Will the pregnancy of a minor be beautifully wrapped up just by adding emotion?
In the latest episode of tvN drama “Our Blues,” which aired on April 24th, the story of high school students Jung Hyun (played by Bae Hyun-sung) and Bang Yeong-ju (played by Noh Yoon-seo) who became pregnant while secretly dating behind their dads’ back who are on bad terms with each other.
Bang Young-ju is the top straight-A student at school who dreams of entering a university in Seoul. She only sees Jeju Island, where she has lived her entire life, as a tiresome village. However, she then became pregnant with her boyfriend, Jung Hyun.
Bang Young-ju decided to abort the unexpected baby. Jung Hyun persuaded her to think a little more, but she said, “How can I give birth? What about college? Is our love great enough to bet all our life on it?” she said, showing a firm attitude toward her decision.
Bang Young-ju, who visited the obstetrics and gynecology department far from her neighborhood to avoid people’s eyes, took an ultrasound and received sarcastic comments from the doctor, “Look, this is what students these days are like. 22 weeks. It’s 6 months.”
After asking around, Bang Young-ju found a hospital that do abortion even for those who are pregnant for more than 20 weeks and visited it. Jung Hyun, who followed Young-ju to the hospital despite her saying that she would go alone, entered the ultrasound examination room with Young-ju.
After the doctor explained to them the position of the fetus’ head, arms, and legs, and said with a smile “The organs are all well-developed. The baby is very healthy,” the doctor offered, “Do you want to hear the sound of the baby’s heart?” then played the sound of the fetus’ heart. “Don’t do it, doctor,” said Bang Young-ju, who heard the heart beat. “I’m scared. I’m scared. Please, I don’t want to hear it,” she sobbed confusedly. As they left the hospital and headed home, she told Jung Hyun, “I really trust you and will go straight for this,” making up her mind to give birth to the baby.
The subject of underage pregnancy seemed to be well wrapped up in the fresh love story between Bang Young-ju and Jung Hyun. However, as in reality, it is hard to avoid criticism that the drama glorifies adolescent pregnancy.
In particular, it only showed a part of the reality encountered when an unwanted pregnancy occurs among adolescence, and it is regrettable that they decide to give birth after romanticizing the story and listening to the sound of the fetus’ heart.
In the scene after Bang Young-ju told Jung Hyun, “I really trust you and will go straight for this,” the rain fell the dry sky, and in that situation, Bang Young-ju spreaded her palm as if covering the baby in her stomach from the rain, and Jung Hyun did the same thing to Bang Young-ju. They smiled and kissed each other, and the beautiful OST in that scene erases the problem of the subject of “adolescent pregnancy” and focused only on the “love” of the characters.
Furthermore, it is hard to understand the doctor’s behavior in the drama that confused the teenager, who visited the hospital after deciding to abort, by saying, “The organs are all well developed,” and letting them hear the heartbeat of the fetus. This is because these words and actions secretly put guilt on the ones who decide to abort their pregnancy.
On April 11, 2019, the Constitutional Court ruled that the abortion crime was unconstitutional, stating that women’s right to self-determination should be respected, and the abortion crime became invalid on January 1, 2021. There is still a long way to go without institutional supplementation, but as long as the abortion system is abolished, abortion is a right, not a crime, in Korea.
However, the media is still out there and telling stories about abortion as sad and guilty for those who are contemplating abortion.
Experts are concerned about the sexual culture of teenagers placed in a poor environment. In 2018, the average age of adolescents having first sexual intercourse fell to 13.6 years old. Isn’t it the role of adults to help teenagers who have not formed a proper sexual concept face up to how dangerous it is to get pregnant during adolescence when their bodies are immature, and that the reality after childbirth is not a movie or a drama?
Recently, there is a program that deals with the reality of underage pregnancy and childbirth. It’s MBN’s variety show ‘High School Daddy’. ‘High School Dad’ also received many voices of concern at the time of its launch. Criticism still exists, but as it is an observational entertainment, it contains the reality of teenage parents relatively well. It hires sex education instructors and psychological counselors to diagnose problems and draws out educational aspects from the stories of the cast.
Lee Si-hoon, a sex education instructor who appears in ‘High School Dad’, emphasized, “I think it is paradoxically irresponsible for adults to emphasize responsibility without educating children.”
It would be absurd to say that it is regrettable that a drama with an important narrative lacks educational content. However, the fact that the pregnancy of high school students Yeong-gyeong-joo and Jeong-hyeon was used only as a material to show love and responsibility is not in line with the direction of the times. These teenage pregnancy stories have a huge impact on adolescents.