Temptation

Apr. 21st, 2017 04:47 pm
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This is the fruit of me not sleeping and just finished the whole 20 episodes in 1 sitting. Is it that interesting? Well, to be frank, it's the usual old style k-drama, if it makes it even more obvious, we have the same OTP from Stairway to Heaven (Kwon Sang Woo & Choi Ji Woo), well, I watched this because of this OTP anyway, and I have to check the last episode first before I even continued watching the whole thing because I'm still traumatized and scarred by Stairway to Heaven's ending (not as traumatizing as that harem drama but still, scarred). And I'm still recovering of the lack of sleeping, yes it's been 3 days since the long weekend and we're going to another semi long weekend (another public holiday next week), so I better show result of this catastrophe.

In all the fun of k-drama, what intrigues me is that albeit the chaebol war setting, the focus is mainly on the relationships. Whether we think this drama is compelling or wrong depends on how we view marriage, relationship and partnership. When exactly a marital affair is a marital affair? At what point we accept that it's an affair or not? How much trust we should put in our partner? How much effort we should put in the relationship?

Caution: Some of you may find my opinions are not agreeable, and I ain't a relationship expert either, but thought I put it out first because I always find this topic a gray area despite the black and white moral value that we have.


Well, in J-dramaland, we've been shoved so many extra marital affair drama, and lots of them are being romanticized, eg. Hirugao, Glass no Ie (and somehow all of them featuring Saito Takumi as the lead, which is why I nicked him as the scandalous dude). And those J-drama that I watched so far, literally shows us how the affair starts and it's black and white because, either both of them or one of them is married and there's always sex involved (if this is Japanese way of romanticize things, then they've lost their magic!). To top it up as supporting aspect on why the main leads are having their affairs is blatantly pointed out unhappy marriage (abusive partner, neglected partner, whatever). So, in the end we all know that morally it's a wrong thing to have, but because this is drama, oh well... that kind of black and white.

Then we have this Temptation, which starts from a perfectly happy couple with no issue in the marriage itself and perfectly in love with each other, having a leisure trip to HK. However they have one big problem, money issue. They're in debt and the husband, Seok Hoon (SH), is on the brink of going to jail. The wife, Hong Joo (HJ), tried to commit suicide so that he could use the life insurance compensation (I thought no life insurance will cash out the policy for suicide, is it just in Singapore? because this plot is very often used in k-drama), but unfortunately was saved by a female CEO, Seo Young (SY). Now, SY, who apparently had nothing better to do and had too much of black money to spend, offered the solution to this couple, 'I could pay your 1M$ debt but I want you (dude) to spend 4 days with me, and btw, don't contact your wife.' and even immediately transferred the 100K as down payment (gosh, money is such a powerful thing), and gave the SH 1 hour to decide whether to take the offer or not. To make it even more complicated, HJ met Min Woo (MW), another chaebol with an illegitimate son, Roy, on the same trip. MW is your kind of rich chaebol with womanizer habit (nothing new here) and obviously got attracted to the damsel in distress, HJ. So, off course since this is a drama, SH decided to take SY's offer, which HJ against of, while HJ along the way kept on bumping to MW and took care of Roy, while the daddy was busy moonlighting between jobs and his official family (he already got 3 daughters for goodness sake). And turn out, SY's offer meant slave driving SH into working for her on the hotel acquisition, and what do you know, they're compatible at working level and something sparked there.

So, the question here, does it mean SY & SH had an affair in HK? My opinion is a no because SH did tell everything that happened to HJ, it'll be a yes if SH lied about it. But by that time, the trust between the couple is gone. HJ didn't make it easier either, with her new job as Roy's nanny. SH did later try to salvage the marriage, to no avail because of the earlier point, the trust is gone. By knowing this point, it doesn't make HJ any less innocent because she knew her working arrangement is rather dodgy and went with it anyway because she needed a job, and she didn't discuss this with SH as well. Another complication is added on, SH & SY become mutually attracted, however, SH deliberately rejected all SY's advances, and only acted on it after the divorce was final. Hence the next question, even if SH didn't take the offer, will the marriage survive? Maybe yes, maybe no. 1M$ is a huge debt for any common people, it takes years to pay off, so yes, it'll impair your moral value and conscience, but you'll be an absolute fool to pass it up, in reality. Let's say SH ended up went to jail because he refused the offer, will the marriage survive? No one can tell either, especially when we have MW who seemed determine to get HJ anyway. Is SY a homewrecker? Not in my book. She only offered a solution, the decision is on SH, she confessed her feelings and got rejected, the decision is also on SH, she told HJ her feelings, the decision to take the info negatively is on HJ. What she offers is temptation, as the drama put in, and also the way this drama presents SY character is compelling because well, she's the lead. It's not her fault that the trust in that happily married couple is gone. That distrust was probably already there, just waiting to come out, and if the couple didn't even address this issue properly (which is the case in the drama), then divorce is just around the corner.

This is just about the main subject. We still have MW's household, which is even more problematic. We have a household of a family with 3 kids, all girls, and a mother in law. Obviously the husband, MW, has been prancing around in the ladies department, but the wife, Ji Sun (JS), was also doing the same thing. Plus MW's mother, the MIL, only cared about a male heir and will take ANY boys born with MW's seeds. Yes, this kind of MIL exists in real life and it's oh so infuriating. Did MW do anything about the verbal abuse on his wife, who came from a well to do family as well? Not really. And you can imagine what happened with the appearance of Roy in that household... yeah. Is JS wrong to have affair? She's as wrong as MW anyway, but can't we blame her? Not really. I saw couples in RL getting divorce due to these reasons, overbearing in-laws, the husband never stand by the wife and let the wife takes all the hit, and the pressure of having kids or to be exact, boys. Some wives still can close one eye when it comes to husband having affairs especially when they have kids in the equation and reliance on the husband's income, though now lots of them choose to get divorce and fight for custody and alimony, either way it's a terrible path to go through.

Now the fun stuff...

More than the OTP (we'll get to that later), the most intriguing in this drama is Hong Joo character. Park Ha Sun did a good job to bring this character to life. She's a nice girl, lovable in a way, but can be so hateful and she has a trust issue. She tried committing suicide out of her love for her husband, but while it's all romantic and stuff, is it necessary? It just shows how much she trusts her husband. Then when SH took the offer against her ultimatum, she literally went nuts (they didn't really discuss properly because she just went ballistic with all the worst that could happen, her husband prostituting himself for 4 days, HA!). SH even broke the contract by contacting her because he's worried on how she took his decision for, but she just went on with her previous assumption and stick with it. She then did what I hate the most on people, play victim, crying and crying, and worse, when SH tried to salvage the marriage she didn't even make an effort and just threw in the divorce paper. I'm not sure what she's expecting from this though, she's the one deciding the divorce and force it on SH, and after they divorced, she can't move past it and blame the entire world on her own decision. To make things worse she married MW just to get revenge on her now ex-husband, and to spite her now ex-husband because he has moved on (yeah he moved on too fast to our liking, but this is drama and we need our OTP ship to sail!). MW's household is no rosy green pasture as we already know, and she struggled, then she repeated the same mistake, the distrust issue surfaced again, and though MW is no good guy and certainly no innocent, he did try to make the marriage work too, but again, not much effort coming from her side. So after 2 fail marriages, she decided to let go, but will she change and learn her lesson if she got into another relationship? Probably not, and that's why her character is memorable.

How about the OTP? Out of so many wrongs in this drama, the drama really knows how to present the OTP in the most compelling way. It never right whatever SY and SH had done. Both of them are shown to feel guilty, especially SY for the outcome of SH's marriage, and SH recognizing the choices that he made, regardless whether it's right or wrong, and move on from there. What's not shown in this drama that makes this OTP compelling is the compatibility between SH & HJ. Instead the drama emphasizes on how compatible SH with SY at working level from day 1 and from the romance department. Their chemistry is off the chart just from the way they gaze each other and by the way they flirt while getting the job done. How could you as audience not to be swooned? To add the persuasion power, our OTP relationship is not all rosy, they went through ups and downs, and even have to break up and deal with SY's illness (what orthodox k-drama without the cancer plot???), but the difference is SY put trust in SH and her character is more rational thinking and probably would beat up SH if he has an affair but would listen to him and then move on from the relationship if she can't accept the rationale. Don't mind me here because it's probably just me being bias with the OTP.

I don't condone extra marital affairs, but sometimes, who are we to judge? Lots of aspects in this drama is real (despite the usual chaebol setting), and does happen in real life and if we were to be put in the same shoes, what kind of decision are we going to make? On top of all these relationship issues & complications, what makes it even more real is how money is so powerful that it could literally change people's lives. I just can only hope that I'd never need to make any life changing decision because I'm desperately in need of money.

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