In keeping with my increased infatuation with my Asian film heart throbs, I went in search of found one Korea's many soaps "Full House" (2004). Starring megastar Rain and the talented Song Hye Kyo in the male and female leads, the romantic comedy follows the lives of two people forced to cohabitate due to unforseen circumstances.
Ten minutes into the show, I was hooked and I quickly settled down to enjoy what is to be a 16 episode instalment. As an aspiring filmmaker, I noted in addition to the engaging and thoroughly executed plot, techniques that maximised the fact that it was shot on digital video and not on 35mm like the shows in the West. I could not help comparing to the offerings produced in my own country and it was very clear that ours fell short. There was something, however that stuck out like a sore thumb, rearing its head, every couple minutes or so to prevent me from really falling in love with the story.
Lee Yeung Jae, played by Rain who can curently be seen flexing his insane body on the theatre screens in the just-released Ninja Assasin--review to come later--marries Han Jye Yon (Song Hye Kyo) in a contract of convenience with the end result being that she would be able to get the house she was duped out of by two bumpling fools she called best friends, who then went on to sell the house to him. In keeping with the basic tradition of boy-meets-girl-boy-does-not-like-girl-they-fight-live-together-and-fall-in-love, the two are at each other's throats like cats and dogs; more like cat and mouse as the female lead, is sweet, optimistic, friendly and open while the male lead, in trying to be reserved and aloof comes across as highly disrespectful.
My particular bone of contention is the way he constantly berates and insults her intelligence. He is never polite and is so rude that even when he does something nice, you the audience has still not forgiven him for the verbal assault he launched on her all but two minutes prior. What is more amazing to me is that in ninety percent of the online reviews for this drama series, this is not even noted or mentioned which causes me to think that this kind of emotional and verbal abuse is acceptable in Korean society as well as others.
I am sure people will say, "Look at her, she lives in a lovely home, married to a rich guy" but what no one sees is the denigration and the put downs. What is even so hurtful is that each time, she dusts herself off and moves on sweetly, making you wish you could reach through the screen and wring his pretty little neck.
I know my words and I know when to use them. If every time you say something, it is an insult, you should keep your mouth short. And for those spouses, male and female who can see no good in their partners, words are the most damaging assualt weapons you can use. They are so strong as to kill the one upon who they are afflicted before they are physically touched and it is my understanding that in most situations where there is physical abuse, the verbal abuse started way before that.
Clearly the writers of the show believed it was okay for the character to sound that way and judging by the revenues realised, syndication contracts and fan response, it seems so did many other people. And that makes me very, very sad.