Which is why this week’s post is about Kdrama life lessons. Yes, the topic is cheesy and trite. And yes, I’m not the first (or the hundredth) person to blog about it. But the combination of shows I’ve been watching lately keep bringing me back to the same point: Asian dramas have some good advice about how to live.
Cruel City—The world is a mirror; it will treat you as you treat it. All the characters in this show have ample reason to be pissed off at life. They’ve been abused and abandoned, and nothing has ever been easy or safe for them. The Doctor’s Son is the most wronged of them all: even when he tries to do the right thing, the people he trusts most let him down. But he still tries to protect the people he loves by reminding them of this old truism, which we’ve been telling each other in one form or another for thousands of years. The world gives us what we give it. If we’re nasty and vicious, people will be nasty and vicious to us. But if we’re kind, they’ll probably be kind back.
|Playful Kiss: As improbable as it may seem, you can annoy him into loving you.|
Playful Kiss (et al)—Never give up. This show’s female lead is so foolish she makes my head hurt. But there’s one thing she’s got right: If you work hard enough for what you want, you can make incredible things happen. She may not be smart enough to come in from the rain without the male lead telling her to (literally), but in the end her one-minded determination won the day. She got the man she wanted, the career she dreamed of, and the family she needed, all because she never let herself believe any of them were impossible to attain.
Coffee Prince—Be yourself. This seems like a pretty crazy thing to learn from a show about a girl pretending to be a boy. But no matter where she was or whom she was with—whether they were young or old, stranger or friend—Eun Chan was never anything but Eun Chan. She was genuine and sincere and didn’t change how she thought or behaved to be like other people. She said what she wanted, went where she wanted, and ate what she wanted. In some ways, stepping outside her gender even made Eun Chan more free to be herself: she didn’t have to worry about her skin or her shoes or being feminine. Even as she hid one truth about herself she happily exposed many others, allowing her to forge lasting connections with the people around her.
|My Girlfriend is a Gumiho: You know it’s true love when he gives you a stuffed chicken leg.|
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho—Don’t be ashamed of what you love. As far as potentially organ-munching mythical beasts go, Gu Mi Ho is the one to beat. Her childlike faith and delight in the world truly made every day a miracle. And most miraculous thing of all was the meat she was always in search of: chicken, pork, or beef, it was Gu Mi Ho’s ultimate pleasure. In real life, we often treat the simple and uncomplicated as somehow inferior to the intense and nuanced—but why should that be? Love what you love, ands don’t worry about what other people think. (Kdrama much?)
Love Rain—Ask for what you want. The first few episodes of this show are a negative life lesson if ever there was one. The male lead falls in love at first sight but steps back from the object of his affection rather than compete with his best friend. The meek may yet inherit the earth, but until that happens they’re going to be sad and alone. Fate can’t work for you without your help.
Vineyard Man—Things are just things, not happiness. This show’s heroine starts off like a lot of us: caught up wanting physical things instead of valuing substance and meaning. But after moving to her great uncle’s broken-down vineyard to learn how to farm, that changes. She realizes that being a worthy steward of the land and living up to her uncle’s expectations are more important than having the right shoes. (But, of course, not more important than having a flush toilet. Priorities, people!) The desire for things makes it possible to forget what you really need to be happy: Safety, comfort, people to love, and meaningful work.
|In Time with You: Laughter really is the best medicine. (Closely followed by Bo Lin Chen’s chest.)|
In Time with You—A mature woman knows laughter can overcome her enemies and herself. This drama is actually packed with things that are too good to forget, but this is one of my favorites. I suspect it was a hard-learned lesson for the show’s female lead—type-A perfectionists like Cheng You Qing can be so tied up in their own expectations that they forget how funny the world is. But there’s nothing to set you free—and to bring you together with the people around you—like a good laugh.
Master’s Sun—Even the things you hate about yourself really are worthy of love. Why shouldn’t seeing ghosts be a point of attraction for the right person? Just like this show’s female lead, maybe someday we’ll all realize that the things we don’t like about ourselves can be just what someone else needs.
Scent of a Woman—Take care of yourself in more than just the obvious ways. This show’s female lead found out the hard way that living for the future isn’t really living. It took a cancer diagnosis to remind her that today was worth experiencing, too. All the good things we do for ourselves—saving money and exercising and working hard—should be tempered with things that will make us happy right now, not in ten years.