SWAK is a pretty dated drama which aired in 2011, starring Harwick Lau and Ying’er.
Back then when it was airing, I took a quick look at the synopsis and decided to skip it because it sounded so melodramatic:
Tong Xue has lived under the care of her maternal uncle ever since she was orphaned as a child. To lessen her uncle’s financial burden, Tong Xue works at a cafe, and it’s there that she meets Mo Shao Qian, the CEO of Yuan Zhong Corporation. What Tong Xue doesn’t know is that her own father had once betrayed the Mo family by selling out the corporation and plunging it into significant financial crisis, indirectly causing the death of Shao Qian’s father. To save the family business, Shao Qian was forced into a political marriage with Mu Yong Fei, heiress of Mu Corporation. Yong Fei loves Shao Qian deeply, but he’s repulsed by her possessive and unyielding ways. After discovering Tong Xue’s true identity, Shao Qian seeks revenge by utilizing evidence of her uncle’s embezzlement activities to blackmail Tong Xue to live as his mistress. As Shao Qian gets to know Tong Xue, he cannot help but fall in love with her, but his feelings are very conflicted. Things are also complicated by Tong Xue’s nostalgic feelings for her childhood love, Xiao Shan.
This is the perfect mix of corporate scheming, revenge, and long-term rape which I’d never venture to watch!
So this drama faded to the background and I never thought about it till recently when I read a post by Mrs Koala on the new Jerry Yan + Tong Li Ya’s drama, 恋恋不忘 (Loving, Never Forgetting), which made reference to SWAK as another drama in the 虐恋 genre of cdramas. Curiosity perked and facing a serious drama drought (The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have both ended the season, HK dramas this season are disappointing, TW dramas have lost their charm, Kdramas this season don’t interest me, and Jdoramas this season are also uneven), I actually checked out episode 1 of SWAK.
And then I was hooked.
千山暮雪 (Qian Shan Mu Xue), which literally means “thousand mountains, snow at dusk”, takes a character from the name of each major character in the drama.
莫绍谦 Mo Shao Qian – male lead, the monster who took revenge on the daughter of the man who indirectly caused his father’s death
童雪 Tong Xue – female lead, the victim who gave up her life and future to protect her family
萧山 Xiao Shan – first love of the female lead, the beautiful memory which keeps the female lead from losing herself
慕咏飞 Mu Yong Fei – wife of the male lead, the main driver of most of the plot development in the drama
I read that the author of the web novel, which the drama is based on, had initially intended for Tong Xue to end up with Xiao Shan. However, due to the overwhelming support from readers for Mo Shao Qian, that original plan didn’t materialise.
I can see why.
Mo Shao Qian is an extremely complex character. Initially, I wasn’t on any ship. The drama was strangely addictive, but I didn’t feel an urge to support any particular pairing. However, the drama lets us gradually peek into the inner thoughts of Shao Qian and the broken soul which was being crushed by the layers of burden and self-inflicted pain. The uglier the truth got, the more I wanted to know about this person! Slowly, the character, and the acting by Harwick, drew me in and before I know it, I was on the Shao Qian-Tong Xue ship. Alright, I will be honest about it; Harwick’s face also contributed a fair bit to the likeability of the character.
It wasn’t really much of a ship, because most of the time, their relationship is like the above picture. From what I gather, viewers either hated or loved their relationship dynamics. There are few in-betweens. The most contentious matter is the concept of rape and Stockholm Syndrome driving Tong Xue’s growing affections for Shao Qian (i.e., not true love). I had, and still have, an issue with the rape too, and cannot believe that I actually feel so strongly for Shao Qian in spite of his deeds.
In the next few posts, I will try to rationalise my feelings for this character as I rewatch the drama. Having the benefit of hindsight, hopefully we can read his actions and motivations at each scene better.