Creating or maintaining vibrant relationships between men and women and husbands and wives has always been what this blog is all about. I thought it would be fun and informative to recap or link to my previous discussions using as illustrations some scenes and dialogues from my favorite Koreanovelas. So, here we go ...
In Episode 18 of “My Love From The Star,” Cheon Song-yi (“Steffi”) tries to get Do Min-joon (“Matteo”) to marry her. She drops numerous hints, but he fails to understand what she’s really trying to say.
Cheon Song-yi says: “With utilities and rent, the money flowing out is no joke. I heard that electric bills are progressively taxed these days. And I am now paying rent monthly. You are just next door. We should eat often together like this and sleep ...”
Thinking that she wants to borrow money, Do Min-joon replies: “What did you just say? Tell me clearly so that I can understand.”
Women, listen! If you want to spare yourself from a lot of heartaches or frustrations, always keep in mind that men are terrible mind readers.
The kind of man women really want
In “Faith,” the Fire Lady asks Choi Young (played by Korean superstar Lee Min-ho), “What’s the key to have a woman’s trust like that?”
In Episode 15 of “Empress Ki,” Wang Yu goes to the Yuan capital as a conquering hero. He also charms Empress Tanasiri and the Empress Dowager with his music and poetry. The Empress Dowager tells Wang Yu: “Brave and sensitive. I see why the ladies can’t resist you.”
There you have it, straight from the Empress Dowager’s mouth as to the kind of man that women really want. But perhaps, the title of Joyce Landorf’s book published in 1975 sums it up best: “Tough & Tender, what every woman wants in a man.”
A Jewel in the Palace,” we have such a man who’s brave and sensitive, tough and tender. He’s Min Jung-ho, the love interest of the drama’s heroine, Jang Geum. In Episode 31, Jang Geum and Min Jung-ho help each other in driving off the Japanese pirates who invaded Jeju island. In a tender moment afterwards, Jang Geum tells Min Jung-ho: “But you always understand me — my skills ... my will ... You always understand me for who I am as a woman and as a human being.”
Episode 11 of “My Love From The Star,” Cheon Song-yi tries pathetically to win back Do Min-joon’s affections by offering to him her shoes that he had fixated on in Episode 4.
Dr. James Dobson, in his bestselling book “Love Must Be Tough;” offers some guidelines for single men and women. One guideline, which Cheong Song-yi should have known, goes like this: “It is of highest priority to maintain a distinct element of dignity and self-respect in all romantic encounters.”
A man should always look into a woman’s eyes when speaking with her
Some men (okay, a lot of men!) look away when a woman is speaking to them. Why do men do this? Because they are thinking of the next thing they want to say. Worse, some men (okay, okay, a lot of men!) speak to a woman without looking at her.
Men, listen! When speaking with a woman, always look into her eyes. Why? She will think and feel that you are really paying attention to her.
Togon, in Episode 10 of “Empress Ki” makes that same mistake with Tanasiri. (Or was he simply not interested at all with Tanasiri?)
In “Faith,” Choi Young boldly goes into the bad guy’s headquarters to save Eun-soo. He tells the bad guy that he’s rescuing Eun-soo because he loves her. Later on, Eun-soo teases Choi Young as to when he began to fall in love with her. She says, “You didn’t even make eye contact with me.”
In Episode 73 of “Jumong,” the Koguryo alliance between Jumong’s Damul Army and Sosuhno’s Jolbon nation is at a breaking point on the issue of who will be the monarch. Jumong simply wants to restore Ancient Josun and to let Lord Yuntabal and Sosuhno lead Koguryo. Because Sosuhno loves Jumong, she wants him to reign as monarch. But Jumong’s and Sosuhno’s officers and soldiers are just about ready to battle each other on this issue.
To solve the impasse, Jumong asks Sosuhno to marry him so that they can rule Koguryo together as Emperor and Empress. But at first, Jumong makes the mistake of not looking at Sosuhno when he asks, “Will you marry me?” But on the second time around, Jumong finally looks into Sosuhno’s eyes and repeats his proposal. Yes! Yes! Yes!
Episode 28 of “Dong Yi,” the title character (played by Han Hyo-joo) tries desperately but fails to give to King Sukjong the evidence proving the innocence of deposed Queen Inhyeon. Exhausted and brokenhearted, Dong Yi finds a safe place outside the palace and begins to play on a haegeum her hauntingly beautiful melody. The sound reaches King Sukjong who was roaming the streets that night. In Episode 29, King Sukjong and Dong Yi are finally reunited after months of separation, and he tells her: “I was so afraid I would never see you again that my lungs have collapsed and my heart has melted.” Wow, talk about emotional word pictures!
Episode 27 of “Queen Seondeok,” Deokman rejects Yushin’s affections because she wants to focus only on becoming Silla’s ruler. In Episode 55, she asks: “If I must stake my all to achieve it, how could I ever love anyone?”
In “Faith,” Eun-soo explains why she has never fallen in love: “Even if my heart seems to be open, it stops and stops.”
In Episode 1 of “My Love From The Star,” Do Min-joon (aka “Matteo”) explains the relational principle that has guided him throughout the 400 years that he has been here on planet Earth. He says:
“400 years ago, I came to a foreign planet. Ultimately, I’ll be leaving. And I won’t be able to take anything with me. If it’s hard to bear when it’s lost, then I should have never have it in the first place.”
Thus, except for his friendship with lawyer Jang, Do Min Joon has refused to be involved in any kind of relationship, much less fall in love with a woman.
So what happens? Queen Seondeok loses Yushin, one of Korea’s greatest generals, and becomes hopelessly attracted to Bidam, who leads a rebellion against her. Do Min-joon finally falls in love after 400 years and puts himself in mortal danger in protecting Cheon Song-yi. Eun-soo falls in love with Choi Young and becomes torn between staying with him or returning to her own time.
John Eldredge describes the dangers of disowning our desires:
Our hopes are deeply tied to our real desires, and so killing desire has meant a hopeless life for too many.
David Whyte calls this the ‘devouring animal of our disowned desire.’ It is the reason behind most affairs in the church. The pastor lives out of duty, trying to deny his thirst for many years. One day, the young secretary smiles at him and it’s over. Because he has so long been out of touch with his desire, it becomes overwhelming when it does show up. The danger of disowning desire is that it sets us up for a fall. We are unable to distinguish real life from a tempting situation. We are fooled by the imposters. Eventually, we find some means of procuring a taste of the life we were meant for. (The Journey of Desire. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, p. 66.)
“The man who takes time to speak with a woman has the inside track to her heart”
In Episode 2 of “The Princess’s Man,” the female lead character Se-ryeong fervently wants to learn how to ride a horse, despite the bruises she’s gotten from her failed attempts to mount her father’s horse and the subsequent whippings she’s gotten from her tradition-bound mother.
One day, she successfully mounts the horse, and the horse takes her on a slow ride around the marketplace. But then the horse gets spooked and races towards a cliff. Se-ryeong is rescued by the male lead character Kim Seung-yoo. Leading Se-ryeong back to the palace, Kim Seung-yoo asks her why she wants to learn how to ride a horse despite her fears.
Kim Seung-yoo: Why even make the effort when you’re so daunted by it ...
Se-ryeong: How could men comprehend a woman’s heart?
Kim Seung-yoo: If that man happened to be your teacher, would it not be feasible?
(After a short period of silence ...)
Se-ryeong: Is it true that riding in such vast spaces liberates your mind?
Kim Seung-yoo: Only if you ride fast enough to feel the wind.
Se-ryeong: No matter how daunting, I’d like to feel that. Women are plagued by solitude after marriage, unable to walk past their gates. So I should make precious memories to help me endure all that.
In Episode 7, Se-ryeong and Kim Seung-yoo begin spending time together and reciting poetry with one another.
In his classic book “His Needs, Her Needs,” Dr. Willard Harley says that “the man who takes time to speak with a woman has the inside track to her heart.” How much time should a man spend talking with the woman whose heart he wants to capture? Harley recommends 15 hours a week.
The biggest mistake men usually make when listening to a woman unburden herself
In Episode 5 of The Princess’s Man, Se-ryeong tells Shin Myeon, the capital prefect: “Speaking my mind relieved me a great deal. It feels like confessing myself to a close friend.”
Guys, remember this: When a woman talks about her problems, she isn’t necessarily seeking solutions to them. Avoid giving solutions to her problems, unless she specifically asks for them.
Eldredge in his book “Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul” puts it this way:
“… The most terrifying question any man ever asks his woman: ‘What’s wrong?” After that it’s all mystery. A woman doesn’t want to be related to with formulas, and she certainly doesn’t want to be treated like a project that has answers to it. She doesn’t want to be solved; she wants to be known.”
Guys, all you really have to do is to listen using what counselors call “reflective listening.” How? Look into her eyes when she’s speaking; never turn your eyes away. Nod your head from time to time as a signal that you’re listening. Ask her to explain what she means; this will encourage her to express herself more. These things aren’t that difficult to do, right?
Blaise Pascal in Korean dramas: “The heart has its reasons which reason does not know”
In Episode 11 of “The Moon that Embraces the Sun,” King Lee Hwon (played by Kim Soo-hyun) and shaman Weol are walking together on a deserted street at night after having watched a puppet play. King Lee Hwon starts criticizing everything about the writer and the play, especially the fictional romance between the King and the court lady, which he derides as being unrealistic. But Weol defends the play, saying “It’s a story that could happen in real life.... Sometimes there are no logical explanations to human relationships.”
In Episode 17 of “Jumong,” Sosuhno sets aside her merchant’s pragmatism and risks her life in order to save Jumong who has been captured by bandits. Later on, she reflects on why she risked her life:
“I used to treat affection as another kind of deal. I wondered whether it would profit me. Logic would’ve prevented me from going to the hideout. I said I went to make a deal but there was no logic behind it. I only wanted to save Prince Jumong.”
In Episode 17 of “Jejoongwon,” Seok-ran gives Hwang Jung a stethoscope for his medical studies.
Later on, Hwang Jung gives Seok-ran an engagement ring with a floral design. He chose the design because it will always remind them of their time in the mountain when they tried to find a witness who could prove the innocence of Seok-ran’s father. In the mountain, bandits shot at and chased them all through the night. When everything seemed bleak, they came upon a field of azaleas that gave them hope.
In Episode 13 of “Yi San, Wind in the Palace,” Crown Prince Yi San encourages his childhood friend Seong-ra to become a Bureau Artist despite her being a female and a slave. He gives her a set of expensive brushes and lends her a book of paintings by a female Chinese artist.
Seong-ra, on the other hand, buys in Episode 32 a hat clip made of agate; in Episode 33, as she leaves for Qing, she sends the hat clip to Yi San as a farewell gift.
In Episode 23 of “Jumong,” Jumong gives to Sosuhno his mother’s jade ring. The ring was a gift to his mother by Haemosu, leader of the Damul Army and Jumong’s real father.
From Episodes 48 to 62, Sosuhno uses all of Keru’s business profits to build a magnificent palace for Jumong and the Koguryo nation they are establishing.
In Episode 23 of “Dong Yi,” King Sukjong kills a deer during a hunting trip. He orders his chief eunuch to have the deer skin made into scroll shoes for Dong Yi, a slave who has recently become a Lady Investigator. Dong Yi wears the shoes in Episode 30 when she enters the palace as a Special Court Lady and in Episode 38 when she is appointed as Royal Consort.
In “The Princess’s Man,” Princess Kyunghye loves the birds in her palace garden. But she had to leave the birds behind when court traditions compelled her to leave the palace after her wedding. Her husband Jung Jong realizes how lonely she is and how worried she is about leaving the palace with no one to protect her younger brother, the King. To cheer her up, Jung Jong decides to buy several birds and places them in cages hung on trees in their residence.
In Episode 20 of “The Moon that Embraces the Sun,” King Lee Hwon tries to learn how to play the gayageum so that he can play it as a birthday gift for Queen Yeon-woo. But ... just watch the episode, okay?)
In “Painter of the Wind,” Kim Hong Do is a master painter while Yoon-bok is his student. Yoon-bok is actually a woman, but she has to disguise herself as a man to be able to enter the Dohwaseo (Bureau of Painting).
In Episode 9, Kim Hong Do competes against several renowned artists for the honor of painting the King’s portrait. His arch rival tries to derail him by stepping on his eyeglasses. But he wins the competition because of Yoon-bok’s help. Later on, he goes to the market with Yoon-bok to buy a new pair of eyeglasses. Yoon-bok chooses the right frame for him and even pays for the eyeglasses.
Kim Hong Do: I will safeguard these eyeglasses with my life until I die.
Yoon-bok: You definitely need to keep that promise. This is my present to you; you must not have it shattered or broken. (Pause) But why are you putting away the eyeglasses instead of using them?
Kim Hong Do: The glasses will wear and tear; I will use them only when necessary.
In Episode 13, Kim Hong Do gives Yoon-bok a pair of engraving seals she can use to mark her paintings. The seals contain the Chinese characters for “Hyewon,” the pen name that Kim Hong Do has chosen for Yoon-bok. The pen name is patterned after his own pen name, Danwon. He says to Yoon-bok: “From this moment in time, you are Hyewon and I am Danwon.”
In Episode 14, Yoon-bok gives Kim Hong Do a magnifying glass so that he can better see if there are clues in the painting of bamboos.
Princess Sukwhi in “The King’s Doctor” is hopelessly infatuated with Kwang-hyung but is almost clueless when it comes to giving gifts to a man.
When Kwang-hyun successfully treats her cat Dolly, she rewards him with rolls of silk. Now what would Kwang-hyun, a slave and a horse doctor, do with silk clothes? Then, after Kwang-hyun gets beaten almost to death, Princess Sukhwi brings him medicinal herbs (that’s good thinking!) and again, rolls of silk! Then, before Kwang-hyun takes the entrance exam to medical school, she gives him a special lucky charm chosen by her equally clueless royal guard. The charm turns out to be a woman’s underwear!
Fourth time around, Princess Sukhwi gives Kwang-hyun an almanac, which he appreciates. Now, she’s learning. (Princess Sukhwi gives Kwang-hyun rolls of silk twice, visits him at the royal stables, and even kisses him. But Kwang-hyun is too dense to know why Princess Sukhwi is doing all these things.)
In Episodes 12 to 14 of “A Jewel in the Palace,” Jang Geum loses her sense of taste (a devastating thing for anyone involved with food). Min Jung Ho encourages her by lending her medical books to read and even writes a poem for her. (He himself pores over medical books to try to find the cure for Jang Geum’s condition; he also consults a doctor.)
Jang Geum eventually recovers her sense of taste, and she wants to show Min Jung Ho her appreciation for everything. Her best friend Yeun-seng tells her to give her heart. And so Jang Geum goes to the kitchen late at night and prepares some food. When she meets Min Jung Ho, she says: “As I cook food, I always hope the person who eats my dish would smile. I hope my appreciation would be well-expressed through this.”
Relationship tips from “Jejoongwon”
“Jejoongwon” is a totally underrated 2012 drama that has not been shown by GMA7, TV5, or ABS-CBN. But it has a cult following among netizens worldwide (count me as one of them). This drama is a fictionalized account of the people involved in establishing “Jejoongwon,” Korea’s first hospital of Western medicine, and among its stars is Han Hye-jin, the female lead in “Jumong.”
A woman listens not only to a man’s words but more importantly, to his tone of voice
Naoko tells Baek Do-yang: “When the tone of your voice changes, I can’t do anything all day!”
What makes a woman insecureNaoko becomes jealous of Seok-ran. After an emotional outburst by Naoko, Seok-ran tells Baek Do-yang: “Sometimes, you’re very warm, but other times, you can be cold. That can make a woman insecure.”
Let it go! Let it go! Let it go!
“The Moon that Embraces the Sun,” King Lee Hwon and his half-brother Prince Jang-myung have been pining for Heo Yeon-woo whom they believe has been dead for the last eight years.
In Episode 9, shaman Weol (who is actually Yeon-woo) encourages Prince Jang-myung: “Forget the young maiden who is in your heart. Open your mind to a new relationship. Don’t try so hard to hide your true feelings behind a smile. Hiding your true feelings and living under a disguise will only give you heartache.”
Perhaps, the most emotionally intense farewell between lovers in a Korean drama is that between Jumong and Sosuhno in Episode 40. Jumong goes missing after a battle with the Han and its allies. Giving up hope that Jumong is still alive, Sosuhno marries her bodyguard to escape Prince Daeso who is harassing her to become his concubine. Later on, Sosuhno meets Jumong again and she bids him farewell:
“I can’t afford to cling to the past and dwell in sadness. What’s the use of lamenting over our crossed fate? It won’t be easy to forget about us but I’m going to try. Please give up on me and go on with your life.”
I love this corny stuff!