[Short but sweet] An ode to Individualist Ji-young
by Guest Beanie
It took me a long time to finally decide which mini drama I was going to talk about. I was tempted to wax poetic about a high school kid who fell into a puddle of water and traveled back in time to Joseon and found love with a king. Or a convenience store clerk teaching his crush how to play the guitar. Or the plethora of KBS Drama Specials I have loved and rewatched too many times to count. Or the web dramas I’ve binged when insomnia had its way with me. But in the end, I ended up wanting to talk about the mini drama I want to see more of in dramaland. The one where love didn’t cure all.
Individualist Ji-young has a misanthropic heroine in Ji-young, played by Min Hyo-rin. When asked by Byuk-soo, Gong Myung’s character, why she hates him so much, she corrects him and says that he isn’t special because she hates everyone. Her heart’s walls are unscalable, not only because they are too high but because there are wires and shards all around too. If you tried to get close to her, she will stab you and claim it was self-defense.
She knows it too and she seeks help. Or more like, she goes to therapy to get prescription. Ji-young is a terrible patient, and her therapist finds it difficult to make her open up. While I watched Individualist Ji-young, I felt like I knew how it would go. The iciest and prickliest of the ice queens will be thawed by the puppiest of the puppies, except that, in this case, the heroine is the ice queen and the hero is the puppy. That’s formula.
But what surprised me was that Ji-young, after falling in love, didn’t get a personality change. She’s definitely kinder but her walls never disappeared. She even warned Byuk-soo prior to them being in a relationship that she’s not going to change. And when she felt cornered and betrayed, she did what she’s been doing all her life, come for the person and stab them too in self-defense. This girl knows how to completely turn people away from her.
Of course I was frustrated by this. Just be together and make cute babies! But I appreciated how Ji-young was still herself and that love didn’t suddenly cure her. I loved that she started opening up to her therapist and told her that she wants to try to be better. Sure, the impetus was falling in love and missing Byuk-soo and wanting him back even after she turned him away. But she worked on herself and faced her demons all by herself, in hopes that maybe she’ll meet him again and she’ll be better to him when the time comes. Better at opening herself up, better at not lying, and better at not hurting him. She experienced being happy with a person, after the childhood that she had, and she wants to have that. Now and in the future. And so she did her best to be the person that could love openly.
To me, it was so wonderful to witness. In the K-drama landscape, we’re all used to the magical power of love. How no arrogant asshole can’t be made kind and adorable by a woman’s love. How everyone’s a softie inside. But here, we witness someone actively seeking help to face their own baggage. And it was so beautiful. In just two episodes, this show has talked frankly about mental health and seeking help for it. Without judgment. It showed how being “broken” does not mean you aren’t worthy of love. That puppies like hedgehogs too. And now I lament because I wanted a full drama with these two. Let me just rewatch this drama eight more times so I can fool myself that I watched a whole drama of them.
Tags: Theme of the Month