Dear kfangurl: What is up with the forced separation trope near the end of a drama?

Molu16 writes:

Dear Kfangurl,

You are my go-to source for K-dramas to watch. I’ve watched many dramas based on your reviews, and they never disappoint. There was one drama that I watched even though you dropped it, and it was all because V of BTS was in that drama. Being a middle-aged ARMY, I cannot pass up on anything related to BTS! 🙂

My question is, why do K-drama writers love to have either the male lead or the female lead disappear for a year or more at the end and come back unannounced? Some of the reasons for their disappearance kind of make sense, such as going abroad for medical treatment or some kind of business training. However, the ridiculous thing is during the time the OTP is apart, there is no communication at all. While one is pining for the other, not knowing when the beloved will return, all of a sudden they show up to surprise them. Another ridiculous plot is, the lead disappears without a trace and is presumed dead, but a few years pass, they show up alive and healthy, to be reunited with their loved one. I don’t understand why the writers make viewer suffer for the majority of the series wondering if the two leads will be together, and when they finally are, one has to go away or seemingly is killed, only to show up out of the blue later.

Thank you for all the reviews and the commentaries you’ve posted. You’re a great writer. Keep up the good work!

Yes, why all this unnecessary pain..? 💔

Dear Molu16,

I’m glad you find the reviews as useful as you do! ❤️

I do feel your frustration at the forced separation trope, which tends to be employed with relative regularity in Dramaland. There’ve been many times when I’ve rolled my eyes, or wanted to throw something at my screen, because a show broke out the forced separation trope.

While I can’t make it go away (I wish!), I’m going to attempt to at least answer your question on why writers fall back on it as often as they do. Hopefully understanding more of why writers use it, might help to lessen the sting? 😅

As always, everyone, if you have other thoughts, insights or stories to add, please share them in the comments!

PS: For those of you wondering, the extra screenshots I’m using in this post, are from 2015’s Falling For Innocence.

WHY THE FRUSTRATING FORCED SEPARATION TROPE?

Grrr..

Essentially, to keep audiences engaged, most stories introduce a Final Conflict towards the end, so that we are kept on the edge of our seats, all the way to the end. Without an effective Final Conflict, there’s a very real danger of the story just.. fizzling out and limping to its finish line. That’s not a great way to end a story, for sure, and that’s why many writers want a Final Conflict.

Now, because most kdramas center around a main loveline, the Final Conflict often has something to do with the main loveline. While it’s possible to make that Final Conflict something that the main OTP (One True Pairing) faces together, hand in hand, that typically requires more planning ahead.

From my recent-ish post that breaks down most of the challenges faced by a kdrama production, we can see that it’s not as easy as it sounds, because there are often many factors at play, particularly in the live-shoot system, when the script is being written while the drama airs.

This leaves most writers reaching for quick-fix last minute conflicts between the OTP, ie, it’s a conflict that involves the OTP relationship, and it’s something that can be fixed reasonably within the remaining screen time. Because an actual deep-seated relationship issue can’t be fixed satisfactorily in a short period of time (*cough*Something in the Rain*cough*), most writers reach for the forced separation trope, which is a close cousin to the noble idiocy trope, which I talked about here.

With the OTP being together at the end as our collective endgame, a Final Conflict where they are separated, while there’s nothing essentially wrong with their relationship, is the quick fix. We get a Final Conflict, and the Final Conflict is fixable within 1-2 episodes of screen time, and the reunion of the OTP is rewarding enough (due to them mostly not having deep-seated issues), that as viewers, we find the eventual happy ending satisfying enough to leave a sweet aftertaste.

A SAMPLING OF SHOWS THAT SUFFERED FROM THE FORCED SEPARATION TROPE

Here’s a sampling of shows that use the forced separation trope. I’m sure there are more, but.. I may have blocked them from my memory. 😂 If you guys have more titles to add, please share them in the comments!

And, like in my noble idiocy post, I’ve included quick takes, on whether I think the show in question is still worth checking out, despite its use of the forced separation trope.

Are You Human Too?

Separation alert: episode 20 of 20.

Still worth the watch?

Yes, with an absurdist lens on, this show is delightfully entertaining, and I loved it, flaws and all. Seo Kang Joon is fantastic toggling his roles as both human and robot, and I’m unashamed to admit that I rooted for the robot, all the way through, heh.

Review is here.

Because This Is My First Life

Separation alert: episode 15 of 16.

Still worth the watch?

Yes, I would say that this one’s still worth the watch.

I personally didn’t care for episodes 15 & 16, but found everything else before that delightfully nuanced, in terms of both writing and delivery. I also wanted to say, not everyone hates the last 2 episodes; some fans actually feel that writer-nim’s narrative decisions make sense.

Also, for the record, since some of you mentioned this show in my noble idiot post, I don’t think Ji Ho is a noble idiot, because she leaves, but not because she thinks it would be good for Se Hee.

Flash Review is here.

Big

Separation alert: episode 16 of 16.

Still worth the watch?

Ahh.. erm.. I’d say this one’s only worth the watch if you’re just keen to have Gong Yoo on your screen. And then, I’d say, stop at episode 12 and pretend that that’s all the story there is.

The last few episodes make very little sense, and the forced separation trope is just one of many issues, unfortunately. But Show’s got Gong Yoo, and he’s gloriously shirtless in Show’s early episodes, so there’s that..?

Review is here.

Cheese in the Trap

Separation alert: episode 16 of 16

Still worth the watch?

I’d say.. no, not really. I watched this in the spirit of being experimental, ie, I was curious to know why everyone was so mad at Show, and because of that, I was able to take Show’s very unusual narrative decisions more or less in stride.

However, it’s true that the handling of characters makes little sense. And to be honest, the forced separation is one of Show’s smaller problems, the bigger one being, that Show literally pushes our male lead out of the picture a great deal in its second half, in favor of showcasing our second male lead’s story. To be clear, our second lead doesn’t actually get promoted to male lead; he just gets more screen time. It’s all very bizarre, and in the end, all of our male lead’s growth takes place off-screen

Flash Review is here.

Falling For Innocence / Beating Again

Separation alert: episode 16 of 16.

Still worth the watch?

Yes, if you’re in the mood for some Jung Kyung Ho &/or Kim So Yeon, because, for the most part, Show works out to be a sweet romance. The ending is basically one of those that is happy, but makes no sense. But if you can look past that, Show works out to be reasonably enjoyable.

Review is here.

Goong / Princess Hours

Separation alert: episode 24 of 24.

Still worth the watch?

Well.. my opinion is completely biased because this was my gateway drama, but I would say yes. The Goong experience is pretty great, at least for the first half. The music is wonderfully immersive, and the contract marriage is as cute as the burgeoning feelings on both sides is thrilling. Show slumps in its second half due to its extension, and the forced separation is a bummer, but I’ve still watched this one 6 times. What can I say, it’s a sentimental favorite. 🥰

Review is here.

Mirror of the Witch

Separation alert: episode 20 of 20

Still worth the watch?

I personally didn’t love this drama all that much, so I wouldn’t call this a must-see. If you like fantasy stories and aren’t too fussed about details not adding up, you might enjoy this one.

Flash Review is here.

Something in the Rain

Separation alert: episode 15 of 16.

Still worth the watch?

Hm. This is a tricky one, because there are two distinct camps of viewers, when it comes to this show: those who hate the ending, and in general, the whole second half of the show, and those who love this show from beginning to end.

I fall into the first camp, and so, if your drama taste is like mine, you might want to skip this one. For the record, I didn’t feel that this was an effective use of the forced separation trope, because in my opinion, our OTP has deep-seated issues that don’t actually ever get addressed, during our story.

Another good test, which is completely anecdotal, but which I find pretty accurate, is, if you liked One Spring Night, you’d probably dislike this one, and if you hated One Spring Night, you’re quite likely to enjoy this one.

Review is here.

The Crowned Clown

Separation alert: episode 16 of 16.

Still worth the watch?

Yes. I personally thought this was a very good show that did a lot of things right – as long as you think of the story as being divided into two acts. The forced separation at the end was a low point, in that, the ending is again, one of those that is happy, but where a lot of things are left unexplained, but we are supposed to be so relieved that we don’t care.

For me, it’s more like I’m willing to look past this, because of all the other things that Show does right.

Review is here.

Who Are You: School 2015

Separation alert: episode 16 of 16.

Still worth the watch?

Maybe? I personally found this reasonably enjoyable, and even rather cracky in parts, but I definitely thought the ending was underwhelming.

Also, whether you even enjoy the show to the degree that I did, depends on how on board you are, with our male lead character, versus our second male lead. Those who preferred our second male lead have a lot of angst over this show, and I don’t think they’d recommend it, as a result. I personally managed to like our male lead quite well, and found his behavior understandable.

I suppose you could say that if you have a soft spot for Nam Joo Hyuk, it’s worth a try?

Review is here.

IN CLOSING

I do hope that this post helps to add some clarity around the whats, whys and wheres of the forced separation trope!

Like with the noble idiocy trope, I tend to regard the forced separation trope as a bit of necessary evil in Dramaland.

Do I wish that more writers would work a more organic Final Conflict into their stories? Certainly. Are there dramas that manage to do this, without resorting to noble idiocy or other types of forced separation? Definitely. However, as long as dramas are produced under the live-shoot system, I think it’s safe to say that we won’t be seeing the end of the forced separation trope. Sorry. 😅

Like I said earlier, if you guys have other titles, thoughts or insights to add, please share them in the comments!

Thanks, everyone.

Smooches. ❤️

~kfangurl

Have some flowers. I hope that makes everything better? 🌻😅

POST-SCRIPT:

1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!

2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!

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Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
14 days ago

The last episode of Flower of Evil had a forced separation that I thought worked quite well. I think it’s your mileage may vary, because the trope is rearing its head yet again, but I thought the reason for the separation, the emotional fallout and the eventual reconciliation were very rewarding. Again, it resonated with me but others may find it unnecessary and frustrating at the end of a pretty good drama.

Kay
Kay(@kdramakisses)
27 days ago

Great breakdown of some of the reasons why this particular trope is included in so many dramas 🙂 I definitely learned early on in my drama journey that this was common and just accepted it. I know to expect it most of the time and am just pleasantly surprised if they go a different direction. I’m much more about the journey when it comes to kdrama watching, so I’m quite forgiving of last episodes and endings. Sure, it’s nice when they are most creative or satisfying, but I would miss out on so many wonderful dramas if top notch endings were a major criteria for what I watch. Just focus on the good and enjoy the ride 🙂

eda harris
eda harris
1 month ago

i get it – all the complains, and mostly agree. but… my question is this: does the journey itself (especially that a big part of the drama has a lot of accomplishments in different areas that most of us like and value) worth our time, even when the last episodes (as it is in many cases) and especially the endings are partially or totally screwed up. i vote “yes”, as i will never forget the sense of amazement, satisfaction, intellectual and emotional stimulation and on and on… from the chinese drama the rise of the phoenixes. as much as i hated the ending and even the last few episodes lost it’s appeal due to bad writing, it is still one of my favorites. so my conclusion, if you are not concentrating on the STORY itself only, a lot of the rest of the aspects of a drama can be very satisfying.
so i am now starting “something in the rain”, being fully aware of negative comments on it, as my main interest is the director who was able to gift us “secret love affair”. there must be something that is this directors head and heart and perception, and sensitivity, and artistry. must be. i am also going to watch his other work “one spring night” – for the same reason.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
1 month ago
Reply to  eda harris

For me the answer is a qualified yes. It’s often worth it — if I’m forewarned.

Which is why I rarely start a show before the last episode has aired so I can get those warnings in time.

Something in the Rain is pretty awesome in it’s first 2/3s — both the swoony romance and how it tackled several significant social issues head-on.

We ended up dropping it in anger but went back a few months later and used the recaps (at Dramabeans, maybe?) to get thoroughly spoiled before watching selective parts of the last two episodes. Or maybe my wife finished it and advised me on which parts to watch.

Given that it was made by the same team that previously gave us Secret Love Affair and then went on to make One Spring Night, I think it’s safe to say that this was not the work of a bunch of hacks.

For me the problem was insufficient foreshadowing. I won’t explain exactly what I mean so as not to spoil you. But my experience was that the show led me to cherish the romance and then suddenly left me hating the OTP. It was too abrupt and made me want to throw hard objects through the screen.

So if you start to have similar feelings, I recommend you allow yourself to be spoiled before continuing. Silly as it may sound, I think I still have residual PTSD from that experience. For a lesser show, I would simply have dropped it without further thought.

eda harris
eda harris
1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

for me it’s a bit different, as i do not allow the bad parts to spoil the good parts, again i’ll use the example of “trop” – many were so pissed with the ending that ended up hating the whole show. not me. i might wish for something else,(even in one of the best dramas ever nirvana in fire i would have some episodes, events, characters and especially the ending slightly different) which happens quite often, but i accept that it is not my piece of work, and so i allow the creators of the show their artistic expressions without reservations. i might grumble, but do understand your ptsd.

Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  eda harris

I’m very much like you in that respect: I also like to be told a story and try my best to understand why it was told that way and not another. Sometimes the jarring bits could be bad writing, but I like to offer a show the benefit of the doubt, always… because I certainly don’t have all the answers. Perhaps the jarring bits are just elements that I haven’t thought about and need to think about.

I’m also not one who gets too hung up in overall structure or plot coherence… If a show delivers emotion competently, has interesting characters and has a good message, chances are I’m going to forgive inconsistencies and tropes played super straight… I’m actually quite fond of tropes. For me they are like anchors. Some authors play with them (or subvert them) beautifully, but the beauty of playing them straight is sorely underrated… What gives heart to a story is not its adventurous use of tropes, but its compelling characters.

eda harris
eda harris
28 days ago
Reply to  merij1

so since you expressed an interest in how i would process something in the rain, i am half way through it, 8 episodes. i was not disappointed and not mistaken in the ability of this director ‘s exceptional ability to direct his actors into the very depth of their own associations, memories, emotions and synthesize those with the character’s, probably exactly as the director wants us to see it, feel it, absorb it into our own emotions. i love, love his work, and nothing will change that. so on that level i am more than satisfied. the ML hae- in’s smile is worth a million. his character as a boyfriend is also worth a million, so much so that it should be mandatory for each mail to learn how to be a worthy female companion, partner, boyfriend, husband – i am so impressed with him (and a bit jealous). their relationship, as the major component of the show, is so yummy, inebriating, at times soft and tender caring, at other times playful like two children (especially the ML), and then deep almost painful, and back to raw male-female intimacy… i do not see this in other korean dramas to this degree, or may be i haven’t seen enough, but would like to see more.
the characters and relationships as presented to us by the story. first of all those are so incredibly and undeniably complex, so that it almost has no chance to untangle the deep rooted connections and have a what we call a happy ending.
the main ML hae- in became an orphan at a young age and was taken care by his older sister. the main FL ye-jin is best friends since childhood with his sister, more like a twin sister to her and so a sister to ML. at the same time both women, the FL and hae-in’s sister, due to their age and both invested in this young man’s existence, can be perceived by him as substitute mothers, although probably on the most subconscious level. the FL ye-jin has a brother, who’s best friends with Ml, again sort of a brother, which makes him a brother to our ML hae-in. in adition, the ML’s sister deeply loves her younger brother, it’s her ONLY family, and when her best friend and “twin sister” whom she loves most in this world by her own admission, becomes her brother’s love object, the sister’s world can completely crash – she can feel left out, betrayed by both of them and jealousy that can eat up her soul. and to top it of, the parents of the FL consider the ML and his sister to be their own children, and played substitute parents after the ML’s mother (who was a close friend to FL’s mother as i understand it. she wants hae-in to marry a good girl, so she herself can reunite with his mother in heaven. somehow she’s convinced that she’ll go to heaven, she’s quite optimistic i would say, about the heaven). so how can these 2 parents see both of their children, hae-in and ye-jin have a romantic relationship? in addition, the conservative nature of south korea, and social rejection of an older woman with a younger man.
the whole situation is so impossible. i understand all of this.
what i do have some problem, is with all the wonderful qualities of the ML, he looks younger than the drama wants you to believe (early 30’s), and the FL looks actually older than the drama wants you to believe (mid 30, but looks to me almost mid to late 40’s). and this actress, something is missing there for me.
in general, you probably already know, i do like this drama, and a lot, for reasons i described earlier.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
28 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

Ha. We all loved it at that point in the story. Loving it so much at first is why there’s so much passion/anger expressed about what happens later.

eda harris
eda harris
27 days ago
Reply to  merij1

i don’t know why i called the FL by the actress’s name, rather than the character. sorry, should be the other way.

eda harris
eda harris
26 days ago
Reply to  merij1

i am on episode 14, and things started to unravel fast and furious. does it change anything for ME? not really, actually not at all. first of all with this degree of families’ dysfunctions, with a main female character pathetic to a degree that she can be used as a “rag to wash the floor”(i feel awful saying it, but it almost feels like a personal insult to see a woman or any human reduced to this degree of helplessness, submissiveness, immobility to change her own life… (uhh, i lack words, seriously…) but that line runs throughout the story and so whatever happens is expected and unavoidable, whether in a drama or life, as sad and as miserable it can make us feel. the question i have is this really still life in korea, are they still existing in the joseon period??? i am aware of parents being able to screw up their children’s lives anywhere, but to THAT degree??? is it a common occurrence that a daughter 35 years of age is still living with her parents? especially abusive parents, and not being able to stand up for herself, not having developed a decent value system in her life? a korean drama must be reflective of real life in this country, may be somewhat exaggerated, but it is not “science fiction” and not “juice sucked from a rock”. anyway, a lot of questions, but isn’t it a useful part of any art form to lead viewers to questions, to work toward changes in the system, and be able to change some perspectives.
so no matter how it ends, i only have two and a half episodes left, i think it’s a fabulous production, from any possible angle you take.
you do not like the ending to a degree that you are ready to dismiss the whole production, if that’s the case for anybody, then all is left is to eat belgium chocolates. (they are highly satisfying, promise).
i still love, love this director, i think his work is very special, standing out of all other korean directors i have seen so far. and i would like to add, that i especially like the powerful acting of MS, FL and all the supporting cast. for me it’s a win-win.

eda harris
eda harris
26 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

sorry, not MS, but ML.

eda harris
eda harris
26 days ago
Reply to  merij1

the whole situation is so convoluted, there is no chance for a truly satisfying, happy ending.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
26 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

When you’re done, let’s talk about it in the comments section under KFG’s review of the show. I’m intrigued by your thoughts.

eda harris
eda harris
26 days ago
Reply to  merij1

okie-dokie.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
26 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

Many of us regulars commented there and I replied in detail to others quite a few times after my initial post, way back on the 2nd page of the comments section:

https://thefangirlverdict.com/2018/07/08/review-pretty-noona-who-buys-me-food-something-in-the-rain/comment-page-1/#comment-73897

KFG says that even three years later, her review of Something In The Rain continues to be one of her 15 most viewed posts, week after week. That’s how much passion this show generates!

eda harris
eda harris
26 days ago
Reply to  merij1

“That’s how much passion this show generates!”
rightfully so. but that should give an indication of how many people are interested in it and so the value of this drama, as they say – any attention is good, whether it generates bad response or good response. i did not see kfg’s review on it and the whole site. i just briefly glanced at it now, and i guess i will be pretty much in the minority, as i still love it and am convinced it will stay this way. but i will go back to it more thoroughly, and look up your comments. just not now, no time at the moment and didn’t finish THE PROJECT.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
26 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

Ha. Take your time. I’ve already waited three years for you to come along, so I’m pretty sure I can hold out a little longer.

eda harris
eda harris
26 days ago
Reply to  merij1

patience is a virtue.

wonhwa
wonhwa
1 month ago
Reply to  eda harris

It kind of depends on the show. I didn’t really mind the rather pointless separation at the end of Coffee Prince for instance, because the rest of the show was so awesome and it didn’t really affect the relationship dynamics in a meaningful way. On the other hand, the separation at the end of My Name is Kim Sam Soon just confirmed for me that Hyun Bin’s character was indeed a self-centered jerk and Sam Soon was much better off without him. Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy to seem him come back.

Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  wonhwa

Ugh I loved My name is Kim Sam Soon! Granted, the show gave the most terrible excuse for Hyun Bin’s character to disappear for months, but I admit I swallowed it all that up and let it pass… why? Just because the chemistry between those two was fantastic, the FL was truly endearing and because Hyun Bin did what he does best: being absolutely dreamy… I know that the jerk ML transformed by love does not appeal the modern viewer anymore, but I still like it… Love as a superpower: Super cracky.

wonhwa
wonhwa
1 month ago

I know this is a trope that’s often used to deal with an uncomfortable age gap between the characters or if one or both are minors for most of the show, but it tends to feel weird and unmotivated a lot of the time, or to be used as a “magic” way for one character to gain the maturity they need to actually be in a relationship as opposed to just showing their growth on screen. It would be lovely if it went away in 99.9% of cases.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
1 month ago
Reply to  wonhwa

Great point. Something in the Rain being a good example — as is often the case, sadly:

Wave a magic wand. Suddenly everyone is mature and the deep fissures in the OTP that were abruptly introduced around the 3/4 mark simply vanish. The End.

MariaF
MariaF
1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

Actually, breaking up and going away in ’Something in the rain’ made total sense to me. These two people shouldn’t stay together. The miraculous reunion, on the other hand, was absolutely ridiculous.

Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

@MariaF for me the separation in Something in the Rain is there for the FL to realise that she needs to break free from her abusive family and her abusive workplace and be at peace with her decision… She also needed to do this by herself and for herself, outside the pressures of a relationship. The reunion of this OTP is presented as the two ex-lovers reconnecting under more favourable circumstances: she’s in a better place and he’s also more understanding and forgiving. It’s clear that this time around their love for each other will survive external disapproval.

@Kfangirl I’m one of those people who loved One Spring Night and Something in the Rain just as much. The former makes the parental figures more sympathetic whereas the latter doesn’t. Both stories are equally compelling in how they deal with rebellion though. I wouldn’t pitch one against the other. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy them both.

Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Sure, I understand. I hope you don’t mind me sticking my hand high up in the air to disagree, as my young students sometimes do in class! 😅

MariaF
MariaF
1 month ago
Reply to  Gloglo

@Gloglo If I remember correctly, after the separation the FL went on to have another toxic relationship. And I see your point that FL needed to break free from her abusive family and her abusive workplace, etc. I just feel that the show would’ve been better off, if the main characters didn’t get back together. Relationships fail in real life. Some people are not good at picking partners. The show could’ve addressed that, instead of using magic to reunite the main characters.

Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  MariaF

Yes, the FL started another toxic relationship during the 2-3 year gap. She tried to stick to her family’s rules and she finally realised/learned she just couldn’t. I think she needed/wanted to give her parents a fair chance before she decided to cast them aside.

For me, both the ML and the FL were made for each other… The FL just needed to liberate herself from her parental abuse in order for their relationship to succeed. Without the unhealthy social pressure, they were truly happy and perfect for each other I thought.

But, of course, this is just my point of view. I see that many people did not see it that way. I think that maybe we were fixating on different things. That happens sometimes.

MariaF
MariaF
1 month ago
Reply to  Gloglo

@Gloglo I agree that without the unhealthy social pressure, they could be truly happy and perfect for each other. But that’s just it: if only everyone could run away and move to a remote island every time they encounter problems, pressure, etc… Also, while I believe that solving work problems was actually a pretty impossible task due to culture, her relationship woes came from just one person-her mother. Everyone else was either neutral or supportive.
And again, I think that failed relationships happen in real life and should be depicted in shows, at least once in a while. The urge to have a Hollywood-like happy ending is understandable, but should be resisted.

eda harris
eda harris
1 month ago
Reply to  MariaF

i had a professor who would say: ” nothing in art is invented, it is all taken from nature itself and life” and so it should be.

MariaF
MariaF
1 month ago
Reply to  eda harris

Of course happy endings happen in real life. I just don’t like slapping a happy ending on a non sustainable relationship and then present it as an artistic solution.

eda harris
eda harris
27 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

but it CAN happen, it can go in either direction in real life, no matter “artistic”. there is no life without death, we would not know good if there would not be evil, we would not understand happiness if we would not experience hardships and suffering. that is life, and we are part of it. i find this drama very relatable and true to life. also, i wanted to say that i just finished it’s 12th episode with the most amazing beautiful scene of both of them in the rain , and it gave me the same sort of all emotionally engulfing vibes as the piano playing of both main characters in “secret love affair”. ya, this is the director, i love his work.

Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  MariaF

Escaping the very strong and unhealthy influence that both that horrendous mother and that horrendous company had over her was precisely what the FL needed to do. Her growth was about “escaping” her context, not fighting to change it, that’s what I think people don’t like about her journey, that her liberation was about leaving her traditional Korean context behind instead of trying to heal it or repairing it. It’s a very harsh and very pointed criticism of the old Korean patriarchal and Confucian values, or so I interpreted it…

I personally would have hated the FL not reuniting with the ML once she had sorted out herself and her priorities. Why not giving her her prize after overcoming something not disimilar to “Stockholm syndrome”?

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
1 month ago
Reply to  Gloglo

I thought they were perfect for one another. But then her dishonesty and other disfunction kicked in.

I get that she was under stress and that he presumed too much. But that level of withholding information — to the point of virtual lies –is not easily overcome. It takes years for trust to be rebuilt, not a ten-minute encounter at a vacation spot.

I respect that production team. I just think it’s wrong to introduce relationship problems that severe if you’re not intending to work through them in your script.

Last edited 1 month ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

aren’t you too greedy, merij1. (just joking) i understand your wish and sympathize with it, but may be the production team left it for the viewers to work on it on their own. although i am not thrilled when they do it this way, but it is done.
meantime my curiosity really picked about this drama, i only saw 4 episodes, so far so good.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
1 month ago
Reply to  eda harris

I look forward to seeing what you think. I envy you, since with all this forewarning you probably won’t have anything close to the reaction my wife and I had. Had we been prepared, who knows how differently we might’ve experienced it

Last edited 1 month ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
28 days ago
Reply to  merij1

merij1, see my answer to your question of what i think, above. i posted it in the wrong spot.

Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

For me her dishonesty and dysfunction was a product of being a victim of abuse. I happen to know young adults who come from abusive families and they behave very similarly: they tend to be emotionally immature, bury their heads in the sand at the slight sign of conflict, make terrible decisions, are easily manipulated, the list goes on…

I understand the show perhaps was not 100% realistic in portraying how an abused person navigates trauma and takes control of her/his life, but I think it did a good job showing the fact that, in the majority of cases, getting away from the influence of the abuser in order to reconstruct your life is a must.

Reconnecting with the old lover was, I think, intentionally added at the end to show that from them in their relationship had a true chance to survive, something that it would have been impossible before, when That’s great, thanks. FL was still under the pernicious influence of her family.

Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  Gloglo

Ugh sorry about the typos above! for some reason I can’t edit the post…

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
1 month ago
Reply to  Gloglo

I hear your larger point about the effects of abuse.

But on the one point that her goal was not to attempt to change her company nor SK, my problem was the opposite of what you suggest.

Spoiler
I was appalled that she blew off the OTP in order to continue to work at a company that treated her so shabbily. They shipped her off to the hinterlands as punishment and she chose that over her so-called one true love
.

Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

About your spoiler:

spoiler
I know it was frustrating, but the drama wanted to show the FL trying to fix the situation with her family and her work instead of leaving everything behind with the man she loved. Of course, this turned out to be a fool’s errant. I think there are 2 reasons why the drama wanted to do this: 1) to show that she was so influenced by her upbringing and her context she could not take herself away from it easily 2) to show that her liberation NOT because of her love for a man, but rather because of self-love and self-preservation.

MariaF
MariaF
1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

Yes. Exactly. The second best outcome would’ve been what put in the spoiler. There are plenty of explanations and justifications for their behavior, but bad writing is definitely one of them.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
1 month ago
Reply to  MariaF

There are plenty of explanations and justifications for their behavior, but bad writing is definitely one of them.

It could have been the path to scriptwriting greatness, but then they just ended the show instead.

As I recall, the FL Jin Ah was growing throughout the show, in large part due to the OTP, from a very passive woman to one with serious agency. Both at work and within the power dynamics of her family.

Spoilers here, Eda!
So it seemed a bit random that she then used that newfound agency to blow off her love for ML Jun Hee and the previous honesty of their communication, for no apparent goal other than to place herself back under the thumb of her domineering mother and to suffer further humiliation from her employer. That oddball act of female agency even appeared to be presented as an act of strength. She’s strong now, so she can blow off the incredibly decent boyfriend who helped her become strong. Him and his sister both.

I dunno. Maybe it was too zen for my teeny little brain to grasp.

Last edited 1 month ago by merij1
Gloglo
1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

That act of strength you talk about in the spoiler above, turned out to be pointless

not sure if spoiler but… might as well hide this…
because her workplace was too corrupt to repair. She only realised it later. You see, she really wanted to make things right. She really wanted to grow up. What she didn’t realise was that, by staying behind to “sort out things” the was actually still conforming and being submissive.

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
1 month ago
Reply to  Gloglo

That makes sense.

eda harris
eda harris
29 days ago
Reply to  merij1

not to worry about spoilers. i am pretty independent in judging the dramas, and in general. so spoilers will not affect my viewing or conclusions. but thanks anyway.

reaper
reaper
1 month ago

The trope in itself isn’t even bad but the reasoning for the “separation” is usually is.
Most of the time it is just a misunderstanding between the characters but only because most characters don’t have logical thinking. I personally skip through these scene just to avoid my brain from turning to dust.

Btw everytime I read “Cheese in the trap” I get some kind of war flashbacks. Because whoever wrote this drama must be a psychopath. Just an personal opinion ^^

merij1
merij1(@merij1)
1 month ago
Reply to  reaper

Yes. This. So often it’s done in such a lazy or random manner, with no purpose other than to stretch the show a few more episodes.

I wish the networks showed more flexibility in the airing slots, so that if a show ends two episodes sooner than expected, it’s not a big deal.

Good to see you, Reaper!

reaper
reaper
1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

I mean the networks are quite flexible. They do cut shows short if the ratings are bad so I really don’t see the problem of 14 instead of 16 episodes but maybe we are too logical.

Good to see you too ^^

wonhwa
wonhwa
1 month ago
Reply to  reaper

Cheese in the Trap also gives me involuntary convulsions – there was so much promise there and then it went so, so wrong, in a completely inexplicable way.

Trent
1 month ago

Huh, interesting…I guess I haven’t seen enough of these to realize that it’s actually a trope. I just thought DoDoSolSol. was uniquely bad at the ending, but it definitely indulges in this trope, including

spoiler for the ending
the “studying overseas as a lie/excuse to cover up medical treatment,” followed by “oops, he died” (followed by “psych, no he didn’t” in the last five minutes…after a 5 year in-story gap!).

In fact, it’s this trope that renders the ending so annoying, so in this particular case, I’d say it makes it emphatically not worth the watch.

Re: The Crowned Clown...that was definitely weird, and kind of a stumble that I didn’t think made much sense (or was necessary or well explained), but it was mercifully short, so it made it fairly easy to just kind of shake it off and say “whatever,” and I don’t think it ruined an otherwise quite good show.

wonhwa
wonhwa
1 month ago
Reply to  Trent

I just finished the Crowned Clown, and yeah, the separation element was weird. It felt like a way to vaguely conform to historical facts while still providing a happy ending, but given that the show was almost totally ahistorical to begin with, that seemed totally unnecessary.