17 June, 2012

Weighing-in on I Do, I Do

I just finished the sixth episode of I Do, I Do (so some slight spoilers abound), and I am still not sure what I think, feel, or expect from this drama. It hasn't quite sucked me in, but it's raising some interesting questions which I am curious to see how the writers choose to resolve them.

Initially I was wondering why it was taking so long to get to the big reveal of "Ji An, you're pregnant!" (that moment came at the end of episode 4) - but I think they were really just setting up LOTS of relationships/perspectives on relationships before they threw in the sticky situation of single-older-career-woman-gets-pregnant-from-one-night-stand-with-man-several-years-her-junior-and-who-is-now-her-employee. Yeah, it's a rom-com - maybe?

Relationship 1: Her parents. Wow, talk about dysfunctional, but perhaps typical of an older generation where the husband's word was law, and it is totally okay to shout at your wife. Definitely an emotionally abusive relationship (thought I don't think physically abusive). I know that this sort of relationship - one of emotional abuse - isn't just an older generation Korean thing, it's an issue the world over. Equal women's issues are still being worked out everywhere, and I don't think we're going to get that sorted out anytime soon. And Dad does not like it that Ji An is independent, and a career woman. 

Relationship 2: Ji An (Kim Su Ah) and her parents. She seems to have a pretty good relationship with her mom, but dad is another story. She used to make him happy, but somewhere along the line there's been a disconnect, and they don't seem to be able to fix it. Ji-an seems like she wants to, but dad - he just wants to see her married. 

Relationship 3: Tae Kang (Lee Jang Woo) and his dad (played adorably? by Park Young Kyu). They bicker playfully - and dad threatens to disown Tae Kang, but it is obvious that Park Kwan Suk loves his son, and believes in him. And that goes a long way. Tae Kang's mother also skipped out on him right after he was born. So has had to play the roles of both parents. They seem to have a really healthy relationship. Dad took the fall for both of them so that Tae Kang didn't stay in prison when Ji An busted them for making/selling knock-offs of her shoes. Basically, they look out for each other - and life hasn't all been peachy keen, but they seem to have dealt with it pretty well.

Relationship 4: Ji An and Tae Kang. I am still not sure if they've got the chemistry I would want in an OTP, but they have some really great connecting moments. Maybe one of my favourites is when they're both really drunk - he finds this giant table umbrella to shelter her from the rain. It was so earnestly sweet. Lee Jang Woo really has this great puppy-dog-earnest thing going on which I am finding adorable, but sometimes his beta-maleness is too much. They also seem to have the most realistic, clear communication moments - well, except for when she's not telling him the baby is his. When they are together, they seem like real people. I think the drama's best moments are when they are being completely honest and heartfelt with each other (and it helps that the lovely piano theme also often starts playing at those points).

Relationship 5: Ji An and Jo Eun Sung (Park Gun Hyung). He's the blind date she tried to blow off (and he normally does the blowing off because he doesn't want to get married), but he's kind of fallen for her. At this point in the drama - they're supposed to be getting married, but she's dropped the bomb that she's pregnant, and he can't handle it. More about that later. Her parents are über excited that Ji An is finally getting married - and give him all these "fertility" foods, so that Ji An can get pregnant ASAP - they want grandkids. Oh, the irony. He's also a gynecologist. Yeah show, way to make that awkward? I'm not sure yet how I feel about them as an OTP. 

Relationship 6: Yeom Na Ri (Im Soo Hyang) and Lady/President Park (Oh Mi Hee). Na Ri is the daughter of President's Park's husband's mistress...or at least so I've been able to gather. Na Ri is the vice president of the company right now (she just swept in from the States to take up this position) and she is vying for the position of CEO. Unluckily for her, President Park has already told Ji An that the job is hers. Yeah, Na Ri's not happy about - she cut off all ties to her biological mother in order to come back to Korea and become the daughter of President Park. She's an interesting character - she wants love, and power...yeah, maybe they are also trying to work in a love-line with Tae Kang (please don't show, please don't). President Park hates her guts - which is rather unfair. She's taking out her husband's infidelity on the daughter. 

Phew, that was a lot of intro. Oh, another person of interest is Ji An's best friend. She's a single mom, a divorcée - and she's the one who was pushing Ji An to get an abortion. She even set up the appointment (but Ji An backed out). And then we also have the office manager who is a career woman, but really struggling with wanting to be there as a mom for her child - her child drew a family picture minus parents but plus hamster...

Basically we have a lot of women in a lot of different roles with a lot of different attitudes towards those roles. It makes it really interesting. And that I think is why I am still watching this drama. It seems to be taking it's time with answering questions like: "Abortion, why is it complex?" "What are gender roles?" "How can I balance career and family?" "Is it okay to not want to have children as a woman?""What roles do men and women play in families?" and I wonder if this drama is really going to ask these questions, and ultimately the question, "What is the most important thing to feel fulfilled in life?" and if it will answer it, and any of the other questions it seems to be bringing up.

Which brings me to some of my frustrations. In the scene where Ji An and Joon Hee (her best friend) are at the clinic for their consultation to have an abortion, they sit in a waiting room. We have a nonchalant high schooler who seems to be rather blasé about it all, a young couple with the woman crying and the boyfriend saying "sorry, sorry, sorry", another young woman who says she wants to have the baby - but her mom is literally dragging her into the clinic, and the Joon Hee's daughter calls her and she chats happily with her calling her "Princess". My first thought was, "Where are all the men? (other than apologizing boyfriend). There was a definite absence of the menfolk. I think it highlights the issue - we have strong women in this drama - but the strong men seem to be lacking. Is this some sort of commentary they are trying to make? Please, we need some strong men - strong, good men. Where is Kim Boong Do when you need him?

Okay, other frustration. Doctor man (Eun Sung). I know that plenty of other people have been fangirling about him...but he irritates me. He's the typical "nice" K-drama hero who thinks he's in charge, and wrist-grabs with the best of them, and always has to be "be right". Classic - doesn't listen to Ji An. At the end of episode 5 when Ji An was just in hospital, (collapsed from pain/almost miscarried/how she found out she was pregnant - totally cute scene in the ambulance by the way with Tae Kang holding her hand) she's walking into the courtyard of her apartment building - and he's waiting. She has stood him up for dinner, and instead of asking if there is anything wrong - he totally starts lecturing her - ugh! It irritates me to no end. She's just been in hospital for goodness sakes! He doesn't ask. He tells her why she's terrible. Argh! And even before that - she has made it clear - "I don't want a relationship," and he all but tells her parents they're getting married. A wedding planner even calls her. It's like he assumes that if he just does what he wants for long enough, that she'll give in. And even when she tells him that she's pregnant, he goes all mean on her. Yeah, I know it's a lot to deal with dude, but really, could you be less of a jerk? By lecturing her, and getting all angry for actually telling him, he criticizes her for doing what we all wish every K-drama character did more of - COMMUNICATE clearly! Yeah, episode 6 did not end with me liking doctor man.

Final frustration. I am hoping that they are not going to draw this out too long - but Ji An, why aren't you telling Tae Kang that you're pregnant with his child. He knows. You know that he's seen the sonogram. Why oh K-dramaland do we have to stick with this silly "let's not communicate" thing?! What would it cost for them to be open about it? Let's explore those options for a change.

So to end on a lighter note. Lee Jang Woo is rocking the cute, adorable, earnestness. I really like him and his character. He's young and a little naive, but he has a good heart, and no edges. Two scenes I really loved in episode 6 - Ji An and Tae Kang sitting in her shoe closet together, and Tae Kang channelling Rain from Full House as he adorably cleans her apartment and makes food for her (though Rain still wins for wearing that adorable cat apron).

◀ Gaksital: Episodes 5 & 6...                                                                       Queen In-Hyun's Man ▶


  1. Cool! I like the title of your blog because I too have stumbled upon the wonderful world of Kdramas because of Kim Sam Soon. :)