Broadcast journalist Shin Young is 34, and wants to find love, but it's hard to stay positive when she's faced with high workplace pressure and a string of failed relationships. Just when it seems like her chances may have passed, she meets a musician ten years her junior, and her former fiance comes back to rekindle the flame. Korean-English translator Da Jung desperately wants to get married within a year. She won't settle for anything less than the perfect man. Restaurant consultant Bu Ki is done with the marriage game. She broke off her engagement, studied overseas, and is satisfied on her own terms as an efficient, sophisticated woman.
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As a European, single, career woman in my 30's I have come to expect certain things from my life and people around me.
1. Respect from colleagues for all the hard work I put in
2. Understanding that the hard work has left little room for dating
3. Evenings spent watching dramas because of the aforementioned hard work and singlehood
I started watching "The woman who still wants to marry" because I heard it was going to feature single career women in their 30's and noona-love...
Finally!, I thought. Women I can relate to.
And who doesn't like the added bonus of bit of escapism, in the form of gorgeous young men falling for older women? Yum!
Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
I'm not oblivious to the fact that, in Korea and Japan, unmarried women over the age of 25 are considered "Christmas Cake". Something that goes bad after the 25th. (Horrible expression btw. Just horrible!)
The previous noona-love dramas I've seen have mostly focused on the woman's inner struggle. Angst and denial of her unsuitable feelings, and so on.
She may have gotten sideways glances while flaunting her young lover publically. But that's about it.
Never mind that this would never happen in real life. Drama magic and suspension of disbelief achieved. Squeee!
In "The woman who still wants to marry", however, our two noonas are bombarded by hair-raising amounts of malicious gossip, disapproving parents and disrespectful colleagues.
The amount of shit that these poor women have to put up with is really disheartening.
If this piece of drama fiction is any reflection on how smart and driven women are treated in Korea... then I have found a whole new level of understanding for all those older and successful über-bitches we tend to see as villains in dramas. No wonder they'd eventually become cold as ice - if this is how they've been treated since their 30's.
While the romance is a big part of this drama. (Two lovely noona-love stories, no less.) The adversities these women face, simply because of their age and ambition, leave such a bitter after taste that it many times overshadows the sweetness of the romance.
I would ask someone who is considering watching this these 3 questions:
1. Are you under 30?
2. Is seeing Kim Bum fall in love pretty much your sole motivation for watching?
3. Do you normally not have problems suspending disbelief when it comes to ill treatment of women?
If your answer to the above questions is a resounding "Yes", then you'll probably enjoy this drama.
If your answer is "No", then you may want to look elsewhere for your escapist drama fix... or at least watch with an awareness of these issues.
I don't regret watching this drama. If for nothing else; Kim Bum pulls off one of the best "grand gesture"-scenes in recent memory. I finally get why women swoon over him now. I do.
It does make me sad though - to think that there are places in the world where it doesn't matter how hard you work to prove yourself. If you are a woman and over 30; you are supposed... no, demanded!... to give up your job and become a stay at home mom. Whether that life appeals, fulfills or excites you in the slightest. That's your duty.
Even if you marry Kim Bum - it would be nice to know you have a choice. Right?