by Clyde Ericson H. Nolasco
During this pandemic, many would say that they would spend time watching K-dramas to keep themselves together, along with listening to K-pop music, eating Korean food and using Korean cosmetics. That’s Hallyu - or the Korean wave - and it is saving many lives amid this health crisis.
Undoubtedly, hallyu is at the top tier of the entertainment industry today. The Korean wave, which includes K-drama, K-pop, Korean fashion and even cuisine, is really phenomenal. It never stops dominating the world.
In 2016, I can vividly remember how I dismissed watching K-dramas, specifically the Descendants of the Sun. Back then, binge-watching a Korean series was just too time consuming for me.
Until last year when I watched Reply 1988 (https://www.dominusest.ph/post/what-can-catholics-learn-from-reply-1988 ).
It’s been a year since I converted to becoming a K-drama fan and I have finished 28 series, with a multitude of genres and plots.
Who would forget IU’s face in the last scene of the historical drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo or the star-crossed lovers of Crash Landing on You. For sure many had LSS moments listening to Dream High’s official soundtrack and enjoyed watching the protagonists bloom into K-pop artists.
In the 3rd quarter of 2020, many were so fascinated how It’s Okay Not to Be Okay tackled mental health issues. While Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo is just on point “sweg.” In addition, Park Shin Hye never failed to do justice in her role as a reputable neuro-surgeon in Doctors.
K-Dramas for Catholics
Some K-dramas explore mythical plotlines, showcasing stories on goblins, mermaids, and nine-tailed foxes. But Korean storytellers also show high respect for religion, including Christianity.
In 2020, it was noted by the Vatican that the number of Catholics in South Korea increased by 48.6 percent. That makes the total number of Catholics around 5.8 million, which is 11.1% of the total South Korean population. With this, we might in the future see more Catholic plots in the K-drama world.
For the meantime, let’s mention K-dramas we can recommend for Catholics as they contain values we uphold in our faith. This is based on my personal list and there will be no spoilers so you can continue reading.
1. Full House
This is one of the classics, an OG K-drama shown in 2004 starring the unageing Song Hye Kyo and the “world star” Rain. The story started when an aspiring scriptwriter discovered that her friends sold her house while she was on a vacation. To take back her property, she signed up for a contract marriage with a young actor who was the new owner following his terms and conditions.
A K-drama that would leave you laughing and wanting for more, this drama has given us a good picture of what a Catholic marriage is NOT and gives us an idea why Catholic weddings require more than being able to hold it in a grandiose church or reception with glittery gowns and tailored suits. The two characters in this story got married days after they met. More so, it was a marriage of convenience.
In our basic Catechism, Marriage or Matrimony is one of the seven Sacraments and classified as a sacrament of service to others. Like other sacraments, matrimony makes Jesus present here on Earth. It is a union of a man and a woman in love with each other who willingly submit themselves into a covenant, which is more than a contract as it is a lifelong-binding promise between the persons involved and God.
Photo by: Taylah Talks TV
This is a story of aspiring reporters Dal Po and In Ha. Dal Po wanted to avenge the untimely death of his firefighter father, which he believed was triggered by wrong accusations made by a news reporter. On the other hand, In Ha has Pinocchio Syndrome, making her unable to lie without hiccupping.
Their story gets more tense and exciting as they unravel uncomfortable truths about their lives. The story’s characters were motivated either by anger due to vengeance or by greed, with the desire to attain higher positions and accumulate money.
Anger and greed are capital sins or deadly sins. They deteriorate the soul. They endanger the human soul, thus making one more inclined to commit the other capital sins.
Yes, we are weak. We are human as St Paul says: "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature." (Romans 7:18) But these can all be avoided if we focus on our virtues rather than our vices, things of heavenly origin rather than things of earth that vanish.
Photo by: Koreanboo
3. Uncanny Counter
Based on a webtoon entitled Amazing Rumor, Uncanny Counter is an action-packed series about noodle soup employees by day and evil spirit hunters by night. They are called “counters.” Each of them has distinct skills which they use to defeat evil spirits prowling on human souls here on earth.
The counters, as they defeat evil spirits, lead the good ones to heaven. It’s a classic fiction storyline about evil spirits being defeated. But what’s notable in the story is their acknowledgment of man having body and soul, and the existence of heaven and hell.
We are taught that a person is composed of body and soul. Thus, when one dies his body “remains” on earth while his soul, the spirit, either goes to hell or to heaven, or to purgatory for some cleansing.
Photo by: Dramamilk
4. Start Up
This is the story of Seo Dal Mi and Nam Do San set in a fictional Silicon Valley called Sandbox. More than a love story between these two protagonists or should I say, the love triangle along with the best second lead, Ha Jin-pyeong, this K-drama is every novice businessman's story. It is about paving your future while being challenged with your past and present. The first episodes will surely leave your eyeballs moistened.
The young protagonists aspire for better lives as they venture through the world of start up. Start up is a young company or business founded by an entrepreneur or entrepreneurs hoping to sell it to the mainstream market. Many times, though not Catholic herself, Dal Mi would join her halmoni (Korean for grandmother) to pray in the Catholic Church. One time, with Do San, she uttered, “Pray first. Then make it happen.”
We believe that prayer is our conversation and relationship with God. But Dal Mi’s words expound further as it invites us to see that prayer requires our action as well. It is our active participation in the will of God for us. St. Benedict would always remind his monks with the words “Ora et Labora.” With faith and love, let us act on things that we want to happen.
Video by: The Swoon
5. Fiery Priest
This action-packed K-drama is about Fr. Michael and his search for justice for the death of his mentor-priest Monsignor Lee Young Joon. Along with this, Kim Hae Il or Fr Michael (his baptismal name) has a lot of issues to deal with, including his anger management that led to imprudence, to top all these is his harrowing past.
There’s so much to discuss about this K-drama, which includes violence and social issues committed by the corrupt government officials and the local police. But this K-drama sheds light on vocations.
‘Vocation’ comes from the Latin word vocare, which means “calling.” In the story, Fr. Michael is not our typical priest. He has the tendency to be verbally and physically violent. However, the story reveals to us the beauty and the mystery of being called by God. As the cliché goes, “God does not call the qualified but qualifies those whom He calls.”
Photo by: Kmazing