I thought in jest about writing a series called “Questionable K-Drama Male Behavior towards Females,” but I think I’m actually going to do it, and episode 13 of Spy Myung-wol is a good place to start.

Spoilers for the latest episodes, so read with discretion.

Episode 13 of Spy dealt with the onset of Kang-woo’s suspicion towards Myung-wol after he witnesses Myung-wol going through his things and stealing the book that he bought in Singapore. While I think that the suspicion is necessary at this point of the story, the narrative is getting clunky and sloppy. Earlier attempts to throw off Kang-woo from blowing the spies’ covers were smart and even funny, but how are you gonna convince me that two North Korean spies were caught having a full-fledged, extremely detailed conversation about their very North Korean mission while Kang-woo hides behind a pillar and listens, and in his apartment no less?

But I digress: my problem is mainly not with the suspicion, because it’s about time that suspicions came into play.

My problem, then, has to do with that one scene in Episode 13 where Kang-woo (dammit, I keep calling him Eric) gets drunk and upset with Myung-wol’s betrayal and tells her to prove her love to him by sleeping with him.

I understand that this scene was not a rape/attempted rape scene (thank GOD, I almost had a moment of deja vu there), but it made me uncomfortable all the same.

This scene is awful because of the power imbalance in the relationship — and in a lot of relationships — but particularly so in this one because Kang-woo has something tangible (the book) that Myung-wol needs, so she offers him to trade him something intangible (love, her body) for it. But the intangible items possess far more value than the tangible one, and while there was never the intent for Myung-wol to have to sell “herself” for her mission, it was implied that given the chance, she would have to oblige no matter what she personally felt.

I take a lot of issue with this scene mainly because while Kang-woo has always been an asshole, and this is definitely one of those irredeemable asshole things to do. The worst thing about it is that it’s supposed to be seen as some sort of romantic declaration. It’s not. Yes, Myung-wol consented, but if you ask me, she doesn’t look too thrilled about it. I think Myung-wol was resigned to the fact that she was going to have to participate in whatever sexual activity might be “necessary” in order to gain access to Kang-woo. While it was played off as a joke in the beginning of the drama, and was never actually consummated, the idea of sex has taken a much darker turn in episode 13.

There was remorse about it on Kang-woo’s part, but that doesn’t excuse it, and he still put Myung-wol in a position where she had to oblige, lest her cover be blown. And at that point, Kang-woo must’ve known that Myung-wol was, without a doubt, not who she says she was, but it was his anger that created his desire to dominate her through sex, and the important thing is that Myung-wol was in no position to say no, whether or not she still considered this a mission. If she had, she had to because he was the enemy and she needed to procure something; if she hadn’t, she was put in a position where she felt like she had to validate his claims and the only way to do that was through sex. And Kang-woo made it clear that Myung-wol was not to be trusted through her words. Couple that with the fact that Kang-woo is a super alpha male, and that he has been extremely demanding in this relationship, making Myung-wol cater to almost all of his whims that I declare this relationship a really awful one. It’s just repulsive watching him be that boyfriend, who yells at you to sit down, never listens to what you have to say, feels that any betrayal to the relationship must be to him, etc etc.

There is nothing really that he can do, short of becoming a different person, that makes Kang-woo attractive.

(Crossposted from evacuatewithstyle)