Firework


Reviewed by: sukting

September 02, 2003

Rating: three

30 episodes

Foreword
This serial sparked the Korean-drama craze in Singapore when it was aired on Channel U. Many were astonished to find a drama on adultery and it sparked a discussion on whether or not to forgive the adulterous couple. What will you do if you find someone you fall deeply in love with right before marriage? Will they remain truthful to their respective spouses after marriage? Will they be happy?

Introduction on characters/story

1. Li Zhi Xian – Lee Yeon Ae
She is the root of all the troubles. She is a scriptwriter with a television station. She is asked to interview Zhong He but he is late for their meeting. She reprimands him for being late. Surprisingly, he doesn’t get angry and becomes interested in her! They even get engaged. But Zhi Xian isn’t happy and goes on a Thailand holiday without his knowledge. She falls for Kang Xu at first sight and both spend the night together.

However, Zhong He searches for her and brings her back. She finds out that Kang Xu is also engaged to Ming Jing. Zhi Xian decides to forget Kang Xu, but fails. She confides inh her friend, Xian Jing, who advises her to postpone her marriage to try to forget him. Zhong He believes her excuse of wanting to concentrate on her scriptwriting career. Even though he's a male chauvinist, he actually agrees to let her continue working after their marriage.

But he finds out about Zhi Xian's affair, so the wedding is brought forward instead to dispel the rumours. She gets married but at her in-laws' insistence, she is not allowed to work after marriage. Life becomes hard for her. She has to wake up at 5 am daily to prepare breakfast with the maids for the men. She has to wake up at 3 am at times to open the door for Zhong He when he returns home late. She is annoyed with him for not bringing his own keys, but he says that it is the family rule!

She gets tired of facing so many of his relatives and feels lonely for not being able to go out often. She often hides in the toilet so that she can use the mobile phone to chat with Xian Jing. She has a miscarriage because of the stress of reporters questioning her about her adultery. Zhong He blames his mother and asks her to treat his wife better. While pregnant with her second child, Zhi Xian tells Xian Jing that her mother-in-law is fierce. Zhi Xian suffers another shock and loses the baby. This time round, Zhi Xian asks for a divorce.

Zhong He wants her to give him time to break the news to his family. He actually wants more time to salvage the marriage. Zhi Xian is impulsive and lies about returning home. In fact, she moves out to stay on her own. Zhong He finally finds her and gives in to her request.

A few years later, Zhi Xian is disturbed that Zhong He still goes on proposal dates just to please his mother even though he can never forget Zhi Xian. She learns that Kang Xu is divorced and returns to him.

I hate this character because she is so wilful and selfish. She shouldn’t have married Zhong He and caused him so much misery. After marriage, she should have stayed faithful to him and not send emails to Kang Xu. She doesn’t deserve the 2 men who love her so deeply.

2. Shen Min Jing – Zhao Min Xiu
She is Kang Xu’s fiancée and partner at work. Both are cosmetic surgeons and have opened a clinic together. Her aunt and mother are divorcees and hope that her marriage will not be a failure like them. Her mother dislikes Kang Xu because he is poor. Min Jing fights hard for her own happiness. She nearly kills herself upon knowing Kang Xu’s affair. She is so angry that after marriage, she has no mood to go on honeymoon.

She is also suspecting that Kang Xu is seeing Zhi Xian behind her back, so she becomes very unreasonable. She isn’t close to her in-laws and objects to Kang Xu’s twin nephews staing at their home. She also dismisses a few maids because she says that their standards of hygiene are poor. Kang Xu finds her picky but still bears with it. They have a daughter but they quarrel over how to take care of her.

Kang Xu keeps contact with Zhi Xian through emails to find out about her present life. At this time, Min Jing has an abortion without consulting him because she finds it tiring to care for just one child and she does not want to have another to add to the burden. He gets angry and ignores her. She then organizes an outing, hoping to save their marriage. But she discovers his emails to Zhi Xian. Kang Xu and Min Jing divorce, and she gives him custody of their daughter because he loves her more.

I pity this woman for trying so hard to retain Kang Xu's love. She just can’t believe that a man she has loved for years can have a change of heart in just a few months. She deserves pity but I don’t think she should have had the abortion. Doesn’t she love the child? She is right to ask for a divorce, though – there is no point being with Kang Xu if he doesn’t love her anymore.

3. Cui Zhong He – Cha In Pyo
He wins the hearts of many women. He is a successful businessman and no one ever dares to talk back at him. But when Zhi Xian reprimands him for being late, he becomes interested in her because she dared to stand up to him.

Despite his tight schedule, he even flies to Thailand to bring Zhi Xian back although half the time, his mind is on the business contracts he has to deal with. He is disturbed that she has not told him about the trip, but he shows concern for her. He dines with her and orders dishes for her without her consent. Upon seeing how wan she is (she is disturbed by the affair then), he is concerned and even wishes to buy medicine for her personally. To cheer her up, he writes cards for her throughout the night and gives to her personally. However, she isn't appreciative of his gestures.

He is badly affected by Zhi Xian’s affair. Even after knowing the truth, he manages to settle the issue of her infidelity and forwards the wedding because he simply loves her too much. If you thought that their honeymoon would be romantic, you will be disappointed. Zhong He is so tired with work that he sleeps most of the time at Jiju Island! You will pity Zhi Xian feeling so neglected when she strolls on beaches alone.

He may come across as a traditional man (for example, he demands that Zhi Xian open the door for him, and he seldom visits his in-laws). But this man still tries hard to make her happy. Initially, he is unable to forgive her for betraying him. However, upon learning that she is pregnant, he is so delighted that his cool attitude towards her changes. Although he is equally upset over the miscarriage, he hugs her to console her. Many will melt upon seeing how caring he is.

Her request for a divorce really tears his heart. There is one scene that he asks her repeatedly to try to continue married life with him but she declines, saying that his family is too harsh on her. Feeling the anguish, he drinks a whole bottle of wine with an empty stomach. Later at home, he has gastric pains and still drinks cold water. This really shows that he is very upset over it.

Later he nearly turns mad when Zhi Xian disappears without a trace. He finds her and later sleeps on her bed after another failed attempt to change her mind. Zhi Xian covers him with a blanket. He holds her hand. This man has truly given up lots of things for her – he faces family pressure over the divorce and he is forced to meet women whom he isn’t interested in. How I wish the producer will let him to marry another woman in the end!

4. Li Kang Xu – Li Jing Rong
He is an indecisive man when it comes to love matters. He loves Zhi Xian but feels responsible to Min Jing. Actually, he wants to be faithful to Min Jing after marriage but she doesn’t trust him. Although he doesn’t love her anymore, he still wishes to save the marriage because he doesn’t wish his daughter to grow up in a single-parent family.

Some of my colleagues like him and not Zhong He. They find Zhong He very demanding while Kang Xu is a good listener and a caring man. I don’t really like this character because he is still unfaithful to his wife for keeping the emails he exchanges with Zhi Xian.

Favourite character
Zhong He. Although he is horribly chauvinistic, we can see that he is a man who loves his family, even though his methods may not be palatable to Zhi Xian.

Most hated character
Zhi Xian. I hate her for being nasty to Zhong He when he shows concern for her. She's a spoilt brat who deserves to be slapped by Min Jing’s aunt for that act of infidelity.

Song
There are 2 versions of the themesong ‘The Love Praise Song’. One is by a male singer, Liu Yue, while another a duet with a female singer, Xu Ying Yin. Both versions are quite pleasant to listen to.

Interesting facts

It was very popular in Taiwan as most stations telecast it. The Taiwanese found the cast splendid and the dialogue touching. Some supported Zhi Xian for going against the traditional rules. But many saw her as a stubborn, reckless and thoughtless woman. They felt that her in-laws actually treated her quite well, especially her husband, Zhong He. She wasn’t as pitiful as she seemed.

It was her own fault that she fell for the wrong man and that she expected to get her way all the time. Actually most pitied Zhong He. Although he was chauvinistic, he really gave her all his love and attention. Maybe his way of showing love wasn’t acceptable to her and she ended up divorcing him. Many really disliked this ending, so they went on the website to request for a change and to let both reconcile.

It is strange that ‘Fireworks’ caused more sparks in Taiwan than in Korea. For us, it is no big deal to see one-night-stand scenes in other serials. But for the Koreans, it is not the case. The ratings were lower than 20%, and only rose to more than 40% when the serial reached the last few episodes.

As like most Korean dramas, the serial is shown while the other episodes are being shot. When the 6th episode was shown, the crew was still filming the 9th and 10th episode. The producer had high demands from the cast. Zhi Xian’s crying scene when calling up Kang Xu to tell him how much she missed him took 2 hours and 20 NGs. Lee Yeon Ae didn’t complain about it and followed the instructions.

Many wondered how Zhi Xian could fall in love with such a plain-looking and wrinkled Kang Xu but detest the handsome-looking and cool Zhong He. Maybe it is the personality that attracted her. This is the second time that Lee Yeon Ae and Lee Jing Rong have worked together, so they created more sparks.

The producer wanted to create a tragic ending of Zhi Xian and Kang Xu committing suicide. But due to popular demand, both have a happy ending.

Cha In Pyo is so popular for this self-sacrificing role that he has been chosen by Taiwanese fans as the most popular Korean artiste, winning over Ahn Jae Wook, Ryu Si Won and Han Jae Sek. He was initially given another task in acting a MBC serial but he was so interested in the role that he took up this SBS assignment instead.

At the completion of filming, SBS had a celebration, the producer praised him for his attitude. He often helped the assistants in brewing coffee or carrying things. Many then commented that although he was still a little wooden in acting, his personality was the best. The producer gave him many comments to alter his mistakes. This is the first time that Cha has worked with the producer. Cha In Pyo found it a challenge to play a stern man, so he was very nervous and hardworking. Many were pleased with his natural performance, and found him suitable to portray a possessive but gentle Zhong He.

When he was in Taiwan with Lee Yeon Ae to promote the serial, he asked for every fan’s name and thanked them personally before signing on their posters. His sincerity won the fans over – so much that they even followed him to the hotel and asked for more autographs. It became a marathon autograph session. He was obliging and despite of his tight schedule, he took pictures with all of them. After returning to Korea for a few hours, he put up a thank-you note on his website.

Conclusion
Most viewers will pity Kang Xu and Zhi Xian as they do not marry the people they love. I personally sympathize with Zhong He and Min Jing. The producer’s motive is to let others realize that they shouldn’t look for ‘fireworks’ and be more aware of those who love them quietly. I think the producer has succeeded in putting across that message. I don’t approve of Kang Xu and Zhi Xian’s actions. They really sicken me. Zhi Xian’s attitude irks me as she always thinks that she is right.

If they had known what they want from the start, they should have not gone ahead with the marriages. They are just lucky that their spouses decided to give them up. I do wonder why these two have such good luck to be together in the end. I don’t really like the storyline as it depicts them in a good light.

The acting from the supporting cast is flawless. I really admire the actress who played Zhong He’s mother. Although she is short and plump, she is very stern-looking. No wonder Zhi Xian is so frightened of her. The pace is quite slow, though. You have to have a lot of patience when watching it.

Ratings :

On acting : * * *1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : * * * (Scale of 5)


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