Empty House

I was sucked into this show for about an hour out of a desire to lazily-passively improve my Korean by watching TV and also out of sheer curiosity. Although unheard of in America, this show and the people in it are household names in Asia, and I just wanted to know why.

The reason appears to be that each person who stars in the show is really impossibly beautiful, and that about sums it up. The stories and locations they inhabit, the clothes they wear, the things they say and do, are all also equally impossible, and I was regularly shaking my head with disbelief as I watched. As with many other things Korean, this show is unbearably superficial, and is wholly lacking in depth; Full House is not a drama so much as a fantasy.

The show essentially operates on two principles—

1) That everyone involved is obscenely ignorant, and
2) Also somehow very good at tricking everyone else.

There is no need to summarize the story or the characters; the show is about rich beautiful people doing rich beautiful people things.

From the very first shot the creators of the show assume that I, the viewer, know nothing about anything. A mansion in the countryside. Impossible. A single extraordinarily beautiful Korean woman writing a story on her computer. Impossible. Her friends trick her into flying to China and then sell her mansion while she is gone. Impossible. Their justification for this is that they just got pregnant and “have a lot of debts.” I thought of doing the exact same thing when my wife and I got pregnant.

While in China, she meets a movie star, tricks him into giving her lots of money, and flies back to Korea. He follows her, tricks her into going to dinner with him to make his asshole friend jealous, and then that is where I stopped watching, because I felt as if the drama had stretched and broken my suspension of disbelief one too many times, leaving a very stale taste in my mouth.

While all of this happens the Koreans involved do a number of things that Koreans never do.

—While at dinner, one of them discusses an intellectual topic that has nothing at all to do with family, which is the only thing Koreans ever talk about, ever.

—They sit at a table where there is wine in their glasses. Korean dramas always seem to do this although to this day after two years in Korea I have yet to see a single Korean drink a single drop of wine.

—The single beautiful woman with an inexplicably enormous house appears to be an orphan, as she does not attempt to contact her parents when she loses everything she owns, and does not, in fact, mention their existence at all. I do not know how the scriptwriters got past this. It is no different from giving her wings and the ability to fly—how are we going to explain where she got the wings?!?!—just don’t even talk about it!!

—Everyone everywhere is white. Everything everywhere is white, too. And spotlessly clean. In reality, Korea is a dark place packed to the bursting point with filth and garbage, and the people come in every color under the rainbow, although you would never know it if you just watched television. Seriously, it was all just like one long soap commercial.

—China, also, is somehow clean; although I’ve never been there, everyone has told me that Korea is spotless in comparison. While in China, the single beautiful woman explores the country alone, but Koreans never do anything alone, and as I watched her walk around in a lame montage I was shaking my head and lifting my eyebrows with despair because if the main character had been rescued by space aliens swooping in out of the sky and spiriting her away back to Korea it would have been no less unbelievable.

—A Korean man speaks English that non-Koreans can understand. Within the magical show universe, at least, it is comprehensible, but to my ear it sounded as if he blabbed through a few memorized syllables as quickly as possible, to sound as if he had mastered the language, when, in fact, he had obviously been too busy posing in his mirror to bother with something as lame as that.

—The main character goes to the police. This would never happen because the police in Korea are notorious for never doing anything at all to help anyone, but rather than accuse them of their inherent incompetence the main character decides not to press the issue further because she sees a woman pleading with her baby and thinks, hey, I’ll let it go, my friends stole every red cent to my name but they’re innocent of all wrongdoing because they have a baby coming. Then her friends come back for more, kill her, and sell her organs, and the show ends happily because babies justify everything.

The one realistic thing in the entire show was the picture of the naked muscular man glowing prominently in the center of Rain’s bedroom wall, because, seriously, there is no way in hell that man is straight.

Also, Rain. It’s just not going to happen. When that beauty fades, your career is going to fade, too; yes I’m jealous, of course I’m jealous, but you’re a pop star, and you’re probably going to have to make three or four more failures like Ninja Assassin before people refuse to put you in movies anymore.

Just compare the moment he tries on a stupid hat and cuts a ridiculous pose in a mirror with an identical, but perfect, moment with Peter Falk, a real actor, in Wings of Desire.

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