The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Monday, January 12, 2009

신 현모양처 / Modern Housewives



I couldn't wait to get home from work today, so that I could blog about this Korean drama!

I don't know how long Mysoju has had this one in their archives, but yesterday (Sunday, January 11) was about the most pleasant day I've had in a good, long time.

I'm a huge fan of Kim Nam-jin, and it makes me sad that there is not more about him online, in magazines, or on the air.

So, to stumble upon New, Wise Mother, Good Wife was a treasure to behold, let me tell you.

Modern Housewives was an aptly labeled comedy with the right amount of episodes (10 in all) to fill an entire day with laughter and excitement at being able to stare at my Ajushi KIM for an entire day.

This was the story of a young, devoted wife/mother, Gyung Gook Hee (Kang Sung Yeon) and the subsequent demise of her marriage/life.

Her husband, Heo (Kim Ho Jin), is the stereotypical mama's boy wimp with a college degree and a steady job.
He could hardly be referred to as attractive, and yet he swaggers with the boys as if he is a jet-setting playboy with dozens of pole dancers at his beck & call.

They have saved up eight-years for their first house, and on the day that Gook Hee is supposed to sign the contract, housing prices suddenly sky-rocket, and the previous homeowner backs out of the contract.

I've guessed from watching so, many of these dramas that Korean's especially are money-happy, soulless Christians hell-bent on making it to the top in order to receive the almighty acceptance of 'society' (whatever that is).

Modern Housewives drove that point home at every turn, but it was refreshing to note that at the same time, the drama focused on the mediocre of Korean society; the work-a-day drones who eek out a living sub-par with Korean society standards.
Factory workers, convenience store clerks, and the ever-present Pojangmacha owners who seem (to me) to feed an entire nation on a daily basis and therefore should be raking in the $$$ about the equivalent of a degree-holding stuff-shirt.



Im Tae Ran (Kim Tae Yeon) enters the picture at this point, and according to the drama synopsis, her character is meant to portray the modern version of the ideal wife.
Tae Ran is a single beauty with abundant wealth, a few homes, a fancy car, and a terrific job as a screen writer.
Naturally, she's single for a good reason, and that is that she's insecure, or relying solely on her appearance to make it in the world of romance while ignoring her glaring personality flaws.
She comes between Gook and Myung Pil, anxious to have what her best friend Gook has by stealing it away with sex.

Myung Pil has no remorse for his affair, and he says some things to Gook that tore my heart apart, they were that vicious and thoughtless.

Worse though, was Gook's determination to hold on to what she is losing so rapidly, and for such a ridiculous reason as money problems.
She clung to her wayward husband, humiliated herself every chance she got, and she ran into the proverbial brick wall at every turn.
I soon began to hold out my palms to the computer screen and BEG her to ssssttttoooopppp already!

You're embarrassing yourself AND me!

It hadn't occurred to me until now that Modern Housewives was a subdued and abbreviated version of Here Comes Ajumma, but with a better cast and a more realistic storyline.
Gook lives with her immature husband, his mother, and their two, little boys in an apartment community, and the association queens play the snob-bitch part to the hilt!
They use megaphones to alert the entire community to the unacceptable ways of the less-desirable tenants (namely, those with no degree or prestigious job).
It's funny, and at the same time, sad as hell to know (or even to have to assume) that people like this actually exist in the world.

A doggy breaks into the trash, so the queen bitch gets on the horn to alert the neighbors of the fact that the undesirables have broken yet, another Association law by putting out their trash the wrong way.
Gook and three, other women creep from their apartments and converge at the dumpster to clean up the mess while complaining about the injustices heaped upon them at every turn.
Gook leaves the group to find her husband, who is at a Pojangmacha with Tae Ran, and she overhears him tell Tae Ran that he hates his wife, is embarrassed of her, and he wishes that he had never married her.
Gook returns to the girls and suggests that they go to the beach.
One of the suppressed is divorced, the other lives in fear of her abusive husband, and the third woman, Soo Duk, refers to herself in 3rd person fashion, repeating a mantra of demands that her overbearing husband makes on her.

"Soo Duk's job is to cook, and to lose weight", she keeps saying at the first-half of the drama, and believe it or not, it never gets tiring!

She's cute but slightly overweight after bringing two children into the world.

The girls arrive at the beach on the night of a full-moon, and the divorcee runs into Park Seok Doo (Kim Nam-jin).
He's a sexy college student and the son of a Korean ambassador.
Seok Doo stays on the beach with the women, and he's instantly attracted to Gook when she makes the poignant observation that his nomadic childhood must have caused him a great deal of loneliness.

AGAIN, because Gook is five (count 'em, FIVE) years older than Seok Doo, she will not even consider getting involved with his royal hunkiness.

More is the pity.

Seok Doo ends up helping the women with their personal problems while doggedly pursuing the now-free Gook-hee.
Her ex-husband loses his cool the first time that he sees her with the gorgeous Seok-doo.
There is a hilarious scene at a sauna where the two, competitive men end up together inside the locker room.
Myung Pil gasps in wide-eyed shock when Seok-doo removes his shirt, revealing his gym-bod.
Then Seok-doo drops his trousers, and Myung-pil nearly faints.

Kim's character smiled a lot, was wise beyond his years, and was multi-lingual as well as smart.
He always said the right things to Gook-hee and her friends to get them back on the right track and not let their fear overwhelm them whenever push came to shove.
One by one, they took care of their nasty other-halves while growing in wisdom and maturity.
Especially our downtrodden Ms. Gook-hee.
She could not afford to leave the apartment community, so she had to watch her husband and his mistress carry on inside their apartment.
Because Myung-pil could not get over the fact that Gook-hee was actually able to snare a hotty like Seok-doo, he ended up devoting more of his time to Gook-hee than to Tae-ran, which lent itself to more, humorous moments in Modern Housewives.

As I said earlier, Soo Duk was funny, and when her time comes to take back her life and gain some much-needed control in her marriage, she does so with absolute gusto.

She behaved mild-mannered until someone touched her, said the wrong thing, or mistreated one of her friends, and then she would turn into a raging mad-woman.
Except when it came to dealing with her (surprise, surprise) unattractive, overweight husband.
When she finally gains her independence, she attacks him in his sleep, beats him down, and with a fist aimed at him, she orders him to read & follow her list of demands.

"Call me Cutie, not fatso, and say you like my cooking."

Not since Get Karl Go have I had this much fun watching a Korean drama.
I'm at an age now where sappy, sentimental crap and sugary, bubble-gum garbage annoys me.
Teenage anything has dominated this genre (especially in Taiwan and Korea) for almost a decade now, so it's always refreshing to find something like Modern Housewives, Get Karl Go, and East of Eden to fulfill my weekly requirement of the Asian fix.

Korean's do a great job with their period drama's, too.
Kingdom of the Winds is really good, and I'll probably never get tired of watching Emperor of the Sea, either.
I prefer Japanese dramas to Korean, and as long as Hideaki Ito remains on top of his game, I should be able to enjoy mature content dramas from that part of the world, too.

Is Kaneshiro Takeshi ever going to star in a drama, btw?


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