As a child, have you ever loved common fairy tale stories such as Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and/or Snow White? C’mon now, fess up! For me, as a young girl growing up in the U.S, I enjoyed watching these stories come to life in the beloved classic Disney movies. According to many of these fairy tale movies, the heroine will eventually meet and fall in love with a Mr. Prince Charming. It doesn’t matter if it was love at first sight, because this man is perfect for the heroine.
The guy’s loaded with cha-ching, he’s got prestige, oh, and he’s your soulmate. Thus, this man must be destined to be with you, and you’ll both live happily ever after. The end. Consequently as I was still a child, I was practically brainwashed into thinking that there’s only one definition of love, never thinking that it was overtly narrow and unrealistic. So for awhile, I dreamed of meeting my own Prince and getting my happily ever ending. I’m sure I wasn’t the only girl who fantasized this way. In fact, a lot of us probably dreamed of falling in love just like what was presented in those fairy tales.
Even though I’ve now reached adulthood, when I’m at a girls-only sleepover, the general discussions usually lead to the topic of our ideal “perfect” potential husband. Not only must this Prince Charming meet our every single darn criteria, he must also live up to the present social standards. If he doesn’t, he’s more like a Pauper Failure rather than a Prince Charming. (Lame, I know.) It’s often later in our lives, when we’ve experienced heartbreaks or lived with reality, that we realize that society has tricked us into believing that your average-Joe just isn’t good enough. Due to these misconceptions, it hurts even more once the disguised facades disappear. Once we’re forced to consciously wake up from la-la land, we see that sometimes, our future partner was right there besides us all along. We were just either too greedy to notice, or too busy searching that we forgot about them.
What’s Up, Fox? is Kim Do Woo’s follow-up drama after his 2005 hit, My Name Is Kim Sam Soon. He addresses the issues of love, family, and the role of women in modern Korea. Both of his dramas have dealt with women who aren’t necessarily living up to their culture’s definition of beauty and success. Heck, these heroines are pitied by their peers for their lack of a love life in the beginning. Yet these female protagonists are written with so much heart that it’s hard to dislike them. Even though they may have their faults and may be quite childish at times, you totally root for them as a viewer. That’s why the character of Byung Hee appealed to me from the get-go.
Go Byung Hee is an ordinary 33-year old ahjumma that still lives with her head up in the clouds. During the day, she’s a writer for an obscene adult magazine (almost like a porn mag) for men. Each day at work, she plays a game with herself, fantasizing about things her heart truly longs for. Byung Hee creates her life with a keyboard and computer, sometimes not having the ability to discern reality from her romantic notions. Although her characters are written to enrich a man’s romantic play, these characters are all a part of a different her that she wishes she could be on a deeper level. She desires her own Cinderella-esque story, but don’t forget to include steamy romance scenes to make it rated-R!
Despite getting the chance to entertain herself while she’s working, Byung Hee suddenly notes that she’s old. Dear heavens, where has time gone? 10 years later, Byung Hee is still deemed pitiful in the eyes of those around her – single and inexperienced, with only a meager income to boot. Regardless of her outer toughness, she’s a teenager at heart. The saying that “wisdom comes with age” doesn’t really apply to her when we first see her, since time has not made her more mature, only desperate.
Her romance with Chul Soo, her best friend’s younger brother of nine years, is quite unconventional. This was the man whose diapers she used to change, so just how could she fall in love with a kid she once had to babysit? Ah, that’s love for you. And I think Go Hyun Jung did a fabulous job of portraying a woman who found herself falling in love with someone she didn’t expect to, someone she thought was totally out of her league (and this has nothing to do with finances.)
However, at the end of the drama, worrying over such trivial matters was useless. What mattered now was that they move forward, completely without regrets. In one of the second-to-last scenes in Fox, Byung Hee visits Chul Soo — who recently joined the military and had broken up with her because he wanted her to find someone better than him — and tells him:
I’ve been thinking in detail over what you said that day. It completely doesn’t match up. What? When you’re alone, you’re afraid of nothing. But when there’s the two of us, you’re afraid. Hey, you fool! The two of us means no fear. Instead of being alone by yourself, the two of us together means not being afraid.
I think on an emotional level, What’s Up, Fox connected with me more than My Name is Kim Sam Soon ever did. Fox just delved a little deeper with its relationships than its predecessor, and left a strong impression as well.
If you’ve watched both and disagree, that’s perfectly okay. That’s just what I think. What I personally took away from this drama is that a person cannot fall in love with so many expectations or prejudices, thinking that things will turn out the way exactly as planned. Why? Because falling in love is oftentimes unexpected and full of bumps in the road — it doesn’t always have a neat, pretty bow tie ending, and it may or may not have a happily ever after. What is for certain is that it’s filled with chances and involves taking risks from both parties involved.
With that, I end with a final quote from one of the closing lines in this drama.
We, who got together through a mistake at Oido, now we’ve become true lovers — no, we’ve become uneasy lovers. Now and the future, there’s no guarantee whatsoever. Like whatever I do, others will always be pointing their fingers at me. Maybe there will come a day when I will regret my choices. Even so, I’ll still go to that kid. Throw away everything, and bet my life on it. Where will we be headed? We don’t know yet.