Korean soap is on my TV 24/7, because my mom has moved in with me, and it’s all she watches. Well, not true. She also watches Korean music shows. And Korean news. And the one where the Korean celebs try to survive in the wild. And Korean quiz shows (plus the odd Wheel of Fortune, not Korean.)
When I go to the kitchen for a drink, I glimpse scenes of Korean families eating (invariably sitting in a semi circle.) When I go to the bathroom, I spy scenes of boardroom intrigue (the matriarch is always right.)
I feel like I’ve absorbed so much Korean culture without ever meaning or wanting to, that it’s made me some kind of faux expert – the way taxi uncles are Premier League football experts. And I feel like I’ve learned life lessons from almost watching, but none of these lessons learned will ever be useful in real life, because we are talking about television here.
So here goes:
1. Art is life
The cops on K-soaps think they’re cops on American shows, or maybe even real life cops. When K-cops arrest a criminal, they actually read the perps their Miranda rights (“you have the right to remain silent; your words can and will be used against you in court…”.)
Cute, except no Korean TV writer has ever stopped to consider that it’s an American construct! It’s what American cops do, on American cop shows. So this is art imitating art, imitating real life.
2. Korean men should be taught kissing
The K-soap men all do kissing wrong. When K-soap men want to kiss their K-soap women, they just grab said women’s faces like they are inspecting stains on a tee shirt, and then they either lunge in for a kiss or slowly descend for one.
In either case, the unsuspecting K-soap women usually have one split second to say, “me too”, but never do. Remember - consent is sexy. The K-soap women never respond romantically by grabbing a fistful of the men’s hair.
Also, they’re still fully clothed after sex.
3. Angry people have super powers
If someone is walking away from you – after an argument, heated discussion, lover’s quarrel – just tell them to Stop. Walking. Away – and it works! They. Will. Stop. Very slowly though, and turn around to face you, so you can have the last word. You should have your speech ready by then.
4. Don’t drink and drivel
They don’t like K-drama women getting drunk. It’s shameless, a denouement of values and virtues. All right for K-soap men to get drunk though, otherwise, where would they get the Dutch courage to tell their women that they have feelings for them? If not for alcohol, Korea would have no babies.
5. When in doubt, just think aloud
Confused about a guy’s motive? Unsure about your boss’ mandate? Perplexed about your parent’s advice?
Then just speak out loud to yourself, walk yourself through all the Sliding Doors possibilities, ruminate of the subtext and the secret signs: “What did he mean what he said ‘porridge’?; What’s he trying to say when he blinked?"
Just telepathically make your thoughts known, in case, you know, we don’t get it.
6. Speed thrills
They speak faster when it’s a comedy (‘cos cute mah), and more deliberately when it’s a drama. When granny is sprouting cliches and axioms, the more glacial her pace, the more important the life lesson. So buckle in, especially when she’s pouring tea at the same time.
7. Meet cute
When you tell someone you like them, you have to giggle. Yeah, that goes for women too.