So in the previous post – The Korean Drama Guide to Narcissists – page two – I stated that:
“…page three … will be my attempt at a partial recap of a Kdrama which I partially watched and then bailed on because… the Narcissists, the Narcissists… took over the show…”
I’m rather in awe of the bloggers who recap Korean dramas episode by episode in great detail. I’m not really sure how they do it, but the excellent recappers from Dramabeans have mentioned that it is time-consuming, requires dedication to the cause, and one of them said that they write it as they watch it.
I won’t be trying to copy the way they do recaps.
If at any point you want to read a proper recap of this particular Korean drama, or if you want to get someone else’s perspective of the story, I’m adding a couple of links to recaps of it:
I’m not really suited to write a recap for several reasons – one of which is that regardless of whether I am fluent in the language or not, I rarely remember character names (I have a similar issue when reading… who was Mildred again? Cue flipping through the pages I’ve already read…). If I discuss a show or film with someone and they say: “What Carmella did to Rodrigo was awful”, unless the incident of awfulness is memorable, I won’t know who those characters are until they’re described to me visually (preferably using a stand-out feature) or by the actor/actress’s name (for some reason I can usually remember the names of real people but not those of fictional characters).
I’m just as messy when it comes to recalling the order of events and scenes.
I watched this Korean drama one night a couple of weeks ago in back-to-back episodes, fast-forwarding through the bits I didn’t want to watch.
I bailed on this series partly due to realising that I was fast-forwarding through larger and longer chunks of the episodes… there was barely anything left to watch.
Not that long ago I’d have forced myself to watch all of the show, including the parts I didn’t want to watch, even if I no longer wanted to watch any of it and didn’t care anymore what happened to anyone. If I started something I felt I had to force myself to finish it.
Because of old habits of putting up with unpleasant people and putting myself through unpleasant situations.
For those of you who may at this point be thinking something along the lines of – there’s a difference between putting up with unpleasant people and situations in real life and putting up with unpleasant people and situations on your TV. – you are right.
However sometimes we repeat patterns even when we don’t have to, the things in one area of our life seeps, leaks, overflows into other areas. We’re stuck in our internal programming, and changing it isn’t as easy as other people and/or ourselves tells us that it is.
In quite a few ways forcing myself to watch TV/film that I didn’t want to watch, putting up with unpleasant characters and situations in fiction has helped me to change that habit in RL.
It’s also given me the opportunity to observe the unpleasant people and situations I’ve experienced in RL (luckily the narcissist has become a popular trope and character for many writers of TV/film, and Kdrama does Narcissist parents/family really well, and really often) from a detached viewer perspective and get a new view of them/it and of myself (particularly when I find myself relating to a character and their plight, and end up shouting at them to do this, say that, don’t do/say that… ugh… wait a minute…? Perhaps I should take my own advice for the character that I am in my RL drama).
When I was a child I spent a lot of time dreaming of walking away from the Soap opera that was life with my parents… when I was older I was finally able to go No Contact with both of them and all the people connected to them and their multiple dramas, but by then my internal programming was messed up and it’s only really beginning to show signs of being sorted out now… I can now walk away from dramas in a way that I never could before, both outwardly and inwardly.
You can learn a lot about yourself through those things and activities which you may consider unimportant, trivial, wasting time, like watching TV, playing a game, blogging… it can reveal what is harder to see when you’re doing things and activities which you consider important, worthwhile, non-pooh-pooh-able (although pretty much anything is pooh-pooh-able where humans are concerned, particularly narcissistic humans), etc. You can also find out quite a bit about other people from their unimportant activities, as well as from their attitude to you doing unimportant activities.
(This is a funny article – Spaghetti mystery that stumped famous physicist is finally solved – sort of related to what I was just saying. My first thought while reading this, after I sqeeed a bit about Richard Feynman, was – Didn’t anyone think to ask an Italian? Mind you, an Italian would have probably just said: “Why are you trying to split spaghetti!? Just use a bigger pot!”)
Getting older has been a big help too. As each year passes and accumulates on my age counter, I feel less and less obliged to give a shit or go through the motions of appearing to do so. I want to waste my time caring about what I really care about, and being interested in what interests me even if it seems unimportant to others, even if I think it’s unimportant.
So onwards and downwards to my messy version of a Kdrama recap…
The most narcissistic and narcissist cluttered Korean Drama I’ve watched and read (the recaps after I couldn’t watch anymore of it) thus far is – My Love Eun Dong (aka This is My Love).
I dismissed it the hundred times I passed it on Netflix. Partly because I watch TV with my partner and I didn’t think he’d be into it – I didn’t think I’d be into it either, I usually avoid melo-romance. However, on a night that my partner was away, I decided to watch the beginnings of a bunch of Kdramas to see if I could find a new one for us to watch.
You really can’t tell much from the English title of a Kdrama, or the synopsis. I thought I’d hate Oh My Venus, but it turned out to be fun. A couple of the ones I thought would be fun weren’t at all.
I finally put My Love Eun Dong (aka This is My Love) on.
The premise of it is – an actor at the prime of his career decides to write a memoir to find his lost love.
I did cringe a bit at the whole looking for a lost love idea.
While that’s not in and of itself particularly narcissistic… many Narcissists do have a ‘lost’ love they pine after and use to make any new loves feel inadequate by comparison, and a subtle emotionally manipulative competition ensues. It’s not necessarily done deliberately, but it’s not not deliberate either.
Narcissists will do the things they do whether it affects you or not, but if it affects you and they notice that it does, then they’ll use it whenever they need to affect you (the more they affect you = they’re important to you = confirming their self-importance). Hence why when they tell you that something they did to you is your fault, you made them do it to you, that is true in their version of reality. If you hadn’t been affected by that thing, then they wouldn’t have been able to use it to affect you.
The pining for the ‘lost’ (it’s in quotes because the person may have been discarded by the Narcissist, and is only loved by the Narcissist in nostalgic retrospect – the past love can become whoever the Narcissist wants and needs them to be now that they’re not around anymore to ruin things) love which a Narcissist does can be the very thing which attracts people to them.
It’s attractive because it gives the illusion of someone who loves strong and deep, who is loyal and true to those they love even after those they love have passed on. It can tap into our yearning to be loved that way – forever and ever.
It also hooks you in because we’re all a bit competitive in love… if we can make them forget their lost love and become their new found love, then we must be awesome!
And then there is the wounded in us gravitating towards the wounded in others… if we can heal them, maybe we can heal ourselves.
The actor’s agent doesn’t want him to write this memoir because it could ruin his heartthrob status and piss of his fans (if you check out Korean celebrity news, this is a regular issue in pop and acting careers). His agent is also his best friend… and that best friend turns into one hell of an annoying narcissistic frenemy (but I only effed you over for your own good = my financial gain). But the actor is determined, and hires a ghostwriter.
And so begin the flashbacks as he recounts his story for the ghostwriter.
A teenage boy falls in love with a little girl after he almost runs her over with a stolen motorcycle while speeding in the rain because he’s upset after he was caught by the police for stealing a motorcycle (a different stolen motorcycle). He’s a bit of a middle class with doting and lenient parents brat who likes being a bad boy but doesn’t really like the consequences of that. He’s about to be sent to the reformatory by a judge when the little girl bursts into the courtroom and claims he saved her life after she tripped and fell all on her own. He gets a reprieve thanks to her intervention and this leads him to seek her out.
He finds out that she’s pretty much an orphan (no father, and a mother who abandoned her and no one knows who or where she is), dirt poor, looking after a terminally ill grandmother – she’s this Prince’s Cinderella. He becomes a new improved person thanks to the time he spends with her… mostly being horrified by how poor she is and how hopeless her situation is. He helps her out, they fall in love and make all sorts of cute love promises – which is kind of creepy/inappropriate considering their age difference (he’s definitely a teenager, she’s most likely pre-pubescent), which at that age is massive when you factor in puberty (a couple of viewers expressed a similar feeling about it in the comments on the recaps). It’s hard to dismiss/ignore.
At this point in the story it makes you wonder if it is part of the plot. Perhaps the actor is not the hero of this drama at all, but the villain obsessed with his victim that got away, maybe the reason he hasn’t been able to find her is because she’s in hiding, went into witness-protection? Maybe this isn’t a melo-romance but a crime drama?
One day his bad boy friends decide to beat the crap out of him and he ends up in hospital. His family doesn’t know about his relationship with the little girl, he doesn’t send word to her about the reason for his absence, and so, as far as she’s concerned he has disappeared, abandoned her. And of course during his absence her grandmother dies and she gets spirited away by church charity types to who knows where. Once out of hospital he goes to see her, but she’s gone and he’s not much of a detective so he gives up trying to find her. Instead he decides the best way to find her is to become an actor, and once he’s famous he can go on a show which helps famous actors find loved ones they’ve lost – this was something she had wanted to do to find her mother.
That sort of reasoning is similar to the logic of Narcissists. If a Narcissist wants to cross the road, rather than take the most direct route from their side straight to the other side, they’ll thumb a ride on their side, go to the nearest town, have a cup of coffee at the local coffee house, meet a stranger there, tell them their sob story about needing to cross the road, dismiss the stranger’s advice to just cross it directly, fall in love with the stranger, move to the city, fall out of love with the stranger after meeting a new stranger in the city who seems better, move to a new country, discard new now old stranger for a newer stranger who promises to magically transport them back in time to the other side of the road, but that miracle fix doesn’t come about and in their utter disappointment with the world they return to their starting point and they still can’t figure out how to cross the road (what they haven’t realised is that they’re actually now on the other side), so they thumb a ride…
Back in the present the actor moans about his quest to find his lost love (which is pretty much all he ever seems to talk about with the people in his life) with his other best friend, the female second lead who is in love with him and has been longing for him to love her back for years even though he has told her that’s never going to happen. She seems fairly level-headed, intelligent, and a genuinely caring good friend… but the drama writer turns that all into a facade hiding a nasty narcissist frenemy who will dedicate her time and money to doing all sorts of really pointless and annoying shit (I love you and therefore I will only do spiteful and hateful acts to ruin your chances of being with your love – and then you’ll see that I’m the one you should love) to keep the actor and his true love apart.
More Narcissist illogical-logic loop-de-loops…
(I don’t agree – in my opinion a really good drama villain is one you are tempted to side with against the hero, who leaves you conflicted perhaps about who is the villain and who is the hero, makes you dig deep within and really use your thinking muscles, because he/she has a point about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it that isn’t irrational and illogical, which isn’t whiny, petty and narcissistic – the whiny, petty, narcissistic villains are pantomime villains created for the audience to boo, recognise clearly without any doubt, and self-righteously grab SJW pitchforks en masse – think of the real villains in real life, they’re not so easy to recognise, sometimes they’re us or they could be us but for some tiny deviation we took or some hard decision we made not to give in to our dark side. An RL case in point – Asia Argento and the Evolving #MeToo Movement)
We spend a bit of time getting to know the ghostwriter (who the actor hasn’t yet met because 1) he’s an arrogant dick and thinks meeting the writer is not relevant, beneath him, but he has texted with her and something about her is perplexing him 2) after being perplexed he decides to meet with her but all sorts of shenanigans prevent it… you can guess why, right?).
The ghostwriter is happily married with a nice guy… who is in a wheelchair after an accident – the story is he sacrificed himself to save her life and the life of their unborn child. They have a cute little boy who is miserable at school but nobody notices or cares (this story isn’t about you kid, welcome to selfish hypocritical adults 101). She’s too tired to notice as she works several jobs, and her husband spends a lot of time in physical therapy (his new doctor happens to be the actor’s sister – who is estranged from her parents because she loved a dying man, had a really sweet kid with him before he died, and everyone’s pride gets in the way).
She’s got a harpy for a mother-in-law… her harpiness is due to the fact that her son had a promising career in sport until the accident, she blames her daughter-in-law for his condition, she and her husband have been paying not only all their son’s medical bills but they bailed out the ghostwriter’s parents from their debts, and they’re now verging on broke… yeesh, what a mess! But there’s even more to this mess, some much more sinister stuff, which is only hinted at.
So, yes, the ghostwriter is happily married.
Back to writing the book and more flashbacks.
Ten years after the little girl disappeared, the actor is doing his military service at some office in a new town. His acting career isn’t going very well because he sucks as an actor. He’s a bit of a brat again… still… but not a bad boy. He’s out doing some errands for his job when he gets run over by a bicycle (people in Kdramas are always having vehicular accidents)… and it’s her!!! His love, they’ve found each other!!!
The next part of the story after their reunion is fragmented because there’s some stuff the young woman is hiding, and it has to be hidden from the viewer too for now, to be revealed later. Besides this flashback is about the side of the story the actor experienced and remembers of his love (although we do get a few bits which maybe only she saw and never told him about) – he’s also keeping some things out of the book (thus out of the flashback) for the sake of his love (this becomes a relevant matter once the book is published).
They spend time together getting to know each other again, fall in love again, they kiss (a kiss in Korean drama is much more intimate, important, and relationship-changing, life-altering than a kiss in a US drama), then he proposes and has a tantrum because of this issue that she may already be engaged to someone else – she hasn’t clarified whether she is or not, but she is wearing a ring. The actor tears the ring off her finger and throws it into a lake. She says it was her mother’s ring (she may be lying). He dives in to retrieve it. Once he crawls out of the lake having achieved his goal (but not revealed it to her yet), she rushes off to get some towels for him and… that’s the last he saw of her. He couldn’t go with her to get the towels because that would have ruined this weird way to make her disappear.
He waits for her to return with the towels, staying in the same spot where she left him, for hours on end, all through the night into the following day until he finally decides that she’s not coming back (what gave it away?) and perhaps that’s because something may have happened to her… maybe he should look for her.
He’s still a rubbish detective… but it’s not all his fault as the viewers will find out later (really insane people made her vanish off the face of the Earth… because they loved her and knew what was best for her = not what she wanted for herself).
That’s where the book ends.
The ghostwriter finishes her job, and tries to move on from the story but… she is left with this lingering feeling… the experience of writing about it stirred something in the black hole of her mind where she lost all the memories of her life before the accident – Hmmmmm, she has amnesia…
The memoir is published.
The actor gives an interview to promote the book – the reporter asks about the time when his lost love was a little girl and had diarrhea after eating something… no idea why an entertainment reporter would focus on that particular anecdote… except that he was being used to advance the plot… the actor does a double-take, wait a minute, he never shared that anecdote because he thought it might embarrass his love. Only he and his love knew about it. He’s never told anyone about this. He checks the book and finds it there in detail – how did it get there, was it the ghostwriter who put it in there…?
Oh for the love of… whatever!
BAM! He has to meet the ghostwriter now, now, NOW!
You’d think that this is where the story gets interesting… but for some reason it gets less interesting. I think this may have been because I was getting tired, both of the story and it was time for bed.
In a short amount of time (for a drama which likes to drag things out) the actor and the ghostwriter connect the dots and reunite…
But she is married… to a husband who the viewer has now understood isn’t as nice as he seemed. The accident which caused him to end up in a wheelchair still hasn’t been explained, there’s something fishy about it (the viewer knows this because we saw something of it in the flashback when the ghostwriter went missing in her quest for a towel for the actor). Sure he thinks he loves her very much but… is that really love… or is it more like hurt pride, dented ego, an unwillingness to lose, obsession… this happy marriage was built on a huge pile of lies, and selfish deeds.
She has a child with her husband… or does she? The child exists (barely though, he’s more just plot device to keep two people, or to keep one particular person, stuck in a relationship).
And she still can’t remember him or her side of their great love for each other.
Not only that but since she has amnesia she’s relied on her family to fill in the blanks, and what they filled her blanks in with doesn’t tally with the actor’s story of the little girl’s and older girl-woman’s life.
Why is her name different? If it was changed – who changed it and why?
Her parents didn’t tell her she was adopted, on the contrary they said she was their flesh and blood – why would they lie about that especially if she already knew she was adopted?
She tries to get her (adoptive) mother to answer her questions (if you really loved and cared for me – tell me the truth), but (adoptive) mommy is conflicted, and (adoptive) daddy is a strict controlling bully (he’s also a coach for the sport that ghostwriter’s husband used to be a star in – so daddy effed over adoptive daughter for the sake of the great game, his career, his ambitions and whatnot?).
In the meantime, on the actor’s side of this giant mess of betrayal, darkness and shadow ‘love’… his agent is being even more of an ambitious prick, teaming up with second female lead to eff the actor over ‘for his own good’ – he’ll understand one day why we’re both being total brats, but for now he’s too caught up in his stupid love quest, we must ‘save’ him! Yeah!!! That’s why we’re doing this not because we’re being used by the writers of this Kdrama to create even more obstacles in the path of true first love having its happily ever after.
It’s around this point in the story that I found it harder to watch this drama… and decided not to bother watching any more of it, but I did check out the recaps because I wanted to know the answers to a couple of questions.
While the generous abundance or Narcissists and narcissistic people getting more and more screen time for doing increasingly insane and illogical shit (past and present) did put me off watching this drama…
And while the actor’s love for his lost and eventually found love was in many ways also narcissistic – it was all about him more than it ever was about her. He was obsessed with a fantasy he had carried within him and built up in his mind for years. When faced with the reality…
What bothered me the most was the child’s story. The story of the ghostwriter’s little boy. It reminded me in some ways of the film – What Maisie Knew – which is the best depiction of life as the child of Narcissists I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen Mommie Dearest).
Would I recommend My Love Eun Dong (aka This is My Love) to others?
No. Not if someone was looking for a Korean drama to watch to pass the time, to relax and enjoy. Not as an introductory Kdrama to someone who has never watched Kdrama before – in that instance I’d probably recommend Healer or Strong Girl Bong Soon (which is the first Kdrama I watched all the way through… I did watch a couple fo Kdramas before that, but I didn’t get passed the first episode, and I thought Kdrama was not for me after those. Luckily I forgot I’d decided that). Out of the Kdramas I haven’t watched but have read in their entirety, I recommend this one – I Am Not A Robot (link to dramabeans recaps of the series) – it’s more relatable if you’re an genuine Introvert (as in not someone who says they’re an Introvert simply because it’s trendy to say that you are and everyone in your social group says that they are – hint: you’re in a social group!?!).
However if I was the kind of maverick professor you see in fiction who happened to be teaching psychology, I’d probably make my students watch My Love Eun Dong (aka This is My Love) as part of my course on personality disorders in the context of relationships. Or if I was one of those pundit/gurus giving workshops on how to live and love, I’d show it too as part of my long and expensive course, stressing that this is NOT how you do love if you want love to be pleasurable. But it is how to do love if you prefer for it to be painful.
I’d recommend it to victims of narcissists (particularly those who have had a romantic relationship with a Narcissist, as this Kdrama covers many aspects of love Narcissist style), but only if they’re at that stage of recovery where they’re detached enough to really want answers to the questions which haunt them. But I would add a strong warning of – this contains triggers. Knowing when you or someone else is ‘ready’ to progress, know, see, have a bandaid ripped off, can be hard to figure out. It’s better to err in favour of being too cautious than rush ahead because of impatience and ambition.
I’m glad I watched and read this Korean drama – I’m also glad those unpleasant people and that unpleasant experience is over and in my past.
Where do we go from here?
I have nothing left in draft (that’s a lie because as I type these words I can see stuff I’ve written which I’m not going to include in this post – but that stuff was written while I was preparing this post and I’m now going to delete it. Done. – so it’s not totally a lie).
This blogging mini-series took me by surprise.
In some ways it’s an homage to my recent obsession with Kdrama – the obsession is now winding down. I still love the genre and am glad I ventured into that previously unknown territory.
If I were to peek at it with an astrological eye…. it coincided with transiting Uranus entering Taurus (which aspected some of my natal placements, like Mercury in Aquarius/Mars in Scorpio (obsession central)) which could = letting something new and unusual for you into your mental comfort zone, acting on an inspiration even if it’s zany).
There are many ways of looking at the same thing (or same person)… whether that’s helpful or not, clarifying or confusing… depends on you (there are many ways of looking at you too).
You have now reached the end of page three… which is also the end of this series.
Please feel free to comment, ask questions, share your perspective, personal experience on the subjects connected with this post… or add something totally random, tangential, whatever… like this (I did briefly debate with myself about whether to add something… or not):