Photo collage credits to Greener, Screencaps to Joynara & others in Soompi
Yes, to me, this is a perfect picture of a very adorable mature love. Since watching Dae Jang Geum (the first korean drama I’ve seen in full), I’ve always been inclined to appreciating dramas depicting characters in deep “mature love” than those wallowing in shallow conflicts and with feet dancing to the tune of cha-cha, going back and forth with cursing and liking.
Something I’ve read from a Live Journal link, thanks to Joynara of Soompi (Sorry, I don’t have time to search for that link and quote the exact words used), caught my attention. The writer mentioned something about romantic plots in Kdramas. To his/her observation, there are two kinds of romantic plots that dominate in Kdramas: one with characters who start as enemies and develop as lovers and one with a character that worships the road that the other treads upon from beginning to end. I must say that the first brings more action and excitement to a story but the latter is more likely to make you cry in awe of an unwavering devotion.
That is what I loved in Daemul’s OTP (Side note: It’s because of Daemul and the posts at Soompi that I found out about this acronym for One True Pair. And I call myself a Kdrama queen?). They did not actually present a unique love story, but something in their relationship showed a kind of freshness that will make you watch their scenes together over and over again.
Ha Do Ya and his hundred and one percent devotion
If there is a man on earth like him that I know, I might not be able to stop myself from pleading the throne of God to give him to me!
His love and devotion is as solid as a rock that stood hundreds of years. He fell in love at first sight of Seo Hye Rim sitting in a provincial bus, smiling widely while practicing lines for a news broadcaster recruitment screening. He went out of his way to help this woman he doesn’t even know and risked his life for her as he rode his motorbike in jetlike speed. He fought for this woman and was even jailed without her knowing what exactly he went through after bringing her to the bus station in time to catch the last ride to Seoul and make it to her exam.
He knew that at his state that time, he wouldn’t even be qualified to hold out a rose before this woman with a promising career. His was a life led in uncertainties and playfulness. After a life-changing encounter, he pledged to give out all his best and become a respectable prosecutor. First for his father. Second for that unforgettable woman whose super cute photo in Snowhite costume he posted on the first page of his major law book.
The journey wasn’t easy but he surpassed all the struggles and went straight to Seoul with his prosecutor certificate at hand, ready to be presented to the only woman he’s seriously adored Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall ever since he met her. Only to be crushed with the sight of this woman cuddling her husband-to-be.
He could have left that place and vowed to forget her. But he didn’t. He might have tried, while playing with countless women around, but he just couldn’t. The sound of her voice and the echoes of her name on both television and radio have kept that love alive.
And when that woman’s husband left this world, he showed, again, his steady devotion. I’m sure that despite the awkwardness of him supporting his love who mourns deeply for the loss of her own love, a gleaming hope was born in the corner of his heart. A shining anticipation for a possibility of a dream becoming fulfilled. But he covered that hope and instead gave her selfless support and protection. He didn’t mind being unnoticed while holding out an umbrella for her who cries out her heart in the rain. He didn’t mind getting bruised for her on his first day of assignment in his new office. He didn’t mind playing with and making his rival’s son happy. He didn’t mind getting all those mosquito monster attacks just to protect that son of hers. He didn’t mind the shame in front of his staff while releasing that desperate order to block her from leaving the country. He didn’t mind pretending he didn’t care when she confronted him of his obvious feelings for her. Nor did he mind getting stabbed and face death just to save her.
His love was consistent and very supporting. He’s not perfect but he was always sincere about his feelings for her. He waited patiently. He gave her strength even during times when he doesn’t have enough for himself. He always rushes to her side and doesn’t mind getting soaked on a heavy downpour or getting smashed with flying eggs. He did not even go far away when she harshly refused his help. Nor did he show any sign of enormous disappointment at her who did not recognize his shaking voice while making that desperate call on the night of his father’s death.
He just stood like a fortress for her. Bringing food for her every time. Enthusiastically feasting on her cooking even when his stomach is about to burst. Thoughtfully preparing an extra pair of pants for her to use when riding his motorbike. Bringing her to places of comfort in the midst of confusion and pain. Laughing with her. Crying with her. Shouting with her.
He just held her hand with all the warmth that his whole being can give. Even when she refused his proposal for a lifetime of partnership, support, care and protection, he kept coming back for her.
He learned to be content with her hugging his back every time they ride his motorcycle. He learned to just pour out his love on her despite the scrutiny and rejection. He was okay with a once in a while sweet return of affection even if what he is doing is actually a flooding of adoration.
His stability, dependability and unwavering love for her were too great to contain. All these qualities were portrayed while he washed her feet. It was not surprising to hear if he was willing to wait for five or ten more years before finally claiming her as legally his own. He has waited a lot and has nothing to lose anymore (except for age). Nothing can threaten that love, nothing can break his ultimate devotion for that one woman whom he fondly calls “Ahjumma”.
Seo Hye Rim and the genuine purity of her heart
To me, she was not actually an outstanding woman. Well, since Go Hyun Jung carried her character, of course, she’s superbly gorgeous, but on the other hand, she is not the type of “being too good to be true”. Maybe because I have friends who live out their principles with dignity and strength like she does so she did not really come extraordinary for me.
But I admire at how she honored her husband. She could have fallen easily into the trap of loneliness and be tempted to accept Do Ya’s love earlier, but she showed how she was also a true loving wife. And she knew how to be fair towards Do Ya and his father.
I loved how she balanced between accepting Do Ya’s support (well, she didn’t have much choice given her situations) and maintaining an invisible line between friendship and romantic relationship. That’s not easy. Though they have grown to be very comfortable around each other, she knew where they both stand. And when she finally realized that she had fallen for him, she still constrained herself. (If that was me being showered with all the care and affection, I could have allowed him to hug me all night after a long tiring day. But of course, that is me who can’t even sleep without a teddy bear or a big pillow to hug!).
And she has her own ways of showing both her gratitude and love. I was one with the crowd who collapsed the day she admitted her love for him in public (though I would have preferred her using the term “love” rather than “like” when she said “I don’t know when it started but I have come to like him too.” Well, that’s part of Korean culture and language. Got no right to complain, haha!). I was also one of the countless fans who rewinded almost a hundred times their scene with her initiating a soft kiss on his lips in the middle of a field filled with Presidential guards (whom I bet knew what was going on despite their backs turned at the the couple surrounded with many ants hungry for a sweet delicacy).
She lived out a kind of purity that is hard to maintain in this corrupt and self-serving world. That purity was not just evident in the way she handled politics, but more so in the way she accepted Do Ya in her life. She was true to herself, to her husband and to her son. It all showed with the symbolic items she carried when she was dangerously on board with the hostages she was trying to save. She treasured her husband. She dearly loved her son. And she hanged on to Do Ya’s love as her living and present source of strength. Yes, for a long time, she needed Do Ya as a friend, but when the time came that she had to face all the consequences that comes with admitting her own feelings and returning his love, she did not hesitate to let it all out. Others may call the public declaration of her love for Do Ya as a campaign strategy, but I would call it pure honesty. She wants to be clean and clear inside and out. She could have just ignored the scandal and made excuses for that video, but she chose to confront her critics and enemies with fearless eyes. She could have chosen other ways to protect herself and Do Ya, but she decided to declare the truth and finally love Do Ya in the open.
Another option was to marry Do Ya before she got elected. Though that is, of course, complicated, she could have just chosen that option since she really did love Do Ya. But she didn’t want to be unfair between Do Ya and the Korean citizens. Her heart may be big enough to love both, but she knew that she can only devote herself to one at a time.
A Wise and Faithful Love Beyond Age
Sometimes I’ve been thinking over the kind of love that happens because the other person is so in love with you. In my aunt’s words, that would be “opportunism”. But as I look back to the love story of these two characters, I realize that it was not really who loved first or who loved more that matters. I realize that it’s all in the faith and confidence in each other developed while going through a series of struggle and pain. It’s in the ability to wait in respect of the other’s feeling or condition. It’s in the ability and firmness of decision to stay consistent and true. It’s in the enduring desire to protect the other person regardless of the weather, the position, the situation.
It is in that confidence beyond distance and time that makes a love mature between two people with similar yet different aspirations.
Daemul made me want that kind of love. That kind of adoration that doesn’t have to be manifested in a passionate kiss. That kind of pure devotion that can be simply communicated by holding the other person’s hand. Softly. Warmly. Steadfastly.
Next writing project: “The Day the Word ‘Ahjumma’ Sounded Sweet to Me”