CAST:  Jun Ji-hyun and Lee Jung-jae

In a beautiful and peaceful lake stands a house and a pretty mail box, this serene place is called “iL Mare”. 

A young woman is living there and we see her writing a note before she moves out of the house leaving a  letter in the mailbox.  

We shift to a man, Sung-hyun, settling at the lake house.  He happily talks to the woman who recommended the house. 

Settling to their new cribs the man and the woman go on with their lives.  The lady, Kim Eun Joo, works as a voice talent where as Sung-hyun has a job in the construction field. 

Christmas season comes and she walks alone and sad while the holiday spirit spreads in the street.  He is also melancholic staring at a Christmas tree he lights at the lake house. 

Sung-hyun then notices the mailbox and opens it, and there he finds a letter dated two years ago, greeting him of a Happy Christmas and asking him to forward letters that are meant for her.

Eun-joo goes home to her apartment hopeful of getting a call from her man but she ended up being disappointed.

Sung-hyun goes to a local store to buy some cigarettes and he was asked by the vendor why he named the house.  He explains that “iL Mare” means “the Sea”.  He asks if someone used to live in the house but he is told that it was just built a month ago.  He leaves the store and when he goes home he  finds a puppy outside the house. 

He takes care of the strayed puppy and keeps him as his pet.  While he is painting a miniature house, the paint is spilled and the puppy steps onto it, and then he runs inside the house where it leaves painted paw prints.  He suddenly remembers that the postcard he got said that the paw prints were already there when the previous owner arrived.

Eun-joo visits the local store and talks with the owner.  She asks if the house has been sold and also asked permission to visit it.  She relives those memories of her reading letters from someone special, and she smiles at the thought of it.

Sung-hyun sends her a message telling her that he is the first occupant of “iL Mare”, and that her letter might have came in by mistake and he just want her to know it because he knows she is expecting very important letters.  He also asks her how she knows the name of the house. 

She replies that she’s also clueless on how her letter was sent to year 1997 as she is currently in the year 1999.  She requests him not to mess up with her letters.  

Eun-joo boringly takes care of her friend’s comic book shop as she watches the millennium countdown on the television.  Back at the lake house; he is happily preparing a dish for himself.

Eun-joo reads the letter to her friend hinting the time difference of the letter sender, but her friend didn’t want to buy that strange idea.

When her friend reminds Eun-joo about the killer flu they had two years ago, she writes Sung-hyun about it and advises him to be careful not to catch the virus, but he acquires the virus while the snow run heavily outside.

He replies back to her letter and thanks her for the warning.  He jokes that she might be a seer and that it’s still a crazy idea that she may be living in the future.

She responds that she is also confused on what’s happening but she is firm in believing that he lived in the past.

They continue communicating at different times.  He visits the building where Eun-joo lives in the future and saw it under construction.  

They also talked about “Cola” the dog that sleeps like a man. (And how cute Cola really slept)  He points out that Cola can’t be at the same place and at the same time. 

So she visits the mail box and left her hair band, he gets the hair band so they conclude that the mail box is sort of like a time traveling machine. 

So we finally established this beautiful story of a man and woman connecting through a mail-box-that-functioned-secretly-as-a-time-space-warp.


Life goes on, and then one day Eun-joo gets a returned mail from the US which makes her zombie-like at work. 

She bargains again and calls her so-called boyfriend living in the US,  and when it is answered by a woman it sends her straight to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club.  Sung-hyun patiently takes her out of the misery by urging her to cook and giving words of encouragement to ease her numb heart.

One day an old man comes and cries silently on the mailbox.  The old man turned out to be Sung-hyun’s estranged father.

While riding with his friend, we learn a little about Sung-hyun’s life as an Architecture student drop-out and his daddy issues as well. 

While reading and practicing a script, Eun-joo thinks about a tape recorder she left two years ago, she tells him he may be able to see her, and gives him instruction that she always sits at a particular bench in a train station. 

But he wasn’t able to catch her because the train arrives and all that is left is the tape recorder.  He listens to the tape recorder and hears her different voices saying “iLoveyou”.

He sends back the tape recorder to her and while she is smiling hearing her voice from two years ago, she got surprised when she hears a message he left to her.

When Sung-hyun’s friend delivers the news of his father’s passing, he asks Eun-joo to check if there is news about Professor Han in the year she’s living.

When she visits the book store, she sees a book of Professor Han.  When she realized the year of his death, she hurriedly leaves the shop to send the book for him but she gets hit by the car.

Sung-hyun’s father died and the book did not arrive on time.  When he finally got hold of the book, he sees his estranged father’s love for him etched in every pages of the book.

When she visits her family, it took a while for her to respond to his letters.  Sung-hyun gets an idea and goes to the train station to check if Eun-joo is on her usual spot… and there she is. 

He sits beside her and tries showing the ear muffs for her to notice him, but it was useless, because she just ignores him.  He writes her about his encounter with her past self on his present time and tells her he misses her.

When she gets back, she goes to the mail box and sees a pair of gloves for her.  Now they take each other advises of how to rid boredom which is basically a glimpse of what they are as a person. 

She guides him to drink a can of beer and ride a rollercoaster on a theme park while he instructs her to go for a nice walk and visits a bar where he stored a wine for her to drink in her year.

I know all of us are waiting now when they will finally meet, so thank God we are nearly wrapping up….


So they set to meet up in a Coral beach, but of course she still has to wait and his time still needs to happen. 

Eun-joo is walking along the Coral beach when she passes by a construction site, she sees a design of the house and is curious about it because it looks like Sung-hyun’s design.

When she is approached by one of the workers, she is told that the house is dedicated by the designer of the house to his first love.  Then we see  a montage of lonely Eun-joo reminiscing her time-fated-love-with-him along the beach.

They continue writing letters while waiting for the time they will finally meet.  In those letters their attachment to each other grew stronger, and you’ll love how this movie in its slow pacing and lots of letter reading has managed to engage you.

When everything seems to be fine with Eun-joo, a pain from her past reminds her of an unwanted heartache, and she has no other person to tell it but Sung-hyun.  He is then struggling with the emotions he’s feeling towards her which he thinks might not be reciprocated anymore for the reason that she is stuck loving a person from her past.

Eun-joo finally confronts her ex-boyfriend and he explains that he was needing someone to overcome loneliness at a foreign land.  He apologizes and she leaves after getting the closure she has been waiting for a long time.

When she visits their mailbox, he leaves a copy of a house design and he wishes her good life to return the favor of being a ray of sunshine to him when he was needing it.  He thanks her for everything and says goodbye to their friendship.

Eun-joo visits Sung-hyun’s Architecture school and sees his design posted on a wall.  She is told that he met a car accident while he is heading to meet someone. 

She rushes back to go to the mail box to leave him a warning note to avoid the supposed accident from happening.  She kneels and prays for him to get the letter on time.

The person who was actually Sung-hyun was meaning to see on the day of the accident was Eun-joo. At that time it was also the last day she met her ex-boyfriend who will be heading to the US.  She saw Sung-hyun crossing the street and was hit by a car.

Then we see time going back to our first scene when Eun-joo was writing the welcome letter to the next tenant.  She steps out and sees Cola being held by Sung-hyun.  He tells her about a magical tale he’s wanting to share with her if she’s willing to listen.  She smiles and the beautiful facade of the “Lake House” fades.  ^_^


“Love is a self-inflicted pain” – Eun-joo

“Do you have a memory that you wished you can just abandon?” – Sung-hyun


IL Mare literally screamed soft and moving love story of time-crossed lovers.  It’s very simple, and yet well narrated that even my attention problem was won over by it.

It’s a nice watch on a lazy afternoon in the arms of someone you love. 

Love they say is magic and I say a sort of magical mail box which made a man and a woman fell in love regardless if they were living at different times was more than fireworks and raining rose petals.


15 thoughts on “iL MaRe MOVIE RECAP (2000)

  1. Hi, by any chance you know what breed is Cola? I loooove him, want to get one like him! I’ve been looking everywhere but have no luck yet…

  2. Hi, can you please tell me the name of the gorgeous actor who plays Sung Hyun’s friend (driving the car in one of the photos above) and what other movies-dramas he has been in. Thank-you, Helen

      1. Hello jediprincess, Lee Jung Jae is gorgeous, but I’m after the name of the very yummy guy in glasses who plays the role of his friend-business partner. In Il Mare he is the one who tells Eun Joo that Sung Hyun died. Can you help identify him? Thanks again, Helen

      2. Hi helen, i will need to watch it again because u were referring to a minor character… there’s a list of character names in Wikipedia but they dont seem to look active these days… if it’s a 2000 movie, i think that person was just a bit player that time.. but ill try and check… ^_^

      3. Thanks jediprincess, he looks familiar but I’m pretty new to watching Korean drama (only seen 3 movies, all of Coffee Prince and some each of Bride of the Century and Secret Garden so far). Thanks again, and enjoy watching Il Mare again, it is so beautifully paced, Helen

  3. Hi 🙂
    I don’t have any blog but as son as I watch some other movie or drama from your recommendations, I’ll share my thoughts about them ^^
    For now it’s funny for me ’cause I’d never expect those movies to be this good. So without your recaps I wouldn’t watch them at all. I’m glad I did and I definitely am going to check out the rest of the titles here. And by the way, I’m currently (slowly) watching “Scent of a woman”, seems to be a realy good drama, but I can’t say more untill I finish it, sometimes endings can spoil the whole story.

    Best regards ^^

    1. Hi Merrick,

      I prepared myself when the end of Scent of a Woman was nearing, and I’m glad I was not disappointed. I hope you will not be too. There are lot of dramas I loved this year, more on rom-coms but Scent overtook them all, although the recently Flowerboy Ramyun shop is amusing me so far…

      All the Best Merrick…

      Take care…

  4. HI Merrick,

    Thank you for sharing the same thought as mine. And yes iL Mare is far better than Lake House. I like how you quoted how love could have been there all along but we failed to notice it. Do you have a blog too? I would love reading some of your thoughts. iL Mare is a simple and yet moving narrative. It was nice hearing from you again. Be safe.. ^_^

  5. Hello again 🙂
    I know I’m a bit slow but I just recently watched Il Mare as another one of the movies recommended by you. And I think it was even better than Heaven’s Postman. The moments when Sung-hyun tried to meet the present (for him) Eun-joo and she didn’t (yet) know him, it was very moving. I wondered how many times we pass people on the streets who we could fall in love with if we knew them better. I made it a little complicated but hope you know what I mean ^^ Well, that would make the possibilities of love and friendship almost endless, as everyone has a valuable personality deep inside (sometimes very deep 😉 ).
    It was again a warm story, shown in a way typical for korean movies, which I love by the way ^_^
    And after I watched it my friend gave me the american version, The Lake House, but it wasn’t even half as good as original Il Mare 🙂 Thanks for the recap!


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