I’m not a fan of romantic dramas, but when a clip from Descendants of the Sun (DOTS) appeared on my Facebook feed last year, I was immediately hooked. There is something about the intensity of the unabashed pursuit of Dr. Kang Mo-Yeon (played by Song Hye-Kyo) by Captain Yoo Si-Jin (played by Song Joong-Ki) that attracted me to the actor who portrayed him. After the drama ended, I searched online like an ahjumma (Korean for a middle-aged lady) for signs of the main leads secretly dating.
So, I was delighted when it was revealed that these two stars were set to be married! Fangirling aside, observing their relationship has made me think deeper about romance. Here are some lessons I’ve learnt:
#1 EXCLUSIVE TIME TOGETHER SPARKS ROMANCE
I’ve found that when two people spend a lot of exclusive time together, there’s a high chance that one or both parties will become emotionally attached, whether they intended for it to happen or not. Before Song Joong-Ki, Song Hye-Kyo also dated two other co-stars. Nam Joo-Hyuk and Lee Sung-Kyung, the leads of the drama Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the leads of the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, also took their on- screen romances off-screen.
It may sound like common sense to be careful of who you’re spending a lot of time with, but it’s common sense that we don’t often heed. I remember getting closer to a guy whom I saw as my best friend because of our many similar interests. We had long late-night conversations, met up for supper regularly, laughed at the same jokes and listened to the same bands. I thought this was the perfect platonic friendship between a female and male until the day he confessed his feelings for me.
The Bible calls us to guard our heart, for everything we do flows from it (Prov 4:23). While spending time with someone we are getting to know better is not a bad thing in itself, I did not set boundaries and our one-on-one time allowed me to become emotionally attached to a person I had no intention of dating. This resulted in a lot of pain later on when we struggled with defining our relationship status and even more heartache when our ambiguous friendship eventually ended. If you are spending a lot of exclusive time with someone, you might want to do a heart check, pray, and seek God about where the friendship is heading, before diving into deeper emotional intimacy.
SONG JOONG -KI HIMSELF SAID OF CAPTAIN YOO, “DO YOU THINK MEN LIKE HIM REALLY EXIST? HE SEEMS LIKE A FANTASY.”
#2 THERE IS NO PERFECT GUY
Let’s face it: Song Joong-Ki as Captain Yoo looks like the perfect lover. While watching DOTS, I started wishing that my husband was more like Captain Yoo — that he could be slimmer, read my mind, or display his love in an extravagant way when I least expect it.
Then I read an interview where Song Joong- Ki himself said of Captain Yoo, “Do you think men like him really exist? He seems like a fantasy.” Interestingly, the DOTS scriptwriter (who is also behind other popular dramas like Secret Garden, The Heirs, and Goblin), Kim Eun-Sook, confessed that although she is aware that most of her scripts are unrealistic, they provide escapism for female viewers and she writes to let them enjoy the fantasy. Captain Yoo may capture my heart, but it’s become obvious that he is a “perfect guy” that doesn’t exist in real life — even Song Joong-Ki finds he can’t compare!
If you are in a relationship, you may be disappointed that your boyfriend isn’t more ‘K-drama perfect’. If you’re single, you might be on the lookout for your Captain Yoo and finding it impossible. These unmet expectations may leave you feeling disillusioned or disappointed but as Christians we know one thing — there is only one perfect man who exists. Jesus is the perfect “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). He is always patient and kind, knows our mind, and displayed his love by dying for us on the cross even though we don’t deserve it.
#3 THE WEDDING IS NOT THE GOAL
Now that a whirlwind romance has led to their wedding, it’s easy to think that the Song-Song couple has found their happily- ever-after. But after five years of marriage, I’ve realised that while the media often glamourises proposals and weddings, these milestones are just the start of a lifelong commitment.
In fact, most dramas only show the start of a relationship, which is when the level of intensity and excitement is high. The couple is finding out new things about each other, sharing first times, and dreaming about the future. As I watched these dramas, I grew discontented with my own marriage. But without showing the hard work behind every relationship, the dramas set us up for disappointment. The truth is that long-term relationships often settle into a comfortable and less exciting familiarity (nothing wrong with that though!). I wonder what viewers would think of DOTS if it focuses on Dr. Kang and Captain Yoo ten years into their relationship? (Think endless laundry, trying to manage kids, and keeping up with various financial matters!)
These false illusions of romance might have led to the increasingly casual attitude toward divorce and break-ups. In reality, love is not truly expressed when your lover interrupts your call by hitting your phone out of your hand, ties your shoelaces for you, or suddenly pulls you in for a kiss. Love is shown when he controls his anger or when you choose not to pressure him to be ‘K-drama perfect’. True love is a lifetime of choosing and loving each other again and again. First Corinthians 13 captures perfectly what real love looks like from God’s point of view — selfless and other-centred!
AS I WATCHED THESE DRAMAS , I GREW DISCONTENTED WITH MY OWN MARRIAGE
THE REAL #LIFEGOAL: EYES ON THE PRIZE
Is your idea of romance or marriage shaped by what you have been watching? Is your ideal man merely a figment of your (or some screenwriter’s) imagination? Did DOTS and the Song-Song wedding leave you craving for love?
Paul describes the church as a bride (2 Cor 11:2). Jesus is the Bridegroom who will come back for us, His Bride. Whether we are single or not, this is the epic marriage that we are all called to prepare for! He is the only prize that ultimately matters. At the end of the day, let’s not be obsessed with false illusions of romance, but seek to build relationships that are meant to point us to God, who has shown us what true love really is.