November 13, 2020

K-drama ‘VIP’ Portrays Challenges Career Women Face in Patriarchal Society

Korean drama ‘VIP’ reflects a patriarchal society in which career women still get the short end of the stick.

by Sheramanda R
English
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At heart, the K-drama series VIP is very similar to the recently hyped-up fan favorite The World of The Married—both are K-dramas about infidelity. If I really had to simplify the series into a sentence, then the description “A drama about the wrecked marriage of a seemingly perfect couple after the husband cheated on his loving wife” would really befit the series. But as I delved more into it, VIP turns out to have more depth to it than what I originally thought, as it doesn’t simply revolve around a typical adulterous love affair.

VIP has impressed me so much because, by far, it is the first and the only K-drama strongly charged with social issues that I’ve ever watched. The social issues discussed in the drama are so relevant, particularly on women in patriarchal society, that I personally think it should have received better recognition than it already has.   

The premise of the series is a special division of six people working in Sung Un Department Store that tasked with catering to the needs of their demanding high-end VIP customers (hence the title of the show).

Also read: How a Ghost from “Hotel del Luna” Shares Similarities with Many Indonesian Women

The team consists of Park Sung Jun (leader of the VIP team) and his wife Na Jung Sun (vice leader of the VIP team). Sung Jun and Jung Sun are a married couple working in the same division of the department store whose marital upheaval is the core of the series. There are also another four team members, two of whom will be detailed later.

Upon finding out and confronting her husband for having an affair, Na Jung Sun somehow still manages to keep her cool. A powerful woman who also empowers her female colleagues, she’s calmly handles her husband’s extramarital relationship. She even goes far as accepting her boss’ lunch invitation just to casually tell her boss that her husband and the boss’ daughter are having an affair. Na Jung Sun allows herself to feel sad, but she doesn’t wallow in self-pity. She immediately picks herself up, giving herself the worth she knows she deserves.

After discovering that two of her female coworkers has been sexually assaulted by one of their supervisors, Jung Sun is willing to standing in solidarity with her them. She reaches out and encourages other women in the same department store who are also presumed to have been sexually harassed by the same person, to testify against their predatory boss.

Also read: 5 Reasons Why KDrama is My Guilty Pleasure

The “woke issues” in the series come through the supporting characters, Song Mina and Lee Hyunah. Song Mina, a member of the VIP team and a mother of two, are portrayed accurately in her daily struggles juggling career and family. Lee Hyunah is the chic section chief of the VIP team who does her job with composure. It’s safe to say that her character is the career woman figure many young girls aspire to be.

However, as the series progresses, we come to learn that Hyunah’s life has not always been smooth sailing, as she too once narrowly escaped a rape attempt. The series goes on to show her finally gaining the courage to report the traumatic experience. Still, the series show there are consequences to women who speak up.

If you happen to be looking for a K-drama to watch and specifically one with touches of social criticism of society that doesn’t include the usual K-drama tropes, then VIP could be right up your alley.

Sheramanda R is currently trying to survive WFH while anxiously pondering whether her life runs on the right track. She is now missing her commuting to work routine and her usual cup of aromatic tea she sips at work. She welcomes any professional inquiries (or job offers even!) sent to her email: [email protected]