I just read a post by Soompi writer hearteu who blogged about her frustrations with the constant overuse of previously beloved, tried and true plot devices such as chaebols, star crossed lovers, hate at first sight in kdramas.
I grimaced but also grinned at the same time while reading that post.
I neither agree nor disagree with this opinion. Everyone is entitled to one, an opinion, that is. In fact I am guilty as charged. My first ebook, 10 Hours in Seoul subscribes to all of the above. Based on this opinion I must surmise that Ms. Hearteu would have been my most severest critic.
Why? You may ask. Why write something so cliche? Because the inspiration for this book was born from my love for such kdramas; My Girl, My Lovely Sam Soon, Secret Garden, Scent of a Woman, Marriage not Dating, just to name a few; though not all Prince Charming hails from Chaebol families but still poor girl, rich guy theme.
Let me attempt to offer a different perspective; that the merits of these plot devices, albeit overused and cliche, are actually timeless.
I am a female.
I am a hopeless romantic.
Given the above two criteria, what’s the holy grail for your average romantic female in her quest for true love? May I dare to suggest perhaps our knight in shining armour is also a real Prince with a real castle rather than a lowly pauper struggling to make ends meet?
Again, let me preface by saying, yes, this is not real life, it is make belief. Thus, for many of us slogging through the toils of our hectic but ordinary existence, day in, day out, these dramas give us that outlet to play out our fantasies.…. for those few hours, let us be that heroine; be it Elizabeth, or Wonder Woman or Mother Teresa, whatever it is that connects to your inner self and gives you that feeling of rainbows and butterflies so be it; for that few moments we rise above the dullness, the stress, or even for some, the pain, and immerse ourselves in this world of make belief.
For centuries such stories have inspired us. Cinderella and Snow White have their “Chaebol” Princes. The Little Mermaid gave up her life in the sea for another; even little Thumbelina ran away with a flower fairy prince; Rapunzel finally reunited with hers and Beauty had her Beast.
Fast forward to 18th century, Pride and Prejudice was the classic of them all; you have your haughty “Chaebol” in Mr. Darcy, and one of the most successful hate at first sight plot lines. The immensely popular Downton Abbey’s got it too.
Of course your modern day Pretty Woman, Sabrina, Bridget Jones, Maid in Manhattan all subscribe to some variations of these plots with global commercial success.
In my humble opinion, it comes down to the execution and delivery. It may be the same old plot lines, but if it is a well written and well executed piece of work, despite not being original, if it engages you, that is all that matters.
Case in point, I too, loved Misaeng which has none of these cliches. However, what endeared me to Misaeng was how I could identify with the characters because they speak to who I am; an office worker battling the same insecurities and office politics. As such it resonates on a different level; one pulls me in because the story is “about me” but the “cliche” ones pull me in because they let me forget who I am and let me fantasize who “I wish to be”.