Tree of Heaven

Tree Of Heaven (2006)
Hana (Park Shin-Hye)
Junsuh (Lee Wan aka Kim Hyung Soo) 

Tree Of Heaven OST …. Otto Kha Jyo (by Shin Seung Hoon)
I’m currently watching online episode 9 of this 10 part Kdrama series Tree of Heaven, which is comparatively shorter than the usual 16 – 23 episodes.  Unlike the recent romance-comedy which I prefer these days, this is another one of those weepies with a sad ending.  Perhaps I’m now a bit more immune to the latter as I find the excessive crying in this series rather grating.  The female lead Hana seems to be constantly crying over 3/4 of the series and though her character was trying to project her sadness, I felt it was kind of overdone. 
Too much of something is not always a good thing and one could show the same message through more subtle means …… through body language and especially the eyes which has been described as the window to the soul.  You can show sadness with a look and the occasional heart-breaking burst of emotions ….. a good example is the airport crying scene in My Girl where your heart really breaks for the female lead, when she could no longer hold in her heartache. 
The male lead character Yunsuh is at least better with the portrayal of his emotions but then you wouldn’t expect a man to be constantly wailing anyway.  He’s good looking with an intensity in his eyes and a great smile that could cause ones heart to skip a beat.  His portrayal of being autistic wasn’t very realistic though as a search on autism reveals a different description.  He didn’t have the disorder until age 10 when his mother died ….. autism is a developmental disorder from infancy (info from autism fact sheet).  He suddenly spoke again at age 20 and therefter behaved just like any normal person, which doesn’t seem consistent with autistic behavior.  In the story, he was so normal that he became a member of the Yakuza which I thought was rather unbelievable though he does look good in that role. 
The gist of the story is that as step siblings (her Japanese mum married his Korean dad) they cannot fall in love even if they are not blood related.  Hana had to distance herself from Yunsuh but love being sometimes illogical, they just couldn’t keep away from each other.  Though their parents later died in an accident which released them from their ties, his involvement in the Yakuza made it too dangerous for him to keep her close …. and so there you get this bittersweet love story of loving someone but not being able to be together, sigh ……

I only found out a bit later from some forum discussion that at the time of filming (2006), Park Shin Hye was barely 16 while Lee Wan was 22.  No wonder their kissing scenes were so chaste and there’s no mouth-to-mouth, merely pecks on the cheek because she was then underage.  A bit of a pity as it doesn’t convey the deep passion they both felt.  So all they could show was the smouldering gaze and just-a-breath-away closeness and then a gentle peck on the cheek ….. feels kind of incomplete.  I like one particular scene with them palm-to-palm as he gently kissed her on her forehead, all done with both of them on either side of a windowpane (at 4:00 in above clip).  That was beautiful, though no actual contact but oh so romantic. 
After the final episode, I think I’ll go watch another series in which he acted, titled Snow White (2004). 
Update:  Ok, the final episode was heart-breaking and I take back what I said above about being immune to weepies.  Wish this story had a happy ending instead …. Broken heart
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