[ENTERTAINMENT] Women Who Dare Grow in TV Popularity
Historically, Korea has been known as the land of the morning calm, deeply rooted in Confucian traditions which dictate that females be well-behaved and submissive. Judging by the sudden influx of TV dramas portraying strong, independent women, though, one could say that in a country where conservatism is the nation's defining feature, this idea is being turned on its head.
Since early this year, characters who break the stereotypical "good girl" mold are all the rage on television and have viewers glued to their couches during prime time television. Shows like "Yeo-in Cheonha" ("Women Who Rule Over the World") Monday and Tuesday on SBS, "Ajumma" ("The Housewife") Monday and Tuesday on MBC and "Yeoja Manse" ("Hurray for Women"), which recently ended, are a few examples of the new genre that idolizes independent and confident women. "The Housewife" in particular (scheduled to end on Tuesday night), has been quite popular with a record number of viewers.
The story focuses on a mediocre and dowdy wife named, Oh Sam-suk, whose sole dedication in life is to her husband and children. When she finds out that her husband, Jang Jin-gu, is an unethical professor who bought his way into the profession with his father's money, she loses respect for him and begins to question her subserviency.
She comes to the realization that the only way out of her oppressive marriage is by doing the unthinkable, filing for divorce. Against all the obstacles that a Korean woman faces as a divorcee, she becomes a restaurateur and learns to stand on her own two feet while her husband remains disgraced.
Scriptwriter Jung Sung-ju, alluding to the difficulty women often face when trying to divorce their husbands, remarked, "The character Sam-suk was lucky to get a divorce and find herself."
"Women Who Rule Over the World" tells the story of Jeong Nan-jeong, a historical figure from the Choson Dynasty who tried to accomplish her personal ambitions by any means necessary, including betrayal and murder. Producer and director Kim Jae-hyung said in her defense, "It's true that Jeong Nan-jeong was an evil person, but somehow she has not been stigmatized as purely an object of antipathy in this TV drama."
Though these dramas are not testaments to the end of sexual discrimination in Korean society, they do at least reflect a social trend that is gaining more momentum. It does not seem to be a mere coincidence that these topics are surfacing on popular TV dramas, but more a glimpse of a foreseeable future in which women can bring home the bacon as well as fry it.
In any case, the character Oh Sam-suk gives a piece of advice to women, saying at the end of "The Housewife," "If you follow other people around without your own path, your life will always be topsy-turvy."
by Chun Su-jin