[Aisha's Take] How K-Dramas Use The Concept Of Black And White To Mold The Viewers Perspective
By Aisha Adnan | Published on
All the K-Drama fans can vouch for the fact that K-Dramas have significantly evolved over time. They have started to bring more advanced ideas to the table and even stepped up their game when it comes to romance. Nonetheless, there are still many dramas that have a nostalgic touch to them, like "Crash Course in Romance".
One thing that is still seen in K-Dramas is the concept of black and white. Though we do see an evolution in this concept too, it's nothing revolutionary. K-Dramas divide the characters into either being extremely pure or the ultimate evil to formulate viewers' perspective and to glorify the main characters.
Before, the main characters were often righteous and pure-hearted. In recent years, we have witnessed main characters who are morally grey. Their flaws are accepted as wrong, Like Oh Soo-jae (Seo Hyun-jin) from "Why Her?". Despite being degraded for the lack of academic achievements, her greed for success makes her wrong. Like how she silenced an innocent voice.
Yet in these dramas, it is only them who are grey. Otherwise, the background is clearly organized. The other characters are either black or white. And it is because of this dynamic, that even the grey characters appear more white and gain the viewers support.
Another example of this could be from "The Glory". Moon Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo) claims herself to be cold, and someone who isn't fond of being righteous. She deceived and manipulated many to get her revenge. But we cannot claim her to be dark. Not only is her objective justified, she still has humanity left in her. She only used Yeon-jin's (Lim Ji-yeon) daughter as a bait to make her feel fear. She could have tortured the child but she didn't. Instead, she saved her from the predatorous teacher who took pictures of her beneath her skirt. On the other hand, Yeon-jin's ugly image was maintained throughout the drama. Initially, we saw her as a loving mother, but that wasn't given much importance. There weren't many scenes of them interacting or any sort of motherly warmth shown in Yeon-jin, so as to not provoke any sympathy from the viewers.
Then there are characters like Kang Hyeon-nam (Yeom Hye-ran), Joo Yeo-jung (Lee Do-hyun) and the building owner. They stood by Dong-eun's side like white knights. They might be flawed, but they bring back faith in humanity.
Another recent example of how writers use this concept can be taken from "Call It Love". The drama shows the dark reality of loneliness and the beauty of overcoming it. Hong Dong-jin (Kim Young-kwang) and Sim Woo-joo (Lee Sung-kyung) both live in despair, both being closed off because of their past. Sim Woo-joo's father had cheated on her mother with another woman. He left her life when she was only young. Now she lives with her siblings. After his death, his stepmother sold the house. If Woo-joo was not scornful enough, this provoked her to take revenge. She turned to Dong-jin to take her revenge. Now, even though she isn't cheerful nor are her moments justified, we still find ourselves sympathising with her. How? Its the people around her.
Not only did her father abandon her family, there wasn't even a single aunt or uncle that they had good relations with. She met them years later at his funeral. They were selfish and still had to return the huge amount of money they took from their mother. Despite it being their brother being wrong, there was no one who comforted her or acted like family. Instead, we see them gossiping about how the house was sold. This makes Woo-joo appear more lonely and we still see her in a brighter light because she stands in a cruel dark world.
It is interesting how K-Drama writers weaponize the concept of black and white to formulate the viewers' thoughts about each character. Even if we claim that there have been more grey characters lately, they are purposely made to be seen on the white side.
By Aisha Adnan
Perhaps the youngest on board. Aisha is a writer and complete K-Drama fangirl just like you! She has had a passion for writing and dramas since a young age and has entered the field for a year. Aisha Adnan can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.