Tag Archives: I Am Legend

I Am Legend’s Legacy

I Am Legend was not a melodrama but the overarching effect was one of sadness. There was no death, illness, long separation, and other cruxes of traditional Korean melodrama, but it was sad from another source- identification.  There was a strong element of dreams deferred, gnawing regret, and hopes dashed. Many can identify with the fear of having their lives turn out as such. I Am Legend anchors these universal emotions in the microsphere of its flawed heroines and heroes.

Legend revolves around the lives of the four members of the Comeback Madonna Band who also happen to be pegged in Korean society as ‘ajummas’. A woman would be called an ajumma if she looks or is past her late twenties and/or is a mother.  The four ajummas are lead vocal and guitarist ­Jeon Seol Hee played by Kim Jung Eun, bass Hwa Ja played by Jong Ji Min, 2nd guitarist Ah Reom played by Juni, and drummer Jang Shin Yeong plays Su In.

The drama introduces the individual lives of the members, which includes their hobby of almost weekly private jam sessions together as a means of relieving the stress from the daily grind in their lives. There were suggestions that the storyline would go the way of struggling ajummas conquering stereotypes, ridicules, and other societal and legal hurdles to become a successful female rock band. Instead, that became the backdrop to a manifesto on the temptations and pitfalls of fame.  With a lick of fame, motherly responsibilities are thrown in the blender, with ambition of marrying well, pride and dignity can practically be sacrificed, and with fear of failure, priorities sidelined.

The characters were initially two dimensional and the effort to give them character arcs fell short, not due to effort and good intention but to the time constraint of the drama. It was hard to swallow how everyone can abruptly become such prodigal moral sons and daughters  in the short span of an episode or two.

In regards to the music, which naturally was the drama’s OST, it was a running commentary on the story and characters’ emotional development. Furthermore, as all the members really have some musical background and inclination, it wasn’t too difficult to transform their collaboration from a fictional band to a real one with scheduled live performances.  In the drama, the performance scenes of the band were training ground of sorts as they were filled with real invited audiences attending ‘real’ concerts.  The drama’s extensive OST was packaged and sold like a real debut of the Comeback Madonna Band. With many nods from fans and enough interest, although the drama is over, the Comeback Madonna Band is still alive and well rocking at venues near Seoul.

Although I Am Legend didn’t turn out to be any notable legend, it did shine a flashlight on many unglamorous aspects of Korean females entering the autumn of their lives hedged in their circumstances between traditional expectations and modern aspirations. For that alone, it is worth a watch.

“I Am Legend” May Be So

When one hears ‘band’, what automatically comes to mind? Rockers, guitars, boy bands, bad boys, ripped jeans, and Nirvana maybe? It’s hard pressed to imagine ‘Korean girl band’ would come to mind. It’s even harder to believe ‘ajummas’ or 30-plus years old looking women, would queue in the association line. But if SBS’s surprisingly addictive Monday-Tuesday drama I Am Legend has its way, this association will weave into the consciousness very soon.

I Am Legend revolves around the Comeback Madonna Band, specifically its front lady, Jeon Seol Hee played by Kim Jung Eun. Consisting of four middle-aged best friends who formed the band back in high school and has continued jamming together ever since, the Madonna Band is each lady’s outlet to distress from her daily life and commune with each other.

Seol Hee had married into a rich mega image-conscious family who treats her like the parasite the scum in the sewer wouldn’t even eat because it regards her as a golddigger who wormed her way into the family with the old but dependable “I’m pregnant” line. Miscarrying the pregnancy post wedding didn’t help her case at all. She takes all the verbal abuse submissively, in part because seen in a different less caustic light, that is exactly what she did, and also because she does love her husband, played by Kim Seung Soo, and naively thought he reciprocated the affection to some degree.

On bass is vivacious, loud and ever dramatic Hwa Ja played by Hong Ji Min. She’s a cosmetic catalogue sales lady married to an equally jolly taxi driver who adores every ounce (or kilogram) of her.

Jang Shin Yeong plays Su In, the drummer of Madonna Band and struggling manager to a wannabe boy band. Having decided to put off marriage until she succeeded in fulfilling her dream, which kept eluding her, she remains single.

Squaring out this sisterhood is a housewife with kids, who because of her maternal duties, is eventually replaced when the band schedules more practice sessions for its first and subsequent gigs. The replacement, Ah Reom, is a young spunky waitress and mom played by Hyong Juni.

Complementing this estrogen-laden cast is male lead Lee Jun Hyuk playing tall, brooding rocker/songwriter Lee Tae Hyun whose career high point may have peaked past. Tae Hyun was Seol Hee’s unrequited first love and, if all is right with the k-drama universe, will be her future love.

The drama’s starting plotline involves Seol Hee trying with incredulous difficulty to divorce her husband. It’s so difficult that four episodes in and the affair is still not concluded yet. First off, he’s the top lawyer in Korea leading the top law firm of Korea. Second, he flatly refuses to be a divorcé herego damaging his and his family’s image. Third, since he won’t consent she has to sue for a divorce, sit through a committee hearing, and then go to court! All the time and effort expended may be for naught because she doesn’t have a strong legally legitimate reason for divorcing him. Apparently, mental and verbal abuses are vague abstracts in the eye of the Korean civil and family court. If only her husband is cheating it would make things much simpler. Oh wait, oh golly he is! With none other than his top divorce lawyer who also happens to be Tae Hyun’s baby mama. Sometimes, one just has to either marvel or gag at the neatly convenient character connections wound and tied up in a k-drama sphere.

Setting aside the relatively minor flaws that have already reared, this drama has enough substance so far that makes it well worth the time investment. It’s difficult not to sympathize and root for these characters, except for the cold, hateful and hopefully soon-to-be-ex-husband. They are all the quintessential underdogs in Life’s drama, passionately fighting for their respective dreams against time and bad luck which unabatingly tries to wear and beat them down to a hard-knocked life. With so many characters and accompanying “shabby lives”, it’s not hard for audience members to vicariously see how their own lives can and may turn wayward similarly like those characters’.

Projected for a sixteen episodes run, there’s plenty of opportunity for I Am Legend to soar above the lightweight drama or plummet to a slow death like overambitious fluff.  Here’s hoping for the former.