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Adultery In 'I Have A Lover' Upsets Viewers

BY Julie Jones | Sep 16, 2015 12:30 PM EDT

I Have A Lover
(Photo : SBS)

According to Korea Times, viewers have posted negative comments on the website of the program "I Have A Lover." The comments concerned the fact that one of the drama's characters Kang Sully has no guilt over her affair with a married man.

In the drama Ji Jin Hee plays Choi Jin Eon, a man in an unhappy marriage. After the death of his child, he starts an affair with Kang Seol Ri, played by Park Han Byul. He is ready to divorce his wife.

When confronted with her affair, she tells Choi's wife, Do Hae Kang that she loves him and has no intention of stopping their affair.

"I didn't steal the love," she said. "The love came to me. And I think I should never let it go."

Not does she think there is anything wrong with loving him.

"What is an illicit affair," she asks. "It's when people are supposed to fall in love but don't do so."

Apparently viewers felt that she should have expressed some remorse for endangering a marriage.

In February 2015, South Korea's Constitutional Court overturned a law that made adultery a crime. According to that 62-year-old-law, anyone who committed adultery could be charged and spend up to two years in prison, if convicted. But even that punishment did not actually prevent adultery from happening.

According to a report by CNN, adultery is a common cause of divorce in Korea, with 40 percent of marriages since 2000 ending in divorce and about half of those marriages dissolving after one or more of the spouses cheated.

The changing perception of adultery is reflected in dramas. When dramas previously featured a married person falling in love, it did not end favorably. If the characters began an affair with the person they were attracted to, it did not end well, reinforcing the notion that no good can come of adultery. If they wanted to begin an affair but curbed their impulses, they often went back to their spouse and tried to heal their marriage. But lately, occasionally, a couple that starts an affair can wind up together and happy.

Recently three dramas have tackled the subject of adultery and divorce. In "One Warm Word," which also starred Ji Jin Hee as a straying spouse, the couples did not act on their romantic impulses and ultimately tried to salvage their marriages. In "Valid Love," Lee Si Young was in love with two men and trying to justify that brought her to the brink of a divorce. How far she realized her romantic impulses was left open to viewer interpretation, but in the end she gave up Lee Soo Hyuk and returned to her husband.

"Temptation," starring Choi Ji Woo, Kwon Sang Woo and Park Ha Sun, was the rare drama in which adultery broke up a marriage and the partners remarried, for better or worse. But Choi Ji Woo's character was punished in a way by becoming sick. Still, she and Kwon sang Woo were happy for a time together.

What do you think about the way adultery is portrayed in k-dramas? Should it be more realistic? Or would a more realistic portrayal of adultery have a negative effect.

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