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June 9, 2016

Language & Alcohol-Blaming Contribute to Rape in Korea

A photo from the back of a woman with long black hair looking out over the sea on a cloudy dayRape in Korea has become a headline topic recently, though this has received little attention in the American press. In late May, a teacher in a remote island village was eating alone at a restaurant. Fathers of her students pressured her into joining them (culturally impossible to refuse), and drinking with them (which she repeatedly but unsuccessfully attempted to decline). When she was too drunk to leave the restaurant on her own, they drove her home and gang-raped her.

Although women are not particularly respected in Korea, teachers are, so there was public outcry over this. Furthermore, this teacher was much younger than the rapists (which made it even more culturally impossible for her to avoid them), who conspired after the fact to destroy evidence. The Ministry of Education was called upon to better protect teachers.

The Ministry’s initial response was to float a policy of not sending female teachers to remote areas. Since 75% of Korean teachers are women, that isn’t practical. More to the point, as Yang Lee Hyun-kyung of the Korean Women’s Association United put it:

How can not sending women to so-called dangerous places be the answer to preventing such crimes against women? What the government is supposed to do is to make a safe environment for women and minorities in society.

Anywhere in Korea can be a “dangerous place” for women and girls. For example, Gyeonggi province. In March, a 14-year-old boy lured a 12-year-old schoolmate to a cheap room where he fed her alcohol, and, along with 5 of his friends, gang-raped her.

And then there was Airdre Mattner, an Australian tourist, whose drink was drugged while she was on a pub crawl in Seoul last year. A group of men then abducted her from her group, took her by taxi to a cheap hotel, and raped her. When police finally acted under international pressure, they only prosecuted her rapists for “sexual harassment,” because “she was unconscious and therefore cannot prove she didn’t consent.” Excuse me??!!! Unconsciousness isn’t proof enough?!!

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December 28, 2012

Arang and the Magistrate – Korean drama review

Arang the ghost sits on a roof in brightly-colored Korean traditional dress;Arang and the Magistrate (아랑사또전) is a 20-episode MBC drama that aired in the fall of 2012. I LOVED the first few episodes. Arang the amnesiac ghost (Shin Min Ah) is an agile imp with absolutely no respect whatsoever for authority – in short, my kind of gal :)

The drama is a sageuk-fantasy fusion – my first. The fantasy element manifests as a whimsical, eclectic melange of religious and folk traditions. Upon a floating island in the clouds, traditional Asian (Yoo Seung Ho) and Greek (Park Joon Gyu) deities play Go (바둑 or baduk in Korean) with the lives of mortals. Yeah, Ingmar Bergman did it first, but did he think to embellish the scene with a flower-backed goat? He did not. MORE…

December 18, 2012

Holiday Gifts for the Kdrama Heroine

full forearm gauntlet in pink leather completely covered with with gold spike studs;A stack of different colored leather bracelets with spikesOr, for a fashionable stacked effect…

파이팅!

November 24, 2012

Seoyeong My Daughter – Episodes 7-8

THIS POST IS ONE BIG SPOILER. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Episode 7 – Seven episodes into Seoyeong My Daughter, the s-word is finally mentioned! But is it Seo Yeong (Lee Bo Young) who calls Woo Jae (Lee Sang Yun) a stalker? No, it is not. Never mind that he shadows her bus on a 4 hour drive, then skulks around in the shrubbery, eavesdropping on an extremely private moment. And how did she not notice his SUV creeping up a deserted country road behind her?? Maybe it was a hybrid in electric mode?
Seoyoung weeps on the bus, while Ujae's SUV hovers just outside her window; MORE…

November 14, 2012

Seoyeong My Daughter – Episodes 1-6

A young man slow dances with his smiling mom in front of a white grand piano;Episode 1 – Seoyeong My Daughter is off to a rip-roaring start! Fractured families, unhappy marriages, financial woes, health emergencies, and a couple of photogenic strangers who somehow keep crossing paths in a city of 10 million. All in the first episode, which ends with them stubbornly glaring at each other. Can romance be far behind?
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November 10, 2012

Seo Yeong My Daughter – Watch With Me!

Lee Bo Yeong as Seoyeong in functional student dress;The new family drama Seo Yeong My Daughter is airing in the time slot previously occupied by My Husband Got a Family. This is a hard timeslot for me to resist. I did something else for one weekend, but episode 3 caught my eye, and now I’m going back to catch up.

It isn’t just the timing that works for me, however. The title character (Lee Bo Young) is smart as a whip and tough as nails. She’s versatile, too. We’ve already seen her in a red curly wig, gussied up like a clubgirl, and in her more usual outfit of baggy men’s shirt and slacks (such indifference to fashion is downright edgy for a Korean drama heroine) as she works her way through law school. Lee Bo Young is obviously up to whatever challenges the role might throw her way. I’ve seen her before, in the relentlessly histrionic 2006 melodrama, Queen of the Game, but I didn’t recognize her. She actually looks younger in this role.

In case the title didn’t clue you in, this is an all too familiar struggling daughter/loser father tale. However, Seo Yeong has impressed me more with her resilience in one episode than Da Ran did in all 20 episodes of Can Love Become Money. And don’t even get me started on Damo’s fatalistic Chae Ohk (I have not, however, abandoned Damo – it’s just been a busy week. Episode 8 recap is coming soon).

Has this become the KBS feminist drama timeslot? If so, 괜찮아요. It’s about time we see some roles for women that have the depth and development that is usually invested only into the roles for men.

At 50 episodes, I won’t be doing recaps. Instead I’ll post thoughts every few episodes and see how that goes. Check it out, and join me!


Related posts: My Daughter Seoyoung – Episode Reviews

October 26, 2012

My Husband Got a Family – Final Thoughts

My Husband Got a Family (넝쿨째 굴러온 당신 – literally You Who Rolled in Unexpectedly or Unexpected You) wrapped up on KBS World last weekend. The series fulfilled its initial promise of utter predictability from beginning to end. Plot developments to come were not merely hinted at, they were shouted from the rooftops with megaphones. The abrupt timeslip at the end of the second-to-last episode seemed entirely arbitrary, as if the writer suddenly got bored and stopped caring what happened to the characters.
SPOILER ALERT: stop here if you haven’t watched yet.
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August 31, 2012

My Husband Got a Family – Korean drama review

promotional poster for series featuring a wedding photo of Kim Nam Joo and Yu Jun Sang;My Husband Got a Family is airing on KBS America as a weekend drama. The first few episodes were so excruciatingly predictable that I gave it a pass for many weeks. Here’s the opening setup: adult adoptee seeking birth family moves into the same building with wounded family seeking long lost child. Guess what happens next? Ten million Koreans live in Seoul, and 100,000 Korean children have been sent to the US for adoption, but what’s a statistical impossibility to a drama? Dickens. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

However, for all its faults, My Husband Got a Family inhabits the dinner hour timeslot, where it faces little competition. It’s true what they say about timing being everything. Just when I’m ready to put my feet up and rest my brain, there it is. I drifted back to it, gradually at first, but now, I admit, I make a point of watching it.

Na Young Hee with a very unhappy expression on her face;Yoon Yeo Jung with a very unhappy expression on her face;The family dynamics at the core of this drama are just like every other Korean family drama you ever saw. There’s sibling rivalry, abusive parenting, and a secret that’s too big to keep, yet too horrible to tell. According to my drama sun dial, we’re due for a life-threatening diagnosis or accident any episode now.

Other familiar elements appear in a modified form. As in Love Rain, the incest love-obstacle appears in the form of the in-law relationship taboo, instead of a scare over being half-siblings. Since in-law incest is not even a thing in the US, this substantially reduces the ick-factor. If there were loan sharks, I missed them. Drat. No, really.

Kim Nam Joo and Yu Jun Sang having an emotional conversation;The central couple (Kim Nam Joo and Yu Jun Sang) are annoyingly smug and self-satisfied at the beginning of the series. They’ve had ups and downs since then, matured a little, and lost some of their insufferability.

Yun Hui, a successful professional woman battling sexism at work as well as in her husband’s family, is an unexpectedly sympathetic character. Her deficient housekeeping skills may be more damning to a Korean audience than they are to me, but she sure knows how to navigate the backbiting power dynamics in her entertainment industry workplace (which is in a different universe from the cozy little production company depicted in Sent From Heaven). The developing independence of her sister-in-law (Yang Jeong Ah), everybody’s punching bag, is also refreshing.

A smiling Lee Hee Joon sits close to Jo Yoon Hee, who is holding up a teddy bear;However, my favorite storyline in My Husband Got a Family concerns the budding relationship between two people who are monumentally slow on the uptake about their own feelings. In real life, I’d be unimpressed by that, but for some reason, I find it irresistibly charming in this drama. It’s mostly Lee Hee Joon’s comical dialogues with himself (with a few well-placed jibes at drama conventions) that keep me coming back for more.

Not so funny (through no fault of her own) is Yang Hee Kyeong, a rare (in Korean drama) large woman, as a comic relief character. I wish I could applaud this drama for taking a step forward in diversified casting. Unfortunately, the running joke is that her character audaciously believes she’s a worthwhile and attractive person regardless of her weight. Ha ha. Two steps back.

Despite its lack of originality, there are engaging moments in My Husband Got a Family. Last weekend, I cheered when the family’s women put aside their differences to team up on a man who done one of them wrong. I tittered at Terry’s bemusement when his sophisticated wife and her adult little brother screamed at each other like kindergarteners on the playground. Yes, this is drama with a small d, but there’s a place for that.

[NOTE: After I posted this review, I learned that My Husband Got a Family has received surprisingly high ratings in South Korea, though I suspect this is mostly due to the presence of Kpop idol Kang Min Hyuk of CN Blue in a relatively minor role. His “Code Name” (CN) is “lovely.” ‘Nuff said.]


Related posts:
Final Thoughts review for My Husband Got a Family
10 Obstacles to Love in Korean Drama