I Watched My First K-Drama, Am I A Convert?
Will Goblin help me get sucked in the black hole of K-Drama?
In the confines of our living room, I hear my mother weeping uncontrollably. I don’t even bother checking up on her; I already know she’s having one of her Netflix marathons. There are few things that make my tenacious mother truly sad: loved ones getting sick, injustice and the occasional K-Drama. Don’t even bother speaking to her; in this realm, nobody else exists except her and the slim flat-screen TV.
I disregarded it for a long time. Who has time to spend hours poring over a show—and one about love at that? I could barely get through a film without thinking of deadlines and other pressing responsibilities. Just like friends with their K-Pop groups, I knew beginning would make me susceptible to this unhealthy obsession, this guilty pleasure that felt all too familiar. But here I was, considering the possibility of entering uncharted territory for the sake of a story. (Ah, the things I do for my art.)
I was debating between two options, the lighthearted Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo and the more complex Goblin. Following a Twitter survey, I gave in and began my ascent; after all, I did enjoy Gong Yoo’s Train to Busan.
Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
Widely popular yet controversial, the 2016 release centers around General Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) who is cursed to become a Dokkaebi or Goblin and live an immortal life—unless he finds a human bride to end his suffering. After 900 years, he meets Ji Eun-Tak (Kim Go-Eun), a naïve schoolgirl with a Cinderella complex destined to be his bride. (He saves her mother from dying in a hit-and-run incident years before.) The god and mortal form a romantic relationship, which obviously gives him the will to live. (Do you see how this can be problematic for the common folk?)
Reliving the *feels*
Watching Goblin is the closest thing I have to a romantic relationship at the moment, and I’m completely fine with it. I shamelessly shrieked with glee during sickeningly sappy moments. I didn’t know this was actually possible given my reservations for this type of show. I was seriously mistaken, and I admit to being wrong. I needed this lighthearted love story—sans the real-life commitment and repercussions. I won’t get this extra rush of endorphins elsewhere.
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After the last episode, it left me with a hollow feeling—of abandon and longing—that familiar pang you get when something good gets away. Is this what every K-Drama obsessed person goes through? It’s close to the five unmistakable stages of grief; you never think you’ll get over it until you try again, as with love, and get sucked in again. The cycle then repeats itself.
I just finished my second Korean Drama, Crash Landing On You, the South Korean-North Korean love story everybody’s talking about lately, also the only show to overtake Goblin’s ratings. I’m on a roll, it seems. Parasite‘s Bong Joon-Ho presents the case for watching more foreign language media. The Golden Globe winner shares, “Once you overcome the 1-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” He couldn’t have said it better.
Give it a chance; I’m glad I did.
Stream Goblin on Netflix.
Art Alexandra Lara