I have fallen down a rabbit hole so deep, I may end up on the other side of the world. It was a friend who suggested the trip, and now there’s no going back. It’s not a garden variety descent into obsession, either. In fact, I’ve never done anything like this before. What’s driving this deep dive? Korean Dramas on Netflix.
They have taken over my television experience. I find myself checking in throughout the day. What’s Kang Joon up to now? Has he stopped brooding and allowed himself to fall in love with the girl who literally fell from the sky? At first I worried they’d be just like Hallmark romance movies, or even worse, the Christmas ones. Thin plots, fake problems, too much decorating. But no. These people are beset by all kinds of serious situations and heartbreak. For example.
The first one I watched was ‘Crashing Down on You,’ about a rich South Korean girl who accidentally paraglides into North Korea. Enter one handsome soldier and his cadre of funny sweet sidekicks and the drama builds from there. These shows are almost Austen-like in the making. It takes a while for anyone to even hug. And when they do, it’s always accidental. She stumbles and he catches her around the waist. The music swells (with the help of a dreamy Korean pop song) and they gaze into each other’s eyes. I don’t know how they do it, but they seem to nail the chemistry every time. After 16 episodes they may have kissed only once or twice.
Their success is guaranteed by one thing: yearning. It’s the star crossed lovers gazing longingly but never able to seal the deal, trope. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, Bella and Edward, Laurie and Jo. They’ve tapped into our teenage selves and shown us that for some people, it works out. Because let’s face it. Most teenagers yearn for the impossible, and we all carry those hopeful 16 year old idiot beings within us. Yes, we do, so stop denying it.
Another aha moment: I find people of other ethnicities more attractive than white folks. It’s like opening a coloring book and instead of seeing bare spaces, the pages are filled with rich hues and physiques that do not seem inspired by the MacDonald restaurant. (Though a MacDonald’s lover by the name of Clarence still holds my heart tightly in his deceased but heavenly fist.)
Another surprise: Like characters on the run in any of my novels, these people love to eat. Like, all the time. They must be paying homage to the basic human need for sharing meals. And Koreans eat differently than we do. They tend to slurp their noodles loudly and put far too much food in their mouths. This is to show how much they’re enjoying the meal though it’s usually the female characters doing this. It demonstrates that they’re just regular girls not out to impress anyone.
One of the characters is always rich, (not necessarily the guy) and one is of modest means. In this way, the wealthy character can gift the poorer one with a new wardrobe so we can all enjoy their Cinderella experience. So the love interest is both the prince/princess and the fairy godmother. It’s extremely satisfying.
If you’re interested, try Crashing Down on You first. Then step into a more gothic take on love and family life with ‘It’s Okay Not to be Okay.’ I really loved that one and cried all the way through the last episode. I won’t share any more titles because I’m not willing to admit how far down the rabbit hole I’ve traveled. In terms of distance, I may already be in Korea. And if you decide to join me there, let’s get together for some noodles.