Thursday, January 23, 2014

This week's kdrama meditation: misguided avengers

For the past year, there has been a glut of avengers in k-dramas who have simply ruined their lives (and other people's lives) because of some faulty notion of who was at fault for some great crime --generally a death-- in the past.

Cruel City, Secret, Prime Minister and I, Inspiring Generation -- to name a few. I'm watching Angel's revenge so I'm hoping the revenge here will be clearcut.

Now the question is why?

1) Is it a trend? Are drama writers now simply following each other?
2) Is it just another easy way to amp up suspense? After all, we are all waiting for the avenger to realize --ooops! Then the plot conflict would have yet another layer of anticipation.
3) Pure existentialism.

I'm kinda thinking existentialism.

Imagine the avenger: A person beset with grief. Understandable-- something or someone or some aspect of his/her life has been destroyed.

There is the need to make it right, to find justice in the world, to make justice, to find someone to blame.

So..using mere human eyes, mere human information --after all, it all SEEMED as if so-and-so was the guilty party-- you have lived a life, set up an entire persona, created a scheme to punish the person who seems to be the big bad in your eyes. In your "limited" eyes and "limited" imagination.

And then suddenly, as the drama goes on, your lack of true knowledge becomes plain to you. The goal you have wasted your life and energy on, the purpose for which you planned, the obsession that has ruined all your meals and sucked in all your time... IS WRONG. You suddenly realize you have set out to be judge jury and executioner (GOD, in short) but you were not omniscient at all. You have ruined --or were about to ruin-- someone's life. And Darn it!!!!!--  you were wrong. In short, you have wasted your life by following wrong information.

Now how does such a premise challenge the viewer? Does it make some folks reassess those whom they've been judging? There's something about kdrama writers and redemption arcs. It's almost as if South Korean culture has merged a Buddhist and Christian mindset in such a way that guilt and judgment are often done away. Avengers come to learn they knew little and the viewers --identifying with the would-be-avenger-- learn to forgive ....or at least to talk ourselves out of our angry. After all, it's possible we just don't have all the facts.


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