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Happiness’s main storyline was not the only aspect of the K-drama that had audiences talking. The K-drama piqued interest with its strong female lead character Yoo Sae-bom (Han Hyo-joo). She is an officer on the KP-SWAT team stuck in the middle of a viral outbreak in a residential building. While Sae-bom is fearless and outspoken, some fans felt her irrationality made her a villain in Happiness.

Sae-bom in 'Happiness' K-drama holding up a gun.
Sae-bom in ‘Happiness’ K-drama | via tvN

Sae-bom becomes a character the other tenants fear in ‘Happiness’

In Happiness Episode 1, Sae-bom makes her mark as the not-so-typical female lead. When she meets Jung Yi-hyun (Park Hyung-sik) in high school, she willingly gets on the rooftop ledge with him. Fully aware he has no intentions to jump, she hears his story. Not wanting to waste time, she pushes him off the ledge onto the inflated tarmac below.

Her boldness and brazenness made Yi-hyun fall in love with her. In the present day, her tough demeanor led her to become a special forces officer in counterterrorism. Sae-bom is a force to be reckoned with when she is at the center of the viral outbreak and keeps order in the quarantined residential building.

Fans are well aware of Sae-bom’s quick thinking and ability to spring into action without regard for consequences. In Happiness Episode 3, she runs into a zombie-infected cargo container to try and save her partner. Whether she is immune or not, she was willing to risk it all.

On many occasions in Happiness, Sae-bom used force and intimidation to make a point. While Yi-hyun is the voice of reason, Sae-bom is the muscle. Many of the tenants feared her outbursts or brazen actions. She even points a gun at them to make them listen to reason.

Fans feel Sae-bom’s irrational thinking makes her a villain in ‘Happiness’

The antagonists in Happiness can be the pharmaceutical company that developed NEXT and the building residents who take matters into their own hands for their own benefit. There is also the added drama of Andrew, the serial killer. But some fans feel Sae-bom’s actions and mindset not only ruined the character at times but made her an impromptu villain.

“The fact that she NEVER thinks strategically about anything is frustrating. And the way she consistently thinks ‘immediate impulsive action is ALWAYS THE GOOD THING’ vs. already having learned through her cool slick counter terrorism job that she needs to temper her impulses because acting on them, no matter how good the intention, doesn’t mean the action is valuable or results in a good outcome annoys me to no end,” said one fan on Reddit.

Another fan comments, “I think that Han Tae-sook is the true hero of this series, and Yi-hyun is the protector/enabler of Sae-bom. Sae-bom is the true villain. Tae-sook has had to make hard decisions, but they were very logical, and I thought heroic given the limitations.”

Some fans felt Sae-bom’s moral compass argument did not match her irrational behavior at times in Happiness. “Yeah I agree – I’m really not on board with SB’s positioning as the moral good. She hasn’t done anything to really prove that – we’ve just been told over and over that she is,” said one fan. Fans feel Sae-bom’s action inadvertently caused many hurtful outcomes and situations.

Is there another side to Sae-bom’s impulsiveness in the K-drama?


‘Happiness’: Episode 4 Recap – Residential Building Becomes Infected Zone

Fans may have found a dilemma with Sae-bom’s moral fiber related to her irrationality in Happiness. But some fans feel it may lead to a bigger debate or who the character really is.

“I actually disagree a bit. I think Sae Bom is written pretty good actually. She is selfish person like often heroes. That’s why it is easy to her make decision fast because she prioritizes herself and her close one,” said one fan.

Some fans might agree Sae-bom’s actions were to protect the people she cares about. She did them knowing she cannot get infected. Sae-bom helps exhibit Happiness’s overall story of good and evil.

“This does get into some rich cool moral philosophy territory — is she a better person because she is incapable to control herself and is so entirely governed by good intentions she impulsively acts on? Is good intention all that makes someone a good person? Are there degrees of goodness and what mitigates goodness?” explained one fan. Each character in the K-drama addresses how humanity reacts when faced with death.