I’m no stranger to the fabled Hong-sisters’ dramas, having watched (and loved) their series of rom-coms, starting from Delightful Girl Choon-hyang to their more recent Master Sun. The same plot line is usually applied — there’s the Alpha male (usually a chaebol)…and a hardworking female (the Candy), who can be a little eccentric (besides being overly bubbly).
Warm is a little departure from their usual tried-and-tested formula. For one, there is no Alpha male. (ok, save for one — Mayor Wook aka Yellow Underpants Man. maybe?) While strong-willed female characters are not rare in kdramas, it is another thing to have the male characters portrayed rather “effeminately”.
I suppose the Hong-sisters are tying in Warm with the locale. Afterall, Jeju-do with its famous haenyeos, is associated with strong women (not only strong-willed, but also physically strong). Due to the pervasive haenyeo culture in Jeju-do, some people have also said that Jeju-do has a matriarchal society. The haenyeos are a visible part of Warm‘s narrative, represented by Hae-shil and her storyline. Conversely, the sub-culture of the “lazy men” who depend on their haenyeo wives is also portrayed by the male characters in Warm.
Even though Gun-woo may be the one who “saved” Jung-joo from her predicaments, by offering her room and board (his restaurant), it is Jung-joo who eventually brings in the business to an otherwise very empty Warm and Cozy. Interestingly, the Jung-joo in Seoul is very much the Loser. She falls for her cousin’s sneaky trick to con money from her and is betrayed by her long time boyfriend. However, once she decides to stick it out on Jeju-do, Jung-joo appears to have absorbed the haenyeo culture — even going so far to sign up to become a certified haenyeo diver. And while Jung-joo grows in strength, Gun-woo seems to “shrink” and regress into childhood.
Like a little kid, Gun-woo has to ask for pocket money from Jung-joo. And even depends on her credit card for groceries. So instead of the usual behaviours of the chaebol financially supporting his beau, the purse strings are with the lady. And let’s not even start with Gun-woo’s flip-flopping behaviours over Jung-joo. It’s apparent he likes her — a lot — but he goes ahead and acts like a 3-year old kid around her, being mean to her at one moment, and sweet to her the next, juz …because. (grr) His immaturity extends to his refusal to chop off his association with Ji-won, even though he knows she uses him and will toss him away without much thought when she’s done.
And did anyone notice Gun-woo loves to pout? I was telling kooriyuki the other day that the lip gloss Yoo Yoon-seok uses in Warm is so…erm, pink and glossy? (induces an urge to chin-tickle Gun-woo)
Not that his hyung is any better. Jung-guen may appear to be the typical Alpha in Hong-sisters’ dramas — he meets the outward requirements, being filthy rich, a sharp businessman, supposedly decisive, in-control and leads a huge team, blahblah… And his romance is with a hardworking Candy-type — Hae-shil. There’s even a borrowed background music from Secret Garden playing when he daydreams (or hallucinates) over Hae-shil.
However, notice that he harps non-stop about his so-called “willpower”? He claims he is “strong-willed” enough to walk away from “that woman” (aka Hae-shil), and his staff all think he has an iron will to quit smoking, juz “cos he wants to”. Only to have the following scenes show us the exact opposite. He can’t walk away from Hae-shil, no matter how hard he tries. And he tries to smoke (and hilariously fails to light his ciggie), only to fall into the sea after slipping on the wet pier.
In terms of appearance, I also notice that Jung-guen only looks smart from waist up. He has a penchant for wearing berms, and what’s with that white rubber ballet slip-ons he has on when he goes a-peeking at Hae-shil at her home?
Besides having effeminate males and stronger female characters, the voice of Women is predominant in Warm as well. We have this mysterious novelist cum voice over narrator who has decided to oh-so-helpfully unearth Gun-woo’s parentage for us. (seriously, not that i care)