I stumbled on this 2006 drama/comedy from South Korea on Hulu, and was surprised to be drawn in deeply over the arc. At times a comedy, a medical drama, a romance, a kickboxing fight scene, I never quite knew what would come next. The conventional genres in domestic U.S. television — based on demographically-segmented marketing — simply don’t align with the program production system run by MBC, and licensed to Hulu by Drama Fever.
The contrasts are what stood out for me — sometimes obvious and over the top, other times subtle and meaningful. The single mother, taking care of both daughter and senile father, growing tangerines on an island right off the Seoul metropolis. The dissonance between modern (read western, global) influences, and that way things are done in a small rural village, including all of the preconceived notions of everyone’s place in the scheme of things.
Sometimes the production is over the top … for me, but perhaps not for the intended audience. The music score repeats themes, although these are over 60 minutes of filmmaking per episode rather than our 42 minutes. Several characters are meant, I believe, to represent caricatures of familiar archetypes in South Korea (and I look forward to learning more about these cultural assumptions).
In the end, though, there is the never-ending battle between the kind, generous, and self-sacrificing people others depend upon … and the arrogant, selfish and, perhaps, fearful and weak ones. The stereotype appears to reinforce the gender inequity here, but the direction of growing and life and love clearly aligns with the generous characters, growing and making difficult decisions which require compassion as well as intelligence.