K Drama

Poetic K-Dramas: Exploring Poetry Through K-Drama

I have always been fascinated by languages, and among the languages, I’ve dabbled in, I think Korean has the most poetic tones in its sentences. Even though my Korean is not fluent enough to understand everything, I love reading and hearing Korean poems. As a bonus point, I think Korean books always have aesthetic covers that entice me to buy them.

As a result, I have ended up collecting poetry and essay books during my 4-year stay in Korea. But, here is where my interest in poetry and Korean drama are intertwined – Korean dramas often feature famous poems! In this article, I’ll list some Korean dramas which feature some good poetry books.

Encounter

Park Bo Gum’s character in this drama is a poetic soul. He often visits Namsan Public Library to borrow and read books, He also recites some poems in a few scenes. One of the books that were prominently featured was I’m Gazing at You Like I’m Gazing at Flowers  (꽃을 보듯 너를 본다). This drama might not be my favorite, but I was into the poetry book and decided to buy it. 

‘Encounter’ and Romance is a Bonus Book served as an introduction to Na Tae-joo’s works for me. Na Tae-Joo is one of the most beloved poets in Korea. And, also the most productive poet at that! He has written a long list of poems, and published some poetry books, many of which were all best-sellers.

This particular poetry book has a classic blue cover with the title written in gold font. Classy! Like the title suggests, the poems mostly talk about love, like the one featured in the drama: ‘Longing.’

Goblin

This drama was mega-popular, and for many people, it opened the ‘hellgate’ to Korean drama addiction. I admit that this drama had some pretty cinematography and Gong Yoo himself looks like a sculpture. What a poetic man (ahem!). But, I got very let down by the drama’s plot at the end.

Anyway, the notable poem in this drama is  Physics of Love (사랑의 물리학) by Kim In-Yook. It was a part of the poetry collection book called Maybe the stars will take away your sorrow (어쩌면 별들이 너의 슬픔을 가져갈지도 몰라) by Kim Young-Taek. Kim Young-Taek himself is a poet who included some of his own in this book, along with poems from famous poets like Lee Yuk-sa, Kim So-wol, and Yoon Dong-ju. This book is a comforting read for people who are dealing with grief and sadness. The only downside for me was that I had to read it through Papago to fully understand it.

In the drama, ‘Physics of Love’ appeared in the fifth episode of the drama for a stunning autumn scene. Gong Yoo was leisurely sitting down with the poetry book when he saw Kim Go-Eun running toward him and realized that he fell for her.

My favorite line in this poem is the last line: ‘It was (my) first love.’ And the drama did such a poignant scene as Gong Yoo read the line. It was poetic. 

The King: Monarch

Azalea (진달래꽃) by Kim So-wol is such a legendary poetry book and it has been translated into English. It is quite difficult to translate lyrical poems to another language, yet the translator managed to do it skillfully. The poem, ‘Azalea,’ itself, tells a story of farewell.

Similarly, the poem in ‘The King: Monarch’ drama also tells about farewell. The poem was read by Lady Noh, a senior lady-in-waiting in Lee Minho’s kingdom. As she recited it, Lee Min-ho and Kim Go-Eun were facing an imminent farewell, as they lived in two different universes. 

“You promised that even if you go, you won’t be gone forever”

This line strikes the viewers’ heartstrings as Lady Noh recites it sorrowfully, and at the same time, Lee Minho wipes his tears. 

Romance is a Bonus Book

I swear this drama is a holy grail for book lovers! Lee Na-young and Lee Jong-suk’s characters both worked at a publishing company, so they read and reviewed so many best-selling books. The books in this drama were actually real and best–sellers in Korea!

There are a lot of books in this drama, but I will only cover two of them: The Heart Is Drawn To You (마음이 살짝 기운다 나태주 신작 시집]) and I want to give you my most beautiful thoughts (가장 예쁜 생각을 너에게 주고 싶다). Both books were written by Na Tae-joo, and both tell about different kinds of love.

The first one tells a love story between a man and a woman, while the second one contains the love of a father for his daughter. I own both poetry books and both contain very pretty illustrators that are related to the poems. They’re definitely worth buying!

Korean poems are beautiful, and without Korean dramas, people probably never find out about them. Unfortunately, most Korean poems remain in the original language. I wish there will be more English translations for them, so more people can appreciate the beauty of Korean literature.

Interested in exploring more Korean poetry? Click Here to learn about Jeong Ho-Seung, one of Korea’s most respected poets of the 1970’s and 80’s.