There’s a new weekend drama starting next Saturday (August 20), A Thousand Kisses, (천번의 입맞춤 20:40, MBC). It’s about two couples and the issues they face over the age gap between them – In one couple the man is much older and in the other couple the woman is older.
I remember years ago watching the drama Sarang (Love, MBC,1998) starring Jang Dong-geon (His last drama was the fabulous All About Eve MBC 2000) and Kim Mi-sook (she played the baddie mother brilliantly in Shining Inheritance, 2009) In the drama he was a young single man who falls in love with an older woman – she’s a widow or divorced. I remember thinking how elegant Kim Mi-sook was and how refreshing it was to see a departure from the usual young couple romance. I was enjoying the story and the chemistry building between the characters. I seem to remember that their problem was that Kim Mi-sook’s character was concerned that their age difference was socially unacceptable and she tried to dissuade him from seeing her. But he was determined…
Anyway, about halfway through the drama (SPOILER ALERT!) things COMPLETELY change. She gets cancer and dies. He is devastated. Then out of nowhere, Choi Ji woo (more similar in age to Jang Dong-geon’s character) turns up as the new female lead! Her character is interested in him and pursues him, but it’s hopeless. He’s not interested in finding love again. By this point I was wondering what on earth was going on. How can you kill off a main character? THEN his good friend dies. Jang Dong-geon’s character promised his friend that he would look after his friend’s sister if anything happened to him, so he marries her! She had always liked him, you see?
At the end we see the once cool and ambitious young man, sitting in a tractor on a farm in a plaid shirt, smiling at his now pregnant wife. (I’m shaking my head in disbelief as I write this.) Well, at the time as I watched the second half of this drama, I couldn’t understand why an interesting storyline had suddenly been unceremoniously chopped. A charismatic main character was killed off (unusual) and I spent the rest of the drama frowning and scratching my head in confusion. What was going on? Why had a new character (Choi Ji woo) been brought in so suddenly. I thought the point of a romantic drama was that the two main characters have to overcome hurdles before they can be together at the end?
Then I discovered the reason for all this – at the time, there had been SO MANY COMPLAINTS about the ‘inappropriate’ age gap of the main characters, that the production team had changed script writers half-way through and changed the direction of the drama completely. The viewing ratings must have been too low. (Korean production teams pay a lot of attention to viewing ratings and feedback and these factors can dictate storylines.) The drama was ahead of its time – society wasn’t ready in 1998 for older women! When I checked the ages of the characters, he was supposed to be 26 and she was eight years older, so 34. Only eight years difference. Anyway, things have changed and these days it seems to be a bit of a trend to have older women paired with younger men –
Not too much older though!I don’t know how old the characters are supposed to be in this upcoming drama, but I just checked the real ages of the actors in A Thousand Kisses: The female lead, is played by Seo Young Hee, 31, and her partner is played by Ji Hyun Woo who is 27. So she’s five years older than him. However, if we look at the second couple, Ryu Jin is 39 and his partner is played by Kim So Eun who is 22. That means there is a 17 year age gap between them. I’m just saying…