Not money… Here is the reason why the three sisters in “Little Women” split up

The three sisters in tvN’s “Little Women” have different moral values.

Let’s find out more about the psychology of the characters in this drama. “If we unfold the psychology of the characters in the scenes we were curious about, we might be able to see our own minds better without knowing it”, said reporter Song Ju-yeon.


tvN’s “Little Women” is a very attractive drama that solves the mysterious events taking place when the three poor sisters In-ju (Kim Go-eun), In-kyung (Nam Ji-hyun), and In-hye (Park Ji-hoo) get involved in “black money”. With the realistic motive of “money” being added to the setting reminiscent of Louisa May Alcott’s novel “Little Women”, the drama, which includes the thriller element, is captivating many viewers by evoking their various emotions in each episode.

According to reporter Song Ju-yeon, the common feeling that most viewers feel while watching dramas these days is the regret that arises when the story is halfway. At the beginning of the drama, the close relationship of the three sisters, who used to rely on each other and share inner feelings despite their extreme poverty, is gradually disappearing. In the novel “Little Women”, which is different from the drama despite the same setting, the four sisters with completely different personalities argue a lot but make up with each other quickly. However, the conflict between the three sisters in the drama, which is set in modern Korea, where money determines people’s lives, is getting deeper and deeper.

Park Ji-hoo

Like In-ju’s line “Money is so scary”, what existence of “money” is that makes the three sisters, whose relationship is so good, split up? However, according to cognitive behavioral therapy specialists, a simple event or substance itself cannot be the reason for a person’s feelings or actions. This is because different emotions or behaviors are induced depending on one’s perspective when looking at the event, which is “money” in this drama, or the psychological dynamics resulting from it. “With this in mind, I looked closely and found out that it was really so”, said Song Ju-yeon. The conflict between the three sisters was caused by the difference in the ways they look at money rather than “money” itself, and that is the standard of moral judgement.

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In-kyung, Justice’s morality

Representative scholars who explained moral developments in psychology are Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan. Kohlberg said that moral judgment follows conscience and justice, and that the stage of moral development varies depending on whether the decision is batting average or autonomous. He believes that the more morally mature people are, the more they tend to make moral judgments not to pursue their own interests or avoid punishment but based on their ultimate justice and conscience. On the other hand, Carol Gilligan criticized Kohlberg’s theory for not explaining the moral development of women who value relationships well and proposed a moral development theory centered on consideration and responsibility. According to Gilligan, morality develops from self-interest to caring for others, and to caring for both oneself and others.

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According to these theories, the second sister In-kyung is the person who follows Kohlberg’s moral values, which are based on “Justice”. In-kyung prioritizes conscience and social justice even when experiencing misery caused by poverty. In episode 3, when In-kyung knew that In-ju had 2 billion won, she said, “If you do something with that amount of money, I’ll report your action”. She then firmly said, “I’m fine with being poor. I’ve been living like this for this whole time. But I don’t want to become a thief just because I’m poor”. This scene showed that In-kyung considers justice and conscience as more important values than the relationship with her sister or situational consideration. In-kyung’s job as a journalist must have been decided to practice this value. 

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Many other actions of In-kyung are also based on “justice”. In-kyung is struggling to investigate the corruption of Park Jae-sang (Um Ki-joon) despite the threat to the safety of her sisters as well as herself. In addition, while receiving help from her grandma Hye-seok (Kim Mi-sook), who became wealthy in the real estate industry, she does not take away her critical eyes on how her grandmother accumulated wealth.

In-ju’s morality in her relationship and consideration

Kim Go-eun

On the other hand, In-ju is based on the morality of consideration and responsibility. When In-ju finds out that 2 billion won is in her hands, she briefly conflicts over the origin of the immoral money, but soon decides to use it to live more comfortably and safely with her younger sisters. This was a detail that showed that In-ju prioritized caring and her responsible for the lives of herself and her younger siblings rather than justice.

In addition, the attitude of In-ju toward money is always accompanied by the desire to expose the injustice of the death of Hwa-young (Choo Ja-hyun), her only best friend. Even when she has 2 billion won in her hands, or when she finds out that she has 70 billion won in assets in Singapore under her name, In-ju still recalls Hwa-young. In-ju feels guilty and has conflicts in handling the money, and the basis for In-ju’s judgment every time is her relationship with Hwa-young. Do-il (Wi Ha-joon), a money laundering expert, sees through this detail and persuades In-ju like this in the 6th episode.

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“If I were you, I’d say this. The only way not to waste Hwa-young’s death is for In-ju to complete the plan.”

Accordingly, In-ju decides to follow Do-il’s plan. In-ju, who has such a relationship-oriented value, is truly saddened by that girl’s loneliness and hurt even though she knows that Hyo-rin’s mother Sang-ah (Uhm Ji-won) is using her.

In this way, In-kyung had a moral value that emphasized “justice and conscience”, and In-ju had a moral judgment standard that emphasized “responsibility and consideration for relationships“. In-kyung and In-ju are treating the world with very different standards. Therefore, the two seem to be in conflict without being able to narrow the gap even though they love each other very much.

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In-hye, indebted heart and fragile morality

On the other hand, the moral aspect of the youngest In-hye still seems very fragile. In-hye chooses the conditional love of Hyo-rin (Jeon Chae-eun)’s family over her sisters’ unconditional love to escape from poverty. This means that In-hye is making moral judgments solely on the basis of her own benefits. In other words, she is at the lowest stage in both Kohlberg and Gilligan’s theories, the “selfish stage”.

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However, In-hye’s heart also has its own reason. In episode 1, In-hye tells her sisters who try to get money to send her on a school trip, unlike her mother who goes abroad with money used for her school trip.

“I don’t feel bad because everything our mom says is true, but I hate it more when my sisters work so hard.”

In episode 3, she tells In-ju, who stops her from studying abroad after she says Hyo-rin’s family offers to send her to study abroad.

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“Nothing in this world is free. If you owe someone beyond what you can pay off, God knows what you’ll have to give in return later.”

In episode 4, she tells In-kyung that Hyo-rin’s family’s love is the kind of love she wants to receive and her sisters’ unconditional love for her is “annoying“.

These were scenes that showed that In-hye had an “indebted heart” at the sacrifice of her sisters. Psychological studies show that the “indebtedness“, an uncomfortable emotion experienced after receiving help, reduces gratitude, avoids situations and leads to guilty conscience. Perhaps In-hye wanted to escape from her sisters because she felt so uncomfortable with this indebtedness.

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On the other hand, she comfortably accepted Hyo-rin’s family’s favor since it could relieve her “indebted heart”. In-hye had Hyo-rin submit her paintings instead. Voluntarily doing this was probably a strategy to offset the “indebtedness” for the things she received from Hyo-rin’s family. It seems that it was more important for In-hye to decrease her indebted heart than any other moral value.

As such, the three sisters of “Little Women” have different moral values and look at money and the world from completely different perspectives. Therefore, the gaps between the three sisters are getting bigger and bigger. Will the sisters be able to get out of their current crisis by respecting and coordinating these differences?

Little Women

In the 6th episode, there is a scene in which In-ju saves In-kyung from trouble after revealing Park Jae-sang’s property list. The scene, in which the two hold hands tightly and go through the sea of reporters, raised expectations that they would work together to save each other from the crisis in the future.

In fact, despite the differences and conflicts, the sisters still look at each other fondly. It would be great if “Little Women” could show the sisters not giving up on each other and joining hands to solve the problems. If that happens, the viewers can also hope to resolve their real-life conflict while respecting each other’s differences in values.

nam ji hyun

To do that, first of all, why don’t we check which of the three sisters’ moral values is ours similar to? All differences and conflicts can be resolved, starting from the reflection on one’s mind.

Source: daum

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