Never has a bride on earth been able to stir up such a complicated mix of emotions inside me.
Words can hardly describe precisely what they are. Be it "bitter happiness", or "joyful sadness".
Thanks to a friend who always teases me for my passion for Rina, I managed to see some pictures of my favourite Korean actress in her wedding gown with her fiance. Although I was told that there was a programme in Korea showing how the couple took their wedding photos in late November, (DARN - I should have visited Korea four weeks later than I did so that I could try my luck to see if my dream of running into Rina on the busy streets of Seoul might come true...) I never thought that I would be able to see those lovely pictures with my own eyes. While the television programme was out of my reach, it is already good enough to have a glimpse of Rina wearing a warm, happy and contented smile in the arms of her beloved one.
Having said that, a strong wave of mixed feelings swept through inside me when Rina's shy but warm smiles, especially those when she was holding her fiance, came into my eyesight. Of course I was overwhelmed with joy for she has found someone she loves and, more importantly, someone who loves her and is committed to be with her in the years to come, I couldn't help thinking of all the hardships Rina has gone through all these years before this unforgettable moment arrived.
I really don't know why I couldn't feel happier than I did without having a strong sadness at the same time. To tell the truth, Rina's wedding photos almost drove me to the brink of tears.
As the old saying goes, "No pain, no gain." However, there is essentially no association in every possible sense between Rina's preceding hardships in life and her current happiness of love and marriage. And I hate myself when the idea that her happiness appears to be a reward of inevitable suffering emerges in my mind. The question is - why does it take so long for Rina to meet her Mr Right? Why is she chosen to be the one who has to suffer that much, even risking her life at work but not the others, when so many people out there enjoy a successful acting career in terms of popularity and take it for granted?
On the rational side, of course I know it is life. Everyone has his/her own life and it is something that we can do nothing about. To cite my favourite analogy, life is like a pre-programmed role-play game in which each one of us is Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, although most of us are not consciously aware of. We have to meet challenges and take rewards every day without knowing the full picture and when the game is going to be over. Someone we don't know is actually controlling the game. All the choices and decisions we have made based on "rational" or "impulsive" assumptions are eventually proven to be no more than pre-programmed options we are bound to take. Someone who is convinced that people can change their lives often fail to realise that they succeed because they are chosen to be successful.
On the emotional side, however, I can't help grumbling from time to time for what Rina has endured over the years, and most recently, the hostile and unfair criticisms Rina has received from most of the audience, among others, despite her superb performance in Dae Jang-geum, the Korean drama that has stirred up unprecedented popularity in Hong Kong and many other countries around the world. I can't help wondering why Rina was chosen to go through all these but not others, who I am not affectionate for, if such things are supposed to happen at all. Some may argue that such undesirable happenings may serve to arouse sympathy from her supporters that will further strengthen their passion for her, but to me, Rina's distinctive performance as an actress alone is suffice to justify her admirers' loyalty and appreciation. Attributes other than her irresistible charm, dedication and hard work that make her outperform her peers will by no means do her any good. She deserves a formal recognition of her achievements in acting but not anything that may arouse sympathy from the audience - as if she would become an inferior object of generosity and benevolence. This violently denies her as a respectable actress. And as a loyal fan of hers, this is the least thing I would like to see ever in my life.
That is also why when the media and the general public received the leading cast with sizzling frenzy earlier this year, I couldn't help feeling extremely sad and sorry for Rina - she played one of the four leading roles highlighted in the drama but was the only one left out in the visits to Hong Kong. Even though I learnt later that she was having a wonderful time with her fiance in the United States, where they first met only in February this year, I still think the fact that she has found her loved one is not good enough to compensate her loss for missing the opportunity of being formally recognised for a difficult job, if the most significant in her career, that couldn't have been done better.
Before I go further, I must admit that this is where the "Fans Syndrome" sets in and demonstrates the prowess of being the devoted supporter of someone else he/she does not necessarily know in person. As a matter of personal experience of myself and some close friends, the struggle between rationality and emotional fantasies or fallacies dominates a significant part of the mental activities of fans. Those who have transcended the boundary between sense and sensibility may either become insane creatures as portrayed in The Fan or be transformed into an immortal like Laozi.
In common sense we are used to identify affection under the categories of "family", "friendship" and "romance" etc, as if these are the only classifications of emotions that any human being can have. I think it makes perfect sense to add a new category "fans", as one of my best friends suggested. Yet there are still numerous sub-branches that can be analysed and developed under this category. Ten supporters of the same actor/singer can have a slightly different feeling about the one they look up to and yet express their affection in ways that are different from each other. Meanwhile, the same person who admires more than one person or an object at the same time may also be able to tell how delicately different his/her feelings towards one person from another.
The "Fans Syndrome" is something that we are so used to and yet we know so little of. As a loyal fan of someone for more than 20 years I didn't come to realise the magnitude of such kind of emotions until very recently and was extremely shocked by myself. I have seen books and articles that discuss the "Fans Syndrome" or "Fans Phenomenon" of a particular TV series or a person, but have yet to see a meaningful discourse on "fans" as a group of everyday life encounters from a holistic approach. Perhaps it is the complicity and extremely individualistic characteristics of fans that prevent social observers from inappropriately generalise the phenomenon with a highly condensed theoretical framework.