[Hey, that’s me] The difference between romance and love
by Guest Beanie
Her Private Life
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
- [Hey, that’s me] Me and Mi-young
- [Hey, that’s me] A noona romance of my own
- [Hey, that’s me] Oh no! They killed Cloggie!
- [Hey, that’s me] Different name, same story
- [Hey, that’s me] The unfavored child
- [Theme of the Month] Hey, that’s me (again)
- [Hey, that’s me] And my dysfunctional family
- [Hey, that’s me] One-sided crush
Tags: Theme of the Month