By Park Chung-a
There is a story of a beautiful girl who leads a miserable life, having to cope with ill-treatment from her stepmother. One day, just like magic, a kind middle-aged woman appears out of the blue. She introduces her son, a rich and elite news anchor, making her a Cinderella. However, what if the very angel turns out to be her biological mother who abandoned her when she was a child?
This story is the popular TV soap opera "To Heaven", currently airing on SBS.
Despite such a nonsensical setting and relations among the characters, the drama has been enjoying top viewing in recent months.
In another popular TV drama, MBC's "One Fine Day
", the heroine is a girl who desperately waits for her biological brother from whom she was separated at childhood. However, what do you do when the brother who turns up after 15 years is, in fact, not the real one?
The two dramas are a few of many of today's Korean TV dramas featuring sensational family secrets as main themes. Almost all of the dramas depict family tragedies arising from distorted blood ties and their climaxes mostly involve revelation of the blood tie secrets.
In a weekend drama "Famous Princesses
", Solchil appears as Michil's twin sister. However, it later turns out Michil was brought to the family by Solchil, hence sparking conflict within the family.
In the KBS TV drama "Great Expectations"
, the central theme lies in how hero Hyun-se comes to know the existence of his biological father and how he reacts to the unexpected situation.
In "One Fine Day
", the highlight of the drama lies in revealing that the two main characters _ who originally believed each other as biological brother and sister _ turn out not to be blood related. Plus, Ha-nul's legal brother, a son of Ha-nul's adoptive parents, makes things more complicated as he becomes romantically bent on her. A recent episode showed him almost raping Ha-nul in her room. The shocking scene was captured and spread through the Internet, becoming one of the Internet's most searched for clips.
Experts point out such excessive use of family tragedies arising from blood ties stems from lack of creativity and belittle the quality of the domestic TV dramas.
"TV producers' and writers' obsessions over blood ties close the spectrum of Korean dramas", TV critic Kang Myong-sok, said. He believes that as a large portion of young viewers have turned to cable channels or the Internet, the middle-aged have become the most influential TV viewers hence, an increasing number of dramas focus on appealing to them.
"Although we all know that such dramas are cliche and their subjects are highly unrealistic and absurd, it is hard to get (our) eyes off from them", said Han Sok-ja, 50, an ardent fan of "To Heaven".
"While being disturbed by the characters' misfortune, at the same time, I feel a great sense of relief that my family is free of such complicated problems".
Lee Jong-rim, a media expert from Cultural Action criticized drama-makers for only putting viewer ratings at the top of their agendas, featuring more and more sensational subjects. "It is regretful that there are few dramas which offer insight on family relations".