Credit for all pictures go to their uploaders
I just finished watching MBC’s I Summon You, Gold!, which was a 50 episode drama that aired between April and September, 2013. The drama starred Han Ji Hye as Jung Mong Hee, a woman who has been hurt in love and sacrificed all her dreams to help the mother who then turns her back on her. Mong Hee continuously gives up on her own dreams so that others can be happy around her. I would have no problem with that, if the ending scene of the drama didn’t have our heroine standing alone at the seaside and thinking about how good it is that life is just “peaceful” while everyone else has found their partner and gotten their happily ever after.
[I Summon You, Gold! is a] drama which drily draws the bluff and fact of the middle class which desires the high class. It will tell about the reality of a middle class family and their money problems, as well as love and marriage.
Mong Hee and Yoo Na (both played by Han Ji Hye) are two different woman who look exactly the same. Mong Hee is street salesperson who is cheerful and hopeful. She dreams of being a jewelry designer. On the other hand, Yoo Na is a cold modern woman who is the daughter of a rich family.
Park Hyun Soo (Yun Jung Hoon) is the CEO of a large jewelry company, owned by his parents while constantly compete with his brother, Park Hyun Joon (Lee Tae Sung), for the CEO position. Park Hyun Soo is going through a divorce from his ex-wife, Yoo Na. He will meet and fall in love with Mong Hee who looks exactly like his ex-wife.
I gave the drama 5/10 because it was just okay. While I don’t regret watching the drama, I do have to wonder what was the point of watching something like this? The way the story turned out made me question the writer and what kind of person he/she was since the story became screwy, we fell back on the old dreaded cliches to conclude the story, and our poor heroine was sidelined so that every other character could have their happily ever after. What was the moral in that?
Since this is a long family drama, there were a whole host of characters. Using the character chart available on the internet, I added their names to make it easier to keep track of everyone as I go through this great morass of a story that was I Summon You, Gold!
The drama centers around two families. One is squarely middle class and the other is upper class and lives in Cheomdam-dong. The two have both professional and personal relationships, connecting different members of the families in different ways. The drama shows their journey as they grow closer as in-laws and even closer in business.
The middle class family has two bickering grandmothers, a retired father (Byung Hoo), a hardworking mother who does not know how to dream realistically, and three children. Our heroine, Jung Mong Hee, is the oldest child in that Jung family. She is a street vendor, spending grueling days at her street stall to make money to support her family and to put her younger siblings through school. She has done this with the permission of her mother, Shim Duk. Yoon Shim Duk is a wife who has had to support her family for years because her husband retired too early. (At least that’s what I understood.) She has taken advantage of her oldest daughter, treating her as a son rather than a daughter, and while she might feel guilt, she has no compunction in using Mong Hee’s earning ability to raise the status of her younger children.
While Mong Hee gave up college to support her family, she has never given up on her dream to become a jewelry designer. Shim Duk might know this, but she does nothing to stop Mong Hee from working on the street while her other two children, Mong Hyun and Mong Gyu, finish college and continue on their merry way, not contributing one cent to pay for the household expenses. Mong Hyun is sent on blind dates and Mong Gyu takes an allowance from his parents, refusing to work for companies that are beneath him.
Choi Kwang Soon has spent decades taking care of her family while her daughter, Shim Duk, works to support them. Byung Hoo’s mother, incensed by the fact that her retired son cannot sit comfortably at home in his retirement, makes it her life’s mission to kick Kwang Soon out of the house. For that purpose, she moves in and makes Shim Duk’s and Kwang Soon’s lives hell. While that plot falls by the wayside, the two grandmothers do become closer in the end, learning to stand each other and even become some sort of friends.
Park Hyun Soo is the oldest son of the upper class family. He is the child of a woman who was accused of cheating and kicked out of her home by her cheating husband, Park Soon Sang. Hyun Soo has spent decades being reviled by his father’s main mistress, Jang Duk Hee. She made sure to tell a young vulnerable child that his mother was an adulteress, and she has made sure to create a distance and dislike between father and son. Hyun Soo is a timid man, unsure and anxious because of the environment he has grown up in. He married his cold, arrogant wife, Son Yoo Na, to make his father happy. When he discovers that his mother was pushed out by an ambitious mistress’s lies, he swears to gain power to bring his mother back into the fold. Yoo Na hates her cowardly husband and leaves him one night, uncaring of the impact it might have on his search for his mother and his quest to become CEO of their corporation. When she leaves, Hyun Soo is left desperate and grasping at straws to save himself and his mother.
Park Soon Sang is the CEO of a Jewelry empire, but he is not satisfied. He sacrifices family relationships and sons on his quest for more . . . a bigger business, more money, and more recognition. Park Soon Sang is a man who was married to a good woman, Jin Sook, and had a son from her. But that wasn’t enough for him. He was also a cheater, keeping two mistresses, who also gave him two more sons. When one of his mistresses concocted a plan to get his legal wife out of the way, Soon Sang fell for it and quickly kicked that woman out of his life, divorcing her. He kept his son, but hated and blamed him for decades for what his mother did.
His main mistress, and the woman who lives with him, is Jang Duk Hee. Duk Hee has conspired her entire life to ensure that her son, Park Hyun Jun, inherits the CEO’s chair. Her daughter-in-law, Song Eun, is her mirror image, a woman who will do anything to get what she wants. Jang Duk Hee manipulates every single person in her sphere and does this so successfully that most characters around her seemed puppets. The only thing that Duk Hee did not succeed in doing was having Soon Sang marry her and making her his legal wife.
The other woman in his life is Min Yong Ae, Hyun Tae’s mother. Yong Ae has always been the “bimbo” of the trio of women in Soon Sang’s life. She gave up her son at birth to Duk Hee so that he would have a better life and a closer relationship to his father. When she later learns that Hyun Tae was pushed away and hurt by Duk Hee as a toddler, she is angry, but has no real power to do anything. Yong Ae was Duk Hee’s partner in crime when they kicked out Jin Sook. But she is never really successful in getting any control over the wealth and is pretty much sidelined by Duk Hee and remains a hidden secret in Soon Sang’s life.
Yoon Shim Duk works for Park Soon Sang in his jewelry store, as a salesperson and a manager, making sure that everything runs smoothly. While she has worked hard her entire life, she has BIG dreams for her children (excluding Mong Hee). When Park Soon Sang offers up his youngest son, Hyun Tae, as a match for Mong Hyun, all Shim Duk sees is the elevation in their status and jumps at the offer. She convinces her daughter to say yes and plans a big wedding, ignoring the fact that they have no money to waste on a wedding. When she decides to mortgage their home for this wedding, Mong Hee offers up the amount. She takes the money from Mong Hee, barely asking any questions of its origins, and puts on a memorable wedding for her precious daughter.
Mong Hyun marries into the Park family and moves up in the world. But all is not rainbows and sunshine. Jang Duk Hee quickly sours on Mong Hyun and makes it her mission to make Mong Hyun’s life hell. Hyun Tae, who already has a girlfriend he loves, largely ignores Mong Hyun. The two become closer over time, but when the truth comes out regarding his girlfriend’s upper class origins and her interest in marrying and elevating Hyun Tae’s status, all Soon Sang and the two mistresses see is their own chance to be elevated into higher society. The family orders Hyun Tae to divorce Mong Hyun and marry his girlfriend. Hyun Tae, who has now begun to love Mong Hyun, refuses and leaves home with Mong Hyun. The two begin their life at the Jung household, where Hyun Tae gets a job frying/delivering chicken. When he is dragged back home and starves himself to prove his point, Soon Sang lets him go, tacitly agreeing to their relationship. The two lovebirds quickly get back together, pop out a baby and make everyone happy.
When Yoo Na leaves, Hyun Soo is desperate to find a way to keep this secret. He does not want to make his father angry, which would push him further away from the CEO seat. When Hyun Soo sees Mong Hee on the street, he is intrigued and then desperate enough to ask her to pretend to be his girlfriend. She initially agrees because she feels sorry for his dying grandmother, but does agree to a contract pretending to be his wife for money needed for Mong Hyun’s wedding. The two become friends in the course of their work relationship, and Hyun Soo even enrolls Mong Hee in college, helping her to realize her dream of becoming a designer. They then slowly begin to fall in love. Hyun Soo decides to divorce Yoo Na, knowing that he now loves Mong Hee.
When the truth is revealed to Mong Hee’s parents, they are shocked and adamant that Mong Hee stay away from Hyun Soo. When Mong Hee is unable to stay away, even beginning to work at the same jewelry company, Shim Duk is incensed and takes her actions as a betrayal. The relationship between mother and daughter sours and Shim Duk says horrible things to Mong Hee. She calls Mong Hee arrogant and reviles her for her belief that she was so great to sacrifice herself for her siblings. Mong Hee is justifiably heartbroken and angered by her mother’s words. For a long time there is only bitterness between the two.
The truth eventually comes out about Mong Hee’s adoption, and that she is really Yoo Na’s sister. Shim Duk reveals this truth in the most hurtful manner, wanting to break Mong Hee’s defiance. Shim Duk eventually reveals that Mong Hee and Yoo Na were her best friend’s daughters, a friend who had died at a young age. While the Jungs could not raise two children, they kept Mong Hee and Yoo Na was adopted by a rich family in America.
During all of this, Yoo Na comes back into their lives and is now intent on staying with Hyun Soo because of her newly discovered love for him. When Mong Hee realizes that she has fallen in love with her sister’s husband, she backs off and begins to call him brother-in-law. Hyun Soo also realizes that they cannot be together, and goes off for a year to get over his feelings for her. When he returns, he is amazed by Yoo Na’s staying power and eventually discovers his love for his formerly toxic wife and now even finds her cute for her little quirks.
Hyun Soo is able to find his mother finally and reunites with her. With the self-interested help of the original man Jang Duk Hee paid to make the claims of infidelity against Hyun Soo’s mother, the truth comes out. When Soon Sang realizes that he kicked out an innocent woman, he offers her the place at his side. She rightfully refuses, not wanting to go back.
Hyun Jun has spent his life working hard for his mother’s dream, wanting to become a CEO because that is what she wants and needs. He reveres her and is angered whenever Hyun Soo makes accusations against her. Despite Duk Hee’s influence, Hyun Jun is a good man who does want to do good by his brothers. He only has the misfortune of being surrounded by manipulative women. When Jang Duk Hee reveals her machinations to get Hyun Soo’s mother out of the house, Hyun Jun is disgusted but still wants to protect his mother. When the truth comes out regarding her crimes against Hyun Soo’s mother, he is willing to give everything up and walk away.
During the drama, the truth behind Song Eun’s past comes out. Song Eun was Mong Hee’s classmate and stole Mong Hee’s boyfriend, Sang Chul.
It was a loss that scarred Mong Hee for life, making her unable to love another for a long time. When she does fall in love, she loses that man to her own sister.
Song Eun became pregnant with Sang Chul’s child, and gave up both Sang Chul and her own child for her ambition to be a rich man’s wife. When Hyun Jun learns the truth, he gives Song Eun many chances to tell him the truth. Song Eun refuses and Hyun Jun kicks her out of his life. Hyun Jun then realizes how much he loves Song Eun and brings her back. How that happens and how he convinces Jang Duk Hee to accept not only Song Eun, but also her child, is skipped over during the time jump. We come to see a changed Song Eun who has now become a mother, trying to protect her child. There are still some strains of the original Song Eun in her, where she quickly falls into line when Duk Hee needs her to steal Mong Hee’s brilliant ideas, but in the end a better Song Eun appears. One who is willing to sacrifice her career ambitions on the altar of being a good mother and wife.
Jang Duk Hee has spent decades scheming to marry one man and pushing to make her son the CEO of Noble Diamonds(?). The CEO issue is more important than anything else to her. When the truth is revealed about her actions, rather than revealing any remorse, Duk Hee makes one final play and decides to kill Hyun Soo. When he son steps in to protect his brother, he almost loses his own life. Only when Duk Hee sees her son at death’s door does she bargain with God, asks for forgiveness and lives a quiet life. At the end of the drama, she is back at Soon Sang’s side and in Cheongdam-dong. While her son is not CEO, he is second in command.
Mong Gyu spent the first part of the drama loafing around and letting his elite education go to waste. When Mong Hee suggests that he take over her street stall when she gets an designer job at Noble Diamond, Shim Duk is aghast. She believes her son to be above that sort of thing, which hurts Mong Hee even more. Mong Gyu asks his ex-coworker, Min Jung, to come along and work with him. The two become closer over time. Initially, Mong Gyu asks Min Jung to be his pretend girlfriend, and then does fall in love with her. Min Jung is an orphan who grew up in an orphanage, and grabs onto Mong Gyu as her family.
When Shim Duk discovers their relationship, she refuses to accept it, wanting them to break up. When Min Jung turns up pregnant, Shim Duk is angry enough to tell Min Jung off for grabbing onto her special son. She then tells Min Jung to walk away after giving birth and that she would raise Mong Gyu’s child. Shim Duk is vile to Min Jung at every turn, and only when Mong Gyu gets down on his knees and begs does Shim Duk back off and accepts Min Jung. Immediately thereafter, Mong Gyu gets a job and everything is good.
At the end of the drama, Mong Hee’s designs are chosen and made into actual jewelry. Mong Hee also becomes the manager of the designing team at Noble Diamond. She goes on a camping trip with all three of the couples, and stands at the edge of the water, watching them play happily in the water. Mong Hee ends the drama happy with the “peace.”
The drama began at an interesting point. While some people may be tired of the Candy character, the self-sacrificing woman who does a billion part time jobs, I didn’t mind that this is where we started out with Mong Hee. We started out with some pretty unlikeable characters, but there was hope these characters would change for the better.
In watching this drama, I finally came across my pet peeve. In watching Jang Duk Hee in action, I realized that I was tired of the all powerful evil characters that won at every turn and left no victories for our heroes. Jang Duk Hee was one of those characters. A character that no one could win against in the drama. A well-balanced drama would allow victories and defeats for both sides, but this wasn’t one of those dramas. Almost every Korean drama seems to have one of those and these characters seem to win at every turn until the very end.
Their end comes in two forms, either redemption or death. In coming to the end of this drama, we came across another of my pet peeves. Redemption for an evil character at the last minute. How do writers expect us to buy into that redemption and remorse when they haven’t taken the time to build anything up? Duk Hee bargained for her son’s life and she changed. How do we buy that she has truly changed when there is no gradual progression?
Same goes for Song Eun, a woman who had abandoned her daughter. It was only when she lost everything did she step back and allow herself to love her daughter. She eventually lost her professional ambitions and became a housewife. Where do we trust that she has changed, when we missed that change happening in that one year time jump.
The writer started a story with a messed up family: Soon Sang, his cheater wife, his two mistresses, and his three sons. Despite the fact that this was a weekend family drama, these were our characters. It made me think that we would have a different story. But we ended up with a writer that bowed to all traditional ideologies except for the fact that it is not normal for a man to have two mistresses. I personally believe that a writer owes the audience a duty to write responsibly, but this writer in no way behaved responsibly. And I was left with so many questions as to why the writer wrote the way he/she did.
1) Why did Mong Hyun get a fancy college education and never work? Why was that education so important if she was never going to utilize it?
2) Why was it normal for the daughter-in-laws of a family to remain standing while the men and the elders ate? In what century were these characters living?
3) Why did the writer never address Shim Duk’s hatefulness? Why revere her through her stupidities when she was so completely wrong? Why was the elephant in the room never addressed when Shim Duk was hating Min Jung? She hated Min Jung for her status, which meant she hated Min Jung for being an orphan and growing up in an orphanage. She hated Min Jung for being what Mong Hee would have been but for the grace of God. And yet, not only did her own mother support her, but her mother-in-law urged the grandson to beg in the end. And suddenly, her hatefulness was being treated as a joke and everyone was just laughing about it.
4) What was the great irresponsibility with money? Jang Duk Hee kept giving tons of money away as if it was nothing. Shim Duk was intent on mortgaging their only home to fund a wedding! She then did that to pay back Hyun Soo’s money. We then had a loan taken out to improve a family member’s restaurant. And in the end, no one was hurt by everyone being so quick to waste money. Where was the lesson in that?
5) We also had the families against Hyun Soo and Mong Hee getting together because they were already in-laws. That was explained away once we realized that Mong Hee was actually adopted and in love with her twin sister’s husband, but where does it say that Hyun Soo had to stay married to his wife? Yoo Na was toxic, and yet she was apparently his true love. Why couldn’t Hyun Soo divorce Yoo Na and then marry Mong Hee? What was this all important emphasis on intact marriages, when Park Soon Sang certainly didn’t remain married.
6) Mong Hee was left alone once more. Our main character was sidelined, and we were supposed to be happy that she had become a JEWELRY DESIGNER! The man that the viewers had thought was our hero turned out to be our heroine’s brother-in-law. And our heroine, who had been scarred by love once before, lost another love. Mong Hee had had two dreams at the beginning, and our writer only allowed one to completion. Mong Hee was never given a proper chance at love, and she was left living only half a life.
The drama itself became a joke with characters that were constantly changing their . . . characters. No one was truly constant in their portrayal of who they were supposed to be . . . who they were supposed to love . . . The writer fell to cliches and evil went unpunished. It felt as if the writer betrayed the viewers and lost his/her courage when writing this story. And it is those missed chances that make me wonder what kind of drama we could have had if the writer had been courageous. Who didn’t see the spark between Yoo Na and Hyun Jun when they were staying in the same home? What if they had gotten together? Couldn’t we then have a Mong Hee/Hyun Soo pairing? What if Jang Duk Hee had used her powers/intelligence for more than scheming. We were shown an intelligent woman, a woman who was a master housewife, but it was all wasted potential because the writer had her focus only two things.
The story failed on an epic level, and we were left to finish the drivel that was left behind. I’d say skip this drama if you haven’t seen it.