Twisted creature discovers her inner childIt was 4:50 p.m. and the reporters in the press room were hitting their keyboards like crazy to meet the 5 p.m. deadline. There is a volley of phone calls from the desk chief demanding that stories be filed.
Amid the tension, a reporter got a phone call from his seven-year-old daughter. Her voice was loud enough to reverberate through the room and we all could hear her yelling, “Daddy, when are you coming home? I want fried chicken!” Her daddy, a reporter in his mid-40s, said, “Okay, dear, I love you too,” in a completely different tone of voice from the one he had used when fighting with his desk chief during a previous call. Like a magic spell, all the reporters stopped bashing their keyboards and took a moment to smile.
That’s the power of a family. Still, a family can also exert unbearable pressure because all of us have this ideal stereotype of a family that does not always coincide with the real world. Even if you are lucky enough to have a family, you may be constantly fighting with each other as part of some feud. Especially in Korean society, where there are still traces of Confucian patriarchy, a father often brings home the bacon along with a lot of pressure on his wife and children. And such a father figure was featured in “A Miracle,” a four-episode special drama on MBC-TV, which recently ended a two-weekend run.
The story is built around a father, Yeong-cheol, a TV producer who has been promoted to a top position. He has it all at work, but he is unhappy with his children. His daughter is refusing to get married and lives as a travel writer. Furthermore, she has a blonde, blue-eyed boyfriend who works for a non-governmental organization in Afghanistan. She tells her boyfriend, “Many Koreans do not get along well with families,” and he replies, “It’s the same in America.”
On the other hand, Yeong-cheol’s youngest son is living with an older, divorced woman who has children. One day, however, Yeong-cheol hears that he has lung cancer and will soon die. His life immediately begins a new chapter.
At first glance, it looks like a the worst kind of cliche, to aim for a hit series by killing off the lead actor. After reviewing the four episodes, however, I got the sense that the formula is just a means to lead the story along, I mean, other TV dramas use such cliches to make an abrupt turn and forge a climactic point. However, the scriptwriter, Noh Hee-gyeong, uses it to propel his story.
After his diagnosis, Mr. Noh describes in detail how the father changes. He clumsily yet faithfully reaches out to his children and is kind enough to give his wife the right to choose the TV channel.
He wonders if he might have a miracle (the reason for the title of the drama), but the prospects do not look too good. Mr. Noh did not force an impossibly happy ending, but concluded his drama with a scene in which his lead character is in a wheel chair pushed by the wife.
The soliloquy read: “I know that I will collapse any moment. Neither I, nor my wife hopes for a miracle. We know that this very moment of our lives is a miracle in itself. We are walking in the miracle.”
I have to confess that I was on the verge of tears during the last scene. This was all the more heartaching because I learned that Mr. Noh saw his father dying of cancer while writing the script. I know I often sound like a twisted, unhappy creature in these TV columns, but I am also human. So now I have a favorite TV scriptwriter, who happens to be Mr. Noh, for his power to produce a touching story without becoming obsessed with a forced happy ending.
At least Mr. Noh had the power to make me suddenly miss my daddy. I should call him the moment I stop this sentence, like I used to bug him when I was seven, asking when he would be coming home.
by Chun Su-jin