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Monday, February 19, 2018 by Mdaf

Do Young remained Do Young till the very end, and while I usually applaud consistency and firmness, I can’t do that when the character is a selfish monster, and really should change.  Even though punishment eventually came for Do Young, she managed to get in a few good swipes at the very end, which made her comeuppance a little anticlimactic.

I think what Do Young did in response to Eun Sub’s threat was typical Do Young.  She knew that Eun Sub was out to hurt Ji Young, and waited forever to do something about it – so long, that you almost weren’t sure she was going to do anything at all.  We watched as she let herself get dragged through the work day, her mind elsewhere, but her body still firmly in the studio.  This might not have been so bad if we hadn’t just seen her leave her radio taping just to hug Dong Woo.  So we know that she can hustle when she feels it’s worth her while.

Are we supposed to applaud her for eventually leaving, and getting money out of the bank before driving to Ji Young?  And yeah she left a message – at the very last minute.  I wonder how big a part of her was seduced by the idea of Ji Young once again taken out of the equation.  And her arrival wasn’t that greatly timed.  Eun Sub had already gotten in a few good hits with a baseball bat before Do Young threw money at him, and he left.  I think this was the scene when Lee Ha Na got injured, and it’s not hard to see that happening.  That was the end of Eun Sub, and I hope he didn’t get away with his rotten behavior.  He was so stupid, and most unforgivable of all, Kang Ji Sub was a really bad actor.

Following this beating, Do Young actually confessed the truth to Ji Young, of course emphasizing how she had gone back to look for her when it was too late (but leaving out the part about her relief at this).  This was too little, too late, and it didn’t help matters when she later still continued to lie to others, and tried to discredit her sister as much as possible.  In her anger, hurt, and betrayal, Ji Young finally did what she really didn’t want to do, but what had to be done – she went public with her unni’s story.  I kind of wish Ji Young had been more of a man about it, and not started to feel so upset and guilty, especially since her sister just took the opportunity to feel more sorry for herself.

I hated how everyone was pretty hard on Ji Young for this, except her mother, of course, with even President Jang telling her she should forgive her sister.  I’m sorry, old man, but why does Ji Young have to help you assuage your guilt?  The president met with Do Young and apologized, and maybe this would have had more of an impact if there were more episodes left to deal with the fallout.  I wonder how she would have acted if the president kept lying about it, and tried to cover up his sins.  I can’t believe the ultimate function of this character was just to be another voice harping on Ji Young to “do the right thing.”

I think even without the annoying peanut gallery of everyone telling her to forgive her sister, Ji Young would have, or she already had, but was still justifiably angry.  But she might never have had the chance to, since Do Young made a preemptive strike by trying to commit suicide.  Her attempt was classic Do Young – letting her car veer out of control which could have hurt a lot of innocent people.  As bad as I knew she was, I still can’t believe she tried to do something so cowardly, awful, and manipulative.  She literally would rather have died than apologize to her sister.  I think that says a lot about her, no?  Dong Woo almost made me as angry when he gave Ji Young a reproachful glare at the hospital.  Oh, so now it’s Ji Young’s fault?  Do Young wanted her final act to be one which ruined the Shins’ lives forever, and it’s Ji Young who gets the stink eye from other people?

There wasn’t really much to do after that.  Everyone was forced to come to terms with Do Young, and even Professor Choe visited her in the hospital.  And Do Young eventually woke up, even though her coma world was full of fun times with her birth mother.  Because she pulled this kind of trick, it didn’t even feel satisfying when she later publicly confessed to her monstrous behavior, and said she wouldn’t be working on tv anymore.  Took her long enough.  She also made plans to go with Dong Woo to Hong Kong – exile sounds about right for her, even if her family had forgiven her enough to take a picture together.

But just because she finally felt the teensiest bit of remorse (and I’m still not entirely convinced that she did at all) didn’t mean that she could still get away with her sins.  Her body was falling apart – it was almost as if she had been allowed to wake up at all just to make things right.  And it felt appropriate that right at the moment she finally had real reasons to live, her body betrayed her.  She asked Ji Young to take her to the sea, and play their song as they waited for the sun to come up.  But tears poured down Ji Young’s face when she realized that her unni would never see another sunrise.

Even though the last shot of the drama was one of Do Young and Dong Woo walking together on a sunny beach, I think Do Young died on the beach while she was with Ji Young.  I read that the director confirmed this, and I also read that Dong Woo was only with her later because his plane had crashed, and he also died prematurely.  Spooky how Do Young summoned him from the afterlife, right?  I think her death makes for a much more fitting ending, so even if the director had left the ending more open-ended, that would have been my interpretation.  And that’s the end of Women in the Sun.

I think Do Young’s outsized evilness was a main attraction of the drama, but also its biggest weakness, leading to an overall very frustrating series.  It’s hard not to get swept up in a story about something so awful (that whole train wreck effect, right?), but by the same token, it’s going to be near impossible to feel for the perpetrator of said awful thing.  I still don’t know why the screenwriter made her the leading lady, when you kind of hated her.  It would have been different if Do Young had ever felt sincere remorse, but I never got that from her.  I could never feel bad for her since what she did was just that level of terrible.  She was almost sociopathic in her total lack of feeling for Ji Young, and her selfishness and neediness were so unattractive.

Unlike in Man from the Equator, I never thought that Ji Young went too far with her revenge, since what could top abandoning a young child, and then preventing that same girl from reuniting with her family 20 years later?  I know that Professor Choe was also horrible, and had to be punished as well, but I think the minute Do Young abandoned Ji Young, she went from being the victim of the piece to the outsized villain.  I guess Kim Ji Soo was really good in this role, but, like with Shim Eun Kyung who played the young Do Young, it was a little too good, you know?  I don’t think I can ever see her in another role, especially a goody-goody one, since I’ll always think that she abandoned a child to get where she is.  I think she’s also known for her handful of DUIs, as well as dating a guy who’s, like, 16 years younger.  None of that really makes me want to see her other dramas.

She was way better than the guys in this drama, but since they were some of the lamest and grossest guys in drama history, that’s not saying much.  I didn’t know I could hate a character as much as I hated Dong Woo, and that distaste inevitably spilled over to Jung Gyu Woon.  If I had seen this drama before the others I’ve seen him in first (Again My Love and Romance Town), I would have totally skipped them.  I liked Lee Ha Na the best, and that’s even without her being morally in the right.  She could play the beaten down heroine, but also the mean girl pretty well, so she’s layered.  And I think they let her sing enough to satisfy even me.  Jung Ae Ri (Professor Choe) also stood out, but I wouldn’t want to be her friend.

I found this drama surprisingly engrossing, but it will never be a beloved drama since it was too ugly and frustrating.  I still wish Do Young had gotten hers more, and that’s the main reason I don’t even really like this drama.  Till the end, the drama took pains to give Do Young everything, no matter how little she deserved it.  I also can’t get behind the anti-adoption agenda of the drama, which seems really bent.

And I still wonder where the title comes from – is this a reference to the Icarus myth, with Do Young falling after trying to fly too close to the sun?  Or maybe it has something to do with being in the spotlight?  Or is it just in keeping with the screenwriter’s fixation on hot places you can’t really visit (sun, equator)?  I’m a little wary of the screenwriter now, after this one-two punch of Women in the Sun and then Man from the Equator.  Is she the Ji Young/Seonu of the story, or the Do Young/Jang Il?  I also wouldn’t want to be her friend, even to find out the answer, but I might watch her other dramas.  Maybe something in her rom-com oeuvre, though.

Related Posts:

Women in the Sun: Episodes 17-18

Women in the Sun: Episodes 15-16

Women in the Sun: Episodes 13-14

Women in the Sun: Episodes 11-12

Women in the Sun: Episodes 9-10

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