Quite unexpectedly, I grew found of Korean drama and K-Pop. Who could think! It all started back in September 2015 (six months back). It’s not like I began watching these dramas out of the blue. I’ve been obsessed with Japan since late 2012 or for 3 years before I became interested in Korean culture as well. It all began when I had a talk with a director of a Japanese company that specialized in beauty and hygiene products. There was something about that conversation that made me pay attention, and I began to research all things Japan and learned a ton in the process.
Asian world is so different from the Western world. Even with all modern life similarities, they still do things their own way. Feeling stuck and bored, I craved for something different, less familiar, more mysterious and intriguing, and I found it.
But in 2015 I somehow became obsessed with North Korea. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how it started. It could be a self-shot documentary on YouTube that I stumbled upon. I guess so. So I began to read and watch everything I could find on North Korea. I couldn’t understand that interest myself. Maybe because there was a link to USSR, and I am a no stranger to that country. I read interviews and was even considering to donate to a charity that helps North Korean defectors to settle in South Korea.
Then I noticed that in many interviews there is a mention of South Korean dramas and how some people are getting punished for watching them, especially distributing them. In some cases, the punishment was death. I believe the first time I heard of this was from Hyeon Seo Lee who is also the author of the book called Girl With Seven Names. She mentioned that children are forced to watch executions and shared her experience. She saw the first execution when she was seven, and the person executed was her close friend’s mother. She was killed for watching South Korean dramas.
It sounded so strange. But then I read it many times and from the accounts of different people. So I became curious and wanted to see what is that thing about Korean drama that makes North Korean government so nervous. If they even kill people for that, maybe it’s something awesome and I am missing out, I thought.
Well, it turns out that this relatively small country has a huge cultural impact on entire Asia and even beyond that. K-drama is seen as one of the country’s most popular products along with K-pop, Korean food, fashion and beauty industry and technology. When I took a closer look by actually watching Korean dramas myself, I found out that while not all of them are perfect, they do tend to be an interesting blend of fashion, design, romance, adventure and technology. I’ve been bing watching beginning from September, and I am not planning to stop anytime soon. Couldn’t expect that from myself. This makes me wonder, What else in this world am I missing?