It has been unlike me to enjoy anything as blatantly materialistic and formulaic as Korean dramas can be, yet I’ve become deeply captivated by their open-heartedness and simplicity of values, the new music of an unfamiliar language, and their slow consummations of love. I’ve encountered characters that couldn’t have been written out of a Western cultural context, such as with a peculiar heroine portrayed closely to what I imagine a bodhisattva to truly be… spontaneously responsive, sensitive without sentimentality, ordinary, missable.
One scene captures the impression best: With the circumstances of her life unfolding around care-taking that arises within hardships, she is dragged along to the home of strangers, one of whom is the mother of a daughter who has been killed – a mother suffering fragmentation and memory loss. The mother is drawn to the character as though she is her own daughter, and suddenly, when one expects clarification of the delusion, instead the character breaks down in the mother’s arms. She tells her that she’s been away playing, and that she’s sorry not to have visited sooner. She cries with her without restraint.
As the episodes go on, she lets the mother feed and tend to her, love her as her own. And, though the situation is a lie, the love that enters, is real. “Every mother is my mother” she says later. Truly one the most moving moments I’ve ever witnessed on screen. I’m amazed it was actually written.
Centrally important to the story is that she isn’t seeking out benevolence: she is just responsive. She just doesn’t have a lot in the way.
Before the scene above, we see her on a bus ride, laughing wholeheartedly, noticing others and being fine when others notice her. She seems to become whatever is needed, warranted, appropriate and authentic. Its not that she is operating from some high philosophy, just what she lets happen, as in the famous Buddhist story of the monk who is wrongfully accused of having impregnated a daughter in the village, and doesn’t affirm nor deny, but steps into the role needed moment by moment.
Post show ending:
I can’t say that the entire work lived up to its beautiful moments of potential, in fact the writing went wildly awry when it brought in a character missing in the first half, and the drama ended a few episodes early. Still, I am grateful to have had these encounters – am still awestruck.