I’m Watching Korean TV

Posted by

I’ve been watching some South Korean TV shows, mostly comedies. Zuna had mentioned their popularity, so I thought I check it out.

I’m not sure what I’m learning about South Korean culture. lol

I’m guessing that the English translation, “she’s pretty” may not be an accurate translation. Or that they use the word “pretty” for a variety of words, some of which are conveying something different than others. Several times, I’m reading “she’s not even pretty” being said about very attractive women. I think I’m noticing that these are women who aren’t focused on fashion/beauty. That is, they have interesting careers and/or don’t wear makeup.

Also, am I learning that modesty is not a thing in South Korea? Many characters refer to themselves as handsome/pretty. “That’s because I’m so beautiful”, is said a lot.

While they don’t avoid references to sexuality and sexual tension, the stories focus on building relationship around getting to know one another. I appreciate that.

There is an interesting conflict of presentation about gender roles and generalizations. So far, I’ve only seen a binary presentation. But, within that, I’ve seen some shows depicting a world of very self-defined and self-sustaining women. They have their own careers and wouldn’t jeopardize them for a relationship unless it’s already a very deeply developed relationship built on trust and mutual respect.

In others, I’ve seen very old-school misogynistic depictions where women are obsessed with being fashionable, are ridiculously nattering on, are manipulative and rely upon men.

At the same time, everyone cries. Men cry openly and often in these stories. Men and women are both emotionally expressive, except for characters which are purposefully defined as repressed/reserved. Men hug each other.

I’ve seen a range of depictions of consent in relationships. In some, the men seem to feel that they have the right to physically restrain a woman (usually by grabbing her arm and not letting go) and to be the one who defines the relationship based on what he wants.

Others are quite sensitive to the concept of consent. People shame others for being disrespectful, if they touch another person or push them into a situation without their consent.

Sometimes, I’m not sure if something is supposed to be funny or not. Sometimes, I know that it is, but I don’t get it at all.

The quality ranges, but with the added layer of cultural barriers, I find myself fascinated. Trying to understand the sensibility and get a small glimpse of another culture.

If you’re interested, two that I recommend:

“Descendants of the Sun” – comedic soapiness. a lot of absurdity, but they develop some respectful relations. they don’t create relationship tension via lying, gaslighting, manipulations, etc. Tension come from realistic possibilities, such as, “you have a very dangerous job and I don’t know if I’m cut out to manage the emotional challenge that comes with that.”

“W” – an adaptation of a Japanese manga. Fantasy. Female medical student’s father is a manga author. As he’s writing the final installment of his sensational hit, he disappears. In looking for him, she’s drawn (double-entendre intended) into the world of the manga story. It navigates the dual-world fantasy better than one might expect. So far, that is. I’ve only watched a few episodes.

Don’t recommend: “My Love From Another Star” – I wanted to like it because it was fantasy and I thought that might be fun. The gender depictions bothered me to no end. They use the fact that the protagonist is an alien who can’t tell people about his powers as an excuse to gaslight people, including the woman who is supposed to become his love interest. (I assume she does, but I couldn’t keep watching.) I found myself wanting to wring the necks of the writers while telling them, “you don’t get to make gaslighting acceptable!”


from FB post 9/22/16

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s