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[Work, life, balance, and K-dramas] My mentor in life


Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People

By kaitlyn

“Don’t watch dramas when you’re in high school,” they say. “Focus on your studies and extracurriculars,” they say. “It’s such a waste of time,” they say. Well you know what I say? Watching dramas has taught me more about living as an adult than high school will ever teach me, and I do not intend to ever give up on them.

I discovered dramas when Dream High aired in 2010; I was only 8 years old. My mom was a huge fan of Kim Soo-hyun, and one day, she sat me down in front of the TV and together we watched the first show that would be the catalyst for my upward spiral into drama heaven. I do not exaggerate when I say that from that day forward, dramas have become a very central part of my childhood and adolescent years and memories.

However, as a soon-to-be junior in high school, I admit I don’t have too much time to spare for dramas anymore. Most days, it’s either sleep more or watch dramas, and I will almost always choose dramas. And yes, I am guilty about it. Especially as a student, I have a certain responsibility to perform well in school and not cause my parents worry. I have struggled immensely with wondering if I might be doing better in life had I not “wasted” so much time watching dramas over the past eight years. On the days when I have failed, after running through all the things I did wrong and blaming myself for everything, I often find myself landing on the drama I watched last week for a couple hours and bashing myself for indulging in such a useless past time. Other students who are clearly doing better than me don’t watch dramas, I firmly tell myself.


Miss Granny

But then I think about where I would be if I did not have dramas in my life. Dramas give me joy to a level that I cannot explain. I have experienced such strong emotions from watching dramas that they have altered the way I perceive how I live. The tears I have shed for my characters and the heartbreak I have felt is enough sadness to last a lifetime, but the laughter and utter happiness I have been gifted is more than anyone could ever ask for. I have become more mature thanks to dramas, and that has helped me so much in life. Often times I’ll feel guilty telling myself this, but without dramas to help me get through my anxiety all these years, I don’t want to know where I would be today, and therefore I never want to let go of dramas, no matter how “distracting” they may be.

Among the most important things dramas have taught me are perseverance and passion. Korean dramas highlight characters who consistently persevere at what they are passionate about. In Misaeng, Jang Geu-rae’s relentless work ethic at the office and his resilient pushing against a world that never seemed to be on his side ultimately resulted in Geu-rae finally understanding that he shouldn’t blame himself for everything that had gone wrong in his life. And in Six Flying Dragons, Lee Bang-Won had the entirety of history against him, and yet he believed in his values so strongly that he created Joseon, forever imprinting himself into history. I could mention any drama here, and I would have a story to tell about how incredibly strong the characters were, but also how human they felt to me. Dramas not only give me strength, but also hope, and they are invaluable to my life.


Misaeng

This entire sophomore year, I have been struggling to manage my grades. No matter what I did, my grades kept dropping, and I thought I was getting less intelligent by the day. I had always done so well in school. It’s like I was suddenly dumped into the depths of hell and AP classes were the devil. Like Geu-rae, I convinced myself I still wasn’t trying hard enough and I had to work harder and harder. I dropped all drama watching. For several months I completely quit. And I was miserable. I was constantly comparing myself to my friends and I was doubting everything I did. Several of my relationships with my friends fell apart, and I felt like I had no one I could relate to. Everybody else seemed to have it together. And then I somehow heard of Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People. My grades were where they were, and I could tell they wouldn’t budge anymore. I decided to give Rebel a try.

I completely immersed myself in the world of the Hong Avengers, and after binging the first three episodes, I realized with an aching in my chest that I had missed dramas so much. As the character of Hong Gil-dong developed over the next couple of weeks, I was enthralled with his courage and loyalty. Gil-dong did not ever stop believing in himself and others, and he surrounded his family with so much love. Needless to say, I was very motivated after finishing Rebel, and I haven’t stopped finding more heroines to look up to since. My grades did not miraculously improve, but I am so much happier.

Thank you so much for reading! Everything I’ve shared with you Beanies in this post is what I’ve learned about the greatest mentor I’ve had in my life, dramas.


Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People

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Such a beautiful write up. I feel you. Sometimes it's just so happens that how much ever you try result doesn't come up to your expectations but don't give up on trying or working hard. Watch your dramas which inspires you and makes you lot more happier. Just work out things with your friends. once you've accepted what you want life will be much more easier for you. Fighting! :)
Dramas have become a integral part of my life too so I feel you. Even if i'm tired or I don't have time or my day is not going good somehow I make time for a drama episode per day without watching a drama my day doesn't end. I may miss talking with my friends but I don't miss on watching a K drama.
I started watching K drama in my first year of college life and I got so addicted to it that even before my exam I used to read recaps of the drama on Drama beans. (watching will take lot of my time and i used to study mainly just before exams) K dramas always inspires me the characters, their growth or How the evil turns into a good one or a good person wins at the last or how a lover protects their love. K dramas defines my life now. Dramas sure made my life peaceful and made me understand things from many perspectives.
All thanks to your wonderful write up I want to check out Rebel : Thief who stole the people and Six flying dragons (I've read recaps till 20 episodes)

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Nice write-up! I honestly don't know what I would have done had I discovered dramas at school... probably read less? Like you I have drawn inspiration from Misaeng and Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, to just do your best every day (valuing effort above results) and hold on to those people who really care about you.

My advice: don't compare yourself to your "more successful" peers. They may be dealing with their own struggles. Maybe they are under pressure to keep up that image and are suffering from being perfectionists. That was me at school: I stressed a lot about exams because I was considered the "best" student, but now, when I look back I can see that getting 10-15% less than 100% made no difference whatsoever on my future life.

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@wishfultoki SUch a great advice. :) Everyone has their own struggles which we don't know or don't understand the depth of it.
I can relate with you I was the topper in my batch and every year maintaining that position before exams used to stress me out so much not that I wanted to be a topper but I wanted to get good percentage so that it can make my dad happy.
In my field percentage doesn't matter at all still I used to be so tensed and later after exams I used to regret as coz of tension I used to get sick.
But I feel happy that I continued with my K dramas if not watching at least with the recaps. :)

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You did well, @sukstan! More important than grades or being at the top of your class is exactly what you've conveyed here, determination through seemingly impossibly odds. You're well on your way to learning this (both with your horrible grades which will end up being a blessing in disguise, I'm sure, and with your kdrama-watching). The most successful people in life are seldom the ones with the highest grades at school. One thing I remember hearing in medical school orientation is that the students with the lowest grades end up making the most money and the last person in the class is still called "doctor." Here's to fighting, finding happiness, and being successful!

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@ally-le thank you so much for your support! Your comment really made me feel better hehe :) Also the school year just ended for me and I was able to somewhat get my grades up since I wrote this post, so I'm feeling pretty proud of myself! *Raises glass* Cheers to fighting for finding happiness to you as well!

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Great write-up ๐Ÿ‘
I can relate to this on a very high level , I discovered Korean dramas while I was still in middle school and I have to say that that wasn't the best thing that happened to me. My grades dropped a little too and people around me were so disappointed, even I was too disappointed at myself, in my life grades are the most important thing, nothing else matters and Family always expects the best. I have always envied those carefree people, always wondered why I couldn't just live my life the way I want without all the stress piling up from living up to expectations, it was a hard time and it's still is. Although dramas got in the way of me getting perfect grades ,I have to admit that I've also learned a lot from them and they've helped me relax and forget my problems after long and restless days at school,I'm thankful for that.

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Inspiration and focus can be found in the most unlikely places. Embrace what you have found that works for you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. :)

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I LOVED it.. and yes caps... cause that much i loved this kdrama mentorship program write up. Kdramas surely something dependability for us when people around arent much.

Its so evident how kdrama effects our life and thought process for good. People say more tv is not good for health or grade and i certainly agree but still such things are good if we see in such new light that you shed to dramas.

I discovered kdramas as kdramas when i was 24... but i did get a test of it as Dae Jang Geum when i was 19. And this drama taught me lot more than any other teacher or life situation will ever teach me. I still find myself following the fact whenever a tough situation arises "is jang guem-ah can do something so pathbreaking 500 years back why can't i do it now" and it line helped me a lot......
besides this kdrama are like emotional support system for me during my toughest times and ur post reminded how much I value kdramas all over again...
thanks for such wonderful posts...

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typo it was taste*

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Well, if we come to think about how many highschool students are just lazy, smoking or taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol, how many girls get pregnant being a teenager, how many suffer from depression till the point they don't want to live anymore, how millions are disconnected from their families, and many other zillions spend useful time playing videogames as a way to scape, how many are bullies, etc... I am completely sure dramas are among the safest "entertainment" a teenager (And also an adult) could have.
Of course, we know it is more than simply "entertainment", but I said it like that just in case. ๐Ÿ™ƒ
I also love the courage many of our beloved characters show, and how they keep on to fulfill whatever dream they have. I am not a teen anymore, or even a young woman in her twenties (I wish I were), but even as an adult, sometimes a drama character or situation teaches me something that I come to appreciate a lot. ๐Ÿ˜€
Also the raising emotions I experience in most drama experiences are something almost no one in this hectic life can give me.
People are so, so. But sooo busy, they don't make connection anymore. Plus I am an immigrant, so it is harder for me.๐Ÿ˜–
That is why, although I keep it simple because I am peeky or due to lack of time and I don't watch many dramas, I also don't want to give up on them totally. It is not easy with balance, for life is also very busy and hectic for me, but I can totally relate with that feeling, and I just keep on trying to do all I have to do, without sacrificing dramaland, LOL๐Ÿ˜‚.

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Thanks for the post ๐Ÿ˜Š

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I really loved this post. :) Sometimes, not-so-nice things happen despite our best effort and the only thing left to do is cut ourselves some slack.

(And, well, your mom is a Kim Soo-hyun fan. She'll understand.)

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Thank you!!

Because Kim Soo-Hyun's serving his country right now (sob), my mom's decided she's a Park Bo-Gum fan as well! She understands my kdrama fascination, and often talks with me about the dramas we're currently watching. My mother's a blessing, honestly.

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Aww I'm sure she thinks you're a blessing too! It's rare and special for a parent to share a hobby for bonding with their teenagers. :)

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Wow you've written this brilliantly and I too understand the stress of managing extracurriculars, studies and leisure. It definitely gets overwhelming at times.

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NIce write-up! Itยดs really important to give yourself some room to breathe. I do it too (watch dramas, loads) to de-stress. Every time I start a new project, thereยดs a period where I find myself worrying more about the results and if theyยดll be good enough (in other peopleยดs opinion) than the project itself. I used to think that this anxiety to perform well will diminish over time, but on the contrary. Nowadays I feel even more pressured to out-do myself, because some of my past projects have turned out good career-wise. And then I find myself mulling over possible outcome and the effects of it rather than simply focusing on the work itself, because at the end of the day, what truly matters are the reasons why you started doing it in the first place and usually, to be acknowledged by other people is only a fraction of it.

Luckily, I have kdramas to pull me out of the anxiety slump. A nice binge (I do feel guilty, but I just take the time, because the time is mine and nobody elseยดs) usually puts things back in order and the next day when I return to work, I remember why I took on a new project instead of...doing something else with my life.

Kdramas are like a ventilator for me. When I forget to breathe, they do it for me, and after a while, perhaps after one particularly satisfying episode, I feel air moving in and out again, on its own. Freely.

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"Time is mine and nobody else's." This comment is beautiful thank you so much for sharing.

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Thanks:)

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Please don't put so much pressure on yourself in high school, and not college, either (also don't get a 6-figure loan for college!). It's different in other countries, but in the US your job depends on how good you are at your job, and how much experience you have. Do a couple internships if you can in college, and you'll be set. Hardly anyone looks at your grades for a job. I'm not telling you to slack off, but just don't worry so much.

Heck, you might even end up majoring in Asian studies and get a job related to that, and then you'll see that watching all those dramas was super useful!

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@kaitlyn THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I just finished my Masters in literature and like every drama lover, I have often wondered what my life would have been like if I had not' wasted' so much of my time watching dramas but wvery time this thought crossed my mind or every time I tried to quit watching dramas, I realized how important they are to my life. How they have helped me not only understand people and life in a better way but also helped my understanding and love for literature.
I cannot tell you how delighted I am to see someone feel exactly what I feel about them. So thank you sooo much!
P. S. I haven't seen Rebel yet but now I will๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

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this was a great read!

some people might not understand why we sacrifice sleep over kdramas, why we ditch social life and embrace a completely fictional universe, why we laugh crazily or cry chidishly in front of a screen

they will never understand unless they experience that moment of subtle connection

sometimes it's nice to take a step back from reality

kdramaland is my escape route and always will be

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