Beanie level: Errand boy

#RoundUp2023

Favourite Drama – INTEREST OF LOVE

I didn’t think a drama about hurt characters hurting each other would be my favourite show of 2023. The central thesis being love does NOT conquer all. Love can be toxic, lie, cheat and end. And yes while all this sounds miserable and painful, it was this drama that for whatever reason stuck with me throughout the year. It was this drama that comforted me in times of bleakness and sadness, it was this drama that reminded me of why I love kdramas.

It’s very human to its core, exploring how everyone is battling their own demons, how we are all flawed and imperfect and just trying to get by. Maybe we make mistakes, have regrets and make decisions that are not always rational. But well that’s just being human isn’t it?

Thank you INTEREST OF LOVE for reminding me of that.

https://www.tumblr.com/parano1d/706889571671179264/see-what-you-get-for-being-too-careful-you-got

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#RoundUp16

Your guilty pleasure

Do-hee died right? Gu-won resurrected her? I never thought weather would be a reason to watch a drama but here I am in the midst of a storm watching MY DEMON and damn does the thunder give it the desired effect. It feels more epic lol

Anyways MY DEMON is my choice for the guilty pleasure pick. By all accounts it shouldn’t work for me, but it does. Part of the fun is wondering what the hell is Do-hee’s job again?! This is not a complaint, I’m enjoying how the drama doesn’t even try to pretend or get bogged down in semantics of it all. Just give me the p r e t t y

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#RoundUp18

Favourite villain

PERFECT MARRIAGE REVENGE – Lee Jung-hye

Lee Jung-hye was a riot! She was the murderous over-the-top villain that put a smile on face whenever she was on screen. Both her glee and desperation were so entertaining to watch. The actress also seemed to have fun playing the role

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    We loved to hate her. 🤣 Her monochromatic fashion game was a thing of beauty.

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    OMG, yes, yes she is awesome and she does a great balancing act between being evil and being deluded, to the point where her character never becomes farcical (which is really a tricky thing to do when villains lose their all-powerful influence)

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#RoundUp19

Worst used trope

The chaebol (treason) takeover / succession plot, it’s one my gripes with chaebol dramas in general. A majority of them focus on this storyline and it’s always so boring and dry to watch. Even PERFECT MARRIAGE REVENGE couldn’t make it fun. I’m genuinely curious if anyone enjoys this trope?

Dramas featuring said trope:
KING THE LAND
SEE YOU IN MY 19th LIFE
PERFECT MARRIAGE REVENGE
THE STORY OF PARK’S MARRIAGE CONTRACT

Giving MY DEMON a pass for now (I’ve put it on hold tho) as it seems to be somewhat like KNIVES OUT (without the class critique) in that the whole family are varying levels of awful. And hey bonus a woman chaebol in charge who isn’t the bad guy for once

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    While it isn’t my least favorite trope (that would be amnesia), I do find that corporate power battles can be tedious. Occasionally a show like Giant finds a way to make them really compelling though – I think it just depends upon the skills of the writers.

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    Reborn Rich made a good case … or maybe it was just Song Joong-ki. 🤣

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#RoundUp15

Special Kimchi slap edition: worst parent

PERFECT MARRIAGE REVENGE – Yi-joo’s and Yoo-ra’s dad.

You see PMR was precisely fun because we got to see our villains’ downfall and eventual comeuppance. It was a world that was black and white, no grey, no in-between, just good guys and bad guys. So colour me surprised that Yi-joo’s and Yoo-ra’s dad was given protein coffee instead. Dude was a horrible father, neglectful and abusive and his biggest crime was not even being a fun villain. So for this reason, his punishment shall not just end with a kimchi slap but the guillotine (yes I’m a little bloodthirsty). I also don’t want to share a pic because screw this guy.

Dishonourable Mention:
BAD MOTHER

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    The fact that all he did was ignoring his daughters was outrageous. First YiJoo, looking aside all the time, then YooRa, abandoning the daughter he raised. Yes, no doubt he is one of the worst dad of the year.

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#RoundUp14

Best Womance – The housemates of belle-époque (AGE OF YOUTH)

Do I even need to explain myself?

https://www.tumblr.com/sseureki/165132115556

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#RoundUp14

Best Bromance – Yeon & Rang

This is such a sibling interaction lol

https://www.tumblr.com/hitomebore08/719847488131039232/tale-of-the-nine-tailed-1938-episode-4

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#RoundUpFreestyle

Best cigarette PPL

I just wanted an excuse to look at hot Kim Bum / Rang okay? That said I have noticed an uptick in smoking in kdramaland lately. Putting my conspiracy hat on and gonna bet that big tobacco has something to do with this

Anyway so I don’t feel guilty for promoting smoking I’m tying this back to the bromance prompt as Yeon shoots the cigarette off Rang’s mouth…yanno as siblings do. Yeon is such a caring brother after all 😉

https://www.tumblr.com/hitomebore08/719904985471664128/lee-rang-the-bandit-leader-tale-of-the-nine

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#RoundUp13

Show how you learned from your mistakes: let’s talk about drops

I’ve learnt nothing. In fact I’m actually glad I’m bad at quitting because and I’ve never had this happen to me before, the ending of CASTAWAY DIVA made me re-evaluate
e v e r y t h i n g

It was that GOOD! I was bawling my eyes damn. I’m not even going try to coherently explain my thoughts, I’m still processing it to the point I’m becoming unhinged

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#RoundUp12

Best Suit Wearer(s)

My nine tailed foxes

Yeon & Rang

If I had to choose one, it would be Rang buuuuuut why not choose both? We literally had season two because of their chemistry. Also spoilers for my favourite bromance 😉

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    I second this!

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    What can be prettier than brothers in suits.

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    I’m happy that you picked Yeon too! Lee Dong Wook has been a favorite suit wearer of mine for a decade!! I like his style much better than Rang’s.

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    Can we all just take a moment to appreciate the fact that in the third pic, Yeon’s pocket is a crocheted granny square? It’s 👌

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#RoundUp10

Your 2023 crush

Chae Jong-hyeop / Ki-ho

I mean we had a whole drama about smiles this year but it was Chae Jong-hyeop’s and specifically Ki-ho’s smile that took the db community by storm

So for that reason I bestow Chae Jong-Hyeop the coveted King The Smile award 😉

In all seriousness, CASTAWAY DIVA was my first time seeing Chae Jong-Hyeop and he did not disappoint! Ki-ho will no doubt be added to my favourite Male Leads post (once I finish writing it up 😅).

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    Great choice. Sadly, I didn’t connect with CD. But I watched Loved All Play earlier this year and was bowled over by his smile. I still have Unlock on my watchlist as soon as the current drama deluge ends.

    Btw my Bookclub picked Whale for its Jan read. Korea! It’s everywhere!

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      I didn’t like Love All Play, but Unlock My Boss was lovely!

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        Oh really? Since I watched it late, I received Beanie wisdom and skipped the angsty last third (read the recaps) and watched the finale for more smiles. Looking fwd to Unlock.

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          Eek eek eek I’m so excited for you to watch Unlock My Boss!!!! I didn’t like Love All Play either (everyone took advantage of his love nooo 😭), but as you know, Unlock My Boss is one of my top favorites. I think it’s a bit polarizing – not everyone likes it – but CJH is amazing in it.

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    Yayyyy!!!! He’s my pick, too!!! 🥰 You have great taste, and King the Smile is such a perfect description 😊

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#RoundUp8
The character who most screams for mental health care

Song Ji-won – Age of Youth

Finding out she dies so young gutted me. We don’t explicitly know the cause of her death, it could be Truck of Doom or Cancer, but after the events of season two it’s heavily implied that she may have…

Excuse me while I go cry

https://www.tumblr.com/rabonghee/166797995875/song-ji-won-in-age-of-youth-s2

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    Hmmm, interesting. I found an article on Soompi saying Ji-won died fighting for injustice. I’m not sure if it means she was murdered or had taken her own life? Either way season two Ji-won definitely needed some therapy and I’m still sad she died so young…

    https://www.soompi.com/article/1056497wpp/park-eun-bin-reveals-truth-behind-age-youth-2-epilogue-hinting-characters-death

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      ??????
      I just watched S2 recently…what do you mean she died??? 😭😭
      I’m not sure I wanna know tbh 🙈

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        When I watched it last year I missed that scene (it’s hidden in the credits). Some months later I knew it and I went back to watch the hidden scene. And it’s so sad because it’s true 😭

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          I really need to go back and check because I did not see any epilogue…though sometimes ignorance is bliss, I was happier when I didn’t know about this 🥲

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            Oh well, I just realized I skipped all the epilogues (currently watching them now ahah) because they’re after the preview and I always skip that xD
            No wonder!!

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            Oof sorry! The epilogues are mostly fun but yeah the urn epilogue absolutely gutted me. If it helps there is an epilogue in episode 13 with Sung-min (doesn’t show his face but it’s his voice) and Ji-won’s daughter visiting Belle Epoque together. It’s bittersweet as it seems Ji-won passed away by then

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#RoundUp7

The drama Beanies convinced you to watch and you can’t be grateful enough

ONE DAY OFF

Watching three chaebol dramas simultaneously has given me serious chaebol fatigue. So many thanks to beanies for recommending ONE DAY OFF! It’s so refreshing to see simple everyday interactions between characters, the beauty and magic in the mundane, while also appealing to the wanderlust in us all. I’ve only watched four episodes so far and you bet I’m savouring the experience.

My favourite so far is episode two, it’s out there and super weird but also comforting. What is the meaning of success? Do the metrics of awards, money and fame determine what it means to be successful? Or perhaps it’s purpose and passion, maybe success is just being able to do the thing you love, even if you don’t get any monetary benefit or accolades from it

Honourable Mention:
PERFECT MARRIAGE REVENGE

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    One Day Off was such a lovely little gem of show!

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    One of my favorites this year! I’d love to see more short series like this.

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#RoundUp5

Yeah I’m changing this to:
OTP I know I love and rewatching AGE OF YOUTH S1&2 just reaffirmed it.

♥️ Song Ji-won & Im Sung-min 💕

https://www.tumblr.com/sseureki/165902427176/you-like-ji-won

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#RoundUp4

A drama I loved but beanies didn’t

BORA! DEBORAH

I definitely had my issues, especially as some of the references and dialogue the writer incorporated into the script was offensive at best. That said, I like seeing female leads being unabashedly messy and Bora was indeed m-e-s-s-y. Did I agree with everything she said or done? Noooope. She was a very flawed character and witnessing her go through a breakup and the consequent stages of grief and growing and changing was immensely satisfying to watch.

A drama beanies enjoyed but I didn’t

LOVE TO HATE YOU

I hated the ML Gang-ho, after one failed relationship he hates all women lol. Seriously wtf?! Look I get the writer was going for angle that both leads hate the opposite gender, but we live under patriarchy sooooooo at least the FL Mi-ran’s hate is more grounded in reality…
Gang-ho also weirdly idolises Mi-ran in a way that’s offensive. I get the she can be special to him but he says shit like she’s not like ‘other’ girls/women which is a big red flag for me. Anyway the drama did the crime of having Kim Ji-hoon do a cringeworthy public confession which is absolutely unforgivable imo

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Day 1 : Female Lead I’ll never forget
Yeah I can’t just choose one! So I chose three 😉

TALE OF THE NINE-TALED 1938
Ryu Hong-joo

How can I describe perfection!

WORK LATER, DRINK NOW
Kang Ji-goo

I’m a sucker for a curmudgeon with a heart of gold. Ji-goo is someone who can cut you with her eyes but is fiercely loyal. Do I want her to step on me? Yes yes definitely.

I’m not sure we’ll get a season three of WORK LATER, DRINK NOW, that said Ji-goo’s arc was interesting. Her career trajectory especially with the rise of the gig economy was the most relatable. We place so much emphasis and our identity on our choice of career that it feels incredibly debilitating. Maybe our career doesn’t define us, it certainly didn’t define Ji-goo, she stayed the same regardless of her job title

GOOD BAD MOTHER
Lee Mi-joo

Mi-joo might’ve been a side character but she was the only character I cared about in GOOD BAD MOTHER. Ahn Eun-Jin managed to bring depth and nuance to Mi-joo, a character who could’ve easily been sidelined, and yet it was Mi-joo who I was the most invested in. I wanted her to achieve all her dreams. In spite of everything that was thrown at her, she still remained the most caring and thoughtful and forgiving person. It might be weird to say that I look up to a fictional character but I do

#2023RoundUp

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    Good Bad Mom Those poor pigs 🐷 🐷 🐷 😪

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Just reminding myself that Park Eun-bin was the infamous, foul-mouthed and my favourite charismatic queen Song Ji-won!

Yeah I was deliberately avoiding and ignoring all criticism for Seo Mok-ha, but after a particular scene I can’t deny that she feels too naive and honestly can’t in good conscience ship her with Ki-ho

Apart from Chae Jong-hyeop having a smile so heart-fluttering that it feels downright illegal, he acts his age. Seo Mok-ha on the other-hand feels like she’s ten?? Look I get she was trapped in a deserted island for fifteen years but she was around sixteen when that happened, so why does her behaviour seem more juvenile??

The scene I am referring to, is admittedly quite funny, Ki-ho looking up patricide but being mistaken for looking up p**n was/is hilarious…buuuut Seo Mok-ha’s reaction just reinforced that girls/women are meant to (or pretend to) be naive and virginal who don’t have any sexual desires. Her character also doesn’t explicitly seem to be asexual either. (I also want to clarify that I don’t mean to suggest that asexual individuals are immature)

Look what gives?? Why does a thirty-something woman feel so childish?? Let me remind you Park Hye-ryun wrote DREAM HIGH S1. Suzy who was a teenager at the time had both Kim Soo-hyun and Taec in love with her (sorry I don’t remember their character’s names), also pretty sure she kissed both of them at some point.

Now I don’t mind characters having different life and romantic experiences. The tension between couples who have different expectations is something writer Park Yeon-sun (AGE OF YOUTH S1&2, SALON DE NABI) encapsulates so well.

CASTAWAY DIVA, and let’s be honest the ‘castaway’ part is a total gimmick, doesn’t seem to tackle this issue rather it focuses on other plot elements to gloss over the potential conflict between our OTP??

Anyway I totally want Park Eun-bin’s next role to a femme fatale, pls make answer my prayers dramagods!

#CastawayDiva8
#AgeOfYouthS2

https://www.tumblr.com/sseureki/165621662101/ji-won-and-sung-min

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    Hum… It’s misleading.

    Ji-Won spoke about it by bravado but she was actually completely traumatized since her childhood and never had any relationship. So I don’t think it’s a good example.

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      I agree that Song-Ji-won overcompensated by sexually objectifying men as her coping mechanism for her childhood trauma. But sexual desires and sexual experiences are different. Song Ji-won did consume p**n. Seo Mok-ha views p**n as criminal. The ethics of p**n is a different discussion, I just wanted to highlight that women too have sexual desires and that’s okay. I’m sorry if that didn’t come across well

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        But Ji-Won didn’t have sexual desires neither. It was just talking from her part. She couldn’t be approached without having a panic attack…

        It’s for me you didn’t choose the good example to show women who assume their sexuality and desires in Kdrama world.

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          Okay so Song Ji-won is shown to be watching p**n in AGE OF YOUTH S2 Ep 4 (timestamp 16.03-17minutes)

          Also recap confirming this:

          https://www.dramabeans.com/2017/09/age-of-youth-2-episode-4/#

          Ji-won could be watching p**n for mere curiosity and that’s open to interpretation. I do personally think she had sexual desires, while Ji-won might’ve overcompensated due to her trauma, I’m not inclined to believe that’s the sole reason. I think humans are more multifaceted than that but again that’s my personal opinion

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    It’s a strange way of criticizing by comparing two roles of the same actress. It is not her fault that the character is written and directed like that. Actually women reacting badly to p*, and glossing over women’s desires, is very much more normal in Kdramaland. You are free to criticize it, and your opinion is valid, but it has nothing to do with Park Eun Bin and her various roles in other dramas.

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      Agreed – it’s almost like a kdrama norm that sex is not to be talked about, let alone showing sexual desires. The exceptions are few and afar. So, Mok-ha’s response here is typical and no different from the majority of other dramas.

      (I’m not saying it’s right or wrong but this is the kdrama reality.)

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    I haven’t seen these other shows, but I agree that PEB’s portrayal of Mok-ha is far too juvenile and that’s one of the biggest reasons I dropped the show. There were so many things wrong with the way that internet search scene was both written and acted, starting with her nosily asking what he’d been looking at.

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    I just thought it was poorly written that MokHa herself suggests that he may be watching something – does she say nasty? – and then is all askance when he agrees that he is. Girl, you brought it up.

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    I think one of the things that worked so well in Still 17 is that even tho the ML wasn’t in a coma for 13 years, he had his own struggles and conflicts that didn’t let him grow up. He was stuck in the age of 17 too.

    In Ki-Ka couple’s case I wouldn’t be surprised if they had weird/uncomfortable moments the more their relationship develops due to their age/maturity differences.

    But it’s also true that kdramas act like teenagers, and even adults, barely know/think about sexual stuff, so it wouldn’t be that weird if she acted like “omo, I thought all men were like Ken (barbie)”.

    I dropped the show, so Idk which scene you’re referring to but I think both options are possible: the age differences are showing, or kdramas are being kdramas.

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Okay I genuinely thought after the boring acquisition stuff failing, Lee Jung-hye would ditch her husband and marry Seo Jung-wook instead. Now talk about a power couple! Yeah I couldn’t care less for her daughter, she’s dumb and annoying. Lee Jung-hye being the smart murderous villain is where it’s at imo

#PerfectMarriageRevenge8

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    Jung-hye would ditch her husband and marry Seo Jung-wook instead

    I thought that Brother and EvilMom could be a thing too.
    Talk about makjang 🔥

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      She may consider that once Tae Ja, Jung Wook’s father and Yeon Hwa is out of the picture. Tae Ja and Yeon Hwa will be too much for her to handle alone.

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    That would be wild!! Haha I think I’m ready for wherever this drama wants to go 😆

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    What an original and non-makjang idea. 👌 I’m on board. When is the wedding.💒 Ah! I may have a spare dress or dozen in white with sequins and pearls and maybe a veil. 👰

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    the specy secy will backstab FL.. i just know it.. and why is father poor and not good looking..

    Our villainess deserves more

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    How would you rate this book on a scale of 0-5 stars?

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      5 stars!

      I was nodding along vigorously while reading the novel. That said, the book read more like non-fiction than fiction, this isn’t really a critique but I did find the film felt more thematically like a story. Still both the novel and film complement each other well imo

      Anyway here are some of the quotes I found to either to be interesting, darkly humorous or insightful.

      ‘Entering high school meant a sudden expansion of her geographical and social world, which taught her that it was a wide world out there filled with perverts’. (p. 51)

      ‘What do you want from us? The dumb girls are too dumb, the smart girls are too smart, and the average girls are too unexceptional?’ (p. 84)

      ‘Jiyoung was standing in the middle of a labyrinth. Conscientiously and calmly, she was searching for a way out that didn’t exist to begin with. Baffled and ready to give up, she was told to try, try again; to walk through walls if it came to that.’ (p. 112)

      ‘Revenue drives a businessman, and you can’t blame someone for wanting maximum output with minimum input. But is it right to prioritise short-term efficiency and balance sheets? Who’ll be the last ones standing in a world with these priorities and will they be happy?’ (p. 112)

      ‘Do laws and institutions change values, or do values drive laws and institutions?’ (p. 120)

      ‘I’m putting my youth, health, job, colleagues, social networks, career plans and future on the line. No wonder all I can think about are the things I’m giving up. But what about you? What do you lose by gaining a child?’ (p.124)

      ‘About to pop and still taking the tube to go make money – clearly can’t afford a kid’ (p. 128)

      ‘I wish I could live off my husband’s paycheque…bum around and get coffee…mum-roaches got it real cushy…no way I’m marry a Korean woman…’ (p. 153)

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        I read The Vegetarian by Han Kang right after I read Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982. They are both novels critiquing sexism in the Korean patriarchal family. In both novels, a young woman has a nervous breakdown because of the pressure of her role. But Kim Jiyoung isn’t a symbolic book in the same way. Instead of being a subtle indictment of conformity, this novel is like a hammer or a drumbeat. For me, the very best part was the ending. It just read like dark, sarcastic humor where the rest of the book was more like a lecture. The payoff of suffering along with the typical woman is skewering the male authority figure at the end.

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      This was more of a 3 star read for me. Given that I get the sense that sexism in South Korea often is so omnipresent that it’s seldom even commented on, I understand what a book that relentlessly calls it out would be popular, but to as you mention @linarrick, it felt more like a sociological treatise than a novel. Also, some of this may be the translation, but the prose style often felt flat and awkward. I was hoping to love it, and I completely agree with the points it’s making, but as a work of art it left me rather disappointed.

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      I think I’m at 4 or so.

      “ Just as the mermaid princess lost her voice in exchange for legs, do middle-aged men lose their hiccups in exchange for backward ideas?”

      “Even the usually reasonable, sane ones verbally degrade women—even the women they have feelings for.“

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      5 stars
      I liked the way the story was embedded into the stats and I felt it gave a good overview of women’s experiences over time. The twist at the end was unexpected for me and lead to a reappraisal of what I had taken as facts were actually someone else’s perspective on the information that had been supplied by the actual narrator of her own story.

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      I’d give 4 stars. I loved what the writer tried to convey about sexism in Korea, however, I wasn’t fully excited and immersed while reading this. Maybe it’s the wording or something else, I don’t know… Agreed with @Linarrick that the movie is better in narrating the idea.

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        4 for me too. The prose quality was a three for me. But I bumped it for the inventive blending of fact and fiction (or rather fiction giving life to fact) and the importance of the topic.

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    The final chapter of the novel reveals the narrator. What do you think this twist adds to the way you think about Jiyoung’s story?

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      To be honest, I didn’t realise the psychiatrist in the last chapter was the narrator for the book until I read this question lol. The twist or punch in the gut feeling for me was sympathising with the psychiatrist in the beginning, learning about his home-life, and then being shocked that while he could be empathic to his patient Kim Ji-young because his wife went through something similar, he was still a sexist boss.

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        The therapist is still a sexist husband, also. Remember that the reason he could relate was that his wife, who was better and smarter than he in every way, was stuck amusing herself by working children’s math puzzles. That ending of the book really twisted the knife.

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      I think the final reveal is meant to suggest that even men who claim to empathize often have no real idea just how bad things are for women, and aren’t willing to sacrifice their own comfort to actually change the system. I do think there is truth in this, and I think the writer is correctly suggesting that expecting the folks benefiting from patriarchy to also dismantle it is a pipe dream.

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        Couldn’t agree more. I was actually surprised that the whole time it was from the psychiatrist, and even more baffled at how little that affected him as a man/husband.

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      I didn’t really know entirely what to do with the part of the story in which Ji-young becomes other people. It seemed like it was going to be a bit part of it at the beginning, but by the end it was just a justification for her to be seeing a psychiatrist (when she probably should have been seeing one anyway). It sort of felt like it was meant to be that she was representing an Everywoman and that her experience was typical of all of the women she became, but then it doesn’t make as much sense that she would have known things that only they could have known. Does anyone have any insight into why the author felt like this was an important point in the story? Or is this an unreliable narrator element?

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        I was particulary curious about this part. How could this happen (her becoming other people at times), is it something legit or just a story to make it more interesting?

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        The timing of her switch was always relevant and the way she took on their mannerism, language and tone really was like she was that person. In the film she was clearly unaware that this was happening and felt quite ashamed and concerned. Her mother’s reaction seeing her daughter become her grandmother to tell the mum to stop putting her needs second to others was really effectively shown in the film.

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      Looking at the reviews on audible a lot of the listeners were annoyed that it was a male narrator so seem to have missed the twist at the end. Initially his take that he and other males had a lack of awareness because they were not women made me wonder if he switched off his eyes and ears while observing the world throughout his childhood and in to adulthood. I wondered about his lack of insight and how it impacted on his ability to connect with the female clients who visited for their diagnosis and treatment. I also wondered about his lack of shame when talking about his lack of engagement with his wife and son. His views about future recruitment also made it clear that he genuinely was living the life of the entitled.

      I wondered if Jiyoung was hesitant in her sharing because he was a man and maybe his questions or tone meant he let her know he lacked understanding of the issues she was talking about. I wondered what other stories she would have told if it had been his wife in the psychiatrist’s chair.

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        Yeah, definitely. I also thought about all the times that there was a line like, “They were genuinely happy to provide for their brothers” (or something similar, this is not a direct quote). The reveal of the narrator at the end made me go back and question all those moments and whether they came from Ji-young’s story or whether he put them in after making assumptions.

        I think it’s totally clear that he is a person who can talk all day long about how much empathy he has for his clients and for women in general, but when it actually comes to doing anything meaningful, he can’t be relied on. He is the very opposite of an ally to them, and even more dangerous because he thinks he’s being so progressive.

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      Thinking more deeply, I did find the scene about the flasher interesting. The girls who caught the flasher were either described as a bully or reckless but there was nothing to suggest they were? Also the repercussions they got for catching a criminal, instead of being cheered and treated as heroes they were scolded and shamed which was just sad to read

      And unlike the film, no mention of paternity leave is curious, and this could be because the narrator is a male psychiatrist

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        It truly is! I couldn’t imagine living in that reality. This was the one part that got me riled up. Not to mention that Ji Young’s father sort of blamed her when she was stalked by the stranger at night.

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        Yes, the flasher being a regular and no one dealing with it was such an awful message to the girls so it was fascinating to read how the girls were treated after they dealt with the problem. How could any adult not feel shame and embarrassment that children had to put themselves in danger to remove an adult male behaving in thus way. It was beyond outrageous that adults felt it was appropriate to then make an example of the girls and discipline them.

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        Yes, I also thought it was interesting that girls willing to actually stand up for their safety were casually labeled “bullies” without any real evidence.

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    For Jiyoung and other women in the novel, motherhood poses a major disruption to career advancement. What were your thoughts about the book’s suggestions of ways that could lead to greater gender equality in the workplace?

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      I’ve read studies that suggest that societies with very rigid career tracks that make it both very hard to get a first job, and even harder to switch careers or get a second job are the worst for mothers, and are also seeing the greatest decline in birthrates as a result. As a mother myself, I totally get this. I know the book doesn’t make this point specifically, but more paths to entry into the workforce, more fulfilling part-time or flexible jobs, and more ways to get back into a career or start a new one later in life all make it much more possible to take the time needed to parent without giving up all hope of ever having a career again. Weirdly, the US seems to be better about this than other countries, which may explain why the birthrate here hasn’t dropped as much as in some other places. I was able to reenter the workforce in my field after taking time off/working part-time with relative ease, something that I don’t sense happens in Korea or many other places.

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      I really feel like taking time off after having a child is still stigmatized to a certain extent in the US (where I live). And I think it will remain so until men take parental leave as often as women do. So often in this book, having a child is the thing that drastically affects the careers of women, but not men. If it was a big event in the careers of men also it wouldn’t be such a disadvantage to have a child as a woman because the disruption would be shared much more equally.

      I also think that some basic workers’ rights laws (properly followed and enforced) could go a long way. The book talks about the super long hours employees are expected to work, which are incompatible with doing anything extra, let alone having a child. And this is just accepted as logical for companies to try to maximize profits and extract every last bit of value from their employees. But if they were required to pay overtime or compensate their workers fairly, they would likely hire more of them which would make everyone’s schedules less demanding. Then it wouldn’t be as outlandish to get off work in time to pick your kid up from daycare, and it would be much more accessible for parents in general (or anyone else who wants to have a life outside work).

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      The book gave insights into the changes in policy that were meant to address sexism in the work place and the difficulties the women faced when taking up the entitlement. Women run organisations are few and far between and the chances of any new businesses succeeding are slim. So the implications are that meaningful change is unlikely in the short or long term.

      The description of the female doctor’s situation seemed to suggest that even if you were in a privileged position of having options such as a guaranteed position to return to work other factors such as being seen as the main carer by society and her husband prevented the planned return. For the psychiatrist’s son, it was never going to be in his best interests to revert to being a ‘good kid’ as he will lose access to his mum again. His dad had minimal input and this didn’t change when his behaviour declined so he could only rely on his mum to be there.

      The only option for the majority of mothers seemed to be to forget returning to their previous career and to work in low paid, low status jobs that fitted in with school hour.

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    Why do you think the author, is so specific about the date of Jiyoung’s birth in the title?

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      I’m not sure. Does anyone else know or have thoughts on this? It did feel like a way of suggesting that despite the fact that we often pat ourselves on the back for being “progressive” on women’s issues in the “modern world” we still have a long way to go.

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      I think the author wanted to emphasise that the current low birth rate is a direct result of the policies that were being implemented at her time of birth and early childhood.

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        I haven’t read the book as I often, nowadays, shy away from this kind material but your comments gave me the courage to share a little of my story on this issue.
        I grew up in a comunist country in which women were seen and promoted as equal in the workforce but also encouraged and helped to become mothers through government social programs ( taking time off after birth, childcare, etc). The society was and still is conservative and family oriented, and getting married, having a carrer and children was promoted and encouraged. Not all women worked but most were expected to work and be married. Religion was something that was tolarated by the government, not permited to be talked about or promoted but allowed to exist. Abortion was ilegal as to increase the workforce needed and not for some religious beliefs. So I grew up having both the traditional values when it came to marriage and familly but also very liberal and feminist when it came to having a carrer. We kind of grew up that we can do it all, all of course if you followed the party regime. The discrimination in the workforce wasn’t felt as gender oriented (I am sure there were cases, of course) but political oriented for as a daughter, a sister or a wife of a party big shot was expected to be the head of any institution without even being questioned. I never felt in my school years any gender discrimination as the director of my school was female (the wife of a city mayor) that got replaced by another wife of the new county governor later on. Many if not all of the school class or school presidents were girls and we were all encouraged to become doctors or anything we wanted to.
        My mom didn’t work until we came to the US in my teens and it was entirely her choice as she valued more taking care of us and my dad. She grew up very poor and did her share of work helping her family before she got married. My mom, even though she disguised it very well outside of the family because that was what was expected in the society, and even us when we were kids, is the one that was in charge. My dad was always kind and loving, and praised her even for little things. Not that my mom wasn’t, because she was but I would say that was more uncommon for men at that time. My mom pushed him and us to succed while she did everything for us at home. She did so much that I think my dad would be lost without her and all his praises come from that, I think because I felt that that way when I left the home. But yeah, almost all the decisions were and still are made by her and she carefully gives my dad all the credit. She loved taking care of us and to suport us in our profesional lives. So I never felt that kind of gender discrimination at home.
        I got to fall in love, and be married for 30 years now with a probably more feminist man than I was at that time. He suported me in everyway both at home and with my career, even saying at times when things got so hard to balance everything, that I am capable of doing

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          more than my mom. And he did everything to helo, from working nights to take care of the kids while I was in school, from working part time and not advance in his career to care for the kids, to bathing them to play with them. Everything. I happened to become pregnant while going through many years of graduate school in the US and I was not allowed to take time off because I already signed for loans and the school did not allow any time off. So they couldn’t “discriminate” and was treated as my coleagues. At school I felt no compasion but more stigma associated with how a profesional that was given a chance and a very competitive place should not be. I went on and worked immediately after school due to the payments of the loans coming up. So my career never suffered and I made it through. And the kids turned out great, even though they missed the care of only a mother could give at that young age. But you know who did suffer and still does? Me. I felt that I was robbed from what I think is one of the greatest experiemce in life. And not because the society made me think that way but because of the maternal and caring instincts that kicked in after having the kids. Nothing could replace that that feeling, for it was I who wanted to take care of them and spend time with them, not my husband or others. But because the society we live in now that beat us to the pulp that it is better to have a career and that we should make that a priority in life something very important in life is missing. The impact of having so many children raised without at least one parent care in their first tears of life because the society is pushing us to work has many negative outcomes. Having kids and taking care of them right now is not even discussed, all we hear is about how can we be better workers, or slaves if you really think about it. The joy of motherhood is seen as a chore, as something negative. Is all about the carrers. You have no idea how much I hated my career during those times. I have so many young coleadues now that choose to not have kids because now that is seen and promoted as a negative life choice. And that is what is why the birthrate dropped in my opinion, there is only talk about how the child stops us from having a career and how stupid the females are that choose to have a family and children, as we are some sort of idiots pushed by patriarchy inforced rules. When actually we are robed from the most beautiful in life in order to become a better workforce for the corporation. And cheap ones because we added on to the workforce population.

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            Thank you for sharing that very personal experience of living in two very different societies at different stages of life. There are as many perspectives on the experience of motherhood as there are mothers and ‘choice’ is influenced by so many things; finances and expectations are just two of them.
            I agree we do need to choose our reading/viewing carefully and it is hard to find those stories that cover the spectrum of experiences. I liked Birthcare centre because it did cover a range of perspectives and mixed it with humour too.

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      The writer probably wanted to emphasize that even in a modern world, it’s not easy to change something fundamental in a society.

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    This book, published in 2016 was made into a film in 2019, do you think the film adaption captured the key themes from the book? If yes was there a scene that stood out for you? If no, what do you think they missed?

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      I haven’t seen the film, so I’m not sure?

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      I think the film built up the husband’s part, from the start we see him trying to be supportive which I think enhanced the story as it gave some hope that change can take place when men start to be part of the solution. I liked how they ended the film by offering more than the option of working in a female led organisation or part time in an unrelated field.

      The change of gender of the psychiatrist was an interesting move and I feel the book gave more importance to the role of the woman on the bus. The scene on the bus is the one that stands out for me because of the dad’s berating behaviour when his daughter had faced such a terrifying situation.

      The film brought in some of the issues differently like the psychiatrist’s wife maths solving was part of a group of mum’s discussion about motherhood. They showed Jiyoung as the author of her own story, she also responded directly to the office worker with the bad attitude about mothers.

      The issue of individualising societal problems leads to people having to find individual ways to cope with unbearable situations. It is only when society takes on the challenge and normalises shared childcare, subsidises childcare, penalises those who discriminate that is when change happens.

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      It sure did! A Lot better IMO. This is the first time in my experience watching movie adaptation outdid the original source. As I said above, it could be the choice of words of the writer or the translation as @wonhwa mentioned. It fell flat mostly. That said, I am convinced there are authors that are really great at words and story telling and some are less. And I think the writer belongs in the latter category.

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    What is the strongest emotion you feel while reading the book and why?

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      Mostly rage, which I’m assuming is exactly what the writer was going for. I do think there is a place for works that clearly call out oppression and injustice, and I get the sense that really doesn’t happen much in South Korea, especially under the current right wing government that came to power in part based on its promise to specifically dismantle the office of gender equality.

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      I felt tired. So often this is how my anxiety at the state of the world manifests these days. I feel like I only have a set amount of anxiety to allocate to everything, so when disasters happen in quick succession, or when they are chronic and long-standing, my anxiety is spread thin and my overwhelming feeling is one of exhaustion. In this case I feel like it mirrored Ji-young’s feelings – like you can’t take a full breath, like you can’t do anything without making the wrong move.

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      Empathy because women across the globe are treated differently and yet this is just one of the many faces of discrimination.

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      I felt angry and aghast, while some of the situations were sadly relatable,I learnt some things too.

      However, I felt resigned knowing that ultimately no matter what choices girls and women make, they’ll be shamed for it.

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      Rage and helpless.
      Seeing how little the society valued women even in the modern world (Although I’m sure it it lays on the culture more than anything else.) and how it’s not easy to change this mindset, proven by the birthrate in Korea.

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        I know! After I finished this I thought, “Nothing about the low birthrate is a mystery.” Of course women don’t want to sacrifice everything else about their lives, and as long as you expect/force them to do that when they become mothers, many will just choose not to do so. And (maybe to a slightly lesser extent these days?) as long as you expect them to act like servants for their in-laws, they will be more reluctant to get married in the first place.

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          Yes! This marriage stat in Korea could be another result from the same culture expectation. Or women may just getting more independent and self-reliant that they no longer see marriage as the ONLY thing they should do in order to have a happy life anymore.

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          If I were in their position, I’d do the same, too. I wouldn’t want my kid to suffer from the same kind of treatment.

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    How were women treated in your culture compared to the one in S. Korea during the setting?

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      As some one born ten years before Kim Ji-Young and living in the US, I think the experiences described here unfortunately still pop up in most societies. While the US in my lifetime has not put quite the same premium on male children as described here, there is definitely still plenty of sexism in both workplaces and homes, and women are still disproportionately expected to handle the rigors of housework and child-rearing and to sacrifice their careers first if they can’t juggle both work and parenthood.

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      I often feel like the discrimination is more subtile in the US. We are quite a polite society, so you’re much less likely to overhear someone saying something awful about you, and asking sensitive questions during an interview is enough to get you sued in a hurry. But companies have lots of less explicit ways of making life miserable for their female employees, particularly if they are juggling family duties as well as work. “Women don’t stay because you make it impossible for us to stay.” <- suuuuuper relatable.

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      I grew up in a country that has had female Prime ministers, I went to mixed gender schools and worked in professions where women are the majority of the workforce. Legislation addresses discrimination based on gender, and maternity and paternity leave are standard. The issues around discrimination are still present; there is a gender pay gap, a national paper had topless women as a feature for years, female presenters are dropped over a certain age on tv whilst male presenters stay regardless of age, and the absence of females in CEO posts. The expectations re the main carers of dependents and the proportion of part time workers in lower paid jobs remains female focused.

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      While I admit that we’re not as progressive as in the US, I’d say it’s pretty good. Females are treated fairly in society (young and adult), although when it comes to parenting/domestic role, people still expecting more from women than men. And thus, more women quit their career except for government workers after having child or just starting a new job on their own so they can juggle work and raising kids simultaneously.

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      Not exactly an answer to your question, but what I found fascinating was that the book supposedly spoke for the Korean everywoman. The idea that a society can be homogenous enough to make such a claim is foreign to me.

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    Thanks so much @linarrick for organizing and putting this together, btw!

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    I am glad we got the book discussion started and choose this book as our first discussion. Thanks for hosting @linarrick.
    Thanks to all who have participated so far and I am looking forward to seeing all the comments when they come in later.

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    Thank you for managing our discussion, @linarrick!

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    Yes. Thank you for hosting! Sorry I was late to the party. I didn’t remember as much as I thought (I even forgot the twist!) but I enjoyed reading everyone’s responses.

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Part of me didn’t want to shade classic dramas since they were the shows that got me addicted to kdramas in the first place. I might not rewatch them but there is definitely a trope that kdramaland does so well…

Bickering to Love

Guess what my next rewatch will be 😁

https://www.tumblr.com/dearincrediblesweetness/154950051098/when-becomes-%E3%83%AE

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