So far, 38 episodes of My Golden Life have aired. Why is this drama so popular? I’ve been pondering this for a while, and I think I finally have a more solid answer to that question.
My Golden Life is a long weekend drama that consists of multiple intertwined stories of primarily two families. It depicts in a realistic manner how different families live day to day, and puts them against each other as contrasts: contrasts of a seemingly loving family, to a family that seemingly has it all.
The first family that is introduced is the Seo family. The main character of this entire show is Seo Ji-an, a hardworking girl in her late 20s that goes through many tribulations that test her perseverance, loyalty, and heart. Her family at home consists of six people: her parents, a twin sister, a younger brother, and an older brother. The beginning of the show depicts her as a girl who can do anything, a girl with a lot of pride and confidence in what she does. However, we can see that her efforts are hindered by those who utilize wealth to manipulate others.
Because she works so hard, she doesn’t have many friends; the only person she earnestly confesses her troubles to is not often seen throughout the show. Out of all the people around her, it is obvious that Ji-an cherishes the girl that she believed to be her twin for 23 years, Seo Ji-soo. But because of Ji-an’s mother, Yang Mi-jung’s decision to switch the twins and ultimately send Ji-an instead of Ji-soo to the Haesung Group family, the relationship between Ji-an and Ji-soo is forever severed, as seen when Ji-soo leaves the Seo household and goes to live with her biological parents (Haesung family). You can honestly say that Yang Mi-jung started everything. I did, and I hated her for a long time because of that. Why does everyone else have to suffer because of what she did? is what I thought. But I think this is where the family aspect of the drama really shines through and shows how much a single decision impacts a closely knitted group of people, like families. We want to hate our families for certain things that they do, but ultimately we can’t because of all the past we shared with them in our lives. Ji-an also cannot stand the futility of her hard work and decides for herself that she wants to move into the Haesung Group family. Although Ji-an’s mother started the problem involving the Haesung Group family, Ji-an also wanted to believe she was the daughter of Haesung Group, because she was so tired of her life, so tired of being poor.
Because of the coincidence that one of the Seo twins is the daughter of Haesung Group, the two families get intertwined and we get a deeper look into the Haesung Group family. On the surface, in which Ji-an looked into the family, the family has everything anyone could ever wish for. But they have rules that prevent anyone in the family from doing things any normal person would do. We find out that they have strict lessons, have to constantly be under the watch of people, and watch out for their image, as it will harm the Group. When Ji-an first moves in with the family, although she was amazed at everything that the family possessed, she soon realizes that she can’t be herself; she had to play the role of a “perfect daughter” and follow the rules of the family, rules that no one would dare to disobey. At least, not until Ji-an and Choi Do-kyeong find out the truth about Ji-an not being the actual daughter of Haesung Group. Because of this, I feel like the turning point of the show is not when Yang Mi-jung lies, or even when Ji-an moves into the Haesung Group household, but when Ji-an tells Choi Do-kyeong, the oldest brother in the family, the truth, and implicitly asks him to break a rule.
After Choi Do-kyeong realizes that his family has been tricked by Ji-an’s family, he naturally gets furious, but because he has observed Ji-an for a while and knows how earnest of a person she is and how cruel his family could be to hers, he unknowingly begins to become more protective of her, while fully knowing the consequences. However, the protective feeling he had for Seo Ji-an wasn’t just due to his noblesse oblige practice, which he seems to be very fond of; he was moved by her perseverance and drive to do her best, a characteristic that made her a relatable and likable character. Unlike anyone in the Haesung Group family, she wasn’t handed anything, but worked her way up by herself. As Korea’s society becomes more and more result-oriented, this kind of mindset seems to be more common, leading people to feel stressed and hopeless when they can’t achieve their intended results. But especially in that kind of society, there are people who don’t have to work as hard as everyone else, and that’s what makes life frustrating. Because of all the realistic portrayal of these occurrences, viewers that are going through difficult situations will be able to relate to Seo Ji-an’s situation.
Episode 38 ended with Ji-an’s father, Seo Tae-soo, leaving the house and the entire family gathering to hear that he tested negative for cancer, but instead has an “imaginary cancer”. At this point, the Seo family had gone through many tribulations, but the announcement of Seo Tae-soo’s cancer-like symptoms brought the family once again, closer, and I think this would allow the whole family to rethink their actions and accept each other into their hearts again.
Even though I think the main family storyline in the drama is the Seo family, I find the Choi family quite interesting. Maybe it’s because it’s more mysterious to me? In the past, we find out that Do-kyeong’s mother, Noh Myung-hee, disobeyed her father in marrying Choi Jae-sung, Do-kyeong’s father, so I wonder what the story behind that is. I think Noh Myung-hee also had a time where she disobeyed her father, and I feel like because of that she will probably grow to understand Do-kyeong’s thoughts much better than her father. Although she seems daunting and unapproachable on the outside, I can see glimpses of the human inside of her when she cared for Ji-an, and I think that side of her will come back, hopefully sooner than later.
My Golden Life‘s main point of the family is why it’s appealing to a wide audience. Instead of putting its focus on the development of the love line, we see the development of two very different families, going through very similar struggles in life. Because we are able to see the families situations, even though the story seems to be outrageous, when considering it from that perspective, it becomes reasonable and even relatable.
Anyway, I can’t wait for next Saturday (the last Saturday of my winter break ㅠㅠ), when we’ll see some development in Seo Ji-an’s family. I’m also curious on what Do-kyeong will do now that his grandfather blocked all of his investments. We finally see him “giving up” on Ji-an (basically just ignoring her for a day), and his past secretary, Yoobi (Yoo secretary), from when he worked at Haesung as vice president appears again, telling him that he’s been waiting for him to go back to Haesung. In this case, Do-kyeong doesn’t have any other option but to go back to Haesung, but I feel like he’ll still try to create a smaller project and make money that way, in a way that his grandfather can’t intercept. Also, I know it’s still too early for Do-kyeong and Ji-an’s complicated relationship to be completely resolved, but I hope they can still figure something out and just hang out like normal people who like each other. When is Ji-an going to stop suffering?