When Art reflects Life

Sassy Go Go

(I wrote this as an entry to Dramabeans for their Catnip Theme last month but obviously it wasn’t chosen and it doesn’t seem like it’s going up any time soon. So what do I do? Post it on my own private blog! Rather not waste the time spent writing this after all.)

A lady finds herself in a man’s body. A crazy A-list actress falls in love with an alien. A superstar thinks he’s broken when actually he’s just in love and a certain young, hot CEO falls heads over heels for a super strong girl whose children give him black eyes.

While I do squeal over and love those dramas – the ones that take me away from the reality of life and spin magical fantastical new worlds – the dramas that always stay in my heart, the ones my cursor goes straight for, are those that stay rooted in reality. My catnip, are those realistic (slice of life?) dramas where the heroine/hero could very well be me. Or at least a human I know.

Perhaps it’s just the desire to be understood or understand others that drives the catnip: the dramas show inner thoughts and explain people’s behaviour in ways that society wouldn’t bother to in our day to day lives.

It could just be about a personality – unlike the charismatic, suave Chaebols or the nice, ever-happy Candy, there’s something raw about a character who apparently likes being alone, who’s conditioned herself to believe that she’s happy alone… who’s actually just not opening up to anyone even though she wants to because she fears the hurt that they might give her. There’s something about Ji-young from Individualist Ji-young that mirrors the defensive wall that many shy people around us (maybe even ourselves) put up in their interactions with others and sometimes, I just watch and go ahh… so that’s how it is or, ahhh… someone understands me.

 Individualist Ji-young

Or perhaps it’s the desire to relieve the emotions of the past that our grown-up jaded selves can’t muster up now, like that fire and passion of youth, where every little thing is life or death, where drawing blood over Oppa or when shouting your throat hoarse and camping in a box outside Oppa’s house like in Answer Me 1997 was thought to be a good idea; when you really just aren’t bogged down by the expectations of life yet and freely run head long into whatever hare-brained idea with your heart on your sleeve, knowing no fear. That time, when there were no such things as bills keeping you chained to that draining thing called a job. That time, when you look back to it and think: “Ah, I was a total 또라이(whack-job)”.

Sometimes just a simple school-drama to remind you of the laughter but also the childish angst of school-life hits the spot, like Sassy Go Go that was deliciously sassy or School 2013, when you wanted to hate your friend but couldn’t.

Other times, it brings you back to when everything was simple and neighbours and roommates freely walked into each other’s house/rooms and poked their noses into each other’s business – that sense of camaraderie like in Answer Me 1988 or Age of Youth that is becoming endangered from encroaching city-life/ work-life.

Answer Me 1997

Oftentimes, I look to realistic dramas because it’s like a friend who knows what I’m going through now.

When I hit the pavement and run with all my might but my dreams keep moving further with each and every “no”, “no” and “no”, Ae-ra and Dong-man from Fight My Way are there to show that I’m not the only one running this race. They may not be in the same industry as me, but I relate completely to the underdog sentiment of Dream High, Shut Up: Flower Boy Band and Radiant Office – uncertain of the future yet blindly just wanting to charge head on for my dreams.

Fight My Way

And if we’re talking about realistic dramas, there’s no way one can leave out Misaeng, the drama that hurts so bad in such a good way.

To be honest, I don’t cry easily. But I totally shed tears while watching the first episode, because seeing the helplessness, the absolute inability, loneliness and pathetic uselessness of Jang Geu-rae reminded me of my own first day at my office. It captured the feeling of being an outcast so well that it was so palpable and almost unbearable.

But my favourite thing about Misaeng isn’t even that Jang Geu-rae was so easy to relate to. It was that it showed so many perspectives and all its characters were so human. I found parts of myself in Baek-gi, the naïve guy who was angry that life wasn’t playing “according to the rules” and who thought he should be the star at the office with all his specs instead of Geu-rae who had nothing but worked so desperately hard, only to be pulled back to earth thanks to his inexperience. I found myself in Ahn Young-yi, a lady trying to survive in a patriarchal system. I found myself in Seok-yool… well okay, I didn’t. But his beef with his annoying boss was very relatable. I saw my flaws in the different characters and my favourite thing about this drama is that I got to learn and grow along with it. Not only as a person, but I somehow also learnt to deal with office politics from it, heh.


I think in the end, I love realistic dramas because they’re like diary entries of my past and present emotions, and because they’re like my teachers and my cheerleaders.

Some remind you of how alive the world is. Some walk with you along your way on that fuzzy, uncharted road that is current life. There are some that teach you to be wiser. But always, always, when the going gets though, the final episode is always there to say “it’ll be okay”.

And sometimes, it helps me understand my grandma or my very naggy mom (Dear My Friends), ha.

Dear My Friends


Chief Oh: You know, the people you meet can change your life. If you follow a fly, you end up near the toilet. If you follow a honeybee, you’ll end up in a flower garden.

Jang Geu-rae: Ah, so that’s why I’m in a flower garden.



8 thoughts on “When Art reflects Life

  1. Wow! I would’ve loved reading it on DB, too bad it was not posted there.
    It never crossed my mind that you’d be a beanie too.


      1. It’s good to know you’re a fellow Beanie. You have to try the second theme of the month, they might consider it. If not, iam always here to read them


  2. Thanks for sharing this post.
    I enjoyed reading it and seeing your point of view. Misaeng is one of my most favorite kdrama, and Fight My Way was totally enjoyable too.


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