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[Hey, that’s me] Me and Mi-young

By Amilia

I adored Fated To Love You. I was obsessed when it was airing and I watched each episode multiple times a week. I would think about it randomly while going about my day. I would wake up early on airing day to read the Soompi forum live-cap posts. I even made my brother watch with me. I know I’m not the only one to have loved it, but I often get the impression that other people like Fated To Love You in spite of the heroine, Kim Mi-young, but she was the whole reason for my obsession.

I recognized Mi-young from the moment she was introduced. She was me. She was a people pleaser. She had trouble saying no. She didn’t know how to flirt. She never got mad. Despite being painfully, pathologically shy in everyday life, she had no qualms about singing and dancing on stage. Despite her mousy personality, she wore bright colors in classic styles. Never in my life have I identified with a fictional character to this degree. When she turned and looked into the camera and explained, with a self-deprecating little smile, that she was a post-it note: someone everyone needs but no one values, someone who can be used and discarded with little thought, well, let’s just say that 5 years later I am still using a screencap of that moment as my avatar on another forum.

This sort of character rarely makes it onto television, especially not as a main lead. People want to see powerful, confident female characters — and I don’t blame them. Strong-willed, opinionated people are more interesting than people-pleasing doormats who can’t say no. I enjoy and admire charismatic heroines too, but I don’t relate to them.

Mi-young I relate to. Big time. I don’t deal well with conflict. I have major issues saying no to anything. I knew how Mi-young felt when, even after practicing saying no with her best friend, she can’t actually do it when her boss asks her to run a personal errand for him. Because, well, running a few errands is a LOT easier than saying no.

A few episodes later when her mother is horrified that Mi-young is being pressured and guilted into marrying a stranger, I got that too. I also have people around me who run interference for me and know me well enough to know what it means when I hesitate, and they know to immediately back off. (Side note: this is my major beef with a lot of second leads. When someone works up the nerve to say no, you should darn well listen to her! Don’t keep trying to get her to change her mind! It is not romantic!) Now, Mi-young and me, we can say No if it is important. It just takes a lot of effort and it is usually easier to shrug and make another cup of coffee, or slip out quietly the next morning without telling anyone who might object.

Neither Mi-young nor I get offended or angry. At almost anything. I have gotten mad all of once for about 5 minutes in the 12 years I have worked at my current job. It shocked everyone so much that I got my way immediately, and have gotten gentle ribbing from my coworkers about it ever since.

As for Mi-young, every time someone would do or say something that would have had another character up in arms, Mi-young would just roll with it. She could always see why someone would do something, and even if it hurt her, she could empathize. Which is not to say she wasn’t above an occasional passive-aggressive remark or guilt-tripping every now and again if goaded enough. When leading man Gun asks for a divorce, and then tells her he hopes she will live happily for many years to come, she tells him she has used up all her happiness. And then she walks away. Because Mi-young, however little she resembles a Strong Female Character™, does have an inner core of quiet strength. She is not going to try to stay with a man who no longer wants her.

Mi-young’s world is a fantasy, full of bright colors and beautiful men who have no problem wearing orange suits. The sort of place where accidental one-night stands with billionaires happen, and then lead to pregnancy, marriage, and true love. My world is much more mundane. The sorts of things that happen to Mi-young never happen to me. But I could see myself reacting in just the ways she did, should such outlandish things happen to me.

I even share Mi-young’s taste in clothes. As a rule of thumb, drama heroines wear fabulous clothes that they look very good in, but that I would not necessarily care for myself. Mi-young’s wardrobe I would totally wear. Bright primary colors in classic styles. Scarves. Full skirts. Just look at how cute her clothes are! And while my wardrobe in general is more casual than Mi-young’s, several of her outfits have analogies in my closet.

You can say what you will about Fated To Love You, I will probably agree with you. And not just because I don’t like conflict. It is not a perfect show, and I am not blind to its flaws. But this show is one of the reasons why, 6 years in, my K-drama addiction is still going strong. Because it said that people like me are worth telling stories about. I have loved this month’s theme and reading about who everyone else identified with. Because people like you have stories worth telling too. And dramas have stories about us all.

 
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Thanks for the write up, @amilia! Like you, I was obsessed with FTLY inspire of its flaws. It’s one of those dramas where I shed tears which is very rare. I discovered Jang Hyuk here and loved him despite Gun’s laugh. I also identified myself with Mi-Young to a slight extent. However, over the years I found my identity and learned to stand up and speak up for myself. Mi-young also did.

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I personally relate to Gun's laugh...i have a crazy laugh similar to his despite my quiet personality but I'm actually a loud brash person who is just shy and reserved at first around strangers or people I don't know.

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Ok, I hadn't thought of it before, but, Me Too!!! In regards to the laugh, anyway. There was one time in high school when I went to a school play. And one of my friends who was on stage crew told me she knew I was there because she heard my laugh. Which means she could hear and identify my laugh amid an auditorium full of other laughs, all the way backstage. There have been other similar incidents since then as well. So I know my laugh is distinctive and carrying. I really hope it is not annoying as well. But I am going to keep laughing either way.

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Yes, Mi-Young learned how to say no gently in her classic way, but firmly. I remember I gasped when she sauntered through the airport years later with sunglasses and a confident attitude. I thought: “If she could do it I can do it too!”

Jang Nara is perhaps my favourite actress because she manages to portray quiet strength in her characters. She seems frail but she’s really tough. Thanks for writing about Mi-Young @Amilia!

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She definitively seems very fragile. I always get surprised when she act bad ass, because I think: that is not in her nature! But she always nails it anyway. Very good actress indeed.

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Yup. If I have to pick, she's my favorite actress. I love her. And yes, a large part of it is because of Mi-young. But I've loved everything else she has done as well. And the way she balances between fragility and strength is awesome.

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Yes! She could say no before. But earlier in the drama it was lacking the gentle firmness. Which invited people to pressure her to change her mind. And how you say no makes a huge difference. (Can you tell this is something I have been working on and thinking about?)

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Thanks, @tizzy. I also fell in love with Jang Hyuk here, and have followed both him and Jang Nara ever since. Love them both!

I am very glad you are able to speak up for yourself now. I'll admit, it is still something I am working on. I am finding myself more comfortable in my own skin as the years go by, though.

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I love this. Naturally, I can't say I am a people pleaser but i tend to keep to myself especially outside. But when I am at work, no matter how well composed I am, it gets to a certain point where it cracks by people's behaviour. What I am trying to say is that I am no PUSHOVER.

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Good for you! I am working on not being so much of a pushover. For the most part, I am comfortable in my own skin. I like pleasing people. But sometimes it is good to be able to stand up for yourself.

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As much as I would love and want to be like Scarlett or Bae Ta mi from WWW, I know that I am more of a candy. Even though, I haven't seen FTLY but from your writeup I gather that Mi young is perhaps different from usual candys, the one that is rare and also more real and relatable. Such characters get frustrating on screen but put those situations in real life and most of us end up responding the same way.

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Exactly! I would love to be Scarlett or Tami. Or Byun Hye-young from Father is Strange. But, no. I am Mi-young. And that's OK. Mostly. :-)

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Brilliant post, @amilia! I rewatched Fated to Love You earlier in the year, and fell in love with it all over again! Mi-young is a wonderful heroine, one I'm proud to root for... Until she isn't. The problem I have with the second half is that the writers just drain Mi-young's big colourful personality away - Gun fundamentally stays himself, but Mi-young is unrecognisable. The first half of this drama remains one of my favourites, but I can't forgive what they did to Mi-young in the second half.

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Aw, I saw it differently... maybe on a rewatch I won’t like her so much in the second half. I will always love Lee Gun though, laugh and all. People complain about his laugh, but these pics reminded me how bad I thought his hair was 😂

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Aw, I love Gun! And his laugh!

(Sorry if I've ruined the second half for you!)

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Don't worry, you haven't. I think I should rewatch it actually, because it had a lot of food for thought, but on the first watch I was mainly concentrating on whether she gets a happy ending or not with Gun.

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I know what you mean! I've found multiple times that returning to a show changes my perspective on it - I was so emotionally affected by Fated to Love You this time that Morning of Canon would make me tear up for days afterwards! 😂

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Re: Gun's hair. I love floppy hair. And it was so fabulous in the beginning. But then he just let it get a bit too long. . .

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Thank you, @frabbycrabsis!!

I am finding your perspective on second-half Mi-young fascinating. I have always thought of her as someone to aspire to. But maybe it is OK that even though (as I said above) I am more comfortable in my skin than I was when I was younger, I still identify with first-half Mi-young. And I love that you call her big and colorful!!

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Aw love this line "Because it said that people like me are worth telling stories about." as I feel that kdramas spectacularly capture a lot of humanity in them despite the crazy plots and storylines...maybe that's part of why they're so addicting too

i personally have a huge soft spot for Fated to Love You, i even watched the taiwanese version afterwards and really enjoyed it <3

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Exactly! The people in dramas feel like real people, just going through things that never actually happen in my life.

Taiwan FtLY was my first Taiwanese drama. And I liked it enough to be excited about the Korean remake (I really love cross-cultural remakes). But somehow I connected with the Korean version so much more than I did the Taiwanese.

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Hi @amilia *Hugs* and thanks for your sharing. Such a lovely post.

There's enough you feel that resonates with me, and got me with a tear in my eye. And like the comment above, your last lines hit me deep in the feels.

... people like me are worth telling stories about. I have loved this month’s theme and reading about who everyone else identified with. Because people like you have stories worth telling too. And dramas have stories about us all.

And that's probably why kdramas in particular, who get most of the characters real and right, most of the time, and so too their messy relationships, keep bringing me back to watch.

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Thank you so much, @growingbeautifully! Your posts always give me warm fuzzies. :-)

I agree. It's the characters who have kept me obsessed with and watching kdramas for years.

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This quiet people-pleaser appreciates your write up, @amilia. In large part I love Kdramas because I can relate to the heroines more than those featured on the tv in my country. It is great to see my type valued too, as you say.

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Right?!?! Now I know that the Strong Female Character (tm) is a reaction to weak and non-entity female characters. But just because we are quiet and go along with others doesn't mean we are necessarily weak and we are definitely entities. And I love that kdramas celebrate us along with the more dynamic women.

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Mi-young is indeed a great character.

Before I watched this version I had watched and loved the Taiwanese original (which also had a wonderful female lead as played by Joe Chen- and a fabulous second male lead as well).

Despite Gun's laugh (which can most politely be described as disconcerting) I loved this version even more- in large part because Jang Na-ra gave such a wonderful performance. She has been one of my favorite actresses ever since.

It remains one of the few k-drama's that I have watched twice.

It is a great story in no small part because it shows Mi-young's growth into a strong woman The former Sticky Note Girl is not only no longer a doormat but can even say no to the second lead's proposal and does (with all of the viewers thinking she must be absolutely insane to turn this guy down- because Daniel is one of the greatest guys of all time).

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As I said above, the Taiwanese version was my first TWdrama. And how I learned that TWdramas could be racier than Kdramas (planes and trains and rockets, oh my!) But while Joe Chen did a lovely job, for some reason I never identified with her like I did with Jang Nara. I've been trying to figure out why. Don't know yet. But Jang Nara has been my favorite actress ever since as well.

Daniel really was awesome, wasn't he? Although he had to have known what her answer would be by the way she kept changing the subject every time their relationship was brought up. That said, I really appreciated that he let her say no.

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Yes, Daniel was awesome- and you are right in thinking that he knew the odds were against him when he asked Mi-young to marry him. But he asked anyway- because he has that kind of courage.

One of the best things about Daniel Pitt is that he does not resent having been adopted and given an a new name. He loves his adopted parents and would never dream of being known to the world as Daniel Pitt. To him the only drawback to that adoption was that for a while he could not look for his little sister. Finding her is what he wanted most of all. And, as you know, at the end of the show he and his little sister are re-united. He doesn't get Mi-young, but finding his sister is even better than that. For once the second lead is a winner at the end of the story- he just wins in a different way.

I agree with you that Jang Na-ra somehow fit the role better than Joe Chen (who is a great actress). There is something about Jang Na-ra - she simply seems to bring a human warmth to all of her roles that seems very rare. You really see her character as an actual person rather than as a character in a story. I too cannot put my finger on precisely why. But I do know that this has been true in every show that I have ever seen her in.

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I meant to say that Daniel would never want to be known to the world by any name other than Daniel Pitt. I really should do a better job of proof reading in the future.

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Wow, Amilia! You leave me with no words.
I loved Mi young, most of the time, and I also identified with her inability to say no. I liked fated to love you until they brought the noble idiocy that killed you know who. I was so angry at the show!!!!
But I don't think I ever blamed Mi young, she was practically faultless in my eyes at the time I watched the show.
And if ever, I got angry at Gun most of the time, because he didn't deserve her.
But anyways, I love your post. Thank you for sharing! Definitively, heroines like her and like yourself have stories worth telling!

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Thank you!

I had seen the Taiwanese original, so I knew to expect the noble idiocy going in. But then Gun was so much better than the male lead in the original (personal opinion), that I started to wonder if they might change the plot. And wonder how Mi-young would believe him when he pushed her away. But then it happened anyway. And you know what? While I was upset (crying) that it was happening, I loved that Mi-young left with her head held high. (This is one of the things I have never understood about second female leads -- why would you want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you?)

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Thank you so much for publishing this! I got a bit giddy to see it. :-)

There have been several times I have started and tried to write about my love of Mi-young, to post in various places. But putting it into words was harder than I thought, and I'd give up midway through. Even this time it took me the whole month, procrastinating by rewatching the drama, and then coming back to my essay again and again, composing things in my head during the day, and then trying to write them at night. And finally sending it off at the very last moment before the deadline.

I am so glad you extended this theme another month. And not just for my essay. I really have loved reading everyone's stories, and the extra month is delicious!

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This month's theme has made me realize how many characters I *wish* I was like...and how many are not. I love this post so much. I haven't seen this drama (but you know I've just added it to my list!!), but I love the fact that she's not super plucky/strong/etc whatever. I do love a feisty heroine, it's true, but i also love seeing female leads who don't fit into THAT box, too. All heroines aren't the same!! (Also just from the screenshots, i LOVE the clothing and totally felt everything you said about that) <3

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@amilia Thank you for the write up ~!!!

If the noona romance write up for Theme Of the Month described my love life experiences in a nutshell, your post describes my personality and everyday life in a nutshell-- the only difference is that I have learned to say 'No', but very gently, to people when push comes to shove, because I've experienced some things in life that put me in the most bottomless of pits that I do not want to revisit again if I don't have to and by saying "No" to things, I know that it is healthy and good for me.

Another character that Mi Young reminds me of is Kim Hye Jin (or Li Hui Zhen in the Chinese remake) of the Kdrama "She Was Pretty"-- the girl that's always in the background, the one that everyone goes to in order to get stuff done but always underappreciated :(

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I love this piece.❤ Shy female characters have a special place in my heart because my younger and more insecure self could relate to them. It feels so good when they show emotions and do things that are so not them.

Alas, I only watched a few clips of the Korean version of Fated to Love You (I think I watched parts of the final episode though). I adore Jang Na-ra and her looks on the drama. I even like the plot in spite of its imperfections. My only gripe was Jang Hyuk's initial hairstyle in this drama.😂 I know it's lame but it was just a major turn off for me. I was so surprised when I watched him in Running Man and realized he was good-looking.

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Now that you mention it I realize that I really hated Jang Hyuk's hairstyle as well. Seriously, what were they thinking? But his acting was so much better than his Taiwanese counterpart that I could overlook it. Gun's laugh, on the other hand, had a sort of fingernails on the chalkboard effect on me.

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i love fated to love you too..this drama is full of love,for the family,for a friend,for a sister/brother,for grandmom,for a parent,for a baby and love for your self..i enjoyed every episode..and i learned lesson too..

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I really liked your post, Amilia. Fated to love you is one the first shows I watched and I saw myself in Mi-young the mouse too. And I wanted to find her inner strength in crisis. Plus Jang Na-ra was amazing.

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