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‘The Virtual Bride’ Reflects The Changing Role Of Women in Korea

BY Julie Jones | Sep 02, 2015 02:02 PM EDT

The Virtual Bride
(Photo : KBS)

 "The Virtual Bride" aka "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" started out with an entertaining premise. Dressed up to look like a reality show in which two unlikely people pretend to marry, the comedy also makes a few statements about the changing roles of women in Korea.

Women's social status in Korea has improved dramatically in the last 30 years, but Korea is traditionally a patriarchal society. As in many other countries views on gender roles can be hard to change. In traditional Korean society women's roles were confined to the home. And although today Korean women work in a variety of fields, including education, medicine and engineering, women must cope with a greater share of the housework, finding it difficult to balance family and work life.

"The Virtual Bride" takes one very modern woman, played by Sistar's Kim Da Som and places her in a very traditional household with a disapproving mother-in-law. The mother-in-law, Yang Choon Ja, deftly played by Go Du Shim, had to please her own demanding mother-in-law when she married. She wants her daughter-in-laws to follow tradition and do the same.

She's not having much luck with Kim Se Mi, the daughter-in-law played by Kim Yun So. A talented teacher, Kim Se Mi tried to please Yang Choon Ja for the sake of her unemployed husband but eventually took a stand and valued her own career. When she stands up for herself, Yang Choon Ja comments that the dutiful life she led has not been an entirely enjoyable one. But it was the right thing to do. Kim Se Mi enjoys her career and feels that it is important for a woman to do so.

Yang Choon Ja runs her home and at first it seems she has genuine power. But any power she currently has she owes to the tradition she was brought up in, one that did not let women choose what they wanted to do. Following the tradition begins to seem even more difficult when her friend becomes her mother-in-law and demands mother-in-law treatment from Yang Choon Ja.

Meanwhile Yang Choon Ja's own daughter, Cha Young A, played by Son Eun So, is having her own mother-in-law issues. Her mother-in-law is terrible at work and at home.

Because Yang Choon Ja has raised her daughter well, Cha Young A suffers through the bad treatment. And her husband is no help either. Played by Ki Tae Young, her husband puts his mother before his wife on every occasion. Not only is Young A's mother-in-law insufferable, her husband's behavior is not fair. Cha Young A's mother has a much more sophisticated job than making kimchi. That might make her seem like a more modern woman, but she still undervalues her daughter-in-law and treats her like a servant.

Cha Young A finally stands up to them by running for office. And despite their attempts to dissuade her, she decides to take a stand.

While the drama is playing up the mismatched romance for laughs, it's also making a statement about changing times and women's roles in Korean society.

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