SEOUL, Sept. 12 (Korea Bizwire) – Infidelity, embezzlement and sibling rivalry are common features of Korean dramas, but all three pale in comparison to the gold standard: mistaken identity.
In a society with strong feelings about social status and the socioeconomic conditions of one’s birth, the Cinderella story with a slight twist has proven to be a consistent hitmaker among predominantly older, female audiences.
While in Cinderella the love interest and the “savior” of the protagonist from her socioeconomic conditions are one and the same, in the Korean dramas discussed here, the role of knight in shining armor is usually played by the long-lost parent who happens to be the CEO of a multi-trillion won corporation.
The obsession with mistaken identity as a central premise for dramas lasting anywhere from 30 to 50 episodes has not abated despite technological advances that have made gene testing as simple as sending in a toothbrush to a genetics lab. Proving that human ingenuity knows no bounds (and that the fantasy of becoming someone else will never die), what might have proven to be the death knell for such stories has only served to enhance them in tantalizing fashion.
In MBC’s “Blow Breeze”, which reached a viewership high of 28.3 Nielsen ratings points, protagonist Mi Poong’s rival breaks into her home and swaps toothbrushes that she can use to pass herself off as the long-lost granddaughter of a wealthy businessman (the long-lost daughter is Mi Poong, but she doesn’t realize this until the 45th or so episode of the 50 episode series).
In other variations on the mistaken identity theme, the mother of the protagonist in “My Daughter Geum Sa Wol” decides to wait until the end of the 51-episode series to tell her daughter the truth.
Currently airing drama “My Golden Life” sees the protagonist discover relatively early on that her true mother is in fact very wealthy and that they were separated by an accident in her infancy.
Despite their wild popularity, the predictable plot line and the absurdity in manufacturing 40 to 50 episodes of material that could realistically be ended in a few hours has earned such productions a fair share of derision.
One professor from Ehwa Womans University commented that “writers who have made a name for themselves should be ashamed of themselves for these points (the banal recycling of the same plot points to carry the central premise)”.