An Insult to Blind Love: The Foundation of Love: A Couple's Story by Jeong Yi Hyun

  • onOctober 26, 2014
  • Vol.17 Autumn 2012
  • byKang Yu-jung
The Foundation of Love: A Couple's Story

Jeong Yi Hyun is no stranger to the theme of love and romance. In her first work, Romantic Love and Society, Jeong took love and romance from its place in the philosophical sphere and placed it in a social context by defining romantic love as a temptation that coerces men and women into a social contract. Simply put, romance, according to Jeong, is a voluntary self-deception and fantasy.

The Foundation of Love: A Couple's Story is a record of a relationship between two mature adults who fully understand that a romantic relationship is a social contract. If perfect love is to be defined as one’s first love or a pursuit for an unrequited ideal, this couple’s relationship is far from perfect. From the very beginning they both admit that loneliness and boredom is what made them seek out a relationship.

The sentimental title, the reader soon discovers, is purely ironic, as evinced by the author’s cynical treatment of romance. Jeong insists that even coincidence, that striking occurrence of a transcendental quality, is only a product of self-deception. After the protagonists Jun-ho and Min-ah meet for the first time they run into each other by chance, discovering that they live in the same neighborhood. This coincidence, however, only makes things awkward when they break up—a fateful encounter reduced to a nuisance.

This coldness is the product of Jeong’s perspective as author and narrator. In her cold study of the couple’s romance both Jun-ho and Min-ah are described as assailants as well as victims.

While Jun-ho and Min-ah eventually go their separate ways, this does not make the story a tragedy. Neither is it a comedy. The breakup hardly leaves a scratch on this impassive couple that moves on with no hint whatsoever of a soul-transforming change. There is no greater insult to romance than a love that leaves no mark. A chilling blow to romantic love is delivered by a piercingly observant author. 

Author's Profile

Jeong Yi Hyun has authored four novels, four short story collections, and three essay collections. Her first novel, Sweet City of Mine (2006) was adapted into the TV series My Sweet Seoul. Her novel Foundation of Love: A Couple’s Story (2013) was part of a two-volume series exploring issues of love, marriage, and family, with Alain de Botton writing the second part.