[drama review] A Gentleman’s Dignity; it should be called “A Woman’s Indignity” or perhaps “How I Fell In Love With Lee Jonghyun”

A Gentleman’s Dignity, a 2012 kdrama, has an interesting premise– four successful men in their 40s trying to sort out their love lives. I genuinely thought it had quite funny moments, but mostly my viewing experience devolved into “when is Lee Jonghyun-oppa going to appear?” and “why is this so sexist?”

Please note: the rest of this post contains spoilers. Do not read on if you do not want to be egregiously spoiled.

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when is Lee Jonghyun-oppa going to appear? Jonghyun smiled very little in this drama, so when he did smile, I think I about fainted, and fast-forwarded through most of the drama in hopes that he would smile again.

why is this so sexist? The main female protagonist is a teacher, Seo Yi-Soo; in the beginning of the series, some of her students get into a fight with the male protagonist, Kim Do-Jin. After the incident, Yi-Soo goes to Do-Jin’s workplace to work out a settlement. At least two times, Yi-Soo comes to wait on him and he ignores her and makes her wait, and then leaves abruptly. Like a meek doll, Yi-Soo acquiesces and chases after him and buys him coffee and acts cute, while Do-Jin revels in acting as a tsundere and forces Yi-Soo to date him.

Forget about a gentleman’s dignity, the indignity of being a woman is so much more stronger in this drama. In her own scenes without Do-Jin, Yi-Soo is proven to be a smart, capable, and courageous woman, yet in her scenes with Do-Jin, she is unable to react and cannot realize what an demanding jerk Do-Jin is; it is as if she enjoys having Do-Jin manipulate her under her thumb. After about six episodes in, I started to root for her troublemaker student to win her heart, despite my aversion to teacher-student relationships.

The other three relationships also struck me as glorifying all of the males; but then, it is a comedy centered around males, so I guess some of it can slide. But then it can’t really: the latest glass-ceiling index from The Economist has me reeling in disgust. Out of 26 countries, South Korea is dead last in friendliness towards working women.

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For all its laughs and the cute Jonghyun-oppa moments, it is increasingly obvious that A Gentleman’s Dignity was only successful at the expense of a female’s dignity.

 

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One thought on “[drama review] A Gentleman’s Dignity; it should be called “A Woman’s Indignity” or perhaps “How I Fell In Love With Lee Jonghyun”

  1. Oh lord. My love of KDramas has started to falter due to the whole “single, capable woman turns into a blubbering teen-aged idiot when faced with a guy she likes” motif. I was initially interested in this series b/c I prefer dramas with older female leads (and by older I mean over 30, seeing actresses in that age bracket are apparently useless), but really, is it that hard to write a female character who chooses to stand up for herself? I was shipping that student/teacher paring too, only because he was the only person she showed some assertiveness/confidence around.

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