Two people do not have more rights
than one person, or two hundred, or
two thousand, or two million, any more
than they have more intelligence or decency.
How to Watch Korean Shows
by Paul Bonneau
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
If you’re like me, you have long ago gotten very tired of the constant drumbeat of ugly leftist culture and propaganda coming from Hollywood. But, you still might want to vegetate on the couch after a hard day’s work. You need alternatives.
The title of this article might have been “How to Watch Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese Shows”, except that that was too long. How did I end up looking at these? Probably because my wife is Chinese. I imagine there must be a lot of non-Hollywood alternatives out there, not just those in Eastern Asia. We went through a period of watching Indian shows too. By the way, I find these shows of a much higher quality than what Hollywood produces, outside of special effects—never mind the (relative) lack of propaganda other than that which reinforces their traditional culture. That’s one refreshing difference in these shows vs Hollywood; traditional culture is reinforced rather than attacked.
The intent of this article is to pass some hints on how to get started.
For one thing, East Asian shows (not to mention books) tend to have more characters and plot lines than western shows do. On top of that, there is the difficulty in recognizing characters. My wife once joked to me, “All white people look alike.” Well that problem goes the other way, too. To European eyes many of these characters will look similar. And even though you see their names used in the subtitles, they are names that are unfamiliar to Westerners. Finally, the family names will come first or last, depending on the context or just randomly. Is Go Ae Shin from the Go family, or from the Shin family? Sometimes it is written as Go Ae-shin, which tells you the family name is Go; but not always.
The way to deal with this is to watch the first episode of the series carefully, and maybe more than once. This is where everything is introduced, so is important. It also starts with no context for you so it is difficult to absorb, but you must make the effort. You might even write down at least the leading characters’ names just to keep people straight for later, along with their family or other connections. It’s well worth a little investment in time here.
If you don’t know Korean, or Mandarin, or whatever, you will be dealing with subtitles. These vary in quality, often being written by different people for different episodes. But they are usually good enough. The biggest problem with them is that when the action is pretty fast, each one may stay on the screen for only a few seconds. If the dialog is important you may find yourself holding onto the remote so you can back it up and freeze the screen, giving you a chance to read it properly. On almost every episode I will back up once or twice to re-read.
Other possible sources of difficulty are the cultural differences (although I find these fascinating). On the romantic end, the first kiss is WAY more significant than in Western culture, and even just holding hands is an important step. The concept of the declining value of women (due to fertility issues) is very prominent in these shows; women getting into their 30’s unmarried is often a source of panic. Families are MUCH more important (and family relationships more rigid) than in the West, with all the good and bad that implies. Another thing I was astounded at is the frequency (who knows if this is realistic) with which bosses strike their subordinates in business settings. Why do they put up with that?
If you want a recommendation where to start, go to the Korean production, “Mr. Sunshine”. The quality and breadth and depth of this show is astounding. They spent a lot of money on this, and it shows. Additionally, a few of the prominent characters are American, and English is used commonly in the show, which helps. Both Netflix and viki.com (and probably other services) host this show.
Really folks, you don’t have to put up with mindless crap and propaganda from Hollywood. There’s a big world out there, and the Internet will let you access it.
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