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This Burns My Heart
An epic love story set in the intriguing landscape of postwar South Korea.
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Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

Created: 04/08/12

Replies: 14

Posted Apr. 08, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 560

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Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

Soo-Ja is angry she was tricked by Min, but she wanted to trick him as well: "She thought she was the one using him, when the opposite had been true." (p. 81) Is she getting what she deserved? Was she wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?


Posted Apr. 11, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Retired Reader, NE

Join Date: 09/16/11

Posts: 83

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RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

Marriages in her world were often made for monetary gain. Soo-Ja misread the situation and thought that she was in control of the marriage while in reality the marriage was in control of her and her destiny. She was very unrealistic to think that in 1960s Korea she could get her husband to support her diplomatic ambitions.


Posted Apr. 11, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
irisf

Join Date: 01/16/12

Posts: 63

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RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

Wanting and expecting are two different things. Soo-Ja wanted a career and that career was being denied to her. She didn't want the traditional life her parents had expected her to pursue. She was under the impression that by marrying Min she would be able to follow her dream. It is hard to determine from the perspective of an American woman what is right or wrong in this situation being that we have the freedom to explore our dreams. It does give thought, though, that if women hadn't started to break with custom in even our culture, we would still be in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant. Look back not so long ago to the Women's Movement of the '60's and all the opposition people had to it. We still speak of the "glass ceiling" and without women like Soo-Ja (Gloria Steinham) where would women be today. I felt great sympathy for Soo-Ja for not being able to live out her goals and to find herself in a position with a very weak husband, and treacherous in-laws.


Posted Apr. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Navy Mom

Join Date: 04/12/12

Posts: 100

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RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

After being raised the way she was I would think it would be very difficult to push against tradition, but being educated and having more information about the world I would think it would be more wrong to live with the status quo. Look what is happening today in our country, there are those who want to push women back to what it was like for us before the 60's. I think this is a never ending fight for us.


Posted Apr. 13, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lisag

Join Date: 01/12/12

Posts: 298

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RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

I don't believe anyone's wrong to have a dream. And it's terrible when they fall so short of the mark. By the time she'd been married a while, Soo-Ja learned there were already female ambassaors, so she couldn't be the first. That isn't to say she couldn't have done it, too, though.

Like the Suffragettes, some women have to take the first stepps and sometimes pay the price. The earliest suffragettes were taken for granted as a necessary first step. Only after that would people start listening to her and her colleagues. Society moves so slowly.


Posted Apr. 15, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothyl

Join Date: 04/15/12

Posts: 34

RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

She wasn't wrong but she was somewhat naive in her thinking. Her desire to take control of her life was unconventional. I think her youth and lack of experience prevented her from seeing things realistically. Min seemed like her ticket to freedom but she didn't know his background, loyalty to parents and therefore was caught in a trap of her own making unfortunately.


Posted Apr. 16, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lisag

Join Date: 01/12/12

Posts: 298

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RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

I also think part of Soo-Ja's personality was formed by her good looks and the notion men would all fall at her feet and let her have her way. That's why she wasn't surprised during her courtship with Min that he was so struck by her she believed he'd do anything she wanted. What a rude awakening on her honeymoon night. He couldn't even give her that much before he let her know her place.


Posted Apr. 16, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 138

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RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

I don't think we are ever wrong to want what we want. I doubt that was so unusual, at least secretly, during times of arranged marriages. She just didn't see Min for what he was
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Posted Apr. 18, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lisag

Join Date: 01/12/12

Posts: 298

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RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

I'll admit Min's behavior toward Soo-Ja, after their marriage, surprised me. Once he had his prize he could show all his faults and he didn't hesitate at all to let her know what she was in for. Poor Soo-Ja! But, which is worse, her having married a man she thought would bend to all her wishes or Min pretending to be what he wasn't? Sort of the same thing, actually. Both married under false pretenses.

I'm trying to think of any other book I've read in which husband or wife did anything similar, marrying with ulterior motives. I'm having brain freeze this morning. I know there must have been loads with this same theme. Anyone else think of a similar sort of plot line in another book you've read?

I'll come back and post on this once my brain has woken up!


Posted Apr. 18, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lisag

Join Date: 01/12/12

Posts: 298

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RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

The question about are we wrong to want what we want is an interesting one. If we want something that causes harm to another/others I personally believe that's wrong, though I could go 100 rounds talking about morality in a philosophical sense.

We're not wrong for thinking any of our thoughts, in my belief. But we can be very wrong getting where we want to be by lying and cheating. Both Soo-Ja and Min did this. So, was she wrong to expect Min to let her do as she wished? Was Min wrong? It's difficult not to side with Soo-Ja, because we believe she wanted to achieve higher goals. Min wanted to rise in the business world and be rich. Because he wants money makes him appear greedy and wrong, mostly because he lied to Soo-Ja.

In the end, do you think he paid his penance? Did he suffer enough to "cleanse" his "sins?"


Posted Apr. 18, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bessw

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 7

RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

Soo-Ja wasn't wrong to want a non-traditional relationship, but she was naive to expect that relationship. She was aware of what was expected of her in the Korean culture and did her best to satisfy those traditions.


Posted Apr. 20, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lolat

Join Date: 04/20/12

Posts: 4

RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

My initial impression of Soo-Ja was that she was a bit spoiled and had an attitude of entitlement, but I thought that her desire to be a diplomat was a natural progression of desires from one that had been giving a privileged lifestyle. Since I was not raised in that culture and during that time, the rightness or wrongness would be hard to say, but from the author's description of her spoiled and self-absorbed life, it didn't surprise me that she wanted things her way. Obviously it was revolutionary to even think of a career, but the times were "a-changing".


Posted Apr. 21, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
vivianh

Join Date: 11/14/11

Posts: 7

RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

Soo-Ja was not wrong to want a non-traditional relationship but she was naive to expect such a non-traditional relationship in 1960's Korea. (or even today's South Korea). The culture expected a woman to be subservient in a marriage. It has not been that long ago that when a divorced woman with a child remarried, she was often required to abandoned her child.

This story, however, is a universal one. People marry all the time with ulterior motives and are more often than not caught in the trap of their own making. I felt empathy for Soo-Ja - but not sympathy.


Posted Apr. 25, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
janeh

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 102

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RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

I agree with Vivianh ... this was the one negative about this book .... how did Soo-Ja end up with these expectations in 1960's Korea? She can't have seen many (or any!) other situations where this was the case?


Posted Apr. 25, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
arielf

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 18

RE: Was Soo-Ja wrong to want - or expect - such an non-traditional relationship?

I feel that anyone can dream and that Soo-la was dreaming of a different world for herself. I liked the fact that she wanted to be a "liberated" woman. I admired her thinking beyond the box. It reminded me of black women in the south in the '40-60's dreaming of a different world for themselves. and their children.


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