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[Escapism vs. Realism] When untrue romance reveals a few home truths


You From Another Star

By @myheartisomg

When I turned 21, real life felt like fiction. I met my first love at my birthday party. He was a painter from the opposite side of the world, with time running out on his work-travel visa. Within months we moved to Europe together to start a new life. I was fresh out of college and we were both more than ready for the fame and fortune my talented boyfriend’s works of art would inevitably bring.

Fast-forward eight years. He’d finished six paintings in that time—all were unsold. I was working all the hours at a job I didn’t even like, so he could afford to stay part-time and rent a studio (we pooled all our money, of course). We were engaged but it seemed a long time before we could ever afford a wedding. And then, he broke up with me. It wasn’t until a whole year later that I realized he was never all that nice to begin with.

What followed was a string of unfortunate encounters with equally terrible men. The much older academic who loved the sound of his own voice. The angry young eco-warrior who spent all day arguing with Flat Earthers on Facebook. The amateur stand-up comedian whose idea of a date was inviting me to listen to his unfunny ten-minute set, yet again, in yet another moldy, structurally unsound basement bar. You don’t know how much I wish I was making this up.


W–Two Worlds

Dramas entered my life at a time when romance seemed dead. I happened to choose TV over Tinder one night, after coming across You From Another Star via a clip on YouTube. And wouldn’t you know it, watching two fictional strangers bicker in an elevator was a far more emotionally satisfying experience than any of the so-called dates real life had sent me on lately.

You From Another Star was my gateway drug, and dramas became my sweet escape. I loved the epic scale of the romance because it was so far away from the world I knew. A 400-year-old alien gives up everything to be with the glamorous Hallyu star who lives next door? Yes, please. A comic book character steps outside of the world he knows to be with the daughter of the man who drew him? Sign me up! A gorgeous prince is willing to risk his throne and his life to date the girl he thinks is actually a male eunuch? *jumps around excitedly*


Moonlight Drawn by Clouds

You’re seeing the painfully obvious pattern here, right? The dramas I was falling for all involved heroes who were willing to give up what was most important to them in life, for the sake of love. It was that intense level of sacrifice that drew me in, because it stood in such stark contrast to my dating life. That’s what made me realize that the men I had been seeing weren’t making any compromises for my sake. I was always trying to fit in around the edges of the lives they wanted for themselves, and that wasn’t enough.

It was a huge wakeup call—these flights of fantasy brought me crashing down to earth in a very real way. It wasn’t that I needed a man who would give up his country, or his family, or his creativity for me. He didn’t need to be as handsome as Kim Soo-hyun or Lee Jong-seok. I just wanted someone to try and make me happy as much as I tried to make him happy. Dramas helped me understand that it’s okay to ask for more, to believe you are worth more.


Suspicious Partner

I deleted Tinder and started compiling a watch list, filled with dramas like The Lonely Shining Goblin and Healer, whose extraordinary male leads swept me off my metaphorical feet. Then my sister flew over to visit me, and I introduced her to my favorite dramas. She was instantly hooked, and even though we hadn’t seen each other in a long time, we found lots of ways to bond over our mutual love of Chun Song-yi and Kang Chul. It reminded me of how much love I had left behind in my home country, and ultimately I made the decision to move back after a decade abroad, to be closer to my immediate family. It was one of the best choices I’d made in a long time.

I’m still on a break from dating, though I’m optimistic about finding the right person when I start looking again, now that I have a better idea of what to look for. The dramas I watch now are less extraordinary in scale, but that’s because my heart is healing and I don’t need to escape so badly anymore. These days I’ll watch Strongest Deliveryman for a hero like Kang-soo, who understands his girlfriend’s need to live her own dreams. Or Suspicious Partner, where Ji-wook listens to what Bong-hee says and respects it. Someday my prince will come, probably on a bus instead of a white horse, with as many grey hairs on his head as I have on my own (if he has any hair left). But thanks to dramas and their princes, perfect and imperfect, epic and ordinary, I’m pretty sure I’ll know him when I see him.

 
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Sounds so relateable. Best of luck with your prince charming. <3

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What a beautiful essay! I even found myself crying unexpectedly at that last sentence. I hope you DO find your prince and that when your eyes meet you both simply know: "This is it." I too am waiting for my moment just like you... also after experiencing a huge difference between what I thought some people were like versus who they really were upon closer examination. I am eternally thankful to characters like Kang Chul, Choi Han Kyul and Kang Ho Gu for reminding me that there are geninety nice and kind men out there.

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*genuinely :)

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Oh this is so lovely! You have a wonderful narrative voice, and everything you said is so relateable. For all their unreality, kdramas have such surprisingly realistic lessons sometimes. I know you'll find your prince charming, gray hairs or otherwise. And who says a bus can't be just as romantic as a white steed? Answer Me 1988. S'all I'm saying.

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I don't know what your job is now but you should keep writing. Maybe you already do. That was a great read!
Maybe the drama version of life/lemons->lemonade is: If you can't get around getting your heart broken, turn it into a drama.

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Relatable. I was drawn to your write up. Don’t look for love — the love will look for you. Be the right person as the right person to you look for you. Note that person will be the most imperfect person you will ever know but if it is the right person he has same thoughts — you are the most imperfect person too. So, it is a good match. Just enjoy KDramas and but don’t dream Korean Drama. It’s mini hollywood. :) A mentor shared to me once — if you are not joyful in your singlehood who says that you will be when you get married. Enjoy singlehood.

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Aw, you have a beautiful and down-to-earth way of writing. I hope you find what you are looking for! I wish you the best. Also you put pictures from two of my favorite dramas "W Two Worlds" and "You From Another Star".

I like dramas that are a mix of both reality and fantasy/wish-fulfillment. So basically the characters have to be believable and likable/interesting, for me to stick with a drama. I have to feel that the characters are real, even if the problems they face and triumphs attain are exaggerated or fantastical.

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You go girl!!

I love the way you write. Simple, blunt, funny and came across very well.

Im happy that you are with your family now and has moved on. With all the shit you've been through, an extraordinary guy is for sure waiting for you. Fighting!

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This cut me deep man. So damn relatable.

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Really well written. Great read, especially given the topic.

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I love the way you interpreted the topic, yours is a meaningful essay for me ❤️

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Dramas helped me understand that it’s okay to ask for more, to believe you are worth more.

Yes! Art—in all forms—can be empowering and transformative.

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Wonderful writing! Thank you for sharing such a personal take on this piece. To be perused is much better than perusing and love will find you, I’m sure of it! Godspeed!

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Thanks so much for the lovely comments and kind words about my writing. I've actually always loved to write but I put it to one side because I was a bit scared to pursue it seriously. This is the first piece I've finished in a very long time! So it really means a lot that it resonates with you guys.

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This was a lovely piece. Best of luck in the future and keep writing!

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Really loved your piece. In a way, the dramas that I watch tend to be influenced by what happened to my love life. I tend to like childhood friends-to-lovers types of dramas, whether they eventually end up together or not. (Mine was not a happily ever after but the childhood friend that wasn't meant to be a lover and I are still good friends.)

I hope you continue the writing and watching k-dramas. I do hope also that your Prince Charming eventually finds you. 😉

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I loved your piece! Keep writing, you! :)

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@myheartisomg,

Thank you for your lovely and thoughtful essay. It makes me wish that Kdramas such as we're presently watching had been around in my younger days. They would have made dandy "training wheels" for an overly-logical introvert needing to cultivate emotional awareness. ;-)

I can't begin to count how many times I've heard an inspiring piece of dialogue in Kdramas. Or watched a scene that gave me a sudden insight into my real life. Through mirroring life in realistic ways, Kdrama continues to inspire and uplift me. I am deeply grateful.

Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts. Keep following your path and grow into your full potential at your own pace. Allow your light to shine so that the person at the end of your "red thread" can find you at the appropriate time and place. Blessings... ;-)

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This is such a beautiful piece. I hope you find the lucky one who will love and respect you the way you do :) <3

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Someday your prince will come. For the meantime, be happy and be the person you want to be. Whenever he show up, let him see you as who you are. So he will see your worth and make the effort. 😊

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Thank you @myheartisomg. I was touched by your writing from your heart. May real life emulate the good aspects of dramas without the plotholes, and may you meet truly good people to relate to. 😌 😀 😁

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Beautifully written!!
And I'm so happy that you got your family and self-esteem back!!
Kdramas are sometimes the true Healers 😉😊

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I wish you the best of luck

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Such a beautiful relatable write-up. All the best!

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I think this is one of favourite guest posts so far. I absolutely loved you tracing your journey. I'm very glad that dramas helped you realise that you deserve just as much as love and effort as you have been giving others. All the best @myheartisomg. I hope you find your prince charming soon enough! <3

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awww.... u got me at all the right places!!
commenting here after soooo long, thank you for writing something so good👍👍👌👌 daebak😊😊
am 23 and never been in any relationship, it sucks, but rather than being awful like earlier, waiting for it am doing things which i have missed out on!
now i feel its better this. love is needed but the prince charming must make an attempt if he wants awesomeness in his life😋😋
your writing is amazing and i sincerely hope you get do manager😊😊

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This might just be my favourite Guest Beanie post here! There is so much heart in these paragraphs!

Thank You @myheartisomg for sharing such a personal perspective on what kdramas signify to many! Also, 100 times THIS

I just wanted someone to try and make me happy as much as I tried to make him happy. Dramas helped me understand that it’s okay to ask for more, to believe you are worth more.

Your last line makes me think of this 90s Bollywood movie- "Dil to Pagal Hai". Hope you find what you are waiting for soon! <3

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@myheartisomg that was a beautiful and sad read at the same time. Here's hoping you meet THE ONE when the time comes. And that you continue to find sweet escape when needed through all the dramas on your watch list.

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"I just wanted someone to try and make me happy as much as I tried to make him happy." A few hours ago I was chatting with my childhood friend & she was telling me about her love life & this is exactly what she said too (well, maybe not exactly but close enough) .
I've never been in love before so I may not grasp things fully but in all these years looking at all my girlfriends' past & present loves, I realized just how much a girl needs(& totally deserves) this basic thing in her life, to just be loved back as much as she does.
The last line was so sweet, I hope you see him soon.
(This will be like a love story from a drama too, at least your writing style convinces me in such a way)
:-)

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I just want to say I am so happy for you as you have found some comfort and happiness as you moved back to your home country and immediate family. I was really glad when I read that that was one of the best choices you'd made in a long time.

Here's to hoping you make many more!

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I loved your piece. It reminded me of that one reason that makes the drama make or fail for me.

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I really enjoyed your piece. Your nod to You From Another Star in the last line was perfect. I was delighted because it's one of my many favorite scenes in the drama. Always makes me laugh out loud. Thanks so much for the great read. Best of luck to you.

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This was a really good read...thank you! I hope you find your prince soon... As for those relationships that didn't work out, you can at least recognize some telltale signs of future frogs, so that you don't fall the same ones again!

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Not sure if I'm too late to the party. But yes, I agree with all the commentators above; you have written a beautiful piece.
As for Prince Charming, drop me a line or comment if you don't mind making a friend who's based in Sunny Singapore :)

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Beautifully written! I really enjoyed it. Glad you're back home and that's usually where the heart is. I had gone through something similar when I was younger, but I never regretted my decisions. When I think back to it, it was all a learning experience. Hope you find your prince charming one day. I found mine when I moved back home!

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A genuine sharing from the heart! <3 I find myself romancing and wanting to go back to my much younger years. After 21 years of marriage he left me without a conversation, needless to say my world crumbled. How do you pull yourself together? Years went by and I discovered K-dramas last Fall. The oppas, who would not be head over heals - the dream state. I can better understand the variety of relationships. I thought more about him and forgot about my own happiness. When the time is right...

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As I was reading your beautiful writing, this song from Snow White played in my mind: "Someday my prince will come." I am happily married to my prince but the romance in K-dramas keeps my heart young and alive. It is hard to keep real-life romance exciting all the time but I get my excitement from dramas and I'm a happier and content wife. I hope your prince finds you soon.

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(:

aside from this.
did you ask what your boyfriend wanted you to have as your dream life?

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