Love Letter is a mini-series from the Korean television studio MBC. The series is conducted in sixteen hour (not TV hours, real sixty minute hours) long episodes. The basic story is about three people who get stuck in a twisted love triangle, but there is, of course, plenty of heart pounding drama surrounding the situation. The series covers the three main character's lives as the go from young adults to adults in the professional world. The mood and tempo of the series is heavy with drama, it's your basic soap opera with twist and turns to make you shutter and gasp with dismay and pleasure as you find yourself absolutely hooked.
The strongest point about this series is its cast. The characters presented in this series are developed very well, whether from the main cast or supporting roles. It becomes very easy to associate with them by despising the bad characters and caring for the good characters. Their emotions also pour out of the screen. Another attraction to this series is how the interactions between characters in past and present events develop extremely dramatic situations. While the main story us covered in the present, there are also past events that play a very big role in the show's development. It adds a very strong melodramatic characteristic that you'd only expect to find in a soap opera.
In the very first episode, two of the main cast members are introduced. The first of the two characters is Lee Woo-jin (Jo Hyun Jae), who is also known as Andrew. At a young age, Andrew was abandoned by his mother and raised by his aunt. Under his aunt's care, his childhood was full of many hardships. She never fully accepted him as her child and instead scorned his mother for leaving him with her. He was nothing more than burden to her and she frequently ignored him and focused on her own two children. In comparison, Andrew's childhood was a lot like Cinderella and her two evil step sisters. Fortunately for young Andrew, his mother's brother, a priest named Peter (Son Hyun Joo) saved him from a life of agony and turmoil and raised Andrew in an orphanage he ran.
The next main character is introduced when Andrew is nearing the end of grade school. A young girl named Cho Eun-ha's (Soo Ae) parents died and without a family, she was brought to the orphanage. At first Eun-ha is reluctant and cold. She is coming to terms with her new way of life and really wants nothing to do with anyone or the orphanage. Andrew being a noble and kind person continually makes an effort to befriend her. Their relationship slowly develops and an unspoken bond is created between the pair. In the second episode, Andrew and Eun-ha go off to medical school to become doctors. This is when the third main character is introduced. He is Jung Woo-jin (Ji Jin Hee), who is also studying to be a doctor. Eventually the three meet and the real story begins to unfold. Woo-jin and Andrew become good friends, but at the same time their friendship drives a wedge between the unspoken love between Andrew and Eun-ha.
Of course, there is more to the relationships than just Woo-jin getting in between Andrew and Eun-ha, because he never is able to break their bond. What really makes the situation difficult is Andrew's path in life. When his uncle saved him from his abusive situation, he decided he wanted to walk a similar path. He decided he would become a priest and that lifestyle left no room for the kind of relationship Eun-ha hoped for. Alone the main characters relationships and interactions are very interesting and the addition of several supporting roles make the situations even more enticing and dramatic.
While in some series the supporting characters are not very significant, the ones in Love Letter have a huge effect on the show. Dr. Kim Kyung-Eun (Kim Young Ae) is Woo-jin's mother and at one point was the temporary guardian for Eun-ha. She also has an odd relationship with Andrew, which turns into a very interesting development. Having three separate relationships with the main characters make her an important character. Dr. Jung Myung-woo (Jo Hyun) is Woo-jin's father who is a very bitter man. Despite all of the good in his life, he cannot overcome a dark event from his past. The story behind the tale is enough to warrant this show as a true soap opera. Jung Yuri (Choi Jae Hyung & Suh Hyun Ki) is Woo-jin's sister. When we first see her she is a young girl, who was born mute and deaf. At this point, her role is quite small, with most of the attention on the three main characters. However later in the series, we see her as a young adult and she has her own interesting love side-story. Finally, there is Father Peter, who has the biggest impact earlier on in the series when he rescues Andrew from his bitter aunt. As the series goes on, there is still plenty of drama surrounding Father Peter to entice you.
Overall, I really enjoyed watching Love Letter. Its characters and the stories driving their relationships and interactions were most definitely gripping. However, while I have praised this series for its entertainment value, it does incur a few dry spots where developments seem to move slowly. Fortunately, the overall mood and tempo are not hindered by these moments. Additionally, there are some situations that get slightly out of reality. Of course, while they may you leave you rolling your eyes, they will also make each moment more dramatic than the last. Needless to say, the somewhat out of reality situations do not harm the series, but heighten the drama.
The video is given in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The picture quality varies. For the most part, the picture has a fairly clean and sharp image, with a minimal amount of grain and minor compression artifacts. Frequently during quick motion, the picture gets distorted. The problem is there are approximately two hours of video stored on single layered DVDs.
The audio track included in this release comes in the form of Korean 2.0 Dolby digital stereo. The sound quality is quite good. All spoken dialogue is audible and sounds somewhat flat, which is expected with a dialogue driven DVD release. As for music, it sounds very full and rich and adds a wonderful element that enriches the dramatic moments. The subtitles included are in the English and Chinese languages. The English subtitles are professionally done and are extremely easy to follow.
Love Letter is not supplemented with much in the ways of extras. They include a standard photo gallery, episode synopses, character introductions, and storyline overview. I recommended not looking at anything of this information (prior to watching the series), because the story from Love Letter will be much more exciting as new situations and relationships develop. Basically, the extras are really only good if you plan on watching the series over a long period of time.
My experience with Korean TV dramas is limited to another MBC TV series, All About Eve. In comparison, I thoroughly enjoyed All About Eve more. It had more diversity in its story and even more appealing characters. While not as good, Love Letter is still a very entertaining and provides well developed characters. Watching those character's relationships develop, change, and crumble becomes enticing and gripping. The bottom line, if you enjoy plenty of drama, Love Letter is exciting. It's highly recommended.