Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Secret Garden Parallel

I recently finished the K-drama (Korean drama) Secret Garden...and I can't stop thinking about it. Anyone who has spoken to me within the last 2-3 weeks, about anything other than professional matters, probably has heard me mention my ridiculous fascination with this. I am not really one to get hooked on shows and the like. Just to give you a clear picture, I have been living in my apartment for over 2 years now, with the opportunity to have cable for FREE (or included in the rent I already pay anyway). I love FREE, but I have yet to actually set it up. It's just not a priority for me. Furthermore, I tend to pretty much rule out movies and shows if I have to read subtitles while watching. I am a lazy viewer, and I'm quite content with that. However, Secret Garden had me ignoring all of my set ways. I can't even say that I learned that much more of the Korean language while watching because I was so wrapped up in the storyline itself. Ryan keeps telling me that I have fallen for the scripted K-drama formula used to hook its viewers (contributing to Hallyu, the global phenomena). But, I quickly shoot that down. Due to the aforementioned reasons, I refuse to believe that I have been suckered into the trap placed by the K-drama powers that be. How could I be hooked on any TV series, much less one where I have to read subtitles? I embarrassingly stayed up until 6 am one night watching episode after episode. Those who know me know that I don't like to mess with my sleep. I am a FIRM believer in proper sleep hygiene so staying up to watch Secret Garden until 6 in the morning scares even me a little bit. What does this drama have on me?

Without giving the story away, I admit it does have some formulaic drama components: the 2 very different walks of life (class differences in this particular case) coming together despite all odds, the unapologetic romance, the crazy, controlling mother, etc. It even had some kind-of-out-there twists in the plot that turned me off for a bit, but I kept watching for whatever reason. Those 'out-there' pieces actually ended up being fundamental to the climactic ending. Superficially, the story had no direct connection to me other than I thought it would be a fun way for me to pick up some more of the Korean language. Why was I so wrapped up in these fictitious lives? I don't know. Perhaps because Ryan and I have gone through, are still going through, and will continue to go through so much as an interracial couple (of which, by the way, there are none in Secret Garden). Rich vs. poor is the striking categorical difference between the Secret Garden main characters; but it is these differences, whether intrinsic or extrinsic, that shape so much of who we are as people and how we relate to those around us, which is clearly portrayed by these characters. What does this have to do with me? Ryan and I aren't that categorically different when it comes to many things, including money, but just look at us...even if in passing. We are strikingly different when it comes to our race, history, and culture. What it means to be African-American and Korean-American has shaped where we came from and who we are in the context of our lives, including in our relationship. In Secret Garden, I watched as their lives became intertwined, sometimes naturally and other times forcefully. It certainly was not a simple ebb and flow. No. Doubt, fear, and identity were forcefully brought to the surface. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What is important to me? Who/what am I living for? You may think you are learning about the other, but you can't help but learn more about yourself in the process. I watched intently as the characters did this both publicly and privately, just as Ryan and I have done for the past 4 years. I guess in a very strange way, I was watching my own relationship unfold. 

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