FAUX-K-STORIES: MARRIAGE CONTRACT #5


Ms. Candy...is in the house
Keywords: Korean Drama, Marriage Contract, Kdrama recap, K-drama, #Kdrama #MarriageContract


Warning!

Faux-K-stories are intended for the purpose of satire, parody, and criticism. None of the depictions of characters and events are true. While the specific show “Marriage Contract ” is used as the basis, many elements of other Korean dramas are used as reference. Read at your own peril. 

Click for Part #4 “Mr. Darcy is Lonely”



If the man is Mr. Darcy, what is the woman? In any decent tale of emotional pain and human frailty, there is a pair. Since this is Korea, we usually have a man and a woman. This is where things get a bit more interesting.

Jane Austen, while quite influential here in Korea in regards to how woman see men and how men see themselves, is not so influential in terms of the opposite. Female characters in her novels such as “Elizabeth Bennet” and “Emma” are not seen as ideal female architypes in Korea. They are not the ones the get the man at the end. It would be more accurately to say that they only get the man when they change their characters; No longer be strong but flawed women. “Elinor Dashwood,” on the other hand, may work  but has way too much agency. And you know Koreans cannot take that!

Interview:

--- Cha Hyun-Suk, Professor of Performing Arts at Woo-chun University

Mmmm…
The current dominant Korean female architypes… there aren’t that many out there as Korean society is still very homogeneous albeit far less than a decade ago. This does make writing for the Korean theater rather confining. At least, you have a bit more leeway with “bad” women. With your heroine, you don’t have much options. The “Revenge” genre does make it possible to merge to two a bit. However, I personally do not find that genre interesting as, rather than showing the truth about human nature, it goes for the over-melodramatics. But I cannot deny that the “Revenge” genre is quite popular here.
The “good” Korean female architypes?
Well… I think it is important to mention the  “Candy.”



 Before I was born, a Japanese anime show aired here in Korea. Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, the protagonist of this show “candy” sunk deep into the Korean female psyche. Not so much with the males. We had something else. Anyway, “Candy” was a cheerful innocent young girl who during the events of the show gets beat down by life again and again. Think of what happened to “Fantine” of the musical “Les Misérables” but without the prostitution and dying of consumption. “Candy” just takes the punishment again and again until “the sun will come out tomorrow.” So, it is the PG torture porn version of the musical “Annie”..? 
Nothing? I thought that was quite funny…
What differs from either “Fantine” and Annie” is that “Candy” doesn’t really have much of a personality other than the fact that she is innocent and lacking agency. It is a rather boring character.  

---End of Interview

While the “Candy” is important in talking about the dominant Korean female architype, some have other opinions.  


Interview:

--- Hong Nan-Hee, Author of Novel “Two Outs in the Ninth Inning”

While Candy is important, I think it is just a generic character architype seen in many places like Cinderella. That female characters suffers a lot and gets rewarded at the end with a man. And there is Snowwhite…

If you want to look into what makes the dominant Korean female architype special, you have to look at the Korean short story “Rain Shower.”


It is an innocent tale of a boy’s first love that hints of tragedy but never fully shows it. Like all our memories, it is rose tinted and given far more importance later on. In that story, the female character doesn’t have much of a personality because not only is she young and shy but the story is not hers. It is his memories of him having a crush on her without much interaction. Since he never actually knew her, no wonder she has not personality.

This short story and the image of a young boy and young girl stuck in the rain soaking wet has stuck in the minds of Korean men. Don’t ask me why! I’ve been trying to understand why this short story was so influential for a long time. You know it’s my job. I think it was mostly timing…but I could be wrong. In any case, “Rain Shower” did a few things. First, it really created Korean men’s fascination with the concept of first love. Before that time, usually the first woman you see you married. So, there wasn’t a fantasy factor to it. Second, it resulted in Korean men having somewhat of a fetish in regard to “young” innocent girls. This is interested since Korean men have a very very active sex drive. So, there is a contradiction of needs. You see these two mix together in Korean entertainment a lot if you look for it. It gets weird. Third, a side effect of “Rain Shower” is that Korean men have a difficult time seeing women as beings with personalities and needs. They want women to stay as the young and innocent girls with no personality they recall from faded memories.

What makes me frustrated as a writer is that, if you want to write to the needs of a Korean audience, the Korean female heroine always becomes this boring wet blanket of a character that everyone steps all over. And I’m not interested in writing those kind of characters. 

---End of Interview

The heroine of this story, Kang Hye-Soo, while you can say many things about her, definitely does not break the mold.


Warning!

Faux-K-stories are intended for the purpose of satire, parody, and criticism. None of the depictions of characters and events are true. While the specific show “Marriage Contract ” is used as the basis, many elements of other Korean dramas are used as reference. Read at your own peril. 






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