Let’s talk about 상류사회 (High Society). That show should win some kind of award for creating two of the most precious side characters in a drama full of people I couldn’t care a whit about. Changsoo and Jiyi’s flirtationship is, at least in the first six episodes (
and honestly I don’t see myself continuing with this show in the future Edit: I am no longer following this show), everything that Joongki and Yoonha’s relationship is not. It’s honest and transparent, a little bit silly and awkward and, golly, the characters actually communicate about their feelings and insecurities! Go figure!!
Granted, I’m speaking from what I’ve seen of the Changsoo-Jiyi dynamics up till episode 6. I’m sure the writers will screw it all up with stupid misunderstandings and heartbreak and such now that all the cute is out of the way. I know their relationship is bound to have drama but it’s just a question of whether the characters suddenly devolve into frustrating idiocy or continue to communicate openly like they have thus far. Please don’t ruin this couple, 작가님!
Anyway, I love this couple. Certain silly, unrealistic K-drama lines still make me swoon on occasion (despite having a heart of ice, or so I’ve been told) and there was one such exchange between Changsoo and Jiyi in episode 5.
Jiyi says she knows he’s a “bad guy” – as in, he dates around without the intention of getting married. She pouts and tells him not to do nice things for her because she’s starting to like him more and more. They go back and forth a little and then…
창수: 이건 뭐냐?
지이: 좋아지고 있어요. 안 좋아하려고 했는데 넘 귀여워요.
지이: 만나면 꿈 꾸는 것 같아요 […] 세상에 공짜는 없지만 사랑에 공짜는 있잖아요. 본부장님은 점점 좋아지는데 나는 점점 싫어져요. 이럼 안되잖아요.
창수: 넌 남자한테 책임감 끌어내는 능력이 있다?
Changsoo: What are you doing?
Jiyi: I’m starting to like you. I wasn’t going to like you, but you’re so cute.
Jiyi: Going out with you is like being in a dream […] Nothing is free in life, but love is free, you know. I’m starting to like you more and more, but I’m starting to hate myself more and more too. That’s not okay, is it?
Changsoo: You have a talent for dragging a sense of responsibility out of a man, you know?
책임감 is literally defined as a sense of responsibility. Obligation. Duty. Those are words are associated with the different roles we play as a person i.e. my “duty” to my family as a daughter or sister, my “responsibility” as a tenant, my “obligation” to pay taxes as law-abiding citizen, fulfilling my duties at work and owning up to them, etc.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I rarely associate the word responsibility/obligation/duty with friends or lovers. Is that individualistic Western thinking? I will do things and act a certain way to my friends because I cherish them and care for them. If they ask for help, I will always do my best to help them, but I don’t feel a sense of “responsibility” for them. I do what I do for my friends out of love, but not responsibility. I don’t see my friend and think, “I have a duty to do x or y for this person.” I think, “I will do x or y for this person because I care for them.”
That’s not to say that love and responsibility are mutually exclusive! But they certainly do not always overlap.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always been fascinated by the Korean concept of couples vowing to “take responsibility” for each other. When you tell someone you love them, I guess it’s implicit that you will support each other come what may, etc. but (and this may just be me reading too much into it) there’s something deeply serious about the idea of having 책임감. Taking responsibility for a person. It’s something I would expect out of a marriage but not out of friendship or courtship; and yet, it is not unusual to hear Korean couples say “책임 질게” to each other.
To me, 책임 질게 connotes an earnestness, gravity, and a depth of love that’s lacking in a mere “I love you.” These days, “I love you” is so overused it’s practically meaningless.
Now, I think the phrase is mostly used by the man and said to the woman in the relationship, though not always. The feminist in me protests, “Men and women should be responsible for themselves!” but then I think, how truly comforting it must be to hear those words from a best friend or lover, regardless of your gender. It’s like saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything. Just depend on me.”
On those especially stressful days when you aren’t strong enough to take on the world, sometimes just hearing those words is enough to take the weight off your shoulders.