I have a confession to make… On the train ride to work last Friday, I saw a girl carrying this really nice beige MCM backpack with a “Proud to be ELF” bag tag. So I mustered the courage to ask her where she bought the bag from. After which, I continued with “so you’re an Elf, huh?” She smiled and nodded and asked me what I was. “Shawol,” I answered without hesitating. To this day, I wonder why I didn’t said VIP.
Asked by Anonymous
You know, before this show started, I was dying to watch it. Now I want to set all of the guys except Woo-young on fire. (Woo-young still has six episodes in which he can piss me off, and you had better believe I’m giving him the side eye right now.)
Originally, I had planned to do some scathing commentary on Sweet Potato akin to the treatment I gave Tan two weeks ago, but 1) I am holding onto my weekly allotment of rage this week just in case You Who Came From the Stars outdoes itself in its finale, and 2) I think it would be far more constructive to compare and contrast Sweet Potato and Gumwad. (Spoiler alert: GUMWAD WINS IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY. This is objectively true. I shall prove it with SCIENCE. Just not today.)
Instead, I’m going to tackle the last part: Are the fans on tumblr okay with the behaviors the INR3 men are displaying? Or are they deciding to focus on what they think is romantic because the guys are hot?
I know that the kdrama people I follow on tumblr who are watching INR3 have not been pleased by the guys’ behavior. However, they appear to have acquired several levels of feminism and enjoy making snarky/scathing commentary on the internet. A lot of people who don’t approve of what the guys are doing aren’t into making posts—instead, I see quite a few of them lurking around and liking other people’s posts instead of making their own. (Hi, random strangers! Thanks for the likes!)
But other people? Have not acquired enough levels of feminism to realize why these men are horrendous love interests. If the me from five years ago had watched INR3, I don’t think I would’ve picked up on anything wrong until the forced kiss at the end of episode 13. I’m certain I would have been swooning over all the “romantic” gestures these guys did, like sneaking around in Joo-yeon’s home, or making excuses for these poor guys who are so jealous they can’t help how they behave.
You know why? Because the culture I live in has taught me to prioritize men’s feelings, viewpoints, and narratives. I have been taught that guys always deserve second chances and that they are right more often than not. I have been taught to doubt women in all respects—their feelings, their choices, their dreams.
That’s why, when Gwynne and I get comments like these, we try so hard not to go after the person who made them—we go after the characters and dismantle the sexist ideas that these people have internalized.
I didn’t just wake up one day and was magically a feminist. I became a feminist because I kept running into feminist commentaries on the media I consumed while roaming the internet. I became a feminist because I had friends who were also burgeoning feminists, and we talked about the things that were important to us or the new ideas we had run into. Examining things through a feminist lens is not something that comes naturally to most people. It takes a lot of practice.
So think of it this way, Anon: you have acquired sufficient levels in feminism in order to start teaching others some of those skills. What’s stopping you—or any of our followers—from making your own posts about why these guys are not A+ boyfriend material? If the people in the tags only see one outraged post for every fifty squeeing over the same event, the easiest and most natural conclusion they will come to is that the outraged person is overreacting.
But if dozens of people are seeing the same thing and talking about why it’s problematic/sexist/just-plain-awful? Maybe, just maybe, they’ll start thinking about it in a new way. That’s how I started out.
That’s why I decided to start this tumblr and asked Gwynne to partner with me on it. We might not ever write the one feminist kdrama post that’ll magically convert thousands to Team Girl. But we might just help someone to reconsider what she’s watching, to look at her kdrama heroes more critically, to extend more compassion to her kdrama heroines.
And that? That’s enough for me.
I was going to ask how Woo Young escaped judgement, but then I realized you’re only on episode 10 (if I did my math correctly).
Because while I haven’t wanted to set him on fire like I want to do with Sunbae, I definitely would like to banish him and let him know his manipulative, possessive actions are not cool. NOT COOL.
Ugh I was so pissed off at him in the last episode, like, even more than I was in ep 13, and I was plenty pissed off at him for that kiss (SO MUCH RAGE over a “nice guy” doing the “right thing” for a girl who’s trying to figure out her life after breaking up with her boyfriend of 5 years that she thought she would marry, and then being like, “You know I’m going to kiss you now.” No, just… no. Not cool. Never cool.)
But oh, ep 14, I just… well, I don’t want to spoil anyone if they haven’t seen it, but his reaction to Hee Jee’s decision to learn to the play the piano made me want to punch him in the face. I’m sure a lot of viewers were like, “Ohhh, that’s so sweet!” but I was seriously enraged, because, wtf, she’s figuring out her life, who the hell are you to try and persuade her to do something different when she’s so happy with the choice she made? ARGH HULK SMASH.
I don’t post much about INR3 much any more because I’ve used up all my rage feels on Sunbae early on and I’m kind of just coasting along, watching it casually, looking for the sweet chemistry moments between Wan and Joo Yeon, and also because I love Se Ryeong and want to see the ladies become friends again. I’m loving Min Jung lately, though. She’s kept me from rage-quitting this week.
I do still pretty much like the show, mostly because I can see myself in Joo Yeon — the inner idealist who’s had to become rational just to survive. And I know it’s totally pandering to the “ideal man” for an independent career woman, but I admit I really like Wan. He cooks, he cleans, he speaks the wisdom of Yoda, he has a nice shoulder to cry on, and, ok, yes: he’s pretty. So I’m not sure how much I see him as a character anymore than I do as wish-fulfillment. If Sweet Potato Noona Puppies ever go on sale, I’m sure I’d be first in line to buy one.
But I’ll admit I’m pretty thankful the show’s ending next week.
(The other reason I haven’t posted much about INR3, is because there are other shows that have commanded my full-on fan-girl attention. Like Miss Korea. And Let’s Eat. And now Empress Ki — so why waste time on tumblr writing rage-fueled rants over the idiotic men in INR3, when I can watch kick-ass women try to out-smart each other to see who can gain more power?)
LOL. That original question posted by the anon… I think she was referring to me when she made that comment about the couple shirts or if Joo-yeon was wearing Wan’s. I made that post, and seriously, it was the first thing that came to mind when I saw that scene. And yes, I do gush over Wan, but that’s not to say I don’t see the flaw in his character. And I don’t just mean the forced kiss in the end of episode 13. A lot of his actions reminded me a lot Kim Tan, except not as malicious. And covered in puppy-dog goodness.
I don’t think that just because I don’t post my feminist rage against k-dramas, I therefore don’t understand what sexist ideas are present in the story. I certainly don’t think it’s normal for men to barge into women’s homes uninvited. I certainly don’t think slut-shaming is right. And I certainly will slap a man, and knee him in the groin, should he force one on me. I have a lot to say about patriarchy and misogyny, sure. But I kind of want to keep my drama-watching fun. And that doesn’t suit well with me if I keep my feminist-colored glasses on at all times.
Yes, I can’t help but hear that niggling voice in my head telling me a certain character is wrong. I hear it. I know. But sometimes I’d rather not dwell on that. I agree, intelligent discourse on pop culture is fun. But, believer it or not, I also watch dramas to be entertained.
Why can’t I swoon over Wan after he just drove Shing-shing to her date with another man? Or when he made some soup only to allow her to give it away? Or after he offered to buy her flowers and rings and to tell her he loves her if that worthless sunbae refuses to go a little extra way for Shing-shing himself? Why can’t I like Wan for his beautiful traits despite his flaws?
Sometimes, it would be awesome if we saw people’s reactions to things and not judge them based off on several sentences they may have posted online.