Hye-gyul is portrayed by a little 5-year-old girl named Kang Ji-woo. She has a massive 7 roles under her belt with this character and it shows. I’m always attracted to the power a young actor embodies with their raw natural talent and Kang Ji-woo is no different. In the k-drama The Suspicious Housekeeper the two most compelling characters are that of Hye-gyul and the grave, emotionally suppressed Park Bok-nyeo who becomes her substitute mother.
I can’t really talk about one character without touching on the other. A bond forms between the two that binds when all other ties snap. Hye-gyul, with the clarity of the young and innocent, perceives the heart of Park Bok-nyeo even when she doesn’t understand the woman’s actions. If only we all approached our relationships with such honesty we too would have forged lifelong commitments.
I couldn’t find a clip with working subtitles but if you watch and let their words wash over you, you can’t help but feel the power of Hye-gyul. To watch episodes with subtitles go here.
One of the first and most enduringly cute interactions between the two is whenever Hye-gyul mimics Bok-nyeo’s way of accepting a request for action. “Is that an order? Then I will obey it.” Where you shiver in dread when Bok-nyeo repeats those words after an outlandish request from the family, you smile and giggle in relief when Hye-gyul says the same.
The hardest moment of the entire show was between Hye-gyul and Bok-nyeo on the phone. Hye-gyul spent the night sobbing in grief from telling her substitute mother that she hated her. In the morning, her mother at great distance from her and in the midst of equally great danger, answers her call in spite of her circumstances. When Hye-gyul asks her to return that she still loves Bok-nyeo and wants to take back her words for her to leave, we understand that love really does triumph over all. That the only way Bok-nyeo could part from her sweet daughter was to hear words of hatred, words driving her to do what she must.
Hye-gyul is the first to accept Bok-nyeo. She is the first to call her mother. She is the one to sob literally and heartfeltedly as the family sobs internally at their parting from Bok-nyeo. She graciously gives her mother away when it is demanded of her by someone claiming to seek Bok-nyeo’s happiness. She is the one to hide from Bok-nyeo’s journey of self discovery and the one to crave her return with every knock at the door. All these moments are the heart of the show, the heart of the family and the heart between a mother and daughter, even ones not of the same blood.
Such relationships are the makings of great television.
This month I’m participating in a writing challenge to post everyday in April (except Sundays) called the A to Z Challenge. I’m exploring my love of characters, find the full list here. Read some of my other writing posts here. What characters do you love?