Thursday, March 21, 2013

Honesty, Sincerity, Equality

by Hanjae

Throughout Faith, there are two wonderful themes that marked the Imja couple's every interaction. The first is that of equality. Choi Young and Eun Soo always walked side by side; the only instances where either stepped in front of the other was done out of a desire to guide or protect rather than to dominate. The second is that of their honesty and sincerity towards each other; no matter how difficult the situation or complicated their feelings, they faced each other (and the truth) rather than turn their backs or seek to avoid eye contact.

Theme #1 - Equality
For Young and Eun Soo, walking side by side symbolized above all the healthy respect that they possessed for each other, although it also took on another facet later in their relationship. Even as early as their visit to Gyungchang's residence, Young and Eun Soo had walked side by side, emphasizing their equal footing.

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Young may have been a lauded warrior and captain of the Wudalchi, but Eun Soo was regarded as a doctor from heaven and honoured as such. Despite hailing from a considerably more advanced time, Eun Soo never presumed to know more than Young did and happily deferred to him in matters with which he would be more familiar. In return, Young respected her medical expertise and trusted her words, no matter how strange they sounded.

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It is fitting that Eun Soo and Young agreed to be "partners" - not only to work together towards a common goal, but to protect each other equally. And it is telling that despite how amusing the idea of Eun Soo protecting him sounds in theory, he respected her enough to treat it seriously. From then on, their every interaction only served to emphasize their mutual appreciation of each other's qualities; they walked side by side in the shopping scene in Episode 13, sat side by side when Eun Soo treated Young's arm in Episode 14 and again when they shared rice soup in front of the Suribang.

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This mutual respect takes on another facet as their relationship gradually transitions into that of lovers; they continued to walk or sit side by side, but with increasing physical closeness. Eun Soo made an interesting comment that she had unwittingly developed a habit of leaning on Young, but what was left unsaid was how much Young also leaned on Eun Soo - her presence was what gave him joy and motivation to live. That is not to say that they relied on each other, but rather that they provided the other person with both physical and emotional support with their mere presence.

On the rare occasions that Young stepped in front of Eun Soo and vice versa, it was done in order to protect the other, and even in this they shared equal responsibility. Young may have been the warrior and had placed himself in front of Eun Soo many a time to shield her from danger, but Eun Soo had done the same - most memorably to save Young from Ki Chul, but also by intervening in Deok Heung's trap and through her medical skills. It is interesting that other characters in the drama also viewed them on such equal terms; Gongmin credited Eun Soo for Young's reawakening as a warrior, Lady Choi requested Eun Soo's help in saving Young when he attempted to sacrifice his life, and even Deok Heung acknowledged that Young was as much a "weakness" for Eun Soo as she was for Young.


Theme #2 - Honesty and Sincerity
Just as being side by side symbolized Choi Young and Eun Soo's mutual faith in and support of each other, the fact that they faced each other in their interactions underlined their desire to communicate their honest thoughts and feelings. Avoidance of eye contact so often signals an attempt to mask one's true thoughts; Eun Soo and Young, on the other hand, always regarded each other with a clear and unerring gaze. Because they did so with such sincerity, Young and Eun Soo transcended any language barriers and always understood what the other was trying to say, with or without words - a remarkable contrast to the comedy of errors and misunderstandings that are almost a trademark of Korean dramas.

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While they often faced each other in a confrontational manner at the beginning, one of the sweetest developments following their transition to lovers was Young's habit of turning back to look at her as he leaves, thus transforming the very act of turning his back on her into one of affection. Perhaps even more significant is the subtle physical difference that accompanied the change in their interactions from Eun Soo talking to an unresponsive Young to one where Young replied to her every word. Whereas Young initially looked away from Eun Soo, his every muscle communicating his disinterest...

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...He later turned to her at every instance, going as far as to stop so that he could face her:

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I had previously suggested that Young moving towards Eun Soo in Episode 17 represented moving forward and facing the future head-on. It is the same for Eun Soo - who, by the very act of walking through the portal at the end and leaving the 21st Century behind, had chosen Young as her future. Their every action in facing each other as well as walking side by side represented the fact that Young and Eun Soo are facing the future in unison.

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As Young had said, "I will go with you, together." 

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