Strong women who âcrash landedâ into the world of K-Drama fans
Kim Nam-joo as Go Hye-ran in Misty.
Photo from www.netflix.com/ph
Strong women who ‘crash landed’ into the world of K-Drama fans
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - September 11, 2020 - 12:00am

All this ado about the supposed plans of the MTRCB to “regulate” Netflix has stirred a bee’s nest with some lawmakers joining in the indignant buzz.

My son gave me the precious gift of Netflix — yes, precious — shortly before lockdown and it has unwrapped more gifts for me, starting with Crash Landing on You (CLOY), which brought “swoon-worthy” back into my vocabulary after Brad Pitt.

Netflix introduced to me the world of K-Drama after Narcos and Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) — I was a late bloomer in that sense for I know of many who had joined the K-Drama bandwagon much earlier.

But K-Drama also introduced to me to the world of strong Asian women, who, for decades, have had to buck tradition and stereotypes to reach the top. (Though politically, Asians were one of the first to elect women to lead their country.) Am talking more about the struggles of women struggling to balance home and work, struggling to defy the wages of time in relationships and careers.

Kim Hee-ae as Dr. Ji Sun-woo in The World of the Married.
Photo from www.facebook.com/jtbcdramapage

Dr. Ji Sun-woo

Kim Hee-ae, who portrayed Ji Sun-woo in The World of the Married, reportedly the highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history, is the actress who beat Filipino favorite Son Ye-jin as Best Actress in this year’s Baeksang Arts Awards.

TWOTM, according to the blurb on Netflix, is a “turbulent twister of lies, betrayals and revenge” that tears apart the seemingly picture-perfect marriage between a doctor and a filmmaker (Park Hae-joon who plays Lee Tae-oh). Unlike CLOY, or even Misty, The World of the Married has more explicit love scenes, though no nudity.

TWOTM strikes many a chord for those of us in a relationship, and that means, most of us. Because, arguably, all relationships have, at some point or another, been needled by doubts.

In TWOTM, the leading lady, Dr. Ji Sun-woo, seems to have in all in terms of work-life balance. Still a head turner in her forties, she is a much-respected doctor with a thriving practice and a healthy marriage (read: she and her husband still desire each other). They have a teenaged son (Lee Joon-young) who doesn’t seem to lack for anything.

Till one day…

Dr. Ji, after a romantic night with her husband, finds something in his scarf that catches her attention. To add fuel to her doubts, a stick of cherry-colored lip balm rolls out of her husband’s coat. He had just come from a trip, he explained, and his lips were chapped.

Anyway, thus begins the first step into the labyrinth that is the world of the married. Couples navigate these labyrinths hoping they find light at the end of the tunnel or tunnels — hand in hand.

TWOTM explores married life not just as a straight line between two people, but a labyrinth that involves children, friends, associates, the community, society.  You love one person but you marry a world when you marry him/her.

That’s why relationships can be complicated. In fact, unlike in the primary couple in TWOTM, most couples in the Philippines have to contend with the omnipresent, all-powerful world of the in-laws, which sometimes seamlessly blend with, and other times collide with, the world of the married.

Dr. Ji is a strong woman because she refuses to be stuck in the bowels of depression, despair and self-doubt when faced with betrayal (and I’m not saying from whom because she’s in a “world” here). All too human at times, she nevertheless picks up the pieces every time she falls and tries to do right — by her. She isn’t perfect — but she isn’t passive.

She shows her greatest strength when she shows forgiveness — and again, I won’t say whom she forgives.

Go Hye-ran

Upon the recommendation of a friend, who said that after she watched the first episode of Misty, “she never looked back,” I viewed the series, and like her, “never looked back.”

Unlike CLOY, which is swoon-worthy, Misty is gripping, and no less binge-worthy as CLOY. It resonated with me because not just because I am a woman, but also because I am in media — have been in media for more than half of my life.

Misty tells the story of news anchor Go Hye-ran (portrayed by Kim Nam-joo, who was named Best Actress  for Television at the 2018 Baeksang Arts Awards) at the apex of her hard-earned career threatened by a younger female rival salivating after her job. All this is complicated by the fact that as she struggles to outdo her rival, she gets embroiled in a murder case that tests the limits of her marriage to handsome lawyer Kang Tae-wook (played by Ji Jin-hee).

Anyway, Go Hye-ran could have been a victim of the internal politics in her network, or the natural ravages of time. But she takes charge of her own fate and endeavors to prove that the best man for the job is a woman, an experienced woman. Despite her fragile appearance, she has cast-iron guts. Gender was never an issue with her. Still very attractive in middle age, she fights doubting Thomases by a weapon in her arsenal that is the Holy Grail to most media organizations — a scoop.

Media conglomerates in Korea seem to be like most media conglomerates in the world — finding a balance between “principle and principal.” Fighting to uphold the truth and still get the presses running and salaries paid — whether in Washington, D.C. (Remember The Post starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks?) or Seoul or Manila.

I won’t tell you if Go Hye-ran delivers on that scoop. But I will tell you she knows how to choose her battles. Because at another point in her career, she stares eyeball to eyeball at corruption, which if exposed, may cost her the job she fought tooth and nail to keep. Does she proceed with the exposé? Who wins in the end?

In life, we win some, we lose some.

Son Ye-jin as Yoon Se-ri in Crash Landing on You.
Photo from www.facebook.com/tvNDrama

Yoon Se-ri

Of all three women in this piece, Yoon Se-ri of Crash Landing on You (played by Son Ye-jin) needs the least introduction.

Illegitimate, she struggles against all odds to rise up the corporate ladder and fend off those who seek to pull her down. When she is separated from the love of her life (who else but Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok), she finds a way, in additon to “praying fervently,” to make their paths cross again.

These three fictional women who “crash landed” on our homes from Netflix and the world of K-Drama take control of the steering wheel of their lives making the world of women not so “misty” after all.

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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