Why must Hyun Bin switch bodies with Ha Ji Won?
Why is it a necessity for ‘Secret Garden’s Kim Ju Won (Hyun Bin) and Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won) to exchange souls?
Anyway, viewers are already fascinated enough by these two’s heartwarming Cinderalla story – the romance between never-say-die stuntwoman Gil Ra Im and Loel Department Store’s CEO Kim Ju Won, this romance where hurtful words are lashed mercilessly because of how it is impossible in reality, but nevertheless a romance overfilled with charm.
After watching Gil Ra Im, a stuntwoman who can apologize profusely even after consecutively leaping off the railings in a stunt shoot, Kim Ju Won tells the director, “To me, this woman is Kim Tae Hee and Jeon Do Yeon.” Setting many female hearts fluttering, it cannot be refuted that this scene comes straight from Cinderella.
However, will this drama follow the Cinderella storyline? Let’s look at Kim Ju Won, who asserts that he is someone who has everything, who cannot understand and forgive his own attraction to a stuntwoman like Gil Ra Im.
With many expecting him to be Prince Charming, even Gil Ra Im asks, “So will I become Cinderella?” But Kim Ju Won replies, “No, not Cinderalla. You’ll become the Little Mermaid.”
Not the Cinderella whose life turns for the better after marrying the prince, but the Little Mermaid who’s one-sided love for the prince causes her life to end in bubbles.
Add in the exchanging of souls, and pro-Cinderella viewers will be even more confused. Amidst the widely discussed and highly anticipated soul-change scenes, these viewers worry that the scenes may destroy the serious Cinderella premise established early in the drama (albeit with quite a lot of comedic effects). No matter how the soul-swapping scenes are interpreted, it’s inevitable that these scenes will be extremely exaggerated.
So why must this drama go against viewer expectations and insist on the soul-changing ‘transformation’ motif?
That’s because this motif will create fresh, interesting elements and meanings more than the overused Cinderella story.
Of course, the Cinderella story is always a popular theme that captivates the audience, but nowadays this story alone will only add to indigestion (of drama appetities). Especially if the scriptwriter Kim Eun Sook hails from 3 romance dramas, as well as melodramas ‘On Air’ and ‘City Hall’, she wouldn’t want her newest project to be labelled ‘another Cinderella story’.
So which elements of the soul change setting would writer Kim Eun Sook choose to infuse into the drama?
First and foremost, like similar productions, the soul change scenes will explore it’s wealth of comedic material to the fullest. Thus there will definitely be scenes showing the characters’ adaptation to their new bodies and identities, as well as the tension and laughter due to mis-match of bodies with their inner personalities. Especially when the two gets anxious and give advice over the mutual ‘use’ (?) of each other’s bodies. Such are the many comedic opportunities that arise just from exchanging souls.
However, as we all know, the switching of souls is not just for making people laugh. Like in the ‘Prince and the Pauper’, the exchange of souls will enable the two to understand each other’s social class. How Ju Won will cross the line he drew to distinguish himself from others, to be able to achieve true understanding of ‘the others’.
Many dramas with Cinderella inferences try to camouflage the fairytale with a storyline that is supposed to reflect reality, but ultimately these dramas are just perfect fantasies. As Kim Ju Won says, the extremely wide distance between their social status will make any attempt to understand each other impossible from the very beginning.
But in a fantasy drama like ‘Secret Garden’ where souls can be exchanged, understanding and empathy between these 2 from totally different worlds sound realistic and possible.
When Cinderella ends her story with “Cinderalla and her prince lived happily ever after”, one always suspects whether their marriage can be forever blissful. That’s because both of them do not have similar perspectives of life and may not be able to communicate their differences effectively. Cinderella married the prince because he chose her, and they did not have the opportunity to achieve any understanding with each other.
Thus ‘Secret Garden’ crosses the gender and class divide, forcing 2 very different characters to understand each other from a human to human level. Of course on the surface it is a romantic comedy, but it’s underlying message goes beyond comedy and is full of sincere truth.
It seems that Secret Garden will be successful in using its love story to show how a man and a woman in today’s society can face and overcome differences between genders and class. And it’s medium of choice? Through the exchanging of souls.