2016 Year in Review: K-dramas Meet Fairytales
Looking over the year of dramas I’ve watched, I was struck by an undeniable theme: fairytales. I’ve always adored fairytales and finding that connection really excited me. Some drama had fairytale themes that were merely coincidental; others were intentional; but the motifs were hard to ignore in either. So I’m calling 2016 the year of the K-drama fairytale! Here’s a list of six popular fairytales re-imagined in K-dramas.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Scarlet Heart: Ryeo-
I was surprised it took me more than halfway through the show before I realized that this was obviously a Beauty and the Beast story with 4th Prince, the beast; hiding his unwanted “hideous” features (his scar) behind a mask. Hae-Soo is the gentle Beauty who loves him as he is and even becomes trapped in the palace. Her love helps him change and grow.
Cinderella and the Four Knights-
I mean Cinderella is in the title, haha. The Cinderella theme is really prominent in the first two episodes, complete with Hyun-Min being her fairy god-friend who gives her a dress and shoes to go to a rich party. The rest of the show deals with the sweet romance and obstacles that a rich and poor couple face (mainly grumpy grandfathers, lol).
THE LITTLE MERMAID
Moonlight Drawn By Clouds-
This is a very loose interpretation of The Little Mermaid story, but the heroine, Ra-On herself, confirms it when she tells the mermaid fairytale story to the Crown Prince, subtly comparing their romance to the impossible love of a mermaid and a human prince. The Crown Prince is amusingly angered by the sad ending of the fairytale, but happily for Ra-On and her lover, their own ending is much happier than the fairytale.
The Legend of the Blue Sea-
The Legend of the Blue Sea is actually about a mermaid who becomes a human and falls in love. While technically The Legend of the Blue Sea is based on a classic Korean fairytale story about a magistrate who sets a mermaid free, the story is still vastly similar to The Little Mermaid, as the show asks the question – how can a mermaid and human ever be together?
Shortly after starting The K2, I was reading the recap on Dramabeans where I saw commentators translating the dramatic choir music from German to English – which told of a girl running in the forest from an evil queen. It wasn't hard afterwards to see this was a Snow White retelling: Choi Yoo-Jin was the queen, Je-Ha the huntsman and Anna the innocent Snow White. It was officially confirmed when Yoo-Jin herself spoke of her Mirror (her super information computer program) and Je-Ha “kissed” (CPR, lol) Anna to life after she was “poisoned” with a food allergy to “strawberry” (poisoned apple).
Mirror of the Witch – Rapunzel
Though I didn’t watch this drama, I heard good things about it on Dramabeans. The show was often compared to a Rapunzel retelling which I thought made a lot of sense.
Shopping King Louie – The Wizard of Oz
You can check out this Dramabeans post on the correlation between The Wizard of Oz and Shopping King Louie, which I thought was super cool!