Updated: Aug 4
I keep thinking about Woo Young-woo's mother, Tae Su-mi and the choice she made as a law student who suddenly finds herself pregnant.
The drama hasn't told us anything from her perspective yet, but there are some indisputable facts and some likely possibilities.
She was in her early 20s, a promising student with a bright career in law ahead. She fell in love and got pregnant and suddenly her whole future looked dark. She was considering abortion, but at the desperate pleas of the man she loved, she agreed to go through with the pregnancy. She stayed at home for 9 months, risked her reputation and her life to give birth in a home where she must have faced constant hostility from her parents, and then gave the child up.
I have a lot of sympathy for that young woman.
She didn't have to go through the pregnancy. She didn't have to take a long leave from school causing rumours to arise which followed her around for decades. She didn't have to stay stuck at home for so many months, in a likely cold household where she would have faced immense pressures to abort the child.
From Young-woo's perspective, her mother abandoned her and that's a fact too.
But I can't see young Tae Su-mi as the villain when she clearly went through an extremely painful period of mourning for giving Young-woo up.
It also seems clear to me that she only decided to give birth to the child because she knew she could trust Young-woo's dad to raise her well.
And while I absolutely love Woo Gwang-ho (dad) I can't see him as just the valiant hero.
He gave up his career and made his own life extremely hard. Then he made Young-woo the center of his existence to the point where he thinks he has the right to decide whether or not his Junior can use his daughter to needle her mother.
"You can do it just once! I will permit it once!" he tells the woman, as if hurting Tae Su-mi is a justifiable action and using Young-woo as the weapon is an acceptable price to him.
But Young-woo isn't his possession.
And the college student, Tae Su-mi was not a villain for choosing not to be with this man.
I really do appreciate how wonderful Dad is with Young-woo, but when he told that story to his daughter, he could only see his own pain and heartbreak.
But what he had asked pushed Tae Su-mi into more than a year of social isolation while she missed school and went through emotional turmoil alone.
Yet she had respected his choice as the father to have the baby.
I feel like we really need to acknowledge this part of her story.
This post is wholly about the difficult choices of the 20-something Tae Su-mi. While the adult Tae Su-mi has summarily dropped an anvil on my sympathy after episodes 9 & 10, I still stand by everything I wrote here in defense of her younger self, who seemed to have been capable of more empathy and reason.