What a strange passion for the Land of the Morning Calm
The nice excuse in what happened is that my motor skills have further diminished, some usual stammering of my health for a long time and a sedentary lifestyle in full swing thanks to my certain age; I may have a multitude of virtual activities including video games which I have been playing since 1992, medical research, a semblance of community life at a distance, reading of course, a small TV series or an unpretentious film allow great recreations between all these pretences… Having recently subscribed to video broadcasters including YouTube and company, I discovered Korean dramas with astonishment and then delight! From there, it all started…
Unconsciously, I had stuck with memories of Korea in the 1950s. My memory was far from being up to date on the subject, especially since at the time, I was a child and not very interested in the upheavals of the History of the Peninsula. So there, I was left speechless and immediately under the spell of this country and its astonishing evolution in such a short time. Do you think the charm of drama stars has something to do with it? But of course! They are, without appearing, carrying the colors of their country throughout the world. Plus the fact that I still have an old background of rose water romanticism that has bloomed again like a Spring morning… (Take out the violins, there’s material there!) it made me fall for actors favorites and K-pop singers. Who is that ? I won’t tell,
Well yes, I love watching series and throw stones at me those who do not crack from time to time in secret, whatever their level of education, culture or social rank, with the box of tissues not far . You are not going to say the opposite, it is a fact that I have noticed in many people with whom I have approached the subject recently and of whom I would have, without moving an eyelash, sworn that they were at the antipodes of those worlds. Our quality Western series are scattered or even rare and the good ones have been seen and reviewed with, in the end, weariness. The look of the actors is too telephoned, their games often rather poor as for the scenarios, a little too simplistic or whose intrigues take us for imbeciles.
But there, sorry! It’s not the same atmosphere. On the phenomenal quantity of Asian series available these days, the diversity and quality of the scenarios are impressive. Our cultures run out of steam where the Asian world is exploding with vitality, youth and creativity, like a seed planted in virgin territory which will draw a rebirth of its entire species in a few days, a few hours and produce wonders. I had noticed this phenomenon of virgin intellectual ground in the 1960s in a university environment in Quebec, but for different reasons, no doubt because of the lack of ancient historical references from the entire American continent, which contrasted flagrantly with the weight of the history and our cultural patterns frozen in our sclerotic mental structures as Europeans.
And also, in a more spontaneous way, I was immediately and with astonishment won over by the magnificent landscapes, the cities, the islands, the sea, the mixture of the old historic districts of Seoul, for example with at the bottom of the image the tower… or the antenna…. The beauty of palaces and temples adjoining the boldness of Korean modern architecture combining spatial harmony with the feat of construction techniques.
One of the backgrounds also remains very present in all the dramas, it is food, this reflex to ask in the worst moments or even the romantic moments at will: – Have you eaten? Street restaurants where the most luxurious are so often the places of important scenes, these habits of the Korean woman to bring dishes both to her children and to honor a person of a superior condition. It reminds me of the post-war atmosphere in France in the 1950s where it was so important to have eaten well, where it was out of the question for a guest at our table to take twice from a dish and where my grandparents living in the countryside never let us go back to town without a box full of their preserves, fruits and vegetables from their garden depending on the season,fresh eggs and cottage cheese from their goat.
When I started surfing the Net a little to find out more about this country, I was immediately struck by the countless reactions of Westerners to this display of dishes of all kinds from this Asian cuisine, sold so little expensive with a plethora of endlessly renewable accompaniments and free of charge. And my first instinct when I heard the term Kimchi was to dig up the first recipe for this essential accompaniment to South Korean Asian dishes, not just Korean ones. There too, I was discovering… When I spoke about kimchi to my Chinese sister (at heart) from Taiwan, she immediately spoke about her own kimchi and we chatted for long minutes on the question on the telephone. I rushed to buy some good Chinese cabbage then I found a Korean grocery store online, based in Avignon, where my sister performs every year at the Festival, regularly supplies when she stays there. Funny coincidence ! And…. I made my first Kimchi, obviously much less spicy than on site but so good….there, by the way, I’m preparing my 3th kimchi… It will be a little spicier this one but I’m going gradually, even if I like chilli, it goes perfectly with rice or noodles.
That said, as I know how to cook some Asian dishes, especially Vietnamese, since my husband was half-breed Vietnamese/French and he cooked like a god, I started cooking Korean for 3 months, every day. And to top it off, I’m recovering a bit of health by having lost 5 good kilos! Downright !
What also struck me was this habit that Koreans have of getting drunk frequently and I would even say assiduously, including women. The thing is, you get drunk very quickly at that price and it seems, well by far, that Asians in general don’t hold alcohol very well. Is this bad info? That’s the impression that all these brave dramas give…
This is a great astonishment to me. I’ll snoop around to find the whys and hows. In the meantime, of course, I found some soju and tasted it with very little surprise this time. Strangely, I was expecting this taste as if I had been drinking it all my life. And yet, I’m sure I didn’t have a previous life in Korea, no memory comes to the surface of my karmic memory unlike some parts of the world. But there, I digress, I digress….sorry! And I understand the craze of Koreans for their favorite drink, really!
Korean roads and buildings
A former driver of small racing cars, of course I had a crush on cars and roads; what happiness! A comfort on the road that I found in America but with a scale of the country that remains human, far from the American spaces of another planet… And these districts of Seoul for example where the features of an ultramodern megalopolis and the small winding streets lined with magnificent old houses with decorated and sculpted beam frameworks and upturned roofs and impressive portals! However, whether in ancient or modern architecture in South Korea, there is an innate sense of aesthetics everywhere, a particularly developed notion of harmony between spaces and the articulation between them, an extension of the sacredness of Nature in the buildings that are inscribed there without violence to the environment and a series of modern buildings of unprecedented and daring architectural creativity that their promoters seem to be following. What luck ! In our schools of Architecture in Paris or even in North America, we all dreamed of doing the same but if we drew such audacious projects, we were scolded and our creativity had to cower at each attempt in our poor snail shells. Too futuristic, too wacky and above all too expensive, we were told! What luck ! In our schools of Architecture in Paris or even in North America, we all dreamed of doing the same but if we drew such audacious projects, we were scolded and our creativity had to cower at each attempt in our poor snail shells. Too futuristic, too wacky and above all too expensive, we were told! What luck ! In our schools of Architecture in Paris or even in North America, we all dreamed of doing the same but if we drew such audacious projects, we were scolded and our creativity had to cower at each attempt in our poor snail shells. Too futuristic, too wacky and above all too expensive, we were told!
During my travels on the feelings of French travelers there, Europeans who live there and documentaries of all kinds that I was able to draw here and there on the Net, my passion for this country and its inhabitants has only grown. By dint of snooping, I have Korean contacts in France and on the spot, French relations over there and in France, and we all have this same state of mind, this community of thought, this impetus towards all aspects of the question. I haven’t quite figured out why yet and I’ll think about it. I promise, I’ll write what I find…
A final part of my observation is the observation of this incredible social evolution that is taking place before our eyes. As an example, as a woman, I turn to the condition of Korean women and girls. Some of their struggles resemble what I experienced here in France in the 1950s where we actively participated in our daily lives in building better conditions of freedom and consideration from our post-war Western societies. It took us years for things to move in the right direction, but in a few months things are moving at high speed. And what is most striking in this development is that good values are preserved, respect for