If you live abroad and have never been to Korea before, you are probably creating your own image of Korea based on what you see in documentaries and K-Dramas. Of course, we’ve all done it at some point. And even though these shows are fictional, not all of them are entirely made up! There are a lot of true facts about K-Dramas, but it’s true that for the sake of the show, some things are romanticized or set up in a much more fun way than they are in real life. However, a drama has recently achieved a pretty truthful portrayal of life in Korea and life in Korea as an outsider. This drama is none other than the recent BL “The Eight Sense”.
It might be quite surprising that a non-mainstream drama is one that is likely to portray Korea most accurately, but it also makes sense. Since the mainstream is meant to be entertained and watched lightly, having an accurate representation of Korea would likely take away some of the charm and fun of mainstream drama. And to be honest, the accurate depiction of Korean life is perfectly suited for this drama as it also helps with characterization and character development. So let’s dive into that and see how “The Eight Sense” portrays a very realistic view of Korea and the experience of city life in Seoul.
1. Depicting Seoul from the point of view of JiHyun, a country boy
JiHyun (played by Oh JunTaek), in addition to being the main character of the story, is a boy who comes from a small town near Daegu, a rural town in Korea. Therefore, not only is he not used to big cities, but he also comes from a rural area, in short, the opposite of Seoul. Therefore, his experience and impression of Seoul seems very honest, realistic and relatable to those who have never experienced Korea. Seoul is a big city, very busy and crowded, so it can easily be overwhelming at first. But I’m sure, just like JiHyun, you’ll also adjust to life in Seoul very well when you land here!
2. The Seoul Subway, very convenient but confusing
Sometimes JiHyun goes to Han River Park to discover the city and draw landscapes and then to meet JaeWon (played by Lim JiSub). And it’s also been mentioned more than once how he seemed to have gone a long way to get to the park, while access was close to the university he attends. This is not surprising, considering the many metro lines that cover the entire city and the complexity of its transfer stations. It’s not hard to get used to it, but for sure, the first time you encounter the Seoul subway map, you’ll get a headache. He confessed to his childhood friend that he didn’t intend to go that far, he just got lost along the way. Later, it’s also mentioned that the park is long – as it follows almost the entire length of the Han River – and JiHyun didn’t seem to know that either. Of course, since a park is supposed to be in one location, it’s not natural to think that it can be found pretty much anywhere along the river. So it’s a cute but relatable mistake that JiHyun had to go through.
3. The popularity of the rural accent
As Jihyun goes to eat with two of his clubmates, he reveals that he’s from the countryside or something. Immediately, the two girls he’s accompanying are asking him to speak in Satoori, which is a word to refer to the dialect of various regions in Korea. At first, he is reluctant to do this, but ends up doing it anyway. It might be hard to tell for non-Korean speakers, but JiHyun is speaking with very pronounced word accents and specific word endings typical of the Satoori dialect. The girls mention how speaking in Satori is popular among people in Seoul because they think it’s really cute and fun when it’s really just an accent. And that’s true, Koreans are very aware of the different dialects that can be found in Korea, and it’s always fun for them to hear all these different accents, even if they sometimes struggle to understand each other.
4. The realism of university life in Korea
Jihyun is studying and working on drama, which is a reality for many students in Korea. As tuition can be quite expensive, it’s not uncommon to see part-time jobs at a steakhouse, theater, or convenience store. Of course, it’s not that easy to manage, and it’s well represented in the drama, showing how Jihyun is very tired after his shift when he goes back to the dorm. But that’s not the only true fact portrayed in this drama! When the entire surf club goes on their icebreaker trip, they end up drinking and playing around the campfire, and even though Jihyun isn’t a big fan of alcohol, his dad reminds him often about how others can force it. him the drink. Not that people are forced to drink, but in clubs and other university gatherings, it’s not uncommon to see seniors force freshmen to drink a lot, to have fun and enjoy the night without worries. It’s just part of Korean culture to drink a lot in order to enjoy a good, fun night out.
5. The junior-senior relationship in Korea
Of course, for the purposes of the drama, the depiction of these relationships is a bit overblown, but the core of it is very well represented. EunJi is JiHyun’s senior at his surf club, and when she comes to eat at the place where he’s working, she makes him work like crazy. Not all seniors are like that thankfully, but Jihyun still proceeds with all of his requests, and we all know it’s not because he wants to. In fact, in Korea, even outside of school, freshmen are expected to be respectful to their elders and follow their commands, because seniors are older, know more and all that kind of stuff. Usually, seniors don’t take advantage of their juniors like Eunji does in the drama, this is for the purpose of the love story, but it’s true that junior-senior relationship is very popular in Korea, and respect is the core value of Korea in general. And not just at school, but in life in general, younger people should be respectful of their elders unless they are allowed to do otherwise. Usually, it’s when the age difference isn’t too big and people want to become friends and get closer, they try to give up honorifics to feel closer and more familiar.
There are many other reasons why “The Eight Sense” is a very interesting drama, but its depiction of Korea is very accurate and instructive, so we recommend it to all of you!