Just Bananas About: Week of 5/30/16

Dear My Friends is a currently running drama about a group of friends in their twilight years.  Although the drama features a cast of veteran actors, I think the reason why I was so taken by the drama is how cathartic the stories are as they represent a lot of universal themes.

LYn – 바람에 머문다 (Languishing in the Wind)

린(LYn) – 바람에 머문다

Because the drama features a group of friends, there are a lot of stories that’s represented in the drama.  However, I mentioned previously how I was taken by Moon Jung Ah’s (Na Moon Hee) storyline.  She’s married to ornery Kim Suk Kyun (Shin Gu), who comes from the generation where husbands are the end all and be all.  There’s a saying in Korea when it comes to relationships, a heaven-like husband, which means that men/husbands are like gods.  I know.  It’s something that would totally anger me but that’s what Korea’s patriarchal society is like and I think they are working to change that.

However, the interesting twist is that their first daughter, Soon Young (Yum Hye Ran), is getting beaten by her husband.  Soon Young was a daughter that Suk Kyun and Jung Ah adopted when they were having difficulty having their own child.  It was a surprise when Jung Ah’s second and third child came along.  However, Soon Young always felt that she didn’t belong to the family for obvious reasons.

So Soon Young confides, not in her mother, but in family friend, Lee Young Won (Park Won Sook).  After getting Soon Young the medical attention that she needs, Young Won inform Jung Ah.  It’s a heartbreaking as Jung Ah realizes that Soon Young wasn’t answering her phone because she was trying to hide what was happening to her.

As for Suk Kyun, he comes home after meeting up with his son-in-law.  He has no idea what’s been going on and says some off-color comment only to get the wrath from his wife.  Rightfully deserved but he’s completely taken by surprise.

Jung Ah visits Soon Young and expresses her guilt but it seems that Soon Young is not bitter about it.  Both Jung Ah and Suk Kyun tried their best but it’s clear that since they were both young parents, they weren’t all that mature themselves to know what they needed to do to raise Soon Young.

When we see Suk Kyun next, we see him acting like the father we’d hope he’d be.  He unleashes his anger out at his son-in-law office at the university and his car.

Suk Kyun gets arrested and his three daughters bail him out.  It’s a touching family moment as they all walk out of the police station together, the sisters upset that they didn’t know this was going on in Soon Young’s marriage.  Another interesting thing we learn about Suk Kyun is that he has protected Soon Young in his own and it caused to lose job after job when they were younger.  As much as it was easy to dislike Suk Kyun, it seems like hidden underneath there was a genuinely warm person who loves his family.

Of course, Suk Kyun is from a different generation in which the men rarely showed emotion as it was a sign of weakness.  It’s awkward to watch the two eat together and have Suk Kyun give her pre-packaged words of encouragement.  She doesn’t take it well only because she doesn’t understand that he doesn’t know how to express anything better.

For a change of pace, it’s interesting to watch Jang Nan Hee’s (Go Doo Shim) household.  Nan Hee is still bitter that her husband cheated on her and yet, her own father cheated on her mother.  She comments that when they were younger, her father would always look for other woman and her mother would always look towards him but now their roles have reversed.  Nan Hee’s mother now looks out and enjoys the scenery around her while her father only has eyes for her mother.  It’s amusing how life works out that way.

However, for Nan Hee’s daughter, Park Wan (Go Hyun Jung), she is dealing with her own heartbreak.  We are still learning about what happened between her and her boyfriend, Seo Yun Ha (Jo In Sung).  It’s not clear if Wan pushed Yun Ha away or vice versa but they still remain as long-distance friends.  He lives in Europe while she lives in Korea.

Yun Ha was on his way to propose to Wan and as they were racing to meet each other, Yun Ha was run over by a truck causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down.

Because Wan can’t be with Yun Ha, whatever the reason, she seeks comfort from married man.  Nan Hee’s friends are slowly becoming aware of their relationship but we all know that Nan Hee will flip out as she knows what it feels like to be cheated on.

I’m more interested in finding out what caused Yun Ha and Wan to break up and I guess that’s just something I’ll have to wait out.  However, this week I was really taken by Soon Young, Suk Kyun and Jung Ah’s story.  Especially when I read news reports from Korea of how men are assaulting women they don’t know on the streets, for no apparent reason, you realize that Korea still has a long way to go to condemn misogynistic behavior.  I’m hoping that the stories in this drama will make people realize that we all play a part in this culture and turning a blind eye doesn’t mean that the problem will go away.

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