Finding the Hidden Humanism in Popular Media

강혜진 기자l승인2013.05.11l0호

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In 1997, when the foreign exchange crisis began, some cold winds blew in society which made our minds and pockets freeze. At that time, people were crazy about tearjerkers which made them shed hot tears, retro-style movies which retained warm-hearted themes and gangster comedies which allowed them to feel free from anxiety. Ten years later, Chungmuro movies began to emphasize warmth and have become more popular than other movie themes. The phenomenon of people yearning for warm-hearted humanism comes from the fact that people’s minds have become cold due to the hard realities of life. It is often said that culture is the face that reflects the times. The Observer will examine the hidden humanism in popular media.

New definition of humanism
The movie “Architecture 101” and the drama “Reply 1997” that heated up television picture tubes last year made people nostalgic for the 1990s. At the same time, songs containing romantic lyrics which can be found in poems or textbooks came into the spotlight again. Many record shops in Seoul are still selling happy memories, and many people continue to buy LP’s just as their parents did at their age. The definition of humanism in the dictionary is profound and extended study probably originated from the Renaissance. The present definition of humanism refers to defining trends that do not change the past values on the stream of times and touch rather people-oriented senses, than study-oriented philosophy.

Impact of “Les Miserables”
Based on its box office performance, “Les Miserables” was loved by many people in Korea overcoming the limitations of genre. The original novel and original sound track became best sellers. The musical and the creation of local plays have been well-received by consumers. Since the presidential election finished, social discussions about lessons and the public mentality have also been fully activated through various columns and scholarship materials in accordance with political interests.
In these various substances, there are some elements of this movie that make it entertaining.
First, there is the similarity between French society when poverty and inequality continued after the French revolution, and Korean society when the gap between rich and poor, and economic inequality were not being resolved despite democratization efforts like the April 19th Revolution of 1960 and the May 18th Gwangju Democratic Movement of 1980. For people who felt oppressed, it provided consolation after the presidential election and a catharsis of tears arousing sympathy with the situation of revolution.
Second, the original story which contains the model of basic humanism played a larger role. Due to its deep and extensive humanism not relating to a specific religion or ideology, people can feel sympathy regardless of social status.
Third, the music warmly expresses the contrast point of virtue and vice, so people can easily sympathize with their situations.
Korean movies’ exceptional hits
First, “A Gift of Seventh Room” is a comedy that portrays the social aspirations of a father who is not patriarchal with a warm heart and humanism. It attracted audiences with elements of soap opera which caused tears to flow. At the same time, it is regarded as the best movie this winter because its themes deal with the outright lies and hypocrisy that underlies the excess of the upper class and the alienation and emptiness of the poor as well as the inequity in how the government deals with them. The movie was the 3rd highest grossing movie in Korean movie history with about 13 million viewers.
In the case of “Baksugundal,” despite the fact that it stresses comic aspects, it was praised as a humanistic movie because it dealt with a mother’s instinctive love and also received good word-of-mouth publicity.
Finally, there is the blockbuster named “Tower.” On the surface it is a brilliant disaster film that emphasizes computer graphics, but there is also an underlying element of humanism dealing with a fireman’s spirit of self-sacrifice and coming together to overcome a seemingly insurmountable problem.

Dramas reflecting our lives
In the case of KBS’s “A Man of Equator” and SBS’s “The Chaser,” the targets for revenge are mainly the very powerful like a greedy capitalist and a corrupt politician. Regular people who are oppressed by these immoral power brokers set up plans for revenge that taps into their feelings of anger which seem to reflect society’s feelings towards those who are in power in real life.
MBC’s “Golden Time” and SBS’s “The Faith” reflect humanistic ideals through the concepts of physical, personal, and social healing.
Finally, KBS’s “This Winter, There is a Wind Blowing” deals with realistic interpretations of romantic love. This type of concept makes a greater impression than idealistic love stories because we can relate to the stories better.

Dramas like documentaries and documentaries like dramas
After variety shows like KBS’s “One Night Two days” became popular, more and more viewers wanted reality based programs. Therefore, producers soundly depict real-life situations combining materials, subjects and missions by focusing on casts, and making changes to minimize the production crew’s intervention.
In the case of SBS’s “Thank You,” its concept is that people leading different lives travel together. The movie received good reviews because it stressed communication between the cast about the scenery of Mother Nature, and it provided many people with mental relaxation.
In addition, MBC’s “Dad, Where are We Going?” could not help bringing up strong emotions dealing with unconditional love, sacrifice and devotion that are escalating in this world of ours through competition for profit. There have been enthusiastic public responses because the cast shows a family love story, the original form of love.


강혜진 기자  dbgn84@naver.com
<저작권자 © The Yeungnam Observer, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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