Let There Be Light

Baek Seung-chan (Kim Soo-hyun) in 2015 Korean drama The Producers

War, opined German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse in his novel Demian in the aftermath of World War I, was a fortuitous opportunity to shatter old conventions and let humanity be born anew. This declaration certainly disturbed some critics who otherwise admired the soulful tale about a youth’s quest for spiritual fulfillment. Its somberness was also a jarring contrast to the lighthearted tone of workplace comedy The Producers, which younger leads bonded over the book as they struggled to find their place in the demanding entertainment industry. A commonality, though, lay in how, just as the drama tacitly accepted both the rewarding and the unreasonable sides of show business—as long as they did not escalate into physical deprivation and career downfalls—as everyone’s lot in life, Demian insisted on worshiping the good and the bad alike in human nature. Can we not rise higher than that?

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