Dear South Korean Actress/Actor,
A very warm hello from an admirer. Please stay a while and read what I have to say from my heart.
I have been watching your projects, dramas mostly, for quite a while now and you have never failed to solicit my admiration. I have always found you amazingly competent in your portrayals of the many faces of humanity. You have provided windows for me from where I could see glimpses of that part of living that I may have a blind spot on, or that I am barred from seeing by reason of points of perception.
Yes, I have not been drawn to your projects for the purpose of entertainment alone. You might say you don’t understand my point since, after all, entertainment is your business. But please understand that audiences do vary greatly. Not all of us are up for the sole purpose of being “entertained”. Besides, there are many other media for ‘entertainment’. Well, okay, your colorful clothes and your music accompaniments have entertained me, and many a time the funny portrayals, too, but they’re not really the meat of what I’m after. I’m really after the story of humanity.
Please take my present post with a bright perspective — the reason why I had the urgency to write this NOW is that I have just Googled “dark side of Korean film industry” and the first three entries that came up confirmed my suspicion. Of course these things do not happen in your country alone. I suspect that it’s worse with another actor/actress in another country. However, it’s you that appears on my screen most of the time nowadays that I feel compelled to do something about it.
You see, for quite a while now I have marveled at the quantity and quality of dramas produced in your country. They are very good and there simply are so many of them. Then I noticed that you, dear actress/actor, appear in so many projects so that if your role was evil in a ‘previous’ project I had to re-program my perception of your face (not you as a person) as someone who is very likable in this ‘newer’ project that you are in. I am forced to adjust to your new persona fast, and it’s not really nice for my psyche. I have this feeling, therefore, that the projects you appear in are devalued as works of art —- instead of being rendered the proper respect as expressions of human creativity, like paintings and classical music/theater, your dramas/movies are being treated like mass-produced commodity, cheapened.
Actually it’s the historical stories that I’m more fond of. I do appreciate how difficult it is to make these. The costumes are heavy, or sometimes too thin for winter. In some there has to be rough horse action. In the fights you have to risk your bones and skin. Even the speech is not familiar to you. And even if you’re just a face in the background, without a speaking part, I really could see that you give a very convincing performance. Although I would forget your name I would still be able to remember you because I see you again and again as I watch another and yet another drama. And when I see you in a modern-day setting I will suddenly give a yelp of delight because your face will look different now that you don’t have a gat or a hanbok or a slave’s clothes on.
Honestly I value the stories that you appear in, that you act on, and I do spend time in digesting them. I analyze them. I think about the events. I reflect on them. I do so because they make me think about my life, about the life of my friends and acquaintances, about the lives of those who live similarly to the situations in the story that you appeared in, on screen. Your stories make me reflect on the human situation. As I said earlier, I do not value them for entertainment’s sake. I value them for what they can teach me about life.
So, okay, what do I really want to say to you, dear actress/actor? I want to say to you that I really wish for you to take care of your well-being. I don’t want you to be pressured into ‘entertaining’ me so much so that you don’t get enough sleep anymore. It could happen that I would really start crying for you, as a person, even before your face is shown on screen on your next project because my suspicions were confirmed that you are being constrained by the business side of entertainment. Please, if it happens that you already have enough money to live a healthy lifestyle then don’t push yourself to overwork for my sake. I will not be happy if you do so. Just seeing that you are working hard to be a good performer is already inspiring for me. I would already appreciate it that you are someone who is serious about your job and your responsibilities. I respect you as you are, even if I saw you in one project only, and my respect and admiration for you will not lessen just because you did not have a good project this year, or because other fans did not like the way you looked in your last appearance.
Please understand that however your face is structured you are handsome/beautiful to me. Your original face is beautiful. I’m your fan, and I know that you are also a human being like me. I am your fan because I admire the way you could get into a character’s shoes after just reading about him/her merely days or hours before filming. I bet many of the roles you were able to excellently portray you did them without consulting encyclopedias or psychiatry journals or historical accounts.
Please take care of yourself. Next time I see the eye bags heavy under your eyes I would know that it was not because you stayed out late drinking with friends, but it was because most likely you pushed yourself to work too hard, for me. Sometimes your paleness is obvious despite the make-up and lighting. I would really hate it if you got sick because you overworked for my sake. Instead of making me happy to see your face again, it would make me sad, even if your role is funny.
Thank you very much for all your hard work. You have already given me so much. You have shown to me how beautiful Korea and its people is. Your drama stories have encouraged me. The goodness of heart that I could see in the characters you play have inspired me, in my living. I owe you so much, so I thought it’s my turn to extend my support for you. I wish for you to find real happiness in life. I wish for you to love yourself, too, much more than I love the characters that you bring to life on screen.
It’s gotten into a long message now, and it’s already midnight so I have to say goodnight. 🙂 Goodnight, dear beautiful person. Have a lovely new day tomorrow. May God bless you.
added on 9March2014:
I felt that I needed to say more about this matter.
There are video clips readily available online about almost anything in the known universe. Among these I came across one that gave me a glimpse of a world that I did not suspect existed. It’s an in-house training establishment for entertainer wannabe’s. This particular one I found was of Eric Mun’s, which made me feel awed at the intensity of dedication he gives to these training periods. That’s the first time I became aware that behind Kpop’s glamour is also a world of sweat and tears.
Joongki, Jihyo, Kwangsoo _ep21
Lately, which makes me quite late into the game, I discovered that aside from Song Ji Hyo there’s also Lee Kwang Soo (and Song Joong Ki in the past) in the South Korean variety show Running Man. I never bothered with variety shows because they always made me feel like I waste my enthusiasms in paying attention to them. But since it’s these three, whom I belatedly discovered to be close friends, and who are favorites to me individually, that are in this show then I watched one episode. That was Episode 2. That was memorable because I had not been able to laugh that loud and long about anything for many years now. For a Filipino this phenomenon is unusual — not having laughed hard for a long time — since we always have opportunities to laugh our guts out with family and friends.
In watching a bit more of that show I gradually found it irksome that the true personalities of the members are suppressed during the show. For instance I hate it that Lee Kwang Soo is being projected as inept and stupid, because he clearly isn’t. I hate it that Song Ji Hyo is being made the “female” to the “male” of whoever that will guarantee continuous high ratings to the show. I somehow feel that it’s a disrespect to Song Ji Hyo as a person because if she were not a female then she wouldn’t be paired off like this, just an object, to one guy or another. I am frustrated that she and the guys are not free to express themselves during the show. Somehow I feel cheated by the fact that though I’m anticipating to witness true camaraderie among personalities that, I’d like to believe, by now have become real friends in the real sense, (yet) what I see are faked interactions.
A show has to be scripted, obviously. But the question of to script or not to script, or how to script, is not what I’m touching on here.
I’ve become this affected (!hahaha) because I have come to like each of the members of Running Man. I do not see Kim Jong Kook as frightening. I can sense his finesse and gentleness. I do not see Haha as inept. He has a solid sense of responsibility and self confidence. Song Joong Ki comes across as an intellectual to me, a sort of an academician, someone who loves learning but just happens to have a beautiful face. Though Kang Gary is constantly teased of his looks he actually oozes of sexuality, and he is totally far from being ugly. Same with Lee Kwang Soo.
Jihyo & Kwangsoo
This guy is smart but he suppresses it. I saw him only once, in Dongyi, and I thought of how he amazingly could pull off that character. He’s just good at making silly faces but actually he’s handsome. (Whew… I am a bit disappointed with myself in having to use the handsome-ugly categorization here because I feel strongly against this mass media gauge that is used in the distortion of humanity’s sense of beauty, and hence all values that are related to this sense, like self-acceptance.)
But the fact is that the entertainment industry is a reflection of humanity’s greed for sensual gratification. That is, involving the senses. The term is already mentioned: for entertainment. Since the market potential is huge then the greed for unprecedented profits is also boundless. That’s what humanity is like.
The reason why I felt the urgency to add to this post is because I found additional information relevant to the topic. If you’re interested at what is going on, at the real situation, the one that is hidden from those who are not willing to dig deep, then I would like to share these three links with you:
(I’ve bookmarked the bad-boys page because I’m now ready to get acquainted with them, to see for myself these ones who are admirable for their courage. Also, Kang Gary is there.)
I’m sorry that it’s only these that I can share with you for now. I know that it’s as bad in other countries (e.g., USA, India), but I don’t have time yet to look for the specifics. I don’t exactly know how it goes in the Philippines but it’s safe to assume that it’s also messy and bloody. It’s a lucrative livelihood, after all. Where greed is great, corruption in corresponding levels is also present. Myself being a Filipino, I could easily imagine how it is plus allowing that fact could be stranger than fiction here.
Though I will remain enthusiastic for film productions I will not stay blind on the struggles of the small people who are involved in it. They are the ones whose faces are peddled on screen. They are the ones who touch my life, even bring me needed courage at times. I will not be like a pimp for them, raving about their work and selling it to the world by my praises, without being aware that I as a fan am also responsible for the pressure that constantly hounds them. Only a few of them are lucky enough to be born or be granted with the privilege of choice, like Kaneshiro Takeshi and Lee Seo Jin. Most of them are just struggling artists. Most of them are just bread winners who are stuck in a job that is actually a prison to them.
I’ve decided to just choose first the Running Man episodes where only the core members are interacting amongst themselves. I now see them as close friends. — The Filipino equivalent is the barkada. One’s barkada are the people that one hangs out with, each one being an important part of the others’ lives, to share laughs and other emotions with, a venue for self-expression, to grow up with, to explore reality with, a quasi-family. — Of course, I will watch all episodes that has Song Joong Ki in it and I will especially cherish those where he, Song Ji Hyo, and Lee Kwang Soo are on the same team.When I’m done with all those episodes I’d choose again from the episodes where artists that I admire have come as guests, like Jackie Chan, Cha In Pyo, Eric Mun, and Ji Jin Hee.
Each time I watch them I will especially be alert for spontaneous interactions, the ones that bring out their unguarded emotions. In this way I’d feel like I’m having fun with them, too. Because this is how it is among barkada — just being with each other’s company is a guarantee for an opportunity to celebrate life, a partaking of well-being.
Thus, I will not watch Running Man merely for my entertainment and doses of laughter. I will watch it because I want to celebrate life through friendship, though vicariously for now.
many thanks to the sites that made these pictures here available for everyone; all enlarge, some much, some a bit, when clicked on ♥
[added April 3, 2014] Kwangsoo enthusiastically greets Jihyo upon seeing her as she joins the gang late in the games in episode 189, tired as she is after more than 10 hours’ travel to Melbourne. Much younger Kim Woobin, Kwangsoo’s teammate, respectfully looks on and laughs at his elders as they end up squabbling.