Stairway to Heaven (TV series)

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Stairway to Heaven
Stairway to Heaven-poster.jpg
Promotional poster for Stairway to Heaven
L to R: Han Tae-hwa, Han Jung-suh, Cha Song-joo, Han Yoo-ri
Genre Romance, Melodrama
Written by Park Hye-kyung
Directed by Lee Jang-soo
Starring Choi Ji-woo
Kwon Sang-woo
Kim Tae-hee
Shin Hyun-joon
Country of origin South Korea
Original language(s) Korean
No. of episodes 20
Location(s) South Korea
Running time Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 (KST)
Original channel Seoul Broadcasting System
Original run 3 December 2003 (2003-12-03) – 5 February 2004 (2004-02-05)
Preceded by Punch
Followed by Sunlight Pours Down
External links
Korean name
Revised Romanization Cheon-guk eui Gyedan
McCune–Reischauer Ch'ŏn-guk ŭi Kyedan

Stairway to Heaven (Hangul: 천국의 계단; RR: Cheon-guk eui Gyedan) is a 2003 South Korean television series starring Choi Ji-woo, Kwon Sang-woo,[1] Kim Tae-hee, and Shin Hyun-joon. It aired on SBS from December 3, 2003 to February 5, 2004 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 for 20 episodes.[2] The hit drama received an average viewership rating of 38.8%, and 45.3% for the finale.


Han Jung-suh (Choi Ji-woo) and Cha Song-joo (Kwon Sang-woo) are childhood friends and have a special bond that blossoms into love. They both share the pain of losing a loved one: Song-joo's father died in a traffic accident and Jung-suh's mother died of eye cancer. Jung-suh's father (Ha Jae-young) marries an actress named Tae Mi-ra (Lee Hui-hyang), who brings her real daughter, Han Yoo-ri (Park Ji-mi), and son, Han Tae-hwa (Lee Wan) into the household. Yoo-ri is jealous of Jung-suh, making her look terrible in front of her mother, who begins to turn on Jung-suh. When Jung-suh's father leaves for work, her stepmother assaults her. She thwarts Jung-suh's attempts to study abroad with Song-joo, who then leaves for America alone. Mi-ra plots for Yoo-ri to win the affections of Song-joo. All the while, Jung-suh tries to be nice to Tae-hwa, but he mistakes her friendship for something more, and falls in love with her.

Three years later, Song-joo (Kwon Sang-woo) comes back from America, and Jung-suh (Choi Ji-woo) rushes to greet him. A jealous Yoo-ri (Kim Tae-hee) tries to stop them from reuniting. As they race to the airport, Yoo-ri intentionally hits Jung-suh with her car. Jung-suh is taken to the hospital where a group of people had just died in fire. Yoo-ri swaps Jung-suh's ID with one of the people to fake her death. She takes the real Jung-suh to her biological father's home. Tae-hwa (Shin Hyun-joon), still in love with Jung-suh, finds out what Yoo-ri has done, but seizes the opportunity to run away with Jung-suh. Jung-suh loses her memory, and Tae-hwa moves them away and changes their names.

Five years later, Yoo-ri is soon to be engaged to Song-joo. Song-joo decides that he needs to let go of Jung-suh and goes to the carousel they used to ride as children. He wishes to see Jung-suh just once more, looks up, and sees her on the carousel. Jung-suh, now named Kim Ji-soo, works at a small clothing shop while living with Tae-hwa (now Chul-soo). Song-joo rushes to Ji-soo and tells her that she is Jung-suh, but she doesn't believe him. Song-joo is determined to make her remember her past, and through a series of events, he and Jung-suh become close.

Jung-suh regains her memory when Yoo-ri nearly hits her with her car again and rushes to tell Song-joo. She forgives Tae-hwa as she knew he did it out of love. Jung-suh and Song-joo are happy together, until she discovers she has eye cancer. She asks Tae-hwa to take her away from Song-joo, since she can't bear to see him in pain. Gradually, Jung-suh's vision deteriorates into blindness. Tae-hwa tells Song-joo and his family the truth starting from the accident. Yoo-ri is arrested, and her mother goes insane and is admitted to a mental hospital.

Song-joo marries Jung-suh, who is now blind, with the blessing of his mother and her father. Jung-suh tells Tae-hwa that her one wish is to see Song-joo's face one last time. Both Song-joo and Tae-hwa ask a doctor to let them give Jung-suh one of their corneas, but the doctor tells them that they can't take corneas from live donors. Tae-hwa wants to grant her wish at all cost and commits suicide via car crash in order to donate his cornea to her. After his death, Jung-suh has the operation and is able to see again. However, Song-joo finds out about Tae-hwa's death and later on tells Jung-suh. She starts to feel sick again, and the doctor states that the tumor has spread to her brain and is inoperable; the same incurable illness that killed her mother. Jung-suh, realizing this, forgives Tae Mi-ra and Yoo-ri because of Tae-hwa. Both Yoo-ri and Tae Mi-ra feel remorse for their sins against Jung-suh, and apologize to her. Jung-suh dies a few days later at the seaside near her childhood home, in the arms of Song-joo. The ending scene reverts to the beginning scene where Song-joo is playing his piano by the ocean of the memorable beach house. He says, "Perhaps, that person (Tae-hwa) might have loved that girl (Jung-suh) more than me. But even though I say this, that doesn't mean that I loved her any less."


  • Kwon Sang-woo as Cha Song-joo
  • Choi Ji-woo as Han Jung-suh / Kim Ji-soo
  • Kim Tae-hee as Han Yoo-ri
  • Shin Hyun-joon as Han Tae-hwa / Han Chul-soo
  • Ha Jae-young as Han Su-ha (Jung-suh's father)
  • Lee Hui-hyang as Tae Mi-ra (Tae-hwa and Yoo-ri's mother)
  • Jung Han-yong as Han Pil-su (Tae-hwa and Yoo-ri's father)
  • Lee Cham (Bernhard Quandt) as Director Jang
  • Kim Ji-sook as Min Seo-hyun (Song-joo's mother)
  • Baek Sung-hyun as young Song-joo
  • Park Shin-hye as young Jung-suh
  • Lee Wan as young Tae-hwa
  • Park Ji-mi as young Yoo-ri


Recreation complex Lotte World in Seoul was used as a filming location, namely the carousel, ice rink and as the seat of Cha Song-joo's family business.[2]


  1. Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 Op.11 E Minor 2nd Mvt : Romanza
  2. Memories of Heaven (Hangul: 천국의 기억; RR: Cheongugui Gi-eok) - Jang Jung-woo
  3. Lethe (Hangul: 레떼; RR: Rette) - Kang Woo-jin
  4. Ave Maria - Rebecca Luker
  5. That's the Only One (Hangul: 그것만은; RR: Geugeotmaneun) - Jang Jung-woo
  6. Forever (Hangul: 언제까지나; RR: Eonjekkajina)
  7. Only Me For You (Hangul: 나만의 너; RR: Na Man Eh Nuh) - Kim Hyun-ah
  8. Remember
  9. Sad Love (Hangul: 슬픈 사랑; RR: Seulpeun Sarang)
  10. To the Beautiful You (Hangul: 아름다운 너에게; MR: Areumda-un Neo-ege) - Moon Ji-hwan
  11. I Will Protect You (Hangul: 너를 지킬께; RR: Neoreul Jikilkke)
  12. I Miss You (Hangul: 보고싶다; RR: Bogoshipda) - Kim Bum-soo
  13. This is Not the End (Hangul: 끝이 아님을; RR: Kkeuchi Animeul)
  14. Memories of Heaven (Hangul: 천국의 기억; RR: Cheongugui Gi-eok) - Park Mook-hwan
  15. Though I Am at the End of the World (Hangul: 세상 끝에 서 있어도; RR: Sesang Kkeute Seo Isseodo)
  16. Promise (Hangul: 약속; RR: Yaksok)
  17. That's the Only One (Hangul: 그것만은; RR: Geugeotmaneun) - Park Mook-hwan
  18. Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin

International broadcast[edit]

In 2004, the broadcast rights were sold to Japan for appropriately ₩1.2 billion, at the time a record price for a Korean drama export.[3] It aired as part of Fuji TV's "Saturday Hallyu Wide Hour" programming block.[4] The first episode received a viewership rating of 6% to 8% and went on to receive ratings as high at 12%.[5][6] It also aired on cable channel KNTV from June 4 to October 29, 2005.[7] According to a poll conducted by TV Asahi variety show SMAP Station in May 2007, Stairway to Heaven ranked as the third most popular Korean drama in Japan.[8]

It aired in the Philippines on the GMA Network in 2004, during which it received a peak viewership rating of 41.5% and an average viewership rating of 36.1%, making it one of the highest rated programs of all time in the country.

In 2005, broadcasting rights to the drama were sold to eight countries across South and Central America, including Mexico, Peru and Costa Rica.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kim, Hyun-ki (14 December 2004). "Korean actor wows Japan". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  2. ^ a b "Korean TV Drama: Stairway to Heaven". Korea Tourism Organization. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 
  3. ^ Shin, Hae-in (26 August 2004). "Keeping the Korea Wave washing onto Asian shores". Korea Creative Content Agency via Hancinema. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  4. ^ Kim, Lynn (23 April 2010). "Korean Wave: The New Generation". 10Asia. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  5. ^ "TV drama starring Choi Ji-woo records 20.6% viewership in Japan". KBS Global. 16 January 2006. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  6. ^ Kim, Krista (24 May 2005). "Quake or shine, Japanese want kimchi TV". The Korea Herald via Hancinema. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Winter Sonata, The Most Popular Korean Drama In Japan". Hancinema. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  9. ^ "Korean Drama to Air in Central and South Americas". Arirang News. 12 September 2005. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 

External links[edit]