Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee’s son Ji Seok, who appears to be no more than 10 years old, certainly younger than 12, is in the United States throughout the entire show. Some Soompi viewers discuss this seemingly odd practice of sending very young children abroad and its consequences to the family. Should studying really be that big of a deal?
I was wondering about why their son was made to study overseas so early.
I mean I understand the quality of education they are after, for him to learn English, for him to be independent, or learn the western culture/way of life. But why at a very young age? He’s practically still a baby, still in his formative years, when the parents’ presence is most important?? Shouldn’t they have waited until he was already in High School or College?
At first I thought it was just a plot device, but this situation actually happens a lot in South Korea.
“Such relocations, known as early study abroad, have surged in popularity in South Korea, where a rigid, test-driven education system, combined with intense social pressure to succeed in an English-first global economy, often means breaking up families for the sake of school.
Unlike American students who usually wait until high school or college to study abroad — and generally limit the experience to a semester or two — 77 percent of Korean students in the U.S. in 2009 were in elementary or middle school, a time when they are seen as best able to learn English.”
You can read more here: In South Korea, US Education Means Split Families
I feel like the one that pushes their son to study abroad the most is Yoon Hee, as we could see in the series that she’s portrayed as ambitious and career-driven.
Interesting because the American Korean Chloe Kim studied in Switzerland when she was also very young and learned to speak French fluently – quoting article in USA Today “Kim moved to Switzerland, where one of her aunts lives, in third and fourth grade, with Jong Jin and Boran, her mother, alternating trips to visit her.” It is really viewed as a tremendous opportunity for kids to learn about another language and culture.
My explanation for the breakdown of Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee’s relationship is the decision to send the son off to school and the resulting emptiness of the “new” family home – which leads to Dong Hoon returning to his “old” home. But I admit, this is never spelled out in the drama. Is it just my non-Korean imagination?
You are referring to the “empty nest syndrome” where middle age couple get divorced when their children move out. Up to then they endure each other for the sake of the children. Then the house is empty, and each parent does his/her own thing.
I’ve been meaning to touch on this particular aspect of their marriage because I’ve read a lot of comments about how Ji Seok’s leaving might have caused the breakdown. I don’t see it as being the reason but more of a lynchpin. There was already something wrong with their relationship at the onset, an internal weakness (if we will use Dong Hoon’s engineering terminologies) that wasn’t reinforced. Ji Seok’s leaving was the trigger that further weakened the structure of their marriage.
Many times in a marriage, the parents’ common love for their children masks whatever issues they may have with each other. Oftentimes, the partners agree to compromise, to set aside differences for the sake of the children. That’s why as you said, once the children leave and there’s just the two of them, the masks drop and they’re left with the reality of a marriage that has long since disintegrated. Some separate but others, especially those from conservative cultures, stay together for the sake of appearances or because the devil they know is better than the devil they don’t know. And they’re already too old for a radical change.
In the case of Dong Hoon and Yoon Hee, the “empty nest” syndrome just set in a lot earlier because they sent their son away.
More on Ji Seok: