‘Jealousy Incarnate’ K-Drama: SBS Series Brings To Forefront Korean Taboo Of Alternative Relationships — Will We Actually See Pyo Na Ri, Lee Hwa Shin, And Go Jung Won Live Together? [Spoilers]

Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) K-drama Jealousy Incarnate (also known as Don’t Dare To Dream) is at the moment the only series going well domestically for the television company. Despite the fact that their period K-drama Scarlet Heart: Ryeo is dominating internationally, the series starring Gong Hyo Jin, Jo Jung Suk, and Go Jung Won, is technically making more money because high Korean viewership ratings mean more profit over a certain course of time compared to an upfront single sale of a series viewing license.

To be frank, anyone who has stayed dedicated to Jealousy Incarnate, which has now aired 16 of its 24 episodes, will testify just how good it is in general. Besides the fact the acting, plot, and direction are top notch, the fact it pushes boundaries just enough for South Koreans to be comfortable is what really makes it stand out. Earlier in the series, it utilized the growing threat of breast cancer in men as a plot and direction point for Lee Hwa Shin (Jo Jung Suk). Midway through, the series magnificently directed Hwa Shin and Go Jung Won’s (Go Kyung Pyo) pursuit for Pyo Na Ri’s (Gong Hyu Jin) heart in a way that viewers do not know who Na Ri will end up with.

Now it looks like Jealousy Incarnate is pushing the boundaries yet again by bringing to the forefront a Korean taboo: alternative relationships. With that in mind, will Pyo Na Ri, Lee Hwa Shin, and Go Jung Won actually move in together?


The Korean taboo of an alternate relationship outside of the traditional man and woman coupling was technically first introduced in the 13th episode of Jealousy Incarnate. [WARNING: Spoilers Ahead! — Skip Ahead To Second-To-Last Paragraph To Avoid!] Prior to the episode, Kye Sung Sook (Lee Mi Sook) and Bang Ja Young (Park Ji Young), two women who are rivals in both work at Seoul Broadcasting Company (SBC) and in love, pursue the same man, a restaurant owner and chef, Kim Rak (Lee Sung Jae). Eventually, Kim Rak realizes both women are pursuing him, but avoids them initially. As the series progresses, Kim Rak opens up to the women that he would like to date both. However, there is a stipulation: no kissing, holding hands, or sleeping with each other. In summary, Kim Rak is asexual, a fact that takes both Sung Sook and Ja Young by surprise.

After Kim Rak reveals his sexuality, both Kye Sung Sook and Bang Ja Young suddenly change their demeanor towards him, avoiding him whenever they can. Kim Rak realizes this, apologizes to both women, and leaves them be, though both women now feel quite sorry for how the situation has played out.

Though considered a taboo to Koreans (as well as many others around the world), the concept of a person not feeling any need for physical intimacy goes beyond most people. As a result, Kim Rak being asexual yet wanting to date Kye Sung Sook and Bang Ja Young did not have the “impact” as the following relationship.


The relationship that got everyone’s attention is the love triangle between Pyo Na Ri (Gong Hyo Jin), Lee Hwa Shin (Jo Jung Suk), and Go Jung Won (Go Kyung Pyo). In the 15th episode, Na Ri admits she “equally loves” Hwa Shin and Jung Won. In South Korea, this would be cause for both men to leave the woman. Instead, both stick it out, trying to find out which man Na Ri likes more. One line summarizes just how childish their argument has become when Hwa Shin asks if Na Ri’s love for both of them is 50/50 or actually 51/49.

As the episode progresses, it is evident Lee Hwa Shin and Go Jung Won cannot settle their love for Pyo Na Ri. Na Ri then suggests that all three of them move in together which is another taboo in South Korea. Take note that South Korea is technically very conservative when it comes to their actions in which these days, they center most of them off of Christianity. Why a relationship with premarital sex as well as divorce are considered taboos. Even one person dating two people scenario is considered a taboo too.

To be fair though, SBS incorporated the taboo relationships wisely, directing the three-way relationships as a means of the single-person party (Pyo Na Ri and Kim Rak) finding out which person of the two-person party (Lee Hwa Shin and Go Jung Won, Kye Sung Sook and Bang Ja Young) he or she truly likes. There are no inclinations towards sexual intimacy made whatsoever.

The Korean taboo relationships make for a very interesting plot, but there was a bit of a drop from Episodes 12 to 14. According to the viewership ratings provided by TNS Media Korea and AGB Nielsen Korea, the 16th episode finished with 11.2 percent for the nation and 13.1 percent for Seoul National Capital Area for the former, 11.7 percent for the nation and 12.9 percent for Seoul National Capital Area for the latter. Still, Jealousy Incarnate has plenty of time to build up on what they lost as the K-drama still has eight episodes to air.

Jealousy Incarnate airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 p.m. KST on SBS. For those who do not have access to SBS, the series can be viewed for free, with ads, exclusively at DramaFever in North and South America. Starting with the third episode, the latest episodes will be exclusive to premium users up to one week. As for all other regions, Jealousy Incarnate can be viewed on Viki by its second title, Don’t Dare to Dream.

[Featured Image by Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS)]