Tempting title, right? But really what I want to share is a simple indulgence in my life, similar Twin Peaks: Korean TV! I wonder whether one audience can fathom the other, but it is fun sometimes, to nurture cross-overs.
It began simply enough. I wasn’t feeling well and had time on my hands, but not ‘clear time’. My eyes had trouble focusing when reading, which distanced me from personal writing for longish stretches, especially at night, and in such a state, I was beginning to feel sort of numb and emotionless. Concerns were practical, worries many. So I found myself dwelling on memories from a trip to Japan, remembering the deep relaxation I’d experienced there.
People romanticize vacation places and dream of returning because they were able to ‘be’, out of context from their ordinary lives, but I can say that upon returning from Kyoto, I felt almost confused and disoriented. That had been my level of appreciation and ease.
I love Florida, but there was a taste of being thrust from Paradise when coming back, due to the general ways of the people there, the manners, which even the objects and architecture seemed to have.
However, I’d felt self-conscious about my inability to master even a few phrases in Japanese, so thought watching Japanese TV might be a bridge. In my inquiry for Japanese TV however, I was continually redirected toward sites that had far more subtitled Korean dramas (realizing later that this had to do with commercial contracts and emphasis in the US: Japan = Anime, Korea = dramas).
I’m a fan of anime films, have some level of appreciation and a level of *worship* for Hayao Miyazaki, but was looking for human interactions. 🙂
By the way, people still refer to Korean dramas as “soap operas”, but they are almost always limited to one season, 16 episodes or less, and have definite endings. So a better comparison is with something like a Masterpiece miniseries on PBS, although Masterpiece is less concerned with stirring one’s emotional empathy and passion, than creating and immersing one in a tone, making one acquainted with a few enduring characters.
I like both.
And actually, the comparison travels in other ways as well. To get involved with Korean television is to go back in time. If you enjoyed romantic comedies in the US and UK during the 80’s and 90’s, watching Korean TV will conjure up feelings of nostalgia.
Maybe the melodrama genre comes closer to a soap opera feel, but without going on and on and on. People who liked that kind of TV are probably drawn more to reality TV these days.
As for me however, as a child, my mother would ask me to video tape her soap operas when I came home from school, pausing to edit out the commercials before there was such a thing as DVR. So of course I became addicted. After a while though, I was bored enough to test myself, not paying attention for a while then coming back, proving for myself that nothing changed.
As an aside, recently it came to light that YouTube had been allowing for young children to view increasingly disturbing and disconnected videos thanks to the auto-play feature, combined with algorithms that lead viewers to more and more radical content. Video makers had capitalized on a blind spot by combining random keywords and random photographs and videos to match or meet those keywords, in some cases there were no filters for age, which led to a horrendous situation.
Actually the situation is disturbing for adults as well, contributing to conspiracy theories and anxiety mongering, but at least adults have some measure of responsibility for discernment.
Korean dramas do push a few of the same buttons as soap operas – they are often incredibly emotional, full of han, confrontational about class and tragedy, but, in love they are restrained. There is a strong emphasis on honor and ethics, responsibilities and roles in society.
If you remember, one of the descriptions of myself that I shared at the beginning was of feeling emotionless. For so many reasons, but also just the discouragement that hits any normal creative person halted by illness, I often felt blank then, as though observing my life and the people in it, rather than being ‘there’ in a situation. Yes, some of this was spiritual exploration, which for me took quite a disconnected and intellectual tone for a while, but maybe I didn’t really want to feel deep emotions. Human life is emotion!
🙂 Back to the story, I thought I might immerse in Korean culture just a little, before focusing on learning Japanese, but my daughter’s friend gave me a list of just 10 shows, as well as websites I could stream from and…
>zip<. there disappeared two years of my life. 😉
I’m exaggerating a little, but honestly, I became entranced, enchanted. And even now, should I find myself awake in the middle of the night, I’m likely to reach for a show. Not to mention the food that came into my life, and the music!
If you’ve gotten this far, you may enjoy a recommendations, although whatever I’m currently watching is my favorite thing!
I’d safely recommend a show called Misaeng (Incomplete Life), which I think you can find on Netflix now, depending on your country, and then, suggestions have more to do with preference. For historical drama, Six Flying Dragons; for romantic humor, Greatest Love (don’t let the promo pictures scare you and give it at least 3 episodes).
There are a few Japanese dramas I’d like to note, because I did eventually find more ways to access these too. A quirky favorite is the show Date, but I’d suggest watching, although heart wrenching, The Hours of My Life first.