Bossam -- Episodes 1 & 2: The Fate of Widows: Invisible and Excluded
I like Bossam: Steal the Fate for taking on the discriminatory effect of widowhood prevalent in many parts of the world today. How widows, especially women, were treated as practically invisible and with such disdain and still are in some cultures, like somehow they're responsible for their husbands' death, is infuriating. In my opinion, this was/is nothing more than a measure of control over women left behind without men—a slow and painful social death.
In a way, this explains why so many women in the Joseon Dynasty schemed, conned, lied, and killed their way into the palace, not for greed but for marital or even consort status to be protected both economically and socially. At least in Joseon, widows were allowed the act of bossam, where a bachelor or a widower could secretly wrap up a widow in a blanket at night, kidnap her and make her his wife or pay someone like Ba Woo (Jung Il Woo) to do it for them.
One must think how desperate a man like Ba Woo, a lowly commoner yet well educated to risk his life and the life of his son, knowing full well the consequences if caught in the actor and still engage in the actor of bossam, trying to connect widows, who have no hope of getting remarried, with new husbands for money. I love Jung Il Woo in his role as Ba Woo. He plays him with just the right mix of carefreeness yet heaviness hidden underneath layers of loneliness, pain, and disappointment with his son Cha-Dol (Ko Dong Ha), who's practically his best friend and roommate as his only solace. I commend the little actor; he's a star in the making.
One can tell Ba Woo keeps buried within him a world of secrets. The scene where the monk whips Ba Woo for his disgraceful behavior at the market (he was actually trying to help orphans get their money back, so he was doing a good deed) hints at a past rife with betrayals and backstabbing. It leaves me thinking Ba Woo is more than who he seems. It is somehow connected to the palace and, or the seemingly unscrupulous Lee Yi-Cheom (Lee Jae Yong) Princess Soo-Kyung's (Kwon Yu Ri) father in law (great to have the radiant Yu Ri back on the small screen and enigmatic Lee Jae Yong who's perfected the role of the villain). And what venomous in-laws Soo-Kyung has, not knowing much of how and why I get the sense that Soo-Kung, for some reason, married into the Lee family but not to the right son and lives in their household as their son's widow. Her demeanor towards her husband's older brother Lee Dae Yeop (Shin Hyun Soo) and even her maid's demeanor suggests they may have at some point been more to each other than just brother and sister-in-law.
That Dae Yeop and even the Princess still have lingering feelings for each other is quite evident. I cannot for the life of me imagine living the life the Princess lives, widowed at the prime of her life forever trapped in an invisible widow status, living in the same household as the man she loves—torturous. It makes sense that she may have subconsciously wished she could engage in the act of bossam through her painting. I doubt she ever thought it would actually happen, and a botched one at that. Nor did Ba Woo, for his life, ever imagine he would kidnap the wrong widow and perpetuate a string of events that not only puts the Princess's life in danger but his and his son's.
I can only imagine the implications, let alone the disgrace of the disappearance or kidnapping of a widow from an influential family in that era would bring, but that Soo-Kyung's father-in-law chose to fake her death rather than let her father, King Gwang Hae (Kim Tae Woo), know of her potential kidnapping to save face was abhorring. But more than that, to threaten her maid, Court Lady Jo (Shin Dong Mi), and force her to turn against the Princess so that he can hunt and her kill to protect his secret was even worse. I won't lie; I harbored some ill will towards the maid despite knowing she had no choice, but she totally redeemed herself when she, despite all the threats, told Dae Yeop the truth, not that I think he has much power to affect any change against his father's orders, but at least he knows the truth. I doubt there is any place in Joseon where either Ba Woo, his son, or the Princess would ever be safe from Lee Yi-Cheom's far-reaching sword. So in that sense, I cannot wait to see how Dae Yeop will react now that he knows his father's secret, but more so what Princess and Ba Woo will do to survive a fate worse than death. I'm already hooked to Jung Il Woo as Ba-Woo. Watch Episodes 1 & 2 here.