as another Hallyu Wave pioneer in Asia. The drama centers around the love lost between Kang Joon Sang/Lee Min Hyeong (played by Bae Yong Joon) and Jeong Yoo Jin (played by Choi Ji Woo). Joon Sang and Yoo Jin were young lovers, until an accident caused Joon Sang to lose his memory including his first love. Years later, Joon Sang takes on a new identity as Lee Min Hyeong, and crosses path with Yoo Jin.
Stairway to Heaven (2003)
Following her outstanding acting in “Winter Sonata,” Choi Ji Woo returns with another heart-wrenching drama, this time opposite Kwon Sang Woo. They began being childhood friends until their bond blossomed into something more. However, their love wasn’t a bed of roses as Han Yoo Ri (played by Kim Tae Hee) continues to interfere and tragedy strikes one of the characters.
Trivia: Did you know that Park Shin Hye was also in the drama? She starred as the young Han Jung Suh (later played by Choi Ji Woo) and the drama marked her acting debut!
Jewel in the Palace (2003)
Jang Geum, played by Lee Young Ae, began first as an orphaned kitchen cook and overcame many hurdles to become the first female royal physician. Jewel in the Palace is based from the true story of Jang Geum, the first female royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty.
Having showcased excellently Korean cuisine, traditional medicine and culture, the drama was a huge success that it was shown in various countries such as the Americas and Middle East.
Full House (2004)
Who would ever forget Song Hye Kyo singing and dancing cutely to the “Three Bears” song? Song Hye Kyo returns with another great project, but this time in a romantic comedy.
Full House is a romantic comedy series focusing on the blossoming relationship of Han Ji Eun (Song Hye Kyo) and Lee Young Jae (Rain). Their personalities are complete opposite of each other, so many times they fight and pick on one another. But when Young Jae wanted to make the love of his life jealous, he convinces Ji Eun to be married to him for only six months.
Lovers in Paris (2004)
Lovers in Paris was well-received by the Philippine audience probably because of Kim Jung Eun’s likeable character and the spectacular location where the drama was filmed. The story takes quite an interesting turn as it centers on Kang Tae Yong, who is caught in the middle of a love triangle between Han Ki Joo (played by Park Shin Yang) and Yoon Su Hyuk (played by Lee Dong Gun), who is Ki Joo’s nephew.
Trivia: Lovers in Paris marked as Kim Eun Sook’s writing debut. Kim Eun Sook is a renowned screenwriter, who is famous for dramas such as “Secret Garden,” “My Gentleman’s Dignity,” “The Heirs,” and “Descendants of the Sun.”
My Name is Kim Sam Soon (2005)
My Name is Kim Sam Soon is about a pastry chef who desires to have her name changed because it was too old-fashioned. Sam Soon (played by Kim Sun Ah) meets the wealthy Hyun Jin Heon (played by Hyun Bin) after being dumped by her boyfriend and losing her job.
Although their initial meeting was set off in the wrong foot, Sam Soon and Jin Heon eventually fell in love with one another. Their love story has its own share of ups and downs as Jin Heon’s ex-girlfriend makes a sudden appearance and Jin Heon’s mother expresses her disapproval of their relationship.
My Girl (2005)
There was no denying the on-screen chemistry that Lee Da Hae and Lee Dong Wook shared in this first acting project together. Lee Da Hae stars as the mischievous Joo Yoo Rin, who has grown up expertly skilled in lying and fraud. Her acting skills are put to the test when she meets Seol Gong Chan (played by Lee Dong Wook), who asks her to grant his grandfather’s dying wish – to see his long-lost granddaughter.
Trivia: Nine years later, Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae worked together as opposites in the drama, “Hotel King.”
Princess Hours (2006)
Who wouldn’t feel kilig with Janelle and Gian’s love story when it was aired in the Philippines? Set in an alternate 21st-century Korea where monarchy was its form of government, the series focuses on the blossoming feelings between Crown Prince Lee Shin (played by Ju Ji Hoon) and commoner Shin Chae Kyeong (played by Yoon Eun Hye).
They were forced into marriage to honor the agreement Shin’s grandfather had with his friend, Chae Kyeong’s grandfather. They initially hated one another, especially the fact that Shin is still in love with the beautiful and talented Min Hyo Rin (played by Song Ji Hyo). Soon in their “married” life, they develop genuine feelings with one another.
Trivia: Prior to joining the Running Man cast, Song Ji Hyo made her TV acting debut through “Princess Hours.”
Coffee Prince (2007)
With the massive popularity that “Princess Hours” received, Yoon Eun Hye was on top of her game. Coffee Prince was another well-received series with an unconventional storyline.
Yoon Eun Hye sheds her usual femininity for the tomboy Go Eun Chan and hides her true sexuality to work at the coffee shop named “Coffee Prince”. She meets Choi Han Kyul, a third generation scion of a food chaebol, who is the owner of the coffee shop. The two develop feelings for one another (making Han Kyul his sexuality) , but Eun Chan’s identity is yet to be revealed.
Trivia: Doesn’t the actor playing Choi Han Kyul look familiar? If you have seen the phenomenal Korean zombie movie “Train to Busan” you will definitely know who he is!
Boys Over Flowers (2009)
Of course, we have reserved the best for last. Although many are familiar with “Meteor Garden” from Taiwan and “Hana Yori Dango” from Japan, the Korean remake received much love by the Filipinos. The series catapulted Lee Min Ho (who plays the wealthy and arrogant Gu Jun Pyo) into superstardom.
The series revolves around Geum Jan Di (played by Gu Hye Sun) and the wealthy and notorious F4 – Gu Jun Pyo (Lee Min-ho), Yoon Ji Hoo (Kim Hyun-joong), So Yi Jung (Kim Bum), and Song Woo Bin (Kim Joon).
Which among the series have you watched already? Share us your memories of watching these early K-Dramas by commenting below!
Written by Cheska de Ocampo / Featured photo design by Cyril Marfil