My schedule is I wake up early, water plants, bathe then make my rosaries until my hands almost drop off. Sometimes I fry or soft-boil eggs for my husband and my breakfast. Other times I just have a large mug of black coffee. But when my hands are so tired I shake them and know it’s time to take a break. That’s when I watch a K-drama.
I have been trying to figure out why, what makes them so different from the Filipino dramas I occasionally try to watch. I think they have more depth. Through the inevitable flashbacks, which don’t annoy but repeat certain images that the audience needs to remember to understand better, you see what caused the situation, how different it is for every character. Sometimes you don’t understand who is definitely right or wrong but you understand why each one has a different point of view.
For example, I just finished watching The Dream Job, which is not Korean but Chinese since the main speech is Mandarin though it doesn’t matter to me because I read the subtitles. (I watch TV without sound, so I can watch any time of day without bothering my husband.) There is a billionaire who offers dream jobs purportedly to everyone though he has pre-chosen two winners who are really his illegitimate children with women not his wife. He hires a lawyer to handle the whole thing for him. Over the 30 episodes in the series you meet all sorts of other characters, all of whom are interconnected with each other. That’s one thing I like about Southeast Asian movies: they’re so much like life really is for us.
To complicate matters this billionaire (I’ll call him Mr. B) has a really good-looking son who’s going deaf in one ear. The son manages a landscaping business the billionaire owns. He owned it with his wife, who loved the place very much, so he decided to keep it even if his wife left him, taking their oldest son with her. This handsome son, Mr. B claimed, was adopted, not his real son but he loved him as a real son. They had been together for 20 years.
So the plot unrolls. There is an illegitimate daughter with a difficult mother. An illegitimate son, a young actor with airs, who seems irresponsible, whose mother is a nightclub singer. All sorts of things happen. Then we discover that Mr. B married his wife and had the oldest son, whom he loved very much. Then the wife was impregnated by another man, and that led to the younger son who was deaf in one ear. Mr. B claimed that another man raped and impregnated his wife. His wife gave the little baby to the man to raise because she knew her husband did not like the baby. But the man ran into financial straits, thanks to Mr. B, so that finally Mr. B picked up the boy when he was two years old, and his real father went to jail.
Mr. B, however, still loved his wife but began to fool around as revenge. You know how young men are. He had a little girl with the witch-mother. He would bring her and the mother to the landscape place. The children would play together but one day the oldest son was jealous of his younger (adopted) brother who was playing with his little sister, he untied a pergola that fell on them. The little boy covered the little girl to protect her. That accident caused his deafness in one ear. But when they all meet at their dream jobs, these memories have sort of faded and so they have turned into flashbacks. Neat, huh?
Almost three quarters through the father of the adopted son—the third person in their parents’ triangle—shows up. He is finally out of prison in Malaysia. His version of the story is that he and Mr. B were both in love with their mother, who was very much in love with him but Mr. B raped her so she married him—a different version of the story. Each one points to the other as a rapist. By this time the wife—the only person who can clarify the situation—has jumped to her death in Perth, Australia. So there’s no straightening the matter out. Isn’t that just like real life?
I don’t know why, but I love it. It is as confusing as real life. There are never any answers as to who did what to whom, when, where and why, unless you put all the people involved together and still the real truth will not come out because each person has his or her version and will not move away from his or her truth.
The only solution is to give up and forgive. That’s easier—I think, anyway—than trying to determine what it was that actually, really happened.