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THE SUBTLE CRAZE: A DRAMA COMPARISON BETWEEN KOREAN FANTASY AND WESTERN OBSESSION Hugo Mak M19

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hey are both about the lives of certain families and the dilemmas they face. They both have some predictable lines (“I love you!”, “Don’t you show your face around here ever again.”) and a considerably predictable ending. Yet, they are so different. This is a kind of soft power influencing the 21st century utilizing television dramas and makes us ponder on the underlying rationale behind the seemingly subtle craze for Korean dramas and Western shows. True, Asian dramas are more melodramatic. There seems to be a tendency to overact or over exaggerate situations. If circumstance becomes sad, then it is absolutely, heart-wrenchingly sad. If it is happy, then the happiness escalates over the clouds of heaven. Despite all this, the fans still continue to watch it and worship the pretty boy and girl. But is it really reasonable to say the Korean viewers are obsessed with love lines? But is it actually justifiable that Korean scriptwriters and directors do not know how to produce dramas without romance? And, on the other hand, are we ready to define all Western shows as realistic, practical and bears more resemblance to our daily life? Obviously not. Korean TV is fantasy and an escape from unpleasantness of real life. We can love, hate, throw shoes at the screen, like basically transfer our frustrations to the fictional characters. The basic story is unbelievable, if not ridiculous, like some young 90-day wonder who is a rich CEO of daddy’s mega-corp. Imagine this: your brother’s ex-wife’s cousin was kidnapped by an evil villain

who was actually an alien having lived for three hundred years, and now you are in love with the handsome immortal. Does this sound like a real drama, or something you would find on daytime television? Yes, most of them are fairy tales, but such stories are fun and popular, so why does it matter? It is unarguable that Western dramas tend to be more real. The topics are those that could happen to the person next door. However, say for American shows, there are sordid romance, murder and even demonic possession to make the show more compelling. Korean dramas tend to be much cleaner than their Western counterparts. And they always have an end. In the romantic and actionbased comedies, romances are never explicitly displayed and swearing is mild, if translated at all. Love triangles are a frequent feature, but are usually based on an initial friendship. There is often a super villain who makes things difficult for the main characters. Their challenge in over-


CADUCEUS coming this opposition leads to characters forming various changes and improvements in their personalities. Murder can occur in the historical dramas, but is never gory. That is, Korean dramas are more subdued. In this small Asian country, the handsome guy and the glamorous girl also seem to garner huge followings from their fans. Their fans will invest so much emotionally in the show. People watch the show, go online and discuss it, before reading the recaps and watching the previews. It may even come to a point that the audiences start re-watching. Whereas it makes such an impact on people, Western shows lack that kind of influence on their viewers. Sherlock and House may be interesting as successful investigative and medical dramas but once over, the fans would not go screaming around for autographs and posters. This is because Sherlock is produced entirely before it goes on air, while Koreans tend to film as they go, relating to current affairs and social issues with a personal touch though the story might be a bit of a fantasy. Speaking of traditions, Korean shows talk about the family orientation. On the other hand, American life depicted in The Modern Family is that each member of a family leaves and sets up own household. That freedom is tempting, but also reflects the down side that too many Westerners are now isolated from their family group, from the extended family living together, from sharing the burdens, responsibilities and joys together. In some ways, Korean dramas, despite being unrealistic, bring us huge message related to staying with your family and respecting your elders. We see big morals as compared to the sex and drama in Gossip Girl and such. Asian dramas tend to have an innocent image and appeals to various age groups. Finally, Korean dramas, unlike TV series in the U.S., display something rare: they have strong female Asian leads. It is something you don’t see often on NBC, BBC, or even HBO, but it is high time the Westerns get ready to embrace. All we could come up with might be New Girl and The Mindy Project—you can hardly change channels these days if you are expecting a woman heading the pack. And these shows have the same female

sense, under which the girl is always doing the repeating kind of pro-feminism act. Contrastingly, the Asian counterparts are filled with fully developed, un-stereotypical Asian women. In My Sassy Girl, the show tells a compelling story about first love—but with the girlfriend being the dominant partner even in Asia’s fraternal society. In Marry Him If You Dare, the main character, Mi-Rae, gets her life together and becomes a major scriptwriter (and rejects the I-need-a-man-to-be-happy ending trope to boot). Finally, in the best known one, Boys Over Flowers, Jan-Di is the classic plucky heroine who wins over the snobby boys in her high school by sticking up for the little guy and making her opinion known.

Teen melodramas like these always find an audience in the U.S., but right now Glee and High School Musical no longer serve to satisfy boys’ and girls’ imagination. Today in the West, nobody is doing a straightforwardly great teen drama like Gilmore Girls. There is sadly a programming hole that needs to be filled. And this hole would easily be filled by Korean shows. These shows are not just “Gangnam Style”, they’re My Love From the Star, Emergency Couple, The Heirs—often brilliant, youth-oriented shows. They have us glued to the screen every week, agonizing over a forced separation of a lovely couple, cheering at an ordinary game played by “flower boys”, and crying over an unrealistically glamorous prom. While no one is in the position to say which one


SPECIAL of the two rivals, Korean and Western drama, are more superior in today’s media-booming world, it is undeniable that the Korean pop culture is trending as much as the American blockbusters did in the 90s. Think of Psy and his “Gangnam Style”, awesome rappers like Kang Gary, and all those viral videos that have started coming out of Korean variety shows (Running Man, Infinity Chal-

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lenge). And think of House’s inconsiderate personality that appeals, think of modern sociopaths like Sherlock himself, and the indecent scenes in even action-packed dramas like The Walking Dead. It is really hard to say whether Lee Minho or Hugh Laurie will continue to win viewers’ heart and stand glamorous in the spotlight in unprecedented future.

現代死魂靈 N18 卓琦芳

這個舉世矚目的國度,到處鳥語花香,歌舞 昇平,科技昌明,久安長治。試問有誰敢 否認她是人人心馳神往的世外桃源? 這洞天福地,我們稱之——北韓。 人間仙境啊!可隱諱麼?若果你矢口否認 這鐵一般的事實,那也沒甚麼可懼怕。反觀, 有何不好?所謂塞翁失馬,焉知非福,朝鮮政 府倒還會雙手把你送到山清水秀的邊塞郊外, 讓你好好體驗各種難得一試的生活,那就好比 美國寫實電視節目《人在野》般,在虛構的惡 劣環境下,力爭求存,生吃蛇、老鼠、螞蟻等, 增強你的生存意志,不負一大特殊待遇之名。 如果你膽大妄為,不飲水思源,更肆意逃離這 美麗的祖國大地,那實在是百思莫解,可謂罪 大惡極,不可饒恕。作為偉大的一國之君,當 然擁有遠大目光,有着履霜之戒,怎能不用酷 刑(如「鴿子刑」)殺一儆百?但卻仍有二十多 萬朝鮮人民不知好歹,妄顧死活,竟還敢胡亂 造次,那簡直是他們活該承受的後果。甚麼人 道不人道,甚麼人權不人權,在偉大的領袖面前, 通通都只是鬼話連篇。 因為,人治才是管國之道。 一切一切,赤裸裸,一層一層,剝開那被 全世界誤解為封閉殘酷的身軀。可是,體內光 芒萬丈的聖環卻怎也無法遮擋,從內到外,再 由外到內,終逐步悄然滲透到國民全身骨子裡。 披上玄青的韓服,那撕人心肺、聲淚俱下的新 聞報導,真的是聽者傷心,聞者流淚 ;穿上豔 紅的洋裙,那活靈活現、滿臉堆笑的歌唱比賽, 隔着螢幕也能感受到高昂的情緒。筆者敢保證, 他們的神情比梁逸峰同學演繹得更到位,更極 致。披穿亮麗的衣裝,同時,披穿着無知的軀體, 内裡空空如也,死了。但話說回來,能練到皮

笑肉不笑的表演高地,非一日之訓,不堪想像 他們受了怎樣的訓練及教育。不過,反正,這 也只是國民日後在祖國安然生存的必備技巧。 荒謬?你別管,起碼,人民相信。 你說,別唬我,北韓的統治文化不就儼如 當年世界第二次大戰的納粹德國?我說,少年 呀,你太年輕,還沒全望透世事。 這個問題要從對內、對外兩邊剖析。皮相 地觀,朝鮮和納粹德國均是奉行極權主義的國 家。單一特定的團體,多為政黨(朝鮮——朝 鮮勞動黨 ;納粹德國——國家社會德國工人黨)。 它們壟斷政權,集中權力,控制人民所有層面 的生活,桎梏一切恰當的自由和權利。金氏家 族和希特拉,無疑是雕心鷹爪的獨裁者,同樣 利用軍權統治全國。爲了誅殺異己,強迫「違 背者」進入如煉獄的集中營,營內情況慘絕人寰、 慘不忍睹。即使時日變遷,某程度上,人類文 明提高了,國際間合作頻密了,對獨裁國家施 下的輿論壓力增加了,可也大改不了北韓的統 治方針,反而似乎還倒退不少。


CADUCEUS 實情是,北韓曾奉共產主義為圭臬(但現 今現實中,完全實踐共產主義是天方夜譚,北 韓漸退為「社會主義」,下文將會闡釋),而當 年納粹德國則跟隨納粹主義(與法西斯主義意 義上略有差異)。兩者過程做法很類似,畢竟同 是極權主義的分體,但從精神層面上而言,卻 實是充斥着矛盾,甚至可稱大相逕庭。

天……勢要弄到你們雞犬不寧。雷聲大雨點小? 不不不,北韓還沒發射。看,只是口頭宣示權力, 你們經已劍拔弩張,山雨欲來風滿樓似的,嚇 得捏一把汗。實力這碼事,你們懂甚麽,當然 得好好隱藏,難道這麼容易就顯露嗎?

共產主義將資源公有化,再按需分配,並 且不會有階級之分。國家帶動人民為社會生產, 人民平均國家發展的成果,盼以消除貧富懸殊, 亦應由勞動階級決定一切。 北韓自稱實行社會主義(按勞分配,以人 民民主為核心),可是,眾人有目共睹,與馬克 斯提倡的社會主義國家迥異,北韓金氏家族經 歷三朝,渲染白頭山血統,鼓吹非偉大金日成 同志後代不能稱皇登帝之說,意圖建立一個封 建世襲制王國的野心昭然若揭。國家中央集權, 人民基本權力和權利便沒法得到保障。顯而易 見,與共產或社會主義的本質意義南轅北轍。 而在去年六月,領導層修改了《十大原則》,把 「無產階級專政」字句刪除,用「主體革命偉業」 取代了「共產主義偉業」,終於撕開偽善的面目, 揭示其橫蠻無理的專權。 而納粹主義提倡反共,乃是極端的民族觀, 為種族優生之意識形態。希特拉主張「優等種 族」有權奴役,甚至滅絕「劣等種族」 。日耳曼 人更主宰着其他民族的權力,因為納粹主義鼓 吹優勝劣敗,汰弱留強,務求在激烈的生存環 境中求勝,再進一步以戰爭擴張勢力,對外侵略, 成為世界霸權。與北韓相比,納粹在意識形態 上是不一樣的,儘管各自分別以家族和種族作 為利益考慮為首的大前提,但其結果名異實同, 也只不過是,魯衛之政而已。 受罪的,終究只是民眾。

北韓火箭終於登陸太陽! 罷了,雖說納粹德國和現今北韓所奉行的 主義「道不同」,但卻有着異曲同工之妙,某程 度上,勉強算是「相為謀」。比方說,兩者都很 懂抬高自己,一方面自吹自擂,隱惡揚善,另 一方面重複向國民洗腦。納粹當年的「一個民 族,一個帝國,一個元首」,甚麼只有相信偉大 的當權者才可保你小命一條,與北韓的「閃耀 的太陽,金正恩大將萬歲!」等觀念出於一轍, 並且捏造及灌輸別國一直如狼似虎地對本國虎 視耽耽之想 ;當年所謂的種族優越論歧視殲滅 猶太人,現今北韓的標語、口號和宣傳畫(主 要意思是向「美帝國主義及其走狗」開戰,後 者指的是南韓),當局者迷,旁觀者清,炳若觀 火,這是刻意製造仇恨。可論到擴張勢力這一點, 北韓果真的雷聲大雨點小,那不是宣佈,是吹噓。 如果根據她所謂實行中的「主義」來評,共產 或社會主義該是以對外和平的方針為外交基礎, 絕不會窮兵黷武。反觀納粹,毫不拖拉,好勇 鬥狠,下手比耍耍嘴皮子還快。高下立見,使 北韓的行動力相形見絀,唯有出此下策——透 過訊息封鎖加上高壓手段迫使人民向領袖「五 體投地」。可這個世界,當然決不能夠允許北韓 演化為另一個納粹的靈魂。

「所以今天我相信,我的行為遵從全能造 物主的意志。我對猶太人嚴加防範是為了保衛 上帝的傑作。」這話一針見血,一語中的。「傑作」 這詞實在用得妙,筆者不得不對希特拉準確無 不過,想想,登陸太陽,她也能成功,超 誤的審美觀佩服得五體投地。無可否認,當年 的納粹,軍事設備先進,獨領全球 :突襲步槍、 越納粹? 反坦克火箭、專用追擊步槍等等都是當年德國 「其實唔難。」 研發的。但北韓亦不甘示弱,屢常對外宣佈自 而這個國度,還存在,它叫—— 己 多 厲 害。 別 國 不 信? 好, 就 給 點 顏 色 來 瞧 現代死魂靈。 瞧。核武試射、發射導彈、地面戰爭、衛星升


Caduceus Special Issue 2