[Revisiting Dramas] Second-lead-driven second watch for Delightful Girl Chun-hyang
by Guest Beanie
When I read this theme of the month, I knew it was time for me to get on my computer and start typing. Delightful Girl Chun-hyang is the first drama written by the famous Hong sisters and coincidentally also the first drama I watched from them. The first time I watched this drama, I was in my early twenties, which was an age where I had the idea in my mind of love as the most romantic thing in the world, so I used to idealize love stories. I was young and didn’t know anything about real life yet.
Now on the second time visiting this, drama I’m in my later twenties, and I have a new set of mind. I have been heartbroken, I have bills to pay, and I‘m part of the working society. What I thought was important is not important anymore and know I see the importance of real things like stability, hard work, and maturity to name a few.
I thought I would answer the questions given in this Theme of the Month in order to reflect on the outcome of this challenge.
Is it any different this time around?
Watching almost 10 years after the first time I can say that it was definitely a different experience for me. The first time I watched it, I think I saw it like the writers intended for us to see it, like a cute love story between the OTP who were destined to be and who fought so hard in order to finally be together. I loved our hero Mong-ryong and I cheered for him to finally get together with Chun-hyang. But who wouldn’t love him—he was cool, he was athletic, he was strong, and of course he was handsome. Then we had the villain, ajusshi Byun Hak-do: He was pure evil and wanted to separate the OTP using any means necessary, he was cruel, and he was self-centered. He had everything we need in a villain for us to hate him and I sure did.
But then I watched this drama for the second time and it was like watching a totally different drama! The opinion I had of Mong-ryong and Hak-do changed diametrically, and got me confused because it was nothing like the first time. Now I saw Mong-ryong as a spoiled brat—he was a guy who didn’t know what he wanted in life and who depended too much on his parents to solve his problems. And Hak-do was a mature man with a very clear vision of what he wanted, he was successful by his own means, and he was also someone with a set mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that at the middle of the drama Hak-do become petty and mischievous, but I’m also aware that it kind of had to do with the mixed signals the heroine was sending. I do think he becomes warped due to the circumstances but at the end for me he was redeemed.
Does it hold up, or was it really best left in its own time?
This drama was aired on 2005 so rewatching it does make you feel that so much time has passed. They had cell phones, but they are so old! And the way it was shot, it is not the hi-definition we are now used to seeing in our dramas. So in this area for me the drama does not hold up! Those many years that have passed can be felt when watching it.
A contract relationship is still something we viewers love to watch (especially me, this is my biggest catnip!) and I do think the characters’ personalities are things we can still see in recent dramas, so that does hold up. There would be only one thing I’m not sure could hold up in this times, and that would be the reason they had to get married. I’m not Korean, nor I am familiarized with their current social environment, but I think the situation in which they were caught which led them to getting married (to ward off social stigma of being seen in compromising circumstances) probably wouldn’t work now.
But overall I do think this drama holds up and it can still be watched and be enjoyed as in the years it was aired.
Do you still love it as much as you used to?
I still like it and I still enjoyed rewatching it, and one of the things that make that possible was that I watched it with a “new set of eyes” so it wasn’t like watching the same story all over again, but it was like watching the story from another character’s point of view, which made it very enjoyable. It continues to be a romantic comedy drama and the cute short scenes at the end of every episode still brought a smile to my face. And this drama still remains in my top three dramas of the Hong sisters, right beside Best Love and Master’s Sun. This is a drama I continue to recommend, and for me it’s a classic!
When I started writing this, I felt that it was kind of related to last month’s theme of how your K-drama tastes have changed, and I was thinking that maybe I got it wrong. But after giving it some thought I decided that it wasn’t wrong because that’s also related; who you are when you are watching a drama is connected with your actual opinion of it and if you’re rewatching a drama several years after, your new life experiences may influence your opinion. Of course, I have seen many more romance dramas after Delightful Girl and lots of them were contract relationship dramas. That also opened my perspectives and that’s why I can confidently say that Delightful Girl Chun-hyang is still a very good drama which is based in a very strong Korean folktale. I’m happy I got the chance to revisit this lovely drama and that it made me see a different side of the story my youngest self didn’t allow me to see.
On the bad side, now I’m left wishing there was someone out there writing a new sageuk with the story of Chun-hyang something with the quality of Seven Day Queen (with a happy ending). And also left wishing Han Chae-young makes a drama comeback!!
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