For a twenty something puerile wander-lusting simpleton at the precipice of her life juvenile, the theme behind this story would not mean much in theory. But life is never theoretical. The reason I’m well acquainted with this fact is that I’ve mapped out the safest routes in my life on paper, leaned on the safest people to trust theoretically and followed theoretically approved philosophies. But at the end of every turn and every relationship, I’ve found the unexpected; the good and bad in equal have been my comrades.
In other words, to hell with theory. Life is life, unpredictably dark and stormy and blue and tranquil.
I can’t really explain why I relate so much to this Korean drama I’m obsessed with at the moment. It is after all the story of a woman who had to sacrifice her life to raise a child and to be a wife to an ungrateful husband after being bound in wedlock to him due to an unplanned pregnancy. It is a story of a weak soul who was so blinded by love and her commitment to maternal duties that she dropped out of high school, moved to a foreign country, nursed a child at 19 and gave up on her dream of becoming a dancer. (I do not call her weak because she let her maternal instincts sideline her career, but because she endured the taunts of a husband who treated her like garbage. Even after he wanted to divorce her, she was as blind to his flaws as ever.)
But this really isn’t all that this show, that has become a guilty pleasure of mine (for I spent about 3 hours binge watching the last few episodes instead of starting work on a college paper that is due in two days), is about. It’s about this woman going back to college to fulfill her long lost aspirations despite everything in her life standing in her way. The final push that makes this 38 year old join university as a freshman is the sudden discovery that she has only 6 months to live with the onset of pancreatic cancer. So to summarize the very complicated plot (and trust me, I am not doing the last 6 episodes of the show justice), a woman dying of cancer who is in the middle of a divorce joins the university her son has joined and her soon to be ex husband (who has been having an affair with the university’s director’s daughter for the last three years) has been deputed to and meets (again) the boy who was in (unrequited) love with her in high school.
The thing I love about Korean Dramas is their ability to encompass within them a plot so deep that I forget my own identity while being lost in it. This show is no different. The boy who loved her in high school, who was left broken when she dropped out and followed a husband he didn’t know of is now the man who vows to give her the life she deserves. His initial anger dissipates as the episodes pass and we realize he is as much in love with this broken woman as he was with the feisty girl who stood up to bullies and befriended underdogs. But rather, it is she who brings out the best in him, while fighting the world and finding the way back to her old self.
But the show is not as dark and mellow as I have made it sound. It is, in fact, comic to the core. It is hilarious to see the web of fated and ill-fated connections and how the different plots of the tale, of the past and the present, all knit a superbly crafted drama.
The thing I love most about this show is the growth of the characters. The woman Ha No Ra and the high school hottie Cha Hyun-Suk (Yes, I am in love with him *dreamy sigh*) change and meander and fall and get up and find a way to one another (though most of that is yet to be seen). I love the way he looks at her when she isn’t looking, the way he is always there making sure that she is happy and that she gets the life he thinks she deserves, now that he knows she is about to die. His soul aches that his soul mate lead a life of misery and is now at the end of her worldly journey. It really makes you think about the things we put off until tomorrow and the words we wait to say until what we think is the right time.
I also love the way Ha No Ra tries to fit into the college crowd, even though it is an entirely different generation. She does find a way to make them realize just how talented she is and it makes my heart melt that she is finally on her way to the greatness she was born with. I also love the university curriculum, culture and campus. It makes me want to quit my life and move to South Korea.
And besides all the deep metamorphic thoughts about living life well and embracing your fears, there are quips like these that make me fall off my bed after I die laughing.