Hello once again, Drama Fans! We’re almost at the end of our list of the major players in Korean Drama. To review, we have taken a look at The Village Idiot, The Jealous Lover, The Evil Minion, The Evil Mastermind, and The Benevolent Benefactor. As we’ve covered these major character personalities, we’ve picked and plucked through their traits and ticks, from the Idiot’s bumbling genius, to the Benefactor’s slight selfishness. If you haven’t checked out those posts yet, please do! Now onto our current character, The Damsel In Distress. THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
The Damsel In Distress
Description: The Damsel in Distress is a unique character, in that she is universal. Every culture in the world has a story where she is the main focal point in the story. However, in Korean drama, she is almost always too cute for her own good; with beautiful shining black (or brown) eyes, pouting pink lips, and a penchant for walking right into messes she’s too “blonde” to get out of. She often is a very hard worker at some seemingly menial job (that is somehow connected to the Prince or Benefactor), compassionate, and the youngest of her family. The Damsel in Distress often is naive and trusting; which makes it that much easier for her to get caught up in some drama. However, being that she almost always runs into The Prince Charming, Village Idiot, or Benevolent Benefactor, she gets saved in the nick of time from some insane plot by The Evil Mastermind or Jealous Lover.
Social Network: Like the Mastermind and the Benefactor, the Damsel in Distress can be from all social classes. However, being K-drama, she is more likely to be of lower status, yet be loved and adored by all who meet her, regardless of standing.
Purpose: The Damsel in Distress holds a place in our hearts as someone who is virtuous and forthright. Her presence in not only Korean Drama but stories the world over show us that striving to be compassionate, a diligent worker and an all around pleasant demeanor will take us far. While she is always in peril, she will always persevere. What’s the saying? You catch more flies with honey than vinegar? Well this holds true in our Damsel. Such are her sweet ways, we should try to incorporate some of that into our lives when faced with those less fortunate than us (think The Village Idiot), those who are misled (think The Evil Minion), and those who just need to be loved (think The Evil Mastermind).
In the course of my drama watching, I’ve come to either completely despise or adore The Damsel in Distress. Usually it’s because, as one who grew up during the 90s, I’m all about girl power. Also, as a Westerner (the American type) we are conditioned to have a mindset that anyone can do “it”–meaning regardless of race, gender, or creed, we are fully capable as independent human beings. So to watch the earlier productions from Korean drama where the female was perpetually in distress and couldn’t be helped without the presence of a man (The Prince), it was almost unbearable.
That was until I started to look at it from “a Korean POV”. Meaning that I started to look more at the romance behind it all, and not just the face value. While watching Korean drama – and over the course of this series of character maps – I’ve come to realize even more how extremely romanticized and passionate the outlook of Korean drama writers, actors, and possibly society as a whole may be. Also, I’d like to point out that as time has gone by, there has been a somewhat drastic change in the way The Damsel is portrayed in K-Drama! Many have now become less “in distress” and more “in need of just a little assistance“, giving young Korean women fans another facet to identify with: The Damsel in Not That Much Distress! HA HA! With that in mind, there are a couple of Damsels that I have come to adore; both in need of assistance and in distress, however there is only one whom I have fallen in love with: Song Eun Chae of 2004′s I’m Sorry, I Love You.
Portrayed by the lovely Im Soo Jung, Eun Chae is the ultimate Damsel in Distress to me. From the start of the drama we are hooked to her not only for her innocent beauty and sweet charm, but also because her seemingly charmed life is rife with heartache. Her love is one she cannot express, her home life is suffocating and slightly abusive, and the powers that be have crossed her path with someone who is seemingly a thug who will just bring her trouble.
Yet despite all of this, Eun Chae manages to take her life into her own hands and fall in love with her unexpected Prince Charming, Cha Moo Hyuk (played by mega-star So Ji Sub). However, as this story is a beautiful retelling of the classic Romeo and Juliet, our Damsel doesn’t get to live happily ever after, as she dies with a broken heart, yearning for her lost love.
Usually, when dramas end with the death of the main character(s), I feel cheated and drained, yet being that she was such a graceful Damsel, I actually felt a bit relieved for Eun Chae and even more of a hopeful (not hopeless!) romantic thanks to the wonderful story and acting. I’d like to know who is your ultimate Damsel In Distress (or In Not That Much Distress) and why? Do you admire her, pity her, or sympathize with her? Let’s dish, as I’d love to know your thoughts!!