Jung Hyun Jung dishes about the 'I Need Romance' series
The I Need Romance series is now on its third season, and each is a little different from the other. The first I Need Romance season told us all about romance in a beautiful and green summer setting, but this season, it's back to winter. However, there are still patterns and themes that transcend all of the I Need Romance seasons, and their writer, Jung Hyun Jung, talked about them during an interview with the Korean magazine GRAZIA.
Pattern 1: Two Men
In the I Need Romance series, viewers are tormented by watching the main female characters spend days agonizing over which man she will choose.
I Need Romance 1
Even though she wasn’t two-timing, there was a commotion when In Young (Jo Yeo Jung) in season 1 had sex with her new boyfriend, Bae Sung Hyun (Choi Jin Hyuk) after breaking up with her ex boyfriend, Kim Sung Soo (Kim Jung Hoon). At that time, the director opposed the story by saying, "How can a heroine of a romantic comedy drama sleep with another man in the same house, room, and bed where she and her ex-boyfriend shared their love?"
I Need Romance 2 (2012)
It also happened to Joo Yeol Mae (Jung Yoo Mi) in season 2. She was reviled for coming and going between Yoon Seok Hyun (Lee Jin Wook) and Shin Ji Hoon (Kim Ji Suk), but it is a common situation in real life, and in most K-dramas.
I Need Romance 3
Once again, in season 3 our heroine Shin Joo Yeon (Kim So Yeon) realizes that she has unwittingly liked Kang Tae Yoon (NamGoong Min) while she is dating with Joo Wan (Sung Joon). I have worked on episode 7 and so far (for now at least), I think that a coupling with Joo Wan fits the drama.
Pattern 2: Series Consistency
Actually, I wanted to make a series that spent time experiencing the ups and downs in life with viewers without changing the characters and actors, like Sex in the City. Romantic comedy dramas usually draw characters’ growth within 16 or 20 episodes, but it is not true that we only ever experience growth. There are ups and downs in life. I expected that I would be able to do this for a cable channel (tvN) but I couldn’t push our cast to star in season 2 when we didn’t know whether season 1 would be successful or not. I tried to create a story where season 1’s characters moved in next door to season 2’s characters to make these two seasons overlap each other, but it was hard. But all staff related to direction, music etc. who have worked with this series make great efforts to keep its tone consistent as a I Need Romance series.
Pattern 3: Fantasy
In I Need Romance 2 (2012), Shin Jin Hoon was a man who existed in women's fantasy. He was always kind and gentle, but that never exists in the real world. Even though I wrote the story, I felt sad when I made Yeol Mae choose Seok Hyun in the end of season 2. And the fantasy becomes extreme in season 3. It is almost a fairy tale. When Joo Yeon was younger, her mother’s job was a nanny. She hated the child who her mother was taking care of, because the child looked ugly like a sweet potato. When she becomes near her mid- thirties with her dry heart, that ugly child appears. He is a full-fledged man who is 6 years younger than her, and a genius composer authorized by the Billboard charts. He is Joo Wan who will be a powerful drug to cure Shin Joo Yeon’s broken sensibility, so this is a story saying, "Look at the boy next door again." (laugh)
1. The writer grasps recent trends by scanning women’s magazines.
2. Notes made by her when she was writing the I Need Romance series.
Pattern 4: Alpha Girl
Season 3 is about alpha girls who don’t have much time to date someone, and think that dating is the expenditure of emotion. When I wrote a column about the hook-ups of alpha girls (a relationship that enjoys having sex, not love), I took a look around me. Many people didn’t have a fantasy about romance. So this season’s heroine is a calculating woman who is a rational eight-year employee with a dry heart. She isn’t single, but when her lover asks her to break up, she doesn’t ask why. She is habituated to think that love is already finished when her lover mentions a break up, so she rationally deals with love in a businesslike manner. That’s her way of shortening the time she'll miss someone or be sad and concerned.
Pattern 5: Real love affairs
Imperfect love affairs, I want to draw realistic desire. Most love affairs aren’t perfect at all in real life. Imperfect love affairs finally stared to show up in movies. Since Purpose Of Love 2005 came out, movie stories seem to succeed at telling about wretched and angular characters. However, dramas havn’t yet. Viewers love a perfect character, and they feel uncomfortable when it doesn’t come with a happy ending. It becomes worse for national terrestrial broadcastings. Drama stories stay in the 1990’s sentiment. When we see women walking outside, their desires for love affairs are totally different from what they wanted before. I want to tell about real women’s real love affairs. Main characters in this season could be a sub-character or a villain in other dramas.
Pattern 6: Three female friends
The biggest common denominator within the I Need Romance series is three women’s stories, and they are always 33-years-old. Season 3’s heroine, Shin Joo Yoen, is also 33-years-old. It is time to think about marriage and love affairs seriously. In previous series, three women were friends of the same age, but this time there are three women of different ages, 25, 33, and 36, at different positions in a team of a home shopping company. These are ages when women change a lot. I describe characters more strongly than usual but they are people that we can find around us.
What writer Jung Hyun Jung would say to I Need Romance 3’s three female characters:
1. To 33-year-old, young team leader Shin Joo Yeon (Kim So Yeon)
“It’s ok to go slowly.”
Shin Joo Yeon is a typical team leader promoted in her early 30s. She often yells and gets angry at other people, steps over older seniors, and stomps on her junior colleagues. Actually, it’s hard to love her even though I created her. She would be a villain if this serious was normal dramas. She makes every characters cry. Joo Yeon scolds Hee Jae severely and makes her cry, then scolds Hee Jae again for crying. When Min Jung, who has worked with Joo Yeon, goes through menopause and presbyopia, Joo Yeon just says, "That’s too sad," and then gets on to their conversation about work. I exaggeratedly describe it, but don't we also do this in our everyday lives? I want to discover her true colors through this drama. A sense of rivalry that she has to be better than other people is hiding her natural colors. Joo Yeon asked Joo Wan what a heart was when they were young. She was a young girl playing a piano, and saying ‘this is enjoyment.’ In this cold world, some parts of her are broken, and she has forgotten her own colors. The fantasy called Joo Wan will find her natural colors. Her bright and lovely sides have been within herself. I want to tell her, “You don’t need to be good at everything. It’s ok to go slowly.”
2. To 25-year-old, youngest new recruit Jung Hee Jae (Yoon Seung Ah)
“Is that your real dream?”
This is her first year at the company. Her boyfriend, who tries to pass a Public Administration Examination, is living in a Goshiwon (a small room somewhere around 5 square meters), and she is a dry cleaners’ daughter who barely entered the company. She earns enough money but she even saves on motel bills for her future house and life. In the company, she tries to catch up with her seniors to be promoted quickly. However, she is distressed that her turn always comes late even if she has the same idea as what her senior says. She keeps talking about an installment savings. We can say she is kind of a shrewd and steady young woman, but the problem is that the desire that she wants to fulfill isn’t her own. That desire is other people’s desire. I feel that most people in their 20’s are the same. They'll say that it is her or his dream, but it isn’t what they really want to do, but just something to look gorgeous to other people. I want to say, “It isn’t your dream.”
3. To 36-year-old, easy-going woman Lee Min Jung (Park Hyo Joo)
“Feel the weight of your life from now on”
Min Jung is slow in promotions, so she works under Joo Young who is younger than her. Her character works and loves, but it looks as if she just gave it a lick and a promise. She has a house, car and inheritance from her parents, so she doesn’t need to withstand on the very last of her strength. Min Jung just reacts to other people’s ideas rather than thinking of her own idea. Meanwhile, decisive situations come to her. She becomes pregnant since she had a one night stand with a guy when she was depressed because of her diagnosis of menopause. Medically speaking, the menopause process in a 36-year-old isn’t early menopause. There are many writers who experience it in their late 30s. It could be the last chance that Min Jung can have a baby so she starts to be concerned seriously for the first time in her life. It will be good if she thinks about herself whether she can take care of a life as an adult through this drama. I am thinking about putting that Joo Yeon gives a baby doll to Min Jung as a gift. It means, “Feel the weight of your life.” What the baby will be is a secret. I hope she gives birth to a baby.
There have been three K-drama series that made me want to hear about a real scandal between its cast members: Coffee Prince, Heirs and I Need Romance series 1,2,3. When I watched I Need Romance and I Need Romance 2012, I really wanted to see the main cast dating each other in real life because they were so pretty and sweet. I can’t count how many times I shouted, "This is romance! This is real romance!" thanks to writer Jung Hyun Jung.