Genre: Romance/Drama
Starring: Um Jung Hwa,Kim Nam-Jin,Shin Sung-Woo,Choi Jung-Won
Director: Lee Tae-Gun
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2004



Format: VCD
No. of Discs: 16



A married woman who falls in love with another man, and the young man who tries to seduce her… as well as the people who chase after them.
December Fever is the story of a dangerous love affair between a married woman and a dying man. It introduces us to people with double standards and other falsehoods, as well as people who sacrifice themselves for family. In addition, it’s a story of a father and his dying son as well as a tale about the conflicts between and their mothers-in-law. It holds a mirror to everyday life with comic and interesting characters.


December Fever differentiates itself from the conventional Korean dramas, with its apparently boldest content in dabbling with secret affairs, questioning moral values like commitment, responsibility in relationships etc. This is no longer a clearly black and white defined world but one with moral ambiguity and uncertainty.

It begins with a light-heartened scene in which an ordinary housewife, Oh Young Shim (Um Jung-Hwa) is piggybacking a toddler and busily going around the house doing her daily chores. At the same time, she is actually participating in a “live” singing program over the radio, and happily singing a love song dedicated to her husband, brain surgeon, Min Ji-Hwan (Shin Sung-Woo).

10 years ago, highly educated Ji- Hwan has chosen to marry pregnant 20-year-old, rural girl, Young Shim over his childhood lover out of responsibility. Apart from suffering the aloof treatment by his husband, she often has to fight back her tears from the incessant open distaste showed by her mother-in-law and younger sister-in-law. Both dismiss her not more than just a housemaid because of her poor, humble family background. Despite all these, Young Shim remain devoted as a mother and wife, who yearns for the love of her husband and acceptance and respect as the eldest daughter-in-law by his mother and sister.

At the same time, she also has to endure the omnipresence of Ji-Hwan’s childhood lover, who remains single and even at important occasions, often appears by his side in the name of a close friend or “soul-mate” as defined by Ji-Hwan; when once questioned by Young Shim. A chain of unexpected hilarious events let Young Shim got acquainted with a 27 year-old undergraduate, Park Jeong Woo (Kim Nam-Jin). Their similar family background forges the initial bond of their friendship.

Talented architect-to-be Jeong Woo has interrupted his university academic course a few times due to financial problems. For his brother-in-law was a troublemaker and often has to be bailed him out. His ex girlfriend, Song Ji-Hye (Choi Jung-Won) has ditched him and married better-off Ji-hwan’s younger brother, a surgeon himself too. But Ji-Hye and Jeong Woo still like each other and under her initiative, both continue their contact secretly. In an attempt to cover up her secret affair, Ji-Hye ended up hurting Jeong Woo. Unknowingly to anyone, Jeong Woo’s world shatters to pieces upon being diagnosed with only a mere 3-months lifespan due to a serious brain tumor. He decided to use Young Shim as a means to revenge on Ji-Hye.

Ostensibly, his decision sparks off a beginning of a ill-fated, touching relationship between him and older, married Young Shim. It has actually blossoms into one that transcends over the age, societal acceptance and biasness. Would he, despite his grave sickness, able to save Young Shim, a damsel in distress? Or in fact, is it a twist of roles, Young Shim, saves him from the coldness and loneliness? Should it not be Ji-Hye, who claims to love him whole-heartedly, till death parts them?

In spite of the actual larger age-gap between the lead cast, Kim Nam-Jin and Um Jung Hwa, they have exhibited flawless chemistry and their on-screen compatibility is convincing and definitely comfortable to the audience. Hunky Nam-Jin, although from model beginnings, has proven to be a relatively good actor. It is no wonder that Jung Hwa, a singer in real life, gets to show off her golden voice with ease in the show.

Compared to the typical tear-jerky man-woman relationship, I think the plot is extremely engaging and well written in character development. And it slowly begins from the elements of hilarity, happiness, sadness, and heart-breaking ending.

The various characters reflect the different facets and obligations of life. Apparently, nothing is not what is seemed. Through Jeong Woo, his responsibility of being a filial, good son and brother inevitably is a priority over his own desires and dreams. Ji-Hye, on the surface, is a blissfully just-married wife but still secretly seeks the attention and love of her ex-boyfriend. Ji-Hwan, is a responsible father but has not been a caring husband till his realization of his true feelings towards his wife, Young Shim. All it came just too late. Young Shim, still as innocent as the rural girl 10 years ago, thought that her biggest blessing was to marry Ji-Hwan. But only her encounter with Jeong Woo awakens her that perhaps she can have a world beyond being a dutiful wife and mother.

A daring story-plot that might not be favorable to the conventional likes of audience. But perhaps some blatant truth in it ruffles the feathers of the others.


(Audience-hooking with its hilarity, happiness, sadness, and heart-breaking moments)

Review by Alicia Tee


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