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I just sent this out in the format of a really, really long e-mail to a few of my friends who have just had their curiosities about K-Dramas piqued after watching Dramaworld. So I figured I might as well post this to the blog that I haven’t posted in in four years.

So, without further ado, Clara’s K-Drama Primer.


 

Let me introduce you to the ridiculous world of K-Dramas.

First of all, K-Dramas do not shy away from the cliche and are very, very formulaic. But very, very addicting. Generally, dramas are only one season long, so when you get to the end of the drama, it’s the end. The story’s closed. (Although, many dramas are written as they are filmed, so the ending isn’t necessarily sealed tight with continuity and stuff…) There are also daily dramas, which are broadcast every day and are akin to soaps/telenovelas.
There are also different genres within the K-Drama genre, so I’ll go genre by genre and tell you about some of my faves:
HISTORICAL DRAMA
The historical drama, or a sageuk, is a period piece. These are set in Korean history and generally revolve around a famous Korean historical figure. They’re longer (can be up to like 200 eps) and you get the costumes (People wear hanboks, which are Korean traditional costumes. Traditional hairstyles for women include these ginormous braids wrapped around heads, sometimes embellished with like jewelry, depending on the status of the lady) and the historical language (with thirds explaining what some key phrases mean). These dramas often grapple with issues of social hierarchy and politics, and also often include archery fights and such.
Now, you can’t talk about K-Drama without talking about the one drama that really started the whole “Korean wave” of K-entertainment being popular around the world:
* Jewel in the Palace / Daejanggeum {대장금} (2003)
This drama was an international sensation; it was exported to 91 countries and launched the star, Lee Youngae, to stardom. I actually am watching it right now and haven’t finished it yet (It’s 170 eps long).
The show centers on Janggeum, who was a real historical figure. (Very) long story short, Janggeum was the first female royal physician in the Joseon Dynasty. The series basically takes you through her entire life, starting with her birth (and prophecy about her!), and then her time as a young palace kitchen maid, and eventually her path towards becoming a royal physician. Also, fun fact, one of the queens that you meet in this series is from the same Yoon clan that I am.
You can watch it (all of the links I share will be with English subtitles) here: https://www.viki.com/tv/614c-jewel-in-the-palace
BONUS RECS
Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010) | A lot more lighthearted and for a younger crowd (The stars in it are popular with teens. One of them is a boyband member), about a girl disguising herself as a boy to study at the top school
Queen Seondeok (2009) | I found it a bit dry at points, but Queen Seondeok is one of my fave historical figures. She was a reigning queen of Silla (For some of Korea’s history, it was divided in three kingdoms, one of them including Silla.) and Wikipedia tells me she was the second female sovereign in East Asian history. She was really intelligent, and encouraged the pursuit of knowledge and had built the first astronomical observatory of Asia or something. As for the drama itself, it was still enjoyable, and Goh Hyunjung as the villain is phenomenal.
ROMCOM
Well, the romcom K-drama is actually a huge genre and there are numerous subgenres within. But let’s start with another seminal drama that actually I would really recommend as a great entry point to K-drama:
* MY NAME IS KIM SAMSOON / MY LOVELY SAMSOON {내 이름은 김삼순} (2005)
So the name Samsoon is an old-fashioned name and literally means third daughter (It’s kinda like being named Ethel or Myrtle or something like that). Played by Kim Sunah, Samsoon is like in her 30s or almost 30 or something (Yes, because that is considered old) and is basically hopeless. She’s a pastry chef and encounters the archetypal wealthy asshole, Jinheon, played by the heartthrob Hyunbin. There’s a second male lead and a villainous rival for love with a history with Jinheon, of course. It’s often described as a Korean Bridget Jones. It is delightful. (Also the second lead is played by the half-Korean Daniel Henney who is also very very handsome. He’s from Michigan!)
* SECRET GARDEN {시크릿 가든} (2010)
As you probably noticed in Dramaworld, there are often fantasy elements in dramas. This drama was huge when it was airing (I remember going home, and each member of my family was holed up in their own room, watching this drama. Just different episodes of it because we were all at different places.). Another one with Hyunbin as the male lead! This is a bodyswapping drama. It is ludicrous but very very enjoyable.
* PRINCESS HOURS / GOONG {궁} (2006)
Now this isn’t the most popular of high school dramas; that would probably go to the one you started watching, Schuyler, Boys Over Flowers, or Heirs was also very popular. But I didn’t watch any of those because, as I said, I personally don’t find the lead guys attractive, so there you go. This drama, Princess Hours, was actually the first drama I watched independently in like high school, maybe? Before then, I would watch with my parents sometimes. But with the burgeoning power of the internet, I came across this one. I’ve always liked Yoon Eunhye since she was a member of the idol girl group Baby V.O.X, so I’ve watched a bunch of her dramas. In this drama, Korea is still a monarchy, and Yoon Eunhye thought she was an average, everyday girl (who of course is endearingly klutzy, awkward, etc. etc.). But she finds out that she is actually betrothed to the Crown Prince of Korea, who is, of course, arrogant and powerful. There’s a younger Prince who is also in love with her and the noble female lead who had been in love with the main Prince for years.
Watch here: https://www.dramafever.com/drama/3/Goong/

BONUS RECS
Coffee Prince (2007) | Another Yoon Eunhye drama. This is another masquerading-as-boy drama, but I would argue that this is the drama that really popularized that trope in dramas and also (somewhat) grappled with the resulting questions about sexuality and such.
Full House (2004) | Not related to the American family sitcom. I watched this a long time ago, but honestly, I couldn’t tell you what this was about? Except I do remember it has a very popular trope – the dating contract. Ah yes, the very common occurrence of pretending to be dating when you don’t actually like each other but secretly do like each other. This stars the singer-who-was-supposed-to-also-make-it-big-in-America (He battled with Colbert!) Rain / Bi and also another big star, Song Hyekyo.
Reply 1997 (2012) | Didn’t watch this, but this series has been huge. Basically, it’s a ‘retro’ series in that all the shows take place in the year in the title – There’s Reply 1997, 1994, and 1988. Reply 1997 was the first of the series. Also, there are characters who aren’t from Seoul and who thus speak with satoori, or dialect. This also skews younger in terms of intended audience, as many of the actors in this are also idol singers.
MELODRAMA
K-drama has moved away from this a little bit, but I wanna say maybe in like the early 2000’s, it was all about the melodrama. There is a lot of betrayal and a lot of weeping and lots and lots of tragedy tropes that you’ll see: amnesia, cancer, mothers-of-the-male-lead who hate the female lead…
NICE GUY / THE INNOCENT MAN {세상 어디에도 없는 착한남자} (2012)
This is actually one of my favorite dramas. The acting and chemistry between the leads in this is fantastic and I feel like it turns a lot of tropes on their heads, though yes, it does involve amnesia. This doesn’t really feel like a love story in a lot of ways, as both leads are kinda terrible people? Eungi (played by the lovely Moon Chaewon) is a wealthy heiress, and she is cold and calculating. Maru (played by the also lovely Song Joongki) had his heart broken and is now a dick, and basically, everybody uses everybody and this drama will do a number on your heart.
LOVERS IN PARIS {파리의 연인} (2004)
I remember watching a few eps of this with my mom (and her fellow Korean mom friends) when it was airing, but I actually haven’t watched this on my own all the way through yet. But from what I remember, I think this is rightfully placed in melodrama rather than romcom. This is part of a trilogy (Lovers in Paris, Lovers in Prague, and Lovers. The protagonist in Lovers in Prague has the exact same Korean name as me!). I do remember that everybody was outraged at the ending of this, though. So just be forewarned. The theme song is also iconic.
BONUS RECS
Shining Inheritance (2009) | Definitely had the whole poor, heart-of-gold girl encountering the rich-guy-who-has-everything-and-yet-knows-nothing-about-the-world thing. I watched this because the actor who played the lead guy, Lee Seungki, was my ideal type (He started his career as a singer and has also been a longtime member of a variety show called 1 Night 2 Days. Variety shows are a whole ‘nother beast though. I also say was because my interest in him has since waned…) You’ll also notice that Moon Chaewon from Nice Guy is here as the (evil) second female lead!
– Stairway to Heaven (2003) | Didn’t watch this either, but this is definitely a melodrama. There’s cancer, amnesia, and basically all of the tragedy tropes packed into this drama. All of the leads in this drama are big stars, as well.
Winter Sonata (2002) | Another leading drama of Hallyu, or the Korean Wave. Haven’t watched it, so I can’t really speak to it, but it was immensely popular. The lead guy in it, Bae Yongjoon, got so popular with Japanese middle-aged women that he has a nickname ‘Yong-sama’ which means ‘Emperor Yong.’
ACTION / CRIME / HORROR / SCIFI
I feel like action / crime / horror / scifi K-dramas generally tend to be based off of movies that had already made it big (Movies and comics/internet novels are popular sources for stories of dramas). There are lots of kkangpaes, or gangsters that inhabit this world, though tbh I don’t really watch that many of those kinds of dramas. But I enjoy these genres in general, so in case you do too:
* NINE TIME TRAVELS {나인: 아홉 반의 시간여행} (2013)
I believe this drama has been bought to be remade in the US. So watch it before it gets made into a terrible remake! As you can guess from the title, it’s about time travel. As often is the case in these dramas, there’s a terrible wrong that happens and our hero wants to fix it. In this case, the lead guy’s dad was killed and the lead doesn’t think it was an accident. But of course, time travel has its consequences…
* GOD’S GIFT: 14 DAYS {신의 선물: 14일} (2014)
Also bought to be remade in the US. The premise of this one is that the lead’s daughter is kidnapped and killed, but then she (as in the mom, played by Lee Boyoung) suddenly finds that she can go back in time 14 days before it happens. She gets help from kinda-scoundrel-y ex-cop Ki Dongchan. The monologue in the second episode, I believe, by Lee Boyoung is incredible. People are divided in opinion on the ending, but I for one liked it and thought this was overall, a really great drama.
* SIGNAL {시그널} (2016)
Based loosely off an excellent movie, Memories of Murder (Directed by famous director Bong Joonho who also directed Snowpiercer with Chris Evans. The real-life serial killings focused on in the movie is really only in like one episode of the drama). More time travel business in a way (it’s a popular mechanism, obviously) but in the form of a walkie-talkie that transmits across time. It’s a little bit of a crime-of-the-week format, but everything is tied together in an overarching narrative that is intense and heartbreaking.
BONUS RECS
Ghost-Seeing Detective Cheoyong (2014) | One of the few series that has had multiple seasons! But this is a cable show (as opposed to one from the main three broadcasting stations – SBS, MBC, KBS) so the rules are a little different. As you can guess from the title, the show is about a detective, Cheoyong (played by Oh Jiho) who sees ghosts, including the ghost of a cute high school girl (played by Jeon Hyosung, who is a member of my favorite girl group, Secret. Her groupmate, Han Sunhwa, is also in God’s Gift: 14 Days). Also crime-of-the-week but with an overarching story arc.
There are lots of dramas that I haven’t watched that are supposed to be really good, so this is limited to my knowledge of dramas. Which, looking back, this is a long primer, whoops. But hope you enjoy!!!
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I haven’t looked at this thing in ages. Ha.

But I’m planning on reviving the Postcard Skyline Project, so I’m revisiting this blog.

It’s a good time to restart this Project, don’tcha think? I mean, we’ve just graduated from college and we’re all going in such different places. A good way to keep in touch with people and check in to see where people are going, eh?

And also a good way to celebrate having my own place for the first time! Now I have a wall that I can decorate and know that I won’t have to most certainly move in less than a year.

So. Here we go again! Yay!

#14: Do Your Job

I’m actually just in a bit of a disgusted mood, really.

It’s my opinion that teachers and doctors are two of the most important groups in society. (Of course, there are many other important figures in society, but I think these two are particularly important.) Doctors are important because they are there to heal and because they take people’s lives in their hands. Teachers are just as important because they play such a huge role in life at such an early stage and throughout.

So I am just utterly disgusted at some of the teachers that I have seen.

As a teacher, you don’t just teach kids how to divide fractions or how to write in iambic pentameter. Teachers serve as authority figures who, maybe more than anyone other than parents, provide examples and role models for what a child (or even an adult!) should aspire to be. The encouragement of a teacher can change the course of a life dramatically – for the better or for worse. A teacher can help a person learn more about themselves and the world around them not just in terms of facts but in terms of actions and feelings.

I’m just shocked that some teachers don’t realize how much responsibility they have. I’m shocked that some teachers don’t realize that the whole point of a school is to nurture the students not the teachers, not the administrators, not the reputation of a school. Schools are instituted to provide education for their students and so their focus should be on providing the best education they can for their students.

Teachers hold so much power over the courses of well, everybody’s lives, and it’s appalling that just as one person, I’ve already seen so much abuse of that power.

I don’t want to get specific because this is, after all, the internet, but I’ve seen racism, personal vendettas, ignorance, and just plain old meanness. And I just cannot comprehend how these people became teachers. How in the world did they step into this profession of all professions with such disrespect for the lives of others?

I understand that teaching is not an easy job. It’s not like it pays millions and there’s a lot of work and energy that goes into it if you want to do it properly. I only have experience tutoring for a few hours at a time and even that is completely exhausting. I understand that teachers are human beings, too. I don’t expect teachers to be flawless and never sin. What I expect is for them to put their prejudices aside and be especially careful in their actions so that they can be good role models and heck, decent human beings.

That’s not to say that I’ve seen all bad teachers. I’ve been very lucky to have had some amazing teachers over the years. When I was going through a rough time in sixth grade, I owe my survival of that time to my Gifted & Talented teacher. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through that year. I’ve had teachers who welcomed me to new schools and got me going on a path that helped me to succeed. I’ve had teachers who’ve encouraged my passions and dreams and supported me to get to where I am today – I mean, getting into Harvard was obviously helped by a few great teachers, but more than just academic accomplishments, I have been shaped by fantastic teachers to become (I hope) a good person.

So to those inspiring incredible teachers, thank you.

For the rest of you, do your job.

The people of Haiti need your help right now. It’s totally understandable if you’re a poor college student (like me) and you feel like there’s not much you can do, but there IS plenty you can do. Just little small things here and there.

Fox News and the New York Daily News posted a great list of ways to lend a hand, as did Cynical-c Blog.

If you’re on Tumblr, there are several users who are donating a certain amount of money based on how many reblogs they get.

Tweet about how to help – Help Haiti, Red Cross, Yele, Donate are all trending right now and the more people know how to help, the better.

And you can use your texting skills as well. You can text “HAITI” to 90999 and $10 will be added to your phone bill and donated to the Red Cross. Or you can text “YELE” to 501501 to send $5 to Yele Haiti (a grassroots movement by Wyclef Jean) to help with earthquake relief.

My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered due to the earthquake.

Hi Michael.

We’ve never met (I don’t think) and we’ve never even talked.

You called the number to the university phone that’s in my suite about an hour ago. My roommate picked up. She thought you had the wrong number, but you said you just wanted somebody to talk to. You said your name was Michael and that you were feeling really sad. My roommate has an exam tomorrow morning and so, said that she really should go to bed but if you would just hold on a second, she could find you a number to call so that you could talk to someone. She thought I was asleep, because my door was closed. But then you hung up.

Michael, we’ve been worried about you. We couldn’t figure out a way to call you back nor who you are, and ever since you called, we’ve called our tutors and tried to figure out if we could do anything to get to you. But we don’t know how to reach you, so we’re stuck.

Michael, I really hope that you found somebody to talk to and that you know that people care about you. If you call again and I’m awake, I’ll pick up the phone and we can talk. But know that there are lots of people out there who would love to talk to you. And who love you.

Michael, today’s the anniversary of the death of one of my best friends. I was actually writing a message to her when you called. And, I really hope you are nowhere near this point, but another friend passed away this past year to suicide, and if you are thinking about it, please please PLEASE remember how many people love you and how deeply they love you. Life is so precious. Losing someone makes you realize how precious life is, and you are worth so much, the world can’t afford to lose you.

If you don’t believe that people love you, just think about us. My roommate and I are complete strangers, but we are so worried about you and we care about you. We hopefully did everything we could to reach you and we don’t know how you got our number or if you were just calling random numbers, but if you call again, we’re here.

There are always people there for you. Please remember that.

I’ve done a little bit of research and here are some helplines:

– 1 (800) SUICIDE – National HopeLine Network
– 800-273-TALK (8255) – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

– http://www.befrienders.org/ – Michael, this might be exactly what you wanted. Its main goal is to connect you with somebody to listen.

http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/hotlines/ – A list of hotlines from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
http://www.focusas.com/Hotlines.html – Another list of hotlines
http://psychcentral.com/helpme.htm – If you’re having thoughts of suicide

Entry #7 was all about the whole Jaebum scandal that was rocking the internet. I thought it was really bad then, what with talk of peititions calling for suicide, etc.

Well, I woke up this morning, checked some blogs, and learned that Jay has officially left 2PM.

First of all, I think Jay definitely needed to spend some time out of the spotlight. The official position as of yesterday had been that 2PM’s activities would be cancelled and basically, he would just be spending his time out of the public eye. This would’ve given some time for netizens to calm down and for this scandal to go away. I can understand Jay going back to America for a bit just to get out of that harmful environment. But I will be honest, I was disappointed that Jay decided to leave 2PM altogether. Jay was the leader of 2PM, he should be bringing 2PM together, not leaving 2PM behind in fragments. And regardless of whether he was leader or not, I feel like it didn’t require such an extreme action of leaving altogether for Jay to get his career back. If he had just waited it out, things would’ve been fine. And I would still have my whole 2PM to love and fangirl over. I understand what Jay’s doing, but it just struck me as running away, and it made me sad that it affected him to such an extent. But I, of course, may not know all the details, and if Jay felt that leaving the group was going to be best for him, then I support him all the way.

But the issue didn’t stop there.

Apparently, one of the netizens who had revealed the MySpace comments released an apology letter. A lot of the comments that I’ve been reading on the English blogs are saying things about how the apology is weak and some have even been as extreme as saying that the apology won’t be accepted and that netizen should go die.

Hypocritical, now that you think about it, huh?

NOBODY has the right to go tell somebody that they should take their own life. Life is the most precious thing we have and regardless of how horrible you think a person is, you don’t have a right to tell them that they don’t deserve to live. I wonder if any of the people who are telling the netizen to go die have experience somebody close to them dying? By suicide? Yeah, I had a friend pass away just months ago after committing suicide. Do they know what kind of a heartwrenching impact that was? What right do they have to hope for that much pain? That netizen is a PERSON. They have friends and family who care about them.

Telling that netizen to go kill herself is the same thing as the antis who had signed the suicide petition for Jay. It’s the exact same thing. Do these commenters know that netizen personally? No. Do the antis know Jay personally? No. Does either side have a right to demand a death? NO.

Yes, the netizen did wrong. And yes, Jay did wrong, too. But both sides have realized the consequences and have made apologies. Just like with Jay, this all needs to stop at the apology.

What’s done is done, right? That netizen had a hand in starting the controversy with Jay. But lots and lots of people also participated and made it into the big deal it became. That netizen isn’t solely responsible, although she does obviously have SOME responsibility. There’s nothing that can be done to undo her actions, so what needs to be done now is forgive and work towards making sure that netizens realize the consequences that can occur so that this kind of thing will not happen again.

I have to be honest. I’m disgusted with the audacity of people on both sides playing with people’s lives.

I guess this leads to the topic of how vicious the internet can be. Because of the anonymity that the internet provides, people feel like they have the right to say things that they would never dare say in real life. Also added on top of that is that because it’s the internet and it’s communication by the written word, tones may not be conveyed accurately and comments can end up being hurtful.

A less extreme example: I think I was a sophomore in high school when a family friend of mine said that I looked similar to this one female Korean actress. And so I went on to the biggest English internet forum for Korean entertainment and posted a topic with a picture of my head photoshopped onto the body of the actress and put it side-by-side with the original picture. I was relatively new to the internet fandom and I didn’t realize that I shouldn’t have done any Photoshopping at all, even though all I did was turn the head and put it on top. A lot of people were just like, “No. You don’t look like her.” which is fine, though obviously, a little bit hurtful to a 15-year-old girl. But I distinctly remember that there was this one person who posted TWICE saying in all caps how I was REALLY UGLY and things like that. Looking back, whoever that person was, it’s actually more pathetic that she felt the need to come back to the topic more than once and say that I was really ugly. In real life, you would never tell somebody that you don’t even know that they were really ugly with that much emphasis.

Anyway. The internet is full of immature people, and even with anyone, the internet unleashes a different mindset where things can be far more hurtful than it seems.

Regardless, I wish Jay the best of luck and I hope that people on the internet can take this to improve and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Alrighty.  Now, I mentioned in my intro post how my music tastes are waaaay varied and it depends on what phase I’m in. Well, my Korean pop music phase got into serious overdrive sometime freshman year of high school and I’m still in that phase now (although it’s more of a secondary phase now).

One of my latest obsessions is the Korean boyband 2PM.  They’re talented, hilarious, and of course, very VERY attractive. (I could go on and on about my favorite boy bands…but we’ll save that for another time, yes?)

Apparently, a scandal has erupted in Korea around 2PM’s leader, Jaebum (or Jay Park). Click here to read an article about it. (I linked to Popseoul, because I thought their commentary was fairer than Allkpop’s.) Basically, some years ago, Jay had posted some comments on MySpace where he said “korea is gay” and “i hate koreans”, etc.

So, let’s talk about this.

First of all, I am very very much against using the word “gay” as a derogatory term. “Gay” does not mean stupid or lame or any of those other things. It’s the same thing with the word “retarded.” These words are offensive when people use them in that way. It puts down those who are homosexual or mentally handicapped. I understand that Jay and other teenagers use those words as slang and they don’t mean it that way, but that still doesn’t make it right. When you use the words “gay” and “retarded” to substitute for a negative thing, you are perpetuating an insulting idea that being “gay” or “retarded” is negative, is a bad thing. There should be neither a positive nor a negative connotation with a label of a certain group. It would be the same as saying a certain grade level is negative – You can’t say that 6th graders are bad or that 8th graders are good – What grade level you’re in has nothing to do with whether you’re good or bad. It’s the same with race categories. You can’t say that being a certain race is good or bad; the goodness or badness of a person does not depend on the race of a person.

In that same vein, saying that you hate a group of people is too much a generalization. Especially when the word “hate” is used. Hate is such a strong word; I will admit that I have used that word rashly in my life. And I understand that that word has become used in that manner in common, colloquial speech. However, in terms of public communication, this word should be used very carefully. Jay used this word years ago in what I’m sure was supposed to be a private conversation between him and a friend. Unfortunately, the internet is a scary place and he left it where anybody could find it. And as a public figure, Jay needed to have been more careful. Being in the public eye adds that responsibility. Of course, this does not excuse the misuse of the word by everyday people, but celebrities need to be more careful.

However, I do understand that Jay was young at the time and in a stressful situation. He was in a new country where it kinda feels like he ought to belong, considering he has Korean blood in him, but at the same time, he doesn’t belong because he hadn’t grown up there. He was without family, without his old friends, and without the comforts of being well-acquainted with his environment. And he wrote some of those comments when he was 17. As a teenager, he exaggerated a bit and expressed his discomfort and loneliness in a different way than he really meant. I’m sure he never really meant that he hated Koreans…I mean, he’s Korean himself and his family is Korean…

So some of the netizens went into a frenzy about these MySpace comments and Jay issued an apology. Some netizens then added fuel to the scandal. Apparently, Jay couldn’t sing the Korean National Anthem correctly in some program and some of the netizens jumped on that. From what I gather, there have been some extreme comments against Jay, saying that he should be taken off the show, his career should be over, etc.

Although I do feel that Jay’s MySpace comments were worthy of an apology, I feel that that’s as far as it should go. I’m sure Jay has learned his lesson by now as to how careful he needs to be with his public persona. And how that public persona also needs to include what is on the internet.

But taking it further than that is wrong. The context needs to be remembered. Jay has lived most of his life in America. And while some families maintain the influence of the Korean culture in their lives, some do not. He had less opportunity and less reason to learn the Korean National Anthem. It makes sense.

Going so far as to saying that Jay’s career should be over and that he should be kicked off a show is too extreme, in my opinion. He has apologized and ought to feel remorseful for what he has done. Whether he does actually feel remorse or not, we’ll never know, but regardless, he has certainly learned his lesson that the internet is a dangerous place and that he needs to be careful with his words. He’s a public persona now, and needs to watch what he is doing.

You also can’t attribute the characteristics and actions of one person or a small section of a group to the whole group. With that said, yes, I agree that some Korean netizens take things to the extreme. However, you also can’t make a generalization that all Korean people are like that or that Korea, the country, is like that. I’ve been reading through a lot of the comments on the blogs and there have been several that say things like Korea needs to chill out or that Koreans are always arrogant and things like that. Just as the attacking netizens need to try to think from Jay’s point of view, these commenters on Jay’s side also need to try to think from the netizens’ points of view. The culture is different, certainly. Again, this doesn’t excuse any behavior but rather adds understanding. In Korea, nationalism is very important. Korea is a tiny country that has basically been squashed on for many many years (generalizing, yes). Further generalization: Koreans have needed to band together and be strong to fight against bigger enemies coming to attack. This has translated into fierce national pride, furthered by the very much homogeneous nature of the country’s population. National pride can be a great thing – it’s just that there needs to be more care in that it is put to good use. In this case, I feel that using nationalism as the reason for feeling insult is right up to the apology. Going so far as to call Jay out of the entertainment industry is too extreme. Apparently, when other members of 2PM gave encouraging words to Jay, those netizens attacked the other members as well. The one I read about was that Wooyoung had written that it’s not that Jay is just one person, but that they are a team or something to that effect. From what I gather, Wooyoung never wrote that what Jay did wasn’t wrong. Wooyoung just lent his support to Jay during this hard time. I do not think it was right of those netizens to extend the blame and the negative view onto another whose only intention was to be there for a friend. Of course, this is only applying to those specific netizens who are calling for such extreme actions.

This brings me back to another facet of the issue that bothers me – making generalizations about people based on the actions of a few. I have been asked whether I’m North Korean or South Korean. This always makes me a bit upset and angry. North Korea and South Korea have only been separate countries for a bit over 50 years, yes? I am Korean(-American). North Korea and South Korea are made up of the same people, really. And even if I did have ancestors that came from where North Korea is now, what does it matter? Would that change your opinion of me? I, too, condemn what the government of North Korea has done in the past and is doing now. But I will NOT say that North Korea is made up of evil people or anything like that. Some people in North Korea have done some terrible things. There are people in every country in this world who have done terrible things. This does not mean that a nation as a whole or a whole ethnic group is bad.

Even so, I will say that sometimes stereotypes may hold a grain of truth. As humans, we have a lot of information we need to take care of, and yes, it is easier to manage when we can group things and make broad generalizations about them. Holding stereotypes is, quite frankly, a natural thing to do. However, the important thing is not to let those stereotypes keep you from individually getting to know someone or something. You can’t let it cloud your opinion of something or someone before you even got to know it. For example, say that I generally find that autobiographies are long and boring. That doesn’t mean that all of them are and that doesn’t mean that the autobiography I see on the shelf would be boring to me. Kind of a simplified example, but you get the gist of it.

Basically, my view is that both sides have done wrong. Jay was wrong to have made such comments and to have been careless to leave them up if that’s not what his views are now. The netizens who are bashing Jay and clamoring for Jay to leave the entertainment industry or other such extreme comments were wrong to have looked for any excuse to harm Jay’s image and to ask for such extreme action.

Hopefully this will all be peacefully figured out…