If I were to name an almost-fairy-tale story that is so near the world outside the fiction novels and TV screens, it would definitely be SBS’ Scent of a Woman or Helena’s Promise. It’s absolutely not just another k-drama effect.
I have actually first encountered this drama when I was in South Korea last August 2011. I was in our hotel suit, spending my free time trying so hard to appreciate their Samsung 36” HD TV. My golly banana, it was definitely huuuuuge and soooo high def. Since I’m only aware of two Korean TV stations, I randomly pressed the remote control for those channels. That’s when I saw Heartstrings on MBC. I remember seeing the part where Lee Shin grabbed Gyu Won’s hand while talking to the director. From that moment, I knew that when I go back, I will find ways to watch this series. Then I turned to SBS and saw my ultimate My-Girl-heartthrob crush, Lee Dong Wook crying while talking to She’s On Duty and My Lovely Kim Sam Soon star, Kim Seun-ah. It was the scene when Ji Wook thought that Yeon Jae was asking for money from him since all her bank accounts were frozen.
There was something in that situation that made some connection between me and the TV. Although I couldn’t understand a thing back then, it was as if I felt that this K-drama will have a very important role in my life, but not anytime soon. So, a week after I arrived, I googled Heartstrings right away and found a site where I can view it online. Months have passed, yet that sad scene with Ji Wook crying still haunted me like a beautiful phantom. But I was still able to ignore it because of the series of work in the office. But then, from time to time, I make an effort to watch the trailer and look for posters and pictures in the web. I even consulted AsiaWiki about the K-drama. But I never dared searched for a site where I can watch it. Then, come November, ABS-CBN featured a commercial about it and adopted its other title, Helena’s Promise. The major activities in our office have subsided. We have internet access in the office. So, you already know what I did.
We have TV in the office, thank goodness. So I brought our spare antenna at home and plugged it in. Since the program was aired every 8:15 in the morning, I made a habit of going to the office an hour early just to catch the show. I can’t even think of a word to describe that me back then.
However, I was able to track each episode and discovered that there were a lot of cut scenes and I really didn’t like it. It was as if I’m going to miss a lot. So I decided to finally google Scent of a Woman Korean drama and, with eyes wide open, I found a site where I can freely download every episode in HD with subtitles. From then on, every night was Yeon Jae- Ji Wook night.
The Bucket List
When I reached episode 10, it was as if I’m having some minor battlefield in my head. A part of me wanted to know what’s going to happen next right away while the other wanted to slow down and really feel each scene. And I chose the latter. That’s why it took me three months just to finish all 16 episodes.
One of the things I love the most in this K-drama is Yeon Jae’s Bucket List and how she tried so hard just to accomplish them. Some were so emotionally hard while the other went the natural way. It made me look at my own Bucket List and rethink the items. It made me smile.
Another thing that always made me so kilig was how Ji Wook stood up for his love for Yeon Jae. All the scenes with his father, always trying to convince him that he loved Yeon Jae very much; the scenes with Se Gyeong and how he made her feel that he has chosen Yeon Jae without even speaking a word; the scenes with Eun Seok and the look in their eyes every time they catch a glimpse at Yeon Jae; and of course, that tango dance Ji Wook and Yeon Jae shared that says it all.
I never wanted to forget this show. For some, it may be a little uncanny and odd to treat something so mainstreamed like a crucial matter in life. But in the long run, I could really say that I have learned a thing or two while watching this K-drama.
Scent of a Woman made me appreciate that part of my day where I get to open my eyes and welcome a brand new morning, be grateful that I have another day to spend time with the people I love and do things I want to do. How Yeon Jae taught me a lot of things especially on how to face the struggles of life with such conviction and dignity. I especially love her transformation in Episode Two, how she handled the part when she found out about her sickness, how she tried her best to do the things on her Bucket List, how she allowed herself to breakdown once in a while, and how she manifested her true love for her mother and for Ji Wook.
Even though I have read and watched Paolo Coelho’s Veronika Decides to Die, I still pretty much appreciated the notion on life and living in this K-drama better. The notion that I don’t have to wait for something so vital like being diagnosed with a sickness just to start living not for the next six months or five weeks, but to start living for today.
Lines to Highlight
And since I can’t help it, I really jotted down quotable lines I want to always remember. If you have seen me do this, you would really think I’m doing some class requirement for my Film Appreciation class back in college. So, here’s some notes I want to share and maybe, this would inspire you even if you have not seen the series yourself.
Yeon Jae, Episode 13
Since I’m going to die anyway, I might as well do what I want to do…doing something with value, with meaning…happily, that’s how I want to spend my time. This way, I won’t have any regrets.
Kim Dong-Myung, Episode 15
As I get older, there’s this thought that keeps coming to my mind. There’s really not much to life. You can’t take money and fame with you. But as long as you can live and look at the people you love everyday… when you leave, that should be considered as the happiness of life.
Ji Wook, Episode 16
I’m very happy when I’m with her… there are times when I am sad, and times when I want to cry. Sometimes, although my heart hurts to much, like it would rip apart. But I am still happy. Every day used to be so monotonous and meaningless. And even if I’d just die, I wouldn’t have cared. I used to think like that. But it is different now. I want to live life to the fullest…because of her.
In my view, I think what Ji Wook said in this conversation with his father underlined all the lessons that I would want to bring with me even if I already finished watching the show a few hours ago. That sweet note that there is someone who is saying this line to his parent and that’s because of you; someone who is now brave enough to admit his weaknesses and fears because of you; and someone who realized life’s worth because of you.
I’m very thankful I was able to watch this show and that I have watched it in this period of my life. To all the actors, staff, and producers of this show, you did a good job. And your hope that your viewers will always be happy? That will absolutely happen:)