Spring Waltz is a Korean television drama (K-drama) produced by the South Korean television network KBS. It first aired in 2006. The series is the fourth installment to director Yun Suk-ho's romantic seasonal TV dramas, Endless Love. The other TV dramas that make up the collection include Autumn Fairy Tale, Winter Sonata, and Summer Scent. The four series have no plotline or character intersections, but have similar fundamentals in the romantic love story. As an overall K-drama, Spring Waltz delivers a soapy love story about tragedy and a sordid love affair involving multiple people. It has several strengths and proves to be a strong K-drama.
The two main characters are Park Eun-young (Han Hyo-ju) and Yoon Jae-ha (Seo Do-young). When they were young kids, they developed a strong friendship. Since the last time they saw each other, their bond was something they held dear and part of what makes their love so strong when reunited many years later. As a young child, Jae-ha went by the name of Lee Soo-ho. While his dad was on the run from creditors, he took Jae-ha to a small village in the country where his father grew up.
In this small village, Jae-ha met Eun-young. At first, they were not friends. There were some severe issues, like Jae-ha ill-temper (due to his Jae-ha's father abandoning him) and no one in the village liking him (his father swindled Eun-young's mom out of a bunch of money). However, as circumstances would permit, Jae-ha and Eun-young grew close. When it came time to look for Jae-ha's father, Eun-young went with him. Together, the young children ventured from the sanctity of the small village into the busy streets of Seoul. There, they quested for Jae-ha's father.
Their journey came to a halt when Eun-young almost died from a medical condition. And while at the hospital, their lives changed and they would not see each other for fifteen years. Jae-ha met a woman who claimed to be his mother. His newfound mother and father took him into his care, changing his name from Lee Soo-ho to Yoon Jae-ha. Jae-ha went to live a normal life with a loving family. Fifteen years later, Jae-ha is a famous pianist, who is also very somber. He never forgot Eun-young and only left her because he thought she died during surgery. But, she did not.
In the show's present, the other main characters are introduced when the group meets in Austria. Philip (Daniel Henney) is a talented pianist who was never able to reach Jae-ha's level. Realizing he never could be great, he opted to be Jae-ha's manager. For five years, Philip has helped Jae-ha become famous and develop a successful career. He comes to the airport to pick up an old friend of Jae-ha's, Song Ina (Leo So-yeon). Fifteen years ago at a wedding, Jae-ha and Ina agreed to marry each other. It is childish love that Ina has not forgotten. After years of not seeing him, she comes back into his life to explore the possibility of a romance. While on the plane, Ina sits next to Eun-young, who won an industrial art exhibition and got a free trip to Austria for a prize. When Philip first sees Eun-young at the airport, he falls in love.
At first, the romantic pairing is Jae-ha with Ina and Philip with Eun-young. It changes as Jae-ha and Eun-young develop feelings for each other. At first their relationship is completely cold. Jae-ha is a jerk to Eun-young, but he slowly lets down his barrier and falls madly in love with her. The sordid love affair gets quite complicated with soapy, melodrama when both Ina and Philip realize that the people they love do not reciprocate the feeling. It leaves bad blood between friends and makes for jealousy.
Another complication to Jae-ha and Eun-young's romance, and an important subplot to the story, is Jae-ha's parents. They have a secret that must be kept a secret. The romance between Jae-ha and Eun-young is just the thing to bring the secret to light. The journey for the somber lovers to achieve happiness is a bumpy ride with lots of drama.
There are several aspects that give Spring Waltz an edge. While the underlying theme of a romantic love triangle is common to many other K-dramas, the story is compelling and the characters are sweet and likeable with strong performances. In addition, the overall melodramatic tone sets a great pace that makes the series hard to set down. The writing is general very good, albeit there are moments when the drama can get really thick. And while it will leave you rolling your eyes, it is still enticing enough to keep you coming back for more. On that note, the writing does a fine job unveiling key plot points, as well as the relevant details of the past (i.e., Jae-ha and Eun-young's childhood).
As for the characters, the acting performances and character roles are generally good. The main cast touts a strong lineup, with the exception of Lee So-yeon. In the case of Lee, her character plays a small and underdeveloped role in comparison to the other three main characters. For this reason, she never comes off as a really important or strong character. The other lead performers Han Hyo-ju, Seo Do-young, and Daniel Henney make great primary characters. The three have a good chemistry that works well for the love triangle. Han and Henney have an exceptional chemistry together, as Henney plays the guy who is in love with the girl (Han) he can never get.
Overall, Spring Waltz is a soapy, melodramatic K-drama that has many common elements to other shows of its caliber. However, it features several great leading performers and a delectable storyline that will leave you wanting to know what happens next. It is a sweet, yet somber love story that should not be missed.