If you didn’t already know, we’ve got a special series to kick off the new year! Guests posts, by patrons on Patreon, sharing their personal drama stories, mostly around the topic of “How did you get into dramas?” and “What does your first drama mean to you?” – with flexibility to go off on personal tangents, of course. 😁 Feel free to share your stories too, in the comments!
This guest series is MC‘s brainchild (thanks MC! 😘). You can check out the earlier posts in this series as follows: MC, Sean, Shahz & JJ. After today’s post, there will be four more guest posts by mystery guest writers, whose identities will be revealed when their various posts go live. Woot! 🥳
Today’s post is brought to you by Martina, whom, as you might remember from her year-end post, is a psychologist by training. I find that, because of Martina’s professional background, her perception and unpacking of characters and their trajectories tend to be extra interesting. Thanks for sharing your insights with us, Martina!
I hope you guys enjoy!
~ KFG ❤️
Why did I get so hooked on k-dramas?
That’s a question that really intrigued me. Fiction has always played a central role in my life.
I remember when I was 5 years old my father read me a book of fiction by an Italian author (De Amicis) that told the poignant story of a child who went to look for his mother lost in the Andes Mountains in South America. I practically cried every night….
Later, as a psychologist, one of my favourite books was “Healing Fiction” by James Hillman, a famous Jungian psychologist, in which he states that the art of healing and the art of storytelling are continually intertwined and that the way the clients tell and re-tell their story (they tell it to the point of changing themselves as they do so) is part of the healing process.
Would you like to know how many stories I witness in my work?
In between, there were many movies and many series that I watched: I still remember at University a film club of Andrei Tarkovsky’s movies. There was an occasion, when, during the viewing of Solaris, I fell asleep and woke up only when the custodian warned me that he had to close the building for the night…(well, it’s a bit of a slow movie….)
There was a time when my passion for American and European movies and series (the only ones I knew) cooled down, because I felt like there was such an emphasis on CGI and plot twists, that I no longer felt like I was seeing the emotional and psychic journey of the characters, one of the things I care about most. It was my personal opinion maybe I was wrong….
In late 2017, a young friend of mine told me about the story line of the kdrama “Descendants of the Sun” with such excitement that she made me want to watch it.
What impressed me was that it told the story of life of a soldier from an intimate point of view: his falling in love with a woman doctor who was reluctant to reciprocate his feelings precisely because of her profession.
In the end it wasn’t one of my favorite dramas because of the “push and pull” between the main characters but it was my gateway drama into k-ent.
I really like writer Willa Cather’s quote from “The White Mulberry Tree”:
“There are only two or three human stories that keep repeating themselves fiercely as if they never happened.”
I have stories that I search “fiercely” for in k-ent, one of them is that of the wounded and lonely hero, detached from the main body of the system, who has the skills and strength to enter the heart of the evil system and destroy it, thus winning the right to finally love a woman and be loved back. On this journey he becomes less wild and more mature.
It is no coincidence that in all three kdramas, the main leader is actor Ji Chang Wook.
I liked Ji Chang Wook from that period so much, because he had the “physique du role” to play the lone wolf with a focused but wild energy.
In his subsequent projects, however, I didn’t like Ji Chang Wook anymore; I have the feeling that he changed something about his face through plastic surgery, that, in my opinion, took away from his charisma, instead of making him more attractive. But, that’s my unconfirmed hypothesis.
He is a selfless man who does not hesitate to help others, even strangers, at the risk of his life, and he has a strong sense of justice. He is a wounded hero (post-traumatic stress syndrome that prevents him from even pulling the trigger on firearms) and he lives on the periphery of the system.
Je Ha accidentally witnesses an elderly woman at a crime scene involving an important politician, and intervenes to defend her. From this moment on, he becomes the object of persecution by the true villain of the story, namely, the powerful politician’s wife, Choi Yoo Jin, played by the talented Song Yoon A.
[SPOILERS FOR THE K2]
In one of the most beautiful action sequences I’ve ever seen, that takes up half of Ep. 2 and all of Ep. 3, Je Ha, threatened with death by Choi Yoo Jin, takes her hostage to get out of her house. Then a car ride begins, that turns from kidnapping to a chase. The climax occurs when Je Ha rescues Yoo Jin, at the risk of his own life.
It’s exciting viewing to see the psychological arc between Je ha and Yoo Jin unfold in the space between the kidnapping, and the moment of the car accident, after which Je ha rescues her.
In the first encounter, there is already an erotic undercurrent from Yoo Jin towards Je Ha. In the car, she tries to negotiate with him and restore the balance of power, offering money, the only thing she seems to know how to manage well. This goes on until the moment they both discover they are being followed by a motorcycle that remotely takes control of the car, trying to crash and kill them.
At that point, Je Ha takes matters into his own hands to save their lives with his soldier skills, and Yoo Jin is totally passive in Je Ha’s hands, who gets very hurt in saving her.
It becomes clear that this is the first time in her life that she has entrusted her life to a man, and this man happens to be a stranger who has kidnapped her. At this point, the woman is totally shocked by Ha Je’s self-sacrifice and determination to save her, and she falls in love.
During the series she will try to tame him and manipulate him, but she will be the one to be transformed, for the better, even if it is perhaps too late. Je Ha will also learn from her to be more strategic and less impulsive, and put his energy to the service of a well-organized project.
Warrior Baek Dong Soo
“Warrior Baek Dong Soo” is a 2011 sageuk drama that narrates the life of a historical figure, Baek Dong Soo, a swordsman and martial artist who became a folk hero, when his group protected King Jeongjo from assassination attempts.
On a tangent, I’d like to point out that this King is actually King Jeongjo, that the actor Lee Junho plays, in the 2021 sageuk drama “The Red Sleeve.” What an interesting intersection of two stories that I really have loved.
[SPOILERS FOR WARRIOR BAEK DONG SOO]
He lost both of his parents to palace intrigue and was raised by Hook Sa-Mo, a friend of Dong Soo’s father. At the age of 12, Dong Soo’s health became precarious. He couldn’t run or even raise his hands and was always teased by other children.
Baek Dong Soo is a hero who grows up in a lonely place. Despite his physical disability, he shows remarkable willpower and an outgoing, reckless character. He overcomes his physical limitations through exercise and undergoes training as a fighter. He has a solar way of doing and is without vanity, so much so that he falls in love at first sight, and then declares his love bravely to a girl who’s destined to become a buddhist novice.
Baek Dong Soo’s friend Yeo Woon, played by Yoo Seung Ho, seems like the shadowy half of Dong Soo. Yeo Woon’s His father tries to kill him and his mother dies trying to defend him. Yeo Woon appears scarred for life by this trauma, and becomes a very skilled swordsman by training alone for hours on end. He is taciturn and introverted. The two friends fall in love with the same woman…
The relationship between Dong Soo and Woon is one of the most amazing bromances narrated in a kdrama, exploring their friendship, their loyalty and their rivalry in love.
Observing the trajectories of the two protagonists, one would think that the phrase of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “a man’s character is his destiny,” is indeed true, as we see Dong Soo transform from a fearless and impetuous boy into a controlled swordsman and a mature man, while Woon seems irresistibly drawn to a path of self-destruction, perhaps because of his guilt for being saved by his mother, who had died in his place.
He will perform any task except those that involve assassination (he has his own moral standards) and his goal is to save up and buy an uninhabited island off the coast of Panama to live on alone.
[SPOILERS FOR HEALER]
Things change after he is ordered by his client to find and protect a girl named Young Shin (Park Min Young) from people who want her dead, but then he falls in love with her, and his life trajectory changes.
Jung Hu is completely cut off from society; he lives at night and sleeps during the day; he lives in an isolated building, and to access his home you have to go through a maze of corridors; even the front door is hidden and hard to find. Although he is very talented, he lives like a wild animal, always on the alert and without any social skills. He has a traumatic life history that is intertwined with Korean History and pro-democracy struggles.
When he finds himself observing Young Shin from afar for work, at first, he feels a curiosity and raw emotion that even he can’t explain, then a strong attraction for her that then blossoms into love, and a desire to protect her at the risk of his own life.
Here, too, the hero protagonist who has undergone a lengthy apprenticeship in fighting skills, receives the call to maturity through love.
For love of the girl, he will learn to behave like a member of society, and not an outcast, and eventually give up his dangerous and illegal job.
The transformation process is so radical that he even risks his own life, due to his momentary emotional inability to go through grief. This is a topical moment in the story, in which the girl, like a modern Ariadne (who in the labyrinth helps Theseus), finds his house and literally saves him by warming him with her body (her love).
The three sides of Ji Chang Wook
I would like to end this post of mine with praise for Ji Chang Wook: it’s my elegy for his having played three lonely heroes in three completely different ways.
Not only do they have different personalities, but they move, walk, act, cry, and love differently. Thank you, Ji Chang Wook, from the bottom of my heart.