I’ve been putting off writing this last post on Ho Gu’s Love. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one…
I started watching this show looking for a lighthearted, maybe even slightly goofy fun show. It was intended to be a break from the intensity of Maids, and from the adrenaline rush of Spy (before that show took a left turn into the swamp of poor writing). Instead, I watched an interesting and thought provoking show, told with multiple flashbacks that peeled back layer after layer of each character’s motivations. I had no clue–until about episode 13 or so–that Do Hee had been raped, and kept the baby. Like Ho Gu, I thought it was Kang Chul who was the daddy, until it obviously wasn’t. By that time, I didn’t care. Ho Gu loved Geum Dong–that was all that mattered.
One quick word about the ending–I never believed for a second Ho Gu would marry anyone other than Do Hee. It seemed plain as day that it was a ploy by their friends to get them back together. I liked that the plan made Do Hee take the lead in the relationship for a while…a lot of viewers had a problem with the ending, but not me. It seemed fitting and genuine.
I was always concerned about the OTP in this drama–Ho Gu and Geum Dong. Ho Gu loved that baby so much, always calling it “our” baby, even when Do Hee was still in the hospital. I also never experienced a character that I initially despised so much–Kang Chul–do a 180 and become a character that I intensely cared about; watching his angst filled scenes as he questioned his sexuality, and dealt with having messy friends who cared about him, dragging him out of his extreme introverted life was awesome. I have to give props to Im Seul Ong–what a great performance he gave as Kang Chul. Any actor who takes on a character questioning his sexuality has serious work cut out for him–Overdo it, and it falls in to melodrama. Underdo it–it’s not believable and falls flat. Watch Gong Yoo in “Coffee Prince” as the definitive role model for a male Kdrama character questioning his sexuality. ISO is that level of great here, he hits all the right notes. Nerdy, introverted, and obsessive-compulsive, he stole almost every scene he was in for the last 4 episodes. I also didn’t believe Choi Woo Sik could pull off a leading man role–I thought he was just okay in “Pride and Prejudice” but as pure-hearted Ho Gu, he was perfect for the role.
There were a couple of things that were said in the final two episodes that I want to touch on. The first one was, “How should a victim act?” I don’t think most people consider this very much. As someone who has been a DV victim in the past (and yes–I was raped within that DV context) I can tell you that most people have a pretty set idea of how a victim should behave–any behavior that falls outside that arbitrary parameter means they either weren’t a victim, or worse–they enjoyed it, encouraged it, or are too stupid for words. The question is always put out there, “Well, why didn’t she just leave/scream/run?” It’s never that simple. Fear makes your brain short circuit. Victims of rape and/or DV are so driven by fear, their actions may look crazy to an outsider. However, if you are living in that environment of constant fear, these decisions seem rational and logical. I hope that this wakes people up to the idea that victims of DV and/or rape may not always act the way we think they should–but that does not diminish what they’ve gone through. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Do Hee’s boss wanted to cover up the rape, minimize it, and ultimately blame her for it since she was intoxicated. It’s easier to blame the victim than to deal with what the abuser/rapist has done. My own family blamed me for not leaving my abusive ex-husband–even going so far as to bail him out of jail–since I was obviously at fault.
The second line that I want to comment on was when Ho Gu’s mom asked Do Hee, “Young lady, are you prepared to be happy?” That was a punch in the gut for me. I don’t think a lot of people who have been in Do Hee’s situation (myself included) are ready and willing to be happy. Loving and trusting another person, especially after a rape or DV situation can be incomprehensible. How could you put yourself on the line again? The memory of getting burned is overwhelming. After my divorce, I saw a counselor for a while. I told her that I was sure I would never marry again–I just couldn’t see myself taking on the ‘burden’ of a husband–let alone dealing with all the intimacy issues. Her comeback–the right one won’t be a burden. He would be a joy to me, he would make my life better, not more difficult….I couldn’t comprehend then, and even 18 years later–I see her point only in the abstract. The fact that Do Hee trusted Ho Gu enough to want to be married to him after everything she went through is jaw-dropping. So is the fact that Ho Gu not only didn’t blame her for the rape, but he loved and accepted her child of that rape unconditionally. Even Do Hee had her moments of doubt, worrying that she might think about Geum Dong’s bio daddy and hate Geum Dong for reminding her of the pain.
It would have been the easy way out to have Do Hee get an abortion too. Instead, she took the hard road, choosing to give her child life. After all, it wasn’t Geum Dong’s fault his biological daddy was a rapist. I am glad he did not have to suffer for his father’s sins. Our society is not supportive of women who decide to keep their babies conceived in rape, and rape is often used as a “justifiable” reason to permit abortion. It’s shameful that there is so little societal support for women in this predicament, and that they feel like killing the baby is the best possible solution. In this drama, we see a better way–always choose life. Do Hee did just that, and I think it turned out pretty darn well for her.
Ho Gu’s Love–a great drama, one that will make you think, then laugh, then think some more. Might even be a good co-watch with mature teenagers to spur discussions of: abortion, adoption, bullying, poor communication, homosexuality, peer pressure, rape, friendship, marriage–I’m sure there’s more. Go watch this drama–you’ll be the fool if you miss it.