Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Light Bulb Moment

While watching episode 13 of Dae Jang Geum, I noticed another of the seemingly countless Romantic moments of the drama. I mean those moments that show a character, usually, but not always, Jang Geum, demonstrating her intelligence and goal directed behavior. Jang Geum and Lady Han are investigating the reason why the bean paste (one of the basic ingredients of Korean dishes at the time) in the palace has gone bad.

Earlier in the day, Jang Geum had run into her foster parents, and they had offered her a special type of wine in thanks for something she had done for them. They said the wine had a very good taste because it fermented well. A seemingly small plot point, but it served more than one purpose---the writer of this drama is very clever in her plotting ability.

So, Jang Geum and Lady Han go to a place where the common people make bean paste, and try to figure out why theirs still tastes good, while the paste in the palace is bad. They are told that it tastes well when it is stored in three specific locations in the village, and nowhere else. The villagers attributed this to the village gods, who were worshipped in one of these locations. As they stand at one of these places, Jang Geum looks about, and then flashes back to her foster mother's earlier comment about the wine tasting good because it fermented well. Then she had the "light bulb moment," or Eureka moment, when she realized the solution to their problem.

It turned out the bean paste was stored, in big ceramic jars, underneath chestnut and pine trees, from which pollen fell into the jars and aided the fermentation process. This had also been the case in the palace, until some of these trees were cut down. That changed the taste. Jang Geum looked at all the facts, and came up with the solution.

This is the hero of the story, admired and valued by all fellow people of good will in the drama, precisely because of her intelligence, independence, self-confidence, and benevolence. She is intrepid, and a risk taker. Just another Romantic episode in the drama of Jang Geum.

In the same episode, one of the evil characters, the Head Lady, was speaking of the Highest Kitchen Lady, Lady Jung, who is one of the good characters. The Head Lady hated Lady Jung, but admitted that she was a woman of upright character---and this was her weakness! Because, said the Head Lady, such people never make allowance for the deviousness of other people, assuming everyone is as upright as themselves. I forget what Ayn Rand called that attitude, where the evil take advantage of the good, by counting on their goodness. Anyway, it is yet another example of this writer's brilliance, and her psychological understanding of the good, and the evil.

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