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Kim Sam-soon, portrait of single woman in Korea

2005/06/25 | 228 views | Permalink | Source

If Carrie Bradshaw of the "Sex and the City" represents a 30-something-girl in New York, and similarly Bridget Jones in London, here comes Seoul's heroine, with somewhat a boorish name, Kim Sam-soon.

"My Lovely Sam-soon" - "My Name is Kim Sam-soon", a weekday nighttime soap opera airing on MBC, has obviously become the talk of the town, with a hilarious but sympathetic character that eventually talks about a very (and again, very) unsolvable problem - heartache - in her 30s.

The story begins when educated-in-Paris Sam-soon returns to Korea and attempts to kill her ex-boyfriend who announced their official breakup on Christmas Eve. Sam-soon involuntarily falls into a typical after-life of a dumped girl, becoming jobless, fatter due to excessive drinking, and eventually penniless.

However, far from being passive, this valiant lady soon starts a new life working in her counterpart Jin-heon's restaurant. Jin-heon, a selfish, wicked but irresistibly charming restaurant owner, played by rookie Hyun Bin, asks her to be his fake-lover to avoid his mom's pressure on marriage.

The two become closer but the prince's long-time love Hee-jin enters into the ongoing relationship. However, it is too late for Sam-soon, who declares her love for him.

Based on the romance novel of Korean author Ji Soo-hyun with the same title, plot and characters, the TV show has a lot more ingredients to spice up the scenes.

On the TV screen the heroine seems perkier, blunter and somehow more aggressive than the one depicted in the book. However, above anything else, the TV-version gratifies viewers by filling up with incisive scenes. The unprecedented popularity stems from this.

"This is my story", says Kim So-youn, an enthusiastic fan of Sam-soon. She recalls those miserable experiences and indescribable anguish of being a single woman in Korea.

Kim says that women viewers easily project themselves to Sam-soon and finally are relieved from all those bad, unforgiving moments by watching her "reviling those bastards and kicking their ass".

The viewing rate of the drama is roaring near 40 percent, thanks to "S-diary" star Kim Sun-ah, who plays Sam-soon. The actress, returning to TV screen after four years, is being highly praised for her spirited performance, transforming herself into an absolute Sam-soon version, a fat and sexless woman at 30, an age deadline for women who are anxious about getting married. She reportedly gained 7 kilograms just before the shooting to be authentic as the real Sam-soon can look.

The soap is often compared with "Lovers in Paris" which aired on SBS last year, whose story is, once again, about a Prince Charming rescuing a plain girl in trouble. Kang Tae-young, played by Kim Jeong-eun, made all kinds of embarrassing or silly mistakes in the course of nabbing her true love, Han Ki-ju.

Although Sam-soon is also bounded by this cheesy plot, drama critics say the Cinderella story has been transformed, or perhaps progressed. Now the lady reveals her sexual desire, marking the rise of Korean women.

"Sam-soon complains about her sexless life, saying that she's been starved by men's touch. She breaks the rule that a man has to kiss a girl first. She voluntarily made the First Kiss to her counterpart, Jin-heon. This apparently reveals her sexual desire in the most natural way and depicts a turning point for Korean women who now have started to publicize their forbidden desire", said Shin Joo-jin, a drama critic.

Although "My Lovely Sam-soon" - "My Name is Kim Sam-soon" is an unabashedly typical Cinderella story, however, it focuses more on the heroine's desire and passion devoted to her career in patisserie. Remember how Jin-heon started to like Sam-soon (even though it is hard to notice)? It was when he acknowledges her talent, passion and devotion to her dream while tasting Sam-soon's cake, rather than just looking at her adorable smile.

By Cho Chung-un

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