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[Hey, that’s me] The difference between romance and love


Her Private Life

By greenfields

I am embarrassed to say this but once upon a time, my dream was to have a grand, dramatic, heart-wrenching, passionate love. I grew up on a steady of diet of romantic tales and with disgustingly lovey-dovey parents. No wonder I was a fool who paid too much attention to romantic love.

Alas, in my own life, it was not to be. Unsurprisingly, reality failed to meet my unreal expectations. Quite the opposite in fact, I now struggle with physical intimacy. This is one of the first things I love about dramas – the slow build-up that truly creates a romance. I don’t necessarily need adult kisses and sex scenes, but I do want to feel the love.

But if my own life does not contain romantic love, why am I talking about it for “Hey, that’s me!”? Because while romance comes in later episodes, and often only for the leads, there are many side characters and Episode 1 heroines that make me go, “Hey, that’s me!”

To begin with the obvious: You Who Forgot Poetry’s radiologist Han Joo-yong, who watched dramas when he should have been studying or working and during “study” breaks, lied his way out of unnecessary plans, and knew entire K-pop choreographies by heart. I am Han Joo-yong.

I am also Episode 1 Sung Deok-mi (Her Private Life), fangirl extraordinaire. I don’t run a fansite in my spare time, but I do write about K-pop for a site that reviews recent releases. Had I been living in Seoul like Deok-mi, I may have been a fansite manager too, who knows?

As a drama lead who needs to appeal to the audience, Deok-mi knows her boundaries. She stalks her idol, Cha Shi-an, only after work hours and on public appearances, buys only one copy (not 300) of his album yet gets into fan meetings, and maintains a professional distance even when she meets him in person. Deok-mi and Park Jin-joo watch Shi-an’s music show appearance on a phone, using earphones, while at a bar. At work on a desktop, she hums away his songs with earphones plugged in. Hey, that’s me! My inner fangirl finally got some representation in dramas! A working woman who follows an idol!


Her Private Life

Sadly, some of Deok-mi’s choices, including condoning sasaeng behaviour, left me cold. Moreover, she abandoned many of her fangirl ways when Ryan Gold became a regular in her life. Disappointing. While I still hope that one day I will be able to identify with Episode 16 Deok-mi, the years have taught me that perhaps my grand romance is perhaps something other than an extraordinary romantic love.

I knew from my early days in law school that I had made a mistake. Law and I were not going to work. But with nothing else in mind, I flirted with other possibilities without settling on anything until I was left doing the only thing I knew how to do – “waste” my time writing, watching dramas, films and plays. And somehow, I fell in love with the whole thing.

Episode 1 Yoon Ji-ho (Because This Life is Our First), Lee Hyun-soo (Temperature of Love) and Im Jin-joo (Be Melodramatic) are characters I envy – they may struggle, but not only are they openly chasing their dreams against all odds, the dream they are chasing is the same as mine. I love to write, but more than anything, I want to see my writing brought to life on a screen by a team I have worked with.

I cannot identify with these female leads, because I do not have their resolve. But for a short while, that was me too. A few years ago, in my mid-20s, I took 15 months off from my present career in law, simply to write. I worked part-time, made friends with writers, spoke with small production houses about scripts, attended workshops and ran after the dream. I refused to move to my parents’ city, and held out for as long as I could – on my own, with little money, rooming with strangers.

In reality, writing something of quality is not easy; and not being a “productive” member of society can prey on your self-esteem, confidence and mental health. Law had never been for me, but was writing going to abandon me too? The single most depressing “Hey, that’s me!” moment came from a drama I dropped halfway, Because This Life is Our First.


Because This Life Is Our First

In episode 2, Ji-ho has left her house and is living in a dingy room near her workplace when a colleague attempts to rape her. She manages to fight him off and run away. She gets away, but she’s left walking endlessly through the night with nowhere to go, on the streets in her night clothes with no money.

“When I decided to follow my dream, I thought my life would be like walking through a dark tunnel. But I didn’t know it was going to be this dark. I didn’t know it was going to be this lonely.”

To emphasise Ji-ho’s sense of hopelessness, the camera shows her walking through a tunnel, as cars – life – zip by. She is alone, lonely and the tunnel is endless. I have walked through that tunnel too in those 15 months, and I have felt Ji-ho’s despair.

In describing that time through the lens of Ji-ho’s tunnel, I am romanticizing myself. There was no Nam Se-hee to save me, instead it was my parents who took me in. I moved back home and returned to law. In reality, I have little to show for those months. Not only am I behind my peers and forever explaining the “lack of commitment” on my resume, I am also still in love with a foolish dream.

However, I think I have learnt the difference between fleeting romance and lasting love. Just as my loving parents wait patiently for their daughter to get back on her feet, I too hope to keep writing patiently, on the side as I study, pay my bills and live a normal life. Maybe one day it will no longer be a one-sided love or a grand, short-lived, passionate romance. In the meantime, I will be Joo-yong, and Episode 1 Deok-mi because why deny the truth – “Hey, that’s me!”


You Who Forgot Poetry

 
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Honestly if I had Kim Jae Wook looking at me like that I'd be all "Idol who?",too, lol.

Now I kind of want you to do the Amazon self publish thing with a book about a kpop loving heroine trying to make it in India's entertainment industry who also along the way finds and falls in love with her own Suga.

It is brave to change your career path to follow a dream, I hope you find what you want in whatever form it may take.

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I believe that if something is your passion, it's for a reason -- you have something important to communicate and contribute to the world through your passion. I hope you keep on writing, and I look forward to the day when we all can say we knew you back when you were just one of us commenters on DB.

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Reads to me like you have found your grand heart wrenching romance. I can only wish the two of you a bright wonderful future together!

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This was so well-written and so so so relatable! I'm sure your dream (it's not foolish, not by a long shot) and fannishness will lead to greater, grander things (as they already are!) Lots of hugs and luck. :D

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Great writeup @greenfields. I thought it would be about romance between humans but it turned out to be one for a dream. I hope that dream is fulfilled. Like you, I am also struggling holding onto a foolish dream like writing and making it to be a successful screenplay or script but it isn't as easy as people think writing is. Thankfully you have a different full time career to depend on but yeah been there , done that where you realize that you are not made for the career your degree gave you. Anyways I hope it works out for all of us and if it doesn't i hope we find the courage to forgive ourselves for not being able to continue a dream and move forward.

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It's really much harder than it seems, right? There's a lot of factors - timing, luck - that we can't control, even as there are others we can. Good luck to us wapz! :)

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I love this @greenfields. Being a writer is also a childhood dream that never really fade away for me. Much like how you chose Law, eventually I also made a pragmatic choice by getting an engineering degree. I do love it, but it would never become the dreamy first love that writing is. And it's not really helping when you have a father who teach language and literature, and spend his time discussing it with you in his free time. I hope this dream will come true for both you and me someday.

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*sends you best wishes* I think its worthwhile having something pragmatic to depend on. And I also hope we see our dreams come true! :)

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Thanks for this piece. ❤ I wanted to pursue law as well, but for many reasons, I can't do it for now (for years, actually). After I finished my pre-law course, I went home and tried to figure out what to do next. I ventured into ghostwriting and enjoyed making a living as a writer.

Years later, I'm still here. I'm happy but sometimes, I feel so small when people around me talk about my peers who have better-paying jobs and regular job titles. Nevertheless, I think about how fulfilling it is to write about many things and to help people along the way.

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I agree. I do envy the people who decided to pursue"safer or regular paying" careers or degrees that bring them both money and a status in the society. It is harder to earn in the creative field and what's harder is owning your work and being proud of it. I do regret not choosing a separate degree with securitybut it's harder to turn the pages now. As one of my friend says, I think we can't do somebody else's work but they can do ours.

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I will prove your friend wrong. 😂
Kidding aside, I am actually considering a teaching job or civil service as an addition to my writing career. My inner Yoon Ji-ho refuses to give up. 😅

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Haha we're opposites in that case. :) You wanted to do law, I wanted to write. I can't say that law is a welcoming career that will take in people of all ages, but I do hope you get the chance to interact with it more, one day.

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Thank you for publishing this DB! I was kind of embarrassed to write about my "dark past" but its nice seeing it published, and out there in some form. :) Beanie responses are the best. Always.

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Fighting greenie, if you publish I promise to buy three copies of your book and make sure every library in my city stocks a copy of your book!*Fan girl mode off*

*sends you loads of hugs and some coffee and cute stationary stuff to keep on writing on the side*

Dreams find a way to love us back, wait for them ^^

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I love this -- I love how you've framed it, as a contrast between love and romance, and I love how you've drawn from such poignant parts of these shows. Following dreams is SO hard--big big hugs to you! I hope you find that long-lasting, steady love, too---and given how well you wrote this and how touching it is, I just know you will!!

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dear @greenfields, I applaud you for being brave and courageous and taking those 15 months off. I wish I could but my expectations of myself and others' expectations of me wouldn't let me. Bravo.
and even if you "think" you have nothing to show for those 15 months, know that, for a split second in our long M-F 9-5 working busy lives, you chose YOU AND YOUR DREAM and went for it.
Bravo.

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oh but... how dare you drop Because This Life Is Our First ?!?!?
(LOL just kidding... or am I...?)

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Joo-Young Joo-Young! So that means you have dance moves to show off too 😉

I agree with others that it seems you have found your romance. Like Bo Young, who loved poetry yet went into a profession that would help her survive, you chose law. But you can still love writing, and (I think I’ve said this before), you could write the greatest legal drama that we’ve all been waiting for. Writers need experiences to write about, so don’t think you’ve wasted your time. Hugs.

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"you could write the greatest legal drama" - Yes, with your alter ego as the main character. Mystery? Thriller? Slice of life? Connecting the legal and scriptwriting worlds? With beanie girlfriends, and maybe an unlikely romantic hero? When you aren't really writing what you know or writing from the heart, it can be such a struggle, but when the right idea clicks, it all can come bursting out. Keep playing with ideas until one sweeps you away. We'll all be so excited to see what you come up with.

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This was such an amazing read!! Honestly, I admire you for those 15 months you struggled through. Not many people can say they took the risk for their dream, whether it's for a romance or a passion. I still have most of my life ahead of me, and you've inspired me to think that it can be a more adventurous journey than I've planned it out to be. I only hope the best for you and your wonderful writing!

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Writing can be a cruel and heartbreaking path to take but write anyway!

I have all these story ideas in my heart that I would love to write out in novel or screenplay and I need to get started on it...I majored in Literature in college and if I was being honest my dream job would be to be at a publisher company but alas I wasn't brave enough to pursue that. I do work as a writer but a boring kind of writer...I write user manuals and such...so I was okay with half fulfilling my dream of being a writer, at least the word writer is in my job title. But I still dream of making time to start writing creatively more seriously...and to tell the stories i want to tell.

Good luck with your writing! I know first hand life has a way of getting in the way of writing time.

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@ohhaeyoung,

Please don't sell yourself short as a writer of user manuals. Good documentation requires careful attention to detail and putting yourself in the reader's shoes. In too many cases, documentation is a half-baked afterthought. (I worked as a technical writer and translator.)

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I am a technical writer and don't get me wrong, I love my job! It is a great career but it can be challenging in a lot of ways and as you say requires a lot of attention to detail which I really enjoy that aspect of my job :D

It's just been hard to feel motivated about it lately but thank you! I worked as a translator too for a little while but now that part of my skillset is not required at my current job.

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I also spent some time as a technical writer, and I think one of the challenges of any profession that relies on logic is that you come to be comfortable in your logical brain and not so connected to your creative mind. To be successful as a writer, you have to find a way to cross over, to stimulate and strengthen your creative mind.

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yeah my favorite part of being a technical writer is editing so I feel like my dream job would be to edit for a publishing company...

I took creative writing classes in college of course and I have ideas for stories that I really believe in and would like to develop...I just need to make the time to write and rewrite them :D

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Congratulations, @greenfields, for getting published. It takes guts to go on a DIY sabbatical to hone your writing. One of my friends did that, too. Keep writing and accumulating life experience as you perfect your craft. Recall that Einstein wrote up his Theory of General Relativity while working his day job as a patent examiner -- a kissing cousin to a patent attorney. So go ahead and pen your own magnum opus, be is screenplay or novel. Knock 'em dead, kiddo! ;-)

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Wonderful introspective piece! I loved it. I think you speak to many of us here, with “real jobs” but wanting something else or something more. I’m further along than you in life and do enjoy my job(s) for the most part, but that writing bug has got me too and I know what I want to do with it, it’s just waiting my time and being self-reliant until I can start that second career. I may fail miserably, but I’ll do so with all the resources I’m saving up. I commend you for getting your feet wet and even leaping before you look, because those 15 months probably taught you more than you realize and the connections you made may serve you well in the future!

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Dear Greenfields,

‘Getting back on your feet’ sounds like you tripped, fell over and are struggling to get up again. You walked through a tunnel for 15 months, your feet and balance are fine dear. ;)

On a serious note, I can fully relate to the feeling that you have to catch up on those 15 months you lost to be able to keep up with the expectations of society. My story has similarities and is also still ongoing.

However, we both have to learn to view our ‘tunnels’ as an adventure that gave us a lot of wisdom and experience to pass on to others (us beanies were very lucky to get a glimpse of yours ;)). It is also proof that you had the courage to get off the known road and tried to carve your own. For that I am very proud of you. Maybe one day you can continue carving where you stopped last time.

I cannot guarantee a full time writing career, but most aspiring writers I know are happy to keep writing every chance they get in between their job and real life. The one that did become a professional writer started her own small publishing company together with her spouse to make it happen, and recently the third book of her trilogy was published and she found a better full time job. ;)

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Hey, a working professional and a fan girl who loves romance! Yes, that's so me!! Thanks for your write-up. Totally enjoyed it. Fighting!

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@greenfields are you me?! I'm also in law school now and very much not in love with the law. I'm here to assure you that you're not alone, even though I know from experience (and I'm sure you know too) that it does feel really lonely, especially when you're surrounded by people who are ready to go forth and take on the world.

I think it's amazing that you have a dream and that you took steps to live it. Having a dream and knowing your passion is half the battle won already. You are so brave, and just like I did for Jiho, I am rooting for you fiercely and hopeful for your success.

I'm still looking for my dream and wondering if it's even out there at all. I'm still Jiho in that dark tunnel. But reading your piece really made me feel like I'm not alone, and for that, I'm so thankful.

Sending you all the hugs and luck in the world!

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I recently heard someone say "REAL artists have day jobs." The composer Philip Glass worked as a NYC cab driver. Hollywood actors bond over having worked as wait staff at the same restaurant. The intersection between passion and profession is a tenuous one.

I can think of four recent K-dramas where the heroine was a drama writer. Because landing 'that job' where you get to pursue your passion is as much a wish-fulfillment dream as any 'Cinderella' romance.

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