The presence of this philosophical tale is only really revealed at the end of the episode 14, where CSH is reading the book next to KJH. However, it appeared much earlier with the painting in CSH’s bedroom.
This is the biggest painting on the right. What I didn’t know is the existence a sculpture of The Little Prince with the fox in South Korea. As I had mentioned it before, the fox is not really visible in the painting. The little boy is the main character which shows that CSH has always felt a certain closeness towards this extraordinary character. Another visible trace is the bouquet, it is protected just like the little prince protected his rose.
To conclude, the writer and director used different visuals to create a connection between the philosophical tale and this drama (bouquet, painting, the book). But it goes far beyond that.
The title of this drama has a lot in common with this French story. Encounter is what actually defines the work from François de Saint Exupéry. Because the aviator had a plane crash in the desert, he met casually the Little Prince. Then the little boy meets the fox as a coincidence as well. The appearance of his beloved rose is not something planned either. One day, she appeared on his planet and the little prince had no idea how it came to life. So far, he had been busy taking care of his planet (see the picture above):
– cleaning the volcanoes,
– taking out the roots of baobabs as they represent a thread to his planet
Therefore when he saw for the first time this flower, he was clueless what she was and where she came from. As you can see, due to encounters, The little prince changes little by little, is forced to make decisions which leads him to leave his planet, to explore other planets and to meet new people. He leaves his planet because the rose due to her vanity, carelessness and arrogance took him for granted and thought, he would remain by her side despite her behavior.
And this leads me to the third aspect, the brevity of the encounters. The Little Prince never stays very long on the different planets he visits. First, the adults he meets are very flawed hence not interesting. They are even more self-absorbed, which the main character realizes. Secondly, even after meeting the aviator and spending some time with him, The Little Prince decides to leave the desert and to go back to his planet. By announcing to the aviator (the narrator) his immanent departure, he forces his friend to leave the desert too. As you can see, even if their encounter was very meaningful because the Little prince became a meaningful person to the narrator, they don’t stay together in the end. Their separation is indeed painful. He knows that the aviator can leave the desert with his plane hence he forces the narrator to do it by announcing his own departure. And here we have the difference between The Little Prince and Encounter. KJH wants to remain by CSH’s side no matter what and he keeps telling her that in order to reassure her. CSH had a lot of encounters, but all of them were with the same person: KJH. For the Little Prince, it was different… he met different people which made him realize how adults were, what friendship and love was aso. On his journey, The Little Prince makes a lot of new experiences which changes him little by little… he becomes more mature and wise. At the end, he discovers in a painful way what love is. Here, I also perceive another similarity with CSH, our protagonist. Thanks to KJH, she discovers love, cart food, average dishes, sand game, the joy of the salsa dance, an open-air gallery aso… Thanks to KJH, her horizon is broadened and enriched. She can feel again, her heart can see things which she couldn’t before. And it is the same for The Little Prince. Since I had already compared KJH and CSH to the Little Prince, my main focus will be elsewhere here in order to avoid any repetition.
Another similarity between these two works are the characters. I have the impression that certain people from The Little Prince resemble a lot to the characters from Encounter, like for example Chairman Kim. She could be compared to the King. The latter lives alone on his planet but he needs to have subjects in order to act as a King. And here, the Chairman Kim acts and lives like a queen. For her, she is royalty and her subjects have to follow her orders. Once she no longer needs them, she can discard them. Yet, at the end she ends up alone because she had abused her position. She didn’t realize that for her position, she had to act reasonably in order to keep subjects around her. And The King in TLP (The Little Prince) is well aware of that. He knows that his demands have to be reasonable, yet he tends to abuse his power anyway. The contradiction is visible in both stories. Their sense of superiority can only exist as long as there is someone besides them but they are not aware of that. Then we have the businessman who could be also linked to the Chairman Kim who wants to possess more and more. Her thrust for money is endless that’s why at the end, she is caught for bribery. But the most important character from TLP resembling to a character from Encounter is the fox. You might wonder about his identity in Encounter…. In my opinion, teacher Lee acts a lot like the fox. The first connection is her title. She is a teacher and the fox is the one who teaches The Little Prince what friendship is and what love is. He listens to him and gives explanation without giving him real advice. He doesn’t just explain what friendship is, he teaches him through experience. He asks the prince to tame him and as such to create ties between them. The fox is the wise teacher, the one who is there for him and who declares that the colour of the wheat fields will always remind him of The Little Prince. And teacher Lee has a similar behavior in Encounter. She doesn’t interact much between CSH and KJH, she always listens to both and explains things without giving any advice. She never stopped CSH from breaking up with KJH. She felt sad and sorry but she said nothing. Then in the dark room, she is the one who reminded CSH to enjoy the present because death could occur anytime. She mentioned missing her husband after his death… Yet she never told CSH to visit KJH. She let CSH make her decision. And that’s exactly what the fox did too. He always let the little prince come to his own conclusion. He only helped him by giving him valuable information.
Furthermore another comparison is the place. KJH and CSH met in Cuba, a country where they were on their own. So for them, Cuba was like a desert as they only interacted with each other. For them, the others were like inexistant. Don’t forget that CSH and KJH didn’t pay attention to the dancers during the sunset, they were both focused on the beautiful scenery.
CSH didn’t see the couple dancing. Then later, they walked barefoot without paying attention to others again. So they acted as if they were alone all this time. And to me, the desert from The Little Prince resembles a lot to Cuba. Although it is a desert, The Little Prince is able to meet the narrator, the fox, the other roses and the snake. It is not an empty place, it is a place where it is difficult to live. And the evening spent together in Cuba was exactly like that. CSH had trouble to walk to the top of the hill, she had lost her cellphone and purse therefore later they hadn’t much money, it was quite difficult to manage to eat and have a good evening. Her situation is really similar to the aviator’s situation: his plane needs to be repared and he has nothing. Yet despite everything, CSH was able to survive and to enjoy the evening: experience new things. And this is exactly what happened to the aviator and the little Prince. Despite the loneliness, the harshness of the environment, they were able to survive, to overcome the loneliness as both became close, just like CSH and KJH.
The picture above from The Little Prince represents the street lighter turning on and off the light. He lives on the smallest planet and the latter turns around one cycle per minute hence the worker has no time to rest. The street lighter is blindly following the instruction. He never questions the meaning of this instruction or tries to change it hence he is unhappy. As you can sense, the street lighter represents the workers’ social class in reality. But what does he have to do with our favorite drama Encounter?
First, let me remind you that the story written by François de Saint Exupéry contains a lot of drawings which makes you think that this book is for children. So the drawing above is the perfect illustration. And Encounter has the same approach: it uses drawings in each episode in order to illustrate the topic or the main event of the episode.
Looking at such a drawing, you can’t help thinking about fairy tales and we all know that fairy tales are stories for children as well. As conclusion, both works give the appearance of being stories for a younger audience (one a fairy tale, the other for little children), while in reality the purpose of these stories is different. On the one hand, Encounter is actually using fairy tales elements in order to demystify the fairy tales, on the other hand the writer and director want us to reflect about life and happiness. And The Little Prince has the same purpose: the adults should question their own values and even not forget their inner child in order to be happy. The adults portrayed there were all very flawed as they had forgotten what was really important in life. In Encounter, CSH is in the end the perfect illustration of such an adult. She is trapped in her own world, too focused on others and forgetting herself in the end. This explains why The Little Prince is still so popular after so many years, its message is timeless. And this is what the writer and the director tried to do with Encounter: they used books, paintings, poems from different times so that a certain intemporality can be perceived. Besides, this drama made you think of an old film, a classic due to the music (intro) and the drawings. Sure, there is a difference with the story The Little Prince, like for example the use of the cellphone. Remember that I had pointed out how the cellphone helped KJH to get closer to CSH (first texts, then phone calls, thirdly pictures, then video calls, then song over the phone etc). In the book, there is no description of the plane f. ex…. and the planets explored by the prince seem to be too unreal making us think that this is a story for children. This difference can be easily explained: we are not reading a book but watching a drama so the story is embedded in its time
But now let’s go back to the street lighter. So far, The Little Prince had more sympathy with him than with the other adults (King, drunkard, the businessman or the conceited man) hence he wished to have become his friend. One of the reasons was that the worker was not selfish, due to his work he is not self-absorbed. He takes care of others in reality. Besides, his work shows a certain utility: in the prince’s eyes, turning on the light is as if a star would be born/shine. It looks beautiful and nice. However, the little boy doesn’t stay on that planet because it is too small. And who resembles to this character in Encounter? To me, the street lighter reminds me of KJH’s mother. First, the mother belongs to the same social class: the workers’ class. Then she is not someone who questions values and traditions, just like the street lighter who never questions the absurdity of the instruction. She sticks to her role as mother and wife: helping her sons and husband. That’s why she can be perceived as not selfish. She lives in her own world, too scared to disobey or even question anything. When The little Prince offered advice and help in order to improve the street lighter’s situation, the latter clearly refuses it. He was too scared to change anything. The refusal of any change, even the rejection reminds us KJH’s mother. She rejected CSH claiming that she belonged to another world, she said that she wanted to keep her family as it was. To conclude, she has a lot of similarities with the street lighter:
– the lack of judgement, the prejudice
– the refusal of any change even if it means discomfort. Both are prisoners of their past in the end. The street lighter had a nice life in the beginning, yet it changed as the planet turned around much quicker.
– the same social class
– the fear: The Little Prince even got aware that the worker would be looked down by the others (conceited man, king, businessman) due to his situation and KJH’s mother had this fear.
But if CSH’s father is not the street lighter, then who resembles him? I have the impression that CJH could be the geographer, the scientist. Both have a similar work: the geographer writes books, CJH was a journalist. Both love books as well. The flaw of the geographer is that he never explores himself the world, he keeps writing and reading books, yet he never experiences the beauty of the ocean. He never leaves his desk hence he doesn’t know his planet at all. He represents the uselessness of the science if someone is forgetting the real purpose of the science. He is actually a prisoner too, just like the street lighter… but not of the past but of the future. And a politician is often too focused on the future, forgetting the present. Yet the geographer is the one who encourages The Little Prince to explore the world and discover things. He is not different from CJH. The latter encourages his daughter to face the world, to experience new things… and at the end he realizes that he should change his life as well, not focussing too much on the future but enjoy the present.
As for the conceited man (“le vaniteux”), I see some parallels with our second lead, Jung Woo Suk. Both are focused on their appearance as they are seeking admiration. JWS pays a great deal to his clothes because he thinks that Cha Soo Hyun might be impressed by his appearance. Remember his unfortunate encounter with Cha Soo Hyun at the shop. However, the difference is that the conceited man lives alone hence he has definitely no admirer around him. Being alone means that he can never find any admirers. For JWS, this is different. He is used to be admired. Despite this contrast, they are both in the same situation. JWS is determined to win her love (which is a sort of admiration), just like the conceited man asks the little prince to be his admirer and clap his hand. Their selfishness and their lack of consideration to the other are visible in both cases. The Little Prince is tired of clapping his hands and he realizes that the vain man is blind and deaf. He is just too self-absorbed to have a normal conversation with the main protagonist. He just gives orders and he is not even aware that his whole existence is pointless as he lives alone on his planet. JWS is not really different from him. He might have many female admirers, however he is just as blind and deaf as the vain man. Moreover, he also gives orders to CSH (“meet me at the sky lounge”). He thinks, he is generous enough to tell her that she can take her time. He ignores her words that she won’t meet him. Finally, he is also alone in his own world. While the vain man lives on a planet, we could say that JWS lives in a coffin due to his liking for brown and black and for rectangles.
Even the painting and the windows have the form of oblongs.
He is never seen outdoors (only when he is forced to meet KJH, his rival). And even in a room, he usually doesn’t look outside.
His back is always facing the windows which reflects his personality: narrow-mindedness. And just like the vain man, JWS ends up alone in his realm. The Little Prince is bothered by the behavior of this adult, Cha Soo Hyun has never loved him and will never love him. Unlike the vain man, JWS gets aware that he will never be able to win CSH’s heart. He accepts his fate and turns his attention towards the other woman in his life, his mother. But since she is in jail, he lives alone in this lifeless and empty house.
This last picture reflects perfectly JWS’s life: loneliness. He is a king without any real subject. He just has his loyal secretary and that’s it. He is still sitting with his back to the windows. His life has not changed, just like with the conceited man. MEeting the little prince doesn’t change the life of this adult. The only difference is that JWS is no longer seeking Cha Soo Hyun’s love.
Another similarity is the presence of the star.
We have the poem “Enchanted” where the star is mentioned, then this illustration where the sun and moon are reunited which creates a shining star. Their love transcends time and space. And at the end of The Little Prince, the narrator asks the readers to think of The Little Prince if they are in Africa in the desert and a start shines… the little prince could appear anytime. The star as symbol is used in both works.
Finally, I would like to remind that each adult in the philosophical tale should be seen as a different part of ourselves. They just represent a certain flaw and the adult has to keep these aspects in check in order to enjoy life and be happy.