People laugh at me when I say I have learnt more than just language while watching K-dramas. Of course, it will be hard to accept. Because most of the people I know are exposed to movies or series that are not a product of proper research. After all, the plotlines are always generic – Boy chases girl, boy chases girl in a different situation, a man trying to covet a women’s heart, man talking rubbish about women, more love and more romance, a man fighting injustice while all women do is cook and nurture, or stories where women are nothing but just victims, or man doing injustice heroically without getting caught, stunts and more stunts…
Same story different setting.
Very few stories come to life with strong concrete structures through research that boosts their reliability. I started watching South Korean Tv shows and series during high school… It’s been 8-9 years already. I started watching it accidentally during a time it wasn’t that popular. At first, I was attracted to it because it made me laugh. I was going through a lot in my life back then. It was a time when I completely forgot how to laugh. A lonely depressed teenager.
Some accidents are good. I came across a show accidentally in YouTube where this group of people saying something but those words coincided with my mother tongue. Appa! Omma! Naan! I was shocked, curious and ended up watching it continuously and ended up laughing more and more and literally lost my sane. It was a while since I laughed like that. Maybe that was the reason, my parents never said no when I watched them. They love it the same as I do.
I started to watch new korean shows and series, thanks to Youtube and few more apps back then. Of course, I got addicted for months, but it came to an end due to the Vardha cyclone. We didn’t have current for more than a week. That’s when I was forced to get over the addiction. Korean drama addiction is real. I don’t deny that.
But still, again I started watching them with control, a lot of time management went into it. Plus, you need to learn to separate real from reality. Over time I started to admire it and started to see it more than entertainment. I realised there was more to learn.
I like to analyse a lot, sometimes overanalyse too, with everyone and everything. Almost 90% of the time it helped. Connecting dots and interlinking one with another was an exhilarating thing to do. That was the same with the Korean contents. Its strong bond with the Tamil language made me study the language by myself. The trace of Tamil culture in Korean culture intrigued me so much that I did a cultural analysis and did gender studies on the works of Kyung Sook Shin for my final research project.
Well, that wasn’t the end. South Korean series, television shows helped me to overlook the way they work, the way they partner with the brands, the way they handle business, the way they collaborate with tourism organisations. They had a certain level of transparency that is lacking in our society and media(movies and serials) and it attracted my attention. The research that goes behind every program and more than half of the series, the camera technique amazed me. They study and learn before production. The constant creativity behind the plot that combines with knowledge and relatability never ceased to give me goosebumps.
It might sound funny, but I learnt a lot of business terms, artists, art, architecture, politics, work system, crisis management, sports, and not to forget the wellness tips. I usually choose series based on the unique story more, maybe that also lies behind the influence it had on me. It makes me wonder at the way they plan to promote their language and culture strategically using those shows.
They have more to say. I meant the Korean writers.
I love a lot of old Tamil movies. I often sit and watch lots of movies from the 50s till 2003ish more. Some of them overflow with patriarchal pride. Still, they try to portray the story in a way that it flows and gives colour to every character that appears. My preference lies there till now. But at present, things have changed, I choose only those that have a story to tell as I got fed up with boring and generic stories being featured. As I realised only a few handfuls of movies do justice to the art of movie making or to the story I am seeking. Very few movies these days have the quality. And these quality movies always gets under trouble for talking the truth.
Who should we blame, not all the actors and actress who we see in movies have studied acting or have natural acting skill, not all the actors or actresses know the language or culture of the story they are portraying, not everything is about the story, because everything and everyone is about looks, skin colour and popularity. Saddest part is even people who watch movies also set their standards low. It is suffocating to look at the plight of Tamil movies at times. Sometimes, Malayalam movies are way better at delivering different stories.
I don’t find many of the movies touching the soul oftentimes. Blame it on the profit. That’s the sole reason behind movie production these days. I don’t even want to comment about Tamil TV serials.
While growing up, many of us usually know about and care about a movie only based on who is the lead actor or director. We weren’t much exposed to the effort of the writers behind it. But, when it comes to Korean series, naturally the writers behind some of the best show shines brighter and they were given due credit.
There are stories about every people – people from different ages, different backgrounds, different industries and more. Not just that series that talk about different social issues like abuse, bullying, harassment, economic constraints and health. I agree, of course, there are rom-coms, commercial plots and strictly for entertainment content too.
I won’t turn blind-eye to the shortcomings of the Korean shows that are often has cliche and cringe elements. There is quite a list for that too.
Coming back to Indian movies I watched, they always made me wonder why there aren’t any stories that talk about issues in the workplace, why there aren’t stories that talk about people who work in supermarkets, malls, forest departments, tourism, railway, hotel, restaurants without giving lead only to a romantic or suspense element in it? What is so hard about showing stories of normal people? Is it always necessary for a man to fight 10 people all the time? Why there aren’t any stories of working women trying to succeed? Why working women who try to overcome her obstacle are portrayed as villains? Why ambitious men are praised while ambitious women are not welcomed? There are so many Whys that I can’t add here. The list goes on.
I get jealous of the people of South Korea. Because, sometimes, I wish that, “How nice it could be if people in my country also get exposed to such story highlighting such issue?”. There are so many stories and so many characters that made me feel real and relatable. There are many times I saw a character and said to myself, “ah! she sounds just like me”, “the way she made that decision, reminds me”. Stories where there are women characters as the main lead. From women characters who are working, who are ambitious, who are daring, who are breadwinners, to those who are single and thriving and struggling to break the stereotypes gave life under the pen of women writers. I am also grateful at times as I get to watch so many wonderful works of wonderful female writers. To be honest, I have learnt and unlearnt alot.
For those who don’t know about the Korean media industry, compared to our country, there are more women directors and more writers for TV series. Comparatively. But realistically speaking women in South Korea also face lots of gender disparity, stereotypes and struggles in workplaces and families.
FYI, not everything is accurately shown in dramas you see. There are many misrepresentations and fiction that you need to be aware so that you can distinguish real from reel. You can get to know more if you study more about gender gaps in their country. They have their own issues, still their movies and series try to talk about them at least to an extent.
In the upcoming posts, I will be highlighting some of the best and some of my most favourite list of K-series that focus on different industries, different plotlines and different issues. A lot of my friends asked me for suggestions to watch shows. So, I thought of sharing it here in the review section.
While this post is a review of the K-dramas on the whole, the upcoming reviews will be specific.