I’ve never smoked. I hate the taste of alcohol. I’ve never done drugs. I did well in school and became successful at an early age. I save way more than I spend, growing my family’s investments every year. I’m far more productive than the typical person in my country. Specifically, the average American spends a staggering 34 hours per week watching television, whereas almost everyone in my household redeploys those hours to reading, cooking, video games, music, or practicing whatever skill we’re trying to pick up at the moment. We don’t even have cable at home because it’s a waste of time; we’d rather watch a few series a year, in one sitting, either on Netflix or Hulu.
Yet, there is one thing against which I simply cannot control myself. It’s been six months since I relapsed, because once I get going, there’s no end in sight. But two nights ago, I decided to go down to the gym, walk for a couple of hours, and strategize. After awhile, on the elliptical machine, I had my iPad and just … I couldn’t help it. It was curiosity. I didn’t think anything would come of it but I made a horrible mistake and fell off the bandwagon.
I clicked on the Korean Drama channel on Hulu Plus.
I’ve been home ever since. I’m 15 hours into some show called 꽃보다 남자; and I can’t get any work done! What’s going to happen to scrappy upstart Geum Jan-di, the daughter of a dry cleaner, as she tries to make her way in a world that still pays an almost religious-like deference to family connections? Will Chu Ga-eul ever have her feelings reciprocated? Will Goo Jun-pyo learn that you can have love and run a business, instead of being the stubborn idiot? I don’t know, but I will find out soon.
It’s like a window into an entirely different value system. I don’t get the appeal of soap operas, American in particular. Yet, these one-off “shows”, that are really more like extended movies with entirely self-contained worlds lasting between 20 and 25 hours, have me hooked. They’re like visual novels with their own rules. They use of motifs like Wagner’s opera to signal that the situation has changed (there’s the “love” music, the “sneaky” music, the “action / this is awesome” music, the “power” music). There’s almost always an evil would-be-mother-in-law who wants to thwart love for the sake of a better marriage. There’s the mis-understood-jerk-who-really-has-a-heart-of-gold. There’s the quirky-odd-somewhat-genderless-boss/employee/friend who lives on another planet. There’s random martial arts thrown in when out of nowhere – BAM! – roundhouse kick to the face Chuck Norris-style.
And the thing that makes it worse? In at least 1 out of 3 episodes, I see some coat, pair of shoes, watch, hat, or flatware pattern that I love so I have to track it down and get it ordered. Do you know hard that is, going off a visual description in a show filmed 6,541 miles from my home in a language I don’t understand? There’s still some white equestrian coat with a tiny bit of black piping that I’d pay thousands of dollars for if I could find.
[mainbodyad]It’s funny to see the similarities, though; the truly universal nature of brands and brand equity. At one point, Geu Jan-di was making valentines chocolates and put them in a bag with a bow over the name. Yet, anyone who had ever bought a product there would have recognized it as one from the Brioni boutique. They, along with Charvet, make my absolute favorite ties in the world. They are miles ahead of everyone else; insanely good. They are so heavy, and hold their form so well, that once you’ve had one, you almost always find yourself choosing them over anything else in your closet.
Anyway, I should stop writing now because I need to get back to my episode then go make up for my dereliction of duty with overtime tonight. It’s 1:29 p.m. here in the Midwest, and I’m curled up in my bed, having returned to it after getting up, getting dressed, and deciding that I might as well just get this out of my system instead of fighting it.
Fun fact from the world of socioeconomics and geopolitics: The Korean Wave is now so popular and powerful, that some nations think it is a new form of colonialism and are concerned that the cultural influence it is having over their citizens is a bad thing. The governments of Japan, China, and Taiwan are generally not pleased about it.
I had managed to avoid this time drain until Coffee Prince back in 2010. Negotiating interest rates with your grandchildren as a major plot point? That’s my kind of show. Then it was Secret Garden. Again, major plot blowups as disinherited children are forced to return all of the cash dividends they had received on their common stock? Yep. That interests me.
But for now, I need to see if evil mother is going to win, using her massive business empire to crush the little dry cleaner family.