Two upcoming late summer/fall dramas have my attention. Not because of the usual suspects of promising romance, great story, stellar casting, PD and Writernim’s track records, eye candy or my favourite idols.
The reason D-Day and Descendants of the Sun (DotS) caught my eye is more than the above reasons. These dramas will attempt to accomplish an insurmountable feat that other dramas need not worry about.
D-Day follows a disaster medical assistance team in the aftermath of an earthquake hitting Seoul. DotS also deals with the aftermath of an earthquake but it is set in an already beleaguered nation torn apart by war.
Is art imitating life? If it is, these dramas will have to engage and educate. And this is a tall order.
Making a drama where disaster is the central plot feature is not easy. It is a difficult feat even for big box office films. These productions usually garner mixed reviews, praised for its special effects but often downgraded for sub-par plots and dialogues and criticized for its inaccurate science and facts. When disaster is the principal character, and people play second fiddle either as victims or heroes, the story can oftentimes be flawed.
But I salute JTBC and KBS for these ambitious endeavours. In the wake of the devastating Nepal earthquakes, the ebola crisis, the plights of the Syrian war refugees and even as recent as this weekend’s 8.1 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan, these shows will remind us of the calamities that go on around us. It will shed light on the humanitarian efforts and stir an awakening in our consciousness that we are all citizens of this world and none of us is immune. These disasters may not be in our backyard today but it does not mean we and our loved ones are not impacted and will be forever safe.
Even if these dramas fail to connect the dots on an entertainment level they would have accomplished one thing. Awareness.
They would have brought into our living rooms the very real lives and adventures of doctors, soldiers, caregivers, reporters and countless volunteers who put their lives at risk day in and day out for such causes. These are our fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters who willingly give up the comforts of home and risk their lives to help others in dire needs. These people deserve recognition and if the glitz of k-entertainment can accomplish the impossible of educating and entertaining, I say ‘go for it!’
So far DotS has generated a lot of buzz with proven writer Kim Eun Sook and the casting of fan favourite Song Joong Ki and mega star Song Hye Kyo. It has all the makings of a great start and along with a non live shoot delivery, it feels like an epic film rather than your usual kdrama. D-day is equally ambitious with it being set in Seoul which may make it more real and close to home than a war zone somewhere in a third world country.
But these questions remain.
Will each strive to be a great drama but lousy educational value or will it deliver great educational value but fail to entertain? May I dare to dream that at least one will accomplish both?