Friday, August 2, 2013

Drama Does Darcy (Again & Again)

Rich guy wanders into a small-time party and zeroes in on the witty, fun-loving local girl. He fights his attraction, because she's just a hick with no connections. But her dazzling personality and refusal to kowtow to his bank account quickly reel him in.

Sound familiar? No, it's not the latest chaebol rom-com, it's Pride and Prejudice.

Long before I was a K-drama groupie, I was a Janeite. And the best of all Austen heroes must be the smoldering, enigmatic Mr. Darcy. Imagine my surprise to find this archetypal character copied over and over again in Korean television. The haughty, but hot millionaire shows up all over Dramaland. Here are just a few egocentric examples:

Goo Jun-pyo in Boys Over Flowers

1. Garden Variety Darcy

BOF follows the Darcy stereotype like it was a checklist.

Snobby is initially repulsed by the poor, but plucky heroine.  

Decides he wants her and expects her to be thrilled about it. 

His self-image takes a severe blow at her constant rejection. 

Has to man-up and become a better person to win her love.  

Of course, Jane Austen never gave her hero amnesia at the eleventh hour (for which I will remain eternally grateful.)

Dokko Jin in The Greatest Love

2. Red Carpet Darcy

Granted Pride and Prejudice doesn't contain the line "Give me back my panties!" but there are still similarities. This A-list Darcy looks down on his C-list counterpart for being a washed up celebrity, and he fights with all that's in his artificial, little heart to ignore her. Silly man-child. If he had read the book, he would have known resistance was futile.

Cha Chi-soo in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop

3. Cougar Bait Darcy

Love sends this poor, little rich boy about two steps short of the loony bin as he falls for the volleyball spiking, chicken foot eating, hot tempered student teacher at his high school. Unlike the usual Cinderella stories, this modern day prince is kicked out of the high rise, hot tub palace because of his love. But from the looks of their post-graduation kisses, he doesn't seem to mind too much.

Baek Sung-jo in Playful Kiss

4. Braniac Darcy

Grade A versus Grade F provides the conflict for this tale. Our super-genius hates stupid girls, and Oh Ha-ni (although completely adorable) is not the brightest bulb in the box. But she is unshakable, and her dogged mix of determination, unflagging devotion, and downright stalker crushing finally wins the smart boy over.

Kim Joo-won in Secret Garden

5. Neurotic Darcy

This Department Store Darcy in the sparkly tracksuit has problems. The kind that require a psychiatrist. He's a claustrophobic, partial amnesiac and seriously stuck-up. Okay, that last one isn't a mental condition, but the way he commits to his class-consciousness, it could be. He ridicules the leading lady at every turn, mocking everything from her looks and fashion sense, to the way she drinks her coffee. (Ah, the cappuccino foam kiss scene!) But our stuntwoman heroine eventually kicks some sense into him. Literally.

Lucky for me, I get to visit Jane Austen's stomping grounds next week. I'm off to Jolly, Old England, so it may be awhile before my next post. In the meantime, I bet Dramaland will crank out a few new Darcys by the time I get back from vacation.


  1. I love your blog! And Mr Darcy is one of the most obnoxious wonderful jerks I have ever known!! And I don't even knew him!! Mhahahahah

  2. Hey AC. Ain't Mr. Darcy grand? I just love the wonderful jerk, too. And now I'm ready to add Joongwon from Master's Sun to the list. Someday I need to do a Drama Darcy Part 2 Post : )

  3. I started watching K-drama in 2006 and I quickly realized that what I loved about them was that it was fulfilling the same need that snuggling up and reading "Pride and Prejudice" or "Sense & Sensibility" or any of Jane's (yes we are on a first name basis) books did. Only with crazy clothing styles (BOF), guyliner, choco abs, ramyun and the list goes on and on. I have often thought of creating a college course showing Jane Austen's influence on Korean pop culture.

  4. Do you know "Jane" to? Isn't she the best : ) If you ever create that course, let me know if I can take it online. I'm definitely in!

  5. Great to see a fellow Jane Austen / Korean Drama fan. Have you ever read Elizabeth Gaskell or Georgette Heyer? I would recommend both if you are an Austen fan.

    And I understand - my trip to England was a mini Austen scavenger hunt. The museum / church rules said don't take pictures, but I snapped away. This is Jane Austen we are talking about, after all! I can break the rules for the creator of Darcy! :-)

    1. I don't think I've read them, but I did love North & South with Richard Armitage. "Look back at me." Sqeeee! I'll have to look up their books. Thanks for the tip. And thanks for your blog that I enjoy so much, especially the Running Man news!