Stairway to Heaven (South Korean TV series)

Stairway to Heaven (Korean천국의 계단; RRCheonguk-ui 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 3 December 2003 to 5 February 2004 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 for 20 episodes.[2] The title of the show comes from the Led Zeppelin song of the same name, which is frequently used in the underscore.

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
GenreRomance, Melodrama
Written byPark Hye-kyung
Directed byLee Jang-soo
StarringChoi Ji-woo
Kwon Sang-woo
Kim Tae-hee
Shin Hyun-joon
Composer(s)Choi Kyung Sik
Country of originSouth Korea
Original language(s)Korean
No. of episodes20
Producer(s)Lee Jang Soo
Production location(s)South Korea
Production company(s)Logos Film
Original networkSeoul Broadcasting System
Original release3 December 2003 (2003-12-03) –
5 February 2004 (2004-02-05)
Related showsStairway to Heaven (Philippines)
External links

The drama is the second entry in director Lee Jang-soo's Heaven Trilogy which included Beautiful Days in 2001 and Tree of Heaven in 2006. The drama was a hit and received an average viewership rating of 38.8%, and 45.3% for the finale.[3]


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 (Kim Tae-hee), 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 who is the heir of his family fortune. 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 costs 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 wrongdoings 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 I. But even though I say this, that doesn't mean that I loved her any less."




  • Ha Jae-young as Han Su-ha (Jung-suh's father)
  • Lee Hwi-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 Charm (Bernhard Quandt) as Director Jang
  • Kim Ji-sook as Min Seo-hyun (Song-joo's mother)
  • Park Young-ji
  • Jung Ha-na
  • Lee Tae-sung
  • Lee Cham


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 (Korean천국의 기억; RRCheongugui Gi-eok) – Jang Jung-woo
  3. Lethe (Korean레떼; RRRette) – Kang Woo-jin
  4. Ave Maria – Rebecca Luker
  5. That's the Only One (Korean그것만은; RRGeugeotmaneun) – Jang Jung-woo
  6. Forever (Korean언제까지나; RREonjekkajina)
  7. Only Me For You (Korean나만의 너; RRNa Man Eh Nuh) – Kim Hyun-ah
  8. Remember
  9. Sad Love (Korean슬픈 사랑; RRSeulpeun Sarang)
  10. To the Beautiful You (Korean아름다운 너에게; MRAreumda-un Neo-ege) – Moon Ji-hwan
  11. I Will Protect You (Korean너를 지킬께; RRNeoreul Jikilkke)
  12. I Miss You (Korean보고싶다; RRBogoshipda) – Kim Bum-soo
  13. This is Not the End (Korean끝이 아님을; RRKkeuchi Animeul)
  14. Memories of Heaven (Korean천국의 기억; RRCheongugui Gi-eok) – Park Mook-hwan
  15. Though I Am at the End of the World (Korean세상 끝에 서 있어도; RRSesang Kkeute Seo Isseodo)
  16. Promise (Korean약속; RRYaksok)
  17. That's the Only One (Korean그것만은; RRGeugeotmaneun) – Park Mook-hwan
  18. Stairway to Heaven
  19. Bania u cygana – Zero[4]

International broadcastEdit

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.[5] It aired as part of Fuji TV's "Saturday Hallyu Wide Hour" programming block.[6] The first episode received a viewership rating of 6% to 8% and went on to receive ratings as high at 12%.[7][8] It also aired on cable channel KNTV from 4 June to 29 October 2005.[9] 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.[10]

It aired in Vietnam on HTV9 from May 2 to June 27, 2004.

It aired in the Philippines on GMA Network in 2005, 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. The series became a rerun after 10 years from 28 September to 27 November 2015 which transferred to morning from primetime on the same network.

In 2005, broadcasting rights to the drama were sold to eight countries across Latin America including Mexico, Peru and Costa Rica.[11]

It aired in Thailand on Channel 3 in 2006.[12]

It was aired in Indonesia on Indosiar in 2004 and became one of the most popular Korean drama at the time.

See alsoEdit

  • Stairway to Heaven, a 2009 Philippine remake
  • Cinta Sejati, a 2011 Indonesian remake
  • Лестница в небеса, a 2016 Russian remake
  • ឋានសួគ៌ស្នេហ៍, a 2016 Cambodian remake


  1. ^ Kim, Hyun-ki (14 December 2004). "Korean actor wows Japan". Korea JoongAng Daily. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Korean TV Drama: Stairway to Heaven". Korea Tourism Organization. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Stairway to Heaven | More Info". Crunchyroll. Archived from the original on 9 July 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  4. ^ Episode 8 –
  5. ^ Shin, Hae-in (26 August 2004). "Keeping the Korea Wave washing onto Asian shores". Korea Creative Content Agency via Hancinema. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  6. ^ Kim, Lynn (23 April 2010). "Korean Wave: The New Generation". 10Asia. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  7. ^ "TV drama starring Choi Ji-woo records 20.6% viewership in Japan". KBS Global. 16 January 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  8. ^ Kim, Krista (24 May 2005). "Quake or shine, Japanese want kimchi TV". The Korea Herald via Hancinema. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Winter Sonata, The Most Popular Korean Drama in Japan". Hancinema. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Korean Drama to Air in Central and South Americas". Arirang News. 12 September 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Stairway To Heaven – ฝากรักไว้ที่ปลายฟ้า". (in Thai). Retrieved 13 October 2015.

External linksEdit