I am certain I made a perfect O with my mouth. Everything stopped as I collected my thoughts. A feeling of utter shock and betrayal rushed through me. My mind was clouded with a pseudo realization that Juliet jumped stories and cheated on Romeo with Hamlet. Once I regained my composure I scrolled down to read the comments, certain I would find netizens that were feeling the same madness that had just plagued me. Witty, angry, and outspoken commentary followed.
And that is what happened when I read the breaking news of Yeon Seo’s relationship with her co-star Lee Jang Woo.
Obviously, per the prior passage, I had plenty of initial feelings at this news. I took a step back today and really thought about it- why was I so affected by this news? Why do I feel like I just read a news story about my best friend’s wife finding another man? Why do I even care? Yeon Seo is a person who deserves to have the privacy to date whoever she wants. After all she was not actually married or dating Lee Joon. In fact it was never confirmed the two even liked each other. So what is it? Here goes much reflection and my opinion on the second celebrity scandal of this New Year…
We Got Married, the MBC variety show that premiered in 2008, has a steadfast purpose. Arrange a fake marriage between celebrities and film what happens. To date there have been 11 “full-time” couples (pairs that have been featured in more than one episode). Some have been beyond awkward in their fake relationships while others have given fan-girls and shippers everywhere hope of true love.
So what is it about WGM that makes viewers emotionally invest in the show? The answer is in the premise and in the execution. Marriage is (by popular demand) viewed as a romantic pursuit. Despite plenty of real world examples (cite divorce rates) people still flock to the idea of a one true love that is meant to be their life partner. Even if it is not possible, it is a dream that incites our societal acceptance of monogamy, a hope that creates images of lifelong happiness with an ideal partner.
Now imagine that romantic idea with a celebrity couple. Good looking, rich. Single, they meet by chance. And the chance that drives them together is based on their own fame. It is probable the couple does not experience love at first sight however if they participate in the premise enough perhaps they really will find each other attractive. Maybe they will even date. Maybe marry. Such is the huge question mark thrown over the entire run of WGM- Are they? Could they? Will we ever know?
The answer, put simply based on historical evidence is- No. No. No. But, as the answer to the last question proves, we will never know any of it. And that is the beauty of We Got Married, it is a whole lot of hope and dreams and very little fact. And I am okay with that. It is the draw of the show, the fact that I am watching a distorted view of reality where celebrities end up married to each other because of a contractual agreement with WGM’s production company.
So, back to the question- why do I care? Well, maybe I am like a lot of viewers; I forgot what the show was and put my hopes into what the show could be. I bought into the premise a little too much. I started to think that I wanted Lee Joon and Yeon Seo together in real life, I reflected on the fact that they would make a cute couple, I smiled at their awesome chemistry. I bought into the fantasy, the romantic storyline that made me giggle and fist pump at the couple’s trials and tribulations.
If there was ever a moment to step back from viewing WGM through rose colored glasses it is now. Yeon Seo is entitled to have a relationship, even if she is on WGM. After all- she is on a variety show. She is not dating Lee Joon. And on that note Lee Joon is free to date as well. After all, he is not currently seeing anyone.
I have read enough comments in the last day to understand the outrage- Yeon Seo claimed she liked Lee Joon at the drama awards, she said she wanted to meet him outside of WGM. Lee Joon was affectionate towards her time and time again. While I witnessed the same moments I have to question the reality of it- after all such words and actions played out on variety television. The couple never came forward as a “real” couple; they never made promises to each other in anything but a semi scripted setting. They played along with the show, made a lot of people happy, and did what they were hired to do.
I realize that there are several arguments out in netizen land for the couple to leave the show. I agree with them, I think that this will hurt the premise of WGM to the point that this couple is no longer worth watching. My conclusion stems from what WGM is all about- dreams and hope hinged on never knowing the truth. My thoughts on the end of the WGM “couple” are not dismissive of the possibility of Lee Joon finding another wife (I just cannot see the two of them together again). While I think such a switch may be awkward I trust the PDs of WGM to figure it out, the plausibility and mechanics that would make something like this possible.
So now we know the truth. Seo Yeon is human. So is Lee Joon. We probably should not hate or feel sorry for either of them. They are living their lives outside of WGM. They broke the fantasy and gave us our dose of reality. I am kind of happy for it actually. It made me remember to view WGM for its variety greatness, minus a little bit of its deceiving fluff.
Agree or disagree, please let me know your thoughts. As a WGM fan I hope to hear from my fellows in fake marriage viewing. What do you think about this scandal?