WAHHHH, Dating Agency: Cyrano, please don’t make me cry when I just put on a fancy Korean face mask; I’m older now, so I need every bit of that precious gold and snail essence! Well, when the lovers are this sweet and the obstacles this monumental I suppose some tears are in order. In our house, my husband and I call successful romantic pairings “episode 16.” Episode 16 is now a metaphor for love gone right: when real-life couples we know finally get together they’re “getting their episode 16.” When we attend weddings of friends, we call them “super episode 16s.” Even though the story of the precious nurse and firefighter didn’t run 16 episodes, I’m delighted that the pair got their episode 16. The couple packed all the emotional punch and complexity of romantic stories that are told over the course of many more episodes. c1 These two episodes of Dating Agency: Cyrano pulled at my heart because they felt so poignant due to the threat of death separating the couple before they even became a couple and their struggle to determine how to live when they may not have many days to share. I’m sure we’ve all grappled—hopefully in a less immediate way—with the question of how confessions of love might eventually cause pain to the people we care about most. In this case, it was the lovely halmoni (grandmother) of Moo Jin who delivered the speech we all need to hear from time to time: make the most of the days you have, live fully, and love deeply because none of us really know what the future holds. This speech resonated for me, and the actress did a wonderful job of delivering the punch that left me in a snail-mask-related crisis. c3 At some point, I suspect that many people deal with the problem of whether it is selfish to confess love to someone from whom they know they must part. The explanation by halmoni that all couples must part someday reminded me of one of my favorite psychology researchers, Brené Brown, who says that attempting to prevent emotional pain in one’s life will also block one from fully experiencing joy. While part of me really loves the bravery of the couple jumping into the future and landing together on a giant air mattress, both literally and metaphorically, the part of me that is scared and doesn’t want to listen to halmoni twists like a wet towel in my core, questioning the idea that one should seize the day and that all love is worth immense pain. Halmoni’s speech also reminded me of my favorite Korean love story, that of Lee Eung Tae and his wife, real 16th-century members of the royal Goseong Yi clan. We know about the couple because in 1998, archaeologists discovered a letter written by the unnamed wife in the tomb of Lee Eung Tae. The woman wrote the letter herself using the Korean alphabet, Hangul, (you can learn more about the creation of Hangul by watching the fabulous Tree with Deep Roots) which allowed her to write what she intended to be a private letter to her deceased husband. In the letter the wife—then pregnant with a child she calls Won—expresses a monumental grief that slices through time and space: lee eung tae
You always said, "Dear, let's live together until our hair turns gray and die on the same day. How could you pass away without me? Who should I and our little boy listen to and how should we live? How could you go ahead of me? How did you bring your heart to me and how did I bring my heart to you? Whenever we lay down together you always told me, "Dear, do other people cherish and love each other like we do? Are they really like us?" How could you leave all that behind and go ahead of me? I just cannot live without you. I just want to go to you. Please take me to where you are. My feelings toward you I cannot forget in this world and my sorrow knows no limit. Where would I put my heart in now and how can I live with the child missing you? (source: Archaeological Institute of America)
I wonder if Won’s mother, the author of the letter, would advise the nurse and firefighter against embracing their love and jumping together into a shared future, given the sort of pain she experienced after the death of Won’s father. Or perhaps once the initial grief of her husband’s loss dulled, she cherished the memory of their days together and their child. Given that the mere sight of the document in untranslated Korean sends the snail mask essence rolling down my face, I completely understand why people would hesitate before entering into an obviously doomed partnership. c2 In that way, I’m like Byung Hoon, who needed to see evidence in these episodes that love is worth the pain of possible future separation and sadness. I sympathize with him fully because I suspect that he would be the sort of person who, like me, would read the letter by Won’s mother and feel the pain of her words without realizing that the reason she hurt so much was because of her incredible connection with Won’s father while he lived. People like Byung Hoon and I need halmoni, brave role models, Cyrano Dating Agency, and Dating Agency: Cyrano in order to fight through fear and seize love despite the risks. Byung Hoon: we’re cheering for you! Before I let my fellow clubbers take over I’d like to announce that the winner of the Dramafever and fanserviced K-Drama Night giveaway is thelastxgoodthing, who blogs on Tumblr. Congratulations! For those of you hoping to win your own K-Drama Night kit, check back with the Dating Agency: Cyrano Drama Club soon; we’re planning a very special “Episode 16 K-Drama Night” kit with even more of the Korean items that I think you’ll love while enjoying your favorites on Dramafever. More Dating Agency: Cyrano Drama Club Posts: Episodes 11-12 [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] Episodes 9-10  [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] Episodes 7-8     [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] Episodes 5-6     [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] Episodes 1-4     [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] Check our our writer’s individual blogs: Fanserviced: fanserviced.com Shai: k-dramacentral.blogspot.com Cindy: atkmagazine.com