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Fathers on the Screen Open the Mind of Viewers

   
 
  Both A Gift from Room 7(left) and My Daughter Seo-young(right) are dealing with fatherhood, and they wre loved by many people.  
 
There is a new trend in the mass media recently which is focused on the concept of being a father. The popular KBS drama series “My Daughter Seo-young,” which ended in March, was loved by many people and gathered viewer ratings over forty percent. The main theme in making this drama was the role of the father. The movie “gift of room 7” shows father’s love and sacrifice for his daughter in accordance with “DDal Babo” syndrome. The main subject in this movie was also “father.” Besides these examples, other media content such as SBS cultural program “Thank You,” dealing with themes related to being a father, is gaining popularity these days.

How about before? Before the focus on the issues about fathers became popular, the theme of a mother’s love received a lot of attention from audiences. In particular, there was a mother’s love fever in 2008. People developed empathy for a mother’s life and main character’s life and they focused more on the mother’s role than the father’s. Because of this fever, there were very few works dealing with father in the mass media. For example, the best seller book “Please look after Mom” written by Shin Kyung-sook, the movies “Goodbye Mom” in 2009, “My mom” in 2010, and “Sunny” in 2011 were all loved by the movie-going public. In addition, the KBS drama “Mom is dead upset,” written by famous writer Kim Soo-hyun, validates this trend. According to an analysis by cultural critics, they concluded that the popularity of “My Daughter Seo-young” was due to its originality and newness.

Kim Hyun-sik, a media critic, said “There was a talk of the absence of Father’s identity in the mass media and in general society. Mom’s story was well treated but father’s story was neglected by the people in past years. For that reason, recent dramas or TV programs dealing with Father itself became very popular, due to unique and novel material. Viewers tired of programs having the motive of mother’s love are finding newer things such as programs based on a father’s love.

“My Daughter Seo-young” attracted viewers because father is mainly dealt with. In the past, the father’s role was not a leading but supporting role in TV dramas. Viewers felt empathy for this TV drama because the story is focused on the father, and the image of the father is described in detail. In “My Daughter Seo-young”, the father experienced the repeated failure of his business, so he could not perform his role as head of the household; rather, he is a burden to his family. Thus, father could not show himself in front of his family, and his daughter, Seo-young, turned away from her father. Her wedding day scene was depicted most dramatically. Sam-jae, Seo-young’s father, was not invited to his daughter’s wedding and found a part-time job as a wedding attendant. He watched the daughter’s wedding by accident, and was shocked. After that day, Seo-young found out that her father was there and went to be forgiven by him. But he said that “Because I understand your situation, I did not say anything about that day. I am okay now.” This scene expressed the circumstances and feelings of lonely and isolated fathers around us very well.

Because of the increase in interest in fathers, the ideal father figure is being shown more and more in the mass media nowadays. One of new desirable types of father is “Ddal Babo.” It means father who are fools to their daughters because they love them blindly. Before these days, the main responsibility for child-rearing was focused on moms, and fathers played the role of earning money, and they only had an economic position in their family. But, the new young and trendy father is trying to be interested in his children’s education quite a bit. This change is reflected in the mass media, and these programs have attracted wide audiences.

The movie “Gift of Room 7” reflects this social need. It has surpassed the 10 million tickets sold mark in Korea. This family comedy movie from director Lee Hwan-kyung stars Ryu Seung-ryong as a convicted killer with the mind of six-years old, who lands in prison along a room full of hardened criminals. But, when they know that he can’t live without his daughter, they hatch a plan to break the girl into prison. In the end, he gives in to political authority, because the chief of the National Police Agency threatened that his daughter may die if he didn’t admit to the accusation. He finally dies for daughter. Thus, this movie suggested father’s love goes beyond all intimidation, to protect his daughter’s safety and happiness.

The most dramatic scene was the day of Yong-gu (played by Ryu Seung-ryong)’s execution was also his daughter’s birthday. Room 7’s residents said his last words to her. He said that “Thank you for being born from me.” So she bowed him and told him “Thank you for being your daughter.”


   
 
  A TV program Appa Odiga shows an ideal role of a father in family relationships.  
 
Another ideal father image has appeared through this trend of expressing a father’s love. In the past, father was portrayed as patriarchal and giving love silently. Now, the term “Friendy” represents the attitude of the ideal father. “Friendy” is an abbreviation of friend and daddy. It represents a father who is a good-listener and spends his time with his kids. This term comes from the social trend emphasizing horizontal relationships between members of families, rather than the typical authoritative and conservative father. For example, the TV program “Dad, where are you going,” which is titled “Appa Odiga” in Korean, is popular with all ages. It is loved because the father is sent far away from the city, far from the education of kids and his sons or daughter, and has to try to adjust to strange circumstances. The father thinks about his children and tries to play an active role in their lives, and his kids show their innocence. This program shows the role of an ideal father in family relationships.

On their second trip, Lee Jong-hyuk and his son, Lee Jun-su talked while they covered themselves with bed cover. Jun-su was joking with him “There is a ghost behind you.” And Jong-hyuk pretended to be a ghost with tissue caught on his nose. Jun-su was quite laughing over and slightly slapped his father’s cheek. And he said “My heart will burst with joy,” and Jong-hyuk also was very happy as he played with his son. Although playing with father was strange thing in TV program scene, but it is familiar to viewers these days.

Lee Hye-jin, a junior of Political Science and Diplomacy and one of program viewers, mentioned that “I want to meet my future boyfriend such as Lee Jong-hyuk. He plays the role of a kind and friendly father in “Appa Odiga” program. He does not act like an authoritative and patriarchal father. I want to meet the guys like him. 

In celebration of Family month, May, how about trying to think about your father and the meaning of family through the portrayal of fathers in the mass media? Everyone who reads this article may want to love and communicate with your loved ones. Although he does not go your way, the most significant person in your life may be your father. It may be difficult for you to tell Father “I love you” and hug him among all the other people in your family. If you get vicarious satisfaction through TV programs, and start to think about your negligent relationship with your father, call your father today and say “I love you.” You could be a member of loving family if you try to make warm relationship with your father.    

Park Su-jeong  happy2uy@dongguk.edu

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