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'Wedding': a bittersweet romantic comedy to explore what's important in marriage

2005/08/25 Source

"What do you consider the most important thing in marriage?" Seung-woo asks Senah during their first 'seon', a Korean term for match-made marriage meeting. Senah is dumbstruck by this question. She is a rich, pampered girl for whom marriage is a dreamy set-up, one of the steps she should naturally take in life with someone whom her parents choose for her.

Senah is desperate for the answer and returns the question to Seung-woo, who puts it plainly, as if it were so simple: "Love", he says. But who didn't know that? And if he's so sure, then why is he at a seon and not on the next plane to Japan where the love of his life is, about to marry someone else?

The point is that this bittersweet romantic-comedy TV series which poses fundamental questions about marriage and sets its goal "to revive the romantic fantasy of young people who have disillusioned notions about marriage", according to the director, in fact thrives on jaded notions of marriage.

All the characters in the show act and speak on the premise that love is too complicated to deal with, that marriage is the easy way out. Seung-woo's friend advises him along these lines: "Forget about Youn-soo (the one Seung-woo loves). You guys are perfect together, but she's too complicated. Just marry a simple girl with good realistic qualifications".

Behind Seung-woo's confident remark that "love is the most important thing in marriage", there is a man who lacks the guts to marry the one he loves.

So far we have found out the possible barriers that may bind Seung-woo to a realistic decision on marriage rather than being faithful to love. His mother is widowed and has a house in the countryside which was put on mortgage to secure debt payments. He finds out the seon with Senah was arranged on condition that Senah's parents would clear his mother's debts.

This does not make Seung-woo an entirely realistic and unattractive character, however. He is on the other hand a hopeless romantic who has read Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther" and has dreamt of being a novelist, but became a diplomat instead to heed his parents' wishes. He has been madly in love with one woman, Youn-soo (played by Myung Se-bin), since childhood but was not brave enough to confess his love. He goes on the seon to please his mother, who has high expectations for him to "marry up", rather than marry a poor girl like Youn-soo, a florist who has had a hard life.

So begins a new TV series titled "Wedding". And it's just "in time for the fall wedding season", as director Kim Hae-ryong puts it. Oh Soo-hyeon, screenwriter for the hugely successful TV series, "Autumn in my Heart" and "Winter Sonata" which was widely viewed in Japan and China as well as in Korea, has written a new TV series with a different perspective from her former screenplays.

Instead of writing about star-crossed lovers who were destined for each other, Kim writes about two people who marry in the most practical way - through "seon", an age-old tradition in Korea, in which a matchmaker sets up two people who are seemingly compatible, based on their objective qualities such as family background, wealth, and career. Writing about the modern version of an arranged marriage, Kim hopes to "explore the meaning of marriage - a love that grows together".

But can a designed-to-be-perfect marriage that begins without that powerful force called "love" last?

"Wedding", which began airing on KBS2 on Tuesday, will continue to run on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9:55 p.m. There are great expectations for the TV series as it features hugely popular stars such as Ryu Si-won (who plays Seung-woo) and Jang Nara (who plays Senah), who have received wide acclaim overseas in China and Japan, and singer-turned-actor Lee Hyun-woo-I and Myung Se-bin, composing an all-star cast.

The stars, all single themselves, mention that the show gives them something to think about. "As people grow older, they say it's easier to marry with consideration to objective qualifications rather than purely by romantic love. Even a marriage that started with love can lead to divorce. It's not easy to marry with love; love is complicated. I've tried 'seon' myself but don't think it's the ideal way. Ultimately, I would like to marry for love", said Lee Hyun-woo-I, 38.

Even the writer is not so sure herself. Can a marriage based on the practical qualifications of a spouse outshine romantic love? She says that the cards are not on the table as of yet. "I have to think about it too, this dilemma between realistic love and romantic love. I think that two people can make the effort to love each other too, but this is a difficult question. I hope to find an answer while writing the screenplay", said Oh Soo-yeon.

"Wedding" is not just a light comedy about the rocky road of an arranged marriage. There will be diversions and conflict, a possible triangular relationship, and always that option of divorce lurking around the corner. It will be interesting to see how this cotton-candy-like drama becomes weighed down with the burden of reality. What happens when two strangers with match-made qualities marry each other? When problems arise, will sweet and innocent Senah and romantic but practical Seung-woo realize the true meaning of marriage? Will they realize that marriage does not work even with all the realistic conditions set-up for them, or vice versa?

For more information on the TV series visit Open the link

By Kwon Ji-young

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