It has been my habit of saying that if I were born again, if I were born with a different face, body and talent, I would like to earn a living by dancing in my next life. I emphasize it’s ‘in my next life’, not my present life, because I realized ‘keenly’ that what I do best is different from what I like to do as I learned Pilates. How embarrassing it is when I cannot move my body the way I want it to move!
This was the reason: I kept being agitated when I watched in the drama Nabilera, a seventy-year-old man Duk-chul belatedly start learning ballet, a long-yearned for dream since his childhood. Both cases are the problem: if he becomes a good performer, he would turn out to have wasted his talent for tens of years not learning it; if he does not progress in it, I would be sorry for his past time cherishing his desire for ballet. Unlike Duk-chul’s earnest hope just to make a start, my heart cherishing the similar dream was too realistic. Our life was too short and my heart was too weak like a glass ball, that we might risk trial and error infinitely.
So I arranged this ‘campus drama collection’ of various, different college majors. The real charm of drama lies in the indirect experiences. Was it one of the heartwarming consolations for college students who have not stepped on campus due to the COVID-19? The three campus dramas were broadcast almost coincidently in summer 2021 and the ground for indirect experiences were made open wide. I hope you enjoy another ‘you’ as much as possible, majoring in which subject in which department and see how ‘you’ live in each drama, imagining it freely.
Nevertheless, : Sculpture Major and the Love Forbidden
The hero and heroine of Nevertheless, are twenty three years old and students majoring in sculpture in an art college. What is the meaning of majoring in one of the arts in such a neo-liberal era of the extreme when all values are judged by the standard of practicality and efficiency? Isn’t it more like a revolutionary provocation challenging taboos? It is because art is just something beautiful but of no use; for to prove its usefulness by its own uselessness is the way how it faces the world.
‘Love without love’ between the girl craving for a love affair without true love and the boy just simply wanting a date. Oh, how unconstructive and consuming the love is! And now everybody understands why the title is ‘Nevertheless,’: the love of destiny already started though they know it would end sadly; the fatal love is so risky but they cannot refuse it: this is the love in the name of art, so beautiful but of no use in Nevertheless, Park Jae-un whispering to You Na-bi without rubbing off another girls’ lipstick mark on his lips, saying, “Should’ve been you!”; and You Na-bi impulsively laying her lips on his; and then You Nabi’s narration saying “I opened up a hell gate then…” That’s right. The bad guy is attractive and art is the most beautiful when it breaks down the taboo and shines but at stake.
Of course, there is also the worst Art College Oppa who is neither beautiful nor useful: he is You Na-bi’s first boyfriend and a sculptor. He made a sculpture which featured You Nabi’s body and submitted it for an exhibition under the title ‘Nabi’. And when You Na-bi is devastated, he rather gets angry saying, “You lack understanding and trust! Full of misunderstanding!” He is so good at gaslighting and it is natural that he frequently flirts with other girls. He seems to work hard, but it’s not that work! Oh no! Always seeking a Muse!
At a Distance, Spring Is Green : Business Major and the Trap of Commonality
If there is God, he must be in despair when he sees At a Distance, Spring Is Green. Do all the young men on the earth live such hard lives as this? Yuh Joon, Nam Soo-hyun and Kim So-bin, three college students majoring in Business Administration, all suffer from different reasons separately. If God, known as creator of all things on earth, were a business CEO, he should have given up his management right due to consumers’ satisfaction decrease and stagnation in sales. Ah…
At a distance, spring is green; and if we see it close, doesn’t it mean spring is green? The springtime of life is like a green light full of dreams and hopes but if you see it close each has his own portion of trouble and difficulties. ‘Yuh Joon’ was born in a rich family but raised in harsh abuse, so to speak, growing needy ironically in riches; ‘Nam Soo-hyun is absolutely poor and even faints out of excessive work. They are the familiar characters you’ve seen in dramas so their difficulties are serious but not so strange.
But ‘Kim So-bin’ is different. A third grade student majoring in business, so common that she has nothing to advertise on her resume! Oh my! Too flat for a heroine of a drama! If we think carefully, we inevitably need developing episodes after many twists and turns in the resume to be submitted to a company to enter. Suffering to overcome, failure to a success: must be a pathos of common people living in the extreme materialistic era when even sufferings and failures are made use of as attractive capitals.
There are many scenes of business school lecturing in At a Distance, Spring Is Green. Among them ‘team play’, the flower of campus life, arrests our attention: a team project for which a couple of students gather to be a team and produce the best result. It’s like another small earth in which people gather to live in a narrow boundary; but in the process of sharing their ideas, the members of it frequently quarrel and then their dispute becomes heated up and it turns out to be a fight…..
Unlike other precedent campus stories, At a Distance, Spring Is Green won a good reputation of describing diversely the young people in their twenties who have worried from various problems. But this kind of good reputation doesn’t sound like a compliment. Why? Oh, isn’t a life possible to recall?
So Not Worth It : Dormitory for Foreign Students and Korean Language-patched
So Not Worth It is a fun sitcom in which the characters are foreign students living in the dormitory for foreigners in a Korean college. I laughed several times watching the episodes. But it was not because of the stories but because of the actors. Most of the actors are real foreigners but they are ‘extremely’ good at Korean. I marveled at their Korean f-word's exact pronunciation.
Among the foreign students from various nationalities the one attracting me is “Minni’. She came from Thailand for she fell in love with Korean dramas. Minni is a second grader of the K-content department and has only an outward appearance of a foreigner with a Korean language-patched. She uses freely slang and newly coined words used among the Korean college students even I cannot follow up. She says, “F*** cool! F*** handsome!” seeing good-looking Korean American Jamie; and repeats without flaws the North Korean dialects learned from the drama Crash Landing On You.
As the Jamie she likes gets along with the Korean dormitory assistant Park Se-wan, she complaints, saying, “F*** Korean dramas! The hero always prefers the nerdy girl like you and the pretty girl like me is the villain. No exception!” And this is the high-quality comment that can never be made unless one is well versed in the Korean dramas’ patterns. Wow! Even her jealousy is so cute and lovely.
So Not Worth It is the first Netflix original Korean sitcom and if I have to pick the most Korean sitcom style character, I can say it’s the blonde haired American ‘Carson’. Carson thinks Gochujang is more precious than luxury brand sunglasses and a student, a Kondae who keeps saying “Back then I was…..”. Whenever she gets angry, she frowns and roughly spits out “F*** you!” It was the word she learned from her ex-boyfriend….. and Carson looks like a ‘senior’ who has come back after finishing his military duty. The shortcut to learn foreign languages is to fall in love with a foreigner and the easiest words to learn are the f-words. This is people’s rule.
Kim Min-jung / Translated by Park Eun-sun