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.
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.
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.