Love in Sadness: Interpretation of the painting The Rosemary lost in the sea

episode 11: in the foreground, there is a small bottle with a branch of Rosemary in it.

Since this painting is so different from the other creations of our heroine, I kind of neglected this painting. However, this picture is important because it outlines the huge gap between YMR and her husband KIW. From YMR’s perspective, this painting could be perceived in two different ways:

  • She is the lost ship using the bottle with the rosemary as she is sending a SOS. Yes, the sea could symbolize KIW trying to control YMR. The fury of the sea and the storm fits to KIW’s rage and violence. She could drown if the power of the sea is too strong illustrating that if she is caught, she might die.
  • The second meaning is different. Since YMR’s name resembles the plant rosemary, the bottle could embody YMR leaving KIW, the huge ship. The plant is so small compared to the ship which mirrors KIW’s power and wealth. Don’t forget that I had already pointed out that SJW and YMR are connected to nature, while KIW is associated through his fortune to civilization. This picture not only represents her last attempt to escape from KIW’s claws, it also symbolizes the despair of YMR. She is even willing to risk her own life as she has no idea if she will be found and rescued. The picture illustrates her courage as she entrusts  her destiny to nature and chance.

Concerning our antihero, KIW interprets this painting in the opposite way: KIW is the rosemary in the bottle, while YMR is the ship. In his eyes, the ship is abandoning the rosemary. He doesn’t see the struggle of the titling ship. For him, the painting illustrates the abandonment and betrayal of YMR. Like he kept saying before, without her he can not live and this picture illustrates his own thoughts. He still sees himself as a powerless man depending on his wife. The huge waves and the storm represents the world menacing him: his father, his step-mother and his other enemies. Without her guidance, KIW considers himself as lost and he needs her by his side so that he can overcome this dangerous world. But if we see it from his perspective, his interpretation indicates his blindness. He overlooks that the rosemary hasn’t been thrown away, but it was put in a bottle as a protection so that it can not drown. Moreover, like I had mentioned it before, he overlooks the problem that the ship is facing. He also ignores the significance of this gesture: titling ship asking for help. As conclusion, KIW’s interpretation of that painting outshines KIW’s lack of self-awareness. He doesn’t see himself as a dangerous and violent man, somehow he seems to be trapped in the past, as if he was a little boy. 

I guess that when KIW saw the painting with the cistus, he only perceived YMR as a small and weak flower that needed protection in a dark world. He never associated himself to the dead wood, rather he connected it to the dangerous world (his father, her mother’s illness)

To sum up, the interpretation of a painting is also influenced by the beholder’s mentality. Sure, if we know more about the painter, the beholder is able to understand the emotions and the message of the creator, yet the beholder is free to interpret the picture differently, I mean, to add a different meaning/message. In the end, there is no right or wrong, by analyzing a picture.

Love in Sadness: A definition of true love

SJW’s mother is gardening while talking to Yoon Ma Ri.

In the episode 14, we discover why the writer chose to name this drama “Love in Sadness”. In this episode, YMR visits SJW’s mother, Im Yun Hwa (IYH), as she is the director of a nursing facility. Here, IYH shows YMR her garden with her flowers. YMR is now able to understand why SJW loves flowers so much. He got his passion from his mother. In this scene, the mother chooses to plant a gentian and this is what she says to her guest:

Notice that the gentian here is purple and not dark blue
Most of the species have beautiful blue vivid petals.

These words and her action reveal a lot about SJW’s mother. She doesn’t perceive YMR as a burden because she has WHK’s face. In fact, she views the young woman as a good omen. In my opinion, when she explains the origin of the gentian in her garden, she was making an analogy. YMR is like the gentian that suddenly appeared in her garden. No one expected her appearance but she had an impact on SJW’s life and heart. Then during their conversation, IYH explains the meaning of the gentian, love in sadness. For her, if a person can embrace someone’s sorrow, then it is true love. Then she adds that her son is looking for a love like that. With her words, IYH is trying to covey to YMR that her son truly loves her. In this scene, we can see how much IYH loves her son and she wants to make sure that YMR doesn’t misunderstand SJW because he gave her WHK’s face. The viewer already knows that YMR is well aware of SJW’s deep feelings for her. Due to the former episodes, we had the impression that the writer chose this title because of tragic loves (the story of Hyacinth and Adonis) and had more tragedy in his mind. However with this revelation, I came to realize that the writer had a different intention, as love in Sadness has a different meaning: true love. Notice that all this time, SJW, KIW, HSH and JHR have been struggling due to a loved one. But were they really in love? Was it love or obsession or illusion or self-deception?

SJW thought that he loved WHK because he accepted everything from her and never argued with her. He actually fell more in love with her face and lived in an illusion as he never wanted to see WHK for whom she really was. To me, SJW didn’t truly love WHK because he faked happiness. Like IYH said, true love is when a person can embrace his/her partner’s sorrow. Right now, we have the impression that WHK was a selfish and ruthless woman but I believe that WHK might have been hiding a huge secret from SJW and his friends. JHR thinks that WHK had an abortion but just before the accident happened, she had cold hands and she complained about her stomach. I have the feeling that WHK could have been dying. If my theory is correct, she didn’t want to burden her husband’s happiness. Maybe in her own way, she tried to make SJW, HSH and even JHR happy, unaware that SJW had already caught her. She thought that JHR would reveal the abortion to SJW so that it would create a riff between herself and SJW. Maybe she thought that at some point, SJW would turn to JHR and find solace in his friend’s arms. If WHK was really dying, then she feared that SJW wouldn’t be able to overcome her death. As conclusion, it is definitely possible that WHK ruined her reputation on purpose.

Right now, SJW is clearly in love with YMR because he is not afraid of confronting her or risking his own life for her. He knows her trauma and will do anything for her. But now, what about JHR? Does she really love SJW? In my opinion, she is not in love with him. Based on her conversations with KIW, it becomes clear that JHR is longing for love. She has the impression that she has never been loved.

episode 14

The words she is saying to KIW could be perceived as if she was talking to herself. She thinks that SJW never loved her which is wrong. SJW did love her but as a sister, as a part of his family but for her, it was not love. Furthermore, she blamed her parents because they died so early so that she could never experience love. However, a love coming from the parents is different from the love coming from a man. So SJW with his mother did try to let her experience love but she never saw it as such. She is definitely living in an illusion. She has reduced the meaning of love: love can only be between a man and woman therefore SJW became her obsession. She was loved by SJW but she never viewed it as such because she had a different definition of love. Now, she is trying to woo KIW believing that she is the only one who can fix KIW. She knows what kind of person he is. But does she love KIW? To me, she doesn’t love KIW too. She is just trying to make herself feel better and superior. With her words “YMR who abandoned you” or in an earlier conversation, JHR always implied that YMR had never loved KIW hence he became a monster. By receiving love from her, he will be able to change.

episode 11

In this scene, JHR implies that YMR never loved her husband sincerely. She thinks that since she knows his true nature (monster, snake-like eyes of yours), she can control and even manipulate him. She thought so because KIW confided a lot to her: he visited her after hurting his fist or when he was too drunk. All this time, JHR thought that she had the upper-hand. Since KIW is a man with strong emotions, she believed that the chaebol would fall for her as she was direct and frank. But her words unveiled her weaknesses: not only her arrogance but also her savior complex. Notice that she did it with SJW once. She also thought that once WHK was dead, she would be able to replace her and become SJW’s wife. Here, she is doing the same with KIW. She is not loving him, she is acting like a psychiatrist. All her attempts unveil that she doesn’t love herself at all in my opinion. She thinks that once a man loves her as a woman, she will feel loved. However, she is deceiving herself. JHR doesn’t know what love is therefore she doesn’t know what true love is. She is not honestly feeling sympathy for KIW’s pain because in reality, she is more talking to herself. She wished, someone would say these words to her. This explains why KIW deceives JHR in the end. He never bought her “sympathy” and her speech for love. Her arrogance made her forget the true personality of KIW: a royal cobra.

As for KIW, it is clear that he has never loved his wife. Like he confessed to JHR in the episode 13, when he saw YMR’s face for the first time, she looked so much like his mother that it took his breath away. KIW is not just suffering from abandonment issues, he doesn’t know what love is. For him, love is possession which he learnt from his father. He treats YMR like an object which he can mistreat, when he feels like it. KIW doesn’t know what true love is as he can not embrace his mother’s sorrow. He resents her for running away all this time and for choosing death over him. For him, love and betrayal are connected to each other that’s why he has always expected that YMR would leave his side. Yet, he has not realized that he was the reason for all this.

Finally, HSH claimed that he loved WHK, however he decided to leave her behind, when she was hurt because he would lose everything: his reputation, his friend aso. Just like IYH said, true love is when someone is loving another in pain and when the partner is having a hard time… HSH was just a selfish person in the end.

Thanks for reading. Please leave some comments or push the button like, if you enjoyed reading this analysis.

Love in Sadness: an analysis of self-portraits

Striking is that in this drama, we can witness the birth of a painting. The beholder usually only gets to see the start or the end product but not a work in progress. Nevertheless, we saw here two paintings that were not finished and each time, the finished work revealed the real state of mind of our heroine YMR, as both creations were named as a self-portrait. The difference between the paintings underlined that something had happened to our painter. But now, let’s take a closer look to these paintings. The first “Self-Portrait” was used in the first episode.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.png
A cistus: episode 1 (the painting is unfinished, right after this taking, due to KIW’s remark, YMR gives the picture a name: ” A self-portrait”
The painting “A self-portrait” is now finished. We learn here the meaning of the cistus: I’ll die tomorrow.

Looking at the first picture, we can observe 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-portrait, 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. The choice of a white flower and the number of cistus caught my attention because in the episode 12, she said that the flowers represent her heart and tears. It looks like back then YMR had lost all her energy hence there are only two flowers. Due to her desperate situation, she can not even cry. She is withering like a flower…
So the first version wasn’t just depressing because of the dark colors and the environment. Even the choice of the flower was pessimistic: I’ll die tomorrow. 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. She is literally screaming for help and if no one can see this, then she will die. Moreover, the fire could be perceived as a final attempt from her part. She will leave her husband and if she doesn’t succeed, then she is even willing to die, to get burned. So she is well aware of her husband’s outburst, if she leaves him again.

episode 10:
The painting is called “A Self-Portrait Part Two” the first and unfinished version

In the second self-portrait, we also saw a first version (third picture above). Striking is the presence of wood, just like in the first self-portrait. Nevertheless, the wood is different. Here YMR used a table, unlike in the first painting where it looks more like a dead wood. Moreover, there is a presence of a human being in this picture due to the cup of tea and the letter envelope indicating that there is life in this picture. Finally, our painter chose to draw anemones in her painting. She even drew more anemones than cistus. Since the flower is red and the color red is associated to blood and life, I come to the conclusion that YMR’s state of mind has already changed. She has been brought back to life, since the painting is already oozing more life. The first version is still dark, although the beholder can see a ray of sunshine on the table. Yet the light is barely visible. Furthermore the message behind the anemone is “May I confess my love for you?” which illustrates that her heart has started beating again. She is no longer lifeless and loveless. Like she said to SJW, the flowers symbolizes her tears and heart. She can cry now. She has started caring for SJW. Due to the presence of wood in this self-portrait, we can come to the conclusion that YMR hasn’t been able to cut ties entirely with KIW, he is still affecting her life. The wood reveals that she is still suffering from a trauma.

episode 11: “A Self-Portrait Part Two”, the final version

The final version mirrors the evolution of her mental health. It looks like the flowers are actually growing from the table. YMR is able to remove little by little her bad memories, recover these with new good memories. Notice that this time, the flowers are painted with green leaves indicating that the flowers are not cut or put on the table, they look as if they were really alive. Then the ray of sunshine is much more pronounced this time. The dark and gloomy atmosphere has entirely disappeared. There is now more hope. YMR is not back to her old self, yet she has changed a lot. She is alive, feeling many emotions. The presence of a living person is also more visible than in the first version. Now, we see a letter with a feather. It was as if YMR had just left the table. Since YMR is not able to paint herself, this shows how much YMR suffered under KIW. She had lost her identity and her own personality, yet this time, YMR has found the courage to show to the world that she exists with different items: the envelopes, the letter and the feather. Naturally, she has another reason now, not to draw her face, since she has received the face of WHK. This second self-portrait still outlines her identity loss but unlike in the first self-portrait, the beholder can realize that YMR is searching for her own identity. She is trying with all her might to find her own place that’s what the growing flowers are representing. The flowers are trying to find their place in that table, it looks like the flowers want to cover the table, a symbol for her attempt to forget her painful experience and memories. As conclusion, YMR is no longer pessimistic and desperate. She is alive, feeling many positive emotions and she is hoping that she can leave her past behind.

When YMR offered SJW her self-portrait, SJW could connect her painting to the famous painting of Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican painter. Both characters were referring to that following picture, the wounded deer:

Image result for frida kahlo wounded deer
Frida Kahlo: wounded deer, 1946

Back then, Frida Kahlo had just been surged on her spine but her surgery had not been successful. Unlike in YMR’s self-portraits, Frida used an animal in order to represent herself. However, the deer has her face. Notice how the surroundings can give us a clue about Frida Kahlo’s state of mind. The forest looks lifeless, the trees are leafless, even one tree has lost a branch which lies on the ground. The dead nature embodies broken body of the painter. Furthermore, the colors (brown and beige) give a gloomy and pessimistic impression. The sun is not visible, just like there is no wave in the sea. All these elements put together make the beholder feel that there is no life and no energy. Frida Kahlo is heartbroken and broken physically. Moreover, the painter used an unreal perspective for the wounded deer. It doesn’t look like it is standing on its feet, but it doesn’t look like it is lying on the ground either. In my opinion, Frida wants to underline how terrible her physical situation is: she is not really paralyzed but she can not move freely either. She can not rest in the end. The arrows symbolize the surgery and the pain in her spine due to the surgery as the arrows are situated all around her spine. As you can see, the deer mirrors Frida Kahlo’s situation and feelings as the deer has Frida’s face. The Mexican painter is feeling powerless and she is showing her pain and despair to the world through her painting. YMR is in a different situation as she has lost her identity, unlike Frida Kahlo, that’s why the flowers have no face at all or there is no human being represented among her flowers. However, I am expecting YMR to be capable to drew a third self-portrait later which will be similar to her first painting that KIW saw in the beginning.

A woman holding a sword lily

We know that this week, YMR will leave SJW’s side as she will use WHK’s death to her advantage. By forcing SJW to declare WHK dead, KIW will be cornered. WHK was the only link to his wife’s whereabouts. For her, this departure will have a huge impact as she will be able to free herself completely from KIW.

Love in Sadness: the evolution of Yoon Ma Ri’s state of mind


In my former post, I had analyzed this painting. We could see a change in YMR’s state of mind compared to the painting with the cistus called a Self-portrait. First, there is light signifying that there is hope. Secondly, the bouquet is protected from the rain by a red umbrella. The umbrella is a metaphor for SJW, he is her protector. However, since the surrounding is quite dark (it is night) and it is raining, we can see that YMR is still under the influence of the fear. She seems to be still disoriented. I mean her trauma is huge as she has been living in hell for 5 years. It takes time, until YMR can get rid of PDST.  She has not found her own strength yet, as the flowers are relying on the umbrella. The petunias are also hiding under the umbrella which reflects YMR’s actual situation. She is hiding behind SJW and WHK’s face. Besides, the night and rain are linked to the fateful time, when YMR’s path crossed SJW’s. And this is no coincidence. As conclusion, this painting could be perceived as a metaphor for her fateful meeting with SJW that night. He gave her hope, protected her by taking her with his car and told her that he would do the surgery.  

Yet as time passes on, we see other pictures from our painter. These are the paintings SJW discovers, when he visits YMR’s place for the first time. 


Here we witness another evolution in YMR’s state of mind. What caught my attention is the contrast between these pictures and the painting with the umbrella. Little by little, nature is coming back to life. Notice that here the flowers are in the center of the pictures. The traces of darkness have disappeared. The flowers don’t need protection at all. They are not hiding behind an umbrella. No, the flowers show themselves as they are. Yet this observation must be put in perspective which I will explain further below.  

Striking is that we see the number of flowers increasing: we have two lilies, then three plumerias, 4 red flowers etc. Moreover the presence of a civilization is disappearing. Only the one third picture shows a table made of wood with a white cup of tea. The orange, blue and yellow paintings have all something in common: the background looks more artificial. So 4 pictures out of 5 don’t show nature as such. There are all still lives. The only elements associated to nature are the different flowers and that’s it. The green painting with the plumerias contrasts to the others because here we can observe a change in the background: YMR used a prairie of grass, more exactly of clovers as background. Clover is associated to luck which illustrates that YMR feels more positive. That’s why I said that nature is coming back to life. She thinks, she might be able to move on with her life. Yet there is no sky in it. The sky often symbolizes freedom. Here the plumerias are living among clovers… it was as if they were living freely, yet  also hiding among clovers so that people might not see them. So here again, YMR’s picture mirrors her own situation: she is living anonymously, among people so that KIW won’t be able to find her. Concerning the other paintings (artificial background or the table), we could say that the flowers hid themselves from the world as they were not put outdoors.

And here is her latest creation which reveals how much YMR has changed.


This time, the sky occupies a big part of the picture indicating that YMR feels more free. The flowers are also put in a meadow but here they can not hide behind the grass as the red bouquet is higher than the grass. Interesting is that this time, there is a butterfly. Actually, a butterfly needs flowers to live thanks to the pollen. Butterflies are fragile and yet beautiful. I would associate them with kindness, gentleness and usefulness. Don’t forget the expression “the butterfly effect” outlining the butterfly can have a huge impact on the environment and people. Thanks to butterflies (and bees), we can harvest fruits. Without these little insects, we wouldn’t be able to live in a healthy environment. To conclude, the butterfly is here not to protect the flowers, it is quite the opposite. The butterfly is actually relying on the flowers. And this painting is actually made just before YMR decides to help HR by acting as WHK. Therefore I come to the interpretation that this butterfly embodies SJW. And it does fit his personality: his love for flowers, his gentleness, his kindness… he doesn’t show any strength, yet thanks to him, people are coming back to life (YMR and his other patients). In my opinion, this painting mirrors the actual situation: YMR wants to help SJW in reality as she feels gratitude. She knows deep down that he needs her, even if he won’t say it. So here in YMR’s mind, the relationship between SJW and YMR has changed: in her eyes, SJW needs her as he is facing some financial problems. She becomes his support, while SJW is trying to keep acting as her umbrella.

This explains why YMR is attracted to SJW in the end and she is even falling for him. Flowers and the butterfly have a deep connection which the cobra has not.

Love in Sadness: flowers and animals

For me, SJW is not obsessed with his wife because he is not confusing YMR with WHK. Like I had mentioned it before, SJW actually fell for YMR, when he met her for the first time. Back then, he already wanted to help her. The fact that YMR has the same face than SJW’s wife should be seen as a mirror to KIW’s relationship with YMR. The contrast is so telling.

  1. KIW was attracted by YMR because she resembled his mother, while it was not the same between YMR and SJW. He tried to protect her even before the surgery.
  2. Striking is that YMR was the one who asked him to give her the face of someone SJW liked which he did. So far, YMR is not bothered by this idea at all. Actually, she views it as a gift, while she saw her own face as a curse. The words contrast so much: KIW = curse /SJW: a gift. 
  3. The third difference is that YMR only discovered much later that she had his mother’s face, while YMR discovered quite quickly that she had now WHK’s face.
  4. Another distinction is how SJW and KIW acts because of the resemblance. SJW wants YMR to find her freedom and peace so that she can blossom, whereas the violent husband wants her to put her in a cage.

To me, the real obsessed one with WHK is actually YHR. During her confrontation with her “friend”, she showed her true colors. She showed no empathy for her supposed “best friend” WHK… she wished that SJW would have abandoned his wife. Secondly, she despises love “that darn love!”. She knew all along about the affair but she decided to remain silence as she thought that SJW would be hurt. She got enraged, when she saw with her own eyes that SJW knew all along and yet he had been taking care of WHK as a devoted husband. This made HR realize that she had no real chance with SJW. Now, she believes that SJW is falling for YMR because of her face and this is where she is definitely wrong. First, SJW uses YMR to feel better… he felt guilty towards his wife because if he had stopped her back then, she wouldn’t have been involved in that accident. By giving all the support YMR needs he has the impression that he is redeeming himself. I am sure, he blames himself for the affair, rather than blaming WHK. She ran away because he was somehow lacking in his mind. However, I doubt that he knows about the identity of the lover. It is definitely his best friend… because once he knows the whole truth, he will stop blaming himself.

Another interesting metaphor in this drama is the cobra.

WIK as cobra

The cobra embodies WIK perfectly as this underlines his dangerousness. He is deadly. Moreover, this explains why WIK said last week that he preferred moving targets. On the other we have our doctor and YMR symbolized by flowers. And what is YHR’s symbol? First, I had the spider in my mind but I changed my mind. YHR reminds me of a praying/preying mantis. A mantis is an animal which remains immobile for a while until the insect is sure to catch a prey. Usually, a praying mantis uses a flower or plant as concealment.

a praying mantis hidden in a flower

It looks a lot like the plant or flower itself (the color). And now you understand why YHR reminds me of that insect. SJW is associated to flowers in general. Secondly the close cohabitation between the plant and the insect mirrors SJW’s relationship with YHR. However, YHR is not a nice person… she has no problem to throw people under the bus which she revealed in her argument with SJW. Her lack of compassion and her selfishness were visible in that scene. Moreover the insect itself “Praying mantis” (in French “mante religieuse”/ in German “Gottesanbeterin”) is linked to religion, as in many different languages the name of the insect contains an element about God or religion. Therefore I came to the conclusion that for HR, SJW is her religion, her obsession. She worships SJW, she has no problem to stay by his side without becoming his girlfriend or wife but she won’t tolerate anyone else by his side. She is the only one who can be close to SJW that’s why she dislikes this closeness between YMR and SJW. That’s why YHR got scared of WIK. A praying mantis is weak compared to a cobra, the former is even used as food for the cobra. However, YHR as a mantis has an advantage: a preying mantis is patient and can remain immobile for a long time. So in my opinion, YHR will use YMR/WHK as a diversion thinking that WIK will realize YMR’s true identity. She will use YMR as the moving target which will attract the cobra’s attention. She wants to put YMR on the silver plate… but she will fail. First, WIK is definitely obsessed with YMR’s face which represents a huge hurdle. YHR has no idea of the resemblance with WIK’s mother. The other reason why I connect YHR to a praying mantis is that the female insect kills her male companion once the mating is done. YHR is dangerous to SJW and so far, since she has lived for so long by SJW’s side, the latter hasn’t become aware of her true personality. I also believe that she played a part by creating a riff between the real WHK and SJW which the latter has not realized yet too.

But now let’s take a closer look to the flowers which are used in each episode:

episode 1: the cistus “I will die tomorrow”

episode 2: the daisy “You are my hope”

episode 3: Rosemary “You bring me back to life”

episode 4: Lavender “Tell me”

episode 5: Purple Lilac “Fear comes for me”

episode 6: Petunia “If you stay by my side”

Striking is that YMR is associated to different flowers. First she appeared in her painting

YMR holding a purple gladiolus/ sword lily

First, this is the only painting where YMR drew a person. Notice the contrast to her painting called A self-portray

Episode 2: the painting here is called A self-portray. The represented flower is a cistus

Secondly, the colors are bright and she is surrounded by a beautiful countryside. The green is associated to life, whereas the gloomy and dark colors in the second painting illustrates the dying nature. The cistus is living next to a dead wood which can only bring death to the flower. Moreover, the flower is burning indicating that its death is imminent. The two portraits represent YMR and the comparison outlines how YMR has not only lost her face but also her personality and identity. YMR is no longer a sword lily but she has become a cistus. A sword lily is linked to

  • Strength of character
  • Faithfulness, sincerity and integrity
  • Infatuation
  • Never giving up
  • Just like the name says it, the gladiolus shows a certain fighting spirit. This strength disappeared due to the constant abuse.

Then in the episode from this week, our heroine paints a red petunia.

Red petunias under an umbrella

This painting indicates the change in YMR’s mentality. The light outlines that she has hope now. The umbrella is protecting the flower from the rain. In this painting, the umbrella embodies SJW, while the red petunia is our female protagonist. YMR is very well aware that SJW has been protecting her. She is starting gathering some courage and strength. The choice of the color, red, seems to point out the return of life and passion. She paints with more enthusiasm than before.

But YMR is not only associated to flowers due the paintings, her name reminds SJW of Rosemary. Actually, WHK was associated to this plant. She liked the scent of Rosemary and the color (purple) and this explains why WHK and YMR’s fate are intertwined. Their path crossed 5 years ago… WHK made the decision to go to her lover, while YMR gave in and accepted WIK’s proposal. When both made that decision, they didn’t know that they would lose their life and identity. Finally, WIK associates YMR to the purple lilac, when he visits YHR at the gallery.

WIK’s hand at the end of the episode 5: purple lilac

With his bare hands, he takes a petal from the purple lilac and even crushes it, while saying that he will find her. So this scene is meaningful as it shows his determination to find her. Then even if she has changed, he will recognize her. YMR was never linked to the purple lilac before. Finally, this scene reveals what will happen, once he catches YMR. She will get beaten up. To conclude, the plastic surgery will only delay his discovery, he is already able to see YMR in a different form and shape.

To conclude, all the flowers (purple lilac, petunia, sword lily, cistus, daisy, lavender and Rosemary) were embodying our heroine which indicates that YMR is always changing. She could be perceived as nature itself. It was as if she was the queen of all the flowers which explains why SJW is fascinated by her. SJW loves flowers above anything hence he has a small garden in his house.   

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.

Encounter: “The bride”, a painting analysis

a closer taking from The bride episode 14
Encounter episode 14 painting the bride CSH SA.png
episode 14

After meeting KJH’s mother, it becomes clear that CSH will choose to break up with him. She has many reasons for this decision. First, we have to imagine that she suffered a lot in her first marriage due to the mental abuse from her mother-in-law. So when she met YJ, the words from the latter clearly showed that she wouldn’t accept her as future daughter-in-law. So I doubt that anyone who suffered abuse from a mother-in-law would be ready to go through the same experience again. Secondly, KJH kept pressuring her to marry him. He had noticed her unhappiness, when she saw the couple in wedding clothes. He offered her the bouquet but she never gave an answer… he had to ask over and over again, until she accepted his proposal. Her hesitation is quite understandable. She associates marriage to unhappiness. When she saw the wedding dress, she was reminded of her unhappy marriage which left a huge scar in CSH’s heart. CSH was not only scarred by her mother-in-law but by her marriage as such. Don’t forget that until she finally met SA, she really thought that her husband had fallen in love with another woman and never really loved her.

So when we see this scene, CSH is looking at the painting created by Soo Ah. The painting is called the bride and strangely, the bride has no head. We only see the gown of the bride. Since the head is missing, it creates an anonymity. Due to the colors (yellow, beige and grey), a certain melancholy oozes from the painting too. Moreover, the bride dress is not really white, rather cream giving the impression that time had passed on. To conclude, this bride and marriage is not evoking happiness, rather lost time or dreams.

In this taking, CSH in the background is standing for a long time in front of that painting. To me, it looks like CSH is actually thinking about her next move, the break up. Yet, I also sense that by looking at the picture she is trying to find solace. She will break up with KJH, yet she is imagining herself getting married again. On the one hand, the painting helps her to escape from her oppressive situation, on the other hand to find closure. By imagining herself in that dress, she is able to give up on the marriage. That’s why there is no head. The beholder is asked to imagine herself in that gown.

Then in this taking, we have the fake mistress in the foreground. She is the author of that painting. In my opinion, she was inspired by her own situation. Back then, she had signed a contract with JWS asking her to eat with him and spend times with him in exchange for money. She had to act like the girlfriend and mistress. However, as time passed on, she fell in love with JWS and she started dreaming of marrying JWS. As you can see, she drew the painting with this wish in mind. She wished to be the bride and kept waiting and hoping that this would come true. That’s why the beholder perceives longing and melancholy in this drawing. However, she could never express her wish because she was bound with the contract therefore the bride has no head. She can not show it in the open. The painting helped her to hope and overcome her loneliness. However, when JWS broke up with her, she realized that this had just been a dream. JWS has always loved his wife. Giving the painting back to CSH means that SA gives up on her dream. She has come back to reality, she wished that CSH can get a new start (a happy marriage either with her boyfriend or with her ex-husband). Since she explains the whole situation to CSH later, from my point of view, she actually tries to help JWS in the end. They might get a new start, however this is too late. Moreover, JWS had hurt her with his action. Since she saw CSH with KJH at the gallery, she knows that her relationship with KJH is serious… that’s why I sense that SA’s gesture (offering the painting) illustrates her wish to redeem herself and to help CSH to find happiness and a new start in life.