…or what K- Dramas taught me about South Korea.
I recently developed a serious obsession with Korean Dramas. These Drama’s and I have a kind of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ relationship. I come across a serial, fall deep into the rabbit hole that is K- rom-coms, and when I finally look up from the screen, a week has gone by. Actually, it’s not my first encounter with them; I watched my first drama called ‘The Coffee Prince’ back in college on the recommendation of a North Eastern friend. (I think The NE operates on another tangent all together. While the rest of the country still obnoxiously treats them like outsiders, they have coolly left us to our petty mindedness and jump headfirst into the South East Asian culture, not caring two hoots about us. Anyways, back to the topic) So the ‘Coffee Prince’ was partly amusing, partly annoying and completely un-ignorable. The story was girl-pretending-to-be-boy meets boy. Boy falls for girl-pretending-to-be-boy despite his discomfort and best efforts not too. Boy discovers that g-p-t-b-b is actually girl. Happy ending. Ta-da! (I later learnt that this particular drama was quite a path breaker in Korea for being one of the first serials with gay references in the story-line)
It’s a plot line that has been hashed and rehashed numerous times since Shakespeare first wrote it. And I would have dusted my hands off K-dramas for good, except for one thing. The culture.
Those dramas were a glimpse into such a strange and fascinating world that is South East Asia. The life portrayed had traces of American culture that the whole world tries to emulate. But it had this whole other side that I just couldn’t get enough off. There were times where I zoned off from what the main characters were doing just to check out what the extras were up to in the scene.
So after recently popping out of another one of those k-drama rabbit holes, and 5 series later, I’d like to share with the web what I’ve learnt about Korean culture from these dramas:
A bowl of noodles is not just a meal, it’s a way of life.
That beauty is not the privilege of women alone. (Have you seen those beautiful South Korean boys?)
Working hard is such an important part of that culture.
That teenage girlS will be teenage girls, no matter which culture they belong to.
That none of the Korean actresses and actors know how to kiss on screen. (The ‘lips barely touching’ moments that passes for a scandalous kiss scenes makes Bollywood’s ‘touching flowers’ look like they are French kissing!)
And in addition to the above, people of the opposite sex hugging is equivalent to kissing, minus the lip action. And that too is scandalous. They show these hug scenes repeatedly, in fast succession, to highlight how momentous they are. (Like the slap scenes in Hindi soaps)
Family is everything. And no matter how outrageous the request, if family asks, it will be done. (And the requests are always outrageous)
A man carrying a woman piggyback is perfectly normal and acceptable behaviour, even courteous or romantic in some cases. (For some reason, I found this quirk the strangest, most difficult to reckon with .)
The names… oh the names! I’ve still not figured out the politics of names here. Which is the last name, which is the first, what’s formal, what’s not… and so on.
There is so much more that I could talk about. Like the over cute-ification of everything. Have you seen their lunch boxes – out here food is art. Or the way no one in that country can take a picture without flashing the peace sign. Ever. There are lots of other gems like this. But my list stops here.
It’s not that I can’t go on. I’ts just that I have another episode to catch.
The reluctant writer.
Image courtesy 3Kimchis blog.