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Autumn Fairy Tale (2000, KBS miniseries)
Autumn Fairy Tale was a major hit in 2000, directed by critically-acclaimed director Yoon Suk-ho. This series was so popular that it not only propelled the three leads -- Song Seung-hun, Song Hye-gyo and Won Bin -- to stardom, it also helped Korea to become a popular tourist destination for many Asians. In fact, this was also the first series to really showcase Korean dramas internationally.
Some might find the storyline to be pretty sentimental, as it tells the story of an undying love between two siblings, although they are not related by blood. Song Seung-un is Jun-suh, and Song Hye-gyo is Eun-suh, who grew up together as siblings for fourteen years. Due to a traffic accident, Eun-suh is hospitalized and requires a blood transfusion. It is then that the parents of the two children realize that Eun-suh is not their biological daughter. As Eun-suh's father probes into the matter, he found out that two female infants were born in the same hospital the day Eun-suh was born. After much investigation, Eun-suh's parents find that their biological daughter is Eun-suh's classmate and rival, Shin-ae, who had suffered through a much tougher life. Shin-ae hates Eun-suh for possessing a much better material life. Also, while Eun-suh grew up with her parents' and Jun-suh's love, Shin-ae grew up with a rather uncouth mother and a very abusive brother.
When the truth is revealed, emotions overwhelm Eun-suh, and being the kind-hearted girl, she choses to return to her biological mother. Shin-ae, played by child actress Lee Ae-jung, leaves with Jun-suh and her biological family for America and stays there for nine years. The show than fast forwards nine years later, as Jun Suh returns to Korea with his fiancee. Jun-suh is reunited with Eun-suh, but alas, Jun-suh's best friend, played by up-coming actor Won Bin also falls in love with her. As the story moves on, Eun-suh and Jun-suh face many obstacles which pull at viewers' hearts...
When this show was broadcast on TV, the love story between Jun-suh and Eun-suh was deemed by many as incest, although they were not biological siblings. Song Seung-hun is charistmatic as Jun-suh -- I personally felt that he portrayed the role of Jun-suh quite well. Song Hye-gyo's portrayal of Eun-suh was also compelling. It was impressive to see her tearing up so naturally in the drama's many heart wrenching moments. The supporting leads, Won Bin (Taegukgi) and Han Chae-young (Bet On My Disco), who played the grown-up Shin-ae, also complemented the two leads well. However, I thought Han Chae-young was a little underused in the show. Despite the general thumbs up performance of the leads, the most impressive performance comes from the child actors. The teenage Jun-suh was played by child actor Choi Woo-hyuk and the teenage Eun-suh, played by Moon Geun-young (A Tale of Two Sisters). Despite the fact that Moon Geun-young was only 12 or 13 when she played the role of Eun-suh, she shows her caliber as one of the best actresses around. Choi Woo-hyuk also impresses the audience with his good acting skills.
With a good plot and great performance by the cast, Autumn Fairy Tale proves to you why it has such a huge following. Overall, this series is worth your every minute spent watching it. (Review by Kit Lim)