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Outreach: APC Suicide Prevention Campaign

Samshin Halmoni / Samshin Granny (Lee El) meeting Goblin / Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) in a bookstore in Kim Eun-sook's 2016-2017 Korean fantasy drama Goblin / Guardian: The Lonely and Great God

Caution: Indirect spoilers ahead.

If a writer’s work can save a life, should we be finicky about the medium the finished product officially appears in? Quite a number of us must be wishing we could turn back time and dissuade someone from taking his or her own life, however devastating circumstances might have been. Planned for slightly more than half a decade since the year a colleague committed suicide, screenwriter Kim Eun-sook’s hit drama Goblin (available on Dramafever) tells the tale of a Korean mythical being known as dokkaebi, often loosely translated as “goblin,” who longs to end his 939 years of immortal existence only to change his mind when he develops feelings for the human bride sent by God to fulfill this wish. Viewership soared to record-breaking numbers for Korean cable television history as the couple and their offbeat friends confronted the implications of life, death, suffering and co-existence with the miraculous, alongside heartbreaking dilemmas of living for their love versus dying for others. Adding more pathos to the series is the common tragic sin the formidable-looking army of amnesiac grim reaper bureaucrats in their universe are revealed to be undergoing rehabilitation for.

Kim Eun-sook’s love for language is palpable not only in her lyrical sentences, including those used in scene descriptions found only on the script, and humorous wordplay, but also in  Continue reading

Gallery

News Box: Santa Clauses Past and Present and Content Theft

Current book recommendation: Four Futures: Life After Capitalism

Current drama recommendation: Goblin episodes one, four and five

  • December 25, 2016 – Santa Clauses Past and Present and Content Theft
Christmas bells

© open-arms, shared under the permission of CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Life is a fascinating yet somber journey in which we see the Santa Clauses of our childhood in the mirror as we age and our younger, gift-begging selves in our own little elves as they grow bigger. No true Santa Claus, however, ever gifts stolen goods. Neither do we need to be conversant in the native language of Rudolph the Red-nosed to become more civil and considerate members of the global online community. Before you share content that does not originate from you on social media and other places, verify its source and check out guidelines on proper citation practices. If you have been nice and awesome so far, have a MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKKAH or just a GREAT HOLIDAY SEASON!

 

  • November 24, 2016 – Counting the Blessings

Collective political rationality and, perhaps, the forging of consensus on the definition of rationality are beyond the control of the individual, but the ability to give people we care for a sincere smile may still be within our power. In a year when politics in multiple regions of the world has taken more dramatic turns than the typical screen drama, the presence of family and friends, both online and offline, as one constant in life is especially comforting. No matter when you celebrate Thanksgiving or other holidays with elements of gratitude expression, thank you for being around all this while.

 

  • October 31, 2016 – Holding Fitria Hanina, Carmen Kay, mybabysbreath and Enike Chindy Responsible for Plagiarism

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All the World’s a Mimicry

Poster featuring Lee Young-oh (Jang Hyuk) and Gye Jin-sung (Park So-dam) in 2016 Korean medical drama Beautiful Mind

Forging human connections is like running a makeshift theater academy. At times, a man briefly stages in his head the turmoil ravaging another person’s mind. At times, he recalls and mentally rehearses scenes that have brought someone in those shoes a little cheer. Then he walks onto a visible stage, located wherever the other party can be reached, and re-enacts the soothing gestures that show he understands. The title of the script is “Empathy,” but are fleeting plays all we deserve in our very real lives?

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Witchcrafting Programmers

Composition with Color Planes (1917) by Piet Mondrian

Composition with Color Planes (1917) by Piet Mondrian

“To hell with logic! Do not talk to me about logic when I’m leading an absurd life anyway.”

Those words come from Shim Bo-nui, the computing whiz who first hunts down an extremely elusive bug in a recruitment contest held by game developer Zeze Factory in the surprisingly geeky romantic comedy Lucky Romance. Obsessed with superstitions, she fixes software hacks only after piling salt around the work station, sticks a talisman under her CEO’s desk, and initially rejects the firm’s job offer because the bad luck she receives there has supposedly caused her sister’s traffic accident. Most ludicrous of all, she believes a fortune teller’s claim that she has to spend the night with a man born in the Chinese zodiac year of tiger to save her sister. It is sobering to note, though, that the difference between Bo-nui and off-screen programmers is sometimes a matter of degree rather than kind. There is a number of possible explanations for such real-life eccentricity.

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A Geopolitical Reading of Knulp

Train to heaven in 2016 Korean drama Please Come Back, Mister / Come Back Alive / Come Back, Ahjussi

Identity has a peculiar relationship with itself. According to art and literary theorists, the act of naming or otherwise describing something replaces the true nature of the object with a representation which accuracy and comprehensiveness are constrained by human limits. Yet in public consciousness, one may contend, this caricature tends to be mistaken for the real thing in the long run. Thus, when a political subject assumes a cultural or national identity, he may inadvertently lose sight of his deeper identity—that which sometimes transcends ethnic, geographical and other boundaries or at least popular perceptions of such boundaries.

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Strange Waters

The sixth dragon Moo-hyul (Yoon Kyun-sang)'s dragon title scene in 2015-2016 Korean historical drama / sageuk Six Flying Dragons

“The Sixth Dragon – Joseon’s Top Swordsman, Moo-hyul”

Hong Kong fiction and its Korean counterpart, heroism and escapism, the corporeal and the illusory—entities in these pairs nestle within each other in symbioses at times wondrous and at times sobering.

Hong Kong martial arts fiction has made an impact on the South Korean popular culture scene since the 1960s. In 1967, the Hong Kong film Come Drink With Me, which tells the story of a swordswoman pairing up with a drunken kung fu hero to fight bandits, attracted a record-breaking 300, 000 moviegoers in Seoul and whetted the public’s appetite for more tales from the genre. From then till the mid-1970s, importers brought in more such movies from Hong Kong, producers responded enthusiastically with their own action films, major newspapers and publishers tried to out-win one another by serializing martial arts novels and comics, and radio stations aired adaptations of such novels. Hong Kong and Korean film directors also traveled to each other’s country to shoot martial arts series, exchanging professional insights along the way. The bubble burst after that, but in the mid-1980s mainland-born Hong Kong novelist Jin Yong brought on a second boom with his Condor Trilogy, selling over one million copies in South Korea and ushering in new imports of Hong Kong martial arts films.

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Quote

Beethoven is a Blanket

Poster of Jung Cha-sik (Ji Soo) in 2016 Korean drama special Page Turner

“It was like spraying water onto a blanket-clad child.

Fretting that she might have a hard time, I stinted on water for myself and sprinkled it on her.
But the cotton blanket absorbed the water and weighed her down.
How painful it must have been for her tiny shoulders to bear such weight!
Yet I did not even know this and kept spraying.

The blanket loved for its dryness and softness became an abominable object.
The mother suffered because of her thirst.
The child suffered because of her heavy shoulders.

I will give you the piano for free. Do not touch your fund. And do not tie your life to your child’s. The burden will snuff out his life.
A mother should not turn a child’s dream into a nightmare.”

Page Turner

Colorful piano in star writer Park Hye-ryun's 2016 Korean drama special Page Turner

Soju in a Wine Glass                                                               The Drama

Mozart in Confucius and Confucius in Mozart                    Drama Resources

Deep Down Inside, Beneath the Clothes of Culture

Kang Ye-rim (Kim So-hyun)'s mirror scene in 2016 Korean horror web drama Nightmare High

Logic broke down when a bare-bodied male philosopher locked eyes with a little cat in a bathroom. That was the scene Jacques Derrida painted of himself alongside a meditation on how the cat was behind him since it was before him. But more precisely, Derrida was referring to the animal world in general and how animality surrounds and pervades humanity since it precedes the emergence of humanity. While he agreed that differences exist between animals and Homo sapiens, he challenged the common philosophical assumption of a sharp, singular distinction between the two. Something in this kind of attitude may also be warranted in other types of debates about the true face and ideal living conditions of the human race.

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When Mathematics Meets Politics in a Lunchbox

Magic square lunchbox in 2011 Korean historical drama / sageuk Tree With Deep Roots

Every time a grisly murder ordered by his father, King Taejong, takes place, King Sejong despondently buries himself in magic squares—n x n matrices in which each number from 1 to n2 appears just once and the sum of numbers in each row, column and main diagonal (a value known as “magic constant“) is identical. But the troubling news would not leave him alone in this introductory portion of Tree With Deep Roots, a political thriller depicting the invention of the Korean alphabet, Hangul. Couriers, guards and his mournful queen storm his problem solving chamber, where a gigantic and incomplete 33 x 33 magic square reflects the scale of his woes.

Taejong, who has abdicated but continues to wield power, invites himself in as well, proposing an easy solution to the conundrum. He throws away  Continue reading

Ardently Cowardly

Lascaux prehistoric painting

Paleolithic cave painting in France, © Prof saxx, shared under the permission of CC BY-SA 3.0.

Can courage in its purest form, detached from all worldly wants and messy emotions, indubitably produce the purest good?

Epic blockbuster The Legend has mighty ambition written all over it. Not only does it depict the story of 4th-5th century Goguryeo king Gwanggaeto the Great, whose conquests led him to reign over the largest territory in Korean history, through grand battle scenes, it mixes in the founding myth of Korea, Christian symbolism, an artistic sensibility reminiscent of medieval European legends, and the Four Spirits of Chinese astrology portrayed in Goguryeo murals: the Black Tortoise of the North, the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South and the White Tiger of the West. In the drama, the Black Tortoise totem is activated when Gwanggaeto experiences dark fury, the Azure Dragon totem in times of cool benevolence and the Vermilion Bird totem in burning passion. The White Tiger totem is the one representing innocent courage and the divine creature is reincarnated as Jumuchi, a tribal warrior of Herculean build who fights for righteous causes without a tremble and without care for material gains or bodily well-being.

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