Solitude

Two favorite actors.  One favorite writer.  Put them together in one drama and the result is a little-known gem.

godok1

godok21

If you are not in a hurry, if you are concerned about how a story is told rather than how it ends, I recommend Solitude. Written by Noh Hee-kyung, the drama moves rather slowly and some people may find the main plot (about a young man’s dogged love for a woman who’s much older) too bleak. But I love it. I’m a big fan of Lee Mi-sook, so it’s a treat to see her for 20 episodes. But the best part of the drama is Ryu Seung-beom. I LOVE everything about him here.

[MAJOR SPOILERS BEYOND THIS PAGE]

godok3

The drama begins with two brothers cycling on a long and quiet road and ends with one of the brothers and his love cycling, this time on a winding rural road that seems to stretch forever. In both scenes, the characters are going somewhere, but we don’t know where. And that’s what this drama is about: JOURNEYS.

Each of us is on a different journey in life, but all of us know that we share the same ultimate destination: Death. As the father in the drama says, “Everyone lives and everyone dies. In every family there is bound to be someone sick someday. That is life.” The father is so matter-of-fact because for years he tended to his sick wife. And when she finally passed away, he made a resolution: His future daughters-in-law need not be beautiful or rich, but they HAD to be healthy. He would never allow either of his sons to date anyone who was ill.

But his younger son, Min Young-woo, does exactly what his father is so vehemently against: he falls in love with a woman who is gravely ill. And not only is this woman ill, she is 15 years older than Young-woo and she has a daughter. A sick 40-year-old woman with a 15-year-old daughter. The outraged father tells his older son: “Throw all of Young-woo’s belongings out of the house.” The older son, Young-chul, does what his father orders because he himself is disgusted with his brother. “What do you see in that old woman?” he yells at Young-woo.

godok5

That “old” woman who is the cause of the rift within the Min family is Jo Kyung-min, director of a public relations company. At 25, she becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with her drunk boyfriend. She loves him, but he’s at that stage in life where commitments mean nothing. The morning after their lovemaking, he leaves a note to say “Sorry,” then leaves for Vienna. She does not see him for the next 15 years. In that 15 years, she struggles to raise her daughter, Jung-ah, because her own parents have emigrated to Canada to escape the shame that Kyung-min has brought to their family. Straddling the demands of single motherhood and a demanding career, she succeeds financially but the years of toil have left their mark: she no longer smiles or laughs easily.

godok7

Why was Young-woo attracted to Kyung-min the moment he saw her on that rainy day in Jeju Island, a day that started out so gloriously with calm skies as he and Young-chul cycled and laughed on that coastal road? She was beautiful, certainly, with sculptured features so different from his own. But it wasn’t her face that caught his attention but a certain melancholy in her demeanor. After that chance meeting, he talked sometimes about her to his brother. And when he met her one year later and realized she was going to be his boss, he made up his mind: He would make her smile. He would date her and marry her. He and she and Jung-ah would live happily ever after.

But even as Young-woo was beginning his journey with a still-reluctant Kyung-min, another man’s journey was taking him back to Seoul. Kang Eun-suk, the man who had left Kyung-min so abruptly 15 years ago, was back. Older and divorced but still debonair and dashing, he returns to a bag of surprises: Kyung-min is the director of a company that has a joint venture with his own company. He is the father to a daughter he never knew he had.

godok41

And so begins this drama that is inappropriately titled Solitude but is really about the opposite: Companionship.

It is about family and shared journeys, and overcoming the prejudices that divide us and make us cowardly and wretched. It is about being big-hearted instead of small-minded, about embracing all the trials that life throws at us with courage and optimism, choosing to live one day at a time instead of focusing on the end of the road.

It is about being loved so fiercely, so unconditionally, that you know one day of happiness is worth 15 years of heartache. When you go to bed at night and you fear sleep because you might not wake the next day, but then you look at the man sleeping next to you–that same man who transformed this ramshackle house for you into a haven by the lake, who has vowed to protect you till the very end–and you realize that the physical pain you feel is bearable after all. Life is worth living… after all.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Solitude

  1. SOLITUDE……

    This drama is the reason for gratitude in watching actors who know their craft and present their talent without showing the hardwork involved. It is a presentation worthy of all your attention. This story must have happened..or will happen.

    Peggy

  2. This sounds interesting. But how could I get to watch it? My usual sources have nothing between ‘Snowman’ and ‘Soul’…

  3. Hi Sakari

    I’m not sure if Solitude is available for download. The boxset that I have was a gift from a friend.

    The drama is also known as Loneliness or Alone. Korean name is 고독 (Godok). I hope you’ll be able to find it online.

    *****************

    I was actually planning a second post on Solitude but have since shelved the idea. Here are some notes from my draft:

    [SPOILERS]

    Kang Eun-suk
    The one-night stand happened because Eun-suk was drunk. Since it was the first time and wasn’t intentional, he wrote a note the next morning to apologize. Then he left and went abroad. Also, he knew she wasn’t the sort to sleep around. He remembered clearly when it happened and that was how he could pinpoint later that Jung-ah was his daughter. They were dating but I doubt they were really physically close until that one time. So when it happened, it was too close to home (figuratively speaking) and he left. He wasn’t ready to take it to the next level. Otherwise it’s weird that he left her so abruptly and that the incident stayed in his mind.

    Min Young-woo
    I was teary when Young-woo was cleaning the house that he was preparing for Kyung-min. How he scrubbed the floors and put up the shelves… and he even prepared a room for Jung-ah. I was wondering about the pages he tagged on the shelves – were they recipes he was learning to use for Kyung-min later? And the scenes of him sitting there alone in the house, waiting patiently for her to come… and she didn’t. I was getting more worried with each passing scene; what if it was too late and she never saw the house? I would love to live in a house like that, with so much natural lighting and the sounds of the water lapping at the shore. Compare the house when he first saw it to what it eventually became. What a labor of love!

    Young-woo’s confidence is NOT an overbearing self-assuredness nor is it arrogance. Instead it is the confidence of a young man who knows what he wants to do in life and whom he wants to love. He sets his eyes resolutely on his goals and does not waver no matter how strong the opposition and how discouraging the obstacles. I love how he is a rock for Kyung-min in his gentle and quiet ways. I love how right from the beginning he said he would make her smile because he could glimpse the sorrow beneath her strong career-woman persona. I love how he is so sweet and tender. I love how he perseveres. Oh, I love everything about his character.

    Young-woo’s family
    Another scene that made me really teary was the dad going to the car showroom to buy a car for the couple. What a turnaround for him and what a tangible expression of his acceptance. He was so opposed to them initially. I loved the little bits of advice he gave Young-woo later about how to care for Kyung-min, for instance, reminding him that he had to go to bed last and wake up first.

    I like Young-woo’s brother a lot although I got mad when he became antagonistic towards Kyung-min. Really wanted to knock his thick head. And Ji-young, the girl who grew up with Young-woo… I liked her from the start. She’s so pretty in a boyish way. I liked how her character was written, with a lot of depth. She’s rather like Mirae in Ruler of Your Own World, who loved Boksu but so possessively.

  4. I ordered the boxset from Sensasian. Not because I’m a fan of Noh Hee-kyeong, mind you. To date, I have started three of her dramas, but finished none.

    But I’ll watch anything with Lee Mi-sook…

  5. Correction – ‘Did We Really Love’ was also written by Noh Hee-kyeong, and I liked that drama enough to finish it. To even rewatch it (well, at least the parts with Bae Yong-joon and Kim Hye-soo.)

  6. I just finished watching ‘Solitude’ (it took over a month for the box to arrive.) I very much liked the first two thirds, but the last third seemed needlessly drawn-out. The ending was pretty good, except for one odd reason – at least twice, Young-woo clearly said “Jung-ah” when addressing Kyung-min. I keep wondering why.

  7. Hello Thundie

    I discovered your blog through Dramabeans… I lately enjoy Lee Mi-Sook in Cinderella’s Eonni and your article about Solitude seems to confirm how great she is as an actress.
    Too bad that the DVD seems out of stock and nowhere to be find online…

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

  8. I just bought this boxset from a Korean seller on ebay. I didn’t read your review since i didn’t want any spoilers, but I hear it is majorly depressing. I hope I don’t sob as much after watching as I did at the end of Chuno or MISA! *nervous*

    The seller still has a More Beautiful Than a Flower boxset too. I think I am gonna have to snap it up next and have a Noh Hee-kyung marathon!

Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s