By Park Chung-a
Last year's domestic drama circle was a year of tough and head-strong women characters, a phenomenon sparked by mega-hit drama "My Lovely Sam-soon" - "My Name is Kim Sam-soon
". Sam-soon's positive and independent personality drew a lot of applause from viewers.
SBS TV weekend drama "To Heaven", the first hit soap opera of this year and the talk of town among female viewers, turns out to be exactly the opposite. While "My Lovely Sam-soon" - "My Name is Kim Sam-soon
" featured a realistic female character, "To Heaven" portrays dependent female characters using all the typical strategies to woo the men they want, depicting unrealistic and extreme love relationships.
"To Heaven" revolves around a fierce love rivalry between wealthy and elite television anchor Ye-ri and Cha-kyong, a poor but independent make-up artist over a man named Wang-mo, a gentle journalist-turned-anchor.
Cha-kyoung has been raised by her stepmother and knows nothing of her biological parents. Recently, she turned out to be the winner in the rivalry, thanks to the persistent support of her hidden biological mother, who is also a stepmother of Wang-mo. No matter what Ye-ri does to attract Wang-mo, she just can't beat Cha-kyong because Young-son is there.
At an early stage, the drama drew criticism for its portrayal of the romance between Cha-kyoung and Wang-mo, as they are stepbrother and sister. However, the drama now boasts the highest viewer ratings among other programs during the same time slot. It is written by Im Sung-han
, who wrote another major hit drama, "Little Mermaid" in 2003.
"I know this drama's storyline and characters are not very realistic", said You Young-ae, a 50-year-old fan of the show. "However, like myself, I think people are attracted to its way of describing the process of romance in detail. All the details about seducing and being attracted to the opposite sex are well expressed through characters".
Hong Joo-young, 27, another fan of the drama said that although childish and unsophisticated, a vivid and detailed description about specific gestures that one makes to win other's heart is very fun to watch.
For example, in order to win the heart of Wang-mo, Ye-ri, in cooperation with his younger sister Sul-a, goes to dinner with him and afterward tries to have him carry her on the pretext of losing her shoes.
Cha-kyong is not very different. In a singing room, she tries to seduce Wang-mo by wearing the same style of sunglasses that the famous singer Nana Mouskouri wore.
The drama also has many comical scenes daydreamed by the various characters. "The many offbeat scenes relaying the characters' dreams and imagination are very interesting too", said Hong.
As the rivalry between Ye-ri and Cha-kyoung deepens, the drama featured a fantasy action scene in which Cha-kyong's car ran into Yeri's car while fighting.
Sul-a, who likes Ye-ri's elder cousin Chong-ha, also imagines a situation in which she is hugged by him while she sleeps overnight at Ye-ri's house when it is invaded by a robber.
However, as Kang Myong-sok, a pop culture critic, points out, this soap opera enforces an inaccurate perception about love. Instead of offering an insight into serious love relationships, it only focuses on superficial gestures in wooing the opposite sex, such as what restaurant to go or what dress one should wear, he said.
"The drama also strengthens the idea that it is crucial to marry into a wealthy family for one's happiness as the only worry of parents in the drama seem to be matching their children with rich partners", said Kang.