The Snow Queen is a Korean television drama (K-drama) that incorporates the short story of the same name, which was authored by Hans Christian Andersen. The series was produced by the South Korean network KBS in 2006. It is a somber love story about two individuals with painful childhoods who find love in each other. Along the way there are common K-drama attributes such as mistaken identities, love triangles, and all-around soapy melodrama. For K-drama fans, The Snow Queen is a must. It is very powerful and emotional; it will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you wanting to know what happens next.
The story begins in 1998. Han Tae-Woong (Hyeon Bin) is seventeen years of age and starting his first year at the High School of Science, which is a very prestige school. There, he meets Kim Jeong-Gyoo. Jeong-Gyoo is a mathematics prodigy and expected to be at the top of his class. Tae-Woong surprises everyone as he quickly shows that his abilities surpass Jeong-Gyoo's. At first, the two boys enter a rivalry, which includes Jeong-Gyoo accusing Tae-Woong of cheating. Eventually, they become best friends.
At the same time, Tae-Woong meets a bashful fourteen year old girl. They meet on two different occasions and develop youthful crushes for each other. On the day of their third date, something terrible happens. Jeong-Gyoo commits suicide after losing the International Mathematics Olympiad to Tae-Woong. Tae-Woong feels guilty for the death of his friend and forgot about the young girl -- whose name he never learned. Fast forward eight years. After Jeong-Gyoo's death, Tae-Woong felt so guilty that he stopped studying and ran away from home. For the last eight years, he has been living in a boxing gym under the name of Han Deuk-Gu. He has new friends and a new life, which he formed to forget the past.
Deuk-Gu's life changes when he meets Kim Bo-Ra (Sung Yu-Ri). At first, they have a very troubled relationship; they strongly dislike each other. Deuk-Gu's first exposure to her is in the hospital while she was undergoing a mad rage and threatening to kill herself. Bo-Ra has spent the majority of her life in and out of the hospital, as she suffers from myasthenia. As such, she never lets anyone past her icy cold emotional barrier. Slowly, Deuk-Gu and Bo-Ra become closer and the barrier melts away.
As the series progresses, the relationship between Deuk-Gu and Bo-Ra is enticing to watch develop. The two characters are such somber individuals, as they both have pasts that are just painful. They find strength in each other and the ability to feel and love. It is really interesting to see how they grow as individuals, especially Bo-Ra going from a spoiled rich brat to a caring person who you really want to see be happy. This change is thanks to Deuk-Gu. In addition, how well the two leads work together is also an appealing aspect.
Other strong aspects about this love story come from the various hurdles they face, which include Seo Geon-Woo. Geon-Woo is a medical doctor who works at the hospital where Bo-Ra gets treatment. He is setup on a blind date with Bo-Ra and the two have decent chemistry together. Before she acknowledges her feelings for Deuk-Gu, she falls for the handsome doctor -- but at the same time struggles to understand her feelings for Deuk-Gu. Then there is Lee Seong-Ri. Her father owns the boxing ring where Deuk-Gu lives, and she is in love with Deuk-Gu. It is a minor obstacle, as Deuk-Gu has zero feelings for her.
There are also other developments which prove to be a problem for the lovebirds. Bo-Ra's father stands against their relationship, as there is something about Deuk-Gu's past that is unsettling to him. There are some other developments tied into the main story, which I won't divulge -- let's just say they get pretty intense. In addition to the main storyline, there subplots like Deuk-Gu's best friend Choi Choong Shik and his courting of Seong-Ri, Deuk-Gu reuniting his mother, and Deuk-Gu returning to school to study mathematics.
Overall, The Snow Queen is a topnotch production. It starts off with a good lead-in to the main character's past and continues to develop a strong relationship between the two main characters. Their chemistry together makes the story enticing. The two leads are great together and their personalities compliment each other well. It is also important to note that while some K-dramas focus on melodrama that ensues from love triangles and villainous characters, The Snow Queen has no villains. The character's somber pasts and icy emotional barriers play that role. Regardless, this K-drama proves to be a wonderful experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happens next.
This release is given in anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color. The picture quality is excellent, providing a clear and clean picture with minor color distortions and compression artifacts. Both dark and bright colors are represented very well.
The audio is given in Korean 2.0 stereo sound. The track is dialogue driven and has limited use of the surround/stereo capability. The music sounds good; it is dynamic and vibrant. For non-spoken language options, there are English subtitles.
For extras, The Snow Queen comes with several featurettes and a couple music videos. The special features can be viewed individually or in a sequence via a play all option. The total runtime is 01:01:21. Overall, it is a decent batch of special features. I did not find anything so impressive or interesting that was really must see.
- Story Recap: is a featurette that recaps the sixteen hour feature in approximately fifteen minutes. There are brief interviews with Hyeon Bin, Sung Yu-Ri, and Lee Hyung-Min (producer).
- Highlights: is a featurette that has candid footage from the show (behind the scenes), extended commentary, interviews with cast and crew, and more. As the title indicates, it highlights some of the notable bigger moments.
- Music Video "First Snow Love": is a music video of "First Snow Love" by Kang Sung-Min.
- Behind the Scenes: is a featurette of more candid footage from filming the show. It is a sequence of blooper footage and interviews.
- Snow Queen Maniacs: is a fairly uninteresting featurette. It talks about a fan base of the show called "Snow Queen Maniacs". They are internet users who have manipulated scenes from the show. The featurette shows the original scene and talks about what the fans did to change it.
- Music Video "Love is... Painful": is a music video of "Love is... Painful" by Jo Sung-Mo.
The Snow Queen is a K-drama that tells the story of two individuals in love. Their journey to happiness is full of many obstacles, which include common attributes to shows of this caliber such as love triangles, mistaken identities, illnesses, and somber pasts. The show's two lead characters are excellent and have wonderful chemistry together. One of the most enticing aspects about the show is seeing the two characters develop and grow together. Of the K-dramas I have seen recently, The Snow Queen left me amazed, entertained, and sad at the same time. It is exceptional.