News Archives

Note: To facilitate easier browsing, non-substantial news, news that have become obsolete, and some non-essential images have been omitted below.


  • 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
달의 연인 - 보보경심 麗(려)

The schizophrenic layer of content creators’ lives not seen from the other side of the screen

When you were having heart palpitations trying to save someone from himself, the last thing you wanted to be alerted to was the presence of another piece of your stuff in the backyard of others, stripped of its name tag and laid bare among the weeds for any stray fowl to run away with a filthy bite. To rub salt into your chaotic arteries, a copyright infringer once had the temerity to lace her retort with foul language and claim that she saw your translation in a movie, effectively telling you that the numerous hours of brainstorming, fact-checking and revision you poured into the work were but a long, tiresome dream.

Every day, online content creators around the globe grapple with unappreciative readers who help themselves to products that are the culmination of blood, sweat and tears and, strangely, à la Cheese in the Trap, start to think of them as their own possessions. They do not assert that they have so much as lifted a finger during the creation process, but are affronted all the same by requests to remove them from their curations and upset upon the actual removals. And apparently because confessing to slip-ups, implicitly or otherwise, is a horrible sign of weakness, some would rather endure an endless barrage of messages from the content creators than try appeasing them with at least a by-line acknowledging their efforts. In certain cases, the result is unsurprisingly a huge disincentive on the part of the creators to continue putting up works online.

Instead of voicing their unhappiness in the open, some content creators keep up a cheerful façade in their public updates, preferring not to dwell on negativity or wary about backlash from other readers. Some of us believe, however, that we have the right to be acknowledged for the fruits of our labor, no matter the volume stolen, our prestige (or lack of), our own perceptions of their quality, and whether we have been standing on the shoulders of giants—certainly the case when you are explaining a poem and connecting it to public policy. In good scholarly practice, an author has to cite the source of his idea accurately even when he is describing the idea in his own words. Moreover, exact reproduction of works which are already devoid of any kind of revenue, without any intent to invite readers to visit the original webpages, amounts to blatant exploitation.

Many online content creators are not unreachable higher beings copyright infringers are never sure would read their requests for reproduction of material. Even if we give the impression that we are, the copyright notices on our homepages already answer their questions. Or, if some margin of uncertainty previously remained, our takedown requests have, by now, clearly conveyed our views.

Failure to identify the authorship of online works hurts plagiarists themselves in certain ways:

  1. They unwittingly take the blame for any flaw in the works. Many blog-based outlets, after all, are understaffed and do not undergo peer review. Translations, especially, are prone to mislead people, because writers often have to choose between reproducing the exact nuances of the original works or reproducing their rhymes. There are also the problems of, on one hand, literal translations vis-à-vis adopting expressions more natural in the output language, and on the other, accounting for intonations and gestures which are used by actors and actresses but are not evident in the original lines themselves. On The Asian Drama Philosopher (A-Philosopher)’s Chair, the point of placing the original lines in close proximity to their translations, as long as they were not too verbose, was to increase the chances that readers acquainted with the non-English language in question would spot any error. Nevertheless, reporting it is not the job of any reader, so mistakes may go uncorrected for years. In fact, no one has been forthright enough to point out that “The Problematic of the Unproblematic,” a drama review site that has been around for many years, was misspelt in a news update for several weeks. On top of this, people familiar with the original works would have noticed that APC sometimes insists on parsing the lines in its own idiosyncratic manner.
  2. They lose the right to complain when their own writings/artworks are similarly misappropriated, word for word and line by line without proper credits. No one is so “lucky” or “special” that she alone, and never anyone from her readership base, will ever know of a particular webpage.
  3. They alienate themselves from a large and supportive community of content makers and commentators. Is it not better to befriend us and have a pal from across the world ask after you and remind you to take medication when you are home with a workplace injury in the dead of night—a touching incident actually witnessed on Twitterverse? Asian drama commentators, in particular, may squabble from time to time but tend to share a warm camaraderie.
  4. When it comes to writings on empathy, they contradict themselves. They claim to love the writings, but what they really love are their own selves. They see themselves as the sole subjects of the writings, thinking how fabulous it is to have someone by their sides through thick and thin, but wilfully neglect that the person who makes their reading experience possible in the first place needs as much empathy as them.
  5. They live with a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. Withholding the credits and link may at times keep the duplicated copy off the original writer’s radar. But technology and social media users are growing more sophisticated. Staying unchanged, on the other hand, is the deep and long-lasting thirst to redress the injustice.

Duplication of people’s creations, as another blog owner has pointed out, is soulless work. On a related matter, APC itself has actually been immensely dissatisfied with directing visitors to others’ translations of essays and poetry, instead of taking time to write its own versions, in news updates in recent months. However much it respects and thinks highly of a translator, there are always places the admin obstinately prefers an alternate interpretation, wording or paragraphing. Readers, too, must have their unique visions about how best to convey a scene or sentiment.

Because the obstinate admin does not know how to let go, APC has incessantly felt compelled to list the names of errant readers extracting its contents without proper credits and ignoring its repeated complaints. Furthermore, abandoning efforts to get these readers to adjust their behavior may only result in more future victims. If you are their friend, urge them to make the necessary corrections before they develop a habit and make bigger mistakes in their studies and/or careers. Readers who kindly cooperated have been omitted from this list.

Original Content: APC’s Translation of “A Chest You Can Cry On” by Lee Jung-ha
Reader’s Name Site Name / Handle Domain URL Extension of Plagiarized Material
Fitria Hanina Fitria






Carmen Kay karmenlunarxisc Twitter /status/635052764091908096




    – mybabysbreath WordPress /2016/09/09/a-chest-you-can-cry-on/
Enike Chindy enikechindy Tumblr /post/131337182951/the-puppets-heart

This should not give the illusion that the average troublemaker necessarily comes from a certain range of backgrounds. We have to keep in mind as well that there are many considerate bloggers from their countries. It is just that some individuals, giving up on themselves, choose to be black sheep.

Even long exposure to academia does not make one infallible in such areas. The Learned Fangirl (TLF), an informative website which dissects popular culture, fandom and technology, has related to APC’s admin how a tenured faculty once re-posted several of their posts in their entirety on his blog without linking back. When informed that this approach was unacceptable, he took down the posts, but not without calling TLF uncollegial.

With this update, APC hopes to not only seek justice for itself but also encourage long-suffering online content creators to speak up against readers disrespecting their efforts. In the spirit of “ascorbate extraction,” its admin will be collating data like the above and using its experiences with recalcitrant readers as potential case studies for a professional project. As for its upcoming online project, which will be about strategic thinking in public regulation, it intends to use a platform with readily executable copy protection measures, even as it has otherwise had a very positive experience with WordPress. It thanks TLF and numerous other online authors and admins for their frank personal anecdotes and very insightful comments in a private discussion group on plagiarism. If you are a legitimate content creator who would like to join us, simply drop a note below with a link to your website.

Confronting plagiarists is no pleasant task, but with at least five online commentators with a legal background in the Korean drama circle alone at last count, breakthroughs need not be that far away.

  • September 12, 2016 – Gold Wind, Jade Dew and Other Gems in Scarlet Heart (Contains spoiler information for episodes 3 and 9 of the Chinese version and episode 5 of the Korean version)

Many people in the Asian drama-watching community know of 2011 Chinese production Scarlet Heart (available on Dramafever) as a girl-meets-many-boys time-travel romance, but the rich cultural tapestry within perhaps deserves more credit. Over 35 episodes, viewers are treated to an eye-opening array of Qing costumes, headdresses and jewelry as well as fascinating references to various Chinese teas and snacks. The talented but doomed eighth prince, for instance, is described as favoring “Rizhu Snow Buds” or “Day Cast Snow Buds” (a word-by-word translation; Rizhu is actually a geographical location)—a type of green tea which name is thought to conjure up an image of beautiful snow melting away with the rise of the Sun, leaving only sadness in its place.

Certainly, too, the drama includes a great wealth of literary references, of which a Tibetan poem and a passage by Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi have been discussed on this site before. As a sample of the plethora of Chinese prose and poetry also woven into the script, below are the poems in scenes corresponding to some of those aired in the Korean adaptation so far:

1. The eighth prince sends the heroine, Ma’ertai Ruoxi, Song poet Qin Guan’s “To the Tune of Magpie Bridge Immortal,” an extraordinarily spectacular and romantic poem that provides much comfort to couples in long-distance relationships. Its lines would solve the supposed mystery of the above headline. (Original text | Translation)

2. He next sends her “Fallen Low,” a succinct and highly rhythmic work which historically has different interpretations bound by the common theme of human-inflicted suffering. (Original text | Translation – one of the interpretations)

3. When Emperor Kangxi orders Ruoxi to explain why she calls him a good ruler, she quotes the lines “But alas! Qin Shihuang and Han Wudi … Look to this age alone” from Mao Zedong’s “Snow.” They may sound sycophantic to modern ears but mark the start of their friendship. If we put aside political differences and regard its mentions of archery and literary prowess as mere symbols of less advanced stages of human civilization, the poem is additionally a reminder that the best need not be in the past—the sources of our problems may also be the sources of our solutions. This is a dose of optimism the world at large can benefit from as it grapples with political, economic and environmental upheavals. (Original text | Translation)

It is unfortunate that time constraints prevent The Chair from listing the numerous other classical texts referenced and far more so that few Western-language drama review sites seem to take a profound interest in East Asian literature. The analysis of the portrayal of regional literature in East Asian dramas is a niche area in cultural critique is badly in need of new blood and, pun intended, a few more scarlet hearts.


  • September 8, 2016 – Ancient Poetry and Heritage Issues in Moon Lovers – Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (Contains spoiler information for episode 5)

The following poems appeared in the episode broadcast on Tuesday:

1. The 21-st century time-traveling heroine, Hae Su, is mesmerized by a Goryeo prince’s beautiful calligraphy. What the family-loving and genteel man writes is a piece of prose titled “Home Again” by Six Dynasties Chinese poet Tao Yuanming, which describes the poet giving up his governmental post for a peaceful, simple life at his countryside home. (Original text | Translation)

2. As a confession, the prince gifts her “Bamboo Stalk Song,” a poem by Tang author Liu Yuxi that uses inconstant weather as an analogy for ambiguous love. (Original text | Translation – be sure to read the footnote)

3. Since modern-day Koreans are generally not as well-versed in classical Chinese, Su has to depend on his brother and wife (also her cousin) for the interpretation. This, of course, leads to some awkwardness and fury, which Su fails to notice. Then, ignoring the romantic undertones of the poem, she hilariously attempts to copy Goryeo official Kim Ji-dae’s poem on majestic and serene scenery, “Yugasa Temple,” as her response to the prince. Since no translation is available online, The Chair is supplying its own below:

瑜伽寺 유가사 (note that the Korean alphabet has not been invented then)

寺在煙霞無事中 (사재연하무사중)
亂山滴翠秋光濃 (난산적취추광농)
A mist surrounds the tranquil temple in the evening light
A jumble of green mountains and the marvelous sights of autumn beckon

雲間絶磴六七里 (운간절등육칠리)
天末遙岑千萬重 (천말요잠천만중)
Steep stone steps rise for six to seven miles into the clouds
Numerous layers of hills lie at the faraway horizon

茶罷松簷掛微月 (다파송첨괘미월)
講闌風榻搖殘鍾 (강란풍탑요잔종)
After sipping tea, one sees a new crescent hanging at the pine canopy
After a lecture, one hears lingering bell notes from the sleep chambers

溪流應笑玉腰客 (계류응소옥요객)
欲洗未洗紅塵踨 (욕세미세홍진종)
The streams must be laughing at the government official,
Who tries to but cannot wash away his worldly marks

(References: Naver, Apple Daily)

Su eventually settles on this reply: \^0^/

According to Apple Daily, the netizen who identified this poem noted that the current name for a temple which used to be called Yugasa is Donghwasa / 桐華寺. 桐華 is the name of the Chinese novelist who penned the book the show is based on. Readers may like to know that there is another Yugasa Temple, which retains its name to this date and has been associated with the poem. All the same, we are free to regard the coincidence as a cross-cultural tribute.

Similar plots can be found in Scarlet Heart, the 2011 Chinese drama adaptation of the novel. Most poignantly, the quick-witted, Chinese time-traveling heroine there struggles to pronounce the exquisite vocabulary used in letter writing in Qing China, finding herself as good as illiterate despite her education and white-collar background. In both cases, too, it may be one thing to read about polygamy and marriage between closely related individuals as a side note in history books, but another to see it simulated three-dimensionally, with actors viewers emotionally identify with. Time slip shows, clearly, provide excellent opportunities for examining how robust people’s connection to their ancestral past can or should be. On one side, there are the issues of lost heritage and pardoning historical figures for being products of their times. On the other, we have arguments for cultural pride in using language entirely of your own (for Koreans), heightened literacy rates brought about by simplified languages, and support for modern ethical sensibilities.

For more Sino-Korean and Chinese poetry, you are welcome to explore this site category or search for Kuiwon’s very informative WordPress blog, which The Chair has long wanted to introduce here. Kuiwon has also written at length about his thoughts on the issue of Chinese character usage in South Korea. His view, however, neither reflects nor contradicts this site’s.

One mistake in the Korean adaptation warrants notice. As the netizen reported, the story takes place in the AD 900s, but Kim Ji-dae lived from 1190 to 1266, so the writing Su copied from could not have been lying around. At least it is a romantic notion that a book traveled back in time with you—theoretically more romantic, perhaps, than being wooed by the husband of your sick cousin.


  • September 3, 2016 – Belle Époque (Contains spoiler information for Age of Youth)
Jung Ye-eun (Han Seung-yeon) in 2016 JTBC Korean drama Age of Youth

Me, the perfect picture of normality! Sans pallor, sans rags, sans tatters and sans healing! It’s tragic that so many people around are so broken.
My own past with the insecure ex who held me captive in his home for two days? It’s not affecting me, not supposed to be affecting me, not affecting me, not supposed to be affecting me, …

George Eliot wrote in the novel Middlemarch that youth is frequently the season of hope only in the sense that older generations are hopeful about younger ones. Lacking life experiences, young people, for all their physical vitality and cognitive advantages, find each struggle soul-crushing. Likewise, Age of Youth (available on Dramafever) peels back the rosy veneer of life in one’s 20s to reveal the socioeconomic difficulties and family/personal tragedies that may afflict young adults without waiting for them to “grow up” first. Its oldest main character, college senior Yoon Jin-myung, already 28, is forever too busy making ends meet to properly experience the springtime of her life. Fake college student Kang Yi-na, 24, escapes from a near-death experience only to lead a wasted life hooking up with rich men in bars for an indulgent lifestyle out of survivor guilt. Princessy Jung Ye-eun (pictured above), 22, can hardly bring herself to break up with her atrocious boyfriend. Dirty-talking liar Song Ji-won, also 22, ironically seems to be the most well-adjusted and one of the wisest among the pack. Timid Yoo Eun-jae, only 20, may have been a murderess. With courage and companionship, though, it may still be possible to live life to the fullest, in spite of scars and missteps, making these truly beautiful years of their lives.

Below is a selection of literary references in the show:

  1. Korean independence fighter Yun Dong-ju’s poem anthology Sky, Wind, Star, and Poetry – Jin-myung’s mother, giving up hope on her comatose son, underlines the last two lines of the work “A Dream Shattered.” (A translation can be found here.)
  2. Hermann Hesse’s Demian – A German youth’s quest for self-discovery and spiritual enlightenment.
  3. Nikos Kazantzakis’s Zorba the Greek – A Greek intellectual befriends a foreman under his employment who has a fervent zest for life. Read together with (2) by Jin-myung and led to her decision to take some risks and live according to her wishes for a change.
  4. Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies – A chick-lit novel on domestic abuse. Discussed by Ji-won while making up her mind about whether to disclose a truth.

This weekend drama has concluded its run last Saturday. Some episodes contain suggestive references.


  • August 18, 2016 – W for Whoppsy-whiffling (Contains MAJOR spoilers for W episodes 1-8)

The A-Philosopher's self-made poster for W - Two Worlds, featuring Lee Jong-suk as Kang Chul, Han Hyo-joo as Oh Yeon-joo and Kim Eui-sung as Oh Sung-moo. Includes images of the cathedral-like building (Kyunghee University's grand auditorium) and faceless killer

What have been pumping up The Asian Drama Philosopher (A-Philosopher)’s Chair all this while are writings and dramas that take their audiences in weird and wonderful directions. W – Two Worlds (available on Viki) tops all dramas in this category so far with twin universes where a faraway river surreally floats up to you in a restroom, taking the metaphorical red pill freezes everyone else and leaves you terrifyingly alone in your expansive, fabricated world, and going on rampage is a literally faceless killer who can take any form (including a vehicle!) and teleport anywhere at anytime without any reason to take down a target so long as Creator wants him to. But now that its webtoon protagonist and his killer have both become self-aware, the former asks why he should be an alcoholic artist’s alternate self or a starry-eyed fangirl’s plaything while the latter, flashing with pixels of anger, demands an identity. There are elements of shows like Stranger than FictionPleasantville, Dollhouse and, of course, The Matrix here, but the overall setup is rare enough, particularly when it comes to nonwhite lead characters, that it still feels remarkably refreshing.

W is not just a flashy show. Among other topics, it poses hard questions about the psychology of fiction creation. Thought policing can be repulsive and is as yet difficult to perform consistently with precision. Yet, in a strange turn of events, this freedom of thought also accommodates contemplation of the aesthetics of thought, for better or worse. With regards to such aesthetics in storytelling, W wonders if it is pathetic to live vicariously through a character who has everything—youth, success, strength of character—you do not have and if it is repugnant to, for the sake of dramatic tension and venting personal emotions, make a character go through traumatic experiences you would never wish for or be capable of enduring yourself.

Some viewers may not be used to the plot’s bizarreness and sensational and slightly complicated twists, but, with sincere respect to fellow commentators who have expressed those views, if we cannot tolerate ideas that challenge the mind and defy conventions in an imaginary reality, how bleak is the prospect of us treating with civility someone who is “different” in our inescapable, physical reality? Fortunately, perhaps thanks to its intense cross-universe romance, W has been the rare mind-bending Korean drama in recent years to attain healthy ratings. All the best to it retaining the champion position for its time slot for the remaining episodes. Fanart creators would be happy to draw in a gigantic medal, and probably few would denounce this as vile.


  • July 29, 2016 – Sunny Side Up in Beautiful Mind, Bloodthirsty Creator in W (Contains spoiler information for W episodes 1-4)
Lee Young-oh (Jang Hyuk) with a Rothko painting in 2016 Korean medical drama Beautiful Mind and Kang Chul (Lee Jong-suk)'s elevator scene in 2016 Korean fantasy series W - Two Worlds

Top: Frankenstein’s monster successfully befriends angel in uniform in Beautiful Mind.
Bottom: Murder target chases after hooded Grim Reaper in W – Two Worlds.

Have you ever felt that your writing, music or artwork has taken on a life of its own? This phenomenon becomes too real for the webtoonist in W – Two Worlds when his genius lead character develops a will of his own and deduces that some invisible being out there is playing God with him. Spooked by his own creation, the webtoonist resolves to kill off the character, scribbling behind an image of Spanish painter Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son (1820 – 1823), the words “Rather devour than be devoured.” The character, however, resists all attempts at his life.

At the same time, the webtoonist’s daughter repeatedly gets magicked into that world. There, she has no choice but to adopt the mindset of a storyteller, brainstorming ways to drive the narrative to an emotional high so that the chapter will come to a satisfactory end and return her to her world. After her hilarious and romantic stunts stop working, she deliberates over the heartbreaking option that remains: telling the character that his world is but a webtoon. Either way, their romantic interactions and tribulations in his world—automatically recorded in the webtoon against their will—end up as perverse entertainment fodder for the masses and cash cows for the capitalist system in her world. The many miracles happening to him also cause one to wonder about the existence of a higher Creator overruling the decisions of his Creator.

Fans postulated that W stands for “double u(niverses)” whereas the webtoon character conceptualized it as the “Who?” and “Why?” behind his sufferings. A production that combines the edginess of Western works and the rich quality of interpersonal relationships Korean dramas are adept at capturing, the show inspires in its audience a long line of existential and theological questions: Given the transient nature of our time in this world, do our experiences ultimately amount to some set of tales and artefacts to be dissected and manipulated at the whim of future generations? Which, then, are the pursuits worth engaging in? Does Creator have his own Creator, who is the creation of another Creator and so on (i.e. “turtles all the way down!”)? What if we have surpassed Creator by now?

In Beautiful Mind, meanwhile, all seems well and happy as far as Rothko is concerned. The Rothko-obsessed admin is relieved to report that Untitled (Yellow, Red and Blue) (1953), pictured above, has been inverted too in episode 11. Perhaps, these gradual changes in the orientations of his abstract works can be taken to reflect the growth of the drama’s psychopathic neurosurgeon, who is currently better adjusted to the world around him although his emotional landscape remains abnormal, whether they have been planned from the start or not.

The last shoutout of the week goes to Age of Youth, a slice-of-life drama revolving around five housemates in their 20s. The youngest among them, Yoo Eun-jae, is reminded of how she has become the pushover in the group during a lecture on “positioning theory.” According to its proponents, our word choices determine the positions of ourselves and others and thereby assign to the parties involved rights and duties attached to those positions. This is yet another instance when Korean productions encourage individuals who think the “soft” sciences are beneath them and will never open a psychology book to appreciate the discipline a little more.



  • July 23, 2016 – Medicaps and More for Beautiful Mind (Contains spoiler information for episode 8)
Ommaya reservoir for 2016 Korean medical drama Beautiful Mind

Ommaya reservoir, a surgical device featured in Beautiful Mind. © Patrick L. Lynch and Armin Kübelbeck, shared under the permission of CC BY 2.5 and endorsed by Mount Sinai Hospital.

These days, the question to ask Beautiful Mind viewers is: How many pages long are your notes so far? The medical drama about a psychopathic surgeon showcases a dizzying array of biomedical technologies and complex disease scenarios that sends even clinical professionals among viewers ploughing through medical literature to comprehend them and distinguish facts from fiction. Thankfully, this part-time continuing education program the show has signed us up for now comes with help sheets in the form of medical recaps by viewer Michykdrama, who identifies as an anesthetist:

Check out her site to appreciate the amazing level of realism in both the surgical scenes and the acting of disease sufferers like the aforementioned surgeon. Rest assured, though, that Michykdrama details as well doubtful points like administering osimertinib, a cancer drug approved just last November by the US FDA, through the invasive Ommaya reservoir instead of the oral route. You may like to note, however, that, as she warns herself, neurosurgery and oncology are not really her areas of expertise. Furthermore, at some level, even experienced specialists may disagree among themselves. If only the medical consultants for the drama would hold academic office hours!

In the philosophy department, the story ruminates on the possibility of doing good in spite of lacking natural empathy and how relatively mundane weaknesses can make a biologically normal person as morally repugnant as a psychopath. Episode eight of the series also features Judith Butler’s 1990 publication Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, which a male character reads to seek solace for “unmanly” physiological changes induced by familial isolated pituitary adenoma (FIPA).

Lastly, art lovers may be relieved to know that in the episodes broadcast this week (nine and ten), the reproduction of Mark Rothko’s White Center (1957) has been inverted such that its orientation is presently the same as the original copy‘s in Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Think a literary, artistic or scholarly work or concept in a drama deserves a shoutout? Write to The Asian Drama Philosopher (A-Philosopher)’s Chair at any time. Meanwhile, cherish the last two weeks of throwbacks to idyllic college days or sign the petition to retain the original length of the drama. Regular domestic viewers’ refusal to give this screen masterpiece a chance has meant that Beautiful Mind will be ending the week after the next, two episodes earlier than planned.



  • July 6, 2016 – Hanging Out With Sempé, van Gogh, Rothko and Daudet on Korean Screens

Spotted in Korean dramas the past fortnight:

>>In episode 14 of Beautiful Gong Shim, an exhibition on French illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempé catches the eyes of the goofy lead couple and a love rival. Titled “Sempé – From Paris to New York,” it features some 150 original illustrations by the artist and is being held at the KT&G Sangsangmadang Gallery (367-5 Seogyo-dong, Mapo District, Seoul) until August 31, 2016. The drama focuses on his drawings for the children’s storybooks Marcellin Caillou and Le Petit Nicolas (Little Nicholas) and muses on his statement «On ne peut pas vivre si l’on n’est pas gai.» (“We cannot live without gaiety.”)

>>In episode 3 of Beautiful Mind, a very polished production which looks set to live up to its heart-rending, even if unoriginal, title, an avuncular character the young heroine bonds with over soju at an outdoor drinking spot remarks that a person who can drink by himself has nothing to fear. When he meets with misfortune later, she finds inside his office, soju bottles kept in a safe decorated by Vincent van Gogh’s intoxicating Cafe Terrace at Night (1888).

>>While the hospital staff and police throw daggers at and dangle Faustian deals before each other inside the male lead’s office in Beautiful Mind, you can see Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Yellow, Red and Blue) (1953) and White Center (1957) adorning the walls behind. Whiter Center is an especially moving choice for a clinical setting as it conveys themes of life, death and spirituality. One problem—both are hung in orientations opposite to those used by private and museum collectors.

>>You cannot escape homework and research even as a Hallyu celebrity. To figure out how to portray the on-screen romance with his 2000-born co-star in fantasy costume drama Mirror of the Witch, actor Yoon Shi-yoon, a 1986-er playing the protective magical mirror to her cursed princess-witch, read 19th-century French writer Alphonse Daudet’s Les Étoiles (“The Stars”), which depicts a shepherd’s innocent love for his master’s daughter. (Reference: Grazia; a translation of the interview is available on The Talking Cupboard.)


  • June 9, 2016 – Sleep Paralysis and the Malevolent Shadow in Mirror of the Witch (Contains spoiler information)
Lobes of the brain and the temporoparietal junction

© Dr. John A Beal, shared under the permission of CC BY 2.5.

Floating in the air against your will, a shadow creeping up on and strangling you—these are not just another day in the life of the ill-fated princess-witch heroine in Mirror of the Witch, a fantasy drama halfway through its scheduled run, but also experiences of real-life individuals undergoing sleep paralysis.

Temporary paralysis is actually a normal phenomenon our brains trigger on when we are in the stage of sleep referred to as “rapid eye movement” (REM), so that we do not (horror of horrors!) act out our dreams. Other processes brought on by REM include vivid dreams and the shutting down of the temporoparietal junction, a brain region that constructs our sense of self. Unfortunately, people occasionally wake up during REM without the brain adjusting in time. The results may include being unable to move even though one is awake, seeing dreams play out before the eyes, one commonly reported variant of which entails a shadowy figure choking the conscious person, and out-of-body floating experiences. Researchers postulate that in both the out-of-body experiences and the shadowy hallucination, the impaired sense of self may have led the affected person to see himself as two yet think of one as a foreign entity. Possibly, that oppressive shadow is actually a projection of himself.


The Neuroscience Of Sleep Paralysis Explains The Terrifying Experience Of Being Trapped In Your Body


  • May 30, 2016 – Joseon Merfolk Tale

Hot off the press! Earlier today, Seoul Broadcasting Station reported [Admin’s note: source and link changed from earlier versions of this entry] that Park Ji-eun, the writer of the 2013-14 space romance drama My Love From The Star, will be working on Legend of the Blue Sea (working title), a fantasy romance based on the Joseon-era folk stories collection Eou Yadam (lit. Eou’s Folk Stories). The first of such collections in Korean history, Eou Yadam (~1622) recounts, among other stories, how a magistrate named Kim Dam-ryeong returns merfolk caught by some fisherman to the sea. The drama will be airing this November, but you can already read the full text of the tale, a scanned copy of which was uploaded onto Korean entertainment news site eStar, here:

“金聘齡爲歙谷縣令, 嘗行宿于海上漁父之家, 問若得何魚, 對曰民之漁, 得人魚六首, 其二則創而死, 其四猶生之, 出視之, 皆如四歲兒, 容顔明媚, 鼻梁聳, 耳輪郭, 其鬚黃, 黑髮被額, 眼白黑照晢黃瞳子, 體或微赤, 或全白, 背上有淡黑文, 男女陰陽一如人, 手足揩蹠, 掌心皆皺文, 及抱膝而坐, 皆與人無別, 對人無別, 垂白淚如雨, 聘齡, 憐之, 請漁人放之, 漁人甚惜之曰人魚取其膏甚美, 久而不敗, 不比鯨油日多而臭腐, 聘齡奪而還之海, 其逝也, 如龜鼈之游焉, 聘齡甚異之, 漁人曰魚之大者, 大如人, 此特其小兒耳, 曾聞杆城有魚巒, 得一人魚, 肌膚雪白, 如女人, 戱則魚笑之有若繾綣者, 遂放之洋中, 往而復返者再三而後去之。余嘗閱古書, 人魚男女狀如人, 海上人, 擒其牝, 畜之池, 相與交, 亦如人焉, 余竊笑之, 豈於東海上復見之。” (Credit also goes to Teolbo. The work belongs to the public domain.)

Essentially, it says that six merpeople have been caught in fishing activities and four of them survived. They are very fine-looking creatures that look like four-year-old children. Each has a high nose bridge, yellow facial hair, black hair and yellow eye pupils. Their bodies are either slightly reddish or white, with faint, black lines on the backs, and their mannerisms resemble those of humans. Taking pity on the merpeople, Kim Dam-ryeong asks the fisherman to release them, but he argues that their fats are delicious and have a longer shelf life than whale oil. Kim Dam-ryeong sets them free in the sea anyway and is astonished to see the merpeople swimming like turtles. The fisherman subsequently tells him more about the merpeople.


  • May 14, 2016 – Mirror of the Witch Mirrors Case Law (Contains spoiler information)

Seo-ri / Yeon-hee (Kim Sae-ron) in 2016 Korean fantasy sageuk Mirror of the Witch

16th-century shamanism met 20th-century Western jurisprudence when Korean fantasy period drama Mirror of the Witch (“Manyeobogam”) premiered yesterday. In the first episode, a righteous priest is compelled to sacrifice a baby princess (who will nevertheless grow up to be the heroine above) to lift a deadly curse she and her twin, the crown prince, have been born with so that at least one of the infants would survive. In Re A (Children) [2000] EWCA Civ 254, [2001] 2 WLR 480, the England and Wales Court of Appeal similarly held that a separation operation bound to result in the death of a weak and hopeless infant should be conducted so that her conjoined twin would at least survive. One of the controversial reasons cited for this heartbreaking decision was the doctrine of double effect described in If There is Another Me Inside Me, I Hope it is a Better Me.

Additionally, the word “bogam” can mean precious mirror or precious reference book. Through the princess’ romantic interest, historically renowned physician Heo Jun, the show will fantasize the hidden stories behind the 1613 publication Donguibogam, a UNESCO-listed compilation of Eastern medical (“dongui”) insights.


  • May 8, 2016 – The Next Destination & Happy Mother’s Day

Hello everybody! Thank you for your well wishes during the past two weeks. Your comments have been preserved below. What you are seeing is a new site feature where short updates on future plans and literature, art and intriguing ideas (plutocratic poetry, anyone?) connected to Asian dramas will be posted when the furniture maker has the time. Due to dwindling electrolyte and silica reserves, plus a perennial desire to explore other exciting topics, though, this site will be updated irregularly from now on, saving full-length posts for only the most important and whimsical topics. New website themes under contemplation include techno-romance, environmental law and geology. Some time ago, the said maker has also experimented with a culinary photo blog with black-comedy elements. Food lovers and aspiring poets and short prose writers are welcome to contact the admin so that we can work out possible partnerships for this latter project.

Before the day ends in all time zones, The Asian Drama Philosopher (A-Philosopher)’s Chair would also like to wish all weary, frustrated but forever beautiful mothers, mothers-to-be and mothers of mothers a lovely Mother’s Day. When we are in a cynical mood, the concept of mothers having some kind of time for themselves or children treating mothers well on only one day makes the occasion seem ironic. But without designating a day for celebrating motherhood and maternal love at all, mothers may just become entirely worthless, de facto house slaves!


  • April 25, 2016 – Announcement: Planned Hiatus

The Asian Drama Philosopher (A-Philosopher)’s Chair thanks everyone for their love and support during the past two years, especially Jon Awbrey from Inquiry into Inquiry, Mimi from The Talking Cupboard, Kåkåshi Sensei from The Problematic of the Unproblematic, Terry Sissons from The Other ICapriquariusMei, and Judy from Janthina Images for their critical feedback. […] Feel free to send your feedback through the comment section or the contact form. And remember to send some love to your own co-bloggers!


  • July 24, 2015 – Interlude: Stealing Virtual Lives
Source: NASA

Background image: NASA

The Asian Drama Philosopher (A-Philosopher)’s Chair feels the pain of recappers whose articles have recently been misappropriated for profit by a website named zkpop. The site has even been unscrupulous enough to manipulate the dates of posting to make it look like the original writers are the plagiarizers.

Why do bloggers blog? Here are some reasons often cited:

  • Because they want to change the world, no matter how quixotic it sounds
  • Because there is something they love
  • Because they want to spread that love around
  • Because they wish to engage with a side of themselves their careers do not enable them to
  • Because they dream of embarking on a writing career
  • Because they NEED to stay sane

That last one cannot be underestimated. If you take a really good look around the blogging community, you will see talk of the following recurring: work/academic stress (Now, who does not experience one or the other?), depression, autism, caregiving burden, deaths. The more you read, the more you just want to envelope everyone in a giant hug. All these factors are likely why bloggers toil on their posts in spite of heavy work, family and/or school commitments. As time passes, the products of the hard work become their children in their minds. Some treasure their writings so much that they are reluctant to run ads on the sites or otherwise monetize them. Plagiarizers ruin everything.

At the moment, K-drama bloggers are working hard to spread the message around and file reports to search engines, the ISP and other relevant parties. Please give them our moral support.