By Han Sang-hee
Marriage requires many things-- from caring and understanding to sacrificing and communicating. MBC's new drama "My Wife is a Superwoman
" showcases the role of Korean wives when they were traditionally the ones who had to endure sacrifice and completely support their husbands, also known as "naejo " in Korean.
Starring Kim Nam-joo
, Oh Ji-ho
and Lee Hye-young
, the 16-part series will feature the stories of three couples tangled up in different relationships and situations.
The 37-year-old Kim, who has returned to the spotlight after an eight-year hiatus, will be the "superwoman" Cheon Ji-ae who struggles to regain her own status and also her husband's.
"As a mother of two and an `ajumma', I thought this was a perfect role for me. Times are difficult these days, and I liked that the drama is bright and upbeat", Kim said, referring to the Korean term that means married middle-aged woman, at a press conference.
Cheon, who was once the most popular girl in high school, marries the smart Ohn Dal-soo, played by Oh, dreaming of the perfect marriage. But when she realizes that Ohn is an underperformer at work, she is determined to support her husband and help him climb the corporate ladder. The determined Cheon meets her match, however, when she discovers that Ohn's boss is the husband of her childhood enemy, Yang Bong-soon.
Promising "naejo" was primarily the role of wives when men were the main breadwinners. Wives would stay home, take care of the children and finish up house chores before the husbands came home to rest and prepare for another busy day ahead. The traditional belief was that the more fit the wife was for "naejo" culture, the better off the husband would be out in society.
A short conversation between America's former first lady Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill also shows how the current Secretary of State believed in the importance of her role as a wife. The couple stopped by a gas station only to find Hillary's former boyfriend was the owner. When her husband told her she could have ended up as the owner's wife, she replied that then the gas station owner would have become the president. Incidentally, South Korea's first lady Kim Yun-ok also defined "naejo" as the "opposition party", for sometimes you must harshly criticize your husband's deeds.
As many women nowadays often choose their careers over staying at home and solely supporting their husbands, the drama will try to bring back the passionate wives who supported their husbands, though with a modern and more aggressive twist.
"In the drama, Cheon follows Yang and helps her with house chores, shopping, and sometimes even cooks for her, which is harder to do when the person is someone you hate. For me, I think the best `naejo' is to help the husband feel comfortable, which is necessary to go out and work well", Kim said.
Married to fellow actor Kim Seung-woo
, she also added that her husband didn't need the help, or naejo, because he was nothing like Ohn in the story.
Kim's husband made a cameo appearance in the drama, making a "wejo" move, referring to the husband's version of "naejo".
"I decided to appear in the drama just to support my wife, who is returning to the television screen after many years", Kim said, smiling at the shoot.
With high expectations in bringing the tactics and strategies for supporting diffident husbands to the small screen, " My Wife is a Superwoman
" will start airing March 16 at 9:55 p.m. on MBC.