Everyone has hopes and desires that he or she clings onto, no matter how difficult situations may be. There is a famous quote by Charlie Remiggio, saying, “Never give up, and never lose hope. Always have faith; it allows you to cope.” This quote accurately represents what the musical The Goddess is Watching is all about.
The musical takes place during the Korean War, and portrays North and South Korean soldiers whom are on a journey to find hope and survival. Known as a ‘healing musical’, The Goddess Is Watching starts with the South Korean soldier Young-bum receiving a special mission to detain four North Korean soldiers as prisoners with another South Korean soldier, Suk-goo. Young-bum and Suk-goo then capture the North Korean soldiers and place them in a ship heading towards the South Korean prison camp. However, the situation backfires when a storm strikes. The South Korean soldiers become unarmed as the North Korean soldiers steal their guns and daggers, and are no longer held in captivity. After a brutal fight, they end up stranded on an island, with the North Korean senior lieutenant Chang-sub only causing more trouble by intimidating them. They slowly grow hungry for both food and hopes of survival.
The only way all six soldiers could escape the island is using the ship, but no one knew how to fix it except for the North Korean soldier, Soon-ho. However, Soon-ho suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and gets terrified when he hears gunshots and is unwilling
to fix the ship. Due to his PTSD, Changsub and the rest of the North Korean soldiers consider Soon-ho useless. In order to fix the ship back, they want to get Soon-ho back to his original self, but they don’t know how to turn him back.
But one day, Soon-ho notices how desperately Young-bum wants to go back home and see his daughter, Jin-hee. Young-bum tells Soon-ho how he copes without seeing his daughter whenever he misses her and he manages to help Soonho forget his PTSD by encouraging and giving him words of hope. Young-bum makes up a story about a goddess who is the owner of the deserted island they are on and watches over what they do. Young-bum helps Soon-ho picture the goddess and helps him imagine that she is actually there. Soon-ho then tries hard to look for the goddess, as he desperately wants encouragement from her. Then, by telling Soon-ho that the goddess likes those who grant favors, Young-bum succeeds in leading Soon-ho to fix the ship as a favor to the goddess.
In order to make the goddess seem more realistic for Soon-ho, Young-bum asks the other soldiers to play along by pretending they see the goddess as well. Chang-sub and his right-hand man, Dong-hyun, and the other North Korean soldier Joo-hwa thinks it is a ridiculous idea at first. They thought that pretending would mean they were “acting just as psychotic as Soon-ho.” However, once they realize how their contribution could lead to survival, they agree. With the help from everyone stranded on the island, Soon-ho tells everyone that he needs a month to fix the ship. Everyone is delighted as they feel like they are getting closer to survival, while Soon-ho feels more joyful because he thinks that he is making the goddess happy. Besides granting others’ favors, Soonho persuades everyone to try different acts that would make the goddess happy. This “make believe” operation is called, ‘The Goddess Is Watching’. Under this operation, soldiers try not to fight, swear, and/or shout and should always make sure to clean themselves up. Soonho also does his best to decorate the island in order to make it more visually appealing to the goddess. At first. these methods annoy Chang-sub and his righthand man, Dong-hyun, but through these methods the soldiers grow a lot closer together and learn to stick together in times of trouble.
As life on the island goes on with the supposed goddess watching over them, it is evident the goddess, as in the way she looks or whom she resembles, is different for each soldier. To them, the goddess is no longer just a make-believe character, but someone that resembles the beloved ones in their hearts. While it could just be a goddess of the island for Soon-ho, for Young-bum, it was his daughter, for Suk-goo, it was a woman that he never got to confess his feelings to, for Joohwa, it was his younger sister, for Changsub, it was his mother, and for Donghyun, it was his parents. The goddess for each of these soldiers became a source of hope-their motivation to do better in preserving their own selves and to each put in their efforts for survival.
The Goddess Is Watching is a musical that vividly depicts each character’s sorrow and the process of it being healed through the presence of a goddess in their hearts. In the musical, the goddess became someone that healed the characters’ wounded hearts and someone who melted all forms of hatred, anger, and distress inside the characters. When at first, Soon-ho in particular heavily relied on her for reassurance and for him to forget about his PTSD, others caught on and also found themselves being reassured by their own forms of goddesses.
The portrayal of the characters overcoming their traumatic incidents and finding hope also reassures the audience members that they also can overcome their own hardships of life. The Goddess Is Watching allows the audience to think about who their goddess might be; as to what gives them hope, motivation, and reassurance.
Whoever your goddess may be, it is helpful to remember that there is a source of hope that helps us go through the hardships and struggles in our lives. Often when we are dealing with our hardships in life, we are easily clouded by such stressful events and we fail to see who can give us hope. We feel scared and lonely as it feels like we must face such events alone. However sometimes, it is not bad to take a moment, breathe, and find reassurance in the arms of your own goddess. So then, dear readers, ask yourselves; who is your goddess?