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[One True Pairings] One true partnership


Strong Woman Do Bong-soon

By @ChinguMode

Relationships are a partnership. We all know this; we even repeat it like a mantra in comments sections. But television is still replete with relationships portrayed as “romantic” despite a power imbalance that can sometimes verge on the disturbing.

From Strong Woman Do Bong-soon to I’m Not a Robot, dramaland is full of romances that are notable for true partnership, mutual respect, and consideration. And yet for every Min-min and Bong-bong, there are another five Goblin child brides or Playful Kiss’ domestic slaves.

These relationships are imbalanced, disturbing, and in some cases abusive but they continue to be portrayed as romantic. In 2018, it seems women are still being told that a controlling partner who infantilizes and demeans you is not only acceptable but desirable, especially if he’s wealthy and good-looking.


Witch’s Romance

But before we condemn television with a wave of our judgemental hand, we should take the time to celebrate those relationships that really are a true OTP: a One True Partnership.

In the beginning of Witch’s Romance, 39-year-old Ji-yeon is constantly harassed by her frantic mother to marry quickly. She’s berated for still being single when she’s nearly 40. The message seems to be clear โ€” a woman must get married and she must do it before she’s too old to be desirable. Already on the cusp of middle age, she’s asked to compromise her supposedly too-high standards and tie the knot quickly.

Later in the show, however, her mother clarifies her position. She wants her daughter married not for marriage’s sake but because she wants her to face life with a partner. Life is easier, she says, when you don’t walk it alone. But that doesn’t mean you marry anybody. She would rather her daughter be single than married badly and so she cautions her against rushing into marriage if she’s uncertain of the man she’s engaged to.


Witch’s Romance

It’s this emphasis on partnership that underpins many of the female lead’s relationships with the men in her life. Faced with a choice between a socially acceptable mate and a true life partner, she eventually has the courage to choose the latter, even with the large age difference. While this show has definite flaws, the underpinning message is that coupling up is less important than finding a true partnership.

So much of television is concerned with portraying cold, wealthy jerks saved by the love of a good woman. But just because it’s a trope doesn’t mean it can’t be done well. Strong Woman’s Bong-soon and Min-hyuk were such a popular pairing, not because of the way in which they embodied this trope but because of the way in which they subverted it. She was as damaged by feelings of difference and isolation as he was, and while she was able to give him the family he lacked, he was able to give her the confidence to be herself and to embrace her abilities.


Strong Woman Do Bong-soon

Who can forget watching I’m Not a Robot and realizing that Min-kyu knew and loved Jia in four different ways before realizing she was the same person? And those ways were for her brains, her abilities, her loyalty, and her heart. And while she originally thought he was a nasty jerk and possibly insane, she eventually fell for his kindness, vulnerability, and emotional honesty.

Most importantly, these two gave each other strength. For her, it was strength to be herself and pursue her dreams, and for him it was the strength to face the world and participate in it fully. They were better together, not just as a couple but as individuals as well.


I’m Not a Robot

This couple’s portrayal as a relationship of equal partners was implied, not just in the overt dialogue and plotting of the show but in the way in which their interactions were framed by the director. While Min-kyu and Aji-3 were constantly framed with him in a dominant position to her, Min-kyu and Jia in comparison were framed on the same level, despite Yoo Seung-ho being taller than Chae Soo-bin.

It’s no surprise that this OTP is one of the most popular among recent dramaland shows, and is a reminder that OTP should stand for One True Partnership.


I’m Not a Robot

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Thanks @leetennant, very well written :) I agree completely, and I would love to see more dramas portraying healthy partnerships between romantic couples.

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Thanks @aussiegrl from another Aussie Girl.

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It's nice to meet another Aussie K-drama fan :) whereabouts are you from? I live country Vic.

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Our nation's capital via Brisbane sometimes.

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Very well written! I'm so glad you wrote about Minkyu and Jia. They're one of my favorite couples ๐Ÿ’•

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I also love Min Kyu and Jia. They're top of my Top 3 OTPs along with SWDBS and Healer.

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What is SWDBS?

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Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

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Oh I love that!

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Beautiful write up, @leetennant !!!

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Thanks for commenting, I'm glad you liked it.

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Beautifully said. I was thinking of doing a post among similar lines, but you said even better than I'd ever thought of 'One True Partnership'. ^^; I really enjoyed this post - and it makes me want to watch INAR. I've seen the other two you mentioned and enjoyed them for the same reason,

Other shows I think fit the subject: The Princess' Man, King2Hearts and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

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Agree totally. At least with WFKBJ. And yes yes, you should watch INAR. There are a couple of episodes very hard to watch but still, the ride is worth!!!

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INAR is wonderful. I've heard very good things about TPM and WFKBJ. They are both on "My list". Unfortunately my list is very long but I think I'm going to put them on the top of it and watch them soon.

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Also, HEALER.โค๏ธ

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Another one: Oh My Venus. A kick-ass lawyer and a fitness trainer (chaebol in his free time) who really sees her as she is. They help each other from beginning to end and act as mature adults once they get together, with no power play between them and silly misunderstandings. Seriously, they were so cool.

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Adding it to the list... The List is groaning

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Oh, wow... your post is great. I hope I can also write such a nice piece this month. Although I am planning to write about those who have not been true partners! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚.
Now coming to the real world, I think you are absolutely right. One should marry a person who you can talk for hours, a person you can respect and value the way she/he is alone, but also the way she/he is with others. I have learned very late that I should not fall in love with a guy who doesn't have friends who love him. Sounds extreme? Min kyu, and our lovely Min min didn't have friends (at the beginning)... But my point is, if you are with a guy who nobody loves, maybe just his mom, what reason do you have to love him? Because he is good to you? Usually that is only at the beginning, LOL... on the other hand, a man loved by others have proved he is worthy of love by everyone, by being good to others too, and not only to this one girl because he is interested. That would be a man who I can respect because I see he has earned the love and respect of others before, not in order to conquer me, but because he is like that. I know in dramas, the production and cast don't have time to include all relationships our OTPs have, but I like those in which it is pointed out that that person is loved, like IGK's High School King Savvy, which I recently saw.
A person who can be a partner in different roles he/she faces in life and it is loved and respected can be a person you can also love and respect and complement. True partnership is about to become better with someone who is already and also good by him/her(self).

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You're so right about people who don't have any friends who love them. Even misfits who don't fit in with the norm find other misfits to be friends with (isn't that why we're all hanging out here lol)

That's why INAR was so satisfying in my view - as soon as Min kyu is physically able to be around people, he makes friends with the Santa Maria team and with Ri-el.

That's also the reason why I would have loved that drama to have finished with him surrounded by his new group of friends, instead of the long umbrella kiss. Or show the group of friends and then have another kitchen kiss. That would have been fine too.

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Or just an entire episode of kitchen kisses...???

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How about half an episode? There could have been a chingu party and then they would have ended up in the kitchen. Because all the best parties always take place in the kitchen.

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Lol! Well, they left is something for our imagination.

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yes I wasn't satisfied with the IANAR ending either...I loved the main couple but too many loose ends. The ending was too rushed and too much time was spent on that stupid company shenanigans.

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It's funny you should mention High School King of Savvy because my love of that show is my secret shame. I know it's not very good and I still find the wedding a bit weird but I've watched it about five times.

I also have never really liked the idea of falling for somebody just because he's nice to you - esp when he's not nice to anybody else. It's not one of my favourite shows, but I think this is the reason people like Strongest Deliveryman because the male lead is just so decent to everybody.

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"falling for somebody just because he's nice to you - esp when he's not nice to anybody else" I was in a relationship with someone like that and I felt embarrassed introducing him to my friends, not recommended. you can't live in a romance bubble forever without the air getting stale after some time.

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Yes, I know that embarrassment too. It is soo painful! Not healthy at all.

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I absolutely adored strongest deliveryman! That is why I wrote an article in defense of Kang soo!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰.
And yes, totally true. Think about See-he in BTLIOF: He was kind of a freak, nerd, etc, but he had his friends at work and he loved cats. A man who loves pets is always a good man๐Ÿ˜. And what about our beautiful Gang doo in JBL? He was pushing away people who loved him, except Sanfg man, but they kept on sticking to him, because he was so good! Even Healer had his three women worrying for him, even though he wanted to isolate himself in an island. There you have it. Lee Minseok in High School King is also very beautiful. I enjoyed that drama for the most part and I would watch it again, so I am with you in your secret shame! ๐Ÿ˜›

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@javinne, are you me?! Mentioning 4 of my favorite fictional men in one post!

HSKOS is not one of my favorite SIG dramas (but I still really like it), but if I could choose one SIG character to be my boyfriend then it would definitely be Lee Min-seok! Hehe.

HSKOS was one of those shows where I was like, โ€œOkay, I KNOW this pairing is wrong... I KNOW... but... I donโ€™t care that much...โ€ LOL. SIG was, quite frankly, brilliant in it, and it made me laugh more than maybe any other drama. It was funny and had a lot of heart, so it was easy to ignore the flaws and the things that would normally bother me.

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You made me smile. Thank you. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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Show: Let's get married!
Me: That's a terrible plan!

Seo In Guk is the reason I love that drama. His interpretation of the character is just amazing. That was the first thing I saw him in and it was only when I saw him in something else that I realised how good his acting actually is. He completely embodies his parts. He's very underrated.

I kind of liked the idea of the female lead as this "space alien" who didn't fit anywhere else but with him. But in execution, she drove me bananas.

After watching so many shows, I've found I really dislike the "I love you, don't touch me" part of kdramas as well. The idea you can have a romantic relationship without touching somebody - to me - is weird. And this show did that as well. If you don't think you should be kissing a high school student (and you're right about that) you probably shouldn't be dating him.

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@leetennant You just stated the exact reasons why SIG is my faaaaave! I love him so much. And miss him so much. Youโ€™re so right that he completely embodies every character he plays. I just loved seeing him go from charming swindler in Police Unit 38 to puppy Louis in SKL, one right after the other. That versatility! Itโ€™s a trait that is a constant among most of my other favorite actors as well, like Lee Min-ki.

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I haven't seen JBL and BTLIOF yet. They're on The List...

I really loved that Healer had such a great relationship with his Ajumma and "dongsaeng" as well as with the other half of his OTP. And, yes, in High School King I found Lee Minseok and Seo In Guk's interpretation of him really interesting. He was such a loyal friend and son. I guess my shame isn't so secret anymore... ;-)

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Nope. But hey!! If you will watch these shows, watch BTLIOF in the first place and watch JBL at the end. You must save the best for the end!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Do watch both of them! Iโ€™m super biased because they are both among my all-time favorites (as evidenced by my icon and profile header image), but they are both definitely worth the watch AND it is definitely worth it to read the comments on the BTLIOF recaps and the comments on the JBL news-made-discussion post! Both shows had such amazing, in-depth discussions.

And both Se-hee and Gang-doo are just ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–

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@javinne @mindy

Done. BTLIOF first and JBL second. Although I did promise a friend I'd watch a Chinese drama and have just found out it has 40 episodes so this could take a while.

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Chinese drama: my amazing boyfriend, and Boss and me. Those two are very very worthy. In one You have the equivalent of chaebol story but without the evil mother and with a hero who knows his heart, and in the other one you have a geeky and super funny comedy.

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@javinne

I'm going to need a bigger list...

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About HSKOS, I know you are right. I love you but don't touch me. The thing is for me: I am kind of a very religious person and I don't like the idea of sex before marriage. So in that regard, I have to agree to be careful with skinship before marriage, because you can get too much excited. Old fashioned? Yes, but well... that is also another reason why I love Korean dramas so much, most of them match with my moral standard when it is about romantic relationships. So, in conclusion, I kind of understood and supported that aspect of the show.

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My problem with it isn't the lack of sex per se. Whether a couple has sex or doesn't have sex is up to them and television doesn't need sex to work.

But these couples never sit down and have a conversation about sex. They never say "I'd just rather wait or I'm not ready or I don't believe in sex before marriage". The writers just pretend that sex doesn't exist or, worse, they act as though sex is something men want but women don't. So it's always men trying to coerce women to do something they don't want to do. And I'm always going to have a problem with that.

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I also get what you say, agree with it and understand it. Reasons for that:
- korean culture is apparently conservative. They are Asians. Shy people. I am generalizing, I know, but let's assume that just like Latin culture is very open and touchy, Koreans are conservative.
- they might not want to either be preachy or liberal in regard to showing the line of thinking about sex, so they avoid it totally in their productions, just focusing in everything else.
- it is a collective imposed approach inherited by the oldies. When they started to do television, the society was more of a prig, you know, and even now this is 2018, they kept on being the same in that regard, because of this inherited behavior.
However the case, we get our love stories where the most important things are compatibility, feelings, family, etc, and sex is just somehow there after the wedding, in a tacit/implicit way.

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@javinne Being Asian myself, while I understand the society is quite conservative, I agree with you in that Korean dramas hardly ever address the physical aspect of relationships well and seem to pretend that sex doesn't really exist and kisses are a rare occurrence. In that respect, I found Healer to be one of the most realistic among the dramas that I have seen.
That said, the lack of skinship means that I can actually watch these dramas with my parents in the room without being embarrassed unlike with American shows. :P

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How so? How come?
I disagree. It is not extreme. It is rather harsh and... thoughtless.
Things like OTP are just mere fabrications out of a writers mind.
Are you saying only people with lots of friends are qualified to be loved? That is quite thoughtless. Imagine a guy who has lots of friends and still these friendships are just shallow and baseless. But still he would have tons of friends and therefore loved and qualified to be loved?
I agree though with the fact that love has to be earned, but exactly the way you described... being good and nice to the other person. Love doesn't feel the same for everybody. Love can't be put through a microscope to do an analysis. People who are usually shy and less outspoken could feel pretty offended.
And yes. "Misfits" can have friends too. Although I strongly believe that there are no such people.

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Is it weird that one of the first people i think about when discussing OTPs are hwang shi mok and han yeo Jin from Secret Forest? I know they weren't technically a couple but I've never seen anyone so right for the other just through simple conversations in those so soju tents

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we are in the same boat dear. I love Hwang Shi mok and Han ye jin's scenes. Though the drama never made it look like them a couple ,maybe because of the genre and premise of the show, ,but i absolutely loved their paring and the partnership. Both of them being there for one another during difficult times were heart-warming. And also their conversations are so ordinary and nice.

Someone needs to write on this couple. Need a season 2 with them.

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Yes, when I think partnership my mind automatically goes to hwang si mok and han yeo jin. They're not technically couple yet,or maybe will never be, but they madr a great team.

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I was thinking about them as I was reading. Thank you for mentioning them. They're the OTP as friends. Whether that partnership changes into something romantic or just gets better we don't know. (Sequel, please!) Their solid friendship gave me life! Seeing adults have that kind of friendship on the small screen, the way we do in real life, was wonderful.

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I like that Secret Forest (Stranger) doesn't have romance but I still love them. They're such amazing partners, I loved every moment they were together.

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Both 'Strongest Deliveryman' and 'Revolutionary' Love had pairs that SHOULD have stayed respected colleagues, not lovers. Inserting the romance into the story only served to undermine the 'social conscience' narrative they were striving for. 'Secret Forest' seemed to get the pairing just right for me. You can grow fond of your coworker without making wedding plans.

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I quite liked the OTP in Strongest Deliveryman. My gripe with that show is that as soon as she became the "love interest" she got shafted as a character. She was such a strong female lead and suddenly she's pushed to the side except when they needed her to prop him. The only plotline she had in the back half was the annoying 'I love you, don't touch me' thing they do in kdramas, which we had a brief discussion on below. In that respect, it would have been better for Chae Soo Bin if they'd just stayed friends.

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Totally agree, hwang shi mok and han yeo Jin were great as a One True Friendship. They had a lot of chemistry together. In a way, they reminded me of the American show Bones (for those who haven't seen it, it's about a nerdy and cold women forensic doctor "Bones" and a strong and amiable FBI male agent "Booth", so the roles would be reversed as in Forest of Secrets). I'm totally sure that, if the show had run for longer, a very strong friendship between the two would eventually develop into love once Hwang Shi Mok were more open and had more empathy thanks to that friendship. They would have pulled a Bones-Booth move.

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I love this!
For me romance is not about the large romantic swoonworthy gestures that sweep you off your feet, but simply about finding the right partner that makes you happy, and who you can make happy. Partners need to ne on an equal level and complement each other, and the couples above do so perfectly.

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I agree. Grand gestures are all very well and good but they're actually easy. Being able to support and care for somebody long term takes actual effort. I think that's why people like what W called a "simple romance in everyday life". Because grocery shopping and cooking and ice cream is about what your life would be like everyday, not just in the hour he's making the great grand gesture.

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Well written, I really loved this one. ๐Ÿ˜Š
Kudos ๐Ÿ‘ @leetennant

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Thanks!

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Hear hear! Couldn't agree more - great write up @leetennant. More and more I feel very uncomfortable when relationships are shown on the screen that you wouldn't wish on your best enemy!

When 'romantic gestures' are borderline stalking, verbal abuse or sexual harrassment, I just switch off these days. I said to some other Beanies when discussing Prison Playbook, that asking for consent was super-swoony (as it was it BTLIOF) and dramas like INAR and JBL show that couples-falling-in-love can be done so much better than using the wrist-grabbing tropes.

OTP = One True Partnership! Love it.

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"Asking for consent is super swoony"

Oh I couldn't agree more. I especially hate the grabbing when it verges on physical coercion.

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The BTLIOF bed scene was the only proof I needed that asking for consent is romantic and sexy.

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thank you for this! That was such a good scene. I looked it up : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NZV2T6c9bM

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Yes! ๐Ÿ’–

The title of that video cracks me up. "You guys can hug!!!!!!!! You guys can kiss!!!!!!!!! You guys can do everything!!!!!!!!!!". Someone at tvN was just as excited as the rest of us!

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wonderful post. and perfectly defined the OTP.

i never liked the Dynamics of a rich, brat, jerk getting loved by one strong yet poor female lead, who thinks that male lead needs her to be a better person but what abt her. does not she need someone who can love her, do things for her, remain at her side and not treat her badly.
i always disliked that kind of pairing but sadly thats in the majority of dramas (korean or even in my country) its same. as if just redefining the male dominant society that male has to be above girl so that she can live in his shadow.

loved your post....๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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I know a lot of people loved Jugglers but I hated the power dynamic in that relationship. And from what I can gather about how it ended up, they are basically saying that a man need a woman to support him in his life and a woman's satisfaction is in helping her man achieve his goals. I just hate that message. It reduces a woman to nothing more than a servant. A valued servant but a servant nonetheless.

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I agree, I liked Jugglers in the starting because the lead appeared to be thoughtful but when in ep 8 /10 (I forgot which one) he goes and does that wrist grabbing at the blind date, it was the end of show for me, like there are 101 ways to get your girl out of a blind date other than doing it in such a crude and disrespectful manner and then the show went over ahead with the power play where in the end the girl had to lose her current position and work with her ex boss who had defamed her, that so sad.
I had a hard time with the second half of the show and then I dropped it.
I also don't understand the things that the dramas show about a secretary. There was this flashback scene in same episode where he see what she does/means for him which was like she brings him coffee( you can do it yourself, how hard is it exactly?) she waters the cactus (come on, really?) she sharpens the pencils with BLADES( which century are we in? Don't pencil sharpner companies have PPL? ) she cleans his desk (if somebody does mine, I would kill them, like its my stuff on it and I have left it in some order you don't have to do it or else I will never find my stuff again.) From all the secretaries I have seen in my life I think they don't do all this stuff and I am extremely grateful to a few who have worked in our offices because they really have helped me with so much bureaucratic paper work.
*rant ends!*

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By the way @leetennant, thank you for the wonderful post. That's the way to go!! :) :)

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i loved it at the start the most and had one bonding kind of liking, so can't say i disliked it as whole or dropped it. but yes the cliche dynamics was there so i still felt its just like good old story newly packed.

and ur mention of message is well written..
"they are basically saying that a man need a woman to support him in his life and a woman's satisfaction is in helping her man achieve his goals"

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Your comment helped me realise why I din't like Jugglers, I couldn't quite point out as to why I din't like watching the latter half of it when I loved the 1st half.

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glad you find it helpful....
i am still on my pov that i liked jugglers (choi danial is my weakness). i loved being so cute and fluffy and dreamy but at same time it could have been better...

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I was summoned.
Very well put, @leetennant (are you kidding me it's you?? no wonder the writing style felt familiar!) Whenever I like a pairing I'm doing this thing called The Louie Test. If your male lead would be equally gorgeous and swoony if you imagine him without his big mansion, impressive job and, well, money, he passes. If the prince's actions are respectful and meaningful and romantic even without his crown, you're shipping the right pairing in my book. The chaebol aura often hides a lot of abusive behavior the screenwriter either clumsily covers with family issues or doesn't address at all.

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What is the incantation for the summoning?

I love your test. Why is it called the Louis Test... oh wait, Shopping King Louis??

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Mentioning INAR in any context.
Yes, SKL! Louie had his problems but he and Bok-sil were always taking care of each other.

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That was another kdrama that was quite strong for the first 12 episodes and then forgot what it was about and kind of went nowhere. It went nowhere with delightful characters though. Louis was just such a lovely guy whether he had money or not but the show also had this wonderful little subplot about the mothers all becoming friends and having this little circle of friendship and support.

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oh that seems to kdrama version of litmus test...
i am in for it. next time ill start a new drama ill try it too.
thanks for sharing it friend.

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Haa, Louie test! Indeed, and I may add, he is even lovable without a name, he compliments secondary characters & doesnยดt limit his love to just one person, caring about everyone & transforming them into a family. He forgives his enemies, he worried about people who cause him trouble etc.

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๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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I agree with you, but I'm wondering if there should be any allowance for a character's growth and development over the course of a drama. For example, right now in Radio Romance Su-ho fits so many of the negative criteria you mentioned, but he's also a damaged and angry person. Sometimes he tries to be protective and caring (rescuing Geu-rim from a date rape situation, driving her home when she hurt her ankle, agreeing to do her radio show so she'll stop crying, breaking up the conversation when her colleague was humiliating her) - and yet he doesn't manage to do any of these things without acting like a jerk. And other times he outright humiliates her. So after four episodes, should we give up on a character like him? Or hang in there to see if he redeems himself and grows into a worthy partner as you described? In other words, does the one true partnership have to be there from near the beginning? Or does it work if the characters grow into it by the end?

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I vote for giving him a chance to grow (we're only just starting to know him) but after reaching such levels of being a shitty person... his every attempt at being decent is soured by something unforgivable. like he saved GR from being assaulted but then made her feel bad about sleeping over and then he basically implied they had casual sex to piss his mother off which???? in korea??? why is he like this
and ye he looked for her bag with her but then he left her alone with a strange old man.
if any of you ship him with GR at this point I'm judging you.

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and like???? he agreed to do the radio show for GR's sake only and then he REFUSES TO LET HER DO HER WORK and doesn't even have the guts to tell her her won't read her script after she's so open and trusting and reveals so many of her vulnerable emotions and HUMILATES HER in front of the woman who bullied her and I'M SO MAD AT HIM

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I agree that character development is often the point of the show. But it works better when a character is a kind person underneath - like Min Kyu and Min Min - and have just formed a wall to stop themselves being hurt. If they're e.g. Gu Jun Pyo for Boys Over Flowers it's more difficult.

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Ooooh yes, I definitely agree.

I have no problems with flawed charactersโ€”I LIKE flawed characters. I like seeing the slow reveal of a different side of them as their protective walls come crumbling down, I like seeing them grow and develop... but there is a difference between an interesting, flawed character and an asshole with absolutely no respect for othersโ€™ boundaries or feelings.

I might be fine with the second type of character when the show isnโ€™t a romance, but when romance is the main focus of the show then I really canโ€™t accept the โ€œtotal-asshole-male-leadโ€. It just rubs me the wrong way on so many levels. I donโ€™t want to see what is essentially violence against women in relationships romanticized on TV, whether it be physical or verbal.

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This is why I keep coming back to the Mischievous Kiss franchise. That show was huge in Japan and then half of Asia did a remake. That relationship was abusive. I also watched the sequel and that had a plotline about how domestic violence was a good thing. It was just horrible. And a lot of people think this is the most romantic show ever made.

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Some time last week when I was having a mini rant about this exact topic on my fan wall I also mentioned that franchise!

You know whatโ€™s funny? It Started With a Kiss was my first-ever Asian drama. I was 12 or 13 when I watched it after it was recommended to me by a friend. Many of my early watches had similar hero typesโ€”Hana Yori Dango, Goong. Itโ€™s funny how Iโ€™m now so allergic to something that actually dragged me into this world! How our tastes change.

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@Mindy, I'm not sure if it's our tastes that change or as you get older and get more life-experience, you realise that behaviour that seemed very romantic on the screen or on the page is just really utter garbage in RL. Like a guy saying: 'I have no idea why I like you so much. There's nothing good about you, but I can't stop thinking about you.' Yuck.
Relationships like that do not pass my I-give-it-a-year test.

I was going to write a blog post about it. Then I thought that maybe my views on life were too cynical lol.

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@cloggie @mindy

Like the Darcy proposal in Pride and Prejudice. And that book was written in 1813.

He says "I'm in love with you despite everything that's clearly wrong with you but I guess I have no choice but to marry you because of my overwhelming feelings".

And she says, "Hell no!" but in a Jane Austen way. Which just shows that even 200 years ago women were rebelling against wealthy chaebols acting like the nice, poor girl should be grateful for their interest.

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@leetennant ha ha - I was going to make the Jane Austen comment. Yup - Mr Darcy says that and GETS TURNED DOWN. That's what people seem to forget. Also, it's one of Jane Austen's earlier books. A broken heart later, she wrote Persuasion which is my all-time favourite. Very different type of romance.

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@ChinguMode: I completely agree with you. I tried watching Playful Kiss a long time ago and had to stop...It was so disturbing in its abuse-masquerading-as-romance that it gave me a lot of physical alarm symptoms. To this day I feel disturbed when I am reminded of it. That was supposed to be romantic? It was wildly popular? Ugh. :(

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I love character growth in a drama. If there is no character development, it doesn't make for a very good story!

But I much prefer it if a person has a particular reason to behave badly towards another person, like something has happened in the past between them or they're misinformed about the other in some way.

If a character just acts appallingly towards everybody, it makes it very hard to create a believable redemption story for them. Sometimes, to me, it seems like lazy writing when someone just acts like a jerk. As if they need to create conflict between two characters and this is the easiest way to do it.

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(After being completely spoiled by JBL) I like flawed characters (wtf am I saying! Nobody is perfect, everyone got issues!) but not Su-ho ,he is a grade A jerk, he can learn what he did wrong and understand and become better except he does not have to do it all with GR, more like better luck (maybe behavior) next time!
The best growth arc I saw was in JBL with GD, he had given up on tomorrow and he learnt how to deal with his problems but he never stopped MS from being strong, he wanted her to be more stronger by the end of day, his wanting to live with her was for him a way to learn how to dream. He never came in the way of her dreams and supported her even when he was trying to run away because he was scared that she give up on them to be with him.
So when a character does not do this they don't deserve the other person, like Su-ho he basically went and spilled kerosene and lit fire on GR dreams of her first radio show, its her strong character that she does not give up on her dreams and hopes.

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I'm crying cause his self-sabotage is so goddamn relatable to me (I'm also a human-shaped trainwreck) but I'd never ever EVER be so irresponsible with someone else's feelings and aspitarions. all he had to do was email her back 'yo look the script i got from my agency fits me better good luck next time' to give GR a heads up and I wouldnt say a thing!!! he could have resigned even! but no, instead he's being an immature sociopathic tsundere by torturing someone he likes! you can't do that to people! just punish yourself after work like normal adults do! don't drag a girl who doesn't even know you into your shit! AAAAAAA

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early marriage of woman is not about desirability.. there is practical aspect to it too.. having kids..

post 30 body faces its own issues (not saying everyone will but chances increase)

and that's just how it is.. and no human can live a lonely life (solitude and loneliness very different things)

ofcourse, to each his own but these decisions once delayed.. will have its repurcussions.. and a person should be ready to face those and take responsibility of their life (happy/unhappy at a later stage) when they make decisions..

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ur so right we should all just marry whomever if we want to have offspring because what could possibly be more important
and its not like its possible to have children without being in a loveless marriage right
jesus christ

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lol.. are you being insecured???

I didn't say anyone must marry... but there is a reason why parents stress on it.. specially asian countries..

just because you may believe in sex before marriage.. if a certain culture doesn't.. it gives you no right to look upon them , right? Exactly why are your opinions all right and an entire country's wrong?

The point is simple.. elders push for it.. because fertility is one of the reason... and in societies that thrive on social bonding.. they believe there is time for everything.. and that marriage and family are important.. because as you grow old, parents will die etc etc.. so you need your own support system..

don't be immature to twist what i wrote in previous comment... and don't be a snob to think you are above others

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also, love is fantasy.. and a fancy word.. not reality..

all your hollywood or kdrama romances are not real life..

Not everyone finds love.. or if finds it ... it culminates into marriage.. even concept of arranged marriage is a proven concept..

so for christ;s sake.. stop acting like a know it all

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ofc I'm insecure, I'm having this exact conversation with my mother (like most unmarried women who are nearing their thirties). sorry if you're offended (on behalf on entire countries no less) but constantly telling women they're made to be mothers is annoying. there's no reason to PUSH a woman into a relationship because if she keeps waiting she might not become a mother. so what? you can adopt. or get a dog. or find meaning in being your own person.
I'm NOT critiquing people who married for practical reasons and obviously arranged marrieges sometimes work out great, many a lot better than those that stem from passionate love with no substance. it's complicated. but telling your children to essentially just marry already cause your body is about to be worthless is abusive behavior no matter what.
sorry if that makes you mad. I just know what growing up in a family created out of convenience does to a person lol

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Yes..unfortunately you are the one in wrong here.. because you are projecting your personal issues on me... when I clearly did not say what you are twisting my words to mean..

if your mom is giving you hard time then that is not my fault..

I clearly stated what i believe is the rationale for elders to say that.. and I also mentioned.. that the onus is on the individual.. you don't want to marry.. have your beliefs .. great pursue them.. but learn to owe up to those responsibilities..and consequences of those choices..

I see women who choose to not marry and are happy .. and i have seen women who chose to not marry , pursue career etc.. but now when they are old they literally blame their parents for not forcing them into it

I think it is extremely impolite of you to start demeaning others.. without even understanding where the other person is coming from..

The reason i made that post is because the topic maker did the same thing in her write up.. present it as a blanket fact that when people worry about a girl not marrying, its about desirability and everybody is out there to look for negatives.. No!!!!.. there are some logical rationales also... these rationales still don't govern a woman's life.. but just be aware.. simple as that!

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precisely my point on your love comment... just as all arrange marriages don't work out, love marriages don't either

Divorce also should be taken seriously... when you absolutely know that a relationship cannot work then ofcourse find your happiness.. but nowadays.. one person gets smitten here, or just bored of sex life.. and seek a change in partner.. again comes back to the same point.. do people tend to give their best to relationship if they know divorce is an easy option?? As long as both parties try great..

Anyways coming back to what you have written.. no body is making women out to be sex slaves or baby churning devices... please have respect for elders (such as parents who would never want/imagine that for their kids)..

But you can't escape that right? when you live in a society and there are some norms.. or there are some life experiences which make older people think marriage is important..

while outsiders can be ignored.. but with parents and family.. all i am saying is respect their opinion.. and if you disagree, disagree politely..

the kind of inference you have drawn is extremely derogatory.. its not about your body dying and producing offspring.. its about future planning on a stable personal life.. and I am sure.. as long as the child has a well thought response to their life.. aspirations/what they want to do.. and practical approach to life.. parents would be willing to see the point.. if not. .. even then nobody can force you.. everyone is a master of their lives..

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not sure why you're acting like i personally attacked you but coolio we're on the same page about choices having consequences. it's fun to remember that grown women have a right to make them on their own and don't have to sacrifice their future for some fantasy of her family. having a husband and children doesnt mean you'll have someone to take care of you when you're old. just because you walk the road paved for you by others doesnt mean that things will magically work out.
but anyway. take care

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good..

I did take it as a personal attack because you completely twisted my words in the first post.. and then the kind of philosophy you were projecting my words to mean was extremely insulting..

i never said you don't have a choice.. good if that is clarified

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"also, love is fantasy.. and a fancy word.. not reality.. all your hollywood or kdrama romances are not real life.."
I know I should be a little offended at this level of consescension but wow, who hurt you? have you ever seen a dog?

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lol... you are definitely having a nap.. or still stuck in your dream world..

open your eyes and look around.. people find companionship in all forms.. every relationship has its challenges..its not rosy..

No wonder your are coming up with those non realistic comments..and basically just rattling off dialogue from drama script is it?

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I'm sorry but are you ok?? ๐Ÿ˜‚ why are you so mad holy shit I'm genuinely concerned for you

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ha ha.. wake up and smell the coffee.. then you won't have to be worried about me..

because you will realize how deluded you are right now.. in what you are reading, writing, thinking, doing :) ...

americano? ha!

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what i understood from your comment is that women who want to be mothers and are scared of loneliness should just 'take one for the team', close their eyes and settle. I took it to the extreme because there are people who do think like that. some governments do treat women like baby-churning machines and they use the same arguments you did in your first post, the same kind of 'fake concern' about a woman's future or health or happiness. (I'm NOT saying YOU're being manipulative, but) in real life, in personal settings, it is extremely manipulative and if I was too expressive/emotional/rude in my first message, then I'm sorry, but it hit a sensitive place.
You on the other hand are being EXTREMELY demeaning to me personally and I don't want to continue this discussion. I'm glad we both have similar views on the matter in general. Regards.

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lol.. i guess can't be helped.. you are again projecting your personal issues i believe..

I said, very categorically, that women desirability going down, as topic maker pointed , is not right but depending on cultures.. there are some logical perspectives as well... and it is upto you to ultimately be responsible for your choices.. as long as you weigh in all factors and their probabilities and make a choice consciously..

And you can't expect the other person to keep mollycoodling you when you can't respect them right? So don't give me that attitude of me being demeaning to you.. you started it..

Finally glad.. that you get the point..

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me demeaning you*

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I feel like this is a sensitive subject for some people but I would like to respectfully point out that often a woman's 'desirability' is related to her fertility. And some woman are going to have a problem with that.

A woman's role is not to just have children (and many women can't physically have children either so this emphasis on it is very painful for them). So if you frame these questions around a woman's fertility, you are going to offend some woman.

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how am I framing anything.. i am responding to a specific comment made by topic maker.. first her generalization is wrong, second facts don't change just because someone is comfortable/uncomfortable with it... i just pointed out 1 reason that people have in mind when they talk about age and marriage.. any woman's decision is hers.. but that won't change scientific facts..

If anyone has freedom to make a decision, they also should be able to argue for it responsibly... companionship is another reason i quoted.. so I don't understand why everything is being taken out of context.. i didn't say marriage is all about kids..

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We are lucky that now we are getting dramas that have more types of otp that you are talking about. K-dramas have definitely started giving more power to the female leads and giving them the strength to change their lives rather than depending on the male lead like in the pre-2010 era. I hope chinese dramas also take a step in this direction as even now their relationship dynamics are too traditional.

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I think the worst ones are Japanese dramas. I've had issues with kdrama but I can't think of one that's as bad as Mischievous Kiss for example. That was just awful. Admittedly I couldn't bing myself to watch the Korean version of that so I don't know if it was better.

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such a wonderfully written post with so many good points. You hit the nail right on the head with OTPs. I wished the media (and not just talking about korean shows or media here) took more of an interest in showcasing healthier more positive romantic relationships instead of glorifying negative ones.

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Thank you @gonebarefoot. As others have mentioned, it is getting better thankfully. INAR in particular was such a breath of fresh air to me.

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I haven't watched INAR yet but it's definitely moving up my list with all this positive mention of it โค๏ธ

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I'm the same with Just Between Lovers. Everyone is raving about it and it's heading to the top of my list.

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that one too!! but I'm a bit hesitant with that one because it looks emotionally heavy and Jun-ho sad breaks my heart.

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I haven't seen WItch's Romance but I love that clarification her mother made...I fully agree it is better to be single than with the wrong person. I hear too many stories about women with men who don't respect them and end up treating them horribly. So I choose to wait for the right man instead of jumping into marriage for the sake of getting rid of my single status. Also I read a comment here about how women should marry early for pregnancy...and I think we now live in a time when we can freeze eggs and have advanced healthcare therefore it allows women to focus on career first. I fully relate to the women in kdramas who are 25+ and haven't had their first love yet as I chose to focus on career first.

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I love the OTP from Just Between Lovers (Gang Doo and Moon Soo). Very refreshing couple... Gang Doo might come across as somewhat rude sometimes, but he was never an arrogant asshole. He was the most selfless character and he never treated the women badly just because of the fact they were women. He had huge respect for all of them .. Moon Soo, the noona, Yoo Jin...

He actually wanted to Moon Soo to be stronger, to stop being so passive and say sorry all the time. He treated the people who actually deserved it - with respect. In so many k-dramas I definitately not want a man like the ML (No matter how filthy rich he may be) , but Gang Doo is different... he is amazing. He might be rough on the edges and not rich , but he is so genuine and kind, without never being fake and definitately not a pushover.
I would definitately understand why Moon Soo would chose him over the second male lead (No matter how gentle and kind the second male lead is towards her), because both GD and MS compliment each other perfectly. :) MS is quite outstanding too btw (and GD acknowledges it without feeling embarressed) ..I mean, how often do you come across FLs being so independent , someone you can actually depend on? She unlike GD knows how to drive a car! And even a truck !!! She is great at her job (doing architecture models), having No problems fixing electrical problems etc ..

So many times i Do not understand Why the ML and FL would fall for each other, but with JBL Its different.. it makes totally sense why they would come to Love each other :)
Both GD and MS were broken but helped to heal each other after they met.. they never brought the worst out of each other, instead they brought out the BEST out of each other. A healthy, loving relationship based on actual respect.

Sry if Im not making any sense, explaining things is not really my strongest side ..,

There are Ofc many other great OTPs too, but because JBL is still so new , Its still so fresh in my memories ~

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It's on The List. This couple seems to have really impressed people. The other raving comments are for Princess' Man and BTLIOF.

The List is getting a little long...

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I did watch "the Princess man" in my High school days. The Love story was full of angst and heartbreak .. But at the same time one of the most beautiful , most romantic and most touching I ever seen in my lifetime . I would recommend everyone to watch this if they want a touching deep Love story. I have never seen any other couple (kdrama or not) with more romantic / more heartfelt relationship than the couple from 'The Princess man'

I Will definitately rewatch this now that i am an adult, but I don't think my heart Will hurt less even this time around ...

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Gosh, I love this. It's so meaningful and deep.

I agree about the OTP you listed, Witch Romance, I'm Not a Robot, Strong Woman Do Bong-soon, all are my favourites, hee.

Often, in kdramas or any romance dramas, mostly it's just one-sided effort, it's hard to see the couple support each other, hence why the OTP you've listed stand out. Also, in INAR, I love when Dr. Baekgyun suggested PI to take the job offer, Pi still wanted to stay beside him and stick through thick and thin, although frankly speaking, he's got nothing at that time. It's hard to see that in an ocean of chaebols/ Candy dramas.

But I think, kdramas nowadays have definitely show some progress to positive side, just not so much in quantity.

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The Pi/ Baek Gyun relationship is quite interesting also because Pi is the classic 'woman who has to be one of the boys to be taken seriously in science'. So while JiA is struggling to be recognised for her brains, Pi is struggling to be recognised as a woman. But none of the female characters compromise who they are in their struggles and I think that's why I love about it.

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Aren't most Kdrama writers women? So if unhealthy romantic relationships are gradually being replaced by dramas with the kind of OTP you are describing, I wonder if it means women writers' views of relationships are becoming more healthy? Or is it that producers/directors/network execs (mostly men?) are getting to be more willing to work with scripts that show healthier, more equal relationships?

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When I first started watching kdrama, I was surprised at how many dramas with poor representations of women were written by women. Like you, I don't know if it's because they're writing what they think will be popular or if it's the producers/directors/network execs. But one of my most-hated OTPs is Goblin and the writer of that is a woman. She also wrote Secret Garden. And while that had a very strong female lead, there were quite a few scenes that were quite disturbing in terms of a man physically dominating a woman.

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Goblin's OTP was an 'un-OTP' for most of the series. They deliberately made the bride much too young for comic effect, then nothing sexy happened for ten(?) years before they finally got together. The same thing happened in 'Big', except this time it was the guy who was grossly underage and they had to stage years of separation before reuniting them.

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Actually, I see your point and @leetennant about Goblin, but I cannot agree with it. I'm the first one that totally hates the rich-chaebol-that-saves-poor-heroine trope, but I never saw the Goblin as a middle-aged rich man. Maybe it's because I've always loved fantasy, but I bought his fairy tale character completely. For me, the Goblin was an immortal creature in an even bigger need of saving than Eun-Tak and way more immature, because as a magic creature he hasn't had so much experience dealing with human emotions as she has as an orphaned high school student.
It's true that the first half is about him saving Eun-Tak with the flick of Gong Yoo's finger โ€“but that's the point of dokkaebis, he's supposed to be a magical creature that meddles in the lives of humans. The second half of the show is about his salvation by the heroine, who, in fact, doesn't need any saving (she works to get income and pay for her uni). After the time jump, we see that she's become a successful radio journalist after graduating from a good university, all thanks to her efforts.
And I realize that some people felt uncomfortable with the age difference, but they only got together after the time jump when she's almost 30. In my case, I never really minded, because for me Gong Yoo's character wasn't 37 but 939. He is immune to the passage of time, so he doesn't really have an age to which the heroine's age can be compared.

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I should write a post on Goblin as well because it's such a divisive OTP. My stance on Goblin is the only thing that gets me yelled at over on Kissasian - like actual abuse.

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Oh, and I totally hated Secret Garden โ€“having the female lead being a physically strong martial artist stunt player doesn't rule other kinds of male domination out. The male lead was such a dominating jerk in the first episodes that I never finished the show.

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Applause! I too am tired of the cold, wealthy saved by the love of a good woman. Sometimes it amuses me when I see the reverse (cold, wealthy woman and a good man like in Ms. Temper and Nam Jung Gi), but at the heart of each drama I watch I am looking most for the "partnership" compatibility. Which is why my expectation for this kind of OTP also means there does not have to be romance between the partners. I think it's just as awesome when two people non-romantically form a strong partnership. Just my two cents.

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I agree as well with both these points. While I thought I Need Romance 3 wasn't very good, I did like that they had a cold woman being saved by the love of a warm-hearted man rather than the other way around.

And sometimes the best OTP is a NOTP.

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Nice touch adding a comment on camera work for Min Kyu and Jia!

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It's funny because I thought that her giant coat was a bit odd in the meteor shower scene. Then when I saw the screenshots of it, I realised it made her the same height as Min Kyu. Also the shot where she says "I'm Not a Robot", she puts her head down next to him so they're on the same level. It really struck me at the time.

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"...a woman must get married and she must do it before sheโ€™s too old to be desirable" Oh, there's similar pressure out there for men too, though its less-obviously biologically driven. Try being the only unattached guest at a dinner party. A lot chaebol princes in these series are being pressured to find a wife and settle down too.

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I loved this. I often find myself complaining whenever I see examples of male love interests treating the female partner like a child- like when a guy pats a girl on top of her head like she's a dog or something. But, I am also a fan of Goblin. However, I do admire the shows more when the pairing is a partnership.

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