Love in sadness: an introduction

episode one: Yoon Ma Ri

This k-drama which started airing on February 23rd is actually a remake of a Japanese drama

  • Title (romaji): Utsukushii Hito
  • Also known as: Le Bel Homme / Beauty

which I haven’t watched. Besides, this drama is also very similar to the American movie Sleeping with the enemy due to the main topic: domestic violence and how the wife tries to escape from the claws of her husband by changing her identity/faking her death. It seems that domestic violence is no longer a tabboo and has become a “trend” in South Korea as many k-dramas are using this topic to criticize the current situation. We have to imagine that 10 years ago, the actress Choi Jin-Sil committed suicide due to the scandal when she had reported that she was a victim of domestic violence. Back then, it was a taboo and her revelation caused her to lose everything. The reason I am writing about is that despite being a remake and the resemblances to the American movie, the writer and the director have been able to make this drama very intriguing and captivating.

First, the main protagonist is a painter hence her paintings add more depth to the story. Secondly, there are references to literature and classical music giving more chances to analyze this drama. In other words, the viewers have to pay attention to details so that they can better understand the characters and their issues.

In the beginning, we are shown this painting

episode 1

YMR is actually working on it, when her husband Kang In Wook enters her painting studio. He remarks that this painting and this flower resembles her a lot, hence she decides to title this picture “a self-portray”. Looking at the painting itself, the beholder observes two things:

  • the darkness of the picture: we see a dead wood, she even used a lot of black and brown
  • First, we have two flowers. Furthermore their white color contrast so much to the surrounding. Since the flowers are blossomed, they indicate that their withering is about to happen, especially due to the environment.

So since it is a self-portray, it actually symbolizes her actual situation: she is in a terrible situation. Her husband is embodied by the dead wood, he can not bring her happiness and life, actually he is the reason why she is perishing. Her world is cold and she feels lonely. There is no light, so there is no hope. If you look now at her painting studio, you’ll notice the disparity between this painting and the others hanging on the walls. All of them represent flowers but the choice of the color is totally different: a lot of green, red…. to conclude, she used bright colors in the past. So after being married for 5 years, this painting reveals her own mental state: she is depressed and desperate. But here is the question: why are there two flowers, if it is a self-portray?

Then in the same episode, shortly after, the director uses these takings

Yoon Ma Ri looking out the window

As you can notice, there are two Yoon Ma Ri, yet it looks like the second version is fading away, she is disappearing. And this is no coincidence. YMR is about to lose herself, her soul by remaining by her husband. She is not even allowed to choose her own clothes. She lives trapped in a cage hence the window with the bare reflects her actual position: she is a prisoner. She is not even allowed to paint outdoors which explains why her latest painting looks so gloomy and depressing. She can no longer paint as she has run out of energy and inspiration. So this explains why the second YMR is disappearing and why there are two flowers. The bigger one represents her own body, she is about to become a living corpse.

Striking is the finale version of her painting “a self-portray” is different.

In this scene, we learn that the meaning of the flower is “I will die tomorrow”.

So the first version wasn’t just depressing because of the dark colors and the environment. Even the choice of the flower was pessimistic. However, in the finale version, the beholder observes a huge difference: the flowers are burning. This indicates that not only her situation has even worsened but also her despair has increased. The moment she called it a self-portray, YMR revealed that she was actually waiting for her own death. In the finale version, the beholder is actually witnessing her death. Sure, she is announcing her death but it also shows that she even prefers burning than living in the dark for too long. This indicates that she is even willing to risk her life in order to escape from this misery. She will do anything, even if this means her death: the fire creates some light, it can even be seen by someone. So she is not giving up.      

As you can see, Love is Sadness is not different from Encounter as it uses a painting to give a message, illustrate a situation and the state of mind of a character.

Then in the same episode, we see the male protagonist, the plastic surgeon Seo Jung Woo, reading a page to his wife YH who is in a coma. The chosen book is Wuthering Height written by Emily Bronte in the 19th century, a tragic and painful love story. The protagonist Heathcliff loved Catherine, but the latter chose to marry someone else, Edgar Linton, as he came from a higher social status. Heathcliff had been raised in Catherine’s family. Due to her rejection, Heathcliff decided to get revenge on her and Edgar Linton. Interesting is that SJW chose to read the extract where Heathcliff is talking about the betrayal and the heartbreak. Catherine ripped off his heart and her own heart… So here again, this reveals that SJW is well aware that his comatose wife hurt him in the past by her betrayal. Later, we discover that she had an affair and lied to him. Due to this novel, we can already imagine what will happen to her: she will die, just like Catherine died before Heathcliff. The latter did torment her for marrying Edgar Linton but here, SJW married her hence he had no reason to torment her and she had no reason to betray him.

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