While awaiting the release of The Korean Popular Culture Reader from Duke University Press in fall 2013, and generally wondering where all the books are about PSY, I was reading one of the few books in English about Korean pop culture that hasn’t been reviewed yet on The Learned Fangirl, Hallyu : Influence of Korean popular culture in Asia and Beyond.
So while I don’t have anything to say about the book beyond read it if you want to read essays on Hallyu (Korean wave) that are reminiscent of the first “hey, kids are watching this anime thing and liking Japanese culture!!!” academic books in English, one essay gave me a “d’oh” moment:
If you’ve seen Lost, you’ve already seen a (very Americanized) version of a Korean drama.
In Medium Hot, Korean Cool: Hallyu Envy and Reverse Mimicry in Contemporary U.S. Pop Culture, Hye Seung Chung writes about the inclusion of Korean cultural influences in American pop culture, including how the Korean language impedes the bro-mance in the movie version of Starsky and Hutch. But Chung also details how groundbreaking the idea of having an entire episode in Korean *with subtitles in English* was for an American audience when Lost aired such an episode.
And while Lost was not a hit in Korea, so many aspects of the Sun/Jin storyline are so, so Kdrama — including:
- class/family barriers keeping the couple apart
- a true identity is shameful / family honor is essential
- children held accountable for the debts of their parents
- one true pairing — with the main couple meant to be together
- sacrificing everything for family and love
If the show had been different, the two alternative universes that I would have wanted to have seen full shows about are the Sun/Jin kdrama — and the Miles/Sawyer Starsky & Hutch-style police drama.
So if you haven’t already started watching Korean dramas after reading The Learned Fangirl’s previous posts on Kdramas, now is a great time to start. Watch on Hulu, Dramafever, Viki, or other sites — and come back to tell us in comments about *your* first Korean drama that isn’t Lost!