About Scumbags and KDrama Viewing Pleasures Turned Sour (Part I)

I have been wanting to write a post on KDrama viewing methods for a long time. In fact, a first draft has been sitting on this platform for weeks. It would have been mainly light-hearted and innocent, as most of my posts are. Yes, KDrama should be fun and make us feel good in multiple ways - it is a form of wonderful and addicting escapism that has enriched my life for the past three years.

But KDramaland has turned ugly recently.

This here is Part I of a personal account of my somewhat sad waking-up from this sweet, sweet dream. At this moment, I just hope I can go back to sleep and delve into this fantasyland as lightheartedly as before.
... and because this post is about ugly things, I decided to festoon it with pictures of Kim Ji-hoon. Who is definitely NOT an ugly thing.
Part I is about the Park Shi-hoo rape case. I do not want to write too much about any of the details of it, because there is far too much being said already. The absurdity of it all could amuse me, only there is nothing even remotely funny about it. I am disgusted with it all - and I mean it all, the potential deed, the potential lie, the media, the fans, the comments on the various blogs I'm following. Disgust it coupled with a deep sadness. Expressing exactly what I feel, Amanda from "Outside Seoul" said the following: 
"This news about Park Shi Hoo just makes me incredibly sad. Sad that there are people who rape, sad that there are people who lie, and sad that it’s so hard to tell what’s true. No matter what, an innocent person’s life is going to be forever changed—whether that person is an unjustly accused Park Shi Hoo or a faceless girl who was horribly taken advantage of by someone our society led her to admire."
But wait a minute ... this has nothing to do with me, right? This is not related to me or the life I am leading. I may have liked PSH (as an actor) in the past, but my goodness, I am a mature woman who is fully capable of distinguishing between the image of an actor that I like and his "true" personality! We do not often have to actually think about the second - but if we are confronted with it, well ... let's not be too surprised that these people are people like everybody else; they fart and poo - and some of them are scumbags or even criminals.
but surely not him, right?!

Yes, all this is true, but ... I cannot help but be affected on a more substantial level. Apart from making me all too aware of how disgusting human beings can be, the PSH-case has also really soured my KDrama viewing pleasure. It forced me to have a good and long look at the Korean entertainment world and I do not like what I am seeing. This is a world in which is is normal that human beings are groomed to please and then exploited by corporations, a world in which an actor better have a good agency and stay on friendly terms with it for all his life if he wants to survive, a world in which almost nobody can exist without altering their appearance through plastic surgery, and a world in which it is the norm to shoot dramas for weeks without more than a few hours of sleep. It is a world of truly crazy and scary fans, of incredibly invasive media, and of sometimes mindless netizens with far too much power.
But you get to sleep enough, yes, "oppa"?
I am sorry if there are cultural insensitivities in my statement. But this world is wrong on so many levels, it scares me. And it also scares me that I, fully knowing all this, continue to simply and mindlessly consume what this world gives me. I, who only buys organic and/or locally produced food because I know about the problems of global food production, I, who tries to buy clothing made from organic cotton, not produced in some obscure country ... I don't feel good about it anymore at the moment. Because I know - was forced to know and acknowledge that I know. Do you remember that feeling as a kid when you first found out that the Easter Bunny wasn't real? Kinda like I feel. Very disappointed - and stupid at the same time.

I'll just look at this guy then, until I get over it.


Ethlenn said…
Well, kdramaland is certainly not a fluffy island full of unicorns bopping on rainbows. It's a cruel, cold world of slavery and exploitation of either side - actors and viewers alike, where nothing is as it seems at the first glance.
I never had fairy tales illusion about it, but I come from Kpop down under "where plastic women glow and men plunder" so got used to ugly side of this sparkly world.

PSH case kinda ruptured this world big time.
kopytko said…
I was attracted into kdramas because the world they showed seemed more innocent than the one shown in the local series (four years ago I wouldn't believe that you can spazz over a stupid kiss). It seemed more compatible with my conservative rules and principles. But I had no idea what is behind the scenes. Actually, I didn't really care. But it is a problem that people are treated as commodities that need to sell. At cost of plastic surgeries, crazy schedules, abuse.

The PSH case upset me, that's for sure. One person is a victim, we don't know who. Ugly thing, but can happen anywhere. What I find annoying, is that this case is a polar opposite to what media try to convince us of. I'd prefer that there is no coverage on stars beyond what is really relevant for their current works. I ignore that kind of information, but it surfaces anyway.
Ahsoka said…
Your first paragraph mirrors exactly what I was gonna say. As a non-Korean speaker I'm forced to really watch and pay attention to the subtitles which effectively shuts out the real world and any worry or stress along with it - making kdramas a particularly great escape from real live for me. So it's really unfortunate to have to come to terms with the fact kdramaland doesn't actually exist with the innocent happy disney-esque sheen of perfection I've always attributed to it.
Amanda said…
This is a great post, and I completely agree. The drama fantasyland we love so much is anything but fair trade or wholesome when you peek behind the curtain. The actors are treated awfully and sometimes not even paid for their work, and the big-name few can get away with practically anything they want, because their fans will support them whatever they do. The global entertainment industry is a dangerous thing, but I think in Korea it's especially cruel and damaging. Which is a pity.
dewaanifordrama said…
Every now and again I have an existential crisis of sorts about the whole world and how there is so much nastiness going on. While the Kdrama world has plenty, plenty, plenty of horrible things going on (and I agree with all you've said), if we start to think about Hollywood, or probably any fim industry, we are going to find out how flawed and ugly it is. Hollywood (and I know for sure sure Bollywood as well) has it's incredibly dark side. Is there prostitution, alcoholism, drug abuse, abuse, breaking of the law, dirty money, extortion, adultery, rape, racism, sexism, and probably any kind of unfairness we can think about. And that's not even talking about corrupt governments throughout the world, or any kind of electric device we use, or the paper we write on, or the pens we use, or where our plumbing pipes come from, or which country got screwed over in the process of colonization somewhere. If we start to think about which civilizations were destroyed that another might thrive, or how we use medical information that Hitler discovered in his genetic experiments, or the reprehensible study in Tuskegee on men with syphilis (where they said they were curing them, but it was really placebo) and the information we use from that study, or how people have no running water or electricity, or the violence in the DRC...I could go on and on. When I start to think about all this, and about the entertainment I consume and it's incredibly negative side, honestly, I think about moving to an island somewhere or just curling up in fetal position until all the bad things stop, which they probably won't any time soon.

It makes me think about all the good things that I have gained from watching K-drama, the friends I have gained, or from anything else I have done despite all the bad things around me. I think that we need more blog posts like this to make us think deeply and seriously about why we do the things we do. I think that if more people did this, then we might see more change for the better. I have hope that things can get better.

Sorry, that was rather long...and not all relating to K-drama. I hope I made sense.
JoyBells said…
Park shi hoo case is a nightmare. With so much going on,and media releasing news everyday causing public sentiments to sway with every "new evidence",i dont know what to believe anymore.
We still don't know who's the innocent victim is in this case- park shi hoo or the rookie actress;In an industry where the most important thing u possess is not your talent but your so-called image one thing is clear,both their career is going to suffer a death-blow. I wish the case be solved soon and the guilty party punished severely.