Friday, November 18, 2011

FAQ for Sealed with a Kiss

Have some burning questions about Sealed with a Kiss? Well, here's your chance to ask if you have any! I've come up with a few questions I thought may be of interest. If you leave your questions in the comment section below, I'll update this post and try to answer the question for you.

Why is this drama called Sealed with a Kiss?

Well...I actually don't know how they came up with this English title. The English title has nothing to do with the Chinese name. The original Chinese title is called Qian Shan Mu Xue 千(thousand or qian) 山(mountain or shan)暮(evening/sunset or mu) 雪(snow or xue) which literally means "icy frost/snow capping a range of mountain peaks at sunset." The author uses this phase as a homonym to represent one of the Chinese characters in the name of Tong Xue and the 3 leading men in the novel. I love the Chinese title; it sounds really poetic.

Qian = Mo Shao Qian
Shan = Xiao Shan
Mu= Mu Zhenfei
Xue= Tong Xue

Is Tong Xue supposed to be beautiful in the story/drama?

Many Chinese netizens and viewers are dissatisfied with the actress who played Tong Xue in the drama. The most common complaint is her looks. I absolutely agree Tong Xue has one of the most hideous outfits I've ever seen in dramas, but I honestly think it's too much to say her unattractiveness "ruined" the drama. After watching her for awhile, I found her quite endearing.  

Is Tong Xue very pretty? Based on my interpretation of the novel, the answer is no. I think Tong Xue is not supposed to be very beautiful, at least not "godly beautiful." The most godly beautiful creature in the novel is Shaoqian's wife, Yongfei. According to Tong Xue herself, she's the least attractive out of all the female characters (Yueying, Lin Zixian, Mu Yongfei). Even Yueying and Lin Zixian are supposed to be more beautiful than her, since she's the one that draws the least attention on first impression. Tong Xue is leaning toward the "ordinary" beauty. She's slightly prettier than the average person, but not the "WOW...you're gorgeous" type. I think Mu Zhenfei made a comment about her looks in the drama: "she's only slightly more beautiful than the ordinary girl." I know the author didn't really give much details about Tong Xue's looks. Her greatest assets are her smooth pale skin and height (which I think the main actress, Ying'er, fits these criteria).

How handsome is Mo Shaoqian?

Mo Shaoqian's handsomeness is a MUST in the story.  Unlike Tong Xue's vague beauty, he is supposed to  be the "DAMN, he's handsome" type both in the novel and drama. I think we're pretty superficial and are attracted to beautiful things. Sooo...if he was a disgustingly ugly man, we would be calling this drama "Sealed our Death with a Nightmare Kiss." Luckily, Hawick Lau was able to carry this role with his acting and Mo Shaoqian's reputed good looks as well. Let's just say he's good-looking enough to catch people's attention wherever he goes. Otherwise, he wouldn't have caught the attention of the beautifully prideful Mu Yongfei. Someone probably wonder what a really good-looking guy like Mo Shaoqian see in the more "ordinary" Tong Xue? I'm guessing, at first, he probably finds her interesting cuz she's like forbidden fruit to him. But later, over the course of their relationship, he fell in love with her "unchanging persistence/resilience" in life. No matter how miserable  her life gets, she never falters and continues to thrive to overcome all her obstacles.

When did Mo Shaoqian and Mu Yongfei get married? 

Mo Shaoqian was 23 years old while Mu Yongfei was around 20 years old.

When did Mo Shaoqian's father die? 

Mo Shaoqian was 20 years old according to the information provided by his mother in the novel. I guess there was a 3 years gap between his father's death and his marriage to Mu Yongfei. I believed he was studying abroad around the time of his father's death, and was forced to end his studies early to come back.

How was Mo Shaoqian's childhood?

In the drama, Tong Xue thinks Mo Shaoqian had an unhappy childhood, so he turns out "mentally warped" or bian tai in Chinese. How unhappy was his childhood? Well, it's difficult to gauge happiness. I definitely don't think he had a blissfully happy childhood nor was it extremely unhappy. Both of his parents sincerely loved him, even though they might not have raised him properly.

In the drama, Shaoqian's parents divorced when he was 18 years old. However, it seems like in the novel his parents divorced much earlier. Shaoqian was raised mostly by his father, which explained his close attachment and great love for him. His mother was rarely home and traveled a lot for her academic career. Under his father's strict parenting, he was forbidden to play with toys. His father believed indulgence in toys would weaken his son's will and motivation in life.

In Professor Jiang's own words, this is how she describes Mo Shaoqian's childhood in the novel:

"When Shaoqian was young, he was a special child. His father and I, our personalities often clashed; so we divorced when he was very young. I lived abroad most of the time and only got to see him one to two times in a year. He was extremely quiet every time I saw him, but also very understanding. 

Looking back, it pains me to think he didn't even seem to have a childhood. His father constantly had him by his side. The only game he ever had was to quietly listen to what people have to say when his father brought him along to attend business meetings. 

He's like me. We're both very interested in chemistry, but because of his father's high hopes for him, he decided to study industrial management instead. He matured at a young age, and he's also very sensitive. His love for his father is exceptionally profound, so he put all his passion into the business legacy that his father left him."
Okay, I take my words back. It sounds like Mo Shaoqian had a TERRIBLE childhood despite having two parents who loved him very much. As a child, he exhibited traits of a potential sociopath already

Why wasn't Mo Shaoqian associated with any other women during the first 7 years of marriage with Yongfei and before he met Tong Xue?

Shaoqian had a very disciplined upbringing and had no time to date or fall in love before he married Yongfei. He is also mysophobic (dislikes fooling around with random women), and gets fiercely loyal. I just think he just has a lot of self-control. During his marriage with Yongfei, she had a constant supply of private investigators to report his whereabouts back to her. Before the Su Shanshan's scandal, even Yongfei was so surprised by his disinterest in women that she began to doubt his sexuality and think he may just not like women in general. LOL. Mo Shaoqian actually went through great lengths to hide his relationship with Tong Xue from Yongfei. Whenever he suspects Yongfei get a little too close in discovering Tong Xue, he moves his residence with Tong Xue to another address.

How did the novel depict Tong Xue and Mo Shaoqian's sex life?

Someone asked  this question on SPCNET forum, so I'll just copy my answer here. The novel is very subtle in giving us hints about this topic. Most details can only be deduced through dialogues and comments made by Tong Xue in a passing. Like the drama, the novel opens with Tong Xue living as Shaoqian's secret mistress for three years already. He doesn't come to visit her often, maybe two to three times a month, and sometimes he'll be away for months. Anyway, it seems after 3 years of being together, we learn through Tong Xue's eyes that Shaoqian gets passionate about lovemaking and she tries to please him as much as she can (cuz she hopes he would be tired of her soon and eventually dump her). Tong Xue also compliments about Shaoqian's great kissing skills and she actually responds to his kisses (unlike the drama), and enjoys his kisses if he's in a good mood (and she acknowledges his handsome looks too). Sometimes, she would even try to use sex to appease him when he's mad at her (i.e. Tong Xue's wearing his shirt; before Tong Xue accidentally knocked down the antique lamp and fell on the shards, she was actually trying to seduce him by kissing a sensitive spot on his neck). So, I guess we can deduce that they have a very passionate sexual relationship, and Tong Xue is not abhorrent to sex with Shaoqian.

However, Tong Xue later reveals her sexual relationship with Shaoqian was definitely not pleasant during their initial 6 months. Aforementioned in a previous post, Shaoqian lured TongXue to that fake tutoring session, drugged her and took her virginity. The scriptwriter changed this extremely controversial scene in the novel and left it ambiguous. (Man, I could just imagine the wrath of SARFT if she dared to even script this scene in the drama.) After Tong Xue's unpleasant first time and due to his sexual drive, she was even afraid to look at a bed. It was only later when ShaoQian put some effort to alleviate her fears and she also made an effort to change things that their relationship gradually improved.

Why did Mo Shaoqian and Tong Xue sleep in different bedrooms?

In one of the epilogue chapters written in Mo Shaoqian's perspective,he reveals the real reason why he couldn't stand to share the same bed with Tong Xue. I think they used to sleep in the same room in the early days of their relationship. One night, Tong Xue had a nightmare and Shaoqian tried to comfort her. When Tong Xue open her eyes and realized Shaoqian was holding her in his arms, she gave him a very frightened, terrified look that completely froze him. A look he never wanted to see again in his life. From then, he refused to let her sleep in his room. But Tong Xue thinks Shaoqian doesn't allow her to sleep in his room because of her bad sleeping habits/postures (the excuse that Shaoqian gave to kick her out).

What is the moral of this story?  

I know many viewers said this story sounds like a nasty plot out of some romance novel, which I somewhat agree. But if you overlook the insanely twisted plot line, perhaps you may see it in a different light and ask the question why write such a distorted story?

The three leading men represent three different types of relationships in Tong Xue's life. The author once said she writes stories to warn young female readers what NOT to do in a love relationship. She hopes through the trials, tribulations or mistakes made by her female protagonists, readers can learn to handle their own relationships as well.

Mo Shaoqian = unhealthy possessiveness, jealousy, pain, misery, coercion, hatred, but also learning to let go, to love without asking for reciprocation, to forgive, and to sacrifice.
Xiao Shan = first love, innocence, youth, happiness, sweetness, warmth, but also petty bickering, lifelong regret, rash mistakes, and insecurity.
Mu Zhenfei= platonic friendship, understanding, compassion

Isn't it ironic out of the three types of relationships, the author picked the most unhealthy one to explore and designate for Tong Xue at the end? Ideally, Xiao Shan would be the most rational choice or a combination of Xiao Shan and Mu Zhenfei's traits would be the perfect choice. But then love isn't always perfect or beautiful. You can't have all the goods without the bads. People often get themselves involved in unhealthy relationships even though they consciously know they shouldn't. Tong Xue started to harbor sympathetic feelings for Shaoqian only after much sacrifice on his part and total transformation from his former villainous self. It's never you either choose good or bad, right or wrong. I know most women in Tong Xue's shoes would never forgive a man like Mo Shaoqian. But saying is easier than doing. You never know what would happen if you are literally a part of the situation. I always tell people to just an end a relationship if they're truly unhappy about it, but they never listen and say it's not as simple as I think. Yep, that's right. Life is messy. It isn't always as simple as you want it to be. Gosh, I sound like I'm preaching and I apologize if you feel the same.

Then why did the author have Tong Xue forgive Shoaqian at the end?
I personally think Shaoqian more than paid for his crimes against Tong Xue. He pretty much lost everything that mattered to him. Prison time would have done less damage on him. The woman he loved the most in his life openly declared her hatred for him after all that he has sacrificed for her. He lost Distal Group (Yuanzhong). He abandoned his father's dreams. He has no family left. Ten long years of endurance and planning for revenge evaporated into nothingness. In the end, he became just a mere existence of his self. Nothing more. Now seriously, that's really really depressing for a prideful man like Mo Shaoqian.

P.S. I think the two happy epilogues were written to satisfy readers and because the author pitied Mo Shaoqian herself. They're not part of the official chapters. I think it was the author's original intention to have the story closed with an open ending.

Why did Shaoqian fall for Tong Xue?

I think to fully answer this questions, I'll probably have to write a long analysis on their relationship. LOL. But for now, here's a concise explanation. Even though Tong Xue may not be the prettiest girl in the story, I think one of the biggest reasons Shaoqian fell in love with her is the innocence, simplicity of her personality, and most importantly, the resilience in her character against adverse situations.

It doesn't take much to make Tong Xue happy. Small favors or things can easily satisfied her. However, she seems quite immune to material things such as expensive jewelry and other brand name items. Shaoqian apparently loves to shower her with expensive gifts but she never uses or shows a great love for them. If you help her do a small favor, and she'll return you a big fat smile and a lot of gratitude.

Over time, Tong Xue became the next closest thing to family for Shaoqian. Her presence represents "home." In the novel, whenever he's in a bad mood, his personal assistant would always tell him to "go home" to take a look at Tong Xue. She was able to give him the feeling of "home," something he lacked and craved the most in his life.

Why does Shaoqian like to touch Tong Xue hair so much? Does he have a hair fetish?

I don't think the director nor the writer intended to imply that Shaoqian has a fetish for Tong Xue's hair.   There were several scenes in the drama that depicted Shaoqian touching Tong Xue's hair. These scenes pinpoint the fact that it was the only intimate gesture Shaoqian could subtly make without Tong Xue's notice. In the novel, he actually just wanted to extend his arm out to touch her quietly from behind. Just when he was about to succeed, he restrained himself, pulled back his hand, and his fingers ended up touching her long flowing hair instead.

This gesture shows that Shaoqian is too afraid to exhibit his most private and genuine feelings in front of Tong Xue. Tong Xue's long hair, I think, symbolically represents the distant connection they have. Like a timid child, Mo Shaoqian is definitely very raw in the area of love, and very awkward in the way he chooses to love. His IQ is extremely high, but his EQ is on a whole different level .

13 comments:

  1. are you recapping all the episodes JoleCole ? and thanks plenty for the FAQ

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  2. Yep, I'm planning to recap the entire drama. Just don't know how long it will take.

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  3. Thanks JoleCole, I'm looking forward for the recaps. Have a blessed day and God bless.

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  4. are you going to recap the SWAK series by order?

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  5. thanks for the FAQ i really love SWAK I'm really looking forward for some FAQ about the novel and the series and your recaps, i wish there's a list of all the hints that Tong Xue and Mo Shaoqian love each other , and memorable dialogue's in the series

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  6. thanks jolecole! i'm wondering do you think the character of tongxue in the drama is similar to that in the book? in the drama, she seems to be a cheery, kind-hearted girl, not too bright about some things and always sacrificing herself for others.

    at what point in the book did tongxue realise that shaoqian loves her? also at the airport?

    i really like the instrumental music they used in the drama and the song they play in the beginning. do you know where they can be downloaded?

    c-dramas are really surprising me. this is my second c-drama after bu bu jing xin that i started watching in entirety. i have always been watching k-dramas before.

    i think that although tongxue in the drama may not be slim but i think that maybe that is a plus point. showing that it is inner beauty that counts. also, gosh i am really amazed by hawick lau! the last drama i watched of him was kindred spirit (hk drama) many many years ago! he has a baby faced look and still has now but he has a cooler aura in this drama. i also really like the scenes with his mother. that actress is really good.

    i have two more episodes to go. quite sad that i am coming to the end of it.

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  7. @"are you going to recap the SWAK series by order?"
    Yep, that's the current plan. Do you have a particular episode you're dying to read about?

    @"i'm wondering do you think the character of tongxue in the drama is similar to that in the book?"
    I sorta did a mini comparison between the book and novel on Tong Xue's character in one of my posts titled "novel vs. drama." Did you have a chance to read that? I personally think she was much stronger and stubborn in the novel. The scriptwriter weakened her character a lot in the drama and made her seem like she had a martyr complex.

    @"at what point in the book did tongxue realise that shaoqian loves her? also at the airport?"
    Yep. Tong Xue was really prejudiced against knowing/learning more about Shaoqian. Even though she sensed he had his reasons, but she resolutely refused to know more. So her prejudice made her blind to Shaoqian's love for her.

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  8. @i really like the instrumental music they used in the drama and the song they play in the beginning. do you know where they can be downloaded?

    I don't know where to download the instrumental, but I uploaded the main theme song on this blog. Just check the [C-Drama Download] for SWAK. I provided the download link.

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  9. Hi Jolecole

    Kudos to your efforts in providing more information about SWAK to readers who are more proficient in English than Chinese (like me :D). SWAK is, i think to-date, my most fav novel by FWSC. And i think the scriptwriter did a fantastic job in expanding the novel into a credible screenplay that fills in the gaps.

    Once again, thanks for your efforts and keep it up :)

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  10. @"i wish there's a list of all the hints that Tong Xue and Mo Shaoqian love each other"

    Maybe that will be my next topic for my blog...or if you want, you can come up with a list and post it up for fans. hehehe...

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  11. Thank you for the recaps.It helps me to understand the story better.

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  12. The deleted scene where MSQ and TX was in the bathtub, he kissed her so hard until he bit her lip. Is this part also in the novel?

    Also in the drama, I notice that MSQ has a fascination for TX hair. Was that also in the novel?

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  13. @"The deleted scene where MSQ and TX was in the bathtub, he kissed her so hard until he bit her lip. Is this part also in the novel?"

    No, there was no description of how he kissed her in the bathtub scene. Just said they had an intense tuggle. Finally, Shaoqian couldn't resist Tong Xue's advances anymore, took control, and had intercourse with her in the bathtub (implied, cuz she was so exhausted afterward that she fell asleep in the bathtub).

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