And so adieu to our bubbly TV criticI hoped I’d never have to write this week’s column. Because it’s the last.
Back on Oct. 23, 2002, this review of Korean TV programmes and culture began life as “What’s on Korean TV,” and was published every Wednesday. Penning this weekly offering, as a culture writer, then as a political writer and now as a writer for the Korean sister paper of JoongAng Daily has been - and I have to be honest here - both a pain and pleasure.
It was a pain only because I had to write the piece in the wee hours of the night, after working on other stories. But I have to confess that it was the irreplaceable pleasure that kept me going against the trivial pain of yawning. I mean, searching for a computer in the forest of Shiga Prefecture, Japan, was not a fun thing. But I soon forgot the hardship when I wrote about yet another stupid but curiously popular TV series.
The idea behind the column has been to offer some insight into what the heck is going on locally with this little gizmo known as the idiot box. Credit for the idea goes to a former chief editor of the JoongAng Daily, Hal Piper, who suggested that expats might find such glimpses into Korean pop culture interesting and entertaining. To the frowning reporter (which was me), he made another suggestion: You can write anything.
So I did. I wrote about my past three failed (yet fruitful, as I learned a lot) relationships, my dearest best friend (my mother) and complaints about the society and the world. Mostly, however, I was rather too absorbed about sharing (perhaps too many) details of my single life in this country where many middle-aged people say, “When on Earth are you getting married?” instead of “Hello,” although they are not always happily married anyway.
I enjoyed receiving letters from a wide spectrum of readers, though I have to say sorry to a reader from Kuala Lumpur for failing to get her the phone number of the actor Ji Jin-hee as requested.
I am grateful to an ambassador’s wife, who’s no longer in Korea, for telling me where to get a pinch of the herb arugula after reading my complaint about its unavailability. It’s a favorite of Jamie Oliver, the celebrity British cook, who is also popular with Korean viewers.
To be honest, I was overwhelmed at times, especially when my mailbox was stuffed with around 30 messages following a column that tore into the Cinderella syndrome-filled Korean TV drama scene.
It turned out that an English teacher had used my article as a subject for discussion, and they were just doing their homework - sending a letter to the reviewer.
I also enjoyed answering questions from a fresh expat who wondered why the singer Solbi and boy band member Andy had to break up in the fake reality show, “We Are Married.”
There are still many things left to write about Korea’s TV scene, but I guess it’s time to give it a rest.
Thank you for spending the past precious 78 months with me.
By Chun Su jin Staff Reporter [firstname.lastname@example.org]