Last night, over a piping hot stone bowl bibimbap, my friend asked me, “Have you ever been to Korea? You have, haven’t you?”
The question wasn’t just because we were splitting some japchae and banchan. She’s one of the few people who know about my obsession with all things Korean–and she really only knows the tip of my madness.
I’ve never been to Korea, nor am I Asian in the least. (Check out my main blog, Furnished Souls, for proof of my Scandinavian-ness.) But for the last three years, I’ve watched only Korean television. I owe a debt of gratitude to shows like Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey for being a part of the zeitgeist so I can still communicate with other Americans (with the caveat that I “haven’t had a chance to watch the current season”). If I were honest in my conversations, I’d have to tell people I cancelled my cable and my Netflix subscription, that I have no idea what shows are on right now, and that I haven’t watched a commercial in ages.
It’s hard to put my finger on why I’m so obsessed with Korean television. When my friend in grad school suggested that I watch Boys Over Flowers, I would have never guessed that I would be totally immersed in Korean dramas three years later. I like the lack of cynicism, the challenge of learning a new language, the character development. I feel like I know the celebrities, and I watch them crossover from music to dramas to variety shows. In the West, too, our curriculum is very Euro-centric; we don’t learn about Asian history. Korean shows are an educational experience both in the history of Korea (and their relationships with China and Japan) and the current situation with North Korea. Plus, they’re romantic, which doesn’t hurt.
I read some blogs and news sites on Korean entertainment, but I don’t feel that I’ve found my fandom niche. I’m blogging because I have opinions that are perhaps not yet out there (or I just haven’t found them yet).
As excited as I am to have this platform, I’m also wary. I may make mistakes. I may piss people off. I may be misinformed or assume something that is not true. Because I’m looking in from an outsider perspective, I may miss some context or history. I have no desire to incite the rage of the sasaengs. So I’ll apologize in advance. Even if I say something wrong, I’m a fan and a supporter of the Hallyu wave.
Welcome to my look at Korea–with the captions on.