How a K-Drama Scene Led to Sponge Cola’s Latest Chart-Topper ‘Tatlong Buwan’

Words by Julian Mauricio
Photos courtesy of Yael Yuzon


Like many of us, Sponge Cola frontman Yael Yuzon is a K-drama fan. But while we’re limited to gushing about our favorite Korean celebrities and their work online, Yael went one better. Earlier this year, he got hooked on Queen of Tears and wrote a song inspired by the show. “Tatlong Buwan” hit streaming services in April, just before the show’s finale aired.


Queen of Tears stars Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Ji-won, who play Baek Hyun-woo and Hong Hae-in, respectively. It follows the turbulent story of a married couple who navigate a series of crises in their relationship. Hyun-woo is the legal director of the Queens Group, and Hae-in is the heiress and queen of its department stores. The tvN drama tackles themes like corporate intrigue, personal betrayal, and the leads’ struggle to keep their relationship alive in the face of adversity. It also explores their past traumas and their journey toward healing and reconciliation.


According to Yael, one scene in particular moved him deeply. “It was the scene in episode ten where Hyun-woo uses rush hour traffic as an excuse to stay home with Hae-in, and the conversation they end up having shortly after,” he shared. “Having his wounds from a fight treated, Hyun-woo uses that as a metaphor for what they should have done to save their marriage. Ten episodes in, as viewers, we all knew it was the solution, so I felt like the world let out a collective sigh of both vexation and relief.”


Sponge Cola – Tatlong Buwan (Official Lyric Video)


He channeled everything that scene made him feel into his art, and so “Tatlong Buwan” was born. “I wrote the song right after watching episode ten. It must have been two o’clock in the morning when I finished my demo. By noon, I recorded a second demo with a metronome. Two hours later, I was already walking up the driveway of Love One Another Studios in Quezon City to record the final version.”


There, in the recording studio founded by Joey Santos in 2003, Yael delivered a vulnerable yet powerful vocal performance that matched the tone of the drama.


“It was a quick recording session with feelings still very fresh. It was a bit difficult to sing, though, because for any K-drama fan, tears can get in the way. Angee Rozul instructed me to sing the last two lines of the song with a happier, more hopeful tone, which of course made everything sadder, knowing that Hae-in had three months to live,” he shared.


Sponge Cola – Tatlong Buwan (OFFICIAL MV)


After putting the song to bed, the next step was to film the music video. For that, Yael flew to South Korea, where he visited various locations where Queen of Tears was filmed. At first, he tried filming the music video on his own, but after two days, he sought help from three prominent Korea-based Filipino bloggers: Marc Gabriel (@callmemakeu), Jean Marie (@eanmy), and Camille Tajon (@xxxicesee).


“My friends knew I was there filming alone and they kept sending me links to the same person’s account. I checked it out and saw they were following me, so I followed them back and DMed them saying, ‘Hey, do you want to collab?’ We ended up bonding over the whole thing. They helped me shoot my project and I helped them with theirs. Ang galing. But si Marc, I’ve known him for three years na,” Yael says.


One of the places they visited was Hoenamu Restaurant, located near Noksapyeong Station in Itaewon. The home-style Korean restaurant was featured in the drama’s eighth episode, where Hae-in overheard Hyun-woo telling his friend-slash-divorce lawyer that he still wants to be with her.


A clever edit featuring Yael in place of Kim Soo-hyun.


For the music video of “Tatlong Buwan,” Yael sat at the same table Hyun-woo did. He emailed PULP a photo of himself sitting there, which was edited to include a shot of the female lead from the episode. In the show, she was peeking at her onscreen partner, but in this edit, she’s peeking at Yael. He sent it to us to illustrate how they went above and beyond to make sure the music video was a fitting tribute to Queen of Tears.


According to Yael, “It was surreal being there. The locations witnessed so much pain and drama that you feel there are vestiges of feelings left. The restaurant from episode eight, with a mere wall separating the main characters, was probably the most impactful location from a visual and narrative standpoint. The poetry of that iconic location, the idea of being an earshot away but unwilling to talk, captured the core of the show.”


Yael also visited Chungju’s Geonji Village, which served as the backdrop for Hyun-woo’s heartfelt second proposal to Hae-in in episode 12. Previously known mostly to locals for its beautiful sunsets, Geonji Village’s popularity soared when Kim Soo-hyun shared photos of one such sunset on social media. It has since developed a reputation as a popular “confession spot.”


Yael at Chungju’s Geonji Village, featured in episode 12.


Yael was drawn to Queen of Tears because he considers it an example of a well-crafted show where the story, the actors, and the music came together perfectly. He’s also not shy about his love for K-dramas and enjoys fanboying with like-minded individuals.


“It really boils down to writing. Writing characters, plot points, and original songs that amplify moments,” he says. “I’m just happy to be a fan. I write about things that I like, things that move me. It’s nice being part of a community. It’s fun to theorize and basically gush over things with people who more often than not feel just as strongly.”


It’s not surprising that the Sponge Cola frontman places a high premium on well-written K-dramas because he studied English Literature at the Ateneo de Manila University. He spent four years figuring out what makes a coherent narrative. So when he says a show is good, you better believe it is—Yael knows his stuff.


Yael at the Sammy Sosa Batting Cage Center, where Hyun-woo goes for stress relief.


The thing is, he got so attached to Queen of Tears that he’s having trouble letting go, even after the show aired its finale, which was received well in South Korea. It garnered an average nationwide viewership rating of 24.9%, and in the Seoul metropolitan area, it reached 28.4%. This made it the highest-rated finale in tvN’s history, surpassing previous records held by other popular dramas like Crash Landing on You.


Yael has watched the entire show four times since then. He’s on his fifth rewatch as of this writing. “I haven’t moved on. The gut punch feeling is still there, especially when Hyun-woo says ‘I love you’ to a closed door in episode ten’s epilogue and when Hae-in finally wakes up in episode eleven after she collapses during the press conferences. Keep in mind, despite being from different episodes, those two scenes are probably just nineteen minutes apart. Emotional haymakers!” he laughs.


As “Tatlong Buwan” continues to rack up streams, Sponge Cola is gearing up for a series of gigs across the country. They will head to Gingoog, Misamis Oriental, on June 8, followed by a performance in Tuburan, Cebu, on June 12. The band will then perform at the Okada Malaya Music Festival on June 15, after which they will swing by Don Carlos, Bukidnon, on June 18. They’re also scheduled to appear at Animusika in De La Salle University on June 21, followed by a performance at the Regada Festival in Cavite City on June 24.

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