본문 바로가기 주메뉴 바로가기


  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

In Sickness and in Love? Autumn in My Heart and the Embodiment of Morality in Korean Television Drama

Korea Journal / Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2014, v.54 no.4, pp.5-28
Jean-Paul BALDACCHINO (University of Malta)
  • Downloaded
  • Viewed


The modern ideology of romantic love is a prominent theme in Korean television dramas (K-dramas). In this paper, I focus on one particular drama, Autumn in My Heart (2000), and the real life love stories of young Korean women. By examining the moral discourses of love within the drama in conjunction with the personal experiences of my informants (echoing the ways my own informants spoke of their love stories in the context of the dramas), I argue that the melodramatic form that emerges from such a study exposes a certain ambivalent attitude to the ideal of modern romantic love. My informants and the narrative plot of the drama in question articulate an embodied moral discourse that conceives of illness as a moral consequence of romantic love with a consequent detachment of the individual from the moral community of kin.

romantic love Autumn in My Heart illness K-drama melodrama



Abelmann, Nancy. 2003. The Melodrama of Mobility Women, Talk, and Class in Contemporary South Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.


Abelmann, Nancy. 2005. “Melodramatic Texts and Contexts: Women’s Lives, Movies, and Men.” In South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, Genre, and National Cinema, edited by Nancy Abelmann and Kathleen McHugh, 43–64. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.


Alford, Charles F. 1999. Think No Evil: Korean Values in the Age of Globalization. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.


Althusser, Louis. 2005. For Marx, translated by Ben Brewster. London: Verso.


Ang, Ien. 1985. Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination. London: Methuen.


Ang, Ien. 2004. “The Cultural Intimacy of TV Drama.” In Feeling Asian Modernities:Transnational Consumption of Japanese TV Dramas, edited by Koichi Iwabuchi, 303–309. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.


Baldacchino, Jean-Paul. 2008. “Eros and Modernity: Convulsions of the Heart in Modern Korea.” Asian Studies Review 32.1: 99–122.


Berger, Peter L. 1977. Facing up to Modernity Excursions in Society, Politics, and Religion. New York: Basic Books.


Bordo, Susan. 1993. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Brooks, Peter. 1976. The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess. New Haven: Yale University Press.


Brown, Mary Ellen. 1994. Soap Opera and Women’s Talk: The Pleasure of Resistance. Thousand Oaks: Sage.


Brunsdon, Charlotte. 2000. “Women’s Genres and Female Agency.” In The Feminist, the Housewife, and the Soap Opera, edited by Charlotte Brunsdon, 19–42. Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Carsten, Janet. 2007. “How Do We Know Who We Are?” In Questions of Anthropology, edited by Rita Astuti, Jonathan Parry, and Charles Stafford, 29–53. New York: Berg.


Cassata, Mary B., Thomas D. Skill, and Samuel O. Boadu. 1979. “In Sickness and in Health.” Journal of Communication 29.4: 73–80.


Chua, Beng Huat, and Kaoichi Iwabuchi, eds. 2008. East Asian Pop Culture: Analysing the Korean Wave. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.


Daemmrich, Horst S., and Ingrid Daemmrich. 1987. Themes and Motifs in Western Literature: A Handbook. Tubingen: Francke Verlag.


Dissanayake, Wimal. 1993. “Introduction.” In Melodrama and Asian Cinema, edited by Wimal Dissanayake, 1–8. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Elsaesser, Thomas. 1972. “Tales of Sound and Fury: Observations on the Family Melodrama.” Monogram 4: 2–15.


Giard, Luce. 1998. “Gesture Sequences.” In Living and Cooking. Vol. 2 of The Practice of Everyday Life, edited by Michel de Certeau, Luce Giard, and Pierre Mayol, 199–213. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Giddens, Anthony. 1992. The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love, and Eroticism in Modern Societies. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


Gledhill, Christine. [1987] 2002. “The Melodramatic Field: An Investigation.” In Home is Where the Heart Is: Studies in Melodrama and the Woman’s Film, edited by Christine Gledhill, 5–39. Repr. London: BFI Publishing.


Goode, William J. 1963. World Revolution and Family Patterns. London: Free Press.


Grosz, Elizabeth, ed. 1991. “Feminism and the Body.” Special issue, Hypatia 6.3.


Han, Ju-Kwak. 2003. “Discourse on Modernization in 1990s Korean Cinema.” In Multiple Modernities: Cinemas and Popular Media in Transcultural Cinema, edited by Jenny Kwok Wah Lau, 90–113. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.


Hart, Nicky. 2005. “Of Procreation and Power.” New Left Review 35: 79–91.


Hayashi, Kaori, and Eun-Jeung Lee. 2007. “The Potential of Fandom and the Limits of Soft Power: Media Representations on the Popularity of a Korean Melodrama in Japan.” Social Science Japan Journal 10.2: 197–216.


Herzlich, Claudine. 1995. “Modern Medicine and the Quest for Meaning: Illness as a Social Signifier.” In The Meaning of Illness: Anthropology, History, and Sociology, edited by Marc Augé and Claudine Herzlich, 151–174. Luxembourg:Harwood Academic.


Herzlich, Claudine, and Janine Pierret. 1987. Illness and Self in Society. Baltimore:Johns Hopkins University Press.


Highmore, Ben. 2003. Everyday Life and Cultural Theory: An Introduction. London:Routledge.


Jaggar, Alison M., and Susan R. Bordo, eds. 1989. Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.


Jamieson, Lynn. 1999. “Intimacy Transformed? A Critical Look at the ‘Pure Relationship.’”Sociology 33.3: 477–494.


Jang, Gunjoo, and Won K. Paik. 2012. “Korean Wave as a Tool for Korea’s New Cultural Diplomacy.” Advances in Applied Sociology 2: 196–202.


Jenkins, Janis H. 1991. “The State Construction of Affect: Political Ethos and Mutual Health among Salvadorian Refugees.” Culture Medicine and Psychiatry 15.2: 139–165.


Kahn, Joel S. 2001. Modernity and Exclusion. London: Sage.


Kahn, Joel S. 2006. Other Malays: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in the Modern Malay World. Singapore: Asian Studies Association of Australia in association with Singapore University Press and NIAS Press.


Keum-Young, Chung Pang. 1991. Korean Elderly Women in America: Everyday Life, Health, and Illness. New York: AMS Press.


Kim, Sangkyun, Philip Long, and Mike Robinson. 2009. “Small Screen, Big Tourism:The Role of Popular Korean Dramas in South Korean Tourism.” Tourism Geographies 11.3: 308–333.


Kim, Uchang. 1999. “Extravagance and Authenticity: Romantic Love and the Self in Early Modern Korean Literature.” Korea Journal 39.4: 61–89.


Kuhn, Annette. 1984. “Women’s Genres.” Screens 25.1: 18–29.


Kowsar, Mohammad. 1983. “Althusser on Theatre.” Theatre Journal 35.4: 461–474.


Lee, Geun. 2009. “A Soft Power Approach to the ‘Korean Wave.’” The Review of Korean Studies 12.2: 123–137.


Lee, June J. H. 2002. “Discourses of Illness, Meanings of Modernity: A Gendered Construction of Sŏnginbyŏng.” In Under Construction: The Gendering of Modernity, Class, and Consumption in the Republic of Korea, edited by Laurel Kendall, 55–78. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.


Lee, Si Hyung. 1977. “A Study on the Hwa-Byung.” Journal of Korean General Hospital 1: 63–69.


Lin, Angel, and Avin Tong. 2008. “Re-Imagining a Cosmopolitan ‘Asian Us’:Korean Media Flows and Imaginaries of Asian Modern Femininities.” In East Asian Popular Culture: Analysing the Korean Wave, edited by Koichi Iwabuchi and Chua Beng Huat, 73–125. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.


Lin, Keh-Ming. 1981. “Traditional Chinese Medical Beliefs and Their Relevance for Mental Illness and Psychiatry.” In Normal and Abnormal Behaviour in Chinese Culture, edited by Arthur Kleinman and Tsung-Yi Lin, 95–111. Dordrecht:D. Reidel.


Lin, Keh-Ming. 1983. “Hwa-Byung: A Korean Culture-Bound Syndrome?” American Journal of Psychiatry 140: 105–107.


Lock, Margaret. 1993. Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Low, Setha M. 1994. “Embodied Metaphors: Nerves as Lived Experience.” In Embodiment and Experience: The Existential Ground of Culture and Self, edited by Thomas J. Csorda, 139–162. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Lupton, Deborah. 1994. Medicine as Culture: Illness, Disease, and the Body in Western Society. London: Sage.


Macfarlane, Alan. 1986. Marriage and Love in England: Modes of Reproduction 1300–1840. Oxford: Blackwell.


McKinley, Robert. 2001. “The Philosophy of Kinship.” In The Cultural Analysis of Kinship: The Legacy of David M. Schneider, edited by Richard Feinberg and Martin Oppenheimer, 131–166. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press.


Meyers, Jeffrey. 1985. Disease and the Novel, 1880–1960. London: Macmillan.


Min, Sung Kil. 2009. “Hwabyung in Korea: Culture and Dynamic Analysis.”World Cultural Psychiatry Research Review 4.1: 12–21.


Morgan, David. 1991. “Ideologies of Marriage and Family Life.” In Marriage, Domestic Life, and Social Change: Writings for Jacqueline Burgoyne (1944–88), edited by David Clark, 113–138. London: Tavistock and Routledge.


Morgan, David. 1996. Family Connections: An Introduction to Family Studies. Cam bridge: Polity.


Park, Jung-Sun. 2004. “Korean American Youths’ Consumption of Korean and Japanese TV Dramas and Its Implications.” In Feeling Asian Modernities:Transnational Consumption of Japanese TV Dramas, edited by Koichi Iwabuchi, 275–300. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.


Rosen, Philip. 1980. “Adorno and Film Music: Theoretical Notes on Composing for the Films.” Yale French Studies 60: 157–182.


Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 2007. “Nervoso.” In Beyond the Body Proper: Reading the Anthropology of Material Life, edited by Margaret Lock and Judith Farquhar, 459–467. Durham: Duke University Press.


Smith, James L. 1973. Melodrama. London: Methuen.


Sontag, Susan. 1991. Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and its Metaphors. London:Penguin.


Stone, Lawrence. 1977. The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500–1800. New York: Harper and Row.


Therborn, Goran. 2004. Between Sex and Power: Family in the World 1900–2000. London: Routledge.


Yang, Fang-chin Irene. 2008. “The Genrification of ‘Korean Drama’ in Taiwan.”China Information 22.2: 277–304.

Korea Journal