There was a time in my life when I hated and despised K-dramas.  It was around 1995 ~ 2005, I guess, when so-called “막장 드라마” (Korean soap operas) became so popular in Korea that it seemed to me that Koreans’ linguistic life was negatively affected by just one “star” scenario writer’s overly stimulating, provocative, sensuous, cheaply concocted words and lines mixed with shouting and yelling and crying, usually uttered by jealous or scorned filthy rich housewives in ridiculously messy adulterous plots.  Although I didn’t even have free time to watch long dramas back then, the quality of “Korean dramas” twenty years ago was quite disappointing to me.  Without a sheer coincidence to encounter highly artistic dramas of today such as “Crash Landing on You,” probably I would not even be writing about K-dramas now.

In its appearance, “부부의 세계 (The World of the Married, 2020)” may look like just another one of those “막장 드라마” with its story of extramarital affair, divorce, and all the fallouts.  Nonetheless, with its depth and breadth of expressive presentation, this highly sophisticated psychological thriller surpasses quality of most K-dramas in any genre.  Without any far-flung fantasy or undue exaggeration, it tells the audience a saga, a realistic portrayal of a woman and her family going through a messy divorce and its aftermath.  I would like to point out that its awesome sound effect and OST music without a song elevated the tension and suspense to its peak until Episode 12, where the storyline, the philosophical lines, and the OST songs finally begin to heighten the meaning of the whole drama to another level, as humanistic and profound as one might reminisce in Shakespearean tragedies, or Madame Bovary, or Anna Karenina.  It should be also noted that this drama is a Korean remake of the original “Doctor Foster” by BBC, and it would be interesting to watch it as well, just to compare the cultural interpretations.   

But above all, my highest accolade goes to 김희애, whose most profound performance here alone, after her long career since her teen star era, with her irresistibly multifaceted facial expressions penetrating the screen at each and every scene, would force many viewers to ask themselves who else, what other Korean actress today could have acted like her in such a demanding role with depth and maturity.  She is absolutely a top-notch actress who represents Korean excellence in this genre.  

For our members, I would like to show an excerpt of her narration in the final Episode, near the end of this “soap opera” full of class, elegance, sensibility and ingenuity of plot twist, interwoven with incomparable camera technique and cinematography.  Whether you are married, or divorcing, or divorced, or single, you would witness many sides of Korean society, mentality, and priorities, laid bare on screen in daylight, watching this wonderful piece of work. 

부부 싸움은 칼로 물 베기.

Fighting between husband and wife is like trying to cut water with a knife.

Korean proverb

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