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[In Defense Of] Noble idiots


Misaeng

By Jig

There is something cathartic about calling fictional characters idiots. There has been more than one instance where I’ve earned myself an odd stare at the coffee shop for grumbling at my computer screen because of a wrong move a character made. Why is he running away from the one good thing in his life? Why should the second lead be any better than you?

These fools are dubbed “noble idiots” around here because they think they are doing an honorable deed in leaving, but really they are just being dumb. If I were them, I would already be in my love’s arms with all the hand-holding and kisses I could ever want. Forget all the lame excuses people come up with. Life is too short not to be with the one you love.


Shut Up: Flower Boy Band

Yet, am I really any better than they are? I have made some dumb decisions in my life; I just don’t have a hundred people scrutinizing my every move (at least, not out loud). I have left things unsaid and have run away from opportunities. Of course, I have had my own justifications for doing so: it’s better in the long run, it’s not worth putting effort into something that is bound to fail anyway, it’s just going to end in pain no matter what. We have all experienced similar situations and similar failures. Those mistakes stem from our own character flaws, but it’s much easier to find flaws in a character onscreen than in ourselves.

We cannot deny that noble idiocy happens in real life, but a K-drama can pass or fail in using noble idiocy as a plot device by how they characterize their leads from the very beginning. It is always frustrating to see people run away from the one person who will make them happy, but it can at least be understandable, if not relatable, if that decision comes from a character trait evident all along.


You’re Beautiful

In Because This Life is Our First, we all gnashed our teeth at Ji-ho running away from a marriage that was finally starting to work. However, I couldn’t help but understand her reasoning and the character flaw that lead to that conclusion. From the very beginning, Ji-ho is someone who acts with determination and bulldozes forward. Her friends call her the crazy one who ran away from home to become a screenwriter. When Ji-ho is sexually assaulted and the assault is glazed over, she does not contemplate charging the assaulter or looking for other people to work with; instead, she immediately declares she will never write again. In the same manner, she signs up for a fake marriage with her landlord, Se-hee, in order to ensure a place to sleep, never considering the consequences of such an arrangement.

Ji-ho is also very sensitive and can read more into a situation than is warranted. She mistakes her director’s shameless flirting with genuine interest and misinterprets Se-hee’s logical declarations and actions as swoony moments. She starts falling for Se-hee and pushes forward until he corrects her assumptions and clarifies his expectations for their relationship. By the time Se-hee appears to have romantic feelings towards Ji-ho, she already has the baggage of the initial rejection and the awareness that she does not know Se-hee as well as she had assumed.


Because This Life Is Our First

We often forget that the characters never know as much as the audience. Ji-ho does not see all the loving glances Se-hee throws her way or the conversations he has with his best friend. She may get the knowledge second-hand, but it is never the same as hearing it from the horse’s mouth. Se-hee is a second too late in clarifying his feelings and Ji-ho acts as rashly as always by declaring her desire to end their contract.

The other quality that makes the noble idiocy trope pass or fail is how convincing the conflict is within the drama’s world. In Just Between Lovers, Kang-doo’s family secret is revealed to Moon-soo, and he immediately shuts himself down and runs away. We have seen this countless times and have been frustrated countless times; however, what makes this different is that in this world and for these characters that this show has so carefully built, there is no other way for him to react.


Just Between Lovers

Kang-doo is so utterly broken, body and soul. The system has failed him and his own body betrays him. His inner turmoil and the guilt he has carried for twelve years is palpable for us. He can only see the dark tunnel ahead and fears he will only drag Moon-soo down with him. As frustrating as it is to see him run, we already know that emotional and physical self-harm is the only way he knows how to react.

However, what also makes the use of noble idiocy so wonderful in this show is how awesome Moon-soo proves to be. She refuses to let him be an idiot, noble or otherwise. With the help of those around her, she knows exactly why he is acting this way and refuses to let him shut himself down. We can all be idiots sometimes, but we should always appreciate that one friend who will call us out on it and not let us run away.


Prime Minister and I

I admit noble idiocy has earned its bad reputation for a reason. What truly aggravates me is when noble idiocy comes out of left field. Prime Minister and I set out to be a very sweet and fun contract marriage between Prime Minister Yul and tabloid reporter Da-jung. Yul’s wife died a few years back, leaving him with three children he hardly knows. Da-jung becomes the bridge between Yul and his children as she falls in love with both.

However, the wife is not as dead as you would think. When she shows up, Da-jung just presumes Yul and the kids will want their wife and mother back, despite everyone, including Yul, telling her otherwise. She runs off anyway only to reunite with him a year later with a handshake. Da-jung was such a breath of fresh air in 2014 with her sassiness and refusal to back down, and Yul held strongly to his moral compass and was always straightforward. Yet, the turn of noble idiocy that literally came out of nowhere has left a bitter taste in my mouth ever since.

Ultimately, noble idiocy in and of itself is not a bad or unrealistic plot device. When done well, we can relate to the characters and understand the need for their separation. When done poorly, we are left with a bitter taste that makes us throw our computers across the room. Either way, here’s to seeing noble idiocy only on our screens!


Healer

 
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YES!!!! I was REALLY hoping someone would write this! Thank you @crysta! *scrolls back up to read*

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As someone who is currently holding the "Noble Idiot" status, I thank you for this post.

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LOL am currently a "noble idiot" in the DB status too :D

i'm trying really hard to be understanding of noble idiocy in the dramas I am watching this season...sometimes I understand but tbh most of the time I don't

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Yeah most of the time I don't hence I kind of dislike this current status. Trying my best to level up.

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hahaha same! I keep looking at my profile wondering if I've levelled up yet...so interacting on the fan wall and comments I go for now! :D

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lol I've been stuck as a noble idiot for a while now too!!! I don't like it since to me it is the most annoying plot device ever. xD

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Same. I really hope we can move up from this level soon

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I really appreciate your points. Noble idiocy doesn't bother me as long as it is done well. Yes it can be frustrating, but there is (usually) a reason for it. Also, I love your point that most of the time we know more than the characters. I think that is forgotten sometimes. Wonderful article :)

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Nice write up on an important topic. Hehe, I have nothing against noble idiots, but I do throw my laptop whenever said idiots organise a 'goodbye date', and of course, the happy person on the date doesn't know he/she is leaving. Arrrrgh.

I also see what you did there... sneaking in a defense of BTIOFL final episodes. ;) I would have understood Ji Ho's reasons (kinda) if they'd had some conversation about it ... but alas I still have the final image of her laughing at Se Hee's angry outburst, saying that she could have called, that he was miserable all that time. I didn't think her actions were 'noble' because they weren't mainly for his own good (as noble idiots tend to think). Ah well, I won't start this debate again. The frosting on this cake just didn't suit all tastes.

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I almost wanted to retract calling Ji-ho a "noble" idiot although my argument for her actions still stand. I think though I could argue her being noble in the sense that part of the reason she left was to force Se-hee to open up which is beneficial to him although he didn't realize that at the time.

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Sure, I agree he needed to open up more, I just think it wasn't executed well. In my fanfic version there was a brief exchange during breakfast like: 'sorry, it was idiotic of me to leave like that but I had my reasons...' and 'sorry I didn't speak up before. It's hard for me...' Then kiss. The end. ;)

Unrelated to this discussion, but I love the cover photo on your profile: Seo Yul & Chief Kim high five! :D

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Yeah, that would have been a nice scene to see. There's definitely a few bows they could have tied better to make her actions more acceptable to the wider audience.

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I didn't think her actions were "noble idiot"-y either. They were out of self-preservation and while I didn't like how it all panned out, I think she (and all heroines) have a right to take care of themselves.

Oh man...the goodbye date. Emotionally, I'm lapping it up, but mentally, I'm like "isn't it worse to have a goodbye date? The person will look back and see that you were planning to leave all along and that you lied during the last date. If you want to leave, just leave. Why make it so messy?" Then I look at the longing look of the person saying goodbye and my heart melts into a freaking muddle.

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I don’t understand the good-bye date/trip either, particularly when one side is unaware they are getting dumped. There is something masochistic for the dumper to want to have a beautiful moment to remember or to take pleasure in the incipient pain. Do people do this in real life or is it a drama construct?

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When noble idiocy is done well, I tend to cry because I can relate to the pain of the characters...and well it just always hurts...cause when done badly I get frustrated at how I can't understand the motivations. It's just always a painful thing but I think the merit of the "noble idiot" is that when they overcome it, then it proves the strength of their love and all they had to get through to be together.

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Buuuuttttt... if it's done well, it's not idiocy. Right?

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Angst in general is engaging as long as it's done the right way, like in Just Between Lovers. Thanks for the post, @crysta!

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Well someone finally making sense noble idiocy act. There is some intance when I see the only behaviour which make sense for me is they will make a noble idiocy act and it makes sense for the narrative purpose but people keep getting annoyed with the idea. Well I don't blame them, i got annoyed too. But there is alot of circumstance it's work.

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The beautiful song “Let Her Go” has been my noble idiot anthem. It comes out of a place of pain, poor self-esteem, and delayed self-realization, things all of us face at some time of our lives, no matter how strong we look on the outside.
https://youtu.be/mW1C8x12tw0

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nah, this post is just Jiho defence squad and defence for the most overrated drama of the year BTLIOF,
such a sly technique, can't believe this gets posted.

It's a trope, we get it, we know it has good reasoning, all people complaints is how it has done.
Yes, people are an idiot and mostly are when they face things they can't understand, when they are being confused but it needs to be shown that they are acted based on their idiocy, that it's wrong, not like jiho who hide between her "crazy" comment from his friend which only said once and how her leaving decision was never get told properly nor redeemed.

BTLIOF really make people make up a lot of excuses just because people don't like their drama.

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You can always right up a defense and submit it to [email protected] ;)

I never said she was right. I just said it made sense, so neither of us are really wrong in our assertions. I'm just not as mad about it...

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*write...oy

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I don't have any defence towards noble idiot, I know what it is and why and I've accepted it,
my problem with this post is how it sneakily want to defends Jiho and disguising it as "noble idiot is not a bad trope" just like how the drama sneakingly make people think it's more than anything average by putting "quote and relatable problem" even with no real answer other than "I want this and I want this because I have the right to want and no responsiblity"

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I meant a defense for against the ending of BTLIOF. There really are many people who would agree with you. Just see the comment section of the last 2 recaps...

I didn't sneakily do it...I forthrightly did it. :D I ran out of word count or I would have expanded more on why I could put her under "noble idiocy." I think she was helping him in forcing his feelings to the surface, but of course there were better ways of doing it, hence the "idiocy" part.

But that is a real answer. It's not an answer we ever want to hear, but the majority of people act selfishly. Why should a tv character be any different?

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sneaky because you really can use "in defence of BTLIOF" than sacrificing once good plot driven that also present in another drama,
here it gets misrepresent just to present the idea that "BTLOF is not bad, jiho isn't selfish, she is an angel"

I am not arguing about noble idiocy but how this post is not about noble idiocy as a whole but about BTLOIF and its version of noble idiocy.

I don't feel like I have to defend BTLIOF, I am commenting here because of clickbait misleading content,

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@nayan if you want to misread my entire article that is up to you because now we're just going to be repeating ourselves and going in circles...

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Thank you for this post! I hesitate to call a self-sacrificial moment "noble idiocy" when it is born from a character's empathy. There is often more heart than idiocy in "noble idiocy" that I can't completely hate the move even though it can be frustrating as a 3rd party watching it all unfold on my screen.

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Despite having little fondness for noble idiots in drama (which has no bearing whatsoever on my fondness for noble idiots on DB :)), I admit there is a role or even a requirement for such characters at times. Still... Seriously?? C'mon, there has to be a better way of moving the plot along or character development.

The one noble idiot that really pissed me off was Yoon Ji-hoon in Sign 싸인 who sacrificed himself to bring a freaky murderer to justice. I normally really love Park Shin-yang's characters, but this one was .. let's just say words fail me.

Ohh, there's no stopping the noble idiot rant once it starts, just reminded of another - Joon-sang in Winter Sonata. That show scarred (and scared) me, I still think "Noble Idiot aarggh!" whenever I heard that song or see Bae Yong-joon appear on screen.

Running off to de-stress before I scare everyone else LOL

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I'm an idiot IRL, sometimes noble but mostly cowardly, and I just hate this trope so much! it usually goes together with terrible miscommunication or complete lack of communication and using it is the easiest way to make me drop a drama mid-way. I can only enjoy it is if it's resolved right away (like in Cunning Single Lady) (why do I remember that drama suddenly?) I prefer dramas about team-work.
I'm one of the 3 people who liked BTIOFL from start to finish equally and I don't think Jiho was ever a noble idiot. She was just utterly selfish and stubborn and I loved her for it.

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I utterly adore BTIOFL but I have to say in another drama, in another writer's hands, Ji-Ho would have been the villain.

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Haha! Nice point!

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Mr. Noble Idiot is not reachable for comments at the moment, but will resurface to make a statement (noble or otherwise) approximately after 1-2 episodes.

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My problem with noble idiots is that they often don't allow for the independence and agency of the other person to make their decisions.

But when it's done well, gosh, it's down well. Like in Chicago Typewriter, in the 1930s storyline where it's a literal life or death situation and you just feel so strongly for the hero who decides he can't have emotions involved to be a good leader. Or in Reply 1988 when both friends give up on the girl for each other (that one hurt so much).

Or in any drama, when the second lead gives up without a fight, because they would so much rather the person be happy. You feel for them, and your admiration increases knowing they truly loved, and chose to give it up.

Anyways, thanks for this!

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There's a Taiwanese drama called Just You where they tried to do this really interesting thing with Noble Idiocy.

Basically, the second female lead shows up and the female lead tries to bow out to give the male lead a chance with his first love. And he sees her pulling away and feels rejected. Basically, he just needs her to stand up for him and their relationship but she doesn't. And then in the end she turns around and plants her foot firmly and says, "You don't make him happy. I love him. He's mine. Bugger off". And the look of relief on his face is amazing. And the point it made about people needing to know the person they love is willing to fight for their relationship is really great.

It should be the best use of noble idiocy to make a dramatic point ever. Except it's a Taiwanese drama so it's about 15000 episodes and the ex is totally batshit insane and there's a stalker and kidnapping and it goes completely makjang. But the idea was sound.

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HAHA I'VE WATCHED THAT DRAMA TWICE I FORGOT ABOUT THAT SCENE. The ex really is batshit insane, and the male lead doesn't care about her, it's all the feelings of inadequacy in the female lead that make her feel he deserves better.

It's true though, if it's something like family or money or job or (especially) low esteem, it is so much more meaningful if someone is willing to fight for you, and put in the work to push past the obstacles.

A couple I'm close to recently broke up because the family was against it, but the girl confided in me that the real reason they broke up was because the guy wasn't willing to put in the work to convince their families, he wasn't willing to fight a long battle with her for their relationship, and that's when she knew they should really break up.

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... kind of want to re-watch Just You now (fastforwarding through some episodes of course)...

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Even if you ditch the entire middle bit, you still have to deal with the "she's crazy because she thought her Daddy didn't love her" plotline, which I cannot watch.

There’s a scene somewhere in Just You where the male lead starts a conversation with the female lead's goldfish. He then expresses disbelief that he’s talking to a goldfish and then *apologises to the goldfish for treating it like it’s just a goldfish*. Basically, if the entire show had been like that it would be one of my favourite dramas ever. I could easily have watched 20 episodes of them walking their goldfish in the park (!) and pretending they’re not already in love. Second male lead's amused meddling and good-natured flirting would have been the icing on the cake.

Instead the drama took a detour to crazy town. Coupled with female lead's insane Noble Idiocy, a good chunk is purely for fast forwarding.

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I think I remember the second time I watched it, I only watched the first several episodes in their entirety, just for the fun "lion hunting" and office high jinks, and until the two were definitely pretending not to be in love. Then I fast forwarded, because nobody has time for crazy town. I do like the scene after the crazy ex comes back, when the main girl tries to dress more feminine, and the long skirt gets caught in her bicycle and the main guy tells her she's fine as she is.

I love how the goldfish is basically their child... And, can people have generations of the same goldfish family? That always confused me.

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@hotcocoagirl
Hahaha. I remember when he accidentally killed her goldfish and he goes to the pet shop to replace it hoping she won't notice and she's like "HE REPLACED IT WITH A BOY FISH, HOW COULD I NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE" and all her friends are like, "who knows the sex of a goldfish just by looking"?

And no, I don't think you can have generations of the same goldfish family. But I always thought she and the pet shop owner had some weird soulmate thing going on.

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@leetennant
Honestly, I expected the pet shop guy to be the second lead and I’m confused and disappointed each time I remember he isn’t. He was the real danger to the male lead, a guy who understands goldfish. :P

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Exactly, when done well it is great, because the 'noble idiot' sincerely wants the other person to be happy. I don't know if this is classified as noble idiot, but I can also feel for characters who hide medical information (terminal illness). I'd do it too if it meant my family would suffer less. Watching JBL however has me thinking that loved ones should know so they can enjoy what time is left together, make good memories, and thus be able to mourn properly. *sob*

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I agree, it makes sense logically not to want someone to grieve over your illness, but making the last memories you have together consist of you pushing the other person away or disappearing is unfair to your loved ones.

I speak from the perspective of someone who has had many family pets die over the past year, and the ones that were hardest to process were the unexpected (it turns out many cats pretend to be okay despite being terminally ill until the day they suddenly die because they are the real noble idiots)

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I agree! Noble idiocy is irritating when it comes from nowhere. When it's too obvious that the writer is just using it to introduce a late-game angst/conflict. But when it's done well AKA when it's in line with the character's personality or it is indeed really the only way to go or that the characters involved talked about it (I remember Ojakkyo Brothers and how they knew they had to be apart and had that goodbye date which they were BOTH aware of, THAT HURTS SO GOOD. But then again I guess that's not exactly 100% noble idiocy too), IT GIVES SUCH GOOD ANGST.

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Writers just don't realize that they can give more than one character agency and still get angst. Sigh...

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Prior to reading this piece I hadn't considered Ji-Ho as a noble idiot, at least not in the traditional sense. Like her friends pointed out, I just thought Ji-Ho was overly driven by her emotions. I never saw her as sacrificing her relationship for some greater good or for someone else's benefit. In fact, it was the opposite. Ji-Ho was very calculating, and while operating out of emotion, she knew exactly what she was doing. At times I worried if she was teetering on the edge of being manipulative, especially in her attempts to elicit a response/reaction from Se-Hee. It's for these reasons that I couldn't quite classify her as noble idiot. (Maybe she's a new-aged noble idiot?)

Please note, that my thoughts are strictly and exclusively applicable to the characterization of noble idiots in fictional portrayals on, or in, dramas. Thoughts shared are in no way meant to be applied in real world situations or to actual people. That said...

Personally, I LOATHE noble idiots with the passion of thousand burning suns lit with kerosine. For all the altruism that a noble idiot is supposed to represent, they always just come across, to me, as selfish and cowardice. I say noble idiots are selfish because they react out disregard for how their actions impact the people around them. They don't consider the void they leave behind or the consequences of their actions. They don't consider alternatives to fleeing. The troupe just comes off as lazy writing in most cases. As if the writer is signaling that it was easier to write a one dimensional character rather fleshing out a fully realized individual. I know this is a very harsh criticism but it's how I feel and I needed to vent.

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I was tempted to make the single comment "there is no defence of noble idiots" and leave it at that.

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I agree that Jiho was not exactly a noble idiot but rather manipulative and I hated that, I hated so much those last two episodes that I just watch them kind of raw and didn't come back to watch fully. I just couldn't. I saw again the last scene and imagined that they solved the issue in a matured way. But also, again in harmony with what you said, in the case of BTLIOF I really felt it was poor writing or even a change of writer. So much was I taken aback by the change in our characters. I also hate lack of consistency, and most of the time noble idiocy fall into that category.

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I don't think Ji-Ho's final actions were inconsistent at all. We see the first flash of manipulation (?) when Nam Hee calls her for the first time. She intentionally says she doesn't have a boyfriend in front of Se-Hee to hurt him and elicit a response from him. This behavior continues in various forms throughout the show as well. So, I think her final act of "walking away" from Se-Hee and lying about her location was consistent with her character throughout the drama.

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Yes, yes. When I said lack of consistency I mean in normal regular cases... I didn't mean necessarily that it was Jiho, although I was talking about her before. Sorry, I should have separated those paragraphs.
Still... I still believe that the two last episodes in BTLIOF were written by someone else, LOL. 😂

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I have to admit that I found myself with the puzzled puppy look at end of BTLIOF. The whole 'leave him to get him' thing felt inorganic and contrived even if it was in line with Jiho's character.

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Excellent defense @crysta
And I never really thought about it, but you are right. We all have been idiots of the noble kind? At least I have - In 11th grade, I rejected a confession from a guy I really liked because my friend liked him as well. ^^ LOL Old story now. He moved to the Netherlands shortly after and neither of us got to date him.
[Also I was an idiot - embarrased because he was a year younger. Is this why I have such a fondness for noona romances?]

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this is the one trope i absolutely hate but i gotta hand this one

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Thanks for taking on this defence @jig
I googled noble idiocy to see what would come up, after being informed that it is actually a Viewer-made trope ie, that in the official lexicon of tropes, it cannot be found. However it has been bandied widely enough to have entered the Urban Dictionary and we mostly understand what we are referring to when we say 'noble idiocy'.

I came across this Archive on the noble idiocy in the show, Fated to Love You... comparing it with 'pragmatic altruism' and it says pretty much what has been said here on whether noble idiocy is acceptable or infuriating. I thought it made sense. So I'm sharing the link here: http://spqetr.net/archives/1997

I agree that when there is no basis for the trope, no preparation or no reason other than that the script needs a shift in direction, it is to be heartily deplored and called out for what it is. I have however heard another point of view that gives me pause.

I hope I'm paraphrasing it correctly from memory... this view point says that characters or people have their reasons for acting as they do. Even if ill informed and unwise, they did what they thought they should under certain circumstances expecting that they would do a higher good than not. As in RL, not every motive is known. Even in RL, we do this and we do not explain everything that we do.

Therefore (says this viewpoint) there are very few or no noble idiots, just characters/people doing their best in bad circumstances, and just because it does not make sense to us, does not make them idiots let alone noble ones.

On BTLIOF's Ji Ho - since the separation she initiated was not made with the motive of benefiting Se Hee, I feel that it does not fall into noble idiocy. Not even into pragmatic altruism. It was selfish on the character level and maybe it was added to incorporate sudden angst and an additional episode at the show production level. Therefore I deplore it.

On JBL's Gang Doo deciding to run away, it was in line with his character and thought processes and from his point of view, he was a 'less cool and damaged' man, he had tried to call Moon Soo several times and she had not picked up his calls, he had heard of his disapproval by her parents and a 'better more cool' man was vying for her attention. He made way graciously for her benefit. I only take issue with the fact that seeing her running up to him, he did not give her a chance to speak. I put his down to being more noble than idiotic. :)

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I loved reading this! The noble idiocy trope can be so frustrating because it usually comes after the chase or all the sweet fluffy moments. I just want the characters to admit their feelings for each other instead of watching the noble idiot break all the development that was building up. I'm still angry at the King of all Noble Idiots, Jung when he decided to break up with Seol in Cheese in the Trap. I wanted to shake his shoulders and say "Whyy! You were getting better. You were finally starting to see the ramifications of your actions. Just let Seol help you. Don't go at being a better human being alonee! Don't leave her so that she gets jaded by the world" (Not saying I wanted him to be dependent on her. I just felt that she was able to help him with so much more understanding, gentleness, and patience than those around him. In their own way (though not perfect), they really wanted to help build each other up.) Yes, that noble idiocy trope has clearly left a bitter taste in my mouth.
So, I was starting to get frustrated with JBL when I sense it took a turn down the noble idiocy lane. But, Moon Soo WAS so awesome! Every time, he put on his I-dont-care-about-you-but-we-all-know-im-dying-inside- face, she came back with full force. It was so satisfying to see her pursue him head on no matter how painful it was and all the moments he wanted to give in were equally satisfying (that quick smile was the best!). And it didn't come off as her being desperate, but strong willed and determined! For once this noble idiocy trope was done well.
I do agree that Ji-ho was being a noble idiot when she called off the marriage but... part of me thinks "heh she knew what she was doing all along..." So maybe she was a noble .... genius? Haha, whatever she is classify as, she definitely made a noble gesture of sacrifice because of the risk that he may have let her go and continue with his life.. in misery.
Thanks for your defense of the noble idiot. I really enjoyed reading it! :)

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Noble idiocy and the melo over the top and even unrealistic and even stupid behavior of the dead wife ruined "prime minister and I" forever... plus the hand shake!!!! 😂😂😂😂😂

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Here is to the hope that we all move up from noble idiocy. Not just on DB 🍻

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I love noble idiots! Well, when they are not really being idiots. I was going to explain but this post growingbeautifully linked on post 19 here pretty much explains it all. Thanks GB! Honestly everyone should read that post before talking about noble idiots because it has become too automatic to label characters as such.

If the character is really leaving because they feel it's in the best interest of the loved person, and they have good reason for this, it can't really be called idiocy. The example used in the post is maybe one of the best in dramaland.

About BTIOFL, Jiho really wasn't a noble idiot, pretty much everything she did on the show, including the last eps, was in her best interest. If by chance this show had treated her as a rather problematic and selfish person instead of a sweet introvert, I could have really liked this drama.

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Thank you for writing about the "noble idiocy" in JBL! It's my favorite. Kangdoo's pain is explored throughout the drama, so of course he wants to self-destruct when he's afraid. Moonsoo trying to get a better understanding of Kangdoo was refreshing and sweet. It felt like a realistic take on the trope.

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Thanks for writing this......who remembers the noble idiocy in fated to love you?

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I usually hate noble idiocy, I think the only drama I could actually understand why it was used is Pinocchio, maybe there's another but I can't recall right now.

My first encounter with this plot device was in my very first drama Stairway to heaven, we know it's plagued with it...

Sometimes it fits the story but I find it really annoying when the problem is taken too far when it could be solved with just a long conversation.

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i have watched the prime minister and I. i was not satisfied with the ending which as the writer mentioned ended with a handshake. for me the female character had already sacrificed a lot because of love but the prime minister with his male ego and pride took her for granted especially agreeing to the request of the female character; a marriage because of her dying father. What is so unbelievable in South Korea is the unique culture they have when to comes to relationships and family. That is one reason why i became a kdrama addict but just like everyone else there are also some kdrama movies and tv series that did not appeal to me and its quite a long list.

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Oops, I failed to stop reading, and inadvertently stumbled across BTLIOF spoilers... oh well! I do like your write-up; thanks for the insights!

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thanks @crysta! 👏👏👏

ToD ✔
Noble Idiots ✔

what's or who's next? PPLs? 😂

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>>... a K-drama can pass or fail in using noble idiocy as a plot device by how they characterize their leads from the very beginning.

Yes, JIG is so right. We can only have so much of noble idiocy BUT if it serves its purpose as a plot device why ever not; more so if the characters are portrayed by such good actors AND the writer of the drama deftly handles the plot so that the noble idiocy stops at just the right point. From there, we expect the drama to move on realistically, tie up the loose ends, let hapless or sacrificing lovers find their way to each other’s arms and end the whole drama with that long lingering, swoon-worthy kiss we will forever remember.

For the above reasons BECAUSE THIS IS OUR FIRST will always be in my list of all-time favorite dramas. I loved Jung So-min in PLAYFUL Kiss and was so happy seeing her in this drama. It was my first rime to watch a drama with Lee Min-kee. After this, I’ve put Him on my list of actors whose dramas I will be looking out for.
The same can be said of JUST Between Lovers. The use of noble idiocy as a plot mover was very effective where the character of Kang-doo is concerned. Moon-soo and Kang-doo must be one of the most heart breaking couples ever written for a drama BUT as JBL winds down to what may be a tragic ending, we go on watching, hoping these lovers will be happy in the end, even if only for a spell. Writing here is brilliant in that there were enough light, achingly sweet moments between KD and MS thrown in for good measure in the earlier episodes so we don’t feel weighed in by tragedy and the pain of the young lovers. It was also clever of the writer to depict Moon-soo as quiet but tenacious, the one who wouldn’t let go and wouldn’t allow KD to suffer alone or run away.
The PRIME MINISTER AND I Is one drama I really liked BUT was ruined for me by the almost pointless use of nobel idiocy as a plot device. To quote Jig, that handshake at the end left a bitter taste in my mouth and spoiled my memories of what could have been a nice drama.

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I am a latecomer to reading this article but it was great, thanks for sharing it.

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