For almost 2 decades now, Korean dramas have been on a Hallyu boom. Korea has been crazy about it for a pretty long time now; Americans are starting to discover this whole new TV genre. These shows are relatively short (comparing to 10 trillion seasons of Lost or the ever-behind seasons of Game of Thrones) and tend to follow a similar pattern.
Boy meets girl.
Boy/girl falls in love with girl/boy.
But there’s an obstacle. Usually at least 5. Often involving (but not limited to): health issues, social class, wealth, cranky parents/in-laws, family problems, personal grudges, mistaken identities, love triangles/rectangles/pentagons, or general personality and/or compatibility issues.
In any case, unless the drama defines itself as a sad, tragic love story, the main couple gets together and everyone is happy. Yay.
My friends recently showed me a video that had come on the radar recently – a scene from a Korean drama in which a man gets vehemently slapped on the face by a middle-aged woman. Her weapon of choice is a head of kimchi cabbage…you can watch this 15 second scene here.
That is some powerful kimchi slapping right there. It got me thinking.
How unrealistic are these K-dramas, really?
I think at the most basic level, scenes like this prove that Korean dramas represent quite a misrepresentation of society at large. Koreans do not go around slapping men with bright-red pickled cabbage. Even if the dude deserves it.
In fact, we probably don’t go around slapping people as often as these dramas suggest. I think it’s safe to say that every single drama – every single romantic comedy K-drama – includes a slapping scene. Why!? What inspires the idea that in a highly emotional state, a woman will just up and slap the face of the person standing in front of them?
Sure, it probably happens occasionally, but not at every drop of the hat. Not every time a guy dumps a girl (or vice versa). Not every time a girl loses out in a love triangle. Getting physical represents a violation of social propriety which most people are not willing to cross – you gotta be really pissed to do that. I personally have never seen anyone around me get slapped. Though my experience doesn’t quite speak for the whole, I like to think it makes a fair apology for mankind.
We have a bit more self-control over our bodily limbs than TV dramas give us credit for.
What other K-drama cliches and tropes can you accuse of being larger-than-life?
P.S. I really like Korean dramas. This is not a hate post, just an observation.