My personal new normal- watching Korean telenovela

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

Locked at home and tired of political and COVID-19 news, I have turned to the phenomenal success of Korea’s (South Korea) K-drama. I would not have cared much nor pay attention to it before, but with the lockdown it has captured my attention hook, line and sinker.

It has been popular with many Filipino fans for a while now. In the past I could not understand my sister when after a family meeting she would insist on a quick adjournment to watch K-drama or more known in the Philippines as Korean telenovela. But now with more time at home I too am caught.

I am aware there are more serious implications about the term “new normal” that will involve whole countries and the world at large. That will become a hotly debated subject in time. For now, it is about my personal experience. “As we weigh our personal and political responses to this pandemic, the language we employ matters. It helps to shape and reinforce our understanding of the world and the ways in which we choose to approach it.”

For me, my new normal is following Korean telenovelas, Korean dramas (Korean: hanguk drama), which include a television series (Korean deurama) in the Korean language with English subtitles.

Korean dramas are popular worldwide, partially due to the spread of Korean popular culture (the “Korean Wave”), and their widespread availability via streaming services which often offer subtitles in multiple languages. What Hollywood was once it is now South Korea.

Many K-dramas have been adapted to several languages, and some have had great impact on other countries. I would have known little of the North and South Korea divide but now I understand more through stories about their different ways of life through the K-drama.

“The political divide is featured in the K-drama. Some of the most famous dramas have been broadcast via traditional television channels. For example, Dae Jang Geum (2003) was sold to 91 countries. K-dramas have attracted attention for their fashion, style and culture all over the world. The rise in popularity of Korean dramas had led to a great boost to fashion lines.”

Smart Communications was smart enough to invite Hyun Bin, the South Korean actor whom they called “crush ng bayan” to visit Manila. He will be even more famous in this country as Smart unveiled its latest ad campaign featuring the 37-year-old superstar from Netflix’ hit series, “Crash Landing on You.” This is the first time a local telco has tapped a K-drama idol to represent its brand, according to Smart SVP and head of Consumer Wireless Business Jane Basas. The South Korean superstar has successfully delivered his first Philippine project for Smart in a TVC. He was also my crush after watching the movie which fans have abbreviated as CLOY.

“The ‘Hyun Bin Phenomenon’ is pretty much due to digital technology [after all],” she explained through a private Facebook event this week. “Filipinos have developed the craze because they are able to stream his shows, hear the buzz about him online, share their excitement with their friends, and even get to interact with him through social media. And this makes him a perfect ambassador for Smart as we empower Filipinos with technological solutions made easy, so they can enrich their daily lives and pursue their passions,” a Smart press release added.

Of course the conversation was hardly in English, says a Smart official who rejoined the videocon, “but you’ll see how smart he is [when you talk to him], no pun intended. Basically he learned Tagalog saying ‘Mahal ko kayo’ and over all, the whole project was very exciting for us because it was well done; it was very professionally done.”

I was one of them before I watched “Whisper” with Lee Sang Yoon as the main actor in. It depicts intense, serious characters, the turmoil and the schemes of Korea’s powerful lawyers and their disregard for the law.

The SBS TV series “Whisper,” is available in Netflix slot. The plot is unravelled through tension upon tension in a story of vengeance, carried by actress Lee Bo-young as its harangued heroine.

At work at Jongno Police Station, Shin Young-joo (Lee Bo-young) is a tough detective. At home, she looks after her family and struggles to pay back their debt, when her father is framed for murder by the head of the powerful law firm Taebaek, who seeks to cover his own illegal tracks.

The case is brought before Judge Lee Dong-joon (Lee Sang-yoon), who comes from an elite family and harbors ideals of social justice. He ultimately caves in to pressure from the tangled relationship between his family and Taebaek the legal firm however, and pronounces Young-joo’s father guilty; Young-joo is fired, and Dong-joon begins working as a lawyer at Taebaek.

Vowing revenge, Young-joo approaches a drunk Dong-joon at a nightclub, beds him and blackmails him with sexual assault. She then begins working as his secretary at Taebaek with the plan of freeing her father through all means possible.

The word “Whisper” is also a term from an online community where millions of people around the world “share real thoughts, trade advice, and get the inside scoop.”

Lee’s background is also interesting. Lee graduated from the prestigious Seoul National University with a degree in Physics making him a top intellectual in Korea’s movie world. Alas, a talent scout spotted him in a crowd with the potential to be an actor. He was a freshman in 2000, but his acting career and mandatory military service changed his career path. He was tall and handsome with deep dimples on both cheeks.

I am now watching him in Seoyoung, My Daughter (Korean: Nae Ttal Seo-yeong). It is a 2012 South Korean television series, with 50 episodes starring Lee Bo-young, Chun Ho-jin, Lee Sang-yoon and Park Hae-jin.

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