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Beans of Wisdom: K-drama school

This week in Beans of Wisdom…

PBY writes in “Cinderella and the Four Knights: Episode 9” comment #7:

I have a theory about Hye-ji. She either is or would be an ideal candidate for a tragic ghost.
Think about it – she’s clearly obsessed with some sort of sad past that is always alluded to but never shown, you can find her weeping at random places in the house, and she stares at her never-forgotten love with an intensity of a thousand stalkers and a single tear streaming down her cheek. I can practically see her slowly extending her hand towards Hyun-min and breaking down in despair when her hand passes through him.

niniko replies:

she could have been crying myrtle, hiding in hyun-min’s toilet and angry flushing herself time to time

 

It seems like the problem persists in “Cinderella and the Four Knights: Episode 10.” So noooooooooo asks in comment #8:

How do you solve a problem like Hye-ji? I’ve been trying to ignore her but it’s getting increasingly hard with the amount of screen time she’s getting. Send her far, far awaaaaay please!

Yoyo:

Self-help guide to solving the Hye-ji crisis:

1. Drunk watching – this show is best watched when under the influence of alcohol because the next day after would be easier to admit that you did watch it and the alcohol can be the excuse as to why you did.
2. Fast forward button – perfect way to skip through those scenes when chubby cheeks is on.
3. Stop watching and just read the recap! – no explanation needed.
4. Pray – taking a page from Jealousy Incarnate’s Hwa Shin, if there’s a higher being, they can go take this show and magically reincarnate it with better writing and as an added bonus, we’d like to send the actress playing hye-ji back as well in exchange for someone with actual talent.
5. Just re-watch episodes 1-5 and pretend it ended there.

 

Arya asks in “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo: Episode 7” comment #49:

I probs sound like a complete noob but what was that song she was singing in this episode??

To which owl replies:

Not sure, but the whole scene reminded me of Snow White singing a lullaby to the seven dwarfs.

Irochka adds:

So does this mean:

Doc = Wook (the brains and Kang Haneul in glasses makes me happy)

Grumpy = So (enough said…)

Happy = Jung (seems to be the most carefree besides when he is about to get his arm cut off in a sudden revenge plot)

Dopey = Eun (though I could use some other words to describe his intelligence after this episode)

Bashful = Baek Ah (since he took the most time to warm up to Soo and his “okay” was really cute *.*)

Sneezy = Yo (because I’m allergic to his presence on my computer screen)

Sleepy = Won/CP (they appears the least so I’m going to just assume they’re taking naps off screen)

Pebble:

Objection! Nope, So can’t be Grumpy, as he will be the prince charming who will get to kiss Snow White Su eventually 😉

Irochka answers:

Perfect! That means we can move Yo to Grumpy and CP to Sneezy (since he has health problems anyways) and now we have all the princes covered. 🙂

owl:

Hi ho hi ho!

 

In the same post, Barbrey writes in comment #88:

Wang So. Character precariously placed on the edge of sharp blade to either “shine brilliantly” as his name implies, or cause bloody mayhem. I don’t want him to lose that cruel streak that environment has given him, while also not wanting him to be so bad we can’t like him. It’s still possible that it’s Soo’s fate to soften those edges, but I’m hoping the edges remain – just makes him a more interesting historical character.

kumoiwa adds:

It’s interesting, because I don’t know if you’re coming from this direction, but the Hanja for So’s name “昭” has a literal knife “刀” above an edge “口”. So literally he’s living life on the edge, with a knife in hand. It’s just my interpretation of it, but I thought it was appropriate!

Also his name has the sun radical (日) as well, similar to Wook’s, and I was just thinking of how there can never be two suns in the sky. One of them has to go… but how?

Barbrey answers:

Oh, one’s the morning sun – Wook – first light/first love, and one’s the setting sun (all that orange setting sun imagery for So) – last light/last and final love. Soo’s the moon and all the “suns” or “sons” are in love with her. Moon Lovers. Or Moon Embracing the Son(s). 🙂

I wasn’t coming at it from Hanja, which I don’t know, but from the point of view of “Shine or Go Crazy”, which also had the Wang So character. So means to “shine brilliantly”, but it had the double edge of “going crazy” instead. His fate was to do one or the other, depending on whether he met the right girl. I do think this drama is incorporating the exact same thing.

kumoiwa:

Oh what a lovely way of putting it! I went and looked up the character a bit more, and it does mean what you’ve said here–it’s also “light in the darkness”, so yeah that definitely signifies him winning that race to the throne in the end doesn’t it.

It does seem to be that way, I agree, that So will become one or the other depending on who he meet. Maybe that’s why Su was sent back in time–to ensure that he will shine in the darkness, and not be engulfed by it.

(If you liked this convo, you should check out the original thread for more of the discussion.)

 

Folding_Castles writes in “The race is on to catch a legendary conman in crime thriller Master” (#11):

I’m hoping to pitch a movie idea to Kang Dong Won’s agency. The movie will be a 90 minute continuous shot of his face and it’s tentatively titled “You’re Welcome”.

 

Meanwhile, Manongja writes this idea in comment #3 of “Shim Eun-kyung becomes King of Walking in new film”:

I hope they promote on Runningman and do everything by walking.

 

Purple Owl writes a goodbye poem in “W–Two Worlds: Episode 16 (Final)” comment #9:

I once had a soul
Now it has a W shaped hole
I’ll never be whole

T^T

 

Jokes aside, Imbuk‘s words might help us make peace with the show’s ending. In comment #82:

I loved how the ending scene kind of glorified the ordinary, because we always take it for granted. Its ironic for this drama to do that because it was anything but ordinary. Only when we come upon love stories like these, do we realize how extraordinary it is if we get to fall in love with someone, marry them and live the rest of our life with them. It made me feel that an ordinary life is probably the best thing you can get. And I am happy Kang chul and Oh yeon joo get to live that kind of life and sad that we didn’t get to see it, but we can always imagine!

 

This week’s “Spill the Beans: Sisterly bonding and bizarre fanfiction” inspired more spilling of beans about family bonding over kdramas. In comment #3, Skyofblue writes:

I can relate very much to the first story. My cousin and I were good friends but we never really went beyond a surface relationship. But once I showed her dramas and Kpop we suddenly had so much more to talk about. It became a door to new conversations and midnight confessions, as we became more comfortable with each other through our shared interests. These things really can bring people together if we’re brave enough to share.

(Now if they don’t like it is another story. Maybe one involving a chair, some rope, and a twenty story building)

 

While JuicyFeet shares in #9:

My mom had surgery recently to remove some possibly cancerous cells so I drove down to her house (8 hours) and spent ~2 weeks with her helping to care for her farm.
In order to keep my mom SITTING ON THE COUCH LIKE A GOOD SURGERY PATIENT and not trying to flounder around the kitchen and dogs and chickens etc, I introduced her to kdramas for the first time.
One of my besties growing up was half korean and I have fond memories of her oma making kimchi and all kinds of things for us while we watched whatever korean drama was on together.
I had only recently started really obsessing with kdramas again (I HAD MISSED OUT ON OVER 10 YEARS WORTH OF GREAT TV) and I was excited to share some of these new great finds with my mom (especially because she was now a literally captive audience). I watched Secret Garden and You From Another Star with her. My mom was hooked.
It gave my mom and I something extra to bond with whilst also keeping her safe on the couch to recover. Thanks, kdramas.

 

Emanresu posts this question in “Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 7” (#78):

The show and the response I’ve seen here and elsewhere has prompted a question I’d like to pose to the ladies (if I may).

Can someone help me to understand:

What is it about faux homosexual romance/kissing that women find so appealing and “squee-inducing” (for lack of a better term) in Korean dramas?

To my eyes, there seems to be something about this particular scenario that really seems to emotionally connect with the majority of the viewers here and elsewhere (who I would presume are mostly female).

The huge ratings success of the shows Coffee Prince and Sungkyunkwan Scandal as well as Moonlight would suggest as much. I recall similar responses to those shows depictions of faux homosexuality.

As a guy, I’ve really enjoyed the show. But the faux homosexuality does not for me elevate the show any more than any other of the standard trappings of the romance genre would. To be honest I’m rather indifferent to it.

Forgive me if I’m incorrect in my assessment. However, I’m honestly curious! I’ve struggled to understand this for some time, so any help would be immensely appreciated.

Thanks!

Omomo replies:

Well not really all of them. There’s Scholar Who Walks The Night, To The Beautiful You and Nail Shop Paris which were all cross-dressing shows but weren’t ratings hits.

It’s just that Coffee Prince, Sungkyungkwan and Moonlight are very well-made shows and succeeded to hit the viewers’ sweet spot, notwithstanding the girl-pretend-to-be-a-man premise.

I can’t speak for others but for me, it isn’t really about the faux homosexuality. It’s more on the thrill of anticipating when will the lead guys find out and all the super fun gender-bender hijinks that comes with it.

Violet chimes in with:

I think it’s the loving despite the forbiddeness of it, the angst it brings, the pay-off when they finally get together because a “gay relationship” is so looked down upon. The male lead basically loves the female lead for her “soul” and not because of the physical. I dont think it will work as well as it does if say an American drama tackles a cross-dressing drama since being gay is okay here in general, but in Asia, especially in the old times, it is a big no no. So that jump amps the stakes even higher.

And Michykdrama adds:

I agree with the ladies here. It’s not to do with gender but romance related.

The swoony bit to me is the idea that there is a love that is worth sacrificing everything for. In this case it is not just gender- it is also that they are worlds apart status wise, and even if Prince Yeong knows Ra On’s true gender, this still holds true. She can’t ever be his wife. And he could lose everything by confessing his love for her especially as a eunuch- becoming interim King, his reputation etc- and still he did it. And it made it extra special because he was pushed to do it by something Ra On herself said.

Also, in this case part of the magic is the belief that a guy will fall in love with a girl despite her outward appearance not being appealing, or even if she doesn’t even try to attract at all. Because he can see her inner beauty and he can’t help but fall in love. And in this case both Prince Yeong and Ra On seem to be their true selves only with each other.

And lastly is my belief that True Love Can Conquer All. This show makes me hope beyond hope that it will happen, and I’m rooting for the couple to defy all odds and win.

So yup. I swoon for this amazing type of love. The girl falls in love with the most unattainable of men, who falls in love with her as well, and sacrifices everything to confess his love for her, and together they will overcome all obstacles in their way and Live Happily Ever After. ?

 

stuffed starts this thread in “Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 8” comment #1.2:

Can we all take a moment to appreciate how fluid Bogummy’s expressions are. I mean, when he saw Ra On in that hanbok his expression changed from being surprised to being delightful in such a smooth transition! And in that last scene.. omagasshhh.. is there a class where we can study and discuss his facial expression because I wanna sign up for that!

aceyy replies:

Hahahaha should I take that class? Lead that class? I feel like I’ve already written the extra credit essays ?

MichinMari:

I volunteer as TA for that class!

Celine:

100% attendance in Dramabeans School. lol Always too early for classes (recaps). Always ready with recitations (comments) that are well-thought out, researched, and analyzed. LOL

delurked adds:

DR1001 Introduction to K-Drama Studies
DR2101 Squee Statistics and Analysis
DR2102 Trucks and Tumours: Trope Identification
DR2103 Chaebols and Heirs: Inequality in Dramaland
and of course,
DR3101 Micro Expression Analysis: Moonlight Drawn By Park Bo-gum

??

On a more sentimental note, I just want to say that I’m so proud of how DB is a community that subverts stereotypes about drama-watchers. Call us fanatics or addicts, but I’ve seen written pieces here that would not look out of place in a film studies essay. All you dedicated recappers and Beanies – I salute you!!! ??

 

Thank you, beanies, for turning kdrama comments into both an art and a science!

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After that intense Hanja conversation, I wasn't ready for the Kang Dong Won comment! Especially when paired with the conmen heading! Hahaha, I'm still laughing now!

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[email protected] Snow White thread. ???

Thank goodness there's someone (i.e. mary) reading every single comment otherwise I would've missed that gem since I gave up after the initial 200-300 comments.
Oy, I'm already dreading the K2 comment sections. ?

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I like Imbuk's take on the end of W. Really all they wanted for a happy ending was an ordinary life. It's fun to watch dramas, not so much to live them.

Where do I sign up for the Bogummy class?

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It's probably full till 2058. Because everyone wants to voluntarily retake that module. ?

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Look for the line of twitterpated drama watchers signing over how beautiful he is, how expressive, etc. and head toward the back. Be prepared for a long walk, however, cause I think that line would go for miles.

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That faux-homosexuality discussion is really interesting, but I'm on the fence about the trope. I really enjoy gender-bent dramas, and I enjoy them for the freedom they give the female lead in terms of social expectations and proximity to the male lead and the ability to build a dynamic different from the kind of socialized dynamics in regular romances, but in most dramas, I still see it as just a trope, breaking no taboos, furthering nothing more than a romantic arc, as any other romantic trope would. Not least because it's so overwhelmingly a female-acting as/mistaken for-a-male field, the only exception I can remember being the Kim Sohyun tween drama, Ma Boy, which highlights how difficult it is to enjoy the narrative the other way round, because feminine men are less ~socially acceptable.

I get that the idea itself is swoon-worthy, and that it relates to the idea of falling in love with the person and having to let go of internalized conventions, and exploring subjects that may be taboo in a certain society (it is in mine as well) but till date, the only show that I felt handled the trope so well that it went beyond just being a romantic trope like all others was Coffee Prince. Which is interesting partly because Coffee Prince was one of the first shows to deal with this theme and did so way back. And I'd have imagined that dramas after would only get bolder in their treatment of the theme, since CP already broke the barrier, but instead, they retreated.

Coffee Prince has been the only drama that I remember where the male lead actually went through a torturous bout of sexual confusion because of the mistaken identity of the female lead. His strong denial, his anger, his angst all felt real and elaborated, which is why the denouement of the "man or alien" was so strong. And which is why the sense of betrayal was so strong too-- unlike in practically every other drama I can think of, when he finally found out Eun Chan was a woman, Han Kyul wasn't happy about it. In fact, he was raging mad. Because in falling in love with Eun Chan he had had to battle his own fear and internalized expectations of himself and to reach that stage of acceptance, and finding out the truth just threw him for a complete emotional loop. Of course he was extremely happy later because he realized his love wasn't as difficult as he'd initially thought it would be, and that's only realistic, if a little sad. But that his initial reaction was that he was more angry about being lied to by his lover than happy that his love was “socially acceptable”, to me really drove home his confession as legitimate. That drama truly took that trope and elevated it, and forced their male lead to debate, challenge, change, question, fear, and accept. It was groundbreaking.

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For most other narratives, including Moonlight, I enjoy the theme still, but personally I see it as a narrative of convenience. Most other dramas have all the fun they can with the trope, they get all their romantic scenes and squee-worthy moments, without attempting to push any boundaries and staying within the safe zone. Moonlight actually went a step ahead, they had their cake and ate it too-- we get a scene so we can believe that Lee Yeong is really torn about his love for Ra On and is willing to confess to her believing she's a man, and then the very next scene we have him find out she's a woman (noteworthy- he's immediately happy) and he can go ahead and kiss her. I know many people were happy about it, especially that he was willing to confess believing she was a man- and I know mine will be an unpopular, hyper-critical opinion- but to me, it was a cop out. It was the easiest route to take. The show maintained a high-ground without working for it, since no real conflict arose for Lee Yeong himself due to his feelings (none that was explored much anyway. I don't count throwaway expressions or a couple of lines in this.) We did have an episode of Ra On being confused about Lee Yeong's sexuality- which was different and funny- but it was resolved within an episode.

That's not to say that Moonlight or any other drama is obligated in any way to tack a social narrative to the drama or even that Coffee Prince was consciously social. Any drama can deal with whatever it wants however it wants, but it's still kind of curious to me that dramas keep using their trope and appear to adore it, yet no drama since Coffee Prince has even tried to actually explore this trope as more than just that. To really deal with the consequences and fall-outs of it and take it to its logical conclusion. To actually, legitimately put the sexuality of their male lead in question for longer than an episodic resolution. It reminds me of idol groups where male members are well-aware that female fans “ship” the members and they have a lot of deliberate skinship to cater to that, even while some of the members and fans themselves are statedly homophobic and would be unaccepting of any actual homosexuality. It also reminds me a little of fans of Western shows who ship various non-canonically gay ships (Sherlock/Watson or Supernatural's Dean/Castiel, for instance) and the creators have a ball in catering to those, making increasingly obvious gay allusions and scenes, but I came across a very interesting post about it once which went:

Person #1: OMG, could this show be any more gay?
Person #2: uh, I don't know...maybe if it actually had a gay character.

So honestly, this kind of interaction or subject may not always be a way of breaking taboos, it can just as easily be a means of reinforcing them. Catering to a fantasy, without having to make any paradigm shifts in thought process and stopping just short of rocking the boat. It’s a difficult...

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@Allison: I know what you mean. It's like after Reply 1997, I honestly thought there would be more characters like Joon Hee, who was such a beautifully-written character, acted by an idol who is known for his hyper-masculine image and his feelings were so respectfully treated by the narrative. But there's been nothing memorable on that front. (Seonam Girl's High School Detectives had a good lesbian arc with a side couple which got into trouble with the censors for their kiss.)

Honestly, for me, it's not even about actual gay characters. I get that that's a difficult area for k-dramas to navigate because of the society (I can't possibly impose my cultural expectations on another culture, when my own is riddled with the same taboos.) But the reason why the Moonlight episode failed to satisfy me was not because I expected the Crown Prince to be gay or wanted him to be, but because I personally felt the writing for that particular reveal was intellectually dishonest. Through the opening scene of Lee Yeong writing his confession letter to Ra On, it paid lip service to the idea that he would have loved her even if she had been a man, and went on to make it redundant the very next scene-- of course he doesn't have to because she's a girl.

What bothered me is the high ground they gave the audience to say "look, he loves her despite her gender and would have loved her even if she had been a man!" without actually having to write it in any depth or exploring any of the issues that may arise from such a self-realization, especially for a Crown Prince, especially in Joseon times. To get to the confession stage is a huge deal, because it implies prior acceptance, but we never even saw the battle. And which is why I find it interesting how differently CP handled the reveal from all other dramas-- Han Kyul was betrayed and angry on learning the truth, Lee Yeong was ecstatic.

The more intellectually honest version for me was Splash Splash Love which had the same thematic of the prince and the fake-eunuch (or actually, Doojoon's character was the king) and they never pretended that they were doing anything more than using the trope as a trope, Doojoon found out about about Seulgi's pretence much before and so just the beginnings of his sexual confusion stopped right at the door. Coffee Prince, on the other hand, truly dragged its lead through an emotional hell and back for love, his tortured angst and realizations and fear were palpable. With Moonlight, I have to take it on faith that the one scene of Lee Yeong coming to terms with his feelings because of Ra On's words was enough.

That doesn't make me enjoy Moonlight any less, it's an excellent show, but I've thought about this subject a lot before and was wondering how Moonlight would handle it and, unlike a majority, I think I would have preferred if the prior confession scene didn't exist.

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@Allison: I found it interesting that you said I didn’t mind that we didn’t get too many “gay crisis” type feelings from Yeong. We’ve seen that before, because I actually feel the opposite about this. I feel like we've never had an actual exploration of a male lead legitimately questioning his sexuality apart from, as always, Coffee Prince. Because most of the "gay crisis" moments in other dramas are usually portrayed as humorous, they're funny moments, a wink to the audience, they're rarely written with any understanding or depth. Rarely does the male lead go through any kind of a sexual identity crisis; he mostly seems to accept his feelings till the point of the reveal, at which point there is no need for a crisis, and he's happy enough. There's no real exploration of the "what if" in case the female lead was actually a man. Lee Yeong appeared to accept his feelings quickly enough both ways, but it doesn't seem to relate to any social context, it's just the show making it obvious that he has no real reason to angst so why waste time on it.

But I completely agree with you, I would have been much more satisfied if either the confession scene didn't exist, or if the kiss scene hadn't taken place immediately after the reveal. It made both scenes ring emotionally false to me, which is a pity, because they were so pivotal, but, as you said, there was no payoff as regards that issue, they seamlessly moved towards the heterosexual romance sans any emotional crisis.

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Oh, oops, I forgot to close the italics bracket it seems and there's no way to edit /sigh.

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I actually have another take on this. I mean, putting aside all questions of genre, since as a youth fusion sageuk drama it has to toe a difficult balance between being true to history and being true to youth...

But that aside, there are some things which make me think that in that time they live in/this universe they've created, attraction between men wasn't unheard of, just politely ignored. All those times we assumed Yeong knew Raon was a girl? I think we can take a couple of steps back and at least clock in the fact that "Yeong has registered that a couple of other people are too-interested in Raon - in that way" - ie the Qing envoy, and Yoon Sung himself. He doesn't start questioning Raon's gender at this point, but files in information that's he's got competition (so to speak). Of course it's not something publicly acceptable and would be fodder for manipulation - which is why the Queen notes his interest with glee on her part.

With regards to his feelings for her (this drama was hurtling so quickly down towards man or alien that I was having conversations - or rather speculative monologues - with my friends, about whether he'd get as mad as Hangyul. I think what made it worse for Hangyul was that literally everyone knew she was a girl except for him? And why put him through that angst? What was at stake?) - Yeong was briefly angry at her deception (see crumpled letter) - but compared to Hangyul I think this is mitigated by the circumstances/consequences of her hiding her identity so it's not like everyone and his grandpa knows but him. To that point, I don't think he quite fully gets yet the necessity and implications of her cross-dressing but as he tries to untangle it himself (reminds me of how Chul had to use his power to devise an identity for Yeonjoo in manhwa world) he'll get there I'm sure.

So with regards to his feelings for her - especially with regards to his status as Crown Prince, there are already so many traps to be navigated. He's probably accepted long ago that he'll won't necessarily be able to marry for love. Raon's protests that this is a "bad love that will receive no support" - those words remain true even when you put the gender question aside, given her status as a crossdressing-woman-turned-eunuch. It's true, the "gay" factor would give his enemies more fodder against him, but I think he's already decoupled the love vs social expectations equations to the extent that if it did turn out that he liked a man, that was just ONE other deviance he'd have to navigate. That's why I think it make sense for him to have a particularly drawn out "gay crisis" moment.

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Oh oh oh I meant to tack on an extra piece of evidence as well: In an earlier episode Yeong was having a quiet conversation with I think Kim hyung about his antics - and Yeong's reply was to the tune of, It's not like the palace would be any safer, if he toed the line.

So I think he knows what's at stake for him, he's like playing minesweeper all the time - pretty much every path leads to "bad" for him. Her actually being a girl doesn't make it much less bad for him; but at least he can be pleased the mystery of the dancing girl had been resolved. And as in many other choices he makes, he'll choose the path that's true to him.

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My theory is that CP has known since the very beginning that Ra on was a girl. He probably found out when she was drunk and told both KY and CP, and that is why they always seem to appear suddenly when she is in danger, every single time..Even the conversation CP had with Ra On after he rescued her from the Quin envoy was about why she went there knowing that could be dangerous..? and why didn't she leave when started getting weird. That to me is not a concern to have for another man. There are a lot of clues, and missing scenes, that maybe will be shown later.
So, to me, when he saw her dressed as a woman, was not to much of a surprise because of the gender swap, but more of a surprise for seeing her dress as a woman finally. He wants to keep her close to him, and cannot reveal her secret, so that he can continue to have her next to him. That could not be possible if she was revealed as a female.

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Korean viewers are so not ready for that.and moonlight is said to be a light sageuk.with park bo gum as the lead(i don't think he's ready for controversial roles like that yet)
I can just imagine the hate the show will get by some viewers.

There was a gay couple in a korean drama before,i forgot the title.i don't think it was well receive.

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The Lover?

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If you wanna see a gay character in a kdrama Shin Sung-Rok, yeap that Shin Sung-Rok, in tvN's Hyena (2006). If I remember correctly at one point he doubts about his true feelings, he tried to like the female lead... Although it was before CP I watched after and I recalled thinking how uncommon it was to see a real gay character in a kdrama, as for someone whose 95% of my male friends are gay since my Univer situation days I was mildly surprised

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*university

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You guys nail it on this gender bender thing. Maybe it's only me, but I don't find this romantic trope they are recently using for various dramas appealing. With Coffee Prince they elevated what could be a typical trope into something of an emotional struggle. In other dramas it just works as a convenient device similiar to the time skip thing except gender bender involves interactions. Sometimes I wonder
Why don't you interact more if she was a girl and not a boy?
But then it's asking to go outside of the gender stereotypes and boundaries.
Zoe piques my interest if they had the gender bender switch around. I honestly believe a boy can blend into a girl. Seen quite a lot of comedians from my country dress up as females and they sold it. There's also a lot more gays in my country which explains the slow acceptances going on. I don't expect korean dramas to be social narratives, but it wouldnt hurt to maybe tackle on this issue of questioning one's sexual identity in Korea. Other dramas are slowly tackling on various issues. Maybe one day a drama will tackle on this particular issue. Of course, this is asking a lot and probably will end up controversial... But I would watch heck out of it. ( excuse the language on this last sentence if it offends anyone)

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@bananachocolate

Zoe piques my interest if they had the gender bender switch around. I honestly believe a boy can blend into a girl.

It's interesting that those dramas don't get written despite that we have many popular male figures- at least many male idols- who have cross-dressed and have been hailed as being pretty women, and having the kind of androgynous features that can easily pass off as female. (That kid from Ma Boy was also a very realistic as a girl, if I remember the drama correctly.) And I think the reason for that is that these dramas often cater to female fantasies, and feminized men are not a common female fantasy-- unlike homosexual relationships between men, which as the OP points out in the post, seem to be a female fantasy, and a lot of Western fandoms or idol fandoms would seem to support this thought. Which is why I don't think it's genuinely always about looking past gender, or sexual identity, or a love that transcends it, because then we would get at least some reversed narratives of men-dressed-as-women having women fall in love with them if that was a paramount consideration.

Of course, as the other commenter points out, it may just not be about gender, but rather about any obstacle that has to be overcome in order for the leads to be together, which is romantic, but then again, the trope is just a trope, an obstacle, rarely more.

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Just because the US has "progressed" to the point that the line between genders has blurred and being gay is suddenly a beautiful expression of love doesnt mean Korea needs to do the same. It's a conservative country that puts culture into high regard. And perhaps in their opinion the US may have lost its morals and cultural aspect by embracing homosexuality. These things differ from culture to culture and country to country. I don't like it when Americans feel that just because they've started a new trend, the rest of the world needs to open its mind and accept it as well. Because it really doesn't need to.

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@Kanna

...who's the American, I'm Asian. I'm not sure why you would think respect for basic human rights is somehow an "American" concept?

But I do happen to think human rights are not a trend. And regardless of how conservative my culture may be, there is a need for change. And most people my age whom I know do as well. There are movements for greater rights and greater acceptance of homosexuality. Greater media visibility, more fictional narratives. And it's all welcome. I can't even imagine being okay with my gay friends having to live in the constant fear of persecution as they often are, and I don't know why someone would valorise that about my culture.

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@Kanna Hello. I'm not sure if your comment was addressing Zoe's comments only or mine.
Reading my comment, I felt I was somewhat unclear on it. When I was referring to the country, I was referring to a country in Southeast Asia. I was including it as an example of Asian men dressing up as (in my opinion, very pretty) females to say that Asian men can totally pull it off in tv shows as well. Korea also have some males dress up as females for laughs and whatnot (kpop and i think variety shows). I know in Korea homosexuality is a taboo and would take quite a lot of shift in Korea. I don't expect Korea to follow other countries with homosexuality. I know having reverse gender bender dramas and the issue of sexual identity in dramas can be farfetched ideas, but it's something that can occur in future dramas, just not any sooner or not even at all (I am aware of the drama Life is Beautiful, which I like). Just a bit clarification on my comment.

I'm curious where are you getting that some Koreans think US lost its morals and cultural aspect by embracing homosexuality?
US probably is one of the most diverse countries (i'm not saying that it's the most diverse place... just one of them) so their culture is not concrete...Can't recall a definite cultural aspect all Americans follow suit (this is merely on my experience and knowledge)... what cultural aspect is US losing from embracing homosexuality?

These are merely questions I'm wondering. Just surprised by your statement on the US. I'm not trying to push my views on others or you.

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From my manga-reading experience, I think it's a bit harder to do men cross-dressing, not because they can't sell it (they can), or because the romance has significantly less squee value from any of the sources everyone is discussing (it doesn't--I still squee), but because it can be harder to write a man (one of the more privileged group) sneaking into female spaces and insinuating himself into relationships as a female without it seeming like he's using women for his own gains.

When a woman pretends to be a man, she's using the identity for her own gains, but she started off from a disadvantaged position--especially in a historical drama. You have to be a very skilled writer not to make the opposite scenario squicky.

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Excellent point.

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Good point :) I forgot about male insinuating himself into relations w/o the possibilities of coming off as using the women for his own gains.
Wasn't there a manga where the guy had interests that most females took interest in, like sewing?
Maybe it can start off as a male wanting friends with similar interests like him and end up cross-dressing?
Or maybe something like helping out a female friend? I don't know. You are correct that it takes skills to come up with a plot that does not make the scenarios squicky.

Now that I try to recall all those mangas, some might have touch on such topic, but didn't go heavily into it. I can see the closest they can think of is a friendly beta male that just bond with females better than his male friends. And that's not really hitting it off as much for some viewers/readers.

There's an anime called the High School Life of a Fudanshi. A male that likes reading yaoi mangas. However, right in the first episode he said to his male friend that he likes reading yaoi manga, but still likes girls and not guys.
An anime that can become socially narrative, but chose not to. And it's totally fine. A funny anime regardless if anyone wants to watch it. It's also short too. It's a parody of people that like reading yaoi. So a bit warning as some jokes may offend someone.

~
Just wanted more different dramas with less stereotypical characters and setups. Just my opinion that gender bender trope is unappealing for me since I've read a fair share of mangas and watch kdramas with gender bender setup. So when you commented, I started recalling the mangas with the males attempting to dress as females (or similar situations) and realized that it might not turn out so well depending on the writing. Thank you for reminding me :)

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That's a really good point! I was actually vaguely thinking of this while writing the previous comment-- how, every story in which a guy infiltrates a place that is mostly comprised of women almost inevitably develops a sexual undertone at the outset and becomes more of an exercise of catering to the sole male gaze. The women in such spaces become filtered through the male gaze, which just ups the squick factor by a lot, because there's something exploitative about most of the scenes that such a scenario envisages, and it nearly always borders on non-consent. On top of which it's extremely hard to write it otherwise, because these dynamics are so ingrained and internalized in society.

Although, I would still debate whether that is really the reason we don't get the reverse gender-bent narrative, because I haven't actually seen this level of engagement as re: how such a narrative may be exploitative, because so many drama non-gender-bent narratives are incredibly exploitative anyway. I think if there was a market, those dramas would still exist, as do many other highly squicky tropes, so I would still imagine that the fact that men-pretending-to-be-women doesn't cater to the romance fantasy of the core demographic also factors in a bit.

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I beg to argue that Moonlight is a different case because

1) he accepted that it was him that is different whether it's him or her, it doesn't matter because he has accepted his own term, so he can be BI
2) she didn't lie to him to being a man or a woman when he asked, we never get the time when he asked her to get a credential, she is a eunuch and he is the prince, before, she is a man who tried to get close to his sister and that's how they met, she always said she is man when no one asked,
3) It's his 1st love, the happiness of finding that his first existed in normal situation (*at that time) make him happy
4) There can't be a betrayal if you never think you are wronged or don't get what you want,

Han Kyul feels that it's unfair because he struggle so much and he thought she didn't,
Lee Young doesn't feel that way because he just wants to be together with her, it doesn't matter who is who and with knowing it's her, the obstacle for being together is removed, he doesn't need to make it a problem to achieve his goal,

so on and on, I don't think there's a perfect way to make all people agree on certain view because this is the matter or the angst level each people desired,
some people like to be questioned by a long way, some people like me like it in a moderate way,
It's like what happen in W as @Imbuk said
>>I loved how the ending scene kind of glorified the ordinary<<, moonlight choose the ordinary way to solve the gender bender, acknowledge that the gender doesn't matter

the usual dramatic way is being betrayed because she said this, he said that which can happen depends on the character, their old, perception, situation and the plot, Coffee prince is all about the gender bender while MDBC just used it as the setup,

here in the moonlight, we have a rebellious prince, realised that his 1st love is not something totally out of reach if they want to be together and choose to move along, but it hurt the girl instead, who on the other hand feeling betrayed because of his demeanour,

--so I think it's not a cop-out, it's a different perception because of different goal and minds,
han kyul may already think about all the things they'll do if they are together, planning and accepted his reality while Lee Young just want to express what is in her minds because he thinks she deserves it and he needs to make peace with his heart, ---

IMO, being angry or handling it long because someone is not the gender you want is being dramatic more than it should be ,
is the gender that important or is it because the character wants justification for what they feel?
or it because the feeling of getting hurt has to be fair?
or is it because happiness can't come from an ordinary thing and just need to overcome a heavy emotional burden?
we all have our own view but I think MDBC didn't make a cop out,
it fitted the general setting, flow and character

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@Sancheezy

I completely understand your point and I can see why others would feel that way. But for me, saying gender is immaterial is indeed a cop out regardless of who does it and how. That's because it's a lived reality for a lot of people. It's different from asking whether gender should be immaterial. The only people with privilege to say that gender is immaterial in a relationship or transcends it are the people who've never been persecuted for it. Of course, it's easy enough to ignore gender or to not have a heavy emotional burden due to it, when ultimately the leads are a man and a woman.

The only reason I'm comparing these dramas is because Moonlight is one of the first dramas I've seen since CP that got to the confession stage with the male lead still unaware that the female lead is female. To reach that stage is indeed a huge step, and it involves a certain depth of self-conflict, which I personally didn't see in Moonlight at all. Which is why I'm not saying there should have been conflict, but that there should have been no confession because the narrative didn't justify its existence. It'd be far more believable if Lee Yeong went through all the confusion, hesitation etc. as re: his growing feelings for Ra On and then found out she was a woman and was happy, as you said, about his first love being "normal for the time."

But I think the point about her not lying to him is kind of technical. She lied by omission (Eun Chan also lied by omission, Han Kyul assumed she was a man when he first met her and she never really set that presumption right. Ra On also obviously knows that Lee Yeong believes she's a man.) And that was what Han Kyul felt so betrayed and hurt about; about being lied to for so long by someone he loves (not that they weren't the gender he thought they were.) Of course Lee Yeong didn't since the gender issue never had an impact on him in the first place. (But that is why CP is groundbreaking for me, because it did have an impact, both emotional and psychological.)

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May I say, Zoe, that I loved your analysis of Coffee Prince. It was my first kdrama and I'd have loved to discuss it after watching, but I saw it a few years later. That was well over a year ago, I've seen dozens of kdramas since, and I have yet to see one that elicited such a response from me. That was such a BRAVE drama, even in comparison to film in less conservative countries, and that had as much to do with Gong Yoo's angst as his avowal of love for someone he thought was a man. In this respect, at least, I think Moonlight copped out. I'd like to have seen more of the crown prince's struggle with his own gender identity when he realized he loved a man. It would have made either resolution - knowing or not knowing - more genuine and more affecting to me.

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@Barbrey: I think it took me a while to get into Coffee Prince. While I found the gender-bent narrative vaguely interesting, I didn't want so much time spent on the will-he-find-out/when-will-he-find-out thing, if there was no real emotional payoff, as I assumed there wouldn't be. But, as it turned out, there WAS emotional pay off and how. Coffee Prince is iconic precisely because, as you said, it's brave. It used a trope and turned that on its head, and really explored it. Since then most dramas have just used the trope in a rather copy-paste manner; used its conventions to further the skinship of their leads and their romantic arc. They rarely, if ever, try and do anything different with it. While commenting on Moonlight- as here- I'm constantly reminded of the genre conventions for it (it's a light, youth sageuk) and how it is was meant to be predictable and not heavy or a social narrative, but does what it does well. None of which I'd deny at all. But I just don't think there's anything wrong with expecting more out of dramas or hoping for a new treatment of an oft-repeated trope instead of the same near-misses and will-they-won't-they.

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Yesss I agree (see my full comment above around 4.1.1.1) I feel like for Hangyul there would be expectations around coming out necessitating changes in his identity and people's perception of him.

For Yeong, what's in his heart is quite far removed from the reality he has to perform. If found out, loving a man would be one extra troublesome thing in a life spent navigating around enemies, but I think eunuch or girl, he's probably given up any expectation of making a relationship "official" if it's not political.

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@aceyyy: your comment is indeed very interesting and raises some different points, I enjoyed reading it!

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Wow guys! This thread was too interesting to read with so many views and opinions, I didn't realize Time passing at all. And right now, I am itching to watch coffee prince.

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@Zoe. You just said everything I didn't know I wanted to say about gender benders. Thank you for that great analysis!

I adore Coffee Prince, it's probably my favorite kdrama of all time, yet I haven't really liked any of the many other gender benders I've seen. It's a trope that mostly annoys me and for many of the reasons stated here.

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@Kaybee

Thank you, I'm glad we agree! ^^ It took me a while to get into Coffee Prince, but each time I watch a new drama based on the trope, I'm reminded of just how iconic and bold Coffee Prince was, despite having been written ages ago and being one of the first dramas on the theme out there.

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Ah, Coffee Prince! I second what you said, after all these years, no other romantic comedy drama has ever been as well done as Coffee Prince was imo (gender bender or not). I love it to death! Truly, that period where Gong Yoo battles everything he believes about himself to come to accept the fact that he may be in love with a man, and then CHOOSING to accept it? That was so well-done! It is always on my re-watch list ^^

With that said, I also do agree that in gender-bender dramas, it's mostly the romance aspect of "truly loving someone despite hardships/obstacles" that really sells it. And in somewhat conservative societies, what's more forbidden than gender itself? You can have wealth, social standing, family feuds - but really those are more circumstantial than being about the person. When it's the "person" it resonates more on "someone being able to love us despite our personal flaws" which is the highest form of loving someone.

Coffee Prince was the only one I've watched where they truly seriously explored it. I think to be safe, none of the later gender-bender dramas have been as willing to take the risk. Besides, it would take a very skillful director to execute it in a thoughtful, sympathetic manner.

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But don't you think characterization and events make things different? First of all Lee Yeong is 19 year old without any experience with girls.

1. Lee Yeong was not homophobic to the begin with. - His closeness to Kim Byung and Eunuch Jang he didn't mind misunderstandings too, he went along with -making good memories date- with Sam Nom and he doesn't know proper personal space for men lol.

2. Lee Yeong was afraid of losing his friend so he was angry with himself (for one whole episode at that) once his romantic feelings kicked in. He has written in confession he wanted to bury his feelings not because he was ashamed but because he was aware of risks politically and losing his friend.

3. Lee Yeong looked very concerned and alarmed after he heard rumors about Crown Prince being gay it also took another whole episode for him to gather courage and confess thanks to Ra On's encouragement.

4. So Lee Yeong was ultimately happy once he confirmed his eunuch is girl after all and he may not lose her if he openly confesses.

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>>4. So Lee Yeong was ultimately happy once he confirmed his eunuch is girl after all and he may not lose her if he openly confesses.<<

yah . . . she can reject him no matter her gender too right?
especially if she is a real man, so it is a he,
he might just resign to other chamber because it's burdensome to work with someone that loves you but you can't love him back,

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That's why he stressed that confession was useless and selfish while he thought of Sam Nom as boy, and he was so relieved when Sam Nom the girl closed her eyes to accept his feelings. Lol he had zero confidence in himself despite being almighty :D

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to think about it,
Idk if we had another story when gender bender get rejected ala Jeremy X Park Shin Ye character in you are beautiful...
that one is sad, he loves her for whatever she is and it didn't reciprocate,
when that happen, the matter is less about a gender, a confusion or emotional conflict but the obvious answer,
she just didn't love him back and that's the important thing,

kinda sad if you tell to people,
"I once like someone and handle it hard because I think I am gay for liking him, turn out he is woman, but she wants to just be a friend"
*used the in and out penguin meme,

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@Sancheezy

Lol, Jeremy (or the Hana Kimi Nakatsu character) truly had it harder than even Han Kyul since he went through a whole process of accepting that he may be gay, and then didn't even get the girl after all that internal emotional conflict.

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My humble opinion is Coffee Prince brooding would be out of character for Lee Yeong and unnecessary angst at this point of story so I'm glad it didn't happened.

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@Wow: I agree, I didn't need him to brood, honestly. I don't need the drama to be Coffee Prince redux, what would be the need for that when that drama already exists. What I merely feel is that the pre-reveal confession scene is unnecessary and it rings emotionally false to me. It's the show paying lip service to a love that transcends gender and socialization without actually showing it.

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I don't think the reveal is unnecessary, it serves a good development for both of them,

LY who know it all along alone actually hurt ra on in the process, she thought he is toying with her and that's not what he think what should be happen, he thought all woman would be just easily happy,

Ra On in the other hand realised that she cares so much about his affection and being afraid with all the possibility...what if he really likes men??
It's like han kyul is ra on (especially when she heard the prince never like a woman before) and LY is eun sang(?)

they do have the society boundaries with all the rumor and the fight, how ra on is constanty try to avoid his affection and how other people aware, we just got it in different view,

Just like the fall in love stage, we usually think the girl will realised it 1st because the guy will only take it as brotherhood but we got the opposite, the guy realised it 1st and the girl thought it just a brotherhood,
or we can have it the more social justice one when she gets outed in front of public and he with his heroic way saves her, probably along the way of saying he is my woman and if he didn't get angry after that (I probably raised my eyebrows too but this is different)
but isn't the scene is the same situation with CfPr but play with different view?
I even think this is a commentary that even if the man know it all and confess, he still didn't own the girl and he can't just act alone even when he thought she also likes him, he needs to asked 1st..and told her what he knew,

so in my observation, it the twist that is needed
*write on phone, grammar and something is likely overlooked

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I actually liked the pre-reveal confession precisely because it allowed us to experience the kiss through Ra-on's eyes. From her perspective, Yeong had no idea she was a girl in that moment. I guess I just like that we got a chance to feel the same way she did about it, as it was happening? I think that alone justifies the purpose of that narrative choice for me. I don't really feel it was manipulative on the show's part, if only because Yeong himself was being mischievous by confessing to her as a "boy". He tricked her, and the show tricked us too, in order to highlight that in the beginning of episode 8. I actually found it to be a funny, sweet payback on his part.

But, that said, I don't think that letter was much less of a brave step from him, given their circumstances. I liked that it was his choice to man-up and confess, however tragically & hopelessly, that led him to discovering the truth of her identity, thus renewing hope that they could actually have something tangible together. I do think that, had he not found out then, he would have gone through a lot more angst before actually acting upon his feelings. But, while I would have loved to see that, I don't begrudge the show for not going that far, if only because so few gender-bender dramas have fun with the "she doesn't know he knows" portion. And I thoroughly enjoyed that.

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@ Sancheezy @ Chandler

You guys have really interesting points, and I agree with them in general. I think, in the end, it's going to be a matter of preference. The show chose not to delve too deeply into the trope and that's its prerogative. Partly also because the trope is not front-and-centre for it (since the reveal came as early as episode 8), and so it makes sense in context to keep the tone light and breezy even for the reveal. I'm just expressing a general disappointment at the fact that dramas casually use this trope but- post CP- seem to have no inclination to go further, to actually make it important for the characters beyond just the tropey goodness of skinship or to push their characters further, to challenge more. Ra On's confusion re: Lee Yeong's sexuality could have been a very interesting arc on its own, but it was resolved within the episode and thus had no real impact for me. Anyway, now that that's out of the running, I'm looking forward to what direction the show will take!

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@Wow: I've considered those scenes before, but as re: Lee Yeong not being homophobic-- I don't think it's about that, because to not have any major concerns whatsoever re: his feelings for Hong (being a man) apart from losing his friend and politics- i.e. no actual internal battle with himself- would not be a liberal acceptance of homosexuality, it would mean that the drama exists in a social vacuum. That it is completely devoid of a realistic social context. Sexual identity is incredibly socialized even today, and self-acceptance is not easy without a culture or home that supports the same. So for the Crown Prince to accept it that quickly, regardless of how homophobic he is not, wouldn't ring true to me.

I do understand your points and I accept that it may not be that big an issue, but again, I don't think a whole episode is time enough or an actual arc. It's merely a few scenes in an episodic narrative, and Lee Yeong spent remarkably few scenes angsting about how his being gay (or bisexual) would actually affect him in the public eye-- that's why, while they exist, I called them throwaway scenes, they were merely tacked on. In fact, after finding out, he was incredibly blatant in his actions and only fueled the rumors- like in the umbrella scene with Hong, while obviously no one else knows, so they'd still be mistaken about him (as was Ra On herself)- so clearly he couldn't have cared too much about it or how it may affect him since, at that point, the situation had changed for no one but him.

I just have to accept on faith that he gathered courage and had an internal battle and accepted it, etc. in the space of the episode. The problem is we've already seen this done excellently before, so most other dramas post-CP don't seem to have that emotional payoff, even while following a similar trajectory.

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Oh, I see. Then my acceptance may be due to my lack of knowledge about this irl and imo PBG managed to convey his inner struggle with very few scenes so I get the point immediately and feel for him , admittedly it really didn't hit him until Sam Nom stepped back and cut him off as friend. Hence both confessions felt sincere to me , back to back edit served as to highlight it being miracle to Lee Yeong. If he had not attempt confessing first he would not be able too see it. To me it was not about he loved her as man anyways kind of lip service because I already know he loves her, he knows he loves her, but afraid of losing her. Lee Yeong is tend to be passive and went with safe rote but he is slowly opening up because of love this is kind of character development I appreciate in romance genre.

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Honestly, I, also, think the show gave us strong indication that he suspected, then confirmed, that he was the she that did the dance at the ceremony for the Qing ambassador. I think when he made his confession it was done w/out conflict because he knew it was a she, not he, that he was falling for. I am glad, very glad, we aren't being dragged through the unbelievable set up him not figuring it out until much later so that many more sexual tension hi-jinx and close calls could be thrown into the script before the big reveal. So, this prince is not an idiot, yeah!!! He can tell the difference bwtn a young boy and a young girl, no matter how they are dressed. Smart and observant young Prince.

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my only issue with these faux-homosexuality dramas is that they are extremely heteronormative. yes, they cast light on how a person struggles with his or her homosexuality. sure, it shows how love transcends gender. but all of these are short-lived. their endings are always the same - the story will only be resolved if the main characters pursue heterosexual marriage, as if suggesting that male and female love are the only possible route or the only "natural" and "acceptable" form of love.

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Yes, that is why I think those cross-dressing stories lack depth in general. And it is not only a heteronormative issue: besides cross-dressing as a guy, most of the time the girl will eventually end up dressing and living as a girl and as everyone expect her to do.
But the thing is, having a girl dressing as a man to obtain male privileges hold a real feminist message. If they don't keep it until the end, it becomes pointless. In that regard I think Sungkyunkwan Scandal was pretty well done, because the guy confessed to her while thinking she was a man, and when he learned the truth he struggled to accept that she was a woman living as a man (which was as unacceptable as being homosexual at that time). In the end they were together but she continued to live as a man.

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@anabear. I completely agree, which is why I feel like most of such stories don't break taboos or bring about paradigm shifts- they only reinforce the heteronormative. They usually don't even really struggle with any perceived homosexuality, the reveals happen just before that becomes an issue.

Even apart from the homosexuality angle, in general cross-dressing could actually be explored a lot more should dramas ever want to-- gender confusion or dysphoria or psychology etc. But they're usually just tropes to make the leads exist in the same space and while I know we'd all like to read more into it and see them as propagating some larger truth about love being gender-blind, the narrative often doesn't live up to the premise and goes back to your point about heteronormativity.

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There was a gay couple in Kim Soo Hyun's Life is Beautiful: Song Chang Ui and Lee Sang Woo had an epic, heartbreaking, beautiful love story.

I do remember that the drama was well-received but the gay love story was extremely controversial. However, it's Kin Soo Hyun. People couldn't exactly complain about her since she's such a legend in the biz. That storyline was well-written and explored the reality of homosexuality in a way that was tasteful and realistic.

If you're looking for shows that deal with the topic in any depth, I think it's a bad idea to look for that in gender-bending shows because if they really wanted to explore that topic, they'd do so with a real gay couple and not a fake one

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I kinda remember that one, it because of Lee Sang Woo...haha

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Yeah this! I think people missing the point, mdbc is light saguek gender bender, basically a heterosexual love story because the girl is in disguise. CP reaction is faithful to his character. I'm glad the way mdbc doing it, it stays true to its character and narrative flows. Plots are fast paced and conflict solved in an episode, its delightful.

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@Saaraahaanaa

I get that, I honestly do, which is why, again, like I said, I didn't need Lee Yeong to go through an angst-ridden period for 3 episodes trying to come to terms with his feelings, I just wish this show hadn't added in the letter-writing scene to elevate its lead romance just a scene before the reveal.

But I would like to say that Coffee Prince too is a light gender bender, it's a romantic comedy and lives up to that thoroughly. It's not a social commentary on sexual identity crises or homosexuality or anything. But it still manages to pack a lot of impact in the short scenes where it does deal with its thematic. It went beyond the trope and managed to be fun and light and deeply exploratory. Which is probably why it's stood the test of time so well.

I was merely addressing a point that one of the Beans of Wisdom raised and which someone else answered and giving my own point of view on the why of the faux-homosexuality question, as it has been raised, and because it interested me. I don't think MDBC is any worse off, I was just making the point that most dramas post CP use the trope as a trope, it's not about going beyond gendered identities and falling in love with someone despite that. It's the same point you're making re: MDBC being a light and fun decidedly heterosexual romance.

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'Cop out' was my immediate thought too. Otoh, when I thought he didn't know, I thought it was too imitative of Coffee Prince. Still would have liked him not to know - there were only a few ways the thing could be resolved and I'd have preferred the imitation to the cop out. Loved your analysis of Coffee Prince, by ths way! That was my first kdrama, and started me on this kick. Sadly, I've yet to see kdrama take on such controversy so bravely in most other dramas.

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Oops, thought this hadn't posted.

I'm wondering if the show might be downplaying the homosexual angle to play up another one. I found myself increasingly uneasy as the episode progressed with the unequal power dynamic between the two characters.

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I wrote before but just in case, you may wanna check tvN's Hyena (2006) if you would to see how kdramaland handled homosexuality controversy 11 yrs ago of course you can always count on tvN to be avant garde even from the beginning. If I recalled correctly they are 4 male friends in theirs 30's and one women. All of them fall in love with her except one that he is gay but none of the other knows about it, he even tried to like her sexually because he's still struggling with his discovery (funny enough I think it's mentioned that he discovered it in US).

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So this was the magic behind gender-bender dramas, hehe! :D I find it interesting that we all have different views on this. Never crossed my mind that the forbidden romance would be the key. For me, gender-bender has been always about one thing: an excuse for the main couple to spend time together, grow closer and allow the awakening of feelings. It would work the same way that the contract marriages trope. If not for this "situation" the couple could not spend that much time together, they couldn't get to know each other so well or have some skinship :P

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I couldn't agree more with Imbuk's comment...

The Snow White thread was hilarious.

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The Cinderella threads are a gem. Please stay until the end, I can't possibly survive this drama without you guys! I already opted for the fast forward button, it's amazing how SHORT the episodes are getting...blessing in disguise or what.

A little of it applies to Scarlet, no ffing tho. Felt myself getting giddy just thinking about Bashful aka Baek Ah. Adorabs!

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Lol. I would love to attend a Dramabeans University. Imagine the endless possibilities.

DR 1002 Candyland: Introduction to Spunky Heroines
KPSY 1001 The Psychology Behind Second Lead Syndrome
KHIS 3001 Sageuks: Kings and Dynasties
KFAS 1001 Sageuk Fashion: Beyond the Funny Hats
KHIS 4001 He Said/She Said: Gender Bender History
KLAN 4001 Advanced Korean: Living Without Subtitles
KANT 2001 Knetz vs. IFans: Cross Cultural Perspectives
KANT 3001 From Wrist Grabs to Frozen Kisses: Theories Behind Lack of Evolution in Sexual Behavior
KPSY 2001 Psychology of Trauma: Mother-in-Laws

Okay, I better stop now. I have actual work to do.

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I want to take the KANT 2001 and KANT 3001. Those two sound fascinating.

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I know. Anthropological studies were always fascinating to me too.

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@Sue: For KFAS 1001, I would like to see a related non credit elective on Funny Hats. Those hats....I don't know what it is, but I adore all the hats!

We need another one for armour too.

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Pass or Fail. But if you want to pass you have to make a funny hat and wear it around campus.

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Your classes are great:) laughing on 4001 - so true! Plus 3001, how is it happening that no girl came with broken wrist after it? We can see some development in boys/girls kissing/acting - ranking needed ;)

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This development merits a field study. To Korea or bust!

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@Sue ? I love how your K-Drama curriculum has so many different specializations!!

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This is only part of the undergraduate course catalog. Just imagine what we could do in the graduate program.

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KFAS 1001 Sageuk Fashion: Beyond the Funny Hats: can anyone tell me the meaning behind those square belts they wear? It looks so uncomfortable! Is it meant to prevent clothes from flying up? If so, why don't they have them on hanboks?

KLAN 4001 Advanced Korean: Living Without Subtitles: random, but I just remembered reading a comment that they were watching a drama and panicked when the subtitles didn't come up ... and then realised the dialogue was in English! I totally feel this person! :)

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Ha Ha. I want to take all the courses! :D

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Oh my goodness, all of these comments are great!

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That would be a BS degree for sure. ?

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LOL. These are hilarious.

May I respectfully propose the following also:

KDOL 1001 From Idols to Acting-dols: The Good, the Bad, and the Unfortunately Awkward

DR 2104 Sunken Ships: Moving on from OTPs that were not meant to be

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Lol at IU and the dwarves comment.it's totally fitting.

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Thank goodness for Beans of Wisdom because I missed the Snow White comments the first time, and it just made me laugh so hard I probably cleared a week's worth of sinus drainage. Take that, you stupid ragweed and mold counts!

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Sorry if that was gross, allergies are hell on earth right now in the US midwest ???

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I've said it SO many times before but I'll say it again here, I'm just feeling so blessed and happy to be part of the DramaBeans community and able to wallow in the bliss of intelligent and civilized conversations back and forth without people being mean and nasty to each other like on other sites (yes, allkpop, Im talking' to you). I raise a loud "Huzzah!!!" to this community. Thank you all! Now back to refreshing and reading.

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???

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+1

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Yes, so true! It amazes me that they read all the comments. I don't think any other site has a section like this at all. Best site ever!

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Excited to be featured in this edition of Beans of Wisdom: thank you, DB staff!!! ???

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Haha, I could have told Emanresu that he'd get more than he bargained for with that question. I guarantee every woman who's ever liked a cross-dressing story (or gone a step further into yaoi) could write a ten-page essay on why it's a squee-worthy trope.

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Omo! you guys included my comment here, kumavo DB team! :)

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Oh wow my totally nerdy comment on Hanja made it in! In my second week on Dramabeans too, haha, thank you so much:)

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We should tag team more often, my fellow nerd!

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We totally should Barbrey!! I enjoy our nerdy conversations so much :D

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I wish there were some courses in my university related to Korean dramas, K-pop, Korean variety shows etc. then I would finally study what I want to study and enjoy it. Imagining watching k-dramas as homework is making me cry T.T

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i can't believe i just spent time reading all your comments and discussions. If only i studied as hard as i have been reading dramabeans recaps and all your comments, I would have aced all my papers.
the MDBC discussion was intense, the arguments logical and almost everyone got me nodding in agreement. but in the end, all that stayed in my mind were the multiple expressions shown on CP's face when he realised that his mind didn't play tricks on him( he kept seeing the girl in Som Nam), and that he can confess to a Girl without being rejected by a Man who is not gay (and thus lose his friend forever). well, that is my take on that.

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I agree with you. Just because Moonlight doesn't really have a homosexual narrative does not mean only heterosexual relationships matter. I don't really understand why some viewers were disappointed that Lee Young was relieved to find Raon being a girl and the story is indeed a heterosexual romance. I mean, Raon can't turn into a male biologically in order develop a homosexual romance now? Lol. Lee Young had made up his mind to confess his feelings in a letter even though he thought she was a man (one that enjoys hanging out with gisaeng, at that - such a man is probably attracted to women). Young was not homophobic and I don't have an impression that he had struggled with discovering his sexuality. If anything, he considered his love impossible because he's in love with a friend and a servant and all eyes were on him and hoping him to fail as a crown prince.

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the expressive changes is goooold,
I feel it's the payoff, to see him confused, smile and turn cheeky make me realised that he just loved that person and his mind didn't play tricks on him...

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From the discussions regarding Moonlight to the "K-curriculum" comments, and everything else in between, they're all absolutely fantastic ..... just like everyone in the Dramabeans community!!

Thanks everyone for being one of the reasons why this site is the best.

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Second time on Beans of Wisdom. Yay!

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Hoping to start a discussion regarding the inner workings of k drama productions. A recurring complaint is why certain dramas make production decisions that appear to be at odds with the experience level of the director and writers.

Questions like:-

1) do idol actors and/or their management companies have a say in drama productions in as far as their face time, character directions and story line?
2) what influences a writer or director (other than ratings)? What goes one behind the scenes?
3) How do k-drama productions balance between artistic content, challenge social norms, and staying commercial and popular?

Sorry if this is not making sense. But some recent (negative) examples.

A) C4K ... seems like Hye Ji character is getting nearly universal downvotes. Did the actress or her company "force" the production to give her character more face time?
B) W... overly complicated storyline
C) UF... hmmm overuse of tropes...

Hope to get some insight...

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So many great and interesting comments!!

About Imbuk's W-comment: This really intrigued me, as I for one would love to have a more ordinary life. If you're in a position to take ordinary for granted, consider yourself blessed. It's not a luxury granted everyone and I wouldn't mind if my makjang life became just a tad more ordinary. Makjang is fun on screen, but not in real life.

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I wouldn't exactly say that my life is free of makjangs, just that I am so used to it, that right now, they feel ordinary. But I guess, I am blessed in that I have all the essential things in life to be happy and content. What I meant with respect to w is that it had no regular makjangs, it was either matters of life and death or one forgetting the other, so it just felt that more significant for them to have a ordinary happy ending. And I really hope your life becomes as ordinary as you want it to be, Kaybee! :) Here is to being extraordinary people with ordinary lives! ;)

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* here is to being extraordinary people with ordinary or not-so-ordinary lives! :D

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Ha! I wonder if an extraordinary person can ever live a truly ordinary life?

My friends don't hesitate to call me a-million-D (because 4 dimensions apparently aren't enough ?) and recently one of them gave me a gift with a quote saying "No one lives like you". If only she knew I spend my Friday nights in my PJs bingewatching dramas... Not much extraordinariness about that LOL!

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I am not sure about that either kaybee. But I will give it a go and let you know. ;) wow, so you are already an extraordinary person. Ha ha.. I do that too!

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That makes sense, I sometimes get that feeling too. It's true that there's no ordinary makjang in W due to its rather fantastical nature. And thank you :) I think for me it's not so much about leading an ordinary life as it is about having the choice to do it, if that makes sense? I like your version - as long as you're an extraordinary person a completely ordinary life will still be plenty interesting ?

I liked the ending of W in the same sense you did - that they just got to live an ordinary life that they picked, for themselves was a true happy end ? It was such an insightful comment you originally made about this!

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I guess, ordinary is in your perception. What a greater part of a society accepts as routine and boring becomes ordinary but even that differs among different societies, classes, countries and cultures. So, what may seem ordinary to me may not seem ordinary to somebody else. I guess its better if I stop using this word ordinary now, haha. But, I get your point that some people doesn't get the choice. In that case, we just have to make the most of what we can, I think. And thank you, kaybee. It was fun discussing this with you. :)

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It's my first time reading this thread and I liked it!!! I keep laughing for the comments. I better not let pass this kind of thread next time. ??

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Gosh these comments about Hyeji are so on point, thank the lord for fastforward button! ??

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