Ghostly Shows, Part 1

One of the things I find really interesting is the use of ghosts in Asian shows. Most Western shows treat ghosts as either evil beings or guest stars. We have shows like Medium or Ghost Whisperer which have ghosts, but none of the ghosts stick around for more than a couple episodes. Occasionally you’ll have a ghost as a regular guest star on shows like Charmed, but the only Western tv show with a ghost as a main character I can think of is Being Human.

Contrast that with their use in Asian dramas. Sure, we still get the evil beings and guest star versions of ghosts (think Master’s Sun), but we also get ghosts as main or supporting characters. Even when we don’t get actual ghosts characters still talk about them.

One of the grey areas is whether the spirit of a person in a coma counts as a ghost or not. I am going to say they are since in every instance I know of the person has the same rules as a ghost and many times they don’t even know know about the coma at first.

My criteria for the shows to be discussed are that they must include actual ghosts, not just mentions of them or one character having a vision of a dead person one time, and have aired since 2010.

Who Is the Ghost?

Ghost as Main Character

Interestingly enough, the shows which have a female ghost as a lead are Korean. In Arang and the Magistrate (2012) Arang is a virgin ghost with memory loss and a mystery about how she died. In Oh My Ghostess (2015), Soon Ae is a virgin ghost with limited memory loss and a mystery about how she died (anyone else see a pattern here?). In 49 Days (2011) Ji Hyun is in a coma and gets chance to live if she can accomplish some tasks as a spirit.

The only male ghost I know of that gets top billing is Lin Hong Pei in the currently airing I’m Sorry, I Love You (Taiwan). Hong Pei is a little different because his presence is directly tied to a watch he was holding when he died. Continue reading

Advertisements

I Remember You vs. Pinocchio

Pinocchio and I Remember You both aired this year in Korea. One was about rookie reporters finding their footing morally and professionally while righting wrongs from the past. The other was about police investigating crimes and tracking down a psychopath who has been on the run for decades and directly caused the destruction of our leads’ families. On the surface these shows don’t have much in common, but I am intrigued by the different ways they handle the issue of brothers separated after their father’s tragic death. I am only going to talk about that aspect of these two shows, and items closely related to it, because if I talked about everything I’d have to break this up into at least two or three posts.

Cause of Separation

In Pinocchio the father dies because of a stranger’s stupidity, but the real tragedy hits when those strangers then lie about what happened with the fire and a reporter spins things so the deaths of many firemen are on his shoulders. This causes the family left behind to be reviled by their community. When older brother Jae Myung doesn’t come home one night mom breaks and commits suicide and tries to take her younger son, Ha Myung, with her. Ha Myung is rescued from the sea. Ha Myung thinks his brother abandoned him, and he doesn’t want to live as the son of a criminal, so lies about losing his memory and doesn’t look for his brother.

In I Remember You the mother had already died when the father is killed by psychopathic murderer Lee Joon Yeong, whom he had been studying/analyzing. The younger brother, Min, leaves the house to escape and ends up in Joon Yeong’s car and is kidnapped by him while older brother Hyun is left behind. Hyun ends up with significant memory loss, and since he is a young child he leaves the hunt for his brother up to his foster mom, cop Chief Hyun.

The combination of choice and chance resulting in the separation of the brothers is almost exactly opposite between these two shows. In Pinocchio chance results in the death of the father, but choices by everyone else results in the separation of the brothers. In I Remember You Joon Yeong makes the choice to kill the father but it was chance that had Min end up in his car and separated the brothers.

The one choice that was the same in both shows was the lead not actively looking for his missing brother. Both of them were children at the time and they made the choice for different reasons, but the choice was still made to not look for the missing brother. In time that choice would come back to haunt both of them. Continue reading

Healing the Broken Mind

In the past year there have been several shows that had main characters who dealt with significant mental health issues. I think it’s an interesting trend. While the types of mental health issues vary (HJM and KMHM both deal with DID, but the symptoms are very different), there are some interesting commonalities in the way these issues originate and are treated, and the way characters react to them. I am only looking at shows with mental health issues which are NOT rooted in physical causes (e.g. amnesia, dementia), and which are diagnosed by a professional. The shows that will be discussed are: It’s Ok, It’s Love; Hyde, Jekyll, Me; Kill Me, Heal Me; Heart to Heart. Continue reading

Hypnosis is the New Super Power

Or at least it is for villains. We’re used to seeing shows with similar ideas airing at the same time in Korea (Master’s Sun/Who Are You, KMHM/Hyde, Jekyll and Me, etc.), but it’s less common to have that happen between an American and Korean show.

Recently Agent Carter and Hyde, Jekyll and Me both gave their villains the superpower of hypnosis. I about died laughing while I was watching the finale of Agent Carter, which is not the reaction the writers were going for I’m sure. These are VERY different shows, but it interesting to see how they both treated the villain’s use of hypnosis to forward their evil plots. Continue reading

City Hunter vs Healer

I have seen a lot of comments about how Healer is similar to City Hunter, and those refuting that, so I decided to do a compare and contrast to see just how much City Hunter and Healer really have in common. There will be many, many spoilers.

Similarities

  • Father’s Betrayed– The next generation had to deal with the betrayals of their fathers. In City Hunter, Yun Seong’s foster and adoptive fathers were betrayed by leaders who were friends. In Healer, Jung Ho’s father was betrayed by a close friend. The events of the present were all set into motion by someone betraying their fathers.
  • Secret Identity– Both guys disguise themselves to get access to people and information they need.
  • Work Place Romance– Don’t think I really need to expand on this one 🙂 Though I should point out that in both shows while the OTP met before working together and the girl had the job first, the guy did not get the job for the girl.
  • Smart Girl– In both shows the love interest figures out the secret identity, rather than the guy telling her.
  • Life Goal– For both guys, their main/driving dream/goal is a desire for normal, happy life with the girl he loves.
  • Is that…?– Same actress played the heroine in both shows.
  • Nickname– Both of the guys are known to the public by an alter ego/pseudonym.
  • Cinematography-The style and feel of a lot of the shots were similar, as well as similar styles in doing the action scenes.

Continue reading