Aside from eating nutritious food and working out regularly, I take care of my physical health during this pandemic by taking a daily dose of vitamins. In the absence of a vaccine, I drink vitamins not to get rid of an illness but to strengthen my immune system. Nowadays, I find myself availing of a different form of vitamin, one that boosts my well-being and keeps me from going stir-crazy: watching Korean dramas.
Most people would argue that Korean actors, with their “glass skin” and trendy fashion styles, immediately draw you to the screen. I vehemently agree, they are indeed God’s gift to mankind. But lately, I’m starting to believe that more than the visual appeal, the impact of K-dramas runs deeper than our craving for soju and samgyupsal. Amid the pandemic that has gripped the world, K-dramas give us hope that, like any other show, the storms in our lives will end and a new season awaits.
When countries started to close their borders and traveling was prohibited, K-dramas brought me to places I longed to see—the beautiful island of Nami; the quaint, narrow alleys of Seoul; and Jeju under the hot summer sun. The stunning cinematography of dramas like “Goblin” and the more recent “When the Camellia Blooms” gave a sense of excitement to my travel-deprived soul. K-dramas are always peppered with hauntingly beautiful color palettes, such that sometimes even a mere walk in the park looks like a visual masterpiece.
When meeting up with friends became impossible, the friendship of the “Reply 1988” squad consoled me with their heartwarming and genuine interactions as they navigated young life together. We can also learn a lesson or two from our Ssangmun-dong families even if it’s as simple as waving to our neighbors.
I found courage from “Chicago Typewriter” to do something good for my fellow Filipinos, through the simple act of supporting an online business in the middle of this pandemic.
When people were forced to walk great lengths due to limited public transportation, I was reminded of that scene in “Kingdom” when the people rushed for any possible ride. Despite its harrowing premise, the Joseon-era series paints a rather realistic picture of the reality that we’re in now—dealing with a virus deadlier than flesh-eating zombies.
When many workers lost their jobs, I thought we should be inspired by the character of Park Saeroyi in “Itaewon Class,” whose determination was unwavering despite the many challenges thrown at him. The past few months have been difficult, but may we always have the resilience to go on, adapt, and bounce back.
“Hospital Playlist” somehow gave me a glimpse of the realities of our medical frontliners, except perhaps that our situation is more cruel and heartbreaking. Doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners go through a lot each day, risking their safety, and some even sacrificing their lives.
As much as we take care of our physical well-being, this pandemic has also taught me the value of mental health. This year is not the best for most of us, but it is teaching us a lot of lessons. Life sometimes throws us into somewhere altogether unfamiliar, without us knowing it could lead to something meaningful. We must hold on to the hope that one day everything will make sense. This was the premise of the hit drama “Crash Landing on You.” Imagine Seri’s life had she landed somewhere else and not in Captain Ri’s arms!
A drama is only as good as its impact on its viewers. Perhaps the most important takeaway I got from watching all these dramas while on lockdown is the importance of empathy. Whenever a character laughed over something mundane or cried over a sad separation, I often found myself doing the same, as if I was experiencing the same emotions. This made me realize that empathy should go beyond the screen and must be expressed in action. Now, more than ever, the world needs us to be empathetic. Empathy not just for a few, but for every frontliner risking their lives; empathy toward fellow Filipinos struggling to make ends meet; or simply empathy toward anyone battling a fight.
Strictly following health measures like wearing face masks, staying at home, observing proper hygiene, and social distancing can be relatively easy, but has a massive effect in preventing the spread of the virus. These small steps of empathy, when taken seriously, can lead to the healing of a nation. When Moon Gang-tae and Ko Mun-yeong both took steps to help each other cope, they found the answers they were looking for in the recently concluded drama “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.”
They say dramas reflect life. But isn’t it the other way around? Our lives are composed of different genres—comedy when things go smoothly, drama when it’s the opposite, action when we decide to be brave, and fantasy when we dare to dream. We encounter a number of villains, but there are also heroes in our midst. Today, our heroes are out there in the hospitals, donned not in capes but in PPE. This horrific pandemic has taken over most of this year, and we continue to hope for a glorious resolution soon.
What do these characters say to uplift one’s spirit? Fighting!