The elements of the fairy tales in Encounter

episode one

Through the introduction with the drawings, especially in the first episode, we have the impression that we are about to watch a fairy tale. First, we see a flying horse, an imagined animal. Then the main character, Cha Soo Hyun, is presented as a princess living alone in a huge castle. She is wearing a crown, however she leaves her huge palace and has to go through a huge forest full of thorns in order to be able to see the sun and the sunlight. She arrives in Cuba.

From the start, we see the reference of Cinderella. Cha Soo Hyun loses one of her shoes which KJH has to pick up

episode one

, he even buys her new ones, sandals that are far more simple and comfortable. Just like the prince, Kim Jin Huyk has no idea about her identity. He is just fascinated and attracted by her. Even Cha Soo Hyun exclaims after her return from the ball (salsa show) that she has been Cinderella. Furthermore we have other allusions about Cinderella:

  • more than one ball (the second happens at the end of the episode 8),
episode 8 and 9
  • the mask representing a pumpkin,
episode 8
  • the fact that the color of the mask is grey, the same color than ashes because she is hiding herself behind her expressionless face. Don’t forget my interpretation in another essay where I compared our heroine to a fire that had been covered with ashes. Only her eyes are revealing her true feelings and thoughts (especially after Cuba).

The other reference is the Sleeping Beauty. This is visible through the drawing (the forest full of thorns).

episode 1

Then Cha Soo Hyun describes herself as a vegetable in front of her husband. During many years, she was like the Sleeping Beauty (in the fairy tale, she sleeps for one century). This explains why she was suffering from insomnia. How could she fall asleep, if she was already in a coma?

The common denominator of these two fairy tales is the existence of the prince. The prince is the one who awakes the Sleeping Beauty with his kiss and in the second one, the prince finds Cinderella thanks to her special shoes. In my opinion, since Cha Soo Hyuk is linked to the sea and Kim Jin Hyuk is associated to the sun in the drawings, we have to imagine that the sunset in Cuba represents the kiss of the prince, the sun kisses the sea which causes Cha Soo Hyun’s awakening. So on the surface, the prince seems to be Kim Jin Huyk. However his situation doesn’t fit the description of a prince. He comes from a lower social class. He has neither powerful parents nor wealth. However, we shouldn’t forget that first in different fairy tales like The story of a Youth who Went Forth to Learn what Fear was or The King of the golden mountain (both from Grimm), sons from a lower social class (merchant, craftsman) are able to marry a princess at the end and become kings. As you can see, the origin of our hero can’t be the main objection for not considering him as a prince. However, we have a real prince in the story: Jung Woo Suk. He is rich, handsome and powerful. He represents the archetype of prince charming. He is the prince since his mother, the chairman Kim, views herself as the queen as the leader of Taegyeong Group. Striking is that we have two princes in this “fairy tale” which is quite unusual but not extraordinary as some few fairy tales contain such elements. So the existence of two princes indicates that there will be a competition. Who can earn the princess’ love?

episode 11/12 the confrontation and duel: who will get Cha Soo Hyun?

Cha Soon Hyun can never love Jung Woo Suk as he has no idea what she really likes and who she is.

But are Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty the two only fairy tales that are mentioned and exploited here in Encounter? I see two other possible references: Snow-white and Little Red Riding Hood, although there was no explicit allusion like with the other stories.

First since the stepmother is jealous of Snow-White, she abuses her and wants to get rid of her. The beholder can observe the similarity. Moreover, since CSH’s nickname is the Ice princess, it means that her “face” is white and cold like snow. And Snow-white received the same name due to the color of her skin which reminded her mother of snow. Then we saw that chairman Kim abused Cha Soo Hyun so that at the end, she left the “palace” divorcing Jung Woo Suk. Snow-White is forced to leave the palace. At some point, the queen wants to kill her, when she realizes that she is still living with the dwarfs. Here, Chairman Kim wants to take away Donghwa Hotel as CSH has been able to change the financial situation of that company. The impact is almost the same. Since CSH put all her energy into that hotel, taking it away from her would mean to kill her literally. The dwarfs are the driver Nam and the PR-manager Kim Sun Joo among others. 

The final reference is The Little Red Riding Hood. First, we see Cha Soo Hyun wearing a red dress in the first episode, the same color than the little girl in the fairy tale.

Then later, in the drawing of the episode 11, a wolf appears.

The wolf could embody Jung Woo Suk who has come back in order to claim his “ex-wife”, his first love. What people most don’t know is that in the original version, the French fairy tale written by Charles Perrault in the 17th Century, the story ends with the following moral:


Children, especially attractive,

well bred young ladies,

should never talk to strangers,

for if they should do so,

they may well provide dinner for a wolf.

I say “wolf,” but

there are various kinds of wolves.

There are also those who are charming,

quiet, polite, unassuming,

complacent, and sweet,

who pursue young women

at home and in the streets.

And unfortunately,

it is these gentle wolves

who are the most dangerous ones of all.

As you can see, the author warns the young women not to listen to seducers. I see here some parallels as CSH was also convinced by her parents to marry Jung Woo Suk. She was polite, complacent and sweet (just like in the moral) and at the end, her life was ruined. Sure, the message has been modernized and transformed. However, the message is that people should think really hard and not allow themselves to be influenced. Naivety and ignorance were the reasons why the women were easily seduced; in CSH’s case, I would say that she had been trained to listen to her parents.

Striking is that many fairy tales end with a marriage with the saying: they lived happily ever after. Since our heroine has been married once and is now divorced, this characteristic represents a contradiction to the fairy tales. In reality, the characteristics of the prince have been perverted. Due to his power, wealth and social status, CSH suffocated and suffered so much that she became a vegetable. Moreover, her husband was not even able to protect her from his jealous mother hence CSH judged him as weak and poor in the end. On paper, JWS was the perfect husband candidate, in reality he was the opposite. The elements from fairy tales happen after her divorce indicating that divorce is not the end of the world. This is also a chance to get a new start. In my opinion, the writer is in fact trying to demystify the fairy tales. Kim Jin Hyuk is just an average man and as such he is as brave and strong as any other man. A real good husband is the one who pays attention to his partner, observes her carefully and takes care of her. Money and power are not a synonym for happiness. To conclude, this drama sends the right messages for women by using elements from fairy tales:

  • Fairy tales (marrying prince charming) are just an illusion
  • be independent,
  • a normal person might be the right partner for you,
  • be happy with simple things and enjoy the ordinary days of your life.   

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