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UDC 791.2 + 791.2 + 008
Aleksandra V. Tarasova
Cand. Sci. (History),
Associate Professor at the Department
of History and Theory of Culture,
Russian State University for the Humanities
Miusskaya ploshhad’, 6, 125047, Moscow, Russia
Researcher ID: AAR-9505-2020
Tarasova A.V. An Antihero in the Space of a South Korean Drama: Is it Okay To Not Be Okay? The Art and Science of Television. 2021. 17 (3), pp. 96–117. https://doi.org/10.30628/1994-9529-2021-17.3-96-117
An Antihero in the Space of a South Korean Drama: Is it Okay To Not Be Okay?
Abstract. The article focuses on the image of an antihero in South Korean television series: its typical features, its functions, and interaction with the audience. The article opens with a brief outline of the antihero version that has been sought after by the global audience since the 2000s—a gifted sociopath, unable and unwilling to maintain the generally accepted format of interaction with other people. Further, the article turns to the historical and cultural conditions in which such antiheroes find themselves in the South Korean TV series. First of all, there are the principles of Confucian ideology: the priority of society over an individual, reverence for elders, drive to maintaining family ties, strict adherence to etiquette. This ideology, combined with the South Korean television’s tendency to be didactic, seems to create an unfavorable environment for antiheroes. However, the following three South Korean dramas—Kill Me, Heal Me (2015), A Beautiful Mind (2016), and It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020)—show that a character with recognizable antihero traits may successfully fit into the structure of these narratives. And since the antihero function in the third series is performed by the main female character, her behavior conflicts not only with Confucian norms, but also with stereotypical behavior patterns of female characters in South Korean TV series. However, the results of the study suggest that, in general, a South-Korean-type antihero is created under the influence of Confucian ethics. Society and family play an important role both in the formation of the antihero’s personality and in his or her subsequent “normalization”. Besides, the image of a South Korean antihero may indicate a more tolerant attitude of contemporary South Korean society towards the non-standard lifestyles and behavior of the individuals.
Keywords: television, TV series, South Korea, drama, antihero, norm, mental disorder, behavior patterns, family