I had to watch two episodes of this kdrama starring Lee Jong Suk as Eunso and Lee Na Young (aka WonBin’s wife) as Dani because I was waiting for the comedy to kick in. The first episode came across as being
a) part social commentary on the hardship of a divorced woman in her late 30s to enter the workforce after being a housewife and stay-at-home mom for 7 years, and
b) part sob-fest. I rolled at my eyes 🙄 at how soap-opera-ish her state of affairs was. The writer spared nothing in the the makjang department: the heroine’s good-for-nothing husband left her for another woman; her young daughter attended a $10K boarding school she couldn’t afford; said daughter was hospitalized so she skimped on a $3 umbrella; she walked barefoot in the cold rain; she lived in a house without electricity and water; said house was condemned and she was almost demolished along with it; none of her bajillion interviews ended with a job offer; and, to top it all!, she had blister on her foot.
When all was said and done, her happily-ever-after wedding was only worth toasting with a cheap $1.60 bottle of soju.
See? That was the visual metaphor here. Here’s looking at you, failed dreams of youth!
Fortunately, the second episode was more upbeat. It recounted the backstory of the two leads, how as a middle-schooler Dani broke almost every bone in her body saving the grade-schooler Eunso from a car accident and how he ended up as her “errand boy” for a year while she recuperated. Their idyllic time together in the hospital was spent reading comic books — which I’m sure inspired him to write his successful web series by the time he was in high school. The name of the series?
The Bloody Contract. lol
Do you get it? The Bloody Contract? Eunso entered a contractual relationship with Dani when he became her slave for a year as payment for the blood she shed for him. 😂 Of course, at this time, the show hasn’t enlightened the viewers yet of the actual story line of The Bloody Contract’s storyline, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Eunso’s whole pulp fiction was, in some form on another, an homage to her.
But the second episode also injected a mystery component into the romcom.
Eunho presented himself as an open-book. He was openly a successful author, a professor with a large female fan base, a BOSS with swag, and a serial dater. But as much as he was transparent with his adoring public, there were two subjects he avoided:
One, the reason for his switch from writing genre fiction (i.e., popular stories meant for lowbrow entertainment like thriller, romance, fantasy and science fiction) to the more refined and esoteric literary fiction.
Like this one:
And two, the rumored retirement or disappearance of one of their bestselling authors. He abruptly terminated his interview when the interviewer brought up the topic.
The mystery should keep me interested for another week or two but honestly, I don’t know how long I’ll be watching this show.
I stayed for two episodes as I said because I was looking for a romantic comedy. But if the intention of this show is to expose the ageism in the Korean culture or to decry the appalling treatment of divorced women or to advocate for a noona-donsaeng relationship, then this romcom is not for me. I’ve enough dragons to fight in my real job without them showing up in my reel life.
But, as I said elsewhere in my blog, while other recappers and bloggers will expound on the societal issues weighing upon our heroine and the amazing features of eye-candy Lee Jong Suk, let’s try to approach this kdrama from a different angle here at bitchesoverdramas.
For instance, we can track the metaphors of the shoes in Episode 1. Did you see them? lol. I hope by now after reading my blogs you’re used to spotting metaphors in kdramas.
When Eunso stomped his foot, he appeared like a little boy having a tantrum in the middle of the road. The sight of him must have made her forget her bigger problem waiting for her back at the wedding place.
Here, their shoes showed us that she felt happiest and most carefree when she was running with him.
This time, she chucked her shoes over the wall so she could get climb it and stay in her house. lol. To me, this scene meant that she still had her feet on the ground, but she needed a lot of help getting over the obstacles.
The blister on her heel brought home to me that her life’s struggles were her own. No stranger would give her relief until she was totally down and out.
Here, she learned one valuable life lesson. Why bother put on one shoe when its other half was missing? Without its pair, she was hobbling on one heel. Throw the heel in the dustbin like she did with her ex-husband.
This scene: when it rains, it pours.
No, the story of Cinderella is every young girl’s dream but she was old enough not to fall for that fairy tale again.
See that? The shoes represented her journey in Episode 1, too.
Aside from that metaphor, I want to understand what the title, “Romance is Bonus Book” meant for Eunso. We were already told what it meant for Dani, but I still don’t grasp how it applies to Eunso.
For Dani, her Cinderella story had already ended. In her own words, “Every woman likes that story. It’s Cinderella. However, I’m too old to believe in such a fairy tale. The thought of being saved by a knight in shining armor is too far-fetched for me to believe. I’d rather write my own life’s story.”
In her case, the title simply indicated that finding a new romance for her, after her first fairy tale ended miserably, will be an unexpected BONUS for her. It’ll be a supplement or an epilogue to her already unhappily-ever-after. In a way, it’ll be heaven-sent.
And at the end of Episode 1, we see a summary of the whole episode. It went like this, “That day if I went to some faraway country, I’d be living a very different life now. Cheer up, Kang Dani. She smiled as brightly as she could. ‘You look beautiful,’ he said. Dani seem liked she didn’t hear him. ‘Don’t cry, Dani. It’ll be okay.’ She just needed some comfort. When I was in pain, I thought of Eunho. His name alone comforted me greatly. That day, I realized that knights in shining armor only existed in fairy tales. We laughed and ran in the warm sun, and my worries about the future disappeared.”
Now, that’s for Dani. What about Eunso? For me, it’s too early to tell it all connects for Eunso. I know he was shocked and disturbed to learn of Dani’s divorce but I don’t think he’s realized the irony of his situation.
You see, from the moment he met the ex-husband, he knew the guy was insufferable. “The way he spoke was rude from the start. At a glance, I could tell he was shallow. He was such a poser, a big mouth, and a sissy. Would I have approved of him if that had been all his faults? But the worst thing of all, he was inconsiderate of her. There are so many guys in this world. How could she love a douchebag like him?”
From Dani’s interaction with her then-boyfriend, his main takeaway was that love was blind. He reasoned, “If that was what love was, I didn’t want to fall in love. I didn’t want to be an idiot who can’t see what the other person needs, blinded by my emotions. I wanted to be there for the person I love until the end.”
He swore off love so that he could always consider the other person’s needs and welfare objectively and unemotionally. For instance, remember when he read Dani’s essay application? Instead of being moved by her words like the company president was, he pointed out, “Everything’s grammatically correct. There are also no spacing errors, and not typos.” He didn’t want to be persuaded by her nice prose and give her a job in his company as a support staff because he deemed the job as below her talent and skill level.
And that is why Dani’s news of divorce and troubles dismayed him. Despite his high-mindedness and lofty goals of caring well for her, he had been oblivious to her suffering and distress. Much to his chagrin, he was as insensitive as Dani’s husband and unsuspecting like Dani.
At the end of Episode 2, we get the summary of the whole episode. “Two people who have spent a long time together do not need to use words to express their feelings. I know I cannot do anything alone, so I reach out to the world and ask for help. ‘You passed.’ It was as if I was given permission to enter the world. Something has happened to Dani. Why did it take me so long to realize? She so pretty when she smiles, but she’s pretty even when she doesn’t. I want you to be happy. Find out what you want to do and what you like. I never knew that the world which was so warm to me was so heartless to Dani.”
He vowed to be there for Dani but he failed. So now perhaps he has a second-chance at rewrite a new happy ending for her.
Lastly, I’m curious to know how this writer defines love. To me, Dani took advantage of her seniority. Three times.
I didn’t think ordering Eunso to be her “errand boy” for a year was funny. Nor did I think stowing away in the back of his car on her wedding day was responsible. (Goodness! Tell your groom face-to-face! He deserves that courtesy, at the very least.)
And hiding in his spare room for almost a year was downright creepy. (Try reversing that situation and make an ahjussi hide in a young girl’s place.)
Personally, if I were Eunso, I would consider dating this noona Dani a lose-lose situation.
Because she simply brings zero to the table. #truth
With her sob-story, she LACKS the typical advantages of dating a cougar…errr… older woman: maturity, self-sufficiency, independence and self-confidence.
Meanwhile, she possesses all the DISADVANTAGES of dating an older woman like her
a) unresolved issues with her divorce, ex-husband, and child,
b) jadedness to romance,
c) manipulation of their noona-donsaeng relationship. She knows that Eunso is BEHOLDEN to her because she saved him once and she’s his noona but she’s seriously taking advantage of their relationship. #truth
Ugh! How’s this for messed-up logic? Dani doesn’t want to impose on Eunso because her ex-husband already swindled Eunso once. Therefore, she’s going to do her own lying, stealing and sneaking around Eunso’s house without his knowledge.
Since her crimes are petty, stealthy, and “victimless” — hey!!! She’s his noona!! — they aren’t ethically depraved as her ex-husband’s absconding with lots of money.
Plus, doesn’t she know yet that being betrayed by loved ones are worse than being betrayed by enemies and strangers? #truth
So there you go. I’m giving this romcom another two weeks to see whether the writer will correct her/his ways. Right now, I have no confidence in her. #truth
This “Romance is Bonus Book” might very well end up being returned to sender.