Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Korea's Telenovela and My Visit to Busan, Korea

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Yesterday was the airing of the Philippines' remake of Full House, starring Heart Evangelista as Jessie and Richard Gutierrez as Justin. The remake is a welcome thing for me because Full House is my favorite telenovela of all time and the airing brought lots of good memories not only of the telenovela but of Busan, Korea in general.

Full House is a romantic comedy series from Korea starring Song Hye Kyo (yes! the lovable girl from Endless Love and my friend on FB) and Asian heartthrob Rain. It is my favorite Korean telenovela that was aired in Korea in 2004 and whose tagalized version was aired by GMA 7 in 2005. It is a story about love and heartbreak, sadness and self-preservation (and I included a synopsis I found in a website on Full House).

Jessie is the woman lead character of the drama. It is shown as a cheerful, optimistic and loyal girl to her friends. Naive and not very smart, she is shown as a character with spunk and a good heart as displayed in her never ending quest to be a writer. Her journey with Justin(Bi) is filled with trials and (at first) unrequited love. She is best described as an orphaned online novelist who lives in a beautiful house (called FULL HOUSE-named by her father) which she inherited from her parents. Her troubles started when her closest friends tricked her by sending her on a trip to Shanghai so they could sell her house behind her back. When she returned, she found out the house was sold and she had nowhere to go. The person who bought the house is the famous movie star Lee Young Jae and the only way she could stay was if she would be his personal maid.

Justin is a top Korean actor. He does his utmost not to hurt other people and not to be hurt himself. Every movie he starred in became a blockbuster. He is stubborn when it comes to selecting which movies to star in, but he has received much acclaim for his talent. Although Justin always behaves and speaks as he wants, he does that only to protect himself from being hurt and not to hurt others. People think of him as a very candid person, but that is also Young-Jae’s strategy to hide himself – or rather his failure to express himself to the fullest. As one who is unaccustomed to being frank and open, Young-jae is bad at making friends and very proud of his ideals and principles. He deeply loves his childhood friend, Elaine (Hye-Won), even though she shows him no affection. One day, he stumbles upon Jessie and slowly falls in love with her.

I fell in love with Full House that I bought the complete tagalized version (at P3,500.00! then) so I would know the ending ahead of everyone else. Also, I knew that having a full volume would allow me to watch over and over again the scenes that I like the most (and they are many!!). I was so fascinated with Full House not only because of the endearing and humorous scenes but because I had been to five cities in South Korea in 2002 - Seoul, Busan (then Pusan), Masan, Ulsan and Daego and somewhat familiar with some of the places in Full House and other Korean telenovelas that I watched religiously until now - Endless Love 1-3, Jumong, the Legend, Jewel in the Palace, Stairway to Heaven, Kim Sam Soon, My Sassy Girl etc. Currently, I am watching Shining Inheritance and the Philippine remake of Stairway to Heaven in addition to the Philippine remake of Full House.

Since Busan, Korea has been the setting of most of the korean telenovelas I have watched, let me share with you the many memories of my travel to Busan in 2002 when I discovered the charm and magic of the city.

Being in Busan at that time was a magic in itself. It wasn't a part of our itinerary to South Korea as my best friend Dearie and I were bound to Ulsan, South Korea through Seoul International Airport, upon the invitation of my Korean best friend Michael (Ji Bong Gyu). Michael was one of the almost a hundred Korean students I taught conversational English from 1992-1998 and visiting him in 2002 was a dream come true.

The itinerary we chose would fly us to Seoul and from there take the bus straight to Ulsan. While at LDS Seoul,Korea Temple, we met Jee Young,who lives in Busan and she invited us to visit her there. Wanting to see more places during our short visit we excitedly grabbed the chance!

From Ulsan, we took the bus that brought us straight to the Busan Station. Not having any cellphone at that time, we were advised by Michael to borrow a cellphone just from anyone, so we can call Jee Young when we reach Busan. And so we did! We randomly stopped a guy who has a cellphone. He can speak English and he called Jee Young through his cellphone. He volunteered to talk to Jee Young in Korean language and after a few minutes Jee Young found us and brought us to an LDS house who served as Mission President in Seoul. They have one child who joined us in our Busan Asventure. The family was very kind to us and gave us a nice accommodation. Angels indeed are of different faces!

Haeundae Beach

Busan, because it is home to everything cinematic, it is called the "Hollywood" of South Korea. To me,however, Busan is the Hawaii or San Francisco of South Korea because of the Haeundae beach. The beach was nice and it is so close to the tall skyscrapers. We strolled along the white sands and listened to the sounds of seagulls.

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