Noriko Goes to Seoul Recap

I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about this drama special, but I decided to give it a chance and I am glad that I did. It was nice to see Lee Hong Gi’s serious acting ability. I mean, I knew the boy could act, but I almost thought that the character of Jeremy in You’re Beautiful was a little too childish and spastic at times. Now, I am not saying Hong Gi’s Min Ha wasn’t without his flaws, but I really did enjoy watching him play a more serious role. Takashima Reiko did a great job as well. I have always liked her acting and she and Hong Gi seemed to have good chemistry [NOT romantic chemistry].

노리코, 서울에 가다

Romanized title: Noriko, Seoulae Kada
English title:  Noriko Goes to Seoul
1 Episode Drama Special
Broadcast station: KBS2
Broadcast date: 10 September 2011
Cast: Takashima Reiko, Lee Hong Gi, Kim Ji Young, Ikura Manami, Oh Yong, Katsumura Masanobu, Han Jung Won, Ryu Shi Won
Synopsis: Noriko is a Japanese housewife obsessed with Korean music, in particularly idol-turned-singer Kim Hyun Jae [Ryu Shi Won]. When her daughter quits the track team and Noriko receives a surprise diagnosis, Noriko decides to go to Korea to participate in a music audition judged by her favorite idol Kim Hyun Jae to encourage her daughter not to give up. There she meets wannabe musician Kim Min Ha and they begin an interesting relationship of teacher and student. While Min Ha teaches Noriko about singing, she teaches him about life.

The show opens with a radio broadcast in Korean. We then cut to see Noriko listening to music and biking along happily. She smiles and greets those she passes by. When she gets to her daughter’s school, she wonders why she does not see Miyuki [Ikura Manami] out with the others. When she asks a fellow track member, Noriko is floored to learn that her daughter had quit the club.

Takashima Reiko

At her regular meeting with other housewives who love kpop, especially Kim Hyun Jae, Noriko is distracted. While her friends gush about Hyun-chan, make collages and scrapbooks, Noriko’s mind is on her daughter. Besides talking about Korean music, the women also study Korean. One of the members mentions that Hyun-chan is finally being recognized as a singer as he is being brought on as a special guest judge for a music program. If you audition and make it to the finals, you can sing in front of your favorite idol.

Takashima Reiko

At home, Noriko and her family are eating dinner together. Noriko tries to find out why her daughter quit the track team. Miyuki replies that she will never be good enough and never get a chance. Noriko tries to encourage her daughter to think positively by working hard. Sure, you may not get to participate in this race, but there is always the next one. Miyuki doesn’t wish to listen and says that even Noriko has quit things half way through, like the flower arranging. Noriko replies that was because she had Miyuki and became very busy. Miyuki then brings up her mother wanting to be a singer, but giving up that dream as well. Noriko uses Hyun-chan as an example which only annoys her daughter more. Miyuki says she will just grow up and be a middle-aged woman who sits at home watching dramas and chasing after singers. Ouch. She then goes up to her room. What a horrible thing for a daughter to say to her mother. Noriko asks her husband [Katsumura Masanobu] to help, but he says that if Miyuki won’t listen to Noriko, then she definitely won’t listen to him.

Takashima Reiko, Katsumura Masanobu, Ikura Manami

Later that night, Noriko watches TV crying. We then learn about her trip to the doctor’s for a routine checkup. Her checkup results led to a CT scan. Noriko is then diagnosed with lung cancer. Noriko just cannot believe it. She was just in for a routine checkup. How can she possibly have cancer? When an advertisement for the audition her friends talked about earlier pops on, Noriko wipes away her tears and listens intently. The program is for Koreans, but anyone worldwide can come and audition. Noriko goes outside and thinks about her daughter’s words earlier and makes up her mind to do something.

Takashima Reiko

Back inside the house, Noriko writes a letter to Kim Hyun Jae. She talks about her diagnosis and her desire to participate in Star Audition in order to give her daughter strength. We then learn that three years ago Miyuki was bullied and had crawled into a miserable shell. Now, it seems like Miyuki is going back to those dark times again and Noriko doesn’t want to see that. Thus she will go to Korea to audition to encourage her struggling daughter.

Takashima Reiko

So to Seoul, Noriko goes. She doesn’t give her husband or daughter the reason for why she is going. It is to be a secret until the show is broadcast. In Seoul, Noriko checks into her hotel and immediately begins practicing. When you hear her sing, you know why she gave up on her dream to be a singer. Now, while she isn’t completely horrible, she is nowhere near good enough for the professional level. How will she survive the beginning auditions?

Takashima Reiko

The initial round of auditions begins and Noriko is completely nervous. She is  trying to learn Korean lyrics and seems to be really struggling. Soon her number is called along with a Kim Min Ha. Noriko notices that a young man playing a guitar with earphones on is wearing a nametag that reads Kim Min Ha [Lee Hong Gi]. She tries to get his attention and he eventually takes the earphones off to hear them calling his name. They then go into the audition room. Min Ha goes first and plays his guitar and singing. Noriko is enraptured with his performance and claps after it is finished. Then it is her turn. She introduces herself and then begins singing. She is so nervous and shaky and gives a very underwhelming performance. The initial judges ask her to sing a Korean versus Japanese song. Noriko tries out the song she was singing earlier in the waiting room with no improvement. The judges stop her and then Noriko pleads to go on. She doesn’t mention about wanting to help her daughter, but wanting to meet Kim Hyun Jae. The judges decide to keep her on not because of her talent, but because of ratings they can get from such an ahjumma.

Takashima Reiko, Lee Hong Gi

Noriko is thrilled about passing the audition. When she leaves the room, she notices Min Ha giving advice to aspiring singers. He does very short little evaluations for money and then leaves. Seeing this gives Noriko an idea. She follows Min Ha out and when he demands to know if she is following him, Noriko replies that she isn’t and pretends to be looking around before following him once again. This annoys Min Ha and he wonders just what this woman wants. Noriko then asks him to be her teacher as it is strange that she passed the audition when she can’t really sing well. If he agrees to help her out, she will pay him more than he just got. Min Ha then calculates the fees to be worth almost 2 million won. Noriko refuses and tries to talk him down to 300,000 won instead. Min Ha refuses this and then brings the price down to an even million. Noriko then says she doesn’t have a lot of money and no place to stay. Min Ha then offers to show her a cheap room.

Lee Hong Gi

Min Ha then takes her to a quaint, traditional Korean home. Noriko likes the house, but is uncertain when Min Ha shows her to a room [his room] and says that no one lives there. Noriko doesn’t believe this, but she does give Min Ha the million and he points out the kitchen and bathroom and tells her that the lessons will start tomorrow. He then leaves the flustered Noriko all alone. Yeah. Noriko, Noriko. That was a pretty dumb thing to trust a young stranger.

Takashima Reiko, Lee Hong Gi

Later that night, a man comes out. Apparently he slept away the day. He then notices a strange woman in the kitchen. When his mother comes out of the bathroom, he tells her and she doesn’t believe him. He then shows her the shoes and the two go to the kitchen to see who it is. The open the door and there is Noriko eating noodles. She introduces herself and after things calm down, she tells the story to Sam Wol [Kim Ji Young] and Sang Chul [Oh Yong]. Sam Wol asks just how much money Noriko gave to her grandson. Noriko replies one million and this upsets Sam Wol and Sang Chul. Noriko wonders if it is not enough, but that isn’t the problem. They basically know that Min Ha is taking Noriko for a ride. What to do now? Meanwhile, Min Ha takes the money to buy a brand new guitar [that cost the full million]. We also learned that Min Ha always auditions and always gets cut. How can he teach? Noriko believes in his talent.

Kim Ji Young, Oh Yong

The next morning, Noriko goes to Min Ha and Sang Chul’s room and calls out to start lessons. Min Ha has his earphones on and doesn’t hear this, but Sang Chul does and begs his nephew just to give Noriko a lesson already so Sang Chul can get peace and quiet to sleep. The lessons start and Min Ha doesn’t even listen and makes Noriko do scales over and over again. He then says singers should eat to bring up stamina and the two go to a barbecue restaurant. Noriko cooks Min Ha’s food and pours him water. Min Ha does all the eating while Noriko does all of the serving. Min Ha even bashes Noriko’s favorite Hyun-chan. When it comes time to pay the bill, Noriko is left to foot it since “masters” never pay for their own meals. The “student” must pay. Boy is Min Ha taking Noriko for a ride. They then go to karaoke where Min Ha does all of the singing and Noriko never gets a chance at all. Lessons indeed.

Takashima Reiko. Lee Hong Gi

The two return home and Min Ha takes Noriko outside where he teaches her “Love Love Love.” Nothing like sprinkling FT Island songs in. Noriko shakily follows the slower pace and repeats after Min Ha diligently. Min Ha then picks up the pace, but Noriko can’t follow. Plus, she does everything in a monotone and can’t seem to get enough breath to finish the phrasing. Min Ha tells her to practice alone as his ears were starting to hurt. Poor Noriko. Where is Min Ha going? To his job.

Lee Hong Gi, Takashima Reiko

Min Ha works nights in a restaurant. This night So Ra [Han Jung Won] comes in with a group of friends. Min Ha obviously likes So Ra as he lights up like a little kid when she enters. His happiness comes to screeching halt when he sees who she’s with. Woo Jin [Im Jong In] mocks Min Ha for still working in the restaurant. The group then goes to sit and orders. While Min Ha is working on the books, he overhears the education talk and gets annoyed. He gets even more annoyed when they complain loudly about having no forks. He brings them forks and is immediately teased for his dream to become a singer. So Ra tries to stop Woo Jin and his cronies, but they don’t listen. Poor Min Ha does have it tough it seems.

Han Jung won, Im Jong In, Lee Hong Gi

The next day the lessons continue and this drives Sang Chul up the wall. He has been kicked out of his own room by his nephew and now he must constantly listen to Noriko’s singing. Sam Wol hits her son and tells him that he shouldn’t be sleeping during the day anyways. Good point. That night, Noriko vows that she will show her daughter just what can be done with hard work.

Kim Ji Young, Oh Yong

The next day is the second round of auditions. Noriko sings “Love Love Love.” She has improved quite a bit, but still has more room for improvement. But she is starting to sing with more emotion. She sings the song with tears in her eyes. The judges comment on her seriousness and Noriko says it is over wanting to make it to the finals to meet Kim Hyun Jae. This is what they want to hear and so Noriko passes to the finals. Meanwhile, Min Ha goes in and gives a great audition at the start, but then he stops playing his guitar and trails off. He is scolded for forgetting the lyrics and is sent packing. This rejection really hits him hard. Min Ha and Noriko go separate ways. Noriko home and Min Ha to drink. Noriko’s happiness at passing on to the finals is dampened by Min Ha’s failure. When she returns home, she lets Sam wol and Sang Chul know the news. Sang Chul isn’t surprised, but Sam Wol is disappointed.

Lee Hong Gi

The next day, Noriko tries to get Min Ha up for their lessons, but Min Ha refuses. Noriko brings up the money and that a promise is a promise. They struggle over the blanket and Noriko goes flying. Min Ha then gets up and leaves with his guitar. He goes back to the store where he bought it and reluctantly sells it back. It makes him really sad to see it go up for sale, used, for 900,000 won. Looks like he has made the decision to sell the guitar to pay Noriko back so that he doesn’t have to give her lessons any longer. Plus, it looks like he will no longer pursue music if he’s giving up his guitar.

Lee Hong Gi

Back at the house, Sam Wol invites Noriko to drink with her. Sam Wol then tells her about her three sons. Min Ha’s father was the eldest and had a beautiful voice. He passed away. The other son never talks to Sam Wol and we all know that Sang Chul is a lazy mooch. Noriko asks after Min Ha’s mother and learns that she got sick and died. After that, Min Ha’s attitude changed completely and he dropped out of school to puruse a career in music. This shocked Sam Wol, but she has placed all of her hopes onto Min Ha’s dream. What will become of him? Hearing all of this really strikes a chord with Noriko and I think she begins to understand Min Ha more and more and begins feeling for him more [in a motherly way, nothing romantic, like I said earlier]. When Min Ha gets home, he gives Noriko her money back and tells her he isn’t her master anymore and that she should leave.

Kim Ji Young, Takashima Reiko

The next morning at breakfast, Min Ha asks about a factory job his grandmother had mentioned. A distant relative works there. Min Ha apparently wonders if his grandmother could call her relative to see if she can get Min Ha in the factory. Sam Wol is happy that Min Ha has made a decision about what to do with his life, but is unhappy about Sang Chul rubbing in the failed singing career. Sam Wol agrees to call and Min Ha gets up and leaves. Afterwards, Sam Wol scolds Sang Chul for his insensitivity.

Noriko Goes to Seoul

Out walking, Min Ha runs into So Ra. He is happy to see her again. So Ra says she is meeting up with friends and then wonders if Min Ha changed his number. Min Ha replied he changed it long ago. So Ra asks for his new number and then starts taking pictures of Min Ha to put in her directory. You can really tell that So Ra probably likes Min Ha as much as he likes her. The fun is interrupted by the arrival of the stuck up Woo Jin and his gang. They tease Min Ha some more and annoy So Ra so she refuses to go with them. Woo Jin doesn’t like this and tries to drag her with him. Min Ha stops him, only to be punched. Woo Jin then continues dragging the protesting So Ra with him. Min Ha gets back up and stops him again and then a fist fight ensues. Great.

Han Jung Won, Lee Hong Gi

Min Ha arrives home and Noriko is flustered to see him hurt. When he goes to his room, Noriko goes to the kitchen to find ice. She makes him a compress and Min Ha takes it and just as he is about to apply it, Woo Jin and his mommy shows up. Oh. My. God. How lame can that Woo Jin be? He want crying to mommy about getting his rear kicked by Min Ha. Min Ha goes out to talk, telling Noriko to stay. Woo Jin’s mommy is unhappy to learn that Min Ha’s parents are dead. She then disparages him to Sang Chul and demands to be brought to Min Ha’s grandmother. Min Ha loses his temper and says to leave his grandmother out. He can handle things himself and not go running to mommy like some other boys. When Woo Jin’s mom insults him more, Noriko snaps and lights into Woo Jin’s mother. Min Ha and Sang Chul are completely floored by Noriko’s fighting spirit. She is fighting as if Min Ha was her own son. I think this really touches Min Ha. LOVED this scene so much. Takashima really seemed like she’d pop a vein in her anger.

Lee Hong Gi, Takashima Reiko

Afterwards, Min Ha gives Noriko some water and comments on her fight with Woo Jin’s mother. He asks if her throat is okay and Noriko absently replies that it is. Min Ha then wonders why she can’t sing like she just fought? With all that emotion and passion. Meanwhile, Sang Chul relates the story to Sam Wol who just can’t believe it. She is happy that Noriko stood up for Min Ha and said what she always wanted to say when others complained about her precious grandson. She complains about Sang Chul standing around while Noriko fought for Min Ha and then congratulates Noriko for standing her ground and showing that Japanese ahjummas can kick Korean ajhummas butts.

Oh Yong, Kim Ji Young

Noriko is outside when Min Ha comes up and hands her the notebook with his song that she wanted to sing initially, but her refused. Looks like Min Ha will be her teacher again. Yay! Just as they are about to start, Min Ha gets a call from So Ra who wishes to meet him. Noriko asks if it’s a girlfriend, but Min Ha replies that Sora isn’t. He apologizes saying they will start first thing in the morning. He goes to meet So Ra where he learns that she is single and not Woo Jin’s girlfriend. So Ra wants to see Min Ha singing on stage once more. She is sorely disappointed to learn he gave up on music. Min Ha’s good mood is soon spoilt thanks to the music talk. When Min Ha gets home, Noriko teases him again about seeing his girlfriend. Min Ha replies that So Ra is just a friend and moodily goes into the house. Mr. Moody is back once more.

Han Jung Won, Lee Hong Gi

The next day, Noriko goes into the kitchen and makes up a Japanese feast for the Kim family. They are happy and impressed by this. Noriko shows just how much she cares about Min Ha by taking his plate and filling it for him. How motherly. Sang Chul and Sam Wol tease Min Ha for not showing his gratitude and Sang Chul shows an exaggerated way which Min Ha reluctantly emulates.

Takashima Reiko, Lee Hong Gi

That night Noriko calls her husband and tells him to watch the Korean station. Hiroshi has no idea why Noriko wants him to watch, but he turns on the TV and both he and Miyuki are totally shocked to see that Noriko has gone to Korea for Star Auditions. Why would she do such a thing? The Kims asks what Noriko’s family thinks and Noriko says that they support her and will come to Korea for the finals. How nice!

Katsumura Masanobu, Ikura Manami

When Miyuki takes out the junk, there is a girl from her school waiting for her. Apparently something is going on at school Miyuki is not even talking to her friend at school anymore. Her friend says she understands why Miyuki won’t talk to her at school, but can Miyuki talk to her outside? Miyuki says nothing and just glares before going upstairs. Her friend then asks if Miyuki will reply to her texts. Again Miyuki says nothing. Talk about cold.

Ikura Manami

The next day, Hiroshi is on his way to work when he gets a call to bring an important document, meaning he will have to rush home and then rush to the office. He grabs the document and is on his way out again when Miyuki shows up! What is she doing home so early? Miyuki says that she wasn’t feeling good. Hiroshi wonders how that can be when she was perfectly fine when she left earlier. Miyuki says she went to school and felt bad and came home. She then shuts herself in her room. This worries Hiroshi, but he needs to get the document on time or be in big trouble, so he rushes to work. It was SO obvious that Miyuki was lying.

Ikura Manami, Katsumura Masanobu

Meanwhile, Noriko and Min Ha are shopping for Noriko’s final performance outfit. Min Ha is annoyed that it took 2 hours, but he stayed with her anyways. As they wait for the bus Noriko sees a poster about a band Island looking for a vocalist. Noriko then wants to know if Min Ha is serious about quitting music. Min Ha replies that he has already made up his mind. Thus starts a fight about Min Ha’s being rejected all of the time. Noriko would have no idea how he feels as she hasn’t tried like he has. Noriko tries to tell him to have confidence. Why doesn’t he when he has such talents? Noriko then warns that if he gives up so easily, he will regret it. Min Ha repeats the work regret and stalks off angrily. Typical.

Lee Hong Gi, Takashima Reiko

That night, Noriko is doing dishes and coughing quite badly. Sang Chul asks if she is okay and Noriko insists that she is. Sang Chul doesn’t really believe her since her cough is quite bad, but he leaves her alone. Later, Min Ha has returned and is sleeping when he hears Noriko calling out to him. He opens his door to find Noriko leaning against the frame, ill. He rushes to her and holds her and asks if she is sick. Noriko then asks him to take her to the hospital. Noriko can’t possibly die before fulfilling her dream, can she?

Takashima Reiko, Lee Hong Gi

At the hospital, Noriko is diagnosed with pneumonia. The doctor then says he wants to order a CT scan since there is a questionable spot on her lungs. Noriko then tells him there is no need. She had one in Japan and she has cancer. Hearing this shocks Min Ha. The doctor asks about surgery and Noriko replies that she will have it once she returns to Japan. The doctor then leaves after warning Noriko that lung cancer patients have to be very careful with pneumonia.  Min Ha asks if Noriko knew she had cancer and came to audition versus getting the surgery instead. Well… isn’t that obvious?

Takashima Reiko, Lee Hong Gi

Of course it is. Min Ha immediately scolds Noriko for being crazy and going to an audition versus going for surgery. Why didn’t her family stop her? Noriko then tells Min Ha that they don’t know. This really makes Min Ha explode. Is Hyun-chan really so important that Noriko would risk her life to see him? Noriko tells him that isn’t the case. Then why is Noriko doing this? Noriko then tells him about her daughter Miyuki and what she said to her at the dinner table. It really hurt Noriko to see herself through her daughter’s eyes. Plus, she knows Miyuki is going through a tough time and she wants to show her daughter that working hard can get you through. Noriko doesn’t want to disappear from her family’s lives and memories. She wants her family to look at her proudly. She wants to be a great and loving mother to Miyuki. Min Ha asks who says she will disappear. Noriko says it is only a “possibility.” Min Ha tears up and then haltingly takes Noriko’s hand in his own. Yep. It is official. The two have adopted each other.

Lee Hong GiNoriko Goes to Seoul

Back in Japan, Hiroshi arrives home to find Miyuki lying on the couch surrounded by manga and snacks. He asks her to be honest – has she been going to school? Miyuki defensively says that she goes everyday, but Hiroshi can’t bring himself to believe her. Should he call and check with the school then? Miyuki then runs up to her room and locks herself in. Yeah. Like that will solve anything.

Katsumura Masanobu

Hiroshi then calls Noriko and tells her to come home as he believes that Miyuki has been regularly skipping school for at least a week and now she has locked herself in her room. This hurts Noriko to hear and she promises to be home soon. Min Ha then comes back and asks what is wrong. Noriko explains the situation and how she has to go home to help Miyuki. Min Ha then reminds her of what she said earlier. Is she going to throw away what she has worked so hard for? Wasn’t this audition supposed to be her way of showing Miyuki how to be strong? Then he tells Noriko to tell Hiroshi to break down the door if Miyuki has locked herself in. Or the window and forcefully drag her out. Sometimes drastic actions are necessary. And yes, daddy needs a backbone. Poor Noriko seems so conflicted.

Lee Hong Gi

The two return home and Sam Wol immediately scolds Noriko for not telling them earlier that she wasn’t feeling well. Can Noriko still go on and sing in her condition? Sang Chul then holds up a sign saying “We Love Noriko” and says that he will be waving it for her. Noriko thanks them both and says that she is really fine. She and Min Ha then meets eyes. I think its kind of her way of saying not to mention the cancer. That night, Sam Wol and Sang Chul take care of Noriko by feeding her a healthy & hearty meal. Noriko then texts her husband to let him know she will be home soon so he should take care of Miyuki until then.

Noriko Goes to Seoul

The day of the final round arrives and the Kim family are eagerly preparing. They compliment Noriko’s beauty as she shows off her stage costume. Sam Wol gives her a drink to soothe the throat and Sang Chul has polished her shoes for her. Noriko thanks them for everything and Min Ha takes her to the audition.

Noriko Goes to Seoul

Meanwhile, back in Japan, Miyuki is still shut up in her room. Hiroshi goes to fix her breakfast and while he is looking in a cupboard, an envelope falls out. He reads Noriko’s letter to Hyun-chan and looks at the diagnosis that was with it. So now he knows. He immediately calls up Noriko who assures him that she is fine. He cries and apologizes for not being a help to either her or their daughter. Noriko then instructs him to break down Miyuki’s door. She is waiting for him and probably wants to talk as well. Can her timid husband really go through with the request?

Katsumura Masanobu

Hiroshi then takes a hammer and slowly goes up the stairs. He stands uncertain and says to Miyuki through the door that he will be busting it down. Just wait for him, okay? And please let him no if Miyuki gets scared. He does not want to scare his daughter, he wants her to be happy and out of the room. He admits his own fear and then slowly starts breaking down the door. He breaks the handle and the door opens. Miyuki sits clutching her stuffed animal and crying. When Hiroshi comes in, she cries in his arms. Back in Korean, Min Ha nods and smiles at Noriko’s decision.

Katsumura Masanobu, Ikura Manami

Miyuki finally opens up to her father [who I think might have told her about her mother’s illness as it looks like Miyuki might be holding the letter and other papers]. Apparently the girl the other night was Aya, Miyuki’s friend. Aya is being bullied at school and Miyuki wishes she could stand by her friend, but her fear of being bullied again was too strong. Thus she started ignoring Aya. Miyuki understands that isn’t right and feels really bad. Hiroshi then takes Miyuki to meet with Aya and Miyuki apologizes to her friend and the two make up.

Ikura Manami, Katsumura Masanobu

Noriko is fixing her makeup when Min Ha comes backstage with a big bottle of cold water. She thanks him and Min Ha says that Kim Hyun Jae can’t make it to the finals as he is stuck in China. This greatly disappoints Noriko. Even though she was doing this for herself and her daughter, she still really wanted to meet Hyun-chan. Min Ha then points out that he is her master and right there for her. Does she really need Hyun-chan? Noriko, teasing Min Ha, says yes. This annoys him and he says that he even wrote her a song and tirelessly gave her lessons, took her to the hospital and took her shopping for an outfit. How can she still prefer Hyun-chan? The two then smile and laugh.

Lee Hong Gi, Takashima Reiko

Noriko then gets a video call from her daughter and husband. Miyuki apologizes for not being able to come to the final round. Noriko smiles and asks if her daughter is all right. Miyuki nods and then asks if her mother is doing all right. Noriko replies that she is fine and then asks if her daughter can stand listening to her sing. Miyuki says that she can. She and her father will be cheering Noriko on through the TV. Miyuki then cries and says she misses her mother. Noriko smiles and says she loves her and will be home soon. Min Ha then says that, see, wasn’t he right. Noriko says he is the master and the two laugh again. Min Ha then asks if Miyuki is her daughter. Noriko replies that she is and Min Ha says the two look alike.

Ikura Mananmi, Katsumura Masanobu, Takashima Reiko

Miyuki then goes out to sing. Miyuki and Hiroshi watch proudly from home while Sam Wol and Sang Chul support her in the audience. Miyuki sings Min Ha’s song. He listens and nods, tears in his eyes, singing silently along with her. Her singing still isn’t the best but it still an improvement over the beginning. She can now put more emotion in her voice. The song is almost a love song, but could also be seen as a song from a son to his mother. It’s sweet.

Takashima ReikoLee Hong Gi

The day comes for Noriko to leave Korea. Sam Wol has positively loaded her down with various homemade Korean foods [lots of different kimchis]. Sam Wol complains that Noriko is leaving after they’ve grown to like her. It’s a very emotional parting. Sam Wol says her goodbyes and tells Noriko to eat well and be healthy. Sang Chul tells her to get healthy and come back to visit. Meanwhile, Min Ha is saying nothing, trying to hold back his tears. Noriko thanks the Kims for everything and Sam Wol complains wondering when they’ll see Noriko again if she leaves now. Sang Chul announces that the call for departures has been announced and he takes Noriko’s luggage. They go to the gate and Min Ha finally speaks. He knows. Noriko smiles and asks what. Even if Noriko doesn’t say it he knows. And like that, Noriko is gone back to Japan.

Noriko Goes to Seoul

Min Ha goes home to find a letter from Noriko saying she is his first fan along with the money from his sold guitar and the poster announcing Island looking for a vocalist. Min Ha goes and gets his guitar back. Looks like he’s not giving up on music after all. Good for him.

Noriko Goes to Seoul

One year later, Min Ha and Island have become highly successful. He goes to Japan to visit Noriko who is shocked to see him. Has she forgotten about him already? No, but why is he there? Since Noriko has not come back to visit, he grew tired of waiting and came to visit her. Noriko replies that she did not want to visit him until she was completely well. Min Ha grows serious and asks if she is still sick. Noriko says that she is on the mend, but she didn’t want to see him with her bald head. Min Ha compliments the hat she wears and says its all right. Noriko then says that Min Ha has gotten more handsome, but still hasn’t caught up to Hyun-chan. Min Ha then says that he is the new trend. Miyuki then tells Noriko that it is impolite to keep a guest outside and Hiroshi invites Min Ha in.

Noriko Goes to Seoul

As they go to enter the house, Noriko turns and thanks Min Ha for coming. Min Ha then thanks Noriko for appearing before him a year ago. Noriko smiles tearily and Min Ha says the same thing in Japanese. Noriko takes his hand and pats it. Mother and son united once more by a fateful bond.

Takashima Reiko, Lee Hong Gi

Okay. So a bit cliched in it’s plot devices [woman with a life-threatening illness deciding to do something special, a rocky relationship due to a fateful encounter, etc], but it is a nice family drama anyways. I am happy that Noriko lived and got to meet Min Ha once more. Definitely worth a watch. I loved the parts with Noriko and Min Ha’s developing relationship. I felt the Miyuki and Hiroshi storyline in Japan could have been a little better, but since more time was devoted to Noriko’s journey in Korea, it’s not surprising there was a little underdeveloped plot there that just didn’t seem to jive very well with the rest of it.

But other than that, totally in love with this drama. I am glad I decided to watch it. I highly recommend it if you like heartwarming stories, Lee Hong Gi [a serious Lee Hong Gi], and Japanese actress Takashima Reiko.


  • Did you see the poster of Hyun Chan that Noriko saw at the shops? It was Jang Geun Suk! That made me laugh, a little nod to his ridiculous popularity in Japan.

    I love Hongki, he’s pretty much my favourite singer in k-pop, so I was always going to watch this even if it wasn’t any good. Luckily, it wasn’t terrible. But he didn’t sing enough. We didn’t get one full song out of him. And I know it was more about Noriko, and her relationship with him and the others, but one song would have been nice. And when he forgot the lyrics in the audition. Well, he stopped playing and they assumed he’d forgotten the lyrics. I know they needed a reason to cut him, but Min Ha wouldn’t forget the lyrics! And if that isn’t why he stopped, why did he? That wasn’t explained.

    The FT Island references were amusing, just because I wonder, was it Hongki’s idea to have their practice song be an FT Island song or was that in the script already? And the Return album! I mean, they literally just used his real life band. It made me laugh. He got them to perform with him at Immortal Song 2, lol.

    • I don’t think that poster was supposed to be Hyun-chan as when Noriko saw Jang Geun Suk’s poster, she said “Guen-chan” and Min Ha commented on her love of Hyun-chan and Geun-chan. So funny to have JGS’ poster appear when he and LHG were in You’re Beautiful together.

      I love Hong Gi as well as all of FT Island. That boy has a voice that can blow you away. It’s really suited for the ballads and rocky-pop songs they do. I was also sad that we didn’t really get to see Hong Gi’s singing ability in this drama. Have the time when he was teaching Noriko, he was half-assing the singing so it wasn’t the best and when he was singing at the auditions, you only got a little snippet. 😦 I did wonder why he “forgot” the lyrics. It didn’t seem like he would. So what happened? Was there a story there? Who knows as it was all about Noriko, which wasn’t a bad thing. But just like with her daughter and husband, I think Min Ha needed a little more development.

      In a lot of dramas that star idols and stuff, it seems they like to make direct or indirect references to past works and their groups. So it probably was just what the production people wanted. Yeah, got to love how they redid the covers of the band’s albums for the show. Totally funny.

  • Ah, I was totally excited when I thought Hyun-chan was Jang Geun Suk. Oh well, i seem to be constantly missing things when I watch drama’s, lol. JGS and Hongki are really good friends in real life, they’re both equally as mental as each other 😛

    This show would have made a really good drama, instead of a movie. There’s so much to explore.

  • Anyone who know if this mini drama (movie) can be bought on dvd with english subtitles?

    • It can be bought on DVD, but not with English subtitles that I know of. As far as I know it’s only had a Japanese release and they usually NEVER release television series or specials with subtitles.

  • does anyone know the title song she sang in the contest. it is also the ending song as well? please tell me Im looking for it like crazy :s

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