Tag: reflections

Unnie Life Lessons: Learnings from Romance is a Bonus Book

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” — this is the best way to describe Romance is a Bonus Book as a korean drama. I initially thought I wouldn’t like it and will just watch it because of Lee Jong Suk but as each episode progressed, it was impossible for me to stop watching this show. Honestly, I think it was because the first few episodes were brutal and it showed how miserable our main female lead, Kang Dan Yi, was trying to get her life back together. I’m glad that I stuck it out until the very end and watched my way to a happy yet believable ending.

I loved writing and reading books ever since I was a kid so this kdrama opened my eyes more to the world of publishing and criticism. It’s not easy creating content that other people will find interesting as you do or have your thoughts published for everyone to read, but seeing the process and effort that go into this industry is admirable. I loved seeing how the people at Gyeoroo Publishing (the publishing company where our characters work at) made the collective effort in marketing, editing, and designing a book — it solidifies my appreciation that I’d still buy and read a physical book rather than an e-book.

Before I delve into my realizations for this kdrama, I just have to air out my love hate relationship with Dan Yi. The main reason why I thought I wouldn’t love Romance is a Bonus Book is because of her! I love that she doesn’t give up easily even when the challenges are stacked against her, but her attitude in asking for help sucks. She needed a place to sleep, food to eat, the basic necessities to live — she sneaked around in Eun Ho’s house to do all that and I get that there was a comedic approach to it, but when Eun Ho finally caught her, she wasn’t even apologetic. It’s like she feels entitled to have ate and lived at his house because of her homeless situation. Why couldn’t she have just expressed her thankfulness instead? She’s a little rough around the edges, but that could be because of what she’s been through (Divorced, being a devoted housewife/mom who forgot to take care of herself in the process, no luck in finding a job for more than a year already), but why take it out on your best and only friend? I appreciate the fact that even though she’s 37 years old here, she’s still eager to try and work hard especially with her job. She didn’t conform to what was only asked of her (Clerical work), but she wanted to learn or rather, re-learn, an industry that she was good at before (She was an advertising executive before she quit work). I know I’d become cranky and moody when I put myself in her shoes but I wouldn’t direct it towards my closest friends if ever.

On the bright side, her character does get better and waaay more tolerable as her experience in going to work again peeled Dan Yi’s protective layers one by one to reveal her true, forgotten self. A kind, loyal, and brave woman who can admit to her mistakes, be compassionate, and fight for a good life that she deserves.

For a brief summary of this show, please check out my previous post to catch up! 🙂

Unnie Life Lessons

1. We get cold feet or wonder if we actually get the very thing we want, would we actually live up to the expectations that such an opportunity entails? As long as we do our best and make an effort, everything will be okay. The end result doesn’t matter as much as the experience we get from taking risks/chances.

  • I can relate to this sentiment.. feeling ecstatic that I got something that I truly wanted (Ex. A job) but suddenly feeling scared because I might screw up such an opportunity because I lack in many ways. I agree with Dan Yi that if we decide to take a step forward, we’ll somehow find the strength to continue and enjoy the very thing we we’re afraid of in the first place. We can still be scared at times or go through challenges but we’ll find a way to deal with such matters because we already took the leap.
  • We can’t just sit around and do nothing with our life because we’re afraid of failing or making mistakes. We have to try, in any way, to achieve our goals and dreams even if it means facing some rejections and setbacks. It’s scary, believe me I know, but we can’t let these fears intimidate us from working hard and making an effort 🙂

2. What we feel towards a particular person or experience years ago, months, or even yesterday can change. We see them in a new light because we have changed internally.

  • Dan Yi was telling Seo Jun (the 1/3 of the love triangle) about her feelings for Eun Ho thru a metaphor. She thought that she had him all figured out but lately, she realizes that the book she’s known and cherished for so long (Eun Ho) suddenly had new lines (Her noticing his romantic feelings & she realizing she has those feelings too) that she never read before. This is such a nice way to represent how people’s sentiments can change overtime even on something familiar.
  • Just like a past book that we reread years or even just a few months later, the words can impart a new & different meaning because we ourselves have changed. Change meaning we’ve been through more experiences and our opinions can differ from before and what we once felt for something can become the opposite. We feel upset or troubled because of a break-up, job rejection, or a family conflict at one point in time but when we go thru these again, it might not be as hard as the 1st time we experienced them. Or we find something uncomfortable that we didn’t want to do, even as simple as eating veggies (hee), enjoyable now.

The change of heart comes from within ourselves because our priorities have shifted. The reason could stem from external factors (People and experience). It means that our feelings have matured and this is not a bad thing — it just shows that we have a better grasp of what we truly desire in life. It’s okay to be a little apprehensive or cautious but don’t be afraid to embrace change if it feels right.


I learned a lot from Romance is a Bonus Book but the 2 main ones above are all I can list down. The rest is a general appreciation for a korean drama where we can find ourselves as the main character insomeone who is lost and desperate but can still find success and happiness with the help of our loved ones and determination to keep moving forward.

What started as a rough and tough few chapters ended up with the most beautiful pages a book can ever have. Dan Yi and Eun Ho were able to heal themselves with each other’s help and both were able to admit their long time buried feelings for each other. I thought their chemistry wouldn’t work but the support and mutual respect they have for each other proved that their relationship is indeed meant to be.

As we savour the last few sentences of Romance is a Bonus Book, I take a breath of relief and smile at the way the show ended. The middle up until the last few pages was much lighter and you’d get the feeling that despite a few more hiccups in our protagonists lives, they would be able to recover faster and better this time around. Even when we put a good book on a shelf because we have finished reading it, the fact that we can always take it out and revisit the story anytime is reassuring.

Unnie Life Lessons: 3 Things My Strange Hero Taught Me

It’s time to say farewell to our lovable and handsome Bok Su as My Strange Hero officially ended this week. I was happily educated and pleased with the life lessons and rooted for the growth of each character in the show. Strangely enough, I grew a fond attachment to Bok Su and his friends, from both periods that he went to high school, who sought out to correct its still corrupt and obviously discriminatory system.

The kdrama concluded with a happy ending, although not ideal for everyone involved, it was a nice to get a glimpse of Bok Su, Soo Jeong, their friends, and the teachers move forward to the next chapter of their lives. It wasn’t an easy journey despite the many comedic and heartwarming moments shared between our characters, but these lighthearted moments remind us that we can still smile despite facing problems.

For a brief overview of My Strange Hero, check out my previous post to catch up 🙂

Unnie Life Lessons

1. Misunderstandings can be resolved if you make an effort to sort it out. It’s not easy to confront someone who you think betrayed you but, giving a chance for someone to explain their side can free you from unnecessary pain.

  • Son Seo Jeong never bothered to confront Bok Su about the fact that he wasn’t the one who had spread the news that she lived on food stamps and was not rich like her classmates assumed she was. It was a misunderstanding that both of them never bothered to fix when they were still high school students. Nine years later, she finally took a chance to ask and opened up about her painful memories of the same incident. She later finds out her mistake in doubting Bok Su and finds out the truth about what really went down that day between him and Oh Se Ho (One of the show’s main antagonists).
  • Their lives would have been completely different if only they had talked the matter out but given the context of their circumstances (They were high school students at the time), avoiding the issue and dealing with the consequences is a viable scenario. But I’m glad that Soo Jeong was humble enough to apologize to Bok Su profusely when she found out that he was truly innocent.

Let’s not be afraid to seek the truth or ask the hard questions when needed. Our pride or embarrassment can sway us against this but to confront reality is still 100% better than living in an uncertain version of “truth”.

2. You can’t blame your “situation” as an excuse to be a jerk and act high and mighty against others. Someone with an unfortunate background can still rise above the challenges and be a kind and loyal person.

  • This is probably the hardest to do and apply in our daily life. Bok Su had an unfortunate past but he didn’t grew up resentful of his life and managed to start a business with his friends. I know the story revolves around him getting revenge but this was only instigated when he was offered a chance to go back to school a 2nd time. I’m NOT saying that getting revenge is okay when it’s warranted (School corruption) but if he wasn’t given a chance to become a student again, he didn’t have a vengeful or cruel outlook in life regardless.
  • Bok Su was able to forgive Soo Jeong and got along well with the kids in his class as he stood up for them and encouraged them to be better. Having gone through his ordeal, you’d expect a person like that to be miserable or at least not extend a helping hand to other people as much. There are lots of people who didn’t come from a well-off family or who had to work hard for their accomplishments, yet they remain humble and nurturing despite their success or found happiness in their lives.

3. Life is about making mistakes. There’s no perfect formula to ensure that we succeed all the time and that’s okay. We can always learn from every experience and get another chance to do better.

  • In the latter episodes, Bok Su dissuades a student from attempting suicide (He was proven to have cheated on an exam because he had access to the answer sheet) and said a very important advice:
  • We feel upset, angry, or embarrassed when we make a mistake or do something that hurts someone else. The beauty in being human is that we are naturally imperfect — and there’s nothing wrong with that. We strive to be the perfect child/friend/lover or whatever occupation we work at because making a mistake is like admitting that we aren’t enough and our efforts come up short in accomplishing our desired goal. It’s not the end of the world. We can ALWAYS make up for our mistakes and do better next time!
  • My Strange Hero portrayed a lot of opportunities for our characters to redeem themselves and get a fresh start. It won’t be easy but if we acknowledge our shortcomings, learn from the experience, and try again, our breakthrough will come. Of course, having your family and friends by your side when you face such ordeals also lessens the struggles 🙂

*Extra insight:

In the last episode, Oh Se Ho was able to forgive his mother (who was a bia*** until they very end) despite her cold and downright despicable treatment towards him. He said something touching for me which was:

I realized that healing doesn’t mean you need to hear the person who hurt you apologize or even show compassion towards you. It’s not Oh Se Ho’s fault that his mom treated him that way and it’s also not his fault that Bok Su was beloved by many (Oh Se Ho was jealous of him all this time). We can get better on our own, slowly but surely, if we live for ourselves. No need to please somebody else or convincing them of our self-worth, WE are ALL worthy to live a good and happy life. Though we cannot please everyone, as long as we aren’t hurting anyone with our actions, we’ll be okay.

***

Kang Bok Su not only fought for his own redemption, but also for the other students who were being belittled or bullied. Of course it started out as a revenge plan but, he was able to genuinely help a lot of people gain self confidence, trust in themselves, and embrace who they are as a person. In the process of helping others, he was able to forgive and reveled in his second chance at love, career path, and ever growing friendship with his peers.

All of us are heroes in our own way. We don’t need to perform grand gestures to become one though; the little, everyday things matter a lot — encouraging a friend, making an effort to study harder, and trying to live your life the best way you can despite hardships.. these acts are worthy achievements that anyone can be proud of.